Apple Pie

So recently, my girl Amber over at What Makes Me Amber made a pumpkin pie. She said she had never made one before and that surprised her. It got me thinking about making something surprising that I hadn’t made before and I realized that I’ve never made an apple pie.

I know, right? Of all things, I’ve never made an apple pie. It seems so basic. Like, baking 101. Well, somehow this one escaped me. Since it’s Fall, I figured now would be the perfect time to try this one out. Let me tell you, it was super easy! Even the lattice crust was easier than I ever thought. And while it was baking… oh the smells wafting through my house were just heavenly! I wish there were someway to share that with you all, but alas, you’ll just have to try it out for yourself.

1 double pie crust recipe. (store bought or homemade. You can use my basic crust recipe here, but add 1 tablespoon of sugar. Also, double it because you need a bottom and a top crust for this)

Filling:

6 apples, peeled and thinly sliced. I used a combo of Fuji and Granny Smith

juice from 1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon all-spice
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

In a big bowl, add all of your filling ingredients and mix well to coat the apples. Set aside and let them sit for a few minutes.


Meanwhile, roll out half of your crust and put it in your pie pan.

Fill your crust with the apple mixture. Don’t forget all the juices that come out from letting them sit! Set aside.

Roll out the other half of your dough and either top your pie and cut out slits or, if you want a lattice crust, cut out strips. You don’t need a scalloped cutter to do this, you can just use a knife if you don’t have one.


To Lattice: Start out with all the strips in one direction, then fold back every other strip. Lay down one strip in the opposite direction. Fold the strips back over and fold back the other strips. Repeat, alternating strips, until the pie is complete.  If those instructions weren’t clear enough, you can watch a YouTube video like this one. (skip to the :35 mark).


Those little leaves are tiny cookie cutters. Totally optional, but adds a nice little touch.


Once the top crust is complete, bake in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. Then turn down the temperature to 350 and bake for another 35-45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the apples are soft.


If you feel like your crust is getting to dark, you can loosely cover with some foil until the baking is complete.


Now, just serve up a slice (or two) and grab some ice cream!

Farro Stuffed Acorn Squash

Fall is here you guys!!! I know, it is sort of hard to tell if you live in Southern California right now. We are in the midst of a serious heat wave. I’m talking so hot, they had recess indoors at my son’s school. Ugh. This is not my jam. At all.

Anyway, last weekend I put up my fall decor in anticipation of this heat wave breaking and the season finally making an appearance.

Today, I braved my oven (with the AC on) and made my first “Fall” dish of the season: Stuffed Acorn Squash. It was so easy and delicious and healthy just very… FALL.

You should be able to find farro at any grocery store, but if you can’t, I’m sure you can substitute brown rice. Same with the garlic herb sausage. I got this at Trader Joe’s and I know I’ve seen similar varieties at regular grocery stores too. You could probably substitute just about any flavor you like.

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Serves 2 (1/2 squash each. About 360 calories per serving)

1 medium acorn squash
olive oil
salt and pepper
2 chicken sausage links (see note above), cut into small pieces
1/2 leek, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup COOKED farro
2 teaspoons fresh thyme (you can use dried as well, just cut the amount in half)
1 teaspoon dried sage

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut the squash in half lengthwise (or, if you are deathly afraid of cutting winter squash and are scared you are going to accidentally stab yourself, enlist someone else to do it). Scoop out the seeds in the middle and coat with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.  Roast for about 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of your squash. Just until slightly fork-tender.

While the squash is roasting, make your farro according to package directions.

Make the rest of the stuffing (you can actually make the stuffing ahead of time, a day or two, and just use it when you are ready).  In a skillet, saute in a little olive oil the leeks, garlic, sausage, thyme, and sage.

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I don’t know why this picture is upside down, but I’m pretty sure you get it…

 

Drain the farro and add it to the sausage mixture. Then put half in each half of the squash. Put back in the oven for another 20 minutes.

Funny story… When I was coming up with this recipe, I had planned on adding a diced apple to the stuffing (include it in the saute). I even bought the apple. I completely FORGOT!!  If you make it, try it with the apple and let me know how it goes. Next time I will include the apple! (I was going to use a Fuji, but any should work).

This was really yummy and quite easy. Perfect for a fall dinner. Now, someone send me pictures of changing leaves and sipping apple cider because I’m melting over here!

Homemade Granola

Ever since I started this “new” healthy eating habit back in May, I’ve become obsessed with granola. I mean, I’ve always liked granola—what’s not to like?—but it wasn’t ever a big part of my regular diet. Now, it has become one of my favorite breakfasts. Mix it with some greek yogurt and fruit and you’ve got yourself the perfect start for the day!

I’ve been buying my granola at the store and they do have a lot of variety to choose from. I did notice, however, that the store-bought brands can get a bit pricey and are sometimes high in calories and sugar. It didn’t take long to occur to me that I could probably make this at home for less money and sugar.

I set out to The Google and started researching recipes. I quickly discovered that, while there are actual recipes to be found, you don’t really need one! And that’s my kinda dish! Just throw it together. Measuring? Nobody has time for that! Granola is also completely customizable to your tastes. You can put whatever you want in it. Gotta love that too.

For this particular granola, I hit up the bulk bins at Sprouts. This allowed me to go from bin to bin and just pick what sounded good to me. I also only got the amount I needed instead of buying a big bag of, say Flax seeds, only to use a couple tablespoons. I think I spent less than $2 on all the ingredients and I’ve gotten a lot of breakfasts out of the batch.

