Old-fashioned Apple Dumplings

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Oh yes, Grandma’s apple dumplings. A piece of childhood. (In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, an apple dumpling is an apple filled with cinnamon sugar, wrapped in pie dough, covered in a sweet syrup, and baked.) I used to love apple dumplings growing up, but my mother didn’t like to make them because she felt they were a lot of work. Which is fairly reasonable I suppose. However, my Grandmother was quite the baker, and so it became tradition that when Grandma was visiting she and I would make apple dumplings. I was never quite apple to peel apples as well as her, with the whole peel coming off in one lovely spiral. Perhaps 80 years of experience was on her side. In any case, we worked together to produce this truly delicious (and filling!) dessert. Seriously filling; my family used to eat it as the main course instead of dessert because apple dumplings really fill you up. But a piping hot apple dumpling, topped with milk so it becomes a cinnamony, appley, doughy goo… mmm delicious! Also goes extremely well with vanilla ice cream.

Anyway, this is an old Mennonite Recipe from the Mennonite Community Cookbook- and you know if it’s Mennonite, it has to be good. And probably filled with an unreasonable amount of butter. Which makes it delicious. Seriously, Mennonites can bake, check out http://www.mennonitegirlscancook.ca/.

This one was a huge hit at the house! I had been talking about them for a while and it was finally time to actually cook them up. Unfortunately, due to the fact I still don’t use gas ovens properly and seem to burn the bottom of everything, and the pan was rather large so the syrup was spread out pretty thin, I may have burned the sugary syrup onto the bottom of the pan. It was pretty awful to get off. Try not to do that. The dumplings themselves were perfectly alright though. Not to worry.

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First step is to peel and core the apples. I was pretty impressed with this length of peel, I’m super not good at making long peels.

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Then core your apples by inserting the knife around the core in a circle, on both sides of the apple, then pushing out the core. Or some other method that maybe you prefer. Just get the core outa there!

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For the dough, mix the flour and baking soda and salt together. Then I prefer to use cold (either frozen or refrigerated) butter and use a cheese grater to grate the butter into the flour mix. Then you get really cold little pieces of butter for a fluffier pastry. If you use shortening, just cut in the shorting with a pastry blender or two knives.

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Even if you grate in the butter you’ll probably need to cut the butter a little more with a fork or some knifes until it looks like this, little pea-sized pieces.

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Sprinkle the milk in a bit at a time until you’re able to form the dough into a ball. Try not to overwork the dough.

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Roll out the dough onto a floured surface. Because I had limited space I only rolled out 1/3 at a time. If you have a large surface feel free to roll the whole thing out at one time. You want to have roughly 6 square shaped pieces of dough, at least 9″ by 9.” Depending on how big your apples are.

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Little apple on a dough square! Put your apple in the middle and pour some cinnamon sugar in the middle.

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Wrap it up like a present! A nice little ball, pad it so the dough is  nice and sealed.

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All the little dumplings on the pan with the sugar syrup poured over them, ready to go in the oven!

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And they’re done! Look at that deliciousness.

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Ready to eat! Doesn’t it just look delectable?

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Just go to town. Break open that sucker and pour some milk on it. Nothing better.

Apple Dumplings

Ingredients;

  • 6 medium-sized baking apples (bitter, Granny Smith or the like)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shortening or butter (depending on what you feel)
  • 3/4-1 cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Sauce:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg

Instructions:

First off, peel the 6 apples, Then remove the core. I usually do this but taking a paring knife and inserting it straight into the apple around the core, circling the core on one side, doing the same on the other, and then push the core out. Some people put the knife into the apple on an angle and pivot the knife around their thumb, taking out a cone shaped piece from the top of the apple. They do that on both sides and then carve out the rest of the middle. Do whatever you feel, as long as the core is removed and the apple is not split in two. Even if the apple does split, you can still use it, it’ll just be trickier to hold together while wrapping it in the pastry.

To make the pastry, mix together the  3 cups flour, 3 3/4 teaspoons baking powder and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Then cut in the cup of shortening or butter with a pastry blender or two knives held between your fingers. If you’re using butter, my advice is to use cold butter (refrigerated or frozen) and then grate the butter with a cheese grater. It allows the butter to be made into small pieces while still being cold, and cold butter makes a flakier pastry. Sprinkle the milk over the mixture and add just enough to make it come together so that you can work with it. Probably will be roughly a cup but could be more or less. If you add too much and the dough is super sticky, just add a bit more flour.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface. Depending on how much space you  have, you can roll it all out at once, or separate into 3 and roll out 1/3rd at a time (that is what I did). Roll into a rectangle until the dough is fairly thin, as you would for a pie crust. Cut into the appropriate amount of squares (6 if you’re rolling out the whole thing, 2 if rolling out 1/3).

