Cooking With Honey – Honey Baked Apples

baked honey crisp apple

 

Baked apples are one of my very favorite desserts!  They’re even better when made with honey!!

Ingredients

3 1/2 cups apple cider

3/4 cup honey (preferably 100 percent raw honey from a small producer)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

Pinch freshly ground pepper

6 unpeeled baking apples, halved and cored with a melon baller (try Honeycrisp, Mutsu aka Crispin, or Pink Lady aka Cripp’s Pink)

1/2 cup golden raisins, craisins or currants

1/2 cup dried apricots, julienned

6 whole cloves

2 or 3 star anise pods

2 to 3 cinnamon sticks, optional

Directions

In a medium saucepan, combine the apple cider, honey, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 25 minutes or so, or until mixture is syrupy and reduced to about 2 2/3 cups.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the apples, cut side down, in a 12-inch baking pan. Distribute the raisins, apricots, cloves, star anise, and cinnamon sticks, if using, over the apples. Pour the hot syrup over the apples. Cover the pan with aluminum foil.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until the apples are almost tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Remove from the oven, turn the apples over, and baste apples with the apple syrup, allowing the apples to absorb the flavor. Let the pan stand, covered, for 15 minutes. Serve baked apples with the liquid and dried fruits spooned over them in a bowl. Served with whipped heavy cream or ice cream and a sprinkle of powdered sugar.

Cooking With Honey – Honey Granola Bars

hungry-boy-granola-bar-mhlb2026_vert

Since last summer I’ve been trying to come up with a really good granola bar recipe. I think I’ve found it! 

Yield:  12 to 16 bars

Ingredients

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal

1 cup sliced almonds

1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed

1/2 cup toasted wheat germ

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup honey

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup chopped raisins

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional!)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.

Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Place the butter, honey,vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the raisins, apricots, and cranberries (and chocolate chips if using) and stir well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.

My Bees Are Flying!

Thanks to the Polar Vortex it’s been abnormally arctic in Southwestern Ohio this year.  We aren’t used to this kind of heavy snow, ice and below zero temperatures.

Local beekeepers are understandably anxious. Are their hives still alive? Will the bees make it until the dandelions start blooming? Should they have winterized more?  Or in my case, winterized at all?

I went into December with two healthy hives. I started the season with four.

One of my hives never really got going, and the other was robbed by its next door neighbor. Needless to say, I’ll be moving those hives farther apart this year!

Over the past few days we’ve finally gotten some blessedly warm weather. Last Friday it hit 59 degrees, and with great trepidation, I ventured out to my backyard (aka Mt. Everest) to survey the bee situation. I was delighted to discover that both hives appear to be thriving!

I didn’t harvest any honey last Fall, so I’m pretty sure the bees have enough food for now.  Nonetheless I’m planning to open the hives up for few minutes today to do a quick check and and slip in some fondant.

It was too sunny to get good pictures, but if you look closely you can see my happy girls flying. Happy Bee Season!!

My "Beautiful Beehives" are in need of a new paint job!

My “Beautiful Beehives” are in need of a paint job!

Buzzing Away!

Buzzing Away!

The hive on the right is thriving. The hive on the left not so much...

The hive on the right is thriving. The hive on the left not so much…

Happy girls!

Happy girls!

Cat visits her bees!

Cat visits her bees!

Cooking With Honey – Green Lasagna Bolognese

green lasagna bolognese

It’s unspeakably cold outside. My tiny dog Albert refuses to go outside, and I’m reduced to following him around with a paper towel and a bottle of Nature’s Miracle. It seems as if Spring will never come.

Albert

Albert

The only thing I want right now is a big dish of Green Lasagna Bolognese a la Marcella Hazan. This is her recipe with a few tweaks of my own. Try and find DeCecco Spinach Lasagna. It’s worth the hunt!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese

16 ounces Spinach Lasagna Noodles

Bechamel Sauce:

3 cups milk

6 tablespoons butter

4 1/2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

Bolognese Sauce:

1 Tb. oil

3 Tb. butter

1/2 c. chopped onion

2/3 c. chopped celery

2/3 c. chopped carrot

3/4 lb. ground beef chuck (not too lean)

1 c. whole milk

nutmeg

1 c. dry white wine

1 large can San Marzano-style Italian plum tomatoes, cut up with their juices

2 tablespoons honey

Directions:

Bolognese Sauce:

Put oil, butter and onion in pot and turn heat to medium. Cook until onion is translucent, then add celery and carrot. Cook for 2 min.

