Hello, friends!

I’m back!!!!! Last night for the first time in probably 8 months I took a photo of what we made for dinner. That post is coming soon.

To sum up, Senor and I got married on June 7th in the US Virgin Islands. It was AMAZING. We showed up with our families and wedding clothes and our planner took care of the rest. We snorkeled every day and we didn’t get out of the water until 3pm on the day of our wedding. It was perfect and I could not be happier with our decision to have a very low-key destination wedding.  Here are a few photos.

We had a wonderful time, a wonderful wedding planner, and all around, an unbelievable wedding. Although we were a relatively small party, 20 of our closest family and friends came with us, it was perfect. We were able to spend quality time with everyone and still enjoy a relaxing vacation. During our ceremony I looked around and we had a lot of spectators sitting on the beach. After such a long engagement and looking forward so much to the day it was almost surreal. Looking at the pictures, it’s hard to understand why everyone doesn’t get married on the beach. Look how pretty!

We also had a reception back home in Minnesota. It was also pretty low-key. It was a bit more work (as opposed to none at all on the island) because it was in my sister’s back yard. We had a beautiful setting though and a tent (which we thankfully did not have to set up) which gave us the perfect venue. We set and decorated the tables a few hours before our guests arrived. And the one thing I was dead set on having for my wedding, peonies, managed to happen despite the early spring this year. I was delighted.

Before we get back to posts with recipes I want to mention some of the food we ate in St. Croix. It was some of the best eating we’ve ever done and it’s a big part of why we want to return there next year. The on-beach cottages and turquoise blue Caribbean sea play an additional role in that. Señor revealed later that he was actually worried the food on the island would be sub-par. Silly, silly man.

Sadly, I do not have photos of the best meal I had on the island. I know! I didn’t take a single picture the first two days and then realized how very stupid that was. I’ll be back some day and I’ll take a picture of the Manchego Crusted Scallops from Rumrunners when I return. They might be worth the trip all by themselves.

When we go out I make an effort to only order what I can’t make easily myself. I can happily say I’d never make any of these dishes at home (lack of fresh seafood and too much effort if I’m being honest) and they were all pretty memorable.

Two sandwiches from Turtle’s deli – one with Ham and pineapple, the other a killer combo of chicken, smoked gouda and coleslaw. This one was to die for. This is half the sandwich, btw. This place was just up the road from our cottage and I’m sad we didn’t go there until the last day. We should have gone daily.

Drinks at Rumrunners. One of the things about being a mile away from a rum distillery is that 1 – the rum is cheap 2 – the rum drinks are delicious and 3 – if you’re in the Caribbean in June it’s probably hot so you’ll want frozen, icy drinks 24/7. This was my fourth pina colada in three days.

The seafood salad at Rumrunners. Really yummy. There were scallops, shrimp and MahiMahi on this baby. The scallops are seriously amazing.

Our reception post ceremony was held at the Beachside Café next to our resort. One of the options from our wedding night reception was a hummus plate that was a meal in itself. I ate it all. Which why I couldn’t finish the entree.

I followed the hummus plate with their Honey Buttermilk Chicken Breast in a Cheddar Chive Sauce.

Senor opted for the Sesame Soy Ginger Glazed Tuna with Pineapple Salsa. Let’s just say the photo doesn’t do it justice.

On our last night we went back to the Café. I had the Lobster Oscar which is a fancy way of saying a lobster stuffed full of crab. I prefer to eat my seafood stuffed with more seafood.

Senor made another stellar menu choice, going with the Goat Cheese Crusted Rack of Lamb. SO delicious. Melted right in your mouth, topped with creamy goat cheese. Just amazing.

A few meals that I didn’t get pictures of include a crab-stuffed avocado, a beautiful steak salad, a surf-and-turf special, banana nut rum french toast and huge breakfast burritos. I think Señor was jealous of my breakfast burritos when they came out but being the nice lady that I am. I shared with him.