Now to assemble the dumplings! Put an apple on the middle of a square of dough. Mix the cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of cinnamon together and put a spoonful into the middle of the apple. Then wrap apple in the dough, patting it to seal the dough almost as you would a ball of play-dough. Use a little milk if the dough doesn’t stick. Place the dumplings on a greased baking pan.

For the sauce: Get a pot and combine 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup water, and 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Then remove from heat and add the butter, stirring until completely melted. Pour the sauce over the dumplings, emptying the pan.

Bake the dumplings at 375 F for around 50 minutes. Baste occasionally during baking, 2 or 3 times is good. They’re done when they’re a nice toasty brown and a knife can be easily inserted through the apple part of the dumpling. Serve hot, dousing in milk or vanilla ice-cream if desired. Yum!

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Red and White Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

This isn’t your normal lasagna. No sir. This lasagna will blow all of your other lasagnas out of the water. “But I like my lasagnas with meat because I’m a carnivore” you say. Trust me. This lasagna is freaking delicious, and meat is overrated and unnecessary when you have a plethora of juicy vegetables swimming in 2 delicious sauces and a mountain of cheese.

I also made Red Lobster cheesy biscuits to go along with, which isn’t traditionally a lasagna side dish but still super tasty. Along with an avocado semifreddo for dessert (yes, avocado in a dessert. Mind blowing). Basically the best meal ever.

Anywho this lasagna was pretty easy to make, just roast some veggies, make some sauce, shred some cheese and bam! Assemble into deliciousness. I made the sauces from scratch because a) I don’t know if i can find premade sauce here in Peru and b) making things from scratch is more bad ass and fun. Although I do hate peeling tomatoes. However, I do love a day of working hard in the kitchen while rocking out to my favourite playlist.

veggie lasagna (18)First is the preparation of the vegetables and the sauce. Chop up all the veggies, toss them with some oil and garlic, and roast them in the oven until they start to brown- the egg plant and mushrooms will take less time than the pepper and zucchini. This is a picture of post-rosted veggies- don’t they look delicious?! And the great thing about roasted vegetables is that you can use them in tons of things- pastas, lasagnas, noodle bakes, just eat them as a side. So versatile.

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Then start on the sauces- for the tomato sauce, boil a big pot of water and then throw your tomatoes in. The tomatoes, when ready to peel, should look like the above picture, like the skin is splitting a bit. That is when you know to take them out. Throw them in a blender and toss in the rest of the sauce ingredients and simmer for a while. For the white sauce, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Then add the milk and stir constantly over medium heat until thickened.

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I wanted to keep the two sauces distinct, so I decided to mix the white sauce with the vegetables, keep them nice and moist and it will make a nice layer in the lasagna. Mmm. Also soak the lasagna noodles if necessary, mine needed to be soaked.

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Now to assemble the lasagna. First off, grease the pan. Then, put a nice layer of your freshly made tomato sauce down as the base. If you put noodles first they will stick, and no one wants that! Look at the steam coming off, that is some fresh sauce right there.

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Next put a layer of noodles over the sauce. Then put half the vegetable sauce mix on top of the noodles, 1/2 of the basil, 1/3 of the cheese, 1/4 of the red sauce on top of that, and then 4 more noodles on top. Then repeat- vegetables, basil, cheese, sauce, noodle. For the end, put the rest of the red sauce on top of the noodles, and the rest of the cheese on top. If you don’t have enough sauce, red or white, to do all the layers, omit one or two in the middle. As long as everything is in the pan, it’s all good.

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Finished lasagna, ready to go in the oven! My pan was super full, and halfway through baking I smelled some burn- it had overflowed a bit into the oven, so I took a larger pan to put underneath and catch the drips. Just beware if your lasagna is really full.

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After baking for a while, it’s finally done!!! Smelled so good, couldn’t wait to dig in. Have you ever seen such beauty.

