Homemade applesauce

Slow cooking is ten millions times better than anything you could buy pre-made. And thankfully this mantra includes applesauce. If you’ve never tried homemade applesauce, prepare to be amazed. It’s wonderful hot, cold, with oatmeal, or even to use as your apples in apple crisp. So whether you already love the taste, are looking for something cheaper, healthier or just plain better than store bought applesauce, get out your crockpot and get ready.

Homemade Applesauce
3 pounds apples
1 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon
1 cup water or apple juice or apple cider

1. Wash, peel, core and dice your apples. Bigger chunks are okay, they might just take longer to cook.
2. Grease or butter your crockpot.
3. Add all your ingredients, stir well and cook on low for 7 hours or high for 3 hours, stirring every hour or so.

When everything is done you can much it all together if you like your applesauce really smooth, or keep it chunky.

The cinnamon is optional, so is the sugar. But I like mine sweet so I add sugar.

It will be a light-dark brown, almost the color of applebutter. Don’t be surprised, it tastes good and that’s just the natural process of the sugars cooking.

20140501-173216.jpg

Advertisements

Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese

I know I posted a recipe for homemade baked mac and cheese last week, but this one is a more creamier version and less of a casserole than the other one, as it doesn’t have any egg to bind it together. It’s just as delicious and hits the spot anytime you’re craving something cheesy, gooey and delicious.

Image

Creamy baked mac and cheese with penne pasta and mozzarella

 

Creamy Mac and Cheese

  • 1 box of pasta, you can use macaroni, penne, radiatore, whatever your preference is
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups cheese, cheddar or mozzarella
  • 1/2 tsp ground mustard powder or 1 tsp yellow mustard
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • Salt, pepper, Nature’s seasoning
  1. Cook your pasta in salted water, drain
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a casserole dish or pan
  3. Add butter and cheese to dish, then the pasta and seasonings. Stir very well.
  4. Pour milk over pasta and stir again.
  5. Sprinkle with more cheese if you’d like
  6. Bake for 20 mins with the lid on, and 10 minutes with the lid off. The lid is actually optional but I like to use it so my pasta doesn’t burn
  7. Serve hot! Also keeps well in the fridge for a few days

 

Crockpot Spaghetti Bake

This is a great recipe for when you don’t have a lot of time to make dinner! The end result is hearty and much better than your normal “heat the sauce up in a pan, boil your spaghetti and put it all together on a plate” spaghetti dinner.

Image

One pot spaghetti bake

Using my crockpot marinara sauce recipe (with or without meat), add 1 box of spaghetti, uncooked, and stir. The spaghetti cooks right in with the pasta sauce for a yummy pasta that isn’t too salty or sticky or bland. Stir every 30 minutes for about 1.5-2 hours and you’re all set! We serve this with salad and some garlic bread.

 

Personal sized apple crisp

Okay so I know it’s not fall. Yet I’m posting an apple crisp recipe (gasp). Apples are good any damn time of the year. I also feel less guilty for eating this since it has fruit and oatmeal in it, that’s a healthy breakfast right?

I didn’t have a pan at the time I was craving apple crisp so I used muffin tins instead. The results? Just as yummy apple crisp in individual sized portions.

Individual Apple Crisp

Individual Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp

  • 6-8 apples, peeled cored and cut into 1-inch sized pieces. I use gala or honeycrisp apples, sometimes throw a few granny smith in there to keep things interesting
  • 1 1/2 cups white flour, can substitute 1/2 cup of wheat flour if you’re feeling dangerous
  • 1 1/2 cup oats
  • 4 tbsp softened butter or margarine
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon plus 1/2 tsp
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar plus 1 tbsp

1. Mix up your dry ingredients in a large bowl

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease your muffin tins

3. Toss apples with 1 tbsp of brown sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon

4.Evenly divide apples into each hole in a muffin tin. Mine made 6 large muffins, but I’ve also made this in a 12 smaller muffin tin.

5. Cut butter into dry ingredients then layer onto apples.

6. Bake for 30 mins or until apples are tender!

The bigger muffin pans might take a little longer to cook. I covered mine with tin foil for the first 20 mins and then uncovered them and baked for 15 mins more so the top of the crisp wouldn’t burn.

 

 

 

How to make a roux

Roux are very important in cooking, at least the cooking I do. My philosophy with food is go big or go home. If I’m making something, it’s going to taste good, and it’s going to look and taste how I want it to. Roux helps with that philosophy. It helps me achieve my dreams. It’s pretty special.

