Applesauce

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It’s apple season and this  weekend was applesauce Sunday.  I like cranberry sauce with most of my chicken or turkey dishes and applesauce with pork dishes and now I’m stocked up for the winter.  Applesauce also makes a nice addition to a bowl of oatmeal or just as a snack.  One of my sister-in-laws thinks my applesauce is the best and she wanted my secret recipe.  There is no secret recipe.  No secret ingredients.  No sugar.  No spice.  My applesauce is just apples.  A variety of apples.  The variety is the only secret and there is no hard and fast rule.  Just combine some tart, some sweet.  Some that cook down more quickly, some that remain firmer.

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Peel, core, and slice the apples.  A peeler, corer, slicer machine is very handy.  A friend with two extra hands to peel, core, and slice and keep you company while they work is great too.

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Put the prepared apples into a large, heavy kettle and add about 1 cup of water.  Cover and cook over medium heat opening the lid and stirring occasionally.  Once the apples cook down a bit, uncover, and use your wooden spoon or a potato masher to get the apples to the consistency you prefer.  We like chunky applesauce.  Once it’s reached the desired “chunkiness” turn the heat to low,

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Sterilize your jars and lids in a hot water bath.  Put the hot applesauce into the hot jars leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean cloth to make sure there is nothing to interfer with the seal.  Put the lid and ring on the jar.

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Process the jars in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.  Remove the jars and place on a heavy towel and allow them to cool completely.

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Store the jars in a cool place.  Remove the rings from the jars before storing them.  Making applesauce is a little time consuming but simple process.  This winter you’ll  be happy you did it.

NOTE:  One bushel of apples made 35 pints of sauce with a little extra left for dinner that night.  Last year I added 20-25 red hot candies to a couple of my batches of sauce.  It gave the sauce a nice pink tint and added a little cinnamon flavor.

 

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Hats…tis almost the season

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Eight years ago last month I made the decision to quit smoking after far too many years of indulging that bad habit.  I still have plenty of bad habits, just not that one.  To help keep my hands and mind busy I decided to replace my cigarettes with knitting needles and took a knitting class.  I LOVED it.  While cigarettes have gotten increasingly more expensive I can’t honestly say that my knitting habit has saved me significant amounts of money.  But, I have knit some beautiful things and that gives me great satisfaction.  My new “habit” also brought me together with the greatest group of women ever…the Knit Wits we call ourselves.  We usually meet once a week for lunch and knitting or shopping, or road trips.  We have such good times together.  We are all truly blessed to have each other plus, as a bonus, warm hats and scarves and mittens and sweaters.

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(I need a better model for my children’s hats than an owl.)

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Fruit Tarts aka Individual Fruit Pizzas

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I have made “fruit pizza” for  desserts for years.  It gives one the illusion or delusion of a “healthy” dessert, it looks pretty, and it’s easy to make.   And, for me, it brings back fond memories of a dear friend who made this dessert for us with white peaches and blueberries.  I decided this time around to make individual tarts rather than making the dessert in a pizza or jelly roll pan.  The dessert has a sugar cookie base.  You can make your own sugar cookie dough and cut out shapes or you can buy already prepared Pillsbury sugar cookie dough which is what I did.  I baked the cookies the night before and baked them a little longer than recommended to help crisp them up so they wouldn’t get soggy.  If you’re using a pizza or jelly roll pan, pat the dough (an 18 oz tube of sugar cookie dough) evenly into an ungreased pan and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.  Allow it to cool completely before moving on to the next step.

You can use whatever fruits you choose.  I would recommend using fresh rather than previously frozen fruit.  I used blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, and mandarine oranges.  Or you can use white peaches and blueberries like my friend did.  I liked the combination to be colorful.

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Once the base has been baked and cooled prepare the next layer.

Ingredients:

8 oz package of cream cheese at room temperature

8 oz container of mascarpone cheese at room temperature

1 cup powdered sugar

8 oz container of coolwhip

1 tsp vanilla extract

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Combine all of the ingredients, cream together, and spread a generous spoonful on each cookie or distribute over the cookie base.

