(Even Easier) Easiest Apple Cake

Every fall I get massively overwhelmed by the amount of apple recipes thrown at me from all corners of the food blogging world. Not sure what's wrong with me but all the ways to bake apples, no matter how elaborate, read to me as "spend 2 hours making apple pie". Despite the popular expression, nothing about apple pie is what I would qualify as easy. When I hear the words, I immediately think about crust and filling and blah- I don't feel like spending 2 hours in the kitchen rolling and kneading and stirring... Basically anything apple related is an immediate turn off. That being said, apples do taste insanely delicious when baked. (Breaking news, folks.) All that ooey gooey warm flavor, nothing tastes as cozy and instantly celebrates the season as a warm, baked all the way through apple. This was my dilemma a few weeks ago when I bought ten tooo many apples at the market. There was also a moment of weakness with some cider donuts but, half a dozen for $3?! Cheap! Seasonal! Sale! Surprise, I have no will power when it comes to discounted fruit and seasonal baked goods. 

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In an effort to validate my laziness and make sure that aforementioned apples didn't go rotting away on the counter, I decided to revisit an apple cake recipe I shared last year. I was planning Rosh Hashanah dinner and figured this was the perfect time to test what I had claimed to be “easy”. As with all my recipes the goal is to spend less than 30 min. doing prep work and no more than an hour actually cooking. Minimal effort, maximum flavor. I set a timer and went to work.

After adjusting a few ingredients and cutting down on steps, the result was fast and flavorful. If you're like me and are terrified of baking a cake that involves apples because it all seems as labor intensive as apple pie- this is the cake for you. I highly suggest working this into a menu for a dinner party. I soaked peeled, cut apples in bourbon while I showered, made the batter while my hair dried, and stuck it in the oven while I changed the baby and set the table. By the time my guests arrived the apartment smelled amazing and the cake had time to cool during the main meal.

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easiest apple cake

Ingredients

  • 4-5 apples, peeled + chopped into approximately 1 inch pieces. (I used Granny Smith but whatever you have on hand will work. I sliced some of the apples horizontally for decoration.)

  • 3 large eggs

  • 2 cups bourbon (This is optional, the bourbon gives the apples so much flavor but if you don't have any, don't let it stop you from making this. Just mix 1/4 cup sugar with the apples and let them sit to really bring out flavor + juices.)

  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 1 cup vegetable oil

  • 3 cups flour

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1 tbsp. baking powder

  • 1 tsp. nutmeg

  • 1 tsp. ginger

  • 1 tsp. clove

  • 2 tsp. cinnamon

  • 1/4 cup honey

  • pinch turbinado sugar

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  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. 

  2. Peel and cut apples into 1 inch pieces, place into a bowl. 

  3. Pour bourbon over the apples and let soak while you assemble the other ingredients or if you’re like me, take a shower.

  4. Make the spice mix: combine cloves, cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg in a cup. Give it a stir. 

  5. Thoroughly whisk all the wet ingredients in a bowl.

  6. In a separate bowl combine dry ingredients.

  7. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients, mix well. 

  8. Drain the bourbon from the apples, reserving 1/4 cup.

  9. Pour bourbon into the batter give it a good stir. 

  10. Fold apples into the batter.

  11. I split the batter between two 8 inch round pans - plenty for 2 small cakes. Alternately, you could make one large cake in a 10 x 3 inch pan.

  12. Sprinkle the top with turbinado sugar and a drizzle of honey.

  13. Decorate with apple slices.

  14. Bake cake for 35-40min or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. 





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Tomato Basil Chicken turned Paella

In my last post I introduced a new series on the site, Quick Recipes, For Busy Parents. Idea behind the series being, how to make one meal with enough leftover to transform it into something totally different for dinner the next night. 

I'm going to keep this one short, just like the prep and cook time for this dinner. Tomato Basil Chicken leftovers transformed into paella. (If you're a paella truther, please forgive me. This is a homemade, take the bare elements of paella, no time to cook because the baby is crying version of the dish.) So, here's what you do: get home from work and make the decision not to order out. Do not pick up some pita and dip it in hummus and call that dinner. Do not pour a bowl of cereal and pretend you're back in college. And for the love of everything, do not slice up an avocado and insult yourself by putting it on toast. Make a real meal because you worked all day and you've earned it. All you need are the aforementioned leftovers and 30 minutes for light cooking. Frankly, this recipe is more mixing and boiling than cooking. No cutting, just a little stirring. 

Ready?

Let's make this.