Flour and cornstarch are good thickeners. Except cornstarch has a weird taste and consistency in large quantities. Dropping flour in a pot of boiling water is comical. It just boils right up into a powdering, yucky mess that won’t blend in with your soup and will taste terrible. That’s why we make roux.

Roux are used to thicken soup, or as a base for soup, or to make gravy. Soups helped by roues are chicken and dumplings, potato soup, broccoli and cheese soup, pretty much anything creamy.

The idea is to mix flour with hot fat, and then liquid. As it cooks in liquid it gets thicker, but not too thick. How much you use depends on how thick you want to make something and the amount of liquid you need to thicken.  Here’s what you do:

Roux

  • 3 tbsp Butter and/or grease from chicken, beef, etc
  • 3/4 cup Flour
  • 1 cup Milk or broth

1. In a medium saucepan, melt your butter/fat on medium-high heat

2. Once heated, sloooowly add the flour. Constantly whisk the mixture until it turns a light golden brown

3. This is when you can add your liquid. Turn off the heat source and slowly add the liquid. Keep whisking.

4. This is when you can incorporate it into your soup. Pour it into your soup and stir.

If you’re making a gravy out of your roux, use grease the meat instead of butter, skip the milk and add more liquid until it reaches your desired consistency.

Chicken and dumplin soup thickened with a roux

Chicken and dumplin soup thickened with a roux

 

Chicken and Dumplins

This is one of my favorite meals. My family always requests it when I make dinner. It is so filling and hearty and wonderful that it’s pretty much a staple in my house.

I’ll split the recipe up into two parts because you can make the dumplings ahead of time if you want or need to, it’s also less confusing. This recipe takes some effort but not as much as you’d think, everyone will think you slaved all day over it. You can just let them think that, I won’t tell 🙂

Chicken and dumplin soup

Chicken and dumplin soup

 

Dumplins

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 cup milk
  1. Mix the dry ingredients together in at least a medium sized bowl.
  2. Cut in the butter, I usually just squish it with my hands
  3. Pour in the milk, depending on the humidity you might need a little less than a full cup or a little more, so go slow and stir as your pour it in. You want the dough to be sticky but not too wet.
  4. If you are saving the dough for later, form into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap, store in the fridge or freezer.
  5. Liberally flour a surface like a counter or baking sheet. Roll the dough out, making it pretty thin. The baking powder makes it rise when cooking, and the thicker they are the longer they’ll take to cook.
  6. Cut into squares using a pizza cutter. I make mine into about 1 inch squares.
  7. Drop into boiling water or chicken broth to cook. Stir often and they’ll float when they’re done. You can add the flour from where you rolled the dumplins to the soup to thicken it.

Soup

  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Salt, pepper, parsley, Nature’s seasoning
  • 2-3 cups cooked shredded or chopped chicken (you can use the meat off of a rotisserie chicken, bake your chicken, or boil frozen chicken with the dumplings and take it out to shred it, then return it to the pot)
  • 2 cups mixed vegetables (corn, carrots, celery, peas, whatever you have or prefer)
  • 1/3 cup diced onion
  1. Add your vegetables to the soup about 5 minutes after you add the dumplings. They take a while to cook. Then add the chicken and seasonings.
  2. Sometimes mine needs to be a little thicker. You should wait to thicken the soup until everything has already cooked, meaning the dumplings and vegetables. Make a roue and add it to your soup. Let simmer for at least 15 mins to let it thicken.
Old fashioned chicken and dumplins

Old fashioned chicken and dumplins

-The roue is optional and only if you want a thicker gravy-like sauce compared to a thinner soup.

-The veggies are optional! They add a nice flavor to the broth and make it more of a meal.

-Things I like to serve with this are corn, fried apples, biscuits and baked beans.

 

 

 

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

These are a twist on sweet potato casserole. These directions are for one large or two medium sized sweet potatoes, simply double or triple the recipe if you want to make more!

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

  • 1 large sweet potato or 2 medium sized
  • 1.5 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 large marshmallows
  • 1/8 cup chopped pecans (optional)
  1. Wash your taters well and then pierce them with a fork one or twice. You can either microwave for approximately 10 minutes or bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees. They need to be soft inside
  2. Cut each potato in half lengthwise and allow to cool for a few minutes.
  3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  4. Measure butter, brown sugar and pecans if using them into a bowl. Carefully scoop out the insides of the potato into the bowl and mush it all together.
Mashing sweet potatoes

Mashing the sweet potatoes for twice baked potatoes

5. Scoop the mixture back into the potato skins. Top with a marshmallow or two and back for 20 minutes or until marshmallows are light golden brown

Image

Sweet potatoes all ready to be put in the oven

Enjoy! Let me know if you like this recipe

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes