Apple Butter

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Autumn, the years last loveliest smile. Were already half way through the season but it really hasn’t felt much like fall here in N.E Ohio in the last month with the unusually warmer weather we’ve been having, hey I’m not complaining though!  This week, the temperature finally started to dip back into the lower 60s with heavy clouds and even a little rain fall here and there. The crisp air is comforting as I warm up around a fire pit with a hot hazelnut latte from Starbucks in my hand and watch as the wind throws the leaves onto the ground. The sound of leaves crushing beneath my brown leather boots is a lovely reminder that its okay to let things go and to just breathe and have patience for whats to come in the near future.

I didn’t have much opportunity this fall to work with the seasonal produce. I finally made time to swing by my favorite fruit stand up near my Grandparents home in Port Clinton and grabbed a heavy bag of the best looking Gala apples a girl could pick. The first thing that came to my mind that I haven’t made before in the past was Apple butter. Of course I made apple pie as well, however that recipe is one everyone should already have.

This smooth, puree that spreads better than butter is super easy to make and goes great on pancakes or even a piece of toast. Heck, it’s even good enough to eat it off a spoon like peanut butter! However you choose to enjoy it, this recipe is worth making. If you’re looking for gift ideas to your friends and family for the holidays, which are just around the corner, why not make a large batch and can it up in a fun gift basket with pancake mix and other breakfast essentials; Just a fun idea!

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Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Total Time: 50 Minutes

Yield: Makes 4, 8oz Jars

Mise en place:

-8 Gala Apples, peeled, cut in medium chunks, seeds removed

-1 Cup Apple Cider

-1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar, divided

-3/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

-1/4 Teaspoon Allspice

Method of Prep:

-Bring apples, cider and 1/2 cup sugar to a boil in a dutch oven over high heat. Cover leaving lid slightly ajar, and boil 20 minutes or until apples are tender and most of the liquid had evaporated; Stir every 5 minutes.

-Process cooked apples and cooking liquid in a blender until smooth. Return mixture to dutch oven. Stir in cinnamon, allspice and remaining 1 cup of sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat.

-Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered stirring often, 15 minutes or until thickened.

-Cool about 45 minutes. Spoon into airtight containers and refrigerate up to 2 months or freeze up to 6 months.

**Mix in 3 Tablespoons of Pumpkin puree to make a pumpkin apple butter!

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Hot Pepper Rings

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So once again I bought an abundance of peppers that were close to getting soft on me before I could use them up. Naturally I pickled that, because lets be honest, it’s the best way to preserve your food. Plus you can’t go wrong with the divine flavor obtained from the pickling liquid.

What makes these pickled peppers different from my other pickled vegetables, is I turned the notch up a bit on the heat index. Not too intense on the spice though, just enough to give you a jolt of ohhh my! These hot pepper rings are ideal on fried bologna sandwiches, or any hot sandwich for that matter, a great topping for homemade pizza, and yummy in a pasta dish. It’s getting cold outside, so warm up with some pickled peppers!

 

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Pickled Hot Pepper Rings:

Yield: 1 Mason Jar

Mise en Place:

-Sweet Peppers, sliced into rings (I used 7 for this recipe)

-1 Tablespoon Black Peppercorns

-1 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes

-1 Garlic clove, sliced

-{Approximately} 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar, used to lightly sweeten

-2 Cups Champagne Vinegar

-Salt, TT

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Method of Prep:

-In a medium sauce pot over a medium flame, combine vinegar, spices, garlic, sugar and salt.

-Stir until sugar and salt is dissolve; Taste liquid. Adjust salt and sugar if needed to your liking.

-Bring liquid to a simmer for 5 minutes.

-Place sliced pepper rings into mason jar. Add in hot liquid.

-Let cool to room temperature.

-Place in refrigerator until cooled down. Cover and date.

-Ready to eat after 4 hours. For better pickling flavor, allow to pickle for up to 1 week.

Enjoy!

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Banana Compote & Stuffed French Toast

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I’ve been on a weird brunch kick lately. One breakfast item that I feel is overlooked a lot because of the popularity of pancakes is stuffed french toast. Instead of plain french toast coated in a pool of syrup and powder sugar, I made a banana compote for on top and sandwiched an applesauce and cream cheese spread in between. You’ll have to try this to know how delicious it is!

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Yield: 1 Quart

Banana Compote:

Mise en Place:

-6 Bananas, sliced

-7 Tablespoons Butter

-1/2 Cup Brown Sugar

-1 Cinnamon Stick

-1 Teaspoon Nutmeg

-Salt, TT

-1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

 

Method of Prep:

-Melt butter in a medium sauce pan over Medium heat until it lightly begins to brown.

