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Apple Cinnamon Puffs…adventures in apple picking!

Ok, I admit it, I procrastinated a little too long this year. I’ve been going to the same apple orchard since my son was very little (he’s in college now). It’s a small orchard run by an old-timer nestled in the mountains of Western Maine alongside a beautiful river. My favorite apple variety is Macoun and the old-timer told me long ago that the Macoun was a late apple. So, I waited until the end of October this year to go apple picking. I planned it on a day when I could have lunch with a friend that lives about half way there. I was excited to hand pick each one and take that first crisp, juicy bite! As I’m driving up to the barn where they sell cider, honey, maple syrup and, of course, apples, it feels a little deserted. No one was in the barn or the orchard. The only greeter was the old-timer’s friendly German Shepherd! It didn’t really bother me, because I know many small farm stands work off the honor system. They leave their fruit or vegetables out and you weigh them and leave money in a box nearby. Except in this case, there were no apples out. So, I took an apple-picking tool off the wall and walked into the orchard. I was very surprised to see that every tree was bare. Ok, not every tree, but I don’t like Red or Golden Delicious, so they don’t count to me. I walked through the rows of trees and not one of them had an apple, not even on the highest branches! I had missed the season! I had read in the local newspapers it was a good year for apple crops, so I truly expected to find plenty still on the trees.

I was disappointed, but not daunted. I was determined to find apples that day. I drove toward another orchard in a neighboring town, but a sign on the side of the road said they only had “drops”. “Drops” are those apples that fall on the ground under the tree. Many orchards use these to make cider because they are usually over-ripe and softer than apples still on the tree. No “drops” for me – I wanted crispy, crunchy, juicy apples right off the tree! So, I kept driving.

There are many orchards in the western part of Maine and I know roughly where a few of them are located. I headed toward one I had passed by a couple years ago when exploring the back roads – PieTree Orchard in Sweden, Maine. (http://www.pietreeorchard.com/) When I drove into their parking area, again, it was deserted. They were closed during the week, because the picking season was over. Luckily, they had apples out and available to buy using the honor system. Finally, I was able to buy a bag of organic Macoun apples. Success at last!

I hope you enjoy this gluten-free recipe. Use your favorite apples, and hopefully you didn’t have to drive to three towns all over the county to get them!

Apple Cinnamon Puffs 

5 large red apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

½ cup sugar

1¾ cup Pamela’s Wheat-free/Gluten-free Baking & Pancake Mix

4 tablespoons butter, melted

¾ cup milk

2 tablespoons sugar with ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease an 8 x 8-inch baking dish. Place sliced apples in a medium bowl, add sugar and stir to combine. Pour the apple mixture into the greased baking dish and spread evenly. In a large bowl, combine Pamela’s mix, melted butter and milk. Stir well to make a soft dough. Drop the dough by spoonful on top of apple slices and spread evenly over apples. Combine the 2 tablepoons sugar and cinnamon in a small dish and sprinkle on top of the dough. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Makes about 6 servings.

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Posted by on November 11, 2011 in Desserts

 

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Mmmm….Upside-down Cranberry Cake!

Fresh out of the oven!

First, I had a funny coincidence happen last night! So, I’ve just started this blog 4 days ago, right? Last night, as I was flipping through the TV channels, guess what movie was on – “Julie & Julia“! I’m not saying I expect my blog to do anything like hers, but I do think it was a message from the Universe that this might be a good thing for me. That I should be creative, and just have fun with this blog. I’m not going to worry about how many comments I get, or even how many views – I’m going to write recipes and share tips because I love to cook and I enjoy sharing my passion. Just my two cents…

Now, on to the food…  This is the season for cranberries. It means Thanksgiving is right around the corner – I can’t wait! This year I did not pick the cranberries myself as I have done in the past, but I still found a local farm that sells them and I stocked up. The great thing about cranberries is they freeze so well. Buy a couple extra bags and just pop them in the freezer – they will last up to a year that way and still be great in recipes. If you want to pick your own, the season is from around the end of September to the end of October, depending on the crop. I’m sure you’ve seen the Ocean Spray commercials on TV where the men are standing in knee-deep water – that’s because there are two types of bogs – wet and dry. Woodward Cranberry Farm in Albany, Maine (http://www.woodwardcranberryfarm.net/) has organic cranberries in a dry bog. I picked there a few years ago and it was a lot of fun! This year I bought my berries at Ricker Hill Orchards in Turner, Maine (http://www.rickerhill.com/). Either way, I still supported some local farmers.

The recipe I have for today is both delicious and beautiful. The bright red berries are festive and they take center stage in this dessert! Enjoy…

Upside-down Cranberry Cake

4 tablespoons butter

½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed

2 cups cranberries, fresh or thawed frozen

1 egg

2/3 cup sugar

½ cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup yogurt, plain or vanilla

1½ cups Pamela’s Gluten-free/Wheat-free Baking & Pancake Mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan very well. Combine the butter and brown sugar in a sauce pan and melt over medium-low heat, stirring until smooth. Pour this glaze into the cake pan and spread evenly. Arrange the cranberries evenly on top of the glaze. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat together the egg and the sugar until well mixed. Slowly add the oil and vanilla and beat until blended. Gently mix in the yogurt. Add the baking mix and beat until blended well. Pour the batter over the cranberries, spreading it evenly in the pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the pan cool for 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around the outer edge of the cake. Invert the cake onto a serving plate and carefully lift off the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream. Makes 6-8 servings.

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2011 in Desserts

 

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Crust-less Pumpkin Pie…Really?

Pumpkin

I had lunch today with a very good friend who is always upbeat and positive. She really “shines” with her joy and attitude about life. She has recently started a blog and happily suggested I should try it too. “Do it for the joy of it!”, she says. So, that’s what I’ve decided to do. I want to share my passion about cooking. Not just any kind of cooking (although I do enjoy all kinds), but specifically gluten-free cooking.

I started several years ago when another very good friend was diagnosed with Celiac disease. I tried to find recipes she liked and convert them into gluten-free. Over the years, I’ve converted many recipes into gluten-free, found new tasty products and experimented with what works well and what doesn’t. It was a good thing I did because, just recently, my husband has discovered he is sensitive to gluten and has decided to be more strict with his eating habits.

I like to keep things simple in the kitchen, so hopefully you’ll find my recipes easy to follow and delicious as well. I love to cook and I love to try new recipes. Cooking is an adventure, so let’s have some fun!

Most of my recipes use a wheat-free/gluten-free baking and pancake mix made by Pamela’s Products. It is so easy to use and tastes great! I buy it in 4 pound (1.81 kg) bags from Amazon, but you can also buy it directly from Pamela’s website (http://www.pamelasproducts.com) or a local grocery store may carry it.

It’s hard to find a good pie crust that is gluten-free, so in this recipe I’ve tried to get that same great taste of pumpkin pie without a “normal” crust. I also cut out the sugar and used agave syrup, which is a healthier sweetener. My husband and I thought it came out great and I will definitely be making this one for Thanksgiving dinner!!

CRUST-LESS PUMPKIN PIE

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree

½ cup agave syrup

2 eggs

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

3/4 cup evaporated milk

1/3 cup Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until thoroughly blended. Grease a pie plate with butter and pour pumpkin mixture into pie plate. Bake for 60-65 minutes until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm with whipped cream or refrigerate for later. Makes 6-8 servings.

Yum!

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2011 in Desserts

 

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