Easy Apple Fritters

My husband and I took our first trip to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina back in 2005.  We had been dating for a year, and wanted to celebrate by going somewhere that we hadn’t been before.  It’s beautiful up there, no doubt about that, but one of the weird little memories that I have of that trip was going shopping for food at 10pm on a Friday night.  We were just driving down the road, looking for a grocery store that was open, before we finally came across one.  As we’re hunting through the store, picking up snacks, alcohol, and breakfast for the weekend, we stopped by the fresh baked goods section.  He saw some apple fritters, and gasped…and grabbed the package.  That was the day that a mental note was made in my head that the hubster (or boyfriend at the time) loved apple fritters.  Noted, and his excitement when I told him that I was making these was even freakin’ cuter.

There are several blogs that I follow, and this recipe was on sinfullytempting.com.  One of the things I love about Jeannette is that the fact that all of her recipes are about the taste.  Flavor,  richness, and insane yumminess are associated with the recipes that she posts.  I was just drooling last night over the Zucchini Boats that she recently posted, and told my mom this morning that I was going to make those…soon.  Well, I got this recipe for the apple fritters from her website.  My mother-in-law spent the night with us over the weekend to get some grandma time with our little pumpkin, so I decided to make these for us.  She and my hubby absolutely LOVED them, and they disappeared very quickly.

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First, stir the dry ingredients together.

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Chop up apples.

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Stir in the wet ingredients first, then apples.

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Drop by a heaping teaspoon into the hot oil, frying on each side for a couple of minutes until they’re crispy and golden brown.

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Lay on paper towels to cool slightly and for the oil to drip off.

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Drizzle glaze on top of fritters.

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Eat the heck out of these babies.

For the Fritters:

1 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup white sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup milk

1 egg, beaten

1 cup apple, chopped into small pieces

Heat 1 1/2-2 inches of vegetable oil on medium heat.  Combine the first five dry ingredients in a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together to combine.  Stir in milk and egg until batter is completely moist.  Gently stir in apples.  Drop by heaping teaspoons into oil, and fry for about 2 minutes on each side, until brown and crispy.  Remove from oil, set on paper towels.  Drizzle with glaze, serve warm.

For the Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons milk

Combine ingredients in small mixing bowl, drizzle over fritters.

Cinnamon Bun Cake

Cinnamon buns.  Everybody’s had ’em, and I don’t know a single person who doesn’t like ’em.  But, not everybody can or wants to make them…but with this cake, you CAN.  This is a very easy recipe, and it’s ten times less intimidating than actually making cinnamon buns from scratch.  This is literally like eating a cinnamon bun in a cake.

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I had the privilege of eating a piece of this sucker right out of the oven, after I smeared that ridiculously creamy and rich icing on top, oozing down the sides.  I promised myself that I would only have one bite, but you know how that works out.  Well, it didn’t.  And I don’t regret a single bite, either.  Shoot, look at that picture above.  Yowza.  And trust me, it tastes just as good as it looks!

Cinnamon Bun Cake Recipe:

For the cake:
1 box yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. vegetable oil
8 oz. sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a separate bowl, mix:
1 c. brown sugar
3 tsp. cinnamon

Mix and pour 1/2 batter in a 9X13 inch greased pan. Sprinkle 1/2 the cinnamon on of top of that, swirl with a fork. Pour remaining batter in the pan, smooth out and cover with the remaining half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture and swirl with a fork. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

For the icing:
2 c. confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup heavy cream -or- 1/4 cup milk

Mix icing together and pour over the hot cake.

Best Ever Waffles

If you raise an eyebrow at the title of this entry, you’re not the first…because I did too when I was searching for a good waffle recipe to try out over the weekend.  As I was scrolling through some different recipes, the two that I concentrated on included this one and a recipe for buttermilk waffles.  I decided to give this one a shot the first time, and try the buttermilk waffles next time.  When my husband and I got registered for bridal gifts after our engagement, we spent almost three hours in Bed Bath & Beyond.  I was worn out by the end of that escapade, but really did enjoy picking out things that we wanted to receive as wedding gifts.  Among these items was a waffle iron.  This was before I really got into baking and cooking, so my husband was actually the one who made waffles for us on the weekends.  He always used the Bisquick mix to make them, and we were both always very happy with the waffles that he made.

