Simple & Savory Homemade Applesauce (Recipe)

With the Fall season, comes apple season!  And we all know there are innumerable wonderful and delicious things, that can be made with apples!
They really are a fruit of so many gifts. But some recipes take a lot more ambition, than others!
If you just want to enjoy the simplicity and goodness of apples, while still having a great celebration happening in your mouth, than this applesauce recipe is for you!
Applesauce is also a versatile food, that can be used in so many different ways. We’ll talk about there here, too.

001_simple-homemade-applesauce

 

  • 4-6 pounds Apples, Peeled, Cored, And Cut Into 8 Slices
  • 1 cup Water
  • Juice Of 1 Lemon (or 6 shakes of doTERRA Lemon Essential Oil)
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar, Packed
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon or Cassia, More Or Less To Taste

(*Optional Ingredients: Nutmeg, Maple Syrup, Allspice, Butter)

It’s This Simple:

1. First, we always recommend you begin with washed, organic apples, if possible.
What kind of apples? That’s up to you! But varieties of the sweet and soft kind, are best when making applesauce. In this recipe, we used all McIntosh apples, and so can attest to the goodness of an applesauce made with that variety!  But [Read more…]

A Great Pie Taste-Testing! / $50 to Williams-Sonoma

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Mrs. Smith’s. All opinions are 100% mine.

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Say “I” if you love pie!  And if you love free money, you can put some whip cream on top of that! This should be a fun post for you.
Recently, Mrs. Smith’s asked us to try their new Mrs. Smith’s Signature Deep Dish pies, and also sent us a sweet prize to give away too.

$50 to spend at Williams-Sonoma!

I’m actually one to bake my pies from scratch. But in a crunch, Mrs. Smith’s is my store-bought pie to fall back on!

My husband and kiddos love pie from anywhere, so they were all over this one! So I thought it would be fun for them to have a great pie taste-testing!
And guess what? No one disagreed!
Imagine that.

The kids were napkin-bibbed, with forks and fists.
They were ready to stuff their pie-holes.
(Pun intended.  ; )
Here’s what Mrs. Smith’s was dishing up for us:

Signature Deep Dish Cherry Pie with Butter Fudge Sauce
Signature Deep Dish Peach Pie with Cream Cheese Icing
Signature Deep Dish Dutch Apple Pie with Caramel Sauce
Signature Deep Dish Pumpkin Pie with Cream Cheese Icing

And the kids got tasting, all of them!
And I just took photos . . . . . .


Time to switch plates.

Discerning the flavor.

They were loving every minute!

And you can bet Michael/Daddy was off-camera to the side, tasting them all too.

And also having fun designing some more with the sauces and icing.

Afterwards, each one of the kids wrote down their reviews on all 4 of the pies they tried, in one of my many notebooks.

They were so cute and serious about it. Like real little food critics.

 Here are some of their comments:
“The peach pie tastes great, and the cream cheese topping was better than I thought!”
“One reason I liked the apple pie is because the apple and caramel blend perfectly together.”
“The peach filling was sticky and gooey, which made it even better!”
“The cream cheese icing was a good choice for the sticky peach!”
“I liked the pumpkin pie. The spices taste good with the pumpkin.”

You can learn more about Mrs. Smith’s Pies on their Facebook or follow them on Pinterest


So the pie-tasting began so late in the afternoon, that the kids pretty much had pie for supper.  I did have them eat at least a small and healthy meal afterwards, just so I would feel better about it.
And then their Daddy took me out to dinner. And we had a wonderful time.

 NOW……. who wouldn’t be interested in winning this?!
Yes. A $50 Gift Card to Williams-Sonoma.  And with it, I will also send you a coupon for a free Mrs. Smith’s Signature Deep Dish Pie of your own.
Someone is going to win. And it might as well be you! Right?

You can shop, and then have some pie! That’s what I’d call a good day. ; )


Just follow the requirements below, and you can consider yourself in it, to win it!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

GOOD LUCK TO YOU!!
 

