Monday, November 23, 2015

Caramel Apple Pie

Ahh I can't believe Thanksgiving is this week!! Obviously apple pie is a staple dessert on most American's Thanksgiving table but this ooey gooey twist on the traditional version is a must try. I do love Thanksgiving but I think I'm more excited this year because it means that Christmas is right around the corner. I think we are going to have more fun this year than ever before because Owen is excited for Santa and all the things that come with the holiday season.

2 lbs or 6 Cups of Apples - Peeled, Cored & Diced Small
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Flour
1 Tsp Cinnamon
2 Tbsp Skim Milk
1/2 Cup + 2 Tbsp Squeezable Caramel Ice Cream Topping 
1 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Butter
Pre-made Roll out Pie Dough or a Pre-made Pie Crust

Adapted from:

Start by preheating your oven to 350. If you are using a pre-made pie shell take it out of the freezer, if you are using the roll out dough make sure it's close to room temperature before trying to put it in your 9in pie plate. In a large bowl stir together the sugar, 1/4 cup of the flour and cinnamon.

Peel, core, and dice your apples into small chunks. Toss them into the sugar mixture making sure they coat completely. Pour the apples into the prepared pie dish.

In a small bowl whisk the milk with 2 Tbsp of the caramel ice cream topping and drizzle it over top of the apples.

Now it's time to make the crumble topping. In a medium bowl combine the remaining cup of flour with brown sugar. Using the back of a fork or a pastry blender cut the butter into the dry mixture until coarse crumbles appear. Spread the topping out over top of the apples for a complete layer.

Lightly cover the pie with tin foil leaving the top open a little. Place the pie on a baking tray and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 30-35 minutes until the apples are tender and the topping is golden brown. Let cool 10 minutes at least before drizzling the remaining caramel ice cream topping over the entire pie. Just like every other apple pie this one tastes great warm with cold creamy vanilla ice cream and more caramel sauce. 

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

New York City Wine and Food Festival 2015

Last month we once again were invited to attend the New York City Wine and Food Festival courtesy of the ShopRite Potluck Blog. We were so excited to be going again and had looked forward to it since last years event. John also loves the NYCWFF weekend so we decided to bring Owen into the city to join us. All 3 of us attended the Jets + Chefs: The Ultimate Tailgate event on the Pier on Saturday which is the only event that welcomes children before mom and I started our ShopRite events. We had so much fun walking around and tasting all the different chili, short ribs, sliders and sausages we could handle. My favorite thing of the day was Chef Marc Forgione's Grilled Shrimp  with Wasabi Cocktail sauce, Owen's was the Jets colored cake pops and I think John's was probably the Korean Kimchi Hot Dog!!

This year the night before we went to The Grand Tasting, ShopRite hosted us at The Paint Place to unwind and socialize with the other Potluck Bloggers and ShopRite Potluck employees. Neither my mom or I had ever been to a Paint & Sip event or really been very creative or artistic but I think both of our apples came out fantastic and we were very proud of them!! Afterwards we felt so relaxed we were ready to have a great weekend and enjoy as much delicious food at The Grand Tasting as humanly possible!!

As one of the main sponsors of the entire NCYWFF it's only fitting that ShopRite had the largest booth and was giving out the most food in the whole Grand Tasting. They had tall shot glasses of tomato soup with tiny grilled cheese sandwiches on top, Nutella french toast, a fall inspired yogurt parfait with pumpkin, pecan, brown sugar and craisins but of my favorite offering of all was their Mac' n Cheese Bar. You could top a cup of their creamy elbow mac n' cheese with buttery poached lobster, wild mushroom ragout, or black bear hot dogs with apple-wood smoked bacon and onion frizzles. I of course picked the lobster and it didn't disappoint at all.

