Almond Apple Bread with Rum Raisin Cream Cheese

Apple Bread

Picture yourself in a forest. In the middle of nowhere. In a clearing with tall trees all around and random rays of sunlight shining through. You’re part of a small audience sitting before a large wooden table covered with all sorts of rustic looking tarts, breads and salads made with wild plants and herbs foraged from the forest. It’s a cooking class. And now it’s your turn to take what you’ve learned, forage on your own and make something for everyone to sample. But suddenly, you’re hit with fear so strong that time stands still and your heartbeat in your ears is all you can hear. You’re afraid of killing everyone, yourself included, with a poisonous plant! Then you wake up. Cause it’s a dream. But not yours, mine. Welcome to my dreams! This is the crazy stuff I dream about.

And this is the not-so-crazy stuff I dream about!

Almond Apple Bread with Rum Raisin Cream Cheese

A sweetly spiced apple bread that won’t poison you. I promise. Each slice is like a work of art, packed with a mosaic of fresh, diced apples and crunchy almonds. The rum raisin cream cheese is richly flavored with rum and vanilla extracts, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon and a touch of cloves. It’s packed with chewy, golden raisins and is perfect paired with the apple bread. All the flavors love each other! And you’ll love them right back.

Rum Raisin Cream Cheese
Almond Apple Bread w/ Rum Raisin Cream Cheese
(loosely adapted from Hobby Farms)

¼ cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, well-beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour (substitute half with King Arthur White Whole Wheat, if desired)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
2 cups apples, diced small

2/3 cup sliced almonds, chopped, plus additional 1/3 cup for sprinkling over top, if desired

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour and 8 x 5 inch loaf pan.

2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt; set aside.

3. Beat butter and sugars together until fluffy then beat in eggs.

4. Add flour mixture to egg mixture in three batches, alternating with milk and lastly sour cream. Add a spoon of flour to the apples and toss to coat to help prevent them from sinking to the bottom. Stir in apples and almonds. The batter will be stiff.

5. Spoon into prepared pan and sprinkle almonds over top. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean and top is nicely browned. Cool thoroughly; best not to slice when warm.

Rum Raisin Cream Cheese
(by Reeni)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon rum extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch or two of cloves
3/4 cup raisins, chopped (I used golden)

In a medium bowl beat cream cheese with a hand mixer on low until light and fluffy. Beat in brown sugar, molasses, extracts, cinnamon and cloves. Stir in raisins.

Apple Bread with Rum Raisin Cream Cheese

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Popovers (Yorkshire Puddings) with Strawberry Butter

Popovers (Yorkshire Puddings) with Strawberry Butter

Popovers are tender, eggy, airy and slightly hollow on the inside with a crusty outside. In Britain they are known as Yorkshire Puddings and are typically made with beef fat and served with roasts. The batter is thin and simple, made of flour, eggs and milk. Because steam causes them to rise it is important not to open the oven while they’re baking.

They sometimes deflate after being taken out of the oven, but I discovered a secret that will make that a thing of the past. Once the popovers are cooked, I turn off the oven, leave them in there and allow them to ‘set’ for 15-20 minutes. Then I sit on my hands, because at this point the smell has driven me crazy and I’m finding it hard to restrain myself from tearing into them. But the anticipation makes eating them all the more glorious. The popovers will still be warm and won’t sink in on themselves.

Popovers (Yorkshire Puddings) with Strawberry Butter

The strawberry compound butter is made by beating strawberries into softened butter. It can be eaten as is with the natural flavor of the strawberries as a sweetener or sugar can be added. If you don’t have strawberrries (fresh or frozen, thawed) strawberry jam can be substituted. The strawberry butter adds an extra special touch and is also delicious on pancakes, waffles, biscuits, bagels or toast. This technique can also be used with cream cheese.

These are best eaten warm straight from the oven with a smear of irresistible strawberry butter melting over them. And they are so easy to make, I’m almost certain you have everything in your pantry right now. Go forth and bake!

