Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Happy Birthday, Johnny Appleseed! -- 60 of the BEST Apple Recipes

Did you know that Johnny Appleseed's birthday is September 26th? And that he was a real, live person who lived during the Revolutionary War? From Wikipedia (the trusted source for all things fact):

"John Chapman (September 26, 1774 – March 11, 1845), often called Johnny Appleseed, was an American pioneer nurseryman who introduced apple trees to large parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, including the northern counties of present day West Virginia. He became an American legend while still alive, due to his kind, generous ways, his leadership in conservation, and the symbolic importance he attributed to apples."

What a cool guy. Spreading the apple love throughout the states. I think it's pretty fitting that we're only a day away from this iconic "American Hero's" birthday, and we're in the peak of apple season. Look at my haul from a couple weeks ago:

I am actually STILL trying to use up all these apples! Last year I had a party to celebrate the birthday of this fun American Icon (and to use up THAT year's apple harvest), where we feasted on apple dishes in three courses. This year, friends are busy and I am short on funds, so I did the next best thing:

Blog party!

And check out my recipe for Apple Cider Sangria in my last post!

To be specific, a link round-up. I put out a request to some of my favorite blogs for their favorite apple recipes, and got an overwhelming response! The following are 60 of the best. Enjoy, and go forth and bake, fry, grill, and eat some apples!!

From The Kitchen is my Playground

Maple Apple Beet Salad   - by Quarter Life (Crisis) Cuisine
Autumn Mac and Cheese - by Modern Christian Homemaker
Apple Honey Goat Cheese Crostini   - by What Jew Wanna Eat
Green Chili Apple and Honey Galette   - by What Jew Wanna Eat
5 Great Apple Recipes   - by Omeletta
Apple Chicken Salad   - by The Culinary Life
Cheddar Apple Biscuits   - by Simply Southern Baking
Maple Bourbon Apple BBQ Ribs   - by Snappy Gourmet
Roasted Apple Butternut Squash Puree   - by The Culinary Life
Apple Honey Vinaigrette   - by Busy in Brooklyn
Duchessse Sweet Potatoes   - by Busy in Brooklyn
Fennel Celery Apple Slaw   - by The Hungry Goddess
Carrot Zucchini Apple Bread   - by Mom on Time Out
Maple Fried Apples with Mustard Pork   - by The Kitchen is my Playground

From Mom on Time Out

Apple Pie Bread   - by Dinners Dishes and Desserts
Apple Cider Muffins   - by Farm Fresh Eats
Sourdough Apple Bread   - by Karen's Kitchen Stories
Herloom Apple Rolls   - by Oh Sweet Basil
Caramel Apple Sticky Buns   - by I Heart Eating
Apple Currant Bread   - by The Kitchen is my Playground
Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls - by Mom on Time Out

From Wine & Glue

Apple Gruyere Tart   - by Quarter Life (Crisis) Cuisine
Biscoff Butterscotch Apple Pie   - by Wine and Glue
Fried Apple Pies   - by Kelli's Retro Kitchen Arts
Apple Pie with Gluten Free Cheese Crust   - by Gluten Free Doctor
Upside Down Apple Pie   - by Noble Pig
Apple Dulce De Leche Tart - by Roxana's Home Baking
4 Bite Apple Pies   - by The Kitchen is my Playground
Caramel Apple Crostada   - by What's Cooking Chicago?

From Very Culinary

Apple Cinnamon Cupcakes   - by Wine and Glue
Apple Snickers Cake   - by Inside BruCrew Life
Caramel Apple Mily Way Cake   - by Simply Southern Baking
Maple Walnut Apple Cake   - by Miss in the Kitchen
Caramel Apple Cheesecake   - by Will Cook for Smiles
Easy Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting   - by Very Culinary
Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake   - by Home Cooking Memories

From Will Cook for Smiles

Dips & Sauces
Applesauce   - by Unsophisticook
Apple Butter   - by Hezzi D's Books and Cooks
Salted Caramel Dip with Cinnamon Apple Chips   - by Dizzy Busy and Hungry
Apple Caramel Cheeseball   - by Will Cook For Smiles
Warm Apple Pie Dip   - by Will Cook for Smiles

