Wednesday, October 19

Nana's Buttery Dinner Rolls

There is nothing more comforting than the scent of fresh bread baking. For as long as I can remember my Nana and her sister, my Great Aunt Bett have been baking up warm batches of sweet and buttery dinner rolls, for every family event and holiday. As a kid I looked forward to eating roll after roll at meal time, and skipping the rest of the food served that day.

Now that I am a mom and I bake these rolls, my kids do the same thing. As soon as the bread basket gets passed around the holiday table, each kid takes at least two, and hardly eats anything else.

These rolls are the perfect dinner roll to prepare for Thanksgiving. While the recipe is not exactly like my Nana's, I've nailed down my own version that tastes exactly the same. Slightly sweet, soft and pillowy in the centers, and oh so buttery!

Wednesday, October 12

Brown Butter Cranberry Apple Sauce with Rosemary

Over the years I have hosted many Thanksgiving and holiday meals with family and friends. When I think back on to my first couple turkey dinners, I cringe at my lack of menu planning and cooking knowledge. My 2nd Thanksgiving hosted at our home was when I was 22, and pregnant with my first child. I was easily stressed out, and planned way too many dishes. After we had carved the turkey and I had realized that not only did I leave the bag of giblets in the cavity, but I had also under cooked the turkey. My family friend was in charge of carving, and he hit the yukky bag with his knife, and then pulled it out, lifting it in the air and laughing. I was MORTIFIED. I was also told over and over again how "interesting" my root beer glazed baby carrots were, and that my cranberry sauce was very "very very sweet".             

Now that I am older, and have many holiday meals under my belt, I've learned that keeping the menu simple is the best way to go.So over the next few weeks, I will be sharing my tried and true favorite Thanksgiving recipes that get served year after year at our home. 

This cranberry sauce is made in under 30 minutes, has a nutty flavor thanks to the browned butter, it is slightly sweet, and with a hint of savory rosemary. It is easily adaptable too, look below the recipe for some add in ideas! 

Brown Butter Cranberry Apple Sauce with Rosemary


2 tbs butter

2 apples, peeled and cored, roughly chopped

1 cup spiced apple cider

12 oz fresh cranberries, rinsed

1/2 cup sugar

1 tbs orange zest

1 sprig of rosemary


In a medium sauce pan or high sided skillet, add butter and melt over medium heat until it has turned a golden brown color and smells nutty.
Add in chopped apples, apple cider, cranberries, sugar, and orange zest.
Stir, and simmer over medium low heat for about 5 minutes.
Add in the rosemary, and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally.
Once the cranberries have all burst and the apples are fork soft (about 15 minutes) remove rosemary sprig.
And roughly   mash everything together. Can be served warm or cold.

*Add in ideas
-1/4 chopped toasted pecans or walnuts
-1/2 cup Mandarin oranges
-cinnamon stick (though if you do this, used regular cider and not spiced)
-dash of freshly grated nutmeg     

Monday, October 10

Moules Pommes Frites

I really, really love going out to eat.

Recently I was talking with some other women, and a couple said that they don't go out, they'd rather cook at home, and save the money. I laughed to myself. I love to cook too! But lets be honest, sometimes, it's so much easier and more fun to have someone do it for you. Plus, going out to eat is where I gain most of my inspiration from these days.

Thanks to a couple of great local restaurants in and around Manchester, and the occasional trip to Boston,  I have broken out of my rut of making tacos for dinner 7 nights a week. Sure, going out is often  costly, but I am a firm believer in work hard, play hard. My hobby is food, so I spend my time and money on food related things!

On one of our recent outings to our favorite local seafood spot, we ordered Moules Pommes Frites to start our meal off. It was a huge serving of french fries, topped with buttery mussels and a cajun aioli. They were amazing! Normally I am not  a huge fan of mussels, but after eating them in a chowder while visiting Prince Edward Island, then ordering the Moules Pommes Frites at Hooked.... I am in love with them.

One night, when I had no babysitter I decided to do an in home date night and whip up my new favorite mussel dish.

Potato Wedges Roasted in olive oil, thyme and garlic, topped with a white wine butter sauce, mussels, and a spicy lemon aioli. Perfect to serve as a side dish, appetizer, or a main course!

Moules Pommes Frites
1 lb of fresh New England or PEI mussels
2 large russet potatoes
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh thyme
2 1/2 tbs minced garlic
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup mayonnaise ( I used homemade)
the zest of half a lemon
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp Louisiana hot sauce


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Scrub potatoes under hot water, and remove all dirt. Dry with a cloth, and cut into wedges. Start by cutting them in half the long way, then in quarters, then in eighths. In a bowl, toss potatoes with olive oil, salt, thyme and 1 tbs minced garlic.

Spread the potatoes on a lined baking sheet, peel side down, with the points of the potato wedges pointing up. Roast for about 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown and fork soft. 

Rinse raw mussels under cold water, carefully inspecting them all. Discard any broken or open shells. If a mussel is open, tap it with your finger, if it closes, it is still alive and ok to cook. But if it stays open, it is no good. 

In a large saute pan, add raw mussels, white wine, and 1/2 tbs garlic, saute for about 5-7 minutes over medium-high heat, until all of the shells have opened, exposing the mussels inside. If any shells do not open, discard. 

Melt 1/2 cup butter with 1 tbs butter, a pinch of salt and 1 tbs of the white wine from the saute pan.

Remove the mussels from the shells, and add to the melted butter. Evenly coat the shucked mussels with butter and drizzle over plated potato wedges. 

In a small bowl combine mayonnaise, lemon zest, lemon juice and hot sauce. 

Drizzle the spicy aioli over the top of plated potatoes and mussels. 

Serve with lemon wedges and fresh thyme sprigs for garnish. 


Wednesday, October 5

Cheddar Apple Bacon Macaroni and Cheese

Over the last couple of years I've been having some join pain and inflammation. I've told my Doctor about it and as with most of my concerns she brushed it off. "Oh you are young, it's probably nothing." Then one day over the summer, one of my knuckles swelled up before my eyes and turned purple. My husband an I both agreed, I had probably injured it without knowing.

But then, a month later, it happened it again. This time I knew something wasn't right. So I took a photo of my finger, and got in with a new doctor. He immediately started talking about autoimmune diseases like Lupus, and Rheumatoid Arthritis, ran slew of tests....and when they came back inconclusive I received no answers, and he is as stumped as I am. He referred me to an Orthopedic Surgeon, to do x-rays and take a look, we are hoping he can see what is causing the inflammation in my joints.

But for the time being, my Dr. has told me to cut down on my drinking, meat, and dairy... just in case it is Gout, my best case diagnosis. This possibility has me questioning my whole30 kicks and paleo-ish diets. Perhaps I need to go back to my meatless ways?

Whatever the cause of my joint issues, I am not going to lie.... I am struggling with my recent diet restrictions. Like when I made this Cheddar Apple Bacon Mac and Cheese for the blog.... I brought the whole batch to my Rising Tide Meeting, where they happily ate it so I didn't have to stare at it in my refrigerator.

It had been quite some time since I had posted a macaroni and cheese recipe here on the blog. If you browse my archives you will see.... it's basically my favorite thing to make in the world.  Especially loaded with bites of tart apples, sharp cheddar cheese, smokey bacon and bits of thyme.

This is the definition of comfort food.

Cheddar Apple Bacon Macaroni and Cheese


1 pound of pasta, cooked according to the package directions

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup of whole milk
1 cup of cream
4 cups of shredded extra sharp cheese
8 oz of cream cheese
1 tbs fresh thyme
1 cup diced apples ( peel on of off, it's your choice) 
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 lb of bacon, fried until crispy 


Melt butter in a sauce pan, over medium heat. Whisk in flour and from a paste.

Continue whisking, and add in milk and cream. Whisk until smooth and it comes to a low boil.

Reduce heat to low.

Add in shredded cheese and cream cheese. Mix until smooth.

Fold cheese sauce into drained, cooked pasta.

Fold in fresh thyme, and apples.

Transfer to a casserole dish, and sprinkle with crispy bacon.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven, and serve! 

