November 28, 2012

The Easiest Apple Tart

I'm always looking for new ways to eat pie, it's one of my favorite desserts.  Any fruit pie will do, I'm not picky.

On that note, when I saw that this recipe was basically an apple pie on a puff pastry I was all over it.  How easy is this?!

I enjoyed how easy it was to prepare and I also learned a couple of things that might help make yours a lot easier!

Let one sheet of puff pastry sit on your counter for about 20 minutes before you try to open it up.

Slice down the middle once you've opened it.

Cut the apples in thin slices.  Note that the first time I made this I left the skin on as instructed but now I would recommend you remove the skins.

Mix the apples with the cinnamon mixture until well coated.

This was far to many apples to pile up on this puff pastry...don't do what I did above.  Use fewer apples.  See notes below.

Once baked and cooled, top with powdered sugar. Looks great and tastes great too.

**I've made this recipe twice and I have a few adjustments that I think improve the original recipe.
First, peel the apples. I found that with the skin on it made it more difficult to bite into the tart.

Second, I only used 3 small apples and I had plenty.  I think that if you make ONE line of apples down the middle of the puff pastry it will make for an easier bite, as well as less mess.  Oh, one more thing.  I would definitely use a jelly roll pan because the liquid from the apples will spill off a cookie sheet and make loads of smoke in your kitchen.....I cannot reveal how I know this.

Third, I had trouble getting the tarts off the tin foil that I had lined my jelly roll sheet with.  You might want to try parchment paper or even try baking the tart on a cookie cooling rack so the juice drips down and doesn't form a sticky mess on the bottom of the tart.**

The pictures at the link below show a much prettier picture than mine.  I'll add more when I make this a third time. :)

The Easiest Apple Tart
Recipe from Jennifer Chong

  • 1 sheet puff pastry, cut in half
  • 4 cored apples, skin on (I have amended this to 3 apples, skin off)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • lemon juice
  • powdered sugar
Cooking Directions
  1. Take the puff pastry out of the freezer and let it sit for 25 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Thinly slice the apples.
  4. Mix the apples, lemon juice, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt together and let sit for a minute.
  5. Cut the puff pastry in half and put on a non-stick or parchment lined jelly roll pan. Sides on the pan are definitely recommended to avoid a mess in your oven. 
  6. Arrange the apples in a row on the puff pastry, stacking the apples as you go.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until the puff pastry is golden brown.
  8. Remove from the pan and transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

November 26, 2012

Jay's Pizza Dough

Sick of turkey? Or maybe you're looking for something to do with that leftover turkey? How about pizza?

I like to make my own pizza because I can top it exactly how I like.  I find it hard to get take out companies to do it exactly like we like it.

Perfectly chewy inside and crisp on the bottom.

I used a pizza stone but a cookie sheet will work too.  If you want some extra crunch, spread some cornmeal on the bottom of the pizza stone or cookie sheet before putting the dough on it.

Recipe from


  • 2 1/4 tsp (1 package) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 1/3 cups all purpose flour, divided

  1. In a small dish, combine the yeast, water and brown sugar. Let sit for 10 minutes. 
  2. Stir in the salt and oil into the yeast mixture. Mix in 2 1/2 cups of flour. 
  3. Dump the dough onto a well floured surface and knead using extra flour so the dough doesn't turn sticky.  Put the dough into a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise until doubled in size, about an hour. 
  4. Punch down the dough and form into a tight ball and let rest while you get your pan ready. 
  5. Preheat the oven to 425. 
  6. If you are using a pizza stone you can preheat it in the oven and then cook your pizza right away. If you are using a cookie sheet, grease the sheet first and let the dough rest for about 15 minutes before you begin to roll it, top it and bake it. 
  7. Bake for 15 or 20 minutes or until the crust is a nice golden brown and the cheese is melted and bubbly. 

November 23, 2012

Chocolate Chip Salted Caramel Cookie Bars

How was everyone's Thanksgiving?  Eat to much? Me too. 

