Chicken Acai Salad

I had a cookie exchange to celebrate Christmas and baking with my favorite girlies. I decided I was tired of dinner parties–too fancy. I wanted a lighthearted affair. So I decided to have a luncheon. (Luncheon is such a pleasant sounding event.) For this fun filled luncheon, I voted on healthy foods since we were about to eat a gazillion cookies. I love salads, but I usually am not very good at making them. I found a delicious one in my Cooking Light cookbook that I have to share. It’s fairly simple, and the dressing is amazing! I omitted the red onions and added in some feta cheese. Delightful!

Salad Ingredients:

8 cups mixed greens

2 cups chopped, cooked chicken breast

1/2 cup red onion slices

1/4 cup pecans

Dressing Ingredients:

1/2 c acai juice blend (such as Sambazon)

3 T sugar

1-1/2 T grated orange rind

3 T rice vinegar

1 -1/2 T canola oil

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

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Better than Julian Apple Pie

Thanksgiving.

The very word emulates savory aromas of turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and the devious scent of homemade pies. I don’t know how your family does Thanksgiving, but mine is mostly from scratch and we always have a gazillion homemade pies. I had a few jobs this year–many of them being combined efforts.  The ones I stake my claim on however are the rolls, which I have made previously and are incredibly simple (You can let the dough rise in the fridge the night before, then stick them in the muffin pans in the sun until you’re ready to throw them in the oven. Packaged rolls don’t even come close to the warm, softly browned rolls fresh out of the oven. A brilliant idea to make them on behalf of my mom!) and I also claim the apple pie with a little help from mom whose job was the dough for all the pies.
I’ve made this pie before, but this one turned out absolutely incredible. It was my favorite by far out of the pumpkin, bumbleberry, and pecan pies that were out that evening. Even my mom who usually doesn’t care for apple claimed it to be better than Julian’s apple pies, with hearty agreement from my dad. Baking pies from scratch is a lot of work, but it is a million times better than the boxed kind. You will never enjoy a boxed pie or store-made pie as much as you will a homemade one. Just sayin’.

 

Oil Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2 cup  cooking oil
  • 5 T  cold water

Directions:

1. In a large mixing bowl combine flour and salt. Pour oil and water into a measuring cup (do not stir); add all at once to flour mixture. Stir lightly with a fork. Form into 2 balls; flatten slightly with your hands.

2. Cut waxed paper into four 12-inch squares. Place each ball of dough between 2 squares of paper. Roll each ball of dough into a circle to edges of paper. (Dampen work surface with a little water to prevent paper from slipping.)

3. Peel off top papers and fit 1 piece of dough, paper side up, into a 9-inch pie plate. Reserve one portion for use as a top crust. Remove paper.

Apple Filling Ingredients

  • 6 cups  thinly sliced peeled Granny Smith apples
  • 1 tablespoon  lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup  all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup  packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon  ground nutmeg
  • Dash  ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon  butter or margarine

Directions

1. In a large mixing bowl toss apples with lemon juice. Combine granulated sugar, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Add to apples and toss until apples are coated. Set apple mixture aside.

2. Prepare Pastry for Double-Crust Pie. Divide dough in half. Form each half into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll out 1 ball of dough into a 12-inch circle. Ease pastry into a 9-inch pie plate.

3. Transfer apple mixture to pastry-lined pie plate. Dot with butter or margarine. Trim pastry even with pie plate. For top crust, roll out remaining dough. Cut design in top crust for ventilation. Place top crust on the filling. Seal and flute the edge.

4. Line cookie sheet with foil and place pie on it for overspill. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 45-50 minutes or until the top is golden brown and apples are tender. Serve warm. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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Apple Walnut Cinnamon Muffins

I donned by lovely apron this morning in celebration of a whole week off of school and baked up a delicious treat! I made cinnamon rolls from scratch, and let me tell you, they are absolutely sinful. They’re so delicious, I am going to be forced to freeze the majority of them so I don’t eat them all in one sitting. I will warn you that this is a very involved baking project, but you can buy pre-made dough and just add in the apple filling and I’m sure it will still be quite delicious!

Cinnamon Roll Ingredients
2 cups milk
1 package active dry yeast
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
6 ½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 eggs
¼ cup butter, softened

Filling Ingredients
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon
1 cup loosely chopped walnuts, toasted
2 cups finely chopped tart apples

Apple Cider Glaze Ingredients
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon apple cider

Heat the milk in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave for about one minute.

Add the yeast followed by the sugar, and stir to dissolve.

