Friday, November 21, 2014

My Favorite Apple Pie

I can hardly believe that Thanksgiving is less than a week away.  Where the time went, I'll never know, but all I can say is that I woke up on Monday morning, and it suddenly hit me. Holy crap. Thanksgiving is a week away and I'm not prepared at all. I've been busy at work and busy on other projects, and I have misplaced my beloved Moleskine notebook with all of my recipe ideas and blog post notes.  One thing led to another, and I realized that I hadn't created a game plan for Thanksgiving posts at all. Some ideas definitely crossed my mind, but I just never looked at a calender to see how close we actually were to Thanksgiving.  That's why there's an absence of pumpkin and sweet potato and whatnot, but at least there's apple pie. 

Fortunately, I did have enough foresight to at least make an apple pie last weekend. To me, apple pie is the ultimate pie- there's no pie that's better (in the fall at least, in summer time, when fresh peaches are abundant, then all bets are off), and I just love making pie.  I can't really explain why pie-making is something I enjoy so much, but I just do.  The treat that comes closest to the excitement I feel whenever I make double-crust pies is a layer cake, but even then, layer cakes don't produce the same feeling of anticipation and enjoyment that a good double crust pie can.  There's something about finally having gotten the feel for knowing when pie dough is just ready, or knowing that your lattice is finally as pretty as you wanted it, or seeing that your crimped edges are perfectly fluted.  Making a good pie just makes me feel proud, because making a beautiful and tasty pie feels like such an accomplishment. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Gluten-Free Honey Cornbread

Cornbread is one of those things that for some reason, I just always seem to forget about.  I have no real reason why, because I actually really love cornbread and corn muffins, and all things with corn, but they just doesn't cross my mind as often as they should. When I think of quick breads, I typically think of banana bread first, or even better, some kind of yogurt cake.  Over the weekend though, I was flipping through cookbooks deciding on what I wanted to bake (because planning ahead is overrated), and I decided to flip through my newest gluten-free bake book, Sweet Cravings, by Kyra Bussanich. I saw this gluten-free cornbread recipe and I thought to myself that it was just what I needed.  My mom also happens to love cornbread, so this was the perfect recipe to make, since she could enjoy it too!

This cornbread recipe is the first recipe I made from Sweet Cravings, but I knew that it would be a winner.  The book is written by the first gluten-free baker to win Cupcake Wars on the Food Network, so that says a lot.  I think that was really solidified my decision to go ahead and make this particular version of gluten-free cornbread was that I finally had some proof (a little, at least) that gluten-free baking really can be just as delicious as traditional baking.  I've made muffins and apple crisps, and my mom has been making Skinnytaste's banana bread every week, and all of these treats have been huge successes.  My opinions on the complexities of gluten-free baking are certainly changing, slowly but surely. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Carrot-Cider Loaf Cake

My obsession with simple, everyday style cakes has been very well documented on this blog already, so I'll spare everyone the lengthy discussion.  I'll shorten it at least.  I LOVE simple cakes.  Loaf cakes, easy Bundt cakes, yogurt cakes, even plain layer cake scraps. Those are without a doubt my most favorite baked good to snack on. They're just simple and comforting, and there's nothing much better than getting to nibble on an everyday cake all day long.  Wait, you mean you have the self control to serve yourself a slice and be done?  

Anywho.  If you have more self control than me, that's pretty great, because I tend not to have any when it comes to everyday cakes.  Carrot cakes too.  I've been obsessed with finding good carrot cake recipes for as long as I can remember.  I find that most carrot cakes tend to be on the oily side, and it's just a very off-putting taste and texture. Whenever I find a carrot cake that doesn't happen to have an oily texture, I make sure to write the recipe down and keep it in a safe place, because it's really one of my favorite flavors.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Thumbprint Cookies with Chocolate Ganache

This weekend was the first in a while where I was rudely reminded that winter is coming.  It's obviously been on its way for a while now, but we've had many random little moments of sunshine and mild weather, the kind of moments where you wish it could just be fall forever.  This weekend though, oh boy.  It was cold.  Much colder than it had been earlier in the week.  And it was gray and rainy and just miserable.  Truly, it was depressing.  It didn't stop raining for the entire day on Saturday, and as much as I wanted to curl up under the covers with a cup of tea and a good book, I devised a new plan to entertain myself and brighten up my day.  I would make cookies, because the idea made its way into my head and it wasn't leaving.  Cookies were exactly what I  needed.

