Monday, September 18, 2017

Apple Pecan Spice Cake with Penuche Frosting

How beautiful leaves grow old. How full of colors are their last days.
Apple Pecan Spice Cake with Penuche Frosting
Cook's notes: This was easily one of the best fall cakes I have ever had. Everything about this cake was absolute perfection. The spice cake was tender and moist. The apples with  pecan combination brought out such a delicious flavor and texture.  Let this cake be on the top of your list for fall baking. Actually do not wait until it is officially fall. Bake it right now! And take note no mixer is needed for this recipe. The cake can stand alone but adding p
enuche frosting is really the piece de resistance.
Recipe adapted from the

  • 4 cups Granny Smith apples, chopped into small pieces (about 4 medium apples) 
  • 1 cup brown sugar and 1 cup white sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp.vanilla
  • 1 cup white flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour 
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon or 1-1/2 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • dash nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup buttermilk 
  • 1 cup pecans or walnuts roughly chopped
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine apples, sugars and cinnamon.
  • Whisk oil, eggs, and vanilla together in another bowl. Stir into apple mixture. 
  • In another mixing bowl whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger  and salt. Add the flour mixture to the apple mixture. Add milk and stir until just combined. Add in chopped pecans or walnuts.
  • Pour into prepared 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting. Sprinkle finely ground nuts immediately over frosting before it sets.  
Penuche Frosting (recipe below enough for a 9 x 9 cake double if frosting a 13 x 9 cake)  
  • 3 TB. butter 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
  • 1/4 cup milk (may need more) 
  • dash salt 
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
  • 2-1/2 cups powdered sugar 
  • In a saucepan melt butter on low heat, stir in brown sugar, milk, salt and vanilla. 
  • Use a whisk and stir on low heat until sugar dissolved and smooth about 2 minutes. 
  • Remove pan from heat and stir in powdered sugar. 
  • Use a hand mixer to beat frosting in the saucepan until smooth. May need to add more milk for right consistency. 
Another yummy frosting option Brown Sugar Cream Cheese

  • 1 (3 oz) package cream cheese frosting, room temperature
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup golden brown sugar
  • 2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • milk 
  • Melt butter on medium low, add in brown sugar and vanilla, whisk well and cook 2 minutes until sugar dissolved.
  • Remove from stove and beat in cream cheese and powdered sugar, adding in milk as needed for correct consistency.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Weekend Round-Up

28 Best Game Day Foods Link
Healthy Edamame Avocado Dip
Best Breakfast Links
 Mexican Baked Eggs
18 Fast and Healthy Breakfast Recipes from BHG
Mediterranean Breakfast Sandwich

Best Weekend Treat a visit from my blogger friend Audrey Helbling from (Faribault, MN). She and her husband Randy were on an up north vacation and came for a visit. Of course wonderful conversations are even better when  enjoyed with food- so brunch we had. 
Audrey's thoughtful gifts were perfect for the cook.  This plate has the all the popular regional hot dishes found in the state and tis the season for everything pumpkin! I'm sure to find many recipes to try.  
Many thanks to Audrey and Randy for adding a vacation stop at the Readys.
Apple,Grape and Pecan Salad with Mustard Maple Vinaigrette
Wild Rice, Sausage and Potato Casserole
Angel Food Cake with Warm Chocolate Kahlua Sauce

Friday, September 15, 2017

A Minnesota Fall Salad

Wild Rice Salad with Cranberries, Butternut Squash and Toasted Pecans with Maple Balsamic Dressing
Cook's notes: This splendid autumn salad includes some of Minnesota’s very best natural ingredients. It's definitely company worthy. Butternut squash works well for this dish because the squash holds its shape beautifully after being roasted. The combination of nutty wild rice, a simple maple dressing, and fresh herbs are not only delicious together, but their vibrant colors combine to make one stunning dish. Consider a time saver by making the wild rice ahead and toasting the pecans. The dressing can be easily doubled.
Recipe from the "Smitten with Squash Cookbook" and serves 4.

