Caramel Apple Pie A La Mode Bites

Caramel Apple Pie A La Mode Bites

Since the Summer is winding down, it’s time to say goodbye to fresh, sweet berries and hello to juicy, flavorful apples. A great way to celebrate the season is with apple pie, of course.

Instead of making a pie, I wanted to make another recipe highlighting Nature’s Pride bread! This is another entry for the Nature’s Pride bread ambassador contest.

Note: As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker’s Program, Foodbuzz offered a coupon for a free Nature’s Pride product in exchange for making up a little ol’ recipe highlighting Nature’s Pride bread.  Six bloggers’ recipes will be chosen to be an ambassador for Nature’s Pride at this year’s Foodbuzz Festival!

Can you tell I’d really like to go to Foodbuzz Festival this year? :)

I took apple pie a few steps further and made this into a caramel apple pie a la mode bite. Talk about DELICIOUS and perfect for a party! :)

I’m sure you’re curious about the crust. The crust is simply sliced Honey Wheat bread, and it comes out perfectly crispy and sweet, which is great for a dessert crust! To do this, I used a 2″ circle cutter to cut out the crusts and pressed them into a mini muffin pan to shape them! I took a couple of pictures, since I’m a visual person, and thought pictures would help.

Crust how-to

Super easy, right? Definitely give these a try! You’ll be glad that you did!

Caramel Apple Pie A La Mode Bites
Source: an original

makes 24 bites

Ingredients:

Crust:

Apple Filling:

  • 2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and diced finely
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 5 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. flour

Additional toppings:

  • vanilla ice cream
  • caramel sundae topping

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Using a 2″-3″ circle cookie cutter, cut out circles in the bread. I was able to get 2 per slice.
  3. Press each circle into a mini muffin pan, making sure it’s pressed well against the edges to form into a good crust. (see above picture)
  4. Brush melted butter on the tops of the crusts.
  5. Combine sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle liberally over the buttered crusts.
  6. Bake for 5-8 minutes, until the crusts brown. Allow to cool.
  7. To make the apple filling, melt the 1/2 stick butter in a small pot and add apples. Then, add brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cook down for about 5 minutes on low/med-low heat. Add flour to thicken the sauce and cook another 5 minutes or until tender. Allow to cool until apple filling is just warm.
  8. To assemble the bites, add about 2 tsp. of ice cream to each of the crusts (just eyeball it). Add a tsp. of apple filling and then drizzle with caramel sundae topping. Serve immediately. :)

Strawberry Cake

Strawberry Cake

I was very surprised to see that most of you were curious about the strawberry cake recipe. It’s probably the easiest thing to make out of the menu, but also a refreshing crowd pleaser!

I got this idea from a local bakery. In fact, I wanted to buy this cake since my party menu was ambitious enough. I had a Groupon type of gift card to redeem there for anything in the bakery case, and when I got there, sure enough, there were already made strawberry cakes in the case. However, my dreams of having one less thing to worry about came to a halt when the employee, who probably can’t legally drive a car yet, told me that the refrigerator case isn’t ::technically:: their bakery case, so I’d have to buy the cake for $31. I was totally aggravated that there were buttercream cakes in what she considered the “bakery case”, but the whipped topping strawberry cake that was in a different case, because it needed to be at a colder temperature, was not the “bakery case”. Seriously folks, what the heck?!

So, this cake is NOT entirely from scratch folks. This recipe involves boxed cake mix. I would have driven myself batty making a cake from scratch with everything else I was working on. Not one guest seemed to mind, and trust me, you won’t either. The whipped topping makes this cake!

Strawberry Cake
inspired by a local bakery that has a ridiculous definition for a “bakery case”

Ingredients:

  • Duncan Hines french vanilla cake mix
  • 1 1/3 Cups Water
  • 1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 quart fresh strawberries
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Bake cake in two 8″ or 9″ pans according to instructions. Allow layers to completely cool.
  2. Take 10 of the strawberries and puree them in a blender or food processor. Hull and slice the rest of the strawberries into fairly thin slices.
  3. Put heavy whipping cream in a mixer and just mix until it starts to thicken and barely form peaks. Add in confectioners sugar and mix until the whipped cream makes stiff peaks. Be careful not to overmix.
  4. Fold in 3 tbsp. of the strawberry puree and vanilla extract and allow to set in the fridge for a few minutes, while you carve the cake layers to be flat.
  5. Take the whipped cream out and carefully fold in sliced strawberries.
  6. Ice cake with the whipped cream/strawberry mixture. Allow to set in the fridge and serve immediately.

Note: This cake does really well  if you individually freeze leftover slices and allow to defrost at room temperature until ready to eat. That is, IF you have leftovers!

Foodbuzz 24×24: The Best Things We Ever Ate

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Summer officially started last Monday. However, being in Louisiana, we’ve been feeling summer-like weather since May. With the heat index hitting 110 degrees sometimes, we wanted to throw a summer party that was most definitely indoors!

