Apple Crisp with Caramel Sauce

Apple Crisp, Caramel, Ice Cream

Apple Crisp is one of the best desserts ever; it is much easier to make than apple pie, and you have the added yummieness of a crumb topping. This recipe is sweet, delicious and decadent. Serve it hot with ice cream and caramel sauce for a little extra goodness.

Convenience and Simplicity

Besides being delicious, it is convenient to serve to guests. Prepare the dessert about one to two hours before your guests arrive, and set aside. Pop it in the oven just as you sit down to dinner, and about 45 minutes later it is ready to come out. The timing is perfect…you have a nice meal and a few minutes to digest while the apple crisp rests for about 10-20 minutes before serving.

This recipe is versatile too. You can add berries or raisins or even nuts…be creative!

I suggest you make the caramel sauce first so that it can cool while you prepare the apple crisp (see recipe below).

Ingredients for crumb topping:
1 – cup brown sugar
3/4 – cup flour
3/4 – cup oats
1 – tsp cinnamon
1/2 – cup unsalted butter

Ingredients for filling:
6 – apples
2 – tbls. sugar
1/2 – tsp. cinnamon

Directions:
Mix together the brown sugar, flour, oats, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Melt the butter and add it to the oat mixture. Mix together to moisten the dry ingredients. Set aside.

Peel the apples and cut into quarters to remove the core. Cut each quarter into 3 slices. Place the apple slices into a large bowl.

Apples

Mix together two tablespoons sugar and one-half teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle over the apple slices and mix to coat the apples evenly. Butter an 8 inch square baking dish, add the apples and spread the crumb mixture over top.

Bake in a pre-heated 350° oven for about 45 minutes (check at 30 minutes) or until the apples are tender and the topping is golden brown.

Caramel Sauce

For the Caramel Sauce, I found the following recipe by Ree Drummond that I think you will like.

Ingredients for Caramel Sauce:
1 – cup light brown sugar
1/2 – cup half-and-half
4 – tbls. butter
1/8 – tsp. Salt
1 – tbls. Vanilla extract

Directions:
Add the brown sugar, half-and-half, butter, and salt to a sauce pan. Stir all together over a medium flame and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer about 5-7 minutes until it starts to thicken a little. Stir often. Next add the vanilla and cook another 2-3 minutes. Store in a glass jar and refrigerate until you want to use it.

The caramel sauce will solidify as it cools down in the refrigerator. Before you use the sauce, place it in a bowl of hot water to soften until it is pourable.

Serving the Dessert

When you serve the apple crisp, top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzle with caramel sauce. Enjoy!

Makes 6-8 servings

Apple Crisp, Caramel Sauce




Chocolate Chip Cookies

The perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies are crisp on the outside and moist on the inside. If you agree with me, then this recipe is for you. You can’t go wrong with these cookies. When I asked my family what cookies I should bake for the holidays, these Chocolate Chip cookies were at the top of the list.

I have been making this recipe since I was a teenager. I don’t know where it came from, but it has been my go too recipe most of my life. Other recipes that I have tried over the years just don’t measure up. This recipe calls for both chocolate chips and walnuts. Of course you can use any kind of nut you prefer or none at all, but I think the nuts make them extra good.

Ingredients:
1/2 – cup unsalted butter (softened)
1/2 – cup sugar
1/4 – cup brown sugar
1 – egg
1 – tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 – cup all purpose flour
3/4 – tsp. salt
1/2 – tsp. baking soda
1/2 – cup chocolate chips
1/2 – cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions:
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter, sugar, brown sugar, egg and vanilla. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Once the butter is creamy, add in the flour mixture a little at a time and mix until all incorporated.

Fold in the chocolate chips and chopped nuts.

Spoon teaspoonfuls of cookie dough onto a greased cookie sheet or on parchment paper. Space them about 2 inches apart.

Bake in a preheated 375° oven for about 10 minutes or until they are golden brown.

Place the cookies on racks to cool.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cookies




Tres Leches Cake

 

Tres Leches, Cake, Milk

Tres Leches Cake is a moist and delicious sponge cake soaked in three kinds of milk—evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and whole milk. I first tasted this cake about 3 years ago, and it instantly became my favorite cake. So I finally decided to try make it.  This recipe is from Pati Jinich, one of may favorite Mexican-American Chefs.

