I had a goal this weekend of finishing my Christmas shopping, but instead I spent it with friends…which was way way way better. I probably would have taken any invitation to do or go anywhere…anything to keep me away from the mall and the horrid Christmas crowds.
Saturday I went to an old factory in Lakewood …Today it is referred to as The Screw Factory but its original purpose was to house the production of automobiles and did so from 1918 to 1924. It is one of those 3 or 4 story brick buildings with a million glass windows…a nearly century old brick building that looks worn out form time and abandoned by life. The floors are wooden and scarred and bruised. I noticed the floors and fell in love with them….just plain ole worn out, it just gets me. And the windows….so much glass, covered with dust and time. Windows that allow fantastic filtered natural light to stream into each art studio…which is what the old factory now contains. Individual art studios fill the empty space, giving it a new purpose. Breathing life into old.
It is also a space to hold a one day only event where local craftsmen/women are able to come and present and sell their goods/art/jewelry/jam….
Last Minute Market. Have you ever shopped on Etsy? I am sure you have…Last Minute Market was like a pop-up Etsy shop. It was awesome, seeing how I spend a lot of my time searching the pages of Etsy for unique jewelry, handbags, and art…this was just the place for me. While I didn’t buy anything, mainly because I couldn’t decide on which copper/turquoise necklace I wanted, it was awesome to see all the talent that is in and around Cleveland.
And did I mention the old wood floors? I think I might have. I want old floors. So much cozier and warm and inviting than shiny freshly polished wood floors. I like old things. Things that are slightly tarnished with time and experience. Scratches and dents that tell a story.
OK, enough about old buildings and floors. And enough about Christmas shopping, or the lack there of. How about dinner?
A quick dinner is needed this time of year. A hot, grilled sandwich has been on my menu these past few weeks. Between work, Christmas parties, cookie swaps, and late night shopping…who has time to cook?
But I bet you have an apple, sliced turkey, a bit of cheese, grainy mustard, and some crusty bread. Staple items that, when thrown together, makes for a quick dinner on the go. One that is filling and feels a tad bit luxurious. Way better than any take-out or hot sandwich from Panera.
In a hot cast iron skillet (or any skillet, really, but read how I like old things…cast iron skillets totally fall into that category…even though I bought mine from Target…it feels old, and that is what counts)….in this skillet, layer bread, buttered side down, mustard, cheese, apple, turkey, apple, cheese….that simple.
Top it with another slice of buttered bread. Don’t get skimpy on the butter…it is winter, we are wearing sweaters. More butter is allowed.
Flip it when it is toasty and brown and the cheesy starts to melt. This sandwich is no joke.
Slice in half … even if you have no intention of sharing, which I don’t recommend. Who shares cheesy melty toasted grilled sandwiches? No matter how much I say I like you or even love you…you will never get half of my sandwich. I will show you to the kitchen…I might even make you your own, but sharing mine? Not gonna happen.
- 2 Slices of thick cut crusty bread ( sourdough is great)
- 1 Tablespoon Grainy Dijon Mustard
- 2 Teaspoons Unsalted Butter
- 2 Ounces Gouda Cheese, thinly sliced
- ½ Apple, cored and thinly sliced (granny smith)
- 3 to 4 Slices Turkey (deli or roasted)
- Heat skillet over medium-low heat.
- Spread half of the butter on one side of each slice of bread. Place one slice of bread in heated skillet, buttered side down. Spread half of dijon mustard on the side of bread that is facing up.
- Layer half of the cheese and sliced apples onto the dijon mustard followed by the turkey slices. Then layer the remaining apple and cheese on top of the sliced turkey.
- Spread the remaining dijon mustard on the second slice of bread and place bread, mustard side down, onto the sandwich. Buttered side will be facing up.
- Cook sandwich on medium low heat until bread becomes lightly toasted and golden brown and the cheese begins to melt. About 5 to 8 minutes per side. If the bread begins to brown too fast, reduce temperature.
Apple butter is probably one of my favorite foods this side of the Mississippi. Now if you go west of the Mississippi, all bets are off. I mean, who knows what I will encounter. Wisconsin and a whole state of cheese are west of the Mississippi…While apple butter would surely hold a spot in the top 5, cheese surely may knock it down a few notches. However, cheese and apple butter in combination, as in sliced and slathered on a cracker…now we are getting some where. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Apple butter. Wanna know my favorite way to eat it? No? To bad, this is my blog. My favorite way to enjoy this scrumptious spread is by the spoonful. That is right, straight from the jar, by the spoonful. Or fork. Or knife. The utensil doesn’t really matter…I would use my finger, but that would be uncouth, and couth, well couth I have . Sometimes.