These three offerings just show you how diverse the food is at the Grand Tasting. All different cultures, flavors and styles coming together in one big room for everyone to enjoy. You could be at a booth that has tequila from mexico made from 100% agave then right next to it could be Kobe Beef Steaks with Creamy Blue Cheese Sauce and across the way a freshly baked gluten free chocolate chip cookie.  From left to right these three foods are: Iberico Pork Tostada with grilled guacamole, pineapple slaw and pickled chilis from Taco Bamba by Chef Victor Albiou in Virginia, Falafel & Tahini from Pitopia by chef Haim Abutbul here in NYC which is a Kosher Greek Restaurant and Mini Lobster Rolls with Light Japanese Mayo on a Buttered Potato Brioche Roll from Burger & Lobster by Chef Danny Lee also located in NYC.

When we had our fill of lunchtime savory dishes we couldn't pass up an opportunity for some dessert. Hands down this was one of my favorite things of the entire day, I should've gone back and gotten a 2nd one to be honest but I restrained myself. These creamy confections are Coconut Rum Flans with candied pineapple and Toasted Coconut Whipped Cream from chef Felix Castro who opened a new bakery called Delicias Urbanas in Brooklyn which features all different kinds of Latin American pastries. 

These beautifully displayed desserts are Macaroons and Artistry Chocolates from Norman Love Confections which is based out of Florida. I love how soft and delicate macaroons are, they come in so many colors and flavors it's wonderful. I would love to try to make them at home but I've heard the horror stories of people who've tried so I concede that this is one cookie I will buy from the professionals instead. We sampled the Pistachio, Raspberry and Pumpkin macaroons which were all melt in your mouth delicious.

 Chef Michael Symon is one of my favorite Food Network personalities. I remember watching him win his season of The Next Iron Chef years ago and now not only does he have a BBQ show on the Food Network but he hosts The Chew on ABC every afternoon. He's so funny and down to earth I loved watching him demo his Brick Chicken with Drunken Onions and Cleveland BBQ Sauce. It looked and smelled delicious too bad we couldn't try any of it in the audience.

Chef Eric LeVine who is a Chopped Champion from the Food Network show Chopped offered two types of his famous Ravioli Revolution products that can be shipped frozen around the country. I tried the lobster ravioli with the spicy shrimp cream sauce but he also offered a porcini mushroom ravioli with a mushroom ragu for those that are vegetarian.

We hope you enjoyed hearing about our weekend in the city and it makes you want to take part in at least one event of the NYCWFF next year!! It's such an awesome thing to take part of especially since 100% the proceeds go to help feed hungry people!!


Monday, November 9, 2015

Iced Pumpkin Cookies

It's Secret Recipe Club time again and this one is the last one we will be participating in since we will be taking a break from the blog at the end of the year.  This month its Jessie Weaver's blog - a grace filled life of faith, family and food.  Jessie writes about a little of everything - spiritual things, parenting, books she has read and food she makes. I especially liked her monthly book reviews.  I have always wished I could read 4 or 5 books a month like she does. Usually I get to read a few pages a night before falling asleep so it takes me all month to read one book.

When I saw that her husband's favorite cookie  was the iced pumpkin cookies and it was pumpkin season I knew that would be my choice.  They did not disappoint!  They are soft and chewy and the brown sugar icing makes them very sweet which goes well with the pumpkin cookie.  Even though we are definitely a "chocolate" family everyone liked them.

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie)

1/4 cup unsalted butter softened
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mix together in a small bowl the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
In a medium bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 4 minutes).  Add egg, vanilla and canned pumpkin.  Mix until combined.

Add the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula or wooden spoon until just combined.

Drop rounded teaspoons onto the prepared cookie sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Make icing by combining the butter, milk, brown sugar, confectioners sugar and vanilla extract.
Beat until smooth and the right consistency for spreading on the cooled cookies.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Roasted Vegetable Enchilada Bake

Its time for my annual mother/daughter vacation with my Mom and Sister this weekend and this year we are going to Savannah. We absolutely loved Charleston two years ago and are looking forward to Savannah being similar but different. I've picked a bunch of things we want to see and do and hoping we will have time to do everything on the list. We are also taking a quick trip to Hilton Head to see what that's about.  

