Easy, Scrumptious Apple Dumpling Cobbler

DSC_0220

(Becky, the Mama.)

What is it about being snowed in that turns even makes even the most anti-cooking folks fire up the oven and don an apron? Here’s a recipe that is not only easy to make, and scrumptious,  but will make your house smell like Pure Love.

I know, I know… the last recipe I posted was an apple dessert, too.  But as you read in that post,  I had somehow purchased THREE  huge bags of apples and so, forgive me,  but since I am still up to my ears in apples…. here’s another  fabulous apple recipe I created that used up the last of my surplus.   You’ll take one bite and think, “Oh. My. Goodness. This tastes like my grandmother’s home-made apple dumplings.”  (And if you didn’t have an Apple Dumpling-Baking-Granny,  the Apple Dumplings at Cracker Barrel are a pretty close second.)

A few decades ago, my mother went through a spell of baking Apple Dumplings from a recipe in the red and white checked Better & Homes and Gardens Cookbook.  They were delicious!  People raved about them and begged for more.   But they were also a LOT of trouble.   For my taste they were also a little too sweet and there was too much pastry-to-apples ratio.

This recipe is ridiculously fast and easy and creates a just-right-sweet “cobbler” of apples that make their own “dumplin’ syrup” and is topped with just one flaky pastry crust (thank you Pillsbury for making this part simple, too). Serve warm with a dollop of vanilla ice cream and you’ll be in Apple Dumplin’ Gang Heaven.

One hint:  the only time-consuming part of this dish is peeling and chopping apples.  To make this effort go faster, conscript every able-bodied adult and child over 8 years-old to come in the kitchen and peel at least 2 apples each, while you do the chopping. Promise them they will be sweetly rewarded for their labor.

Finally, a little bit of fun news from “First Magazine for Women” (you will often see this at  grocery check-out counters).  Last week the editor of the magazine gave a lovely review for our book, Nourished.  Here’s a picture of the article:

First Collage

As long as you are huddled up inside eating dumplings this week you might as well buy a copy of our funny, uplifting, practical book to cozy up and read as well.  🙂  And our heart-felt thanks to those of you who have already read the book and perhaps posted a review on your blog or on Amazon or sent us a note or email.   We are soooo thankful for your encouragement!  Be sure to join us on our Facebook Fan Page, too, at We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook.

DSC_0225

Apple Dumpling Cobbler

6 to 8 peeled, chopped apples (about teaspoon size pieces) to make about 6 cups total

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup white sugar

2 t. cinnamon

1/2 t. nutmeg

1 small to medium fresh lemon

1/2 t. salt

1 T. flour

2 T. butter

1 Pillsbury  refrigerated pie crust

Sugar and Cinnamon to sprinkle on top (about 1 T. sugar and 1 t. cinnamon, but just eyeball it to your liking)

Directions

Turn oven to 350 degrees

In a large mixing bowl put apples, brown and white sugars, flour, spices and  salt.  Mix thoroughly.  Butter a 9 by 11 casserole pan and pour the apple mixture into it.   Squeeze a fresh lemon over the top of the apples and then dot with butter.   Place one Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust on top of the apples, tearing it and patching it (pinch pieces together) to create a rustic, “quilted-together” pastry crust as shown below.   Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.   Note that you just kind of  loosely fold the edges and tuck them around the apples.  I also cut a heart shape in the middle, though as you can see, I am not a pastry artist.  No worries about it looking messy, it will come out delicious and beautiful.

DSC_0198Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden and flaky and apples pierce easily with a fork and the juices are golden brown and syrupy.   Serve warm, using a big spoon to place in bowls,  and top with ice cream.

DSC_0222

Advertisements

Healthy Skillet Apple Crisp (Vegan, Wheat, Dairy and Sugar Free)

Healthy Apple Crisp

After returning from a recent trip where I travelled without Greg (“The Other Half of my Heart and Brain”), we paused and took inventory of all the things I lost along the way: some clothes, my credit card,  my car keys (the kind with a computer chip that cost $70.00 to replace), and my camera.

Thankfully the credit card surfaced in a bag I’d left at home.  The hotel found my camera and zipped it to me quickly, Fed-Ex.  Three days later, my local library called to let me know that Frontier Airlines had my car keys in the Lost and Found. (My library card was attached to my giant key chain.  I remembered then that I’d let my grandbaby Jackson play with them on the plane.  Let this be a lesson to all:  Never trust a 13 month old baby to put your keys back in your purse when he is finished playing with them.)  Never found the clothes

Though Greg knows my absent-minded nature all too well, even he was amazed at all I’d managed to misplace in such a short time.

One morning soon after, he came upstairs to our bedroom to wake me up in time for a morning appointment.  “Becky,” he asked, “How in the world did you ever wake up without me to help you all those years when you traveled alone, speaking?”

“Well,” I answered sleepily, “the hotels had this thing where you could ask them to call you and wake you up. But I forgot what they call it.”

Greg smiled.  “A wake up call.”

“Yeah, that’s it!”

What is funny is the things my brain does remember: every word that Greg said to me when we fell in love, and the sweet things he continues to say to me almost a decade later.  Dozens of quotes I’ve found meaningful over the course of my life . Then there are recipes.  I have a remarkable taste memory, and can remember a long list of ingredients in recipes I’ve cooked and loved, simply by remembering the taste of it in my mind.

After cooking for years,  I can now imagine a dish I’ve never eaten, but would like to try making, and somehow my brain clicks off the  ingredients automatically.  Thus, the recipe for this skillet apple crisp that turned out exactly as I imagined it would: buttery, not-too-sweet, crunchy and rustic. It has no refined sugars, but is made with natural coconut sugar and tad of pure maple syrup. (It is easy to find coconut sugar these days in the baking aisle:  I found this bag at a local Wal-mart.) The topping has no flour: it is all oats and nuts and seeds, giving it a fabulous crunchy texture. It is loaded with fiber and protein, a comforting autumn dessert, and healthy enough to serve the next day for fruit-nut breakfast oatmeal – re-heated and served with a little milk, cream or almond milk.

Amazing Healthy Skillet Apple Crisp (Wheat, Dairy and Sugar Free)

 

Ingredients for Apple Layer:

2 T. Earth Balance Butter (or regular butter if you are not vegan)

2 T. coconut sugar

2 T. maple syrup

1 t. cinnamon

3 cups fresh organic apple slices,  loosely packed,  ¼ inch  thick, peel left on (This took about 5 small apples, so I imagine 3 or 4 larger apples would do)

2 T. raisins or dried berries

Ingredients for Topping:

1 c. old-fashioned oats

½ c. nuts (I used walnuts)

2 T. hemp, chia or flax seeds

¼ c. coconut oil (or other healthy oil if you do not have coconut oil on hand)

3 T. coconut sugar

¼ t. salt (unless nuts above are salted, then omit)

1 t. cinnamon

1 T. pure maple syrup

Optional: 2 T. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds for garnish (may also use sunflower seeds or slivered almonds)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a 10 inch iron skillet, melt Earth Balance butter over a low flame.  Mix rest of “Ingredients for Apple Layer”  into the melted butter.

Put all “Ingredients for Topping” into a food processor, except the maple syrup.  Process until mixture is crumbly, about the size of Grape Nuts cereal.  Sprinkle over the apples. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of maple syrup over all.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until topping is brown, apples are soft and juices beneath are thick and syrupy.  Top with pumpkin seeds, if desired. Serve plain or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, yogurt or coconut milk-based ice cream.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Healthy Skillet Apple Crisp (Vegan, Wheat, Dairy and Sugar-free)
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-GO
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Pumpkin Pie Dip with “Autumn Leaf” Apples (Vegan)

Pumpkin Pie Dip for “Autumn Leaf” Apples (with Extra Toppings for Double Dipping)

(Becky, the Mama)

Autumn. Nip in the air.  Pumpkin Lattes and Pies. Crisp sweet apples. Back-to-School…..

I was thinking today about the days when my children were young and how hard it was for me to organize my own purse, much less try to get four children enrolled in school.  I remember one day in late August, I took my youngest child Gabe with me to fill out the paperwork required to finish up enrolling his older three siblings in Lone Oak Elementary. I was at the school’s library, sitting in a pint-sized child’s chair, scooted up to a big a round table with a stack of intimidating forms in front of me. I had to concentrate so hard to remember all the kids’ birth dates and Who had What Vaccinations When — all while trying to keep one eye on three-year-old Gabe.  Thankfully, my little boy was keeping himself entertained, quietly roving around looking at the childrens’ books on the shelves.  He wasn’t even pulling them off the shelf, but seemed to be happy just gliding along touching the books.  What a good boy, I thought.

It was only after I finished the final form  and looked up that the truth came into clear focus.  Gabe had found a brand new book of postage stamps in my purse and had been busily licking and sticking all of them to the library shelves, as he quietly walked and browsed.  As an absentminded mom of four, this sort of thing happened with great regularity, which meant I never lacked material for my books,  but also meant I was always exhausted.

