‘What I Ate’ is a series of posts for so-easy-this-doesn’t-need-a-recipe but I’m sharing with you for the idea or inspiration.
Apple cider is one of my favorite flavors of fall. This fall, as I’m 7 months pregnant, I’ve been heating it and drinking it on the way to work. It helps me pretend I have all the coffee I can drink. Helps.
I was digging around to figure out why hot cider at fancy places tastes so different. Then I discovered Betty Crocker had the secret! It is heavy cream! Don’t bail on me, hear me out. This is amazingly apple and caramel flavored with just a touch of creaminess.
(for 2 mugs or 1 travel mug)
3 tbs brown sugar
3 tbs heavy cream
3 cups apple cider
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
whipped cream for garnish (optional)
Heat brown sugar and cream until bubbly and dissolved.
Add cider, vanilla extract, and cinnamon, cooking until heated through.
Divide into 2 mugs.
Optional: top with whipped cream, cinnamon, and caramel ice cream topping while playing some coffee house jams.
This is so decadent. I have it for dessert…warmed cider is the morning version. It is super sweet but you definitely taste the caramel and apple. You could always add in a splash of rum, vanilla vodka, whipped cream vodka, or the spiking of your choice.
After apple picking, I knew some dinners should include apples…as well as snacks, breakfasts, and any other occasion this fall. Seriously, the orchard only did big bags so we have a LOT of apples. I hadn’t made a calzone in awhile so that was the winner.
Apples are easily served with brie or baked into some dessert. Well, no brie or soft cheeses for me for another 3 months, and I’m not a big baker.
1 onion, sliced
2 apples, sliced
2-3 chicken sausage links
2 cups mozzarella, shredded
Preheat the oven and a pizza stone if using one, to 400-degrees.
In a large skillet over medium low heat, gently cook the onion until lightly browned and cooked through.
Slice the sausage and add them to the pan to warm through.
Roll out or spread the dough out. Then drape it onto the pizza stone or pan, off-centered so the toppings will go on the bottom and the excess will fold over.
Layer on the cheese, sausage and onions, and the apple slices.
Keep layering the toppings, even if it seems like it is over filled.
Pull the rest of the dough over the top and pinch to close.
Cut a few slices in the top of the calzone to vent it.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden browned and cooked through.
Let sit 5 minutes before slicing.
I loved this one. I’ll definitely make it again. The apples being raw added a soft crunch to go with the sweet onions and the mild chicken sausage. This is such a fantastic combination. I’d love these flavors as a sub or panini, or as a pizza, or an app of some sort.
The last time we ordered pizza our specialty pie had roasted red peppers on it. It made me think, woah, that’s an ingredient I guess I assumed Mr. J wasn’t into, annnnnd it is a veggie I don’t use often. That was all about to change.
I was aided when I scored 3 red peppers in the clearance produce for $0.68. Insane! The peppers were fine if used in about 5-7 days. They weren’t squishy or shriveled at all.
(sauce yields 4+ servings)
3 red bell peppers (or double the jarred roasted red peppers)
2 medium tomatoes
1/2 jar roasted red peppers
2 tbs minced garlic
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts or toasted walnuts
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tbs lemon juice
3-4 tbs olive oil
2 tsp heavy cream (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
Half the tomatoes and fresh red peppers. Brush or drizzle with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes.
Flip once and bake another 10 minutes.
Remove and put into a plastic bag, or cover with plastic wrap for 5 minutes then release the steam and pull off the skin.
In a food processor, blend all the red peppers, tomatoes, garlic, parmesan cheese, nuts, lemon juice, and olive oil.
Blend 30 seconds to a minute.
Bring salted water to boil for the pasta.
Scoop out the sauce in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add cream, or some starchy pasta water.
Toss the pasta with the sauce.
I liked this a lot. It had a great flavor to make dinner feel a bit different. The sauce was thick and a bit textured (from the nuts). I love sauce so it was great to me, or you can blend more for a more silky sauce that would stick to the pasta a bit less.
I think the sauce has great potential for a ton of uses. It would be good on a sandwich, panini, or wrap. I’d like it on pizza too. It would definitely be a fun twist on bruschetta.
I was inspired to make dinner out of potatoes after seeing lots of potato skin-football food and after making candied sweet potatoes for tacos. A few years ago mashed potato bars were all the rage at weddings costing a fortune for such basic ingredients. I figured with a few toppings it could easily be dinner.
Baked potatoes are so much faster than I really thought they’d take. I spread out a few toppings and it was such a fun dinner. This would be great for guests. Everyone getting to customize their own keeps everyone happy.
frozen creamed spinach
1 cup shredded cheddar
4 strips bacon, chopped
Microwave potatoes for 4 minutes then bake potatoes for 20 minutes at 400-degrees.
Pan fry the bacon until crisp.
Heat the creamed spinach until warmed through.
Rub the potatoes in olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.
Lay out the toppings and enjoy!