The reason I like this cake so much is because it stirs up fond memories of my father.  My Dad did not have a big sweet tooth, in fact, there were only a few desserts that he really liked.  One of those desserts was a plain white sheet cake that mom made. As soon as it came out of the oven, Dad cut two large pieces (one for him and one for me) and placed each in a bowl and poured cold milk over them.  In just a few minutes the milk was completely absorbed, making it moist, light, and delicious. I couldn’t wait to dig into the cake…it was still warm, and melted in my mouth.  As good as the cake was, the best part was sharing the cake with Dad.

Ingredients for cake:
9 – eggs
1 – cup sugar
1 – tbls. Vanilla extract
2 – cups all-purpose flour

Ingredients for the sauce:
1 – 12 oz. can evaporated milk
1 – cup whole milk
1 – 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 – tbls. Vanilla extract

Ingredients for whipped cream topping:
1 – pint heavy whipping cream
2 – tbls. powdered sugar
1 1/2 – tsp. pure vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350° while preparing the cake.

Separate the egg, and add the egg whites to the bowl of your mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until they start to form soft peaks, about 4-5 minutes. Then gradually add the sugar and continue beating until the egg whites form stiff peaks.

Transfer the egg whites to a large bowl.

In a clean mixer bowl, add the egg yolks, and beat on high until they become frothy and light yellow in color.

Add the vanilla and mix for another minute. Add the egg yolks to the egg whites, and fold in with a spatula until well incorporated.

Next add the flour and fold in in the same manner until well incorporated.

Butter a 9” x 13” cake pan and fit a piece of parchment paper on the bottom. Pour the batter into pan and place it in the center of a preheated oven. Cook about 22-25 minutes. Check with a toothpick; if it comes out clean it is done. It is okay if the cake is slightly moist. The cake should feel spongey to the touch. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool.

Once cooled, turn it out onto a large platter with shallow sides to hold the sauce. Remove the parchment paper and make holes with a fork throughout the cake so that the milk can be absorbed.

Add all three milks to a blender and mix well. Slowly pour it over the cake.

Refrigerate for 3-4 hours before serving.

Top off with whipped cream before serving.

Enjoy!

Tres Leches Cake




Egg Pie

Egg Pie, Custard, Flan

Egg Pie is a cross between a custard pie and flan. It is smooth, silky, sweet, and delicious. This recipe comes from my brother-in-law, Kenny. He made it for us one Thanksgiving a few years ago. Since then it has become one of my family’s favorite pies.

It is simple to make with only five ingredients for the custard. I am using a homemade crust, but for convenience you can certainly use a ready made crust, such as Pillsbury’s pie crust that is found in the refrigerator section of the grocery store.

Ingredients for Pie Filling:
2 – eggs
1 – cup sugar
1 1/2 – tsp. Vanilla
1 – can evaporated milk
1/2 – stick butter (softened)

Ingredients for Pie Crust:
1 1/2 – sticks unsalted butter (very cold or frozen)
3 – cups all-purpose flour
1/3 – cup Crisco shortening (cold)
1 – tsp. salt
1 – tsp. Sugar
1/2 – cup ice water

Directions for Pie Crust:
Make the pie crust first, because it has to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before rolling out. This recipe is from Ina Garten. It find it is full proof. It comes out perfect every time.

Using a food processor, blend the flour, salt, and sugar. Pulse it 2-3 times to incorporate the ingredients. Dice the cold butter and add it along with the Crisco shortening to the flour mixture. Pulse several times (10-12 times) to cut the butter into the flour mixture. The butter will become small pieces similar to the size of a pea.

Hold down the pulse button and gradually add the ice water. Continue pulsing until the dough forms a ball. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead into a smooth ball. This will take only about one minute. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, roll out the pie crust on a floured board. Roll out until it is large enough to hang over the sides of the pie plate. Press the dough down into the pie plate to take the form of the dish. You used leave about a 1/2” overhang to form into the crust. Fold the excess dough to sit on top of the pie plate edge, and using two fingers, crimp the dough together working your way around the entire pie plate to form a beautiful crust.

Set the pie crust aside while you mix the filling.

Directions for the Pie Filling:
In a mixer, cream softened butter with eggs and sugar. It will take a few minutes to get it smooth. Add the vanilla and evaporated milk and mix well. The mixture will look curdled, but don’t worry this is normal.

Pour the filling into the pie crust. Coat the edge of the crust with milk using a pastry brush.  This gives the finish product a little shine, and it also helps to prevent it from burning.

