I wish it was Fall Cupcakes

I really want it to be fall! The weather tricked me with one cool week before going back up into the high 80’s low 90’s. While I can’t bake my favorite autumn treats when I am still in ice cream temperatures, I can make some cupcakes with autumn themed colors!

RECIPE: I wish it was Fall Cupcakes
Makes A Dozen 

Cupcake Liners
Muffin Tin
Oven set to 375 degrees

1 1/4 Cup Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
1/3 Cup Margarine
1 Cup Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 Egg
2/4 Cup Milk
Food Coloring (Optional)

DSCF49581) In a mixing bowl, combine margarine, sugar, and vanilla until it beats together.
2) Beat in the milk and eggs.
3) Slowly add in the flour, baking powder, and salt.
4) Add in orange food coloring if desired to make it feel more fall in style.
5) Put cupcake liners in the muffin tin and fill each cup about two thirds of the way full.
6) Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until down.

7) Frosting options for these cupcakes range from peanut butter to vanilla to yogurt toffee. DSCF4975

Peanut butter frosting that is dolloped on top in a careless, I just want to eat you, fashion.


Vanilla cream frosting piped on to the top of the cupcake for a fancier affect!

IMG_3414This frosting is a toffee yogurt frosting that I tried out for something different!


One Pot Spaghetti

This spaghetti is a completely from scratch recipe. I’m not sure

RECIPE: One Pot Spaghetti
Makes 2 Servings

Cutting Board
Cast iron pan
Wooden Spatula

Homemade Italian Sausage
Fresh Basil
Spaghetti Noodles
Parmesan Cheese

1) Begin browning the sausage in a cast iron pan.
2) As the meat cooks, chop up the tomatoes. Add them to the mostly cooked sausage.
3) Mince up 3-4 cloves of garlic and stir it into the tomato.

4) Let the sauce cook together, and then chop the basil and add it to the sauce.
5) Add some homemade spaghetti noodles that were in the freezer.
6) Stir and let the noodles cook in the sauce.
7) Serve with a shake of Parmesan cheese.DSCF4916

The pasta really took on the flavor of the sauce and it was absolutely delicious!

Breakfast for Dinner: Wrap Edition

When people think of breakfast for dinner, they probably think of pancakes or cereal. For me, I really wanted a nice big breakfast. I’m talking about eggs, potatoes, etc. Of course, it was right after work and I was starving, so this recipe has a couple cheats. For instance, I figured out a way to make smashed breakfast potatoes using a microwave.

RECIPE: Breakfast for Dinner: Wrap Edition
Makes 2 Servings

Cutting Board
Cast iron pan
Wooden Spatula

Green Pepper
Black Pepper
Red Potatoes
Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Whole Wheat Tortillas
Apple Sauce

1) Chop up the onion and green pepper and throw it into a cast iron pan. DSCF4919
2) Season the onion and green pepper with a touch of ground black pepper.
3) Microwave the red potatoes in a bowl for 4-5 minutes or until they are baked through.
4) Take the potatoes and place them in another cast iron pan.
5) Crack a few eggs into the bowl, scramble them, and pour them over the peppers and onions.
6) Add some butter to the potatoes and smash them.
7) Scramble the eggs, and as the potatoes brown make sure to stir them.
8) Slice the cheddar cheese. DSCF4923
9) In a warm cast iron pan, lay down a tortilla and place cheddar cheese down the center.
10) Scoop some of the eggs on to the tortilla as the cheddar cheese melts.
11) Wrap the tortilla and serve it with the crispy breakfast potatoes and bowl of apple sauce! DSCF4926


Buffalo Chicken Dip Variation 4

I believe this is the fourth time I am posting a buffalo chicken dip on the blog, but I swear each version is different. This variation played around with how the cheese is used in the dip, and I think this version is tied with the Autumn Apple Chicken Dip

RECIPE: Hot Chicken Dip
Makes Many Servings

375 degree Oven
Cutting Board
Cast iron pan
Cheese Grater

2 Cans Cooked Chicken
1/2 Block Cream Cheese
Sour Cream
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Hot Sauce
Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese

1) Open 2 cans of cooked chicken and drain the cans before adding to a cast iron pan.
2) Be sure to really break up the chicken.
3) Add half a block of cream cheese, a scoop of sour cream, a hefty sprinkle of garlic powder and onion powder, and lots of parsley!

