Quick Stovetop Apple Crisp

Stovetop apple crisp - RazzleFrazzleBlog.com
Problem 1: Way too many apples that are about to start spoiling.
Solution 1: Make an apple crisp!

Problem 2: It’s August and it’s too damn hot to turn on the oven.
Solution 2: Make it on the stovetop in a fraction of the time.

I am a HUGE fan of all apple desserts, and apple crisp is one of my favorites. I will, of course, always favor a proper oven-baked crisp, but finding time and gas-saving shortcut for it is one of my greatest culinary achievements.

Some stovetop/skillet apple crisp recipes instruct you to cook the apples in a pan of melted butter. That’s all well and good, but I’ve always preferred apple filling that’s closer to pie, so my recipe involves making a 15-minute apple compote. Assuming you don’t burn the oatmeal crisp topping (which I have done many, many times—practice makes perfect!), the result is a delightful and tasty treat that doesn’t require you to turn your kitchen into a sauna. The only thing that makes it better? A big ol’ scoop of vanilla ice cream.

-Nicole

Stovetop Apple Crisp

Makes 4 servings

Stovetop apple crisp - RazzleFrazzleBlog.com

Ingredients

Filling:

  • 3 apples (peeled, cored and diced – McIntosh or Honeycrisp recommended)
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in cold water (should be the consistency of paste)

Topping:

  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/3 c. quick-cooking oats
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • Chopped pecans for topping (optional)

Directions

  1. In a medium pot, combine the apples, water, lemon juice, brown sugar and cinnamon.
  2. Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium heat until the apples are tender and the juices have reduced to a syrup (about 15 minutes).
  3. Add the cornstarch mixture and a pinch of salt, and stir until thickened. Remove from heat and immediately divide into 4 ramekins.
  4. While apple compote cools, melt the butter over medium heat in a small pan. When melted, add oats and brown sugar and stir continuously for 2 to 3 minutes until crunchy. Be careful: This is very easy to overcook and burn!
  5. Distribute crisp topping evenly. Serve warm with pecans on top, and maybe definitely some vanilla ice cream.

Stovetop apple crisp - RazzleFrazzleBlog.com

Sweet and Tangy Macaroni Salad

Sweet & tangy macaroni salad - RazzleFrazzleBlog.com

It’s 4th of July weekend, and I don’t know about you, but to me, that means barbecues, beers and picnic foods. Christine and I are having our families over for a celebration on Monday, and since we have a ton of household tasks to take care of between now and then, we wanted to keep our food prep pretty simple.

We decided that macaroni salad would be a great addition to our low-maintenance 4th of July menu. It takes all of about 15 minutes to make, and it requires ingredients that we pretty much always have on hand. But we didn’t want to make just any old basic macaroni salad: We wanted to kick it up a notch with one of our favorite condiments, Hickory Farms’ Honey & Pineapple Mustard.

Hickory Farms opens up a seasonal kiosk at our local mall during the holiday season, and we always end up buying gourmet food gifts for our friends and family. We picked up a bottle of this unique-looking mustard for ourselves back in December, and ever since we (finally) opened it a couple of weeks ago, we just can’t get enough of it!

This particular mustard gives the macaroni salad a wonderful sweetness from the honey and pineapple, but it still has that classic mustard flavor. Although you likely won’t find Hickory Farms products in your local supermarket, I’m sure most grocery stores carry some kind of specialty mustard like this, so I’d encourage you to experiment with whatever flavor profiles you like. The mayo base of the dressing plays well with many different flavors, so the sky’s pretty much the limit!

Whatever you’re cooking (or grilling) this holiday weekend, stay safe and enjoy the sunshine!

-Nicole

Sweet and Tangy Macaroni Salad

Adapted from Hellmann’s. Makes 4-5 side dish servings. 

 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. Hickory Farms Honey and Pineapple Mustard (you can substitute your favorite Dijon or honey mustard, depending on what flavors you like)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 cup grated carrot
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion

Directions

  1. Cook macaroni according to package directions, then drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Combine mayo, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Stir in macaroni, celery, carrot and onion.
  3. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Disclaimer: Hickory Farms did not ask us to write this post, nor were we compensated in any way for highlighting the company’s product. We just really, really love their Honey and Pineapple Mustard.

Taylor Made: Lauren’s Ombre Frosted Brownie-Blondie Cake

We haven’t done any Taylor Made projects in a while, but this beauty of a bridal shower cake has been on the books since our friends Lauren and Doug had their engagement party last year:Ombre rose bridal shower cake by Taylor Made Sweets and Treats

Lauren’s sister asked us to do a pink and purple ombre-frosted cake with buttercream roses and cake pull* charms. Buttercream roses? No problem. Ombre frosting? Not too hard, we can manage. Even the cake pull would be a cinch, since we did it for Jackie’s bridal shower cake a couple years back. The only catch was the cake itself: Lauren wanted a half brownie, half blondie cake.