Visit Sponsor's Site

Fresh Strawberries and Chocolate Nachos

If you love chocolate covered strawberries, this unique treat might be just for you.  I really do love them, but I also enjoy things that have CrUnCh!   So a few weeks ago, when I just so happened to have picked an abundance of fresh strawberries from our (garden bed) the day before, I stumbled across this very unique recipe treat from Our Best Bites.  The recipe was fresh strawberries, drizzled with dark melted chocolate (chips), over some cinnamon tortilla chips she had previously made.   Now, to me personally, eating cinnamon with chocolate and strawberries did not sound appealing.  But the idea of dessert nachos did! And besides, it’s not all about me. We’ve got a crew to feed around here, and I was sure my husband and kiddos would be amused if I surprised them with dessert nachos! So I decided to try the recipe, minus the cinnamon.

We had all of the ingredients I needed, except for the tortillas, which I asked my husband to pick up on the way home. Although I did tell him to get the small ones, because they be so much easier to cut into chips, pizza-style, he got the great big ones. So, I cut them as I had planned anyway, and they just came out as much bigger chips.

It’s a simple recipe. So here’s what you do . . . . .

Strawberries Prep:  Wash, drain, cull and slice.  Then I put them in a bowl, added just a little white sugar, and gave it a quick mix.

 Preheat Oven: 350 °

Baked Tortilla Chips:  Melt butter, and brush on both sides of tortillas. Sprinkle-dust sugar all over the top side. Cut the tortillas, pizza-style.  Arrange the tortillas triangles on cookie sheet(s), and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until they start to brown and the edges start to curl some.  When they seem done, remove from oven and let cool.

Arrange: tortilla chips over a large plate or platter, just prior to eating.

Melted Chocolate: We strictly use Hershey’s Chocolate Chips, because they are safe for our peanut-allergy son.  But Our Best Bites seemed to use some good high quality dark chocolate chips, and that’s an option too. Pour an adequate amount of chips in a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave on high for 30 seconds or less the first time. Give it a good stir. *Tip: I always stir chocolate with the butt end of a wooden spoon, because silverware can alter the temperature of the chocolate. You will likely need to microwave the chocolate for 10-15 second intervals, and stirring after each time, until all of the chocolate is melted and smooth looking.

Spoon: Strawberries all over the sugared chips.  Then with the spoon, drizzle the chocolate all over the strawberries.  Add whip cream if desired.

Our Best Bites had much better visual presentation than I did. But ask my family if they cared.

NOT.
So there you have Fresh Strawberries and Chocolate Nachos . . . . .

Share & Enjoy!


Chocolate Covered Sunbutter Eggs

     Last week I was visiting one of my favorite blogs, TidyMom. (It truly is a place for everything! ; )  Cheryl over there was sharing a recipe for her Homemade Peanut Butter Eggs.  Ohhhh, how I wanted one!  In fact, I have been missing Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and the Reese’s PB Eggs that come out every Easter, for years now!  But peanut and peanut butter anything has been removed from our life, since we discovered our son has a severe, life threatening allergy to it.  It was a hard pill to swallow, for this life-long-die-hard-peanut-butter-lover.  But Sunbutter has helped me survive. And anyway, I love my son way more, and keeping him has been worth the sacrifice!   Sunbutter can be found in the organic section of most grocery stores.  We love it so much, we order it online by the case, and also because it is cheaper that way.

     Now, as anyone with a peanut-allergy child knows, Easter and Halloween especially, can be quite the challenge, when it comes to finding a few treats and candy for our kids!  This is because so much of anything with chocolate, has a real risky potential to be contaminated with peanuts, within the factory manufacturing. And most packaging even says so. 

     That being said, I have wondered right along, how well any recipe that calls for peanut butter, could be substituted with Sunbutter!  When I saw TidyMom’s Homemade Peanut Butter Eggs, I knew it was time to find out!  And guess what?  It was a delectable success!  Sunbutter tastes very similar to peanut butter, to us, and these eggs bring all of the joy to our mouths, that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups/Eggs ever did.   This is how they came out lookin’!…..


     So, I thought I’d share how we did it with you all.  Now, if peanut allergies are not an issue for your family, and you’d like  to make your own peanut butter eggs, you are welcome to follow (Cheryl’s) TidyMom’s Recipe.  If you’d like to try the Sunbutter version, you can follow ours right here.  Our recipe using Sunbutter here, was experimental, but we were just switching out the peanut butter from Cheryl’s recipe.  (I  did make one little tweak I’ll mention.)  I got a little help from my husband, because I needed to take photos too.  But we might have done some things a tad differently, just trying to find to make it work for us. It did get messy as Cheryl said it does, but like any project, once we get going and figure things out, we find our groove.

 

Participating Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cup of Sunbutter
  • 5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • *1 Cup graham cracker crumbs

     (*-Cheryl’s recipe calls for 3/4 cups, but the Sunbutter seemed so sticky, we added a little more.)

  • 1 Cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • **14 ounces of chocolate (milk, semi-sweet or chocolate)

   (**-We used the flat Hershey bars with the squares to break, and they worked perfectly!  The ones with the squares are peanut-safe!)

  • 1 Tablespoon shortening
  • an appropriately sized egg-shaped cookie cutter

 

    In a large bowl mix together peanut butter, butter, graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar and salt until well combined. We used our Kitchen Aid, stopping it once and using a spatula scraper to get it all to the middle and off of the attachment.  It was while mixing that we decided to add that extra 1/4 cup of graham cracker crumbs, for a total of 1 cup, to make it a little less sticky.

      Next, put the whole (Kitchen Aid) bowl into the freezer for a few minutes, to get it easier to work with. Then we plopped the whole mix on a big piece of wax paper, covered it with another piece, and rolled it out.  Then we placed the whole rolled out dough between the wax sheets, on a cookie sheet.

    We then placed the whole cookie sheet back into the freezer, to help really firm it up. We left it in for maybe 15 minutes.

 

   After removing the tray from the freezer, we put the wax papered dough onto the counter, peeled off the top sheet, and got cutting with our little egg cutter, right away.  It’s important to work quickly, because the dough softens quickly, depending on how warm it is where you are working. We rubbed just a dab of shortening all over the cutter, and because the dough was really firm from the cold, and the eggs cut out really nicely.  We placed them on another cookie sheet lined with a fresh sheet of wax paper.

   Again (not shown), we put the cut eggs back into the freezer to firm up once again.

     Meanwhile, we broke up all of the Hershey chocolate bars into a bowl with a tablespoon of shortening, and melted it.  Using the microwave, put the bowl in on high for 20 seconds to start.  Remove, and stir with the handle of a wooden spoon. It’ll still be chunky at this point.  Put in for another 10 seconds, and another 10, always stirring in between intervals, until the chocolate is all smooth.

    By the time the chocolate is melted nicely, the eggs should be nice and cold.  So remove the tray, have another freshly lined tray ready, and get dipping!  Now remember, the chocolate is pretty warm, and you want your eggs to stay as firm as possible, so you need to get that egg in and out of the bowl quickly! We just let them belly-flop in one at a time, flipped it over and lifted it out with a fork, as seen in the next photo as well.


    Just tap the fork on the side of the bowl to remove the excess dripping chocolate off as best as you can, and then gently let the chocolate covered egg onto the cookie sheet.

 

     This photo is just to show you what happens if you don’t get the egg out of the bowl fast enough.  It goes soft very quickly.  If at any point you think your un-dunked eggs are getting too soft work with, it never hurts to pop them back in the freezer, again and again. 

 

    As you can see here, putting them down without making them a mess, is not easy!  We felt like we were really making a mess of things, and wondered if we would even have something to be proud of or be worth sharing when finished, but we did! Just like craft projects and the like, when you keep going, you get better at it and quickly find what works better.   And we did get much better at it as we went along……

      Some we placed on wax paper directly on the counter for the time being…

 

...and other went on a lined cookie sheet. 