Ingredients Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil or Blood Orange Olive Oil
  • 2 TB. pure maple syrup
  • 2 TB. balsamic vinegar or Cranberry Pear Balsamic 
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 TB. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
Ingredients Salad:
  • 2- 1/2 cups peeled and finely chopped butternut squash
  • 1- 1/2 TB. olive oil or Blood Orange Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 TB. balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 4-5 cups torn baby spinach leaves or chopped romaine
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced leeks, both white and green parts or green onions
  • 1 cup dried cherries or dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
  • 3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans or cashews
  • 4 cups cooked wild rice, warmed

  • Place all dressing ingredients in a blender and mix well. Refrigerate until needed
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss squash with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread squash evenly on baking sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. 
  • Roast squash for about 20 minutes or until fork tender, stirring once during the roasting time. Set aside.
  • In a measuring cup place dried cranberries or cherries. Pour boiling water over it and let set for 15 minutes. Drain. 
  • In a large bowl, combine leeks or onions, cherries or cranberries, basil and wild rice. Stir dressing into salad; taste and adjust salt level if needed. Place mixture on spinach leaves or chopped Romaine. Top with pecans.
  • Serve dish at room temperature.

by Fr. Edward Hays
priest, author and spiritual guidance director

O sacred season of Autumn, be my teacher,
for I wish to learn the value of contentment.
As I gaze upon your full-colored beauty,
I sense all about you
an at-homeness with your amber riches.
You are the season of retirement,
of full barns and harvested fields.
The cycle of growth has ceased,
and the busy work of giving life
is now completed.
I sense in you no regrets:
you've lived a full life.
I live in a society that is ever-restless,
always eager for more mountains to climb, seeking happiness through more.
As a child of my culture,
I am seldom at peace with what I have.
Teach me to take stock of what I have given and received;
may I know that it's enough,
that my striving can cease
in the abundance of God's grace.
May I know the contentment
that allows the totality of my energies
to come to full flower.
May I know that like you I am rich beyond measure.
As you, O Autumn, take pleasure in your great bounty,
let me also take delight
in the abundance of the simple things in life
which are the true source of joy.
With the golden glow of peaceful contentment
may I truly appreciate this Autumn day.

May your fall days be filled with color, vitality and gratitude.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

It's All About Them Apples

Celebrate Honeycrisps 
Honeycrisp is an apple cultivar developed at the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station's Horticultural Research Center at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Hard to belie
ve it has been 20 years since Honeycrisp made their debut on the grocery shelves when Pepin Heights Orchards made its first delivery of Honeycrisps  to Lunds, grocery store in Minnesota. Honeycrisps are among the 5 top-selling apples in the country.  

  • It took 31 years to develop the Honeycrisp. The first crosses were made in 1960. The tree was released to apple growers in 1991. 
  • It's first name was MN 1711.
  • Honeycrsip was named by two apple breeders in their office in Victoria, MN
  • It's success led to more Minnesota-made apples including Zestar, Frostbite, and SnowSweet.
  • SweeTango, another U of M release , is the love child of Honeycrsip and Zestar. 
Information from Star Tribune September 14. 2017 
Apple Grape and Pecan Salad with Maple Mustard Dressing 
recipe adapted from

Ingredients: Maple Mustard Dressing 

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 TB. finely minced shallot
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 TB. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 TB. pure maple syrup
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 6-8 cups mixed greens, loosely packed
  • 1 large Honeycrisp Apple, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1- 1/2 cups halved red seedless grapes
  • 1 cup candied pecans
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese, feta, white cheddar or goat
  • To make the Maple-Dressing, combine olive oil, shallot, garlic, mustard, vinegar, and maple syrup in a blender. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste and mix well.
  • In a large bowl combine salad greens, apple slices, grapes, candied pecans, and cheese. Drizzle salad with dressing and toss to combine. Serve immediately.
Dressing option 
Apple Cider Vinaigrette
  • 1 TB.each Extra Virgin Olive oil and cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. scallion whites
  • 1 tsp. each sugar and Dijon mustard
  • Pinch of salt
  • Whisk to blend or use a blender

