Stuffed! Sweet Spiced Apples

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Though it is now well past Thanksgiving, I can’t help but leave November with one final Stuffed! recipe. It seems appropriate considering stuffed is how I, and I suspect many of you, felt about a week ago.

These stuffed apples are good for ridding the kitchen of a few lingering cranberries. They also make for a sweet and filling dessert that, aside from the brown sugar, is not all that unhealthy.

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The cranberries themselves add a nice tart pop to the sweet baked apple and spiced brown sugar. Though I did not garnish my stuffed apples, allowing a dollop of ice cream or cool whip to melt over their tops seems like a great idea. With just a few simple steps and a little bit of time, you too can enjoy sweet stuffed apples.

Another way to use up fresh cranberries is to sugar them. This creates a fun snack as well as a simple syrup good for flavoring sparkling water. Click here to view the recipe.  If cranberry sauce remains in your kitchen, a recipe for warm cranberry dip can solve your problems.

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So long, November. Hello, holiday baking…

5.0 from 1 reviews

Sweet Spiced Apples
 
Author:
Serves: 5
Ingredients
  • 5 medium apples
  • ⅓ cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, optional
Instructions
  1. Core or hollow out the centers of apples. Be sure to leave the bottoms fully intact.
  2. If desired, peel the top third of each apple.
  3. Combine the cranberries, brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the apples.
  5. Place in a slow cooker and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until tender.
  6. Garnish with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.

 

So Long Hostess, Hello Twinkies Bundt Cake

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When I heard the news that Hostess would be no more, I felt momentarily wistful  for my favorite snack cake – the Twinkie. Though I have not bought a Twinkie in approximately six years, I still love them. They are better than the chocolate cupcakes filled with cream and topped with a squiggly white line of icing. When those same chocolate and cream filled cakes are coated in wobbly marshmallow and pink coconut to become snowballs, the competition increases. Yet still, the Twinkie comes out on top. Those poor apple and cherry hand pies? They never stood a chance.

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I love Twinkies so much that I actually own The Twinkies Cookbook So Long Hostess, Hello Twinkies Bundt Cake. Here are a few pieces of my favorite Twinkies trivia, direct from that source.

  • Twinkies have a shelf life of a mere 25 days.
  • Upon their invention in the 1930s, the snack cakes were filled with banana-flavored cream. The switch to vanilla was in response to a banana shortage experienced during in WWII.
  • The inspiration for their name came from a St. Louis billboard advertising Twinkle Toe Shoes.
  • Twinkies sparkle with an undeniable magic. (That is not actually trivia, but it is an exact quote from the book that struck me as funny. Who thinks this stuff up?) 

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When I came across a recipe for a Twinkie Bundt Cake in Pure Vanilla a few weeks back, I marked it on my “To Bake” list. When I heard people across America were stockpiling Twinkies a few days ago, I thought I had better share this homemade twist on a classic sooner rather than later. Admittedly, the cake is not quite  like the Twinkies I remember. The crumb seemed more heavy than spongy, but on the other hand, the filling was remarkably similar.

Preparation requires a bit of forethought as both the eggs and the buttermilk should warm to room temperature. Creating a tunnel to fill with the vanilla cream was also interesting.  It was not as difficult as I expected, but I found I needed to shake the cake pan over the sink a few times to remove all of the crumbs and form a clear path. Because this recipe will leave you with four egg whites, I suggest simultaneously cooking an omelet or baking Flourless Chocolate Cookies.

The Twinkies cookbook concludes its ode to the beloved snack cake with this statement, “So let us raise a toast to an American original – the magical, mystifying, magnificent Twinkie. The journey’s been quite a treat.” Indeed it has. Enjoy!

