Salad · Secret Recipe Club

Twice the Fun

Apple Salad

I’m writing this while enjoying the perfect salad on a HOT HOT HOT (almost) summer day.  When I went on Facebook to see what was going on in the SRC world I saw Angie’s post regarding two orphan blogs.  While one was claimed later in the day, Kate’s Kitchen was still alone.  Well, I’m a firm believer in no blogger left behind so jumped at the opportunity to check out another blog and some more delicious recipes.  I had a general idea of what I was going to do for dinner tonight, so I went looking for salads, breads, and desserts that would go with my main dish.  It didn’t take me very long to stumble upon Kate’s Apple Salad and realize the last apples in my fridge now had a calling.  I swung by the store on the way home to grab some extra spinach and I was set!  I did make two slight changes to the recipe, leaving out the almonds to make it nut-free and subbing some apple cider vinegar for the red wine.  The cider substitition made it closer to the original recipe but I have a feeling that either one will go great with this crisp winner.


In order to get the most bite out of the salad I recommend going with tarter apples in order to get more of a contrast.  Mine happened to be Granny Smith but I have a feeling that Pink Ladies would also go perfectly.

I should note that my amazing photographer was not available for this photo so please forgive the quality of the above shot.

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Better Off

Curry Apple Tofu

The original plan was to post this for Simple and in Season, then life got in the way and that didn’t really happen.  So I missed the September round but I am trying to figure out something for October.  After being sick I haven’t been cooking as much, but that’s partially because Joe and I were fortunate enough to go to NYC this past weekend.  It was a late birthday get-together with his family, and everyone had a great time.  Nothing like sweet potato enchiladas and a mocha cheesecake to celebrate getting older! I was also gifted with a new hand mixer, so no more burning/smoking while cooking which is a plus.  This recipe doesn’t require a mixer or much of anything for that matter…but the longer it chills the better it will taste.

Ingredients: (serves 4-6)

  • 2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp apple vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 16 oz firm tofu, pressed and dried
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 large Cortland Apples, diced
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 3 tbsp plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • pinch salt & pepper


  1. In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce and vinegar and set aside

  2. Press and dry the tofu for 10minutes and then crumble the tofu into bite-sized pieces. Heat the oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. add the garlic and tofu and cook, stirring often, about 5 minutes, add the soy vinegar mixture to the tofu, stir to coat and cook for a minute. remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

  3. Place the celery, red onion, and apples in to a small bowl and set aside. 

  4. In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, yogurt, curry powder, salt, and pepper. Stir into the vegetables apple mixture and then add the cooled tofu and mix well.

I prefer to serve this on bread as an open faced sandwich but it would also work well inside of a pita or as part of a more traditional sandwich.   Feel free to switch up the types of apples used, I tend to go towards the more sour types but a crisp sweet apple would also work.  If you have access to Pink Lady Apples go for those for my sake since my Farmer’s Market is apparently not carrying them this year…

Baking · International Incident Party

Falling on my Head

Honey Apple Cobbler

International Incident Party time!  This is one of those months that really flew by, to the point that I’m typing this while my cobbler finishes baking.  Between the birthdays, the hurricanes, the flooding, and the allergies time just kept slipping by.   Luckily cobbler is one of those recipes that come together in no time, especially when I knew from the beginning that I wanted to use apples.  Apples are everywhere in Virginia this time of year and every year I wind up with at least 15lbs of the crisp delicious fruits.  While i was able to go apple picking the past few years, that has not happened this year, so I had to rely on the local market to get my Virginia apples.  This year I switched things up and got Cortland Apples, instead of my normal super tart Pink Ladies.  So far I have tested two new apple recipes and hopefully have enough apples to do two more.


  • 4 cups Cortland apples, quartered and then halved
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp honey (blueberry!)
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 tbsp butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • dash salt


  1. Preheat oven to 425
  2. Combine the apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, honey, cloves, and butter in a large casserole dish.  Bake for 10minutes.
  3. In a large bowl mix the flour, white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Cut in the softened butter .  Spoon the mixture over the cooked apples.  Bake for 30minutes, or until sauce is bubbling and the topping has browned.

Nothing like a delicious dessert that comes together in well under an hour, and also smells incredible.  This cobbler really highlights the essence of fall, nothing like the smell of cinnamon apples to know that fall really has arrived.

Baking · Simple and In Season

Sneak Away

Rustic Blueberry Apple Pie

There is nothing as delicious as the taste of fresh picked fruits.  Somehow they manage to pack summer into every fresh bite and the result is pure perfection.  In the past we have been fortunate enough to pick our own from Crooked Run Orchard but this year I have been taking advantage of the local farmer markets to add some new fruits.  While I do see Crooked Run in my future, possibly this weekend if Mother Nature turns on the AC, this past week I was really craving some late blueberries which they don’t have.   I also wanted to do something with blueberries for my Simple and in Season blog post since last summer I neglected blueberries in favor of peaches and blackberries.  This simple pie can be done with almost any combination of fruits, I tend to do one berry and one “other” fruit.  Originally the plan was to use peaches but when I was out last week the selection was a little lacking since true peach season is just starting.  Instead I decided to pick up a few of the few early apples and switch things up a bit.

