Apple Empanadas

Looking for an easy dessert for your next tailgate or wine picnic?  Empanadas are easy to make and a great make and take treat. I was thinking of making fried apple pies but I really would prefer to bake than fry.  I had a few empanada wrappers left over from making my lamb stew empanadas and decided to make apple empanadas.   These are so easy to make when you use prepared wrappers.  I received a tip from a dear friend of mine about La Salenta empanada wrappers for baking (read the wrapper, some are for frying and some for baking).  They are flaky and delicious and made for convenience.  This brand is under the General Mills umbrella of products and should be easy to find in most locations.  I purchased mine at the local mart specializing in international foods.   These would be equally delicious with any filling you select, I must admit the apple filling is one of my favorites.

                                        

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Apple Empanadas

Ingredients

  • 10 empanadas wrappers
  • 2 apples, small diced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • pinch nutmeg
  • pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • milk, to brush on tops
  • sugar, to sprinkle on tops

Instructions

  1. In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat.  Add apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, lemon juice and salt.   Cook 20 - 25 minutes or until the apples are soft and the sauce has reduced.  Stir frequently. Stir in cranberries.  Cool filling.

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Take each empanada wrapper and brush sides with beaten egg.  Place approx. 1 tablespoon of the filling in the middle of each wrapper.  Fold in half and pinch to seal.  Crimp edges with a fork. Place on parchment lined baking sheet.  Repeat until you have filled all of the wrappers.  Make two small slices in the top of each empanada.  Brush the top of each with milk and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

 

Pumpkin Cranberry Pecan Biscotti

I think I could write a cookbook just on biscotti.  This is my fifth post featuring various biscotti recipes.  I think biscotti are the perfect cookie, great for breakfast with a cup of coffee, afternoon with a cup of tea, or a delightful dessert or late evening treat with a cup of coffee or glass of wine.   Make an assortment and package as gifts, sure to be a hit with all on your list. 

 

 

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Pumpkin Pecan Cranberry Biscotti

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl, mix well.  In a large mixing bowl, combine puree, egg, vanilla, and butter.  Mix at medium speed until combined, slowly add dry mixture, combine until all of the dry ingredients have been incorporated.  Stir in pecans and cranberries.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface knead slighty, divide into two pieces.  Form each piece into a log approx. 12 inches by 2 inches.  Place on parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake logs for 25 minutes, remove and let cool for 15 minutes.  Slice the logs diagonally in 1/2 inch slices and return to baking sheet cut side up.  Return to oven and bake at 325 an additional 15 minutes - flip pieces after 7 minutes.  Cool

Blackberries, Blackberries, Blackberries

How could I pass up beautiful blackberries this week at the Farmers’ Market.  Well, as you can tell I didn’t pass them by.  I headed home and made two of our favorites;  Blackberry Breakfast Bars and Blackberry Custard Pie.  Both so easy to prepare and both recipes highlight the taste of these exquisite berries.  

 

 

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Blackberry Breakfast Bars

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh blackberries
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons water mixed with 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter

Instructions

  1. Prepare the filling:  in a medium saucepan combine the berries, sugar, water, lemon juice and cinnamon.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat continue boiling for 8 minutes, stir occasionally.  Add cornstarch water mixture, return to a boil and boil an additional one minute, stirring constantly.   Remove from heat.

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl combine the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and butter.  Stir until well combined.  Reserve 1 cup of mixture for the topping.  Press the remaining into a parchment lined 9 inch square baking dish.  Bake crust for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven, spread with blueberry filling and crumble remaining 1 cup of oat mixture over the top.  Bake an additional 25-25 minutes.  Cool, cut into bars.

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Blackberry Custard Pie

Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 1 unbaked pie shell
  • 3 cups fresh blackberries (you could also use peaches)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Arrange blackberries in pie shell.  Mix remaining ingredients in a medium bowl until well combined.  Pour over berries.  Bake 10 minutes, reduce heat to 375 degrees and bake an additional 30 - 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool prior to slicing.  Top with whipped cream, if desired.  Store pie in the refrigerator.

Frozen Chocolate Crepes with Rum Butter Sauce

All I can say about this recipe – one of my favorites and you just have to try them.  You can make ahead and freeze the filled crepes, trust me on this one – a real winner!

 

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Chocolate Crepes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 eggs

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender; blend on low for 30 seconds  Allow batter to stand at room temperature for one hour prior to cooking.  Heat crepe pan or 7 - 8 inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Grease pan lightly.  Pour about 3 - 4 tablespoons batter into the pan, tilting pan to spread evenly.  When crepe is light brown and set, flip to brown other side  Remove from pan and cool on rack.  Cover and refrigerate cooled crepes until ready to fill.   Makes 20 - 22 crepes.

