Saturday, October 31, 2015

Mini Caramel Apple Hand Pies

These are very tasty and portable treats that are perfect for the fall weather. I made these about a month or so ago and am finally getting around to sharing them! We all enjoyed the tender, flaky crust, and tender, lightly spiced apple filling. The caramel bits add an extra touch of "special" and a few extra chewy and sweet bites.

These would be perfect for your next get together - they are tasty dessert treats that are easy to hold with your hand and enjoy - no plate and fork required, so perfect for a social gathering. Plus, they're adorable!

If you like a little extra "spice" you could dust with cinnamon sugar on top after the egg wash. Also, of course feel free to use your favorite homemade pie crust recipe instead of store bought - I decided to use up a couple I had in the freezer for this recipe.

Mini Caramel Apple Hand Pies adapted from Fretucake
Makes 10

1-box store-bought refrigerated Pillsbury pie crust (2 rolls)
2 cups peeled and chopped apples (about 3 apples, diced small)
2 TBS all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp apple pie spice mix
1/4 cup sugar
5 - 6 store-bought soft caramels, cut into small pieces
1 TBS lemon juice
1 TBS egg whites, whisked
sugar for dusting, if desired


  1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF and line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the diced apples, lemon juice, apple pie spice mix, sugar and flour. Mix until apples are thoroughly coated. Set aside.
  3. Unroll the pie dough onto a well-floured surface. Using a 3-inch circular cookie cutter or glass, cut out as many circles as possible. Using a rolling-pin, roll out the scraps and continue cutting out circles until you run out of dough.
  4. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the apple filling into the center of half of the pie circles. Make sure to leave enough of a border around the filling to seal them shut. Do not overfill.
  5. Top the apple filling with a few small pieces of caramel.
  6. Brush around the edges of the dough with a finger dipped in egg wash. This will be the “glue”.
  7. Place a second dough circle on top each filled circle then use a fork to crimp the edges together.
  8. Brush each pie with the egg wash, and cut two vents on the top of each pie with a sharp knife. Sprinkle the pies with crystal sanding sugar (if desired) and place on prepared sheet pan.
  9. Bake the pies for 15 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Day My Earth Stood Still

This is my son:

His name is Kent - he is 16 years old (17 next month!) and about the best kid you could ask for. Sure - he's a smelly teenage boy who doesn't like to clean his room, or scrub his bathtub, or empty his trash. But he's creative, very sweet, sensitive, kind, loving, will stand up for his friends and family, is polite, respectful, smart, a great conversationalist, has a fantastic sense of (warped) humor, is a nerd, is an amazing big brother, and honestly is one of my best friends.

Why am I telling you about my boy? Because on 10/9 my earth stood still. I got a phone call at 10:00am that will forever change my life. The nurse from Parkview High School was on the line. Kent had complained of a migraine and passed out and fell face forward during PT with his JROTC group. He was conscious, but very lethargic, had vomited and was out of it and not speaking coherently. The ambulance was on its way to take him to the hospital. I got the name of the hospital said thank you, closed a few things on my computer, told my sister (who is working here in the office) that something happened to Kent and I had to go. Then I was walk / jogging to my car. I think it was a very nice day outside. I had gotten to my car and was about to pull out on the main street when one of Kent's JROTC coaches called and gave me a different hospital (which happens to be across the street from where I work). I parked and ran to their ER. I waited there a few minutes and got another call from the EMT that they were sending him to yet another hospital, Atlanta Medical Center. I booked it back to my car, got the GPS queued up and headed out. It wasn't too far away.

