Apple Strudel

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Happy Lunar New year!!! The world is a strange and interesting place lately…and I must say it is odd to be alive in such a tumultuous environment. It’s hard to choose optimism and kindness for many folks who are struggling right now, but I think the only choices are.. well…optimism and kindness. I know the hip thing isn’t to be nice, but it’s the right thing. I haven’t always viewed things this way, for many being a jerk is a great way to put a wall up with others and to protect your insecurities…but in order to live authentically, this defense mechanism needs a kick to the curb. Even now when I expose my soft spots, acknowledge my hurt feelings and anxieties, I feel awkward about it, so I know it isn’t easy. As I get older I realize honest communication is actually a strength opposed to a weakness, it’s human to want others to like and accept you. Studies have shown that a sense of “community” can lengthen life span and overall happiness. I feel like my circle has shrunk considerably in the last decade, but I feel like those who are in it now are there for the long haul. We all want to be liked, but we also can’t control how others feel about us….so I figure…as my mother always told me “you will catch more flies with honey than vinegar” and I want my aura to give off kindness…GOALS! Not quite there yet….but I am done burning bridges…that’s easy to do….I want to have real, authentic relationships from now on…and I am willing to start over if the other party is willing. We all are just humans and humans are imperfect, and most things can be forgiven if both parties are willing to own their shit, it does take two to tango!
Well I made some strudel, apple strudel! My mom makes great apple pie, I used her filling recipe for the most part, but instead of pastry I used phyllo. Phyllo is great, it’s a quick and forgiving way to wrap things in buttery carbohydrates! This made quite a few, and in order to not eat them all I gave ¾ of them away to my kids teachers and some neighbors, nothing says “I appreciate you” better than apple desserts! Actually maybe fat stacks of cash are better….LOL.
Here it goes:
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You will need:
6 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks.
½ C. granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean split
¼ C. lemon juice
1 tsp. Cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Zest of 1 orange
Juice from same orange mixed with 2 tsp cornstarch.
Throw them apples in the pan with everything except the orange juice/cornstarch mixture. Crack your heat up to medium high, and bring apples to a simmer, cook for 10 minutes, add cornstarch mixture, stir well and reduce heat, cook an additional 10 minutes. Set aside to cool (I made mine the day before and refrigerated it).
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1 box of phyllo thawed, or go crazy and make your own! Whatever you like.
2 stick of butter melted.
1 pastry brush
I used large phyllo sheets, so I had to do a bit of folding but the assembly is the same as my Tyropita recipe click here to follow see how I wrap them into triangles…basically like folding a flag!
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I used about ⅓ of a cup of filling for each pie, I just made them until I ran out of filling, it made a bunch! I still have about five sheets of phyllo left, which I will use for some quick spanikopita! When you got your strudels rolled butter the tops and place on greased sheet pans. Cook in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 18 minutes until golden. One thing I may do next time is make a small slit on the top of each one before baking to release steam, a few of mine burst at the seams whilst baking. After they cooled I covered my pies in a mixture of ½ cup confectioner’s sugar and a heaping tsp of cinnamon. You can do a quick glaze if you prefer. I also cut each one in half, that is also optional.
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January smanuary

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I have had some writer’s block lately, I have been cooking up a storm but have been trying out other people’s recipes, I am obsessed with this recipe for Sicilian style Grandma pie I have made it twice now, and it gets you great results for making pizza at home. Slowly, I am coming out of my fog. Wow! What a month…not all bad…mostly…but not all. Portland got record breaking snowfall! So much so,that the whole city shut down for 9 days or so….and some other stuff that is all over google news happened. I would review it, but google does a superior job of it. One thing that I did enjoy and came in handy was this months Degustabox, in fact I liked it so I couldn’t pick a favorite, I had several, the Cello whips were one of them for sure, I opened the bag and had few, and then hid it to save for our dinner later that night, I made this ribollita recipe and wanted to top them with the crispy, pure Parmesan snacks, when I went to grab them, I found an empty bags and a trail of crumbs leading to my kindergartner’s room, so stamp of approval on that with kids as well. The “Prince of Peace” ginger honey crystals were an unexpected favorite (I would’ve added a website but I didn’t find one for the company, just where to buy it). I work with a lot of ginger at work, and find the medicinal qualities of it fascinating. These crystal make a hot beverage that I found quite addictive, they had the perfect amount of sweetness, and were perfect for making a twist on the classic hot toddy. The kids loved the Jolly time popcorn,both the Go Organically and Welch’s fruit n’ yogurt varieties of fruits snacks, but I was quite surprised by how much we all liked the HungryJack pumpkin pancake mix all you add is water and mix them up. We topped ours many ways, but the favorite was jam, bananas, and a sprinkle of powdered sugar! Sometimes a bit of convenience is a good thing especially when you are snowed in!

