Tag Archives: Spiced

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. 

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Filed under Sauces

Chicken Breakfast Sausage

Guten Morgen!

My next door neighbor growing up was an older German lady, and she taught me and my sisters simple phrases that we could impress our friends and family with when we went over to her house.  I don’t remember much, since I was young, but I do remember how her house was hung all over with heavy braided ropes of garlic and she was always cooking.  And to my six year-old self, it smelled weird.

Now I’d probably be there all the time, eating authentic German meals and trying to beg any recipes out of her that I could.  And I’d like to think that my nose has grown more sophisticated–what smelled weird would now smell absolutely delicious.

Anyway, this post has nothing to do with Deutschland.  Just a nice memory I thought I’d share.

This morning I woke up early (which is now weirdly normal for this previously late sleeper) and thought to myself, “I would like…some sausage.”  Not something I usually think upon opening my eyes at 7:00 in the morning–but with some free time and a meat grinder available, my next thought was “why not?”.  So this chicken breakfast sausage came to be.

Chicken Breakfast Sausage (original recipe here)

  • 1 lb ground chicken (I used one pound of chicken breast, still slightly frozen, to grind)
  • 1 t ground dried sage
  • 1/2 t ground dried thyme
  • 1/4 t ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 t allspice
  • 1/4 t ground black pepper
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4-1/2 t dried garlic (or one garlic clove, minced)
  • 1/2 T maple syrup
  • 2 T olive oil

First, grind the meat–if you have that option.  One nice thing about grinding your own meat is that you know exactly what’s in it.  You can buy ground chicken at the grocery store, but you have no idea how much skin or fat is in it.  Another reason to grind meat is the price–I bought frozen chicken breasts at $1.88/lb, which costs less than buying ground chicken.  Lastly, it’s not as inconvenient as you think–it’s quicker than running out to the store, and it’s best to grind meat that is cold or partially frozen, so having to defrost the meat first before you grind it is not a big deal–just go halfway!

But if all that doesn’t convince you, then it’s okay to just buy already ground meat at the store.  I’ll still like you.

Grind the meat according to the instructions of your meat grinder (mine’s a KitchenAid attachment, thanks to Mom and Dad).

Put it in a small bowl and add all the spices, syrup, and oil.  Mix, but don’t go too hard or your ground meat will turn into mush.  Just combine everything evenly.

Depending on what you are using it for, you can form the meat into patties or just use it as is.  I was making a recipe (you’ll see it later) that calls for only 1/2 lb of sausage, so I shaped the remainder into patties on wax paper, wrapped it in a big ziploc, and froze it for later. 

I’m really into the freezing extra for later thing right now–it’s so exciting later in the week when you remember you have it and all you have to do is defrost.  It doesn’t take any more time or effort to make extra in the first place, but it does make life so much easier when it’s time for dinner and you don’t feel like cooking.

To cook the sausage, spray a little oil into the pan first, either canola or olive oil.  The sausage itself is so low-fat that you need a little extra to keep it from sticking (this is more true for the patties than for the ground sausage).  For patties, cook over medium-high heat for a few minutes on either side, and try to only flip it once to prevent breaking.  For the ground sausage, just cook until the pink is gone.

We were so thrilled with this recipe.  Sometimes the “at-home” and healthy version doesn’t satisfy food cravings, but this really tasted just like a savory chicken breakfast sausage you’d buy at the store.  Perfect for having with eggs, and I’m looking forward to grinding up a giant batch and taking it camping with us this summer.

Plus, do-it-yourself food is so satisfying!  Why buy it when you can make it at home just as easily?

Here’s a little preview of what I used the sausage for:

Henry has been using the cloud cover today to do some serious bird scouting.  He hasn’t left his post in over an hour, and he hasn’t become any less diligent–he does this adorable mumbly mew in the back of his throat when he gets excited a bird is coming near his window.  Quite entertaining.

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Filed under Breakfast

Mexican Hot Chocolate Spiced Almonds

Fritz and I both have a sweet tooth.  Luckily for me, I can usually distract mine from chocolate and candies with fruit–Fritz, not so much.  He says he doesn’t even have a real sweet tooth, more of a “snack tooth”.  The kid loves to snack. Like, he really loves a snack.

Instead of fighting this primal need of his, I try to keep the cupboards stocked with healthy snacks–granola bars, nuts, pumpkin seeds, yogurts, peanut butter, etc.  A lot of snack choices = a happy Fritz.  (This is supplemented by my parents generously supplying him with extra-large bags of peanut M&Ms, of course).