The potatoes were filling but not super heavy. The creamed spinach was a perfect sauce and took no effort.
I saw, I pinned, I waited forever, then I made. I’m not much of a baker but despite the cake, topping, and glaze it was actually really easy. It was addictive and somehow squares of the pan just kept disappearing. I’m not sure how it happened.
This comes from Tasty Kitchen by way of How Sweet It Is and Pretty Good Food and whoever else has made it.
Pumpkin Coffee Cake
⅓ cups water
1 can pumpkin
1 tbs vanilla
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 box spice cake mix
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
4 tbs melted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup heavy cream
In a mixer, combine water, pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice until well combined. Add the cake mix and baking soda and mix again until just combined.
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
Pour cake into a sprayed 9×13 pan.
In a small bowl, mix the topping ingredients: brown sugar, flour and melted butter. Use your fingers to sprinkle over the top of the cake.
Bake for 25-30 minutes.
In a medium sauce pan simmer brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla, and heavy cream. Remove from heat and stir until all sugar dissolves.
When the cake is cooked, pokes some holes and pour glaze over the top.
I absolutely loved this. It was great as dessert and as breakfast.
So… I’m here! I’m here! I’ve been a bit tired this week so the rest of the week’s posts lost out to:
a) Autumn Awesomeness ice cream: at my fav local ice cream place (vanilla, with nutmeg, apples, and cider donuts)
b) Going to bed early
c) Getting a few baby preparations started
d) all of the above
ding ding ding! D is correct, which means each are right. I figure nobody wants to read a post I wasn’t really into writing or editing so I’ve snoozed a bit earlier than usual, passed my glucose/gestational diabetes test! Mr. J and I went to the hospital to meet the maternity/delivery team and learned how much we don’t know yet. Somehow more posts didn’t make it into this week.
I’ve cooked a bunch this week and last week of oldie but goodies that were freezer friendly so half could be enjoyed now and the other half could emerge during my busy time at work…just before Thanksgiving! Here they are in no particular order if you’re ready for fall/wintry foods or want some freezer prep too!
Butternut Squash Lasagna
I love this one. It is so good and perfectly divides into 2 baking dishes…one for now, one for later.
This is a great main dish, or a side. I added shallots and pears and we devoured the “now” portion.
Chicken Pot Pie
I make the filling and add the topping when round 2 comes up.
Sweet & Smoky Chili
I literally filled the crockpot for 5 people. Needless to say there were leftovers so we ate some a few more times, and froze the rest.
Let’s start Monday off gently. This is not going to overwhelm your brain. We had houseguests early last week and I wanted to throw some dinners together on Sunday so we could leisurely visit and not put anyone to work. My thought for these Chicken Parmesan Cups were that it seemed like less work than serving Chicken Parmesan and anything in serving size portions is fun. I was going for a crowd pleaser and something I was pretty familiar with making.
Chicken Parmesan Cups
Yield: 12 muffin cups, ~5 people
Time: prep ~20 min, cook ~20 minutes
1 sheet of puff pastry
sprinkle of flour
5 chicken tenders
1 cup tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees and defrost puff pastry to room temperature.
Cook the chicken until fully cooked through.
When cool enough to handle, chop up the chicken and set aside.
Spray a muffin tin or 12 ramekins with nonstick spray.
Lightly flour a surface to roll out the puff pastry. Roll to about 1/8 inch thick and cut it into 12 squares, about 3×3 inches each.
Lay the puff pastry into the muffin tin.
Divide the chicken into each cup, spoon sauce over, and top with cheeses. (I had some extra puff pastry so I put another mini 1″ square on top)
Bake for 20 minutes, or until puff pastry puffs up and get golden brown.
I loved these. They made serving way easier. I tossed a salad together an poof, dinner was ready. These would be super simple to serve to a crowd since they almost could be eaten by hand.
chicken parmesan cups + baked eggplant = dynamic duo of parm
chicken parmesan cups – tomato sauce – cheese + pot pie fillings (corn, carrots, celery, gravy, etc) = chicken pot pie cups
chicken parmesan cups + ricotta = chicken “lasagna” cups
Have you heard of Food Fighters on NBC? They pair a home chef in a few rounds against pros. Each round is a different food against a different chef. We saw this one guy make chorizo tacos with sweet potatoes and it had me thinking, “I can make those.” I hadn’t made chorizo before but I tried my hand at it. I tweaked what the contestant made but I was into the idea of tacos with sweet potato.
Ingredients: for 4 tacos, for 2 people
1 sweet potato
1/3 pound ground pork
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
2-3 tsp brown sugar
1 slice red onion, chopped
optional: Mexican crema or sour cream mixed with salsa/lime juice/etc for a sauce on top.
Peel the sweet potato and cut into quarters. Boil until cooked most of the way through…about 8 minutes.
Mix together the pork, vinegar, and seasonings.
Cook over medium heat until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Taste it. Add some tomato paste or tomato sauce if too spicy.