We’ll return to our regularly scheduled programming, i.e. food blogging for reals with the next post. After a visit to the farmer’s market this morning, I’ve got six bags of producing ready for action. The baby heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil and zucchini will be making a starring appearance sooner rather than later. 😉


Cherry Cake Cream Pop

Senor and I are getting married on the sandy beaches of the Caribbean in 97 days. I am so excited. And so over booked with stuff to do, get, make, arrange, plan, etc. It’s fun and I love doing it but it leaves almost no time for anything else. My weekends are booked solid and my to-do and to-buy list never seems to shrink.

Last weekend I managed to address all of our invitations. Woot! But I still have to print them all off and still need to address the RSVP envelopes. So, my work is far from done by simply addressing them all. Once we send them off, almost everything major will be taken care of. Senor has his suit and shoes. My dress is in production. I have my shoes. We have our flights and room reserved. We have the home-reception planned and we’ve got contracts with a caterer and a rental company and an indoor, back-up venue. All in all I feel like things are moving ahead without too many issues.

Things happen in the Caribbean a lot differently than they do here. Wedding planning comes together in the last few weeks to the last few days. I tend to like to do things well in advance and have everything squared away (and written down in a check list) months ahead of time and that just isn’t how things operate there. Part of me loves that because I do want a laid back wedding. Part of me wants to cry at the thought of having to think about ideal photographers or bouquet styles while I’m on my vacation. I’m pretty sure I’ll survive though and if I freak out about something stupid like boutineers, I’ll just jump in the ocean and hug a sea turtle to calm myself down.

I really want to hug a sea turtle. I’ve asked Senor multiple times if he thinks I’ll be able to. I want to be in the water and have a sea turtle hanging out with me and I want to wrap my arms around him/her and give him/her a hug. There’s you tube videos of people hugging lions. I want to hug the sea turtle. I could probably live with hugging a dolphin. Still….I want those little legs in this picture.

Anyway, Wee Foodie is on a continued sabbatical until post wedding. It’s impossible to post anything anyway. I don’t cook! Okay, I do. But nothing fun or exciting. I have zero time for recipe development and Senor is on this crazy diet that makes him impossible to cook for. Unless a mound of beef on a pile of spinach is what you’re looking for in a recipe? I’m guessing no. I’ll do my best to pop in every once and a while before the wedding but will definitely be back this summer in full swing.

To tide you over (I know you’re anxiously awaiting my full return after all) here’s a crazy delicious drink that looks as sweet and innocent as a sock hop in 1955.

The Cherry Cake Cream Pop was first created two months ago on New Year’s Eve. I really meant to share it sooner. It’s easy and delicious and awesome. In fact, I think I’ll have one tonight. After I address those RSVPs.

Its name explains it all. Frozen cherries, cream, cake vodka and the bubbly awesomeness of ginger ale. Bars should start making these post haste. If you can get an apple pie shot, I should be able to order one of these lovelies.

The key ingredient is the Three Olives Cake Vodka. It is awesome. Amazing. The first bottle I had broke as we unloaded the car and my hand smelled like cake but I had nothing to drink. I seriously almost cried. Senor went across the street to the liquor store and bought a replacement, thankfully. I always have this in the freezer now. It can stand in for vanilla extract in a pinch. And also, you can drink it. Which is what I use it for 99% of the time.

Cherry Cake Cream Pop

1 oz (1 shot) Cake Vodka (Three Olives Brand)
5 oz Ginger Ale
0.5 oz heavy whipping cream
8-10 frozen cherries

Add your ice and cherries to your glass. Gently crush the cherries slightly.

Pour in 2 ounces of cake vodka. Fill the glass the rest of the way with ginger ale. Top off with heavy whipping cream. Finish with a 3-4 more cherries.

If you want, give it a stir to incorporate the cream. Note* These pictures are from New Year’s Eve and you had better believe that I did zero measuring while pouring.

Whenever I make these at home I use diet Ginger Ale since there’s plenty of calories in the vodka and cream! I also make it really often (more often than not) without the cream. It’s still super delicious but a lot less decadent and it’s not quite as pretty either. But you can also drink more than one. It’s a tough decision but I’m sure you’ll make the right choice.

