Tag Archives: Fall

Spiced Apple Butter (Crock Pot)

What is a girl to do when she has 25 apples to use up and very little free time?

Apple butter–easy, smooth, warmly spiced, sweet, and tangy.  It’s heaven in a crock pot. 

It takes a long time in the crock pot (mine was a full day and night–probably around 20 hours!) but you don’t need to babysit it at all, so it’s a piece of cake.

Apple Butter (makes 3-4 pints)

  • about 10 lbs of apples (I had 20-something small and medium apples, all different varieties)
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 t freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 t ground cloves
  • 1 C water
  • sugar to taste (optional)

First off, peel the apples.  I’m proud to report that I peeled 24 or 25 apples in 19 minutes, and several of those apples without breaking the peel.  You know what I mean?  One long spiral of peel for an entire apple.

I know.  I was impressed, too.

Core the apples and roughly slice them (again, I strongly suggest you get those apple corer/slicer deals–it’ll only cost you a few bucks but it’s so helpful! I use mine every day!).  Dump them all in the crock pot, top with the spices and water, cover, and cook on high for an hour or two.

I couldn’t fit all my apples in the crock pot at once, so I let the first half cook down a bit then crammed the rest in there.  The apples will reduce by a lot, so you’ll have room!

Turn the crock pot down to low, and cook (I left it covered) for 8 hours, during which time I went to class.  Once I came back, I put the crock pot down to low again (it turns off automatically), and removed the cinnamon sticks.  We had a lot of young, green apples, so my apple butter needed a little sugar–I added half a cup.  If you have sweeter apples, it may not be necessary at all to add any.  Totally up to you.  I propped the lid open with a knife and went to bed.  In the morning, my every apple butter dream had come true.

Toast magic!

I put some into jars to keep (and maybe give away–we’ll see!), and the rest in the freezer.  You can process these jars to seal and store them, but I think that in order to do this safely, there should probably be a higher sugar content.  You could always do a little more research if you want to go that route.

I also had some in my giant bowl of steel-cut oats this morning, with some wheat germ and ground flaxseed.  I was full for a good four hours, which felt great since I was back at my clinical playing with the cutest kids ever all day.

What can you use apple butter for?  On toast, in oatmeal, in yogurt, mixed in a green monster, with your cereal, in baked goods, scooped up with fruit, and eaten with a spoon.  Since you probably won’t be able to resist (I sure couldn’t!).

How gorgeous is that dark brown apple butter?

The spices were a perfect balance–no overwhelming cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice taste, but just enough to fill me with glee about the continuing fall weather.

Fall…I love you.

Here’s our CSA box for the week!  Another small one, but they should be getting bigger soon.  So sad that week 17 is already here and we only have 9 left–I’m definitely going to miss it. 

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under Sauces

Orange Spice Banana Bread

Orange spice banana bread.  It’s like regular banana bread, but sexier.  The kind of sexy that wears an old wool sweater and glasses.  The nerdy kind.

Despite all this, it’s also delicious.

My internet is also still quite unreliable, so this’ll be a short one.

Orange Spice Banana Bread

  • 2 ridiculously ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1/2 C plain or vanilla fat-free yogurt (keep in mind that vanilla yogurt will be sweeter, and adjust accordingly!  I used vanilla.)
  • 1/4 C skim milk
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1 T orange zest
  • 1 t orange extract (optional)
  • 3 T ground flaxseed
  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 C almond flour (or use two cups total all-purpose flour)
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 t each cinnamon and nutmeg

Like most quick breads, this recipe couldn’t be easier.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, mix the wet ingredients, add the dry, and pour into a greased/parchment papered loaf pan.

Here, I decided to top the loaf with whole walnuts.  That’s up to you, though I must say it made a really nice crunchy top crust.

Bake on the middle rack until an inserted skewer comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it, about an hour.