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Tell me you don’t want to eat that. Go ahead. I’m waiting. That’s right, no one could resist! Except maybe lactose intolerant people. Or people allergic to tomatoes. Other than that…

veggie lasagna (12)Barely any left in the pan! It was an instant hit at the house. And lasagna is one of those foods that tastes super good as leftovers!

Red and White Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

adapted from http://www.yummly.com/recipe/external/Roasted-Vegetable-Lasagna-TasteOfHome

Ingredients:

Tomato Sauce:

  • 15 tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste

White Sauce:

  • 3 cups milk
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 6 Tablespoons flour

Assembly:

  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into slices
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, cut into slices
  • 3 small zucchini, cut into slices
  • 2 red peppers, cut lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Mozzarella cheese
  • 2-3 cups another kind of cheese (you can go for ricotta, I got some mozzarella type thing with herbs. Just basically, get lots of cheese)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 jar meatless spaghetti sauce or the sauce made above
  • 12 ready to bake lasagna noodles
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh basil

Yield: 1 awesome lasagna.

Directions:

First off, vegetables! Chop the vegetables and put the zucchini and red pepper in one bowl and the eggplant and mushroom in another. Combine the 3 T oil and 2 cloves garlic and split between the two bowls, coating the vegetables with the oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake the pepper and zucchini at 400 F for 10 minutes, then add the mushrooms and eggplant until tender and edges are browned.

While the vegetables are cooking, start on the sauce. For the red sauce, boil a large pot of water and once boiling put in the tomatoes. When the skin starts to split, take them out and submerge in cold/icy water. Peel and chop the tomatoes, the skin should come off easily, and purée in a blender. Then saute the onion, bell pepper, and garlic in the oil and butter until the onion softens. Pour in the pureed tomatoes, and add the 1/4 cup basil, 1 T oregano, 1/4 cup red wine, and 3 T tomato paste. Bring to a boil and simmer for a while, until you’re ready to assemble the lasagna, at least a half hour.

For the white sauce, melt the 6 T butter in a pot, and when melted add the 6 T flour. Stir well, and add the 3 cups milk. Stir until the sauce thickens then remove from heat.

When the vegetables are done, mix them with the white sauce- this will keep them nice and juicy! Mix all the cheeses together with the  eggs. My lasagna noodles said to be soaked in water first, so if yours are the same put them in some water to soak.

Now time for assembly! Best part. Layer 1/4 of the sauce on the bottom of a greased 13 x 9 pan. Then put 4 noodles, and try not to let them touch the edge. Then put half the vegetable sauce mix on top of the noodles, 1/2 of the basil, 1/3 of the cheese, 1/4 of the red sauce on top of that, and then 4 more noodles on top. Then repeat- vegetables, basil, cheese, sauce, noodle. For the end, put the rest of the red sauce on top of the noodles, and the rest of the cheese on top. If you don’t have enough sauce to do all the layers, omit one or two in the middle. As long as everything is in the pan, it’s all good. Most important is that the last few layers are noodles, red sauce, and cheese. The middle doesn’t matter.

Baking time! Cover and bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes longer. Then eat it! Delicious lasagna time 🙂 You won’t be able to keep from having seconds. Or maybe 3rds. Veggies are healthy!

Vegetarian Stromboli

I am not vegetarian. However, I am totally in support of eating less meat, and enjoy cooking vegetarian meals; they’re quite tasty! Last year I found this Vegetarian Stromboli recipe and had to try it, seeing as stromboli is possible one of my favourite meals ever. Especially when you  have leftovers, and eat them cold the next day for lunch? Mmmm even better than cold pizza!

I decided to make it again for everyone during our weekly community dinner, and it was a hit! I made a double recipe to feed 7 people, so 1 would probably feed 4. It was gobbled up so quickly, people are going to love you for it! We had an argument beforehand about if Stromboli was different from Calzones. I think it is, especially the meat Stromboli that my parents make; Calzones in my  mind are more like a big pizza pocket, whereas Stromboli is another level of awesome. My parents’ traditional recipe has multiple kinds of meats and cheeses, a flavour explosion! Yum.

But anywho. This is a vegetarian recipe that’s slightly more pizza like, and chock full of delicious vegetables. I had to make the pizza sauce and the dough from scratch, but feel free to use store bought dough or sauce. (Making stuff from scratch is more fun though! At least in my humble opinion).

