October Apple-Palooza

img_20161020_114220907_hdrA palooza’s defined as the art of throwing an extravagant, bawdy party with a bunch of friends. It’s been a fabulous year for apples  in Northern Michigan–everywhere you turn there’s a roadside stand groaning under their weight.

So I’ve put together a palooza of some of my favorite recipes which incorporate apples–the recipe links may be found beneath the photos.

Baked Apples stuffed with Orange-Scented Sweet Potatoes

Baked Apples stuffed with Orange-Scented Sweet Potatoes

Apple Cider Glazed Chicken Breasts with Apples and Pears

Apple Cider Glazed Chicken Breasts with Apples and Pears

Turkey Cutlets with Apple Cider Sauce

Turkey Cutlets with Apple Cider Sauce

Beer-Braised Brats with Apple Kraut

Beer-Braised Brats with Apple Kraut

Gingered Three Apple Salad

Gingered Three Apple Salad

Harvest Chili

Harvest Chili

Southwest Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Southwest Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Pork Chops with Apples and Chutney

Pork Chops with Apples and Chutney

Buttermilk Pancakes with Apples

Buttermilk Pancakes with Apples

Baked Apples stuffed with Orange-Scented Sweet Potatoes thumbnailApple Cider Glazed Chicken Breasts with Apples and Pears thumbnailTurkey Cutlets with Apple Cider Sauce thumbnailBeer-Braised Brats with Apple Kraut thumbnailGingered Three Apple Salad thumbnailHarvest Chili thumbnail
Southwest Butternut Squash and Apple Soup thumbnailPork Chops with Apples and Chutney thumbnailButtermilk Pancakes with Apples thumbnail

Baked Apples stuffed with Orange-Scented Sweet Potatoes Apple Cider Glazed Chicken Breasts with Apples and Pears • Turkey Cutlets with Apple Cider Sauce • Beer-Braised Brats with Apple Kraut  • Gingered Three Apple Salad Harvest Chili • Southwest Butternut Squash and Apple Soup • Pork Chops with Apples and Chutney • Buttermilk Pancakes with Apples


Tahquamenon Falls, Paradise, Michigan

October’s also about Fall colors and, ugh, the election. I, and several of my cohorts, have developed a pre-election media disorder. After tuning into the latest, our symptoms vary. Some of us become nauseous, others develop a migraine. My neck breaks out in hives. But I can’t resist another peek–a big distraction when I’m trying to work.  So Richard and I took a road trip to the Upper Peninsula to soak up the color and get off the grid.


Jack’s cabin and sauna.

Last week we stated in a friend’s cabin, south of the Cranberry Bog on the Black River. No electricity or running water, a wood-burning stove heated the cabin and fueled the heat for the sauna.  The main attraction: There’s no phone service and it’s a forty-five minute drive away from the first WIFI bar.  No excuses, I could focus on the synopsis for my third novel. (Book 2 is now in review with my publisher.)


Recipe on the back of a box of Trisket.



Of course, there are always distractions, this time  a noisy mouse and the Seafood Tartlet recipe on the back of a box of dill-spiced Triscuits.

I like Triscuits–and these dill and olive oil crackers were fine for munching. It got me thinking about the rich smoked trout and salmon to be had in these parts. I’ve perfected a Smoked Fish Spread that is divine. Perfect, I had imagined, for stuffing into the recipe for the Triscuit tartlet shells. On the way back to civilization, I picked up a smoked trout, the size of child’s tennis raquet.

I made the Triscuit cups according to the recipe on the back of the box, but to my palate, they were not good. The joy to be had with a Triscuit is in the texture and crunch–both lost resulting from the egg wash soak and  bake.

The Triscuit shell looks nice, but....

The Triscuit “tartlet” looks nice, but….

We ended up enjoying the Smoked Fish Spread with crunchy baguette slices, instead. It would also be yummy served in cucumber shells or phyllo cups, the ones that you’d find in the freezer case at a good grocery store. Or the dill-spiced Triscuits, uninterrupted.

Upon returning to the world of Wifi, I leapt into the latest news ravenously,  as a dog would pounce upon a slab of bacon.


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Sylvia’s Heartbreakers: The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie

img_6188There are over a hundred billion stars in our galaxy. Says Google, at least. After perusing chocolate chip cookie recipes on-line this week, I’m guessing there are about that many recipes for chocolate chip cookies. Minimum. So do I really need to burden the web with, yet, another one?

It depends. What’s your taste in cookies? The following list meets my criteria for a superb cookie. If you agree, there’s a valid reason for the following recipe to be added to the chocolate chip cookie stratosphere:

#1. The cookie is fat, not flat, with a crispy crust and unctuous, moist, almost cookie dough filling.

#2.) Cookie is packed with the texture and crunch of walnuts, and a lava flow of creamy, melted chocolate.

#3) Cookie is served warm; precisely 10 minutes out of the oven. (Don’t get me wrong–these cookies are still yummy days out of the oven, but the chocolate chips harden.)

