Applesauce

Applesauce-in-a-dish

Recipe courtesy of Elizabeth Levesque

Just the thought of a bowl of warm, homemade applesauce makes my mouth water.  I have a lot of fond memories of my kids when they were little, eating warm applesauce on cold mornings (think snow days).  It is very simple to make, plus you control how much sugar goes in.  Depending on the type of apples you use, you may not need to add any sugar at all.

Applesauce can also be used to cut the fat in baked goods by replacing as much as half the fat, but beware…replacing all the fat in baked goods can sometimes result in a rubbery texture. You can make a big batch of applesauce on the weekend and freeze it for later, and Applesauce Cake is delicious.  Enjoy!

 

Ingredients

Apples

water

sugar, optional

cinnamon, optional

*This is more a formula than a recipe.  Regardless of the number of apples used, the process remains the same.

Applesauce-apples-in-bowl

Directions

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  1. Start with a pot of water, make sure there is plenty of water to cover all the apples you want to cook.  Don’t worry about there being too much water because you will pour the extra off before you cook the apples.

Applesauce-apples-in-water

2. Peel, core and chop your apples into uniformly small pieces and place them in the water to keep them from turning brown.  When you have peeled, cored, and chopped as many apples as you want, pour off most of the water, leaving just enough to separate the apple pieces.

Applesauce-apples-drained

3. Cook the apples on medium-high and at a low boil for about 15 minutes, or until the apples are very soft.  Remove from the heat.  At this point you can drain off a little more water, if necessary.

Applesauce-apples-cooking

4. Use a potato masher to break up the chunks of apple.  If you prefer a chunky applesauce, a potato masher may be all you need.

Applesauce-apples-mashed

5. If a smooth applesauce is what you prefer, pour the apples and liquid into a blender or food processor and whirl (it took 7 pulses to get mine as smooth as we like it).

Applesauce-in-fp

6. Taste the applesauce and add sugar if needed.  At this point, if I am making this just to eat, I add cinnamon.  If you are making it to use in a recipe, you might prefer it plain.  I did go a little overboard on the cinnamon, that’s why mine turned out so brown, but man is it good.

Applesauce-applesauce-with-cinnamon

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Apricot Butter

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Ball Blue Book of Preserving, Ball Corporation, ©2008 Hearthmark LLC dba  Jarden Home Brands, Daleville Ind. 47334

Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, Ball Corporation, ©2006 Jarden Corp. , ©2006 Robert Rose, Inc.

 

I love making my own jams, preserves, pickles, butters, sauces, relishes, salsa, etc.  If you have never tried canning , be forewarned;

1. It is messy, time consuming, and hot.

2. It is easier to just pick up a jar of strawberry jam at the store.

3. It is not always cheaper in the long run, especially at the beginning when you have to purchase the equipment, canning tools, and jars.

However, the reason I like to preserve food myself is that I have control over what goes in the jar.  Using basically sugar (or Splenda ), vinegar, lemon juice, herbs & spices, and lots of different fresh fruits and vegetables, I can fill my pantry with goodies that my family will love, and that I know are not pumped full of chemicals and preservatives.  Mark especially likes the pickled Jardiniere (a mixture of peppers, pearl onions, cauliflower, celery, and other vegetables, e.g. mushrooms & zucchini, that you wish to add).  For me, there is nothing as good as the bright sunny taste of rich apricot butter on a gray winter day.  When slathered on toast, it is like liquid gold.

Apricot-Butter-apricots

Late spring and summer are the best times to buy produce at it’s peak, and at the best price, especially if you have access to a Farmer’s Market.  If you are new to canning, I would suggest going to the Ball website, freshpreserving.com, and take a look at their Getting Started area.

Apricot-Butter-canning-Bible

Apricot-Butter-Blue-book

I would also suggest picking up a Ball Canning and Home Preserving book.  They are sold where you buy canning supplies, or you can pick up a copy at the library.  Read through and familiarize yourself with the water-bath canning process. That is the process that I used for this Apricot Butter, and the process that is used by most people.  Also, canning is not like other cooking, you cannot just throw whatever you want in a pot and then jar it up.  There is a lot of science behind the craft of home preserving, but if you stick to the recipes you should not have any problems.  Both of these books have more recipes than you will ever make, plus the Ball website has tons of recipes to choose from as well.

Apricot-Butter-canning-pot-with-insert

There is some expense involved in canning at the beginning.  I waited until the canning pot I wanted went on sale ( $10), but you can also pick them up at yard sales.  They sell the canning equipment as a kit with all the items you will need (pictured below ) in the kit.  Well…except for my Granny’s metal funnel.  The flat lids must be used once only, but you use the jars and bands over and over again.  After a while you are only buying lids and produce (unless you have a nice garden).  Be sure to label your goodies (buy the dissolvable labels) with the name and date.  Enjoy!

