Monthly Archives: September 2012

Caramel Apple Cookies

What’s not to love about caramel apples?  They’re sweet and more sweet.  In fact, when I was little, I used to think they were fairly healthy treats (I was getting my apple-a-day, right?).  I now know that any food covered in caramel sauce is not the healthiest, but I’m still infatuated with this treat anyways.  That’s why I knew I had to bake these Caramel Apple Cookies when I saw the recipe.  These cookies are addicting and delicious.  Enjoy at your own risk! 


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup chunky-style applesauce
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup caramel bites


  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Put butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low speed until combined.  Add egg and applesauce, mix until well blended, 2 to 3 minutes.  Mix in oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Mix in caramel bites.
  2. Using a cookie scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake cookies until golden and just set, 13 to 15 minutes.  Let cool on sheets 5 minutes and transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
 *Adapted from Martha Stewart


Filed under Baked Goods, Desserts

Baked Apple Oatmeal

Can you believe it’s already mid-October?  My favorite season will soon be over, so it’s time to take advantage of as much fall produce as I can.  Hand-picked apples are perfect to munch on or to bake with.  I made this Baked Apple Oatmeal with my favorite baking apple… the Northern Spy.  I actually hand-picked 15 pounds of these Spys when I was up in NY visiting my parents.  I’ve already made apple pies and applesauce, so it was time to get creative and make some other treats.  This Baked Apple Oatmeal is easy to make and is the perfect breakfast treat.  Serve it warm with a drizzle of maple syrup and enjoy!


  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 3/4 cup diced apple
  • 2 cups milk (I used skim)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Maple syrup for drizzling


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 and set rack in the middle of oven.  Grease an 8″x8″ baking pan and set aside.  In a large bowl, stir the oats, baking powder, and salt.  Add the pecans, dried cranberries, and apples.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture and stir to combine.
  3. Pour mixture into dish and bake until top is golden brown, 55-65 minutes.  Spoon into bowls and serve warm with maple syrup.

*The Apple Lover’s Cookbook



Filed under Baked Goods, Breakfast

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan is a dish that I absolutely love, but don’t make often enough.  Back in August, we were invited to our friend’s family beach house in NY.  We had a fabulous time and ate delicious food.  Our friend’s dad cooked us some amazing eggplant parmesan; the eggplants, tomatoes, and basil were all from his garden.  Instead of coating the eggplant in breadcrumbs, he coated each slice with flour and egg and then fried.  It was delicious because you could actually taste the freshness of the eggplant.  Sometimes, eggplant parmesan is overly drenched in breadcrumbs and as a result, takes away from the actual taste of the eggplant.  In lieu of this amazing eggplant parm, I decided to make it the same way – sans breadcrumbs.  This dish is Italian, comfort food at its finest!  Enjoy!


  • 2 large eggplants, cut crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick rounds
  • 3 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 24 oz. crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • About 20 fresh basil leaves, torn in half
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb chilled fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced


  1. Toss eggplant with 2 teaspoons salt in a colander set over a bowl, then let drain 30 minutes.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large stock pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then add garlic and sauté, stirring, until golden, about 30 seconds.  Add crushed tomatoes, basil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and red pepper flakes and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 25-30 minutes.
  3. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.  Stir together flour, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a shallow bowl. Lightly beat eggs in a second shallow bowl.  Working with 1 slice at a time, dredge eggplant in flour, shaking off excess, and then dip in egg, letting excess drip off. Transfer eggplant to sheets of wax paper, arranging slices in 1 layer.
  4. Heat remaining 1 1/2 cups oil in a deep 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then fry eggplant slices, turning over once, until golden brown, 5-6 minutes per batch. Transfer with tongs to paper towels to drain.
  5. Spread 1 cup tomato sauce in bottom of a rectangular 3 1/2-quart (13- by 11- by 2-inch) baking dish.  Arrange about one third of eggplant slices in 1 layer over sauce, overlapping slightly if necessary.  Cover eggplant with about one third of remaining sauce (about 11/4 cups) and one third of mozzarella and Parmesan.  Continue layering with remaining eggplant, sauce, and cheeses.  Sprinkle top with remaining 1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano.  Bake, uncovered, until cheese is melted and golden and sauce is bubbling, 35-40 minutes.

*Adapted from Gourmet

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Filed under Main Course

Fall Fruit Salad

Here’s another delicious fall recipe for you to try:  Fall Fruit Salad.  This fruit salad is perfect for a nice brunch with friends or a light snack with Greek yogurt and granola.  A lot of my favorite fruits are in this salad like fresh figs, Concord grapes, Macoun apples, and red raspberries.  I topped this salad with a sprinkle of cinnamon, a drizzle of honey, and a heaping handful of granola.  I can finally say that this is a delicious and healthy treat to enjoy this fall or any time of year.  Enjoy!


  • 2 large pears, diced
  • 2 large apples, diced
  • 1/2 pint fresh raspberries
  • 8 fresh figs, stems removed and quartered
  • 1/2 lb. concord grapes
  • Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Drizzle of honey
  • Granola for sprinkling


  1. Combine all the fruit in a large mixing bowl.  Add fresh lemon juice and cinnamon and mix to combine.  Drizzle honey over the top and sprinkle with granola.