4) Stir everything into the chicken evenly.
5) Pour hot sauce over the mixture and stir until the right level of heat is reached.
6) Shred the cheddar cheese and sprinkle over the top of the mixture.
7) Bake in a 375 degree oven until the cheddar cheese is melted and beginning to bubble and brown. DSCF4949

Serve this dip with carrot sticks, green pepper slices, crackers, or even tortilla chips!

Stack it: Eggplant

So I was really craving eggplant rollatini. I used to get it from an Italian deli all the time in high school, and haven’t had it in years. Unfortunately, the eggplants I found weren’t long enough to do rolls. So instead of trying to replicate the recipe, I figured I would make my own eggplant meal! This meal lands somewhere between lasagna, eggplant parm, and eggplant rollatini.

RECIPE: Stick it: Eggplant
Makes 6 Stacks

Cutting Board
Paper towels
Cast iron pans
375 degree oven
Spatulas or spoons
Cheese Grater

Red Wine
Parmesan cheese

DSCF49641) Slice the eggplant into rounds.
2) Lay the rounds on a paper towel and sprinkle liberally with salt! Let sit for 15 minutes before rinsing.
3) Place the eggplant in single layers and place in a 375 degree oven to roast it.
4) Chop onions and toss them into a heated cast iron pan.
5) Roughly chop up the tomatoes and add them to the cooking onions.
6) Dice up a few cloves of garlic and add half to the sauce, saving half for later.
7) Pour some red wine over the cooking sauce and stir as it simmers.
8) In a bowl, add a big scoop of ricotta.

9) Add the other half of the diced garlic to the ricotta.
10) Slice the basil into strips. DSCF4971
11) Add the basil and half a cup or so of Parmesan cheese to the ricotta and then stir it until well combined.
12) Shred some mozzarella cheese. 
13) In an empty cast iron pan, spread a bit of the tomato sauce.
14) Lay down slices of eggplant and layer them with ricotta cheese, tomato sauce, mozzarella, and repeat.
15) Bake in the 375 degree oven until all the cheese is melted and browningDSCF4972

With 1 to 2 stacks being plenty filling for a dinner, this meal made plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day. I can say that it reheats well and might be even better the next day!

Grilled Veggie Sandwich

I can’t call this a grilled cheese, because the ratio of vegetables to cheese definitely favors the vegetables! This sandwich is a nice way to enjoy the last few weeks of fresh summer protest!

RECIPE: Grilled Veggie Sandwich
Makes 2 Sandwiches

Cutting Board
Cast iron pan

Green Peppers
Pepper Jack CHeese
4 Slices Whole Wheat Bread
Habanero Mustard

DSCF49781) Thinly cut the tomatoes and green peppers into slices.
2) Slice up some pepper jack cheese.
3) Use the knife to butter one side of each slice of bread.
4) Spread habanero mustard on the inside of 2 slices of bread.
5) Place the bread with the mustard butter side down in the hot cast iron pan. DSCF4979
6)  Stack tomato and then the green peppers on top of the mustard.
7) Lay down the cheese on top, and then cover with another slice of bread butter-side up.
8) When the bottom slice of bread is browned, use the spatula to flip the sandwich.
9) Serve the sandwich onces both sides are toasted with pickles on the side.


Apple Butter

I feel like it is trying to become fall outside, even if the temperatures are still hitting the 80’s regularly (but it’s cooler than the 90’s!). I was lucky to receive two very large bags of apples from one of my coworkers. I felt absolutely spoiled by all of the fruit she gave me, so I knew it had to be made into something extra delicious: Apple Butter! This thick dark sweet topping is great mixed into cottage cheese or spread on top of toast. This is a modified version of a crockpot canning recipe, and I will have the amounts broken down into per lb of apples ratios so you can scale it to what you pick or buy!

