RECIPE: Bourbon Caramel Apple Crumble Pie with Caramel Drizzle

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After trying a couple ideas of apple pie recipes (one of which I will post to share in a few days, it is worthy of remaking again) I landed on this pie to try and win my daughter's school's Apple Pie contest. It did not win, but I am sharing it all the same, because I think it is a worthy pie. It would make a great dessert for Thanksgiving or even Christmas. I would suggest serving it warm with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Now, this pie is a bit time consuming (what pie isn't?). But you can do some things ahead of time to make things convenient. The crumble can sit out a day at room temp or in the fridge for a week. The pie crust can be kept in the fridge for 2 days or frozen up to three months. If you premake these elements, all you need to do is defrost (or warm at room temp for 10 minutes) your dough, roll and bake your bottom crust the day of, and prepare your apples and finish. (Oh, and eat it! Enjoy!)

Bourbon Caramel Apple Crumble Pie with Caramel Pie with Caramel Drizzle


6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, chopped in 3/4 inch slices
1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. all-purpose white flour (pastry flour is even better)
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sugar
2.25 oz. cream cheese, very cold
1 Tbsp. apple juice with ice
1 1/2 tsp. cider vinegar
1 large egg white, lightly beaten

1 1/2 Tbsp. packed light brown sugar
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1/3 cup pecan halves
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
a pinch of salt

3 lbs. baking apples combined sweet/tart and sweet (I used half Pink Lady's and half Braeburns) peeled, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup bourbon
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 tsp. corn starch
18 caramel squares

Caramel Drizzle

10 caramel squares
1/8 cup of milk with a splash of apple juice

First make your crumble. Toast the pecans in a small frying pan over medium heat until they are a dark brown color. Let them cool. Add the sugars and spices into the food processor and puree. Add the pecans and flour, and add the salt. Puree again and add the butter and vanilla and puree until crumbly. Pour them into a bowl and with your fingers, press the crumble so there are different sized crumbles and set aside.

Next make your crust. Freeze your butter until solid, about a half hour or so. In a food processor, pulse the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Then add the frozen butter and pulse until the butter resembles the size of large peas. Add the cold cream cheese and pulse until the butter resembles small peas. Add the vinegar and apple juice and pulse. The mixture will be crumbly. Press it with your fingers, does it feel like with pressure it will come together? If not, add another Tbsp. of juice and pulse a little more. Add juice a Tbsp. at a time and pulse until the mixture comes together with your fingers pressing it, dump the mixture on a large saran wrap covered surface. Using the side of the wrap, push the wrap over the edges of the pile and begin pushing and pressing the dough together using the saran wrap under your hands. Eventually, have the saran wrap cover the dough, and using your hands, push it flat and then shape the dough into a flat, round shape. Work fast, you don't want the butter to melt. Once the dough is a nice shaped flat disc wrapped in saran wrap, place it in the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes.

When ready, take the dough out and let sit for ten minutes on more plastic wrap lightly dusted with flour on a work surface until the dough can be rolled out. Cover the dough with more floured plastic wrap and roll into a circle large enough to fill your baking pan. Flip the dough onto your dish, peel the bottom wrap off and gently push the dough into your pan. Crimp the edges. Cover and chill again for an hour.

Place a foil-covered baking sheet at the bottom rack of the oven. Preheat oven to 425˚ for 20 minute before baking-so I usually get it going while I prep the apples. While the pie shell is chilling, prep your apples. In a very large bowl, toss the sliced apples with the lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, bourbon and sugars. Let the apples macerate for one hour or more.

Next, bake off the pie crust. Remove crust from the fridge and unwrap. Line it with a cut-to-fit parchment paper circle and use old beans gently in the pie as weights. Place the crust right on the baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and gently take the paper and beans out. Poke the bottom and sides with the tines of a fork and bake until pale golden, about 3 more minutes. If you see some bubbles forming, poke it gently with a fork. When ready, take the crust and put it on a baking rack to cool. After 3-4 minutes, brush the bottom and sides with the egg white. Let cool down completely.


Using a fine metal sieve, pour the apples into a fine metal sieve and drain all the liquid. You should have close to a cup. Transfer the apples back into the bowl and toss with corn starch. Take the liquid and pour it into a small sauce pan. Over medium heat, add the 2 Tbsp. butter to the liquid and simmer for 15 minutes or so. The liquid will reduce down to about 1/3 cup and into a syrup. Pour the syrup back into the apples and toss. 

Meanwhile, melt the caramel in a small saucepan until it resembles a sauce. Drizzle a third of it on the bottom of your cooled pie crust. Pour half of the apples over it. Add another third of the melted caramel over the apples and pour the rest of the apples over it. 


