Apple Cider Donuts

donuts

It’s starting to feel a little more like fall, my favorite season! Unfortunately in Madison fall only lasts for, like, a month, so gotta take advantage of it while it’s here. I love that the weather gets cooler, that the leaves change color, and that it’s apple season! Super not into all the over-hyped pumpkin spice stuff (except for a certain someone’s pumpkin white chocolate chip cookies) but I love apples, apple pie, apple crisp, apple cider (both cold and hot), and apple cider donuts!

I was first introduced to apple cider donuts when I was in college. Every October one Friday was declared to be Mountain Day, classes were canceled and we all climbed up Mount Greylock, drank apple cider, ate apple cider donuts, and listened to various a cappella perform. It was definitely one of the most fun, memorable experiences of college.

When I moved out to Madison I got excited when I saw some apple cider donuts at the local grocery store. But unfortunately those ones were not nearly as good as the ones from Mountain Day (they tasted like they were made using those powdered hot apple cider packets… gross!). So with the help of Sally from Sally’s Baking Addiction, some sisters from my family group and I made some on our own.

We tripled Sally’s recipe and followed the directions pretty much to a T with one exception – instead of dipping the donuts in melted butter, we put them directly in the cinnamon/sugar mixture… which makes them healthier right? 😉

The result was pretty delicious (especially given that they’re baked and not fried). Super flavorful, moist, and fluffy. Definitely the best apple cider donuts I’ve had in a while. As one of my friends often says (she’s a huuuuuge Sally’s Baking Addiction fan), “Sally’s done it again!”

Caprese Salad Bites

This past week has been really great but also just really exhausting. I flew out of Madison early last Saturday and went home for the weekend. Spent a couple days at home with the family, then headed into Cambridge to do three days of go live support.

One might ask, what is go live support? Basically, when a hospital installs the software, a bunch of us will go out to make sure things go smoothly. We take 12 hour shifts (6am-6pm or 6pm-6am) and roam the hospital helping doctors and nurses use the software, reporting any issues we find. It’s pretty tiring, but at the same time it’s really rewarding to see the software in use and to help end users directly.

Anyway, the go live went really well, but either way spending 12 hours on your feet is pretty tiring (especially for three days straight). Usually when I go on go lives, after my shift is over I eat dinner, do a little work/answer emails and stuff, then go to bed at like 9 or 10pm. But this time I was in Cambridge and I actually know people in the area. So each night (Tuesday-Thursday) I met up with different people.

Tuesday I went to my friend’s apartment in Kendall Square. We hung out, watched a movie, and made these Caprese salad bites as well as the white wine sangria (next post). Wednesday I met up with friends from my old church youth group and had dinner in Burlington. Thursday I met up with friends from college and went to a brew pub in Cambridge. Each day I didn’t even get back to the hotel until almost 11pm, which means I didn’t get to sleep until close to midnight. That combined with getting up at 5am everyday for work meant this trip was even more exhausting than normal go lives.

And then of course there was this weekend. But I’ll get into that in the next post.

These Caprese salad bites were quite delicious and simple to make. And healthy, too.

Recipe adapted from Dainty Chef

Ingredients
Grape tomatoes
Basil leaves
Fresh mozzarella cheese
Toothpicks
Balsamic vinegar
Salt
Pepper

Cut the grape tomatoes in half, and the mozzarella cheese into bite-size pieces.

Assemble by spearing a piece of cheese, then a basil leaf folded in half, then a grape tomato half (flat side down) on a toothpick.

When you’re done assembling them all, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Microwave Mochi

It was my family group’s turn to provide snacks today, so two friends and I made roasted pork for fajitas and these mochi snacks for dessert. Incidentally one of these friends isn’t even in my family group, but she’s really good at cooking/baking, so we drafted her to help. Thanks friend!

I’m not posting the recipe for the roasted pork because I wasn’t involved in making it, so I don’t even have any idea what was in it.

As for the mochi things, I’ve had this mochi recipe in my bookmarks for a while now, and finally got around to trying it. I was deciding what to make and went with this one because it was April Fools Day today and the idea of making another form of fake sushi on April Fools Day amused me. I decided also to make the red bean paste ones because I figured people would like them. I don’t actually like red bean paste, so I have no idea what those ones tasted like. Come to think of it, I didn’t get one of the fruit/mochi sushi pieces either (they disappeared too fast), so I can’t really make any commentary on how these turned out.

People did tell me that they were good though, so I’m going to call this one a success. On several occasions people voiced their surprise that these were homemade because they tasted like they were from a store. That’s not necessarily a compliment (usually I would hope that homemade would taste better than store bought), but I think they were meant to be compliments.

Anyhow, I am really tired and want to go to bed soon, so I’m going to stop rambling and get on to the recipe. Enjoy!

Recipe from Tiny Urban Kitchen

Ingredients*
3/4 cup Mochiko Sweet Rice Flour
3/4 cup water
3 tbsp sugar
cornstarch

1 can red bean paste
Assorted fruit (I used blackberries, mangoes, and strawberries)

In a pyrex bowl, mix the flour, water and sugar together. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 2-3 minutes. Carefully remove from microwave (it’s REALLY HOT).

Line a plate with cornstarch. Scoop out spoonfuls of the dough on to the cornstarch. You’ll probably want to wait for it to cool a little bit, and you’ll want to cover your hands with cornstarch too, otherwise the dough will stick to your fingers. To make the nigiri, simply form logs (~2″ x .5″ x .5″), roll in cornstarch, and set aside to cool. To make the red bean paste ones, form a flat circle (~3″ in diameter, ~.25″ thick) with a little well in the middle. Put ~1 tsp (didn’t actually measure) of red bean paste in the well and fold in the sides. Roll around to make a flat disc shape and set aside to cool.