Add the ground beef, a large pinch of salt, & a few grindings of pepper. Crumble the meat with a fork and cook until beef has lost its raw, red color.

Add the milk and let simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. Add about 1/8 tsp. nutmeg and stir.

Add the wine, let simmer until evaporated, then add the tomatoes and honey. When tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down and cook uncovered at the merest simmer for a long, long time (no less than 3 hours!). Stir from time to time. If it starts to stick, add 1/2 c. water whenever necessary.

Bechamel Sauce:

Put milk in a saucepan, turn heat to medium, and bring to the verge of a boil.

While heating milk, put butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and turn heat to low. When melted, add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon. Cook, while stirring constantly, for about 2 min. Do not allow flour to color. Remove from heat.

Add the hot milk to the flour/butter mixture, no more than 2 Tb. at a time. Stir steadily and thoroughly. Once the first 2 Tb. have been incorporated, repeat this process 2 Tb. at a time until 1/2 c. has been incorporated. Then, you can begin adding milk 1/2 c. at a time until all incorporated.

Place the pan over low heat, add salt, and cook, stirring constantly until sauce is like thickened (like the consistency of sour cream).

Assembly:

Preheat oven to 400.

Cook pasta until barely al dente. Place immediately into cold water to stop cooking. Dry noodles before placing into pan.

Spread the bottom of a 9″x12″  lasagna pan with 1 Tb. of bechamel. Line the bottom of pan with one layer of noodles.

Combine the bolognese and bechamel sauces and spread a coating on the pasta. Sprinkle some grated Parmesan, then add another layer of noodles. Repeat the procedure of spreading sauce and Parmesan and noodles. There should be about six layers. Leave enough sauce to spread a thin layer on top at the end. Sprinkle with Parmesan and dot with butter. (This can be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated.)

Bake on top rack until golden crust forms on top, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to settle for 10 min. before serving.

Cooking With Honey – Sausage And Potato Gratin

sausage and potato gratin

It’s so cold and snowy in Cincinnati! I want something rich and soothing like this Sausage and Potato Gratin. This is an adaptation of one of Julia Child’s recipes. Make sure to slice the potatoes and sausage extra thin. I use a mandoline!

Serves:  4-6 people

Ingredients:

2/3 cup minced yellow onions

2 tablespoons butter

1 lb. Russet potatoes, sliced very thin

2-3 uncooked mild Italian sausages, cut into thin slices (put them into the freezer for 10 minutes or so before slicing.)

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 cup grated Gruyère cheese  (you may substitute Swiss cheese.)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter an 8×8 baking dish.

In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until tender but not browned.

In the prepared baking dish, spread half of the sliced potatoes on the bottom. Spread half of the cooked onions over the potatoes. Place all of the uncooked sausage slices over the onions. Top the sausages with the rest of the onions, and then the rest of the potatoes.

Crack the three eggs into a medium bowl, and beat with a whisk just to break them up, about 5 seconds. While still whisking the eggs, pour in the cream. Add the 1 teaspoon honey, the 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the 1/8 teaspoon of pepper, and whisk to combine. Pour the egg and cream mixture into the filled baking dish, and shake to distribute the liquid, if necessary.

Sprinkle the Gruyère over the casserole.  Bake for 55 minutes in the upper third of the preheated oven until the top is nicely browned. Enjoy!

Easy Cassoulet With Honey

cassoulet

It’s snowing in Cincinnati and getting colder by the minute. When the weather’s like this, all I want is some hearty cassoulet!  If I can’t wait until tomorrow to have it, this is the recipe I use. It’s SO good!

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 onion, thinly sliced

3 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice

3 parsnips, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1 tomato, chopped, or one 8-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped

3 15-ounce cans of great Northern, cannellini, or navy beans, drained and rinsed

5 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup plain breadcrumbs

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons salted butter, melted

Directions

In a Dutch oven (a heavy pot, usually made of cast iron, that you can use on the stovetop and in the oven), heat the oil over medium heat. Cook the sausage until well browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Remove and drain on paper towels; set aside.

Pour out the excess oil from the Dutch oven. Add the chicken broth, vegetables, beans, thyme, honey, salt, pepper, a third of the garlic, and the sausage and return to heat. Mix well, scraping up any brown bits that have stuck to the bottom of the Dutch oven. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour, until thickened and the vegetables are tender.

Heat oven to 400° F. In a bowl, combine the bread-crumbs, parsley, butter, and remaining garlic. Sprinkle evenly over the cassoulet and place in the oven. Bake, uncovered, until the crust is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes.