Friday, October 25, 2013

Apple Crisp

I really love fall.  Way more than any other season.  And . . . I'm missing it.  {Wah, wah, waaaaaah.} Fall just isn't the same when it's 90 degrees outside and there are no colorful leaves to crunch through.  But, I did buy a few overpriced, imported pumpkins and I also made apple crisp.  Both steps in the fall-ish direction.  And the best news of all?  I found oats at a local store, which made this dish possible.

This recipe is from my mom.  I have a handwritten copy that I wrote down a million years ago when I was leaving for college.  It's an oldie, but a goodie.  It's one that belongs on this blog.  Tuck it away for a day when you're looking for a little taste of fall.

NOTE:  The recipe below is for an 8x8 or 9x9 square baking dish.  If you want to make it in a 9x13, double both the apple mixture and topping.  


Apple Mixture
  • 4-5 cups raw granny smith apples, sliced (4-5 small apples)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup oatmeal
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted 

Place sliced apples, lemon juice, sugar, flour, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl and mix well.

Place apple mixture in a 8x8 square baking dish. (Double this if you want to make it in a 9 x 13 pan.)

Mix baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar, oatmeal, flour, and melted butter in a bowl and mix well.

Spread crumbled topping over the top of the apples and bake at 350 degrees for 1-1 1/2 hours or until bubbly.

Serve with ice cream.

Source:  Marsha Porter

Friday, October 18, 2013

Cherry Cheesecake & Brownie Parfaits

What is it about canned cherry pie filling?!  I genuinely love the stuff.  I could eat it by the spoonful out of the can.  I think this is another one of those things that goes back to my childhood.  My mom wasn't a make-things-from-a-can kind of mom, which was awesome, but also resulted in making things like canned cherry pie filling weirdly special and delicious.  Mmm.  It's so perfectly thick and gooey.    

For this recipe, I was prepared to make homemade cherry pie filling (I even bought the cherries), assuming I might not be able to find the canned version, but lo and behold . . . And, I couldn't resist.   

So, there are two ways you can go with this lovely little dessert: semi-homemade or all the way homemade.  I've made both versions and both are scrumptious.

There are three parts to these parfaits: cherry pie filling, brownies, and cheesecake filling. 

You can easily throw these together by using a box brownie mix, Philadelphia cheesecake filling (comes in a tub all ready to go), and canned cherry pie filling.   

OR, if you're feeling up to the task, you can use the recipes below for homemade brownies and cheesecake filling.  I'm finding that I'm making more and more things from scratch because I'm never quite sure what I'll be able to find in the stores here.  Plus, I'm no health expert, but I'm pretty sure there are health benefits to eating less preservatives and chemicals that are found in boxed and ready-made foods.  Although, when we're talking brownies and cheesecake I often wonder if it matters?  ANYWAY, like I said, I still used canned pie filling on these, but I was looking at using this recipe in case I couldn't find it.  

I took these to a potluck the other night and they were a hit.  I used my favorite little IKEA juice glasses which made them a nice size.  Any bigger might be overdoing it.  Or not.  


  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream

Line a 8x8 baking dish with foil or parchment paper and set aside.  

In a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, whip the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla together until smooth.  

Pour in the whipping cream and start mixing on low speed (to avoid major whipped cream splatter).  

Increase the speed and whip the mixture until it is thick and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. 

Spread mixture in baking pan, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.  

Before assembling parfaits, remove cream cheese fill from pan and place on a cutting board. 

Place filling in the freezer for 20 minutes. 

Cut filling into small cubes in preparation for assembling parfaits.  

  • 10 tablespoons butter (5 ounces)
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  

Line the bottom and sides of an 8x8 baking pan with parchment or foil and lightly grease with cooking spray.  

Combine butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a double boiler or a bowl set over a small amount of boiling water. 

Stir until butter is melted and mixture is combined.  

Set the mixture aside until it cools slightly.  It will look gritty, but will become smooth once the other ingredients are added.  

Stir in the vanilla.  

Add the eggs one at a time stirring vigorously after each one.  

When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well-blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer.  Stir until well blended. 

Spread evenly in lined pan.  