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Tomato Basil Chicken turned Paella 

Ingredients

  • Leftovers from the Tomato Basil Chicken recipe
    • We had two chicken thighs and a ton of the vegetables in their juices.
  • 2 cups jasmine rice
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • fresh basil, torn into pieces
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  1. Steep saffron in 1/4 cup of hot water.
  2. While saffron is steeping cook 2 cups jasmine rice in a pot. (Directions for cooking rice should be on the back of the packaging.)
  3. Meanwhile, grab the leftovers from the fridge. Using a fork, or if you're me, just your fingers - shred the leftover chicken into a large pan. 
  4. Dump your leftover vegetables and any juices into the pan with the chicken. Literally, just empty the Tupperware into the pan. 
  5. Drizzle some olive oil on everything and heat pan on low. 
  6. Once your rice is done cooking, pour the steeped saffron, water and all, into the rice and mix well. 
  7. Mix the rice into the warmed pan of now shredded chicken and tomato basil leftovers.
  8. Turn up the heat and stir everything together for a few minutes. 
  9. Adjust seasonings to taste. For me this meant adding a bit more salt + pepper. Also, some paprika and red pepper flakes. Top everything with shredded basil and shaved Parmesan (if you feel like it). Squeeze lemon 'cause why not?
  10. Eat!
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That's it! You've made a variation of paella out of something that was decidedly very different the night before. Eat your meal out a bowl, drink a glass of wine, be in bed by 9:30PM. 

Oh the parent life! 

 

 

Tomato Basil Chicken

Last week, after 16 weeks of being home with Ben, I returned to work. There are so many thoughts swirling in my brain about maternity leave, child care, balancing work and spending time with my son while also leaving time for dusting, mopping, sorting, washing, folding, combing, carrying, drying, combusting, reading, painting nails, etc. You get the point. But, I want to start with the relatively practical items. First things first, we can't fall back into bad habits of ordering or dining out on weeknights because (1) it's not healthy (2) we're paying for daycare now (3) I'd rather spend that money on cute baby clothes. 

So, here we are. If I thought I didn't have time to cook before, HAHAHAHAHAHA. I was wrong. I had all the time, I was just... Who the hell knows what I was. By the way, let's bookmark this one? A post all about, "What did I do with all that free time?! I could've read all the books and learned how to knit or something." 

Anyway, back to the problem at hand: Cooking at home but not having it take hours, so there's no downtime, and having leftovers BUT not so many that by Wednesday we're ordering out again. because who wants to have the same thing three times in one week? Not us.

The solution? First installment in a new series! Quick dinners for busy parents. recipes that you can pull together in an hour or less and use leftovers the next day in a different meal that takes even less time. 

All you need for this meal are chicken thighs, tons of fresh basil, tomatoes of all sorts, shallots, red peppers, and garlic. Also, one big oven safe pan. Ready? Here we go.

 But first, here are some pictures because this is a blog. 

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tomato basil chicken

(loosely based on this Jamie Oliver recipe)

Ingredients

  • 1 package skin on chicken thighs (breasts would work too)
  • 1/2 lb fresh basil, rough chopped. Stems and all! 
  • 3 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, cut length wise
  • 4-5 Roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 pack cherry tomatoes
  • 1 heirloom tomato, chopped up
  • 1 red pepper cut up into quarter inch pieces
  • 1/2 lemon, 3-4 slices and the rest reserved for squeezing
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • salt + pepper
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp paprika

I also used Trader Joe's "Everything but the Bagel" seasoning, because I use it on everything now. It's the best. You can substitute any poultry or spice rub that you have, or skip and make your own spice mix from what's listed above and whatever you have on hand. 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  2. Pour a glug of olive oil into your pan and heat it up. 
  3. Toss in tomatoes, garlic, shallots, red pepper, and basil. Cook down for just a few minutes. No more than five.
  4. Dry your chicken thighs and rub spice mix into the skin. 
  5. Turn off the heat on the vegetables and squeeze chicken into the tomato/basil/pepper situation. 
  6. Place slices of lemon on each piece of chicken and drizzle the remainder of your olive oil on top.
  7. Bake in the oven for 35-40 min. Finish off on the broil setting for an additional 5 minutes. The chicken should be browned and the spice mix will look blackened a bit. It's not. Don't worry.
  8. Serve on a bed of mixed greens and freshly grated Parmesan or cheese of choice. Squeeze the remainder of your lemon on top of everything. 
  9. You're going to have leftovers. Scoop them all, including the juices in the pan, into some Tupperware (not endorsed). 

Ok, so what to do with the leftovers tomorrow? Stay tuned! 

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