Apple Butter

Can Fall be always?!?!

Apple Butter

You know how food became a thing (was it ever not a thing?) and people were taking pictures of everything they ate and then that term Food Porn was born? Personally, that term make me feel slightly awkward but that is not the point. It seems that we now have this thing that could be called Fall Porn. Everywhere I look there are pictures of vibrant trees, pumpkins, apples, and of course all the favorite foods of Fall. I can’t get enough of these pictures! I have pumpkins on my desktop and I stop and take pictures every day of trees and leaves. It is becoming an obsession. I want Fall to be always and it looks like most of America agrees!

Fall Foliage

Fall has arrived! A day trip to Ligonier, PA to take in the colors.

When we were planning our wedding I sent our wedding planner hundreds of pictures that inspired me. Most of the pictures were of trees; is that normal? I wanted the wedding colors to embody all of those vibrant hues, I think the final product was pretty successful. I still think about how beautiful it was and the colors that filled the room. I am so glad we have pictures to help brings us back…

© 2011 Misty Winter Photography

© 2011 Misty Winter Photography

Oh, and our photographer was AMAZING! You should check her out – www.mistywinter.com!

© 2011 Misty Winter Photography

© 2011 Misty Winter Photography

When speaking about our wedding I would be remiss not to mention the Fall themed favors we had for all of our guests. My mother and I decided it would be perfect to make her famous apple butter and share it with all of our wedding guests. We made batch after batch and decorated each jar with fall inspired fabrics and twine… oh look I have a picture!

© 2011 Misty Winter Photography

© 2011 Misty Winter Photography

Aren’t those the cutest?!?! I loved making them and I think all of our friends and family enjoyed eating them. Apple Butter is a family tradition. Every fall my mom would whip up a batch after we gathered the freshest local apples. There is something about apple butter that just warms up the soul. The spices blend well with the sweet apples and it makes the perfect condiment for Fall.

Cooking the apples

Just like most family recipes the spice blend is tweaked from time to time. The amounts of each are eyeballed and then adjusted during the cooking process. Sometimes we try a different assortment of apples but it always has the same effect and warms you up all the same. Can you imagine any better way to top that boring piece of toast? I hope I didn’t just offend those dry toast advocates out there. If you don’t want to spread on your toast you can find a multitude of uses for this delicious spread. I know it would go perfectly smeared on some pumpkin bread or muffin. I mean, you can always eat it by the spoonful and I wont judge!

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Apple Butter 

Yields 5 Pints

Ingredients:
4 Lbs. Apples (A combination of Honey Crisp, Fuji, and Pink Lady)
2 Cups Apple Cider
1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
Ground Cinnamon, Cloves, Allspice*

*Freshly ground spices make all the difference! If you don’t have the means to grind the spices its ok to just combine the dry spices in a bowl. The blend is a personal preference in terms of taste so feel free to experiment to see what you like best.

Instructions:
Peel and core all apples and place in a large pot. Top with 1/2 of the spice mixture and apple cider. Cook apples over medium heat, covered, until the apples break down and become extremely soft. Once the apples have cooked, you can puree the apples using an immersion blender. If you don’t have an immersion blender you can puree the apples using a regular blender, be careful when covering as the apples will be hot and they could splatter as you blend.

Once all of the apples are blended or pureed return to the pot. Add the brown sugar and additional spice mixture. Continue to cook the apples over low heat until the mixture thickens and sheets off a spoon. Taste to check for seasoning balance and adjust as needed. Once the apple butter is done you can transfer to an airtight container or you can jar the apple butter by following normal canning procedures (based on the canning jars you use).

Note: If you are not canning then you need to keep the apple butter in the fridge to keep it fresh.

Maple Bourbon Caramel Sauce

I like October, October is my favorite!

Boozy Caramel Sauce

I hope you read the opening with the voice of Will Ferrell a la Elf in your head. I basically said it exactly the same way. Can we talk about the how sexy that picture is? I mean I can’t decide what I love more the caramel or the bottle of Smoked Maple Bourbon? This probably explains why I knew they had to be combined.

I think Caramel and Pumpkin are the symbols of fall and perhaps by default, the symbols of October. I actually came across a quote that sums up my feelings about October pretty accurately…

live-in-a-world-where-there-octobers-free-printable This month is also the month of celebrations. My parents celebrate their wedding anniversary (29 years!), then we wish dad a Happy Birthday (forever 50), and then we finish it out by celebrating our wedding anniversary (3 years now). Lots of celebrating and it always help that nature is providing the most excellent of backdrops. I probably stop and take pictures every other day and then I get disappointed when the pictures don’t match what I see. Clearly I need to step up my iPhone picture taking game; where are you iPhone 6 that I ordered a month ago?!?!?!