When the potatoes are cooked, slice in thick slices and then in half by diameter.
Add the potatoes to a hot pan with a drizzle of oil and the brown sugar. Cook for 5 minutes, flipping once caramelizing on both size.
Serve the tacos on the flour tortilla with chopped red onion, and sweet potato.
My chorizo was spicy and I wanted some sort of creamy, cooling sauce. I mixed some peppercorn dressing with a touch of salsa.
I liked these, but I went overboard on the chili powder and the cayenne. It was a bit too spicy. The candied sweet potatoes were so amazing. We both loved them and need to make them more often. I tossed some crisp red peppers with lime dressing on the side.
Windsor was sniffing around nearby. It’s nice to have a sous-chef when he is laying down and not underfoot. Look how mature he’s getting!
I had this idea for a Thanksgiving inspired burger but it didn’t seem right for Mr. J’s annual birthday burger, since that’s for June. Now that the air is cooler it seemed perfect! A turkey burger, sharp cheddar, cranberry spread, and one special ingredient boarders the line of grilling season and holiday flavors.
Ingredients: (for 2 burgers)
1/2 pound ground turkey
1/2 cup stuffing mix
salt & pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme or dried sage
cranberry sauce or raspberry jam
2 burger buns
Preheat a grill or grill pan.
Prepare stuffing according to the package.
Mix ground turkey, stuffing, salt, pepper, and thyme.
Form into patties and grill. Spray the grill with non-stick spray since turkey has a lower fat than ground beef, ground pork, etc.
Serve the burgers with cheddar, and cranberry spread.
I didn’t end up getting cranberry sauce because I had some lingonberry jam which has a tartness like cranberries. I mixed it with a touch of mayo for a spread. I also was thinking that chopping up some craisins into the burger would give that flavor too.
The stuffing really wasn’t too much. I thought it might make the the burger heavy but I think the amount was spot-on. Serve with some sweet potato fries for all the flavors you love later in the fall while it is still burger season!
These flavors would be good as turkey meatloaf before Thanksgiving without having to cook a whole turkey.
Or this Thanksgiving Sandwich is fun
or a panini with turkey, brie, and cranberry
Pretty much every month I can’t believe it is over. September was fun and full. Work is pretty busy gearing up for our big Thanksgiving event. Mr. J and I celebrated our 3 year anniversary on the 17th! I’m so thankful that I no longer have to travel for work. I’ve been home the whole month of September which I haven’t been able to say in 5 years! It’s been great to hit the Big E and the farmer’s market, and some of the open studios.
How good does a deep fried Oreo look from the Big E?
Mr. J has been full steam ahead on house projects. I just keep seeing them coming off the list and I know the baby nursery will be soon! The front step was redone and Mr. J installed a new vanity in the bathroom.
I really loved embracing the best time to cook with seasonal produce. I found fantastic heirloom tomatoes and corn for a puff pastry tart that was simply perfect. Puff pastry with tomatoes, corn, and Seriously Sharp Cabot Cheddar went together perfectly.
I messed around with polenta paired with shrimp and tomatoes which reminded me how fast, cheap, and easy it is to work with.
I did some Hawaiian hot dogs with teryiaki and pineapple that were fun. Those flavors are so good together. I should use them more often.
I’m not sure what’s on top for next month. I hope to go apple picking and a friend’s pear tree is about ready so I want to get some of those. I’m thinking it is time for everything apple and pumpkin flavored!
Let’s check on my goals:
The Year of the Flower is going strong! this month clipped some hydrangeas from my parents’ tree
send more mail – Gram got a birthday card, so that counts
make some Pinterest pins a reality - I didn’t really make any but have one for next month!
cook with yeast (yikes!)try a spin class – um nope. I’m not sure I’m adding in any super new exercises at this point. I’m all about zumba now that my gym fall classes have increased. Zumba is now 3x a week! I’m aiming for zumba once or twice and some other workouts each week. So far so good!
make more cocktails – umm no cocktails for me until January but I did get a lemonade served out of a lemon stand at the Big E! Next month should be good for fall fun drinks.
I’m beyond halfway! I can’t believe it. I’m just over 6 months along. There’s not much time now! I feel like I doubled in size the last few weeks! Getting dressed takes a lot more creativity but I’ve gotten some clothes to give me enough options. I hadn’t really thought about gym clothes and pjs not fitting so I’ll likely have to invest in those & something dressy. The baby is the size of cauliflower now! There’s been a lot of kicking lately.
Next month we’ll keep brainstorming names and get started on the baby’s room. We have a meet the delivery team & tour of the maternity area. Registering can’t be too far behind either.
I’ve been feeling great and trying to do as much as I can whenever I’m up for it. I’ve been very into zumba at the gym so I’ll try to keep that up as long as I can. I don’t remember any cravings this month…well, one night I had to try a caramel apple sundae. One take-out Chinese night I couldn’t even fathom biting into a crab rangoon. Other than those, no real cravings or aversions.