Apple Clafoutis

What is a Clafoutis you say? pronounced {klafu tis} is a baked French dessert of fruit, traditionally cherries, arranges in a buttered dish and covered with a flan-like batter. I first had one while in the French countryside at a beautiful farmhouse-style boutique hotel while on my honeymoon. As with many things French, I fell in love with it. A variety of seasonal fruit can be adapted to this recipe as I have done here with apples. Depending on the fruit you select, you may need to adapt the flavorings. I like the combo of vanilla and almond extracts but certainly can stick to just vanilla. Fairly simple to put together with a few panty ingredients and an absolute delight to serve with a cup of coffee or dessert wine.

 

Start with 3 Apples (honey crisp, granny smith, braeburn) a hearty baking apple.

Start with 3 Apples (honey crisp, granny smith, braeburn) a hearty baking apple.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

In a mixing bowl or blender combine the following:

3/4 Cup milk or cream

3 Large eggs

1/2 Cup Granulated sugar

2 Tbs melted, unsalted butter

1 Tsp Vanilla extract

1/2 Tsp Almond extract (optional)

Blend well to dissolve the sugar

To the wet mixture add:

3/4 Cup AP Flour

1/2 Tsp Salt

Blend well again to eliminate any lumps of flour and set aside.

Peel and core your apples and slice them very thinly (1/4" or less) A mandolin would come in handy at this stage.

In a heavy bottom pie dish or cast iron skillet, melt 1 Tbs butter 

After butter is completely melted, arrange your apple slices to cover the bottom of the dish or skillet. Pour your batter over the top of the apples and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes.

 

My resident apple picker and sous chef

My resident apple picker and sous chef

Select a hearty baking apple such as Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Braeburn

Select a hearty baking apple such as Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Braeburn

You will not be disappointed by this delightfully light apple dessert. A perfect finish to any dinner party. Add a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream to finish.

 

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Easy Chipotle Pork Tacos

A lean one pot meal literally cooks itself to perfection. I used pork tenderloin, a lean cut of meat to achieve a healthier version of taco or salad bowl if you prefer. The method of slow cooking with a sealed lid whether it be a slow cooker or Le Cruset pot, as I used, will result in a tender, juicy, flavorful meat.    

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The recipe is pretty simple. Mix the following spices together in a bowl.

2 Tsp ground Cumin

2 Tsp ground Chipotle powder or Chili powder

1 Tsp Mexican or Italian Oregano

1 Tsp Kosher Salt

1 Tsp Adobo Seasoning 

1/2 Tsp ground black pepper

Cut the pork tenderloin in 2 or 3 pieces depending on size. You want about a 4-5" piece each.

Coat the pork pieces in the dry rub and sear in a hot pot with 1 Tbs Oil

Sear 2 minutes per side

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To the pot add:

1/2 Thinly sliced onion

1-2 chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce chopped  and 1 TBS adobo sauce

1/4 cup Orange Juice

Squeeze 1/2 lime 

Stir to combine. Cover pot with foil and place lid on top. The foil will seal the pot to allow steam and natural juices to remain in the pot and help to tenderize the meat. Turn burner to low and let simmer for at least 2 hours. After 2 hours, check for fork tender. If the meat easily falls apart, turn off the heat and cover for 10 minutes. Shred the meat with 2 forks and allow the juices to redistribute into the meat. 

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Shred with two forks and allow juices to absorb back into the meat. 

Shred with two forks and allow juices to absorb back into the meat. 

Pumpkin Loaf

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WHAT FALL MEANS TO ME...

The smell of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves immediately conjures images of Fall.  Leaves blowing off the trees, pumpkins that adorn farm stands and front doorways and the appearance of colorful mums at the garden centers. It's funny how baking can make these images appear as if by magic or by childhood memories of coming home from school to the spicy scents of what summarizes to me the meaning of Fall. Looking into the oven window to see a craggy pumpkin loaf begging to be eaten immediately and dying that it needs to cool beforehand. I see the same look with my own children and know exactly what memories are being created with the scents of Fall in my home.

Equipment needed:

Mixing bowl

Large whisk

Rubber spatula

9"x4" Loaf pan or 12 Cup Muffin pan

Pantry Supplies:

1 Can 15 oz. Can Pumpkin Puree

 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil

2  1/4 Cups Flour

1  2/3 cup Sugar

3 Eggs

1 tsp Cinnamon, 1/4 tsp Clove, 1/4 tsp Nutmeg,  3/4 tsp Ginger

3/4 tsp Salt, 3/4 tsp Baking Soda,  1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder

 

Recipe:

In a mixing bowl combine pumpkin puree, sugar, oil, and eggs. Mix well. Add baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Add flour and mix to combine. Spray your loaf pan with non-stick spray and add batter. In a small bowl combine 2 Tbs granulated sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon. Cover the top of the unbaked loaf with the cinnamon/sugar mixture and bake in a 350 degree oven 65-70 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.  This recipe can be adapted to make 12 + muffins as well.

