Bourbon Apple Crisp

This recipe is a great intro to baking for beginners, and the addition of bourbon gives the filling a luscious caramel-y kick, instantly making you look like a pro.  Oh, and did I mention your house will smell like heaven when this comes out of the oven?

The secret to this recipe is to use a combination of apples such as Granny Smith, Pink Lady and Fuji.  Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and a pinch of cinnamon on top.  And if you’re really feeling saucy, pair it with a sidecar of Bourbon. 
Ooh la la!

We featured this recipe on our pilot episode of “Sugared”.  Check it out below.

Bourbon Apple Crisp

Makes about 8 servings


For the Topping
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1  cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup golden brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter , cold and cut up into 1/2 inch squares
For the Filling
  • 3 pounds (about 5 large) apples (use a combination such as Granny Smith, Pink Lady and Fuji or your own variety based on what’s in season)
  • 1/4  cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup golden brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg*
  • 1 cup dried cherries, (optional)


Place one oven rack on the bottom slots of your oven and place a cookie sheet on rack (this will catch any spill over from your pie dish during the baking process.) Position another rack in the middle slots of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. (Don’t put the cookie sheet directly under the pie dish as this will prevent the bottom of the dessert from cooking evenly.)

For the Topping:

In large bowl, combine the flour, sugars and salt.  Mix well.
Add cold butter squares to flour mixture and begin to “pinch” butter into tiny pea-like pieces.  Mixture will eventually form into moist crumbles. This will take about 3- 5 minutes by hand.
(Note: This step can also be done using a food processor instead of by hand. Add butter squares to flour mixture in food processor and pulse mixture about 5-7 times until moist crumbles form.)
Set aside.

For the Filling:

Peel and core apples using a peeler or a paring knife.
Slice the apples thin- about 1/8 of an inch thickness- and place in large bowl.
Add the lemon juice and toss to coat apples.
Add the bourbon and toss to coat apples.
Set bowl aside.
In separate small bowl, combine flour, sugars, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Sprinkle over apple mixture and toss till well combined.
Add dried cherries and toss till combined.
In a 9 or 10 inch pie dish, transfer apple filling mixture. Generously add the crumble topping mixture, covering apples completely.

Place pie dish in oven and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Crisp is done when crumble topping is a beautiful golden brown and the filling is bubbling up around the rim of the pie dish.

Let crisp sit for at least 15 minutes to cool a bit before serving.

Using a large serving spoon, dish out portions and serve warm, preferably with vanilla bean ice cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

*Freshly grated nutmeg can be produced using a very fine grater such as a microplane.  If you do not have fresh nutmeg on hand, 1/8 teaspoon of dried nutmeg can be substituted.

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TWO WEEK Countdown To Thanksgiving 2015…

turkey day

Hey Gang!

I’m a bit late in getting out my 2-week countdown this year.  You see, I’ve been moving all last week into my beautiful new home and boxes surround me everywhere I turn at the moment.  And although I still can’t find my underwear, it should be no surprise that my entire kitchen was unpacked and ready to go the first day in my new digs.

At any rate, I promise this countdown can easily be accomplished in the 10 days we have left.  (Finding my underwear may prove to be a harder task!)

So, if hosting Thanksgiving this year makes you feel a bit overwhelmed, relax… it’s supposed to be fun!  And with a little forethought and a good game plan, it will be.

Lucy cooks!

First, here are some of my classic Turkey Day recipes.  It’s got you covered with all the essentials: Turkey, Stuffing, Sides and Dessert.  More recipes to come so keep checking in! And be sure to SUBSCRIBE (in the upper right hand corner) to this blog so you don’t miss out on any fun stuff that’s happening here at!

Click on any of these for the complete recipe:

Oven Roasted Turkey

Wild Mushroom and Spinach Bread Stuffing

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

Braised Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Lime and Maple Syrup

Bourbon Cranberry Sauce

The Best Pumpkin Pie

Apple Pie with Scotch-Spiked Cherries

Pumpkin Cheesecake Tart

Next, here’s my 2-Week Countdown.  A “to do” list and the same one I follow for my own holiday meal preparation.

By now, you’ve invited your guests right?  No?  Ok, stop reading immediately, go do that, and then come back… I’ll wait.

And here we go…


Take this whole week to get a little done each day.  By spreading it all out, it won’t seem so overwhelming.

*Get a head count of how many guests you’ll be cooking for.

*Plan your menu.  Start gathering recipes including some of  the ideas listed above.

*Order your turkey.  2 lbs/adult and 1 lb/child will guarantee some yummy leftovers.

*Choose linens, dishes, glasses, serving dishes, flatware, etc.  Make sure you have all the pots and pans you need.  Purchase or borrow from friends/family anything you’re missing this week.

*Replace any spices, baking powder or flour that has been in your pantry over a year.

*Buy wine, liquor and any other beverages you will be serving.

*Clean out your  refrigerator and freezer- you’re going to need the room!