Strawberry Butter

Popover (Yorkshire Pudding) RecipeStrawberry Butter Recipe

Printable Recipe

Popovers adapted from Jaime Oliver

*Strawberry jam can be used in place of fresh strawberries. Start with 2 tablespoons, taste and add more if needed.

Popovers with Strawberry Butter

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Barbecue Chicken Cheddar Cornbread

Barbecue Chicken Cheddar Cornbread

Barbecue chicken and cornbread make a unique and delicious combination! I know the idea is nothing new, but baking the chicken right into the cornbread is…A thorough search turned up no other recipes of it’s kind, just lots of casseroles with cornbread crusts or toppings.

I was on the prowl for something a little ‘different’ and was craving cornbread too. The idea for a chicken cornbread had been brewing on the back burner for some time. And the stars were aligned that day because by chance I had leftover barbecue chicken. It was fated.

I turned to my tried and true cornbread recipe and packed it full of flavor. Gently sauteed onion and bell pepper along with extra sharp cheddar cheese went into the batter along with sour cream and an extra dose of barbecue sauce. The end result is this incredibly flavored, tender, moist, tangy and sweet cornbread with colorful speckles throughout. This is one of the heartiest breads I’ve ever made, filling and satisfying, it’s a meal all in itself.

DSCN2944

Barbecue Chicken Cheddar Cornbread
(by Reeni)

1 small onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
olive or vegetable oil, for sauteing
sea salt and fresh black pepper
1 + 1/2 cups chicken, cooked, shredded or chopped
About 1 +1/2 cups barbecue sauce
1 cup all-purpose or white whole wheat flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sour cream (regular or light)
3 tablespoon butter, melted, plus additional for greasing pan
1 + 1/3 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1. In a large skillet saute onion and pepper over medium low heat in enough oil to cover bottom of pan. Season with salt and pepper. When onion is translucent add chicken and enough barbecue sauce to lightly coat everything. Remove from heat.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a cast iron skillet or a 9×9 inch baking pan.

3. In a large bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon sea salt.

4. In a separate medium bowl whisk the eggs, add the milk, sour cream and butter. Whisk together. Add this mixture to the dry mixture and stir together. Add the chicken, 1/2 cup barbecue sauce and the cheddar, stir until just combined.

5. If using a cast iron skillet heat, over medium heat melt in a tablespoon of butter and coat the pan with it. Add batter to pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until center is set and a toothpick comes out clean.

Printable Recipe

Barbecue Chicken Cheddar Cornbread

Thank you all for voting for me in Round #1 of The Next Blog Star competition! I made it through to round 2 and I would of never done it without your support. Look for my next entry tomorrow! xoxo

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Tomato and Rosemary Focaccia

Tomato and Rosemary Focaccia Bread

A rustic Italian-style flatbread recipe using garden fresh tomatoes and fragrant rosemary. The tomatoes give it a fresh pop of flavor that’s savory, salty and sweet all at the same delicious time. While it’s golden and crispy on the outside it’s soft, tender and fluffy on the inside.

Tomato and Rosemary Focaccia Bread

Focaccia bread has never let me down. It’s one of the most versatile recipes I know. I top it with whatever my little heart desires and it’s something different each time I make it. Sometimes thick, sometimes thin, always fail-proof.

Tomato and Rosemary Focaccia Bread

You can serve it as an appetizer, with brunch, at a potluck or a picnic. With a cup of tea or a glass of wine. You can eat it with eggs for breakfast, a salad for lunch, and pasta for dinner. Or all on it’s own. Where it shines. Absolutely addicting, it’s the type of bread you will want to snack on all day long.

Tomato and Rosemary Focaccia

Tomato and Rosemary Focaccia
(adapted from Tyler Florence)

2 teaspoons rapid-rising dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
2 teaspoons Sea or coarse salt
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for brushing over top
Cornmeal, for dusting
2-3 medium sized tomatoes, sliced, seeds removed
sea or kosher salt
fresh rosemary

1. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, proof the yeast by combining it with the warm water and sugar. Stir gently to dissolve. Let stand 3 minutes until foam appears. Turn mixer on low and slowly add the flour to the bowl. Dissolve salt in 2 tablespoons of water and add it to the mixture. Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil. When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium. Stop the machine periodically to scrape the dough off the hook. Mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary.

2. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and fold over itself a few times. Form the dough into a round and place in an oiled bowl, turn to coat the entire ball with oil so it doesn’t form a skin. Cover with plastic wrap or damp towel and let rise over a gas pilot light on the stovetop or other warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. If making pizza proceed from here with the pizza instructions.

3. Coat a sheet pan with a little olive oil and corn meal. Once the dough is doubled and domed, turn it out onto the counter. Roll and stretch the dough out to an oblong shape about 1/2-inch thick. Lay the flattened dough on the pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 15 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Uncover the dough and dimple with your fingertips. Brush the surface with more olive oil and spread tomato slices over top, sprinkle them with salt and sprinkle entire top with rosemary. Bake on the bottom rack for 15 to 20 minutes until bottom is golden brown.

Printable Recipe

Tomato and Rosemary Focaccia Bread

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White Focaccia Pizza with Zucchini

White Focaccia Pizza with Zucchini

A pizza recipe with a delicious little twist on tradition. If you’re looking for something a little different for pizza night, like I was, then this is just the thing. Instead of pizza dough this uses focaccia, skips the red sauce and uses three different types of cheese. And the topping? Zucchini. (You may have some hiding out in your fridge right now.) Cut up into matchstick pieces so small they don’t have a chance to get soggy.

The focaccia crust is softer and more bread-like than pizza dough. There’s a layering of flavors that starts by first brushing the dough with a garlic and olive oil infusion followed by ricotta cheese and herbs, mozzarella and last of all zucchini and red onion. Fresh out of the oven, Parmesan cheese is sprinkled over top along with a smattering of fresh herbs to finish it off.

I couldn’t of put together a better combination of flavors. Zucchini is such a mild, bland vegetable that it soaks up whatever flavors you pair it with just like a sponge. The zucchini doesn’t stand out as much as I initially thought it might. What you taste is this incredibly creamy topping with a pop of garlic and herbs over a soft and chewy crust. Incredibly and surprisingly delicious! Whether you’re a zucchini lover or not.

This is announcement is for those of you who have been following along with my Side Dish Showdown and most recently my Side Dish Saturdays event. I’m sorry to say that I have to put the event on hold for the time being. With the next few months being very busy for me it would be a struggle to keep it going. I hope to start it up again sometime in the future but right now that is up in the air too. I thank you all for helping make it such a success! I have a new found respect for side dishes and have learned to give them the careful attention they deserve so they shine as brightly, if not brighter than the main attraction.

White Focaccia PIzza with Zucchini

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White Focaccia Pizza with Zucchini
(by Reeni)

Foccacia dough (recipe to follow)
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for greasing pan
Sea Salt
Cornmeal, for dusting the pan
15 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
12 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 large zucchini, julienned (cut into matchstick pieces)
1/2 large red onion, chopped
1/3 cup Parmesan, fresh grated
Fresh thyme or basil, chopped, for finishing, optional

1. To make a 16-inch pizza remove a 1/4 of the dough* and set aside unless you want a fairly thick pizza, in that case use it all. Oil a pizza pan and sprinkle lightly with cornmeal. Press and stretch the dough out to fit the pan. Set aside to rise for 15 minutes.

2. In a small skillet heat the oil over medium-low heat. Turn heat down to low and add garlic with a pinch or two of salt. Allow to cook over low heat for three-four minutes. If it begins to turn brown remove from heat immediately.

3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Allow the oil to cool and pour over top of the pizza dough, use a pastry brush or a spoon to spread it evenly across the dough. Spread the ricotta evenly over top and sprinkle with oregano and thyme. Sprinkle mozzarella over top, then zucchini and onion.

4. Bake for 24-28 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle top with Parmesan and herbs. Let set for 5-10 minutes before cutting.

*With the little bit of extra dough you can make a separate small pizza/focaccia.

Julienned Zucchini with my bad-ass Guy Fieri knife.
Thank you Brad for the cool Guy Fieri knife!

Focaccia
(adapted from Tyler Florence)

2 teaspoons rapid-rising dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
2 teaspoons sea or coarse salt
1/4 cup olive oil
Cornmeal, for dusting
toppings, optional

1. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, proof the yeast by combining it with the warm water and sugar. Stir gently to dissolve. Let stand 3 minutes until foam appears. Turn mixer on low and slowly add the flour to the bowl. Dissolve salt in 2 tablespoons of water and add it to the mixture. Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil. When the dough starts to come together, increase the speed to medium. Stop the machine periodically to scrape the dough off the hook. Mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary.

2. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and fold over itself a few times. Form the dough into a round and place in an oiled bowl, turn to coat the entire ball with oil so it doesn’t form a skin. Cover with plastic wrap or damp towel and let rise over a gas pilot light on the stovetop or other warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. If making pizza proceed from here with the pizza instructions.

3. Coat a sheet pan with a little olive oil and corn meal. Once the dough is doubled and domed, turn it out onto the counter. Roll and stretch the dough out to an oblong shape about 1/2-inch thick. Lay the flattened dough on the pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for 15 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Uncover the dough and dimple with your fingertips. Brush the surface with more olive oil and add toppings if desired like caramelized onions, garlic, olives, cheese, salt, pepper, and rosemary or other fresh herbs. Bake on the bottom rack for 15 to 20 minutes.

Printable Recipe
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White Foccacia Pizza with  Zucchini

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Panzanella Salad: Tomato, Bread and Parmesan

Panzanella Salad

This bright, fresh and rustic recipe for Italian Panzanella salad couldn’t be simpler to make or more delicious! It’s as easy as tossing rough cut tomatoes, crusty hunks of bread, sharp red onion, sweet basil and salty Parmesan together. With a little drizzle of olive oil and vinegar over top it’s good to go. Granted there is a short wait after salting the tomatoes but all it takes is a little planning ahead.

This is the perfect way to showcase the tomatoes, onion and basil that I’ve planted in my backyard garden. And I’m sure it will grace my table in many shapes and forms this summer.

Panzanella Salad

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Panzanella Salad
(adapted from 200 Super Salads by Alice Storey)

1 + 1/4 pound large Tomatoes
2 teaspoons Sea Salt
5 ounces Italian Bread
1/3 cup Red Onion, thinly sliced in half moons
6-7 Basil leaves, rough chopped plus extra for garnish
2 teaspoons Red Wine Vinegar
2 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Parmesan Cheese, shaved slices
Sea Salt and Fresh Black Pepper

1. Rough chop the tomatoes into 3/4-inch pieces and put them in a nonmetallic bowl. Sprinkle with sea salt and allow them to sit for an hour.

2. Tear the bread apart into rough bite-size chunks.

3. Squash the tomatoes with your hands, discard liquid and then toss with bread, onion, basil, vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish top with extra Basil leaves.

4. Serve with Parmesan shavings over top. Best served immediately.

Print Recipe
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Panzanella Salad

Don’t forget to check out the next Burger Club Challenge hosted by Kim of Stirring the Pot!

I’m linking this to to Two for Tuesdays: Celebrate REAL FOOD!

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Chocolate Sour Cream Bread

This chocolate sour cream bread comes courtesy of  my favorite bear in the whole wide world! Winnie-the-Pooh Bear!  Who would of thought that silly old bear could remove his hand head from the hunny pot long enough to bake?! No less write a cookbook!? I’m glad because this is one of the most delicious breads to ever cross my lips…. 

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Crunchy Pizza Dough Croutons

Crunchy Pizza Dough Croutons with Caesar Salad

I’m bringing you a simple recipe for croutons that are made by pan-frying little pieces of pizza dough and tossing them in Parmesan cheese. While the method is simple the outcome is not. I taste tested one three before adding them to my salad and was quite tempted to eat them all straight away – one right after the other. The heck with the salad! These are extremely addicting! Make extra!

