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Autumn Delights & Apple Pie

Make a point to get out of the city and enjoy the spectacular fall colors this season. All over Illinois and just over the Michigan and Wisconsin borders you will find a wonderful selection of apple orchards, cider mills, pumpkin patches and corn mazes. Bring home some autumn delights and share them with friends. I can’t think of a nicer way to spend a day.

Find an orchard in IllinoisWisconsin, or Michigan and try out this easy recipe for apple pie!

apple orchid

Glazed Apple Pie

  • about 8 firm apples – peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (one stick)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • cinnamon to taste
  • frozen 9 inch double pie crust
  • ice cream (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. To make the glaze, melt butter in a sauce pan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add white sugar, brown sugar and water; bring to a boil. Reduce temperature, and simmer 5 minutes.
Fill the bottom crust with apples (dusted with cinnamon) mounding the pie slightly, as the apples will shrink with cooking. I used a mix of jonathan, empire, and cortland apples picked at a local orchard. Using a variety of apples creates a nice complexity of flavor. Cut the second crust into strips and cover the apples with a lattice work of crust.

Slowly pour the thickened sugar and butter liquid over the crust, be careful so that it doesn’t run off. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake 15 minutes at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and continue baking for 30 to 40 minutes. Cover the top of the pie with foil if it begins to brown to much. Check the texture of the apples with a toothpick, the pie is done when the apples are tender, not mushy.

Your kitchen will smell like heaven. After the apple pie is cooked allow to cool for about two hours and serve with vanilla ice cream. So yummy!applepie-blogalamode-blog

Valentine’s Day Heart Cookies

heart-cookiesSugar Cookies
Makes about 3 doz cookies, depending on size of cutter.

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Slowly add the flour mixture to the eggs and butter and beat until you have a smooth dough. Cover and refrigerate for about one hour or until the dough is firm. Tip- You can make the dough ahead of time and roll the cookies the next day.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and  line two baking sheets with parchment or silpat. Flour a surface to roll out the dough. Take half the dough out of the refrigerator and roll it out to about 1/4″ thick. If you don’t have a rolling pin, a floured wine bottle works well! Cut out the cookies with a cutter, I used different sized hearts, if you don’t have any cookie cutters a thin drinking glass will make rounds. Transfer the cookies to the baking sheets. Placing them in the refrigerator for 10- 15 mins before baking them will help the cookies keep there shape. Working in batches keeps the dough easy to work with.

Bake the cookies until they just start to brown, check them at 7 mins, they shouldn’t bake longer than 10 mins. Let the cookies rest for a few minutes before transferring them onto wire racks to cool. Let them cool completely before icing.

Royal Icing
These cookies get there polished look from royal icing which dries hard and smooth. They are particularly nice for giving because you can stack the finished cookies.

  • 3 ounces pasteurized egg whites (available at most better grocery stores)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar (powdered)
  • food coloring, I like gel colors

Icing recipes are not exact, add more or less sugar to get the desired consistency. Almond extract or lemon juice can be used instead of the vanilla to get a different flavor.

In large bowl the egg whites and vanilla and beat with a hand mixer until frothy. Add confectioners’ sugar gradually and mix on low speed until sugar is incorporated and mixture is shiny. Turn speed up to high and beat until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks. I like to start with a stiffer frosting to pipe the edge for a clean look. This should take approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Add food coloring. If using gel colors use a toothpick to add just a drop at a time until you reach the desired color. These are strong pigments! If you want to have more than one color, divide the icing into several small Tupperware bowls with lids. You’ll need to keep the frosting covered until you’re ready to ice the cookies so it doesn’t harden.

Fill a piping bag with small round tip to make the borders. If you don’t have piping bags, a plastic baggie with a tiny cut in the corner works fine. After you’re done with the borders squeeze the remaining frosting back into the tupperware. Add water, or lemon juice a little at a time to thin the icing to a looser constancy. Fill the piped border on the cookies with a “flood” of icing for a smooth look. You can use the piping bag again with a larger tip, the icing will spread and smooth itself into the area defined by the piped edge. Let the icing harden before stacking and storing.

Looking for more Valentine’s Day gift ideas, check out our sweetheart shop.

Daphne’s Amazing Homemade Toffee

At Art Effect we look forward to the holidays for many reasons, decorating the shop, the festive scent of our seasonal candles, the hustle and bustle… but most of all we look forward to Daphne’s amazing homemade toffee! Daphne was our book-keeper and she retired last year, but before she left, she shared this recipe with us! Make a batch to share with loved ones.  This treat is delightful to box up as a homemade gift.

homemade toffee


  • 2 sticks butter, plus some for buttering the pan
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • nuts
  • 4 milk chocolate bars, (approx. 43 gram bars)


Before you begin:

Lightly butter a cookie sheet, finely chop or grind 2-3 handfuls of pecans or walnuts, and unwrap and break-up 4 chocolate bars- make sure the chocolate is in very small pieces.



