dessert

Apple Pie “Blintzes”

Apple Pie Blintzes

Since I posted the recipe for making your own apple pie filling recently, I thought I’d share a fun way to use it- other than in a pie. I made blintzes with the pie filling.

I used flour tortillas for the crepes. Don’t get me wrong, I love making real crepes. But, when you don’t have the time, the tortillas are a fun and tasty substitute.

I soaked the tortillas in milk. By soaking the tortillas in milk, they soften up, and can be used like a crepe. Soak them for at least 10 minutes, or up to 30 minutes. I placed the tortillas in a shallow baking pan and made sure to drizzle each one with milk as I added them to the pan.

For the filling, I used some of my homemade apple pie filling. If you have fresh apples, you can just peel and slice the apples, then cook them in a little water and sugar until softened. You can make them as sweet as you like. You made need less sugar if the apples are extra sweet. Add some cinnamon and nutmeg, too. If they are too watery- combine a little cornstarch with cold water and drizzle the mixture in until the apples thicken up. Don’t add too quickly or you might them too thick and gummy.

To assemble the blintzes, place a softened tortilla on your work surface and spoon a little apple filling in the middle. You can do this with hot filling, but cold or room temperature filling is easier to use. Don’t over fill them or you won’t be able to fold them up. I used 8-inch tortillas and used about 1/4 cup of filling for each one. Fold the sides in until they almost meet in the middle and them roll the tortilla up to cover the filling. Place seam side down until ready to fry them.

Heat butter in a skillet, and brown the blintzes over medium heat until lightly toasted on both sides. They will be crispy on the outside, but tender in the middle. Put on a serving plate, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve while warm. These are fine just as they are, but feel free to add ice cream or whipped cream, too.

My guests really liked them and said they did not realize they were made from tortillas. I have made these before and use different fruit fillings. I’ve even made a cheese filled version a few times. It seems I usually have a package of tortillas, so it is a go-to dessert for me in a pinch.

Classic Pear Cobbler

Classic Pear Cobbler

Cobbler is one of my favorite desserts for this time of year. I really enjoy making this pear cobbler for family and friends.  Like apples, pears always remind me of Fall.

While cobblers can be made with any number of different fruits,  I love using pears. It is one of the simplest desserts you can make from scratch, and one of my favorites, for sure.

In the time it takes to preheat the oven, you can have it ready to bake. This recipe calls for baking mix, like Bisquick. I make my own- recipes follows, but use what you like.

The cobbler is fine served plain, or with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream. It can also be served cold, but I prefer to serve it warm.

If you prefer, you can also make the cobbler with a combination of pears and apples.

 

 Classic Pear Cobbler

4 c. peeled and sliced pears

½ c. sugar

1 T. plus 2/3 c. baking mix (Like Bisquick or Jiffy Mix or even homemade)- recipe follows

1-2 t. cinnamon

2 T. packed brown sugar

¼ c. butter

2 T. milk

In 1-quart shallow casserole, combine fruit, sugar, 1 tablespoon of the biscuit mix and cinnamon. In medium bowl combine remaining biscuit mix with sugar. Cut in butter to resemble coarse crumbs. Stir in milk to make a soft dough. Drop by spoonfuls over fruit mixture. Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into dough comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes. Serves 4-6.

 

Baking/ Biscuit Mix

8 cups sifted, all-purpose flour
1 c. powdered milk
1 c. powdered buttermilk
¼ c. baking powder
1 T. salt
2 c. shortening*
Sift dry ingredients together 3 times. Cut in shortening to resemble cornmeal. Keep in an airtight container. Store in a cool dry place and use within six months.

*You can use butter or coconut oil in place of the shortening. Just store in the fridge, if you do. I use coconut oil.

Classic Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake

I can’t remember the first time I had carrot cake. I do know that I loved it. Carrot cake is a timeless dessert that never goes out of style.

It is a simple cake, but full of flavor from cinnamon, vanilla and three cups of shredded carrots.  The carrots add both flavor and moisture to the cake. Plus, with all those carrots, it’s like dessert and a veggie all in one. Practically health food.

It seems like a long time since I baked a carrot cake. Too long.  I am getting together with friends this weekend, and I offered to make dessert. Carrot cake popped into my head.