To exhausted hard-working mothers of young children everywhere, here’s a hug and a super simple recipe for a Back-to-School pumpkin spice treat that I think you will love as much as your kids will. I’ve seen a few recipes for something similar on Pinterest,  but these recipes call for Cool Whip and powdered pudding mix, and I really try to avoid food with ingredients with alien names I cannot pronounce.

This recipe is creamy and tastes exactly like pumpkin pie, but uses real food, and most of it is good for you! (Bonus: it is also vegan and dairy-free.) The fun thing about this recipe is that you get to “double-dip” your apple slices: once in the pumpkin pie fluff and again in any topping of your choice. (Or for “grown up parties” with less mess, guests can spoon desired toppings over their dipped apples on pretty plates.) I used ground almonds and mini-chocolate chips, but you could use coconut flakes, hemp seeds, crushed cereal, granola, or finely chopped (or ground) candied ginger. So many possibilities, probably sitting on your pantry shelves right now!

A word about this recipe: It uses canned coconut milk, and it needs to be the full fat kind, preferably organic – the type that separates into a solid lump cream and liquid in the can.   I’ve found that I can just shake the can when I’m at the grocery store (typically coconut milk is on the Asian aisle) next to my ear, and if it does not slosh, then it has already separated and is exactly what I want!  I always keep a couple of cans in the fridge so that they are ready for whipping and serving in a variety of recipes, such as this one. I actually prefer it to “cow cream,” even though I am not on a dairy-free or vegan diet. You can serve this fruit dip right away, but it will get creamier and fluffier in texture if you refrigerate for an hour or so before serving.

Pumpkin Pie Dip for “Autumn Leaf” Apples

Makes 1 ½ cups

Ingredients:

1 can organic whole fat coconut milk, divided — separate “cream” from “milk” (Thai Kitchen, ORGANIC,  not “lite” brand always works for me and is readily available in most regular grocery stores in the Asian aisle.)

1/2 cup mashed cooked pumpkin – fresh or from a can

2 t. pumpkin pie spice (or 1 t. cinnamon plus ½ t. nutmeg and ½ t. ginger, 1/4 t. ground cloves)

1 t. vanilla

½ t. salt

3 T. brown sugar

2 t. maple syrup

Extra cinnamon for sprinkling on top (Saigon cinnamon is especially good)

Some of the ingredients that go into this wonderful pumpkin spice dip

Small cups of toppings of your choice for “double-dipping” apple slices: mini–chocolate chips, ground or finely chopped nuts,  seeds (hemp, sesame, pumpkin, sunflower), coconut, crushed graham crackers or cereal…use your imagination and what is in your pantry!

Sliced apples for dipping, about one apple per person. (An assortment of Green and Red and Yellow apple slices are so pretty on a plate — looks a little like autumn leaves.)

Directions:

Using a mixer, whip the solidified “cream” part of out of the can of cold, full fat coconut milk. Add the pumpkin and whip again until creamy. Slowly pour in the leftover liquid coconut “milk” from the can, continuing to mix until you have a consistency for the dip that you like. (If you are going to refrigerate this before serving, remember the dip will “set up” and become thicker as it gets colder, so you may want to use all the liquid in the can. If you are in a hurry and want to serve right away, you may not want to use much of the liquid.) Add the remaining ingredients. Sprinkle the top of the dip with cinnamon and gently swirl with a knife.  Put in the fridge for an hour before serving, if you have the will power to resist eating it all right away, so the coconut milk will stiffen up a bit and yield a fluffier thicker dip.

For kids: Serve with a colorful array of sliced apples (you can call them “Autumn Leaves”) and small cups of toppings for “double dipping.”  It will be a little messy, but this is part of the fun for kids. Fun treat for after school snacking, Halloween and Fall Festivals, or Thanksgiving dessert.

For grown-ups: For a less messy, more sophisticated way to serve — put little spoons in each of the cups of toppings and encourage “sprinkling” the toppings over the dipped-in-pumpkin pie dip apples, on their individual party plates. You can let grown ups use forks to spear the apples for dipping as well, if you prefer.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Pumpkin Pie Dip for Apples
The URL:http://wp.me/p1UwM9-G1
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Worms & Apples with Mud Sauce (Fun Healthy Snack for Kids)

Grandson Georgie chowing down on Worms & Apples with Mud Sauce

(Becky, the Butter Lovin’ Mama)

Twenty-something years ago now, my youngest son Gabe was around three and a half years old.  One hot day I walked into the kitchen and downed a perfectly delicious glass of iced tea. Then I saw something wiggling among the ice cubes and almost gagged.  Gabe was watching me, smiling sweetly. “I gave you a present!” he said, grinning proudly.  “Aren’t they cute?”