Twinkie Bundt Cake
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • For the Cake
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extra
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 7 eggs: 3 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • For the Filling
  • 1 jar (7 to 7.5 ounces) marshmallow cream
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Confectioner’s sugar for dusting (optional)
Instructions
  1. Spray a 12-cup Bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray and dust lightly with flour and set aside.
  2. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder and salt and set aside as well.
  3. Beat the butter and vanilla extract on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
  4. Add the sugar and beat until evenly mixed, about one minute.
  5. Slowly pour in the vegetable oil and beat until light fluffy, about two minutes more.
  6. One at a time, beat in the eggs followed by the egg yolks.
  7. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk in three alternating additions, beginning and ending with the milk,
  8. Continue to beat on low speed until all lumps are removed, then fold by hand a few times before pouring into the prepared Bundt pan.
  9. Bake at 325 degrees F for 60-70 minutes until golden and a wooden skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  10. Allow to cool in the pan for approximately two hours.
  11. To make the filling, beat the marshmallow cream, butter and vanilla together until smooth.
  12. Place in a pastry bag fitted with a round tip (a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off should serve in a pinch).
  13. Use and apple corer or a knife to cut six deep holds into the bottom of the cake. Take care not to cut down through the top of the cake.
  14. Use your fingers to connect each hole by burrowing down into one and across into the other. Dump crumbs as necessary.The goal is to create a tunnel within the cake.
  15. Insert the tip of the filled pastry bag into each hole and gently fill. You should be able to see the filling start to fill an adjacent hole as it moves through the tunnel. If not, gently work the bag back and forth as you fill.
  16. Scrape away any excess filling, invert onto a serving platter to remove from the pan, and dust lightly with confectioners sugar if desired.
Notes
I filled my cake just after the two hour mark. I tend to have the most luck removing cakes (and quick breads) from their pans when they have had a chance to cool but still remain warm.

 

Stuffed! Artichokes

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Yesterday I tried something new. I prepared and served stuffed artichokes. Up until that point, my experience with eating artichokes extended to smothering their hearts with cheese and spinach in dip form. I can not say that these stuffed artichokes were better, but they certainly were different.

A stuffed artichokes recipe first caught my eye when I was researching Oktoberfest recipes on The Beeroness earlier this fall. When Daily Candy posted a video on just how to stuff an artichoke earlier this week, I knew I had my next “Stuffed!” recipe. If you are a first-time artichoke stuffer like me, checking out both links is definitely worth your while. The Beeroness provides great pictures, and the Daily Candy video brings those pictures to life.

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They may look odd, but stuffed artichokes are not at all difficult to prepare. To get the filling in between the petals, I found it easiest to place my artichoke right down into the bowl of stuffing mixture. I then spooned the stuffing mixture right over the artichoke itself, filling its petals almost like water running down a fountain.

Though they are easy to prepare, they are a mess to eat. I did not tear out the heart of my artichoke (sounds so cruel!) as seen on The Beeroness, and I am glad I did not. Taking a bite from the center felt like a reward after nibbling through all of the outer petals! Like the norm when eating shellfish at a beach restaurant, I wished I would have worn a plastic bib and placed a metal bucket nearby to discard the leaves. The point I am trying to make here is if you are considering making this recipe to impress a new date, I’d hold off a bit.

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After all of this talk of artichokes, is anyone wondering, just what is this plant? The spikes on the leaves were so sharp that I wondered if they were type of cactus. Since I am not a horticulturist, the best I can determine from the “highly accurate” internet is artichokes are a type of thistle that may or may not be in the same family as the daisy and sunflower. The heart that we most often eat will actually bloom over time. Lovely and delicious. Enjoy!

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Stuffed Artichokes
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 artichokes
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup cooked and crumbled bacon
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • 1 cup beer for steaming
Instructions
  1. Trim the artichokes by cutting one inch off the top removing the stem so the artichoke can sit upright.
  2. Use kitchen scissors to trim the pointy tips off each petal.
  3. Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and bacon bits in a bowl.
  4. Loosen the petals of a choke from the center (so that it looks like a flower in bloom). Fill in each petal with a little of the bread crumb mixture.
  5. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.
  6. Place the artichokes (stems down) in a pot so that they fit snugly and remain upright.
  7. Fill the pot with an inch or two beer (or water) and place a lid over the top.
  8. Steam over medium heat for 40-60 minutes or until the petals can be pulled from the center of the vegetable without too much tugging.