Apple butter, if you are new to the world of fruit butters, actually contains no real butter. Sorry butter lovers. No butter has ever been harmed in the making of a fruit butter. Apple butter is simply a concentrated version of apple sauce. Apples and cider (or water) are cooked long and slow together, concentrating the flavor and caramelizing the sugars, giving it that deep brown color. Oh apple butter, how I love thee. While apple butter is great simply by the spoonful, slathered on saltines (my second favorite way to enjoy), biscuits, or toast…or another favorite, substituted for jam or jelly on a peanut/almond butter sandwich (so good!)…it is suberb in baked goods and savory dishes. I have used it here, and here, and you can find a ton of recipes here. As you can see, I am not a newbee to the world of apple butter. I am an apple butter conisieur if you may.
Being a coniseiur, one would assume I have narrowed down the best brand…and you would be correct. My go to for apple butter is Musselman’s. Hands down, the best out there. I am always stocked with a jar in the pantry and an open one in the fridge. So you can imagine my thrill, when Musselman’s contacted me to devlope a recipe for them, using their apple butter. A chance to eat more apple butter? Where do I sign up?
Apple butter bacon pizza is where my brain went. I am sucker for anything salty and sweet. Sweet and Salty. Sugar. Salt. I am a goner. Once my brain went there…there was no turning back. And this time around, pizza was my vessel for the salty sweet combination. If you are wondering if apple butter would make a perfect pizza sauce, then you would be correct and do you wanna be my friend? Never mind. Any way… apple butter slathered on a homemade or store bought crust and then topped with layers of toasted pecans, crispy bacon, caramelized onions, and lots of shredded gouda cheese is the perfect pizza for a chilly friday night. Watch out though…with the salty sweet combination…you may not be able to stop at just one slice or one pizza!
- 1 (15-inch) unbaked pizza crust (from scratch recipe follows, or use store-bought refrigerated pizza dough)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- Pinch of salt
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup Musselman’s Apple Butter
- Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
- 6 strips cooked bacon, roughly chopped
- 1 ½ – 2 cups shredded Gouda cheese
- ⅓ cup pecans, roughly chopped
- About 2 cups baby arugula to finish
- Preheat oven to 450 F.
- In a medium skillet or cast iron skillet, heat olive oil and melt butter over medium heat. Add onions. Toss onions to coat.
- Let onions cook, without stirring, for about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, give the onions a stir and add a pinch of salt. Let onions cook for another 5 to 7 minutes, without stirring.
- At this point, remove skillet from heat momentarily, and add balsamic vinegar. Stir to incorporate. Place skillet back onto heat and continue cooking until onions are caramelized and broken down, about another 10 minutes or so. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to build pizza.
- Place unbaked pizza crust on a cookie sheet or pizza stone and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven.
- Evenly spread apple butter over crust and sprinkle a pinch of red pepper flakes over the apple butter. Spread caramelized onions over apple butter, and then sprinkle chopped bacon and pecans evenly over the onions. Top with shredded Gouda. Place in oven (still at 450 F) and bake for an additional 8 to 12 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and browning.
- Remove from oven and let sit for about 5 minutes before slicing.
- Slice pizza and top each slice with fresh baby arugula to finish.
- Note, cooking times may vary if using store-bought refrigerated pizza dough.
1 (15-inch) crust
3/4 cup warm water (about 110°F)
1 package active dry yeast
1 Tablespoon flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 ¾ cup flour, divided
1 ½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
1. In a small bowl, whisk together warm water, yeast, 1 tablespoon flour and sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes. It should form a foamy like layer. If it doesn’t, your yeast is dead, and you need to start over with new yeast and make sure your water isn’t too warm.
2. In a mixing bowl, with dough hook attached, mix to combine 1 ¼ cup flour and salt. With mixer on low, slowly add yeasty mixture and olive oil. Continue to mix until flour is all incorporated, and then slowly add remaining flour (tablespoon by tablespoon) until the dough forms a soft ball that is no longer sticky. This mixing should take about 8-10 minutes. Turn dough out into a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise for about 60-90 minutes, until doubled in size.
3. Once the dough is doubled in size, punch down dough and let rest for an additional 5 minutes. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll or stretch dough into a 15-inch circle. Place dough onto a cookie sheet or pizza stone.
**This blog post was sponsored by Musselmans and while they offered to provide me with apple butter to create this recipe, I declined seeing how I already had 2 jars in my pantry, ready and waiting.**Read More
I have this urge to go absolutely bazerk with all things apple. To flood these pages with so many apple recipes that you will not want to look at another apple until next fall. Which isn’t really nice or fair of me. But it is an urge. An urge I have a deep need to act on.
Urges have a way of just creeping up on me. Unexpectedly and out of the blue. I am walking along, minding my ‘p’s’ and ‘q’s’ and then without warning, BAM…I have a sudden compulsion to do something strange and/or crazy weird. OK… Odd is more like it.
