Friday, August 31, 2012

Top 20 Apple Recipes This Fall

I love fall. I love the cooler weather and the leaves turning on the trees. I love the fact that I can BAKE without heating us out of house and home. And the smell of freshly baked goodies....!!! Last time I got on a kick, it was for pumpkin. If you're a pumpkin fan like I am, you can check out my posts here and here.

I kind of got on a food frenzy the other day, as I contemplated the change in seasons. Thought I'd share some of the favorites that I came across. Enjoy!

I just opened an Etsy shop called ThisOnesMineDesigns, and I am so excited! My kids and I make ceramic buttons and badge reels.

Just to keep in the spirit of the post, these are my country apple buttons. I'd love it if you popped over and took a look around, and clicked the "favorite" button on the top right part of the page if you like them.

If you want to come back here and give me some honest feedback, I'd absolutely love that as well. =]

Back to apple recipe wonderfulness...

I have an apple thing. They look so fresh and country and wholesome. And just like my kindergarten teacher wrote in my very first report card, "when they're good, they're really, really good, and when they're bad, they're horrid." Maybe that's why I like 'em.

Make sure you get some good ones! Sweet, juicy, crisp. I love Fuji for all around use, and Granny Smith for baking and canning.

Once upon a time I purchased a bin of apples, yep, one of those huge boxes, and made applesauce and apple pie filling to my heart's content. If you have access to something like this but don't want them all, consider splitting a bin with friends.

If you decide to go it alone, the apples last pretty well on the back porch in cooler weather if you don't want to process all of them. Just pick up some apple boxes from the grocery store to keep them in and be sure to sort out any bad ones before storage.

A recipe for Homemade Canned Apple Pie Filling an be found at Skip to my Lou. I've canned lots of apple pie filling and it is a wonderful thing to have on hand for a last minute baking splurge. There's a recipe for cobbler on the same page that looks delish.

If you're really ambitious, it makes beautiful gifts at Christmas time. Just make sure you give it to someone who appreciates the difference between a can from the store and the real deal. =]

Along those ambitious lines is something I've never tried but have always wanted to attempt. Apple Butter. I've made apricot butter before, which was intense and one of the best jam type things I've ever made. It seems like it took hours of stirring over a boiling pot, but it was worth it. Really. I imagine this would be wonderful. The cool part? This Apple Butter is made in the crock pot. The recipe is at Changing My Destiny.

These sweet-tart apple cookies are fully of soft, melty caramel. It uses an instant apple cider mix rather than real apples, but ohhh, doesn't it look divine? You can find the recipe for Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies at Scrambled Henfruit

These babies look fantastic. Little mini apple fritters. Because sometimes you want the taste without the whole 10,000 calories, you know? Check out Seemingly Greek for the recipe. This young lady has a fun story about how she ended up in Greece. =]

If you want some serious volume, check out this Apple Fritter Bread found at Flour Me with Love. The dough gets rolled out thin, then covered with apple-y-cinnamon-y goodness, cut in squares, then stacked together in a loaf pan to bake. The result? Bread that comes apart in layers. My apple fritter loving son was begging for this one. =]

Kind of along those lines is this beauty. The dough is made, then wrapped around little bundles of apple filling. Oh. My. The Apple Cinnamon Pull-Apart Loaf recipe can be found at Cooking with Chopin.

This. Oh, yes. This is my kind of breakfast! Apple Cider Buttermilk Pancakes with Apple Caramel Syrup. Aren't you just dying to make breakfast right now? And breakfast for dinner is always good, right? The recipe is at Cherry Tea Cakes.

To be fair, here's a recipe for Apple Pie Oatmeal. I am not a fan of oatmeal for the most part, but I think this recipe could change that. Who could pass up the taste of pie for breakfast? And healthy pie at that! Family Feedbag has the recipe.

These muffins are low fat and low cal. Just thought I'd sneak 'em in here. I love hot muffins on a cold morning and the crumbly top should add a touch of the sweetness I crave. I haven't tried these yet, but I will. Muffins are a mainstay here. The recipe is from Fitness.

