Wow! The weather has taken a turn for the cold. Over the weekend, we had a couple days where the temperature didn’t even hit the 70’s. It was unexpected but so nice. I love how crisp the air becomes, and, even though I’m freezing, I enjoy it. Somehow it just makes things fallier. Luckily, I have some great fall treats to share with you.
The first thing I have to share isn’t baked, but it could keep you company while you’re in the kitchen. If you head over here, you can get any $1.29 MP3 for 5 cents after you share your favorite song on Facebook. I don’t know if this will work for you, but the song I wanted was only 99 cents, and I ended up getting it for free. I’d love to know what song is your current favorite and what you decide to get for free. My current fave is Everybody Talks by Neon Trees, but I have to confess that I bought a Justin Bieber song. What can I say? Some of them are catchy.
Another treat that doesn’t require work is a stop by Orange Leaf. J and I stopped by last week and tried some of their delicious new fall flavors. They’ve got 4 new flavors that all sound amazing: Pumpkin Pie, Snickerdoodle, Oatmeal Raisin Cookie, and Caramel Apple. The store we were at only had the Pumpkin Pie and Oatmeal Raisin Cookie, but they were both delicious and perfect for fall. (Update: The Snickerdoodle is also to die for, and the Caramel Apple’s pretty good too.)
If you are in the mood to cook, I’ve still got some great treats for you. I was over at J’s house last week and we “needed” to use up some caramel sauce. We had the idea to whip up some caramel apple shortcakes. They came together so fast and were incredibly delicious. We just made Bisquick biscuits with a little half and half instead of the milk. (Normally I’d add in a little sugar, but I forgot. No biggie.) Then while those baked we took a couple of small apples, chopped them, and sauteed them in a little brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter. We let them cook just long enough to get tender. Once the shortcakes came out, we opened them up, topped them with the cooked apples, some of the caramel sauce, and a little bit of cool whip. They were devoured with many happy sighs, and we might just have to make more caramel sauce so we can have these again soon. (If you’re wondering about the recipe for the caramel sauce, I can’t share it. It was an accident, so we have to figure out how to replicate it before I can give you a recipe.) As you can tell, there’s not really a recipe for the shortcakes either. The cooking time and amounts will completely depend on your own quantities and types of fruit available.
And of course we have a cookie recipe to discuss! For week 2 of our “12 Weeks of Holiday Cookies” series, I made a perfect back-to-school/fall cookie: the Trail Mix Cookie. Imagine your basic trail mix – peanuts, raisins, and M&Ms- wrapped up in a soft peanut butter and oatmeal cookie dough, and that’s what they are. My husband adores these cookies, and really, what’s not to love. They are a little salty, a little sweet, and so addicting. My KitchenAid ensured that these were a snap to whip up, though it would be a little harder to do by hand because the dough is so thick. I did fold in the goodies by hand though, since I didn’t want to burn out my KA’s motor. These don’t actually spread a bunch, so I managed to fit 8 per cookie sheet (I use an 11×13.) and got a few dozen cookies out of it. (I think it was 3 dozen, but it’s hard to get an accurate count when your hubby keeps eating them.)
Trail Mix Cookies (from Betty Crocker)
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. softened butter
1/2 c. shortening
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. oats (I used quick-cook.)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 c. M&M’s (A regular sized bag is closer to 1 3/4 c., and I left it at that. You could always buy the bigger bag, use a whole 2 c., and eat the leftover candy.) 😀
1 c. peanuts
3/4 c. raisins (I think craisins would be just as tasty.)
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, beat together the sugar, brown sugar, peanut butter, butter, shortening, vanilla, and eggs til creamy. Stir in the flour, oats, baking powder, and baking soda til combined. Stir in the M&Ms, peanuts, and raisins.
2. Drop by rounded tbsp-fuls about 2 in. apart on a cookie sheet. (I used a 1 1/2 tbsp. cookie scoop and put them on a Silpat lined cookie sheet.)
Flatten them slightly. (I think next time I’ll put a little sprinkle of salt on top. They have a little salt from the nuts, but I personally would like just a little bit more.)
3. Bake 9-10 min. or til light brown. Cool 1 min. on the pans, then cool completely on a wire rack.
And lest you think that all I do is eat sweets, I have a main course recipe that was perfect for warming up my husband after a cold day’s work. About a month ago, I tried a recipe for Noodles with Peanut Sauce that my husband and I both enjoyed. This is a similar recipe that we both thought was even better than the last. Even though the recipe doesn’t call for it, I cooked some stir-fry beef so that my husband would have some meat to go with the noodles. Though we both liked the last recipe, this one blew us away. The sauce is a little richer, which we both enjoyed. We also loved the edamame. It has a different crunch to it that we both found worked perfectly in the dish. When I do a dish like this, I make the whole amount of sauce, but set half aside for later in the week. I also save aside half of the meat I set out. I used half the vegetables and noodles that it called for and it was enough for both of us to eat and to pack some for my hubby’s lunch. When I make this later in the week, I think I’ll use a little more pasta, since I wanted just a few more noodles.
Nutty Asian Noodles with Carrots & Edamame (lightly tweaked from The Dainty Chef)
1 1/4 c. unsalted cashews or peanuts (I had just under a cup of already roasted, salted peanuts. I used that, skipped the roasting, and topped it off with a bit of roasted, salted sunflower kernels.)
1 1 in. piece of ginger
1 c. veggie broth (I used chicken broth.)
3 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil (I just used regular, but if you have toasted I’m sure it would enhance the flavor even more.)
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2/3 lb. linguine or 1 lb. fresh lo mein (I bought a 1 lb. box of linguine and used half for last night. In the future, I would probably use a total of 1 1/3 lb. for 6 portions.)
1 c. thawed, frozen, shelled edamame (I found mine at Sprouts, but afterwards I discovered that my Wal-Mart carries it too.)
1 diced red bell pepper (Which I added because I wanted more veggies, we love pepper, and I got some on sale.)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and bake for 8 min. or til toasted. Chop 1/4 c. of the nuts and save for garnish. (Skip this step if you bought already roasted nuts.)
2. Peel, shred, and set aside the carrots. (Hmm. Mine didn’t get peeled, and I just tried to thinly slice them. I would suggest keeping them thin/small and prepping them however is easiest for you.) Peel and set aside the ginger. (I grated mine into the food processor because I didn’t want to risk chomping down on large chunks.) Bring a large pot of water to boil.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the broth, soy sauce, vinegar, and oil; set aside. In a food processor, blend together 1 c. nuts, brown sugar, ginger, and 1/4 tsp. salt til finely chopped. With the machine running, slowly pour in the broth mix and process til smooth.
4. Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook according to the package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Rinse the pot in cool water to cool it off. Put the noodles back in the pot.
5. Pour the sauce over the noodles and stir. Add the veggies and stir again. Garnish with the chopped nuts.
Note: I wanted to eat this hot because of the cold weather we currently have. I had sauteed the beef in a nonstick skillet. When it was nearly cooked through, I tossed in the veggies. I stirred them around just a minute or so to heat through. Then I poured in the noodles and sauce. I turned the heat up to medium-high and tossed everything together til the sauce started to get thick.
I hope you find a treat that you want to try, and I look forward to chatting again soon.