While I could have chosen to make some wonderfully spiced or pumpkin or cider kind of cookie, I didn't want that. No, I wanted nothing seasonal.  I just wanted a good old, straight up happy cookie.  Seasonal wasn't going to cut it.  My cookies needed to be cheery and be able to make me feel good.  Nothing fussy or overly complicated about them...they just needed to be good.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Creepy Cobweb Chocolate Cake

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, right behind Christmas and Thanksgiving, which are both tied for first right now.  I love spooky and creepy things, and getting dressed up as a little kid was always just about the coolest thing ever.  I was always a fan of dressing up, and that's something that hasn't changed.  My mom would always make me an elaborate homemade costume, and I always thought my costume was the best there was. Combined with my epic costumes, the fact that I also lived in a neighborhood where people were super generous when it came to giving out trick or treat goodie bags meant that Halloween was always a really special time of year.  I'm not dressing up this year, mostly because I just didn't have time to pull together a costume that met my standards, but I'm not without Halloween plans.  I'll be watching scary movies in the dark and eating my weight in mini chocolate bars, which is just as good a plan as any.  

I got into one of my layer-cake-making moods a couple of weeks ago, and rather than just bake a layer cake and get it out of my system, I decided to save it for Halloween. In theory, this meant that I would have had a long time to plan out my cake and decide how I wanted to decorate it, "in theory" being the key words there.  I did spend a lot of time looking for inspiration, but I just couldn't settle on anything.  I knew that I wanted to make a chocolate cake, because I don't think there's anything better than a perfectly moist chocolate cake, and also because the last two layer cakes I had made were of the buttermilk vanilla type (see here and here). Super dark, intense, almost black chocolate layer cakes were going to make it into my final halloween cake in one way or another. The decoration required a bit more thinking, and in the end, I ended up over-thinking it (because that always happens).

Monday, October 27, 2014

Apple Cider Soda Float

My schedule has been a little out of whack lately.  I had been hoping to share this quick and easy drink over the weekend, but my timing has been off these past couple of days.  I've had busy days at work, tough days at the gym, and one very exciting weekend that I needed to prepare for.  I was in Philadelphia all weekend, and it threw my normal weekend routine off.  Not that I minded though, because I love Philly, and I was in town for a Weezer concert (which was seriously, pretty darn amazing), and I got to eat some delicious food.  I had planned on sharing this post on Friday or Saturday, but I just didn't get around to actually typing it up. I think being a few days late on my post isn't the worst least we're starting off the week with something simple and delicious!

This apple cider soda float came out of having an excess of cider in my fridge.  Cider is one of my favorite things about the fall, and I love using it in all kinds of ways.  I love it in baked goods as much as I love drinking it straight, cold or hot.  It's comforting and got such a great warmth to it.  I thought it would be fun to use cider in a completely new way though, in the form of a soda float. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Gluten-Free Breakfast Apple Crisp

I wish I could say that I went apple picking and picked all the apples used in this crisp myself, but that would be a lie.  A big, big lie.  It would also be a lie if I said that I loved apple picking, because I've never actually gone.  It's unfortunate, because I'm sure I would love it, and also because there are lots of great apple farms on Long Island's North Fork.  I've made it my mission to go, and hopefully I'll get to go once before the season is over.  I'm ready to wear my flannel and pick as many apples as I can, and buy a good amount of cider and homemade preserves.  I have my plans all set, and now it's just a matter of actually, you know, doing them. It'll happen.  Until it happens, though, I've gone ahead and purchased the best apples I could find over the weekend, and made some apple treats.  I had a craving for all things apple, and just because I didn't have freshly picked apples didn't mean that I would leave that craving unfulfilled. 

I wanted to start off my apple baking with something that was simple and unfussy.  I wanted pie, but it required a little bit more effort than I was feeling over the weekend.  I decided to leave apple pie on my to-do list for another weekend, and taking the warm, bubbly apple cue from the pie, I decided to make a crisp instead. Juicy, sweetened apples with a buttery and crunchy topping...that's just what I needed!
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