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Over the years, I got waffled out.  Within the last year, I have perfected my fluffy pancake recipe, and make them pretty regularly on the weekends.  Even extended family gets excited when I make them.  And since I have gotten into all of this, we haven’t bought much Bisquick these days…and my husband was convinced after one try that we should just stick to using Bisquick for waffles.  Well, I proved him wrong.  I’ve seen this technique used before where you beat the egg whites separately until they become white and thick before folding them in, but had never tried it.  Word of wisdom…don’t even waste your time trying to whisk them, your forearm will be worn out and they STILL won’t be the consistency that you need for them to be.  😉  My husband got his plate of one huge waffle, and I anxiously watched him as he took the first couple of bites.  “This is good,” he said.  Oh, good  I thought.  A minute later, I hear, “Mmm, this is really good.”  I smiled.  And again, another minute passes before his fork clinks on the plate after finishing, and he says, “Man, that was awesome.  I want another one.”  My husband NEVER even considers having another waffle after eating that big ole thing.  Seriously?!  Success!  I did make a couple of slight variations of the original recipe that I found, but these waffles are so incredible.  Light, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.  Just the way we like ’em.  Bye bye, Bisquick!

Waffle Recipe:

1 1/3 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

2 eggs, separated

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 3/4 cups milk

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients.  Separate the eggs, adding the yolks to the dry ingredient mixture, and placing the whites in a small mixing bowl.  Beat whites at medium speed with electric mixer until white and soft peaks form, set aside.  Add milk, melted butter and vanilla to dry ingredient mixture, whisk together well.  Fold stiff egg whites into mixture.  Pour mixtures into hot waffle iron and bake, this batch makes 6 waffles.

Pumpkin Bread

A year and a half ago around the holidays, someone asked me if I had ever made a pumpkin loaf before.  I told her no, but that I wanted to try it out…and completely forgot.  Well, my best friend’s sister came in town to visit, and she was hoping to get some sort of goodies from me, since apparently I “tease” her with all of the food that’s posted on here.  😉  She’s actually a big fan of pumpkin, and it was her daughter’s birthday party that I made the pumpkin cupcakes for a while back, so I knew that this would be a safe flavor to make…so that’s what determined the pumpkin bread decision.  So, she has become another guinea pig, but gets free yummies in the process.  Double whammy.

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My cinnamon honey butter goes wonderfully on this bread.  In fact, maybe it’s a little too wonderful on here.  I would say it kinda feels wrong to be eating something with such a wonderful holiday flavor…but nothing can feel wrong about eating pumpkin bread.  I guess the technical season that pumpkin flavored foods really starts getting in the swing of things is when October hits…but the good thing is that it continues through Christmas.  I will definitely be making this for the holidays and wrapping them up to be put into gift baskets!  🙂

Pumpkin Bread Recipe:

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

2/3 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 cups white sugar

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 7×3 inch loaf pans, or two 9×5 inch loaf pans.  In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.  Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.  Bake for about 50-60 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pans for about 15 minutes, turn out onto cooling racks and cool completely.

French Toast Casserole

Here we go again, another sweet and delicious breakfast.  I’ve heard my mother-in-law talk about this dish on several occasions, going on about how delicious it was…so naturally, I had to give it a shot.  I made this during the same weekend of being in town with my cousins, and since there was a lot of food in this recipe, I wanted to make it for more than just our little batch of 3 at home.

