Twofer: Dinner and dessert

Tonight was a pasta night.  It happens quite a bit, usually in the form of an easy microwave dinner or just some pre-made in a jar sauce with noddles.  Nothing fancy but nothing creative either.  I decided to forgo the stables and do something new.

The menu?  Pasta with an easy creamy garlic sauce that I found on this blog and a quick, microwave dessert that’s a bit of a stable for me when I want something sweet and fruity.  I will say this about the menu…  wait a bit before going from your garlic sauce to your apple dessert.  It doesn’t always go well together right away.

Let’s break it down.

The sauce wasn’t too difficult to make and I say this as being a person who cannot make a savory sauce or gravy right to save her life.  Desserts?  No problem.  Savory?  Apparently it doesn’t work in my brain.  That being said, I’ve watched enough cooking shows to believe I could handle this, and you know what?  I did.  What I will say, however, was that I did have to change things up a bit…as usual.

Pasta with a creamy garlic sauce topped with cherry tomatoes, shredded cheese and parsley

Pasta with a creamy garlic sauce topped with cherry tomatoes, shredded cheese and parsley

The recipe on the site calls for a tablespoon of butter, finely chopping garlic and three tablespoons flour (among other things, you’ll have to check the website out to see what).  I didn’t have fresh garlic (boo) so I used the minced stuff which is probably what changed things for me.  My mixture ended up too dry before I added the milk to the mix.  So I hurried and put in another tablespoon of butter, which seemed to help and worked the milk into the mix.  I do think I will cut back on the flour in the future and add more salt, otherwise, the quick save did the trick.

Now, to top it off, and because I’m a sucker for cheese (forget mold allergies, I love my cheese!), I sprinkled a bit of shredded cheese on top, a bit of dried (wish I had fresh) parsley (I’m on a parsley kick), and some cherry tomatoes.  I turned out rather tasty.  It wasn’t as strong a flavor as I would have liked and fresh garlic is probably what would have made this so I’ll give it ago another time when I have it in the house, but for a quick and easy pasta sauce?  It’s a keeper.

On to dessert.  I’m a fan of microwave desserts since I’m just one person.  It makes it easy to stop at one serving.  What I love even more are apples.  I can eat apples till I’m too stuffed to eat.  Just ask anyone who has worked with me at Greenfield Village at Firestone Farm during apple harvest.  Apples, love them!

My favorite thing to do is to add some sugar, both brown and white (I love the flavor mix of the two with an apple), cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to a chopped apple.  Always taste your apple to check the sweetness, etc.  Every apple breed is different and that changes your ratio of sugar to spices.  I’ll admit, I had a sweet apple and might have added a bit too much sugar (ha!), but I got excited.

Spiced apples with ice cream

Spiced apples with ice cream

Microwave those apples with your spices and sugar for about 1 minute.  I always do spurts of 30 seconds just to be sure.  Then I crumble up some graham crackers or vanilla wafers (preferred) and top it off with just a small scoop or two of french vanilla bean ice cream.  It warms the belly and really isn’t as bad for you as a good slice of chocolate cake, which is a winner in my book.

All in all… not a bad meal.  A typical meal, but a pretty good one.

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Apple Cinnamon Bread on a Cold Day

What does a freezing cold day like today need?  Why, warm bread of course and not just any bread, homemade apple cinnamon bread.

I could have easily looked one up but I was feeling the need to be a bit creative.  It seems pretty basic anyway when you look at it: bread + apples + cinnamon = apple cinnamon bread.  Then, of course, sugar is involved and voila, you have bread.  Now, I didn’t write down the exact amounts, but I’ll do my best to recount it all.

Start off with your basic bread set up: yeast, sugar, a drop of honey (because I happen to like it), milk and water and set to foam up.  My yeast is on the last batch of being good so it didn’t rise like it usually does but it was enough to get through this experiment.

Look at the lovely, cracked top!

Look at the lovely, cracked top!

The next part is making the flavor.  I put together a mixture of sugar and cinnamon so that it equals about 1/4 cup or so (like I said, I didn’t actually measure this out).  In another bowl, I peeled and chopped three medium to small sized granny smith apples (they are the best for baking really) into very small bits like if you were dicing up some onions.  To the apples I added a healthy spoonful of white sugar, a couple of soft brown sugar and a good sized pinch or two of cinnamon.  The cinnamon ratio for both the sugar mix and the apples all depends on your love of cinnamon.  I happen to like cinnamon and it smells up the house wonderfully.

When that’s all done and the yeast has foamed up, add in your butter and egg like you usually do and the usual pinch of salt.  Mix that together, then add the sugar/cinnamon mix.  I added at least 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of flour to thicken it before I added in the apples.  Note that this is A LOT of apples to dough ratio so if you don’t want that many, just use two.  In our house, we love our apples and my mother insisted on adding a third apple.

Then proceed as usual to make the dough, let it rise, punch it down, put it into pans and let it rise again before baking.  This bakes up a little slower and a bit thicker so watch your oven temp and the timing.  In retrospect, I wish I had made little roll/muffins in the cupcake tin because these would be great for breakfast.

The larger loaf with the apple icing.

The larger loaf with the apple icing.

To top it off, I made an apple icing for the large loaf (I left the smaller alone).  This I made using powdered sugar, apple juice instead of milk, a pinch of cinnamon and a drop of butter all whisked together.  I actually like this much better than a sugar and milk combo for a glaze.

Happily, the result was delicious with just the right amount of sugar and lots of very tart and sweet apple chunks.  I give all the credit to the type of apples.  Granny Smith really are the way for baking…eating raw however, my heart belongs to Macintosh.