 

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Chocolate Mousse Filling

Ingredients

  • 1 12oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream, heated to boiling
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 6 egg whites, beaten until stiff

Instructions

  1. Place chocolate chips, salt and vanilla in blender, blend on low speed 30 seconds.  Add boiling cream; blend 30 seconds.  Add egg yolks all at once, blend 5 seconds.  Add a small amount of the chocolate mixture to the beaten egg whites.  Carefully fold in remaining chocolate mixture.  Refrigerate filling 2 - 3 hours or until set.  To assemble crepes, place 1 heaping tablespoon of filling on the center of each crepe.  Fold side over.  Place on waxed paper-lined cookie sheet, cover tightly.  Freeze until ready to serve.

 

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Butter Rum Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons light rum
  • whipped cream
  • shaved chocolate
  • chocolate syrup

Instructions

  1. Combine brown sugar, salt, half and half, corn syrup, butter and run in a medium saucepan.  Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  When ready to serve, reheat sauce in the microwave, spoon 2 - 3 tablespoons of sauce on dessert plate, top with one crepe (let sit at room temperature approx. 25 minutes prior to serving), garnish with a dollop of whipped cream, drizzle with chocolate syrup and top with shaved chocolate.

Devil’s Food Cake

Every once in awhile, I bake a cake.  I must admit vary rarely, however, always for birthdays and then it is usually a carrot cake.  So, baking a Devil’s Food Cake is a real treat.   I never use cake mixes, I guess I am a purist and I always want to know what is in the food we eat.  Additives and preservatives – I avoid at all costs.  I know sometimes I cannot avoid then, but when I have the choice, I prefer to bake from scratch.  I know this a holdover from my mom and happy to say I can continue her traditions.   This cake is just divine and easy to prepare.  I topped mine with Seven Minute Fluffy Frosting and it is excellent.  

 

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Devil's Food Cake

Servings 12

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs divided, separate yolks and whites
  • 1 1/2 cup cold water
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two nine inch cake pans.  In a medium bowl sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt, set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, beat shortening on medium speed for 30 seconds.  Add the 1 cup sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffly.  Add the egg yolks, one at a time and beat well after each addition.  Add dry ingredients and water alternately, ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix until all dry ingredients are incorporated.  In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Slowly add the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, beat until stiff peaks form.  With a spatula, fold the egg whites into the cake batter.  Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans.  Bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.  Cool cakes for 10 minutes prior to removing from pans.  Cool completely, frost.

 

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7 Minute Fluffy Frosting

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. For this recipe you will want to use your electric hand mixer. 

    In a stainless heavy bottom saucepan combine all ingredients except the vanilla extract.  Place pan on burner over medium low heat.  Beat with electric hand mixer on high speed for 7 minutes, while the burner is on.  Remove the pan from the burner, mix in the vanilla.  The frosting should be light, fluffy and stiff peaks form.  Frost middle and sides of cake.  For decorative chocolate drizzle, melt 1/2 teaspoon shortening and 1  1-oz. block of unsweetened chocolate, drizzle over sides of cake.

Nectarine Basil Cobbler

I purchased too many nectarines and all of them became ripe at the same time.  I also had a large quantity of fresh basil waiting to be used.  I contemplated what to do with these two ingredients and my first thought was salsa.  But, I really didn’t have any other ingredients on hand for salsa.  I was planning on making a peach cobbler in the next few weeks, but after looking at my bounty, Nectarine Cobbler it was.  At the spur of the moment, I also thought I would toss in the basil and I am sure glad I did.  What a wonderful combination, one you might not think of, but it is delicious.  You just never know what happens when you start experimenting in the kitchen.  

 

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Nectarine Basil Cobbler

Ingredients

  • 6 nectarines, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
  • 2 tablespoons Cointreau (optional)
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a 10 inch ovenproof skillet or 8 inch square baking dish, layer sliced nectarines. Top nectarines with minced basil and sprinkle the Cointreau over the nectarines.  Combine oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and flour in a mixing bowl.   Dice butter into small pieces and cut into the flour mixture with either two forks or a pastry blender.  Combine until butter and flour mixture is coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the nectarines.  Bake 40 - 45 minutes.  Serves 6.