Monday, October 3

Pumpkin Ale Doughnuts

I have been trying something new with my husband and kids. At the start of the day, I ask them, "if I could do one thing for you today, to make your day happier. What would it be?"

With my husband, it's things like..."Change the litter box." or  "Fold the laundry sitting in the family room."

But with my kids, it always revolves around me baking for them. One day the boys each agreed that they would like to get home from school and have fresh banana bread for a snack. So I made that happen, and it completely changed the tone of the evening.

Normally after school time is spent with me yelling at them to buckle down and finish their homework, rushing around to finish cleaning, cooking supper.... and refereeing their fights.

But on this particular banana bread day, we all had a piece together while chatting about the "best parts" of their day at school. After snack time was finished they nicely and quietly went off to play TOGETHER. This was a bit of a miracle. Then later on, when I reminded the boys of their homework responsibilities..... they sat down at the table and did it.... TOGETHER.  By this time it was probably 6pm, we had been home from school for over 3 hours, and I had yet to referee one fight. We ate dinner on time, they even went to bed on time.

While I may not be able to make all their wishes of fresh baked treats happen daily after school. I have decided to make it happen a bit more often, and continue the routine of snack time chats. The one little change in my attitude and in our routine, has made for less stress for us all, and a family that is happier all together.

One day last week, Owen requested "sugar donuts", and since I had already planned to make a fall themed donut for the blog anyways, I decided to combine his wishes with my work. I made a batch of these Pumpkin Ale Doughnuts for the adults of the house, and my blog. I then fried the scraps and doughnut holes up, and tossed them in sugar for the kids.

Owen was very pleased, as were his brother and sister. Snack time that day was filled with chats about gym class, and recess, while they all licked their fingers clean of sticky donut sugar.

Pumpkin Ale Doughnuts


1 tbs active dry yeast 

1/4 cup warm water 

1/2 cup sugar + 1 tsp 

1 tbs salt 

1/2 cup butter, melted 

1/4 cup warm pumpkin ale (I use Shipyard Pumpkinhead)

1 cup pumpkin puree 

1 egg 

About 4 cups of all purpose flour

2 qts of vegetable oil, or lard for frying

For the glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup pumpkin ale

pinch of salt


Add yeast, warm water plus 1 tsp sugar together in a small bowl, stir and set aside to proof. Once it has foamed up, it is ready to use.

In the bowl of your electric stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook, add 1/2 cup sugar, salt, pumpkin ale, pumpkin puree, egg,  yeast mixture, and two cups of flour. Mix on medium speed until everything is combined.

While the mixer is on medium speed, slowly add in flour 1/4 cup at a time until the dough starts to come together and is shaggy looking. Turn mixer onto medium-high speed, and allow the mixer to "knead" the dough. It should pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it appears to be too sticky, add in 1/4 cup of flour until the dough starts to pull away.

Once the dough is elastic and smooth, place in a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm spot to rise, until it has at least doubled in volume. This can take hours depending on how warm or cold your house is.

Once the dough has doubled, punch it down and remove any  bubbles that may have formed.

Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface until it is about 1/2 inch thick, using a donut cutter, cut it into about 12. Allow the donuts to rise on a greased baking sheet until they have more than doubled in size. They should appear to be pillowy, and look as if they could pop if you poked them.

You can use the scraps as desired, I chose to not re-roll them, but to cut them into strips and fry them as is. If you re-roll the dough will be very elastic, and result in a chewy donut.

 While the donuts are rising, preheat your oil to 370 degrees. I use an electric fryer, but you can also use a heavy bottomed pot on your stove top, with a candy thermometer attached.

Once the oil preheated and the donuts have more than doubled in size. Fry them in small batches of no more than 3 (if using a standard size electric fryer or dutch oven)

Fry on one side until it is golden brown, and then flip. Once they are golden on each side, with a dough colored ring around the outside, remove from oil and place on a cooling wrack or on paper towels to cool.

To prepare glaze, whisk powdered sugar with pumpkin ale.

Dip each donut into the glaze and place on a cooling wrack to dry.

Toss donut wholes and fried scraps in any extra glaze, or in cinnamon and sugar.