Roasted Pumpkin Orzo

Weather plays such a big role in what we eat and when we eat it. Lately I’m having a hard time thinking up new recipes. I think it probably has something to do with the fleeting hours of daylight, the sub-zero temperatures and knowing full well that at least in Minnesota, nothing is growing any more. It makes it harder to figure out what to make and I usually end up resorting to some old favorites. Beef bourguignon. Beef stroganoff. French onion soup. Senor’s pasta. Lasagna. Essentially, a lot of meaty or carby dishes and a lot of soup. Oh, and a LOT of squash, cut in half and roasted. Eaten with a pat of butter.

Honestly, it makes me feel like I’m stumped. I know that Senor loves a lot of these recipes and looks forward to them as the reward for enduring cold weather. I do too. I never remake a recipe we don’t both love. This is definitely a time of year where I have to look for inspiration from other sources though. In spring, summer and fall I walk through the farmer’s market and look to see what’s ripe and delicious looking. I feel inspired by all the food in season and every single meal is based off of what produce is in season right that moment. Whole meals are inspired by a giant bunch of super fragrant cilantro. It’s a lot harder to be creative, I think, when the only things in season are essentially what you’ve got in your freezer. On the off chance that I do make something new and creative and delicious….you’re probably not going to see a picture of it. The sun rises at 7:40 and sets at 4:30. I’m either at work or en route to work during that entire time. Maybe, just maybe we’ll get lucky. Maybe we’ll have a bright sunny weekend and I will be inspired to make a variety of new dishes to share with you all.

I made this recipe right as the fall vegetables started to finish off here. For now, we’ve got root veggies and citrus fruits from Florida. I’m trying to make the best of it. You’ll see some additional squash recipes coming soon. And ultimately I’m probably going to break down and buy the asparagus from Peru and the green beans from Chile. I’m not happy about it. Whether or not I can make anything really delicious and interesting out of them remains to be seen. I promise to do my best.

Luckily pumpkin can be bought in a can if you can’t find a fresh one. Eggplant is one of those fall veggies that stores pretty well so you can still find it and enjoy it during the colder months. And the really great news is that pumpkin, eggplant, sliced almonds and orzo go really well together. This was satisfying but not nearly as heavy as spaghetti with meat sauce, or a giant square of lasagna.

Roasted Pumpkin Orzo
serves four

1 medium baking pumpkin

1 large eggplant, cubed

8 ounces whole wheat orzo

3/4 cup sliced almonds

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup dry white wine

Salt, Pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika

If using a fresh pumpkin, cut it in half and clean out the insides. Situate the halves face-down in a baking dish, along with a half-inch of water. Roast in a 400 degree oven until tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

If you’re using canned pumpkin, you may not be able to cut it into pieces to toss with the pasta. It will probably work better if you simply simmer the canned pumpkin with the white wine and olive oil and make a thick sauce to coat the pasta. It’ll be delicious either way.

Let the pumpkin cool so it’s workable. Meanwhile, boil the orzo. When tender, rinse and drain the orzo until you’re ready to use it.

Once the pumpkin is cool enough to work with, peel the skin off of the flesh. Cut the pumpkin into small cubes. It should be soft but not overly squishy.

In a large skillet, heat the oil and add in the eggplant. The egg plant will absorb the oil, so occasionally add a few tablespoons of water to keep the pan from drying out. Saute the eggplant until soft. Add the white wine, pumpkin and drained orzo. Reduce the heat to low.

Sprinkle the skillet with salt, pepper and garlic. Add a few shakes of smoked paprika and toss gently. Let the mixture simmer lightly until the sauce is slightly thickened and the pumpkin has spread evenly.

Remove from heat. Stir in the almonds, saving a few for garnish. Serve immediately.

