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Hush n Wonder

fashion, food, and all things fabulous

Category Archives: Food

Ina Garten has always said that simple food is the best food, and after trying her French Apple Tart, I now know exactly what she’s referring to.  It was a Sunday afternoon and I wanted carbs (this was pre-workout/health kick.)   I really just wanted a big slice of french bread smeared with butter.  I was set to drive to the store and get just that, but then realized maybe I wanted something sweet too.  Yeah, I’d have to make a dessert.  After paging through my cookbooks, Ina’s French Apple Tart was exactly what I needed.  Sweet, gooey apples, crumbly crust, and a big lump of vanilla bean ice cream was my supper.  And, wow, what a great decision it was.  Below is the recipe.  My recommendations are to eat it warm (always) and although I used ice cream, I think whipped cream would be equally amazing.


For the pastry:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 cup ice water

For the apples:

  • 4 Granny Smith apples
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, small diced
  • 1/2 cup apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam
  • 2 tablespoons Calvados, rum, or water


For the pastry, place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the butter is in small bits the size of peas. With the motor running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Roll the dough slightly larger than 10 by 14-inches. Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.

Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife and a melon baler. Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4-inch thick slices. Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices. (I tend not to use the apple ends in order to make the arrangement beautiful.) Sprinkle with the full 1/2 cup of sugar and dot with the butter.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown. Rotate the pan once during cooking. If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out. Don’t worry! The apple juices will burn in the pan but the tart will be fine! When the tart’s done, heat the apricot jelly together with the Calvados and brush the apples and the pastry completely with the jelly mixture. Loosen the tart with a metal spatula so it doesn’t stick to the paper. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.


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Last night was wonderfully relaxing.  I cleaned, watched the Golden Globes, and made a dinner so scrumptious I had to share it with you.  I got this casserole recipe from my good friend and horse show buddy, Karla.   She would often bring this dish to our barn and there was something about it that was so amazingly satisfying.  I’m happy to report that this wonderful casserole is a breeze to make and perfect for a chilly weather.  Oh, and forgive me for the lack of pictures, I was very anxious to sit down and enjoy!

Chicken Spinach Lasagna Casserole


1 (10 oz) package frozen spinach, thawed and drained

2 cups of cooked shredded chicken

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

1/3 cup chopped onion

1 Tbsp cornstarch

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1 (10 oz can) cream of mushroom soup

1 cup sour cream

1 (4 1/2 oz can) of sliced mushrooms, drained

1/3 cup of mayo

6 Lasagna noodles, cooked

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 cup chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl combine spinach, chicken, cheddar cheese, onion, cornstarch, salt, pepper, mayo, soy sauce, soup, sour cream, and mushrooms. 

Grease a 9 x 13 x 2 inch pan and lay three noodles on the bottoms.  Then pour half of the spinach mixture on top of the noodles.   Then layer the remaining noodles and pour on the rest of the mixture. 

Top with parmesan cheese and pecans. Bake for 1 hour. 

Despite my lack of food related posts, I’ve been all about cooking lately. Perhaps it’s cause I’m in nesting mode. The frigid weather and lack of snow has made the outdoors of Iowa a place I’d rather not venture, and the warmth of my kitchen is a welcome place to spend my hours after work. My time spent in the kitchen has also had a pretty big influence on my Christmas list. I decided to list some of my most coveted cooking items.

Lollipop Apron, Anthropologie, $32. Anthro has the absolute cutest aprons. I really would like to buy them all, but this one might be my favorite.

Lunch In Paris: A Love Story with Recipes, $24, Barnes & Noble. The reviews I’ve read on this book have me excited. I can’t wait to learn a little more about French cuisine.

Jezalin, Hand Painted Polish Pie Dish, $35.95. Polish pottery is gorgeous. It’s hand crafted, heavy, and the gorgeous blue hues they generally come in are my favorite part.

Mirabelle Glass Teapot, $59.99, Teavana. These glass teapots are grogeous – and the perfet way to enjoy blooming tea.

Light Kitchen Towel, Fjorn $16. I love pieces that feel like home – and this Scandinavian made kitchen towel is something I could see both of my grandmas or my mom owning. So. Cute.