*If you’re not familiar with cake pulls, Haydel Bakery offers a great history of this Southern tradition on its blog.

We’ve made brownies and blondies as bars many times before. But there’s a ton of variation from recipe to recipe. Most cake recipes will yield a pretty similar finished product, but brownies and blondies can range in density and texture, from fluffy and cake-like, to dense and chewy. Our challenge, therefore, was to find the two perfect recipes to produce brownies and blondies with close enough textures that they made sense as a single dessert.

Since neither of us is a professionally trained baker (oops), I tried to think back to my days as a food studies minor at NYU. We spent a good six weeks of one class learning all about baking and the different textures produced by different orders and combinations of ingredients. I wish I could tell you that I remembered a random nugget of information that would help me, but it was actually the undisputed king of food science, Alton Brown, who came to our rescue.

Alton’s cocoa brownies have always been my go-to scratch brownie recipe. They’re rich and fudgy, but not so much that you feel like you’re eating an actual piece of fudge. So I started looking at blondie recipes that had similar proportions of fat/sugar to flour, in the hopes that they’d have approximately the same consistency. After scanning through a handful of Google search results pages, I took a chance on these blondies from Taste of Home.

We cooked a tiny bit of each batter in mini loaf pans so we could taste it and make sure it worked. By sheer dumb luck, we hit the jackpot, and the brownie and blondie ended up working really well together.

Ombre rose bridal shower cake by Taylor Made Sweets and Treats

The winning brownie and blondie recipes, stacked and filled with homemade chocolate buttercream, and cake pull charms in between the layers.

With baking complete, we mixed up our colored buttercream and started piping. To really get the ombre effect, we started with a base frosting of very light pink, and added color to it as we went. We refilled the piping bag with the new colors as we mixed them, so it would blend with the previous color’s leftovers. I wrote a little more about the process on the TMST blog, if you’re interested.

Ombre rose bridal shower cake by Taylor Made Sweets and Treats Ombre rose bridal shower cake by Taylor Made Sweets and Treats Ombre rose bridal shower cake by Taylor Made Sweets and Treats

We ended up with a beautiful, decadent and totally delicious cake. 10/10, would make this again. Anyone need a brownie/blondie cake?🙂

-Nicole

Ombre rose bridal shower cake by Taylor Made Sweets and Treats

The Razzle Frazzle Remixed: Patriotic Edition

For those of you who haven’t been following us for very long, that little red and blue drink you see on all our social media accounts (and as our site icon) is called The Razzle Frazzle. It’s an original cocktail recipe that we created as our “signature shot,” and was the very first recipe we published on the blog back in 2013.

A couple of months ago, I received an email from Gina Elise, the founder of the non-profit organization Pin-Ups For Vets. She wrote to tell me how much she loved our site, especially the patriotic-looking Razzle Frazzle. She wondered if there was any way to create a white layer to make it red, white and blue, as an even more visually accurate nod to our nation and its armed forces.

Pin-Ups For Vets

Isn’t their logo adorable?! (Credit: Pin-Ups For Vets)

Gina’s work is truly creative and inspiring. For the last 11 years, Pin-Ups For Vets has been publishing an annual calendar featuring fun, colorful photos of U.S. veterans dressed in 1940s-style military uniforms and vintage attire. The proceeds of calendar sales fund the organization’s veteran and troop initiatives, such as donating equipment to military hospitals, shipping care packages to deployed troops and working with homeless veteran shelters. They also do a lot of in-person veteran outreach with their 50-state VA Hospital Tour, as well as “pampering days” for female veterans and military wives. Gina sent me this clip from The Queen Latifah show, in which Pin-Ups For Vets makes over Army veteran Captain Katie Robinson, who has an incredibly moving story.

To celebrate veterans like Captain Robinson, active military members like my sister-in-law Erin, and all those who have served our country, I decided to take on Gina’s challenge and revamp the original Razzle Frazzle for Memorial Day. This one replaces the half-and-half with pina colada mix for a light, summery coconut flavor.

Here’s how to make your very own red, white and blue Razzle Frazzle shot to enjoy over the holiday weekend. But before you do, be sure to thank a veteran!