I watch entirely too much Food Network. If it wasn’t for Food Network and reading food blogs, I’m fairly certain my husband and I would be living off of Hamburger Helper and take-out. One of my favorite shows lately has been The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Every show has a theme, and it features the cooks/hosts on Food Network and their favorite eats in that theme. So, when Foodbuzz emailed about this month’s 24×24 proposals, I figured it would be a fun party to feature the best things our families have eaten! Thanks so much to Foodbuzz for sponsoring this party! :)

To come up with the menu, I sent out an email to our families asking for their favorites in each category.

  • On the Grill (recipes that are done on the BBQ)
  • Dangerously Cheesy (major cheese in a dish)
  • No Utensils (finger foods/apps)
  • Keep it Comfy (comfort food)
  • Frozen Treats (any dessert from the freezer)
  • Mix it Up (a food that requires using a mixer—doesn’t have to be a sweet)
  • Louisiana’s Best (Louisiana food)
  • Cold and Colorful (like a salad or cold app with lots of veggies or fruit)
  • Under the Sea (favorite seafood dish)
  • Classic American (with 4th of July approaching, tell me a dish that screams American)

After getting many responses, here is the menu we came up with:

Drinks:
Strawberry Lemonade
Strawberry Daiquiris

Appetizers:
Cheese Fondue with Vegetables/Bread*
Bruschetta*
Boudin Balls

Entrees:
Steak Skewers with Chimichurri, Onion Cheese Sauce and Compound Butter*
Spicy BBQ Shrimp Skewers*

Sides:
Crawfish Fettuccine
Macaroni and Cheese
Vegetable Skewers*
Grilled Corn
Lettuce Greens with Honey Lime Vinaigrette

Desserts:
Strawberry Cake*
Assorted Cupcakes
Cinnamon Crumb Apple Pie
Fresh Berries with Ice Cream

* recipes will be featured in the blog in future posts

I will admit, I’m still getting the hang of entertaining for a large number of people. Despite doing a lot of prep, I felt fairly stressed in the last hour. Since the party was for family, though, I had loads of help at the last minute. :) Whew!

The fondue was an absolute hit. I was nervous to make this myself, but this recipe came together beautifully! I served the fondue with day old po’boy bread, carrots and broccoli.

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We purchased the boudin balls at a local joint, since they are pretty much my husband’s favorite. The bruschetta was a lighter alternative to the other appetizers. I was super excited to use basil from our garden for this dish!

Appetizers

I need to thank the hubs for braving the sweltering disgusting heat to cook up this magic on the grill. The steak, especially was a real winner to family!

kabobs

We made 3 sauces available for people to dip/cover their skewers in: a chimichurri, onion blue cheese (not pictured) and a worchestershire chive butter. The chimichurri ended up being a huge hit (and I used parsley from the garden for it)!

Steak Butter/Chimichurri

Here is some lovely grilled corn that survived a few flare-ups on the grill. :)

Grilled Corn

Here is a semi-decent picture of the crawfish fettuccine before everyone digged in. The hubs’ parents made this dish and it was delicious. Perfect flavor with a little Louisiana kick!

Crawfish Fettucine

This is some macaroni and cheese that is my mother-in-law’s favorite. It was definitely pretty tasty (not to mention, cheesy). :)

Mac and Cheese

After enjoying some serious eats, we waited a good while before putting out desserts and just chatted, watched TV and played some games.

I will say the desserts were absolutely amazing.

Fresh berries (and ice cream, not pictured)

berries

Strawberry Cake (inspired by a local bakery). I would have just purchased one, but I had no idea an 8″ cake was over $30. What the heck?! I guess I’m just used to baking my own cakes to realize how expensive cakes have gotten!

Strawberry Cake

This was a welcomed surprise. A local cupcake bakery occasionally has giveaways on Twitter, and I won some cupcakes! They were seriously delish! Thank you Sweet Wishes Cafe!

Cupcakes

Here is the cinnamon crumb apple pie. This is one of those frozen pies you can find in the grocery store, but has quickly become a favorite with my hubs’ family.

apple pie

Of course, our puppy was very excited to get all of the attention she got at the party, and thanks to my mom, she tried a piece of steak for the first time. I think she enjoyed it. :)

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And of course, it wouldn’t be a party without family! Here are some pictures of our family.

Mom and Sis

family

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It was a great time to be had by everyone, especially in the milder indoors. Thank you so much to Foodbuzz again for the party! Everyone had a blast! :)

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Louisiana Saturday Night Celebration

You know the band Alabama? I always found it funny that they sang a song about Louisiana Saturday nights since their name is, well, Alabama. Guess my rivalry between Bama and LSU will never die, eh?

This is my very first time doing a 24, 24, 24 event for Foodbuzz, and I could not be more excited. It was PERFECT timing to throw a party for family! Thanks so much to Foodbuzz for sponsoring this!

There are so many great things going on in Louisiana lately. Between the New Orleans Saints clinching a Superbowl win  and Mardi Gras, I just thought it would be great to celebrate with family the traditional Louisiana way: CRAWFISH!