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My mom always calls me before she heads to the grocery store the day before we come in town to see if there’s anything we need for cooking meals during the weekend, so we went over the list of ingredients needed for this recipe.  There was a loaf of Italian bread right next to the French bread in the bakery section, and she mistakenly grabbed that loaf.  So, we used Italian bread in this recipe.  Improvise.  My cousin’s 8 year old daughter was lurking in the kitchen when I started to pull the ingredients out to put everything together the night before.  She asked, “Cousin Erin, can I help you make it?”  Holy cow, how could I possibly say no to that sweet face?  Well, it wasn’t an option, so I recruited my very first assistant.  She helped me measure out ingredients, put seasonings in the bowl, and crack the eggs (which she loved the most).  We got everything together, covered it up and stuck it in the fridge.  After that, we snuggled up on the couch, and talked about baking.  She wants to open up a bakery when she grows up, and she wants me to work for her.  Score.  Now I have a future job in place.  😉

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The next morning, my dad was asking when breakfast was going to be ready, right as I walked out of the bedroom, half asleep from dealing with a fussy toddler in the middle of the night.  Mr. Impatient, as I like to call him.  I made the topping, poured it on top, and popped it in the oven.  Wow, the smells.  Cinnamon just smells so wonderful while baking in the oven, and it sends such a delightful aroma all through the house.  It was definitely a sweet breakfast though, so beware of that sugar crash that follows later!  It should have a warning label that you must drink coffee with it.  Yes, the perfect combination.

French Toast Casserole Recipe:

1 loaf French Bread (13-16 oz.)

8 large eggs

2 cups half and half

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

cinnamon sugar topping

maple syrup

Slice bread into 1 inch slices.  Arrange slices in a generously greased 9×13 inch baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices.  In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half and half, milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon, and beat with whisk until blended but not too bubbly.  Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk/egg mixture.  Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices.  Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.  The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pour topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, or until puffed and lightly golden.  Serve with maple syrup.

Cinnamon/Sugar Topping:

2 sticks butter, melted

1 cup packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well.  Pour over casserole before baking.

Breakfast Pizza

On the weekends, I always make something good for breakfast.  Usually, it’s fluffy pancakes, but it’s nice to mix it up every once in a while.  Ooh, like those red velvet waffles.  Those were delicious, too.  This was something I’d been wanting to try out for a while, and super glad that it made it into our kitchen.  It’s something different, yet so simple at the same time.  I’d never even heard of a breakfast pizza, but got really excited at just the idea of it!  And let me tell you, that aroma filling the kitchen as this bad boy cooked in the oven was intoxicating.  I couldn’t wait to try it out.

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This thing tasted just as good as it smelled.  As we’re sitting at the table munching away, I was convinced that our daughter wouldn’t touch it, just because it looked different.  I was wrong.  She ate half of a piece, and I sat there in shock, watching her shovel it down her little pie hole.  When we finished our pieces, I looked in the pan and saw that there were five whole pieces left.  Good grief.  I thought for a minute about what to do with them, because I knew that we wouldn’t eat the leftovers since the following day was Monday and we get back on our routine…so I texted our neighbor across the street.  When I told her what we had for breakfast and asked if they wanted the rest, she excitedly called me about it, then sent her husband over to pick it up.  About thirty minutes later, I got another text message from her, telling me how awesome it was.  Yes, this has definitely been added to my breakfast list.  My nieces and nephews will love this thing!

Breakfast Pizza Recipe:

1 can refrigerated crescent roll dough

1 lb. ground breakfast sausage

6 pieces bacon, cooked and crumbled

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

8 large eggs

1/3 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a round 12 inch cake pan, and press the crescent roll dough into the pan, forming a crust.  Cook sausage in skillet until browned and completely cooked through.  Spoon on top of crust, sprinkle bacon on top.  Sprinkle grated cheese on top of meats.  Combine eggs, milk, salt, and pepper.  Whisk together until eggs are beaten, pour over crust.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, cut into slices and serve.

Red Velvet Waffles

A couple of months ago, a good friend’s sister posted a picture of something I hadn’t seen before on my Facebook page…Red Velvet Waffles.  As I stared at the picture in awe, I imagined myself sitting down in a quaint, upscale cafe enjoying this for brunch, along with a mimosa.  Then heading out for a girls day full of shopping and girl talk…no work, no husbands, no kids…just some girl time.  It’s hard to believe that all of this popped into my head just from a picture of food.  Either way, I had to give this a shot.

