Apples to Apples: Part 4

I imagine at this point many of you are getting sick of this apple business. I get it. But maybe now its becoming clear for you just how many apples I picked that fateful Saturday…

This being the 4th installment of my apple series I’ll share 2 of the more unique recipes I tried. The first that I’ll talk about is a tasty Fall Apple Sangria….mmmm sangria….

Sangria is one of the easiest things to make because it is very forgiving. Personally, I’ve always had a soft spot for sangria because it satisfies so many needs…the need for some booze and it also is a tasty snack. Win win. Here’s how I made this fun fall beverage:

1 bottle sweet white wine (I used a Moscato)
1 bottle champagne (I used a Dry Cooks)
3 bottles of hard cider (out of like a 6 pack)
1.5 Tbs sugar
1/2ish lemon juice
1-2 apples

All you do is dump all this biz in a bowl, let it sit for a little while and DRINK UP!!! Hello Friday!…..I may have drank most of this myself one weekend….

The second recipe I’m going to talk about is one I found on Pinterest…shock I know lol. Its a shake up on Mac and Cheese. Its a Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese with bacon and apples.

Now my first issue with this was that I simply couldn’t find canned butternut squash….so I subbed in canned pumpkin instead. You can find the recipe here.

So the picture on the website made it look super good. Even mine photographed pretty well (even without the bacon). I have mixed feelings about the recipe. It has an “interesting” taste. I think that it’s because of the broth that the recipe calls for. Its not bad…its just very different. I’m not sure I would make it again. But I’m really happy I tried it out. And as weird as it may seem, the apples TOTALLY worked. They were crunchy and tart and went so well with the mac and cheese aspect of the dish. Plus, who doesn’t love bacon?

This actually concluded my mini-series on apples!!! And at the present moment I only have about 5 apples left that I’m just snacking on.

How has apple season been for you folks?

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Apples to Apples: Part 3

Apples apples and more apples. That has been my life for like 2 weeks. But in my recent post I told you that I made Apple Butter in my crockpot.

I’ll be honest with you. I had NO idea what apple butter was, what it looked like, what it tasted like, or what the what you did with it. But friends and the internet said good things so I figured hey why not?

It is a bit of a process so it works best as a weekend thing.

Start by peeling, coring and chopping about a dozen apples. Then toss them in your crockpot.

Next add 1/4 c brown sugar and cinnamon (I used like 1.5 Tbs) and 1/2c water. Set your crockpot on low and cook for about 10 hours (overnight works best time wise).

In the morning you have this!

Then use a wooden spoon to prop the cover open and cook on high for around 4 more hours.

After around 4 hours the water cooks off so you have this tasty mess. You can leave it like this, or you can use a Magic Bullet or Immersion Blender to smooth it out. I happen to have both so I opted for smooth.

I divided my batch in half. I filled this adorable mason jar and put it in my fridge, and filled a tupperware container and stuck it in my freezer for later. Its really tasty stuff. It also makes for great holiday gifts come Christmas time.

Apples to Apples: Part 2

So this is another in my mini series of apple-type fall treats. In my previous post (check that guy out here) I told you about my apple orchard excursion that resulted in my picking a 1/2 bushel of apples (aka roughly 50 apples!). And after baking an apple pie and an apple peach cobbler I still had TONS of apples left over.

My friend L was having the ladies over for some TV time one Wednesday night, so I figured I would make a treat for us. Some casual interneting led me to some cool recipes. I decided on this guy: Danish Apple Pastry Bars from Midwest Living. Com (check out the link here). They looked simple enough and more importantly they looked delicious. They have a really yummy crust that is sort short bread like. Beware bakers: these guys are addictive. But a word of advice, READ THE RECIPE CAREFULLY! It is really poorly written. Try my version below for a more step by step approach.

 

Here’s how to make these guys:

2.5 c flour
1 tsp salt
1 c shortening
1 egg yolk
milk (almost 2/3 c…see directions)
1 c corn flakes
8-10 apples (peeled, cored, and sliced)
3/4-1 c white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon (more if we’re being realistic)
1 egg white lightly beaten
1 c powdered sugar
3-4 tsp milk

1. Peel, core, and slice all your apples. Place them in a bowl.
2. In a large bowl, combine salt and flour. Using a fork or pastry cutter blend in the shortening until its nice and crumbly.
3. In a liquid measuring cup, add the egg yolk and enough milk to fill 2/3 cup.
4. add milk/yolk combo to the crumbles. When it all comes together it should form a sticky dough. Divide the dough in half.
5. On a well floured surface roll half the dough out into a rectangle the size of whatever pan you’re using. Then put it in the pan (oil/spray it first).
6. Crush the cornflakes and spread them on top of the dough in your pan.
7. Spread your apples on top of the corn flakes.
8. Combine white sugar and cinnamon. Spread over apples.
9. Repeat step 5 and place dough over apple.
10. Spread egg whites over the top layer of dough.
11. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes, then cover with foil and bake for another 30ish minutes until top is golden brown and apples are tender.
12. Combine the powdered sugar and a few TBS of milk to make a glaze. Spread over warm bars. When cooled, cut them into squares and EAT UP!

