Fall Spice Play-dough

I thought it would be fun to include a play-dough recipe that Ladybug and I made the other day! We make homemade play-dough all the time. I love using homemade play dough instead of store bought because not only do we have fun making it together, but you can also make it any color and scent you want, plus I know exactly what is in it. I am a big fan of the naturally dyed play-doughs, and often use spices and herbs in our play-dough. We just made a "Fall Spice" dough that features cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves (and some fun red glitter!) and it is so much fun to play with - especially with fall themed cookie cutters!

Fall Spice Play-Dough (slightly adapted from Musings of a Stay at Home Mom

1 cup flour
1/3 cup salt
1 cup water
1 TBSP veggie oil
2 tsp cream of tarter
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
(Red glitter, optional)

In a medium saucepan, combine all of the ingredients and stir until well combined (This is Ladybug's favorite part).
Then cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken and form a ball.
Remove from heat and allow to sit until cool though to touch (but still warm).
Knead until the dough is soft and smooth.
And store in an air tight container. 

The Daring Bakers Make Empanadas

Patri of the blog, Asi Son Los Cosas, was our September 2012 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she decided to tempt us with one of her family’s favorite recipes for Empanadas! We were given two dough recipes to choose from and encouraged to fill our Empanadas as creatively as we wished!

I have always heard of Empanadas before, but never really eaten one (or made one, either). I was really impressed with this dish - it was not too complicated, it didn't involve any fancy/exotic/expensive ingredients, it was fairly quick to prepare, and it tasted delicious. So, that means it was a win in my book! The empanadas even re-heated excellently, which is good because we had them for lunch two days in a row! We served ours with a little bit of queso on the side, which isn't terribly authentic, I know, but it was fun! Ladybug has been big into dippings things lately - if she can't dip it, she isn't interested in eating it. If you have never tried empanadas before, I suggest you give them a shot! 

Argentine Beef Empanadas (Saveur Magazine, May/June 1999)

1 cup water
3/4 cup butter
2 3/4 cup flour
2 tsp salt
pinch paprika

3 TBSP olive oil
1 small yellow onion, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
3/4 pound ground beef
1 small russet potato, cubed and boiled until soft.
1/3 cup raisins
3 green onions, chopped
1 hard boiled egg, peeled and chopped

For the dough:
In a medium saucepan, heat the water and butter until the butter has melted.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and paprika.
Slowly pour the warm butter/water mixture over the flour, stirring with a fork until you get a wet, oily dough.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

For the filling:
Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, onions and peppers, paprika, red pepper flakes, pepper, and cumin, and saute until the onions are soft.
Add the beef and cook until the beef is browned.
Place the mixture in a bowl and allow to cool slightly.
Add the potatoes, raisins, green onions and egg. 
Mix and set aside.

To prepare:
Preheat oven to 400F.
Portion the dough into 12 equal pieces.
Roll each piece of dough into a 5" circle.
Place 3 TBSP of the filling into the center of each of the circles.
Fold the dough over and press the edges firmly to seal. 
Roll and pinch the edges of the dough together firmly so they won't come apart while baking.
Place the empanadas on a cookie sheet and bake until golden brown, 15-20 minutes.

Sourdough Cheesy Popovers

Popovers have long been one of my favorite kinds of bread. And for a carb-oholic like me to say "favorite", you know it has to mean something. I can remember, growing up, my father would make the most perfect, delicious, airy and cavernous popovers ever. I am pretty ate more than my fair share of them. Given this deep-seeded love of popovers, you would think that I probably make them in my own kitchen all the time. You, however, would be wrong. I have never made them before now. Why? Because I was convinced you HAD to have a special pan for them, and I really don't like buying kitchen utensils with only one job. 
But guess what?! You can make these in your regular muffin pans! They won't be nearly as tall and airy, but they will be close, and they will be delicious! When I saw this month's Twelve Loaves challenge was bread + cheese, my very first thought was popovers. And then my second thought was sourdough. You would think Sourdough Surprises each month would fix my sourdough-craze, but it only makes me slightly less insane than normal. LOL. So yes, I made sourdough popovers dotted with pepperjack cheese. They were utterly delicious. My only thought would be next time to add more cheese, because it melted beautifully into the dough and wasn't overly pronounced. You only noticed a tiny little pepperjack burn after you finished the popover. 

I am submitting these popovers to YeastSpotting, a weekly showcase of all things delicious and yeasted!