-Remove pan from heat and add in all remaining ingredients. Stir well.

-Cook over medium low heat until sauce begins to thicken, approximately 15 minutes.

-Pour into a jar or storage container of choice and cool in the refrigerator before covering.

-Sauce will solidify once cold. When ready to use, place jar in a warm water bath to heat up on the stove, stirring frequently until softened.

Enjoy!

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Stuffed French Toast:

Yield: 4 People

Mise en Place:

-1 8-OZ Pack Cream Cheese, softened

-3 Tablespoons Chunky Applesauce

-1/2 Cup Brown Sugar

 

-3 Eggs, beaten

-1 Teaspoon Nutmeg

-1 Teaspoon Cinnamon

-1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar

-Sliced Bread of Choice

 

Method of Prep:

-To make the cream cheese filling, mix softened cream cheese, applesauce and brown sugar in a mixer until fully incorporated, approximately 3 minutes.

-For the French toast, Heat a large skillet over medium heat.

-Beat eggs together with nutmeg, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Using 2 slices of bread per person, lightly dredge once slice of bread at a time in the egg mixture and place in greased pan. Cook on both sides until lightly browned, about 3 minutes each.

-Once both slices are cooked, spread cream cheese on each slice and sandwich together. Spoon compote over the top.

-Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

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Applesauce

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For a good 10 years every September, my fathers side of the family would get together at my Grandparents house in Sandusky, Ohio and go apple picking. This orchard (never did get the name of it, I was too young to care) was run by one man. He always had everything you needed from large buckets to fill with apples, long rods to grab apples high up in the trees and bags to have something to take your apples home with you. This man just recently a couple years back sold his orchard because he just got too old to run it on his own. Sadly my family never goes there anymore I guess because were all older as well and just never make the time to do so.

When we did go apple picking, we would literally come back with 20+ bags filled with apples. I would guess a good 50 pounds. We split all the apples up between the 5 families and everyone still walked off with at least 10 pounds. What is one to do with so many apples? Yep you guessed it bake apple everything!! My favorite recipe out of the apple section would be my Aunts apple crumb pie…but I’ll share that one with you in another post.

I was over my Grandmas last week and she had an abundance of apples she needed to use up so I helped get rid of them by making applesauce. If you love applesauce I highly recommend you buy a bulk amount of apples now while they are in season and on sale and make a large batch of applesauce. You can freeze it in large plastic baggies and pull whenever you are ready to use it. This is great to pack in lunches, or to snack on during the day and makes an excellent side dish with pork!

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Gluten Free/dairy Free/Vegan/Refined Sugar Free

Mise en Place:

-3 to 4 pounds (roughly 10 Ea) Apples, peeled, seeds removed and sliced or diced however you choose. (I prefer to use red apples such as macintosh)

-Zest from 1 Lemon and juice.

-2 Cinnamon Sticks

-1 Cup Brown Sugar

-1/2 Cup Water

-1/2 Teaspoon Salt

 

Method of Prep:

-Place all ingredients in a small sauce pot. stir to combine everything.

-Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes or until apples are soft.

-Remove cinnamon sticks. Using a masher, mash up apples to desired consistency.

-Taste and adjust sweetness/spice if desired.

-Store in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator up to 1 week or keep frozen in plastic bags until ready to eat.

Enjoy!

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Pickled Beets & Onions

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This time of year, I always find myself pickling a lot of fruits and vegetables. (Currently I’m experimenting with beets and onions.) Last year I infused vodka a few ways and this year I’m looking to go a different direction and infuse gin. My first attempt is going to be a pickled beet gin hence why I’ve begun pickling beets, more on that later. Moving forward, I’m doing a combined post with the pickled beets and onions for the reason that they both use the exact same ingredients and measurements…I just pickled them separately. I have a few recipes that will be posted down the road using each of these pickled vegetables, until then you can use the beets and onion on top of salads!

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Mise en Place:

-2 Cups Red Wine Vinegar

-2 Cups Granulated Sugar

-1/4 cup Salt TT

-2 Bay leaves

-10 Black Peppercorns

-1 Teaspoon Fennel Seed

-1 Red Onion, Julienne thin OR 4 Beets roasted until soft (Approximately 45 minutes @350 degrees) and peeled.

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Additional Tools:

-1 Pot

-Mason Jar or other pickling jar

Method of Prep:

-Over medium heat, stir sugar into vinegar until dissolved. Add in spices and bring to a boil.

-Place vegetable of pickling choice into picking jar. Once vinegar has come to a boil, cook for and additional 3 minutes and pour over vegetables.

-Let liquid cool to room temperature. cover with a lid and place in refrigerator for up to 2 days before using.

Enjoy!

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