     Once they were all dipped, the first one’s chocolate was firming up enough, that we could decorate them a little.  We just used various sprinkles for some.  My oldest daughter is great at decorating. Such patience!  So she was in on the helping there.

     After we were done decorating them,  once again, we wanted to chill them again.  There was one more thing we wanted to do to ours, before taking some photos of them…..

     If you like to try and perfect anything you can, when you can (raising my hand..), we figured out a way to clean our egg’s edges up a little bit….

     Using a clean x-acto blade, just trim off the excess chocolate that dripped down and spread when placing the eggs down. 

     We didn’t do it to every single one.  Just the ones that really needed it.

     These are just some.  Some of the eggs we left as plain chocolate, and others we kind of drew in with a toothpick when the chocolate was just firming up.  Do you see the criss-cross one?  That one I used a french-fry cutter plate.  Just placed it down, and lifted!  Look around your utensil and kitchen tools drawers, and see what you can find to use, to make some neat designs!

 

     We were really happy with how well they came out.   Cute!

 

…and OH-SO-GOOD! 

     The salty-sweet melty party in your mouth is just divine!  What I really love about them too, is the little crispy-crunch surprises, from the graham cracker!

      We have all already had some of these of course, and we’ll be enjoying and sharing the rest, right through Easter Day!  We’re also encouraged and inspired, to try more peanut butter recipes that we can substitute Sunbutter with!  One thing is for sure; we’ll be making these again with other holiday shapes and decorations! They are SO worth the mess. (Especially when your husband cleans it up for you. ; )

     Special thanks to TidyMom/Cheryl, for the inspiration, and allowing us to adapt your recipe!

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  If you’d like to print this recipe, just cut & paste the whole thing to a document, and delete any photos or paragraphs you don’t need before printing.

 


 

Betty’s Apple Crisp


Many delightful plans come to mind, with the first inkling of Autumn in the air, and this year has been no different for us.  Baking is one of them, and at the top of that list, is always Apple Crisp! (With a scoop or 2 of vanilla ice cream, please!)

I admit, we are not above some Apple Crisp topping-help from a box. We’ve done that, and enjoy it! But this year, my friend Betty offered us her simple home made recipe for Apple Crisp.  Betty is an awesome fellow photographer in Northern Virginia, Air Force wife, and inspiring Mama to 3.  I took her Apple Crisp recipe (and another I’ll be getting to soon as well) with a smile, and thanked her. Then we baked it with a smile.  Then we ate it, until it was gone, smiling the whole dang time.  ( Well, over 2 days. ; )  Today, I am sharing Betty’s simple recipe with you, with her permission of course. Since it’s definitely Taste-Test Approved! (6x!)

Betty’s Apple Crisp

6 cups sliced *apples
1 cup white sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp cinnamon

* Tart and firm apples are recommended, such as Cortlands, Winesap or Fuji.  We used Cortlands.

Directions: Line apples on bottom of a 9×9 pan. Combine other ingredients and sprinkle on top of apples. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

Betty’s Warm Tip: I typically use enough apples to fill the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish and adjust the amounts of the ingredients in the topping accordingly instead because we eat it up so quickly!

It was such a delightful Autumn treat! (And not the only one we’ve had this season. We may be putting on our winter coats around here, and they aren’t coming out of the closet, if you know what I mean. ; )

There are so many delicious recipes to make with apples, and Autumn brings the blessing of getting them fresh off the apple trees of New England.  But some apples are just as delicious as they are, biting right into them, and devouring them to the core.   I have found the variety is apples are so vast, and they can be very, very different in taste and texture. I can’t say I am fond of every variety.  Hard and tart/sour ones to eat as is, are hard for me. (I get the willies?) But this year, I found my absolute very favorite,  to eat just as it is.

Galas

Oh. My.  Soft, sweet, juicy, and perfect for me.

So tell us…

What is your favorite apple variety, to eat straight up?

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