Side Note: Did anyone catch that blood moon? I always think I’ll wake up to see all those cool astronomical events but then I don’t. I guess I’ll have to wait until 2015.

Making Caramel

When I was making this caramel sauce I started thinking about halloween. I remember making caramel apples one year during halloween, maybe we gave those away as treats? I wish I could remember what we did with those apples but I do remember sitting in the kitchen watching the caramel squares melt and become that delicious coating for those tart apples. As a kid caramel apples were clearly the best fall treat you could ever have but when you are a kid with braces your heart breaks when you realize you can no longer bite into that chewy-crunchy goodness. I know there are others reading this who relate to that pain.

Caramel Drizzle

As a grown up, I have to remind myself that it’s not very ladylike to bite into an apple on a stick. I guess I’ll just have to do it when no one is looking! It should be noted that this caramel sauce has a nice taste of maple bourbon that really takes it to the next level and is certainly not the type of caramel that you want to hand out to the little ghost and ghouls knocking at your door.

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Maple Bourbon Caramel Sauce 

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated 

Yields 2 Cups

Ingredients:
1 Cup Water
2 Cups Sugar
1 Cup Heavy Cream
2 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter (chilled)
3 Tbsp. Maple Bourbon (Knob Creek)
1/2 Tsp. Sea Salt
A candy thermometer

Instructions:
Add water to a saucepan and then pour the sugar in to the middle of the pan, careful not to get sugar on the sides of the pan. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, remove lid and insert a candy thermometer. Continue cooking until the sugar solution registers 300 on the candy thermometer, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat and continue to cook until the temperature reaches 350 or has turned an amber color.

While the sugar mixture is cooking, place the heavy cream in a small saucepan and heat over hight heat. Allow the creamy to come to a simmer, careful not to overcook the cream. Once the cream comes to a simmer you can remove it from the heat.

Once the sugar mixture registers 350 on the thermometer you can slowly add 1/4 of the heavy cream. The mixture will bubble up, stir until the bubbles subside. Add the remaining cream being mindful of bubbling, stir until the mixture smooths out. Add the chilled butter, sea salt and bourbon and stir. Let the sauce cool and serve with all of your favorite fall treats.

The sauce can be kept in the fridge for 2 weeks.

Apple Cheddar Grilled Cheese

I love October!

Apple Cheddar Grilled Cheese

 

There are so many reasons why I love October. One of them is because it usually starts to feel like Fall during this month. The leaves are already changing and this weekend the temps dropped below 50. There was even a snow spotting. Can you believe that?!?! It is definitely turning in to hot cider and sweater kind of weather. I love it!

Remember when I told you about our friends who run Laurel Vista Farms? I told you I would showcase some of their goodies and I am just now getting around to it. I wish I weren’t such a failure at getting things posted in a timely fashion. I hope you can forgive me.

Somerset Sweet Onion & Garlic Jam

Did you know that Onion Jam was a thing? I have to be honest, when I first saw this I had no idea what it might taste like. This whole savory jam thing has become a real thing. We got hot pepper jelly in our CSA basket and it changed my world. This Sweet Onion & Garlic Jam is amazing! I believe it is the onion that makes a difference. The sweet onion they grow up in Somerset, PA are delicious and I really do believe they are on to something with this jam! I knew that it would be the best condiment for a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s sweet and tangy and when it is heated it has the best flavor that accents whatever you put it on.

Sandwich assembly

When I decided to make this fall inspired grilled cheese I got the idea to use apples. People always talk about pairing apples with cheddar cheese, some people love cheese with their apple pie. I can’t say that I have taken up this trend of apple pie and cheddar but after having this sandwich I think I could get in to it.

I want to take a minute to talk about apples. It is known amongst my family and closest friends that I had somewhat of an apple juice addiction. As the family story goes, I would not relinquish my bottle until I was about 4 years old (that’s embarrassing) and it was typically containing apple juice instead of milk. I had a pretty steady obsession until college; it was then that I decided to give up apple juice for lent and the cravings tended to subside. Today, I do enjoy my occasional glass of apple juice but I have learned to get my apple fill in other ways.

apples and bread

You might get to see a few more apple dishes before the end of the month. I’ll do my best to keep it to minimum so that you don’t get bored of me! For all of my friends out of the area I hope you plan a visit to PA so that you to can enjoy the weather, the apples, and the onion jam.