Here is how I made mine. I just eyeballed everything. I used more oats than anything else because that’s the base of the granola. Try to get items that are raw and unsalted so you can control the flavor. I also used only a few ingredients since this was my first time making granola and I wanted to keep it simple.

Rolled oats

Flax seeds

Slivered Almonds

Pumpkin seeds

Dried Pineapple

Honey

Coconut oil

Cinnamon

Vanilla (just a dash)

On a baking sheet, add all your dried granola ingredients except for the pineapple. Always add whatever dried fruit you use after the baking process. My husband asked why I didn’t mix everything in a bowl first and the only reason is I didn’t want to dirty an extra dish, but feel free to do that if you want.

 

Once all the granola ingredients are mixed together, sprinkle with cinnamon to your taste preference. Then drizzle with coconut oil (melted if you are using the solid kind) and vanilla. I put these together in the same bowl so they were poured on at the same time. Mix together so the ingredients are all coated with the oil/vanilla. Spread in an even layer on the baking sheet.

 

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Add a drizzle of honey and stir again. Bake about 5 more minutes.

Add the pineapple and let the granola cool before storing in an air-tight container.

 

First of all, this made my house smell sooooooo good! The toasted nuts and seeds, the vanilla and cinnamon. It was warm and heavenly. My husband did not like the pineapple addition, but that’s his personal preference. I liked it a lot. I will say, that I think it was over toasted just slightly. I don’t know if I left it in too long or if there wasn’t enough of it. Perhaps, the layer was too thin and got a bit over toasted. It wasn’t burned at all and was actually quite delicious, but I will be experimenting more with this recipe and various combinations.

What sorts of things do you like in your granola?

Grilled Salmon with Drunken Zucchini Noodles

We don’t generally eat a lot of fish around our house. There’s not really any particular reason for it, except that I’m always afraid I’m going to overcook it and it doesn’t really make for good leftovers (which is something I like to consider when making my meals).

When we do eat fish, the one we eat most often is salmon. It is definitely a favorite around here. Not only is it tasty, it is really REALLY good for you. A few years back a co-worker of mine passed on this recipe for the best salmon marinade and now it’s all I use. I’ve used it on other fish too and it’s so good. I’ve actually even used the same ingredients to make salmon burgers. It is really very all-purpose, but it is just plain ol’ delicious. My kids even like it and that’s saying something!

I tend to just eyeball it at this point since I’ve made it so often, but the actual recipe follows:
2 tablespoons dijon mustard

3 tablespoons soy sauce

6 tablespoons olive oil

minced garlic

In a ziplock bag, add your salmon filet(s). I had 3 filets about 3oz each. Mix together all the ingredients and pour into the bag. Or you can do what I did and put each ingredient into the bag and then mix it in there so you don’t have to wash another dish.


Let it sit while you bring your grill up to temperature. When the grill is ready, just cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side until done. You can also make this under the broiler, but I like the flavor grilling it gives the salmon.

For this particular dinner, I pulled out my new Spiralizer and made some yummy zucchini noodles. It took me a couple tries to figure out the best way to use the machine, but once I got it, it was actually really easy and now I can’t wait to see what else I can spiralize!! This recipe is actually a lightened up version of some noodles I found on another blog (sorry, I forgot to write it down!). It was really good and had a lot of flavor. Plus, it was really healthy!

1 large zucchini

Half a leek, chopped

1-2 cloves minced garlic, depending on how garlicky you like it

Olive oil

¼ cup vodka (optional, I suppose. You could use white wine if you want, or even chicken broth. The alcohol will cook off.)

Juice of one lemon

Zest of the same lemon

Salt and pepper

¼ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

Spiralize your zucchini. If you don’t have a spiralizer or you don’t like zucchini or whatever, you can always just make up a batch of spaghetti and then make the sauce the same way.

 

In a skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, leeks, garlic and zoodles. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Let cook until the zoodles begin to soften.

 

Add vodka and lemon juice. Let it cook a little longer until the liquid is reduced and the alcohol is cooked out. The zoodles should be soft, but not mushy.

 

Turn off the heat and add the yogurt. This is important to do off the heat so the yogurt doesn’t separate and get gross.


Top with lemon zest and serve.

Strawberry Goat Cheese Crostini with mint and balsamic glaze 

You know those times where you offer to bring something to a dinner party but you don’t really think through how busy you are going to be that day?  Yeah, me too. 

That’s where these little guys come in. I love crostini as an appetizer because you can do so much with them. They are more than just bruschetta. You can make them sweet or savory. Lots of ingredients or just a few. It is so easy to make to your tastes. 

I was, as usual, running behind for a dinner party we were invited to. But these take so little time to put together that it wasn’t a problem still getting out of the door on time.

Even easier? This wonderful bottle of balsamic glaze from Trader Joes. I didn’t have to sit and wait for the balsamic vinegar to reduce and cool.


You just need a few ingredients and you’re all set.

1 French baguette 

Olive oil

5oz block of goat cheese

1 pint strawberries 

Balsamic glaze (made yourself or store-bought)

Fresh mint leaves, minced

Cut your baguette into 1/4″ slices


Brush with a little bit of olive oil 


Put under the broiler for just a couple minutes on each side until golden brown.


If you let them go too long, they will look like this:


Slice your berries very thin.


Assemble: spread each toast with goat cheese, a few slices of berries, a sprinkle of mint, and a drizzle of the glaze.


These turned out really delicious and were the perfect appetizer for a late summer dinner party.