Want to know more about Twelve Loaves? Check out this month's leaders, Cake Duchess, Creative Culinary, and Lifes A Feast.

Want to know more about this super awesome baking group devoted to sourdough (yes, I am doing a shameless plug...It's my blog! haha) then check out Sourdough Surprises!

Sourdough Popovers, with Cheese (King Arthur Flour)
yield: 6 popovers

1 cup milk
3 eggs
1/2 cup sourdough starter
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 cup grated cheese of choice (I used pepper-jack)

In a small saucepan, warm the milk until it feels slightly warm to the touch.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, warm milk, sourdough starter and salt. 
Then mix in the flour and 3/4 cup cheese, without over-mixing. It is ok to have some lumps, but overall it should be thinner than pancake batter.
Preheat the oven to 450F, and preheat your muffin pan, too.
When heated, carefully remove your muffin pan from the oven, and thoroughly spray it with cooking spray.
Quickly pour the batter into the cups, filling them almost to the top. If using a regular muffin pan, make sure you leave an empty muffin hole in between each filled one.
Sprinkle more grated cheese on top of each batter.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Reduce the temperature to 375F and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until golden brown (Do NOT open the oven door!)
Remove the popovers from the oven and serve immediately.

Savory Cheesecake (for dinner!)

This month for Secret Recipe Club I was assigned the blog Double the Sugar. Shannon and Lucy are two friends who met in Scotland, and cemented their friendship over food (as every good friendship should start!) Long story short, Shannon moved back to the states, Lucy stayed in Scotland, and they started this fun blog to catalogue their love of carbs and sugar. Both girls sound wonderful, I loved reading their bios and feel like I could honestly be friends with both of them! They also have a great collection of all kinds of recipes. You should head over and check them out!

Its hard to decide whether or not this constitutes as dessert or not. The texture is beautiful and cake like - smooth and creamy yet firm. Not quite a quiche and not quite a regular cheesecake, this is the perfect addition to any brunch (or brinner) and was quite tasty. I love how you can use any assortment of fresh herbs (like rosemary from my garden) and cheeses you have (I cleaned out my cheese drawer, using camembert, gouda, a bit of goat cheese, some munster, and some baby swiss. Yes, I know this is a ridiculous combination, but I loved it!) My only challenge was that I decided to use leftover sourdough english muffins from this month's Sourdough Surprises challenge, and they didn't work very well as breadcrumbs - they were very crumby and refused to stick to the pan, but gave a really nice flavor. 

Savory Cheesecake (Double the Sugar)

3 slices of bread
240 g cream cheese
150 g assorted cheeses, shredded or cut small
4 eggs
60 g flour
herbs of your choice

Preheat the oven to 275F.
Turn the bread into breadcrumbs, either with a food processor or by finely crumbling it with your hands.
Butter the inside and bottom of a springform pan.
Pour the breadcrumbs into the pan and press them to the bottom and sides.
In a large bowl beat the cream cheese until soft, then add the remaining cheese and beat again.
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition.
Add the flour and herbs and mix well.
Pour the mix into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until the cake is still soft but a toothpick inserted comes out reasonably clean. 

See what other delicious dishes were made for this month's Secret Recipe Club:

Gluten Free Apple Crisp

It seems like more and more people I know are turning to Gluten Free diets. This kind of makes me sad, first because that means they can't eat the majority of the things I bake, but also because I kinda love gluten! I mean, all kinds of awesome things have gluten - pretty much anything with flour/wheat in them - breads, pasta, cookies, muffins, cereal, even beer! Some people even have problem with oats because of cross contamination with wheat at packaging plants. I'm not even joking when I say I've had nightmares where I can't eat gluten anymore! 

I decided that I wanted to give my Gluten-Free friends a treat that they could actually eat and enjoy. This apple crisp was totally awesome! There was the perfect amount of cinnamon and nutmeg here, and I loved the hint of maple syrup as well.  We totally gobbled this up, by the spoonful, on top of yogurt and graham crackers... lets just say it didn't last very long! 

