Follow on Twitter

See on Pinterest

Follow Me on Pinterest
Instagram Follow on Instagram

Friday, September 23, 2022

Apple Spice Mufffins

 This time of the year it's ALL ABOUT APPLES

Apple picking is made easy by a trip to the grocery store where you can find many varieties to choose from though apple picking certainly could be more fun. 
Apple Spice Muffins (Bakery Style)
Cook's Notes: You'll think you went to a bakery for muffins with one bite of these Apple Spice Muffins. The buttery crisp cinnamon crumb topping might just be your favorite part. I used a large Sweet Tango apple though Granny Smith or Honey Crisp work just as well. Adding in buttermilk adds just the right amount of moisture.
The recipe is adapted from twopeasandtheirpod and the recipe makes 12 muffins.

For the crumb topping:
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground Saigon cinnamon or 1-12/ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
For the muffins:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of ground cinnamon or 1 teaspoon of Saigon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • ¾ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups peeled and diced apples 
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a muffin pan with paper muffin cups or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
Crumb topping
  • Combine the flour, sugars, cinnamon, nuts, and melted butter in a small bowl. Mix with a fork until combined and the mixture is crumbly. Place the bowl in the refrigerator until ready to use (about 30 minutes). Before sprinkling on muffin tops, recrumble. 
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and allspice. If there are small brown sugar clumps, break them up with your fingers.
  • In a small bowl, combine the melted butter, buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk until eggs are well combined with the other liquid ingredients.
  • Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and gently stir together with a spatula. Don’t over-mix the batter, stir just until flour disappears. Gently fold in the apples.
  • Divide the muffin batter evenly among the muffin cups almost to the top of the pan. Top each muffin evenly with crumb topping. Gently press the crumbs into the batter with a sheet of wax paper.
  • Bake the muffins for 18 minutes or until the muffin tops are golden and the tops are set. You can insert a toothpick into the center of a muffin and if it comes out clean, they are done.
  • Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the muffins cool for 5 minutes in the pan. Remove from the pan and enjoy!

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Black and Blue Book Review


Jon Frederick reprises his role as the neurotic obsessive protagonist in Weber's newest book, “Black and Blue.” Weber writes credible mysteries of true crimes set in Minnesota. He skillfully weaves relevant information and characters from his previous books into the current book.

“Black and Blue” is an action-packed thriller novel filled with intrigue, suspense, and a cat and mouse guessing game of motives trying to identify who is the actual killer. Questions arise as the case develops and will law reinforcement be able to justify their means to the end. Each chapter seamlessly switches to a new perspective narrated by a different character sustaining interest for the reader as events u
nfold simultaneously. At times, a myriad of characters with a series of investigative clues do challenge the reader to remain attentive to the story as new clues and characters are introduced.

“Black and Blue” is a true story of a sexual assault case where the investigation focuses on finding the killer of 19-year-old Sadie Sullivan. The story is framed with the backdrop of a modern Minneapolis. Weber makes social and political observations through his characters on what fuels and hampers crime investigations in the Minneapolis area as well as noting it's a city of divided politics.

The story begins with a chance meeting between Minneapolis Police Officer Xavier – Zave – Williams and Sadie that changed his life and ended hers. Zave joins Investigator Jon Frederick as a black and white team reopening a cold case that has a lot of contaminated evidence, questionable court decisions, and two opposing hardened suspects. The investigation is intense particularly when they have to confront a gang and a militia. Investigators are left to sort through the chaos, shootings, and political outrage to deliver justice to Sadie’s family. Sadie's fiance Bobby Long, a white police officer, and a black heavyweight boxer, Flamin’ Ray Fury, are two prime suspects.

For those who enjoy a mystery thriller filled with multi-dimensional characters, relevant events, suspense, and seeing justice served Weber's book is the perfect book choice. I found it to be an engaging and chilling tale that certainly kept my interest throughout the entire story.  Since Weber has given all his books two-word titles it will not surprise you that this new book is titled “Black and Blue.”