Chocolate Chip Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

When a friend gives you the cutest dessert plates that say The Best Things in Life Have Chocolate Chips, what is a food blogger to do but bake some chocolate chip cookies.   I just could not resist since I thought these dessert plates were just too cute.  The other plates in the box she gave me all have wonderful food sayings as well and I can’t wait to use them during my next dinner party.  My mom used to call this cookie recipe, Cowboy Cookies, not sure where the name came from.  I have since added dried cranberries to her original recipe, therefore the name change to Chocolate Chip Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies.  Any name you give these cookies, it is hard to eat just one.  I have to think the saying on the plate is pretty correct – The Best Things in Life Have Chocolate Chips!

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Chocolate Chip Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon hot water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream together shortening and sugars.  Add eggs, water and vanilla.  Add flour, baking soda and salt to the creamed mixture, mix well.  Add oats, chocolate chips, dried cranberries, and walnuts until well combined.  Drop rounded teaspoons of dough on parchment lined baking sheets.  Bake for 10 - 15 minutes.  Remove and cool on racks.  Yields: 4 dozen cookies

Frozen Key Lime Pie

Frozen Key Lime Pie is the perfect make ahead summer dessert.  This past week, I was traveling out of town and the night I was returning, we were going to a dinner and I was bringing dessert.  I remember my mom had a frozen pie recipe in her recipe card box and thought that would be the perfect pie to make.  This pie recipe is so easy, the only cooking involved is baking the graham cracker crust prior to filling the pie.  I also added a whipped cream topping.  Make it now, freeze for later and just bring out of the freezer thirty minutes prior to serving.  I will also admit that due to time constraints, I used bottled key lime juice and the results were delicious.  There are some shortcuts that just make life easy and bottled 100 percent key lime juice works great in this recipe.

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Frozen Key Lime Pie

Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1 9 inch graham cracker crust
  • 1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup key lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated lime peel
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream, whipped
  • thin slices of lime, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Prepare graham cracker crust.  In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese at medium speed until smooth.  Slowly add sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, key lime juice; blend until smooth.  Fold in lime peel.  Pour into prepared graham cracker crust.  Freeze. for 2 hours.  In a medium bowl, whip whipping cream until stiff peaks form, remove pie from the freezer, top with whipped cream.  Return to freezer and freeze until firm.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Remove from freezer 30 minutes prior to serving.  Top with lime slices, if desired.  

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Graham Cracker Crust

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients until blended.  Press into a 9-inch pie plate.  Bake 6 - 8 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool prior to filling.

Strawberry Basil Ice Pops

One of my favorite things to eat when I visit Atlanta, GA is finding a King of Pops stand and having one of their ice pops.  They are not the ice pops you remember as a child in vivid colors and artificial flavors.  Their pops have extremely unique flavors.  One of my favorites is their sea salt chocolate, it is just delicious and really makes your mouth dance!  With the warm weather on the horizon, I thought this year I would try creating a few unique recipes to share and see how I do creating interesting flavors.  I think I have hit a home run with this combination; strawberries, basil and cream.   There are so many great ice pop molds on the market you can make ice pops in any shape you desire from rockets, cylinders and fruit shapes.  These Strawberry Basil Ice Pops would also be terrific made in a smaller mold and placed in a champagne glass and topped with champagne or prosecco.

 

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Strawberry Basil Ice Pops

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces hulled strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3-4 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 pinch kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Combine all of the above ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.  Pour into 6 - 3 oz. ice pop molds. Place in freezer and freeze for two hours, insert ice pop sticks in the center of each pop.  Freeze until solid.  Remove from mold and wrap in plastic wrap or in individual resealable bags.  Return to freezer and freeze for an addition 6 - 8 hours.  Serve.

    Freezing the pops for a second time in the plastic wrap will create a firm and icy pop.


Blueberry Crumb Cake

I keep finding blueberry recipes in my recipe stash from my mom.  If there is any time of year perfect for blueberry recipes, I think spring is the one. It also helps that almost every produce department is running a sale on blueberries this time of year.  Blueberry Crumb Cake is quick and easy to assemble cake;  perfect for breakfast with coffee, tea or as a dessert.   

 

 

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Blueberry Crumb Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • Crumb Topping
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour one 9 inch square baking pan.

    Combine Flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.  Cream butter and sugar.  Add egg and milk, beat until smooth.  Add flour mixture (reserve 1/4 cup) and beat until well combined.  Toss the blueberries with the remaining 1/4 cup flour mixture and fold into the batter.  To prepare topping, combine sugar, flour and cinnamon, cut in butter until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle over cake batter in pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for 40 - 45 minutes.