Cinnamon Apple Chips

I have been beyond busy, which would indicate my lack of blogging. I just got back from what started out as a wonderful and much needed vacation back home to Ohio to visit family, and see a dear friend of mine get married. This fun time away from work ended terribly due to the hurricane making her move though the east coast and pounding states on that side very hard with heavy wind and rain. Although I was supposed to arrive back to Florida on Monday, my flight got canceled twice, and Delta put me through hell in getting new flights, and delaying others causing me to miss more flights and so on. The last 3 days were quite an adventure for me in fighting for a way back south. I have safely arrived and my family up north is doing fine now that the power is back up and running (after being out for almost 3 days!) and most of the damage from large trees falling down and power lines all over the place is about cleaned up.

With that said, HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Unfortunately I am staying in for the holiday. My vacation got extended which isn’t a bad thing, but having to go back to work after being off for a week means it’s early to bed and rise once again. While most folks are gorging themselves in the many chocolate variety packs and sweet candies that are going on sale tomorrow, I am pushing the candy to the side this year. For my Halloween treat, I’ve decided to make apples chips! Its a very simple, yummy, and healthy snack. If your not into dried fruits or haven’t had the opportunity to eat them, this is your time to take the fruit of your choice and dehydrate it in your oven. I absolutely love adding dried fruit into salads, oatmeal, yogurt and granola, or eating them solo. Apples are your best choice right now in terms of seasonal fruit, however, you may choose to do any fruit you like. I also prefer: bananas, mango, pineapple, and kiwi.

Active Time: 10 Minutes

Total Time: 1.5 – 2 Hours

Ingredients:

-2 Large Apples (I used Gala)

-2 Tablespoons Sugar

-1 Teaspoon Cinnamon

 

Method of Prep:

-Slice apples thin using a sharp knife or mandolin (if you have one)

-Heat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

-In a large bowl, add sugar and cinnamon to the sliced apples and toss until evenly coated.

-Layer a sheet pan with parchment paper, Spread apple slices onto paper, keeping an even distance in between each.

-Place in the oven and bake for up to 2 hours until dry. The texture should be fragile and lightly crunchy.

-Let cool for 10 minutes after removing from the oven.

Enjoy!

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Jerk Chicken

Before I meander on in this post about an incredible dinner option for you and your family, I want to share with you an Item Brandon came across in the grocery store a couple weeks back. This jerk marinade [pictured above] called “Boston Jerk seasoning, Jamaican Country Style.” I’ve had jerk seasoning both dry and wet on a few items before, and honestly this stuff is out of this world. It’s amazingly powerful in spice and flavor, requiring only 1 teaspoon needed for whatever it is you want to marinate. If you are a jerk seasoning fan or enjoy Jamaican cuisine, check your local grocery store for this marinade and buy some! You will thank me later.

As for this post, one of my absolute favorite menu items in my home is Brandon’s Jerk chicken served with black beans, coconut rice, and roasted bananas [or plantain’s if you prefer] . I ate a lot of chicken as a child so for me chicken is overrated. When I cook with chicken [which I seldom do anymore] I prefer to use chicken thighs for a few reasons: 1.) Dark meat, 2.) It doesn’t get dry like chicken breast does, and 3.) its awesome! You can use breast for this recipe but the wow factor wont be the same. This is a Jamaican dish, so to keep the flavors close and the plate somewhat authentic, I cooked my rice with 1 can of coconut milk instead of water. If your milk evaporates before your rice is cooked you can then add in a little bit of water or milk to finish cooking it. In most traditional Cuban and Jamaican cuisine, fried plantains are added as a side to your meal. I didn’t have plantains on hand, so I substituted using a whole banana roasted in the oven for about 15 minutes, no seasoning or sugar, just slice banana on parchment paper, on a sheet tray, in the oven, BAM. This is an awesome substitute, trust me. Lastly, for the black beans, open 1 15 oz can and pour into a pan [don’t drain the beans] season with some spices and cook until beans are soft. For best results with flavor of chicken, marinate overnight. I really hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do!

Active Time: 25 Minutes

Total Time: 45 Minutes

Ingredients:

-1 Package of Chicken Thighs

-1 Teaspoon Boston Jerk Seasoning

-1 Cup rice

-1 15 oz can Coconut Milk

-1 15 Can Black beans

-1/2 Onion, small dice

-1 Garlic clove, brunoise

-1 Teaspoon Cayenne

-1 Tablespoon Cumin

-S&P, TT

-1 Ripe Banana

Additional Equipment:

-Parchment paper

-Sheet tray

-Canola oil

-2 Sauce pots

-1 Fry pan

Method of Prep:

-Rub 1 teaspoon of jerk marinade all over chicken thighs until fully coated. Cover, place in refrigerator and marinate over night or for a minimum of 4 hours.

-Turn oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat a skillet up add oil and once hot, sear thighs until a light dark and crispy coat appears. Approximately 5 minutes on each side.

-Once chicken is seared, place on a sheet tray and finish cooking in the oven until chicken reads 165 or is fully cooked.

-While chicken is cooking, Add rice and coconut milk to a sauce pot. Cover and cook over medium heat until finished. Check often and stir.

-As the rice cooks, Saute onion and garlic until light brown. open a can of black beans into a pot [don’t drain the beans]. Add cayenne, cumin, salt, and pepper. let simmer over medium heat until beans are fully cooked.

-By this point your chicken should be about ready. Pull from oven and let rest.

-Cut the banana on a bias, place on parchment paper and place in the oven for 10 minutes to cook, allowing all the natural sugars to pour from the banana πŸ™‚

-Once everything is cooked and tastes delicious, plate it up and eat.

