Salted Maple Apple Butter

Photography by Megan Punches

Did November fly by for anyone else?  No? Just me then.  I literally did not post anything in the month of November and for that I am sorry!  I was super busy with starting a new job, getting together with family and friends, and overcoming an amazingly long cold.  But this apple butter totally makes it all better!

This salted maple apple butter is THE perfect thing to have on hand during the Holiday season.  It’s a set it and forget it type of recipe that can also be used for quick and easy desserts.  I love using my crockpot for prep items and this is a huge time saver for this recipe that takes a long, long, long time to finish.  And who wants to stand over the stove for 10 hours stirring?

Salted Maple Apple Butter

1 1/4 cup maple syrup

3/4  Tbsp salt

6 pounds apples, peeled and cored

1 1/2  Tbsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

Combine all ingredients in a large crockpot.  I used a combination of golden delicious apples and honeycrisp apples.  Cook on high for 3 hours, then cool on low for 5 hours.  The mixture will darken in color quite a bit.  Blend well using a blender or an immersion blender, and taste.  You want the consistency to be thick, even when hot.  If needed, continue cooking in the crockpot on low, or transfer to a pot on the stove if necessary.  Makes about 5 cups of apple butter.

Enjoy!

Autumn Caramel Apples

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Photography by Allyson Regan

What better way to indulge your sweet tooth than with a sweet treat that also involves some fruit.  I absolutely love caramel apples, especially when they are coated in pecans and chocolate.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Also, these are a great homemade treat for Halloween! This is the easiest caramel apple recipe ever!  All you will need is 2 bags of those Brach’s caramels, the ones that come individually wrapped, and a bit of heavy cream.  Bring a medium pot of water to a simmer and melt the caramels and cream in a glass bowl.  It might take a while, but trust me, it’s so worth it!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Now the caramel will set a bit quickly, so you’ll want to roll it in nuts soon after dipping.  Let it set completely before drizzling on chocolate though, otherwise you’ll have a mess on your hands.  I used the same melting chocolate that I used for these cake pops.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

You can leave them plain too, customize them to whatever you and your family likes!  You can even make some “mummified” versions like the one below!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

How scary does that look???  Either way, make sure to eat them semi-soon after making them.  Also, use pretty sturdy sticks so that you don’t have to worry about them breaking or falling off.  If you need another, more adult, way to celebrate Halloween today, check out this spooky cocktail!  Enjoy!

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Halloween Cake Pops

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Photography by Allyson Regan

You guys!  Look how cute these cake pops are!  They are the perfect Halloween snack because they are bite size, so you can eat more and not feel guilty, and they are super easy!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Okay, that’s enough exclamation points for today.  I’m sure you can find a recipe for cake pops somewhere online, but it’s so simple that you almost don’t need one.  For the cake pops themselves, you’ll need one 9X13 pan of cake.  I used a yellow cake recipe but you can use any box mix that you like.  Once it’s cooled, crumble it into a mixing bowl and add about 1 1/2 cups of your favorite frosting!  Sorry, more exclamation points.  You want the consistency to be pliable, just remember that you are going to freeze these before you decorate so they will firm up.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Once they are frozen, they are ready to decorate which is the best part.  Melt candy melts in the microwave but be sure to follow the directions, especially for the white chocolate ones as they can easily burn.  I used the Ghirardelli candy melts and they are so easy and actually taste good!  Once the candy is melted, you want to work pretty fast.  Dip the cake pops to coat and let the excess candy fall.  Directly after dipping, you want to add sprinkles so that they stick.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

For these adorable mummies, coat all of the pops and attach these cute little candy eyes.  Let set, and then put the remaining white chocolate in a piping bag.  Cut a small tip off the bag, and drizzle onto the cake pops, taking cake to avoid the eyes.  Let set and then watch them disappear like magic.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

These cute sticks can be found here and they are listed as caramel apple sticks.  I personally wouldn’t use them because they aren’t very sturdy and they are quite short.  These cake pops are so cute and they are the perfect make-ahead treat for your tricksters!

 

Chicken Tikka Masala

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I can’t even remember the first time I made this dish.  In fact, I think I’ve only eaten it in a restaurant once.  Sometimes trying a dish from an unfamiliar cuisine can be intimidating, but this dish is so simple!  Plus, it’s so much fun to try a new dish, even if you’ve never eaten the dish before.

I’ve seriously made this recipe more times than I can count in the last month, gradually tweaking it until I love it!  It’s so good! My husband isn’t the biggest fan, so I’ve been making this whole recipe at the beginning of the week and then eating throughout the week for an easy lunch.  The flavors get even better towards the end of the week.  If you do this, make sure to keep the rice separate so that it doesn’t get mushy.  Also, it gives me an excuse to have naan in the house which is so good lightly toasted and with a bit of butter!  I’m drooling over here.