Assorted Desserts
Drunken Bourbon Baked Apples - by Quarter Life (Crisis) Cuisine
Apple Pancakes   - by Back for Seconds
Greek Yogurt Apple Pie Milkshakes   - by Noble Pig
Apple Pie a la Mode Dessert Bars   - by Seasonal and Savory
Apple butter Cheesecake Icecream in Apple Bowls   - by Chocolate Moosey
Mini Apple Strudel   - by Masala Hero
Pumpkin Beer Bread Pudding with Apples   - by Quarter Life (Crisis) Cuisine
Apple Pie Eggrolls   - by Miss in the Kitchen
Apple Pie Cookies with Salted Caramel Frosting   - by Jen's Favorite Cookies
Apple Turnovers   - by Chocolate Moosey
Quick Apple Crisp   - by Chocolate Chocolate and More
Apple Pie Milkshakes   - by Chocolate Chocolate and More
Apple Cornmeal Crumble   - by I Heart Eating
Salted Caramel Apple Crisp Bars   - by I Heart Eating
Apple Pie Lasagna   - by Beyond Frosting
Apple Trifle   - by Keep It Sweet Desserts
German Pancakes - by Unsophisticook
Apple Crisp - by The Hopeless Housewife

Apple Cider Sangria

 All summer, I guzzle sangria. If there's a party at my house, or a party I'm invited to, I throw together a quick and easy white or red sangria and a wondrous time is had by all. It's just so EASY: wine, fruit, some liquor, some juice, BAM. Instant party.

But when fall hits, the sangria disappears into the abyss summer leaves behind in its wake. Instead we're drawn to our pumpkin beers, our darker wines, our mulled anythings. Our ciders...

This, my friends, is the perfect transitional alcoholic beverage. Apple Cider Sangria. Apples fresh off the branch, coupled with tart cider, sweet wine, and topped with gingerale. It's like a sweet liquid apple pie without the spice.

Divine. Enjoy.

I updated this after watching a friend make something similar at a dinner at my place. The wheels were turning in my head and I made some tweaks, and lugged this to the next party I went to. It was a hit.

Apple Cider Sangria

  • 2 medium sized apples (any kind works, but McIntosh might shine best here), sliced
  • 1 barely-ripe pear, cubed
  • 1 bottle sweet wine, I used moscato
  • 2 bottles hard cider (I used McKenzie's Seasonal Reserve, which is IDEAL here because it already tastes like pie)
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1/8 cup orange liquer
  • 1/4 cup spiced rum
  • Gingerale, to top

-Place fruit in the bottom of a large pitcher (note: you will need one larger than the one pictured). Pour wine over fruit and let chill for 30 minutes to an hour, but preferably overnight.

-When wine is fruit-infused, pour in the remainder of the ingredients, except the gingerale. Return to fridge and chill until ready to serve.

-Pour into glasses and top with gingerale.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Pintester Movement, Try II -- Baked Cheesy Spaghetti Squash

Hey guys! The lovely Sonja of Pintester is holding another Pintester Challenge, and you know I'm all about that. Re-creating those seemingly "easy" pins with hilarious results? So much fun. I'm excited to be submitting to the Pintester Movement again, after having quite the experience last time...

Seriously, remember this disaster?

If not, go read about it now. Basically, I totally failed and ended up face-down in pork juice with bruises on my legs thanks to poor planning and doing it all the day of. I also ended up with dry, nearly inedible pork since I used the wrong cut of meat.

This time, I wasn't going to fail so hard. The rules this time around didn't even specify that it had to be a pin Pintester had already tried, so it'd be even EASIER to find some sort of tasty pin to test. THIS time, I was going to do it DAYS ahead of time, and it was going to be AWESOME!

Then I forgot. So, basically, I threw this together today. Baked, photographed, and even though I'm half falling asleep from a crazy hike (I don't hike, ever, I am TIRED) I am even blogging about it. Woo. The one thing I DID do ahead of time was set aside some pins for inspiration. Thankfully, one of the pins I'd saved as a potential pintester challenge (just ONE) included ingredients I already had on hand:

Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Squash. Yum! From The Skinny Taste.

It even was half-diet-friendly (no gluten, but much dairy) so I decided to give it a go. And then I burnt the squash.

Thankfully, some ended up being usable. I decided to scale down the recipe a bit, since I had a small squash with about 1/4 of the cooked part being too burnt to use, and fully de-gluten-ify it by subbing the flour for gluten-free flour. Casserole became ramekins, in three perfectly portioned servings.

Then I added a squeeze of Sriracha, for flavor. And ended up forgetting the chicken broth. But it came out okay.

Actually, it kind of came out better than okay. This dish is over 50% vegetable AND MY BOYFRIEND ACTUALLY ATE IT. I mean, I had to add sausage to it, but still. I wish I had more energy to throw out a penis joke or something in honor of Pintester, but I just am too tired. I just used the word "sausage" and I am too tired to make a joke about it! Ugh. I lost my penis jokes at the mountain summit, I'm sorry.

I DIDN'T FAIL AT THIS PIN! And I even changed some elements! I think this was a success. While not as funny or amusing as my last fail, I'm pretty proud of myself.

Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Squash
(Altered a little from The Skinny Taste)

  • 1 small spaghetti squash, cooked*
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 2 tbs gluten free flour
  • 1 to 1.5 cups milk (I used 2%)
  • 1 tsp Sriracha sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup shredded cheese of choice
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 large handful baby spinach, chopped (and any other veggies you'd like!)
  • 3 tbs grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

-Scoop out spaghetti squash and set aside in a bowl.

-Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until just tender. Stir in flour and whisk until well combined. Slowly add milk and whisk vigorously until thick (it should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon but not too much thicker, add more milk if needed). Add sriracha and garlic powder.

-Add cheddar cheese and remove from heat. Stir until cheese is melted and well incorporated. Mix into spaghetti squash, and add spinach.

-Bake for 30 minutes, or until cheese has browned.

*There are many methods of cooking spaghetti squash. I think it comes out best if sliced lengthwise, seeded, and pricked all over with a fork and baked at 400 for about 45 minutes. You can also microwave it with a bit of water for ten minutes.

For more examples of Pintesting, head over to today's Pintester blog post! All participating blogs are listed. Go forth and comment, because in the words of Sonja herself: "...comments are the fuel that drive our little bloggy engines."

Friday, September 20, 2013

Pumpkin Beer Bread Pudding -- The Sequel

This, right here, is an epic use of leftovers, if I do say so myself. 

My pumpkin beer bread was a success, but since I'm out of the habit of using bread lately it became kind of a burden to keep around.

So, what do you do with barely-stale pumpkin beer bread?

Especially if you're going to a friend's place for a game night?

Well, if you're me, you make awesome pumpkin beer bread pudding.

Extra points: I made the bread "healthy"--so that cancels out all the sugar I added to it for THIS recipe, right?

Uhhh... sure.

Pumpkin Beer Bread Pudding
  • 1 loaf pumpkin beer bread, cubed (I tore mine by hand, you can slice for a prettier presentation)
  • 1 can organic pumpkin puree (or 12 oz of homemade)
  • 3 tbs butter, melted
  • 1 large apple, cubed
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 heaping tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • caramel sauce (optional topping)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or grease a square baking dish, or a casserole dish as I have here.

Toss bread with melted butter, set aside.

Whisk together pumpkin puree, eggs, milk, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla extract until smooth and well combined. Toss with bread and apple chunks, and pour into baking dish.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until set. The pudding should be moist but spring back when poked. Drizzle with caramel, or apple cider caramel like I have here (recipe coming soon!).

 Sorry for the short post, used up most of my word-energy for the day on the last one. In other news, I'm going to try to do a Food Stamp/SNAP Challenge next week to illustrate how difficult it can be to live on $5 per day, so recipes will be based on that. Wish me luck!

The Worst Day

From my Facebook...

I tell myself every Father's Day, and every April 11th on his birthday, that I need to try not to be sad, because those are the days to celebrate that he lived. I had my father for 19 years, and that's more than a lot of people get. September 20th, I tell myself, that's the day I get to be sad, because that's the day he was taken from me, from all of us. In a castle in the Netherlands, six years ago when I should have been enjoying my study abroad trip, I got the call that would change my life forever. My Dad had died. Suddenly, tragically, without any sort of warning and so, so far away from me. 

It's okay to be sad today. 

But it's hard to muster up the tears this time, with so many wonderful things on the horizon, and so many wonderful things that have happened in just the past year. I'm not sure what I believe in regards to what happens after you die, but if it's possible that you go on and can touch the lives of those you loved in even the smallest of ways, I know Dad probably had a hand in gently guiding all of the love, experiences, and opportunities that have come my way in the past year. I love you Dad, I miss you every single day. If you're listening, I hope you're proud of me.

Erik Sture Blom, 4/11/60-9/20/07

More writing about my dad...

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Tale of the Bread -- Healthier Pumpkin Beer Bread with Bourbon Butter

So, let me tell you the story of this beer bread.

Once upon a time, I discovered that beer bread is incredibly easy to make. Flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, beer. Bake, and you're done. The bread is great as a dinner side, or made into French Toast or bread pudding, and so easy to prep that bored grandmas put together beer bread gift baskets to sell at craft fairs with all the dry ingredients and beer in a lovely gift basket type situation (seriously I ALWAYS see them there!). So, I picked up a growler from my favorite Boston brewery, made a few loaves, fell in love with the flavor and the process, and even hinted that I'd be posting the recipe soon:

Remember this?
Then, for whatever reason, I forgot. I think that series of pictures is still on an external drive somewhere--along with a cherry chocolate pie and homemade granola--waiting to be edited, waiting to be posted, but probably never will be because this was before I discovered macro lenses and the wonders of natural light... heh. And so a year passed and here I am again, at the beginning of Fall, wanting to bake things again, and with my favorite pumpkin beer on the shelves, inspiration hit again.

I had it in my head that I was going to make this sucker gluten free. I even bought gluten free flour!--frickin $12 gluten free flour--But then, upon gathering my ingredients I realized I was missing a very obvious point:

Beer is not gluten-free. Nope. Not even a little bit. And pumpkin gluten free beer was nowhere to be found.

I've been so good at cutting out gluten lately, that this realization was kind of a bummer. My personal trainer (just discovered my gym gives me 6 free sessions, woo!) suggested I stick to a mostly-paleo diet while trying to lose weight, so I've really been trying lately to at least be 90-10 about the whole thing, allowing for a cheat day once a week. The beer bread was a challenge.

So what do we do?---we compromise. I figured if I couldn't make this totally gluten-free, at least I'd try to health-ify it a little bit. I used alternative flours and tried to add a bit of fiber and cut down on the sugar. The result is a denser, but still delicious, pumpkin beer bread. Success!--even if I can't eat much of it on my current diet...

Now, let me tell you about the bourbon butter.

Remember my Drunken Apples? My grand plan was to make bourbon whipped cream to top them with. Extra alcohol, extra fun!, right? Unfortunately, life had other plans. Like the fact that my only whipping cream was shelf-stable Trader Joes kind, and I didn't realize it needed to be refrigerated for at least 6 hours. So I did the Pinterest Trick where you wrap it in a wet paper towel and freeze for ten minutes. Although the package was cardboard and not glass, it seemed to do the trick.

Then, I had the brilliant idea to make the cream "stretch" by adding some light cream I had for another recipe. Surely THAT would work, right?

Eh, not so much. Somehow, I went from sugary-creamy-alcohol-mixture to butter. No whipped cream in the middle. Maybe it was the cream debacle, maybe it was the bourbon curdling the cream, who knows. But, I knew the beer bread was on deck for a recipe, and just as I predicted: they were a match made in heaven.

Me at The Kitchen Garden Chilifest!
Check back to see what I've been eating lately, I'm due for a round-up post soon!