Gluten Free Apple Crisp (Tasty Yummies)

4 Granny Smith Apples, peeled and sliced (about 4 medium) (**I only peeled half of my apples, because I got lazy, and you can't tell at all)
2 tsp lemon juice
1 TBSP maple syrup (the real stuff!)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup almond or brown rice flour
1/2 cup certified gluten free oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup date sugar (you can also substitute brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup)
1 1/2 TBSP maple syrup (1 TBSP goes inside the topping and the 1/2 TBSP get sprinkled on top)
1/3 cup coconut oil (solid)

Preheat 375 F.
In a large bowl, toss together the ingredients for the filling.
Pour into an 8" greased pan.
In a medium bowl, combine the ingredients for the topping (except for 1/2 TBSP of maple syrup) until well combined and course.
Sprinkle the topping over the apples, drizzle the remaining 1/2 TBSP of maple syrup on top.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, until golden on top and bubbling.

Sourdough English Muffins

English Muffins have been on my "to-do" list for a while now, so when Shelley said she wanted to do them for this month's Sourdough Surprises challenge, I was all for it! And who knew that were so easy to make? Just a little bit of mixing, an overnight rest, and then you cook them on the stovetop! On the stovetop, people! It was so fun to see them start to rise up while cooking! 

And they were so delicious, too! I didn't get as many nooks and crannies as I wanted, but the taste and texture totally made up for it! They were soft and chewy all at once, with soo much flavor! Joel said I was never allowed to buy English Muffins ever again - and I totally agree with him! These are so simple to make, and so delicious, I don't see why I would ever buy them again!! (How many more exclamation points do you think I could get in that paragraph?)

See all the other delicious English Muffins we made this month:

And don't forget to check out the Sourdough Surprises blog on Saturday to see what we will be making in October! And you should just head over to check out all the cool stuff that Shelley and I have been working on - we've taken Sourdough Surprises to the Social Media bandwagon and we want you to join us! 

I am submitting these English Muffins to Yeastspotting, a weekly showcase of all things yeasted and delicious! 

Sourdough English Muffins (Baking Bites
yields: about 12 

1/2 cup sourdough starter
3 cups flour
1 cup water
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBSP sugar
cornmeal for dusting

In a large bowl, thoroughly combine the starter, 2 cups of flour and the water. 
Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit overnight (7-10 hours)
In the morning, mix the baking soda, salt, and sugar into the dough.
Using 2 TBSP at a time, mix in the remaining 1 cup of flour, until the dough is no longer sticky.
Turn the dough out into a lightly floured surface and roll into a 1/2" thickness.
Using a lightly floured biscuit cutter, cut as many rounds as you can (I got 11?) 
Lightly dust an un-greased baking sheet with cornmeal and place the rounds on top.
Dust the tops with cornmeal as well, cover with a (clean) kitchen towel and allow to rise for 45 minutes.
Heat a lightly oiled skillet over high heat until very hot, and then reduce the temperature to medium-high.
Cook the muffins for 5 minutes on each side, turning only once (so 10 minutes total). The muffins will become light-medium brown on both sides when they are cooked through, and the sides will be dry.
Cool completely before storing, but you don't have to wait that long to eat one!

BBQ Chicken Shells and Cheese

Sometimes you just need some good comfort food, you know? We've been feeling really homesick lately, and so we finally decided to bite the bullet and buy 3 plane tickets (can you say ouch?) to go home in October! We are so excited to see our family and friends, and wish that the 5 days we will be there won't fly by us. We needed to celebrate our excitement about this trip, and nothing says love, family, and happiness quite like comforting homemade mac and cheese. And for us, being from Kansas City, that also means Barbecue. 

Holy Mama. This stuff. Is. Good. We literally scarfed every single ounce of this super comforting pasta down! I mean, how can you not love cheese + pasta + chicken + BBQ Sauce + bacon? It might not be good for your waist-line, but it is certainly good for your soul! 

Stovetop BBQ Chicken and Cheese Pasta (slightly adapted from How Sweet It Is)
yields: 6 servings

1 Rotisserie chicken, meat shredded 
4 cups whole wheat pasta shells
2 TBSP olive oil
4 TBSP butter
1 red onion, sliced thin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
4 ounces white cheddar cheese, shredded
4 ounces gouda cheese, shredded
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 cup BBQ sauce
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
4 pieces bacon, cooked and crumbled

Toss the chicken and 1/2 cup of the BBQ sauce together and set aside.
Heat a large pot over medium-low heat.
Add the olive oil and butter. 
When the butter is melted, toss the red onion slices in and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
Saute the onions for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until caramelized.
While the onions are cooking, cook the onions (try to time it so that the pasta is done about the same time as the onions). Drain and set aside.
Increase the heat on the onions to medium and whisk in the flour.
Whisk constantly for 5 minutes, until the flour is golden and fragrant (you've made a roux!)
Slowly add the milk, whisking in between each addition until all the milk has been added and you have a smooth and slightly thickened sauce.
Reudce the heat to medium-low and add in the grated cheese and the mustard.
Continue to stir until the sauce is creamy and the cheese has melted.
Add in the pasta, stirring to coat, and then toss in the chicken.
Drizzle the remaining 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce over top.
Serve immediately with the green onions, cilantro, parsley and crumbled bacon on top.

