Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cream Cheese Apple Dip

Apples, apples, everywhere! Autumn has arrived in full swing at our house!

This is a wonderful dip that goes perfectly with fresh, sliced apples. It's great as a dessert or a snack. It's so super quick and easy to throw together. This is one of our family favorites and I think you will enjoy it too!

Cream Cheese Apple Dip
(recipe from Tammy's Recipes)

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
Fresh, sliced apples for serving (about 6 apples)

Combine all the ingredients (except for the apples) in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix until no lumps remain and is smooth. Serve with sliced apples and enjoy!
(Dip may be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to two days)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tortellini Pasta Salad

Summer is quickly fading to fall here in New England. I love the fall. I love the colors, the cool air, watching football games, but most of all, I love fall cooking and baking....

BUT, it's not quite fall yet, so I have one last summer recipe to share. I have made lots of different styles of pasta salads in my lifetime. Some are great, some are just so-so, but this recipe I came across is really good. The ingredients of the salad itself are very simple, but the dressing that goes on it is what makes it so great. This got big thumbs up in my house, even from my picky husband!

Tortellini Pasta Salad
(recipe adapted from Our Best Bites)

20-24oz fresh or frozen mixed cheese tortellini
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 medium sized cucumber, sliced into half moons
1 cup whole, pitted black olives, halved
1 cup Ground Mustard and Garlic Vinaigrette (recipe below)

First, make the Ground Mustard and Garlic Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
2 green onions, firm white parts only (remove hairy ends)
4-5 medium sized cloves of fresh garlic
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1-2 tsp honey (I used more because I like it sweeter--can also use sugar)
1-2 T coarse grain mustard, to your taste (or dijon, but the coarse grain mustard tastes better)
1 cup canola oil

Using a blender, combine all of the dressing ingredients except for the oil. Blend on high until thoroughly mixed and then, while the blender is running, slowly add the oil in a steady stream.
I suggest allowing the dressing to refrigerate for an hour or so before adding it to the salad. (the dressing is also great on leafy green salads)

For the salad:

Prepare tortellini as directed on package. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Combine the onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives and pasta in a large bowl. Add the prepared dressing and gently toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving and then add more dressing if desired. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pecan Brownie Muffins

For my birthday recently, a good friend of mine gave me a brownie cookbook for a gift. The book has a ton of great, new and intriguing brownie recipes.
Among all of the recipes, I felt the need to make the Pecan Brownie Muffins first. Although I was a little skeptical of the ingredient measurements and didn't have high hopes of a great finished product, the muffins came out awesome! They have a light chocolate brownie flavor and the pecans give it a slightly nutty taste and texture. The recipe said it makes 12 muffins, but I actually got 16 instead. I loved these and recommend that you make them soon!

Pecan Brownie Muffins
(recipe adapted from the brownies-easy and delicious cookbook)

Makes 12 muffins

1 cup pecans
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar (generous)
1/4 tsp salt
1 T baking powder
1 cup (8 oz) unsalted butter
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, broken (or a full 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, which is what I used)
4 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

Coarsely chop the pecans and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into a large bowl and make a well in the center.
Melt the butter and chocolate in a small sauce pan over low heat, stirring frequently.

Add the chocolate mixture to the flour mixture and stir to mix evenly.

Add the eggs and vanilla and mix again. Stir in the chopped pecans.

Spoon the batter into the lined muffin cups, about 3/4 full.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until firm to the touch and a when a toothpick inserted into the middle, comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack and then enjoy!