Common urges include…
If you are pregnant, I will have this urge during those nine months (and more so towards the end) not to rub/pat your protuding belly, but to poke it. Rubbing it, while still strange, is more of the norm…I want to straight up poke you. I won’t, promise. But I will warn you about my urge, which oddly makes me feel like I have completed the task without violating you at all. Win, win.
When my parent’s basset hound falls asleep ..we all sigh with relief because he is like a 40+pound toddler/beast/monster. We can relax a bit because his nose is still and not getting him into a heap of trouble…did you know basset hounds like Rolaids and bubblegum and can sniff them out in a 50 mile radius? They do. And they can. And they will. And boy are they curious dogs. But when he falls asleep…this sudden urge to play with his floppy ears, droopy jowls, and big ole’ paws overtakes me. I want to wake the sleeping monster. They ay this happens with babies too, but I don’t believe them. Let them sleep. Best for everyone. Plus, babies don’t have big floppy ears.
A cake, iced and ready to go. I need to stick my finger in it. I need to taste that icing. I don’t think I will ever grow up.
A candle burning. Filling the house with a smell of cotton or cinnamon. Casting shadows on the surrounding walls and ceiling. And what do I want to do? Play in the wax. I wanna stick my finger in hot wax and slowly build my own candle over my finger tip.
I have a slight urge to rearend folks who drive with their foot on the brake. Brake riders. A constant beam of brake lights while you are maintaining or even increasing in speed will drive me bonkers. A sudden wave of road rage over takes me and the urge to ever so slightly bump – a gentle nudge if you will. A slight – stop this crazy habit because it is not necessary and you are causing havoc on the highway and you are ruining your brakes and if you continue this habit you will cause an accident -jolt.
When passing by one of my brothers…I will always have an urge to give them a wet willy. To stick a spit covered finger in one of their ears will never lose its hilarity. The shocked grossed-outness that sweeps across the face and then the instant pull of the shirt collar up to wipe off my saliva from their ear canal….yeah that will never get old.
OK….so yes, while I shouldn’t act on all these urges – i.e. road rage and wet willies…others are totally harmless. Especially that whole plastering of apples across the pages of this blog. I know I made apple pie just a few weeks ago but these are like totally different. Well kinda. Sorta. Apple pie but without battling with a flaky crust. Apple pie that can be eaten with your hands…Apple pie dessert that is more party/potluck friendly. Have I mentioned the crumb topping?
- 1+1/2 Sticks Unsalted Butter, room temperature
- 3/8 Cups White Granulated Sugar
- 1+1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- ¼ Teaspoon Salt
- ½ Cup Roasted Pecans, finely chopped
- 6 Apples (I used Granny Smith and Fugi), peeled, cored, and cut into ¼in. slices
- 3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
- ¼ Cup Light Brown Sugar
- 1+1/2 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
- 1+1/2 Sticks Unsalted Butter, diced and chilled
- ¾ Cup Light Brown Sugar
- 1 Cup Flour
- ¾ Cup Instant Oats
- ¾ Cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
- ½ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- ¼ Teaspoon Baking Soda
- Preheat oven to 375F. Line a 9x13inch pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Make crust first. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy – about 2 minutes. With mixer on low, mix in flour, pecans, and salt…mix until combined.
- Press dough into the bottom of prepared pan and with a fork, poke holes into the crust. Place in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes until it start to turn golden brown. Remove and let cool while you prepare filling and topping.
- Prepare filling. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter. Stir in brown sugar. Add apple slices and toss to coat. Cook for about 10 minutes until apples begin to soften.
- Stir in cinnamon.
- Continue to cook apples for an additional 10 minutes, stirring frequently. You may need to add water to prevent scorching ( I had to add about ¼ cup towards the end) The apples will be very tender and caramelized when done. Remove from heat and spread evenly over crust.
- Prepare topping.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine chilled butter (diced), both types of oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and baking soda. Cut butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
- Scatter crumb topping across apple filling. Place in preheated oven for about 40 to 50 minutes until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbly.
- Let bars cool on wire rack before cutting. Store in airtight containers.
Adapted From Food and Wine.
Apples, quintessential fall food, right?
Sure they are great year round, but fall…fall is when they are at their peak.
During my childhood, fall was always filled with apple desserts….not pumpkin. Apples. Apples were always in abundance because mom and grandma would take us apple picking. A small orchard (and in all reality I haven’t a clue to the real size of the place…I was young, but telling you it was small makes sense for some reason) anywho….we would pick apples by the bushel and when we were done, a tractor pulling a flatbed trailer would sweep by and pick us up. This was my favorite part. A tractor ride. And would still be today…swear, you just can’t take the country/child out of this girl.
