I know I just did a post about apple pie, but, if you know me, apples have been somewhat of a theme for the past month and a half.
For those of you who don't happen to know me that well, let me tell ya - apples have been a somewhat of a theme for the past month and a half! I actually had a HUGE box of apples, plus a regular size box of apples go through my house since we helped picked them off the tree and my dad's house. But to branch outside of my usual apple pie recipe, I found some AMAZING recipes to give some variety to the fun!!
I have made cupcakes, muffins, cobbler - but then I decided to branch out even more from there! My "homemaker" self was yearning to try something else, something more like Little House on the Prairie (I've never read the books, but I suspect that those prairie women did this too.)
I got into canning. Why? I cannot truly say, except for the prairie women inside me told me I could and I should.
(Side note: You know how women talk at times about being able to go through natural childbirth since women have been able to centuries without drugs? That's how I feel at times with cooking, baking, and canning. BUT, just because we can, doesn't mean we HAVE to!
For example: In my opinion, making homemade pumpkin from your own pumpkin puree is just not worth it. It's a long wait to get the puree, and the pie ended up tasting too "gourdy" to me.
Another example: Child birth seems painful and exhausting. If drugs make the experience a little less so, I'm all for it!
End side note.)
Since I have made SO MANY different recipes, I'll just post a couple now, and then maybe some more later, and, if I decide I still like blogging about baking, I'll just post different ones next fall.
Apple Butter in the Crock Pot:
(from Stephanie O'Dea's blog "A Year of Slow Cooking")
Enough apples to fill your crock pot (15-20 apples)
1 Tbsp vanilla
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
Peel and core apples and put in crock pot. I've done both with quartering apples and doing it with an actual apple peeler. Both are fine.
Add the vanilla, and let it slow cook for 8 hours on low. I usually would stay up late and turn it on as close as I could to midnight, so I would wake up at 8 am with it ready to mix the next ingredients.
(Really, if you let it sit longer than 8 hours, I don't think it matters.)
After 8 hours, I usually mush up the cooking apples a bit and then add the rest of the ingredients, and then stir again. I actually used my pastry cutter to mush them real good like.
Let it cook on low for another 6 hours or so, occasionally checking, stirring, and mushing it. It shouldn't be too chunky, otherwise I would think it to be applesauce rather than apple butter. It may need to go longer than 6 hours, and that's fine. It should look fairly velvety and smooth. If you want it SUPER smooth, you can put it in the blender. I haven't done that because
a) I don't have a blender
b) I like it a LITTLE chunky
c) honestly, I'm lazy at that point, and just want to eat it!
(Hey, after smelling this deliciousness for 14+ hours, you'll be just as eager to stuff your face with it!)
Before you do anything else at this point, put some bread in the toaster, put a nice layer of butter on the toast, top it with your AMAZING creation, and DEVOUR it!! AH! Just thinking of that taste of warm toast, warm butter, and warm apple butter is making my inside snuggle each other!!
Serious YUM factor!!
(Oh boy, getting cheesy...)
You can can this too, but PLEASE don't ask me how to can! I am really not that great at it, and I suck at explaining. I literally looked up Youtube videos on how to do it.
Applesauce in the Crock Pot:
(This recipe is from my stepmom's mom, Joyce - who, in my opinion, knows how to make the best apple ANYTHING!)
1/2 cup water
Enough apples to fill your Crock Pot (15-20)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar (Joyce has a shaker of cinnamon and sugar and uses that to sprinkle on top. I just sprinkled separately.)
Put water in bottom of crock pot, fill with apples, pour lemon juice over apples, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, then cook on high for 3-5 hours (just depends). Not terribly sweet, and yet not incredibly tart either. Seriously, it's golden and beautiful - will bring a smile to your face!
I canned this too. Joyce actually told me you can put this in gallon sized bags and freeze them. Lay them flat in the freezer so your space isn't all taken up by applesauce. To use them when you want, take out a defrost, and they should be good to go (to my knowledge, but if I'm wrong on this, someone should correct me).
(From the Finding Joy in My Kitchen blog)
I got REALLY tired of tossing all the apple peels away. So I Google for recipes and found this! I honestly wing this recipe. I got the ingredients from the blog, but I "wing" as follows:
(She used cinnamon sticks, and if I had any I would have tried that. But ground cinnamon is just fine.)
Add enough water to you apple peels to... maidunno... what will be sufficient. (Seriously, I filled my stock pot with apple peels, so I just added water to where it wouldn't completely boil over.)
Add some cinnamon and squirt lemon juice on top.
Bring to boil for 10 - 15 minutes, or if you're doing as much as I was, it may take 20 - 30 minutes. Just let it go until it gets to a pretty pinkish color.
Remove apple peels. Add honey.
I would always forget the honey at the end. Not to mention I canned this too, so adding it later I think would be just fine.
I really think this recipe is up for tweaking to your taste. More honey, less honey, more cinnamon, less cinnamon, etc. But it is a delightful, warm drink to have! I haven't tried the canned stuff, so I guess that's still up for debate if it still tastes good later.
So, if you happen to still have a lot of apples that you need to use up, these are some great recipes to try!