My recipe calls for wrapping the cookie dough balls individually, and then freezing them. Therefore, you can  bake off the cookies on an as need basis, enjoying them hot from the oven every time. Besides, the recipe only works when the cookies are baked in a partially frozen state–one hour out of the freezer. When baking from a thawed state, the cookie falls apart.

img_6198I spent hours last week developing, and then refining, this recipe for my next novel, “The Welcome Home Diner”. It’s a recipe that Samantha, one of the protagonists, created. She wanted her diner to have a signature confection that would be their calling card. Prior to the novel’s opening, she’d worked as a baker at Manhattan’s Levain Bakery, which inspired the following recipe.

Levain is an establishment known for their gigantic, scratch-made, stuff-of-dreams cookies. And there are hoards of food bloggers, such as myself, who’ve spent hours copycatting their masterpieces. I’m pretty sure I got it down. Honestly.  As a side-note, one cookie easily serves two.

By the way, I’ve found the ultimate blog for those who love food-centric books. If you’ve read this far into my blog, it could very well have your name on it . It’s called, Ivory Owl Reviews  Every week, Rhiannan reads a food-centric book, and then posts her review on Friday. This week she reviewed “The Promise Kitchen”. This is very exciting for me since Rhiannan lives in Atlanta, just like Mallory Lakes–my food-blogging protagonist.

Ivory Owl has also hosted a book give-away for “The Promise Kitchen” that ends on Friday. So check it out!

Recipe: Sylvia’s Heartbreakers: Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies


  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cool room temperature*
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/4 cups toasted chopped walnuts


  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cornstarch. Whisk until ingredients are well incorporated and there are no lumps.
  2. Cut butter into 1-inch pieces. In a stand-up mixer, cream butter and both sugars together and beat on medium-speed until well combined. Add eggs and beat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the batter is combined. In ½ cup increments, add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating between each addition until well-combined into a batter.
  3. With a spatula, scrape batter out of the bowl. With your hands, work the chocolate chips and walnuts evenly into the batter.
  4. On a pastry table, dry work surface or cutting board, and using a large spoon or ice cream scoop, form twelve cookie dough balls. They should weigh about 4 ½ ounces each, and be of uniform size so that they will bake evenly.
  5. Wrap each ball individually in wax paper, place the balls in an extra-large Ziplock or air tight container. Freeze until frozen, about 3 hours, and up to six weeks. Cookies may be baked off as desired.
  6. When ready to bake, thaw 1 hour at room temperature. (Note that if the dough is rock frozen, the inside will be too gooey. If the dough is thawed, the cookie will crumble too easy after it is baked.)
  7. Preheat oven to 375 (convection) degrees. Line large cookie sheet with parchment paper or Silpat. Bake on center rack of oven 22 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet 10 minutes. (This sitting time allows the chocolate to become creamy.  For my palate, 10 minutes out of the oven is the best time to indulge in all of their warm heavenly goodness.)

* * Your finger is able to make a slight indention into the butter, but not much more.

Active time: 40 minutes

Freeze time: At least 2 hours and up to 6 weeks

Baking time: 22 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 1 dozen jumbo cookies

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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Farewell to Summer Salad: Cracked Wheat Salad with Seasonal Fruit

Taking care to practice what I preached in my last blog, I remain tasered into beans.

(Been researching tasers for the current novel I’m writing. A cool word. It can be used as a noun: He’s running down Nine Mile, grab your taser!  A verb: You tasered the wrong guy, man! Even an adjective: His eyes, a knee-buckling shade of taser blue…)

Ummm. Sorry. I digress.

Apricots and cherries are on their last legs in Michigan so I incorporated them into a farewell to summer salad–a nice side dish for a Labor Day barbecue.


Any of these ingredients may be substituted with whatever needs using in your fridge or pantry.

Please don’t bemoan the ingredient list. (Really? Grapefruit Vinegar?) These are simply items that were rolling around in my cupboard. Substitute what needs using up in your pantry.

For example:

Goat Cheese for the feta, any nut for the pistachio, couscous for cracked wheat, any fruit-enhanced vinegar for the grapefruit, peanut or walnut oil for the hazelnut, garbanzos for the black beans…and so on and so forth.

Recipe: Cracked Wheat Salad with Fresh Fruit, Black Beans and Feta


  • 3/4 cup dried black beans, (1, 8-ounce can drained beans may be substituted)
  • 6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 scant teaspoon finely chopped shallot
  • 1/4 cup fruit-infused vinegar
  • Apx. 10 small apricots, washed, pitted and sliced
  • Apx. 16 fat, sweet cherries, washed, pitted and sliced
  • 1 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/2-1 cup loosely packed fresh mint or parsley, washed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup hazelnut oil
  • Cayenne


  1. Soak beans in 3 cups of water at least 6-8 hours. Drain liquid, rinsed, sort and place in a pan filled with 3 cups salted water. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook 1-2 hours or until beans are tender.

2.  Cook cracked wheat (bulgur) according to package instructions.

3.  Macerate shallot in vinegar 15 minutes.

4. Combine cooked beans, cracked wheat, feta, apricots, cherries, pistachios and 1/2 cup of mint of parsley.

5. To make a vinaigrette, whist oil into shallot-vinegar mixture. Toss with salad and then season to taste with kosher salt, cayenne and additional mint or parsley, if desired.

Soak beans time: 6-8 hours

Cook beans time: 1-2 hours

Assemble salad time: 30 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 6-8 SERVINGS

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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