-Nicole

The Razzle Frazzle – Patriotic Edition

Makes 1 shot

The Razzle Frazzle - Patriotic Edition

Ingredients
1/2 oz. berry schnapps
1/2 oz. rum (we used Malibu)
1 oz. pre-made pina colada mix
Splash of Curacao
Splash of grenadine syrup

Directions
Stir schnapps, rum and pina colada mix together and pour into a small glass.

Add a splash of grenadine to the glass (the grenadine will sink). Then, pour Curacao into a small spoon and carefully drip it into the glass. It should suspend itself in the pina colada layer as pictured above.

Garnish with a fresh raspberry if desired.

The Razzle Frazzle Patriotic Edition (with Tina the Morkie)

Happy Memorial Day from Tina and the Razzle Frazzle Team!

The Razzle Frazzle - Patriotic Edition

Review: Inspired By Happiness Gluten-Free Cakes

Inspired by Happiness Gluten-Free Cakes - RazzleFrazzleBlog.com ReviewAs bakers, we know all too well that trying to adjust dessert recipes to eliminate food allergens can be tricky. We once learned the hard way that you absolutely cannot make a proper mousse using lactose-free milk, and that misuse of xanthan gum can give a gluten-free cupcake the texture of rubber cement.

Although we ourselves don’t suffer from severe food allergies, several of our close friends and family members do, and we always find ourselves searching for—and constantly being disappointed by—delicious desserts we can share with them. Even when we purchase something ready-made from the grocery store, most of the products taste nothing like the “real thing.”

We were recently approached by Inspired by Happiness to try their gluten-free cakes. Created by The Original Cakerie, Inspired by Happiness (IBH)’s decadent three-layer cakes are made with rice flour, potato starch and tapioca starch. IBH adds in with natural flavors and colors, and other premium ingredients for a treat that’s certified gluten-free by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.

According to IBH’s taste-test data, 9 out of 10 people who tried the company’s regular and gluten-free versions of their cakes couldn’t tell the difference between them. We were only too happy to put this statistic to the test by sampling the cakes. After all, who better to judge cakes than aspiring professional cake decorators?

Skeptical though we were about the claim that we “won’t believe it’s gluten-free,” the Razzle Frazzle team tried each of IBH’s three cake flavors: Dreamin’ of Strawberries White Chocolate ShortcakeDreamin’ of Chocolate Dark & White Chocolate Layer Cake, and Cravin’ for Cookies & Cream Layered Cake. Here’s what we thought.

Strawberry White Chocolate Shortcake

THE CAKE: Vanilla shortcake with strawberry filling and Belgian white chocolate mousse, topped with whipped cream and white chocolate drizzle.

Inspired by Happiness Strawberry White Chocolate Shortcake Inspired by Happiness Strawberry White Chocolate Shortcake

Christine: The filling is so fresh. It’s a little stiffer than regular cake, but much nicer than any other gluten-free cake. It doesn’t taste like it had ever been frozen, either.

Danielle: It’s like they smashed up fresh strawberries and spread them on the cake! Agree with the firmer consistency, but it’s not in an off-putting way.

Nicole: This is amazing. The filling is incredible. I’m not really getting much of a white chocolate flavor in the middle. It tastes more like buttercream. You can definitely taste the white chocolate in the topping, though.

Chocolate Layer Cake

THE CAKE: Dark chocolate sponge cake with Belgian white chocolate mousse, topped with chocolate ganache and white chocolate drizzle.

Inspired by Happiness Dark & White Chocolate Layer CakeInspired by Happiness Dark & White Chocolate Layer Cake

Christine: This is a very fluffy cake. It’s much spongier than I expected. The ganache is super rich.

Danielle: The cake is very dark chocolate, which is good. I’m not tasting much white chocolate here.

Nicole: The ganache is definitely very indulgent and flavorful. It’s too chocolatey for me, but for a chocolate-lover, this would be perfect.

Cookies & Cream Layered Cake

THE CAKE: Vanilla sponge cake with chocolate cookie cubes and vanilla cream mousse, topped with chocolate ganache and white chocolate drizzle.

Inspired by Happiness Cookies & Cream Layered Cake

Inspired by Happiness Cookies & Cream Layered CakeChristine: This is very light and fluffy. The vanilla cream mousse has a very light flavor, which offsets the richness of the ganache.

Danielle: The mousse is nice and light! It strikes a good balance.

Nicole: This mousse filling is more like whipped cream, but I like it. The cookie cubes are softer than I expected, too. I thought it’d be like Oreos.

Overall thoughts

We have to hand it to IBH: We really can’t believe these are gluten-free! We even shared the cakes with our parents (without telling them they were gluten-free), and even they couldn’t believe that what they’d just eaten wasn’t made with regular wheat flour. These moist, delectable desserts are perfect for any cake lover, gluten-free or not.