Everything was a blur. I got there, explained who I was and got taken back to a small family waiting room. Two doctors came, asking me questions about Kent's personal medical history, family history of migraines, anything relevant. I couldn't tell them anything helpful. He was exhibiting stroke like symptoms but the CT was clear and they thought maybe he'd had a rare complex migraine. They had an MRI ordered. I was able to go back and see him. I held his hand, I talked to him. He was very in and out, and disoriented. I think he may have said one or two words to me, but can't remember what they were. Finally they were going to take him for his MRI. It was around 1:30 at that time. My phone battery was dead and I hadn't eaten anything all day. I thought I'd run to my car for a charger, and grab a quick sandwich and come back. I got back about 20 minutes later to find out they needed a consent from me to do the MRI so he was just waiting up there. I finally got up, gave consent and went back downstairs. Kent's JROTC Major had arrived and kept me company in the room while we waited for Kent to come back down from imaging... Not long after that my world that already seemed topsy turvy crashed into the ground and crumbled. The doctor came in. He's had a stroke. An artery in his brain is blocking blood flow to a large area. I was handed a phone with the interventionalists NP as she explained they wanted to go in through his groin with a catheter to access the blockage and try to clear it. There was a 10% chance that this could cause a fatal brain bleed. Did I understand what I was being told... I couldn't breathe, but I understood... I wished I would just pass out and not have to hear anything else... not have to sit there and look into the dazed eyes of my beautiful boy who was fighting for his life right in front of my eyes, who's brain was dying right in front of my eyes.

The interventionalist was on his way in. It was sometime around 3:30 - 4:00pm I think when we were wheeled back to the cath lab. The interventionalist (I can't remember his name now) briefly shook my hand before rushing back through the double doors... to put a catheter into my son's brain. Where the blood flow was blocked. How did this HAPPEN??

Major and I waited in the waiting room. He put on Jerry Springer and made sure I drank water. I am so grateful for his presence. He told me stories about Kent and made me laugh and smile. I cried. I cried some more. I tried to breathe. I texted immediate family. Kent's dad Kenneth was on his way back into Atlanta already and was headed for the hospital as quickly as he could get there. I think it was around 5:30pm or so, maybe a little later, when the interventionalist came back out. I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry.... that's all I could hear from him. I thought my boy was laying there dying on a table. What he was telling us was that he'd accessed the blockage but couldn't remove all of the clot. He was able to clean up some of it and restore some of the restricted blood flow, but couldn't remove the clot. He tried suction and a net to grab it, but every time he pulled some of it away, it filled back in. He said he was getting plaque as well, which meant the clot had been there, sitting in his brain like an ugly time bomb, for some time. Months perhaps.

My friend from work arrived around the time when Kent was being taken from the Cath Lab to CT for another scan before being transported to Egleston. We touched his hand and shoulder as he passed by on a bed. We were all in our cars when they called to say wait, there is more discussion about where he should be sent. To Emory's Stroke Center, or the Egleston's PICU? He's a pediatric patient, but almost 17 and at 6' 1" a large pediatric patient - where was the right place for him? We waited a couple hours. Then a helicopter from CHOA's Egleston hospital arrived to life flight him... His first helicopter ride... We loaded up in our cars and headed over to wait again for them to get him settled so we could get into the room and be with him...

Saturday is a blur. Kent's vitals were a little all over the place, his temperature was fluctuating. Sunday AM it seemed like things were sort of stable. I went across the street to my office mid-afternoon to print some pictures of Kent to put up in his PICU room and breathe some real air for a minute. I was on my way back across the street when Kenneth called. Get back here now. I couldn't breathe. Again. I ran, my body didn't have anything left to give, but I ran. As I came down the hallway out of breath and tears in my eyes again I saw all the people in the hallway, lights flashing... my boy... his pupils had fixated. The pressure was too high in his brain. Emergent surgery. They had him intubated within minutes and hyper oxygenated to help relieve the immediate pressure. He was loaded up and they lined the halls with staff to hold doors, clear a path, call the elevator. We walked behind. I sobbed. I was terrified.