Apple pie, crisp, applesauce, stewed apples, apple dumplings…this is what my fall tasted like.
I went through a long stretch of falls where apple picking didn’t happen…you know high school where it wasn’t really cool to be picking apples with your grandma…but it totally should have been…Dear teenager self…go pick apples with grandma. She will enjoy it, as will you.
Thankfully in college…I started it back up again, this time with friends and roommates. We would traipse out into a local orchard, in old jeans and hoodies, cups of coffee and warm apple cider, and empty bushels. We would pick way too many apples…eating more than intended, climbing higher than advised, and looking forward to the apple crisp and pies that would be made.
I haven’t been apple picking since college. It currently is on my fall bucket list…But until I can make my way to an orchard, I depend on the grocery/farmer markets. Which I am thankful for, because last week, I needed apple pie. Or wanted. Such a thin line I walk. I spent the entire weekend stealing sweet cinnamony apple slices from the depths of a flaky pie crust with each sweep through the kitchen. Boy do I love pie.
- 1 Double Pie Crust
- 5 Small Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
- 4 Medium Fuji Appels, peeled, cored, and sliced
- 4 Tablespoons Corn Starch
- ¼ Cup Light Brown Sugar, packed
- ½ Cup White Granulated Sugar
- 1 + ½ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- Juice of 1 Lemon
- 1 Egg, lightly beaten
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Roll out bottom pie crust and fit (do not stretch) into 9 inch pie plate, leaving edges hanging over and place in freezer until ready to use.
- In a large bowl, combine apple slices, corn starch, brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, and the juice of 1 lemon. Toss to combine.
- Pour filling into bottom pie crust.
- Roll out top crust and lay over apple filling. Crimp edges together using either a fork or pinching with thumb and pointer fingers.
- Brush top with lightly beaten egg and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar and a pinch of cinnamon. Cut small slits in top of crust to let steam escape.
- Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 60 minutes until crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbly.
- Remove from oven and let cool. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Windows open. Cool crisp air seeps into the house. My feet are oddly chilled and I search for a pair of thick socks. I enjoy a few deep breaths, the evening fall air filling my lungs and giving me a bit of a rush. A warm cup of coffee warms my hands as I gaze at the evening sky, streaked with pinks and oranges, and many many many jet streams (where are all the people coming from and going to?). Stan stands at the screen door, completely entertained by the moths just out of reach. September baseball plays quietly on the TV … all while the first of many fall desserts bakes away in the oven.
A hint of cinnamon mingles with the fall air ….warm and inviting. Like a hug from an old friend you haven’t seen, in like, 9 months…
That is what fall is. An old friend. An old friend that brings apple desserts and cardigans. Football games and hooded sweatshirts. Cool evenings and warm blankets. Oh fall, I have missed you. Welcome back.
To celebrate his return (fall is a dude in my brain, and if you were wondering – spring and summer are women, and winter is a sweet old man with grumpy moments). To celebrate, I made a cake. I bake cakes for most anything. If there is reason or room to celebrate…I am ready and willing to bake a cake. And fall, well you and your return are more than deserving of a cake. And apple cake, spiced with cinnamon and ginger, drizzled with a sweet brown sugar glaze that is heavily studded with walnuts…this is the cake I made for you, fall.
You are welcome.
- 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
- ½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
- ¾ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- ¼ Teaspoon Ground Ginger
- ¼ Teaspoon Salt
- ½ Cup Vegetable Oil (used canola)
- 1+1/2 Cups White Granulated Sugar
- 2 Eggs
- 1 Cup Apple Butter (used Mussleman’s)
- 3 Small or 2 Medium Granny Smith Apples; peeled, cored, and grated
- 1 Cup Walnuts, roughly chopped
- ¾ Cup Brown Sugar
- 1 Stick Unsalted Butter, diced
- ¼ Cup Heavy Cream
- 1 Cup Walnuts, roughly Chopped
- Preheat oven to 350F. Butter (generously so) and flour a bundt pan. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together vegetable oil and sugar.
- Beat in eggs, one at a time. Scrape down sides of bowl between additions.
- Add apple butter and shredded apple, mix to combine.
- With mixer on low, add dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated.
- With a wooden spoon or spatula, fold in chopped walnuts.
- Pour batter (it will be thick) into prepared bundt pan and place in preheated oven. Bake for 45-55 minutes until golden brown and toothpick, when inserted, comes out clean with only a few moist crumbs holding on.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes on a wire rack before turning cake out onto a cake stand. Let cool.
- When cake is near room temperature, prepare glaze.
- In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, and heavy cream. Place over medium heat and bring mixture to a boil. Let boil for 3 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in walnuts.
- Pour warm glaze over cake.