Ingredients: (serves 8)

  • favorite press-in-crust (I do a Brown Butter version of the standard butter crust from Joy of Cooking)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 2 apples, cored and quartered
  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • pinch of cinnamon/cloves
  1. Bring the water, cinnamon, brown sugar, and cloves to a boil.  Then add the apples and turn heat down  and allow to simmer.  Cook the apples for 15minutes, until the apples are tender and the sauce has reduced by half.  Spoon out the apples and reserve in a large bowl.  Allow the mixture to keep cooking.  
  2. Meanwhile preheat oven to 425 and press the crust into a 12in pie pan.  Cook the crust for 7minutes and then remove from oven.  Spoon in the apples and toss on the blueberries.  Pour 1/4 cup of the apple sauce over the mixture.  Reserve the rest  for later.  Bake Pie for 10minutes.
  3. While the pie mix the butter with the flour, brown sugar, and cloves until mixture has a texture similar to large breadcrumbs.  Remove pie from oven and top with the streusel mixture before returning to the oven to cook for a final 25minutes or until crust is brown and mixture is bubbly.  Serve warm, and topped with the apple sauce!
I love simple recipes and more than that I love recipes that taste like their ingredients.  While this pie could be done with more sugar or other seasonings but there is something about an apple pie that tastes like apples.


C is for Cookie

Apple Cinnamon Cookies
One of the advantages of the cold weather is I spend a lot more time indoors, which translates to more time in the kitchen.  I have found that I’m actually a rather decent baker, as long as I take my time and really think about what I’m doing.  Cooking is, for the most part, rather forgiving.  If you add too much of one spice you have the chance to adjust things before being served, and even in the worst scenario Chinese food is just a call away.  Baking on the other hand is not so forgiving.  If you are off in the sugar, salt, or baking powder then in many cases it’s game over.  When I first started baking I spent a good amount of time working out the right ratio of ingredients so that my cookies would come out the way a cooking should, round and golden, and not like my first attempts, flat and brown.  While I still have a long way to go before I’m ready to tackle Daring Bakers, I’m certain that I will eventually get there and that my house will still be standing.
These cookies are loosely based on the traditional ice box cookies, which I’ve worked with before in coming up with my coffee cookies, but have a slight twist.  These cookies are also an example of what can be thrown together when someone suddenly gets a dessert craving.

1 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tbsp apple juice
1 tbsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a large bowl blend the butter and sugar.  Add the egg, beat well, then add the vanilla, apple juice, and cinnamon and blend together being careful to not over mix.
4.  Spoon the cookies onto a sheet and bake for 10minutes.  Allow to cool on the sheet for 5minutes before removing to a cooling rack.  

This recipe makes just over three dozen cookies, which is just the right number for my house.  For the best results keep the dough in the fridge between batches, or in the very least make sure the dough isn’t on top of the oven.  One of my first lessons in cookie baking came from wondering why my dough went from nice and firm and fluffy to runny in one batch.  Needless to say I have corrected that problem and now keep my dough in the fridge where it’s nice and safe.  


Looking for baggage

Smokey Apple Risotto
I must confess, there is something that I love more than cooking…more than baking…more than picking delicious fruit/veggies at the farm.  I love Glee!  I’m not sure if this is a healthy kind of love, because I’m pretty sure this is a one sided relationship.  I count down until Tuesdays at 8PM EST where I can once again spend time with my love.  I have also started a new tradition of baking cookies during Glee, a way to pass time during those evil commercial that try to stand in our way.  Joe has accepted this intruder, and by accepted I mean he is training the pups to bark during Glee so that he doesn’t have to listen to it.  However we have an arrangement, after Glee leaves me (again) for another week (or two!) he gets to play with his birthday present: the XBOX.  This is the other reason for the cookies…eating them somehow helps me block out the wonderful sounds of HALO.  It’s all worth it tho, because Glee makes me smile and reminds of the happier moments of High School.  I wonder if it’s possible to do a Glee themed meal….hmmm…
In other news I have finally used the last of my amazing apples!  After many batches of Apple Chip Cookies and a few batches of my yummy Apple Cider bread I decided to go in the savory direction and do a modified version of a dish my friend Elise made last year.  Her original recipe called for bacon and was lacking in the cheese department…so it needed some fixing.  This is the final result and it was amazingly rich and delicious.
  • 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 
  • 1 pound apples, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced KEEP THE SKIN ON!
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup cooking sherry
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated smoked Gouda Cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Directions
    1. In a saucepan, warm the broth and cider over medium heat, bringing to a low simmer.

    2. Warm 1 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the apples, and cook until just soft, about 3 minutes. Remove apples, drain, and set aside.
    3. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet, and stir in the garlic and onion. Cook 3 minutes. Add rice, stirring to coat with oil, about 2 minutes. When the rice has taken on a pale, golden color, pour in the sherry, stirring constantly until fully absorbed. Add 1/2 cup broth cider mixture to the rice, and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 20 minutes.
    4. Remove from heat, and stir in the apples and gouda. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    If you don’t have sherry feel free to use another type of dry wine.  When it comes to apples I prefer a mixture of sweet and tart, as well as a mixture of colors.  The main thing with the apples is cooking them to the point where the flesh is soft but the skin still has a slight crunch to it, almost al dente if you will. 
    For those of you that want to baconize this recipe, just switch out half of the apples and start cooking the bacon right before you add the apples.  For those of you that want the bacon taste without the bacon, some stores do sell a bacon smoked cheese…have I mentioned before how bacon is taking over the world???