Apple Cinnamon English Muffin Bread

No more blueberries.  No more strawberries.  Yes, there are a few raspberries left but they'll be gone soon too.  It's apple's turn.

I make my own English muffins.  They are easy to make and taste better than anything in a package in the grocery store.  If you want to see how I make them, click HERE.

When I saw this recipe for Apple Cinnamon English Muffin bread I just had to try it.

We picked up some beautiful Sweet Tango apples at Farmer's Market, some for eating, one destined for this bread.

Here is a link to the recipe:
Apple Cinnamon English Muffin Bread

This bread is easy!  Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Chop up your apple and add it to the dry ingredients then add the warm apple cider and stir until just combined.

The sticky batter is placed in a loaf pan that has been dusted with corn meal.

After about an hour and a half it is ready to go in the oven.  I have a larger loaf pan so it didn't rise over the top like some breads do.

The house smelled like fall while this was baking.  

The hardest thing for me to do with fresh bread is wait for it it cool so I can slice into it.  I was a very good girl this time!

I love this bread.  It has all the nooks and crannies English muffins should.  The apples don't all sink to the bottom and there's plenty of cinnamon flavor.

So you know what's next don't you?  Can I use this recipe to make my traditional English muffins?!  Yes, I'll be experimenting with that!

Letting Go

It's cold in Minnesota.  The last three weekends we've been out of town and I was missing Farmer's Market.  I was really worried that all I would see this weekend was squash but I got lucky.  In addition to a lot of squash, there were raspberries and our favorite corn folks were still there.  Eichten's will be coming until Halloween and then they are going to try an indoor market in Oakdale this winter.  Oh yeah!  I won't have to go all winter without their amazing cheese!


 And look at this cauliflower.  It looks like it has been spray painted purple! 

And of course Laurie from Golden Fig and the amazing Danny Klecko from St. Agnes Baking were there too.

Forty degrees.  That was the temperature Saturday morning.  It's early September it shouldn't be 40 degrees.  I'm not ready for fall.  I want more blueberries and corn on the cob.  I don't want to wear a hat and mittens when I go to Farmer's Market.  I'm not ready.

But then I see all the pumpkin posts on Pinterest.  I remember the yummy squash dishes and the comforting food of fall and winter and I decide I have to embrace fall.

My first fall dish this year was a new one.  The recipe is Pumpkin and Sage Soup.  I made it this past week, before I went to Farmer's Market and my grocery store didn't have pumpkins so I used butternut squash instead.

Here is a link to the recipe:
Pumpkin and Sage Soup

What drew me to this recipe was yes, the pumpkin, but also sage, I love sage and bacon!  Who doesn't like bacon?  And bacon and sage with squash in soup, well that sounded too good.

The soup starts off with sauteed onions.  There isn't much that smells better in the kitchen than onions cooking in butter.  To this the squash and some russet potatoes are added.  The recipe called for a pound of potatoes but one and one-quarter cups of squash.  Why weigh one and measure the other?  They are both in big chunks.  I sort of measured the chunks of squash but I weighed them too, I used about 10 ounces.  The veggies are cooked until tender in vegetable broth.

While the veggies are cooking you brown up the bacon.  I used Applegate smoked bacon.  I love this bacon and I thought a smoked bacon would be perfect in this soup.  Once the bacon is cooked and draining on paper towels you fry the sage in the bacon grease.

Yes, fry the sage in bacon grease.  The recipe called for 4 or 5 leaves.  I fried a few more that that.  I love fried sage!

When the veggies are cooked down you blend them up.  I don't own a blender but my handy, dandy stick blender worked just fine.   I added some cream and a little fresh grated nutmeg and voila, soup!  Both Dave and I loved it.  Even with the potatoes the squash flavor comes through.  We loved the smokiness and saltiness added by the bacon and then the sage.

I garnished with a fried sage leaf.  No, this isn't a pretty presentation bowl!  I made this one night after work and made dinner at the same time.  The soup went directly into a container to be taken to work the next day!


Celebrating 18 Years at Tongue In Cheek

Today my husband and I mark our 18th wedding anniversary.  18 years!  Where did they all go?  It's hard to believe we've been married that long.  I don't feel 18 years older!

To celebrate this year we decided we would do one dinner out and one dinner in.  Last night was dinner out.  We debated between a few of our favorite places and ended up going to one of our newer favorites, Tongue In Cheek on Payne in St. Paul.  We knew the food would be outstanding and we knew we'd finish the night with the Ode to the Dome dessert!

We arrived around 6:30 on a Saturday night.  The place was busy but not packed.  On our other trips to Tongue in Cheek we've eaten at the bar.  We decided since it was our anniversary we'd try a table this time.  Well, we didn't have reservations and there was nothing open in the dining room until 8.  This didn't bother us.  There was plenty of room at the bar and a full docket in the dining room meant the restaurant is doing well and we're all for that!