RECIPE: Apple Butter
Makes a lot

Cutting Board
Large Dutch Ovens
Wooden Spoon
Jars, Lids, etc.

Per pound of Apple
1/2 cup white sugar
1/8 cup water
1/2 tablespoon Cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon Molasses

1) Core the apples by cutting them in quarters and tossing them into a dutch oven. I had 15 pounds of apples so I needed two large dutch oven pots for this recipe. DSCF4983
2) Add the water to the pots and turn on the heat to medium or medium low, cover it and let the apples cook.
3) Let apples keep cooking until they get super mushy, or pretty much turned into sauce.
4) Mix in the sugar, cinnamon, and molasses.
5) Cover the dutch ovens and place them in a warm oven over night and then through work the next day.
6) Use a stick blender to blend all the apple peals until a single smooth texture.
7) Bring to a boil over medium heat, and let it cook until its the preferred thickness.
8) Sterilize the half pint or pint jars and then fill with the very very hot apple butter.
9) Process  the pints and half pints for five minutes in a boiling water canner.
10) Remove and let cool over night on a flat surface.
11) In the morning, make sure the lids are all properly sealed before labeling and storing! IMG_3397

The 15 pounds of apples made 12 half pints and 4 pints of delicious apple butter!

Pop’s Eggplant Parmesan

I apologize for the delay between posts. I caught some nasty germs while on travel, and have been out of it on the couch for the last few days. Sadly, I even gave the germs to my dog so he had a matching runny nose too. I am finally feeling like a functional human, and wanted to post some more recipes!

This recipe is my Pops’s Eggplant Parmesan. I think he get it from one of the Alton Brown cookbooks, but he makes it better. He is able to cut the eggplant so think that it has an amazing texture. I don’t have his skills down pat yet, but I think I did a pretty decent job.

RECIPE: Pop’s Eggplant Parmesan
Makes 4 Stacks

Cutting Board
Cast iron pans
Baking Sheet
Paper Towels
8×8 Glass Pan
Oven heated to 375 Degrees

Egg Plant
Red Wine
Black Pepper
Oil with a high smoke point
Matzah Meal

DSCF48571) Core and chop the tomatoes before tossing into a warm cast iron pan.
2) Dice up the last 3/4 of an onion and add it to the tomatoes. Stir and let cook.
3) Line a baking sheet with a paper towel.
4) Slice the egg plant thin and lay the slices out of the paper towel. DSCF48585) Heavily salt the eggplant before laying down another paper towel and weighing it all down with a cast iron skillet for 20 to 30 minutes.
6) Pour some dry red wine into the cooking tomatoes and stir. 
Finely chop up 2-3 cloves of garlic and add it to the tomato sauce.
DSCF48608) Season the sauce with some basil, oregano, and black pepper and let thicken over low heat.
9) Rinse the salt off the eggplants and dry with clean paper towels. Toss the old paper towels in the trash.
10) In the cast iron pan, fill with a 1/4 to 1/2 inch of a high smoke point oil and begin heating.
11) Lay out three bowls, fill the first with flour, the second with two eggs scrambled, and the third with a mixture of matzah, Parmesan, and black pepper.

12) Once the oil is to frying temperature, take the pieces of eggplant and dip them in the flour, then the egg mixture, and then coat it in the matzah mix. Using a fork for all the dipping with help keep your fingers clean!
13) Fry the eggplant until both sides are golden brown, about a minute a side.
14) Lay the fried eggplant on a baking sheet and keep it warm in the preheating oven while you finish prepping the cheese.
15) Slice about 4 ounces of mozzarella into strips.