Place the pie in the center of a preheated 350° oven, and cook for about 1 hour 15 minutes.

About half way through the cooking process when the crust begins to brown, remove the pie from the oven and loosely cover the pie crust with strips of aluminum foil.  This will assure you that the crust will not burn.  Be careful and use oven mits to prevent burning yourself while putting on the foil.

Return the pie to the oven and continue cooking until golden brown.  You can test to see if it is cooked by inserting a butter knife into the center. If it comes out clean it is done.  Do not over cook it…you want the filling to be set, but soft.

Enjoy!

Egg Pie, Custard, flan

 




Nutella Sugar Cookie Sandwich

 

Sugar Cookies, Nutella, Espresso, Buttercream

Sugar cookies don’t have to be boring.  Liven them up with Nutella and espresso buttercream frosting.  These stuffed cookies are decadent and delicious.

Ingredients for cookies:
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 – cups powdered sugar
1 – large egg
1 1/2 – cups all-purpose flour
3/4 – tsp. baking powder
2 – tsp. vanilla extract
Nutella Hazelnut Spread

Directions:
Add the softened butter and 1 cup powdered sugar to a large mixing bowl, and beat until creamy about 5 minutes.

Add the egg and vanilla and continue to mix until incorporated, about 30 seconds.

Next add the baking powder and flour, slowly mix until well incorporated.

Remove the cookie dough to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. This will make the dough easier to roll out.

While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 375°

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and turn out onto a lightly floured piece of parchment paper. Roll the dough to a 1/4” thickness.

Using a 2” cooking cutter, cut rounds and place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. If the dough is sticking, dip the cookie cutter into the flour.

Remove the excess dough from around the cookies, and roll it out and repeat the process until you use up all the dough.

Place the cookies about 2” apart and bake for 10 – 12 minutes until lightly browned.

Set aside to cool completely.

While the cookies are cooling, make the buttercream frosting.  The key to a smooth and creamy buttercream icing is not to be in a hurry. Take the time to whip the butter for at least 5 minutes before adding in the sugar, and an additional 4-5 minutes after adding the sugar.

Ingredients for frosting:
1 1/2 – cups butter, softened
2 1/2 – cups powdered sugar
2 – tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 – tsp. instant espresso

Directions:
Put the softened butter into a large mixing bowl and blend on high for about 5 minutes to make smooth and creamy. Stop the mixer a few times to scrap down the sides to be sure to incorporate everything.

Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time and mix about 2 minutes on high with each cup.

In a small bowl, add the instant espresso and vanilla. Stir to dissolve the coffee. When the powdered sugar is completely incorporated and the icing is smooth and creamy, add the espresso mixture and blend one minute more. Half way through, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Assemble the cookies:
Make the cookie sandwiches by spreading the Nutella on the bottom of a cookie and top with another.  Once all the sandwiches are made, ice the tops.  You can use an icing piping bag or applicator or simply spread the icing on the tops with a butter knife.

Sprinkle the tops with Cacoa or chopped chocolate pieces (optional).

Sugar Cookies, Nutella, Espresso, Buttercream

Makes 16 cookie sandwiches.

Enjoy!

Sugar Cookies, Nutella, Espresso, Buttercream

 




Frozen Fruit Salad with Grapes, Pineapple, and Cream Cheese

Frozen, Fruit, Salad, Grapes, Pineapple, Cream Cheese

Frozen Fruit Salad

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 12-14

Frozen Fruit Salad with Grapes, Pineapple, and Cream Cheese is a cool, refreshing dessert to top off your meal on a hot summer day. Try this frozen fruit salad, it will hit the spot every time. I am resurrecting this recipe from my childhood; my mother made this dessert every summer. It was a special treat for me and my sisters. The rich, smoothness of the cream cheese, the sweetness of the pineapple, and the crispness of the grapes creates a contrasting texture sensation in your mouth. This dessert has all the creamy deliciousness of ice cream, but with the extra bonus of the sweet goodness of fruit. It will be loved by everyone, both children and adults.

Ingredients:
2 – 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
1 1/4 – cups Cool Whip
2 – tbls. Miracle Whip
1 – 20 oz. can pineapple chunks with 100% juice
4 – tbls. pineapple juice from can of pineapple
3 – cups mini marshmallows
2 – cups seedless green grapes

Directions:
Let the cream cheese come to room temperature then place it in a large mixing bowl. Measure out the Cool Whip and leave it out of the freezer to soften. Drain the pineapple, reserving the juice in a small bowl.

