revolutionary recipe alert: microwave apple crisp

I’ve been missing my oven a lot lately. It probably has to do with the fact it snowed today, meaning my least favorite season, pre-winter, has arrived. I’m trying to be positive about the cold weather, but it’s hard. Especially when you can’t even cope with it with a cozy night spent at home baking. One thing I’ve been dying to make all fall is a good old-fashioned apple crisp. Which is why this recipe for microwave apple crisp caught my eye when I stumbled on it at work the other day. I was skeptical at first, but after reading the positive reviews, my mind was made up to give it a try.

I stuck with the recipe pretty closely, but did substitute one of the apples out for a sad little pear that was languishing in my fridge. My 1.5-quart
oblong Pyrex turned out to be the perfect size.

After mixing up the topping (a straight-forward combo of oats, brown sugar, Bisquick, melted butter and spices) I thought it was going to be too thick, but it turned out to be just right.

This is when I started to have my doubts…

Skeptical as I was, it only took one bite to make me a believer. It was everything I had missed about baked apple crisp—sweet, warm, sticky, cinnamon-y, apple-y, good. I was so happy, I almost forgot about the sad state of my broken oven.

You can find the recipe (and read all the rave reviews) here. Let me know what you think if you give it a whirl!

xoxo,

Meghan

guest post: summery quinoa salad recipe

Hey dearies, happy Monday!

To kick off the week, I’m turning the blog over to the lovely Jen Cortez, co-owner of The Hive Salon and blogger behind Midwest Vaygun. I asked Jen to share one of her favorite healthy dishes with us this week and the menu she came up with sounds downright divine, especially considering my recent barbecue bender in Kansas City. I’ve really been scaling back on the amount of meat I eat since my trip, and this protein-packed quinoa salad would be the perfect for toting to work for lunch. I hope you enjoy!!

xo, Meghan

Summer is closing in on us fast, and with the soaring temps comes one of my most favorite things—outdoor eating! The only problem is that picnics and barbecues are often filled with repetitious staples. I believe you can only have so much potato salad, right? I love Asian cuisine, but far too often my love of far-eastern goodness takes a back seat in the summer (except for those nights where take-out is the only retreat from a hot stove, or hotter backyard) for more seasonal fare. I decided to put an end to the monotony of usual summer stamples by “summer-izing” some of my favorite Asian flavors. These are perfect for bringing to any outdoor get together!

Cold Quinoa “Fried Rice” Salad with Tofu

Quinoa doesn’t harden when cold like most rice varieties, making it great for chilled salads. although mangoes and avocados aren’t traditional in fried rice, their textures and flavors compliment the spicy and salty flavors of the quinoa and add extra heft to the dish.

What You Need

1 1/2 c. quinoa, rinsed well
2 1/2 c. water
1 20-ounce block Wildwood Tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large mango
2 avocados
1 bundle scallions
2-3 t. Sriracha hot sauce
3 T. gluten-free soy sauce
1 1/2 t. palm sugar, or regular sugar
2 t. fresh ginger, grated
1 T. coconut oil
1/2 c. loosely packed Thai basil and cillantro
bean sprouts, peanuts, and limes for garnish

Begin by bringing the water to boil in a tall pot. Add a few pinches of salt and the quinoa. Reduce to a simmer, and cook until all of the water has been absorbed, this should take roughly 15 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes and fluff with a fork. Spread the quinoa out on a cookie sheet and pop into the fridge to chill,  or the freezer if needed ASAP.

Next, take the tofu and place in on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and pop it into your toaster oven *if you don’t have a toaster oven you can use the regular oven but you’ll really heat your house up. otherwise, you can pan fry the tofu if you don’t mind the extra oil. Crank your toaster oven onto it’s highest setting and bake the bejeezus out of it, or until golden brown and lightly crispy. Place the tofu with the quinoa to cool it down.

Halve and pit the avocados and the mango and cube before tossing into a large, portable bowl that has a lid. Thinly slice the basil, cilantro, and scallions and add them to the bowl as well.

Now you can go ahead and whisk together the soy, ginger, sriracha, sugar and coconut oil (melt first if needed).

Toss the chilled quinoa and tofu with the rest of your prepped ingredients, and fold in the dressing. Taste and adjust to your preference. Sprinkle with with crushed peanuts, bean sprouts, and lime wedges. Serve with spicy grilled pak choy.

Spicy Korean Grilled Pak Choy

Feel free to swap out the pak choy for larger bok choy  or another bitter green, like broccolini.

What You Need

1 lb. pak choy/baby bok choy
4 T. gluten free soy sauce
2 t. tamarind paste
1 T. sesame oil
3 T. rice wine vinegar
2+ T. garlic chili sauce

Rinse the pak choy and cut in half length wise. Whisk together remaining marinade components, taste for heat, and pour over the pak choy. Marinate up to a full day. Grill vegetables until tender, basting occasionally with leftover marinade. It was raining when I last made this so I used my cast iron grill pan, but I think it tastes best when it’s made outdoors.

Get more of delicious vegan recipes like this over on the Midwest Vaygun!

how to: make the best beans…ever!

Seeing as Memorial Day weekend marks the official start of summer, I thought today would be an appropriate time to share my favorite recipe for toting along to barbecues and potlucks: Susan Crawford’s “Best Beans…Ever!” This gem of a recipe’s been in my possession for 11 years now, passed on to me by Susan Crawford, mom to one of my dear high school friends, Jane. In the decade-plus since high school graduation (!!!), I’ve brought this dish to more barbecues than I can count, and it always nets mad compliments. Enough rambling though…here’s how to make it yourself.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

1 lb. ground beef (or a little more), browned & drained
1 lb. bacon, browned & drained
1 large and 1 small can Busch’s Baked Beans (don’t drain)
1 can great northern beans (rinsed and drained)
1 can butter beans (don’t drain)
1 can spicy chili beans (don’t drain)
1 cup brown sugar
1 envelope Lipton Onion soup mix
1 cup barbecue sauce

HOW TO MAKE

Stir all ingredients together and bake at 350° (or 325°) for 1-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

So. Super. Easy.

Here’s what it looks like before baking.

In truth, it doesn’t look that much different when it’s done. I haven’t fiddled with the recipe much, seeing as it’s pretty perfect as is, BUT, I do want to give The Pioneer Woman’s bacon-topping technique a try on them some time. Bacon on top, bacon on the inside…bacon, bacon, bacon, bacon, bacon.

If you give this recipe a whirl over the course of the summer, please do tell me what you think!

xo,

Meghan

guest post: spring vegetable soup

Hey dearies, happy Monday!

I’m so lucky to have a handful of fabulous guest bloggers popping in throughout the week while I’m getting ready for Mighty Swell. To kick things off, here’s Libby, from one of my favorite daily reads, pinkshirtsandcarwrecks. Her veggie soup recipe is just the thing to get us all back to healthy, seasonal eating after a weekend full of Cadbury eggs and jelly beans. Don’t tell me I’m the only one with a sugar hangover! 

xo, Meghan

Hello everybody! I’m Libby from pinkshirtsandcarwrecks and am honored to help Meghan out while she gears up for Mighty Swell! I thought since spring is teasing us I’d help coax it along by making a fresh spring vegetable soup. Creamy Celery Soup is delicious and delicious, not to mention healthy! My version is adapted from this recipe from Martha Stewart. Here’s how to make it.
1. Wash and chop these vegetables: 1 bag/bunch of celery, a few small red potatoes (peeled), one large red onion, three cloves of garlic and one bunch of white asparagus (chop off bottoms – these are too stringy, even when blended in the soup!).
2. Melt a knob of butter in a large pot/4-quart saucepan over medium heat and add vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and cook until soft. These veggies smell so wonderful cooking! I added asparagus in because it’s in season right now, but you don’t have to if you don’t want. You can add more potato, too, if you like.
3. Add six cups chicken or vegetable stock (or water, but stock makes it more flavorful) to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat back down to medium and simmer (uncovered) until veggies are very tender—fork test them in 20 minutes.
4. Now the fun part! Puree the soup until smooth using your immersion blender (I love this handy kitchen tool! It makes this into a one pot meal. You can pick a cheap immersion blender up at Target—or even Walgreens!—for under $20). Add juice from half a lemon, re-season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. You can also use a regular blender, but you’ll have to work in batches and do more dishes. Read Martha’s recipe for tips on this step if you’re using a stand alone blender.
6. If you still have a few celery leaves they look pretty for garnish. I highly recommend serving this soup with some toasted slices of fresh baked baguette (I broiled them on a cookie sheet in the oven). I like them plain with butter, but you could rub them with a little garlic and olive oil before toasting—they make the best accompaniment to this spring vegetable soup. The whole thing takes less than an hour and it’s a such a treat for lunch or a light dinner or first course. As Julia Child would say, bon appétit!
In addition to her awesome blog, Libby also runs not one, but two Etsy shops, one for her vintage finds and another featuring her handmade creations. Check ’em out!

cover girl

Hello, dears!