Yum!  I’m by no means an expert at creating breads, but this one came out perfectly–dense and moist like any banana bread, but still light enough to eat two slices at once (or three, if you are Fritz).

The orange flavor is pretty subtle, and you could ramp it up a bit with more orange zest (or sub OJ for the skim milk?  More sugar there, though).

Perfect with a pat o’ butter, and I know exactly what my breakfast will consist of early tomorrow morning.

 

Actually, I’m not really sure.  Steel-cut oats have been calling my name for a couple of days, too.  But if I have those for breakfast, than a slice of this bread will definitely be a part of second breakfast (movie/book, anyone?). 

Tomorrow morning Fritz and I are heading to go to one of my top fall destinations, Westchester County (in NY), to go apple picking/pumpkin picking/hay riding/hot apple cider drinking/apple cider donut eating with some friends–and I can’t wait!  I’m confident I will return with at least a thousand photos (just kidding! Maybe…), and that the 67 degree weather tomorrow calls for boots.

Hallelujah.

Henry’s plans for tomorrow largly consist of this:

10 Comments

Filed under Breads

Roasted Tomato Bisque

I’m over at Cait and Jeff’s house, stealing their internet to blog while we wait for Jersey Shore to start.  There’s leftover apple crisp warming up in the oven and their adorable Westie puppy is lovin’ all over Fritz.  It’s a good life.

So yesterday, I decided to make soup to celebrate the beginning of fall.

You may have noticed that I’ve celebrated the beginning of fall multiple times despite the fact that the autumnal equinox has yet to actually occur.  I also got super excited tonight when Fritz and I went out to the car and realized how COLD it was outside–I had to run back in to get my absolute favorite Fritz/old man/wool sweater. 

I’ll give you one guess what my favorite season is.

Roasted Tomato Bisque (from the CIA’s Book of Soups)

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3 baby leeks (or one normal-sized leek)
  • 1 onion (I used three small shallots)
  • 3-4 large tomatoes (about 2 lbs)
  • 2 C vegetable broth
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 C long grain white rice
  • salt to taste

I didn’t end up using the can of diced tomatoes, because the tomatoes I had were more than enough.  Before you get started, slice the majority of the tomatoes (you want about a cup of chopped tomatoes left over) 1/2″ thick and lay them on a lightly oiled baking sheet.  Roast the tomatoes at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes, then set them aside to cool so you can dice ’em.

Take the remaining tomato and dip it in boiling water for a few minutes and then in cold water–that will make the skin peel off so you can chop it and set that aside.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large soup pot, and add the diced leeks and shallots.  Cook for a few minutes until soft, then add the tomatoes (both roasted and peeled), thyme, and broth.  Let the soup simmer for about half an hour, then add the rice and simmer until the rice is cooked, about another 15 minutes.  Add the balsamic vinegar and salt to taste.

Pour the soup into a blender and puree until smooth (or use an immersion blender, if you were lucky enough to have your mother-in-law give you a fantastic one as a gift and you didn’t break it by trying to blend ice with it).

Serve right away–this soup is really thick and satisfying, not like a can of good ol’ Campbell’s soup.

And in case you were wondering what makes a bisque a bisque, they are soups of French origin usually made from a broth of a crustacean (not this soup) or a creamy soup from roasted and pureed vegetables (yup!).

The addition of rice to this soup makes it so creamy–without the cream.  I’ll take that any day!

We also picked up our CSA box number 16–it’s the first time you’ve seen pictures of the box in a while, because of 12 & 13 passed by while we were on vacation, 14 was cancelled from the hurricane, and 15 was picked up by Fritz when I was in classes.  The box is still looking a little sparse because of the hurricane, but some winter crops should be picking up soon–yay!

9 Comments

Filed under Soups/Stews

Comfort Food: Apple Crisp Edition

Apple crisp isn’t going to change your life.  I can promise you that.