When the cream cheese is soft, add the Miracle Whip and 4 tablespoons of the reserved pineapple juice. Mix with an electric mixer, and whip until smooth, about 1 minute.

Cream cheese, whipped

Next add in the marshmallows and pineapple pieces.

Cream cheese, marshmallows, pineapple

Now fold in the Cool Whip and grapes. You can cut the grapes in half, but I prefer them whole.

Cream cheese, pineapple, marshmallows, cool whip, grapes

Spread the mixture evenly into an 8 x 12 Pyrex dish. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze at least 3 hours before serving. If you leave it in the freezer for several hours or overnight, you will need to take it out of the freezer about 20 minutes prior to serving.

Cream cheese, marshmallows, Cool Whip, grapes, pineapple

Cut into squares and enjoy!




Tiramisù

Tiramisù is a classic Italian dessert that is found throughout Italy. Every bite is creamy and delicious. Make this recipe and it will always be a hit at any occasion.

Ingredients:
For best results, I suggest that you use authentic Italian products such as Gelmini Mascarpone, Balocco Savoiardi Lady Fingers, or Ferraro Cacao. These products are not hard to find, but if you can not find them, you can use domestic substitutes.

5 – large eggs (be sure they are very fresh)
1 – cup sugar
16 – oz. Mascarpone (at room temperature)
1 – 14 oz. package Savoiardi (Lady Fingers)
32 – oz. very strong coffee
Cocoa Powder
3 – oz. coffee liquor (such as Kahlua)

Some recipes do not call for liquor, but I like to add the coffee liquor to enhance the flavor.

Directions:
Make 4 cups of very strong coffee and set aside to let cool.

Add about two inches of water to a medium sized sauce pan that you can use as a double-boiler and heat to a boil.

Separate the eggs, placing the yolks into a stainless steel mixing bowl that will fit on top of the sauce pan, and place the whites into a large mixing bowl for use later.

Before placing the bowl of egg yolks on the double boiler, add 3/4 cup of the sugar to the egg yolks and whisk until smooth. Turn down the heat on the boiling water to a simmer and place the bowl of egg yolks on top of the sauce pan. Whisk the yolks constantly for about 5 minutes until the yolks and sugar become frothy, forming a sponge (or zabaglione). Continue to cook the sponge a couple minutes more whisking constantly, until it is thick enough to form ribbons. Now remove it from the heat and let it cool.

Add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar to the egg whites and whip with an electric mixer until stiff.

Next, place the room temperature mascarpone in a large mixing bowl and mix it with a spoon until smooth. Fold in the cooled egg yolk sponge a little at a time to the mascarpone.

Fold in sponge a little at a time.

All the sponge has been incorporated.

Now fold in the whipped egg whites a little at a time until well blended.

Cream is ready

Now assemble the Tiramisù. You should have enough cream and lady fingers to make two 8″ square Pyrex dishes or one 8″ x 12″ dish.

Spread a small amount of the cream on the bottom of the dish.

Pour the cooled coffee and liquor into a shallow dish in which you can dip the lady fingers. Dip the cookies one at a time into the coffee mixture by rolling them quickly to cover all sides. Do not leave the cookie in the coffee too long or it will fall apart.

Place the dipped lady fingers to make a complete layer. You will need to cut some of the cookies to make them fit properly.

Spread cream on top of the lady fingers to cover the cookies completely. Then make a second layer of dipped cookies and top with cream. Two layers will fill the dish to the top.

Cover with plastic wrap, but be careful not to let the plastic rest on top of the cream. You may want to insert toothpicks to keep the plastic wrap from sticking to the cream. Be sure to remove the toothpicks before serving. Let the tiramisù  chill in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours before serving.

Just before serving, sprinkle cocoa powder on top.

Buon appetito!




Old Fashioned Oatmeal Cookies

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It must be 20 years since I have made these oatmeal cookies. I came across the recipe recently and decided to give it a go. When I was first married I made this recipe regularly. After all these years, these cookies did not disappoint me, they are moist, chewy, and delicious. The combination of raisins, walnuts, and cinnamon gives them the perfect balance of sweetness, texture, and spice.

