Salted Chocolate Pretzel Toffee, Cheese Pie, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies, Green Beans with Lemon and Garlic, Vegetarian Chicken Noodle Soup, Apple Crostada, Apple Poke Cake with Caramel Glaze, and Apple Pear Pies 2 Ways…made with l♥ve by the Cookie Mama

Happy September!  For all of you who don’t already know, September is my birth month, so… you’re welcome!  Haha.  It has been a few weeks since the kids started school, and so far things are going great.  Getting back into the swing of our fall schedule, is similar to riding a bike.  There is a little trepidation about getting back on the bike after a three month hiatus, but once you push off, even if you swerve a little, you definitely get your balance after just a few pedals. Well we are pedaling like mad as our schedule is already in full swing.  Soccer games, soccer practices, soccer meetings, student council meetings, parent group meetings at both schools, homework…oh yeah and did I mention soccer?? Man we are spending a ton of time at the soccer fields.  I mean last week and this week we’ve had soccer every evening from Thursday through Sunday, with a few extra soccer meetings thrown in on Tuesday and Wednesday just for good measure.  Whew, I guess I’ll take a breather in November! ☺  Anyway, even with all that soccer, I still managed to try out a few new recipes, so here we go.

DSCN9148The first recipe was for salted chocolate pretzel toffee.  I have made toffee for years using saltines as the base, so when I saw this recipe on Pinterest,  I was intrigued by the pretzels. I love love love toffee, and I also happen to love pretzels and chocolate together, so I knew we’d love this recipe.  Well love it we did, I mean I think the toffee was gone the same day I made it. Everyone LOVED this recipe, Ryan included, and I would totally make this again.  It was super easy, and super delicious.  Here is the link to the recipe that I used: http://www.ezrapoundcake.com/archives/18367

The next recipe was for cheese pie.  Now this recipe I have made multiple times over the years, but it has been a bit so I decided to feature it.  We usually have this for breakfast, DSCN9145and we eat it with eggs.   I found this recipe years ago in one of my many cookbooks by Gooseberry Patch.  The book is titled “Come on Over,” and the name of the recipe in the cookbook is “Cheese Please Pie.”  I made a few substitutions to the recipe.  First of all, I never have munster cheese, so I used shredded parmesan instead.  Also, I always add sun dried tomatoes to our cheese pie. This cheese pie is delicious, and could be eaten for any meal.  It’s simple to throw together and cooks quickly.  Here is the link to a recipe that is similar: http://www.food.com/recipe/cheese-please-pie-127987

The next recipe I tried was for chocolate chip cookie dough brownies.  My Victoria LOVES cookie dough anything, and she’d been bugging me to make one of the many desserts that DSCN9216we saw on Pinterest that contain cookie dough.  I selected this one and I am so glad that I did.  These brownies are DELICIOUS!!! They seriously lasted less than 24 hours in our house as everybody, (including Ryan) loved them.  They are so yummy, and I will totally make them again.  In fact Victoria is already bugging me to make another batch. My family loves brownies, and this recipe definitely ranked in the top three recipes that I have for brownies.  Here is a link to the recipe that I used: http://www.recipegirl.com/2011/06/02/chocolate-chip-cookie-dough-brownies/

Next, I made green beans with lemon and garlic.  Ever since I was a kid, I have loved green beans.  When I was little, my paternal Grandparents lived in Capac.  One thing that theyDSCN9238 always grew was green beans.  I remember going into the garden with my Grandpa Gene to pick green beans, but not coming out with any beans to speak of.  You see, my job was to hold the bucket, and his job was to pick the beans.  Well I could eat as fast as he could pick, so when we’d get to the end of the row, lots of times, the bucket was empty. My Grandpa and I would laugh and laugh as we went to the next row of beans to eat…I mean pick. ☺ This year, we had a ton of green beans in our garden.  It is the first time I grew beans, and they did great.  We ate a lot of the green beans raw, and I gave some away, but I still had a bunch in the garden.  So I searched online for a green bean recipe, and came across this one.  I am glad I selected this one, as the beans were delicious.  Here is a link to the recipe that I used: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/cda/recipe_print/0,1946,FOOD_9936_138932_RECIPE-PRINT-FULL-PAGE-FORMATTER,00.html?oc=linkback