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes.

Let cool completely on a rack.

Cut into small cubes in preparation for assembling parfaits.  


Alternate layers of brownies, cheesecake filling, and cherry pie filling in parfait glasses or other small juice glasses.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mango Salsa

Sometimes grilled chicken sounds so boring and unappetizing to me. BUT, bring mango salsa into the picture and it's a whole different story.  I love this stuff.  It adds a lot of color and flavor pizzazz (I just made that term up) to grilled chicken.  

I went camping in the desert last night for the first time.  It was an adventure, to say the least.  A fun and sleepless adventure.  I took marinated chicken to grill and this mango salsa.  It made for an easy and delicious camping dinner: just throw the chicken on the grill, top with a huge mound of mango salsa, and enjoy while sitting on the beautiful beach.  Perfect.   

I didn't give super exact amounts in the recipe below.  You can make this the way you like and use more or less of certain ingredients depending on your tastes and preferences.  The ingredients are all so good, you really can't go wrong!     

  • 2 large ripe mangoes, diced  
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced 
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • cilantro, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper 

Combine mangoes, red peppers, red onion, and cilantro.  

Add lime juice and drizzle with olive oil.  

Add salt and pepper to taste.   

Serve on top of grilled chicken and cous cous, if so desired.   

Source:  Marsha Porter

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hoisin Rice Noodles with Chicken

I've mentioned before that I don't really love pasta, but what I DO love is a good Asian noodle dish.  I'm a sucker for phad Thai, yakisoba, pho, etc., etc.  So, this is a winner in my book.  It is easy to throw together, colorful, flavorful, and reheats well.  And, I can easily get all of the ingredients I need!  Done and done. 

Be sure to use low-sodium soy sauce.  Otherwise, your sauce might be a little on the salty side.  If you're using regular, compensate with a little extra honey.  

  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce 
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds cooked shredded chicken (I prepared it this way.)
  • 12 ounces rice noodles
  • carrots, grated
  • green onions, chopped
  • peanuts or cashews, chopped
  • cilantro, chopped
  • red pepper, chopped

Prepare rice noodles according to package directions by soaking in hot water until softened.  

Whisk together soy sauce, water, sesame oil, honey, vinegar, lime juice, garlic, ginger, hoisin, and peanut butter.  Set aside.  

Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat.  

Add chicken to pan with 1/3 cup of sauce and heat slightly.  Remove to a plate and set aside.   

Drain noodles and add them to the hot skillet with the rest of the sauce.  Cook over medium heat, tossing the noodles and sauce for about 3-4 minutes, until the noodles have soaked up a lot of the sauce and become more tender.   

Add chicken and heat through.  

Top with carrots, green onions, peanuts, cilantro, and red pepper.  

Source:  Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Friday, October 4, 2013

Quick Shredded Chicken

I'm BACK (finally) and it feels so good!  I spent a good portion of the day today in the kitchen cooking up some tasty things.  Makes me feel more like myself.  Like I've said, cooking here has been more challenging than I anticipated, so I'm pleased to say that I have some keeper recipes to share!  

Shredded chicken seems like sort of a lame recipe to come back on, but I'm pretty darn excited about it.  I use shredded chicken in recipes ALL the time.  And without Costco or grocery stores that are quick and easy to stop by, I know I'll be using this method often.  I made a bunch today, portioned it out, and froze it for future ease.  Sometimes it's the simple things that make me so happy.   

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup water

In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet with a lid, heat the olive oil over medium heat until hot and rippling.  

Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper on both sides.  

Place chicken top-side down in hot skillet and let the chicken cook for 5 minutes until golden brown on top. 

Flip chicken and add water, cover the skillet and simmer gently over medium heat for 7-10 minutes until chicken is cooked through (should register 160 degrees on a thermometer).

** Don't overcook chicken or it might be dry.  

While the chicken is simmering, add additional water 1/4 cup at a time if the liquid evaporates too quickly.  

Remove chicken from skillet and let cool slightly before shredding.  

Cooked chicken will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for 2 months.  

Yields:  3-4 cups cooked, shredded chicken

Source:  Mel's Kitchen Cafe