DOUBLE APPLE BUNDT CAKE ala Dorie Greenspan

Here is another Dorie Greenspan cake that topped my list from when I did the meme several years back.

DOUBLE APPLE BUNDT CAKE

2 cups ALL PURPOSE flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon QUALITY ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup apple butter
2 eggs
2 medium apples, peeled, cored and grated
1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
½ cup plump golden raisins

  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Butter a 12 cup Bundt pan.
  • Dust the interior of the pan with flour, then tap out the excess.
  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Set aside.
  • Working with a stand mixer beat the butter and sugar on medium speed, scarping the bowl as needed for 3 minutes or until the mixture is smooth, thick and pale.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each addition; until you have a light, fluffy batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the apple butter. It may appear to curdle the batter, don’t worry it will be okay.
  • With the mixer still on low speed add the grated apples and mix to completely blend.
  • Add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the batter.
  • Using a rubber spatula, fold in the nuts and raisins.
  • Turn the batter into the Bundt pan and smooth the top of the batter with the rubber spatula.
  • Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a think knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Transfer the pan to a cooling rack to cool for 5 minutes before inverting and cooling the cake to room temperature.
  • If possible, once the cake is completely cool, wrap well in plastic and let it stand overnight at room temperature to ripen the flavors.
  • If you’re not going to ice the cake, you can dust it with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

OPTIONAL GLAZE:
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons fresh orange or lemon juice

  • Put the sugar in a small bowl and stir in a squirt or two of either orange or lemon juice. Keep adding the juice a little at a time until you have a glaze that falls easily from the tip of a spoon.
  • Drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake letting it slide down the curves of the cake in whatever pattern it makes.
  • Let the cake stand until the glaze dries before slicing.

DAY 5 ~ BLOGMAS 2017 ~ MUST HAVES

What I CANNOT live without in winter is many many things, but these are my top items! The one thing I am absolutely sure of is that if I have a sore throat, dry skin, cold feet or hands, cold food or catch a cold I am NOT happy.

I drink a cup of green tea every night and try to make very balanced comfort food meals to warm up my family from the inside out.  Here are a few of our favorite soups and stews links for you.

Split Pea Soup  

Red Chicken Chili

Black Eyed Pea Chili

Tomato Spinach Soup  

Navy Bean & Ham Soup

Chicken & Sausage Gumbo  

HAPPY HOMEMAKER & MENU PLAN MONDAY week 49 of 2017

I hope everyone had an awesome week. Mine was busy with surgery prep and trying to get things done in advance so hubby has very little to do while I’m in recovery mode.

OUTSIDE MY WINDOW & THE WEATHER OUTSIDE

We had a thunderstorm yesterday that rivaled Hurricane Harvey and has knocked out my TV and internet so I’m using the neighbors to finish this post.  At&T after a heated discussion did promise a technician between 4 and 8 this afternoon.  Unfortunately the 2 dozen Christmas movies I had taped on the DVR to watch during recovery are now toast as well as  so we will be calling the customer loyalty number and having a chat about reliability since this is the 4th time in 12 months we have been without service or lost all our shows already recorded.

The weather itself is gray, rainy and still quite WARM. 80° in December is unbearable as far as I’m concerned.  It is supposed to storm today and tomorrow and then drop down into the 60’s on Wednesday.

ON THE BREAKFAST PLATE

Protein drink and green tea

AS I LOOK AROUND THE HOUSE / WEEKLY TO DO LIST & HOUSE PROJECTS

  • LAUNDRY… quite a few loads today, towels, bedding and clothing
  • LIVING AREAS & KITCHEN… plan on doing a deep clean today and tomorrow in preparation of not being able to do anything for 60 days and not wanting hubby to have to do it.
  • STUDIO… is mainly storage these days so nothing going on there
  • YARD… nothing
  • BLOG… some recipe updating, future post planning and holiday post planning

CURRENTLY READING & TELEVISION / DVR

I’m reading book #9 Calendar of New Beginnings.