The next recipe I tried was for a veggie friendly version of chicken noodle soup. I love soup and enjoy making it too.  At our library’s sidewalk sale last weekend, I picked up a DSCN9445cookbook titled “Fix It and Forget It~ Feasting with your Slow Cooker.”  I have seen these cookbooks before, but they don’t contain a lot of vegetarian friendly recipes.  Even this cookbook’s “Vegetarian” section, contained recipes that used chicken broth or chicken bouillon.  Really?  When did chickens cease to be living creatures??  Someone needs to explain this to me immediately.  Anyway, I looked through the book, and found that there were a lot of recipes that I could easily convert to vegetarian recipes so I bought it.  It was only a dollar after all.  ☺  I only have two soup recipes that I make in my crock pot, so I was eager to try another one.  The resulting soup was pretty yummy.  I used vegetable broth and bouillon, and used vegetarian chicken substitute and it came out great.  Ryan of course wouldn’t try it…he eats no soup at all.  Victoria,  on the other hand,  loved it.  As a vegetarian, she’d never eaten chicken noodle soup before, and she really enjoyed it. I would definitely make this soup again.  Here is a link to the recipe that I used…I actually used the second recipe that is listed: http://community.tasteofhome.com/community_forums/f/30/p/130963/132314.aspx#132314

The next few recipes involve apples and pears.  We have a small orchard at the back of our property and this year we got a ton of fruit.  We have peach, pear,and apple trees, and we grow them organically.  I love love love our orchard, and totally love that I got to use soDSCN9241 much of the fruit in these yummy recipes.  The first recipe was for an apple pear crostata.  I have made crostata before, but never with fruit from my trees!  I was so excited.  I actually made this twice in two days…yes it really is that good.  It’s kind of like a pie without a top crust.  I love crostata as it is really simple to throw together,  it’s a good way to use up fruit and frozen pie crust, and it’s totally delicious!   Anyway, I had pie crust in the freezer that was going to expire soon, and I had a ton of fruit, so this recipe was perfect. Here is a link to a recipe that was similar to mine: http://suzannawinter.com/galleykitchen/2012/09/26/pear-apple-crostata/

The next recipe that I tried was for apple poke cake with caramel glaze.  I found this recipe on Pinterest and knew I had to try it.  It’s called a poke cake, because you literally poke DSCN9443holes into the cooling cake so that the caramel  glaze can seep in.  I love apples in cakes and bread, so I knew this recipe would be good.  Add to that a caramel glaze…I am in!!!  It was a pretty simple recipe to follow, and the result was delicious!   It was so delicious in fact, that Ryan’s Principal, called and requested “the biggest cake that I could bake” be delivered directly to him. ☺ I have mentioned previously that I bake for the elementary office staff every week, and I am happy to report that they loved this cake.  Here is a link to the recipe that I used: http://thecharmofhome.blogspot.com/2011/08/caramel-apple-cake.html?m=1 I did make three substitutions to the recipe.  First, I always substitute apple sauce for oil.  Second, I reduced the sugar from 2 1/2 cups to just under 2 cups. Lastly, I omitted the walnuts as my family doesn’t care for walnuts in cake.  I liked the cake, but in my opinion it was really rich, and very sweet.  I think apples are pretty sweet all on their own, so next time I would reduce the sugar even more.  That said, the cake got rave reviews and everyone loved it.

The last recipe was for apple pear pie two ways. I have always loved to make pies, and this year I was super excited to make pies with fruit that we grew. The one thing I hadn’t ever done was make a pie crust from scratch.  To be honest, I was a bit intimidated by it. I have heard lots of culinary horror stories related to a failed pie crust, so I was hesitant to say the least.  My Mom did make her own crust sometimes, but she bought frozen ready made pie crust too.  To date, I’d purchased my pie crust from Whole Foods.  They have a “veggie securedownload (1)friendly” frozen deep dish pie crust that is really yummy. I use it for savory and sweet dishes.  I always have a few on hand, as Dan uses them too when he makes quiche and veggie shepherd’s pie…YUM. Anyway, I used the last couple pie crusts in the freezer to make the above mentioned crostata, so I was completely out.  Well the closest Whole Foods, is a 50 minute drive ONE WAY, so I decided to give making pie crust from scratch a try. I must admit I was nervous.  I decided to make apple pear pies two ways, because I was accounting for a pie crust disaster.   I chose to make hand pies, and a regular ol apple pear double crust pie…ya know …just in case.  I figured that if the hand pies were a flop, I could always just deliver the regular pie to the elementary school office, and my family would eat the fails.  With that back up plan in mind, I began my maiden voyage with homemade pie crust.