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So, I waited until my mom was in town visiting.  The night before I made them, different breakfast ideas were flowing through my head about what could be on the menu the next morning.  When this recipe popped in my head, that was it.  She loves red velvet…and who doesn’t, really?  Since I was throwing this recipe together, I was slightly nervous about how they were going to turn out.  As the batter was being mixed together and that beautiful red color was showing, the excitement was growing.  When the waffle iron beeped, I lifted up the top and gasped…  “Look at those!  They’re beautiful!” and my mom laughed.  She got the first plate, sprinkled with powdered sugar and cream cheese glaze.  My daughter was helping in the kitchen, and she was happy to help be a taste tester…she kept asking for more cream cheese glaze, and was using it as a dip for her waffles.  Well, that’s one way to do it.  I’ll be honest though…I personally think these are much better as brunch.  They’re rich and sweet, and I can only handle so much of that rich sweetness first thing in the morning with my coffee.  Oh yes, that picture in my head as brunch with a mimosa…  Maybe I can make this for the girls sometime…

Red Velvet Waffles Recipe:

2 cups all purpose flour

2 cups buttermilk

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon cocoa

1 teaspoon white vinegar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1 tablespoon red food coloring

Combine dry ingredients in bowl, whisk together to combine.  Beat eggs in separate bowl, add to dry ingredients along with remaining liquid ingredients.  Whisk together well until mixed completely and batter is red.  Pour into waffle iron and cook until done.  Sprinkle powdered sugar and cream cheese glaze on top.

Cream Cheese Glaze:

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

2-4 tablespoons milk

Using electric mixer, beat at medium speed until well blended and smooth.  Drizzle over waffles.

Pound Cake

The last time I had a pound cake was earlier this year at a birthday party, and someone else had made it.  It’d been so long since I had one, and since it was covered in icing and decorations, the flavor threw me off since I wasn’t expecting it…and it was delicious.  When my husband and I were talking about pound cake, he talked about how much he liked it, so when Easter came around, I gave it a shot.  The recipe I put together was delicious, but silly me wasn’t thinking when I baked and cooled it…because the center was NOT done.  So, the outside scraps were cut off and stuck into a container as a snack.  As the days went on, my husband and his brother (who was visiting at the time), kept going back to that container and sneaking more cake, even though I already made some peanut butter ritz cookies.

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The next day after we got home from a big family gathering where we stuffed ourselves silly, there was my husband…going for that container with the pound cake again.  As he stuffed more cake in his mouth, he mumbled to me, “This pound cake is awesome.”  And since this statement is coming from a guy who literally sees eating as a chore, it was a massive compliment.  When I was researching recipes, I compared three different ones that had one thing I liked, another thing I didn’t like…so I meshed them together and came up with this recipe…and it was a raging success.  When I covered this slice with chocolate syrup and whipped topping, there were some inappropriate noises I was making while eating it…which then turned into cursing at myself for eating too much of it.  It’s a viscious cycle, but sooo worth it.  I’m just hoping none of my neighbors heard me.

Pound Cake Recipe:

2 sticks butter, softened

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

3 cups sugar

5 eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  With an electric mixer, cream butter and cream cheese together. Add sugar, a little at a time. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Stir dry ingredients together in a bowl and add to mixer alternately with milk, starting with the flour and ending with the flour. Mix in vanilla. Pour into a greased and floured tube pan and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cinnamon Sugar Crescent Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze

While my cousin and I were on the phone one day, the topic of crescent rolls came up, and we start talking about how we both loved them.  Then, I started thinking about the honey butter crescent rolls at California Dreaming.  Then, my mouth started to water, and I wanted some crescent rolls.  Even though I wanted to make some the really easy way, the thought of doing something a little different had crossed my mind, so off I went to the grocery store.

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First, we’re loading up on our necessary ingredients for the crescent rolls, and it’s super easy.  Here, we have a can of refrigerated crescent rolls, melted butter, cinnamon/sugar mixture, silicone brush, and a small spoon.  Let’s get started.

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Unroll the crescent roll dough on a work surface, and brush each crescent roll generously with the melted butter.

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Using the spoon, sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mixture over the melted butter.

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Roll up the crescent rolls, place on baking sheet (I always use my baking stone for best results), brush with more butter, sprinkle with more cinnamon and sugar…and bake.

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While the crescent rolls are still slightly warm, drizzle the cream cheese glaze on top of each roll.