When I made these, the original recipe messed me up and I ended up adding the powdered sugar to the white…yikes…luckily I was able to scoop it out!

 

But lets be serious people, 50 apples is too many…and I STILL had so many left. So I realized that this was the PERFECT time to make some Apple Butter! Which happens to be my next post! Stay tuned!!

 

Apples to Apples: Part 1

‘Tis the season you guys!…the season for APPLES! And I’m pumped about it! I love going to the orchards and picking my fruit off the trees and tasting all the fun cider based treats. I also love going home and making apple treats. This year I may have gone slightly overboard….

I haven’t been apple picking since college (ugh that was 3 years ago….I’m old) so I was extra excited to go. Long story short I ended up with 1/2 bushel of apples.

I realizes once I got these guys home I needed to start baking ASAP as I picked entirely too many lol. But these things happen…especially when you go with friends who’ve never been apple picking before (shock) and the weather is gorgeous.

I decided to start with an apple pie and an apple peach cobbler (we also picked peaches).

I started with the pie first. I prefer butter over shortening for my crusts so here’s the recipe I use…I roll mine slightly thin so that I get two crusts out of this (one for bottom and one on top)
Pie Crust:
2 1/2 c flour
1 stick of butter
1 tsp salt
cold water

You cream the flour, salt, and butter together with a pastry cutter or a fork (I don’t own a cutter anymore 😦 ). When the mixture looks like a bowl of small crumbles add water 1 Tbs at a time until you get the right consistency (not too wet not too dry, slightly elastic).

Flour your surface area and roll your dough out in a circle until its about 1/4 in thick. Transfer it to your pie plate.

Filling:
I don’t generally use a recipe for this, but here are some rough guidelines. I peel and slice about 8 apples and put them in a bowl. Add about 1/4 of sugar and 1 Tbs cinnamon (I like cinnamon so I use more of it) and a quick squirt of lemon juice. Mix it all up and put it in your pie plate. I add about 3 tbs of butter (3 pats) on top of the apples.

Roll out another pie crust and place on top of your apples. Pinch or fork your edges to seal it and make it all pretty and slice some ventilation in the top. Brush with milk or add a little butter on top to make it golden. Bake for like 30ish mins until golden brown.

 

You can get edges like these by pinching your thumb and pointer finger on one hand, and pinching the crust into those fingers with the pointer finger on your other hand.

Apple Peach Cobbler:

Repeat the filling from the Apple Pie recipe above…except also add peaches.
Put your filling in a casserole dish or pan.

Crumble Topping:
1 c Corn Flake type cereal (I used Special K Vanilla Almond…YUM)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4-1/2 flour
1 c melted butter
cinnamon for flavor

Crush the cereal. Mix the cereal, flour, sugar, and cinnamon together and add melted butter. Mix until a crumble forms. Spread it on top of the apples and peach mixture in your  dish. Bake for 20-25 mins until apples are soft and crumble is lightly browned.

Both were really tasty and made my house smell amazing. I’ve been baking like crazy with the millions of apples I have so look for posts later in the week to find out what else I made!  SPOILER ALERT: apple bars, apple butter, and apple cider sangria…stay tuned!

The gang and I had a fun time picking apples and walking around Smolak Farms the other weekend.

Mmm…pancakes

Apple cinnamon whole wheat pancakes to be specific.
Who doesn’t love a Saturday morning that begins with pancakes? It takes just a quick minute to whip these guys together and voila! Breakfast of champions.
Here’s how to start your day off right:
1.5 c whole wheat flour
1 egg
2 tbs oil
1 tbs sugar ( I used truvia)
1 apple peeled and grated
2 tsp baking powder
1 c milk ( I use Silk Vanilla)
Cinnamon and vanilla to taste

Mix it all together and cook yourselves some pancakes!

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Did Somebody Say Pork?

Well folks, that oh-so glorious summer-like weather has most definitely left us..sigh. It was nice while it lasted though wasn’t it?

