Apple Orchard Pie

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Apple Orchard Pie! Nothing conjures up autumnal nostalgia like a slice of apple pie, still warm enough from the oven to soften a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Inhale the aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. It’s delectable, isn’t it? I realize making pies may not be on the top of the list for everyone who loves it. So, I’m telling you today, it’s okay to begin with a prepared pie crust. There are some pretty decent brands out there for you to try. Some refrigerated brands are made to unroll and crimp the edges; others are frozen and meant to be thawed. Some are buttery, super-flaky, and even taste as good as homemade. That’s where you’ll need the help of an assistant, or taste-tester, so to speak. Just remember, pie doesn’t have to be picture perfect to taste spot on. It’s dessert, after all.

APPLE ORCHARD PIE

Ingredients:

1 prepared pie crust, 9”

4-5 large sweet apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

4 large tart apples, peeled, cored, and sliced

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons butter

Ingredients for Crumb Topping:

1 cup flour

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Form prepared pie crust into a pie plate that has been sprayed with nonstick oil. Crimp edges. Set aside. Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and sea salt. Sprinkle about a quarter cup of mixture over the bottom of the pie crust. In a large bowl, toss the apple slices with the remaining sugar mixture. Coat well. Transfer apples to the pie plate, forming a mound in the center. Dot with 2 tablespoons of butter. Bake for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine flour, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon for crumb topping. It should resemble small peas when mixed. Carefully add the topping to the apple pie. Bake 30 minutes longer. If necessary, cover the pie with foil to prevent burning.

Yesterday’s Cucumber Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Yesterday’s Cucumber Soup. Here we go again with another cold soup option. It may sound like an oxymoron, but actually if I called it a Cucumber Smoothie, would you drink it? Perhaps. Tell me this, how many times have you been served ice water with a cucumber slice in it? Or grabbed a hydrating plant-based juice beverage at the corner convenience store? Get the picture. It’s all about the perspective. If you find it challenging to eat cold soup, or just plain WRONG…by all means, pour it into a glass and slurp away. To quote William Shakespeare, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Carry on.

YESTERDAY’S CUCUMBER SOUP

Ingredients:

4 mini seedless cucumbers, peeled and chopped

1 gala apple, peeled, cored, and chopped

1 green onion, chopped

2-3 basil leaves

1/4 cup almond milk, unsweetened

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon lime juice

Diced apple, tomato bits, chive snips, and basil leaf for garnish

Instructions:

Reserving garnish to taste, place all remaining I ngredients in a blender. Alternate between Pulse and Liquify settings to purée until smooth. Transfer cucumber mixture into a covered container. Refrigerate 1-2 hours or overnight until chilled. Divide into shallow bowls. Serve garnished with apple chunks, diced tomatoes, chopped chives, and basil.

Quesadilla Apple Bacon Cheese

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Quesadilla Apple Bacon Cheese! Your “go-to” snack just got even better. Take a hayride through the apple orchard where farm-to-table treats are as common as animal cloud shapes in the sky. Choose a nice juicy red apple; something to sink your teeth into like Gala, Fuji, or Delicious. The cheese could be American, but I prefer extra sharp cheddar. Go meatless or go crazy and add a couple slices of Applewood Smoked Bacon, with enough crunch to match the crispy tartness of sliced apples. Get the picture? Nibble, nibble.

QUESADILLA APPLE BACON CHEESE

Ingredients:

1 apple, cored and thinly sliced

2 flour tortillas

4 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

4 strips Applewood Smoked Bacon, cooked until crisp

Instructions:

Sprinkle cheese on half a tortilla. Layer apple slices over cheese. Add more cheese. Lay two strips of bacon on top. Fold tortilla in half. Repeat process for second tortilla. Microwave quesadilla for 20 seconds on High setting, or until cheese is melted. Transfer quesadilla to a toaster oven for a crunchy crust that is golden brown. Serve immediately.

Waffle-Doodle-Doo!

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Waffle-Doodle-Doo! The million dollar question of the day is “Why are chicken and waffles so popular?” Could it be the crispy moist chicken tenders, or the fluffy golden-edge waffle, or the sweet creamy butter? Maybe. Perhaps it’s the robust taste of natural maple syrup. That’s good, too. Personally, I like the explosive kick of jalapeño and the bite of cilantro mixed in. Sliced apple sticks are a bonus. No matter your preference, it’s kind of a thing. Go the easy route like I did. Pick up an order of breaded chicken tenders from your favorite food joint. Since my husband is a master on the waffle iron, he does that part. Make extra waffles; they freeze well. You can thank me later. Pull it all together for a unique flavor that works for breakfast, weekend brunch, or late night craving.

WAFFLE DOODLE-DOO

Ingredients:

4 chicken tenders, precooked

2 buttermilk or Belgian-style frozen waffles

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1-2 tablespoons jalapeño pepper jelly

1 Gala apple, cored and sliced into matchsticks

Butter, room temperature

Fresh cilantro

Instructions:

Warm chicken tenders in a 350° oven while waffles are being made in the waffle iron or heated in a toaster to desired crispness. Combine maple syrup and jalapeño jelly in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat on High in 15-second intervals. Stir together until jelly is melted and the flavors are blended. Core the apple, then slice into matchsticks. For presentation, cut waffles into triangles to form a “tent”. Brush waffles with softened butter. Drizzle with jalapeño maple syrup. Arrange chicken tenders. Add apples. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Fritter Fratter Apple Loaf

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Country Casual Cravings: Fritter Fratter Apple Loaf! This recipe is pure country. If you don’t believe me, ask the Amish. They cook for taste, dietary staples, and comfort. It definitely checks all the boxes when it comes to a flavor-filled bakery bread loaded with fresh fruit, brown sugar, and cinnamon spice. No frying allowed, simply because this delectable treat falls in the category of “quick breads”. No need to feel intimidated. You have everything you need. As with any recipe, the results depend on the one baking it. You can do this.

