6 Granny Smiths Never had it so Good: Cinnamon Apple Squares

Green Apples 1 Autumn squares were a seasonal treat growing up as a kid. I can remember the wafting aromas of slowly baking apples dredged in cinnamon and sugar coming from the kitchen. The smell of freshly baked crust escaping the oven and into my nose. A tall glass of milk in my hand and you have yourself the perfect after school snack. Apple squares are a Crawford family tradition around the autumn/holiday season. This recipe is inspired by my Grandma Cooley’s recipe, which was passed down to my mother which was, in turn, passed down to me. Traditionally, you would make a second layer of dough and roll it on top to emulate an apple pie, then a simple icing is drizzled over top. When brainstorming with my mother about ways to improve upon the recipe, she suggested taking off the top layer of crust and making an apple streusel to sprinkle on top, to which I thought “that’s a good idea!”

The smell that will come out of your oven will be indescribable. Warm scents of cinnamon and vanilla filling your kitchen. It reminds me of those chilly fall nights, a bonfire burning bright and everyone is drinking apple cider and talking and laughing. It’s food like this that brings people together. That warm, comfort food that sparks a memory and an emotion. That’s what I love about food, it runs deep in all of us. Baking family recipes like these makes me miss home at times. Being away at college can be tough, but when I take a bite into one of these apple squares, it reminds me of the people I love and the places I truly miss.

Cinnamon Apple Squares Recipe

Ingredients

Crust:

2 c. all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

¾ tsp. salt

¾ c. vegetable shortening

2/3 c. whole milk

Apple filling:

4 Granny Smith Apples, peeled or unpeeled and sliced

1/3 c. granulated sugar

1/8 c. Clabber Girl Corn Starch

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

½ tsp. vanilla extract

¾ tsp. ground cinnamon

¼ tsp. ground cloves

Streusel topping:

¾ c. granulated sugar

¾ c. all-purpose flour

1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon

¼ c. unsalted butter, chilled and cubed

1 Tbsp. water

Icing glaze:

2 c. powdered sugar, sifted

1/3 c. heavy cream

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Cinnamon Apple Squares 5Directions

For the crust. Chill the shortening in the fridge 15 minutes before beginning. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut the chilled shortening into the flour mixture until a coarse meal begins to form. Slowly add the milk and stir until the dough begins to form and come together. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and shape into a 1 inch round disc. Cover with plastic wrap and have set in the fridge for 1 hour or up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

For the streusel. In a medium-size mixing, stir together the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut the chilled butter into the flour mixture until pea-sized chunks of butter are seen. Stir in the water until combined. Cover and place in the fridge until needed.

For the filling. In a medium-size mixing bowl, toss together the apple slices, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla, cinnamon, and cloves until well incorporated. Set aside.

Grease a 9×13-inch baking sheet. Roll the dough out into a rectangular shape, allowing the dough to stretch past the edges of the sheet. Roll dough onto the sheet, pressing the dough out evenly. Cut off excess dough and fold edges under the dough. Crimp the edges around the sheet pan. Fill the prepared crust with the apples and accumulated juices, spreading them out in an even layer. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the pie. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown and your kitchen is smelling of apple spiced heaven.

For the icing. In a medium-size mixing bowl, stir together the sifted powdered sugar, heavy cream, and melted butter until combined. Drizzle over top of the apple squares while they are still warm and cooling. Serve immediately.

Savory Potatoes: A Rumford Complete Cookbook Recipe

Its garden season here in Indiana! Looking through the Rumford Complete Cookbook this month, I thought it would be nice to try a recipe using some sort of vegetable from the garden. We are definitely a potato eating family, so it seemed fitting to try a potato recipe. It sounded delicious and a great addition as a side to our meal.

Savory Potatoes 4

We are harvesting a wide variety of produce in the garden right now, potatoes being one of them. Each Spring we plant several hundred pounds of a few different varieties to grow for our farmers market booth and ourselves.

The Savory Potatoes recipe is on page 67 of the Rumford Complete Cookbook. Below is a photo of the recipe from the book.

Here is my version of the recipe with some updates:

Savory Potato Dish

Savory Potatoes Recipe

Ingredients:
6 medium sized potatoes (I used fresh new potatoes, so I used an amount about equivalent to 6 medium potatoes.
2 small onions
1 pint milk
salt and pepper to taste.