The Daring Cooks Make Paella

Our Daring Cooks’ September 2012 hostess was Inma of la Galletika. Inma brought us a taste of Spain and challenged us to make our very own delicious Paella! 
I love paella, so I was really excited when I saw that this was the challege this month. We did something very similar to this back when I had first joined the Daring Kitchen, back in 2009 (wow, can you believe that?!). So, yeah, I love paella, but I rarely get to eat it because its usually filled with all kinds of seafood that I don't eat. I am sure if I ever go to Spain and get to eat some fresh, I will try it. But growing up in Iowa, where the only fresh fish was catfish and bluegill, I just never really developed a taste for it. I still wanted meat in it, though, so I turned to chorizo and chicken! Yum!

This paella was terrific! We loved the chicken and sausage in it, and the bright flavors, it was delicious! Which was good because this recipe makes enough to feed an army! :) 

Chicken and Sausage Paella (slightly adapted from Gerard Nebesky
yield: 6 servings (more or less)

Olive oil
1 head garlic, cloves skinned and sliced
3 red peppers, cored, seeded and sliced
3 lb chicken, legs and thighs
3 lb chorizo sausage
2 yellow onions, chopped
16 ounces canned diced tomatoes
3-4 cups chicken stock
10-15 saffron threads
1 1/2 tsp spanish smoked paprika
2-3 cups short grain rice
1/2 pound of either green beans, asparagus or baby artichoke hearts
2-3 lemons, cut into wedges for garnish (the lemon are essential!) 

Heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat.
Heat some olive oil and saute the garlic and peppers until soft.
Remove and set aside.
In the same pan, add the chicken and sear on all sides.
When the chicken is golden, add the onions and saute until translucent.
Add the tomatoes and chicken stock.
Crush the saffron and paprika together in a mortar and pestle and add it to the stock.
Allow to reduce/simmer for 30 minutes.
Stir in the rice and let simmer for 20 minutes. Do not stir or cover!!!
While the rice is cooking, cook the sausage and slice into coins.
Pull the chicken legs out, shred the meat off the bones and replace the meat into the pot. 
Put the sausage and vegetables into the pot and stir to combine.
Allow to heat for a few more minutes. You will know that it is done when you can start smelling the rice caramelizing on the bottom of the pan (catch it before it burns!) and all the liquid is absorbed.
Dish into bowls and finish with a squirt of lemon juice. 

Spiced Cinnamon Rolls With Maple Glaze

Whee!! It's September! And as I am typing this, its currently 48 degrees outside! There are crunchy leaves on the ground and acorns are scattered everywhere. Fall is here!!!!!!!!!! This is my favorite time of year, when the grass is still green, but its cool and crisp out and fall colors are just starting to appear. We have been spending every second we can outside. We had a wonderful potluck picnic in the park with a group of friends, and Ladybug and I went for a beautiful walk yesterday and collected fun things we found on the ground and made a September Collage (her first time using glue!).

Peanut, of course, had to help make the collage. 

These cinnamon rolls are the absolutely perfect way to welcome fall! They are made with a secret ingredient (butternut squash!!) and have the awesome fall spices we all love - cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, brown sugar and maple! Plus, you would never know it, but these aren't actually that bad for you (man I love Cooking Light!), which is a great thing since 3 adults consumed the entire 9x13 pan in less than 24 hours. Whoops. They were just so good we could not help ourselves! 

