Apple Cider Margarita

I have seen several versions of this seasonal cocktail but I’m not sure if I need to try another one. This one is festive and fabulous. I first tried it on Halloween and now plan to incorporate it into my Thanksgiving weekend menu. Perfect! 🙂

The recipe was adapted from thehealthfulideas.com, contributed by Veronika. I used gold tequila and added maple syrup.

For the Cinnamon-Sugar Rim:

  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar 
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • A lime wedge

For the Margarita:

  • 1.5 oz tequila
  • 0.5 oz Cointreau 
  • 0.5 oz freshly squeezed lime juice, or more, to taste
  • 2 oz apple cider
  • 0.5 oz (1 T) pure maple syrup
  • small dash cinnamon, optional
  • 1-2 dashes orange bitters
  • ice cubes
  • apple and/or lime slices, for garnish, optional

To Make the Rim:

  1. Combine the turbinado sugar and cinnamon on a small plate.
  2. Run a lime wedge around the rim of your glass and dip it in the sugar. Set aside.

To Make the Margarita:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, add a handful of ice, and shake for 10-15 seconds until it’s very cold to touch. 
  2. Pour into a margarita glass (or another glass of choice) over ice.
  3. Garnish with an apple and/or lime slice, if desired, and enjoy!

Roasted Spaghetti Squash

When I recently received spaghetti squash in my CSA box, my farm newsletter included a link to this Food 52 recipe. I had to make it after reading the first line of the article- “When you think spaghetti squash do you think snoozefest?” Maybe? I definitely hadn’t cooked or eaten spaghetti squash in recent memory.

This recipe was adapted from Food 52, contributed by Checker. I modified the proportions and method. The results were cheesy, buttery, and subtly sweet. Easy and simple to prepare and no longer a snoozefest! 😉

  • 1 medium-sized spaghetti squash
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 tablespoons turbinado sugar
  • 4 to 6 T freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pinch coarse salt, plus more to taste
  1. Preheat your oven to 400° F. I set my oven to convection roast.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. 
  3. Halve the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
  4. Brush the inside of the squash liberally with the melted butter and sprinkle sugar all over the insides. 
  5. Place the squash cut side down on the lined baking sheet. Brush a little of the butter over the skin. (I used the residual butter that was left on the basting brush.)
  6. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the skin of the squash is starting to show some brown blisters.
  7. Use a fork to scrape out the strings of squash, loosening it so that it’s a spaghetti-like consistency. 
  8. Toss with grated Parmesan, season with salt, and serve. 

Blueberry & White Peach Graham Galette

This fabulous galette was oozing with delicious juices. I loved that the crust incorporated crushed graham crackers. It was fabulous with and without vanilla ice cream.

This summer galette recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Samantha Seneviratne. I modified the method, used white peaches, and sprinkled the dough with turbinado sugar. I weighed the dry ingredients as well.

Yield: Serves 8

For the Dough:

  • 4 graham crackers (about 2 oz)
  • 1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 T granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1/2 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 10 T chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

For the Filling & to Finish:

  • 2 large peaches (about 12 oz), halved, pitted, & thinly sliced (I used white peaches)
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • 3/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest (I used the zest of 1/2 of a large lemon)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup (67 g) granulated sugar
  • all-purpose flour (for rolling dough)
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • 2 T chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
  • vanilla ice cream, for serving, optional

To Make the Dough:

  1. Process graham crackers, flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until crackers become crumbs and mixture is combined.
  2. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse sand with some larger pieces remaining.
  3. Add ice water by the tablespoonful, pulsing after each addition, until evenly moistened and dough holds together when squeezed (2–4 tablespoons).
  4. Pat into a 1-inch thick disk and wrap tightly in parchment paper or plastic wrap. Chill at least 1 hour.

Do ahead: Dough can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled. (I made the dough 2 days in advance.)

To Make the Filling & to Finish:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°, preferably on convection.
  2. Toss peach slices, blueberries, cornstarch, salt, lemon zest, cinnamon, and 1/3 cup (67 g) granulated sugar in a large bowl.
  3. Unwrap dough and roll out between lightly floured sheets of plastic wrap or parchment to a 12″ round. The round will be approximately 1/8-inch thick.
  4. Transfer dough to a piece of parchment paper the size of a rimmed baking sheet.
  5. Arrange fruit on top, leaving a 1 1/4-inch border.
  6. Lift dough edges up and over fruit, pleating as needed.
  7. Using parchment paper, slide galette onto the rimmed baking sheet; chill 10 to 15 minutes.
  8. Brush top of pastry with egg and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
  9. Dot filling with butter.
  10. Bake galette until fruit is softened and crust is deep golden brown, 40–50 minutes (some juice may leak out). (Tons of juice leaked out of mine!)
  11. Serve galette warm or at room temperature with scoops of ice cream, if desired.