The key to success with this dish is to marinate the chicken the day before.  The yogurt helps to tenderize this chicken and all the spices have time to get cozy.  This dish itself is really cozy too, and it’s the perfect thing for a chilly day like today.

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Chicken Tikka Masala

1.5 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 cup whole milk greek yogurt

1 Tbsp granulated garlic

2 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp turmeric

2 tsp garam masala

2 tsp coriander

2 tsp cumin

1 Tbsp kosher salt

1 tsp ground cardamom

3 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 small yellow onion, julienned

1/4 cup tomato paste

1/2 Tbsp red pepper flakes

1-28 oz can diced tomatoes

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup milk

cilantro

Begin by cutting the chicken into 1 inch cubes.  In a small bowl, combine all of the spices.  Place half of the spices into a large bowl along with the yogurt and the chicken pieces.  Toss to coat and marinate for at least 6 hours or up to 24.

Heat the oil over medium high heat in a medium saucepan.  Add the onions and cook until soft and slightly caramelized.  Add the chicken with all of the marinade.  Once the chicken and yogurt start to cook, add in the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, milk, cream, and pepper flakes.  Lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Keep an eye on it, and if you see it getting too thick, you can add some stock to thin it a bit.  The sauce should be pinkish-orange and about the consistency of a thin tomato sauce.  My recipe is a little less red than other recipes, but I love the flavor of the increased turmeric spices that I’m okay with the slightly different color.

I love serving this dish with basmati rice, a bit of chopped cilantro or green onions, and some warm naan bread.  You can find naan in most groceries deli sections.  They even make mini ones now!  They are seriously so cute, I’m dying.

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I recently made this for our bookclub, more about that coming soon!  Since my sister is a vegetarian, we just substituted the chicken with cauliflower.  The preparation is a bit different since you don’t need to marinate the cauliflower.  Begin the cooking process the same way as the recipe above, but just leave out the yogurt and add all the spices to the sauce.  Essentially you will just be making the sauce and simmering the cauliflower in it to cook it through.  You can make it a fully veggie dish too, just use cauliflower rice instead of basmati.

Yum!

Fall Cheese Board

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Cheese boards are one of my favorite things to break out when I’m entertaining.  Especially if your guests are arriving around dinner time and you still have some finishing touches to put on the meal.  Plus, they are super easy to put together and chances are that you already have most of this stuff in your kitchen!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

The tricky thing is trying to figure out just how much ‘stuff’ you need for your board.  This depends on how many people, how long they will be snacking, and if you have plates for them to load up or if they are just picking off the board itself.  For the cheese board I created for this post, it would easily serve 4 people for an hour or so.  But it could also easily serve my sister and I, on a girls night, when we are splitting a bottle of wine and not planning on eating a real meal.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

As a general rule, I like to stick to the rule of threes; three cheeses, three meats, three cracker-type things, and three extras.  You don’t have to to this by any means, but I think it helps to provide a good mix of options while not crowding the board.  For the cheeses, stick to crowd favorites and maybe have one wild card that people might have never had before.  For this board, I used sharp cheddar, fresh mozzarella marinated in pesto, and pecorino.  If you do choose a soft cheese, like goat cheese, you might want to add a preserve or jam to your board to complement it.  Semi-soft cheese do well when they are marinated, and hard cheeses I normally leave alone.  If you’re trying to locate good cheese in the GR area, try Martha’s Vineyard, they have a great selection of artisanal cheese (and meats! and wines!) and you can get just the amount that you need.  As far as for selecting the meats, I like to do one spicy (like a sharp pepperoni or spicy salami), one classic (I’m a sucker for prosciutto and I don’t think I’ve ever made a cheese board without it!), and one crowd favorite (for me this is usually a mild salami).  The crackers are where you can stay pretty basic or get really creative!  I found these breadsticks just at Meijer, and I think they add a nice height to the board that you normally don’t see.  I also used pita crackers, and regular ritz crackers.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

The extras are the fun part!  I love using dried fruits and nuts, but I also put fresh champagne grapes on here.  I normally don’t see these at the market, but I’m glad I picked them up!  They taste sweeter than regular grapes, and they are so tiny and adorable!  You can add all sorts of extras to you cheese board, like fresh berries, preserves, figs, olives, fresh fruit, dips, spread, and so much more! If you’re looking for a great cheese board and more inspiration, head over here to check out an amazing one!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

All that’s left now is to enjoy!  Also, if you’re looking for an easy way to stock up on wine before your get-together, check out Bright Cellars!  They’re doing a great deal right now where if you follow this link, you’ll get a $50 credit on your first order!