Healthier Pumpkin Beer Bread

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup flax seed meal
  • 1 heaping tbs pumpkin pie spice (or, equal amounts ground clove, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and two parts cinnamon, mixed together and portioned out to one heaping tablespoon)
  • 3 tbs pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbs sugar or 1 tsp stevia
  • 1 bottle pumpkin beer (I used Shipyard, feel free to use your own favorite or any kind of beer for a different flavor!)
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and butter and flour a bread pan.

-Mix together all dry ingredients until well blended. Add in maple syrup and beer, and mix until batter is sticky (there will be lumps).

-Pour or spoon batter into bread pan and cover with melted butter. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Accidental Bourbon Butter
(use my frantic method above, or the one I mention here, which probably will work better)

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (plus 1/2 cup light cream?)
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp bourbon

-Blend or whip together all ingredients with a hand mixer. If you make it to the whipped cream stage, keep whipping until the solids and liquids separate.

-When the mixture is chunky, pour through a colander that has been lined with cheesecloth or paper towels. Gently squeeze out all excess liquid. Spoon butter out of the cloth and into an airtight container. Refrigerate until firm.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

First Apples of the Season -- Drunken Baked Apples

Once upon a time, a friend of a friend and I went through a breakup at the same time. Sometime soon after, I put out a desperate Facebook message begging someone to get a drink with me, and she responded. After drinks were drunk and stories were told, our friendship blossomed. One of our early "friend dates" was a trip to the apple orchard, where we picked way too many apples and took just enough goofy pictures. Today, Emma is one of my dearest friends, and the apple picking with pictures has become a yearly tradition.

Everyone knows that I'm trying to find ways to smuggle myself out of New England, but even if I do make it to a warmer climate (Before winter maybe? Please?) there is one thing I'd miss: Fall. Apple season in particular. I love the crunch of an apple picked fresh from the tree, and as with most produce it's just worlds better right off the farm.

Last year, due to a crazy winter, the apple trees were not producing enough apples for picking, so we had to forgo visiting our favorite orchard. We went to another orchard (and might do a second trip there later in the season) but thankfully this year's winter was at least tolerable, and Quonquont Farm was open for picking!


Something about Quonquont Farm just makes me happy. And after seeing some amazing wedding photos recently taken on the farm, the whole time I was planning a fantasy wedding in my head. Plus, they don't charge extra to make you pick. In fact, it costs slightly less to pick your own than to buy pre-picked--I hate how some places gouge the price for picking your own--and the farm always has a great variety of apples ready for the picking! While my favorite apples weren't quite ready yet, we had Paula Reds, Mollie's Delicious, Mcintosh, and either Gala or Fuji (can't remember which, and they look so similar) to fill our baskets with.

 We also made a little friend!

Seriously, these spiders were EVERYWHERE and they were SO cool. I've never been one to run from creepy crawlies, I think spiders are so neat. However, if one were to randomly drop on me, I wouldn't be too thrilled. So we kept our distance and admired these beauties from afar.

Emma finds a Charlie Brown Apple Tree

I feel like the legions of families with children and random passerby were probably rolling their eyes at our silly selfies, but we didn't quite care.

Sampling as you go is discouraged.

 Overall, it was an awesome day that resulted in way too many apples! I picked the largest, a half bushel I believe (mostly baking apples, with some gala/fuji type for eating plain), and Emma got the smallest and ended up giving most of hers away to another friend who enjoys baking--I guess picking is most of the fun for her, hehe. So expect tons of apple recipes coming up. Johnny Appleseed's birthday is the 26th, and I'll be doing a round up of all sorts of yummy apple recipes then, so stay tuned!

The first recipe I created with the fruits of my labors (heh, punny) were these awesome baked apples. Sidenote: I tried my damndest in Photoshop to lessen the effects of not-natural light, but the pics still look kinda crappy. Food photography gurus, any suggestions?

I've had a bottle of Maker's Mark hiding in the corner of my liquor cabinet for about a year now, only to be brought out for special occasions though, in truth, I've used it more for recipes than drinking. I decided to finally kill it with this recipe. I initially wanted to make bourbon whipped cream to dollop over the top, but somehow it went right from cream to butter. So now I have bourbon butter! Thankfully I used a little in the sauce, so they still have that great bourbon flavor. Happy Apple Season, everyone!

