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Fabulously Freaky Halloween Fodder

I love throwing Halloween parties. Mostly because I get to make delicious food and give it disgusting names. Here’s a round-up of all the deliciousness I made this year and the nastiness I called it. Most of these items are easy to make (and can be done ahead of time) so you won’t be slaving away in the kitchen while your guests are having a goulishly good time! My hot hubby and I dressed up as Johnny and June Cash this year. We had a blast!

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Apple Pie Braided Danish

My son started t-ball this week. I made the monumental mistake of telling him a month ago that t-ball was starting “soon”. Apparently I have no idea how slowly time moves for a three-year-old. Daily he has looked at me with big hopeful brown eyes “Mommy? Do I have t-ball today?”. Finally, I got to say yes. Of course, I had to make a special treat for him for when he triumphantly arrived home from his first practice. What goes with t-ball? Hmmmm. T-ball is like baseball.  Baseball…Americana…American as apple pie. Bingo! Problem is, apple pie takes a while to prepare and bake. Little munchkin t-ball practices are done in an hour. Which was plenty long enough for Donovan to come home drenched and covered in mud, but not really enough time to throw together a pie.

So, I improvised. Took a look in the fridge/freezer/fruit bowl and came up with this braided danish. It’s kind of like a pie. Except you can hold it in your hand, eat it for breakfast, dessert or a snack and it takes just minutes to throw together. Don’t let the braid part scare you. It’s really easy.

I’ve actually been practicing braiding on my daughter recently. She has incredibly gorgeous long hair that becomes a wild crazy mane if I don’t rein it in. One of her favorite things for me to do is a french braid. Or my attempt at a french braid anyway. It’s a work in progress. I’m not going to lie…I’m braiding challenged. But even I can manage this danish braid.

We start with some puff pastry, thawed. Roll it out a little then cut two triangles out of the bottom and slice off the corners at the top. Like this.

Then, starting at the middle of each side, slice into strips. Cut directly in the middle, towards the center of the dough. Then, cut each half in half. Then cut the four strips in half again. You’ll have 8 mostly even pieces of dough to braid. Repeat on the other side.

Slice some apples and give them a little mix with a some sugar and cinnamon.

Slap on some delicious cream cheese spread sweetened with a little sugar, vanilla and a hit of lemon zest. Right down the middle of your pastry. And top with the apple slices.

Fold up the bottom and top over the lip of the apples.

Then braid. Start with whichever side you want. Bring a piece of the dough up and over to the other side.

Then take a piece from the opposite side, overlapping it over the previous piece of dough.

Repeat all the way down until you’ve used all your dough pieces. Trim the ends if you need to so it’s nice and neat. Repeat with the other piece of pastry.

A little egg wash, a little bake and you have a perfecto danish with rich sweet cream cheese filling and perfectly cinnamony apples. Of course, it needed a drizzle of icing. Mmmmmm.

Cut into pieces and enjoy! My little t-ball star certainly did!

Apple Pie Braided Danish

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons greek yogurt
1/2 lemon, zest and juice used
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 Gala apples
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 box of frozen puff pastry, defrosted

Icing:
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, place the cream cheese, yogurt, lemon zest, vanilla, 4 tablespoons of powdered sugar and mix until smooth, using an electric mixer. Set aside.

Peel and slice your apples into 1/4-inch slices. In a small bowl toss them with 1 tablespoon of sugar, cinnamon and juice from the half a lemon.

Carefully unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry and roll slightly with a floured rolling pin until it’s about 1/4-inch in thickness. Transfer the sheet of puff pastry to a piece of parchment.

At an angle, slice off the top corners and cut two notches in the bottom. Slice 1-inch strips diagonally down both sides of the puff pastry, leaving the center uncut. Try to cut the same amount of strips on both sides. I had 8 strips per side. It helps if you start at the middle. Cut in half, then half again, and half again. Then all your pieces will be even.

Add half of cream cheese filling, spreading it evenly down the center of the puff pastry. Top with apple slices.

Fold in the bottom and top flaps. Braid the puff pastry, by folding the strips over the filing, alternating sides, until you’ve worked your way down the puff pastry. Using your knife, trim off any leftover strips or extra dough. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry.

Transfer the danish (with parchment) to a baking sheet, and brush top with egg wash (an egg with 1 tablespoon of water). Transfer baking sheet to oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until puffed up and golden brown.

While baking, mix confectioner’s sugar with milk and mix. When the danish comes out of the oven, drizzle top with icing and serve warm.

Apple Pie Bars

I’m still trying to use up all the fruit from my sister’s bridal shower. Had a bag of sliced apples that worked perfectly for these awesome Apple Pie Bars. They taste just like homemade apple pie – but they are much faster. The crust doubles as the streusel topping, which means you don’t have to roll out any dough. You don’t even need a fork – cause you can eat it just like a slice of pizza! Maybe I should change the name to Apple Pie Pizza? Whatever the name, I’m a big fan of anything that gets into my mouth as quickly as possible.

Apple Pie Bars

Apple Pie Bars (Recipe from Cuisine at Home)

Base and Streusel
2 C all-purpose flour
3/4 C packed brown sugar
3/4 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t salt
6 T cold unsalted butter (if you use salted butter, half the amount of salt added)
3 T milk
3 T unsalted butter, melted

Apple Pie Filling
3 1/2 C tart apples (granny smith works best) peeled, cored and diced
1/3 C sugar
1/4 C heavy cream
1 T all-purpose flour
1 t vanilla extract
1/4 t ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350°; coat a 10-inch springform pan with removable bottom with nonstick spray (if you don’t have a springform pan, a 9×9 square will work fine…it just won’t look like a piece of pie when you’re done).

Combine 2 C flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt for the base and streusel mixture in a bowl. Transfer 3/4 C of the mixture to a second bowl; set aside for the streusel. Cut 6 T cold butter and milk into the remaining dry ingredients using your (clean) fingers or a pastry blender if you’re fancy. Mix until clumps form.

Pat mixture evenly into prepared pan, using the bottom of a measuring cup to tamp down the dough. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until set and golden at the edges. Stir melted butter into the reserved streusel mixture until sandy; set aside.

Toss all ingredients for the apple filling together. Arrange over the hot base, pushing apple pieces to the edges of the pan to completely cover the crust.

Sprinkle apples with the streusel topping and bake until apples are soft and topping is golden, 30-40 minutes. Cool bars for at least 30 minutes before removing the side of the pan and cutting into wedges. Store bars at room temperature or chill. Serve with ice cream, whipped cream or just eat it with your hands right out of the pan. 🙂

Dutch Apple Pie

My husband is not really a fan of sweets. Which is probably good since I’m baking all the time. However, he loves pie. So, on top of all my baking for going away this weekend – I made him an apple pie. I’m one of those people who views the crust as simply something that gets the pie into my mouth – but Zack loves crust. Dutch apple pie is a nice compromise. Delicious flaky crust for Zack plus a yummy sweet and crunchy topping for me. Last year my MOPS group made this pie and I used up the leftover ingredients to make 10 more to sell (profiting MOPS) to Zack’s co-workers. They were a HUGE hit at all their Thanksgiving dinners. I love that you mix up the ingredients in a Ziploc baggie – kids love helping with that part and it’s one less bowl to clean!

Dutch Apple Pie

Dutch Apple Pie

1 Pie Crust (my recipe below)

Filling:

4-5 tart apples peeled and sliced (I like to use granny smiths cause I’m a fan of the tart, but using 3 tart apples and 2 sweet ones works well too)
3/4 C granulated sugar
1/2 C flour
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Crumble Topping:

1 C flour
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C butter (room temperature)

Roll out pie crust and place in pie plate. For lots of ideas on decorative pie crust edges, click here. Place all filling ingredients and apples into a large Ziploc bag and shake to mix. Pour apple mixture into pie crust. Cut crumble ingredients together and crumble over apples. I have found that it helps if my hands are fairly cold when doing this, so if you tend to have warm hands – try running them under cold water, drying them and then crumbling the topping. Bake at 375° for 40-50 minutes. Foil the edges for last 15 minutes if crust begins to brown too much.

Flaky Pie Crust — This recipe makes three pie crusts – enough for one dutch apple plus one two crust pie. Or, half the recipe and use it in a deep dish pie plate. You’ll have  a little extra for your munchkins to play with and roll out for themselves. 🙂 Or, make the whole recipe and freeze (wrapped in plastic wrap) any remaining dough. Then you’ll have instant pie crust the next time you want to make a pie!

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups shortening
3 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 egg
1/2 cup ice water

I like to just put all the ingredients (except water and egg) into my food processor. Pulse until crumbs form. Then pour in the egg and water, pulse some more to combine. Then remove, press into a ball and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use. Roll out on slightly floured surface.

If you don’t have a food processor, then follow these directions. In a large mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour, shortening, sugar, and salt. Blend together with a pastry cutter until crumbly. In a small bowl, mix egg with water. Blend into flour mixture. Chill in refrigerator until ready to use. Roll out on slightly floured surface.

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