FRITTER FRATTER APPLE LOAF

Ingredients:

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 cups diced apples, peeled and cored

For Glaze Topping:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 tablespoon butter, softened

2 tablespoons milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a loaf pan with nonstick oil. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Mix well; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the softened butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until blended. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and sea salt. Gradually add to the large bowl. Stir until blended. Pour milk into the batter; blend until smooth. Pour half the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Layer with half the diced apples. Pour reserve batter over the apple layer. Top with remaining apples. Gently press into the batter. Cover the top with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 60 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. For the glaze topping, blend the powdered sugar and softened butter until smooth. Add milk and vanilla extract to form a smooth consistency. Allow the apple loaf to cool for 20 minutes. Drizzle the glazed topping over all. Slice loaf and serve.

Pickled Banana Peppers

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Pickled Banana Peppers! Harvesting a vegetable garden has its advantages: convenience, great taste, chemical-free, and healthy. We’ve pretty much been of the theory, “Plant it and it will grow.” A little neglect will only make it thrive, right? So why in the world does my husband go overboard with so many plants? They all act like they’re on steroids in some kind of competitive race, so I end up with produce bursting off the vines. In any event, I often shrug my shoulders, come up with creative recipes, and make the best of it. A gal’s gotta do what a gal’s gotta do.

PICKLED BANANA PEPPERS

Ingredients:

1 cup vinegar

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

2 garlic cloves, whole

1/2 pound banana peppers, seeded and sliced

Instructions:

In a 2-quart pan over medium heat, combine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, sugar, celery seeds, and garlic cloves. Bring to a rolling boil. Add the banana peppers. Keep them submerged under the pickling liquids. Remove the pan from heat. Let sit for 8-10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the banana peppers and garlic to a clean jar. Ladle the pickling juices to fill the jar within 1/2” of the top. Wipe off the rim and add the lid. Store in the refrigerator.

Apple Butter Bars

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Food Whisperer: Apple Butter Bars! What if I told you there was no “butter” in apple butter? Would you wrinkle your brow and say, “Whaaat?” It’s true. Apple butter is made by slow-cooking apples a long time until the sugar content caramelizes, giving it a deep brown color. I skipped the homemade process by choosing to purchase an organic brand made by one of my favorite country restaurants. You can, too, by visiting local farmers who are more than willing to share their bounty this time of year. It’s Applelicious!

APPLE BUTTER BARS

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butter

1 cup sugar

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 1/2 cups natural apple butter

1 gala apple, peeled and chopped

1/3 cup peanuts, chopped

1/4 cup brown sugar

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9”x13” pan. Set aside. Cream together butter and sugar. Mix flour, sea salt, and baking soda together. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture. Spread 3/4 of batter in the prepared pan. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon. Spread apple butter on top. Layer chopped apple pieces over all. Fill in with chopped peanuts. Crumble remaining batter on top. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake 30-35 minutes. Cool slightly and cut into 24 squares.

Yumolicious GF Harvest Muffins

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Chow Down: Yumolicious GF Harvest Muffins! Have you discovered the silky taste of almond butter lately? I recently came across a gourmet item that enhanced the almond butter with cinnamon and chia seeds. Because it works with this muffin recipe, I went ahead and used it. Obviously, if chia seeds are not your thing, no worries. The butternut squash is the star attraction, in my opinion. It has a natural sweet flavor that surpasses the pumpkin patch variety that is more common. Since I recently made a batch of glazed pears, they were added to the “harvest”, but you can certainly substitute with a delicious apple instead. If I haven’t piqued your interest by now, let me further add the fact that these yumolicious muffins are gluten-free. See? It works. You learn something new everyday.

YUMOLICIOUS GF HARVEST MUFFINS

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butternut squash purée

1 cup almond butter

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 pear, finely chopped

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 tablespoon almond flour

2-3 tablespoons old fashioned oats

2 tablespoons sunflower seeds

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325°. Use muffin cup liners for 12 muffins. Line the muffin tin; set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine butternut squash purée, almond butter, maple syrup, beaten egg, cinnamon, and baking soda. Mix well. Fold in the chopped pears. Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full. For the topping, mix brown sugar, softened butter, almond flour, and old fashioned oats. Mixture will be crumbly. Sprinkle each muffin with streusel topping. Top with sunflower seeds. Bake 30-35 minutes or until muffins pull away from paper liner. Watch carefully.

USA Happy Snack

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: USA Happy Snack! Did I ever tell you I spent my childhood surrounded by apple trees? It’s one of my favorite memories, growing up in the Midwest. If I was in a feisty mood, I’d nibble on sour green apples. Forget that my impatience may have caused a tart pursing of the lips and a slight ache in the stomach. As the apples ripened, I’d pluck the prettiest one off the tree, rub it against my knee for a mirrored sheen, and admire its beauty. Sometimes I’d twist the stem until it broke, reciting my ABCs. Whatever letter I was on when the stem splintered away became the name of my next boyfriend. But not if it matched my brothers’ names. That didn’t count. Here’s to all-American healthy food wrapped up in a little nostalgia.

USA HAPPY SNACK

Ingredients:

1 Gala apple, cored and sliced

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 slices smoked Virginia ham

4 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, sliced thick

Fresh mint

Instructions:

Brush the sliced apples with lemon juice to prevent browning. Cut the ham slices in half. Take one apple slice and place it on top of a piece of cheddar cheese. Wrap them with one piece of ham, seam side down. Tuck a sprig of fresh mint into the snack. Enjoy!