Thursday, September 29

Apple Rosette Tarts

When in a bind and needing to make an impressive dessert for company, I always turn to some form of a pie or tart. I always have pie crust or puff pastry on hand and can easily whip something up with fresh fruit or even a custard.

For a couple years now, I have seen many recipes and tutorials circling the Internet for apple rosettes. I am always in awe of their simple beauty, and have just never taken the time to try my hand at it. When my sister came over last weekend and we had a baking palooza of sorts, we were sitting around trying to decide what to make next. I was like... we've got frozen pastry and 8000 fresh apples. Lets try making some roses!

We stumbled and had to figure it out the first couple rounds. But then we figured out a method to ensure the apples were flexible enough to roll without destroying the pastry strips.

In the end after they were baked, I was so impressed with how simple they were, yet so pretty!

Apple Rosette Tarts 
1 sheet of puff pastry
2 large apples
1 small pan of boiling water
The juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbs cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
Powdered sugar for dusting  

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Bring a pot of water a boil.

Meanwhile, core apples and slice thinly into half moons. 

Toss with lemon juice. 

Add apple slices to a boiling water for about 30 seconds, and remove and drain. 

Roll puff pastry out to be about 1/8 of an inch thick. 
 Brush the entire sheet with melted butter, and using a sharp knife or pastry cutter, cut the pastry into 1 inch strips. Making sure to cut it the long way.

In a small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon together. Sprinkle over the top of the pastry.

Arrange apple slices on each strip of pastry. They should slightly overlap each other, and the skin side should sit about 1/4 of an inch higher than the top of the pastry strips. Fold the bottom of the pastry up over the bottom of the apple slices.

Carefully Roll the pastry into a pinwheel. Place into greased or lined muffin tins. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until they are golden brown. 

Serve warm with a dusting of powdered sugar. 

Tuesday, September 27

Pumpkin Rolls

These rainy chilly days have me craving fresh baked breads, hearty stews, and wrapping up in a blanket in front of my fireplace. Luckily the first week of fall has yet to disappoint, the weather is exactly what I needed to get in the mood for all of the fall festivities I normally enjoy so much.

Over the weekend, my sister came to stay with me, so of course we took a lot of selfies, went out for tacos late Saturday night, and then baked lots of fresh bread, pot roast, and then for dessert little apple tartlets (recipe coming Thursday).

We made two big batches of bread dough, one was loaded with garlic, the other was a pumpkin base. And of course the pumpkin dough was shaped into little tiny pumpkin rolls.

These rolls are so incredibly easy to make, you can use almost any kind of yeast dough to make them, today I will be demonstrating how to shape them live on Facebook. If you can't tune in live, then be sure to go and watch the recorded video!

Pumpkin Rolls

1 tbs active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar + 1 tsp
1 tbs salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup milk, warmed
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
About 4 cups of all purpose flour
Egg wash (1 egg, beaten with 1/2 tsp water)

Add yeast, warm water plus 1 tsp sugar together in a small bowl, stir and set aside to proof. Once it has foamed up, it is ready to use. 

In the bowl of your electric stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook, add 1/2 cup sugar, salt, milk, pumpkin puree, egg,  yeast mixture, and two cups of flour. Mix on medium speed until everything is combined.

While the mixer is on medium speed, slowly add in flour 1/4 cup at a time until the dough starts to come together and is shaggy looking. Turn mixer onto medium-high speed, and allow the mixer to "knead" the bread. It should pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it appears to be too sticky, add in 1/4 cup of flour until the dough starts to pull away. 

Once the dough is elastic and smooth, place in a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm spot to rise, until it has at least doubled in volume. This can take hours depending on how warm or cold your house is. 

Once the dough has doubled, divide it into 12 dough balls, place them on a lined baking sheet. 

Press you finger in the center of each roll, and then with cooking sheers or a sharp knife, make snips all along the roll. (As pictured above) 

Set aside to rise a second time, until the rolls have doubled in size, brush with an egg wash, and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until the rolls are golden all over. 

Press a pecan piece in the center of each roll to make the "stem" and serve warm with butter.