Spiced Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Glaze (Cooking Light, November 2011 )

1 cup warm water
1 TBSP sugar
1 package dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 1/4 cup + 3 TBSP flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
dash of ground cloves
1 cup mashed, cooked winter squash (you can use any winter squash you like, I used butternut)
1 TBSP canola oil
cooking spray

1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 TBSP butter, melted
2 tsp water
3 TBSP finely chopped walnuts, toasted (toast then chop)

1/3 cup water
1/2 cup light brown sugar or maple syrup
1 TBSP butter
1 TBSP half and half
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a small bowl, combine the warm water, sugar and yeast and allow to stand for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together the bread flour, 1 1/4 cups flour, salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
Add the yeast mixture, squash, and oil and stir just until moist.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 6 minutes), adding enough of the remaining flour 1 TBSP at a time to prevent sticking (the dough should feel tacky but not stick to everything).
Place the dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, cover, and let sit to rise for 45 minutes.
Punch the dough down, recover, and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to a 20x12" rectangle.
In a medium bowl, combine the ingredients for the filling - the cinnamon, brown sugar, melted butter and water.
Spread the mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/4" border on the edges.
Sprinkle the walnuts evenly over top.
Roll the dough, jelly roll style, starting with the long end.
Cut the roll crosswise into 16 equal slices - I find it helpful to first cut the log in half (so each half is 8 slices) and then cut the halves into halves (so each quarter is worth 4 slices). Its easier to get equal slices that way.
Place the rolls, cut side up, into a 9x13 baking pan coated with cooking spray.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. (you can also place the pan in the fridge at this point and bake it in the morning!)
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Bake for 33 minutes or until brown. Cool the pan for 5 minutes on a wire rack.

Prepare the glaze by combining the water and maple syrup (or sugar) in a small saucepan.
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occassionaly.
Remove from heat, stir in 1 TBSP of butter, the half-and-half  and the vanilla.
Cool for 5 minutes.
Drizzle over the rolls.

Zucchini Quinoa Burgers

You know a friend is a true one when you have rarely seen her in the last 4 years, not seen her at all in the last year and a half, and you can pick up exactly where you left off - perfectly comfortable with one another and still the best of friends. My best friend from high school (in fact, the only person from high school that I still keep in contact with on a weekly basis) came to visit me this past weekend and it was wonderful! I loved having her here, and we had the best time! We did a bit of shopping, a bit of crafting, and lots and lots of eating! I really needed her company, to laugh unrestrained, to giggle at stupid things, and to watch with joy as she chased and squealed with my child. Everyone needs some time with their bestie to lift their soul! :) 

These burgers were a little more time consuming than I normally care for on a weeknight. Not that they are not doable, there are just a lot of steps. I also had the worst time keeping these together, I think there needs to be a better binding agent. But I didn't care about the messy crumbs because OH WOW they were amazing! We all gobbled ours up so fast, and Joel didn't even notice there wasn't any meat on the table. AND he has asked for them again, twice! I loved the complex flavors here, they were soooo delicious!

Zucchini Quinoa Burgers (slightly adapted from Food 52)

2 TBSP olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup onion, chopped finely
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1-15oz. can chickpeas
1 cup cooked quinoa (1/3 cup dry)
2/3 cup water
2 TBSP dijon mustard
1 TBSP lemon juice
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp thyme

In a small saucepan, bring the 2/3 cup water to a boil, add the quinoa, and reduce the heat to medium. Allow to simmer until most of the water is absorbed.
Remove from heat and let sit while you prepare the other ingredients.
In a medium sauce pan, heat 1 TBSP olive oil and saute the onions and garlic until tender.
Add the zucchini and saute until the zucchini is cooked through and the onion is translucent.
Season with salt ad pepper to taste.
In a food processor, grind the pumpkin seeds until they resemble a fine meal.
Add the quinoa, chickpeas, dijon, lemon juice, and spices to the food processor and pulse a few more times. You want the chickpeas to be broken down and the mixture to hold together well without it forming a homogenous paste.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the zucchini/onion mixture.
Mix with hands to incorporate.
Form 6 patties.
Cook the patties either in a frying pan with a bit of oil (5 minutes per side) or on a cookie sheet in a 375 F oven (25 minutes, flipping halfway).

Book Review: an apple harvest: recipes and orchard lore

I found a lovely new cookbook at the library the other day. In fact, I liked it so much that I decided not only did I want my own copy of it, but I wanted to share it with you, too!!

"an apple harvest: recipes & orchard lore" by Frank Browning and Sharon Silva is honestly the first cookbook that I have ever read cover to cover. Normally I skim through, look at the pictures, glance at a few recipes and exact immediate judgement on the book. Not so here. I read every single word and loved it more and more as I went through.

Fox Mountain Parsnips (made with apple cider, dried apples and cream!)

