Amanda’s Apple Crisp

Whether you have already been apple picking or it’s on your “apple bucket” list, you will want to save some apples for this crisp recipe.  All the ingredients play together to make fall come alive. My boys believe it must be topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This Apple Crisp is the perfect fall dessert.  

Keep Sing and Dancing in the Kitchen, Amanda

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Warm Apple Crisp

Yields: 12 servings

6 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped (other varieties can be used)

2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon, divided

1 1/2 tsp lemon juice

1 cup light brown sugar

3/4 cup old fashioned oats

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, diced into small cubes

1 tsp of vanilla

pinch of kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.  Butter an 8×8 baking dish. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, add chopped apples, granulated sugar, 3/4 tsp of cinnamon and lemon juice.  Stir to combine. Transfer to prepared baking dish.

In a separate mixing bowl, add crisp ingredients (brown sugar, oats, flour, 1 tsp cinnamon, vanilla, salt, and diced cold butter).  Use a pastry cutter to mix the butter into the oat mixture, using a slight downward twisting motion, until mixture is in small crumbs.  If you don’t have a pastry cutter, you can use two forks or even your hands to cut butter into the mixture.

Spread topping over apples in baking dish, and gently pat to even it out.  Bake uncovered for 40-50 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly.

Serve warm.  We like to add a scoop of vanilla ice to our Apple Crisp.  Enjoy!  

I thought we were just having coffee

Back in July, I received a text from a friend who I had not seen in awhile asking to meet up for coffee. We became friends several years ago sharing elementary PTA adventures. Now our kids were a little older and in different places. I was excited to see her name pop up on my phone. Also completely thrilled to actually get to share coffee and a conversation with her. We had so much to catch up on.

Our anticipated coffee date arrived. We started with catching up and she quickly moved to the reason she called the coffee date. My friend had recently became editor of a local magazine. She shared how the oppopportunity came up and her vision for the future of the magazine.

Then she dropped her big idea! Without a pause in her conversation or thoughts, my friend throws out “and in the magazine we will feature a monthly recipe. I WANT YOU TO WRITE THEM.” (WHAT!?! ME? Amanda Fuller, girl from small town Texas?). She goes on to tell me she needs my headshot. (What, again?) She gives me deadlines and criteria. Then she smiles, says she is so excited to work with me, and cannot wait to see my work.

So lots of details in between: One hour with my favorite photographer, a few test products and pictures, and my first article was ready.

I share all this with you because it was a big step for me to take and to believe in myself when others already had. This is my first time to be published for my work in the kitchen. I’m beyond thrilled to be a contributing recipe writer for Our Milton Neighbor.

As I publish my monthly recipes, you will find them added to my blog as well. Thanks for sharing along with me in this new adventure.  Here’s my first published article:

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Looking Forward,
Amanda

 

Strawberry & Blueberry Bruschetta

We are getting ready to celebrate the 4th of July.  Desserts that include strawberries and blueberries naturally give you a patriotic feeling.  This little recipe was inspired by my friend, Erin at The Speckled Palate.  Jump over to her blog to be completely inspired plus she makes meal planning fun!

This little dessert will leave your family and friends wanting more!  Prep is simple and can be done ahead of time.  Feel free to play with the ingredients and make it your own.  Have a happy and safe 4th of July! -Amanda

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2 cups strawberries, sliced

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1 pint blueberries

1 pre-made Pound Cake loaf (I purchased a Vanilla Pound Cake at Whole Foods)

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter , melted

8oz of Cream Cheese,  allow to sit at room temp for 15 to 20 minutes

1/2 cup of powdered sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

Wash & Dry your strawberries and blueberries.  Slice your strawberries.  Toss  strawberries with 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Slice your pound cake into 1inch (or less) thickness. I made sure to make 12 slices to have enough for dessert.   Brush the pound cake slices with melted butter.  On a preheated grill or grilling pan, toast both sides of your pound cake.  Let the pieces set long enough to get grill lines.  Once all slices are toasted, set aside and allow to cool.  