But what it might do is make you feel like everything is all right with your world; that your insides are warm and fuzzy and nothing bad can happen.  And that nothing makes you feel better than ice cream melting into cinnamon and nutmeg with warm apples and crunchy-buttery oats and nuts.

Apple crisp is a comfort food, my friends.  At least in my house it is.  My mom always makes at least one apple crisp every fall, and when I was a freshman at college she drove six hours to visit with a pan of still-warm apple crisp to help me move in the right way.

And that is comforting.

Apple Crisp (makes enough to serve a large crowd, or have lots of leftovers to be warmed up later)

for the filling:

  • 10-12 mixed varieties of apples (Empire, Pink Lady, Granny Smith, Braeburn…), peeled, cored, and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 2 T lemon or lime juice
  • 1 t cinnamon

for the topping:

  • 1 C whole-wheat flour (I was out, so I used all-purpose)
  • 3/4 C almond meal
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 1 C whole walnuts
  • 1 C old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 C butter (1 stick, chilled)
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • freshly grated nutmeg (about 1/2 t)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  The first big step is to peel, core, and chop the apples–and this step is much easier when you have one of those nifty apple corer and slicer things.  I do, thank goodness.  Mix in the sugar, spices, and lemon or lime.  Pour the apple mixture into a large dish–mine is 10′ x 15′.  The apples should come right up to the top (but don’t worry, they’ll cook down later).  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the ingredients for the topping.  Cut the butter (it’s better if it is a bit chilled) into small pieces into the bowl.  Use your hands for the easiest mixing, blending the flours into the butter until it is the texture of sandy pebbles…if that makes any sense. 

Crumble the mixture over the top of the apples, and dust with freshly grated nutmeg.  Bake on the middle rack until the apples are soft and bubbly and the top is golden brown, about an hour.

Please, please, oh please, serve with ice cream.  Warm.

And when you reheat this, do it in the oven and not the microwave.  Your mother will thank you.  And so will your belly.

One of the best parts of this is the big walnuts–and that’s coming from someone who’s not a big fan of nuts inside desserts.

And if you’ve had a hard day at school, or a long day at work, or a fight with your hubs, or you are feeling down for any reason, really…this is your dessert.

Enjoy!

13 Comments

Filed under Desserts

Sage & Butternut Squash Pizza

Fall came crashing into my life today in the most delicious way ever.  Let me teach you the way:

Butternut squash + goat cheese + sage + homemade roasted garlic pizza sauce = the best fall inspired pizza known to mankind.

Seriously.  And don’t just take my word for it.  Make it yourself.

I was inspired by a recipe in a vegetarian cookbook I read through at the thrift store–they are the ones who gave me the idea for butternut squash and sage together on pizza.  The execution is so basic that you don’t need a real recipe, anyway.  But here’s some anyway, “just in cases” (10 points if you can name that quote).

Here’s the basic pizza dough recipe, and here’s the roasted garlic and pepper tomato sauce I used.  The pizza dough recipe makes enough for three pies, but this recipe made two pies.  Freeze the last third of the dough to use some other time!  My measurements are all very approximate–because I didn’t measure and because pizza is so specific to individual tastes!  Just try it and see.

Sage & Butternut Squash Pizza

  • pizza dough for two pies
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
  • dash of salt
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • handful of fresh sage leaves (about 20 per pie)
  • 1/2 C-1 C sauce for each pie
  • 3 oz crumbled goat cheese (to split between the two pies)
  • 1-2 C shredded mozzarella cheese (depends on your personal taste)

Spread the butternut squash and half the sage leaves on a baking sheet (I used a deep glass one).  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the squash is tender.  I did this while the pizza dough was rising.

This is quick and easy.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (the hotter the better!) and set your pizza stone inside to heat up.  If you don’t have a stone, you can use the back of a baking sheet to bake the pizza on, but don’t worry about preheating it beforehand.