We got down to the surgical suite and they took him back to prep him. Around 6:30pm that evening they were done. It took about an hour. There was a big group of us waiting. Kenneth, me, Kylie, Dale & Kelly, Dave & Sherry, Ken & Donna, April... we waited. We tried to eat, we waited. The neurosurgeon came out and said the surgery went well. About a hand sized piece of Kent's skull was removed on the left side to allow for the swelling and to prevent damage to the healthy tissue remaining.

I won't keep going into detail - it's hard to recall it all but the next 3 days Kent was intubated and fairly heavily sedated. On Wednesday they started waking him up and extubated him on Thursday. His vitals were still in flux, his temp in flux. It was a rough and scary week. On 10/20 they took the drain out of his head and the next day he was cleared to be transported to inpatient rehab. We've been here ever since.

Some pictures from rehab (Kent loves "The Zone" which always has some activities / games / movies going on for the kids):

Kent and his girlfriend April - taking his stuffed balloonicorn for a ride.

Kent is making enormous progress, but he has a long, long way to go. After not hearing him talk for 2 weeks, in the past 3 days or so he's made incredible strides with his speech. Talking again in full sentences, correctly identifying images, answering a ton of questions, expressing feelings and needs. He is fully aware of what happened and seems to remember everything - more than I'd hoped about his PICU stay unfortunately. I just started back to work yesterday and it's really, really hard to not be there with him all day, but I'm trying to get back into my routine as well, and let him focus on working hard with his therapists who are helping him get stronger each and every day. Kent has no voluntary movement on his right side and will have intensive OT and PT to regain strength and control on that side so he can sit, stand, and walk again. He will continue working hard with speech to regain the ability to read and write, and also to eat. These are major challenges and obstacles but we are hopeful that with his age and health he has the best chance possible for a good recovery. We've been told that a 1-year recovery is expected.

He will be inpatient for rehab for about another month and then we'll talk about transitioning home, and have a better idea then what that will mean - we will most likely need to retrofit the house / bathroom, access to his room, etc. He may need daily assistance for basic self-care, may need a wheelchair. It's hard to know right now, but time will tell. In the mean time he's in the best place possible to help him get back as much control and strength as possible.

Thank you so very, very much to everyone who has been sending cards, letters, support, love, positive thoughts, prayers, and of course to everyone who has already sent gifts, financial support, etc. This is going to be a long road for all of us and we really appreciate all of the love that has been shown for Kent, and for our family. We continue to remain hopeful and positive that each day will bring progress for Kent, and that with his stubborn strength he will get through this one day at a time.

Stay up to date with daily progress and photos here:

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

#handcraftededibles ~ Special Diets: Dairy-Free, Soy-Free Pumpkin Pie

In an effort to make all of her holiday gifts this year, Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla invited some of her favorite foodie bloggers to share recipes for hand-crated edibles. Over the course of the next twelve weeks, we'll be sharing recipes from homemade spice blends (last week's theme) to charcuterie trays and everything in between. Hope you'll follow along for inspiration. You can find out more information, including the schedule: here.

This week, we're sharing our favorite special diets creations. They might be gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, or sugar-free.

Today's recipes are all about special diets and holiday edibles - and what is more "holiday edible" then pumpkin pie? I have to say I was quite pleased with how this one came out. I thought the flavors were lovely, and the texture was pumpkin pie perfection. Creamy. Yumm.

I am all about the freshly grated nutmeg now that I have discovered it. I find it so much more flavorful and vibrant tasting. It works so well in a recipe like this where those fragrant spices are allowed to shine.

Serve this beautiful pie up with some vanilla ice cream of top with a dollop of (dairy free??) whipped cream to your liking and everyone will enjoy this perfect holiday treat. I know I will certainly be using this recipe again with Thanksgiving approaching.

Thanks to these gals and their Special Diets Creations!

Next week, check back for our recipes for giftable jarred mixes. Or check out our #handcraftededibles pinterest board.