Are these gorgeous or what! Apple chips are one of my favorites. I think I'd use Fuji instead of Red Delicious, just because I like the sweet/tart favor better, but you've got to admit that the red contrast here makes them as fun to look at as I'm sure they are to eat. Vittles and Bits has the recipe and beautiful photo..

Apple Enchiladas? Flour tortillas stuffed with apple pie filling and covered with a syrupy sauce, then baked 'til golden? A definite yes. My kids are all for this one because, well, they're a BIG treat, you know? And what an easy and fun way to do it. The recipe is at Cornfed Mama.

Bite Sized Apple Pies are a fast and easy treat since they use refrigerated pie crust. If you're a stickler, you can make your own. I absolutely love pie crust baked with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled over the top. Add the apples and mmmm.... Cookin up North has the recipe.

Another quickie, Upside-Down Cinnamon Apple Coffee Cake uses canned cinnamon rolls for a base. She had me at cinnamon rolls. The recipe can be found at Lady Behind the Curtain.

This baby is like a quick and easy version of apple pie. Can you see it now, served up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream? And did I mention easy? With six kids, desserts go fast here, so quick, easy, and delicious are the prerequisites. Annie's Eats has the recipe for Apple Crumble Bars.

And if you want to get fancy, Apple Pie in a Jar......from Our Best Bites. You could use your home canned apple pie filling for these. I love how these are decorated. Wouldn't these be neat for gifts or dessert at a party? Can you imagine a table lined with your choice of apple, or cherry, or peach, or apricot...

Apple Cider Caramels??? Mmmmm...yes, please. I have a thing for taffies and caramels. I think it goes back to years of wearing braces and feeling deprived. I think, as an adult, I should make up for that deprivation.   Bourbonnatrix Bakes has this recipe, and no, there isn't any bourbon in them. =P

This is a baked apple, filled with vanilla ice cream, then drizzled with caramel sauce. I'm thinking it would make a fun Family Home Evening treat. Can you just smell those apples baking? The recipe calls for brandy in the sauce, but another liquid could easily be substituted. Time for a Little Something has the recipe.

This one is special. I'm thinking Thanksgiving, maybe, because my sister always makes something spectacular and I'm the just get it done girl. LOL. Candy Apple Pie...a graham cracker crust filled with cheesecake and apple pie filling, then topped with whipped cream, caramel, and pecans. I already have that Thanksgiving feeling of being unable to eat another bite. Clicky here, at Doughmesstic, for the recipe.

And to go with all of that deliciousness, wassail. I love wassail. It makes me smile. A hot cup, a good book, a warm fire, a rainy day, and life is at its best. Gathered Round Our Table has a recipes for wassail and spiced cider. I've made a couple, and the pineapple juice in the wassail makes all the difference. Don't skimp or substitute on it. They're worth writing down and tucking away.

Just to get you started, and to give you a bit of energy while you bake up a storm, try this Toffee Apple Dip. It's cream cheese blended with brown sugar and Heath Toffee Bits. Everybody I know who has tried it has absolutely loved it. When I make it, I add a little splash of vanilla, and I like to serve it with sliced Granny Smith apples since their tart flavor balances out the sweet. You can find this recipe at Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

Unfortunately, I don't have a link for this picture, and no it's not a recipe, just a bonus. If you know where it comes from, let me know and I'll post the link.

I love how these were used for candles, though. If I made them, I'd bust out the drill with a bit that was votive size and bore the hole just deep enough to insert the candle. If you don't have a drill, then a paring knife would do the trick, with a little skill. =]

Get some apples and have fun!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday Night Date Idea

It's Friday night. When my husband was alive, that meant movie night. Usually it consisted of the kids going to bed early and the Big Guy, he was 6'6", and I watching a video on the couch. I usually ended up getting a really great shoulder massage out of it, so it worked for me. We had our together time, but with six kids, a dating night out wasn't always the easiest option.