Jalapeno Poppers

You know what’s really delicious? Bar food. The bad kind. Wings, nachos, onion rings, mozzarella sticks, the list goes on. It’s almost all exclusively deep fried, there’s usually cheese involved, and breading. Oh the breading.

Add in copious amounts of beer and you have a party. And you also have pants that don’t fit. Most bar food that is baked though, tastes awful. Baked chicken wings? Never quite as good. Baked french fries? Awful. Baked onion rings? Ugh.

A few Sunday’s ago I served Senor jalapeño poppers while he watched a football game. I know! I was sort of sickened by the situation myself. So ‘American’ of us. Senor watches maybe half of a football game a year and I usually grumble about being in the same room with such vileness.

This time though, I was in a really good mood. We’d just gotten a giant, beautiful cedar chest to use as a coffee table and honestly, the thing made me so happy I didn’t care what we watched. Football hype and mania usually really grosses me out but Senor and I had a good time laughing at the stupid things the announcers were saying. If you really listen, you realize they are complete morons. This goes for most sports announcers but especially football.

Anyway, I was entertained. Senor was hungry and our chicken was roasting but wouldn’t be ready for at least an hour. I realized that I had the makings for a perfect game-day snack in the fridge. (Even the term ‘game-day snack’ kind of grosses me out. So I made these again for other, non-football related events.) I had a large bag of fresh jalapeños in my refrigerator, left over from salsa fest, 2011 edition. I also had a block of cream cheese and a bag of panko bread crumbs. Obviously Jalapeño Poppers were going to have to happen.

I also had a bag of habañeros leftover but I decided not to go there. Did I tell you that I was worried the habañeros weren’t hot enough while we were making the salsa? They weren’t choking me and I couldn’t figure out why. So I sliced one open and touched the tip of my tongue to the fleshy inside of the habañero and guess what? It was hot. Really hot. I didn’t choke or splutter, but tongue did feel like it had been stung by a bee. It got puffy and numb and I was wholly assured that the habañeros were hot enough. And that I shouldn’t touch raw peppers directly onto my tongue. Lesson learned.

Anyway, back to the jalapeños. We had a huge bag of them. Senor and I had eaten a few sliced on top of nachos and enchiladas and that sort of thing, but fresh jalapeños pack a much heftier punch than roasted or pickled jalapeños. In other words, a little goes a really long way. We were never going to get through the entire bag.

The good news is, roasting them stuffed full of cream cheese and bread crumbs really cuts down on the heat. Roasting them also means they aren’t deep fried which makes them a lot healthier than your standard popper. They taste better roasted anyway. The pepper gets sweeter since it’s not trapped under breading. The breadcrumbs can get nice and crunchy. The cream cheese gets hot and melty but you don’t have that awful moment when you bite into a popper and scalding jalapeño juice bursts out and burns your mouth. All in all, it’s a much better situation.

Roasted Jalapeño Poppers
makes 20 poppers

10 jalapeños

4 oz cream cheese

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Wear kitchen gloves or plastic bags over your hands to keep from burning your skin with the peppers. The burn from peppers will last for hours.

Turn oven on to 400º. Or toaster oven.

Slice the jalapeños in half lengthwise. Discard the stem. Scrape out the inside of each side including all of the seeds. You should have shallow little pepper boats when they’re clean.

Rinse the peppers well.

Use a small spoon to spread cream cheese into each of the pepper boats. Spread the cheese so that it fills the pepper evenly across. You want the top of each popper to be nice and flat.

Once all of the peppers are filled with cream cheese, line them up on a cookie sheet, baking tray, or roasting pan. Anything oven and broiler safe will do. For small batches, you can use a toaster oven as I did here. Larger batches can be oven roasted and topped off under the broiler.

On the baking tray, spoon breadcrumbs over the top of each popper, lightly pressing them into the cream cheese.

Place the poppers in a 400º oven for 20 minutes. Place them directly under the broiler for the last 5 minutes.

When they come out they should be soft and slightly charred on top and bottom.

Serve with an easy dipping sauce – 2 tablespoons of jam and 2 tablespoons of water mixed together. These poppers have an apricot sauce added to the tops.