I actually made these a little while ago and forgot to get it posted but I feel like they'd make a welcome addition to your holiday table.  Who doesn't like chocolate and caramel?  Oh and as another little plus, this one is great for kids because they can walk around with it.  Portable desserts, gotta love em. 

After you make the dough you press half of it into a baking dish.

Then top with caramel.

Sprinkle with some sea salt.

Top with the other half of the dough and sprinkle on some more sea salt.

Bake and then let cool completely before attempting to cut.  Otherwise your caramel will squish out a little.

The only thing I did a little different than the original recipe was using my own homemade caramel so I've given the link below.  Definitely a keeper for my recipe book.  I loved the little bit of salt that is added.  It's like eating a chocolate chip cookie with the goodness of caramel in the middle and the salt really helps all the flavors.

Recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod

November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope you and your family or friends or both are having a very special day today.  Enjoy each other, moments are what matter. 

November 20, 2012

Creamiest Macaroni and Cheese

I know this isn't a traditional "holiday" type of dish but if you've got kids as picky as mine you may want to consider putting something on the table that you know they'll eat and love.  I mean after all, it's the biggest eating holiday of the year so we should all be happy right? 

Here's my plan, attempt to get her to try all of the other items on the table and when she does I'll break out the macaroni and cheese as her reward!  Yeah, that's my plan anyway. 

I was thrilled to find this recipe on Pinterest because she loves the boxed type of macaroni and cheese but I don't buy that kind so she's often times disappointed in the versions I make.  This one was perfect and she kept asking for more!  

What I'd like to do next is eliminate the canned cheddar cheese soup, if any of you have a good recipe for that please send it my way!

Can you believe there are only 5 ingredients here? I skipped on the seasoned salt and just seasoned with salt.

I'm attempting this recipe again tonight only I'm using reduced fat cheddar (because that's what I have). I'll let you know how it turns out.

Creamiest Macaroni and Cheese

  • 12 oz macaroni (any small type)
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 can cheddar cheese soup
  • 12 oz can evaporated milk
  • 1 -2 cups grated macaroni and cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste OR seasoned salt
Cooking Directions
  1. Cook noodles and drain according to manufacturers instructions. Place the hot noodles back into the pot they were cooked in and add the cheese soup, 1/2 the can of evaporated milk and the butter. Stir to combine.
  2. Add at least 1 cup of the shredded cheese or more until the desired cheesiness is achieved.
  3. Keep the heat on low to help the melting and add more of the evaporated milk as needed.
  4. Season with Salt and Pepper or Seasoned Salt to taste.

November 19, 2012

M.S. Buttermilk Cornbread

Is everyone ready for Thanksgiving? 


I'm not ready at all.  I just made my grocery shopping list and menu so I guess I should probably get on that huh? 

This stay at home mom business has really made me lazy.  I'm pretty sure that by dinner time on Thursday I'll have figured out a way to make it all come together but as of this exact moment, not a lot of progress has been made. 

I do feel like I got a head start with this cornbread though.  I'm so glad I tried this recipe by Martha Stewart because I am totally going to make cornbread sausage stuffing with the leftovers.  This recipe is definitely my favorite corn bread recipe so far. I like moist cornbread with a nice crumb and just a little sweetness.  This recipe nailed all that!

I cut up the leftover cornbread and am in the process of drying it out for the stuffing I'll make later.  I didn't really grow up eating that much cornbread but I've been making it a lot more often in my adult years and really enjoy it.  This recipe is a must try!

M.S. Buttermilk Cornbread
Recipe from Martha Stewart

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups low fat buttermilk
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Brush a 9x13 inch pan with 2 Tbsp melted butter or non-stick spray.
  3. Mix the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Add the eggs, melted butter and buttermilk and mix just until moist.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Let cool in the pan for about 15 minutes and then serve.

November 14, 2012

"The Best" Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

It's hot cocoa time right? It's chilly out there even down here in the south.  I had to wear a long sleeve t-shirt yesterday. :)  

Some things I should just keep to myself right? 