One of my all time favorite dates was the night we bought a big bag of M&M's and sat outside our town's tiny airport and watched the planes land. A little chocolate, a little cuddling, quiet time to just talk without a TV in sight...after 15 years of marriage, that date still stands out.

I wish we had done more.

I think now that he's gone, I wish that the most.

So with that said, what have I learned? Time together is precious. Dates don't have to be expensive to be fun. Dates don't even have to be away from the house, though the mental break is nice. Dates, quality times, are often the quiet moments talking and learning about each other...whether you're in the "new" dating stage or after years of marriage.

I found a cute blog list of 30 Things to talk about. One topic a day...for 30 days. Here are a few of the questions:
1.   List 20 random things about yourself.
2.   Describe 3 legitimate fears and how they became fears.
16. What are your 5 greatest accomplishments?
30. What are 10 things you would hope to be remembered for?

Maybe a fun idea to start on a Friday night date?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Bring on the Heat! Making Fruit Roll Outdoors

I am not a hot weather girl. I'm a wimp. I'm also a bit frugal, which translates to a woman who hates to turn on the air conditioner because I can literally hear the the bill add up. So why have I suddenly had a change of heart? What's with the hot weather hoorah? Why do I smile when thermometer hits 100 degrees?

Fruit roll....AKA fruit leather, but I grew up calling it fruit roll, so there you go.

I love the stuff...and we make it by the table full. When I was a kid, my parents used to make it. My brother and sister and I could strip the table bare in a day. It's a wonder we ever had any to store.

My kids and I usually make it with fresh fruit - bruised and overripe works fine. You can get the "ugly" stuff pretty cheap at fruit stands and the farmer's market. I've bought 40 pounds of peaches for $4 before. We'll pit it, heat it in a big pot with a bit of water to soften it up, then blend it to a puree. Don't bother to peel anything, even with the peaches. The skin adds a beautiful color, increased nutrition, and fiber. It also makes things much simpler, which is what it's all about when you've got a half dozen kids.For the record, peach, plum (delicious), apricot (favorite), nectarine, and pear all work well.

This time we had a bunch of canned fruit that had passed its prime. Awhile ago. The fruit was still good, but it gets unappealingly mushy after awhile. Enough said. We drained the cans, popped 'em in the blender, and we were good to go.

The kids set up the high tech special drying tables. By this I mean a scrap piece of plywood balanced on some 5 gallon buckets. The wood was covered with heavy black plastic garbage bags that had been cut open and clamped in place. You could probably use clothes pins to secure the plastic if your wood is thin enough. I use little spring wood clamps because I have a garage full of tools and my husband doesn't get upset anymore when I borrow them. There are advantages to being a widow at times. =]

The fruit puree was poured on top of the plastic and spread to about 1/8" thickness, then left in the sun to dry. Behold the finished product. We had to's part of the quality control process.

Before you ask, yes, the occasional bug does find its way onto the table. Be tough. Brush him off. Most stay away from it because the black plastic gets so darn hot in the sun. If your plastic touches the ground, you may have to deal with ants, though. Not fun. Keep that plastic pinned up.

When it was dry to the touch, I used a table knife to score the fruit leather and then peeled it up in sheets.

Then we placed it on saran wrap, rolled it up, and stored it in a ziplock baggie in the freezer.

One Crazy Lady's Fruit Roll

2 cans apricots
1 can peaches
1 can pears

Drain fruit and put it in the blender. Puree. Cover a flat surface with thick plastic. I prefer heavy duty contractor strength black garbage bags. Make sure the edges are secure or a breeze will blow them up and they'll stick to your fruit roll. Little spring wood clamps work great.

Pour out the fruit puree and spread about 1/8" thick. You can do this with your hand. Try to get it as even in thickness as possible, since the thin areas will dry faster. I tried making a leveling tool but my plywood wasn't quite flat. Hands it was.

Chase the kids away. They'll sneak into it. Peel up when dry and transfer to saran wrap, then roll and store in a ziplock baggie in the freezer. If you let it dry too long, it gets brittle when it cools.