Dried Apples (Without a Dehydrator!)

I love apples! I don’t have a particular one that I like as long as they are firm and crunchy. Soft apples are the worst. The apples we received (see last post) turned on us really quickly. They became soft and mealy. I tried eating one and throwing lots of salt on it, but it still didn’t make it any better. I’m not a big fan of apple things in general – like in cake or pie, or things like apple butter, applesauce, etc – so I was at a real lost on what to do with five flats of apples until I discovered you can make dried apples in your oven!

I don’t own a mandolin so I cut the apples into thin slices (about 1/8 of an inch) really carefully and slowly. In the beginning I cored the apples, but then realized that was a waste of time since I could just use the whole apple. I placed the sliced apples on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in a 225 F degree oven. After an hour or so, I flipped the apples and left them in for another hour or so. Then I lowered the temperature to 175 F and left them in for another hour. After, I placed them on a baking sheet to cool down. They are so tasty! And it’s such a great way to use up apples past their prime.

Tomorrow we find out if we are having a boy or a girl. So far, the Chinese gender prediction chart says we are having a boy and the Mayan gender calendar says we are having a girl. Either way, Chris and I decided to keep the gender a secret until August! We think its more fun that way. 

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Carrot Soup: The Easiest Soup You’ll Ever Make

Carrot soup…hmm. The sound of it didn’t really appeal to me at fist but when you find yourself with as may carrots as I have you become open to anything. I made carrot cake blondies, but that only used up two carrots. Gah! I had to find a way to use a lot more carrots.

Thankfully this soup used over two pounds! And it was the easiest, cheapest soup I’ve ever made. Its so rich and decadent in taste you would have thought there was cream in there.

Get

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 pounds carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Make
*In a large stockpot over medium heat, add in the olive oil and butter. Sauté onions until translucent, about 5 minutes.
*Add the curry powder and ginger, cook for another minute.
*Add in the carrots, chicken broth and water and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the carrots are tender.
*Using an immersion blender or blender, blend soup in batches. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with cilantro or parsley if you like.

Enjoy!

Saffron Jewel Rice

It’s been way too long since I posted a recipe. You know, life, busy, yada yada yada. Chris and I made this rice dish tonight for dinner and served it with braised lamb shoulder with tomatoes, carrots and onions. The inspiration being I really wanted to make something with saffron and so we came up with this Moroccan/Middle Eastern-esque menu. Weird how random ingredient leads (or possess) us sometimes.


This weekend was busier than usual. Lets see. On Friday I got rear ended while waiting to make a left turn by a car that was being rear ended by the car behind him. That wasn’t so much fun. Still need to get back to all the insurance agents. On Saturday, I was at the Ferry Building all day at the market helping my friends at Three Babes sell pies! It was a lot of fun, very tiring, but fun. The day started off on a scary note however as the person in the stall next to us had a seizure. I could feel my heart racing the whole time. I called 911 for an ambulance while my friend helped stabilize him. Then security and more help came, and then soon after first responders arrived. It was a lot for a Saturday morning.

My evening was a bit more festive. I co-hosted a bachelorette party for two friends who are also sisters! It was a lot of fun. I miss being silly and going dancing.

Today, Chris and I took some time to unwind. We went to Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park and you know what, it was actually warm and nice out. I always forget how massive and totally awesome the park is. It’s really beautiful.

And overall, my time is consumed with getting ready for Bay Leaf Kitchen’s first week of summer cooking and farm camp starting TOMORROW. Squeals! It’s an organization that I am leading with my friends Elianna and Rachel. Follow us here, or here, or here! I guess I should get ready for bed so I can be all smiles for the little campers. It definitely helps having such a delicious dinner 🙂

Note: this recipe is a teensy bit of work but the payoff is worth it! And yes, those are corgi napkins. I am that girl.

Saffron Jewel Rice 
Recipe slightly adapted from Food Network Magazine
Serves 6

Get

  • 1/2 teaspoon lightly crumbly saffron threads
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 wide strips orange zest, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • small pinch of cardamom, ground allspice & ground cumin
  • 2 cups basmati rice, rinsed well
  • 1/3 cup pistachios
  • 1/3 cup almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Cook
*Sprinkle the saffron into 1/4 cup hot water, let sit 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine 2 cups water, the sugar, and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the orange zest and carrot, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and transfer to a bowl; set aside.
*Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, cinnamon stick, cardamom, allspice, cumin, and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the rice and 3/4 teaspoon salt and stir to coat. Add 3 cups of water, increase the heat to medium high and simmer until the water has mostly evaporated, about 4 minutes. Cover the pot with foil and the lid, reduce the heat to low and cook until the water is completely absorbed, about 12 minutes. (This took about 17 minutes for us.) Remove from the heat and let stand 5 minutes.
*Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pistachios and almonds and cook until just lightly golden, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add the dried cranberries and apricots, and 1 tablespoon of the prepared saffron water; stir to combine, then transfer to a bowl and set aside for topping.
*Uncover the rice and fluff with a fork; discard the cinnamon stick. Transfer about half the rice to a serving bowl. Add the remaining saffron water, 1 tablespoon butter and the reserved orange peel and carrot to the rice in the pot and stir gently. Add the yellow rice to the white rice and gently toss; sprinkle with the pistachio mixture and parsley.

