Tag Archives: seasonal

Paper Chef September: Apple Ginger Cupcakes


I decided to try something new and take a stab at this Paper Chef shindig. The basics is a judge picks four ingredients on you’ve got a few days to whip them all up in to a recipe. This month Deeba at Passionate About Baking had the task of picking the ingredients and she went with Riccotta, Ginger, Dark Chocolate and the fourth ingredient had to symbolize Autumn. I went with apples since picking them in the fall is one of my newest favorite autumn activities.


Prior to the ingredients being selected I thought that once I read them I would instantly know what I wanted to make. But that was not the case. After giving it some thought I decided on an apple-ginger cupcakes with a ricotta cheese chocolate icing. I made the icing up as I went and it turned out really good — light, fluffy and smooth. The icing complemented the cinnamony cupcakes. The flour could also be substituted for a whole-wheat flour and the sugar reduced to make more of a muffin.

Also, as a tip, to keep apples from browning while you dice them, as soon as they are cored and diced drop into a bowl of ice water. Store in the fridge between dicing and cooking and drain right before using. Mine stayed nice and crisp.

Keep reading, directions and photos after jump


In celebration of Top Chef: A crab-avocado salad

crab-avocadoI am super excited about Top Chef season premier tonight. While the Masters series was great, the original features more chefs which means more recipes, particularly recipes I can reasonably attempt.

In honor of the start of the season, I prepared a Top Chef throw-back to start my dinner. The crab-avocado salad is inspired from season 3’s Trey. You can see the original here.

I made several changes, some for reasons like champagne vinegar is difficult to find, and others because lump crab meat can be difficult to find.

Here’s my take:

  • 2-3 ripe avocados
  • package of artificial crab meat
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (a whole teaspoon if you like it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cilantro paste
  • the juice of half a lime

Dice crab and avocado, taking care to keep avocado in cubes and keeping the gooey green portion from the outside. Place in bowl.

In a separate bowl combine remaining ingredients. Carefully fold mayo dressing into avocado and crab.

Chill and serve cold.

The Crab Cruise

crabsThursday night I took the Riverboat Queen in Wilmington for their Thursdy night crab cruise. It was a lot of fun and the crabs were delicious. On top of good food, they also have a great view as you cruise down the Christiana River at sunset.

They serve all you can eat boiled crabs plus corn and chicken wings. My fellow diners raved about the chicken wings but I was too occupied with the crab to try any. The corn was super buttery and tasty.

Eating crabs in the Northeast is much different than eating them in the South, where they clean them before they cook them and make life a little easier for the diner. But it takes me back to crawfish boils, so I wasn’t complaining.

They’re booked for the next several weeks, but I’m told there are opennings at the end of the month and they’ll keep running until November. This is their web site for more information.

Me digging into the crabs. This photo caught me mid-bite.

Me digging into the crabs. This photo caught me mid-bite.

Wilmington at sunset.

Wilmington at sunset.

My first tomato

I planted a couple of tomato plants and last week they started really producing. Here’s a picture of my first ripe tomato. There will be salsa recipes to come.


It didn’t last very long. Esteban ate it the way a fresh tomato should be eaten, with a little salt.


Calabaza (squash) with pork chops and noodles

CalabazaI finally had to turn my car’s AC on the other day, the temperature finally broke 80. And with summer, comes one of my favorite seasonal foods — summer squash. While the squash at the grocery store wasn’t the prettiest, by the time I made it there my heart was set and I had to have some.

I’m not really sure what this dish is called.

It’s one of the foods I learned by watching my great-grandmother, my grandmother and my mother all prepare. But like how the Spanish language was lost between generations, the name of this dish was as well. I remember my grandmother calling is calabaza, but I don’t think the word for squash does the taste of the dish justice.

I’ve made a few alterations, mainly to make it more single-dish friendly. Omit browning the noodles if you want to speed it up even more, but the flavor the noodles get from being fried first make all the difference. I use yellow squash and zucchini. My cousin and I disagree on this point, she thinks adding the zucchini makes it a different dish. But I think its tasty and adds a nice element of color.


  • Squash and zucchini (I used 6 small pieces, but three large pieces are perfect)
  • Package of vermicelli
  • 1 lb Pork chops
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2-3 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 can of whole kernel corn
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • vegetable oil

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Apple Preserves

Last fall I went apple picking and ended up with way too many apples. So I decided to preserve them.

Turns out finding mason jars on this side of the country that time of year isn’t an easy task. So if you’re going out in search of jars, I would call ahead first.

Apples I picked in Pennsylvania in the fall.

Apples I picked in Pennsylvania in the fall.

Apples (whatever kind you have)
Mason jars for canning with seals and bands (enough to hold your apples)

I peeled a pot full of apples. Then I used a corer to get them sliced into pieces and cored. I cut the chunks in half to make them fit into the jars easier.

I boiled a pot of water and added about two cups of sugar. I brought the water to a boil and then added the apples. I have a pot that includes a colander part that fits inside so I was able to remove and drain the apples without having to fish them all out.

The water should just cover the apples. They will float in the pot.

Boil the apples for about 15 minutes, until soft all the way through. Stir regularly to let all of the apples have time in the water.

Spoon the apples into the mason jars, filing each one entirely by pushing down on them with a spatula a little.

Wipe the rims of the jars to make sure they’re clean and then snugly fit on the lids and tightly screw on the rims. You should do this while they’re still hot.

Put the jars in a boiling water bath for 10-15 minutes. When they’re done the lids shouldn’t pop anymore.

I used the double boiler again by putting the jars into the strainer part and them dropping into the boiling water.