Salted Caramel Apple Hand Pies: Devilishly delicious!

Salted Caramel Apple Hand Pie

Salted Caramel Apple Hand Pie

I can say a few things about these pies with utmost certainly — they are delicious, they are adorable and they are a total pain in the ass.

But let’s back up, shall we? I have been dreaming about these apple hand pies for a very long time. They seemed too cute (i.e. labor-intensive) to waste on every day life, so I was saving them for a special occasion. When my co-workers decided to have a party after work for Halloween, I knew the time had come. After all what goes better with camel burgers and gator sausage than apple pies with salted caramel?

My downfall was not thinking the project through. The night before the party I was scheduled to work late and I knew I’d have to bake at least 30 hand pies to have enough to go around. This is why I should have baked cookies instead!

And yet at 9:30 pm I found myself starting a double batch of these tiny little pies. Around 11 pm I started to hate myself a little bit. No matter how cute they looked.

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One of the best ideas I’ve ever had…

Malibu Rum, Pineapple and Coconut Popsicles

Malibu Rum, Pineapple and Coconut Popsicles

A few weeks ago, while reading a blog, I came across the idea of making popsicles with coconut water for a healthy, refreshing summertime treat. And although it sounded like delicious concept, it seemed a little tame to me.

Coincidentally I had also seen something intriguing on Pinterest — pineapple chunks soaked in coconut rum, a boozy, refreshing summertime treat.

Aha, I thought, now we’re getting somewhere!

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The Berry Best Spoonbread…

Mixed Berry Spoonbread

Mixed Berry Spoonbread Cake

The alternate title to this post was something along the lines of  “the amazingly delicious dessert I could make in my sleep.” It might have been a little wordy (and less punny) but it would’ve been entirely accurate. I have made Food & Wine’s Mixed Berry Spoonbread Cake for family reunions, barbeques, holidays and even (all by myself) for a crowd of 75-plus people at a kind-of-crazy pig roast last summer.

In fact, I had a different dessert all picked out for Easter Sunday (I wanted to try making this Blueberry Slump) but at the last minute, I changed my mind. I didn’t want to take the chance of it being ‘meh.’ Given the rather stressful week, I wanted to make something that I knew everyone would love — and so I turned to my old standby.

There are several reasons why this is my go -to dessert recipe:

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Inverting the Gratin

Upside Down Potato Onion Tart

When in doubt about what to cook for large family gatherings, I’ve found that anything combining cheese and potatoes is sure to be a hit. My favorite crowd-pleasing side dishes include twice-baked potatoes, garlic mashed potatoes and creamy potatoes au gratin, all made with copious amounts of cheesy goodness.

Keeping that in mind, I decided to make this gorgeous-looking upside down potato onion tart to go with last Sunday’s Easter ham. That decision was a difficult one as I had never made the recipe before and cooking something for a group of people without a trial run is a little unusual for me. I’m a firm believer in trying recipes out before subjecting people to them!

But this recipe looked fairly simple to make and just reading the ingredient list gave me confidence: potatoes, onions, cheese, butter, herbs. With such humble and tasty ingredients, how could it not turn out delicious?

Happily, it was everything I wanted it to be — the potato layers were sandwiched between caramelized onions and sharp pecorino, making this a truly decadent dish. The edges (my favorite part) were crisp and cheesy and the center was creamy and luxurious. Surprisingly though, for all that flavor, the recipe used only a bit of butter and didn’t even call for cream!

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Hello, Delicious! Swiss Chard, Tomato & Bread Gratin

Sometimes I get the feeling that food fate exists, as if there are just things we are destined to eat. Upon my first bite of this dish, I am even more confident in that belief. Why, you ask? Let me tell you a little story. I am a hoarder of recipes, a collector of torn pages from numerous food-related magazines which are then lovingly organized in one of ten different folders I keep by my couch. I like to go through them often, adding new recipes, reorganizing, maybe pulling out one or two to actually make over the weekend. It’s a sickness, I know. I grapple with that daily. And yet, I can’t stop.

Recently, in an effort to un-hoard, I have been trying to either throw out recipes I know (deep in my heart) that I will never make. Or, better yet, trying to resist tearing them out in the first place if I feel even the slightest bit “meh” about them.

And so as delicious as this Tomato and Swiss Chard Gratin sounded, I was hesitant. With all the wonderful carb-loaded things I eventually want to make, would this actually ever be at the top of the list? Will I pass this recipe by to try out yet another macaroni and cheese instead? Would I ever feel the need to buy a bunch of fairly expensive things: plump beefsteak tomatoes, five pounds of Swiss chard and a nice Gruyère cheese just to bake a fancy casserole? Its chances were not looking good.

Three different times, I almost threw the magazine out with that page still inside. But finally about three weeks ago, in a fit of optimism, I yanked it out. Instantly I was annoyed with myself for adding another stack of paper to the already massive pile of recipes waiting to be filed away in their respective folders.

(Oh god, I’m practically begging someone to plan an intervention for me.)

Anyways here’s the shocking news: within two weeks, I had made it! And in not-so-shocking news, it was freakin’ amazing. Like, so unbelievably good. Yes, this is the dish I referenced in my Cider Press post, the dish that was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. The bread became almost like custard, the chard and onions added depth, the tomatoes kept it moist and the cheese was (of course) sublime.

I am already dying to make it again. In fact, I’m dreaming about this instead of stuffing to go with my turkey at Thanksgiving…or maybe with leftover turkey layered inside? The possibilities are endless.

Here’s some in-the-making pictures to hopefully make your mouth water…

First layer of bread and tomatoes

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Made with älska: Mormor’s Swedish Hotcakes

Saturdays are for Hotcakes

Every Saturday that I wake up at my grandma’s house, I can depend on one thing: there will be hotcakes. When my brother and I were kids spending summer vacation with my grandparents, she would even deliver them to us by spatula (one at a time, hot from the pan) as we sat watching cartoons in the TV room.

As a teenager, I would wake up at noon and the cast-iron pan would still be waiting on the stove, with a pitcher of batter beside it. And as a college student, I could roll out of bed around 1 pm and yet, I could always count on hotcakes.

Even now, as a married 33-year-old woman, not much has changed. Well, I get up much earlier and actually sit at the table instead of the couch, but the idea is still the same.

The pitcher of batter is still waiting by the stove and my grandmother will be standing beside it, waiting for the oil to get hot. Then she’ll drizzle in the batter and slowly move the pan so that it spreads out flat. I usually hover beside her while she makes the first one — just like I used to as a kid when we would find shapes and animals in almost every hotcake.

Then she’ll wave me over to the table, where she’ll serve me one hotcake at a time, right from the pan, each one balanced precariously on the spatula.

If you’re curious about the idea of the hotcake, thinking it looks very different from the pancakes you might know and love, you’re right. They are very different. Swedish hotcakes are like a cross between a crepe and a pancake. They are fairly thin, which is why they seem to taste best rolled up with syrup or jam inside, but they are not at all delicate.

Jam-filled goodness

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