 

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Base Muffin Batter

There's something about the smell of a muffin cooking in the oven that just says home. With this easy to make muffin base, no mix ever, you can be creative with the mix-ins to suit your pantry, or tastes. Nothing fancy, just wholesome, fresh ingredients. Get the pot of coffee on because you'll be amazed how fast these come together. I recently went berry picking at my sisters house and decided to base my mix-ins on my picking haul.

EQUIPTMENT NEEDED:

Mixing bowl, measuring cup dry ingredients, liquid measuring cup, measuring spoons, whisk or hand mixer, rubber scraper, large spoon or muffin scoop, zester, muffin pan and paper liners(optional but recommended) Oven is required

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 (1 stick) melted butter and cooled(I pop it in the fridge while I get everything else together)

2 large eggs

1/2 cup whole milk (or whatever you use for cereal)

1 lemon, zested

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 cup AP flour + 1 cup wheat flour (optional) you need 2 cups total flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 TBS sanding sugar (granulated sugar is fine) for the tops of the muffins

****2 cups fresh blueberries (dusted with flour lightly to prevent them from sinking like the Titanic when baking)

****This is where you can add your own mix-in of choice. I mixed several options in a separate bowl 2 scoops at a time.

I used blackberries and blueberries and diced apple and diced apricot for my separate mix-ins to please my picky eaters. Such a tough crowd I have. Short order cooking is a tough gig for sure. And I tell myself every time that I'm not doing it anymore but here I go making 4 muffin flavors. But as you see, it's really not a big deal, or at least to me it's not.....anymore.....Well at any rate I cook and bake to please my crowd and that alone makes me happy. 

Ok back to the instructions....

Preheat your oven to 375 degree F. Line a standard muffin pan with paper liners or if not using spray liberally with non-stick baking spray. The last thing you want is the muffin stuck in the baking pan. Oh the HORROR of that!!!!!

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the two eggs, milk of choice, cooled butter and sugar, and lemon zest. Mix to combine well about 3 minutes. Either hand or hand mixer is fine. I used a wire whisk cause I just didn't want to dig my mixer out.

Add you flour(s), baking powder, cinnamon and salt to the liquid mixture and mix until combined. Batter will be slightly thick and dense. Add your mix-ins now and gently fold into the batter. Oh NUTS, yes you can add nuts too. Chopped nuts are a great addition to muffins if your crowd likes them and you have them handy in your pantry. Go ahead, this is your muffin add what you like.

Scoop the batter into the prepared pan or liners filling them to the top or scant below about 1/4" Sprinkle the tops of each muffin with sanding sugar to create a glistening top and crunchy crust.

Bake 25 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean when poked in the center of the muffin. Remove from the oven and enjoy! They are best cooled about 10 minutes but defiantly hard to wait when you've been smelling them bake.  Store in an airtight container or freeze for a breakfast on the go moment. 

 

 

Chicken Saltimbocca

This Tuscan chicken dish is moderately easy to pull together for a family meal or to impress your dinner guests in about 30 minutes start to finish. Feeds 6 people.

The Ingredients are as follows: Equipment needed: large skillet, spatula, baking sheet with rack

6 thin-sit boneless, skinless chicken cutlets. 

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

ground black pepper and salt

1 TBS. fresh sage leaves, minced

6 Slices of prosciutto

4 TBS olive oil

1 1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth

2 tsp lemon juice squeezed

4 TBS cold unsalted butter cut into pieces (keep cold until ready to use)

1 TBS minced Italian parsley (leaves only)

salt to taste

1 Tsp Capers rinsed (optional)

 

Pat the cutlets dry with a paper towel (both sides) 

Mix flour with salt and pepper in a shallow baking dish (to dredge)

Dip each cutlet both sides in flour mixture and set aside.

Heat oven to 250 with rack in center position.

Press the minced sage into the top of each cutlet and place a slice of prosciutto on top. Press slightly to ensure it stays in place. A dab of water around the underside will help if needed.

Cook the chicken in 2 batches using 2 TBS per pan

Heat your skillet then add 2 TBS olive oil. Add 3 cutlets to the pan with the prosciutto side down first. Let it cook about 3 minutes or until golden brown. Flip and cook 2-3 minutes more until golden. Transfer these to the pan with the wire rack and place into your warm oven.

Add the remaining 2 TBS olive oil to pan and repeat the cooking method. Transfer these to the oven after cooking while you prepare the pan sauce.

Off the flame, add your wine to the pan then place over a medium heat and let reduce to about 1/2 cup (5 minutes) Stir in lemon juice and reduce heat to low. Add pieces of chilled butter little at a time and incorporate with a wire whisk until all is added. Turn off heat and add chopped Italian parsley and optional capers. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Remove the chicken from the oven and place in the pan sauce. Serve each cutlet with pan sauce served around the cutlet. I like to keep the prosciutto crisp, therefore I don't pour sauce over the top.

Serve with your favorite sides. I used wild rice and Italian flat beans.

This dish make a great entertainer because it can be made 30 minutes ahead and kept warm in the oven until serving.