Awesomesome Apple Cake

Chock-full of apples, this cake is moist, tender and totally awesome! After just one bite of the cake that Theresa Stroda prepared, we needed the recipe. It's one that she found in a Taste of Home publication and that has always earned rave reviews from all who give it a try.
The caramel/butterscotch sauce is the crowing glory to this delicious dessert.
I did add walnuts . . . because apples and walnuts just seem to compliment one another.

Chunky Apple Cake Recipe      One 13-in. x 9-in. / 12 – 14 servings  
Cake
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 cups peeled & chopped tart apples
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, optional

Caramel/Butterscotch Sauce
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream + extra to whip for topping if desired
  1. In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla. 
  2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  3. Combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well (batter will be stiff). Stir in apples until well combined.


  4. Spread into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until top is lightly browned and springs back when lightly touched. Cool for 30 minutes before serving.

  5. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine brown sugar and butter. Cook over medium heat until butter is melted. Gradually add cream. Bring to a slow boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat.
  6. Serve cake with sauce and top with whipped cream if desired.
Recipe without photos . . .
Chunky Apple Cake Recipe      One 13-in. x 9-in. / 12 – 14 servings  
Cake
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 cups peeled & chopped tart apples
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, optional

Caramel/Butterscotch Sauce 
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream + extra to whip for topping if desired
  1. In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla. 
  2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
  3. Combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well (batter will be stiff). Stir in apples until well combined.
  4. Spread into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until top is lightly browned and springs back when lightly touched. Cool for 30 minutes before serving.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine brown sugar and butter. Cook over medium heat until butter is melted. Gradually add cream. Bring to a slow boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat.
  6. Serve cake with sauce and top with  whipped cream if desired.

Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup -- dairy free

It looks creamy, it tastes creamy, but there is no cream in this Silky Gingered
Zucchini Soup. Packed with flavor, this is a dairy-free recipe that Inge Teasley shared with me. 

Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup   Makes 4 to 6 servings.
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, peel and smashed
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt (I used less and then tasted)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 zucchini, chopped (about 2 pounds)
2 cups chicken broth (could use 4 cups chicken broth & omit the 2 cups beef listed next)
2 cups beef broth
Garnish: chopped chives or finely chopped tops of green onions.
  1. Heat  coconut oil in a large soup pot on medium heat, 2 minutes. Add onions and garlic to the pot. Stir often and cook until soft and golden but not browned; about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the ginger, coriander, salt and pepper to the pot. Stir to combine and when the spices are fragrant,  toss in the zucchini. Stir to coat the zucchini with fat, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the broth, bring to a boil, cover and reduce to simmer. Let the zucchini cook 45 to 60 minutes until it's very soft.
  4. Very carefully, purée the zucchini and broth in a blender or food processor, or with an immersion blender. If you’re using a blender, work in batches, filling the canister only halfway and holding a towel over the lid while you purée.
  5. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped chives or green onion tops if desired.
Recipe without photos . . .
Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup   Makes 4 to 6 servings.
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped
4 large cloves garlic, peel and smashed
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt (I used less and then tasted)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 zucchini, chopped (about 2 pounds)
2 cups chicken broth  (could use 4 cups chicken broth & omit the 2 cups beef listed next)
2 cups beef broth
Garnish: chopped chives or finely chopped tops of green onions.

  1. Heat  coconut oil in a large soup pot on medium heat, 2 minutes. Add onions and garlic to the pot. Stir often and cook until soft and golden but not browned; about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the ginger, coriander, salt and pepper to the pot. Stir to combine and when the spices are fragrant,  toss in the zucchini. Stir to coat the zucchini with fat, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the broth, bring to a boil, cover and reduce to simmer. Let the zucchini cook 45 to 60 minutes until it's very soft.
  4. Very carefully, purée the zucchini and broth in a blender or food processor, or with an immersion blender. If you’re using a blender, work in batches, filling the canister only halfway and holding a towel over the lid while you purée.
  5. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped chives or green onion tops if desired.

Caramel Apple Sangria -- perfect for fall!

Caramel Apple Sangria. Need I say more other than it is delicious! Perfect for fall. 

Caramel Apple Sangria 
1 750 ml bottle pinot grigio or other mild white wind
1 cup caramel flavored vodka
6 cups apple cider
2 medium apples, cored and chopped
  1. Stir the wine, vodka, and apple cider together.
  2. Add the chopped apples.
  3. Serve the sangria over ice.

