About Me

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My friends call me the "grammar goddess." Really. ;-) I own a freelance writing, editing and tutoring business. Previously, I served three years as food editor for The Morning Sun in Mt. Pleasant, which kindled my interest in food writing. My other areas of expertise in writing include features, community news, architecture/construction and engraving/personalization. I have a frightening number of cookbooks and watch too many DIY, HGTV, Food Network, Cooking Channel and Antiques Roadshow (BBC and PBS versions) shows. And I tweak nearly every recipe I make.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Crustless "Apple Pie" for One

As I was already cooking Swiss Steak in the oven today (I called Mom, because I wanted to make her recipe, which I still couldn't resist tweaking), I decided to bake something.

My eyes lit on the Honey Crisp Apples I bought late last week at Colasanti's. I wanted something similar to apple pie without the crust, for several reasons. It's nearly Halloween and I'm entering the mad scientist/experimental cook stage again. How appropriate.

1. I am crust rolling impaired, so the crust always ends up with thin spots
2. Making a crust is too time and labor-intensive at this precise moment. If I attempt it, it will be on a day I'm inspired to bake.
3. Pie is eaten for the filling, as far as I'm concerned. I really don't care for most pie crusts
— whether from a mix, ready-made or scratch — that is, aside from cookie crumb or graham cracker crusts. (This preference has nothing to do with the fact that I don't have to roll those crusts. Really.)
4. I don't need the extra calories.  

Crustless "Apple Pie" for One

1 large Honey Crisp apple
1/4 C. apple cider
1 T. real maple syrup
1/2 T. Smart Balance® Light Original Buttery Spread with Flax, cut in little chunks
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Take one large Honey Crisp Apple. Wash, peel if desired (I felt safe leaving the peels on because my apple is organic), core and cut apples. (I left them in long, slender pieces as though I were going to eat them raw.)

Place washed apples in a baking dish with a cover (I used the smallest of the glass Pyrex casseroles we have; probably a 1-qt. size.)

Pour in 1/4 C. apple cider over the apples (enough to keep them from burning in the bottom of the dish). 

Sprinkle apples with 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice and 1/4 tsp. cinnamon. Dot with the small chunks of Smart Balance® Light Original Buttery Spread with Flax.

Drizzle 1 T. maple syrup over the top. Toss the apples with the apple cider, rotating the apple pieces so all are coated with a bit of the maple syrup and spices.

Bake at 325 for about an hour and 15 minutes  ... until the apple slices are tender, almost breaking down but still identifiable as apples. The amount of cider in the bottom should be significantly reduced.

Depending upon how much liquid you have left, you may want to take the lid off the glass dish to reduce the liquid for the last 15-20 minutes of cooking time. (Very juicy apples may "sweat" out additional liquid, and if you don't take the lid off, you may up with sweet apple soup.)

My apple slices were fairly thick and I left the peel on; if you like your slices thin, it may cook more quickly. Check the dish at about 45-50 minutes if you made your apple slices thin and/or removed the peel.

Remove the apples with a slotted spoon and serve warm.
Serving suggestions: Serve topped with cider sauce; it's good over light vanilla ice cream. Or top apples and sauce with low-fat or fat-free lightly-sweetened whipped cream.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Yogurt Crème with Berries

Did you ever decide to put something together that seems like such a simple idea, you're not even sure it qualifies as a recipe?

I did that today and decided that it doesn't matter; I'll share anyway.

Yogurt Crème with Berries.

Take about 1/2 cup to 2/3 C. fat-free yogurt,depending on desired tartness (I used Dannon).

Add several drops (to taste) of SweetLeaf Liquid Stevia (any flavor you like, but I used Valencia Orange).

Stir in 1/4 C. of raspberries (or your choice of berry) until they are incorporated into the yogurt mixture but are still chunky. Yogurt will be tinted by the berries.

This dish reminds me of the whipped cream mixture in trifle; it'd be great over angel food cake.

Product Review: SweetLeaf Liquid Stevia Valencia Orange

I use stevia in my coffee and oatmeal much of the time, and used to enjoy the former Starbucks Mocha Valencia, which was discontinued a few years ago, as well as Cafe Vienna instant coffee drink (another coffee with orange flavoring). I was intrigued enough by the idea of a Valencia Orange-flavored liquid stevia that I paid nearly $15 for a 2-oz bottle (supposedly there are 300 servings per bottle).
While it sounds pricey, but it's not so bad when you figure the average cost of a flavored latte at your favorite coffee shop. (In my case, that would be a soy latte, which is even more expensive!) Also, as you can see by the link on the left, it's probably cheaper on Amazon.com, assuming you get the free shipping deal. 

SweetLeaf Liquid Stevia Valencia Orange works well, but I suggest you use the upper level of the recommended number of drops (5-8) to flavor your coffee, which definitely cuts down the number of servings it contains. I like the taste; however, please note that stevia is a little more likely to please the palates of those accustomed to artificial sweetener.

I've made as good or better orange or mocha orange "lattes" using Frontier Natural Flavors Alcohol Free Orange flavoring from The Better Health Store plus one packet of Stevia in the Raw, though I have to use 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. rather than 8 to 10 drops.