Archive for snack

Apples! A Few Quick Solutions to Apple Season

Posted in Recipes with tags , , , , , , , on November 15, 2010 by KarenElizabeth

Apples!  Delicious, nutritious, and (due to a food allergy) they make my mouth feel as though I’ve been drinking bleach.  Not to worry, though!  I can still enjoy apple season just as much as the next North American goth kid, with only a few extra steps involved, because cooking renders the apple proteins harmless (and defenseless against my ravenous nommings, just like a fruit should be).

Whether or not you need to cook your apples to destroy their evil allergy-powers, the following recipes are fast, simple, and delicious ways to cook up those bushels upon bushels of apples that are so plentiful at this time of year.


Whether it’s a topping for pork roast, a side-dish, or a snack in its own right, applesauce is definitely a classic (try having a bowl of apple sauce with a big wedge of aged cheddar cheese on the side — it’s such a good combo!).  And it’s so, so easy.  Just peel, core, and slice one large or two small apples for each person you want to serve (if you’re feeling lazy, you can skip peeling and just chop the apples up quite small, but you’ll end up with a chunkier sauce that way).  Put the apples into a pot along with a bit of water or apple juice (enough to cover the bottom of the pot by about an inch), a pinch of salt, and a sprinkling of cinnamon*.  Cover the pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  After five minutes, the apples should be nice and soft.  Mash them up with a fork or potato masher, and you’ve got delicious apple sauce!  You can serve it right away, or make a big batch and keep it in the fridge.  If you’ve got a boiling water canner you can even jar it up and save for later, but I find that apple sauce is so easy to make and apples are so readily available, there’s no reason to store it.


Baked Apples

Baked apples are a personal favourite of mine, and easily made in the microwave, oven, or toaster oven.  They’re kind of like inside-out apple crisp, and they look very pretty when served in a little saucer, covered with whipped cream or drizzled with caramel sauce.

The most complicated part of making a baked apple is cutting out the core.  You don’t want to cut all the way through the apple, or you’ll make it impossible for all the gooey goodness to get held inside.  You just want to scoop out most of the core, leaving about a half-inch “floor” on the bottom to hold everything in.  Think of it kind of like carving a pumpkin — cut a circle around the stem with a paring knife, then use a spoon to scoop downwards and take out the core and seeds.  You’ll want the hole to be about an inch wide — enough to make sure you’ve gotten out all of the core and seeds, but not so wide as to be cutting out all of the delicious apple flesh.

Once you’ve made your little apple “bowls”, it’s time to fill them with crumbly goodness.  Mix together equal parts brown sugar, uncooked oats (I prefer large-flake oats, because they retain more texture than quick oats, but use whichever you have on hand), and raisins or nuts (or a mix of both).  1/3 cup of each gives you enough to fill four large apples.  Add in a pinch of salt and a sprinkle of cinnamon*, then fill your apples.  Top each one with a teensy bit of butter or margarine (a half-teaspoon is enough).

If you’re baking these in the oven or toaster oven, you’ll want to add a little bit of water or apple juice to the bottom of the baking pan, just to help keep things from drying out.  If you’re doing it in the microwave you don’t need to worry about that, since the microwave doesn’t dry things out the same way.

Bake covered at 350 degrees for a half hour, or in the microwave at medium-high for five minutes (depends on your specific microwave; it may take some testing to get the timing right).  Serve immediately with whipped cream, ice cream, or caramel sauce (or all of the above).


Apple Crisp

This one’s my dad’s favourite, and was usually the dessert he’d whip up whenever he was in charge of dinner.  He and I share the same allergy, so it was one of the few ways he ever got to eat apples, and he became an expert at making this particular dish.

Peel and slice four large apples.  Lay the slices in an 8×8 baking dish (use a bit of butter to grease up the dish if you’re not using non-stick).

In a bowl, combine 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour (I like to use whole wheat), 1/2 cup oats (like with the baked apples, I prefer large flake, but quick oats will do), a pinch of salt, and a sprinkling of cinnamon*.  Spread this over the top of the apples.  Cut up 1/2 cup of cold butter into small chunks and spread these evenly over the top of the crumbly layer.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until the top begins to turn golden brown.  Serve immediately with whipped cream, ice cream, or caramel sauce.


*Other spices you could use are allspice, cloves, nutmeg, or even pumpkin pie spice, but cinnamon is my usual standby here.  Feel free to get crazy and add whatever the heck you like, though — you could probably add ginger and chili powder and have it come out pretty delicious.


Banana Muffins and/or Banana Bread Recipe

Posted in Recipes with tags , , , , , on May 24, 2010 by KarenElizabeth

I grew up in a family that did a lot of dessert breads.  Zucchini bread, applesauce loaf, carrot cake, and of course, the classic favourite:  banana bread.  Since moving away from home and learning to cook for only one or two people instead of a crowd of ravenous McMichaels, I’ve gotten a bit out of the habit — on my own it can be challenging to devour an entire loaf of banana bread before it begins to go stale.  But I still get my fix by making banana muffins, which can be easily frozen and then thawed out a few at a time for a good two weeks worth of snacking goodness.  It’s the same old banana bread recipe, though, so you can make it as a loaf if you prefer.  Just increase the cooking time to about an hour to ensure that the center of the loaf is fully cooked.

The Ingredients:

  • 3 large or 4 small bananas, very ripe
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (or skip the white sugar and use 2/3 cup brown)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or use 1 cup all purpose, 1/2 cup whole wheat)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • a pinch of salt
  • nutmeg and allspice to taste
  • candied fruit peel, raisins, nuts, chocolate chips, etc. as desired

The Prep:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and prepare two loaf pans or 18 muffin cups.