Drizzle the rest of the caramel over the apples, then tent the pie with tin foil, crimping over the crust. Make 3-4 vent holes into the tinfoil tent. Place the pie on the baking sheet and bake for one hour. Lower the oven to 400.˚ Take the pie out, and untent the pie and make a foil ring or a crust shield around the crust. Press the crumble into the top of the pie, covering the apples. Bake for 15-20 more minutes until the top is a nice, golden color and the apples are bubbly. Let the pie cool on a rack for an hour. While it is cooling, make the caramel sauce. Melt the caramel squares in a small bowl with the milk and apple juice, microwaving it for 1 1/2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. Let sit to thicken up for 10 minutes. Using a squeeze bottle or a pastry bag with a small pen tip, drizzle the caramel all over the pie topping. Serve warm.

RECIPE: Farro Risotto with Butternut Squash and Ginger

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As some of you have probably noticed, we try and cook with whole grains when possible at our home. Because of this switch, risotto is typically out of bounds for me. It is far too starchy and affects my Crohn's disease-as well as it turns into sugar way too fast (hello cellulite?)! But I have been trying to work with Farro-or Emmer wheat-as a healthy, fiber-rich replacement. From what I understand, true Emmer wheat takes less time to cook. I have only been able to find run-of-the-mill whole wheat berries so far, so cooking time is a bit long, depending on how chewy you like your grains. So when cooking your whole wheat be sure to check on it often and add liquid if things need to go longer than you were hoping. If you can get a hold of real Emmer wheat at an Italian grocery store, grab it and use it! It is more tender and takes less time to cook.

Farro Risotto with Butternut Squash and Ginger


2 1/2 lb. Butternut squash
3-4 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper

1 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 Tbsp. Butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp. fresh finely grated ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 cups farro (Emmer wheat) or whole wheat grain
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cans (14 1/2 oz.) chicken broth (half if using Emmer wheat)
2 1/2 cups water (half liquid if using Emmer wheat)
(have more broth or liquid on hand as you go)
1/8 tsp. dried Thyme (or 1 tsp. fresh chopped)
1/8 tsp. crushed dried Rosemary (or 1 tsp. fresh chopped)
1/4 cup loosely packed chopped parsley

Preheat your oven to 350˚. Cut the squash in half. On one half, drizzle half the oil on the cut side, sprinkle some salt and pepper and put face down on a lined baking sheet. With the other half, peel and chop into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Put in a pile next to the half squash, toss with the rest of the olive oil and some more salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the squash half is fork tender. Let cool. Scoop out the squash flesh with a spoon and set all squash aside.

In a large, deep skillet over medium heat, cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil until tender. Add the grated ginger and cook until all is softened and onions are translucent. Add the grains and cook until grains are toasted to a nice gold color.


Add the wine and stir until liquid is absorbed. Then add the water and broth and herbs. Stir and cover. Cook on low for 1 1/2 hours. Watch the grains as you go, stirring occasionally. Depending on your grain and desired tenderness, you may need to add water/broth and cook them longer. We prefer our grain with a little chewiness to them, it is a nice compliment to the creaminess of the squash. However, true Emmer wheat can be as creamy as a risotto-I have had it at a restaurant where you could not tell the difference! So have extra liquid on hand and set aside enough cooking time for your grains. You can always reheat if you are done early with a little extra chicken stock.

When your grains are near done, add the squash and stir. Cook another 15 minutes or so for flavors to meld, then add the Parmesan cheese and stir. Serve warm with an extra sprinkle of cheese and a touch of parsley.

RECIPE: Carrot and Apple Ginger Soup

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I am not sure if this cooler air is here to stay, but I got the itch yesterday to make some fall-esque dishes for dinner. Today I will post one of them. This carrot and apple soup was derived from the Better Homes and Garden Family Vegetarian cookbook we have been using as of late. But I de-vegetarianized it for more flavor. I you want to keep it truly vegetarian, substitute the chicken broth for vegetable broth. Also, this dish goes quicker if you have a hand immersion blender. If you don't, you can use a food processor or a blender. Just spoon the soup in parts to puree until smooth and bring back to the pan to heat through before serving.

Carrot and Apple Ginger Soup


1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
12 oz. onion, chopped (about one large or two smaller)
3 medium Golden Delicious apples (about 1 1/2 -2 pounds)
1 1/2 -2 pounds carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 1/2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) chicken broth
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. grated fresh, peeled ginger
1 1/2 cups water
heavy cream for garnish
chopped fresh green onions or chives for garnish

In a large soup pot (5 qt.), melt butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft and tender, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, chop your carrots, and peel and chop your apples. Chop it all into rough, 1 inch pieces.