Apricot-Butter-canning-equipment

Apricot Butter Ingredients 

2 pounds apricots ( this is a guideline, if your apricots are small you will need more than 2 pounds.  Mine were very small and I needed 4 pounds of apricots to yield 6 cups of puree).
1/2 cup water
3 cups granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice

 

Apricot Butter Directions

1. Wash apricots.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Gather a small colander with a bowl large enough for the colander to fit inside, a skimmer (to lift apricots from the boiling water), and another bowl to place the blanched fruit in.

Apricot-Butter-blanching-process

2. Blanch the apricots:

  • Fill one bowl with ice and water.  Set the colander inside the bowl.
  • Using the skimmer, place about 8-10 apricots in the pot of boiling water.  Boil for 2 minutes.  Immediately remove apricots from the boiling water and place in the ice bath.  Allow apricots to sit in ice bath for 1-2 minutes.
  • Remove apricots from ice bath and place in separate bowl.
  • Continue this process until all the apricots have been blanched and cooled.

Apricot-Butter-apricot-meat

3. Now for the messy part; using a sharp knife, remove the skins of the apricots.  Slice the apricots in half and remove the pits and stems.

Apricot-Butter-cooking-apricots

4. Place the apricots and water in a large stainless steel pot.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, until apricots are soft, about 20 minutes.

Apricot-Butter-apricot-puree

5. Working in batches, carefully transfer apricot mixture to a food mill, or food processor, and process to a smooth purée.  Do not liquefy.  Measure 6 cups of apricot purée (this part is kinda messy, too).

Apricot-Butter-thickened-butter

6. In a large stainless steel pot, combine apricot purée  and sugar.  Stir until the sugar dissolves.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens and holds its shape on a spoon.  I cooked mine for about 30 minutes, and I stood over it the entire time to make sure that it did not scorch.  Needless to say, I place a fan in the kitchen when I am canning.

7. Prepare canner, jars and lids:

  • Fill canner with water; you will need the water to be at least 1 inch above the filled jars.  Place jar insert in canner.
  • Check jars for chips and cracks, then wash in hot, soapy water.
  • Place clean jars in canner and turn on the heat.
  • Place jar lids in a small saucepan and simmer over a low heat.
  • It is important that the food you are canning is hot, as well as the jars, and the lids.  The bands should be at room temperature.

8. Using the jar lifter, remove one jar from the canner, carefully pouring the water back into the canner, and place it on a clean kitchen towel.  Place the funnel in the jar, then ladle the hot apricot butter into the jar.  Leave 1/4 inch head space.  Use the measuring tool that comes with the kit to check for head space clearance, then flip the tool over and use the other end to remove air bubbles from the apricot butter (if there are any) by moving it through the hot mixture.

Apricot-Butter-Grannys-funnel

9. Using a clean, wet towel, carefully wipe the outside edges of the jar.

10. Using the magnetic lid wand, remove a hot lid from the saucepan and place on top of the jar.  Place a band over the lid and tighten only fingertip-tight.

11. Using the jar lifter, place the filled jar back inside the canner, and continue the process until all the jars are filled.  If you do not have enough Apricot Butter to fill a jar (like at the end), that partly filled jar can be placed in the refrigerator after it cools.  You should consume it within a few weeks.

12. Ensure that jars are completely covered with water, by at least 1 inch, then cover the canner and bring to a boil.  Process for 10 minutes, after it comes to a boil.  Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then, using the jar lifter, remove jars and place on a clean kitchen towel to cool.  Leave some space between the jars.  Do not be alarmed when you hear the lids popping, that is normal.

Apricot-Butter-allow-to-cool

13. After jars have completely cooled, remove bands.  Check seals on jars, the lids should be on tight.  If you run across a jar that did not seal well, either place it in the fridge and use it right away, or process the jar again.  Using a clean damp cloth, wipe the jars and lids, then the bands.  Replace the bands and tighten.

14. Label the jars with name and date, then proudly place them in your pantry or cupboard.

 

Baby Spinach and Tortellini Salad

Baby-Spinach-and-Tortellini-Salad-salad1

Salad recipe courtesy of

Taste of Home’s 2004 Quick Cooking Annual Recipes

Taste of Home Books, ©2004 Reiman Media Group, Inc., Wisc.

Vinaigrette recipe courtesy of CLEAN FOOD by Terry Walters

published by Sterling Epicure, NY, NY

This salad is so good!  At first you may be thinking…fruit in a vegetable salad?  Believe me, the taste is incredible.  My friend, Carol, made this wonderful salad at one of our craft/sew/eat/talk, get-togethers (emphasis on talking and eating).  The recipe suggests a poppy seed dressing, but I really like Pomegranate Vinaigrette with it.  I’ve included both recipes.