Frank Weber is a forensic psychologist who has completed assessments for homicide, sexual assault, and domestic abuse cases. He has testified as an expert witness in numerous sexual assault and homicide cases and written seven different treatment workbooks. Weber's qualifications give him a unique understanding of forensic profiles of predators' thought processes, and the trauma of victims. His background lends credibility to his writing as well as giving his characters authentic voices. Weber chooses stories to write about that he is familiar with, tapping into real-life experiences. Weber is all about family and community. He ties settings in all his books to actual places near his hometown of Pierz, Minnesota, St. Cloud, and the Twin Cities area.

Check out his website for information on his other books, upcoming book signing events, and presentations. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Lo Mein Meatballs and Noodles


Usher in the fall season with a delicious dish of Lo Mein with Hoisin Meatballs.
Cook's Notes: Lo Mein is a Chinese dish made with egg noodles. It often contains vegetables and some type of meat or seafood, usually beef, chicken, pork, shrimp, or wontons. It can also be eaten with just vegetables. A twist to the dish is adding in hoisin meatballs. Lo Mein noodles can be found in the Asian section of the grocery store. There are lots of possibilities with these noodles. They just may become your new favorite. I liked the texture of these noodles better than traditional spaghetti noodles. Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine September 2018.
As a timesaver, the meatballs can be made ahead.
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce, divided
  • 1-1/2 cups dried bread crumbs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups dried stir fry egg noodles

  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup red and yellow mini sweet peppers, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1- 1/2 cups snow peas, trimmed
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Garnish sesame seeds
  • Mix the ground beef with 1-1/2 cups dried bread crumbs, 1/4 cup water, 2 tablespoons of hoisin sauce, salt, and pepper to taste. Form into 12 meatballs. Arrange on the prepared baking sheet, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook as the label directs; drain and rinse under cold water.
  • In a large fry pan add 1 teaspoon sesame oil, garlic, peppers, and ginger. Saute 3 minutes. Mix orange juice and cornstarch, remaining 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce and oyster sauce. Simmer on low for 8-10 minutes. Add in cooked meatballs, lo mein noodles, tomatoes, and snow peas. Stir fry on medium-low heat covered for 6-8 minutes more.
  • Garnish with sesame seeds and scallions.
Each week I follow linky parties where I can post my food blogs for more exposure. This week I had an unexpected surprise. There was a notification from Inspire Me Monday Linky that said...The most popular post at the last Inspire Me Monday Linky Party was a recipe I had posted Cherry Almond Mufffins
How exciting because there were over 300 postings from other bloggers that week. 

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Weekend Round-Up

Fall has been making its way across our yard this past week. It waves a wand of color brushing the tips of the trees.

Savor some fall dishes to usher in the season.

Cinnamon Apple Puff Pastry with Maple Glaze

Cook's Notes: These apple cinnamon spiced pastries are perfect for fall dining. The recipe serves 6 and was adapted from the publication Real Food Byerlys and Lunds.
 Cooking Tip: The smaller the apple pieces the better they will be for cooking. 
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • 3 apples, crisp (I used Sweet Tango) peeled and diced, small bite-sized
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Dash nutmeg and cardamom 
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 large egg
Icing Ingredients:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  •  2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk or half and half
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
  • Roll out puff pastry on wax paper that has been lightly floured to a square.
  • Transfer to a small parchment-lined baking sheet. 
  • With a small knife lightly score a 1/2 border around the inside of the square. Be careful not to cut all the way through.
  • In a large bowl mix diced apples, lemon juice, brown sugar, and spices. 
  • Using a slotted spoon to place the apple mixture on the pastry within the scored lines. 
  • Brush the borders with an egg wash.
  • Sprinkle nuts on top. Bake for 20 minutes.
  • Cool for 10 minutes. Mix icing ingredients and drizzle over-baked pastry. Serve immediately.
Eggs Benedict Ala Mode Hash Brown Waffles 
Cook's Notes: An intriguing and just delicious recipe serving your favorite eggs benedict over hash brown waffles. Same great taste but just a new way of looking at a standard dish. Preassembling the ingredients is a must for this recipe to go smoothly. Would be perfect for breakfast or your next brunch. 
Cooking Tips: Decide what are going to be your add-ins for this egg dish and prepare ahead. The photo shows tomato and avocado slices.
I shortcutted the hollandaise sauce by making a packaged one from Knoors.
My waffle maker is a small one 7-1/4 diameter and the batter was enough to make 3 hash brown waffles. Be sure the waffle maker is well greased.  
  • Poached egg/eggs
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • Add-ins e.g. smoked salmon, cooked bacon, tomato, avocado, prosciutto, flaked crabmeat, sauteed spinach, guacamole 
  • Hollandaise sauce
  • 1- 20. oz package of refrigerated shredded hash brown potatoes or thawed frozen shredded hash browns 
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • Grease and preheat the waffle maker. In a large bowl mix cornstarch and butter. Add in shredded hash browns and mix well. 
  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Make waffles first and transfer them to a baking sheet to keep warm.
  • Divide the mixture into 3 batches about 2 cups. 
  • Spread one batch on the bottom of the waffle maker and cook for 12 minutes. Even if the light goes off on the waffle maker keep cooking to be crisp. Transfer the cooked waffle to the baking sheet to keep warm in the oven.
  • To poach eggs bring water with white vinegar to boil, add in egg/eggs/reduce heat to low, and cook until whites are set, 3-5 minutes.   