With a mixer, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla.  Once all combined, place in refrigerator until ready to create dessert.

When you are ready to serve dessert, place your pound cake slices on a serving platter or individual plates.  Smear the cream cheese mixture on to your cake slices.  Make sure there is enough cream cheese mixture to allow the fruit to stick to your cake slices.  Then top that with a tablespoon of strawberries and their juice. Add blueberries by giving them a little push to stay on the cake slices.  Serve immediately, or let stand in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  

Make Your Own Pizza Night

One item on our summer bucket was “Make Your Own Pizza Night” We have done this several times but we jazzed it up with our head chef, Whitaker!

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You can buy pre-made dough or make your own. This is my go to Pizza Dough. If you want to try something different, Trader Joe’s has a great frozen Cauliflower Crust.

We are all about the ingredients in this house. Chop up what you want and add some variety. In my mind there can never be too many toppings. I love them all! Some our favorites: Mozzarella cheese (shredded or sliced), pepperoni, olives, sausage (cooked ahead), bell peppers, onions, jalapeños, and mushrooms.

We use pre-made pizza sauce to keep it easy. Once your dough is ready, start adding all the fun. It’s a great way to get everyone on the kitchen.

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Pico de Gallo

Pico de Gallo is easy to put together.  It’s a great addition to so many meals.  We add Pico (for short) to fajitas, tacos, omelets, and sometimes just love it by itself with chips.  The freshness of the flavors add something to each entree.  This is my simple recipe you can add to or take away.  I make it early in the day to let flavors sit for a little while.  This recipes make a lot so feel free to divide ingredients if you want a smaller batch.

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3 white or red onions

12 Roma tomatoes

2 cups fresh cilantro leaves

2 to 3 jalapeños (soak in ice water before using)

1 lime

Salt

Chop up onions and tomatoes. I like to make sure the tomato and onion ratio is about the same.  Chop the cilantro.

Slice 1 or 2 jalapeños in half.  I always wear gloves when chopping jalapeños.  With a spoon, scrape out the seeds and membranes. (If you want it spicy, leave in some of the white membranes.) Finely chop the jalapeños.

Combine onions, tomatoes, cilantro and jalapeños in one bowl.

Slice the lime in half and squeeze the juice from half a lime the bowl. Sprinkle with salt, and stir together until combined.   Do a taste test.  You can make adjustments to your  pico de gallo by adding more jalapeños, salt, or lime.

Hold on Tight! It’s May!

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Seriously, where did this school year go? How is it already May? Whether we are ready or not, MAY is Here! This month brings mixed emotions to so many. May is a month full of activities. My calendar is full with end of year parties, last chapel, end of year tests, graduations, Mother’s Day, lacrosse tournaments, husband’s travel, and then events I don’t even know about yet! May has a way of stressing us out and getting us excited all at the same time. How are you feeling?

The Holderness Family sums it up for most of us. Watch this video to relate. I had a friend who just said that December has nothing over May. What do you think?

Let’s take this month and realize there might be a couple of ways to calm it down. We know our calendars are completely full. So, DON’T add additional activities. When the last minute plans are made or you get an invite to something extra, stop and consider if it really needs to happen. Many times we feel guilty to saying “No” but saying “No” helps us say “Yes” to other things.

Make a list! What needs to be done each week to feel good and keep the planets in line? What are your “must do’s” for your family? There are usually end of year gifts to buy. Can you do this online? Seriously, Teachers love gift cards! Pick up a gift card at Target and call it a day. Stop at a bakery to buy the cookies you need for the party.

Don’t panic over summer plans! It is truly okay if your children don’t have a plan for each hour of the summer. We get ourselves all worked up over not having their time completely full. If you are working during the summer, make a plan and don’t worry about it. It will all work out and your kids will have a fabulous summer.

