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!  

Creamy Blanco Queso

The countdown is on to the Super Bowl. I wanted to share another yummy appetizer to share at your party. Change it up a little with Blanco Queso. Yummy and you can spice it up with jalapeños. Serve it up with a side of salsa or guacamole.   Everyone loves to munch during the game!  If you still have friends keeping to their New Year’s goals, consider serving up Cauliflower Poppers or Zucchini Fries. Enjoy creating your Super Bowl menu! -Amanda

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Creamy Blanco Queso

8 oz block regular cream cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 lb. Monterey Jack cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 T salted butter 1 (4oz can) green chiles
1 T jalapeños, minced fine (optional)
4-6 T milk
3 Tablespoons water

In a crockpot combine the cream cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, butter, green chiles and jalapeños. Cook on high for 30 minutes. Stir the mixture until well combined and then add a Tablespoon of milk and water at a time until you reach the desired consistency. (this is all up to you on consistency!) Cook for another 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is completely melted and combined.
Keep cheese dip in the crockpot on the warm setting until ready to serve. Check on it and occasionally stir throughout the serving. Serve with tortilla chips or warm tortilla.

Merry Christmas Cobbler

Seriously, Cobbler is just happiness.  And top it with ice cream- enough said.  Merry Christmas Cobbler is a holiday favorite in this house.  Basically if you want to taste Christmas- here you go!  Perfect to pop in the oven as you sit down to dinner and it’s ready for dessert.  Serve in fun individual containers.  (This is such a favorite that Chris requested it for his birthday in March!  And we still called it Merry Christmas Cobbler.)
Happy Christmas Eve! -Amanda

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Merry Christmas Cobbler

2 sticks of butter, softened

1 box yellow cake mix

1 t nutmeg

1/2 pecans, chopped

1 can peach pie filling

1 can whole berry cranberry

Cut butter into cake mix using a pastry blender.  Make sure the butter is thoroughly mixed into cake mix.  Add nutmeg and pecans.  Mix well.  Put peach pie filling and cranberries into lightly greased greased glass pan.  Crumble cake mixture over filling.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Serve warm topped with vanilla bean ice cream.

Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin

In an attempt to try out a few new holiday side dishes, I discovered a dish that makes me push away the typical potato casserole.  I will admit that I have not cooked with spaghetti squash.  What a pleasant surprise!  This creation had this carb loving family excited.  All the goodness with no guilt!  If you are a newbie to spaghetti squash, this video might help you out.  http://www.ehow.com/video_2346682_making-spaghetti-squash-strings-spaghetti.html
Start making your menus!- Amanda

Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin

1 medium spaghetti squash
3 tablespoons butter
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
¼ t red pepper flakes, or more if you like it spicy
1 t fresh thyme
½ cup sour cream
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cut the spaghetti squash in half and remove the seeds.  Place in a covered dish with a ¼ inch of water and microwave for 10 -12 minutes.  In a medium sized skillet over medium heat, add the butter, onions, red pepper and thyme and cook until the onions are slightly brown in color.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Using a fork, scrape the insides of the squash and transfer to a small bowl.  Combine the squash, onions, sour cream and half the cheese together and mix well.  Transfer the mixture to a buttered baking dish 8 x11 and top with remaining cheese.

Place into a 375º for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown on top.

Spinach Lasagna Rolls

We are continuing on our Meatless Monday adventure.  I hope you have taken a little time to investigate the advantages of Meatless Monday.  (Check out my Tomato Pie recipe for more information about Meatless Monday).  This week we created Spinach Lasagna Rolls.  This is a perfect meal for family dinners or sharing with others.  Use your favorite spaghetti sauce to give this meal the perfect kick. Our Meatless Monday was completed with steamed broccoli and a mixed salad.  Go Meatless once a week!- Amanda

Spinach Lasagna Rolls

9 lasagna noodles, cooked

10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and completely drained

15 oz fat free ricotta cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 egg

salt and fresh pepper

28 oz spaghetti sauce (use your favorite)

1 cup shredded skim mozzarella cheese

Combine spinach, ricotta, parmesan, egg, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Pour 1 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish.