Ingredients:
1 – cup raisins
1 1/2 – cups water
3/4 – cup unsalted butter (softened)
1 1/2 – cups sugar
2 – eggs
1 1/2 tsp. Pure vanilla extract
2 – cups raw oats
2 1/2 – cups all purpose flour
1 – tsp. Baking soda
1/2 – tsp. Baking powder
1 – tsp. salt
1 – tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 – cup walnuts (chopped)

Directions:
In a small sauce pan, add the water and raisins. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

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Drain the raisins, reserving the liquid in a small bowl. You should have about 1/2 cup of liquid. If it is less you can add water to bring it up to 1/2 cup.

Mix the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl, mixing on medium speed about 1 1/2 minutes.

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Add the eggs and vanilla, and mix another minute.

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Meanwhile, in a medium sized bowl, mix together the dry ingredients–oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon.

Pour the 1/2 cup of reserved raisin water into the butter, sugar, and egg mixture. Mix briefly (it will look curdled, but do not worry this is normal).

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Now add the dry ingredients and mix until all incorporated, about 2 minutes.

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Add the raisins and mix briefly to incorporate them into the dough.

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Place rounded spoonfuls of the dough about 2 inches apart onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.

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Bake in a pre-heated 375° oven for about 15-18 minutes or until golden brown on bottom.

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Makes about 3 1/2 dozen

Enjoy!




Corn Muffins

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Corn muffins are one of my favorite breakfast or snack foods.  They have just the right amount of sweetness and are satisfying and delicious.  They are also great toasted with butter.  The nice thing about this recipe is its versatility.  You can make them sweet, more like a muffin as in the recipe below, or you can add less sugar that makes them more like cornbread.

I have also added Greek yogurt in place of some of the milk, which makes the muffins moist; and a little honey to give them a little extra flavor.

1 – cup white corn meal
1 – cup all purpose flour
1/2 – cup sugar
1 – tbls. baking powder
1 – tsp. salt
2 – eggs
1/2 – cup whole milk
1/4 – cup canola oil
2 – generous tbls. honey
5 – oz. container of plain Greek yogurt

In a large mixing bowl, combine the corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix with a fork and make a well in the center. In a small mixing bowl add the eggs, canola oil, honey and whisk until well incorporated.

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Pour the egg mixture into the center of the dry mixture and using a whisk stir the ingredients until they start to form a ball.  Do not use an electric mixer.

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Just as the batter starts to come together, add the yogurt and continue to stir until all incorporated.

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Mix just enough to incorporate the flour, do not over mix.

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Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray so that the muffins do not stick to the pan. Divide the batter equally into 12 muffins.

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Bake in a preheated 425° oven for 15-20 minutes.  Check at 15 minutes by inserting a knife in the center.  If it comes out clean the muffins are ready.

Note:  If you want to make them less sweet like cornbread, use only 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon honey.




Cantucci (Biscotti)

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Cantucci or biscotti as we call them in America, are one of my favorite cookies.  They are crunchy, almond flavored biscuits with just enough sweetness that are perfect for dipping in your coffee.  These were always a staple in my family, especially during the Christmas holiday.

Ingredients:
6 – eggs
2 – sticks butter melted
1 3/4 – cups sugar
2 – tsp. Anisette
1/2 – tsp. pure almond extract
2 – tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 – tsp. baking powder
5 1/2 – cups flour
1 – cup almonds (optional)
1 – egg for egg wash
Raw sugar for coating (or any course sugar)

Directions:
Place the sugar in a large mixing bowl; in the meantime melt the butter. Do not use an electric mixer for this recipe. The cookies rise better when mixed by hand. Once the butter is melted, add it to the sugar and using a whisk, mix until all incorporated.

Whisk sugar and melted butter

Start adding the eggs one at a time and mix. Now add the anisette (I use the liquor, but you can also use the extract), almond and vanilla extracts.

Combine the flour and baking powder and mix in one cup at a time. Do not over mix.  You may need to switch to a large spoon or wooden spoon to mix in the flour.  Once the flour is all combined, fold in the almonds.

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Divide the dough into 6 equal parts. Form loaves and place on a large, greased cookie sheet.

Mix one egg with 1 tbls. water and brush on top of the loaves. Sprinkle course sugar on top.

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Bake in a pre-heated 350° oven for 25-30 minutes.

Remove the loaves from the oven and slice them into 3/4″ slices.

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Place the slices on their sides on a cookie sheet and return them to the oven to lightly toast, approximately 5 min. on each side.

These cookies will last about 3 weeks in an air tight plastic container or they can be frozen for several weeks.