My eyes still wide with surprise, Gabe walked to my side and pointed at his wiggly friends.  “See how much they love each other?” he asked.  “They are all just hugging and hugging!”

My son Gabe as little tyke. He LOVED any critters (worms, turtles, lizards) more than toys.

This story was told and retold in our family, until it eventually evolved into the title of a  book of humor for moms called Worms in My Tea, and a spin-off children’s book called The Worm Surprise.  I would eventually write  a series of four books in the “Gabe & Critters” series.

Today that worm-loving boy is a handsome young man with a college degree, a good job, a home,  and lovely girlfriend of six years.  (And he still loves nature and all God’s critters.)

Gabe, all grown up, with the love of his life, Aleks

However, Gabe no longer digs up worms in the backyard (though he has a very nice vegetable garden), nor does he drop them into the glasses belonging to unsuspecting relatives.

What I love, though, is that he has a whole room dedicated to boy toys: a foosball table,  a place for playing video games,  his home computer, and various other game tables.  My son has never lost his child-heart for play!  A vintage pinball machine sits in one corner, and to my delight, on display above it were two of the books I wrote based Gabe in the “Gabe and Critter” Series so many years ago.

I took my grandson George over to play at his Uncle Gabe’s house yesterday.

Georgie getting his game face on to play a video game with his Uncle Gabe

Possibly inspired by the Gabe & Critters books, when Georgie asked me for a snack later that afternoon, I had worms on the brain.

“Would you like Nonny to make you some worms and apples?” I asked.

George giggled and said, “You are teasing me, Nonny.”

“No really,” I said. “You will love them.  Pull up a bar stool to the kitchen counter and we’ll make them together.”

Georgie reaching for Worms & Apples with Mud Sauce

Worms & Apples (With Mud Sauce)

I took string cheese and tore it into four strips, microwaving them for about 20 seconds just until they were wiggly, wormy, and melty.

Georgie testing the melty string cheese “worms” to see if they are squishy enough for wrapping around fruit yet. They are!

Then once they cooled to the touch, we wrapped the “cheese worms” around apple slices.

Wrapping cheese “worms” around apples

Just for fun, we squiggled some caramel sauce “mud” (caramel ice cream sauce) over the top.  (You could also let the kids dip them in small bowls of caramel.)

Obviously, this creation was a great success.  Georgie woke up asking for Apples and Worms for breakfast.

With kids home for the summer, begging for snacks, this is a treat you can feel good about giving them and it only takes a minute to make!  (Feel free to omit the caramel for a healthier version.)

Variations: For vegans try using strips of vegan-cheese.  Wrap cheese around peaches, strawberries, plums, or slices of cantaloupe! Use other kinds of cheese,  cutting in strips and melting until just pliable.  I must admit, that even as a grown up, I love these snacks for quick pick-me-up in the middle of the day.

Simple ingredients for Worms & Apples with Mud Sauce

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Worms & Apples with Mud Sauce
The URL: http://wp.me/p1UwM9-pZ
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Kinda’ Healthy Vegan Apple Fritters

Kinda' Healthy Vegan Apple Fritters

Confession: I don’t eat kale and carrots for every meal. Especially with a hyper eight month old on my hip, sometimes the best meal I have all day is a can of black beans wrapped in a tortilla. Well, I don’t generally wrap and eat the whole can itself. I do try and at least open the can first. I’m no savage.

Sometimes I crave down right bad things for me…like donuts. My favorite donut for as long as I can remember is an apple fritter. That two-handed sweet cinnamon pastry with bits of real apple, deep fried and drizzled with sugary icing. What’s not to love?

Well, the 500 or so calories and 20 or so grams of fat might be a little unlovable, and the milk, egg, and butter are less than kind.

I set out to make a healthier version of my old favorite. These are definitely still a treat, but subbing half of the flour for whole wheat flour, apple sauce for eggs, and nondairy milk and margarine for their dairy counterparts helps. Then instead of making huge fritters, I made mini fritters that were pan fried instead of deep fried. They still aren’t health food, but they are certainly better than the average donut shop fritter.

I prefer a donut for dessert, but if you’re a sweets-for-breakfast kind of gal or guy, then feel free to make these ahead and then re-crisp them in the morning under the broiler. I might cut the sugar a little if I were having these for breakfast though as I’m not a sweets-for-breakfast kind of gal.

