Monthly Archives: September 2015

Easy Caramel Apple Pie

ecapYou may remember that my wonderful brother and sister in law gave me a gift card to William Sonoma for my recent birthday. I was able to get some nice kitchen gadgets. In a previous post, I told you about my super-cool mango pitter. In addition to my wonderful mango pitter, I also got a really nice new mandolin for making perfectly uniform slices of anything.

To prove that a uniform slice can make the most ridiculously easy dessert look elegant and hard, I present you with Easy Caramel Apple Pie.

Easy Caramel Apple Pie
1 pie pastry of your choice – you can make it or use the premade kind – I chose premade
2 apples, sliced beautifully using your mandolin
Sprinkling of sugar and cinnamon
2 tbsp melted butter
2 flat pieces of caramel – the kind you use to make caramel apples

1. Lay your dough out in the pan of your choosing which you’ve sprayed with pan spray. I chose my 9×13 blue Pyrex; the workhorse of my kitchen.
2. Sprinkle some sugar and cinnamon on top of the dough.
3. Lay the apple slices on that. I chose to lay them in rows that overlapped.
4. Sprinkle with more sugar and cinnamon.
5. Pour on the melted butter.
6. Lay the caramel on top of everything. You may need to cut it to make it fit in your pan and cover all the apples.
7. Bake according to dough instructions. Serve warm. Top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if desired.

My Faithful Assistant tried a slice of this treat and pretended to be a cooking show judge. He declared it good enough for me to proceed to the next round. Sadly, in this house, I always get to the next round. If I didn’t someone else would be cooking.

This would have been the perfect post for one of those fun food videos you’ve probably seen flooding your FaceBook newsfeed. I wish I had the time and equipment to make one! But I don’t So trust me when I say this was really very easy and so fast! Even if you don’t have a mandolin, you can make this delightful fall dessert that everyone will be sure to love.



Marinated Sirloin Tips

mstMy Faithful Assistant has started swimming year round. That means four practices a week and one very hungry tiny teenager! It is even more important now to have easy to prepare meal ingredients on hand. Starving teens are not known for their patience.

I thought ahead over the weekend and marinated sirloin tips in some Soy Vay Veri Veri Terriyaki marinade. With noodles and a veggie I had a very fast dinner at my fingertips!

Marinated Sirloin Tips
1 lb sirloin tips sliced into small strips – if you’re lucky you can find them already sliced
1/2 cup Terriyaki sauce

1. Saute the sirloin tips in a little olive oil over medium heat until done. It should take 5-7 minutes at most.
2. Serve!

We had our tips on egg noodles with broccoli on the side. My Faithful Assistant was on the verge of being hangry and was so happy to eat. (Not familiar with a hangry child? Lucky you! For more information on this phenomenon read this helpful report on CNN.) It was so great to have dinner ready in less than ten minutes. MFA was nagging me to go to Chick-Fil-A after we dropped off the rest of the carpool but I gave him the usual line. “We have food at home.” It felt so great to have dinner prepared in less time than it would have taken us to get through the drive through line!

Of course, you could chop up some veggies and add them to the pan. Red peppers would be nice as would some snap peas. I did add some chopped scallions. If you want a slightly thicker sauce, add some water and a little extra Terriyaki to the pan, and just before you serve it, stir in a little flour – maybe a tablespoon. And if noodles aren’t your thing, this would be great over rice.


Mango Banana Freeze

mbfI don’t have a very big kitchen so I don’t have a ton of gadgets. As you may know, I have a Vitamix which we use a lot. For my birthday a couple weeks ago, I was given a Williams Sonoma gift card. I was pretty excited because I have been in dire need of a new can opener. The $10 one I have gotten from the grocery store several times only lasts about six months. I have an emergency back up metal can opener. You know the one. It leaves an impression in your hand and you have to stretch after you use it. OUCH!

I found the OXO section of the Williams Sonoma website and found a lovely can opener for $20. Surely this one will last. As I scrolled through the other offerings, I saw this:

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 9.42.05 AM

OXO super cool mango pitter!

WOW! We love mangos but I am the only one in the house who can cut one. NOT ANYMORE! This went into my cart immediately and as soon as I got the shipping confirmation, I went out and got some mangos so they would be ripe when my new toy arrived!

Because we have a lot of smoothies in our house, I knew that I would be freezing a lot of mango. I’ve also taken to freezing bananas when they get spotty. So with two kinds of frozen tropical fruit, I had some great ingredients for a very healthy frozen dessert!

Mango Banana Freeze (4 servings)
One mango, pitted, chopped and frozen
Two bananas, peeled, chunked and frozen
1/2 cup coconut milk or other liquid of your choice – water is good too

1. Separate the frozen chunks of frozen fruit and put in a blender that can handle frozen fruit very well.
2. Add 1/4 cup of liquid.
3. Start blending on low and slowly increase the speed. If your blender has a tamper, you will need it to push the fruit down. Add more liquid if needed.
4. The mixture will start forming four balls on the top when it is blended to the right consistency.
5. Serve immediately.