Enjoy!

Easy Peasy Mini Brownies

I am a terrible blogger. I always have the intention of posting weekly but my growing to-do lists usually leaves no time for blogging. I used to be better at posting when I had a 9-5 job if you can believe that! Now, my work hours are all over the place and I don’t want to use the “I’m too busy” excuse because it is lame. You’re probably thinking, well who isn’t? Apparently all of us could benefit from not using the “b” card. Chris recently sent me an article about how people are not as busy as they say they are which at first kind of made me mad because I’d like to think that I am actually busy. But after reading it, I realized I need to be better at not “contaminating” my time by trying to cross off every little to-do item while say having breakfast, or watching a movie. I am not that busy! And like the author mentioned, when you are calmly going about your day and being mindful about what you are doing, it doesn’t feel that overwhelming!

So in my oodles of leisure time, what I like to do is bake. Lets get to the main star of this post. No, that’s not the real name of these things but they might as well be! I whipped up a batch of these delicious mini caramel brownies with pretzels and sea salt right for last week’s premiere of Game of Thrones.

It’s spring time which means beach season is right around the corner – which means everyone is on a diet! I am not a big fan of dieting only because I know if I restrict myself from something, I’ll only want it more. So saying I won’t eat desserts, will make me want to inhale a huge slice of chocolate cake, like immediately. Zero restraint. (And no, reverse psychology does not work in this situation.) These mini brownies are the perfect solution! I can eat one, feel satisfied and still be fit for the beach! Not that I would ever go to the beach here in SF…

Easy Peasy Mini Brownies
Recipe from Rachel Cooks
Makes 16 mini brownies
Get
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 16 mini pretzels
  • homemade caramel sauce

Bake
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
*Spray mini muffin cups with non stick baking spray.
*In a bowl, mix together melted butter, sugar, and salt. Once combined, mix in your vanilla and egg. Lastly, fold in the cocoa powder and flour.
*Fill greased muffin tins 3/4 of the way. Gently press a mini pretzel on top of each muffin.
*Bake for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
*Let brownie bites cool before taking out of the muffin tin. *This is really important, be patient!
*Drizzle caramel sauce over each mini brownie and sprinkle the tops with sea salt.

Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

…aka the easiest thing to make ever!

I couldn’t believe how easy this dish was to put together and how delicious it was. The curry powder, garam masala and coconut milk packs in a lot of flavor. I almost feel like I shouldn’t even post it because it’s so easy. But I like easy and I think others do too 🙂 Plus the last couple of weeks have been b-a-n-a-n-a-s for me so recipes like this are much needed.

Sadly I did not have time to take a prettier picture of this but after 7 hours of cooking on low, the chicken was super tender and shredded very easily.

Hope you all will try this out!

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry
Recipe slightly adapted from The Lemon Bowl

Get

  • 3/4 cup coconut milk, light
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, diced
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup green peas, frozen
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • cilantro for garnish

Make
*In the bottom of a slow cooker, whisk together coconut milk, chicken stock, tomato sauce, curry powder, garam masala, cayenne, and salt.
*Add chicken breasts, onion, chickpeas, and sweet potatoes. Give it a good stir to ensure everything is coated evenly.
*Cook on low for 7 hours.
*Stir in peas and lemon juice just before serving. Serve over rice or naan and top with cilantro.

Enjoy! 

Cinnamon Hazelnut Biscotti

I’m so excited for Christmas! We decorated our tiny shoebox on Sunday with stringed lights and a tiny rosemary tree. I’ve started to watch a holiday movie a day to get in the spirit. Today’s feature: I’ll Be Home For Christmas starring JTT and Jessica Biel. (Side note: Chris is so happy Netflix lets you have different profiles.)

This week I am trying to find the perfect cookie swap recipe. I’m hosting my third annual cookie swap – I can’t believe I’ve been in California for three years! One of my favorite cookies to make (and eat) are biscotti. I love enjoying them with a cup of coffee while bundling up with a good book. These cinnamon hazelnut biscotti are a definite contender for the swap.