Drunken Baked Apples

  • 4 large baking apples (any kind of apple will work, but ones specifically used for baking are best)
  • 1/2 stick butter (salted for a bit of a salted caramel effect, but either works)
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar + 4 more tablespoons
  • 1/4 cup apple cider
  • 1 tbs maple syrup
  • 3 tbs + 3 tbs cinnamon sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 tbs bourbon
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

-Peel and core apples, trimming the bottom so that they don't wobble, and place them in a buttered baking dish that allows the apples to touch. Sprinkle generously with 3 tbs of cinnamon sugar, and pack each with a tablespoon of brown sugar.

-In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until well incorporated. The sauce should be thick, but able to be poured.

-Pour mixture over and around apples. Bake for 30 minutes or until the apples are fork-tender. Halfway through baking, use a spoon to spoon the sauce over the apples. Before serving, pour sauce over apples or drizzle with caramel.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What I Remember

For my generation, the question that ties us all together on this day is "where were you when the towers fell?" or "Where were you on 9-11?" It's our Kennedy question, our tragedy that we all have an answer to, no matter who we are or what we thought about this terrible event.

It's hard to believe that it's been 12 years. I was in middle school, 8th grade, and while it happened during first period, they didn't tell us until third. I don't think any of us assumed anything bad was happening when the principal came to the door and asked to speak to Ms. Case. And we didn't notice the pained, confused looks the teachers passed each other while they watched us pass from one class to another. They usually supervised us to make sure no one passed through the upperclassman halls, or popped out one of the doors to sneak a cigarette in the two minutes between classes. We didn't think anything was strange.

New York City is only three hours from my high school. Many of us had taken bus trips to see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, The Empire State Building, and the Twin Towers... it wasn't home, but it was close by, and we felt connected and amazed by its bigness and brightness. Times Square still dazzled us. Central Park hot dogs were still delicious and we didn't even care that the vendor's hands were greasy. It was the setting of many of our favorite prime time television shows. It was the streets the Thanksgiving Day Parade danced through on our tv's. It was bigger than Boston, the city we were most used to, and more exciting. NYC wasn't home, but it was special.

It wasn't until third period, when Mr. Cadran was called out. By now we suspected something was wrong. The worried faces were having trouble hiding. Ms. Guil had to leave the room and we swore her eyes looked almost red when she returned. Third period, Mr. Cadran and Mr. Albarno stood in the doorway and while the principal was careful to keep his voice low, our history teacher's booming voice never did learn how to whisper. We heard bits of information: "suicide mission" "bombs" "CNN is in Mr. Hopkins' room" "time to tell them."

I don't know about my friends, but my brain went to the scariest thing I could possibly think of: in the post-Columbine world, in my little farm town, someone had brought a gun to school. This MUST be it. They must have committed suicide in Mr. Hopkins' room and CNN is already there to report. Who else did they shoot? Why did we not hear the gunshots? My heart raced and my eyes darted around the room, why weren't we being evacuated now??

Mr. Cadran calmly re-entered the room and explained what had happened. There wasn't much information yet, the second tower had just fallen. He said we might be at war, it might cause war, he didn't know. My first reaction was relief. No one I knew had died, no one had been shot in my school, we were safe. But war? What did it mean? Would we be fighting now, on American soil? Did we have to worry about planes crashing into other landmarks? Were we, in our tiny Western Massachusetts town, in danger? Every class that day had televisions turned to news stations.

I didn't cry until they interviewed passerby. People looking for husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, fiances, children, brothers, sisters... This was years before I would lose my own father, years before I would even go to my first funeral, and the idea of losing someone so close to me tore away at me inside. Many of these people would never find the people they loved in the rubble. I cried.

When I got home I felt helpless. I watched the footage over and over. I didn't know what to do. I didn't even know anyone who died, but I felt connected. I loved New York. I knew I wanted to live there someday. What had they done to my special city? Today, I would have made cookies. Back then, I lacked any sort of cooking skills. So I took out some hemp rope and some colored beads and made red white and blue necklaces. I worked frantically and made 100 of them, and passed them out the next day. Kids wore the red white and blue beaded necklaces for weeks afterwards, until they were replaced with the more corporate plastic versions.

That weekend there was a candlelight vigil. People were asked to come up and speak. One woman had just moved to our little town from NYC. Everyone she used to work with was now dead. Our math teacher had once worked in the pentagon, and while he was on the phone with a friend who lost his wife in the attack, the wife walked in the door. A boy a few grades below me came to the podium and couldn't get out his words, he was so distraught. I went up to the podium and sang a verse from Sarah McLaughlin's "Arms of the Angels" because it was the only song I could think of, despite knowing it was a song about a junkie. We all cried and held our candles and felt helpless.

It's years later, and I can still remember where I was. Still recall those old feelings of loss and helplessness, even though we've all moved on and grown and put it behind us. I didn't even have to take off my shoes when I went through security at the airport. We're finally letting go of the fear, and it's a wonderful thing.

Where were you?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Vacations and Fairs and TV, Oh My! -- Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Hey! Are you here because you saw me on Mass Appeal? Welcome! Feel free to poke around, and don't forget to follow me on Facebook and Twitter!

Sorry for the lack of posts, it's been pretty crazy around here! After hopping off the plane from Austin I feel like I hit the ground running and went right into the busy season at work, including working the local county fair and running a few projects. Fall is definitely starting off with a bang! Also, I was recently (as in, this morning) on local television! Cool, huh? My mom came with me and took a bunch of pictures and Mom'd all over the place, as mom's do. I appreciated the support, because I was super nervous despite being extremely excited. But Seth and Ashley, the hosts, were amazingly sweet and put me right at ease. Plus, they seemed to really like my recipes!

My morning started out a bit rough though, because my face looked like THIS:

Quasimodo eye and everything, THANKS, ALLERGIES. Thankfully it cleared up enough to not be so noticeable on camera. It was a great day, and thanks to Ashley, Seth, and Mass Appeal for having me! Click Here to watch my segment on Youtube. And if you think the recipe looks familiar, that's because it is! Ashley picked it herself when she accepted my pitch to be on the show. They told me they'd love to have me back, and to pitch more ideas as it gets closer to the holidays. I'll work on my screen presence (the number um's I had is bumming me out!) and start brainstorming ;)

I WISH this was my kitchen...

In other news, it's cold outside. It's my first skinny-jeans-and-boots day and I don't know how I feel about it. Summer is just too short, always. On the upside, I have already overloaded myself with fall recipes--starting with this amaaaaze-balls soup!

Fall time is soup season and it's always fun to find new favorites. I threw this together one night because I seem to hoard red peppers whenever they're on sale, and my recipe-to-red-pepper ratio seems to be off, meaning my fridge is always full of them. I wanted to save this for a pepper party I'm doing later in the season with some other bloggers, but it's too good not to share! Maybe I'll adapt it to a bisque for that, hmm...

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

  • 2 large red peppers
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable if you'd like to go vegetarian)
  • 1 tbs sherry vinegar
  • 2+ tbs olive oil
  • crushed red pepper
  • salt and pepper

-Prick holes in peppers and rub with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Cut off the top of the garlic so that tops of cloves are exposed but still hold together. Drizzle garlic with olive oil and cover with tin foil and place on baking sheet. Place baking sheet in an oven heated to 400 degrees F and bake for about 20 minutes, turning peppers halfway, or until peppers begin to blister.

-Meanwhile, over medium heat, heat 2 tbs olive oil in a saucepan and add the onion and crushed red pepper. Cook until onion is translucent. Add the tomatoes and vinegar.

-When peppers are fully cooked, let cool until safe to touch and peel off skin and discard seeds. Add to the pot, along with the garlic (which you can get out simply by squeezing it). Add the chicken broth and let simmer for about five minutes.

-Puree with an immersion blender or in batches in a standing blender. Cook a few more minutes over medium heat, then serve with a dollop of sour cream.