Dairy-Free Soy-Free Pumpkin Pie on GoDairyFree

½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
¼ cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg or allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup regular canned coconut milk (I use the full-fat version)

  1. Preheat your oven to 425ºF.
  2. Combine the sugars, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt in a small bowl. In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Beat in the sugar mixture, pumpkin, and vanilla until smooth. Fold in the coconut milk.
  3. Pour the filling into the unbaked pie crust and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350ºF and continue to bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean. It may be a bit wobbly still, but it will firm-up as it cools.
  4. Allow the pie to cool on a wire rack for 2 hours (this is important to allow pie to completely set). Serve or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Pie Crust IV By: Jan Bittner on 

1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 - 1/2 cup cold water
  1. Mix shortening, flour, and salt together with a fork or a pastry blender until very crumbly. Add only as much water as needed to hold together, and mix lightly with a fork.
  2. Roll gently on a lightly floured surface to about an inch larger than pie plate. Fold carefully in half, lift to pie plate, and unfold. Press into pan.  

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

#FoodieExtravaganza ~ Pork Schnitzel with a Caper Butter Sauce

Pork Schnitzel with Lemon Caper Butter

Welcome to October's reveal day for #FoodieExtravaganza! Today we are highlighting the deliciously versatile protein: pork. Our hostess this month is Lauren at From Gate To Plate. Posting day is always the first Wednesday of the month. If you are a blogger and you're interested in joining in the fun, visit us at our Facebook Foodie Extravaganza page. You can also visit our past party submissions on our Pinterest Foodie Extravaganza board .

What makes a schnitzel a schnitzel? Apparently it's the method of cooking thinly pounded meat at a fairly high temp in oil / butter to get a crisped exterior with a moist and juicy, perfectly cooked interior (read more about the history of schnitzel, the name, the traditional cooking method and traditional sides at Daring Gourmet). That is exactly what you get with this recipe. We all LOVED it. I tweaked the original recipe which calls for mushrooms to use capers instead and when tasting the sauce found the (cheap) wine taste a little off putting, but when it came together the sauce beautifully complemented the moist, tender, flavorful pork chops. My sister did a fantastic job cooking these beauties - getting dinner on the table in the evenings is definitely a group effort when you have a 2 year old in the house! Lindsey's bedtime is around 7:30pm which means dinner for her no later than 6:00 - 6:15pm, tubby around 6:30 - 6:45pm, teeth brushed, changed into pajamas, maybe a few minutes of a movie if there's time and headed to her room to read a book or two and sing her lullaby by 7:15. It's a pretty set timeline, and she really needs her routine to get a decent night of sleep (which has been an issue since she was a newborn - she is not the biggest fan of sleep). So as you can tell, all of this happens over the course of time when I would love to be settled in the kitchen whipping up something delicious. So, instead we eat really late (like 8:00pm), or I have to turn it over to my most capable sister and 16-year old kitchen assistant when it's time to get Lindsey upstairs for her bath. I'm pretty useless in the kitchen between tubby and putting her down to sleep. Every once in a blue moon we eat before she goes to bed (like on leftover nights, or Papa Johns nights!) but the rest of the time, we all eat together on the couch watching Supernatural once baby girl is down for the night. :)

See all the October Pork #FoodieExtravaganza dishes here: 
BBQ Pulled Pork with Mac and Cheese Flatbread by From Gate to Plate
Chili Verde Pork Posole by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Freezer-friendly Spicy Pork Burrito by Brunch with Joy
Healthy Sausage and Rice by Fearlessly Creative Mammas
Italian Sausage No Crust Quiche by Cookin' and Craftin'
Jamie Olivier's Pork Roast with Crackling by G'Gina's Kitchenette
Mojo Shredded Pork with Black Beans and Rice by Our Good Life
Parmesan Spinach Stuffed Pork Loin by Cooking with Carlee
Pork and Apple Pie by A Day in the Life on the Farm
Pork Chops with Spiced Apples by Sew You Think You Can Cook
Pork Meatball Mini Subs by The Freshman Cook
Pork Schnitzel by Making Miracles
Spicy Sticky Pork Ribs by Food Lust People Love
Sweet and Sour Pork by Tara's Multicultural Table
Thai Basil Meatballs with Peanut-Basil Sauce Two Ways by Caroline's Cooking
Foodie Extravaganza

Thanks for joining us this month and hope you come back to see what we're celebrating next month! 