Thanksgiving was a blast. I think I ate turkey four days in a row. While down in Monterey, we celebrated Chris’ birthday. Maegen and Ryan took us on a bar crawl in downtown Monterey. Our last stop was at 1833, a cozy restaurant serving modern comfort food. We ordered the bacon cheddar biscuits, bone marrow, mushroom pizza and Brussels sprouts. All were amazing! Though my absolute favorite were the Brussels sprouts. It was roasted with orange butter, topped with chopped pecans, and sprinkled with pink peppercorn. Chris and Ryan ordered absinthe, Russian style, so there was a little table fire action.

Thanksgiving day // Chris’ birthday cake from Parker Lusseau // absinthe at 1833 // Chris’ second birthday cake made by Lorie!

When we got back to the city, we headed to our friend’s place for a late dinner and another birthday celebration. It was a fun way to start off the holiday season. There are many more parties and festivities already on the calendar. And with all this comes holiday baking of course! Starting with these lovely biscotti – made with ground up hazelnuts, cinnamon, and chocolate. I dipped some in chocolate but that is totally optional. These would make great gifts too if anyone is looking for baked goods to give away.

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, JTT does make it home 😉

Cinnamon Hazelnut Biscotti
Makes about 2-3 dozen, depending on size
Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Get

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cups finely chopped hazelnuts (with a food processor)

Bake
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together in a medium bowl.
*In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla until combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed.
*Slowly mix in the flour mixture until combined, about 30 seconds. Mix in the hazelnuts until just incorporated.
*Press the dough into two 13 by 2-inch loaves on the prepared baking sheet, spaced about 3 inches apart. Bake the loaves until golden and just beginning to crack on top, about 35 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through baking.
*Let the loaves cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
*Transfer the loaves to a cutting board and slice each on the diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices with a serrated knife. Lay the slices about 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheet and bake until crisp and golden brown on both sides, about 15 minutes, flipping the slices over halfway through baking. Transfer the biscotti to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving, about 1 hour.

Enjoy!

Chocolate PB&J Cups

Thanksgiving is almost here! Time to feast on stuffing, yams, and canned cranberry sauce (yes, I prefer that over the fresh stuff)! I was planning on going home for Thanksgiving this year but with all the wedding plans, I felt it was best to stay local. I was bummed at first because Thanksgiving is just not the same without my family. And no matter how gourmet or delectable Thanksgiving somewhere else can be, nothing beats the deep fried turkey and egg rolls we have at my house.

But I realized that Thanksgiving this year will be really fun because I’ll still be with people I love and who knows, maybe Chris and I will start some traditions of our own. I’m excited because we have three turkey celebrations to go to! I might even go running on Thanksgiving day…though who am I kidding. However, these homemade Reese’s peanut butter cups might motivate me to run. I’ve eaten plenty to warrant a good workout!
These might be one of the easiest treats I’ve made excluding the chocolate-covered cereal. I LOVE Reese’s peanut butter cups but recently, I have found the taste to be too processed and chemical-ly. Is this part of getting older? Or becoming a food snob in California? Either way, I was really excited to see this recipe from a cookbook geared towards children nonetheless! 
I made half with homemade strawberry preserves, and the other half with homemade apricot jam. I think the touch of fleur de sel elevates the whole thing. It is stupid good. I don’t think I can go back to Reese’s. 
You most likely have all these ingredients in your house, so what are you waiting for!? This might be one of the new Amy & Chris Thanksgiving traditions 🙂
Chocolate PB&J Cups
Makes 20 cups
Recipe from Weelicious Lunches by Catherine McCord
Get
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (*I used crunchy because I like the texture.)
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 10-ounce bag dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup strawberry preserves (or jam of choice)
  • 1 tablespoon fleur de sel
Make
*Place the peanut butter and powdered sugar in a bowl and stir to combine. 
*Place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and melt in the microwave for 60 – 90 seconds, stirring halfway through, until smooth. 
*Fill the wells of a paper-lined mini-muffin pan with 1 heaping teaspoon of the melted chocolate. Refrigerate the pan for at least 10 minutes. 
*Meanwhile, roll 1 teaspoon of the peanut butter mixture into a ball and flatten it into a disk the size of a mini-muffin well. Repeat with the rest of the peanut butter to make about 20 disks. 
*When the chocolate has cooled, place a peanut butter disk in each cup. Top each disk with 1/2 teaspoon of the preserves. 
*Top the cups with about 1 teaspoon melted chocolate to cover and furnish with a few flakes of fleur de sel. Refrigerate until set, about 20 minutes. 
Enjoy!