  • BIG BANG THEORY and the new YOUNG SHELDON when it returns later this week
  • NCIS, NCIS NEW ORLEANS and NCIS LA, CRIMINAL MINDS, S.W.A.T. starts this week
  • MADAM SECRETARY, SCANDAL, DESIGNATED SURVIVOR
  • CHICAGO FIRE, CHICAGO PD, CHICAGO MED later this season
  • BRAVE, VALOR, SEAL TEAM
  • LAW & ORDER SVU, BLUE BLOODS, HAWAII 5-0
  • MACGYVER, SCORPION, BLINDSPOT, ORVILLE, WISDOM OF THE CROWD
  • Z NATION, WALKING DEAD, FLASH, DC LEGENDS, INHUMANS
  • THE GOOD PLACE, AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE, SPEECHLESS, GREAT NEWS
  • THIS IS US, ONCE UPON A TIME, THE GOOD DOCTOR
  • GUY’S GROCERY GAMES, BEAT BOBBY FLAY, BOBBY AND DAMARIS

CRAFTS / PROJECTS

Not this week, but maybe next week if I’m feeling up to it,  Ill be working on a series of door paintings (possibly mixed media) which I hope to show you soon as well as a mixed media tree of life.

MENU PLANS FOR THE WEEK

MONDAY
TUESDAY
WEDNESDAY
THURSDAY
FRIDAY
SATURDAY
SUNDAY
BREAKFAST
FRUIT & COFFEE
SCRAMBLED EGGS
FRUIT SMOOTHIE
FRUIT & COFFEE
SCRAMBLED EGGS
GUY FOOD & LIQUID DIET
GUY FOOD & LIQUID DIET
LUNCH
FRUIT & CHEESE
SOUP
MEAT ROLL-UPS
SALAD
MEAT & CHEESE
GUY FOOD & LIQUID DIET
GUY FOOD & LIQUID DIET
DINNER
GUY FOOD & LIQUID DIET
GUY FOOD & LIQUID DIET
GUY FOOD & LIQUID DIET
GUY FOOD & LIQUID DIET
GUY FOOD & LIQUID DIET
GUY FOOD & LIQUID DIET
GUY FOOD & LIQUID DIET
DESSERT

SUCCESSFUL RECIPE LINKS FROM LAST WEEK

HEALTH & BEAUTY TIPS

HOMEMAKING/COOKING TIP

I did A LOT of pre-prep during Thanksgiving week, but the refrigerator still only had so much space.  By staking and using the appropriate sized plates in between you can stack and stack and stack to fit it ALL in.

ON MY MIND / THINGS THAT ARE MAKING ME HAPPY

I’m looking forward to starting recovery later this week with surgery finally behind me.  Because of surgery I was on the war path to get things accomplished so hubby didn’t have to.  I’m happy to say all my Christmas packages are wrapped and packaged for shipping. YAY something good is coming from the rush to get ready for surgery.

FAVORITE PHOTO FROM THE CAMERA

Saturday night’s FULL Moon was just GORGEOUS!

INSPIRATION

Be sure to link up with Sandra at Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for Happy homemaker Monday, Terri at Darling Downs Diaries and with Laura at I’m an Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

DAY 4 ~ BLOGMAS 2017 ~ FAVORITE CHRISTMAS MOVIES

Today’s category is an easy one for me.  I start taping Christmas movies on Lifetime, Hallmark and INSP as soon as they air so I can watch all year long.  I’m a sucker for a happy ending and let’s face it, Christmas movies have happy endings.

So this list could be reallllllllllly long, but I will just keep it to the top 5 MUST watch each and every year movies.

It’s a toss up for me about whether White Christmas with Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Vera Ellen and Danny Kaye or It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart, Lionel Barrymore and Donna Reed is my absolute favorite, but I think I’m leaning towards It’s a Wonderful life!
Which Miracle on 34th street version (the original with Natalie Wood or the remake with Richard Attenborough) is the best?  BOTH versions of course!
The Santa Clause with Tim Allen quickly became a favorite – who could resist visiting the North Pole every year?
 Now Home Alone is just silly, but it never fails to make me laugh!

