Sparkling Cider Muffins

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For a variety of reasons, we open a bottle of Martinelli’s each holiday we host. The thing is, we never finish a bottle of it. This recipe uses up some of the leftover and some pureed pumpkin (for when I don’t use the whole can making puppy treats for Gibbs and Nugget).

Combine 1/2 cup oat flour, 1 cup all purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons cardamom, 1 teaspoon ginger, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 3/4 cup pumpkin puree, 2 eggs, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1/3 cup sparkling cider and 1/4 cup olive oil.

Pour into lined mini or full sized muffin tins. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes and check for doneness. The full-sized may take an extra minute or two.

When still hot, sprinkle with a 1:1 sugar:cinnamon mix.

If you’d like to eat them my favorite way, eat them while a bit warm still and reading a good book.

 

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Pot Roast

DSC_0034I love how this pot roast turns out. I do not love scrubbing the dutch oven after, though, so this is a special treat in our house.

Lightly flour the sides of a pot roast. I like to get one that’s 3-4 lbs. because it fits well in my dutch oven. Choose a cut that fits your cookware! After you flour both sides, sprinkle a hefty amount of salt and then crack some pepper on each side. Lightly brown each side of the roast (about 5 minutes over medium-high heat) and remove to a plate. Lower the heat to medium-low.

Make thick cuts of 4 yellow onions so you have some chunky rings. Caramelize these in your dutch oven in about 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-low heat. You’ll get some of the flavor from the beef on the onions and have fewer pieces to clean. Once the onions are translucent, add 4 cloves of minced garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Turn the stove off.

Scrape the onions to lie across the bottom, sprinkle lightly with salt, and place your roast on top. Using a small can of tomato paste and a butter knife, ice the roast as you would a cake. Add two paste-cans worth of water or beef stock to the dutch oven. This won’t cover your roast, but should cover the onions to help keep them from burning. If two cans isn’t enough to get the liquid up to the roast line, add more. Sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Place one quartered carrot into the onion mix where there’s space.

Place the dutch oven lid on and put into a 350 degree oven. Cook approximately 1.5 hours, checking every 30-45 minutes and adding water/broth as needed. Remove the roast, slice, and put back into the dutch oven. Push the roast into the liquid. If the roast is not 3/4 covered with liquid, add more. Replace the lid. Cook another 1.5 hours, checking your liquid levels regularly. If you don’t want to slice it, don’t- just keep checking your liquid levels and cook for about 3 hours.

Serve with mashed potatoes, rice, or something else starchy and delicious for sopping up that flavor.

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Graham’s Cookies

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To be clear, these cookies are not cookies Graham made. Rather, these are cookies that his sweet sister makes a version of and I was determined to create a from-scratch version. These have less oatmeal than the originals, but that means you can sneak them to people that “don’t eat oatmeal cookies.”

Cream together 1/2 cup unsalted butter, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, and 1/2 cup white sugar. Beat in 2 large eggs and 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in 1 cup flour, 1 cup old fashioned oats, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 1/4 cup dried tart cherries, and 1 cup dark chocolate morsels. If you like walnuts or macadamia nuts, throw some in too. If you’re related to Graham, don’t do that, it’s probably not safe.

This will, in fact, look like it’s mostly cherries and chocolate. Do not judge me.

Drop by tablespoons a few inches apart on silicone or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 14-17 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool then remove to cooling rack. Smack husband’s hand away when he tries to steal them while piping hot.

 

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Goodness Gracious, Sweet Jam of Fire

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“Fire” is a bit dramatic. There’s some heat in this chili jam, but it’s nothing wild. Once upon a time, Trader Joe’s had a Hot and Sweet Chili Jam. It was delicious. I purchased it in triplicate when I ran out.

And then.

Trader Joe’s stopped making it.

At first, I was in denial. Perhaps they hadn’t restocked at my store in a while. Then, I thought they’d start making it again if enough people asked about it.

They did not. I waited two years. Then I found the ingredient list on a photo on Amazon for the discontinued jam. Though I had never made jam, I experimented with the ingredients to get something passably close to the original.

Bring 2 cups of apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup crushed red pepper flakes, and 1/4 cup dried minced garlic to a boil. Cook 10 minutes, stirring often. To this mixture, add 1 1/2 cups sugar, 2 tablespoons pectin, and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring continuously. When the mixture coats the back of the spoon, remove from heat. Ladle into jars. Heat seal if you’re kooky like that, otherwise store in the fridge for up to a month.

Eat with every cheese plate you ever make, with bagels, straight out of the jar, on ice cream. Bring it to all the picnics and game nights.

 

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Clouds of Whipped Cream

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I know, there’s already a post with a recipe for whipped cream. But with the holidays approaching, you need peppermint whipped cream in your wheelhouse for holiday desserts, hot chocolate, and I won’t tell anyone if you add it to your coffee, too.

Chill a bowl in the freezer for about 20 minutes.

Using a mixer (chill the mixer paddles for extra credit), whip 1 cup heavy cream, 1/4 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 teaspoon peppermint extract. Don’t use spearmint (which makes up the regular “mint extract”). If you’re struggling to find peppermint, check the cake decorating sections of your local grocery store or even craft stores. If you still can’t find it, you can buy entirely too much of it on Amazon.

 

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Pudding Pie

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A word of caution: this is not a pie that you can throw together at the last minute. This is a pie that needs to be refrigerated for at least 24 hours. Sometimes longer. I recommend making this with the chocolate animal cracker pie crust, but the shortbread crust is a good option, too.

 

Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1/4 cup cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 3 cups whole milk, and 4 egg yolks in a medium saucepan. Whisk together. Whisk over medium heat until it just barely comes to a boil and starts to get thick. For me this takes about 15 minutes because I don’t want to curdle anything and I keep it over medium-low heat if we’re being honest. First you want it to coat the back of your spoon. This means that when you lift a spoon, you can wipe your finger in the sauce and leave your finger trail. Keep stirring until it’s thick like pudding.

Remove from heat. Add 6.5 ounces (1 bar) bittersweet baking chocolate, chopped roughly, and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and a 1/4 teaspoon chili powder if you want it to have a bit more flair. Add 2 tablespoons unsalted butter. Stir until it’s all melted together. Pour into your pie crust. No need to bake it. Pour any excess into a pudding container of your choice.

Let your pie come to room temperature, then move it to your fridge to sit, uncovered, for at least 24 hours. 36 hours seems to be a sweet spot.

 

 

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