Pork Schnitzel with a Caper Butter Sauce adapted from AllRecipes

6 boneless pork loin chops, 3/4 inch thick
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1-1/2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
olive oil as needed

Caper Butter Sauce
1/4 pound butter
2 tsp Gourmet Garden garlic paste
1/2 cup dry white wine plus 1 TBS, divided
2 - 3 tsp dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste
3 TBS capers, drained
1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

  1. Pound the pork chops with a flat meat mallet until 1/4 inch thick; set aside. In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley flakes, salt, and pepper. Press the pork into the crumbs to bread thoroughly; set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in the 1/2 cup white wine and capers. Allow to simmer and combine for a few minutes. Add the parsley and salt and pepper to taste. 
  3. Stir together the cornstarch and remaining TBS wine, then add to the butter sauce. Simmer until the sauce has thickened, then remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the pork cutlets a few at a time until golden brown and cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Serve with reserved butter sauce drizzled over the top.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

#handcraftededibles ~ Apple Pie Spice Mix

In an effort to make all of her holiday gifts this year, Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla invited some of her favorite foodie bloggers to share recipes for hand-crafted edibles. Over the course of the next twelve weeks, we'll be sharing recipes from libations (last week's theme) to cookie platters. Hope you'll follow along for inspiration.

Apple pie spice mix is great for so many uses - liven up pancakes and waffle mixes, add to cinnamon rolls, use in all your favorite apple dishes like pies, donuts, turnovers, fried apples, baked apples, crisps, applesauce, apple butter, muffins and more!

Package these up in pretty little mason jars with homemade labels and a ribbon (along with a few other homemade spice mixes packaged the same way), place in a little basket and you would have an adorable homemade gift idea to hand out this year!

Thanks to these gals and their sensational spice blends!
Next week, check back for our recipes for special diets; dishes that may be gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, soy-free, or nut-free. Or check out our #handcraftededibles pinterest board.

Apple Pie Spice Blend from Country Cleaver

¼ cup ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground all spice
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cardamom

  1. Combine ingredients in a small mason jar, or other resealable container. Shake well to combine (you can increase / decrease spices to your personal tastes if desired).
  2. Use in your favorite apple dishes - from turnovers, to pie, to applesauce, fried apples, etc. 
  3. Gift suggestion: bottle in a nice glass bottle with a printed or chalk label and a ribbon wrapped around the lid.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Slow Cooker Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup

I really liked this recipe - it brought back many childhood memories for me since my dad used to make a lot of these types of soup dishes with leftover turkey or chicken meat. Rice, chicken, veggies, broth and low and slow cooking for a hearty, thick, creamy dish.

I doubled the recipe as written below for my large slow cooker so I'd have a big batch, with the intention of freezing half, but so far we've kept it in the refrigerator to eat and enjoy! This kind of soup is really perfect for these cooler fall days and the flavors are mild, but unique and for me - just right. That cumin gives just a little something "extra".

I found mine thickened up more than I would have liked once it cooled, so might cut the flour / milk mixture in half next time, or add additional broth if there's not enough "soup" left in your soup!

We heated up a crusty loaf of bread with butter and garlic and it was the perfect accompaniment to this tasty dish.