Frosty the cupcake

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How is everyone enjoying “The most wonderful time of the year”? I will tell ya, I’m not quite as “bah humbug” as a week ago, but I also will be relieved when the “holidaze” is over! Last week we got snowed in, well more like “ice rinked” in. Walking to the car took the skill of a young Tonya Harding….ok that may be slightly exaggerated…but it was slippery! My December Degustabox had so much great stuff for being snowed in that it really came in handy. The Pillsbury Purely Simple cake and frosting mix is what I would like to review today. I was super impressed with these as a convenience product they use milk, eggs, and real butter instead of the usual water and oil, and the frosting mix comes dry and you add the milk and butter yourself. I really do think these turn out more like homemade then any other cake mix I have used. I subbed in eggnog for milk in both and the family loved them. It makes 24 cupcakes, but I used four of my cupcakes to make the snowman cake truffles for the top. I got the idea from Christina Tossi of Milk Bar, all you do is crush your cooled cupcakes into crumbs and add 1/4 cup of frosting, mix together to form a thick paste, shape into snowman sized balls, roll in coconut and assemble. You can choose your own adventure here and shape them into whatever you would like, if it seems dry add a bit more frosting. Once your snowmen are assembled, frost the cooled cakes, and put a snowman on each, I used sprinkles for eyes, mini chocolate chips for buttons, and pretzels for arms, but this is all open to creative expression. I let the kids decorate their own and to be honest it was a really fun activity and they were as tasty as some homemade cakes I have made.
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Making holiday memories isn’t always easy for me, I get caught up in schedules and practicality, but I am sure the kids won’t remember how clean the floors were or how organized the laundry is…they will remember Frosty the cupcake and the fun snow day that we had. I hope your holidays are wonderful, I know things aren’t easy for anyone right now and the future seems uncertain. I struggle everyday with my anxious feelings but sometimes I have to breath deep and take each moment at a time, focus on really living and being present with the kids…..I fail at times…daily….but sometimes I feel it and my heart melts and I remember why the struggle is necessary to really understand the good stuff. This day was a good one, and I hope I can inspire you to create your own memories, not about being photogenic or perfect but to feel that warmth and joy that comes with letting go and being present. Feliz navidad.

V. Tacos and the Special sauce

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Let’s just skip over the election shall we? Yeah had enough of that on Ye olde’ Facebook feed. But just to not be without a bit of snark….today I made tacos! VEGAN TACOS! I gotta try and preach some plant based love, I feel like anyway I can take the edge off the heat of the world I should. I’m an omnivore, I am not trying to say different, but there is really no reason I shouldn’t be focusing on plant based recipes….really good ones, I think that its the way the world has to go to sustain life. I have kids, and “footprint” guilt, I want them to be better than me…so I need to do what I can by making plant based eating a normal option for dinner at least 50% of the time. Continue reading “V. Tacos and the Special sauce”

Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey recipes that are anything but boring!