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Next wash and pat your fruit dry.  My blackberries and grapes were rather large so I cut those in half.   Place the fruit on the cream filling.

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Lastly I add a fruit juice glaze.

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

3 T cornstarch

1 cup orange juice (I used orange mango)

1/4 cup pineapple juice

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Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together in a small sauce pan.  Add the juices and cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil and begins to thicken.  Remove the glaze from the heat and allow it to cool completely before brushing it on the fruit.  I use a little pastry brush.  There you have it.  A beautiful little sweet treat that you’d be proud to serve your guests.

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The individual fruit tarts were a first for me but I think I will continue to make them this way in the future.  While it’s a little fussier and more time consuming I think the presentation is best!

NOTE:  If you are starting with 24 cookies half the cream filling and glaze are sufficient.  You might just want to cut both recipes in half.

 

Edible Acorns

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This is the Fall of acorns.  It’s almost dangerous walking outdoors!  The squirrels and chipmunks and deer are enjoying the bounty. There are a few real acorns in this picture but mostly they are edible chocolate and nutter butter treats.  A little something that is easy and adorable to put out for guests this Fall.  All you need is a bag of Hersey Kisses (pick your favorite flavor), a bag of Nutter Butters, chocolate chips and a few extra chips to melt for “glue.”

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Dab a little melted chocolate onto one side of the nutter butter and glue on a kiss.

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I set them on a wax paper lined tray (actually a pizza pan) and let the chocolate set. Once the chocolate has hardened, using more chocolate glue, attach a chocolate chip to the other side.  Voila!  Edible acorns.

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Enjoy!

NOTE:  Depending on how many acorns you want to make you may need two bags of nutter butters for one bag of kisses.  If you’re a perfectionist you’ll find Nutter Butter needs a little more quality control.  Lots of lopsided or upside-down cookies.

Country Style Pork Ribs and Cabbage

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I think this is kind of a comfort dish.  Something your mom or grandma would have fixed for supper.  My grandmother (Mummu) used to make a boiled dinner which was very similar in taste except she would add potatoes and carrots.  There is definitely  nothing gourmet or exotic about boiled dinner but it’s a hearty meal.   I generally make country ribs with some kind of barbeque sauce and I might serve them with some boiled, buttered cabbage and red skin potatoes.  But I decided to use my slow cooker aka crockpot and let this go all day.  A slow cooker going always makes the house smell good to me, especially when I have sauerkraut or cabbage cooking.

Ingredients:

2 pounds or so of pork country ribs

1 medium head green cabbage

1 large white onion

1 or 2 tart, firm apples (I used honey crisp but granny smith is best)

1/2 cup cider vinegar

2 T brown sugar

1 cup chicken broth

olive oil for sautéing onions and searing ribs

garlic powder

salt and coarse black pepper

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Core and slice  the cabbage and slice the onion.

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Peel, core and slice your apple(s).

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Heat some olive oil, about a tablespoon, in a heavy skillet and saute the onions until they are tender and golden.

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While the onions are cooking put the cabbage and apple in the slow cooker.

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Generously season both sides of the ribs with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Add the onion to the slow cooker and sear both sides of the seasoned ribs in the same skillet.  Add a little more olive oil if necessary.

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Put the ribs in the slow cooker atop the cabbage, apples and onions.

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Deglaze your skillet with the cider vinegar scraping up any browned bits.  Add the brown sugar and broth to the skillet.  Remove from the heat and pour over the ribs in the slow cooker.  Set the slow cooker on low and let it do the rest of the work for you.  I let it cook for approximately 8 hours.  The pork was fall off the bones tender and the cabbage was perfect.

I served it with sweet potatoes whipped up with a little cream cheese, brown sugar and a shake of cinnamon.

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I loved it!  My husband got out the bottle of steak sauce.  He likes things a little more kicked up.  So next time I think I’ll go back to saucing the ribs and boiling the cabbage.

NOTE:  You could also add carrots and potatoes to the slow cooker and have your entire supper in one pot.  More like my grandmother’s boiled dinner.  The slow cooker will look like it’s too full but the cabbage cooks down significantly.