In a saucepan combine: 2 sticks of butter directly from the refrigerator, 1 cup of granulated sugar, and 3 tablespoons of water. Melt and stir constantly 10-15 minutes over medium-high heat to a rolling boil. You might want to enlist a friend to help you, as this is hard work! When you reach the carmel color, remove from heat and quickly mix in the vanilla. It will fizzle. Immediately pour the contents from the sauce pan onto the lightly buttered cookie sheet. Tilt the pan from side to side to spread the toffee. The toffee will not cover the entire pan.

*Hint- if you set your cookie sheet on top of the stove while you’re making this, it will warm up and the toffee will spread across the pan a little more than if you use a cold cookie sheet.

Quickly sprinkle the chocolate pieces over the toffee and let them melt down for approximately 45 seconds. Lightly spread the melted chocolate around the toffee in a thin layer with a spatula. Sprinkle with the chopped nuts. Place away from heat to set. You can speed this up by placing in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes. If it’s cold but not snowing you can place out side to set (if you can trust your squirrels) Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.


Search For the Holy Kale…


Search For the Holy Kale… I found it! After years of trying to get more kale into my life, I came across this amazing recipe on smittenkitchen.com. While there are quite a few steps, it is pretty simple, and well worth the effort! Delicious! PS – The Smitten Kitchen cookbook will be available at Art Effect soon!

Kale Salad with Pecorino and Walnuts
From smittenkitchen.com 


  • 1/2 cup (105 grams or 3 3/4 ounces) walnut halves or pieces
  • 1/4 cup (45 grams or 1 1/2 ounces) golden raisins
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup panko (15 grams or 1/2 ounce) or slightly coarse homemade breadcrumbs (from a thin slice of hearty bread)
  • 1 tiny clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • Coarse or kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bunch (about 14 ounces or 400 grams) tuscan kale (also known as black or lacinato kale; this is the thinner, flatter leaf variety), washed and patted dry
  • 2 ounces (55 grams) pecorino cheese, grated or ground in a food processor, which makes it delightfully crubbly (1/2 cup total)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste

Prepare walnuts: Heat oven to 350. Toast walnuts on a baking sheet for 10 minutes, tossing once. Let cool and coarsely chop.

Prepare raisins: In a small saucepan over low heat, simmer white wine vinegar, water and raisins for 5 minutes, until plump and soft. Set aside in liquid.

Prepare crumbs: Toast bread crumbs, garlic and 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in a skillet together with a pinch of salt until golden. Set aside.

Prepare kale: Trim heavy stems off kale and remove ribs. I always find removing the ribs annoying with a knife, because the leaves want to roll in on the knife and make it hard to get a clean cut. Instead, I’ve taken to tearing the ribs off with my fingers, which is much easier for me. Stack sections of leaves and roll them into a tube, then cut them into very thin ribbons crosswise.

Assemble salad: Put kale in a large bowl. Add pecorino, walnuts and raisins (leaving any leftover vinegar mixture in dish), remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and lemon juice and toss until all the kale ribbons are coated. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt, pepper and some of the reserved vinegar mixture from the raisins, if needed. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving, if you can, as it helps the ingredients come together. Just before serving, toss with breadcrumbs and, if needed, a final 1 teaspoon drizzle of olive oil.


Homemade Hummus Recipe

I love making fresh hummus! This is such an easy recipe, and you can adjust the flavors to your personal taste. It’s a healthy and tasty snack served with pita chips and veggies, and delicious spread on sandwich bread. Canned chickpeas are great for this and are faster than using dried.






  • one 29 oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • the juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 teaspoon ground sea salt, depending on taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons water
  • dash of ground paprika for serving
  • sweet piquante peppers to taste (optional)

It’s best to use a food processor, but you can use a blender if you don’t have one. The hummus will not be as smooth from a blender.

Start by combining the tahini and lemon juice in the bowl of the food processor. Process for 1 minute,  scrape the sides and bottom of bowl then process for another 30 seconds. The mixture will thicken and darken, if it seems too dry add a little water to help form a paste.

Next add the minced garlic, olive oil, salt, and cumin. Process for about 30 seconds,  scrape the sides and bottom of bowl then process for another 30 seconds or until everything is well combined.

Add half of the chickpeas and process for 1 minute. Scrape the sides and bottom of bowl down again and process for another 2 minutes. Now add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and keep processing until you’ve reached the desired creamy and smooth constancy.

At this point you can add peppers if desired. I used a handful of diced pickled Sweet Piquante Peppers from a jar, and they add a nice sweet heat. Just process for another 30 to combine, you’ll have little flecks of the red pepper throughout the spread.

Before serving drizzle with a little additional olive oil and sprinkle with paprika.

This stuff is even better than store bought. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge, and it keeps nicely for up to a week.  Enjoy!

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