BUFFALO CHICKEN PULL APART BREAD

I found this recipe for Buffalo Chicken Pull-Apart Bread on Facebook, you know one of those that they show you in video form in 30 seconds or less AND looks really scrumptious?  I was thinking of making it as an appetizer when our son and family are here at Christmas time, but needed to test it first. Well, it was HUGE success and I now make it more regularly.

Well, this recipe did not disappoint.  I made some of my homemade Farmhouse Buttermilk Dressing to go with it and the combination was addicting! Instead of an appetizer we added a salad and made it a meal.

BUFFALO CHICKEN PULL-APART BREAD
2 packages Pillsbury pizza dough (I used 1 recipe of my homemade pizza dough)
2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded (I used original recipe Costco Rotisserie chicken)
1 cup Buffalo sauce (I used Frank’s Original Hot Sauce)
1/4 cup scallions, chopped (I used more, about double – we like onions)
2 1/2 cups grated pepper jack cheese (I used regular jack cheese)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 jalapeno, sliced (OPTIONAL – I didn’t use)
Ranch dressing for dipping (I used a batch of Farmhouse Buttermilk Dressing)

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • In a bowl toss together the chicken, buffalo sauce, green onions and half the cheese.
  • Roll out dough and cut into 3×3 inch squares (about 30 squares total). **SEE NOTE
  • Brush each square with the melted butter.
  • Top each square with a spoonful of chicken mixtures and then a sprinkling of the remaining cheese.
  • Brush loaf pan with butter.
  • Stack each square on top of each other in your loaf pan with the chicken side up.
  • Brush top of bread with remaining butter.
  • Top with remaining cheese.
  • Bake 40-50 minutes until golden and set.

NOTE:  The original recipe had you doing each square one at a time, but I found it much easier to do them all at once and then stack them in the loaf pan while it was standing on end for a more even and less messy build.

SHARING with FOODIE FRIDAY and TASTY THURSDAY.

DAY 3 ~ BLOGMAS 2017 ~ FAVORITE CHRISTMAS MUSIC

I’m all over the place with Christmas music – depends on the day, the occasion, my mood, what food we’re eating – just sooooooooo many factors! BUT, I do like it to wait until at least the day after Thanksgiving!
I love the old standards, but I also love country Christmas and Mannheim Steamroller.  I love Christmas carolers, not that you see many these days.  I was even part of the handbell choir at church for Christmas programs.
As for favorite songs I have a few that top the list:
  • Silent Night
  • White Christmas
  • Jingle Bell Rock
  • Winter Wonderland
  • Frosty the Snowman
  • Little Drummer Boy
  • The twelve days of Christmas
  • Deck the Halls
  • Come All Ye Faithful
  • It Came upon a Midnight Clear
  • We three Kings of Orient
  • Joy to the World
  • Rudolph the Reindeer
  • Do You Hear What I Hear
  • The Most Wonderful Time of Year
  • It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas
  • Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer

DAY 2 ~ BLOGMAS 2017 – CHRISTMAS MEANING

Christmas is the most important holiday to me and not because Santa comes, though that is pretty important to the kiddos, but more importantly, it’s a caring spirit, a sharing feeling, an attitude that I try to practice all year long.  I truly feel good about giving – whether it’s the Angel trees I select gifts for or the smile from the Salvation Army bell ringer as you put your money in their red bucket and wish them Merry Christmas.

For 10 years I chaired an Angel Tree Program for FISH and I loved doing it! I prepared for it every year and I truly believe each year got better and better.  The night before we distributed the gifts I would go shopping for the teenage girls.  We were ALWAYS lacking in gifts for the teen girls no matter what we tried to boost things up for them.  So now when I choose the angels from the trees in the community I seek out the teenage girls specifically.

Christmas means lots and lots of memories of family, some no longer with us, but always in my heart when I hang an ornament they made especially for me like my cousin Beth who we lost in October or a recipe that they always prepared like my dad’s Oatnut Sourdough Herb Dressing or Gram’s Christmas box full of goodies picked out just for each one of us or…

One of the things I try to practice is to make at least one homemade gift each year – nothing extravagant, but just something that says “I MADE THIS with LOVE JUST FOR YOU“.