Chili Honey Glazed Shrimp

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Sometimes you just need a simple recipe to help spice up your weekday dinner meals.  This recipe is just that!  And it uses ingredients that you probably have in your pantry and freezer!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

I like to keep shrimp in my freezer for those days when I just don’t have time to run to the store or when I want to spend less time cooking and more time with my handsome husband.  For this post, I featured the shrimp in two forms, a tostada and tacos.  Both are super simple and are a great way to get some practice at cooking shrimp.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Chili Honey Glazed Shrimp

1 pound of shrimp, deveined

2 Tbsp butter, unsalted

1/2 cup honey

1 1/2 Tbsp red pepper flakes

1/4 cup soy sauce

salt and pepper

Begin with thawed shrimp.  Heat the butter over medium high heat.  Add the shrimp and saute until they turn pink.  Remove from the pan, keeping the heat on.  Add the soy sauce first to deglaze, then add in the remaining ingredients.  Cook this mixture down until it becomes thick and saucy.  Add in the shrimp and toss to coat.  Taste the sauce before serving, especially with the shrimp and adjust the seasoning or spice to your taste.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

For these tostadas, begin by toasting a flour tortilla in the oven until crisp.  I just used an asian sesame salad mix as my base.  Then I added shaved red cabbage and a sauce made from greek yogurt and sriracha.  I love this shrimp paired with the creaminess of fresh avocado, cilantro, and lime.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

The tacos are pretty similar to the tostadas, except I didn’t use the salad kit, just red cabbage, sriracha sauce, avocado, cilantro, lime and shrimp!  This shrimp would also be great on pasta or in a rice bowl.  Let me know how you enjoyed it in the comments below!

 

Breakfast Cookies

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Photography by Allyson Regan

I don’t know who invented breakfast cookies, but I’m so glad they did.  I mean, you just can’t get much better than eating cookies for breakfast!  Especially when they are jam packed with delicious and healthy ingredients like these ones.  Just because they are called breakfast cookies, doesn’t mean that you can’t eat these anytime during the day.  They make a great healthy dessert when packed in a lunch, or a great snack for a road trip because they are quite filling.  Like most of my recipes, feel free to add or remove some of the add-in ingredients, like the nuts or chocolate chips.

Breakfast Cookies

1 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 Tbsp vanilla

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup rolled oats, old fashioned

1/2 Tbsp baking soda

1 Tbsp ground flax seed

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup dates, chopped

1/4 cup applesauce

1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

1/4 Tbsp salt

1/2 Tbsp cinnamon

 

Cream together the butter and sugar.  Add in the egg and applesauce and mix well.  Add in the remaining ingredients and mix to combine.  Scoop the dough into small balls, and chill before baking.  Bake at 325 degrees for about 12 minutes, rotating the tray after 6 minutes.  I like these cookies a little darker because they get a little more toasty flavor, so I normally cook them for about 14 minutes total.  Cool on a cooling rack, and package in a tupperware container.  These cookies tend to get quite soft after a couple days so you can either bake them throughout the week, or throw a piece of bread into the container to soak up the excess moisture.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

This recipe is sure to become a favorite in your house.  If you meal plan on Sundays, this recipe takes no time at all and can easily be added into your routine.  Like always, I’d love to hear from you!  Comment below if you try this or any other recipe on my blog.  Also, please share the love on social media using the buttons below!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Boneless Chicken Wings

 

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Photography by Allyson Regan

It’s almost the weekend and we all know what that means.  There’s so many sports games on and we can’t just watch them empty-handed!  I don’t know about you, but I love watching football with my husband.  And I love making game-day food.  A Michigan win would be good too.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

This recipe for boneless chicken wings is so incredibly easy, and it’s one of the most requested meals in our home.  Seriously, if you are entertaining for the game this weekend, you have to try this recipe.  What I love about this dish is that it uses boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, but you can easily switch it up and use chicken thighs, or just chunk up a whole chicken.  Even though bags of frozen chicken wings can be delicious and easy, I like to be able to have chicken wings made from good, antibiotic-free, hormone-free, delicious chicken that I normally buy.  Also, in those frozen convenience chicken products, they don’t use the best chicken.

 

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Boneless Chicken Wings

1 2.5 pound package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts

3 eggs

4 cups of panko breadcrumbs

3 cups all purpose flour

salt and pepper

1 quart vegetable oil

Begin by pouring vegetable oil into a small saucepan.  You want to have 3-4 inches of oil, but you also need 2-3 inches of space from the top of the pan.  Heat to medium, maybe medium high depending on your stove.  Heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the chicken into 1 inch cubes.  Gather three bowls and place flour in one, the eggs in another, and the panko breadcrumbs in the final bowl.  Season the flour.  Whisk the eggs well.  Dunk the chicken cube into the flour, then the egg, and then the panko.  Make sure to fully cover the previous layer at each step.