16) In a glass dish, place a bit of tomato sauce on the bottom. Layer it with four slices of eggplant, then mozzarella on top and then cheese on top.
17) Repeat until you have four stacks each about three eggplants high. Sprinkle the stacks with Parmesan cheese.
18) Bake in a 375 degree oven until the cheese melts and browns.
19) Serve hot, with about two stacks equaling one serving. DSCF4882


I had a lot of fun with this recipe, because I grew the eggplant, tomatoes, and basil used in it! It was really cool to be able to go into the backyard and pick most of the main ingredients! DSCF4852

Blackberry Summer Cake

I never say no to free food. Especially when my friend picks lots of blackberries and freezes two bags just for me, and they test better than any berries you can pick up at the grocery store. While I am waiting to decide what to do with the second bag of berries, I know for sure one bag is going towards my blackberry summer cake!


RECIPE: Blackberry Summer Cake
One Two-Layer Cake

9 inch Cake Pans
Oven set to 375 degrees
Sauce Pan
Metal Spoon
Measuring cups and spoons
Cooling Racks


6 oz Shortening
15 ounces SugarDSCF4863
1 1/2 Cups Milk
1 Tablespoon Bourbon Vanilla
7 Egg Whites
12 ounces All Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
Black Berries
2 Cups Sugar
Lemon Juice
Powdered Sugar
Black Berry Juice

1) In a mixer, combine the 6 oz of shortening and 15 ounces sugar.
2) Add in the milk, vanilla, and egg whites. (You can save the yolks for Hollendaise sauce for breakfast the next day!)
3) Slowly beat in the flour, baking powder, and salt until a batter is formed.
4) Use a bit of shortening to grease the two baking pans, and a first full of flour to coat the interiors.


5) Pour the batter evenly between the two baking pans.
6) Bake for 15 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and a tooth pick comes out clean.
7) While the cakes are baking begin defrosting the black berries in a sauce pan. Once they are partially defrosted, pour some of the juice into a separate container for later.
8) Once the black berries are thawed, mix them with about 2 cups of sugar and a heavy splash of lemon juice.
9) Simmer and stir as the berries break down and the mixture thickens a bit. You will want to use a rubber spatula unless you want your wooden spoon dyed pinkish purple.

10) Let the cakes cool completely on cooling racks. DSCF4878
11) When the filling is done and the cakes are cool, its time to start on the frosting.
12) I didn’t measure exactly for the frosting. Pretty much I threw in a scoop of crisco, a dash of vanilla, the blackberry juice and mixed that until thoroughly combined. I then added powdered sugar a bit at a time while beating until it developed into a frosting with a flowing consistency. I like my black berry cakes to almost look like it was decorated with cascading frosting.
13) Place the first cake on a plate. Use a metal serving spoon to scoop the black berries on top, with a little room around the edge.
14) Place the other cake on top, and then gently flow the frosting over the top and over the sides.

15) If you aren’t serving immediately, be sure to keep the cake in the fridge. Because of the fresh berries, this cake is not to be stored on counters. DSCF4885DSCF4886

Not only does these cake have a delicious blackberry filling, but even the frosting has a sweet blackberry flavor! The white cake is balances the sweetness of the filling and frosting, creating a cake with great summer taste that isn’t overly sugary.

Summer Style Grilled Cheese

I have heard there are grilled cheese purists on the internet, that say adding anything beyond cheese to a sandwich no longer allows it to be called a grilled cheese. I disagree with them, and believe that there are no limits to what you can put into a grilled cheese as long as its made in a pan with butter!

RECIPE: Summer Style Grilled Cheese
Makes 3 Sandwiches

Cast iron pan
Cutting Board

4 oz Pepper Jack Cheese
2 Tomatos
6 Slices of Whole Wheat Bread

1) Begin heating the cast iron pan on just under medium heat.
2) Slice the pepper jack cheese into thin pieces.
3) Slice the tomatoes to your preferred thickness.
4) Butter one side of each piece of bread.

5) In the cast iron pan, place one piece of bread butter side down. Put down a layer of tomatoes, place down a layer of cheese, and then top with another piece of bread butter side up.
6) When one side is golden brown, flip and let the other side brown.
7) Remove the sandwiches to the cutting board and let cool for a few seconds before cutting on an angle. This limits cheese strings when its cut apart.

The match of the fresh tomatoes with the flavor of the pepper jack cheese makes an absolutely delicious sandwich!