Spread the dough out to a circle with a roughly 10″ diameter on top of a piece of parchment paper sprinkled with cornmeal.  Spoon the sauce on top, and sprinkle with the two types of cheese.  Layer half the butternut squash and sage leaves over the top, and add a few more fresh sage leaves.

Don’t forget to brush the edges with olive oil!

Slide the pizza and parchment paper from the table top on to a large plate or baking sheet back, then transfer it on the stone in the oven.  Bake for 15 minutes or so, until the bottom and edges are browned and the cheese is bubblin’.

Best served sliced and eaten immediately so the cheese burns your mouth.

Then again, that might just be my way.

I absolutely love the taste and texture of goat cheese on pizza–it’s so good!  It makes the slightly boring taste of butternut squash become exciting.

Lastly, this pizza is ridiculously filling with all the squash on top–Fritz and I didn’t even finish a pizza between the two of us (but we really, really wanted to).

Have a good night!

10 Comments

Filed under Entrees, Vegetarian

Chili in a Pumpkin Bowl

For some reason, Sundays always feel way shorter than Saturdays do.  I think it’s that impending doom of Monday and knowing that my remaining free time is growing shorter…and shorter…

Plus I still have to do my ortho homework.

But before I do that, I’m gonna blog about the delicious dinner that I made tonight.  It was a beautiful fall day and I thought it would be a perfect time to make chili–and then put it inside a pumpkin!  I bought two small baking pumpkins a few weeks ago for decorative purposes, and I thought it was finally time to put them to good use.  And Fritz was happy with that idea.

Pumpkin Bowl Chili

  • small baking pumpkins
  • 1/2 pound ground turkey or beef (I actually used leftover steak and ground it in a food processor)
  • 2-3 C red kidney beans
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 1 t red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

First order of business is to get your pumpkin bowls ready.  Buy pumpkins that are made for baking so the pumpkin is of eating quality and not just carving quality.

Cut off the tops–make the opening wide enough to easily scoop your chili out of the bottom of the bowl.  You don’t want chili all over your hands, do you?  Then scoop out the seeds and set them aside for future roasting (or throw them away.  Whatever).

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Oil the inside and the edges of the pumpkins with a bit of olive oil to keep it from drying while baking.  Put them in a glass pan, and pour 2-3 C of water around the bottom of the pumpkins.  Let them bake for about 45-60 minutes, or until soft.

You can make the chili while the pumpkin is baking.  Cook the onions and peppers over medium heat in 2 T of canola oil until they are soft and the onions are translucent.

Next, add the meat and stir frequently.  When the meat is completely cooked through, add the beans and tomatoes.  Lower the heat and summer on low, adding the spices to taste (I like chili hot! hot! hot!).

By now, your pumpkins should be finished baking.  Test ’em with a knife and make sure they are soft.  Let them cool enough to handle.

Fill the bowls with chili, add a sprinkle of cheddar and voila!  Delicious!  When you are eating, scrape the side and bottom of the bowl to pick up a bite of pumpkin with each spoonful–it’s even better with the pumpkin.

This is an incredibly hearty meal, and you probably won’t finish a whole bowl.  Even Fritz couldn’t quite make it–but chili is even better the second day, and that’s why we love leftovers!

We also had a great salad today for lunch–trying to eat more raw veggies everyday.  Iceberg lettuce (which I normally hate), chickpeas, diced apple, walnuts, unsweetened coconut chips, leftover pork, and some balsamic vinegar.  I actually enjoyed eating it–and I’m not normally a big salad fan.

Remember how yesterday I went into the city to visit Bre and Eber? It was such a nice trip.  Bre and I went to an Australian bar/restaurant for lunch (and a glass of wine, obviously), then shopped in a few stores before we got some tea and headed over to Bryant Park where we met Eber.  It was so nice just to be in a beautiful city with such beautiful women on a beautiful day.

  
Already looking forward to the next time I see these ladies!  Tune in tomorrow for an update on Meatless Monday–17 bean soup edition!

5 Comments

Filed under Entrees