Roast Chicken with Apples and Zucchini

Have you ever roasted a chicken? It’s like roasting a turkey but a lot faster and a lot less work because the thing doesn’t weigh 14 pounds. I like to roast chickens on Sunday afternoon. It makes me feel like I’m channeling June Cleaver. I even wear a retro pink apron to do it. You have to look the part. But then I make Senor do the dishes because I’m not actually June Cleaver and I hate doing dishes.

Senor loves roasted chicken. Senor loves a lot of things but he has a few top favorites. Roasted chicken. Beef bourguinon. Meatloaf. We don’t share all of our favorite meals but we both love roasted chicken. Honestly, you could make roasted chicken every weekend and make it a different way for a whole year. We have a few favorite recipes though and honestly, the easier recipes are usually our favorites. I’ve tried roasting chickens with a lot of complicated herbs and vegetables and things shoved inside the bird but usually the chicken tastes best when you let the flavor of the meat come through.

One of our favorite roasted chickens involves just five ingredients, including the bird, salt and pepper. This chicken is just slightly more complicated, but not by much. We’ll save the ‘easiest chicken in the world’ for another day. Whip this one up when you want to impress and look extremely fancy.

The key to an extremely fancy chicken (in my mind) is when you serve roasted vegetables that cooked with the chicken as part of the meal. You can’t stuff a chicken like a turkey, it’s too small. Well, you could. But you wouldn’t fit much in there.

For this chicken you’ll need two apples, one zucchini of decent size and a lime. Add some butter and dried herbs to the mix and you’re done. Roasted apples and zucchini are delicious and give the chicken a lot of sweetness. The chicken flavor will also penetrate the fruit and veggie, giving them a savory flavor. What could be better? The lime gets stabbed with a fork and placed into the cavity of the bird. When it gets hot the lime will release steam and juice, keeping the chicken flavorful and juicy from the inside out.

The best part about roasting a chicken, I think, is that it’s fast. You cook at a much higher temperature than if you’re slow roasting. But if you do it right, nothing gets dry. Amazeballs.

Roasted Chicken with Apples and Zucchini

1 whole chicken 3-5 lbs

1 medium zucchini

2 medium/large apples

1 small lime

2 tablespoons melted butter

rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper

Turn the oven to 400º.

Prepare your chicken for roasting by removing the plastic wrap from the outside, and pulling out the package of giblets from the cavity. You can toss these if you don’t need them, or use them together with the bones later on to make a really delicious chicken stock. Giblets can also be used for making dressing or gravy. For chicken, I usually save them and make a chicken stock. I can always find some way to use chicken stock.

Instructions on how to ‘clean’ a chicken or turkey vary. I believe the official USDA instructions tell you not to rinse the bird but I have to admit, I always do. I like to rinse it inside and out to make sure anything that doesn’t belong in there is washed away. Just make sure to wash your sink before and after any chicken rinsing.

Pat the bird dry with paper towel and place it in your cooking pot. I used a braiser but have also often used a stock pot or French roaster. For this bird, you want a pot that has a lid.

Roll the lime on the counter top to break up the fibers inside and make it soft and pliable. Stab it several times with a fork and place it inside the chicken cavity.

Melt the butter and slowly pour it over the entire chicken, lightly rubbing it into the skin. This helps keep the skin from burning but helps it get crispy. Lighlty sprinkle salt, pepper, dried rosemary and dried thyme over the bird.

Finally, chop the zucchini and apple into pieces and place them around the bird in the pot.

Place the lid on the pot and place it in the oven.

When the bird reaches an internal temperature of 140º, remove the lid and let the chicken cook the rest of the way uncovered. If the vegetables look dry, add 1/2 cup of water to them to deglaze the pan.

Because cooking times with chickens can vary greatly, it’s necessary to use a thermometer to determine whether it’s done. A chicken is done when the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 180º. I like to use a digital thermometer to check the bird in several places. Digital thermometers cannot be kept in the bird while baking though, so a meat thermometer may be helpful as well.

