September GNCO – Apple Pie Cookies

For the month of September our game night cook off “special ingredient” was crust – anything you considered crust. The winner of the night was a beautiful chicken pot pie. I followed in second and third with Chicken, Bacon Broccoli Quiche and Apple Pie Cookies.

With two little munchkins to attend to the Apple Pie Cookies initially felt like a big hassle but in the end they were so worth it! It is definitely the season for baking apple things!

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Apple Pie Cookies
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Crust Recipe
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surfaces, dipping fork
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, very cold
1/2 cup water, very cold (I pour 1 cup and add ice while I work, then measure 1/2 cup from it when I need it)

Filling
2 medium apples, I used Granny Smith
Squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
A dash of nutmeg and/or any other spices you like with your apples

To finish
1 large egg
Coarse or granulated sugar for garnish

Additional stuff
2 baking sheets covered with parchment paper
Rolling pin, pastry brush (for egg wash), fork (for crimping and dipping) and sharp knife (to make slits)
A cookie cutter about 2-1/2 inch in size.

Make your pie dough first: Mix together flour, sugar and salt in the bottom of a large bowl. Using a pastry blender work the butter into the flour until the biggest pieces of butter are the size of small peas. Stir in the ice water with a rubber spatula, mixing it until a craggy mass forms. Knead it two or three times to form a ball. Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and flatten a bit, like a disc. Chill in fridge for at least an hour or up to two days.

On a well-floured counter or pastry cloth, roll out your pie dough thin, a little less than 1/8-inch thick. Lift and rotate your dough as you roll it, to ensure that it rolls out evenly and so you can be sure it’s not sticking in any place. Use your cookie cutter to cut as many rounds as you can from the dough. Transfer them to parchment-lined baking sheets and keep them in the fridge until you need them. Once you’ve finished the first packet, repeat the process with the second packet of dough

Prepare your apples: Peel your apples. Cut thin (1/8-inch thick) slices from each side of the whole apple until the core is all thats left. Cut the apple slices into small cube-like pieces. Place them in your second bowl, covering them with a few drops of lemon juice to keep them from browning. Combine the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl and add to the apples. Mix together until all apples are coated with the sugar mixture.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Assembly:
Grab your first disc of chilled dough and lightly dampen it on one side with the water. This is to help it seal. Place about 1 tbsp. (as much as you can fit without the dough tearing and still be able to crimp the edges) in the center of the dough. Lightly flatten. Place a second disc of dough on top; I found it easiest to seal it by picking the whole thing up (this is when you’ll be glad that your dough is cold and semi-firm; if it’s soft and getting sticky, chill it until it’s easy to pick up) and press the tops and bottoms around the apple with your fingers. Hold the pies at an angle and place one edge of pie on floured surface. Rotate pie as you crimp around the edges with a floured fork. Place on cookie sheet. Use a sharp knife to cut decorative slits in your “pies”. Brush your cookie with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake your apple pie cookies for 25 minutes, or until puffed and bronzed and very pie-like. (If this is your first batch, peer in at them at 20 minutes, to make sure your oven doesn’t run hot.) Let cool if you have enough patience!

Do ahead: These will keep for a few days at room temperature. You can freeze them by doing everything but brushing on the egg wash and sugar. Keep them frozen until needed. Bake them directly from the freezer just adding on a few minutes to the bake time.

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Coconut-Lemon Cake

This cake was made by my brother for our Game Night Cook Off. He very likely could have beat me if his presentation had turned out better (some cakes have a mind of their own). It’s soooo good though so I had to share!

Coconut-Lemon Cake

Recipe from MyRecipes.com

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Lemon Filling (recipe below)
  • Fluffy White Frosting (recipe below)
  • 1 cup flaked coconut

Cake Preparation

  1.  Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition.
  2. Combine flour and baking powder; add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in 1 tsp. vanilla.
  3. Beat egg whites and salt at high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Stir about one-third of egg whites into batter; fold in remaining egg whites. Spoon batter into 3 greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans.
  4. Bake at 350° for 18 to 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

Lemon Filling

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  1. Combine sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan; stir in 1 cup boiling water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar and cornstarch dissolve (about 3 minutes). Gradually stir about one-fourth of hot mixture into yolks; add to remaining hot mixture, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. Stir in lemon juice.
  2. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in butter. Cool, stirring occasionally.

Fluffy White Frosting

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a small heavy saucepan; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until clear. Cook, without stirring, until mixture reaches soft-ball stage or candy thermometer registers 240°. This can potentially take up to 20 minutes. You are waiting for the water to evaporate until you hit the soft-ball stage (no pun intended).
  2. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed with an electric mixer until soft peaks form; slowly add syrup, beating constantly. Beat until stiff peaks form and frosting is desired consistency.

Cake Time

  1. Once cakes have cooled spread Lemon Filling between layers. Spread Fluffy White Frosting on top and sides of cake. Sprinkle top and sides with coconut; garnish, if desired.
  2. Savor every bite!