Bien Cuit Shortbread

I have wanted to make these cookies for quite a while but they require advance planning!

According to Food 52, this is the “World’s Best Shortbread” and is no longer available for purchase from the original source, Bien Cuit in Brooklyn. Fortunately, they were able to get the recipe and share it. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Food 52.com, contributed by Amanda Hesser. I modified the method as well as the baking time for a convection oven. They were incredibly flaky and minimally sweet.

Yield: 32 cookies

  • 302 grams unsalted butter (about 22.5 tablespoons)
  • 93 grams confectioners’ sugar
  • 3.5 grams kosher salt (scant teaspoon)
  • 302 grams all-purpose flour
  • about 2 T granulated or raw sugar, for sprinkling
  1. Cut the cold butter into cubes and reserve at room temperature to temper slightly.
  2. Line a 13×9-inch rimmed baking sheet or baking dish with parchment paper.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the confectioners’ sugar, salt, and flour for a few seconds to combine.
  4. Add the cubed butter and mix on low speed until a smooth dough is formed and butter is fully incorporated. At first, the dough will look extremely flaky and dry; let it keep mixing and it will eventually come together into a dough.
  5. Distribute the dough in the baking sheet and spread it evenly to the corners. I covered the dough with plastic wrap, removed it from the pan using the parchment paper, and rolled it 3/8-inch thick with a rolling pin. After placing it back in the pan, I trimmed the edges and used the excess dough to redistribute it to the empty areas. I re-rolled the dough 3/8-inch thick.
  6. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator overnight.
  7. The next day, heat the oven to 300°F, preferably on convection.
  8. Dock the dough every inch or so with a fork.
  9. Bake until the shortbread is golden brown, 55-75 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time. (I baked mine for 55 minutes on convection but may consider allowing them to brown further next time!)
  10. Remove the pan from the oven, sprinkle with sugar and let cool for 5 minutes.
  11. Transfer the shortbread onto a cutting board, trim the edges, if desired. Slice into 3-inch x 1-inch slices.
  12. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

Belgian Spice Cookies (Speculoos)

I am mildly obsessed with Biscoff cookies. They are my absolute favorite store-bought cookies (Trader Joe’s Maple Leaf Cookies are a close second…) When my friend shared this version from America’s Test Kitchen, I knew that I had to include them in my Christmas cookie assortment this year. I doubled the recipe. 😉

This recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen via wskg.org.  I rolled out the dough and placed it in the refrigerator overnight. I also froze the cut dough prior to baking to help it maintain its cut shape. I weighed the flour and sugar and used freshly ground spices.

These cookies have the ultimate crispy texture. My husband thought that they had more cardamom than the store-bought version, possibly because I used freshly ground cardamom, but I thought that they were perfect. 🙂 Yum!