To make absolutely sure a bird is done cooking, slice the skin away from the thigh joint. The juices there should run clear. If there’s any pink in the juice, place the bird back in the oven and check again in 10 minutes.

The 3lb chicken you see in the pictures was done in 1 hour and 20 minutes. It actually roasted for another 10 minutes after these pictures to crisp up the skin a bit more but it was too dark for pictures by then.

Let the bird stand, covered, for 10 minutes before carving.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

The first time I made this is was for my dear friend Kiz whom I love despite her aversion to onions. I wanted something that didn’t have a ton of fussy ingredients and that could be more or less hands-off after a bit of chopping. And since I couldn’t use my beloved red onions, I looked to leeks. Leeks are so versatile in cooking. I also heard the other day that the word ‘leek’ is one of the few words used to describe food that hasn’t been changed in English. There were a few others, meat, milk, bread and apple. Other words, like ‘beef’ and ‘pork’ were adapted from French words since they sound nicer than eating ‘cow’ or ‘pig.’ That was your daily dose of NPR nerdiness. I do what I can for you.

Since then I’ve made it twice more because it is insanely delicious. In a few hours I’ll be eating a left over one for lunch too and I kind of can’t wait. It’s a pretty filling meal but if you use a small squash it’s the perfect lunch.

I love meals and recipes that are easily adaptable. I don’t love when you have to measure exactly every single ingredient precisely. And I love making things often enough that I know about how much ‘should’ go in the mix. This is definitely one of those meals that you can change to suit your tastes. It doesn’t involve a lot of effort, although you do need about an hour for the squash to roast and get soft. This can definitely be done ahead of time and if you’re like me, you’ll roast three squash at once so you have enough for several meals. Roasted squash could even be frozen for use later, if you have the freezer space.

Personally I have always been crazy about squash. Senor didn’t try squash until he moved in with me. He had the potential to be a very picky eater back then, as the list of things he’d never tried at the age of 21 was vast. Luckily, he will try anything and generally finds most food to be delicious. This makes things much, much easier. There are a few things he doesn’t like, although I dislike most of them too. We both dislike olives, for example. The first time I made him squash I used butter and brown sugar and he didn’t love it. The sweet on sweet was too much for him. I realized that instead of being a sweet side dish, squash can easily be part of a savory main dish. Although I would never turn my nose up at anything that involves butter and brown sugar, I think I like the savory combo better as well.

When you’re really open about trying new foods you can eat well for very little money. Each season we find ourselves branching out and trying new produce from the market. Last year we started in on Brussels sprouts and to our surprise, we both love them. They quickly became a fall staple. Senor discovered a few years ago that asparagus is one of his absolute favorite veggies so all spring long we devour the little stalks. I discovered a love for roasted kale and broccoli, both of which are cheap and in season both spring and fall. Senor discovered that morels are a mushroom unlike any other this spring. They look horrid but the taste and texture is amazing. Morels don’t fit into the ‘cheap’ category but in general when you buy produce in season, you save a ton of money.

Right now I’m all about roasted squash, root veggies, broccoli, sprouts, and tons of cabbage. It’s also time for apples and pears and pumpkins and I’m enjoying every minute of it. This is great because berries at the store are insanely expensive and apples and pears are offered in giant bags at the market. Whew.

Squash, of course, are in peak season right now. This means that you can buy beautiful acorn squash for $1 a piece at the market and even at organic food stores. Leeks are also in season and will available during the winter. Both squash and leeks keep quiet well so you can find them during the year. The beans in the recipe were dry ones that I cooked but you can buy a can if you’d like. The rest of the recipe is goat cheese and bacon. You can use Gorgonzola and prosciutto or ham and mozzarella. Do what you want. I have yet to make this recipe with the exact same meat/cheese combo and each time it has been super tasty.