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Soup Du Jour

Cook's notes: While you can never have too many cookies the same could also be said of soup.  It's the perfect course for any meal. We all have our favorites and one of mine is from Ever Ready Beef and Vegetable Soup.  It's simple, flavorful, and hearty. Great to have a simmering pot of soup on hand for days when life gets busy. Pair the soup with cornbread, your favorite sandwich, or crusty artisan bread. 

Beef and Vegetable Soup

It’s perfectly hearty and filling thanks to the tender chunks of protein-rich beef and abundance of nutritious vegetables. Be creative in choosing your veggies for this soup. Some suggestions include turnips, potatoes, parsnips, butternut squash, and green beans. If you use butternut squash I would recommend roasting in the oven small squash pieces sprinkled with olive oil and a little drizzle of maple syrup. The roasting brings out squash sweetness. Recipe adapted from gimmesomeoven and serves 6. One of the best parts is this it's a one-pot meal.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound sirloin steak, or beef stew meat (or whatever lean steaks are on sale!), cut into about 1" cubes
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup each diced carrots, celery, and mushrooms
  • 1 lb. potatoes (I like Yukon Gold), diced and peeled to bite-sized
  • 4 cups beef stock and 4 cups chicken stock (low sodium)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon each thyme and rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 (28 oz.) can of diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or more/less to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Stovetop Directions:
1. Place flour in a large zip loc bag and dredge meat cubes in it. In a large stockpot, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add cubes and sear meat until well browned, about 2 minutes. Remove the steak with a slotted spoon and transfer it to a separate plate.
2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pot. Add chopped onions and cook, stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots, celery, and potatoes, and continue sauteing for another 3 minutes.
3. Add the remaining ingredients along with the cooked steak to the pot, and stir to combine. Bring to a slow boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for at least 5o minutes or until the steak and vegetables are all tender. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
4. Remove the bay leaves when ready to serve. Serve the soup warm, garnished with chopped fresh parsley if desired.
Slow Cooker Directions:
1. Follow step one in stove top directions. Remove the steak with a slotted spoon and transfer it to the bowl of a large slow cooker.
2. Add the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker, and stir to combine.
3. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours until the steak and vegetables are all tender. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Remove the bay leaves when ready to serve. Serve the soup warm, garnished with chopped fresh parsley if desired.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Cheesy Spaghetti Pie with Meat Sauce


