Easy Apple-Walnut Coffeecake

Start the coffee when you slide this baby into the oven because it’s done in 30 minutes!

I can remember, but just barely, my dad scraping the flesh of an apple with a spoon and feeding it to me when I was a capital-T Tiny little kid. Was I spoiled? Oh, I’m sure I was. I was the fourth kid and born 10 years after the third. Did I learn to love apples? You betcha. And, because God was good (and yes, “God did make little green apples”), I grew up in the same house my entire childhood with apple, plum, and pear trees right outside one door or the other. To say nothing of a midwestern summer garden I’ve never since seen the like of. Of course that all meant work, too, even for the kids. There was planting, fertilizing, weeding, hoeing, picking, cleaning, and the final coup de grâce (crushing blow), canning. Lord, the heat. Apples, plums, and pears, but especially apples, however, didn’t necessitate those long three months of labor followed by a week of boiling jars in a steaming, no-AC kitchen. You simply watched as the trees blossomed in the spring, knowing somehow in the sweet fragrance on the breeze that when fall arrived, you could just munch away to your heart’s content by doing nothing more than reaching up to the low-hanging branches or getting your taller sister to do it for you. There was one thing, though. My mom liked to make jam and jelly, so there were still a few hot Mason jars for that, more’s the pity. She’d make it out of just about anything she could find, but because she had tons of apples in her own yard, we had apple jelly out the kazoo. If I ate a PBJ come wintertime, there’d be apple jelly on it nine times out of ten. Well. That was a lot of the same jelly, so….

Continue reading

Mesa Apple Tart and Other Miracles

While our world feels like a fearful, indescribable mess — and it is, dear friends — I can handle it better if I’m baking. Especially for a holiday and, like it or not, Easter’s coming. Think renewed life, rebirth, clean beginnings — positive thoughts for anyone of any faith or none. We need this now, even if only two are gathered. A holiday for a duet is a tender occasion and while there’ll be a gorgeous lamb chop a piece and not our huge traditional Italian roasted leg of lamb for a crowd, we’ll also have dessert to remember this spring by.

One of my Easter tables.

I’m looking at Susan Hermann Loomis’ recipe for lamb chops. You might, too. (Do you know Susan’s work? She’s one of my very favorite cooking teacher/writers.) I squirreled away the chops weeks ago, but there’s still time for you to get some. Or something else you fancy more.

Need more Easter or Good Friday ideas? Just type “Easter” into the search window. You can also type “brunch,” “eggs,” “lamb,” “Friday Fish,”etc.

Continue reading

Upside Down Apple-Spice Muffins or Fall in a Breakfast

The blog, Dave, and I are going on vacation for the rest of September.  If I can, I’ll post photos, but I’m concentrating on tasting and walking France – YES YES YES- and will catch you up after we return. See you later!

                                                                   photo courtesy Beaune tourism

Continue reading

Turkey-Acorn Squash Salad with Apples + Parmesan Dressing

IMG_6930

I had no leftover turkey as I traveled for the holiday, but I did have some from the deli and, in need of lunch, made this sweet and savory salad.  It was just the ticket for a day when, after boatloads of family dinners, my jeans were not exactly in their happy place.  This meal is fast, nutritious, figure-friendly, and family-pleasing.  Could you add a little of that leftover cranberry salad or relish off to the side of the plate?  I’m thinking you could.  Happy Giving Tuesday!

STILL HAVE FROZEN TURKEY? Take out a bit, unthaw, and use that.  By the way, your frozen turkey is at its best-tasting for 2-3 months if it’s wrapped properly and stored at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, according to STILL TASTY DOT COM, my go-to for storage questions.  If it’s in your refrigerator since last Thursday, it’s past time to throw it away; it was good/safe for 3-4 days only.  In fact, even simple vegetables cooked Thanksgiving day and stored in the refrigerator should be tossed after today.  Sad, I know.

IMG_0049 above:  Rosie thinks she’s Alpha

IMG_6934

TURKEY-ACORN SQUASH SALAD WITH APPLES AND PARMESAN DRESSING

Continue reading

One Pan-Pork Chops with Potatoes, Onions, Squash, and Apples

IMG_6801

A dear friend of mine named Joyce once wrote a card — one of many she’s sent over the years — and mentioned she was still making my pork chop with potatoes and apples supper.  I vaguely remembered that meal, but it was one of those quick meals I never bothered to write down.  These days I keep a cooking journal and so have records of meals or at least titles and approximate amounts.   (Well, I’m supposed to anyway.  Since the kitchen remodel I’m still finding things.  Do you know where the lids are for my small Pyrex dishes?  Or my good silver??)