I made this a few weeks ago but you can still find all the vegetables you need if you want to make it now or you can make some substitutions. This is jam packed with veggies and you will definitely feel healthy eating it. Whenever I feel healthy eating dinner I just make sure to have a nice chocolate dessert afterwards to even things out.  This recipe is adapted from

1 large red pepper, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 medium yellow squash, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 small container mushrooms, washed and sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp chili powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup parsley (or cilantro)
2 cups red enchilada sauce
10 small tortillas
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 avocado for topping
1/3 cup sour cream for topping

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Spread out the diced onion, zucchini, squash, red pepper and mushrooms on the cookie sheets.  Sprinkle olive oil over top and toss to spread evenly.  Sprinkle salt and pepper.  Roast for 25-30 minutes, mixing around occasionally.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees.

Grease a oval baking pan with PAM and pour 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce into the bottom of the pan.  Add a layer of tortillas to completely cover the bottom.  This will mean breaking them into different shapes to cover everything.

In a bowl combine the roasted vegetables, black beans, chili powder, parsley and salt and pepper.

Spread 1/3 of the vegetable/bean mixture on the top of the bottom layer of enchiladas.  Add 1/3 of cheddar cheese.

Make a second layer of the tortillas, enchilada sauce, vegetable/bean mixture and cheese.  And repeat one more layer.  Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbling.

Let cool for 5 minutes before cutting into square servings.  Top with sour cream and avocado.


Monday, October 12, 2015

Asian Meatballs with Peanut Butter Ramen Noodles

Time for another round of Secret Recipe Club and most likely one of our last since we will be stopping the blog at the end of the year. This month we were assigned Amy's Cooking Adventures. I know most of you probably picked a fall dessert or something festive for Halloween to feature today but I was looking for a new idea for dinner. Amy has plenty to choose from but for some reason her Asian Turkey Meatballs Over Easy Thai Noodles caught my eye and it ended up being delicious, easy to make and a perfect change of pace for us to have last week for dinner.

Ingredients for Asian Meatballs:
1 1/4lb Ground Turkey
1/4 Cup Panko
1 Large Egg
2 Garlic Cloves - Minced
3 Green Onions - White and Green parts Diced
1 Tbsp Lime Juice
1 Tbsp Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp Sesame Seeds
1 Tsp Fresh Ginger - Minced

Ingredients for Peanut Butter Ramen Noodles:
3 Packages of Chicken Flavored Ramen
1 1/4 Cup Water 
1/4 Tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1/3 Cup Natural Creamy Peanut Butter
3 Tbsp Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Corn Starch
2 Garlic Cloves - Minced
1 Red Pepper - Diced
1 Large Carrot - Diced
1 Tsp Fresh Ginger - Minced
3 Green Onions - White and Green parts Diced
10oz Package Frozen Plain Sugar Snap Peas
1 Tbsp Canola Oil

Start by preheating your oven to 425 F, place parchment paper on a jelly roll baking tray and set aside. In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients for the meatballs. Using your hands mix everything together.

Form your meatballs and arrange them on the baking sheet. Bake about 18 minutes until light brown. I made mine a little larger than Amy and only made 16 instead of 24 but it doesn't matter as long as you try and keep them even so their cooking time is similar. 

In a medium sized bowl combine all of your ingredients for the peanut sauce (peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, corn starch, water, crushed red pepper flakes and brown sugar) Whisk together and set aside.

In your largest pan heat up the oil and saute the vegetables for about 5 minutes until they are tender but still slightly crisp. When they are ready takes them off the heat and place them in a bowl. Return the pan to the stove over medium heat and thicken the peanut sauce while stirring frequently.  While the sauce is cooking quickly prepare the packages of Ramen according to the package but only using 1 flavor package as you drain the noddles of their cooking water.

Add the noodles, vegetables and the cooked meatballs into the thickened sauce. Using some tongs toss everything together so that it has a nice coating of sauce on it. Serve the meatballs on top the bed of peanut butter Ramen and vegetables immediately.


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