What needs to be done before your kids are out for the summer? I have a couple of closets and toy bins I want to conquer before my boys are home. I know how much faster I can take care of these jobs when I don’t have my boys questioning my donation piles. There are a few appointments I want to squeeze in before the summer too.

Team up with other moms! We are all trying to defeat May and the end of the year craziness. If you are already going to Target, ask your friend if they need something there too. When another mom offers help, take them up on it. We are all in this together.

Get your rest! Drink your water! Get to the gym! You have to refuel each day. Fill that Yeti cup full of water each morning and keep filling it up during the day. Don’t stay up catching up on Netflix. Get yourself to bed so you will be ready for the next day. Make a priority to get some physical activity. It will help you with your overall goals and make you feel good.

Pray! Seriously, I know when I stop and talk to God about this craziness, I begin to feel better. He knows how my brain races and how I want to make things perfect for my boys. When I put things into perspective and give them over to God, May has nothing over me. Pray for your friends too. We are all trying to get through this together.

May can be crazy! Don’t let it take over. Try to stop and enjoy the last few weeks of this school year. There is so much to celebrate. You got this!

Keep Singing and Dancing,
Amanda

Cranberry Pecan Baked Brie

A couple weeks ago, I hosted a Noonday Party. It was a fun evening of trying on jewelry, catching up with friends, and noshing on some goodies I had prepared. One appetizer I introduced to the group is my Cranberry Pecan Baked Brie. Let’s just say that there were no crumbs left on the plate.

The way the cranberry pecan topping plays with the brie truly makes happiness. I served the brie with a sliced baguette and crackers. And now this little number will be added to other upcoming festivities this season.

Super easy, great presentation, and a crowd pleasure for sure.

Keep Singing and Dancing during the Holidays,
Amanda

What you Need:

For Brie
1 (8-ounce) wheel brie cheese, rind trimmed
2 T brown sugar, packed

For Cranberry Pecan Drizzle

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 T honey
2 T maple syrup
1 T unsalted butter
1/4 t ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Place brie on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Place into oven and bake until softened. This should take about 12-15 minutes. Remove brie from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange zest. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer. Occasionally stir, until foamy. Then stir in pecans and cranberries.

Serve brie warm topped with pecan mixture. I like to serve with crackers or a baguette.

Pumpkin Creme Brûlée

I recently discovered Natasha’s Kitchen. She has tons of great recipes that have awesome pictures, easy to follow directions, and a fun sense of humor. The other night I made her Pumpkin Creme Brûlée for dessert. Oh my goodness! It was a hit. Plus my hubby got to play with the torch to make the caramelized topping. He actually let Whitaker take a turn with the torch. This dessert is a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving dessert bar or any fall time meal. Enjoy and check out Natasha’s site!

Pumpkin Creme Brûlée

1 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream

3 large whole eggs

1/2 cup sugar (plus extra for caramelizing)

1 cup pumpkin puree (make your own or use the can stuff)

1/4 t ground cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together 3 whole eggs and 1/2 cup sugar until well blended. Heat 1 and 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream in a sauce pan, almost to a simmer; stirring frequently. You don’t want to burn the bottom. Slowly add hot cream into the egg & sugar mix. You need to pour & whisk slowly as you are combining the hot cream with egg & sugar mix. Or you will end up with scrambled mess!

Next, strain the mixture through a small mess strainer into a bowl. Whisk in 1 cup pumpkin puree and 1/4 tsp cinnamon.

Divide the mixture into 8 (4 oz) cups and place in a large casserole baking dish. You might need more than one baking dish. Fill the baking dish with boiling water about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake at 300 degrees for 35-40 minutes. The centers of the creme brûlée should barely move when you wiggle the pan.

Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate creme brûlée until ready to serve; you can refrigerate them even a week before your event.

When you are ready to serve, you can caramelize the top. Put 1 teaspoon of sugar on top. I used Vanilla Sugar from Beautiful Briny Sea made right here in Atlanta, Georgia. Spread sugar evenly over each custard. Heat the top with your torch. (This is my husband’s favorite part. Guys just love fire.) Keep torching until you have a caramelized top.