Rachel’s
Kinda’ Healthy Vegan Apple Fritters

Makes 15 small fritters

Ingredients

Fritters
1 Apple, peeled and chopped into small pea size pieces
1/2 c. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (or your flour of choice)
1/2 c. All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 t. Baking Powder
2-3 t. Cinnamon
1/2 t. Fresh Grated Nutmeg (fresh really is best)
1/4 c. Vegan Sugar
Dash of Salt
1/2 t. Vanilla Extract
1 T. Earth Balance Margarine, melted
1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce (ripe banana also works well)
1/3 c. non-dairy milk
Canola and/or Coconut Oil

Icing
3 T. Powdered Sugar
1/4 t. Fresh Grated Nutmeg
Nondairy milk

Directions

Fritters
Mix the dry ingredients together, then add the wet until everything is just combined, being careful not to over mix. Fold in the apples.

Put approximately 3 tbs of oil into your pan (you may need more or less depending on how large your pan is) and turn the burner onto med low heat. (I found on my electrical stove, 3, on a 9 setting nob, was the perfect setting.) Carefully drop batter by the tablespoon into the oil. Cook for 60-90 seconds on each side. You might want to test one first before doing a whole batch to see if your oil is the right temperature. You want them to be crispy on the outside and cooked thoroughly on the inside. Put fritters on a paper towel lined plate. Repeat, adding more oil as needed until all the fritters are pan fried.

Icing
Mix the powdered sugar and nutmeg with a tiny drizzle of milk. Keep add milk a little at a time until the icing is thin enough to easily drizzle over the fritters. If it gets too thin, just add a little more powdered sugar.

Drizzle the icing over the fritters and try your best not to eat the whole batch before your husband gets home from work. If, by “accident,” you do, just call that a trial batch and make another official batch for sharing. I think my next recipe trial better be one of the kale and carrots variety. 🙂

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Kinda’ Healthy Vegan Apple Fritters
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/04/05/kinda-healthy-vegan-apple-fritters

Refreshing “Lemon Drop” Berries, Walnut & Greens Salad

Not long ago, I enthusiastically wound up my Cuisinart salad spinner, a gift from my efficient salad-loving daughter. What I did not do was read the instructions, which I’m now guessing said something like, “Wait until the inner whirling colander comes to a complete halt before removing the lid.” If you remove the lid early in the spinning process, I can testify that you will immediately give your entire kitchen, including ceiling and floor, a certain lettuce-based Rain Forest look. However, if you use it correctly, a salad spinner is quite the nifty item to dry the lettuce mix for this recipe below, one of my favorite salads.

The “dressing” is mixed as you toss the salad, no need for a separate bowl.

Becky’s
Refreshing “Lemon Drop” Berries, Walnut & Greens Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 to 6 cups of early spring mix lettuce (rinsed, patted, or spun dry)
½ c. toasted walnuts or pecans

1/2 c. fresh blueberries
1/2 c. sliced fresh strawberries
Juice of one small lemon or ½ large lemon
Olive oil (about 2 T. or to taste)
Sea salt (to taste)
Organic sugar (to taste)
(Blue cheese , feta, goat cheese or  Gorgonzola crumbles can also be added if you want a heartier salad.)

Directions

In a large salad bowl place the greens, berries and toasted nuts. Squeeze juice of one small lemon over all. Toss. Sprinkle the leaves with sea salt and sugar to taste.  (Hint from professional chefs: salad always tastes better and you use less dressing if you lightly salt the greens just before serving.) Toss. Finally squiggle about 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil. (My good friend Lucille gave me a bottle of Meyer Lemon Olive Oil featured in the picture- so good in this recipe!) Toss gently again. This is a taste-as-you-go salad. The dressing should taste sweet & sour — like lemonade or “lemon drops” — with just enough salt and olive oil to make it savory.

This salad is a light go-to side dish that goes especially well with heavier main dishes. Once you get the method down, it is also one of the fastest, easiest salads you can throw together – and everyone loves it!  Try using sliced green or red apples or sliced peaches in place place of berries, for a salad that refreshes in all seasons.

I made a huge version of this salad on a big oval platter fothe holiday. Not a drop of salad left, and it was so beautiful. Looked like a Spring garden! Added some goat cheese to this version. Yum!

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Refreshing “Lemon Drop” Berries, Walnut & Greens Salad
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.wordpress.com/2012/03/16/refreshing-lemon-drop-apple-walnut-greens-salad/
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved