Baked Apple Chips

Homemade Apple Chips

Until my freshman year of college in Upstate New York, I never knew the true greatness of apples. Those first fall months, I went apple picking for the very first time in my life and reveled at how insanely crisp and delicious the apples were fresh from the tree. I’d return to my dorm room with a big bucket of apples and have the best snack for a good two weeks.

One of my favorite snacks to make with fresh fall apples is baked apple chips. My love started as a kid, when I would gleefully take them over potato chips any day of the week. They have such a lovely sweetness!

As far as apple types go, I’ve tried this with pretty much every apple variety I’ve been able to get my hands on, and I’ve successfully made apple chips with all of them.

Granny Smith, Gala, Fuji, Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious, Pink Lady, and on and on … so many varieties to choose from!

Get the full step-by-step and recipe on The Pioneer Woman’s site.

How to Make Pumpkin Puree

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

There’s an easy way to elevate your fall and holiday desserts, and it’s this: use fresh pumpkin puree.

Several years ago, my husband and I did a blind taste test with two otherwise identical pumpkin pies—except I made one with canned pumpkin and one with fresh. Aside from the pumpkin, I used the exact same ingredients and baked them side-by-side in the oven.

The difference was astonishing.

I know, I know. It’s more work to go the fresh pumpkin route, and I definitely get the appeal of canned pumpkin. I find myself using the canned stuff from time to time because of the convenience. But whenever I can, I’ll try to use fresh pumpkin puree for my pumpkin desserts. It always tastes so much better!

If you’ve never had the fresh stuff before, it’s definitely worth trying at least once to see if you think the difference is worthwhile. Fresh pumpkin puree is very easy to make. Let me show you the process.

Get the full step-by-step photos, instructions, and recipe on The Pioneer Woman’s site.

Irish Cream Brownies with Caramelized White Chocolate Buttercream

Irish Cream Brownies with Caramelized White Chocolate Buttercream

These Irish Cream Brownies are dark, rich, and fudgy, with a butterscotch-like Caramelized White Chocolate Buttercream on top. Between the Irish Cream in the brownie batter and the caramelized buttercream, there are many complex flavors that merit this a recipe for a special occasion.

I remember discovering the Irish Cream flavor via a pint of Haagen Dazs ice cream when I was a kid and thinking it was the best thing in the world.

Mind you, I had no idea until many years later that Irish Cream was a type of liqueur and not simply a flavor of ice cream, but the flavor is what we’re all after, right?

I’ve mentioned here before that I’m not a big drinker but I’m a big fan of cooking and baking with spirits. It’s such an easy way to elevate food with a flavor component AND an aroma component.

I’ve had a bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream in my cabinet for quite some time and decided it was time to bake something with it. Brownies are an easy choice because those sweet Irish Cream notes pair so perfectly with dark chocolate.

Zesty Lime Shrimp and Avocado Salad

This fresh and light Shrimp and Avocado salad takes 10 minutes to put together and is reminiscent of a citrusy ceviche. A perfect appetizer from the Skinnytaste Fast and Slow Cookbook!

Whenever I open up a friend’s cookbook I can’t help but get giddy. Which is funny because I’m sure the feeling is tenfold when it’s your own. Having published recipes over 600 times on Fifteen Spatulas, I know how special it is to develop and curate recipes to share with kindred food-loving spirits, and a cookbook is one of the highest celebrations of that!

This Zesty Lime Shrimp and Avocado Salad is from my friend Gina’s new cookbook, Skinnytaste Fast and Slow. This is her second cookbook following up her New York Times Best Seller from two years ago (you may remember the Buttermilk Oven Fried Chicken I posted from her last book), and this one is all about super fast recipes and slow cooker recipes. Isn’t that brilliant?

Beef and Broccoli: Chinese Takeout at Home

Chinese Beef and Broccoli is an easy, flavorful stir-fry, great for a weeknight meal!

A beef and broccoli stir fry with a salty garlic ginger sauce! It’s one of the easiest Chinese takeout recipes that you can make at home, and it’s quick enough for a weeknight meal. 

The subject of Chinese food sometimes pains me because it’s a cuisine I love SO much but am rarely satisfied to eat out.

Chinese takeout would be a dream if I could find a place using a quality of meats that didn’t have me chewing gristly bits or unexpectedly chomping down on big hunks of fat.

(aghhhh!!!)

The meat is often covered in sauce and it’s hard to tell until you take a bite!

I’ve made a handful of Chinese takeout dishes at home over the years (see Honey Walnut Shrimp, Crispy Orange Beef, Five-spice Orange Glazed Duck, or Sticky Chinese Spareribs), and the thing that I’ve discovered is that Chinese food is actually quite easy to make, but it can call for ingredients that most of us don’t have in our kitchen.

You have two options here:

1. If you’re committed to the idea of making your own Chinese food at home, you can go to a Chinatown or hop on Amazon to buy things like Chinese Rice Cooking Wine and such, and know that you’ll make these dishes again and again.

Or 2. You can substitute ingredients you probably DO have, and settle knowing that the flavor will be mostly there but not exactly the same.

Fortunately for Beef and Broccoli, the ingredients are pretty standard except for the Rice Cooking Wine, and you can substitute that with other types of alcohol.

How to Make Granola Bars

Granola Bars Recipe

A while back I wrote this post on how to make your own granola. Today I’m going to show you how to make granola bars.

Loose granola is great for cereal, stirring into yogurt, or munching by the handful, but sometimes you want it all held together in a bar. With a few binding ingredients, it’s easy to turn your custom granola into chewy granola bars!

All you need to hold the granola together is some sticky sweetness, and a firm hand to press it all together. There are a few options, but I like to use a little bit of honey and a little bit of corn syrup.

For those who don’t like corn syrup, a good alternative is brown rice syrup. It’s a bit harder to find, and more expensive, but you can get it at health food stores.

Get the full step-by-step photos, instructions, and recipe on The Pioneer Woman’s site.