Sunday, September 9, 2012

Long time Coming...Fall Cooking

It's been nearly a year since I've updated this blog, but I've been really busy with my photography business and other life happenings that sadly, this little project of mine has been neglected.

Today though I was inspired. The first hints of fall are peeking through and I couldn't help but spend all day cooking and baking some of my favorite fall foods. The majority of these ideas I had gathered from Pinterest but did some tweaking to a few of them. So, without further adieu, here's what I concocted today. All the recipes will be included in this post if you are interested in making them yourself!

Salted Caramel Shortbread
Ingredients for the Shortbread:
10 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg yolk
1-2/3 cups flour

Ingredients for the Caramel:
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tsp sea salt, plus more for sprinkling on top
4 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp heavy cream
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1.) Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper and leave excess hanging over the edges for easy removal.
2.) In a bowl mix sugar, salt, and butter with a fork or pastry cutter. Add the egg yolk and continue mixing.
3.) Add in the flour and combine the dough with hands until it has the consistency of coarse crumbs. Transfer the dough into the pan and press it into an even layer. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Set aside to cool.
4.) For the caramel, combine all the ingredients in a saucepan except the vanilla extract and bring to a boil for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until caramel reaches "soft ball stage" (basically if you are mixing it with a spoon you'll see the caramel start to harden and drizzle off the spoon when ready.)
5.) Remove from heat and add in vanilla extract. Then pour the caramel mixture evenly over the shortbread. Chill in the fridge for 3 hours. Sprinkle sea salt on top when ready to serve.

*I only chilled it for about 2 and it was perfectly fine. My caramel hardened to the consistency of a heath bar so it was hard to cut into bars once ready. I just took a knife to the shortbread and broke off individual pieces. Not the prettiest presentation, but absolutely delicious!

Homemade Apple Sauce

This recipe I just sort of improvised. Many of the recipes online were calling for all this fancy equipment but I didn't think apple sauce was that complicated. So I cut, cored and peeled 6 granny smith apples and put them in a large pot. I then added 3/4 cup of water, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of brown sugar, the zest of a lemon, the juice of a lemon, and a sprinkling of cinnamon. I brought all of the ingredients to a boil and once the apples had softened, I mashed them down, reduced the heat and let it sit for about 20 minutes on low heat. Once the apple sauce cooled, I stored it in one of my mason jars for safe keeping. My roommate had a taste and said that it was fantastic, so that's encouraging!

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting

1 cup of canned pumpkin
1 box of Yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1/3 cup of oil 
1/2 cup of water
1 1/2 T. of Pumpkin Pie Spice*
Cream cheese frosting

*I didn't have pumpkin pie spice available so I just eyeballed it and added dashes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger to the mix.

Mix Pumpkin, cake mix, water, eggs, oil, water and spices into a large bowl. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds and then on medium speed for 1 minute. Add cupcake mix to lined cupcake tin and bake in the oven at 350 for 19-24 minutes.

For the frosting I simply blended in some cinnamon to the cream cheese frosting and spread it on the cupcakes once they were cool.

These were SO easy to make and such a hit tonight at dinner.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 lb of velveeta cheese
1 Cup of cooked shredded chicken
1 jar of Black bean corn salsa
1 Cup of black beans
1 cup of chicken broth

Easiest soup ever. Mix all the ingredients but the velveeta in a large pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer for 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat and add cubed velveeta and blend until cheese is melted.

I added some diced avocado and crushed tortilla chips on top and whipped up a quick batch of corn bread to go along side the soup. This is one of my favorite fall meals to make and it's great for portioning out and freezing for meal planning!

Happy Fall and Happy Eating!