Apple Dumplings

Once again Pioneer Woman has done incredible damage to my half-hearted attempts to eat healthy and think about possibly considering to try and lose weight.

This time it’s apple dumplings.*

Allow me to digress for a bit. I’ve only had apple dumplings once in my life, at a local Renaissance Faire that I attended with Jennifer. After the first bite of luscious pastry and sweet apple with rich creamy sauce, I was hooked. And I immediately began searching for a recipe to duplicate the taste at home. After all, the Faire had left town so I was out of luck as far as getting another one from then again. Sadly, most of the recipes I found called for extreme things like making my own pastry dough. Maybe someday, but that’s not happening anytime soon.

So I was beyond thrilled when PW posted an apple dumpling recipe that involved no making of pastry dough. It involved nothing elaborate at all in fact, requiring only apples, crescent roll dough, BUTTER, sugar, cinnamon, and Mountain Dew.

Yes, I said Mountain Dew.

I don’t actually have Mt. Dew in my house (ok, so I didn’t have crescent roll dough either, but I didn’t mind buying it) so I substituted Sprite. And I forgot to sprinkle the cinnamon over the dumplings before they went in the oven. And I halved the recipe. Other than that, I followed her instructions precisely.

Here are the cute little dumplings ready to go into the oven:

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And here they are, all golden brown and delicious after coming out of the oven.

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Finally, here are two adorable little dumplings ready for me to devour them. After a liberal application of the dairy product of my choice. Ice cream would have been delish, but I didn’t have any. Whipped cream is really just heavy cream that’s been whipped, so straight heavy cream just avoids that pesky whipping step. And makes the sauce even more delicious.

And my cholesterol even higher, but who’s counting.

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(No photos of the final view because my camera batteries had died and I didn’t want to spend the time to find the charged ones. I was ready to eat.)

Update: I forgot to give the verdict! I thought they were a little too doughy; I’d prefer a higher apple-to-dough ratio. Perhaps my apple was just too small. Next time I’d use a larger chunk of apple for each piece. And yes, I said next time because I thought they were fabulous and so super easy it’ll be a great one to make again. And the fruit makes it healthy, right?

Rob said they were “so good.” Although he did want ice cream with them and we were sadly ice cream-less. And then he complained that there was only half a pan left, so apparently the lack of ice cream didn’t deter him too much from wanting more.

Jennifer has yet to give her input finally given her verdict, deeming them “decadent–I loved the sugar on top, if that’s what it was. There was a crystal-like texture on the top that accented it perfectly. I didn’t have ice cream or whipped cream, but these dumplings didn’t need it, no sir-ee Bob!”

*Go to Pioneer Woman’s site for the original recipe and to admire her incredible photos. Mine just manage to get the idea across. Hers will have you licking your computer screen.

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Banana Pineapple Bread

Another one from Tammy’s Recipes. I decided to try this because my husband is a huge fan of banana bread (actually, he’s pretty much a big fan of any quick-bread of that sort; pumpkin spice bread definitely comes to mind), and I was getting a smidge bored with my usual recipe. But adding pineapple to the equation sounded interesting.

Rob was not impressed with the idea of me tampering with something tried-and-true. Why mess with a good thing? However, as is so often the case, once he tried something new he LOVED it. In fact, his direct quote was “you should make banana bread this way from now on.”* The pineapple adds extra flavor and moisture, both of which added to his appreciation for the new version.

My only change from the recipe as given was I used a full tablespoon of vanilla instead of two teaspoons as called for (yes, if you know your baking measurements you realize that that just means that I used an extra teaspoon). I love vanilla flavor and typically add a little extra to baked goods.

Jennifer deemed the bread a “great twist on the traditional banana nut bread. Very moist and yummy.”

Finally, what you’ve all been waiting for, the photographic evidence. Before baking:

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Immediately after coming out of the oven:

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Mmmmm, tasty!

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*And this is why I don’t listen to him and continue to try new recipes.

Baked Spaghetti. Oh, my, yes indeed.

Another recipe from another blog, this time Tammy’s Recipes. This is her three-cheese baked spaghetti, a recipe she modified from another site.

I doubled her recipe, since I knew I’d like the leftovers. And I didn’t use feta cheese, but I did use mozzarella, Parmesan, and a little cheddar so it was still three-cheese.

It’s very lasagna-like, but even easier than layering cooked noodles, sauce, cheese, repeat. It goes together quickly and is absolutely delicious! And, as expected, the leftovers are, if anything, even better than the original meal. Go to Tammy’s Recipes and see her post with the full recipe and pictures, but if you can’t wait, here’s a picture of it just before putting it in the oven:

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PW’s Bread Pudding

After such great success with Pioneer Woman’s lasagna, I had to try another of her recipes, but picking one is not an easy thing to do, and I will just say that someday I WILL make her cinnamon rolls. Perhaps after I’ve saved enough money to buy myself an entire new wardrobe because I’d probably need one in a bigger size after I finish those cinnamon rolls.

Cinnamon rolls aren’t on the menu this week however (got to save up some cash and also gather my bravery before I tackle any yeast dough). This week, it’s all about keeping my man happy. And what makes him happy is bread pudding. I’ve never made it before, but I’m finally going to try. Just for him.

PW makes it look easy, with her Bread Pudding for Those Who Think They Don’t Like Bread Pudding. I bought some sourdough bread, but everything else I had on hand. Although, I did switch out the pecans for raisins because Rob isn’t crazy about pecans but he does love raisins. He quickly noticed what I was working on in the kitchen and guessed what it was going to be. This news delighted him so much he eagerly agreed to help, so I put him to work arranging the bread cubes in the baking dish.

Mine baked for about 70 minutes, and even without the whiskey cream sauce, it was praised to the heavens. Not that I tried it, because I still think I don’t like bread pudding, and this one didn’t persuade me to try again. Too custardy-looking. But for those who don’t have unreasonable biases against bread pudding, this one was very much appreciated by the four guys who demolished the pan before I could even reconsider my anti-bread pudding stance. It would have almost been depressing how quickly my work was eaten if it hadn’t been such an amazingly easy dessert to prepare.

PW’s Lasagna. It IS the Best. Ever.

No pictures, since they’d just pale in comparison to Pioneer Woman‘s fantastic shots.

There was a lot of debate in the comments to her post about how this couldn’t be the best ever lasagna because it uses Jimmy Dean sausage and Kraft Parmesan cheese (in the can!). Frankly, I don’t really care. I had two brothers-in-law and their friend who are all staying with us (cozy!) and so I needed something that would please some very non-gourmet, hungry guys.

Pioneer Woman did not fail me with her self-proclaimed Best Lasagna Ever.

The ingredients were basic – ground beef, breakfast sausage, garlic, canned tomatoes & paste, parsley, basil, salt, cottage cheese, eggs, Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese.

I followed her recipe exactly except I only used a pound of ground beef so it was equal portions beef to sausage. I also skipped the second teaspoon of salt that she said to add to the cottage cheese mixture. And I didn’t layer the noodles the way she said because I forgot what I was doing. But yeah, other than that, EXACTLY.

The sliced mozzarella was super easy and seemed like it made it extra stringy. Not that I’m complaining about that. It also made FANTASTIC leftovers. Not that there was much leftover after the four guys attacked it. Just enough for me to take to work the next day and make my coworkers jealous. Because they were. I had to share the website & recipe with Jennifer2 after she smelled it reheating in the microwave.

So, go to The Pioneer Woman Cooks! website and read the recipe in all its well-photographed glory. Then make it. You won’t be sorry.