Once they’re cooled, the red bean paste ones are done. Shake off excess cornstarch and enjoy! For the nigiri, shake off the excess cornstarch, top with fruit of your choice and enjoy!

*I’m not sure how many of each these measurements make. In total I think we made 7-9 batches and made about 40 red bean paste ones and 25 nigiri. That used up almost 2 boxes of the rice flour, and probably less than 1/2 of the can of red bean paste.

Cinna-bites

So it’s been a while since my last post. Things have been busy so I haven’t had the energy/motivation to try new things… I’ve been sticking mostly with broccoli and rice. I also bought bread and cheese from Costco, so I spent the last 2 weeks or so working on that (roasted garlic bread + cheddar = pretty darn delicious).

I also spent a weekend in Chicago. Tried legit deep dish pizza for the first time (personally I didn’t think it was mind blowing, but it was good), and learned how to make homemade dumplings from some international Chinese students there… maybe I’ll try to recreate those sometime for this blog.

Anyhow, this week it was my turn to provide snacks for my church family group so I decided it was a good opportunity to try something new. I also happened to have a package of crescent rolls in the fridge so I decided to try these mini/simplified cinnamon rolls.

The recipe is pretty simple and they turned out to be quite delicious… although mine were not very pretty– haha, I purposefully picked out the three prettiest for the picture.

Hopefully I’ll get back to trying more new recipes soon…

Recipe from You Made That?

Ingredients
2 packages of Pillsbury crescent rolls
2 Tbsp butter, softened
2 tsp cinnamon
8 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preparation
Roll out half a package of crescent roll dough into a rectangle and press the seams together. Place the rest of the dough in the fridge to keep it cool.

Spread around 1/4 of the cinnamon/sugar/butter/flour mixture across the dough and roll up along the short side to form a log.

Using a sharp knife (the original recipe said to use dental floss but that didn’t work out so well for me), cut into 1-1.5″ slices.

Repeat for the rest of the dough.

Place slices on a baking sheet (I used 2) and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Mix 1/2 cup powdered sugar with ~3 tablespoons of water to make frosting. Drizzle over cinna-bites and serve warm.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

I’m leaving MA tomorrow for Madison, WI. I start work on Monday, August 1. I’m going to be a real person… so soon. I’m mostly packed, but I have this nagging feeling I’m forgetting something important…

As for the bread, I’m not sure why I decided to make it. I have seriously no recollection of how I found it or why I made it. My best guess is that I wanted to bake something and I happened to have all the ingredients. Which probably means I didn’t have any chocolate.

What I remember about the recipe:
– I baked it too long, so it was slightly dry
– cinnamon sugar doesn’t bake well (should have made streusel instead)
– despite the things mentioned above, the bread was still good

Recipe from Recipe from Mangio da Sola.

Ingredients
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a bread loaf pan with cooking spray. Combine 1/3 cup of sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Set aside.

Combine 1 cup sugar, flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the egg. Using a whisk, stir in milk and oil. Add to the dry mix and stir until just mixed.

Pour half the batter into the loaf pan. Sprinkle 1/3 of the cinnamon sugar mix on top. Pour the rest of the batter in. Sprinkle with another 1/3 of the cinnamon sugar. Using a knife, swirl the batter and cinnamon sugar mix together.

Top with last 1/3 of the cinnamon sugar mix. (Although a streusel like this would probably work better.)

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until done. Cool in the pan, then remove and slice.

Kettlecorn

One day before I leave for Madison… I’ve been packing up my life… or rather the “essentials” of life. We’re taking a sedan, so I have very limited space. Anything non-essential will be shipped later. After I start work, I probably won’t be updating this for a while.

I am so not ready for real life.

So to momentarily procrastinate from packing, I’m posting my next recipe. I’ve actually had this recipe for awhile, but totally forgot about it. My friend and I both really like kettlecorn and wanted to try this recipe because let’s face it– microwave kettlecorn is pretty atrocious. So we got the ingredients (during Winter Study I think)… and then like 3-4 months later actually tried the recipe.

I actually ended up blending recipes from Dine & Dish and Tiny Urban Kitchen.

I used the ingredients and cooking technique from Tiny Urban Kitchen but the measurements from Dine & Dish… and have tried some other variations too. But this is what seemed to work best.

Thing to note:
-it is essential if you have a lid, that it fits tightly. The first time I tried with a lid that was too big and the popcorn kernels will start flying out the sides.
– if you don’t have a fitting lid, you can use a double layer of aluminum foil. It has to be a double layer because the popcorn kernels will start to fly and will actually poke holes in the aluminum foil.
– it’s a good idea to have oven mitts for the shaking, because it can get really hot. Especially if you’re using foil.

Ingredients
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
salt

Preparation
In a non-stick sauce pan or stock pot, heat oil with three kernels of popcorn, covered.

When the three kernels have popped, add the rest of the popcorn kernels and cover. When the kernels begin popping, add sugar, a few pinches of salt, and cover.

Alternate shaking pot for 3 seconds and letting the pot sit on the stove for 3 seconds until popcorn has mostly popped (you stop hearing popping for 5 or so consecutive seconds).

Remove from heat. Wait for any residual popping stops, then pour into a large serving bowl. When popcorn cools, break apart clumps.