Cook's Notes:
Splurge with a pie slice enjoyed as a main meal. Spaghetti Pie is a cross between lasagna and spaghetti reconfigured into a pie using the same delicious flavors of your favorite dishes. Make the meat sauce the day before for flavors to meld. I used whole wheat spaghetti noodles for a bit healthier version. Spaghetti squash would be even a healthier alternative as well as spiralized veggies. I used a lightly greased glass 9-inch pie pan.
Whole wheat spaghetti noodles has 37 carbs and 1 cup =172 calories
Enriched spaghetti noodles have 43 carbs and 1 cup =220 calories 
And FYI Rao Marinara Sauce gets the highest ratings for jarred sauce on the grocery shelf.
Recipe adapted Food Network September 2022
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 8 oz. spaghetti 
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1-1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1-1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 lb. Italian sweet sausage
  • 1 jar Marinara sauce, good quality 24 oz. 
  • 3/4 cup diced sweet onion
  • 1 cup mini peppers red and yellow combination
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes 
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon of each basil and Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar 
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
Ricotta Cheese Filling
  • Mix ricotta cheese, egg, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and 1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Meat Sauce
Can make a day ahead for flavors to meld.
  • Cook Italian sausage, drain and crumble meat in a large fry pan. To the same pan add 1 tablespoon olive oil and saute peppers, onions, and garlic cloves until softened. Wipe pan clean of grease and add in marinara sauce, cooked meat, spices, sugar, and wine. On low heat cook sauce uncovered for 30 minutes. 
  • Refrigerate or proceed to the pie stage. 
  • Cook noodles whole do not break in 1 tablespoon of oil, add salt. Cook noodles until al dente and drain. 
  • Place noodles in a greased pie pan and arrange them like a bird's nest. 
  • Place ricotta cheese mixture on top and smooth out to the sides of noodles. 
  • Use a slotted spoon, scoop out meat sauce leaving some liquid sauce behind and place on top of the ricotta cheese mixture. 
  • Sprinkle with the rest of the Parmesan cheese and cheddar cheese.
  • Bake uncovered for 26 minutes. 
  • Let set 10 minutes as pie will be easier to slice. 

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Weekend Round-Up with Midwest Flavors

Fall in Love with These Early Autumn Dishes 
Wild Rice Salad with Apples, Celery, and Cranberries 

Cook's notes: This salad comes from the General Store Cafe of Minnetonka, MN. It's a gluten-free recipe featured in Eat and Explore Minnesota Cookbook and Travel Guide.  Use only enough dressing to moisten the salad. Any extra dressing can be used the next day on any leftover salad.  The recipe serves four.
Cooking tip: 1-1/4 cups of uncooked wild rice = about 4 cups cooked wild rice  

Dressing Ingredients:
  • 6 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar or Cranberry Pear Balsamic
  • 4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Lemon Olive Oil or Blood Orange Olive Oil
  • 2 small garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange or lemon peel
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Salad Ingredients:
  • 4 cups cooked wild rice or a brown and wild rice blend  e.g. Lundberg
  • 1-1/2 cups of celery, diced
  • 1 cup red apple, diced (with skin on)
  • 1 cup green apple, diced (with skin on)
  • 3 tablespoons sunflower seeds or 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries or cran-raisins
  • Optional adding in red or green grapes
Dressing Directions:
  • Add all ingredients to a blender and mix well. 
Salad Directions:
  • Pour 1 cup of boiling water over dried cranberries and sit for 10 minutes, drain water.
  • Mix cooked rice with celery, apples, nuts, and cranberries.
  • Add enough dressing to moisten the salad. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours covered. Just before serving add more dressing if needed.
Apple Walnut Cake with Warm Caramel Sauce
Cake Ingredients:
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons of Saigon cinnamon or 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon of each allspice and nutmeg
  • Dash of ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tart apples (about 2 cups) peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 large egg beaten
Caramel Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Cake Directions:
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease a 9-inch square pan with cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl mix flour, brown sugar, spices, and baking soda.
  • With a pastry cutter cut in butter and pulse the flour mixture a few times in a food processor with the butter.
  • Stir in egg and chopped apples. Mix well.
  • Spoon batter into pan (it will be thick). Use a sheet of wax paper to press the batter down and spread it evenly in the pan.
  • Bake for 45 minutes or until the apples are cooked.
  • Cool cake for one hour and serve with warm sauce.
Caramel Sauce Directions:
  • In a small saucepan add cream, sugars, and butter. Whisk to blend and cook on medium-low heat until sugars are dissolved about 6 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and add in vanilla. Whisk to blend. Drizzle sauce over each cake slice.
Power of Words

Apple Spice Mufffins

 This time of the year it's ALL ABOUT APPLES Apple picking is made easy by a trip to the grocery store where you can find many varieties...