Gently place the breaded chicken into the heated oil, making sure to only add enough chicken so that they can float around.  Don’t crowd the oil, this will promote even browning.  You don’t have to worry about taking the temperature of the chicken at this point, because you will be frying the chicken in shifts and you will bake them after done frying.  I like to cook them this way so that they don’t get cold, and so that I make enough, these never last long!  When you remove the chicken from the oil, transfer to a sheet tray that has a cookie rack on top.  If you place the chicken right onto the pan, the bottom will get soggy.  Once you’re done frying all the chicken, bake for 15-20 minutes until hot and the internal temperature reaches at least 165 degrees.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Don’t these just make your mouth water??  And they are super easy, they just make a lot of dishes.  My husband loves these with buffalo sauce, barbecue and ranch, with plenty of celery and carrots!  If you’ve never made buffalo sauce before, it’s super simple.  Just equal parts hot sauce and butter.  The less butter you add, the spicier it will be.  Heat both ingredients over low heat until melted and combined.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Even if your team doesn’t win, your tummy will!! Be sure to make more than you think you’ll need.  You can also save the fried nuggets by freezing them in a single layer on a tray and then placing in a freezer bag.  Bake at 400 degrees to reheat for 25-30 minutes.

Go Blue!

 

 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Photography by Allyson Regan

You guys.  These cookies are amazing.  But really.  Seriously.  For real.  No joke.  Okay I think you get it now.  But I’ve been making these cookies for almost a year and I’ve made them so much that I’ve truly perfected the recipe.  While they have peanut butter in them, they really just taste like a jacked up chocolate chip cookie.  The peanut butter helps keep the texture soft and chewy.  I simply adore these cookies because the edges are slightly crisp while the center is just baked and chewy, making them perfect for dunking in ice cold milk.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

These are also a crowd favorite!  This has been the most requested cookie from my husband recently.  I made them over the summer for a camping trip and they made delicious smore’s!  I would recommend storing them in tupperware instead of in a bag though, they tend to get crumbly easily in bags.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Just look at that crumb!  I usually use Ghirardelli bittersweet dark chocolate chips, which are disk shaped and help to form these delightful chocolate layers.  So good!  I almost always have this recipe frozen into small balls so that when I have last minute company, or a bad day, I can whip these cookies up in 12 minutes or less!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup light brown sugar

1 large egg

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup peanut butter, creamy

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Cream butter and sugar until just combined.  Add in the egg and combine well.  Add in the peanut butter and mix.  Add in the rest of the dry ingredients mixing just until combined. These work best when the dough is chilled slightly before baking.  Scoop into dough balls, I use a scoop that is about a 1/4 cup. Bake for 12 minutes, turning half way through to ensure even baking.  Let cool for a minute or two on the tray and flatten slightly with the back of a spatula.  Remove from the tray and cool on a wire rack.  If the chocolate solidifies, reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds.  This recipe works just as well when you bake them from frozen, you might just need to keep an eye on them and maybe add a couple extra minutes.  I’ve tested this recipe twice doubling the batch and they still work out great!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Be right back, I’m going to find a giant mug of milk and dunk this whole stack in it.  Don’t judge me until you try this recipe. And if you try this recipe, share your pictures on social media and tag me!

Enjoy!

September 2018 Recap

September felt like it flew by!  The weather was so unpredictable that it truly didn’t feel like summer was over until last week.  At least not in Michigan!  So let’s take a minute to look back on the awesome things we featured on the blog.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

This guacamole was one of my favorite ways to use my grill unconventionally.  And it was so good! It’s such an interesting combination and when we posted it, you could find both corn and poblanos at the farmers markets.  When Ally and I shoot, we like to have others around to help us eat the delicious food, but we were content to take a guac-break this time and devour this whole bowl!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Next up is my Kale and Avocado Caesar Salad, which is so simple and so yummy!  I think I ate this for a week straight before we finally posted it on the blog.  Ally loves this salad because it’s filling and easy to prep for work lunches.  You can also be so creative with this recipe, so it’s great to add it in to your meal rotation.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

I couldn’t wait to post this Eggs Benedict Recipe because its just a classic breakfast staple that I think any foodie/home cook should try!  Plus, it’s a huge crowd pleaser and it has that wow factor.  Don’t forget, always make more hollandaise than you think!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Chipotle and Butternut Squash Risotto was the perfect segue into fall cooking and baking.  Risotto is one of my favorite dishes/meals to make and this version is definitely going to be repeated many times this fall. Can’t squash my fall spirit!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

One of the most unique posts we did this month was a wine subscription review of Bright Cellars.  This was so cool because I love this service and it was fun to share with you all!  It was a little different than the regular posts that I do, but I want to start doing some more fun posts like this!  If you have any products or services that you love that you think I should check out or review, let me know in the comments!

I know that we posted a lot of delicious recipes in September, but look for a couple more unique posts in October!