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Lemons kind of have a bad rap. Life giving you lemons is a bad thing, a car that’s a lemon is one that’s defective, and it’s always the lemon Starbursts and gummy bears that are last to be eaten. But I have to tell you, lemons are one of my favorite ways to flavor food. When I was younger I bought a lemon cookbook, and the recipes were much too complex for my 11 year old self, and they probably still would be, but I remember looking through the cookbook for hours thinking how lemons are such a beautiful fruit. I was craving lemon bars this weekend, and was all set to make some. But when I flipped on the Food Network (per usual) Paula Deen was making these decadent little desserts called ‘lemon blossoms’. From their petite size, to the sugary glaze, I knew this was going to be a treat I’d love. When I made them Sunday evening they were the perfect way to end a lazy day. Below is the recipe, and beware it makes a LOT.


4 large eggs
3 1/2 ounce package instant lemon pudding mix
18 1/2 ounce package yellow cake mix
3/4 cup vegetable oil

4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
grated zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons water


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spray miniature muffin tins with vegetable oil cooking spray. Combine the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs and oil and blend well with an electric mixer until smooth, about 2 minutes. Pour a small amount of batter, filling each muffin tin half way. Bake for 12 minutes. Turn out onto a tea towel.

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Since moving to Iowa, I’ve really missed eating Middle Eastern cuisine. In Chicago, I developed a love for dishes like chicken tikka masala, hummus, baba ganuj, chicken shawerma, lamb, and really, anything that you can eat in a pita. Since I’ve yet to find a go-to spot in Des Moines (suggestions are very welcome!) I decided I’d make Ina Garten’s chicken curry salad. It was amazing, and even better after sitting in the fridge for the night. Here is the recipe and I did subsitute black olives for the raisins and was happy with the outcome. I’ll definitely be making this flavorful and fresh tasting (and very easy to prepare) dish again.

With the weather turning cooler, I’ve been wanting to bake nonstop.  Yesterday I found a spice cake recipe by Paula Deen that I had to try.  The result left me pretty impressed with myself – the cake was fragrant, perfectly moist, and seriously delicious.  It even rivals Starbucks’ pumpkin bread as my new favorite breakfast treat and I’m confident I’ll be making it again very soon.

Paula  Deen’s Spicy Cinnamon Cake


  • 1 (18-ounce) package spice cake mix
  • 1 (4 serving) package instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup corn oil
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 10-inch tube pan. Combine cake mix, instant pudding, sour cream, eggs, and corn oil and beat together well. In a separate bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, and pecans. Pour half of batter into prepared pan and sprinkle with sugar mixture, reserving a little to sprinkle on top. Pour the rest of batter into pan and sprinkle with the rest of sugar mixture. Bake 1 hour. Let cool and remove from pan.



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The evenings are now chilly enough that nothing tastes better than a big bowl of soup. I have been dying to try Gypsy soup for years, and was excited to put the last of my garden’s vegetables to good use. It’s amazingly flavorful and really sticks with you. Paired with some hearty cornbread and a dirty martini, I couldn’t have asked for a more prefect fall evening! Below is the recipe and I *highly* recommend it! I did make a few changes – I added two fresh jalepenos (certainly added some kick) and a little more than just a dash of cayenne pepper. I also couldn’t find any chick peas so I just made do without them.

Gypsy Soup by Molly Katzen from The Moosewood Cookbook
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil — up to 4T
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 2 cups sweet potatoes — chopped & peeled (Or winter squash)
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup chopped sweet peppers
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 3 cups stock or water
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • dash cinnamon
  • dash cayenne
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce

In a soup kettle or large saucepan, saute onions, garlic, celery and sweet potatoes in olive oil for about five minutes.
Add seasonings, except tamari, and the stock or water.
Simmer, covered, fifteen minutes.
Add remaining vegetables and chickpeas.
Simmer another 10 minutes or so – until all the vegetables are as tender as you like them.

NOTES : The vegetables used in this soup are flexible.
Any orange vegetable can be combined with green…for example, peas or green beans could replace the peppers.
Carrots can be used instead of, or in addition to the squash or sweet potatoes, etc.

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