Spinach & Roasted Beet Salad -- perfect for Fall!

Plenty of nutrients in this end-of-the season salad — it's perfect for Fall! Add as much or as little of each ingredient as you prefer.


Spinach & Roasted Beet Salad
Baby spinach leaves
Roasted beets, cubed and flavored with fresh thyme
Walnuts, coarsely chopped
Blue cheese crumbles
Celery Seed Dressing 
  1. Place spinach leaves in salad bowl. Top with roasted beets, walnuts and blue cheese.
  2. Drizzle with Celery Seed Dressing.


End-of-the-season Tomato Soup -- a canning recipe

End-of-the-season Tomato Soup . . . processed, canned and ready for winter! This recipe came from a Kerr® Home Canning and Freezing Book, 1977 edition.

Tomato Soup    Yield: 10 pints
14 quarts ripe tomatoes
7 medium-sized onions
1 stalk celery (the entire bunch vs. individual ribs)
14 springs parsley
3 bay leaves
14 tablespoons (3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
14 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons salt
6 to 8 tablespoons granulated sugar (recipe calls for 8 tablespoons but I started with 6 and then tasted to see if it needed more)
2 teaspoons pepper
Our additions: Cumin & chili powder to taste, or use other seasonings of your choice
  1. Wash; cut up tomatoes (I also removed the core). Add to a large pot (12 quart+ capacity).
  2. Coarsely chop onions, celery, parsley; Add to pot along with the bay leaves.
  3. Cook until celery is tender (30 to 45 minutes). 
  4. Put through a sieve or run though a food mill, return soup to pot and bring to a boil.
    Above: Cooked mixture going through the food mill.
    Below: Tomato mixture left after being put though the food mill. 
  5. Rub flour and butter into smooth paste (I did this with my fingers); then thin with tomato juice (dipped from pot of tomatoes, celery, etc.)
    Above: Flour & butter rubbed together.
    Below: Tomato juice added to the flour & butter paste..
  6. Add flour mixture to hot soup mixture; stir to blend.
  7. Continue to cook until soup has thickened. 
  8. Add salt, sugar and pepper. Add other seasonings as desired.
  9. Fill cleaned and sterilized jars to within 1" of top. Add lids and bands (that have been heated). 
  10. Process in Boiling Water Bath 15 minutes. 
Recipe without photos . . .
Tomato Soup    Yield: 10 pints
14 quarts ripe tomatoes
7 medium-sized onions
1 stalk celery (the entire bunch vs. individual ribs)
14 springs parsley
3 bay leaves
14 tablespoons (3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
14 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons salt
6 to 8 tablespoons granulated sugar (recipe calls for 8 tablespoons but I started with 6 and then tasted to see if it needed more)
2 teaspoons pepper
Our additions: Cumin & chili powder to taste, or use other seasonings of your choice
  1. Wash; cut up tomatoes (I also removed the core). Add to a large pot (12 quart+ capacity).
  2. Coarsely chop onions, celery, parsley; Add to pot along with the bay leaves.
  3. Cook until celery is tender (30 to 45 minutes). 
  4. Put through a sieve or run though a food mill, return soup to pot and bring to a boil.
  5. Rub flour and butter into smooth paste (I did this with my fingers); then thin with tomato juice (dipped from pot of tomatoes, celery, etc.)
  6. Add flour mixture to hot soup mixture; stir to blend.
  7. Add salt, sugar and pepper. Add other seasonings as desired 
  8. Continue to cook until soup has thickened. 
  9. Fill cleaned and sterilized jars to within 1" of top. Add lids and bands (that have been heated). 
  10. Process in Boiling Water Bath 15 minutes. 

Cinnamon & Sugar Focaccia with raisins & walnuts

Yet another version of Focaccia in 5 using Olive Oil Dough from Artisan Pizza and Flatbread In Five Minutes a Day. Filled with sugar and spice, this one is great for breakfast, brunch, as a dessert or sweet treat.