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Filed under Breakfast, Side Dishes

Caramel Apple Cake

We celebrated my mother-in-law’s birthday this past weekend, so I had to make her a fabulous cake.  Because she loves cakes with caramel and fruit, I decided to make her this Caramel Apple Cake.  This cake tastes like a real caramel apple with nuts, plus some butter, sugar, heavy cream, etc.  This cake is definitely not low-fat, but birthdays are wonderful excuses to splurge (in moderation of course).  This cake is sure to put you in the mood for fall!  Enjoy!

Ingredients For The Apple Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups unsweetened applesauce


  1. Preheat the oven to 325-degrees. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust the parchment with flour and knock out the excess flour.
  2. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and allspice together into a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy, about 4 minutes. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until combined.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the mixer bowl in three parts, alternating with the applesauce, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.
  5. Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and cool for 20 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto the rack, remove the parchment, and let cool completely.

For The Caramel Sauce:

  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tbsp corn syrup
  • 1/2 stick of butter, softened, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3/4 cups heavy cream


  1. In a medium saucepan with high sides, combine the sugar and corn syrup with 1/4 cup water. Stir the mixture gently so you don’t slosh any of it up the sides of the pan. Turn the heat to medium-high and continue stirring until the sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high, stop stirring, and allow the mixture to boil. Once it begins to turn a rich caramel color ( or it reaches 300 degrees F on a candy thermometer), remove it from the heat, add the butter and cream, and stir until combined.
  2. The caramel sauce can be tightly covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.  Let it come to room temperature before using.

For The Caramel Buttercream:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • up to 4 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/3 cup Caramel Sauce


  1. Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed.  Add 4 cups of powdered sugar and mix until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter.
  2. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk and beat for 3 minutes.   Add the caramel sauce and mix to combine.  If the frosting is too soft, put the bowl in the refrigerator to chill slightly, then beat again until it is the proper consistency. If the frosting is too firm, add milk, 1 tbsp at a time.

To Assemble the Cake:
Place one of the cakes, bottom-side up. Put a thin layer of caramel sauce on top and spread the caramel buttercream on top. Next, add the last layer of cake, bottom-side up.  Frost as you did with the first layer and ice the sides.  Use the remaining caramel to spread (or drizzle) over the top. Press chopped peanuts gently into the sides.

*Adapted from The Great Cake Company


Filed under Desserts

Brie w/Fresh Figs, Honey & Hazelnuts

It finally feels like fall (or fall for D.C. standards)!  Several days ago, I made this delicious appetizer for the hubby and I to munch on: Brie w/Fresh Figs, Honey, & Hazelnuts.  Fresh figs are amazing, but do not grace the grocery stores enough in this area.  When they do, I make sure to buy them and enjoy as many as I can.  Creamy brie paired with a fresh fig drizzled in honey and hazelnuts is perfection.  This is such a simple appetizer to make… enjoy fresh figs while they last!


  • 1 wedge brie cheese
  • 6 fresh figs, stems removed and quartered
  • 1/4 cup of hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • Drizzle of honey


  1. Place cheese in the center of a serving plate.  Drizzle honey over cheese and top with hazelnuts and figs.  Serve with fresh bread or crackers.


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Filed under Appetizers

Olive Bread

The hubby and I were recently invited up to our friend’s beautiful beach house in NY.  We had a wonderful time, fabulous weather, and amazing food!  One of the breads we had was an Olive Bread stuffed with delicious Kalamata olives.  We loved the bread so much that I decided to try baking it when we got home.  I have a bread baking cookbook and knew I had seen a recipe in there for olive bread.  This bread recipe is simple because it doesn’t call for a sponge and you can bake it in one day.  This recipe yields two loaves — enjoy one and freeze the other!


  • 3 packages active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water (105-115 degrees)
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 cups Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand until foamy, 5 minutes.  Add the oil, flour, and salt.  Attach the dough hook and knead on low speed, 5-7 minutes.  Add a little flour, so the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.
  2. Remove the dough from the bowl and sprinkle the olives over the top.  Knead the olives into the dough, briefly and gently.  Form the dough into a ball and transfer to an oiled bowl.  Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow dough to rise, 1-1.5 hours.
  3. Punch down the dough and turn onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead briefly.  Using a sharp knife, cut the dough in half.  Cover with a kitchen towel for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Shape each dough into a tight round loaf.  Tuck any olives that fall out back into the dough.  Place the loaves on the baking sheet and cover with a kitchen towel.  Allow to rise for 30-40 minutes.
  4. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 450.  Lightly dust the tops of the loaves with flour.  Using a knife, slash a diagonal line from one end of the loaf to the other end.  Place the baking sheet in the oven and reduce the heat to 425.  Bake the breads until they are golden brown and hollow when tapped, about 25-35 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Yield:  2 loaves

*Adapted from Essentials of Baking

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Filed under Bread