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I bought a 20 pound turkey, and cooked it recently just to explore ways to utilize holiday leftovers without getting bored. I remember as a kid getting so burnt out on the microwave heated plates of Thanksgiving spread we would eat for the week after. The stuffing was half cold and mushy, the gravy congealed, the green bean casserole a hot mess, the clumpy taters had seen better days and all of it topped off with a helping of chalky leftover turkey meat. My mother never let us waste an ounce of the meal she would prepare, and I love her for it, but I do recall wishing for another way to eat the turkey…of course there is Turkey soup which I discuss at the bottom of that post about the turkey my mother always made, which is the recipe I used, but I wanted to explore other ways. Continue reading “Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey recipes that are anything but boring!”

Roasted cauliflower soup with bacon and white cheddar

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Wow, October is officially donzo! I can’t say I am sad about that, I love Halloween but the lead up, execution, and clean up tend to be exhaustive. I think I figured out the rub with the holidays….especially the three month gauntlet we Americanos love to prioritize….its the expectations. Whether it be from the kids, extended family, or friends, it is inevitable that failure will occur within one of those facets. With age comes social intelligence (well it should at least, I know a few special exceptions..ugh), and with social intelligence comes self preservation. “Pick your battles” is finally a concept I utilize now, and realizing that I feel that my priorities are more substantial, people that cause you drama are doing it for themselves….don’t fall victim to it! All we have is our time, use it to do things you love, we inevitably end up in the same humble position so choose your poison wisely and drink it in small doses. Continue reading “Roasted cauliflower soup with bacon and white cheddar”

Corpsy McCalzone the Zombie you can eat!

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It’s that time of year again folks….HALLOWEEN!!! Some of you may recall one of my early posts Mummy Calzone, probably my most viewed post ever, I still find it hilarious. As I “ROLL OUT” (in the style of Ludacris) my new site, I figured it was time to add to my creepy food fetish with a Zombie friend. I made the Roberta’s Pizza dough recipe but instead of regular water I boiled a cup of water and added two handfuls of chopped kale, and pureed it, cooled it down a bit and added the yeast, I feel that it encapsulated the perfect decomposition look! You can of course use store bought as I did with the mummy…but this recipe makes two full zombies, and its super easy and cost pennies on the dollar, you can sub your favorite recipe for pizza dough. Depending on dietary preference, you can make him gluten free, Vegan (won’t it be fun to watch the vegans eat a zombie? Very soylent green chic if you ask me), or fill him full of your favorites!
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So instead of braiding  the dough all the way down, I cut it differently to make arms and legs, I added torn whole milk mozzarella inside the legs and arms,folded them over making sure to seal them well to avoid cheese leakage, and I also placed salami underneath and tore holes in the dough for a tasty take on flesh wounds! The image below is a example. Really there are no limits to what you can do with this idea.

Jpeg I used some cooked fusilli pasta for “guts”, used some purple onion for his mouth, and olive eyes.
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and I used some of the Barilla Protein plus penne that was in this months Degustabox for hair, but it ended up looking more like our zombie was impaled by sharp objects, which added some unintended, gory, fun.
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I folded the head over some cheese and pepperoni for a “Night of the living dead” style open skull look as well as making a bouquet of “flowers” out of the white part of a green onion, and some flat leaf parsley, and those nasty looking chompers….those are tasty sunflower seeds! I cooked him in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 18 minutes.
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I fiddled around with presentation, one idea I had was to lay him in a bed of arugula, oh and don’t forget the “bloody bolganese” I used some ground beef and added the jar of Barilla Marinara that I received in this months box as well. It was a great addition and freed up more time for Zombie design!
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There is a visceral pleasure in tearing off his limbs and dipping them through the bolganese jacuzzi!
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Nothing is quite as much fun as watching the kids munch into your zombie’s head, better eat him before he eats you! Happy Halloween!
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September Degustabox and working on my own custom web site!!

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I feel like I haven’t posted in forever! Life has been busy to say the least, but for the most part I can’t complain. For the first time in 9 years I have alone time during the day, Ari is acclimating to kindergarten, and Ava is owning the fourth grade. I’ve gone back to working a few extra days during the week, which almost makes me feel like a functioning member of society….almost. Continue reading “September Degustabox and working on my own custom web site!!”