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Enjoy…but be careful.  They’re quite delicious…and also very versatile.  They can be served as breakfast, appetizer, dessert, or just plain old side item.  So many options with such an easy and delicious recipe!

Cinnamon Sugar Crescent Rolls Recipe:

1/4 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1 can refrigerated crescent rolls

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Unroll crescent dough onto work surface.  Brush melted butter on each roll, then sprinkle cinnamon/sugar mixture on top.  Roll up each crescent roll, then place on baking pan.  Brush tops with more butter, sprinkle with more cinnamon/sugar mixture.  Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes, or until tops are a light golden brown.  When finished baking, remove from pan and drizzle with cream cheese glaze.

Cream Cheese Glaze:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

3 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2-3 tablespoons milk

Using electric mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese until blended.  Add powdered sugar, vanilla and milk, continue to mix until glaze reaches desired consistency.  Drizzle over crescent rolls.

Banana Muffins

When it comes to healthier snacks and breakfast for my daughter, I’m always on the lookout.  She loves muffins, and I wanted to make some with a flavor that I know she really likes.  Well, my kiddo absolutely loves bananas.  In fact, I’m surprised she doesn’t look like a banana at this point.

So, I started doing some research on finding a decent recipe.  I came across a highly rated recipe on allrecipes.com, but wanted to change some things around.  A close friend has Celiac Disease, so she can’t consume gluten.  After spending the weekend with her and watching how healthy she eats, but is still able to eat a lot of things, it got me thinking.  I don’t want to cut out ALL gluten completely, but I see how it could be beneficial to at least decrease my family’s consumption.  Plus, my daughter is too young to really notice if there’s a big taste difference between regular and gluten free, so now is the perfect time to start experimenting.  😀

You can easily use gluten-free flour in this recipe instead of all purpose flour, both ways turn out delicious.  My little bottomless pit is like me when it comes to food consistency…she’s weird and picky.  So, I decided to puree the bananas in order to get the full flavor without the chunks.  The outcome?  Well, I gobbled mine down along with a glass of milk, my husband asked for a second muffin, and my daughter can’t get enough of them.  Success!

Banana Muffin Recipe:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (may easily use gluten free flour)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 large bananas, mashed

1/4 cup white sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 egg

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine bananas, butter, vanilla and egg in blender and puree until smooth. Combine with dry ingredients and beat well with electric mixer.  Spoon into lined muffin pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 23 minutes, until tops are lightly browned and spring back when touched.

Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes

One of my favorite things about the weekends is making breakfast for the family.  My husband and daughter love the grits that I make, but personally  I’m a huge fan of pancakes.  Whenever we go out to eat for breakfast, that’s what I always end up getting.  Look at them, all golden and fluffy.  How can anyone resist?

Well, I can’t.  So, when my cousin and her kids came to stay with us over the weekend, I wanted to make something a little special for breakfast.  I was looking for a good recipe, and came across this one and made some adjustments.  They were absolutely delicious.  My husband actually sent me a text message from the living room this morning just saying, “Pancakes?”  Of course.  When my non-foodie hubby specially requests these, I’m more than happy to make them.  My dad says IHOP ain’t got nuthin on me…but I think he might just be sucking up to the future chef.

As I’ve said before, my toddler is the ultimate taste tester.  She normally eats one pancake when I pop the frozen ones in the microwave, but after scarfing one down this morning, she started asking for more.  She ate a whole second pancake.  Such a little piglet, but I was happy to give her another one.  These pancakes are thick and fluffy, just the way they’re supposed to be.  Smother them with butter and syrup?  Now that’s what I call a special breakfast!

Fluffy Pancakes Recipe:

1 cup buttermilk

1 1/4 cups flour

2 tablespoons white sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk egg, vanilla, and butter into buttermilk. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and whisk until most lumps are gone.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until lightly browned on the other side.

**Make some variations!  Add blueberries, chopped strawberries or bananas, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, the options are endless!

Homemade Pancake Syrup Recipe:

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

1 cup water

1 teaspoon maple flavoring

2 tablespoons butter, melted

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water.  Bring to a boil, cook and stir for two minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in maple flavoring and butter.  Refrigerate leftovers.