This salad is one of those recipes that can easily be stretched (add more spinach), or adapted to your family’s preferences (add more tortellini).  Start with the amount of spinach needed for the servings you wish to make, using roughly 2 cups of spinach per person, and go from there.  If you’re not a fan of strawberries, try canned mandarin oranges instead.  Enjoy!

Salad Ingredients

baby spinach leaves, washed and drained
cheese tortellini, cooked and cooled
strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
blueberries, washed and drained
fresh grated parmesan cheese

Baby-Spinach-and-Tortellini-Salad-berries-2

Vinaigrette Ingredients

1 garlic clove, minced
1 shallot, minced
1/3 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (I used grapeseed oil)
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon zesty honey mustard (I used Dijon mustard and added a drop of honey)
sea salt

 

Spinach and Tortellini Salad Directions

Baby-Spinach-and-Tortellini-Salad-spinach

1. Cook tortellini, drain and allow to cool.  Place spinach leaves in a large bowl.

 

Baby-Spinach-and-Tortellini-Salad-salad1

2. Add strawberries (or mandarin oranges) and blueberries.  Grate fresh parmesan over the salad.  Add cooled tortellini to salad and gently mix all the ingredients.  Serve with Pomegranate Vinaigrette.

 

Pomegranate Vinaigrette Directions

Baby-Spinach-and-Tortellini-Salad-vinaigrette-1

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all the ingredients except salt.  Season to taste with the salt.  Vinaigrette will keep refrigerated for 1 week.

Baby-Spinach-and-Tortellini-Salad-vinaigrette-2

 

 

Apple Tart

Apple-Tart-glazed-tart2

Recipe courtesy of CLEAN FOOD by Terry Walters

Published by Sterling Epicure, New York, N.Y.

This book is a great guidepost for healthy life choices, with a heavy nod toward gluten-free and vegan, tips for seasonal eating, and info about buying local produce.  This Apple Tart is a gluten-free goodie and it tasted so good.  You can check out Terry’s blog here.

 

Ingredients

CRUST
1 cup millet flour
3/4 cup almond flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1/4 maple syrup
( I didn’t have any millet flour, so I increased the almond flour to 1 cup, and used 3/4 cup brown rice flour)

FILLING
4 apples
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
2 Tablespoons sliced almonds (I had slivered almonds so I used them, but sliced almonds look prettier)

GLAZE
1/2 cup apricot jam or preserves
2 Tablespoons water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

1. Place millet flour, almond flour, and salt in food processor and combine.

2. Melt coconut oil over very low heat, and whisk together with maple syrup.  Add to food processor and pulse to combine and form dough.

Apple-Tart-crust-in-pan

3. Transfer dough into 9 inch oiled tart pan.  Press dough into tart pan to form the crust.  Pierce several times with a fork and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

Apple-Tart-before-baking

4. Peel apples, slice in half ( from stem down), and remove stems and cores.  Slice apples crosswise and then into 1/4 inch slices.  Keeping sliced halves together, fit apples into tart crust and fan them out.

 

Apple-Tart-after-baking-but-before-glazing

5. When crust is full, combine lemon juice and maple syrup and brush over apples.  Sprinkle with sliced almonds and bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour, or until apples are soft and lightly browned.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

6. In a small pan over low heat, thin apricot preserves in water.  Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.

Apple-Tart-glazed-tart2

7. Strain mixture, stir in lemon zest, and brush glaze over the tart.

Super Berry Crisp

Super-Berry-Crisp-my-bowl-of-crisp

Recipe courtesy of 101 Farmhouse Favorites

by Gooseberry Patch 

If you are looking for a quick and easy dessert that not only tastes great, but is also pretty…this is it! I usually think of a fruit crisp as a Fall dessert, because I almost always make them with apples.  However, this recipe is a nice twist on that classic.  The fresh blueberries in this recipe balance out the cherry pie filling and keep this crisp from being overly sweet.  There is a nice tart after-bite, perhaps it would be a little less tart with riper berries, but I really liked that about it.  Enjoy!

Super-Berry-Crisp-blueberries

Ingredients

21 ounce can cherry pie filling
2 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup long-cooking oats, uncooked
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Optional Garnish : Whipped cream (Cool whip or ice cream would be good, too)

 

Directions

Super-Berry-Crisp-berries

1. Pour cherry pie filling into an ungreased 9-inch pie pan; fold in blueberries.

 

Super-Berry-Crisp-topping-mixture

2. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add remaining ingredients, except garnish, to melted butter, stirring to coat well.

 

Super-Berry-Crisp-before-baking

3. Spread oat mixture over fruit in pie pan.

 

Super-Berry-Crisp-my-bowl-of-crisp

4. Bake at 350°F. for 35 minutes, or until topping is crisp and golden.  Optional: Garnish individual servings with whipped cream.

 

 

Super-Berry-Crisp-topping-ingredients