Open Face Apple Cheddar Sandwiches

Apple Cheddar Grilled Cheese

Yields 1 Sandwich

Ingredients:
1 Granny Smith Apple
2 Slices of Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 Tsp. Onion & Garlic Jam
Butter
2 Slices of Farmers Bread (or any hearty bread)

Instructions:
Thinly slice the Granny Smith apple, the skin can stay on. Take two pieces of farmers bread and butter one side of each piece. On the opposite side of one piece spread a teaspoon of the Onion & Garlic jam. Lay the thinly sliced apples on top of the jam. Top the apples with thin slices of cheddar cheese. Place the second slice of bread on top of the cheese and apples, making sure that the buttered side is facing out. Place the sandwich on a heated grilled and cook until browned on one side, flip and brown on the other.

You can also prepare these as open faced sandwiches by following the same steps as above without placing the additional slice of bread on top. Instead you can place the sandwich slices under the broiler for a minute or until the cheese has melted.

Lemon Garlic Chicken and Israeli Couscous

Shanah Tovah!

Lemon Garlic Chicken

I want to wish all of my Jewish friends and family a very Happy New Year! For those who may not know this is  Rosh Hashanah also known as the Jewish New Year. Also, the Jewish calendar is not the same as the Gregorian Calendar so in Judaism it is not 2014, it is actually the year 5775. What?!?!That is kind of hard to wrap my head around but I do my best.

As I have come to embrace my hubby and his Jewish faith I have grown to love cooking for the High Holidays. Anyone who knows me knows that I love spending the holidays with my family. I think part of loving Fall is because it means that they holidays are coming and that means lots of food, family, drink and conversation. Since the hubby’s family lives in Cali I know how important it is for him to have a piece of home during the High Holidays.

Lemon, Garlic, Olives

I have done my best to master the traditional foods including the Matzo Ball Soup and Grandma Toby’s Noodle Kugel. Each year I think I get closer and closer to make it feel like home. We have even shared these dishes and traditions with my family so that they can become familiar with all of the holidays and meals. I had to prepare them for the fact that the meal tends to be on the sweeter side since Rosh Hashanah is all about ringing in the new year with sweet things (who wouldn’t get behind that?). I probably used a ton of honey and I certainly saw my fair share of raisins in the last two days.

One of the greatest things about coming back to Pittsburgh is that there is a pretty substantial Jewish population. The grocery stores have everything we need and it helps to make the hubby feel even more at home and special. I always had Jewish friends growing up so I feel like an honorary member of the Jewish community. I guess being married to a Jewish guy helps solidify that.

Israeli Couscous

As we were leading up to the holidays I must have been feeling a bit Mediterranean. I decided it would be perfect time to do my lemon garlic chicken. The hubby demanded that we pair the chicken with Israeli Couscous, I guess he was feeling Mediterranean as well.

Let’s take a minute to talk about Israeli couscous. The couscous is also called Ptitim and is actually a small pasta shaped like pearls. According to Wikipedia (this is always a credible source…) Ptitim is more commonly served to children in Israel. You can call it a child’s dish if you want but I’ll still love it. My favorite way of preparing the couscous is to impart a sweet element along with a buttery note. It is literally a side I could eat all alone.

Israeli Couscous

As we celebrate the new year (in Judaism) I will think about all the things I want to accomplish in this year. I’ll also think about the world and hope that we can finally have some moments of peace. I seriously cannot read the news without feeling some sort of despair. Thankfully I have all of you to come to and vent and share. The kitchen will always be my way of dealing with the chaos. Sorry I took a weird somber turn there but you know, you have to be reflective during the holidays.

Lemon Garlic Chicken

Lemon Garlic Chicken 

Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 Chicken Thighs
Salt
Pepper
2 Tbsp. Butter
1/2 Cup White Wine (Chardonnay)
3 Lemons Thinly Sliced
3-5 Garlic Cloves Sliced
1/2 Cup Black Olives
1/2 Cup Chicken Stock
Olive Oil

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375. Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat a large skillet  with lid over medium heat. Drizzle olive oil in skillet and then add chicken thighs, skin side down. Cook chicken until the skin starts to brown and get crispy. Flip chicken over and cook on the other side until it begins to brown. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Add butter to pan, slowly add white wine to the pan and using a wooden spoon scrape any pieces of chicken from the bottom of the pan. Place half of the lemon slices in the pan along with the garlic slivers. Allow all the ingredients to simmer in the skillet.

Return chicken pieces to the skillet and top with remaining slices of lemon. Add olives to the pan and give everything a quick stir. Place lid on your skillet and allow the chicken to bake in the over for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked all the way through. Serve chicken as is or over rice.

