Again, good, but not quite good enough

The title really says it all… tossing together cooked tortellini, nuts, dried figs, and salad greens, then drizzling with red wine vinegar is pretty decent. It’s just not terribly exciting, taste or texture wise. I’m sure it will work perfectly well as an emergency ‘I’m hungry and need to throw something together quickly; what do I have in the refrigerator’ kind of thing. It’s just not worth planning out and making sure the ingredients are available.

On the plus side, now we have a bag of emergency cheese tortellini in the freezer. Goes with the emergency pasta sauce in the pantry. ūüôā

Tortellini Salad

Original from TheKitchn
Makes 2 servings
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 10 recipes; Lunch: None! Hurray, another section done!

  • ~10 oz tortellini (I used cheese and see no reason other types wouldn’t work)
  • ~1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup dried Mission figs
  • Salad greens
  • Red wine vinegar
  1. Bring a pot of water to boil over high heat. Add the tortellini and cook as long as the tortellini package directs you to. Or until they bob to the surface and are tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. Roughly chop the walnuts. Cut off the stems of the figs and then roughly chop them.
  3. Combine the salad greens, tortellini, walnuts and figs in a bowl; toss together. Drizzle with red wine vinegar (or balsamic vinagrette) and toss again to coat. Divide between serving bowls. Alternatively, withhold the walnuts until the end and sprinkle on after the division into serving bowls.
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A fall snack – I think this one will be sticking around

One of the very nice things about our particular CSA is the apple cider included every week. This farm really has an orchard (you may have seen the entire bushel of extra apples we bought?) and the cider changes a bit every week as the apples change with the season before getting picked. So between the apples and apple cider in the box and the old-fashioned rolled oats rattling around the pantry, we pretty much had everything to hand. I think next time I should let it go a bit longer for more crunch but I do like this snack as is.

If you’re looking for a thick granola where things stick together, this is not the one for you. This is more crumbly and individual.

Apple Cider Granola

Original found LastIngredient
Makes 3 cups
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 15; Snacks: 1 recipe left

  • 1 largish apple, preferably tart
  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, or other nut you like
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 225¬įF and line a couple of sheet pans with parchment.
  2. Slice the apple as thin as you can, preferably to 1/8 inch with a mandolin. Lay them out as a single layer on the sheet pans and bake until dried and brown, about 1.5 hours. Set aside to cool before roughly chopping.
  3. Increase the oven to 300¬įF. In a large bowl, combine the oats, cinnamon, salt, walnuts, honey, cider, and vanilla. If the apples¬†are not completely dry, chopped them up and mix into the granola. Spread onto the¬†mixture onto the sheet pants.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes, then toss and return to the oven. Continue baking until golden brown – check every 5 minutes to make sure the granola does not burn. Allow to cool, then add the apples if not already mixed in.
  5. Eat and store the excess in an air tight container.

Not stuffed enough apples

Apparently farro is not a standard thing to find. I mean, I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to find some in a regular grocery store. But surely, SURELY, our local hippy food co-op would have some in their bulk section. I mean the bulk section is like the main attraction (to me anyway). Who else sells 12 different types of rice in bins. Between the rice, and the lentils, and the flours, and the dried chickpeas, and the quinoa, I was SURE that there’d be farro around somewhere.

Nope.

Well… not exactly gonna completely ditch my plans and come up with something new on the spot… Just not how my brain works. Also, didn’t have internet access and the list of recipes I’m working on trying out with me. Nor my binders of power (recipes). So, I did what I’ve finally learned to do in those situations. Ask a grocery store person for their recommendation on what to substitute in. Which is how I ended up cooking wheat berries for the first time.

Also learned that 2 inches to be hollowed out from the middle of an apple is bigger than I think it is. And if you don’t make a big enough cavity in apples to stuff filling in, you end up cooking a lot filling in¬†the bottom of your pan. Tasty that way, but definitely not the driving idea behind the recipe.

As you may have noticed from the ‘bounty!’ photos that have popped up on Saturdays, Adam and I have joined a CSA for the fall season. And boy do they have a lot of apple trees on the farm (I assume) – 5 to 6 Honey Crisp apples every week. In a half-share! I’m totally not complaining, given a) how many apples we eat around here and b) since I rather like the Honey Crisp¬†variety. It was also nice for this recipe since the original called for honey crisps. Also for the contrast between apple, wheat berry, and chicken sausage. I’m not much of a pork sausage fan – happens when you grow up without any type of pig product in the house (yes that included bacon, yes I’m actually not a fan of bacon, yes I do speak that particular food heresy). Which makes chicken sausage my go-to substitute for ‘sausage’ in recipes. Substitute back as you choose ūüėÄ

End result for these particular stuffed apples? Too much work for the end result. Did you know you need to cook wheat berries for 50-55 minutes before mixing them in with the rest of the filling ingredients and then cook everything? Too long.

Good contrast in textures though.

Wheat berry, nuts, and sausage-stuffed baked apples

Original from OhMyVeggies
Makes 4 apples
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 22; Dinners: 4 recipes left

  • 4 Honey crisp apples, at least medium sized
  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 oz sausage of your choice, crumbled or sliced
  • 1/3 cup wheat berries, soft or hard, cooked
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts and almonds (what can I say, it’s what we had lying around)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • salt, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 375¬įF. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray or grease it with oil or butter.
  2. Core each apple and then widen the hole in the center to 1.5″ to 2″. If you think it’s big enough, make it bigger.
  3. Heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and turning translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in the sausage and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.
  4. Transfer the onion and sausage to a medium bowl. Stir in the wheat berries, chopped nuts, and nutmeg. Salt to taste.
  5. Stuff this mixture into the apple cavities with a spoon, packing as full as you can. Spray a piece of foil with cooking spray and cover the baking dish (with the apples in it!), spray side down. Cook covered for 20 minutes, then remove foil and continue cooking for 15-20 minutes, until apples are tender.