We did leave the cakes in the fridge for a few days after our initial taste test, and when we tried them again, we found that they were just as delicious as the first time around. They hadn’t dried out or stiffened up, so it’s great to know that these cakes will hold up if you want to enjoy them over the course of the week.

While the strawberry white chocolate shortcake was the unanimous favorite, we would recommend any of IBH’s flavors. None of the cakes tasted artificial and there was no hint of preservatives. In fact, we’d say they tasted like they came fresh from a bakery.

More about Inspired by Happiness cakes

IBH sells its cakes in individually-packaged 16-oz. slices (6 servings each). Cakes can be enjoyed within 5 days of purchase, or kept fresh for up to 6 months in the freezer. If frozen, thaw your cake in the refrigerator overnight, or at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.

It’s important to note that, while the cakes are certified gluten-free and Kosher, they do contain dairy and other potential allergens, so please check the ingredient listing before consumption if you have food sensitivities.

IBH cakes are available in select retail locations in the U.S. and Canada. To learn more about IBH/The Original Cakerie, including where to purchase the cakes, visit the Inspired by Happiness website.

Disclosure: Inspired By Happiness provided us with samples of their cakes for the purpose of a review. Razzle Frazzle received no monetary compensation for writing this post, and all opinions are our own.

Cheesy Sausage Bread Bowl Dip

There are few food vessels more perfect than a bread bowl. The lazy person in me loves that there’s one less dish to wash, and the ever-hungry person in me loves the idea of devouring the crust when the bowl is empty.

Aside from all that, it’s just a proven fact* that a hollowed-out sourdough loaf is the ideal delivery device for rich, savory comfort foods like creamy soups (looking at you, Panera), delicious dips and, as it turns out, Italian sausage.

My grandmother has made this sausage-and-cheese dip every holiday season for as long as I can remember. She came down with the flu this past December and was too sick to host Christmas, so I’ve had a serious craving for the Christmas Bread Bowl ever since. So I dug up her recipe (which I published on Healthy Way to Cook/Fresh Healthy Eats when I was working there) and wanted to share it with you.

The best part about this appetizer is you kind of can’t go wrong. It’s very tough to mess up, and the bread bowl makes what is essentially a pile of meat, cheese and sauce look super fancy and pretty. You can eat it plain, or spread it on the chunks of bread that you scoop out of the loaf (both ways are equally delicious). Be warned though: This stuff disappears really fast, so I’d advise making a couple of batches.

-Nicole

*not actually a scientifically proven fact

Cheesy Sausage Bread Bowl Dip

Cheesy sausage bread bowl dip - RazzleFrazzleBlog.com

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 pounds turkey sausage, cut into bite-size pieces
2 cups tomato sauce
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese (reserve some for top)
1 large round sourdough loaf

Directions
Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Cook garlic and onions about 5 minutes or until translucent and set aside.

In same skillet, cook sausage over medium-high heat for 12-15 minutes or until no pink remains. Set aside. While sausage cooks, hollow out the sourdough loaf and cut the bread into small pieces to serve alongside the dip.

Combine tomato sauce, tomatoes and seasonings in a saucepan. Add garlic, onions and sausage and simmer on low for 5-7 minutes, or until thoroughly heated. Once heated, add mozzarella and stir until melted in.

Remove from heat and spoon dip into bread bowl, topping with more mozzarella.

Featured on Healthy Way to Cook

Blue Apron Winners + Happy Razzle Frazzle-versary!

First of all, we’d like to thank everyone who entered our Blue Apron anniversary giveaway. We have selected our five winners. We hope you enjoy your first delivery!

rf-ba-winners

Secondly, we’d like to express our gratitude to all our readers, old and new, who have followed Razzle Frazzle over the last three years. We started this blog mostly for our own amusement, but we are so thrilled to know that people actually come here and read about our recipes, crafts and life. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

As always, we’d like to kick off Year 4 by re-sharing the drink that started it all, The Razzle Frazzle.

The "Razzle Frazzle" shot

The Razzle Frazzle

-1/2 oz. berry schnapps
-1 oz. Malibu
-1 oz. half-and-half
-Splash of Curacao
-Splash of grenadine
-Fresh raspberry

Stir schnapps, Malibu and half and half together and pour into a small glass. Add a splash of Blue Curacao, then a splash of grenadine syrup (the grenadine will sink to create a layered effect). Garnish with a fresh berry.

-Nicole, Christine & Danielle (a.k.a. The Razzle Frazzle Team)

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