DSC07704

Late Friday afternoon found me cooking up two big pots of Pumpkin-Chicken Chili *-– one for us to share with neighbors and one for me to have in the DACOR kitchen at Shouse Appliance on Saturday.  I needed to make a vat of pinto beans laced with bacon, so those were bubbling away on another burner.  Enter Dave sniffing around for dinner.IMG_6813

(Apple-Cheddar Salad recipe here.)

Since I didn’t want him to overdose on chili, I got out my big sauté pan — it’s about 5 quarts — and threw in a few quickly sliced potatoes, onions, and apples.  On the counter was a yellow (summer) squash that had seen better days.  I sliced it and threw that in, too.  After those goodies were about half-way tender, I shoved them to the side of the pan and added some oiled and seasoned pork chops.  Lid on and dinner was done by the time I set the table and Dave opened a bottle of Pinot Noir.

*If you ate this chili in the Dacor kitchen, it differs from the recipe in three ways: I used beer instead of wine and added cooked Italian sausage as well as the bacon in the beans.

IMG_6800

Above: I had the pups all “dressed” for Halloween and a big bowl of candy. We had two trick-or-treaters. The name Rosie seems to be sticking, despite my love for “Mara,” and all the other wonderful suggestions we’ve received.  I think it’s because I like to sing this old song to her.  This  morning I found her asleep on my feet while I was checking email.  She’s doing wonderfully well, though we’re still working hard on house training. Puppies.

photo-69

 Happy Fall cooking…

Below:  Rosie practicing “Come” with Dave in the front yard.

IMG_6796

ONE-PAN PORK CHOPS WITH POTATOES, ONIONS, SQUASH, AND APPLES

SERVES 2    —   Easily doubled

There is enough of the potato mixture to serve another day with eggs or you might be able to stretch it to serve four if you can fit four chops in your pan and serve a green vegetable or salad as a side.  The wine or water makes just a little sauce to keep it all moist.

To a large, deep skillet or sauté pan heated over medium-high flame, add 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil along with 3 sliced potatoes, 1 large sliced onion, 1 sliced yellow (summer) squash, and 1 cored and sliced apple.  Season generously with seasoned or kosher salt, pepper, and a good pinch of crushed red pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for ten minutes or so until all are at least half-way tender. Push the potato mixture to the sides of the pan to make room for the chops.

Add 2 thick bone-in pork chops you’ve brushed with oil and seasoned well with salt, pepper, and a good pinch of dried thyme.  Cook until the chops are well- browned on one side and turn over to brown the other side.  Stir the vegetables and apples, pour in 1/4 cup white wine*, then cover and reduce heat until everything is tender.  Use an instant-read thermometer to check the chops for doneness. It should read 140 degrees.  Let dinner rest in pan five minutes, then taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot garnished with the grated zest of one lemon.

*Can sub water or chicken broth for wine. For a more smoothly silky sauce, dab in a tablespoon of butter as well.

{printable recipe}

Need an oven version that serves 4?  Here’s something similar you might adapt: SPRUCE EATS  PORK CHOP AND POTATO SHEET PAN MEAL


IMG_6795

Sing a new song; cook some pork chops,

Alyce

38 Power Foods, Week 24 — Quinoa — Shrimp-Quinoa Salad with Winter Fruit, Pomegranate Seeds, and Blue Cheese

Festive and healthy at the same time is a winning combination.  While we often think of holiday meals leaning toward big hunks of meat and baked desserts, it may be just the time we should be thinking of cutting a bit here and there.  If you’d like a gorgeous December salad that’s colorful and filling without being heavy, try this little plate of love.  There’s plenty of shrimp (I bought cooked shrimp for ease of preparation) for those who need visible protein, but it’s off-set by the addition of lots high-fiber quinoa, green apples, red pomegranate seeds, cucumber, fresh cranberries, clementines, and spinach–to say nothing of the blue cheese grace notes.  A light orange vinaigrette spiked with a bit of crushed red pepper tops it all.   You could add some steamed, chopped asparagus or green beans, I think, but the spinach gives you lots of green.  I served a little bread and butter with this salad to round out the meal.  Try this:


shrimp-quinoa salad with winter fruit, pomegranate seeds, and blue cheese   serves 2-3