The introduction is the perfect place to begin here. Each author gives a short background on their families involvement with apples (both families grew them), and both read like captivating short stories.  A brief history of apples is also given, which I found to be really interesting (I'm a sucker for history, anyway, so it was kind of inevitable). For instance, did you know that there are 6,000 different types of apples? But only a few hundred are good enough to eat. The delicious edible apples that we know today first evolved in Kazakhstan about 10,000 years ago and found their way across the world thanks to the Silk Route trading. The book boasts a really interesting history on how apples became used first as means to make hard drinks to being used in beautiful tarts and pies.

The book also gives a great description of how to choose the right apple - whether you want one for a snack, a savory dish, or for a pie. Each apple tastes different, has different textures and can withstand cooking differently, especially depending on where it was grown. For instance, a Cortland apple (grown in NE United States) is sweet with a slightly tart undertone. They are poor keepers, but make for excellent snacks because they don't oxidize when cut, and good for applesauce because they break down when cooking. The Jonathan apple is highly aromatic and sweet-tart. It is great for eating raw, and since it holds its shape well, is good for frying, roasting, and using in pies and applesauce.

Baked Pork Chops Bayeux

Last, but definitely not least, are the recipes! There are some great recipes in here, everything from main dishes to sides, desserts, and even drinks! Some of the recipes are ones that I have heard of before, but a lot of them are unique to me, and all sound wonderful! I tried out two different recipes- Fox Mountain Parsnips and Baked Pork Chops Bayeux (however I have a billion more bookmarked, but I had to return it to the library before I got to them). The Fox Mountain parsnips were really good - I love parsnips anyway, but this was a really unique way to eat them. Studded with dried apples, cider, and cream, they were delicious! The Baked Pork Chops Bayeux were fun and delicious, too. A simple pork chop, topped with an apple ring, cream, and thyme, and baked until tender and juicy. It was delicious and fancy, and I felt like I should be in a French Cafe!

I really enjoyed this book, and have definitely added it to my "Wish List"! I have also done nothing but talk about this book to Joel, who said I could buy it when he gets to buy a banjo (Yes, a banjo. Apparently our time here in WV will not be complete unless he learns to play the banjo...?). I definitely recommend checking this book out! 

Apple, Brie and Arugala Quesadillas

Yesterday it was in the 70's all day!! We celebrated by spending the whole day outside - playdate at the park, lunch at a roadside shake stand, and then after a quick nap we went to a wildlife refuge and walked some trails. Then we decided to extend the day by pulling out the grill for dinner! We finally sucked it up and sprayed our yard with a massive amount of toxic chemicals, so no more bugs!! We live only a block from the river, and so mosquitoes had literally taken over our yard. Just stepping out the door to get the mail cost you a pint of blood and 7 new bites. 

I put up with it for 3 whole months, tried all the natural bug repellents, the "nice" way of doing things; but eventually I just got irritated. Poor Ladybug was just covered in bug bites and scratches, the dogs were itching, we were itching... It was time for intervention. A toxic chemical intervention. Now we can actually sit outside and enjoy our porch! Which is awesome since its been SO nice out! I normally hate using chemicals like that, but enough already, you know?

These quesadillas are the perfect lunch. They are quick and simple to make, yet healthy and delicious, too! And they are an awesome change from the PB&J and mac and cheese that we normally eat for lunch. I really loved these - they seem sophisticated and fancy, but were so easy to make! 

Brie, Apple, and Arugula Quesadillas (Cooking Light, October 2010)

1 TBSP Dijon Mustard
2 tsp apple cider
3 10" flour tortillas
6 ounces Brie cheese, rind removed and cut into 1/4" thick slices
1 Fuji apple, cored and sliced into 1/4" thick slices
3 cups arugula
3/4 tsp pepper

In a small bowl combine the dijon mustard and the apple cider.
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.
Spread each tortilla with 1/2 tsp of the mustard mixture and sprinkle 1/4 tsp pepper on top.
Place the tortilla, mustard side up, on the skillet. 
Arrange 1/3 of the cheese slices over half the tortilla and cook for 1 minute, or just until the cheese starts to melt.
Arrange 1/3 of the apple slices over the cheese.
Top the apples with 1 cup of arugula.
Carefully fold the tortilla in half and gently press with the spatula. 
Cook 2 minutes on each side, until the tortilla is golden brown and the cheese is melted.
Cut the tortilla into 4 wedges.
Repeat with the remaining 2 tortillas.

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