Yield: 32 cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) turbinado sugar (see note)
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
  • 1 large egg
  1. Separately, grind cloves and cardamom in a spice grinder.
  2. Whisk flour, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in bowl.
  3. Using pencil and ruler, draw 10 by 12-inch rectangle in center of each of 2 large sheets of parchment paper, crisscrossing lines at corners. (Use crisscrosses to help line up top and bottom sheets as dough is rolled.)
  4. Process sugar in food processor for 30 seconds (some grains will be smaller than granulated sugar; others will be larger).
  5. Add butter and process until uniform mass forms and no large pieces of butter are visible, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  6. Add egg and process until smooth and paste-like, about 10 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  7. Add flour mixture and process until no dry flour remains but mixture remains crumbly, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  8. Transfer dough to bowl and knead gently with spatula until uniform and smooth, about 10 seconds.
  9. Place 1 piece of parchment on counter with pencil side facing down (you should be able to see rectangle through paper).
  10. Place dough in center of marked rectangle and press into 6 by 9-inch rectangle. Place second sheet of parchment over dough, with pencil side facing up, so dough is in center of marked rectangle. Using pencil marks as guide, use rolling pin and bench scraper to shape dough into 10 by 12-inch rectangle of even thickness, about 1/4 to 1/8-inch thick. (If the dough spreads beyond the rectangle, trim it and use the scraps to fill in the corners; then, replace the parchment and continue to roll.)
  11. Transfer dough with parchment to rimmed baking sheet.
  12. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until dough is firm, at least 1 1/2 hours (or freeze for 30 minutes). (Rolled dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 5 days.)(I refrigerated it overnight.)
  13. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower‑middle positions and heat oven to 300 degrees, preferably on convection.
  14. Line 2 rimless baking sheets with parchment. Transfer chilled dough to counter. Gently peel off top layer of parchment from dough.
  15. Using fluted pastry wheel (or sharp knife or pizza cutter) and ruler, trim off rounded edges of dough that extend over marked edges of 10 by 12-inch rectangle.
  16. Cut dough lengthwise into 8 equal strips about 1Πinches wide. Cut each strip crosswise into 4 equal pieces about 3 inches long.
  17. Freeze cut dough until firm, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  18. Transfer cookies to prepared sheets, spacing them at least 1/2 inch apart.
  19. Bake until cookies are lightly and evenly browned, 30 to 32 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking.
  20. Let cookies cool completely on sheets, about 20 minutes. Cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.

Note: If you can’t find Sugar in the Raw, use 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (6 ounces) of packed light brown sugar and skip the sugar grinding step.

* Do not use cookie molds or an embossed rolling pin for the speculoos; they will not hold decorations.*

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip-Oatmeal Cookies

This is another Smitten Kitchen recipe that I couldn’t resist trying. I love baked goods that incorporate whole wheat flour and this one also includes oat bran and old-fashioned rolled oats. 🙂

The recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen.com. I modified the size and baking time and refrigerated the rationed dough overnight.

Yield: about 20 (1 1/2 tablespoon) cookies or 10 (3 tablespoon) cookies

  • 4 T (50 g) raw or turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup (95 g) dark or light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup (95 g) whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat flour) or medium rye flour
  • 1/4 cup (25 g) oat bran, wheat germ, wheat bran, or finely chopped nuts (such as walnuts)
  • 1 1/2 cups (120 g) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup (6 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • flaky sea salt, optional
  1. In a large bowl, beat sugars, butter, and salt together until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add egg and vanilla; beat until mixed.
  3. Sprinkle baking powder and baking soda over the batter and beat until very well-combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat again.
  4. Scrape the bowl down and add the flour, oat bran (or another option), oats, and chocolate; mix just until the flour disappears.
  5. Using a 1 1/2 tablespoon or 3 tablespoon cookie scoop, ration the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
  6. When ready to bake: Heat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Arrange the mounds of dough 2 inches apart for smaller scoops or 3 inches apart for larger scoops on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the tops with a couple flakes of sea salt.
  8. Bake 1 1/2 tablespoon cookies for about 10 minutes and 3 tablespoon cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time, or until golden brown all over.
  9. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.

Note: Extra dough will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days and longer in the freezer. Freeze rationed scoops of dough on a tray and transfer to a freezer bag when solid. If baking frozen scoops of dough, add 1 to 2 minutes to the baking time.

Strawberry Ricotta Muffins

When I saw these strawberry muffins, I knew that they would be a perfect addition to my tried and true strawberry recipes. They were very tender and minimally sweet- a perfect summer breakfast.

This recipe was adapted from Bake from Scratch, via Cooking with Aunt Juju.com. I incorporated whole wheat flour and modified the topping. The recipe also included a ricotta glaze for the topping which would also be a tasty option (see link above). Nice.

Yield: 16 muffins

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat or white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice or 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups diced fresh strawberries
  • turbinado sugar, for topping
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Spray 16 regular muffin wells with cooking spray or use liners.
  3. Whisk the flours, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl; set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl whisk the ricotta cheese until smooth.
  5. Add the eggs, milk and lemon zest or juice; whisk until smooth.
  6. Add the oil and vanilla and stir until combined.
  7. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and fold in with a spatula; gently fold in the strawberries.
  8. Divide the batter among the 16 prepared wells, filling about three-fourths full.
  9. Sprinkle the top of the batter in each well with turbinado sugar.
  10. Bake for 15-25 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. (mine were ready in about 17 minutes.)
  11. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes; remove. Finish cooling on the racks.

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