Silver lining being that the return of the cold allows for some great crockpot creations…not that the weather makes a huge difference mind you…the weather does not define me. Take that Mother Nature. But I digress…


I was feeling in the mood for meat this week. My meals for the past few weeks have been more on the vegetarian side. And I weirdly had this craving for pork. Pork goes really well with other stuff (potatoes, squash, cranberries, apples). But I didn’t feel like going the “pork chops and apple sauce” route a-la Bobby Brady. I decided instead to make a pork loin.

Two things about this post: 1) I have typed lion instead of loin every time I have mentioned it. 2) The idea of a 25 year old making a pork loin is hilarious to me. Not that 25 year olds aren’t capable of such a thing, but it just sounds so funny when you tell people what you’re doing. “Oh just cooking up a pork loin, nbd” It just sounds like something only mom’s and grandmother’s make. But apparently its something THIS girl makes too.

I didn’t actually use a recipe for this one. I took elements from some similar ones and adapted them to my slightly lazier methods (e.g. just throw everything into the crockpot and leave it alone for 8 hours). I call the dish Slow Cooker Cranberry Apple Pork Loin with Squash and Potatoes. It leaves a lot to the imagination don’t you think? I added a bunch of things that I like which add yummy flavors and texture..we’re talking craisins, apples, butternut squash, potatoes…

What you’ll need:

1 lb pork loin
1 lb butternut squash (cubed)
2 potatoes (cubed)
1 onion (chopped…I chop mine big)
3 small apples (cored and thickly sliced)
~1/2  can chicken broth
~1/4 c craisins
spices (I used garlic flakes, salt, pepper, and thyme)

Start by peeling and cubing the squash and potatoes. Chop up your onion and apples as well. Trim the fat off of your pork loin. I cut mine in 2 pieces…but I suggest cutting it in 4 pieces).
Toss the meat into the crockpot and season it up with your spices. Then toss those veggies on top and cover with the broth. Finally sprinkle those craisins on top.
Cook on high for 6 hours or low for 4.

Based on meat portions it yields about 4 servings that are deliciously veggie heavy.
Ways to potentially improve the recipe if your less lazy than me would be to pan sear the pork serving prior to adding them to the pot. I think it will help the keep the porks form a little, rather than have a more pulled-pork style. Also, I used a whole can of broth, so I had extra “sauce” in my pot…you can thicken up the liquid by bringing it to a boil in a sauce pan with some cornstarch and it would make a super yummy gravy.

Then all that’s left is to eat that biz up!

SIDENOTE: Now you can Follow me via email! enter your email to the right to get email updates when I post a new adventure! And leave comments/suggestions! I’d love to hear from you!! Happy Cooking!

Back in Action…with a dish that has no name

So those of you in the Boston area probably remember that last week was absurdly cold. The arctic temperatures kept me from the grocery store…and by a trickle down effect kept me from Crocket. But good news! It warmed up and I made it to the grocery store. This weeks chronicle is about a mystery beef, sweet potato, and apple dish. Recipe courtesy of my mom..who pulled it from one of the million cookbooks at my Gram’s house. 

I was looking to try something different this week. I wasn’t really in the “stew” kinda mood and I already did the whole lasagna thing. So this recipe appealed to me. Its also real easy to put together. Here’s what’cha need:

about 2 lbs stew beef
2-3 sweet potates cut in large chunks
2 apples cored and sliced (leave skin on)
1 onion sliced
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 cup beef broth
tyme, salt, pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbl corn starch
2 tbl cold water

I suck at cutting vegetables. FACT. I always manage to cut myself. You don’t have to mince everything with this one…so win for me…and my fingers. You legit just throw it all in the crockpot (minus the last 3 ingredients) and go about your business. Then when you get home you take the apples, beef, potatoes, and onions out and put’em to the side. Here’s the part I did WRONG. You mix the cornstarch, cinnamon, and water together BEFORE you add it to the broth. The end game here is a kind of gravy. But when you just throw the corn starch in it clumps and is weird. So avoid that. Cook the gravy on high for like 15 mins and then add the other biz back in and ENJOY.

It makes a BUNCH of food so you’ll be set for the week.

Today was a big day. I just got 3 new stellar cookbooks (CAN NOT WAIT to try some of the recipes) AND I bought a fondue pot. So get ready for some fondue action in the future…especially with Super Bowl Sunday coming up!!

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This is what it looks like BEFORE cooking…lots of good stuff in there.

 

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The AFTER shot…it cooks down nice and it hearty and filling.