In a large bowl, mash up the bananas.  Add the sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla; mix well.  Sift in the flour, salt, baking soda, nutmeg and allspice; stir until just blended.  If desired, fold in nuts, chocolate chips, fruit peel, etc.

Fill muffin cups or loaf pans 2/3rds to 3/4ths full.  Bake about 25 minutes for muffins, or about 1 hour for loaves (until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean).

Tips and Tricks:

If you’ve got some bananas that are going too brown for your liking, but you don’t have time to make muffins right away, throw the bananas in the freezer.  They keep very well because their tough peel protects against freezer burn.  Then when you do get time to do some baking, you’ll have ripe bananas all ready to go.

Once you’ve actually baked your muffins, you can put the finished deliciousness into an airtight freezer bag and freeze them.  They keep for at least 6-8 weeks (I’ve never had any last longer than that … they’re too tasty to leave sitting for long!), and are easily thawed out in the microwave or toaster oven.

Peanut Butter Cookie Brownies

Posted in Recipes with tags , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2010 by KarenElizabeth

So last night I came up against an age old dilemma:  would I rather have peanut butter cookies, or brownies?  Kenneth solved the problem for me by suggesting that I create a combination peanut butter cookie/brownie confection.  And it turned out so well that I’m going to share it with you!

The Cookie Crust

You can use any recipe for the cookie crust that you like — just make sure it’s a soft and easily formed dough.  I chose to go simply with the old Skippy-jar 3-ingredient standby, and adjusted the usual recipe so that it would only make enough to cover a 9×9 pan.  You could, of course, make more cookie dough and just freeze the rest for later (or make cookies AND cookie-brownies all at once, if you’re feeling daring).  But since I’m going to be moving to a new apartment soon, I’m trying to reduce the amount of frozen goodness in my freezer.

So for my cookie crust, I just combined 1 cup of peanut butter, 1/2 a cup of white sugar, and 1 egg.  Pressed into the bottom of a 9×9 pan, this made for a crust about 1-1/2cm (1/2 inch) thick.  I suggest poking some divots into the top of the cookie with a fork to help the brownie batter adhere during baking.

Set your cookie crust aside while you prepare the brownie batter.

The Brownie Batter

As with the cookie crust, you could probably get away with using any brownie recipe that you like for the brownie portion of this delicious snack — but I highly suggest trying this one.  It’s from my mom’s Betty Crocker Cookbook, and it’s actually the very first recipe that I ever made all by myself (well, I was 5, so dad handled putting it into the oven, but I did all the measuring and stirring).  I’ve made it many different ways over the years, but I keep coming back to the original.

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine (softened)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (optional; or you could use other nuts)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Cream together the sugar and butter, then add the vanilla and the eggs.  Stir in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.  Finally, fold in the nuts (if you’re using them — you can also try chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, or dried fruit).

Once your brownie batter is prepared, spread it in an even layer over top of the cookie crust.  Then it’s into the oven for about 50 minutes (this is about 10-15 minutes longer than the brownies would take alone, but the cookie crust adds some time).  A pick inserted in the center of the pan should come out clean when the brownies are finished.

Tips and Tricks

You’ll definitely want to let your cookie/brownies cool pretty thoroughly before you attempt to remove any from the pan.  The cookie crust needs some time to solidify, or else it’s just going to come out in a whole lot of little pieces.

I think that next time I make these, I’m going to sprinkle the top of the brownies with mini marshmallows before baking.  That way, they’ll be kind of like peanut butter s’more brownies.  I’m also considering making a chocolate chip cookie brownie, with chocolate chip cookie dough in place of the peanut butter cookie dough.

Let me know if you come up with your own variations!

Apple Spice Muffins

Posted in Recipes with tags , , , , , on February 17, 2010 by KarenElizabeth

Since I’m allergic to raw apples (as well as raw pears, peaches, plums, cherries, and plenty of other fruits), I’ve found lots of different ways to include them in my baking.  These apple muffins are a recipe that I’ve altered so much that it no longer resembles the original in anything but name:  they’re moist, light, and very apple-full.

The Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 cups peeled and sliced apples (about 2 medium apples)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • extra brown sugar and cinnamon for topping, if desired.

The Prep

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Prepare 18 muffin cups by greasing, or use paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugars, salt, baking soda and spices.  Add oil, egg and milk; mix until just combined.  Last, fold in the apples.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups.  Be careful not to overfill — 2/3rds to 3/4s full is plenty.  You should get 16 to 18 muffins out of a single batch.  If you’d like, you can sprinkle a little bit more brown sugar and cinnamon over the tops of the muffins to give a nice “crust” when they’re baked.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a pick inserted in the center of each muffin comes out clean.  Remove to racks to cool for a few minutes before consuming (the apples will be hot!)

Results and Storage Tips

These muffins are very moist, so they don’t last very long.  If you’re not going to eat them all within a few days, put some of them into an airtight freezer bag and freeze immediately after baking.  You can then save them for a couple of months, and warm them up in the microwave or toaster oven for a tasty snack whenever you like.

You can serve your muffins plain; they taste just fine all on their own.  I prefer mine with a little bit of butter, and a big wedge of cheddar cheese on the side.  I’ve considered turning them into cupcakes with some fluffy cream-cheese icing, but haven’t actually tried it yet (let me know if you do, I’d like to know how they come out).

Finally, if you want more than 18 muffins, make them in two separate batches.  This recipe doesn’t double very well because they just don’t rise the same way if you try to make too many.