Baked Apple Turnovers

I made these turnovers last week as I had a bag of frozen apple slices that wanted using, as well as a puff pastry dough that had been sitting in the fridge a couple days while I decided what to do with it.  These turned out delicious, and well worth keeping the recipe on hand for the next time – and so I share it here!  I found several recipes online, but most call for deep-frying; I don’t do grease.  Baking them is healthier, ecologically as well as medically, and they come out tasting like the apple pie pockets from a well-known fast-food chain restaurant – except I know exactly what goes into these, no chemicals or unpronounceable ingredients involved. They only take about 10 minutes to prepare and would be a great dessert for guests, or a quick toss-together when you’ve got withering apples to use up.

For a real treat, serve these warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.  Enjoy!

Apple Turnovers

Baked Apple Turnovers

3-4 apples, peeled, cored and finely diced

4 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1 sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry

A bit of milk or cream for brushing

Prepare the apples as instructed; then toss together with the sugar and spices.

Roll out the pastry dough, and score with a knife to cut into 6 squares.

Spoon a bit of the mixture into the centre (off just a bit, as you’ll fold it at the centre), keeping it away from the edges.  Fold over corner-to-corner into a triangle, and press the open edges together with the tines of a fork.  Repeat until all are done, spreading them evenly on a baking tray lined with baking paper.  Brush the tops with a bit of milk or cream (or egg wash).

Bake at 180°C (350°F) for ~30-40 minutes, or until golden brown.

Makes 6 turnovers.

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Tuna Salad

tuna-salad

Credit: Pinterest

Today I went to a friend’s house to show/help her learn how to make my Bread & Butter Pickles.  I was thinking of all the ways I use these versatile preserves, and one of the things that came to mind is tuna salad:  It can be eaten straight as a main lunch dish, or on bread, or in a tortilla for a sandwich wrap (just top with a bit of torn lettuce and you’re good to go), as a side dish for other main dishes, or even as a dip with crackers as a simple apéro.  The pickles make a lovely addition to this salad; I usually take a whole jar of the pickles, dump it into a blender on high for a couple seconds, and wha-la, a jar of pickle relish!  The relish and juice make the tuna salad snap with taste.

The great thing about this mix is that it can be kept in the fridge for several days; it makes a great, healthy & quick lunch (for adults or kids), a healthy nibble when you just need a bite or two, and can be served in so many ways.

So here’s my recipe for this simple mix; the amounts are really about taste, but I’ll give you an approximation of what I do, and you can add or subtract according to your own tastes.  Word to the wise:  The tuna juice is best used by dividing it evenly into small bowls and given to your cats. 🙂

Tuna Salad

2 cans of tuna in salt water, drained & mashed apart with a fork.

~1/2-3/4  C. mayonnaise (whatever your favourite kind is)

1-2 shallots, finely chopped

~1 Tbs. lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

1-3 Tbs. pickle relish with juice

Mix all together in a glass or plastic bowl (not metal – the citric acid, and vinegar from the pickles will react with that).  That’s it!  Add a sprinkle of fresh or dried chives for a contrasting colour as a garnish if you want to dress it up a bit for company.

Enjoy!

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Quick & Easy 3-Bit Frosting

FrostingThis frosting is so stinkin’ easy, it’s really my only go-to frosting when I want to top off a great cake or cupcakes!  No cooking, no fuss, no special ingredients – just straightforward frosting, whether you need a lot or a little.

Quick & Easy 3-Bit Frosting

1 pint (~475 ml.) heavy cream, well chilled
1 cup sifted icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat the chilled cream until frothy.  Add the icing sugar and vanilla gradually while beating.  Add in your preferred flavourings, and whip until light and a thick enough consistency to spread as an icing.  Chill until ready to use, and spread onto a cooled cake or cupcakes.  Serve immediately, or keep in a cool place (or the cream will melt).

Additional Possibilities:

CHOCOLATE 1
1/2 cup cocoa, sifted in with the icing sugar

CHOCOLATE 2
1/2 bar of your favourite chocolate, gradually melted/stirred/melted stirred in the microwave on a low setting.  Pour into the basic mix, and whip again until stiff.  Adjust sugar downward accordingly.

COFFEE
1 tablespoon instant coffee, dissolved in the cream

LEMON
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 finely grated lemon, rind of, in place of the vanilla

ORANGE
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1 finely grated orange, rind of, in place of the vanilla

NUT
1 teaspoon almond extract, in place of the vanilla
3/4 cup minced nuts, of your choice, folded in

TIPSY
1 -2 tablespoon brandy or 1 -2 tablespoon rum or 1 -2 tablespoon Bourbon, in place of the vanilla (For extra tipsy, pierce the cake layers and dribble with more of the same type of liquor and let stand)

 

Quick & Easy Potato Salad

DSCN5023There are probably as many potato salad recipes out there as there are picnic baskets; everyone has their preferences.  I like a salad that is simple, allows the flavours to meld into one that support the main ingredient, the potato.  This goes well with any kind of grill meat, from bratwurst to beef to chicken, or with any vegetarian meal.  I make this any season I feel like it, so there!  You only need potatoes and either cream or plain yogurt on hand – chances are that you’ve already got everything else in your cupboard.

Quick & Easy Potato Salad

6-8 medium-sized potatoes, diced into bite-sized bits

1 red onion, coarsely chopped

1-2 tsp. Vegetable bouillon

Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until the potatoes are edibly soft (~10 minutes).  Drain, allow to cool.