Once you have caramelized the top, do not refrigerate. This will cause your topping to not be crisp.

How Do I Pick Out My Thanksgiving Turkey?

Whether this is your first time hosting Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving, the turkey situation can be scary and daunting. As soon as you enter the grocery store, you are hit with multiple options like fresh, frozen, organic, heritage, free-range…and Butterball. I mean, what does it all mean? How big of a turkey do I need?

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A Beautiful Turkey Cooked by Williams & Sonoma

Today, I will try to help with the decision of picking out the turkey. I have researched several types of turkeys so that you are armed when you enter the store. This does not have to be hard.

How BIG of a Turkey Do I Buy?
To make sure you feed all your guest well, your biggest decision should be the size of turkey. An easy rule is 1 pound for every person at your table. If you want leftovers, 2 pounds per person will be perfect. IF you want lots of leftovers, well, you get the idea.

Where is this Bird Going to Cook?
Now, you need to consider where you are cooking this turkey! In your oven, in a roaster oven, and the neighbor’s. You need to size-up the area you have to work with. You can see the problem on Thanksgiving day when your turkey is TOO BIG and you have nowhere to cook it. Big Fail!

Do you have a Pan to Cook your Turkey in?
This is like a dress rehearsal. I like to (days before) establish what pans and dishes I will be using for Thanksgiving. Go ahead and pull out the pan you will be cooking your turkey in. You might need to purchase one or borrow from a friend. If you are using a roaster oven, make sure your bird fits before the big day.

Heritage, Free-Range, Organic, Oh My!
When you arrive to the grocery store, you will be hit with several choices. I consulted my friends over at Food & Wine to break it down for us.
Heritage: One of the most popular birds in the past few years because of their superior flavor, heritage turkeys are purebred and generally older than other turkeys you may find at the store. They tend to be smaller, have more bone and darker leg meat. Life outdoors gives these turkeys a gamier taste than the regular store-bought varieties.

Organic: Certified organic by the USDA, these turkeys are now more easily found in grocery stores, and are Weening’s top choice. They are fed an all-organic vegetarian diet, never given antibiotics and are raised on organic pastures. They tend to be a little more expensive because the feed the birds eat is more expensive.

Free Range: No antibiotics or hormones are given to these turkeys and they have access to the outdoors (at least part of the time, according to the USDA).

Pastured Turkey: This type of turkey is raised outdoors and is pretty much free to do and eat what it wants, although they are also given feed to ensure they get the proper levels of nutrients.

Kosher: Kosher turkeys are raised and processed according to strict rabbinical guidelines. Before they are packaged they are rubbed with Kosher salt, which also acts as a brine.

Brine: Some turkeys are one step ahead of you and have been brined already. Various juices, oils, seasonings, sugar and/or salt are injected into the turkey. Brining is beneficial because it can provide extra moisture and flavor to the turkey in addition to saving you some prep time, but it can dictate the flavor of your turkey and take the seasoning out of your hands. Butterball turkeys are usually brined.

Fresh vs. Frozen: Basically fresh turkeys are kept at a temperature of 27 degrees. When the temperature drops below that, the meat begins to freeze. If you’re buying a fresh turkey, buy it NO more than two days before you plan to cook it; you can usually reserve one at markets and farmers’ markets way in advance.

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Check Out Local Restaurants and Grocery Stores For Cooked

Many local restaurants offer Thanksgiving Turkeys for your convenience. This is a great option and one I have used before. You usually need to order a week before. Your turkey is prepped and cooked by a professional. Then when you pick up, you are given specific directions of how to cook your turkey. This is a great option to take some pressure off the big day.

It Will All Be Fine….
In the end it comes down to what you want to pay. Turkeys can get pricey, so know how many you are buying for and be sure to take into account the leftovers you want to eat for days to come. Otherwise you got this. Feel confident in the purchase of your turkey. Your guest will LOVE it.
Looking Forward,
Amanda