When the onions are tender, add the carrots and apple, and let simmer together until the apples begin to release their juices, about 5-7 minutes. Stir occasionally. Then add the grated ginger, sugar, salt and toss.

Then add the broth and water. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for another 15-20 minutes, or until carrots are very soft.

Turn off the heat. Use the mini blade attachment to your hand blender and gently puree in the pot until very smooth.

Serve with a tablespoon's amount of cream drizzled over and sprinkle with green onions or chives. Serve warm.

LIFESTYLE: Top 5 Survival Make-Up Items For Every Urban Domestic Diva

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Remember when you wanted to look your best in chemistry class for that special someone and had time to do it? The days of preening in between classes in the girl's bathroom at school are over for us! Lets face it, we can barely find time to actually buy make-up, let alone fix it up throughout the day. But the fact is, when we are out and about, we Urban Domestic Divas need to try and look our best with what time is allowed to us. Since becoming a Mom, I have discovered some great survival make-up that I cannot live without. Why these have made my top five list versus others is the simple fact that these are fix-it-and-forget-it, no fail beauty helpers. Once I "put on my face" in the morning, I don't need to worry about it. It does fade a little throughout the day, and if I have a big meeting or a dinner out, I do freshen up. But day to day upkeep is a very bare minimum with these stand-bys. If you have other recommendations to share, please do!

1) Overall Color for Cheeks and Lips:

Benefit Benetint
This stuff is amazing and I love it for a couple of reasons. First, it is made from rose petals and is very light. It is less damaging to your skin than other blushers. Secondly, this stuff can be used as a cheek blush and a lip stain, and with the extra color left on my sponge or fingers, I rub it on my eyelids lightly or on my forehead for an extra healthy glow. And finally, this stuff lasts all day. Seriously. You won't look like death warmed over by 3 p.m. I promise. Who has time to worry about that, anyway? Right? AND it lasts a looooong time. So you save money, too.

2) Eyeliner:
Revlon ColorStay Eyeliner

Now you may think I am partial to Revlon, but honestly, I have tried some other eyeliners, and most of it just rubbed off by noon, leaving me all smudged and looking like I was in a prize fight. They used to have a claim on this product that was "12 hours" or something, but now they just call it ColorStay. I have to admit, I don't need to touch up my eyes at all throughout the day, and I rub and touch them a lot-out of fatigue or stress. This eye pencil stays put and I still look somewhat put together by the 3 p.m. slump. I also like this pencil because it includes a sharpener at the end, so you can really get a nice line close to your lashes to really insure the affect stays put.

3) Lip Liner: 
Sonia Kashuk Lip Definer

As I have gotten older, I have realized the benefits of a lip liner. It helps define your lip shape as they age, and it also helps your lip color stay put and stay on longer. Target stores have been bringing on many designers to create affordable lines for them, and their cosmetic aisle is no exception. There are a bunch of new brands they have that I have barely scratched the surface on, but out of all the things I have tried, I do like the Sonia Kashuk Lip Definer the best. It stays put and lasts all day...all for a great price.

4) Lipstick:  
 Revlon ColorStay Ultimate Liquid Lipstick
Well, I don't know about you, but my make up drawer is a graveyard of half used lipsticks. I have tried lots of colors with lots of marketing ploys. But my biggest beef with many of them was they lasted all of 30 minutes! And I don't know about you, but I am not vain enough nor do I have time to keep putting it on all day. Now with a layer of BeneTint (see above) underneath and this Revlon Liquid Lipstick on top, I have no-worry color all day. ALL DAY. I am not kidding. I drink coffee, eat lunch, talk all day, rub my face in distress and I will have color on my lips by the end of the day. Its 7 at night right now and I still have color on my lips. It is a little dry, but it's there. I don't know what they put in there, and maybe I don't want to know. I bet this stuff stays on even after a long make-out session! (Hmm, maybe I need to try that...Oh husband?????) Seriously. It works.

5) Concealer: 
 Boi-ing Industrial Strength Concealer
on a budget? Revlon Age Defying Concealer

Both of these products have really stayed put and covered my side affects of late nights beautifully. The great thing about the Revlon product is that it has moisturizing properties to combat crows feet and such. Boi-ing is a Benefit product that is more expensive but I think covers better and lasts a little longer. That being said, it does not have all the great moisturizers that Revlon's has.

So that's what gets me through my busy days looking somewhat put together with minimal effort. Do you have some old stand-bys too. Please join the conversation! Now I am off to see how long my lipstick lasts with my husband. :)
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