Thanksgiving: Dessert edition

My favorite Thanksgiving course: dessert. If I were to be honest, I would skip the turkey and the stuffing and green beans and go straight for the dessert. Every. Single. Time.

If you’re still in need of something to bring to family dinner, or you want to change up your menu at the eleventh hour, here are 3 Thanksgiving desserts I’ve made in the last week. Each one delectable!

Layered Pumpkin Cheesecake from Betty Crocker

My layers didn’t turn out quite so exact, but it still tasted great. Even if you’re not a pumpkin pie person, this one is tasty. Mostly cream cheese, with a hint of pumpkin, on a crust of gingersnaps. Delicious.

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Apple Pie from allrecipes.com

This is the only apple pie I will ever make. For a tutorial on lattice tops, click here.

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Spiced Apple Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting adapted from Naturally Ella

IMG_0873You’ll need:

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 green apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thinly

For the frosting, you’ll need:

  • 1- 8 oz package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and butter a bundt pan.

2. Add the milk to a small sauce pan and whisk in the spices and vanilla. Heat over medium until the milk simmers. Remove from heat, add butter, and stir until the butter is fully melted. Allow to cool.

3. Peel and core your apples, slicing them thinly.

4. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. In a smaller bowl, combine cooled milk mixture, eggs, yogurt, and sugar.

5. Pour a small amount of batter in the bottom, and then layer on about 1/3 of your apple slices. Continue to repeat, making batter the last layer. The original recipe recommends three layers of apples.

IMG_08696. Bake for 40-45 minutes at 375 degrees. Allow to cool in pan. Once it is nearly cool, flip cake onto serving platter.

7. When the cake is entirely cool, make your frosting. Cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add vanilla and heavy whipping cream. Add half of the powdered sugar. Once incorporated, add 1 more cup. If the frosting is still not this enough, add the remaining half a cup. Frost your cake! Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you will be filled with good food and refreshed with good fellowship.

Apple Dumplings

Apple dumplings just scream down home cooking. Nothing gets more authentic. It’s like apple pie, taken to a higher level of awesome. I’m not sure why. It’s just the way it is. Try it for yourself. I dare you.

Apple Dumplings

Based on The Alternative Consumer

Serves 3

First, make your dough. This is easy.

You’ll need:

  • 1/3 cup butter, chilled
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Cold water, about 6 Tbs.

1. Chop 1/3 of a cup of COLD butter into small pieces. Cut the stick the long ways so it’s cut in half. Then flip the stick and cut it in half the long way again. Now, the stick is in long quarters. Cut through, resulting in small cubes of butter.

2. Mix 1 cup of flour with 1/2 tsp. salt. Use a pastry cutter or a fork to cut the butter into the flour. The ultimate goal: little bitty chunks of butter coated in flour.

3. One tablespoon at a time, add COLD water to the dough. You want to add just enough water to bind the butter and flour together into a ball. I used about 5 Tbs. to make this happen. You may need more or less. Once mixed, form the ball into a log, and cut into even thirds.

4. Move the chunks to the fridge to chill.

Second, prepare your apples. Small granny smiths are best, but any baking apple will suffice.

1. Peel.

2. Core. If you don’t have an apple corer, follow steps 1 through 3 of this wikihow.

Third, assemble your dumplings.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup water
  • 2.5 Tbs. butter (the leftovers from the stick of butter from the dough)

1. Mix 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Cut the butter into thirds.

2. Remove dough chunks from the fridge. Roll each chunk into approximately a 6 by 6 inch square.

3. Put an apple in the center. Fill the core with cinnamon and sugar mixture. Put one of the thirds of butter on top of the filled core.

4. Pull the dough up around the apple. Dip your fingers in water if you’re having difficulty getting the dough to seal. Transfer to pie tin.

Repeat steps 2 through 4 for remaining apples.

5. On stove, dissolve half cup sugar in 1 cup water. Pour mixture over apples.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until apples are golden brown.

Sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on top and serve with a hearty scoop of ice cream.