Enough rambling. Make this tonight. And if your farmer’s markets are still going (ours goes all year but produce is quickly tapering off) run there asap and buy as many squash as you can. If you store them in cool, dry, dark place they’ll last for quite a while.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

1 acorn squash

1/2 cup black beans

1/2 cup white/navy beans

1 large leek, chopped

3 strips bacon

2 ounces crumbled goat cheese

Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Place the squash face down in a baking dish. Pour 1/2 cup of water over the tops and roast at 400º until soft. This will take about an hour. The skin of the squash will turn dark and shiny when it’s done.

While the squash is roasting, pan fry the bacon in a metal saute pan. While it’s frying, clean and chop the leek into thin slices.

Remove the bacon from the pan when the edges have started to crisp. Turn the heat to low and place the chopped leeks in the pan. Toss to coat with the bacon fat. Chop the bacon into small pieces.

Rinse the beans and place them into the pan with the leeks, tossing gently. Once the leeks look lightly transparent and soft, turn off the heat. Stir in the bacon and cheese, reserving a small amount of the cheese for topping.

When the squash are finished roasting, remove them from the oven. Turn them over using a pancake flipper. Tongs will break them.

Turn on the broiler. Spoon the filling into each half of the squash, slightly mounding the filling in the center. Top the filling with the remaining cheese.

Place the squash under the broiler for five minutes. The leeks and cheese will start to brown on the edges.

Remove from the broiler and let stand five minutes before serving.

Apple Cake

This will be the last of the apple-baking themed posts, I promise. It’s a good one though! I’m officially ‘out’ of apples that I personally picked and I’ve made a vow to just eat the rest in my kitchen as they are. I’m kind of excited to get into other flavors to be honest. Pumpkin anyone?

Apple cake might be even better than apple cupcakes. Why you ask? Well I’ll tell you. Because it is easy. And fast. And so damn delicious. And I’m going to give you two options for it so you can easily serve one version for breakfast and the other for dinner. See? I care enough to make sure you can eat cake for breakfast.

I made the coffee cake version first. It’s a little lighter. Fluffier. More delicate. With a crazy easy crumb topping that I want to put on top of everything, including frosting.

The cake version is denser, slightly darker, sweeter and gooey-er. The coffee cake is the kind of sweet that goes perfectly with, well, coffee. The cake goes perfectly with a giant glass of milk. Or a scoop of ice cream, birthday style.

Over two weeks I made this coffee cake/cake recipe three times.

Apple Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

2 cups apples, chopped

1/2 lemon

3 eggs

3/4 cup oil

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons vanilla

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon molasses

2 cups flour

Peel, core and chop the apples. 2 large apples or 4-5 medium apples should yield about 2 cups. The measurement does not have to be precise. Squeeze half a lemon over the apples and toss to coat to keep the apples from turning brown.

Combine the apples, oil, eggs, sugar and vanilla. Whisk by hand or with a hand mixer on medium speed.

Add the milk, molassess and dry products. Mix until just combined.

Pour the batter into a greased 9×13 inch pan. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let the cake cool completely before frosting.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

2 packages of cream cheese

4 cups powdered sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon meringue powder (optional)

Using softened cream cheese, combine all ingredients in a bowl. Using a hand mixer, blend slowly until the powdered sugar is incorporated into the cream cheese. Once it is, turn the mixer to high until the frosting is smooth and creamy.

Use frosting on a cooled cake. Refrigerate or freeze after decorating to allow the frosting to ‘crust’. This will keep it from sticking to covers, plastic wrap, etc. Meringue powder will also help with crusting but is not absolutely necessary.

Apple Coffee Cake

2 cups apples, chopped

1/2 lemon

2 eggs

3/4 cup oil

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups flour

Brown Sugar Crumble

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup flour

2 tablespoons melted butter

Follow the directions for the Apple Cake above, omitting the milk and molasses.

Instead of using a 9×13 pan, pour the batter into a greased 8×8 pan.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar and melted butter together. Stir until mixed. The mixture will form small clumps. Spread the mixture across the top of the batter so it’s evenly distributed.

Bake at 350º for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 30 minutes. Serve warm.