I baked the cakes this morning. I only made one recipe, but instead of baking the cake in one 9×13-inch pan, I used two (8×8 -inch) pans. Baking time was about 5 minutes less. Once the cakes cooled down, I frosted them with cream cheese frosting – recipe follows. Now I have two carrot cakes for two different dinners.

So here is the recipe. I hope you love it as much as I do.

 

My Favorite Carrot Cake

4 eggs

2 c. sugar

1½ c. oil

3 c. shredded carrots

2 t. vanilla

2 c. flour

2 t. each baking soda and cinnamon

1 t. salt

1 c. nuts

1 c. raisins, optional

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9×13-inch pan. Beat together eggs sugar and oil until smooth. Stir in carrots. Combine flour with dry ingredients and beat in. Stir in nuts and raisins and pour into prepared pan. Bake 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Dust with powdered sugar or frost with cream cheese frosting.

 

Frosting recipe:

8 oz. Cream cheese, softened

3/4 c. powdered sugar

1 stick butter, room temperature

Beat all together until fluffy. Frost cake and refrigerate until ready to eat.

Cinnamon Pear Coffee Cake

Cinnamon Pear Coffee Cake

This pear-studded cake is perfect to have with that morning cup of coffee- or for dessert. The tender cake is topped with chopped pears, cubes of cream cheese, cinnamon sugar and a vanilla glaze. The taste is amazing.

I used Bartlett pears, but any ripe pear would work.

Why should apples get all the attention- right?  Don’t get me wrong, I love apples. It’s just that I love pears, too. I think they don’t get used in baking as much as they should.

I will say up front, that this is not the prettiest cake out there. It comes out of the oven kind of lumpy, from all those pears and the tiny cubes of cream cheese. Once you top it with the cinnamon sugar, and later the glaze, it looks a lot better. It is one of the tastiest cakes, though, and isn’t that what’s important?

So if you want to enjoy one of my favorite Autumn fruits in a new way- try making this simple, tasty pear coffee cake. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

 

Cinnamon Pear Coffee Cake

1 stick (½ cup) butter

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 c. half and half

1 c. all-purpose flour

1 c. sugar

2 t. baking powder

2 t. cinnamon

1 t. vanilla

½ t. salt

2 lbs. pears, about 4 large, cored, peeled and sliced *

8 oz. cream cheese, cut in small pieces

Topping

3 T. cinnamon sugar

Glaze:

½ c. powdered sugar

1-2 T. milk

½ t. vanilla

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter and pour into a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. In a small bowl, mix together the egg, half and half, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pour directly over the butter in the baking dish, but do not stir. Drain pears well. Add the pears, arranging in a single layer as much as possible. Sprinkle cream cheese pieces over fruit. Place in preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until top is golden brown and edges are bubbling. When you remove the cake from the oven, sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Set cake aside to cool.  Make glaze by combining glaze ingredients. Add just enough milk for a nice consistency for drizzling. Drizzle over cooled cake. Store leftovers in fridge. Serves 12.

 

* To keep pears from discoloring place in a bowl with 2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Classic Apple Galette

Apple Galette

If you like apple pie,  you should like apple galette. A galette is made by rolling out your crust, adding filling and folding up the edges. No pie pan involved.

I actually find a galette easier to make than pie. You don’t have to try to roll out your dough to fit into the pie pan. Nor does you dough have to be rolled into a perfect circle.

That takes a lot of pressure off, if rolling a perfect circle of dough is not your best talent. I must confess to liking its rustic charm. I make my own crust, but you can used purchased crusts, if you prefer.

You can serve your galette with ice cream, whipped cream or dusted with powdered sugar. You can make it with other fruits, as well. Any fruit pie can become a galette.

 

 

Apple Galette

Flaky Pie Crust

2 c. flour

1 t. salt

3/4 c. butter, chilled

1 T. cider vinegar

4-5 T. cold water

Combine flour and salt and cut in butter. Toss in vinegar and water 1 tablespoon at a time until dough holds together. Use a fork to toss the ingredients together and as soon as the mixture holds together stop adding water. Makes 2. Chill well before using.