Directions:
Clean and slice the potatoes into thin slices. Chop onion into small minced size pieces. In a baking dish, create a layer of potatoes. Then sprinkle lightly with onion. Add salt and pepper for taste. Repeat layers until out of ingredients. Add milk over the potatoes to cover them. Bake at 400 degrees for an hour or until potatoes are tender.

These potatoes smelled delicious as they were baking and reminded me of walking into my grandma’s house as she was making a meal for the family. The smell of potatoes, onion, and pepper together takes me back to a smells of a homestyle meal.

This side dish was a great addition to our meal and will be enjoyed again!

Lemon Meringue Pie-Tips for Perfectly Homemade Meringue

Lemon Meringue Pie is a classic pie! If you love the lemon flavor it is definitely a pie for you! The lemon filling is so refreshing and delicious and I love it with the the fluffy, sweet meringue.

Lemon Meringue Pie Hero 1

I learned how to make the lemon meringue pie from my mom, using a recipe that was her great grandma’s. She shared with me that she always remembers her great grandma having a lemon meringue pie baked every time they visited. It is one of her memories of her great grandma.

Lemon Meringue Pie Recipe

Crust:
1 baked pie crust. Either a homemade pie crust or a premade crust. (Tip: use a fork and the bottom and sides of the crust in the dish to prevent the crust from bubbling while baking). Lightly beat 1 egg white and brush the crust during the last five minutes of baking to seal it for the lemon filling. Be sure to do this step to prevent crust from getting soggy from the filling.

Filling:
1 cup + 1 Tbsp sugar
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup Clabber Girl Corn Starch
3/4 cup lemon juice
2 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest (about 3 lemons)
4 large egg yolks
1 pinch of kosher salt

1 1/4 cups boiling water (that will be added in).

Meringue:
4 large egg white at room temperature
1 Tbsp Clabber Girl Corn Starch
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

Directions for the filling:
In a medium sauce pan, combine the corn starch, sugar and salt together and whisk to get rid of all the chunks. Then add the remaining filling ingredients except the boiling water and mix until it is combined thoroughly.
Add the boiling water and whisk the mixture together. Bring it to a boil and continue stirring. Reduce heat and cook and continue to stir for about a minute more. The filling mixture will turn a glossy yellow.

Immediately pour the filling mixture into the prepared pie crust. Allow the filling to cool completely then put in the refrigerator so it is nice and cool for the meringue.

Directions for the meringue:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the corn starch and water together in a pan on medium heat. Stir constantly until it thickens into a gel. This happens fast, about 2 minutes. Set the gel aside. In a mixing bowl, gently beat the egg whites and the cream of tarter to dissolve. Using a hand mixer, begin beating until foamy, then slowly sprinkle in the sugar while beating. Continue to beat until stiff glossy peaks form. Then add the gel that was set aside and continue to beat a little longer.
Immediately spread the meringue on the cooled pie and spread out using a spatula. Smooth it out or add peaks with the meringue. Place in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown for your liking. Let cool for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Slice of Lemon Meringue Pie

Tips for the meringue:

Making the meringue for the pie can be a bit tricky! Here are some tips to help make a great meringue.

Use fresh eggs for the meringue. Make sure they are at room temperature. Fresh eggs will give you more of a fluffy volume of meringue than older eggs. Room temperature eggs will beat faster than colder eggs right out of the refrigerator.

Heat plays a major part in making meringue. The humidity in the air will cause your meringue to loose volume and flatten faster.

Stainless steel or glass bowls work best for making meringues. Plastic bowls can carry traces of oils or grease that will effect the stiffness of your meringue.

Use a hand mixer to whip the egg whites rather than beating them by hand. It can take a while and for the meringue to form constant whipping is needed.

By cooling the lemon filling of the pie before adding the meringue will help the meringue to stay stiff and set during baking and afterwards.

When serving the lemon meringue pie, use a knife dipped in cold water to help prevent your meringue from breaking down at serving.

Lemon meringue pie only lasts generally a day, maybe 2 and then the meringue will start breaking down and weep. It is great to make as a pie that will be enjoyed in the day of baking.