Israeli Couscous

Adapted from Trader Joe’s Couscous with Pine Nuts and Parsley

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:
1 Box Israeli Couscous (May be labeled Pearl Couscous)
2 Tbsp. Butter
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 Bay Leaf
2 Tbsp. Honey
1 3/4 Cups Chicken Stock
2 Carrots Diced
1/2 Cup Raisins
Zest of 1 Lemon

Instructions:
In medium pot melt butter over medium-high heat. Add the dry couscous to the pan and stir until the couscous begins to develop color and smells toasted. Add the cinnamon stick and bay leaf giving the couscous one more stir. Add you chicken stock, carrots, and honey to the pot and cook until boiling. Once boiling cover and lower the heat to a simmer and allow the couscous to cook for 10 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.

Finish the couscous by adding the raisins and lemon zest. You can also add other dried fruit such as apricots or dates to this couscous.

 

Turkey Meatballs over Parmesan Mash

OMG!!!!!! Fall is coming!

Meatballs and Mash

You know all of those things going around the internet making fun of people who like the fall? I am all of those things. I get so giddy this time of year, why can’t every season be fall?!?! I’ll drink way too many PSL and eat too much pumpkin based pastry but I’ll love every minute of it. I have already sent the hubby a list of fall activities that I must do. The only downside is that Fall ends as quickly as it begins. I have to hurry up and get it all in before the snow comes and forces me to sit in the house under a blanket…that doesn’t actually sound horrible.

Oven roasted tomatoes

As a result of the seasonal change I am really inspired to make food that warms my entire body. You know, the kind of food that makes you say MMMMMMmmmmmmm the moment you put a forkful in your mouth. I can curl up on a couch with a bowl of this and never move.

The only downside to all of this seasonal change is that I sort of refuse to change out my wardrobe. As a result of moving, I haven’t successfully put away all of the clothes I had out for summer. The idea of switching everything out for fall is too much for my head to handle. Perhaps as the weekend approaches I’ll feel brave enough to take on this task. For now, I’ll continue to believe that it will be 80 degrees outside.

Turkey Meatballs

Also, yes for giant meatballs!!!!! I think I’ll only make giant meatballs now. Meatballs have been making waves in the food scene, I think every city has a meatball place now. I don’t mind jumping on the bandwagon of that trend.

I keep talking about the meatballs that I am forgetting that perfect of what makes this dish so comforting is the tomato sauce. This sauce could not have been easier to make. All I did was roast tomatoes and garlic in the oven and blended them to make a sweet, tomato, garlic sauce that pairs perfectly with these mashed potatoes.

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Turkey Meatballs Over Parmesan Mash

Serves 4

1 Pkg. Ground Turkey
1/4 Onion Diced
1/2 Cup Plain Breadcrumbs
1/2 Tsp. Paprika
1/2 Tsp. Salt
1/4 Tsp. Rosemary
1/4 Tsp. Oregano
1/2 Tsp. Garlic Salt
1/2 Tsp. White Pepper
1 Egg
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. Butter
Parmesan Mashed Potatoes (Recipe Below)
Roasted Tomato and Garlic Sauce (Recipe Below)

Instructions:
Combine ground turkey and all ingredients up through egg in a small bowl. Mix everything together with hands being careful not to overwork the meat. Grabbing a handful of turkey, lightly form the turkey into balls and set aside. In a skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Add butter and melt. Add meatballs to the pan and brown on all sides. Remove meatballs from the pan and place on a cookie sheet. Continue to cook meatballs by placing in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until done (165 degrees). Place 2-3 meatballs on top of a healthy scoop of potatoes and ladle sauce on top. Sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese and enjoy! You may also serve with peas or other veggies.

Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:
4 Medium Potatoes Peeled and Quartered
3 Tbsp. Sour Cream
2 Tbsp. Butter
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper

Instructions:
Place potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Cook until potatoes are done, they should be tender when you poke with a fork. Drain potatoes and return to pan. Add remaining ingredients to the pan and mash together, careful not to overwork your potatoes they can get gummy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If needed add a little milk to create a smoother texture.

Roasted Tomato Garlic Sauce

Ingredients:
4 Large Tomatoes Quartered
3 Large Cloves of Garlic Peeled
2 Tsp. Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tsp. Grated Parmesan
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Instructions:
Heat an oven to 375. Line a sheet pan with foil. In a small bowl combine tomatoes, garlic, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Lightly toss to ensure everything is coated in oil. Spread tomato and garlic on sheet pan and place in the oven. Roast in oven for 20 minutes or until the tomatoes start to wrinkle. Carefully remove tomatoes and garlic and place in blender, pulse until smooth. Add parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. You can pour sauce into a sauce pan and keep warm until ready to use.

 

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