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Tips and Timesavers

Cook's Notes: Tips and Time savers courtesy of Cuisine at Home readers
August 2017
A Stitch in Time
When I reheat food especially a casserole or pot pie, I place a cold dish in a cold oven. Then I turn oven on to 350 degrees. The food heats as the oven comes to temperature and by the time the oven is at temperature the food is safely heated completely through, saving me time and energy.  
Ring Top
The ring pulls on juice juice or milk cartons and some can lids are very hard for me to remove with my fingers. I discovered that a wooden spoon handle threaded through the ring pull gives me the added leverage I need to help pull those pesky caps off. 
Griddle Meister
With grilling season in full force I discovered a way to cook some foods that you wouldn't normally  cook on a grill. I take my griddle out to the grill and cook pancakes, bacon, even delicate fish fillets. They taste slightly smoky too.

October 2017
English Bake Off
When I make casseroles I use English muffin crumbs for a super crunchy topping. I butter two muffin halves tear them into pieces and pulse them into crumbs with my food processor.  They're covered in butter and ready to top my casserole. 
All 'Round Winner
Sliders are a big hit at my house. I've tried various ways of making cheese fit on them. I use a biscuit cutter slightly smaller than the burgers and punch out about two discs per square slice. I save the scraps for nachos or add to mac'n cheese. 

October 2016
Oat Cuisine 
I add a few tablespoons of oats to casseroles before baking. The oats act as a thickening agent, giving the dish a creamy texture and makes it more nutritious, while imparting a nutty flavor. Though you may need to add a few extra tablespoons of liquid.
Waffle Iron Clean-Up
I use my waffle iron constantly so it always needs to be cleaned. I've found a great way to remove  all the residue-use Q-Tips. They are just the right size for maneuvering in and out of all the nooks and crannies. 
Wednesday's Beauty

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The World According to Bella

A Direct Hit

We took a direct hit and there was devastation everywhere. And I'm not talking hurricanes but our yard. Really we were only gone 4 days. I did think Mr. C and Mrs. S should have thought this trip out better taking me off yard patrol. It was just asking for trouble and trouble it was-just couldn't believe it-barely a flower left. 
Only 2 flowers left on this bush
and most of the plants disappeared leaving only leaves behind.   
Looks like it must have been party time all day and night feasting on Mrs. S's plants and flowers.   
I resumed yard patrol immediately and spent the better part of day and into the night  barking all critters off our property. The first night even though it was getting dark I refused to come inside fearing the worst. 
 So I spent time rearranging my hole I might as well be comfortable while on watch. I sat in the dark several hours waiting and watching.   
I've decided no more trips until fall is over.  At least the deer didn't eat all Mrs. S's tomatoes. 


P.S. Mrs. S thinks I take my yard patrol job seriously. She rewarded me with an extra large helping of sugar snap peas, my favorite snack.   

Monday, September 11, 2017

Apple Galette

Apple Galette
Craving a juicy apple pie but don't want to fuss making a whole pie? Try this easy rustic apple galette where the dough and filling are the same as pie but with an added twist-streusel topping.  I guarantee your guests will be impressed!
Filling Ingredients:
  • refrigerated pie crusts or prepare your own pie crust dough
  • 4 large tart apples such as Granny Smith, peeled and chopped into chunks.
  • 3 TB. flour
  • 1 TB. Saigon cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. apple pie spice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
Streusel Topping Ingredients;
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar 
  • 1/4 cup white sugar 
  • 1-2 tsp.cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 TB. cold butter cut in small pieces
  • 1 TB. cinnamon/sugar mixture  
  • Mix filling ingredients and set aside.
  • Line a baking pan with parchment paper. 
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
  • Roll dough out to a 10-12 inch circle on floured wax paper.
  • Place dough circle in center of parchment paper.
  • Mound apples on top of circle leaving a 2 inch border all around. 
  • Mix streusel coarse crumbs blending in butter.
  • Sprinkle over apple filling and fold dough around the filling.
  • Brush with half and half and sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mixture.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 400 degrees and bake 25 minutes more.