There you have it! Delicious. Heavenly. Apple. Goodness. You won’t be sorry.

Just for the record….

…it still tastes fine.

Appel Pannenkoeken

I’m Dutch. I generally think it’s pretty cool. I’ve been to the Netherlands, that was a good time. I love hearing my aunts, uncles, and grandparents chat in Dutch when we gather for family reunions. I like the food. Other than that, there’s nothing about me that is intrinsically Dutch. I don’t speak the language, except for a handful of words. I can introduce myself. And label a bunch of foods. The important stuff.

Because of my vast food oriented vocabulary (kidding), I know that pannenkoeken means “pancake.” And the Dutch are big on their pancakes. Through some research around the interwebs, I’ve learned that the Dutch pancake comes in two basic varieties. There’s one that is cooked in butter on the stove. It is more like a crepe than it is a pancake. Though some people vehemently disagree, these are the traditional dutch pannenkoeken. The other is made in the oven, in a dutch baby pan or an oven proof skillet. Like this! This one is more Minnesotan than it Dutch. Though they claim otherwise. Silly, Minnesota.

Appel Pannenkoeken

Adapted from The Dutch Table

Makes 6-8 pannenkoeken, depending on size.

The batter:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp (generous) salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of milk (add more, if needed)
  • 2 Tbs butter, melted

Whisk all ingredients until you make a thick, liquid batter. Add milk as needed. Set aside.

For the filling:

  • 4-6 apples, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp butter

The steps:

1. Cook your apples. Melt butter in a small skillet. Add apples. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, and cook until they are done enough for your tastes, whether that be still a bit crunchy or soft.

(one pannenkoek’s worth of apples shown)

2. Heat 1/2 Tbs butter in a 10 inch skillet. Once melted, pour 1/3 cup batter into the pan. Remove pan from heat, and swirl it around until the batter coats the bottom of the pan.

3. Leave pannenkoek until the top is almost cooked through, and the bottom is slightly browned. Take heart! Your first one or two will not go well.

4. Flip! Once browned on the other side, move to a plate and set aside. Stack subsequent pannenkoeken on top, covering with a tea towel to keep warm.

To fill, transfer one pannenkoek to a plate, and spoon apple deliciousness into the middle.

Roll it up! If you want it sweeter, feel free to add maple syrup. Totally legit.

The Dutch will eat pannenkoeken sweet as well as savory. Common fillings include  apple syrup, bacon, gouda cheese, chocolate sprinkles, or powdered sugar.

For more information and insight into the wonderful world of pannenkoeken, check out The Dutch Table.

I wanna know: What is your family’s heritage? Are there any special and unique foods that you eat as a result?

Apple Pie: how to make a lattice top

So you want to make a pretty pie? A pie that you serenely pull out of the oven and place on your kitchen window sill, allowing the steam to waft peacefully over your perfectly manicured garden. The kind of pie that a mischievous neighbor boy would want to sneak off the windows sill and have all to himself. The kind of pie that you, in your heels and your apron, proudly serve your family after dinner. You know the kind of pie I’m talking about. It’s more art than food. It makes you think of a Norman Rockwell painting, in all its peace and perfection.

Let’s do it. Let’s make a perfect pie.

In order to make it happen, you will want to follow this recipe. Take it from me, this is one amazing apple pie recipe. Remember my theory about recipes that come from Grandma? It’s legit. And it doesn’t have to be your grandma, either. Anyone’s grandmother will do. They know their stuff.

First things first, make your pie dough. Then follow the recipe to make your filling. Read carefully! The filling gets set aside, and not dumped on the apples right away.

I deviated a bit and made one simple change: toss your sliced apples in cinnamon before you put them in the crust. Mmm….delicious.

Apple PieOnce your crust is rolled, and your apples are piled, you need a lattice top. It’s not complicated. You can do this. Roll out the second half of your pie dough, as though you were going to use it for a top. Cut the dough into strips, no wider than 1 inch.

Lay two of the shorter strips on two of the outside edges of the pie.