In the meantime, mix the following:

200 grams crème fraiche or plain yogurt

A sprinkle or three of chives

~2 tsp. Dijon mustard

~2-3 Tbs. Mayonnaise

A bit of pickle juice, or relish (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix in a bowl; when the potatoes are fairly cooled-to-warm, toss into the cream mixture, then spice to taste.  Serve either warm or chilled.

The following day, the potatoes will have soaked up the liquids; just add a bit more cream or yogurt.

En Guete!

Swiss Christmas “Samichlaus” Gift Bags

 

Swiss Samichlaus & Schmutzli

A Swiss Santa Claus and Schmutzli, in traditional costume.

Here in Switzerland, Santa has come and gone!  In Zürich alone, the Swiss Santas (“Samichlaus”) will make roughly 1,000 visits this year; within a few days around 6 December each year, just over 30 Santas, 50 Schmutzli and 50 drivers are underway.  Now I’m fairly certain most of my readers are familiar with Santa; but here in Switzerland, his helper is called Schmutzli.  Parents throughout the land book Samichlaus and his assistant, “Schmutzli”, and fill in a form for their children:  Names, ages, their favourite subject in school, and the most important questions:  What have the children improved in since the last visit by Samichlaus, and where do they need to improve?  Making their bed, cleaning their room, being nice to their siblings, or sharing more often?  The Samichlaus und his assistants (often two Schmutzli, who are the “coal” bearers, and often have blackened faces, and carry large baskets with some coal, a besom broom, and room for gifts given back to them by grateful parents!) go to the home at the appointed time, and sit down to speak with each child, reading from a great book they carry with them.  Each child is then given a “Samichlaus” bag, and perhaps a gift sponsored by the parents.

Thomas Fetz, local Schmutzli. Image Credit: Migrosmagazin

Thomas Fetz, local Schmutzli. Image Credit: Migrosmagazin

Since 6 December is the official Samichlaus Day, it is customary on that day to give “Samichlaussäckli” (Santa Claus Bags) to friends, family, neighbours and coworkers.  They are great winter gifts to take when visiting friends, and so I thought I would share it here with you, to spread Christmas cheer!

Swiss Samichlaus-Bag:Swiss Samichlaussäck

Peanuts in the shell (whole walnuts are also traditional, but optional)

Mandarin Oranges, apples

Individually wrapped chocolates

Homemade Christmas cookies, wrapped in clear plastic

Options:  Gingerbread men, marzipan fruits, or pralines

 

The traditional bag is made of burlap, though cloth or plastic will work well too.  Fill the bags, and put a note on them if you’re going to leave them at a neighbour’s door, or on a co-worker’s desk.  Enjoy the joy of giving!  And Merry Christmas!

Some bags I prepared for my husband's coworkers; the santa claus is a chocolate ornament hanging on our tree.

Some bags I prepared for my husband’s co-workers (mandarin oranges are hiding in there somewhere!); the Santa Claus is a chocolate ornament hanging on our tree.

 

Quick & Easy Homemade Cough & Throat Medicine

Apple Cider Vinegar 1 Honey Benefits

It’s that time of year again in the northern hemisphere – winter.  And with it comes colds, flus, and sore throats.  Besides being an author / editor / translator, I’m a vocal coach, and so I deal with more than a fair share of throat issues.  I have a number of tips and tricks for healing throats quickly, but one of the best medicines I know of is what I share with you here; we’ve used this for a few years now, and I’ll never go back to chemically-produced, expensive products!

Homemade Cough & Throat Medicine

1 part apple cider vinegar (make sure to use the unfiltered kind, with the ‘mother’ – it should be cloudy, not clear)

1 part honey (I use acacia honey for a neutral taste)

A bottle (I use an old Vick’s Nyquil bottle, relabelled!)

That’s it!  If you want to add a bit of filtered water, you can, but it’s better straight-up.  Adjust the amount of honey for your own use, but try to keep the proportions fairly even.  Store in a bottle, shake well before using, and drink as much as needed; I keep a small plastic cup with the bottle for each person in the household.  I good swig of it every few hours alleviates the soreness, dryness and scratchy throat feeling; the great thing about this all-natural product is that you can take it as often as needed, with no limits to dosages per day.  Start off with a tablespoon three times a day, and adjust as warranted by your situation.

HOW TO Clean your Oven, Quick & Easy

Baking sodaOnce in a while, things cook over; it happens to the best of us!  There is the immediate problem of needing to continue the baking process for what’s still in the pan, and that fact will also force you to burn the spillage.  So I have two solutions, one for each phase:

1) When the spillage has happened, and you don’t want to fill the house with that burnt smell, just pull out the baking goods temporarily, sprinkle cinnamon onto the spillage, and then return the dish to continue baking.  The house will smell like warm cinnamon.

2)  Next, when the deed is done, and the oven has cooled down, take some baking soda and sprinkle onto the burnt debris; if it’s drizzled down the sides of the oven, just damp them with a bit of water and then rub some baking soda onto them with the damp towel.  For the floor-spillage, squeeze a bit of water onto the baking soda, then close the door and let it work for a few minutes; usually 10 minutes is enough, and you’ll learn by practice how long you need for your sized messes!  Take a non-abrasive sponge or a kitchen wash cloth, and wipe it down.  You may need to repeat it once or twice more, but it saves back-breaking scrubbing, and won’t damage your oven.

The baking powder works amazingly fast, and it’s a natural product; no fumes, no chemicals!