The Spouse, who doesn’t tend to like things I make that do not have extra sweetener, ate half of this. HALF! He loved it! My Faithful Assistant didn’t love it. The Teenager is now The College Student so he wasn’t around to try it. I am confident he would have enjoyed it. He has very healthy eating habits. He also has a Nutri Ninja so I hope he tries to make some of this in his own toy. I would be happy to bring him some frozen mango chunks. All he needs to do is let me know he wants them. :)

Do I need to point out that this is a vegan dessert?

This was very refreshing on a sort of hot and steamy late summer night. It was very fast to make but very loud. There was concern that I was going to blow out the motor. I admit I was a little worried too. So if you don’t have a high speed blender, you may have to pass on this.


Roast Chicken with Olive Oil Rub

My Faithful Assistant's first roast chicken!My Faithful Assistant does love to help in the kitchen and I am happy to let him. Yesterday, I remembered that I had a chicken to roast. I was tempted to try something new and prepare it with milk, or coconut milk. I popped up from my comfy chair to start making it and he said, “Can I make the chicken?” Naturally, I said yes.

My Faithful Assistant has seen me make chicken many times, and probably heard me talk about how young I was when I made one for the first time even more. The amount of instruction needed was minimal. It was mostly logistical in nature, meant to keep the kitchen as clean as possible. Get a garbage bag for the disposable bits and put it next to the sink so you aren’t carry those bits across the kitchen. Get the baking dish and also put that next to the sink for a similar reason. We didn’t rinse the raw chicken. Our kids take Family and Consumer Science in middle school and are all taught that rinsing raw chicken or other meat does not remove bacteria, it spreads it around the kitchen. If you don’t believe me, check YouTube for an assortment of videos on the topic.

When it came time to season it, he asked if he should put olive oil on it. Sure! Why not! I had never done that before. I actually stopped putting butter on my chicken. Just poultry seasoning and a little salt and pepper. Since a roast chicken usually ends up being used for several meals, this simple preparation makes it easy to use in many ways.

Roast Chicken with Olive Oil Rub
1 chicken for roasting
Olive Oil
Poultry seasoning
Salt & pepper

1. Remove the chicken from the packaging and take the bag out of the chest cavity. THROW IT AWAY.
2. Sprinkle the outside of the chicken with poultry seasoning. We didn’t measure, we just sprinkle until there was a nice light dusting on the outside of the entire bird.
3. I then poured a little olive oil into the palms of My Faithful Assistant’s hands (which were freshly washed) and he proceeded to gently massage it onto the chicken. If you lack a sous chef in your house, just pour a tablespoon or two onto your chicken and rub away.
4. Sprinkle with a little more poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper.
5. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes per pound.

You can see the final product in the picture. It turned out great! it was very flavorful, moist and tender. And I had one very proud boy with me enjoying the first big meal he prepared.

I’m sure those of you who celebrate have already planned your Rosh Hashanah menu. You can always use this recipe for Yom Kippur or for next year.

L’Shana Tova! May the year ahead be filled with peace, happiness, and good health!

Potato and Pea Soup

ppsAs I was doing my usual grocery shopping on this rainy, early autumn day, a bag of frozen peas caught my eye. Yes it is odd. No. I don’t know why. I don’t even remotely like peas, but I do like pea soup.

Purists will get a ham hock and a bag of dried peas and labor all day making a delicious and hearty, old worldly Split Pea Soup with Ham. I guess I’m not a pea soup purist.

In an effort to make a form of Pea Soup that was still hearty, I came up with this recipe.

Potato and Pea Soup
1 bag frozen peas
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 cup or more chopped carrots
1/2 cup or more chopped celery
Olive oil
1 quart broth of choice
3-4 potatoes, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Saute the onions, garlic, carrots, and celery in olive oil until a little soft; about ten minutes.
2. Add the frozen peas. Stir and cook until thawed.
3. Add the potatoes and broth, salt and pepper, and simmer until the potatoes are soft; at least 30 minutes.
4. Test potatoes for softness. If they’re done, remove from heat and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
5. Blend in batches until smooth.

I added some Adele’s Chicken and Pineapple Sausage to my soup. I cut it up and put it in after blending. But the soup was really good without it! And if you use the right broth, this is a great vegan soup! It reminded me of fall and football and colorful leaves. It’s not only pumpkin spice that has those powers!

Because the soup is smooth, it is certified by the IT Department as being Desk Friendly. (I may need to come up with a little button for that!) No chunks of anything to fall off your spoon onto your laptop.