Original recipe credit goes to: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/pizza-dough-i/ http://allrecipes.com/recipe/easy-pizza-sauce-i/
http://stephaniecooks.blogspot.ca/2011/09/roasted-vegetable-stromboli.html

First prepare all the ingredients the sauce, the dough, and the roasted vegetables. Then time for the assembly…

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Start out with a floured surface, your dough, and a rolling pin.

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Roll the dough out into a nice large oblong shape. As rectangular as possible, but it doesn’t need to be exact. Just make sure the length isn’t longer than the pan you’re planning to use.

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Next spread on half of your pizza sauce. Cover the middle third in a lengthwise strip.

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Pile on the veggies!!! Then cover the veggies with the remaining sauce so it’s all throughout the stromboli. Yum.

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Cover with cheese- the best part! (with a pinch or two finding its way to your mouth of course) You’re almost done.

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Mmmm doesn’t that look absolutely delicious?

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Fold it up, like a burrito. I like to fold in the short ends first and then fold the sides, but really it doesn’t matter a whole lot. As long as the insides are contained.

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Coat with your garlic olive oil. The little specks are the pieces of toasted garlic. But you can also use garlic powder. Set in the oven at 450 F for about 15 mins, until the dough crunches when you poke it.

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Cut into slices and feast! So much gooey yumminess you can’t go wrong. One of my favourites.

 

Vegetarian Stromboli

Ingredients:

Pizza Dough

  •  3 cups flour
  • 1 package (2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

Pizza Sauce

  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano (or 1 tablespoon fresh chopped)
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried basil (or 1 tablespoon fresh chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed (optional)

Filling/assembly

  • 1 zucchini (cut in slices)
  • 1/2 head of broccoli (cut into florettes)
  • 1/2 carrot (cut into slices)
  • 1 tomato (diced)
  • 1/2 green pepper (diced)
  • 1/2 head cauliflower (cut into florettes)
  • 1/4 cup mushrooms (sliced)
  • olive oil (approximately 1/4 cup)
  • 1 cup mozzarella, shredded
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or 4 cloves garlic

First step: Prepare the components! Chop the vegetables and put them together in a bowl. Drizzle an amount of olive oil on the vegetables and stir them to distribute the oil (I don’t know how much I used, probably a few tablespoons). You could also add some chopped garlic or onion to the mix, it would probably taste pretty good. Then put the vegetables on a greased pan and pop in the oven at 375 for 30-40 minutes, stirring at least once. Also feel free to switch up the veggies and use whatever you have, these are just a suggestion. Make some extra and save for another meal. Roasted veggies are awesome.

Next, start on the pizza sauce. Combine all the ingredients (6 oz tomato paste, 1 1/2 cups water, 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 cloves garlic, salt, pepper, 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano, 1/2 tablespoon dried basil, 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary) in a small pot and simmer for about 10 minutes. You can use fresh basil or oregano, just use more than the amount stated for dried and chop it up. I found the sauce to be a bit watery and so I tried to boil off some of the water, you may want to reduce the amount of liquid to your preference. Also, the original recipe says you can mix the ingredients together without cooking if you let sit for several hours. Cooking yields faster results and allows the flavours to blend more quickly.

Pizza dough time! Mix 3 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 package or 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast, 1 tablespoon white sugar in a bowl. Then mix in the 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil and 1 cup of warm water. This is enough dough to make 1 stromboli.

Now to put it all together. Roll your dough out on the counter until it’s approximately 18 inches by 12 inches (give or take, I didn’t measure. just make it a rectangle, and make sure its length doesn’t exceed the length of your pan). Spread half the pizza sauce in a line in the middle of the dough, running lengthwise. Then add the roasted vegetables, and top the vegetables with the remaining sauce. Finally sprinkle the cheese over the saucy vegetables. Fold up the bottom edges, then the sides so the sides overlap in the  middle. Press together; use water if necessary to make the dough stick. Transfer to a greased pan. If you care about looks, seam side down probably looks nicer, but it really doesn’t matter for taste.

Next brush the top of the Stromboli with garlicy olive oil (take 2 teaspoons of olive oil and add 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. OR if you prefer the fresh stuff, mince 2 cloves garlic and mix with the oil. Then cook in a small pan for a few minutes, to infuse the olive oil with the garlicy flavour.)

You now have an assembled Stromboli! Preheat your oven to 450 F and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden and the dough forms a crust and crunches when you press it with a finger. It won’t get very dark, so touch is a better way to tell than sight. Slice and serve while hot. Makes great leftovers, reheated or cold. Delicious!