How easy is this? Now, see the strip that is going toward the upper right hand corner of the photo? We’re going to call that direction vertical. Flip it back over itself. Like so:

Now lay another horizontal strip of dough, parallel with its friend, leaving some space between them. Lay the vertical strap back down on the pie, and flip back the new horizontal strip.

Now it’s time for another vertical strip. Like you did the horizontal one, lay it next to it’s vertical friend, but leaving some space between. Return the horizontal strip to it’s original location. You starting to see a pattern here? It’s starting to look like pie!

Now things get fun. Next up is another horizontal strip. We need to flip some of the vertical ones back, but only the ones that are underneath the most recent horizontal strip.

Horizontal strip!

Now do the same thing for a new vertical strip. You’ll have to flip back two of the horizontal strips.

Same thing for the next horizontal strip:

Get it? Got it? Good! Keep going until the top is covered, and you’re satisfied with its beauty.

Dip a finger or two in some ice water, and “glue” the edge down. Use a fork to crimp the edges.

From here on out, follow the recipe. You won’t be sorry!

Forever and for always, this will be My Apple Pie Recipe. It will be making many an appearance at family reunions, celebratory dinners, and the occasional Tuesday night. Because sometimes, you just need a slice of pie. Even if it’s only Tuesday.

Dried apple wedges

I love my dehydrator. Is it an essential appliance? By no means. Will I take it with me when I move (the litmus test for the value of a possession. naturally)? I might not. Do I love it? Or course I do.

How in the world did I procure this dehydrator? Well I’m glad that you asked! You see, last spring, a friend and I went backpacking, and I wanted to try my hand at dehydrating some goodies for us to take with us.

As is typical, I hopped on Craigslist to see what I could find. There are two Craigslist areas “near” me, but both are still an hour away, one in each direction. I figured if I found something it would have to be a pretty great deal to justify the drive. Lo and behold, what do I find? A dehydrator. Five minutes from my house. For $2. That’s right. $2. Not $20. Not even $5. $2. What a deal.

This weekend, I chopped 8 (or so) pounds of apples in thin wedges and dehydrated them. Now I have a gallon bag full of dried apple slices. So tasty! So portable! So light weight! The all around perfect traveling snack.

Dehydrated apples

  1. Peel (optional) and core your apples
  2. Slice into wedges or rings. The goal is to keep them thin. 1/8 of an inch, give or take, is ideal.
  3. Dunk for a minute or two in lemon water (1 tsp lemon, 3 cups of water)
  4. Lay out on dehydrator racks and sprinkle with cinnamon. Depending on the sweetness of the apple, you may not need/want the cinnamon. I like it, so I added it!
  5. Dehydrate! Mine need to sit about 12 hours. Read the directions on your particular dehydrator to see how long they need to go.

Don’t have a dehydrator? Check out Oh She Glows’ recipe for apple pie chips. You can make them in a normal oven. Tasty!

Stuffed Acorn Squash

It’s squash season! Oh happy day. When it gets cold outside, there are a few foods that just seem Right. Chili is one of them. Squash is another. This is a pretty magical and versatile recipe, give it a shot!

Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

You’ll need:

  • One acorn squash
  • Half a cup of couscous or quinoa or rice (I used Israeli couscous for this recipe, but you may do what you please!)
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/8 cup diced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 apple, pealed and diced
  1. Chop your squash in half, scrape out the guts, and roast it upside down on a greased cookie sheet at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.
  2. While that’s happening, prepare half a cup of couscous (or quinoa, etc) according to the directions on the package.
  3. In another pan, add olive oil, onion and minced garlic.
  4. Once the onions are translucent, add prepared couscous, diced apple and spices. Stir until combined.
  5. Divvy stuffing mixture between the two halves of the squash. Roast for 15 more minutes.

This dish makes a great vegetarian entree for 2 or a vegetable side for 3 or 4 people.

Acorn squash seeds are super tasty when you toast them. Give it a shot!

Happy Friday-Eve, everyone!