Slow Cooker Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup adapted from Back for Seconds

6 cups chicken stock (or 6 cups water and 6 chicken bouillon cubes)
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts and / or thighs (I used a mix)
2 bay leaves
2 stalks celery (chopped)
1 medium onion (chopped)
2 carrots (chopped)
salt (to taste - I didn't add any)
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
3/4 cups long grain rice (not quick cooking rice)
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
10-oz frozen peas (or 1 can peas, drained)

  1. Place chicken stock through cumin in a large crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours. 
  2. Add uncooked rice. Cook for one more hour (still on low).
  3. 30 minutes before you're ready to serve, break the chicken up into desired sized chunks and mix in the frozen (or canned) peas. Combine the milk and flour in a small container, cover and shake or use a whisk to blend completely until smooth. Stir mixture evenly into soup. Cover, turn heat to high, and allow to thicken.
  4. Taste test, adjust seasonings if needed. 
Serving suggestion: serve with wedges of crusty bread.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

All-American Barbecue Sandwiches

Here is a quick and easy BBQ style sloppy joe recipe that is comforting and satisfying, and perfect alongside a fresh green salad and some corn on the cob. I had some ground beef thawed out in my refrigerator not too long ago and couldn't really make my mind up about what sounded good so I turned to trusty Pinterest. When this recipe popped up I thought we'd give it a try since we love pretty much anything BBQ, and sloppy joes too.

The ingredients are easy to tweak if you like a little more sweet, or a little more savory in your sauce mixture and I thought the amount of sauce was "just right" - not too messy, but the meat is nice and moist thanks to it's BBQ blanket. I like my sandwiches with a slice of American cheese melting over the meat, and sometimes some pickles, but most everyone agreed they don't need anything extra.

Summer might be over, but you can still enjoy a little taste of it without having to leave your kitchen! We served these with some very tasty brioche style buns from Kroger. They are amazing.

All American Barbecue Sandwiches slightly adapted from Taste of Home

2 pounds ground beef
3/4 cups chopped onions
1 cup ketchup
1 1/2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon pepper
6 - 8 hamburger buns, split

  1. In a large nonstick skillet, cook beef and onions until meat is no longer pink and onion is tender; drain off any excess grease (if desired, if there's not too much extra you can leave it).
  2. Stir in the ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Heat through. Taste test and adjust seasonings if needed.
  3. Serve on buns with a slice of american or cheddar cheese if desired.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Sandwiches on Pumpkin Focaccia Bread

This was such a tasty way to enjoy some of the Pumpkin Focaccia bread I shared just yesterday. We'd had a beef roast in the refrigerator thawing for a couple days and I knew I wanted to make an au jus recipe. Well, I kind of messed that up, but it worked out really well anyway!

If you want an au jus style sandwich, make sure to remove the roast and shred the meat outside of the crockpot, on a plate or cutting board. Then strain the juices in the crock pot and you'll be all set. What I did was shred the meat IN the crock pot and it immediately soaked up over half the juice leaving me no "dipping" juices left. It wasn't a bad mistake at all though - actually a very tasty one! It made the meat very moist and juicy, and was pretty much the same idea as au jus, just without the dipping.

We all really enjoyed the way these sandwiches came out. The flavors are wonderful - and I love that the rosemary in the roast is complemented by the rosemary atop the focaccia bread to tie it all together.

Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Sandwiches on Pumpkin Focaccia Bread adapted from Weary Chef

2 1/2 - 3 pound beef roast
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper, or to taste
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup water
2 bay leaves
Wedges of Pumpkin Focaccia Bread
sliced provolone cheese (optional)


  1. In your slow cooker place the roast and sprinkle the chili powder, rosemary, garlic and onion powders, thyme, and black pepper. Next pour the soy sauce, Worcestershire and water over the top. Toss in the bay leaves, and cover and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours.
  2. Option 1 (for French Dip style sandwiches): Remove roast from slow cooker and shred meat with two forks on a cutting board, removing and discarding any remaining pieces of fat. Set shredded meat aside.
  3. Pour broth through wire mesh strainer into bowl or glass measuring cup for easier pouring.
  4. Cut bread in half lengthwise, and fill with shredded beef. If desired, place a slice of provolone on top of the meat, and heat the open sandwich under a lo-broil in the oven for 3-5 minutes until cheese is melted. Assemble sandwich and serve with a dipping bowl of the au jus.
  5. Option 2 (for moister meat, but no dipping sauce): When roast is tender, remove any obvious fat and then use two forks or shredding claws to shred meat. Stir meat into sauce and allow to soak for at least 15 - 20 minutes before serving. Spoon meat onto the bottom half of the sandwich bread and drip a little extra juice over meat if desired. Top with a slice of provolone, and the top half of the bread. Place on a baking sheet into an oven preheated to 350 degrees and toast for about 5 - 8 minutes, or until bread is lightly toasted and cheese is evenly melted.