I decided to make a sweet snack that would still be healthier than say, chips, but still have that grab-a-handful-on-the-way-by appeal that a true snack has.  I was looking through Vegetarian Times and stumbled upon the perfect easy snack recipe–Cocoa-dusted Glazed Almonds.  After I made them, I renamed them because they reminded me exactly of Mexican hot chocolate–sweet, spicy, and perfectly satisfying.

 Here’s the recipe for you to try:

Mexican Hot Chocolate Almonds

  • 3 T maple syrup
  • 2 T brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 2 C raw almonds
  • 1 1/2 T unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Combine everything except the almonds and the cocoa powder into a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.  Add the almonds, and cook for three minutes, constantly stirring.

Pour onto the prepared baking sheet, and spread them out into a single layer–this takes a little effort, ’cause they are very sticky at this point!

Bake in the oven (middle rack) until the syrup around the almonds turns a darker brown, about 20 minutes.  Keep your eye one these, because nuts burn fast in the oven and there’s no way to turn back once you’ve gone too far!  When finished, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.  Meanwhile, place the cocoa powder into a resealable bag.  When the almonds are cool, break them apart and toss ’em in the bag until they are dusted with cocoa.

Enjoy!

These almonds were a tremendous success.  They have a surprisingly complex flavor but it melds perfectly with the cocoa powder.  When I was just making the syrup, I was worried it was too salty and too spicy, but once you taste the toasted almonds with it–perfection.  These went pretty quickly.

And they go perfectly with a glass of milk.

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Filed under Snacks

Apple Pumpkin Pancakes and Rum Spiced Apple Cider

Sick of fall inspired foods yet?  Me neither.

I did really well on my two practicals this week (thanks for asking), and am now preparing for a test on Monday and one on Tuesday.  And by preparing I mean Fritz and I made a scrumptious breakfast, did laundry, cleaned the house, I’m blogging, and making a yummy navel orange, avocado, and shrimp salad for when our good friends Bre and Zev come to visit this weekend!  So not really preparing for my tests at all.

But back to the food.  I had some pumpkin puree left over from the muffins I made, and I got to thinking about how I can transform my favorite fall squash into a breakfast food: pancakes!  I also decided to toss in some apple for a sweet twist.  And I hate to admit it, but because it was 8:00 on a Saturday morning I cheated and used Bisquick for the pancakes–but next time, I’d definitely make them myself and go whole wheat.

Apple Pumpkin Pancakes 

  • Pancake mix (for two), made according to directions
  • 1 empire apple, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 C pumpkin puree
  • cinnamon sugar and maple syrup to top

 

Prepare the pancake mix as directed according to package and set aside (I used half skim milk and half water for my mix).  Next, peel and dice the apple.

Add the chopped apple to the pancake mix, then stir in the pumpkin puree.  At first I planned on leaving it swirled,  but I thought it would cook better (and look prettier) thoroughly mixed in.

 

When it came to cooking the pancakes, the first one I tried had a really irregular shape due to the apples, so I pulled out some of Fritz’s egg shapers (?! what are those things called?), which made perfectly shaped small pancakes.

 

Because of the pumpkin and the apple, these pancakes come out very moist and sweet and need very little butter and syrup to finish them off.  I just put a tiny pat of butter on Fritz’s, then sprinkled with some cinnamon sugar and a dash of maple syrup.  So good!

You really should make these.  I love finding delicious ways to use up leftovers!

On a completely different fall inspired note, when I was deep in the midst of studying this past week I made some spiced rum apple cider drink to keep me from collapsing into a orthopedics-induced stupor.  This was mostly inspired by my friends Angie (all the way from South Korea!) and Drew, who jokingly but seriously encouraged me to add alcohol to my favorite warm beverage.  What an excellent idea.

Rum Spiced Apple Cider (serves two)

  • 3 C apple cider
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 t allspice
  • 1/4 t cloves
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 2 oz rum
  • 1/2 T butter

 

Combine the apple cider, sugar, and spices in a saucepan over medium heat until hot.  Divide the rum and butter between two mugs while waiting for the cider to heat.  The butter (even though it seems weird) gives the cider a caramelly buttery taste that is perfect for cold weather.  It also made me feel a little bit like I was drinking butterbeer with Harry Potter.  Pour the cider over the rum and butter, and put one cinnamon stick into each mug.  Enjoy!

Thanks Ange and Drew–this helped me make it through those two tests! Now I need a new drink for the next two…

Today Fritz and I put our dual-control heat blanket on the bed, and actually set the thermostat to turn on at 5:00 in the morning so we no longer need to wake up in 55 degree weather.  Nothing like a heat blanket to make reading on a weekend feel like the most. amazing. thing. ever.  I might go do that right now!

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Filed under Beverages, Breakfast