Friday, November 27, 2015

Quick, Easy, DELICIOUS Apple Crumb Pie

Life is Good: Even the Crumbs!

I was just looking for my apple crumb pie recipe and realized that I had written this post, but never published it. My guess is that it had something to do with a pre-term newborn, nursing every two hours, pumping after each nursing, attempting to parent two other people, and oh, a whole host of other things going on at the time!
This is one of our family's favorite pies, especially Grant's. Try it! You will like it!
So...a year later, here is the post...

A friend of mine recently asked for favorite Thanksgiving foods on Facebook (thanks, Jen!). I have always loved my mom's sweet potato souffle and pecan pie, but sadly, they have been retired because our kids have egg allergies.

I have a new pie tradition, though. This has to be the simplest, yet most tasty dessert that just screams, "Autumn!" which is what the season should be if you don't live in Minnesota! Booooo for early snow!

Our big kid is having a Thanksgiving Friendship Feast tomorrow, so what am I doing tonight? (Tonight being my first night home with our newborn who arrived 26 days early.) I'm making an apple crumb pie for him to take to his class! Here's the recipe. It does not disappoint.

Susie's Apple Crumb Pie (Adapted from Martha Stewart) 
Pie filling

Approx. 2 ½ pounds assorted apples (I like a blend of Gala and Granny Smith for a sweet & sour pie), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/8 to 1/4 -inch-thick slices
Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
⅓ cup sugar
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt

Crumb Crust (Makes enough for one 9-inch pie)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons oats (I used rolled oats)
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small pieces

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, sugar, and salt.
3. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few larger clumps remaining. Using your fingers, squeeze the mixture together to create pea-size to ¾-inch pieces. If not using right away, cover and chill until ready to proceed.
4. Evenly and firmly press a little more than half of the crumbs (about 2½ cups) into the bottom, up the sides, and onto the rim of a 9-inch glass pie plate. Press firmly into the edges.
5. Freeze pie shell until firm, about 15 minutes.

6. In a large bowl, toss together apples, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
7. Pour the mixture into the chilled pie shell, mounding apples slightly in the center.
8. Dot with butter.
9. Sprinkle the remaining crumbs in clumps over the apples to cover completely.
10. Bake, rotating halfway through, until the crust turns golden and the juices begin to bubble, about 1 hour. (Depends on the oven.)
11. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
12. The pie can be kept temperature, loosely covered, for up to 2 days. Or you can refrigerate it for longer.

Seriously, if you are looking for a relatively easy pie to make that will wow your guests, this is THE PIE! Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Best Eggless Egg-free Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Bread Ever

Life is good: thank goodness for chocolate! (STILL)

I just made this yummy bread in prep for our littlest's FIRST BIRTHDAY! (Whew! Twelves months flew faster than a jet plane!)
This time, I omitted the cocoa powder because I have to grind up chocolate chunks to make my own and just didn't feel like doing that one extra step (a lesson I've learned this past year...sometimes you need to omit a step or two!)
Every time I have mixed this up, I remember that I want to just put a dash of cinnamon in it the next time. And then, I forget. So hopefully, with the help of this post, I will remember next time.) I put the batter in two loaf pans and cooked for 60 minutes.

The original post is...
This past year, we were so fortunate to enroll our oldest child in a magnificent preschool. All of the staff were joyful, kind, nurturing, and encouraging. To top it off, the school had a carpool lane, which meant that teachers stood out in the rain and snow and everything in between so that parents didn't have to. I felt especially grateful that I didn't have to get our littlest in and out of the car to drop off the big kid during inclement weather. So the last week of school, I made some chocolate chocolate chunk zucchini bread for the teachers at his preschool as a way to say, "Thank you!!!" for weathering the carpool lane (pun intended!) as well as creating an atmosphere of safety and fun for our child.

Eggless Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Bread
2 C flour
2 C sugar
3/4 C cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
mixture of 3/4 applesauce and 1/2 T baking powder (mixed together in a separate bowl until foamy)
3/4 C canola
3/4 C buttermilk (I have often used milk and it has turned out well)
3 C grated zucchini
3/4 C chocolate chips or chunks (I got this recipe from my friend Merie. She used a 1/2 bag rather than measure them)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease and flour two loaf pans.
3. Mix applesauce and baking soda together in a small bowl and set aside.
4. Mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together in a large bowl.
5. Add applesauce mixture plus oil and buttermilk into large bowl of dry ingredients and mix well.
6. Mix in zucchini and then chocolate chips.
7. Pour into pans (half of batter in each) and bake. In my oven, this recipe is done after about 45 minutes. However, all ovens are different, so I suggest that you start checking the middle of the loaf with a toothpick or cake tester after 38-40 minutes.

I leave the cocoa powder out of the recipe when I make this bread for my kids since they are allergic to nuts. Most cocoa powders are processed in facilities where nuts are present. The absence of cocoa powder doesn't affect how delicious it is. However, the addition of cocoa powder kind of "takes the flavor over the edge", if you will, and makes the bread much, much more rich. Try it both ways and see what you think!
The original recipe calls for 1 tsp of cinnamon, but it makes for a very obvious cinnamon taste and I prefer it more subtle, especially when leaving out the cocoa powder.
This recipe was originally a cake made with eggs that my friend, Merie, who happens to be a marvelous and adventurous cook, posted on Facebook a few years ago. (Thank you, Merie!) I adapted it to be eggless and the result was more of a bread than a cake, so I bake it in loaf pans, but if you want to try it in a cake pan, go for it!

I made two different recipes--one with cocoa powder (for the teachers) and one without (for my kiddos). Here is a pic of both recipes in the dry ingredient stage.
In this pic, the batter is ready to be poured into the loaf pans.
Here is the Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Zucchini bread version...
And the Chocolate Chunk Zucchini bread version (I used Enjoy Life chocolate chunks.)