Filling:

5-6 medium apples- I used Jonathan, Gala and Macintosh

2/3 c. sugar- plus extra for sprinkling

3 T. cornstarch

1 T. cinnamon

1 T. Lemon juice, plus extra for treating the apples

1 t. nutmeg

1 t. vanilla

1/2 t. salt

Prepare dough. Roll half the dough into a 10-inch circle- repeat with remaining dough. Keep covered with plastic wrap until ready to use. Peel and core apples and slice thin. Place apples in water with lemon juice added to prevent browning. Drain apple slices well and place in a bowl. Toss with the sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and seasonings. Place one of the crusts on a baking sheet. Pile half of the prepared apples on the center of the crust. You should have about a 2-inch circle of dough around the edges that is uncovered. Fold edges of the crust up over the apples pressing lightly to hold in place. Sprinkle with a little extra sugar. Repeat with the remaining crust and apples. You will have a little liquid in the bowl from the apple mixture- save that for now. Place the galettes in a preheated 425 degree oven and bake for 15 minutes. Turn down heat to 350 and bake for another 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. While galettes are baking take the liquid left from the apples and cook in a small saucepan until thickened- it will take a minute or two. This will be used to glaze the galettes. When galettes come out of the oven brush the apples with the thickened  glaze.  Cool on wire rack. Makes 2.

Apple Crumb Cake

Apple Crumb Cake

I love apple season. I will go to local farm markets and orchards several times, picking out different varieties.

Several of my favorite varieties won’t be around until October, but there is a great selection already.

I eat plenty of apples fresh, but I  also cook with them. This is one of my favorite apple recipes.

The tender cake and crunchy topping seem like the perfect combination. Most days I would rather have a crumb topping on a cake than frosting.

This recipe hits all the right notes. Sweet with apple chunks throughout, a nice touch of cinnamon and that crunchy topping that I love.

 

Apple Crumb Cake

For cake batter:

2 c. flour

2 t. baking powder

½ t. salt

½ stick (¼ cup) butter, softened

¾ c. sugar

1 egg

½ c. milk

2 c. chopped peeled, cored apples

For topping:

½ c. sugar

¼ c. flour

2 t. cinnamon

½ stick (¼ c. butter, chilled and cut into bits)

 

Combine dry ingredients and set aside. In mixing bowl with electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and milk. Add flour mixture gradually until just mixed in. Fold in apples. Grease and flour an 8 or 9-inch pan and add prepared batter. Combine topping ingredients until they resemble coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over the batter in pan and bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 35-45 minutes. Use toothpick to test.

Note: I used a 9-inch square pan and it worked fine.

 

Mini Cheesecakes

Mini Cheesecakes with Raspberries

These miniature cheesecakes are a wonderful dessert.  The recipe just makes 6, so you can make cheesecake anytime. No need for a party or special occasion. Also, no need for a springform pan. These are baked in muffin tins.

The recipe is very simple. The little cheesecakes are baked in less than half and hour. Once baked and cooled, you can top them with all sorts of fruits, jams, chocolate sauce or whipped cream.

I used some raspberries for this batch. The creamy filling works so well with the tart/sweet berries. I brushed a little raspberry jam over the top, but you could also sprinkle the berries with a little sugar, if you prefer.

You can use a mix of berries and seasonal fruit. Raspberries and blueberries would make a great combination. I like fresh peaches with berries, too.   They bake quickly and can be frozen. I freeze them plain, then top with fruit or jam when ready to serve.

Mini Cheesecakes

6 vanilla wafers

Filling

1 (8 oz.) pkg. Cream cheese, softened

1/4 c. sugar

1 t. vanilla

1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 6 muffin tins with paper or foil liners and place a vanilla wafer in each cup. Beat the cream cheese with the sugar until well blended. Beat in vanilla, then egg. Spoon the cheese mixture into the muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes, or until set. They will be pretty full and will puff up while baking. They will also settle when cooling. Once cooled, arrange fruit on the top of each little cheesecake.Makes 6.

For the raspberry topping, I used about a cup of raspberries and 1/2 c. of raspberry jam. I placed a few berries on each cheesecake. Then I warmed the raspberry jam and brushed it gently over the tops. Chill before serving.

 

Lemon Tea Cake

Lemon Tea Cake

This is one of my favorite cakes of all time. It is a simple cake, enhanced with the flavor of lemon juice and lemon zest. Once out of the oven, you poke the hot cake with a large fork or a skewer, and pour a lemon syrup over it.

Moist, tangy and fragrant, it is a perfect addition to afternoon tea.