1.Make the quinoa:  1 cup dry quinoa to 2 cups water.  Bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer 25 minutes until tender.  Cool at least a few minutes (stir to cool more quickly) before adding to salad.  You’ll  have leftover quinoa for soup or breakfast.
2.  Make Vinaigrette:  2T white wine vinegar, 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/2 teaspoon honey, pinch each: salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil. * Whisk together everything but the olive oil first, then drizzle in oil whisking until well-combined.   In a separate medium bowl, add 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette to marinate a half-pound cooked shrimp. (Reserve the rest of the vinaigrette for the salad.)  Set aside  while you chop the fruit.

3.Chop 1/2 an at least partially peeled cucumber and 1/4 cup fresh cranberries, optional.

4. Slice thinly an unpeeled Granny Smith apple.  Peel two clementines (or one orange) and separate them into segments.

Here I began to mix just a small portion of the salad to try it out.   Hey, I liked it!

5.  In a large bowl, mix 1 cup cooled quinoa with 2 cups fresh spinach, and the marinated shrimp.
6.  Gently stir in the cucumber, cranberries, apple slices, and clementines.  Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon each kosher salt and pepper
7.  Drizzle with enough vinaigrette to moisten the salad well.  Squeeze just a bit of lime juice over everything.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  You could add another pinch of crushed red pepper if you like a bit of heat.

8.  Spoon the salad out onto a large serving platter and garnish with 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds and 2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese.  (2 Tablespoons chopped walnuts or pecans–optional)  Serve immediately and pass the pepper grinder at the table.

Ingredients list:   1/2 pound cooked shrimp, 2 cups fresh spinach, 1 apple, 2 clementines or 1 orange, 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds, 1/2 cucumber,  1/4 cup fresh cranberries  (optional), Juice of one orange, 1/2 teaspoon honey, 2 T white wine vinegar, 1/2 lime, walnuts or pecans (optional), 2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese, kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, crushed red pepper.

*If you like a sharper vinaigrette, use sherry vinegar or add 1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard.
This vinaigrette is mild so that the fruit all speaks for itself. 

Want to bring this a potluck?  Put the sliced apples in with the shrimp and vinaigrette to keep them from browning.  Bring the vinaigrette separately and dress the salad right before serving.

Wine:  I liked this with a glass of California Chardonnay, but an Oregon Pinot Blanc might drink beautifully.  I just sent a half-case of Bethel Heights Pinot Blanc for a Christmas gift.  It might not be too late for you to do it, though the weather could be turning dicey for shipping. At $18 per bottle, it’s a beautiful northwest winery steal even if they have to wait until spring for delivery. 

quinoa…It’s really a seed related to spinach or tumbleweed (rather than a grain) that can be    traced back to ancient Peru…and yes, it’s gluten free.

Low in calories and fat, quinoa is  high in carbohydrates, fiber, and protein.  While it cooks in just about the same time and same way as white rice (maybe a few minutes longer), it also has close to the same amount of calories.  A good source of all the amino acids, iron, potassium, and magnesium, quinoa also offers a bit of zinc– about 1/4 of the daily allowance for women.

Try quinoa as tasty hot breakfast cereal with maple syrup and hot milk, or as a good foil for spicy hot chili.  This grain is luscious in salads and can sub for couscous or even rice in many places.   On it’s own or nestled next to your chop, add a little butter, salt and pepper and it’s ready.  Read all about quinoa here.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

I blog with a great group of writers every Friday where we cook our way through the list of foods from Whole Living Magazine’s Power Foods:  150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients:    Read more about tasty quinoa at these sites:

Ansh – SpiceRoots.com  
Minnie Gupta from TheLady8Home.com

Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink

 ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

If you liked this, you might like

  Shrimp-Quinoa Salad with Feta and Tomatoes
 

or…

GO NUTS

 

These nuts are whipped up in no time.  A bit of beaten egg white, some sugar, cinnamon, and cayenne and they’re into a low oven for an hour or so. Great gifts, we also serve them all  throughout the season as a nibble with drinks or a salad topping. (Original recipe from my good cook and sister Helen…I’ve tinkered and damned it into submission over the years.)

this week on dinnerplace (cooking for one)
                               
        Make 6, just 6, Cornbread Muffins


Sing a new song,
Alyce