Cinnamon & Sugar Focaccia with raisins & walnuts
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Olive Oil Dough from Artisan Pizza and Flatbread In Five Minutes a Day
1/3 to 1/2 cup brown sugar 
2 to 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup raisins or craisins (plump if they are too dry -- add fruit to water to just a little water & let it set until moisture is absorbed; drain excess liquid)
1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, divided use
Coarse sugar - about 1 or 2 teaspoons
Powdered Sugar Dip: Mix together 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
  1. Preheat a baking stone near the middle of the oven to 425°.
    I don't have a baking stone so I use a flat cast iron skillet
  2. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a 9” square pan and evenly coat the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
  3. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit size) piece. 
  4. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball shape by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go.  
  5. Flatten slightly and then top with sugar, cinnamon, raisins and most (but not all) of the nuts. Pull dough over filling to enclose additions and then twist into a log shape to further enclose mixture.
  6. Dust with more flour if needed. Pull the twist into a ball shape.
  7. Using your hands, flatten it into a 1/2” thick round. Place the dough top side down into the cake pan, and move it around a bit to cover it in olive oil. Turn the dough over, cover the pan with plastic wrap, and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
  8. Use your hands to gently push the dough to the edges of the cake pan. Sprinkle  remaining nuts and coarse sugar over the surface and push into the surface.
  9. Cover the pan with plastic wrap, and allow the focaccia to rest and rise for 20 minutes.
  10. After the focaccia has rested, use your fingers to stipple the surface of the dough and then place the cake pan on the baking stone in the oven.
  11. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the crust is medium brown and crisp on the bottom. The baking time will vary according to the focaccia’s thickness.
  12. Cut into squares or strips and serve warm with Powdered Sugar Dip. This bread is also good toasted; split in half before toasting if desired.
Recipe without photos . . .
Cinnamon & Sugar Focaccia with raisins & walnuts
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Olive Oil Dough from Artisan Pizza and Flatbread In Five Minutes a Day
1/3 to 1/2 cup brown sugar 
2 to 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup raisins or craisins (plump if they are too dry -- add fruit to water to just a little water & let it set until moisture is absorbed; drain excess liquid)
1/4 to 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, divided use
Coarse sugar - about 1 or 2 teaspoons
Powdered Sugar Dip: Mix together 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
  1. Preheat a baking stone near the middle of the oven to 425°.
  2. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a 9” square pan and evenly coat the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
  3. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit size) piece. 
  4. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball shape by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go.  
  5. Flatten slightly and then top with sugar, cinnamon, raisins and most (but not all) of the nuts. Pull dough over filling to enclose additions and then twist into a log shape to further enclose mixture.
  6. Dust with more flour if needed. Pull the twist into a ball shape.
  7. Using your hands, flatten it into a 1/2” thick round. Place the dough top side down into the cake pan, and move it around a bit to cover it in olive oil. Turn the dough over, cover the pan with plastic wrap, and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
  8. Use your hands to gently push the dough to the edges of the cake pan. Sprinkle  remaining nuts and coarse sugar over the surface and push into the surface.
  9. Cover the pan with plastic wrap, and allow the focaccia to rest and rise for 20 minutes.
  10. After the focaccia has rested, use your fingers to stipple the surface of the dough and then place the cake pan on the baking stone in the oven.
  11. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the crust is medium brown and crisp on the bottom. The baking time will vary according to the focaccia’s thickness.
  12. Cut into squares or strips and serve warm with Powdered Sugar Dip. This bread is also good toasted; split in half before toasting if desired.

Spaghetti Squash with Sausage & Veggies

I've never met a carb that I didn't like! It's a saying that applies to me! However, I didn't even miss the carbs in this veggie based meal. I did add a little pork sausage but it could be omitted and more mushrooms added for a vegetarian option. Other veggie additions could include peppers. Substitute canned tomatoes for fresh and dried Italian seasoning for fresh herbs if desired.


Spaghetti Squash with Sausage & Veggies  4 servings
1 spaghetti squash
½ lb. ground pork sausage
1 onion, diced
4 to 6 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
3 to 4 tablespoons tomato paste + equal amount of water or broth
½ cup fresh herb blend (parsley, thyme, oregano, basil)
Fresh tomatoes--about a handful, chopped
Kosher salt & coarse pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese to sprinkle over the top
  1. Prepare Squash: Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a baking sheet with a thin layer of cooking spray. Cut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and fibrous strands surrounding seeds.
  2. Place squash halves cut side down on the baking sheet and add a little water to the tray (helps to steam and tenderize squash). Bake 35 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife can be easily inserted. Remove from oven, and cool. Use the tines of a kitchen fork to gently scrap out the “spaghetti”. 
  3. Prepare Filling: Brown pork sausage in skillet; when almost brown, add onion and cook several minutes.
  4. Add mushrooms and cook until tender.
  5. Add tomato paste, herbs, water and fresh tomatoes Cover and cook for a few minutes until tomatoes are heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Add cooked spaghetti squash and mix; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.