We sat at the bar and shortly after we sat down it emptied out as people went to the dining room for their dinners.  And then it happened.  All of a sudden the place was packed!  The bar and all of the high top tables in the bar area were full, the dining area was full and the place was hopping!  I wanted to jump in and help!

The bar tender, Mike, was fantastic.  For a while he was the only person behind the bar and I don't think he stopped moving for a second.  During happy hour they do specials on their cocktail teasers.  These are tiny versions of some of their fun cocktails for just $2.  You can even get a flight.  Well, it seemed everyone in the restaurant wanted a flight.  Literally hundreds of these cute little drinks were made while we were there.  

One of the waitresses made the comment that it should slow down now since it was after 7pm and happy hour was over.  Nope.  We left about 8:30 or so and they were still making flights!

I have to note that the place was really, really busy but the staff was outstanding.  They helped each other out, had great attitudes, I didn't see any crabbiness even when a couple of glasses were dropped.  I don't know how the establishments on Payne Avenue do it (Cook, Ward 6 and Tongue in Cheek) but they hire some of the best staff we've seen in any restaurant.  They are friendly, attentive, know the food and the drinks and the help each other out!

That was the show.  What about dinner?  As always dinner was every bit as good as the service.  I asked what the vegetarian special was for the night.  It was a porcini mushroom risotto with edamame.  Mushrooms.  I don't like mushrooms.  But it sounded so good and I know how much work risotto is.  So I looked for something else.... the "Cheeky Beef Sandwich with horseradish aioli and jalapeno" or maybe the "Fried Egg Sammie?"  I'd had the salmon and the scallops before and knew they were really good.  But I really wanted the risotto, I could pick the mushrooms out, right?

Dave, of course, wanted a steak.  The market steaks for the evening were either a ribeye or a filet.  I reminded him that we were having filets the next night.  "Oh yea," he said "we're having steak tomorrow too, I'll just get the salmon."  Mike and I convinced him there was nothing wrong with eating steak two nights in a row!  Dave got the filet.

We started with the Watermelon Salad, big hunks of watermelon, multi-colored cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta cheese and balsamic glaze over greens.  This was delicious!  The combination of sweet watermelon with the salty cheese and olives and tangy balsamic was perfect over the slightly bitter greens.  Yes, we cleaned the plate.

Then our entrees came.  Just the aroma of the risotto had my mouth watering.  I can't remember what the foam on top was (I'd had some wine) but the carrot puree was the sweetest, smoothest puree I have ever eaten.  I asked how they got it so smooth, yes they strain it!  The risotto was delicious.  The edamame was cooked perfectly, it still had texture but wasn't crunchy.  The risotto was creamy and the earthiness from the mushrooms with the sweet carrot puree, well lets just say I realized after a few bites I was eating mushrooms and liking them!  I did let Dave have a few bites, he thought my dinner would be a great side to his steak.  No, I didn't let him have that much!

Dave's steak was cooked to perfection.  OK he sent it back once because it was just touch under his definition of medium and, unlike a certain other St. Paul restaurant where they refused to cook the steak more, when his came back out it was absolutely perfect!  His steak was served with roasted little potatoes.  They tasted like they were roasted in olive oil (maybe it was butter?) salt and pepper but they were tastier than mine when I roast the same way!  Dave also got some of the carrot puree and a "soy mustard" that was also delicious.  The salad served with Dave's steak was a bit too salty for me but Dave liked it.

And finally, dessert.  We'll admit it.  This is the only dessert we've tried at Tongue in Cheek.  We love it.  You can't get it anywhere else and it's TO.DIE.FOR good.  It's called "Ode to the Dome."  It is a chocolate ganache "dome" over marshmallow cream (and no it didn't come out of a jar!) with toasted peanut butter powder and more toasted marshmallow.  This time they served it with some whipped buttermilk.  The other three times we've had it there was no buttermilk and to be honest, we prefer it without.  We left the buttermilk on the plate but we scarfed down every bit of everything else!

Even after eating all that every time we'd get a whiff of something coming out of the kitchen our mouths would start watering again.
We had so much fun watching and talking to the staff.  Dinner was outstanding.  We love this place.  We love that we can come in dressed in jeans and sweatshirts or we can come in dressed up and either is just fine.  We love that you can get an $8 entree or a $15 entree depending on how the finances are flowing.  We love the well-trained, truly attentive staff and of course the food!

Thank you Mike, Ryan and everyone at Tongue in Cheek for helping us celebrate 18 years.  Tonight, I'm cooking!  Dave's getting steak again, roasted garlic and blue cheese mashed potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts.  We've decided on creme brule for dessert.

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