Enjoy this classic lemon meringue pie recipe. The wonderfully delicious tart flavor with the creamy meringue is a family favorite.

Birthday Celebration Cake

Birthday Celebration Cake Hero 2Birthdays are one of my favorite days of the year. Growing up, birth dates we’re a special day to celebrated, tailored to make it so uniquely about celebrating you. We never did anything too extravagant, as a child there were the “big” birthday parties with school friends. But by middle school, birthdays become more about celebrating as a family as opposed to having the biggest party. Every year it is the same, like clockwork, our birthdays have become a tradition.

Every time in the weeks leading up to your birthday, the customary “Where do you want to eat at?” would be asked and pondered. Growing up we didn’t go out to eat much, we enjoyed cooking

together at home and having “Pizza & Movie Night” every Friday. Going out to eat was a treat, something usually reserved just for birthdays. But the best party was dessert, we never had dessert at the restaurant, it was like an unspoken rule. Your favorite cake or dessert was ALWAYS made for your birthday. It changed from year to year, growing more consistent as we all grew older, but cake was always a mainstay.

Over the years I have taken up cake decorating for family birthdays, it’s the little something extra I can try and do to make someone feel special on their day. In my family vanilla cake is a crowd pleaser and one we make most often, but I love to mix it up a bit by adding in different flavors. For the birthday cake I am sharing with you, I went with my favorites: strawberries and lemons. With the simple sprinkle decorations and piping, this is a decorated cake that anyone can pull off for any number of occasions. Change up the colors, size and/or shape of your sprinkles to match your theme and you’ve got an easy to make birthday cake, tailored just for you!

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Pinterest Birthday Celebration CakeBirthday Celebration Cake

Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Filling and Lemon Buttercream

(Get the full Birthday Celebration Cake Recipe Here)

Makes two 9-inch round layers

Ingredients:

For the Cake:
2 cups All-Purpose flour
2 teaspoons Clabber Girl Baking Powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. lemon extract
3 eggs
¾ cup milk

For the Strawberry Filling:

1 lb. strawberries, stems removed and quartered
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp. Clabber Girl Cornstarch
Juice from 2 lemons

For the Lemon Buttercream

2 lbs. powdered sugar, sifted
1 # unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp. lemon extract
Zest from 2 lemons

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl, whisking to combine.
    Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attached and beat on low for about 5 minutes or until combined and lightened in color. Add in the vanilla and lemon extract and mix to combine.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk and set aside. Reducing the mixer to low, slowly add in 1/3 of the flour mixture and then ½ of the milk-egg mixture. Stop and scrap down the bowl on the edges after each addition or as needed. Add in another 1/3 of the flour mixture and the remaining milk-egg mixture, scrap again as needed and add the remaining 1/3 of the flour mixture. Scrap the bowl with a large spatula and pour the batter into prepared pans.
  4. Bake in a 350 degrees F oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until they are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans on racks for about 5 minutes, then remove from pans and let cool the remaining time on the rack.
  5. For the Strawberry Filling: Combine all of the ingredients in a medium sized pot and toss to combine. Cook over medium heat, until the strawberries begin to soften and release their juices, stirring occasionally. Let mixture come to a boil and reduce to simmer for about 5 minutes until thickened and cooked to desired consistency, stirring as needed. Remove from heat and let cool completely before using.
  6. For the Lemon Buttercream: Using the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy and lightened in color. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar to the creamed butter and beat to combine, continue adding the powdered sugar 1 to 2 cups at a time until the mixture is lightly and fluffy. Add in the lemon extract and mix to combine. If the mixture is too stiff, mix in 2-3 tablespoons of milk to reached desired consistency.
  7. To assemble the cakes: Cut the tops of the cakes to create a flat even top. Place 1 cake layer, cut side down on your cake stand. Using a piping bag, pipe a circle around the entire rim of the cake top. Spoon ½ of the Strawberry Filling inside of the buttercream circle (this acts as a wall to keep your filling from spilling out of the cake). Gently place the second layer, cut side down on top of the first cake, lining up the edges. Ice and decorate the outside of the cake as desired with the remaining Lemon Buttercream.

**You will have extra Strawberry Filling, serve some on the side so guest and spoon more over their own cake slices as desired or reserved for a later use.