Now add two cups of flour and the salt and beat for a full two minutes.

Add the softened butter and eggs and beat until the mixture is well combined.

Add the rest of the flour, half a cup at a time, and beat thoroughly after each addition.

Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a floured surface. Knead the dough for five minutes, until it has become soft and elastic.

Put the dough in a large bowl, cover it with a kitchen towel, and let it rise in a warm area for 40 minutes. It will double in size.

Now turn the dough onto the counter and roll it out 1/4” thick into a rectangular shape. Use a pastry brush to spread half of the butter over the surface.

Now make the filling: Combine the sugars, cinnamon, walnuts, and apples in a large bowl.

Spread this mixture over the dough, leaving a 1” border all around.

Carefully tuck the dough over the filling and roll into a long log, starting on one of the long ends.

Cut the log into 24 pieces and place each inside one of the cups of a muffin tin lined with paper liners.

Cover the cupcakes with a towel and let them rise in a warm place for an additional 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350º. Brush the remaining butter evenly on the tops of the cupcakes and bake for 20 minutes. The tops will be a light golden brown.

Make the glaze: In a small bowl, stir to dissolve the powdered sugar in the apple cider. Drizzle this glaze over the cupcakes. Yum yum yum!

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Pumpkin Spice

Pumpkin season calls for pumpkin lattes. This recipe doesn’t actually have coffee in it, but don’t forgo making it just because of that. You could probably add coffee actually. I like this one better than the one at Starbucks.

Ingredients:

14oz vanilla soymilk

4 T canned pumpkin

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1/2 tsp cornstarch

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Combine all ingredients. Pour in small saucepan.

 

Put over high heat and stir constantly.

 

Stir until mixture until begins to froth. Stir for one more minute.

 

Pour into mug and enjoy its steamy goodness.

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PB French Toast Waffles with Plum Sauce

My dear apron hasn’t gotten much use lately, I’m afraid. My teaching credential program has taken over my life and favorite pastimes like cooking have had to wait patiently on my shelf of to-dos. This morning however, I had a grand Saturday spread out before me. A bike ride with my best friend was planned in approximately 45 minutes. I raced to my room to grab a recipe I spotted in Parade Magazine a few weeks ago, and whipped something together with my own twist as my time span was a bit shorter than called for in the recipe. It was delightful just the way that I made it.

Ingredients:

1/4 c plum preserves

4 slices bread

2 eggs

3/8 c milk

1/2 T sugar

1/4 tsp vanilla

pinch salt

2 T peanut butter

nonstick spray

Directions:

Crack eggs in medium bowl and whisk. Add milk, sugar, vanilla, and salt; whisk. Spread 1 T peanut butter on 2 slices of bread. Top with remaining slices to make two sandwiches. Flatten slightly. Soak sandwiches in egg mixture, 4-5 minutes per side. Heat a waffle iron. Spray with nonstick spray. Remove sandwiches from egg mixture and place on the waffle iron. Press down gently at first, then add a little pressure to the cover and press until it is completely closed. Cook until golden brown about 3 minutes. Heat preserves in glass dish for 1 minute. Carefully remove each waffle to a plate. Drizzle with preserves.

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Banana Orange Muffins

I start school on Monday, which means early morning wake-ups are back. I decided to be prepared for my mornings by whipping up some fruity morning muffins. They are delightful! I added a streusel topping to mine made of brown sugar and butter.

Ingredients

3 egg whites

1/2 c brown sugar

1/4 c canola oil

2 ripe bananas, mashed

3/4 c orange juice

1-1/2 c whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

dash of salt

1/8 tsp nutmeg

Directions

Preheat oven 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a bowl, combine the first five ingredients. If the bananas aren’t brown, then roll them around while still in the peel to soften. Add the dry ingredients. Divide the batter in 12 muffin cups sprayed with cooking spray. Spoon streusel on top of each muffin for additional sweetness. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

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Tuna Salad

I make bomb tuna salad. No joke, this tuna salad is complete deliciousness. I searched and searched for a good tuna salad recipe, and I hit gold when I found this one. I am very picky about my tuna salad and went through several attempts prior to this moment. But, now I am here to share with you my favoritest of them all.

Ingredients:

1 hard boiled egg, diced

1/2 medium sized apple, with peel, cored, diced

1 (6.5 oz) can tuna in water, drained, flaked

1 T sweet pickle relish

1/2 tsp lemon juice

1/4 c mayo

Directions:

Combine all ingredients. Cover and chill for two hours. Enjoy on bread, crackers, topped on a salad, or by the spoonful!

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