Great all on its own, this cake is also wonderful served with fresh berries and whipped cream for a light dessert. On a hot day, I have been known to top it with a scoop of ice cream.

Before you ask, the measurements are correct- only 3/4 cup of flour.  The cake does not rise a whole bunch, but the texture is still very nice. The denseness of the cake helps it to stand up to the lemon syrup.

 

I hope you will give it a try.

Lemon Tea Cake

 2 lemons

3 T. sugar for topping

½ c. butter, softened

¾ c. sugar

2 eggs, beaten

3/4 c. flour

6 T. milk or half and half

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8- inch loaf pan and line with wax or parchment paper. Grate the lemon rinds and set aside. Combine the juice of 1 of the lemons with the 3 tablespoons of sugar, stirring to dissolve sugar. Set aside.

Cream together the butter with the rest of the sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, a little at a time until well mixed. Stir in the flour and lemon peel and beat well. Add the milk and beat well. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake at least an hour. The cake should spring back when touched lightly. As soon as you remove the cake from the oven pierce it all over with a long-tined fork or a skewer. Pour over the reserved lemon juice mixture. Cool cake in pan before serving. Cake will be moist and tangy.

Giant Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread

Let me be clear. The bread is normal size- the zucchini are giant. Even the most diligent of gardeners will have a few zucchini get away from them.

Zucchini seem to go from too small to gigantic in the blink of an eye. A friend just brought me a bag of really big zucchini.

This time of year I get a lot of questions about overgrown zucchini.  People seem to think there is nothing you can do with them. That’s not true. Even older squash can be eaten in all sorts of ways.

You can determine if the skin is too tough to eat by trying to pierce it with a fingernail. If you can easily poke the skin- it is tender enough to eat. If it isn’t, just peel before using.

Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and look at the seed cavity. If the middle looks spongy, hollow or if the seeds are developing scoop out the middle and discard. The remaining zucchini can be cubed or sliced and added to stews, soups, stir fries and all sorts of dishes.

One of my favorite things to make with the bigger zucchini, is zucchini bread. I shred up a whole zucchini and portion it out in amounts I will need for my bread. I freeze what I won’t be using that day. It is really nice in the dead of winter to be able to make zucchini bread. Here is the recipe I use. It is a favorite and makes 2 loaves, which is a bonus.

Zucchini Bread

3 c. flour

3 eggs

2 c. sugar, I use less

2 c. shredded zucchini

1 c. oil

1 c. chopped nuts or raisins, optional

½ c. sour cream or Greek yogurt

1 t. each vanilla, cinnamon, salt and baking soda

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 2 (9×5 inch) loaf pans. Set aside. Place flour in large bowl. Beat eggs and add with remaining ingredients to flour, mixing well and scraping bowl. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake 1 hour , or until browned and toothpick in center emerges clean. Cool in pans on wire rack. Freezes well. Makes 2 .

Spiced Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

Spiced Chococlate Zucchini Cupcakes

It’s that time of year. Zucchini time. Maybe I should call it, “What do I do with all my zucchini time?” Zucchini and other summer squash are in abundance right now. This recipe is another, tasty way, to use them.

These are wonderfully spiced, moist cupcakes. Instead of frosting them, I decided to top them with melted butter and cinnamon sugar.  It’s something I’ve done with muffins, in the past. I didn’t see why I couldn’t do the same thing with cupcakes.

It was a really good idea. The cupcakes were baked for a picnic, and in the heat, frosting would have melted. Besides, not everyone likes frosting.

As an added bonus- it is a another recipe using zucchini, and that is never a bad thing.

 

Spiced Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
½ t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
½ t. nutmeg
Pinch of cloves
¼ c. unsweetened cocoa
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup olive oil
1½ c. sugar
2 eggs
½ c. buttermilk
1½ t. vanilla
2½ c. grated zucchini
1 cup chocolate chips
Topping:
½ c. butter, melted
½ c. sugar
2 t. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour 24 muffin cups or use paper liners. Mix together the dry ingredients. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, olive oil and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the buttermilk and vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture, just until incorporated. Stir in the grated zucchini and chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top of the cupcakes spring back when lightly pressed. Cool in pans over a wire rack for at least 10 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Dip top of cupcakes in melted butter, then dip in the cinnamon sugar. Place on rack to finish cooling off. Makes 24.