I went into the kitchen, turned on the iPod, and selected my favorite cooking/baking music…my Frank Sinatra play list.  I have a ton of Frank’s greatest hits from dozens of different albums, and I love love love to listen to it whilst in the kitchen.  I was so intent on making the crust, that once I put the crust in the fridge to rest, I read the rest of the recipe for the first time.  It was then that I noticed that I had to pre-cook the fruit on the stovetop.  I have never pre-cooked the fruit for a pie recipe before.  To be honest, if I had seen securedownloadthat part first, I may have selected another recipe, but I am considering it a happy accident as these hand pies are perhaps my greatest culinary achievement to date!!!  I LOVED these hand pies.  Dan loved these hand pies.  Victoria loved these hand pies.  The office staff loved these hand pies.  I actually got a couple of really great compliments on the pies…specifically on THE CRUST!!!!!  Two of the office ladies (whom I already adored), made me love them even more by giving me HUGE props on the crust.  Actually, after taking the first bite, one of them said…and I quote… “Mmmmm…the crust!  My Mom’s crust was the best…and this tastes just like her crust.”

I have no words.

I love to cook and bake anyway, but to receive compliments like that?  It makes my heart swell with happiness! I walked around so happy for the rest of the day.  After Dan and the kids came home from work and school, I was anxious to have them try the hand pies too.  I mean I thought they were pretty darn tasty, but I really wanted Dan and the kids to like them.  Dan took one bite and told me I was a “rock star!”  Victoria LOVED them too.

Ryan?

Well…who wants to guess what Ryan thought?

Anyone?

He didn’t care for them.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

That little stinker actually prefers Entenmann’s apple pies from the grocery store, to my made from scratch with organic ingredients apple pear hand pies. My pies that had a crust in which I hand massaged the flour into the cold butter.  A crust in which I added a TON of love.  A crust that carefully cradled organically grown apple and pears that I peeled by hand, and then lovingly cooked on the stove all whilst singing along with Frank in my cozy kitchen in the country.   Really?  You prefer store bought to that???      Yep.

My picky Ryan in the cornfield behind our orchard.

My picky Ryan in the cornfield behind our orchard.

In honesty I am not bothered by this.  Truly.  Ryan is very particular about all foods…even desserts.  Ryan is the kid who never puts syrup on his waffles.  Ryan is the kid who never puts sauce on his pasta, and won’t eat pizza because of said sauce.  Ryan only likes parmesan on his noodles, and won’t eat macaroni and cheese, or  grilled cheese because of the cheese.  Yes, I have made both dishes with his beloved parmesan, but to no avail. Ryan is the kid who will say no thank you to ice cream, unless it’s PLAIN vanilla.  Ryan is the kid who will decline a homemade rice krispie treat, in favor of it’s store bought counterpart.  In lieu of his pickiness, I was not surprised.  I was hopeful that perhaps he’d like the hand pies, but not super surprised when he didn’t.

Dan and the kids in our orchard.

Dan and the kids in our orchard.

This reminds me of an interview I saw with Celine Dion after the birth of her first son.  She was on Oprah,  promoting her newest album “Miracle” which I LOVE. I bought the album after Ryan was born, and we played it over and over for him (and me) when he was a baby. Anyway, Celine was on Oprah singing her beautiful song, and afterward chatted with Oprah about her own miracle, the birth her son. Oprah made a comment about how lucky her son was to have that voice be the voice that sings him to sleep. Celine laughed, and told everyone that every time she sang to her son he cried.  Do not misunderstand, I am not comparing my cooking to to Celine Dion’s singing, but the premise is the same.  You have a parent who is good at something, and the kid doesn’t prefer it.  Like Celine Dion’s singing, and her son’s subsequent crying.  Like our good friends the Overholts, who LOVE to take pictures, and their awesome son Ford who doesn’t prefer to pose for the camera.  Like my son Ryan who lives in a house where food is lovingly prepared every night, yet he refuses to eat it.  I didn’t take his dislike of the hand pies personally. I had received a ton of good feedback so I knew they were good.  I just wish they were “Ryan good.”  Oh well, maybe the next recipe will receive his stamp of approval.  P.S. I am not holding my breath over here. ☺ Here is the link to the recipe: http://www.afinninthekitchen.com/2012/11/apple-pear-hand-pies-for-ev-part-i.html

The last recipe was for an apple pear double crust pie.  I made it as a back up to the hand pies…in case the crust didn’t cooperate. Well I am glad that I did because it was delicious.  I have made many apple and apple pear pies, and this is the recipe I ALWAYS use because it was my Grandma Ann’s pie recipe. Here is a link that is similar to my Grandma’s recipe:http://allrecipes.com/recipe/apple-pie-by-grandma-ople/

I will totally make both types of pies again.  I sincerely hope the awesome crust wasn’t just beginners luck!

Have a great September!!  Try the recipes…you won’t be sorry! ♥♥

DSCN9543

In the orchard with Victoria and Ryan ♥♥

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About THE cookie mama

I am not professionally trained in any way shape or form, BUT I come from a long line of really great cooks. I learned mostly by watching my parents and grandparents, and then replicating what they did. I love love love to cook and bake, and I love to share what I make with "my people."
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