Dry the lasagna noodles.  Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out lasagna noodles. Take 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture and spread evenly over noodle. Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.  Makes nine rolls.

Pour remaining sauce over the noodles in the baking dish and top evenly with mozzarella cheese. Cover baking dish with foil.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  Sauce should be bubbly and cheese melted.

Our First Meatless Monday: Tomato Pie

Yesterday was Earth Day.  William and I read an article about Meatless Monday.  The article was very convincing and my six-year-old declared our family needed to take the challenge.  So, here it is Monday evening and I’m proud to say that we met the challenge.  I know you may have a few questions.  There is a ton of great information you can find about Meatless Monday but I answered the top two questions:
Why Meatless?: Going meatless once a week can reduce your risk of chronic preventable conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. It can also help reduce your carbon footprint and save precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuel.
Why Monday?: For most Americans the week begins on Monday. On Monday we move from the freedom of the weekend back to the structure of work or school. We set our intentions for the next six days. We plan ahead and evaluate progress. Studies suggest we are more likely to maintain behaviors begun on Monday throughout the week. That makes Monday the perfect day to make a change for your health.  Monday is the call to action built in to every calendar each week. And if this Monday passes you by, next week is another chance to go meatless!
Our first Meatless Monday dinner was fun.  I whipped up Tomato Pie, sautéed asparagus, and a fresh mixed green salad.  I’m thinking going meatless once a week is an easy challenge. Will you give Meatless Monday a try?–Amanda

Tomato Pie

3 ripe tomatoes, sliced

1 (9-inch) unbaked refrigerated piecrust

salt

pepper

Italian seasoning

dried basil

1 bunch green onions, chopped

1 C mayo (I used light Hellmann’s)

1 C sharp cheddar cheese, grated

3 Roma tomatoes, sliced thinly (garnish)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and turn down to 325 for baking.  Drain sliced tomatoes on paper towels for 15 minutes.  Roll piecrust out on baking pie plate.  Pinch crust to sides and work out all air bubbles.  Poke a few small holes into crust and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove crust and let cool.

Cover bottom of pie crust with the tomato slices.  Cover tomatoes with chopped green onions.  Sprinkle liberally with seasonings, salt, and pepper.  In a small container, stir mayo and cheese.  Spread mixture over layers.  Use Roma tomatoes as top layer, slightly overlap tomatoes to create complete layer.  Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden and bubbly.  Let cool 10 minutes before slicing.  Garnish with a fresh sprig of basil.

If you want meat, this meal can accompany any chicken or beef dish.  Another idea, add 6 strips of cook, crumbled bacon.

You can always add different types of cheeses or different types of veggies.  If you decided to use red onions or bell peppers, sauté them first.

Create Your Own Crayons

Okay, crayons get broken.  That does not mean they are useless and should be thrown out.  Would we do that with a chocolate bar?  No, we would melt that sucker down and top our ice cream with it.  It is time to take crayons to their second life.  Making my own crayons is a family tradition that I did with my Mom-Mom and my Mom.  As a child, I loved to color but to make my own crayons, Stop the Blender!  William and I had a great time making crayons.  Of course I turned it into a science lesson with a colorful reward.  Now, hold your hand high and repeat: “I will never throw a crayon away again.  It has a purpose and deserves a second chance!”  Coloring brings out your inner-child! -AF

Create your own Crayons

Gather your used (or new) crayons.  Take off the wrapped, seriously do this while watching the latest episode of Up All Night. It’s a little tedious, but worth it.

Two options here: (1) Use a butcher knife and chop the crayons into 1/2 inch pieces. (2) Have your munchkin get involved with breaking them up–great fine motor skills

Fill the tin or mold about half way with crayon pieces. Design your own color mixtures.  We designed a cool camouflage heart with browns, greens, and tans.

Bake at 230 degrees until the crayons are melted, approximately 12-15 minutes.

Let the crayons cool and remove from tins/molds.  Tip: if your crayons stick in the tins, place tin in freezer for an hour and the crayons will pop out.

Fill with your favorite colors