Okay now we’re in it.  And you’ll be happy that you got so much done last week.

Early in the week:

*Finalize your menu and then make your shopping list.

*Pick up your turkey and nonperishable groceries


*If you’re dry brining your turkey with the recipe here on my blog, you’ll want to do that today and get it in the refrigerator so it gets the full 3 days of brining.


*Shop for your perishable groceries.

*Make cranberry sauce and pie crusts dough and refrigerate.  Cranberry sauce lasts for 2 weeks and the pie dough will keep for up to 5 days, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator.


*Prepare all reheatable side dishes, bake pies, prep ingredients (washing veggies, chop onions/celery, etc)

*Set the table.  I do this at the end of the night.  A nice way to wind down after all the pre-cooking.

Thanksgiving Day:

RELAX!  You’ve done the work.  All that’s left is the turkey, a side or two and the gravy.  Pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy your day.  You pulled the whole thing off!

Happy Cooking!

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Candy Corn & Peanuts

This party treat takes all of 2 minutes to prepare: that is, if you move REALLY slow.  I learned this trick from my dear friends Tom and Jenny at one of their famous Halloween parties.  The PERFECT combination of salty & sweet.

Candy Corn & Peanuts

Makes 2 cups


1 cup candy corn

1 cup salted dry-roasted peanuts


Mix candy corn and peanuts together in a bowl and serve.  Try not to eat the whole bowl in one sitting.

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Pumpkin Spice Bread

elvira and pumpkin

Throughout the month of October, my house is all about pumpkin.  Here’s what’s happening today in my kitchen…


Pumpkin Spice Bread

This bread is mildly sweet with a whole lot of spice.  I like it on its own or sometimes I’ll spread a little butter or cream cheese along with some jam to add a little something special.   
Servings: About 8


1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted (plus a little extra for greasing)

1 cup dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup toasted walnut pieces (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 9X5-inch loaf pan with a pat of butter or spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine both flours, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt.  Mix well and set aside.

In a large bowl, add pumpkin and whisk in melted butter.  Add brown sugar and whisk until combined and no lumps appear.  Whisk in eggs followed by the vanilla until all is combined.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix just until evenly combined.  Fold in nuts if using.

Pour batter into greased loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour until a fork or toothpick come out clean.

Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes and then remove bread from pan.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

*Bread can be frozen for up to a month, sealed tight in a freezer safe baggie or container.


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Pumpkin Ice Cream

Just in time for Halloween, this ice cream is a terrific treat alone but you can also have some fun adding toppings.  Freshly whipped cream, crushed graham crackers or caramel sauce would all pair nicely.  For mine (see pic below) I had some leftover Gingersnap Cookies in the freezer that I thawed and crumbled on top.

pumpkin ice cream


Pumpkin Ice Cream

Makes about 1 quart


3 cups heavy cream, divided in half
1 cup dark brown sugar, divided in half
6 egg yolks
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
1 15 ounce can 100% pure pumpkin, (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a medium sauce pot, heat HALF of the heavy cream and HALF of the sugar until it JUST begins to scald over medium heat.  Do not let boil.

In a medium to large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, remaining half of brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt.

Very slowly temper the hot heavy cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs don’t curdle.

Return entire mixture to the sauce pot and cook over low heat until the cream is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. About 7-9 minutes.

Remove sauce pot from heat and add pumpkin to the pot. Gently mix until no lumps remain. Add remaining half of heavy cream and vanilla to the pot and mix until evenly combined.

Strain entire mixture through a sieve into a large bowl.  Cool in an ice bath.

Cover mixture tightly and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour but as long as (and preferably) overnight so that the flavors can intensify.

Freeze/churn ice cream according to your ice cream maker manufacturer’s directions.

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Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

It’s the time of year when I get inspired to break out all my favorite pumpkin recipes! For a fun Autumn treat, try these yummy Pumpkin Cookies. A soft cake-like cookie topped with cream cheese frosting.

pumpkin cookies

Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes about 40 cookies


2 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)

3/4 cup white sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 15-ounce can of pumpkin (not “pumpkin pie” filling)

*Cream Cheese Frosting


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium sized bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.  Mix well and set aside.

In a mixer with paddle attachment (or a hand-held mixer) cream together butter and sugars on medium-speed for 3 minutes.  Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice to make sure all is combined evenly.

Add the egg and vanilla and mix well.  Then add the pumpkin and mix until well combined.

Turn the mixer on low-speed and slowly add in the flour mixture.  Mix just until all is combined- again, scraping down the bowl once or twice with a rubber spatula.

On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, scoop heaping tablespoons of dough, placing them about 1 1/2 inches apart.  Bake for 12-14 minutes.

Let cookies cool completely on a wire rack.

When completely cool, frost cookies.

*For a less sweet treat, these cookies are pretty delicious all on their own, unfrosted.  You can also dust a bit of powdered sugar on top instead of frosting.

**Cookies can be frozen for at least 1 month.  (If you are freezing frosted cookies, put them on a plate- unwrapped- and place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes so that the frosting can stiffen up a bit. Place sheets of parchment paper in between layers of cookies to prevent smudging the frosting.)

*Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes about 2 cups


1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup (4 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla


Using a stand mixer with paddle attachement (or a hand-held whisk) cream together the butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and salt on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Turn the mixer to low and add the vanilla until well blended. Do not overmix.

Frosting can be refrigerated for up to a week. Bring to room temperature before frosting cupcakes.

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Happy Bastille Day!!!

Tarte Tatin

In honor of Bastille Day in France, here is one of my favorite desserts to make!

The first Tarte Tatin was created in the late 1800’s at an inn just south of Paris, run by the Tatin sisters Caroline and Stephanie. Legend has it that while preparing an apple tart for her guests, Stephanie forgot to line her baking pan with crust before she put the apples in the oven and started baking. When she realized her mistake, instead of starting over, she threw a crust on top and flipped the tart upside down. Stephanie served her disaster hot from the oven as a “new creation”. It became an instant hit at the inn and the rest is dessert history.

Tarte Tatin

Serves 6-8


1 sheet frozen puff pastry (about 8-10 ounces) or you can use pie dough

3-4 lbs (about 8) medium sized firm apples such as Granny Smith, Fuji or Gala

1 stick of unsalted butter

3/4 cup sugar


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a knife, cut dough into a large circle that is 1 inch larger in diameter than the skillet you are using. Poke holes in dough with a fork, transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet and refrigerate until needed.

Peel, core and quarter the apples. (Don’t worry about apples browning since they will caramelize during baking.)

In a 9 or 10 inch cast iron skillet (or a non-stick skillet), over medium heat, melt butter. Remove from heat and stir in sugar until blended.

Arrange apples, rounded sides down, first making a tight circle around the inside edge of the pan. Pack the apples snug in the pan as they will shrink during baking. Make another circle of apples inside the first circle ,and then fill in the center of the pan with remaining apples. Cut smaller pieces of apple if needed to fill in any gaps.

Put the skillet over medium heat and cook until the sugar turns golden brown- about 15-20 minutes. Sugar will bubble. Do not stir and DO NOT TOUCH as sugar is very hot. Remove from heat and transfer the skillet to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (for spillage.) Check skillet for any apple slice gaps. If there are any, move fruit into the right place with a spoon.

Center the crust on top of the apples and loosely tuck edges under slightly along edge of pan. Be careful not to burn your fingers. Use a knife if needed.

Bake for about 30 minutes until the top of crust is golden brown.

Cool on a baking rack for 2 minutes. Run a sharp knife along the inside edge of the pan. Using potholders or oven mitts, place a serving plate (slightly larger than the skillet) on top of the skillet and quickly flip over the whole tart onto your serving platter. If any pieces of apple stick to the pan, carefully place them back where they should be on the tart.

Let cool for 10 minutes. Tarte Tatin is best served right away and hot, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. But it will also keep for a day at room temperature. Re-heat if you’d like.











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Peach Blackberry Cobbler

This 4th of July, spend more time at the party than in the kitchen with this easy-to-throw-together fruit cobbler.  A perfect ending to your holiday meal, this dish is sure to give the fireworks a run for their money.  Mine is peach and blackberry but you can get creative with the filling, choosing fruits that are fresh and in season. Blueberries and raspberries for example, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top make for a true red white and blue Independence Day dessert.  It’s so quick to make, you can have your cobbler and eat it too!

Peach Blackberry Cobbler

Makes 10-12 servings

Filling Ingredients:

3 lbs fresh peaches, cut into 1/2 inch slices (about 4 cups sliced) peeled or skins left on*

2 cups fresh blackberries

¾ cup light brown sugar, packed

3 tablespoons cornstarch

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Topping Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons white sugar

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1 inch cubes

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon white sugar for dusting


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine all filling ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Pour mixture into a 9X13 baking dish.

In another large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder and mix well.

Add cold butter cubes to flour mixture and crumble with your fingers until butter is the size of tiny peas.

Add heavy cream and gently mix to make a soft dough. 

Drop dollops of dough over fruit mixture and sprinkle dough lightly with remaining sugar.

Bake for about 40-45 minutes until biscuits are golden and the filling is bubbling.

*To peel or not to peel your peaches. I like it both ways. Peeling adds a few quick steps, and leaving the skins on will add a little pop of color to your cobbler. To peel, cut a small “X” in the bottom of each peach. Dip them in boiling water for 45 seconds, then into an ice water bath to prevent further cooking. Once cooled, remove from water and skins will slide right off.

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Mother’s Day Throwback Thursday…

Below are two of my favorite past Mother’s Day articles from my column “Dishing with Jessica” in Soap Opera Digest Magazine.  And be sure to check out this week’s issue for an exciting new recipe for Mom on her special day… Tart Tatin!











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