Attempting a piece of nostalgia

So charoset is one of those things I remember from my childhood Passovers events – I remember rather liking it.

Now I thinking that was for the contrast,¬†any contrast, to matzah. If you’ve never had matzah, think of the driest, worst cracker you’ve ever eaten. Matzah is worse. Unless you soak it in egg wash with cinnamon and fry it up into matzah brie.

Either way, I am not a fan of matzah, thus had none in the house to¬†smear charoset onto. And apparently charoset, at least when ground smooth, is cake frosting – according to Adam anyway. So now we have almost 4 cups of the stuff left and I have no desire to eat more. I’d say next time I’ll¬†leave some nuts and apples in chunk size. But I’ve got no real desire to try this one again.

Ah well, maybe one of y’all will enjoy it more

Medjool Date and Apple Charoset

Original from TheKitchn.com
Makes 4 cups
Recipes left to try (& copy…): 32; Snacks: 2 recipes left

  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chunked
  • 1/3 cup apple-cranberry juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Pulse the pecans and walnuts in a food processor until coarsely ground
  2. Add the apples and pulse a few more times. Add the juice, honey, and cinnamon; blend until as smooth as you like.

ALL the cookies

So last Saturday I was a co-host for a friend’s baby shower – I provided the desserts, the co-host brought ALL the main course-type food. Two slow cookers, plus aluminum trays. And a water jug with one of those little lift spouts. And the favors she just whipped up. While being a volunteer firefighter. This woman puts Martha Stewart to shame. I have all of the awe for her skills and all of the envy for her organizational skills and¬†energy. Energy to do all the things would be nice to have. Really nice.

So desserts!

1) I made my signature dessert – Chai Snickerdoodles

  • Snickerdoodles are the recipe I made repeatedly out of my first cookbook – Better Homes and Gardens’ New Junior Cookbook
  • I made it for years exactly as the recipe called for, all the way from elementary school, through middle school, high school, and into college
  • and then I saw a recipe with more spices in the cinnamon-sugar coating – it’s a mix based on ‘chai’ spices from India: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom – it is even more delicious
  • (Snickerdoodles – yeah I have no idea where the name came from, but it’s basically a sugar/butter cookie ball rolled in spices and baked)

2) Pumpkin Cookies

  • we have [had] a couple cans of pumpkin pur√®e in the pantry; I insisted on buying a couple cans this year – ever since the year of there being NO pumpkin pur√®e in the supermarket [bad harvest year], I’m a little weebly about not having pumpkin in the house for baking
  • Next time, I really need to¬†believe the serving size notes – the recipe does in fact make 6-7¬†dozen cookies. Big and chunky and beautiful cookies

and 3) a personal favorite, Ghriba Walnut Cookies

And, because in talking with the co-host ahead of time, she mentioned having a cupcake stand (she essentially did her own wedding), I made 4) cupcakes. Actually, I decided to make cupcakes first and decided on the rest after deciding on cupcakes. First, though, I’d have to pick a cupcake recipe. And um, it turns out, I only have one recipe for cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes. I may have mention this before, but chocolate gives me migraines. Nasty, blinding migraines.

Adam at first taste: “Love, these are totally worth the migraine.”

(What the heck, it’s late, I can sleep through the worst of the migraine.)

Adam at second taste: “Oh my¬†god, it’s like a drug!”

(Sweetie, you already convinced me!)

Warm, moist, good crumb, and rich (really rich. really, really rich).

Yeah, totally worth the migraine.

Chocolate Cupcakes

8 cupcakes
originally from allrecipes.com/recipe/chocolate-cupcakes

This one is going to be customizable – change up the cocoa powder to suit your tastes: like dark chocolate more? use a darker chocolate powder. white chocolate fan? I’m sure there’s a white chocolate powder out there. Somewhere. Oh look, Amazon has everything.

  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda (I guess-timated this one with a 1/4 tsp measure and they came out well)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp + 1.5 tsp butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk

(I tripled this to 24 cupcakes very easily)

  1. Preheat oven to 350¬įF. Line a muffin tin with paper or foil liners OR liberally spray with cooking spray.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa, and salt together; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, beating well, then stir in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternatively with the milk; beat well.
  4. Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake for 15-17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the cakes comes out clean. Frost when cool. Or eat straight. They’re delightful straight.

And because I like desserts but try not to make them too often (because I would EAT ALL THE COOKIES), have a bonus recipe.

Ghriba Walnut Cookies

~ 2 dozen cookies
originally from Morocco

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/4 cups (225 g) walnut pieces, coarsely ground (food processors are great for this)
  • powdered sugar, for dredging & dusting
  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg and butter. Blend in the sugar and cinnamon.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder. Work it and the ground walnuts into the egg-butter mix. Mix to form a consistent, smooth dough. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350¬įF (180¬įC or gas mark 4). Place the powdered sugar in a bowl. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Roll the dough into 1 inch / 2.5 cm balls. Roll the balls in powdered sugar and place on baking sheet, about 1 inch / 2.5 cm apart. Bake for 4 minutes, rotate the sheet, and bake until golden and firm at the edges and cracked on the surface but soft in the center, another 3-5 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and let cool on the sheet, then transfer to a rack. If desired, dust with more powdered sugar before serving.

Next time, I think I’ll try coating with a big crystal sugar (turbinado maybe) instead powdered sugar, just to see what happens.

From back to front on the stand, chocolate cupcakes, snickerdoodles, ghriba walnut cookies, and pumpkin cookies.

From back to front on the stand, chocolate cupcakes, snickerdoodles, ghriba walnut cookies, and pumpkin cookies.