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pancakes with Maple Cinnamon Butter

Your mother might of told you when you were younger not to play with your food. When I was told that I laughed but listened anyways, I never understood what the big deal was. Now my inner child cant help but play with food.Β  It leads to fun creations and awesome presentations, Oh If only momma knew.

Pancakes are delicious, except when your in Mexico (long story). 9 times out of 10 when people eat breakfast, pancakes are always included. I do enjoy the classic old school buttermilk pancakes but because I love everything about fall, I like to stay in season and eat pumpkin pancakes instead. They still have the same fluffy texture, and soft feel, just the color is darker and the taste is sweeter. If you have kids, you will make their day by making the pancakes into pumpkin shapes. I know as a kid I always enjoyed the Mickey Mouse cakes, and if I’m feeling extra childish, I will make them for myself every now and then. No harm in having a little fun with the presentation of your food. I made a maple and cinnamon butter to spread on top of the pancakes as well. Seriously, this is a great match. If you like your pancakes wet, drizzle on some more warm maple syrup! If you don’t have kids or a pumpkin cookie cutter (I found mine at Michaels for $1!) go ahead and make pancakes the round way. Breakfast is a lot of fun!

Active Time: 10 Minutes

Total Time: 20 Minutes

Recipe Credit: Martha Stewart

Ingredients:

-1 1/4 Cup AP Flour

-2 Tablespoons Sugar

-2 teaspoons Baking Powder

-1/2 teaspoon of each: Cinnamon, Ground Ginger, Salt, Allspice

 

-1 Cup Milk

-6 Tablespoons Pumpkin Puree

-2 Tablespoons Melted Butter

-1 Egg

Preparation:

-Whisk together all the dry ingredients.

-In a separate bowl, whisk together all the liquid ingredients.

-Whisk liquid mixture into the flour mixture until incorporated.

-Heat up a large skillet over medium heat.

-Spray with pan spray, or melted butter.

-Pour pancake batter into pan and cook for 3 minutes on both sides.

-Remove from pan, spread on maple butter and dredge in syrup.

Enjoy!

Maple Cinnamon Butter

-2 Sticks Butter, soft

-2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup

-2 teaspoons Brown Sugar

-1/2 Tablespoon Cinnamon

-Add all ingredients into a medium bowl. Whisk until incorporated.

-If you want to get creative you can place whipped butter into a piping bag and pipe fun designs on the pumpkin.

-Save any leftover butter and batter for the next time you make pancakes!

**Note: To make the pumpkin shapes, you can either, place the batter inside the mold and let it cook, this is the harder way to do it, or you can make pancakes as your normally would, and then cut out the pumpkin shapes once finished. If you cook it in the mold be careful because the mold will get hot! Just flip it upside down when the bottom half is cook, only fill the mold halfway. When you flip it, some of the batter may spread out the sides, it wont ruin the shape though, just cut them off in the end.

Apple & Sweet Potato Hash

 

Apples and sweet potatoes, you really can’t go wrong with either of them. When you put the two together its a pleasing and tasteful alliance made in heaven. I took two popular autumn foods and mixed them together with my favorite grain, err seed and topped it off with a runny fried egg to make a fantastic breakfast/lunch/dinner.

If you are unfamiliar with quinoa or haven’t cooked with it, you need to read about it and go buy some right now. This is not only one of the healthiest grains, but it is packed 9 essential amino acids which makes it a protein all on its own. Its very versatile and cooks the same way as rice and only takes 5 minutes! It’s almost always organic and is gluten free, kosher, and cholesterol free. Seriously, whats not to love about this!?! I added a little twist on the cooking of the quinoa this time. While the quinoa was cooking in the water, I added two cinnamon sticks into the pot to scent the quinoa. The cinnamon smell ties in well with the apple and sweet potato. A wonderful thing about this dish is you can eat hot or cold. This has is a very enjoyable fall item, both sweet and savory at the same time.

 

Active Time: 10 Minutes

Total Time: 20 Minutes

Ingredients:

-1 Granny Smith Apple, small dice (peel if you wish)

-1 Small Sweet Potato, peeled, small dice

-1 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme, or 2 sprigs with thyme removed from the stem

-1 Egg

-1 Yellow Onion, small dice

-2 Tablespoons butter

-Salt & Pepper, TT

-1 Teaspoon Allspice

-1 Cup Cinnamon Quinoa, cooked

 

Preparation:

-Heat a large skillet up on medium heat. Add in 1 tablespoon of butter.

-Once butter is melted, add in onion, sweet potato, and apple. Season with S&P.

-Saute until sweet potato becomes soft, about 10 minutes.

-Add in thyme, allspice, and the last tablespoon of butter.

-Continue to saute on medium heat until sweet potato and apple are cooked. Approximately another 5 minutes.

-Remove hash from pan and set aside.

-Using the same pan, fry your egg to an over easy consistency. Season egg with S&P.

-Place quinoa in a bowl, spoon hash on top, and crown the hash with your fried egg.

-Break open egg with a fork and ENJOY! πŸ™‚

**Note: This hash is delicious hot, but I enjoy eating it cold. It makes an excellent breakfast!

**Recipe Note: To make the scented quinoa, Cook quinoa according to directions on the box and add 2 cinnamon sticks to the pot. When quinoa is ready, remove cinnamon sticks and enjoy. You can use ground cinnamon if you don’t have whole. Just stir 1 teaspoon into the quinoa in the last few minutes of cooking.