Orange Chiffon Cream Salad

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As an official mother of two, it takes a lot more work going places, such as the grocery store. This morning I got Mumu, who is now 2, and my sweet little Bug, who is 6 weeks old, ready to go shopping. Mumu packed up his suitcase and wanted to bring it along. In theory I would have liked to say, “sure my boy, let’s bring that suitcase to the grocery store so you can pull it down the aisles as cute as can be,” but I opted to leave it behind. Between him, his bear, the baby, the diaper bag and my purse, I definitely didn’t want to bring along anymore “luggage.” After our sweaty (I have no AC in my car) trip to two beyond busy grocery stores I managed to make it home with my two crying babies, so thankful they both waited until we got home to make a scene!

Once we got inside I started getting stuff put away and happened to look inside Mumu’s suitcase. He had packed 10 pairs of undies and a bottle of sunscreen. What a prepared boy! It’s cute things like this – and later finding him trying to poop standing up, over his mini urinal, that make parenting worth it. Parenting is hard, exhausting and frustrating but the good definitely out weighs the bad!

Tonight we are having a late double graduation party for my brother and my hubby. I wanted to produce NO heat so I could make this simple and delicious COLD treat! We will be grilling at my mom’s house so no worries… I’m not starving my guests and only offering them this jello salad – although it is quite amazing!

This Orange Chiffon Jello Salad is the reason I packed my boys out the front door this morning. It is so so so easy, refreshing and delish!

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Orange Chiffon Cream Salad
3 oz Orange Jello powder
1/2 a bag Mini Marshmallows
8 oz crushed pineapple (keep juice)
15 oz can of mandarin oranges (drained)
6 oz frozen orange juice thawed
16 oz cool whip
16 oz sour cream
Optional: an extra can of mandarins to decorate the top

In a bowl mix together orange jello powder, marshmallows, pineapple, oranges and orange juice. Add in cool whip and sour cream and stir to combine but as little as possible.

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If you want put it in a prettier bowl and decorate with extra mandarins. Let set in fridge for at least an hour before serving. Enjoy!

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Raspberry Bread Pudding with Creamy Vanilla Sauce

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Last night I tried my hand with some bread pudding and it was soooo good! Every recipe I found was for a big pan so I cut one down to a smaller size.
Raspberry Bread Pudding
Serves 4-6
1/3-1/2 loaf of bread or equivalent (I used leftover Costco rolls)
1 cup cream, half & half or whole milk
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg white
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Raspberry Filling
1-3/4 cup fresh raspberries
1/4 cup white sugar
1/8 cup apple juice

Vanilla Sauce
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1-1/2 Tbsp flour
3/4 cup cream, half &half or whole milk
1/2 Tsp vanilla
1-1/2 Tbsp white sugar

Let bread get a little stale if it isn’t already.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine milk, sugar, egg white and vanilla in bowl. Pour over bread and make sure all pieces are coated. Let sit for about 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes to allow bread to soak up mixture.

Add sugar and juice to raspberries. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

Lightly grease a 8×8 square pan, medium size cake pan or pie pan and spread out 3/4 of the bread mixture. Pour raspberries evenly across the top and finish with the rest of the bread mixture. Pop in the oven for 40 minutes.

While baking prepare cream sauce. On medium melt butter in small sauce pan and add flour. Stir constantly for about 7 minutes. Add milk and sugar. Bring to a boil (while still stirring) and wait for it to thicken. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour over cooked bread pudding and let cool for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm. Enjoy!

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Coffee & Cookies

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I am getting ready for coffee, cookies and a Korean Drama.

I picked up some Speculoos yesterday at Trader Joes… They are a cinnamon spiced Belgian cookie. I am laying in my bed dipping these crunchy treats into a nice hot cup of Joe. A new episode of The Master’s Sun is on Drama Fever so I will definitely be falling asleep to this cute sweet story. My husband is doing homework or I would be hanging out with him… I’m not that neglectful!

Sour Cream Lemon Pie

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Yesterday I was too full to have a piece of my birthday pie so I opted to eat it this evening after our day of shopping. I didn’t end up eating the entire piece because it was too sweet after all my bad eating choices today.

My eating may have been but I scored In the home furnishing department. With a new house on the horizon (hopefully by mid October) my mom took me shopping for my future home. My colors are going to be gray and beige with accents of pink (without making it too girly). I got some awesome gray curtains and a throw for our room as well as a plush pink towel for me.

We went to a local discount store that sells all the extras and returns from Costco and we found Zojirushi rice cookers! This is an excellent brand of ricer which sells for over $100. I got one that looked like it had never been used for $39 (well it was actually a birthday gift from my wonderful mother)! I am so excited and looking forward to moving into our first home!

Bubble Tea & Chinese Food

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So my healthy eating may have gone off course today. I know I should be better at this whole eating right thing but we were continuing my birthday festivities with a girls day shopping trip… Well me, my mom and Mumu. We also squeezed in a Chinese food buffet after some rigorous shopping at the Burlington Coat Factory and sadly it was not a good restaurant. Everything tasted a little off… So we will not be returning there! Due to the fact I left my purse in the car (way across the parking lot) I had nothing to take pictures of my gluttony with. Sorry!