Anyhoo, time to break out the tea and hot cocoa and if you make your own you can feel good about knowing what is in it and also it makes a TON!  Way more than you're going to get in those little packets at the store. 

This recipe has been husband and child approved, in case you're wondering.  Very chocolaty but not that dark rich chocolate, more of a milk chocolate type.  I just used the regular baking cocoa and not the Dutch process so that probably has something to do with it.  But I'm a milk chocolate hot cocoa kind of girl. Very similar to the store bought kind.  The recipe says this is "The Best", I don't know about that since I've only tried a couple of homemade versions but this one is pretty darn good!

Process the mixture in a food processor so it will blend well with the hot milk.

Topping this cocoa with mini marshmallows or whipped cream is a great idea. You should totally do that.

Hot Chocolate Mix
Recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

  • 3 cups non fat dry milk powder
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups cocoa powder, dutch process or natural
  • 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips or white chocolate
  • 1/4 tsp salt
Cooking Directions
  1. Whisk together all of the ingredients. If you are using a white chocolate bar just chop it slightly first.
  2. Working in batches, blend all of the ingredients in a food processor until you have a fine powder.
  3. Store in an air-tight container for up to 3 months.
  4. To make hot chocolate: 1 cup of hot milk and 1/3 cup of hot chocolate mix.

November 13, 2012

Oregon Sunsets

Recently my family and I made our way across the country Oregon to attend my grandfather's funeral.  He was 91 years old and had an amazing life.  Above is a picture of him and my grandmother.  Married for 68 years, isn't that something? I wish everyone could find the kind of love and happiness that these two had. Together they had six children and made a countless number of moves for his service in the Navy. He was a World War II and Pearl Harbor survivor.  After the funeral we got to attend a Celebration of Life gathering held at my aunts house where we heard some great stories about my grandfather from his children.  It was a great prospective on his life that I'd never really heard before.  At the end of the day it was clear that he made an impression on each person in that room and I'm sure on many others that weren't in the room.

My daughter and my husband got to meet some family they've never met before as well as visit a state they'd never been to before.  Needless to say they loved Oregon and meeting my family.  We hope to return again soon.

The view of the Willamette River.  Beautiful isn't it?

Oregon sunsets. :)

November 12, 2012

Crusty Bread

I'm sorry for the lack of posts last week.  My family and I made our way across the country to Oregon.  Pictures coming (maybe tomorrow). 

Anyway, before we left I made this bread for the second time because we are totally in love with it.  Not only is it super easy it is also just as good as you'd find in a bakery.  The leftovers make a totally delicious toast.  I could easily make this bread every other day and never get sick of it!

Did I mention this is another Pinterest find? 

Four simple little ingredients and this is what you get.  Sort of a sticky not so pretty mess.  Believe it or not this is perfect. Cover with plastic wrap and leave on the counter overnight. 

This is what it looks like the next morning. Preheat your oven and your Dutch Oven as instructed below.

While your oven and dish are heating, dump the dough onto a well floured surface and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rest for about 30 minutes.

After your Dutch Oven has heated you plop the dough into the center of it and put it back into the oven (covered) for 30 more minutes.  Then remove the cover and finish without the lid for another 10-15 minutes.

Just look at how incredible this bread looks.  I mean really!!!

The flavor is to die for.  The crust is perfect on the outside and the inside is chewy and so flavorful.  You can experiment with ton's of different flavors if you choose too.  The link below has some great ideas and you can make up your own when you get the hang of making the bread.

Let me know what your favorite flavors are, I'd love to try some new one's!

**Some of my Montana family has attempted to make this and it didn't turn out very well so I've linked some instructions for high altitude yeast bread baking**
Taste of Home high altitude bread

Crusty Bread
Recipe found at Simply So Good

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 1 1/2 cup water (you might not use all this water, add little by little until it's a tacky dough). I usually end up using all but about 2 Tbsp's of the water. 
Cooking Directions
  1. Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Slowly add water until the dough becomes tacky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap for 12-18 hours on your counter (DO NOT REFRIGERATE).
  2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Once preheated, put a dutch oven and the lid in the oven for 30 minutes to heat.
  3. While the pot is heating, dump the dough onto a well floured surface, form into a ball and let sit under plastic wrap for 30 minutes.
  4. Drop the dough ball into the hot dutch oven and place the lid on top, bake for 30 minutes.
  5. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes.
  6. Remove the bread from the dutch oven (I used a spatula) and let cool on a cooling rack.