Oh yes, that silly crustacean that is also referred to as a crayfish or mudbug. We have been anxiously awaiting crawfish season, and we lucked out with a sack (roughly about 40 lbs.) from a local crawfish farmer for some crawfish foodie fun! I say lucked out, because it’s VERY early in the season and well, like the rest of the country, our winter isn’t exactly mild. Since it’s so cold, the crawfish basically go dormant. So, the crawfish are in short supply (and sadly, pricey). However, we just had to have some of this. It’s been far too long for us, and let’s just say we weren’t disappointed.

I’m sure some of you are insanely jealous and then there are some of you who are thinking, why crawfish?

Crawfish are insanely abundant in the swamps/marshes of Louisiana (when they are in season), and have been around since the native Americans and European settlers. Because of their abundance out here, they have remained popular for centuries and have sort of become tradition for family gatherings. In the Spring/early Summer, you can literally smell crawfish boil in the air in most neighborhoods. So many families do boils and LOVE it. It’s crazy that Louisiana supplies 90% of all domestic crawfish in the nation, yielding 75-105 MILLION pounds of crawfish. (fun facts via www.crawfish.org)

So, now that you can understand our state’s small addiction to this little creature, here’s what we enjoyed at the party!

Mini Crawfish Pies*
Crawfish Cheesecake*
Crawfish Boudin
Crawfish Boil (of course)
Decorated Crawfish Sugar Cookies*

* There will be separate blog posts about these items off the menu.

Since the pies and cheesecake had to be assembled the night before and the crawfish for the boil wouldn’t be caught until the next morning , we purchased some Louisiana crawfish conveniently peeled into 1 lb. bags. Let me tell you, if you have to choose between Louisiana crawfish and foreign crawfish, you should strongly consider Louisiana crawfish. It might be a few more bucks than foreign crawfish, but I will say, they are TOTALLY not the same. Louisiana crawfish has so much more flavor and the tails are usually much larger too, so if you are thinking of buying crawfish in stores, seriously consider splurging a few extra bucks and getting domestic crawfish.

These crawfish pies were so yummy! The tray of these were gobbled up, and just came together so easily. I will admit, I used pre-made pie dough, but hey, the filling made up for it BIG time!  I was a little happy to have some leftover filling to freeze and make these again sometime soon!

This savory cheesecake was pretty darn easy to put together too. We ended up using this as a spread for crackers, and it was just so flavorful. We didn’t really eat it as a cheesecake though, since it was a very rich appetizer and we had to save room for the crawfish boil!

This is crawfish boudin. We like to buy this from a local cajun meat shop. I love this shop because they just know how to put a twist on the most basic things to taste perfectly Louisianian. If we had a long day at work and no time to cook (or just feeling lazy), it’s easy to pop something from there in the oven and enjoy it within an hour!

Back to boudin. Boudin is basically a rice dressing stuffed in a casing. The main ingredient is usually pork, but this meat shop makes fun types like red beans and crawfish! While it looks like sausage, most people find the casing to be unappetizing. So you just end up eating it out of the casing, which easily peels away.

We enjoyed our boudin spread on crackers. It was delicious!

We timed it to where we enjoyed appetizers while boiling these little fellas.

They went from this:

To this:

After they were done, we did not hesitate to fork out the newspaper and dig in! Crawfish boils aren’t usually strictly crawfish. Personally, we boil ours with lemons, onions, garlic, corn, potatoes, mushrooms and sausage. It’s fun to have a little variety in there!

And of course, for spice wimps like me, since these bad boys are boiled in a LOT of cayenne pepper and spices, there was plenty of french bread to calm down the burning taste buds! We purchased this bread at a produce stand that is known for selling great local foods. I love supporting local businesses, especially when it’s dealing with food, because it’s much fresher, flavorful and sometimes, even CHEAPER than buying at just your typical supermarket.

This boil was definitely enjoyed by all. We had a little bit leftover, which we’ll be peeling and freezing to use in another cajun dish sometime soon, but out of the sack of about 40 lbs., it was mostly gone! I guess we were hungry!

After the clean-up outside, we all went inside to hang out, let our tummies digest and enjoy a platter full of decorated crawfish cookies! Or, at least offer it out to those who saved some room for some! Stay tuned for how I made these. I am pretty happy with how these turned out, since I didn’t have a crawfish cookie cutter!

Thanks again to Foodbuzz for sponsoring this party. My family had a wonderful time catching up and enjoying this fabulous Louisiana staple! I hope this boil is first of many for this crawfish season! YUM! :)

Our Thanksgiving!

Top row: Cajun Smoked Turkey, Cornbread dressing, Honey-baked Ham
Second row: Green Bean Casserole, Sweet Potato Casserole, Cauliflower Au Gratin
Bottom Row: Homemade Yeast Rolls, Rice Dressing

After much planning and excitement, Thanksgiving with our families was absolutely wonderful. It was great to spend time with everyone, and to see the responses to the food we cooked. I’m going to share a couple of recipes with you, since our families insisted on bringing dishes as well. :)

I hope you also had a great Thanksgiving! I can’t believe it’s time to plan for Christmas now!