The years that I host Christmas include a lot of family recipes.  But,  most importantly, Christmas is the spirit of Love and Giving and it must be felt and shared. Christmas is a gift from above and each year as I grow older I realize more and more that Christmas is about Love, Peace, Sharing, Caring and just being together.


May we ALL carry the spirit of Christmas in our hearts all throughout the year by remembering the REAL reason for the season.
I found this story years ago over at Heather’s blog Family Forever , now a closed blog, but I kept it to remind me to remember this for the future.
I think next year that many of my gifts will be given in the same manner as my family really doesn’t ‘need’ anything, but so many others do. Don’t forget your tissue box as you read this story.
The Simple White Envelope
It’s just a small white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas –oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it — the overspending, the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma — the gifts given in desperation because you couldn’t think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties, and so forth.. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.. Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended.

Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church.

These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes. As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler’s ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford.

Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn’t acknowledge defeat.

Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, ‘I wish just one of them could have won,’ he said. ‘They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.’ Mike loved kids — all kids — and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball, and lacrosse.

That’s when the idea for his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition –one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on. The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning, and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.

As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn’t end there. You see, we lost Mike last year due to cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning it was joined by three more. Each of our children, unbeknown to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope. Mike’s giving spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us.

May we all remember Christ, who is the reason for the season, and the true Christmas spirit this year and always.

FRENCH PEAR TART

8 or 9 years ago when I was a new food blogger, I joined a MEME group known as Tuesdays with Dorie where we made a different recipe from her cookbook, Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, each week. Of ALL the recipes we made this was one of my all time favorites! It is PERFECT for this time of year!

FRENCH PEAR TART
SHELL
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon very cold unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk

  • To make the dough, put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine.
  • Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is cut in coarsely.
  • Add egg and process in long pulses about 10 seconds each until smoother.
  • Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.
  • Gather dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap well and chill for at least 2 hours or for up to 1 day.
  • Butter the tart pan and press the dough evenly along the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
  • You want to press the crust in so that the pieces cling to one another and knit together when baked, but you don’t want to press so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture.
  • Freeze the crust for an hour before baking.
  • To partially bake the crust, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°.
  • Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil tightly against the crust.
  • Bake the crust 25 minutes.
  • Then carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon.
  • Bake for another 3 to 5 minutes, then transfer the pan to a cooling rack.

PEARS
3 medium pears, firm but ripe
1 lemon
1 cinnamon stick
4 cups water, optional
1 1/4 cups sugar, optional

  • Peel the pears.
  • In a saucepan just large enough to hold the pears, whisk together the water and sugar until the sugar dissolves.
  • Add the cinnamon stick and the juice of the lemon.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Add the pears to the boiling syrup, reduce the heat so the syrup simmers to GENTLY poach the pears for about 15 minutes. They should be tender when pierced with a knife.
  • Remove from heat and set pan aside to cool the pears to room temperature.

ALMOND CREAM
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup ground blanched almonds
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons dark rum or 1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

  • Add butter and sugar to a food processor and process till mixture is smooth and satiny.
  • Add the ground almonds and continue to process until well blended.
  • Add the flour and cornstarch, process,.
  • Add the egg, processing for about 15 seconds more, or until the almond cream is well blended.
  • Add the rum or vanilla and process just to blend.
  • Scrape the almond cream into a container and either use it immediately or refrigerate it until firm, about 2 hours.

ASSEMBLY & BAKING

  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Line a baking sheet and set aside.
  • Cut the poached pears in half.
  • Core them and make sure to pat them dry so that their liquid won’t keep the almond cream from baking.
  • Fill the baked crust with the almond cream, spreading it even with an offset metal icing spatula.
  • Thinly slice each pear half crosswise, lift each half on a spatula, press down on the pear to fan it slightly.
  • Place it, wide-end toward the edge of the crust, over the almond cream. The halves will form spokes.
  • Put the crust on the lined baking sheet, slide the sheet into the oven and bake the tart 50 to 60 minutes.
  • The almond cream will puff up around the pears and brown. Transfer the tart to a rack to cool to room temperature.
  • Right before serving, dust the tart with confectioners’ sugar..

NOTE:  Almond cream pairs well with a variety of fruits such as apricots, peaches and apples as substitutes or combinations.

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