The April issue of METRO magazine arrived at our office today and a vintage dress from my inventory is featured on the cover!

You could throw any old thing on that cover girl though and she’d look cute-as-a-freakin’-button. This summer-ready frock, along with a zillion* others needing good homes, will be up for grabs at Mighty Swell’s upcoming Spring Has Sprung event. You know. In case you you were wondering.

Well, I’m off to catch up on some housework and then get going on making this divine-looking dessert. (Thanks for the Bon Appetit subscription, Marmee!) Wish me luck!

xo,

Meghan

*Small exaggeration.

how to: roast root veggies

Happy Tuesday, lovelies!

Today’s how-to pertains to roasted root veggies. Also known as, vegetables that taste like candy and are addictive as crack. The directions below are adapted from Yellow Rose Recipes, an (unfortunately) out-of-print cookbook that gets a ton of use in my kitchen. Anyway, this is a comforting winter side that’s easy-to-make, all-around delicious and healthy.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

3 medium carrots

1 yam

2 medium yukon gold potatoes

1 parsnip

1 beet

[You can mix up what root veggies you want to include—try red potatoes, golden beets, rutabagas and turnips…]

1-2 T. olive oil

2 T. tamari or soy sauce

1-2 T. maple syrup

3-4 cloves of garlic, pressed or chopped

1 t. dried thyme

1/2 t. rosemary, crushed

1/2 t. dill

1/2 t. salt

1/2 t. pepper

HOW TO MAKE

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel yer veggies and chip-chop them into 3/4-1-inch pieces.

In a large bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients.

Add the roots and toss.

Add veggies to a lightly sprayed 9-by-13 inch baking dish or roasting pan.

Roast for 20 minutes, remove from  oven, toss around with a wooden spoon, and put back in oven for 20-30 more minutes. Your kitchen’s going to smell delicious!

Remove and serve, adding more salt and pepper if necessary.

Roasted roots go well with pretty much anything, and I like to think they taste even better the next day. Try piling a scoop or two over some arugula and top with goat cheese for a super veggie-licious lunch. Yum!

xo,

Meghan

 

guest post: making whoopie (pies) with lisa

Whoa, Friday! It’s nice to see you!

If you’re at all like me, by the time the end of the week rolls around, the prospect of spending some leisurely hours in the kitchen sounds divine. Trying a new recipe or two, slow roasting some meat, simmering a big batch of chili—the weekend’s a great time to just mess around, no rushing necessary. If I wasn’t so busy with this, I’d love to spend a chill afternoon, baking up a batch of these. I hope you all have wonderful Fridays!

xo,

Meghan

Making Whoopie (Pies), With Making Electricity’s Lisa

Hello wonderful readers! This is Lisa from Making Electricity and I am so happy to be blogging for Meghan while she is working her tush off to get ready for Mighty Swell—I’ll be bright and early that Saturday morning and I hope to meet some of you local ladies there!

I know that fall has come and gone, but I am still in the thick of my love affair with pumpkin-centric foods. With holiday party season upon us, I thought I would share a recipe for some delicious treats that are super easy to make—perfect for your own party or to bring as a hostess gift—as an extra perk, your home will be warm, cozy and smell like pumpkin cake when you are done make these.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Source: Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

♥ For the Whoopie Pies ♥

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
3 cups chilled pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

♥ For the Maple-Cream Cheese Filling ♥
3 cups powdered sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces (½ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

♥ How to Make ♥

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger and nutmeg. Set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk the granulated sugar, the dark brown sugar, and the oil together. Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine thoroughly. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and whisk until completely combined.

4. Use a small cookie scoop or a large spoon to drop a rounded, heaping tablespoon of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart.

5. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, making sure that the cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean. The cookies should be firm when touched. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool completely on a cooling rack.

6. To make the filling, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth with no visible lumps, about 3 minutes. Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth and combined, about 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time, then add the maple syrup and vanilla and beat until smooth.

7. To assemble the pies: Turn half of the cooled cookies upside down. Pipe or spoon the filling (about a tablespoon) onto that half. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling. Press down slightly so that the filling spread to the edges of the cookie. Repeat until all the cookies are used. Put the whoopie pies in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm before serving.

And, since this is High Plains Thrifter, after all, I thought I’d also share this gorgeous vintage Pyrex casserole dish (with carrier) that I scored at my favorite Salvation Army for 99 cents!

Yummy desserts and beautiful kitchenware—life doesn’t get much better in my opinion. Have a fabulous holiday season, readers!

Best best,

Lisa