November 5, 2012

Dill Pickle Soup

So there I was, minding my own business.  Running errands, doing chores.  Then I glance over and see a little note scribbled by my husband and all it said was "pickle soup".  Really? What the heck does that mean?  So I say to my beloved, what does pickle soup mean? He says, I want you to make it.

Because that's clearly something we eat here all the time.  I mean pickle soup is always on my menu.

No it isn't.

I do enjoy pickles immensely however. We all do, which is a good thing considering I agreed to try this recipe he found.  Do you want to know how he discovered this recipe? Food Network's Diners, Drive-in's and Dives. Gotta love The Food Network!

Potato's and shredded carrots in the pot.

Shred up some pickles.

Make a paste out of flour and sour cream, add some water to thin out slightly.

I was pleasantly surprised by this soup and so was my husband.  We sort of went into it thinking that it would be fun to try something new and if we didn't like it then at least we tried it.  But actually, my husband went back for seconds and we had the leftovers last night for dinner and we still agree that it's a nice change up from some of the other more typical soups.

I did add additional pickle juice when I was reheating the leftovers and it was perfect.  Cream with chunks of potato.  The carrots add a nice color and texture even though you really can't taste them that much. This is a super thick soup, even thicker than a chowder. You could certainly thin it out some more just by adding water if you wanted to, but I liked it thick like this.

I would definitely put this one on your list of soups to try, but only if you're a pickle lover as there is no getting around the pickle taste here.

Dill Pickle Soup

  • 5 Tbsp butter or margarine
  • 3 medium carrots, shredded
  • 2 large potatoes, cubed
  • 3 large dill pickles, shredded
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • salt
  • pickle juice
Cooking Directions
  1. In a large saucepan, combine 5 cups of water, carrots and the potatoes. Bring to a boil.
  2. When the potatoes are tender add the shredded pickles and continue to boil.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the sour cream and the flour to make a paste. Add water as needed for a sticky consistency. Slowly add in some of the hot broth and stir until the flour mixture is watery and there are no lumps.
  4. Pour the flour mixture back into the saucepan and season with salt and pickle juice to taste. Bring the mixture to a boil until it reaches the desired consistency and then remove from the heat. 
  5. Serve immediately, add more pickle juice as needed.

November 2, 2012

Quick Soft Caramel

Do you ever just have those days when you want to curl up in a ball on the couch and eat yourself into a coma? 

Yeah, I do too.  More than I'd like to admit. 

Usually however you have to get up and go to work and I'm truly sorry about that.  Even as a stay at home mom I don't get to curl up on the couch and do nothing.  

Fall and winter is the perfect time to break out the comfort foods.  I've actually never really been a big popcorn fan but I am a huge caramel fan! Something about this recipe just made me want caramel popcorn.  So I made it.  It was yummy. And I relished the 5 minutes I got to eat some of this caramel popcorn before being broken out of my trance when I heard "MOM"!

I had caramel left over, I used the rest of it in a recipe to be posted soon.  Delish!

Just pour everything in a saucepan.  Easy right?

Let the mixture come up to a boil. Set your timer for two minutes.

Is this not the easiest caramel recipe ever? It would be yummy over some ice cream or brownies or pretty much anywhere.  The caramel stays soft so this would not be like normal caramel popcorn that you find in those big tin can's.  I had leftover caramel popcorn that I stored in a air proof container and ate some the next day and found it just as tasty.

Quick Soft Caramel
Recipe from Pretty Providence

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup light Karo syrup
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
Cooking Directions
  1. Put all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and cook over medium low heat. Once boiling, cook for two minutes.