Friday, October 02, 2015

#PumpkinWeek ~ Pumpkin Focaccia Bread

Welcome to #PumpkinWeek day 5 - the very last day of this pumpkin-filled event for the year! Hosted by Terri from Love and Confections, 19 Bloggers have shared 65 pumpkin-filled recipes over the course of the past week. Be sure to catch up on all the delicious creations - from muffins to cakes, cocktails, breakfast baked goods, savory pastas and stews, and gluten-free recipes too on Love and Confections' #PumpkinWeek Pinterest Board!

This lovely focaccia bread is the perfect accompaniment to the Pumpkin Chicken Mushroom Stew I shared the other day - or just rip of a chunk warm from the oven; I won't tell!

I just couldn't get over the beautiful color this bread resulted in, perfectly pumpkin! The sea salt and rosemary add a great touch of flavor to the bread, which is tender, chewy, and has just a hint of pumpkin flavor when you bite in. This is really the perfect bread to sop up your favorite fall stew with. You could also use it as really delicious sandwich bread - I think you could make some pretty phenomenal paninis with this stuff!

This dough involves several rises, so make sure you plan accordingly if you want to enjoy it with dinner (or do like I did, and make it the night before, then reheat in the oven the next day)!

I'm so glad I participated again this year with Pumpkin Week; I adore how versatile pumpkin is and this group gives me the chance to get out of my comfort zone and try a few new recipes that I've been drooling over! I hope you've enjoyed all the delicious pumpkin goodies that we've shared with you this past week. And hey, if you want even more Pumpkin Inspiration, check out my Pinterest board where I'm tucking away all the pumpkin recipes I'm coveting.

#PumpkinWeek Day 5 Recipes:

Pumpkin Focaccia Bread from A Dash of Sanity

1 1/3 cup pureed pumpkin
1 3/4 teaspoons instant yeast
3 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup water (warm, 105 to 115 degrees) more if needed
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to grease bowl/pan
1 1/4 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 - 2 tablespoons fresh or dried rosemary, crushed
3/4 teaspoon sea salt, coarse

  1. In large bowl of electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment mix yeast, 1/2 cup flour, and 1/2 cup warm water until combined. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside until bubbly, about 5 - 20 minutes. Add all remaining dough ingredients, including pumpkin.
  2. Mix on low speed (number 2 on Kitchen Aid) until the dough comes together. Switch to dough hook attachment and increase speed to medium (number 4 on Kitchen Aid); continue kneading until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. (The original recipe calls for a full cup of water, but when I used even 3/4 cup of water I had to add quite a bit more flour to get the appropriate dough consistency, so don't add additional water until you've combined all the ingredients and then decide if it needs additional moisture based on consistency).
  3. Transfer dough to lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat with the oil, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm, draft-free area until dough is puffy and doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
  4. With wet hands (to prevent sticking), press dough flat onto a lightly oiled silicone baking mat atop a baking sheet. Cover dough with lightly greased or oil-sprayed plastic wrap; let rise in warm, draft-free area until dough is puffy, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  5. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees F. With two wet fingers, dimple risen dough. For the topping: drizzle dough with oil and sprinkle evenly with rosemary and coarse salt.
  6. Bake until focaccia bottom is golden brown and crisp, 20-25 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool slightly. Cut into desired shaped wedges and serve warm.