The recipe comes from one of the newer shows on Food Network called Five Ingredient Fix. As soon as I saw what the host, Clarie Robinson was up to I knew these were in my very near future. Cheesy little bites of lightly fried dough? Who can resist? And why would you want to? Claire served hers in a salad dressed lightly with lemon and olive oil that she calls Caesar salad. Where she is limited to five ingredients I am not. I served mine with my Mock Caesar Salad; a knock-off of the traditional dressing using mayo in place of egg and Worcestershire or fish sauce in place of anchovies.

Crunchy Pizza Dough Croutons with Caesar Salad

I didn’t give set amounts because you can really make as little or as many as you’d like. This is more of a method than a recipe. I broke off a small piece of dough while making pizza and saved it to make these another night. I do suggest that you have the salad ready before frying up the croutons. They are best served warm. And if the salad isn’t ready when the croutons are there may not be any croutons left! I’m pretty sure these would be good with any type of salad or dressing. They also make a great appetizer or snack. And are very versatile. I will be playing around with seasonings and different cheese(s).

These really add a little something extra to an everyday salad. I loved them warm with the contrast of the cold salad. They truly are little puffy bites of heaven that melt-in-your mouth. Salty, crusty and totally delicious. Make some today.

Crusty Pizza Dough Croutons & Caesar Salad

Pizza Dough Croutons
(adapted from Food Network)

Pizza Dough
Fresh Parmesan, grated*
Vegetable/Canola oil
3 or 4 garlic cloves, whole,peeled

1. Cut the pizza dough into little rectangles or roll into balls. They will puff up bigger as they cook so cut them a little smaller than you want them to be. Add the Parmesan cheese to a medium size bowl.

2. In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet add about 1/4-inch of oil. Heat on medium-low heat, add garlic cloves and saute.

3. Test oil by frying one piece of dough – the oil should get bubbly around the dough. If not turn heat up to medium. Fry the dough turning until all sides are browned. Drain on paper towels and then add to bowl with Parmesan while still warm. Serve with your favorite salad.

*I used a 1/4 cup for 15 croutons. 

Print Recipe

Mock Caesar Salad Dressing
(by Reeni)

1 tablespoon Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed Lemon juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire or Fish Sauce
2 Garlic cloves, finely minced
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1/2 cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for shaving/sprinkling over top
Sea/Kosher salt and fresh Pepper
Pizza Dough Croutons

By Hand:
1. In a small mixing bowl whisk together the Mayonnaise, Lemon Juice, Worcestershire, Garlic, and Mustard until well combined.

2. Stream in the oil while whisking and continue whisking for a minute or two.

3. Stir in Parmesan. Taste and adjust to suit your own taste by adding more Garlic, Lemon Juice, Worcestershire, or Mayonnaise for a creamier finish. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Toss with Romaine hearts, additional Parmesan, Croutons, and slices of Parmesan Chicken.

In a Food Processor:
1. To the bowl of a food processor add the Mayonnaise, Lemon Juice, Worcestershire, Garlic, and Mustard. Pulse until well creamy and well combined.

2. Stream in the oil while pulsing. Pulse until well emulsified.

3. Taste and adjust to your own tastes by adding more Garlic, Lemon Juice, Worcestershire or Mayonnaise for a creamier finish.

4. Stir in Parmesan cheese, taste and season with salt and pepper.

5. Toss with Romaine hearts, additional Parmesan, croutons, and slices of Parmesan Chicken.

Print Recipe

Crunchy Pizza Dough Croutons with Caesar Salad

I’m taking your side dishes for the Showdown! Add your links to the bottom of the post HERE.

Do you love burgers? Join us and rate Katie Lee’s Award Winning Logan County ‘Grilled Cheese’ Burger. Find out the details/ get the recipe and add your link to the bottom of the post HERE.

I also want to tell you about a new site to visit called Foodierama.

Foodierama is a homepage for foodies based on the idea of serendipity. It’s designed as a portal front page containing teasers to the latest posts of a list of hundreds of the best food blogs. Whenever users enter the page they discover something new and exciting: a new blog, a new recipe or cooking technique etc. In addition, users get a panoramic view of what’s going on in the food blog-sphere all on one graphic page.” -Dave, co-founder of Foodierama

I’m linking this to Chaya of My Sweet and Savory for her Meatless Monday round-up.


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