Monday, September 20, 2010

Apple Butter

Making apple butter today. Combined my old favorite recipe with another and really enjoyed the results. May have to do with the fact I used gala apples instead of granny smith. Not sure. I'm writing down what I did because we want to remember it!

8 cups apple mixture
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 cup basalmic vinegar

Peel and core and chop up apples, approximately 6 pounds. (Yankee apple peeler/corer/cutter!) Simmer with 2 cups of water until soft. (Don't burn!) Put thru largest holes of a food mill, measure 8 cups. (Don't puree!)

Mix apples with sugars and spices. Simmer, stirring often until rounds up on a spoon. Process 10 minutes in boiling water bath. Makes about 4 pints.

No pictures because my camera battery is dead and I can't find the rechargeable one. Tomorrow I hope to try cranapple butter. Yum.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ultimate Peppermint Hot Chocolate

We were given a very large bag of leftover peppermints after a family reunion I helped organize. Besides eating them and sharing them, I have looked for ways to use them. The Everyday Cheapskate, Mary Hunt, has the same problem and in addition to decorating with them (not an option for me where its humid), shared some recipes. This hot chocolate recipe sounded divine so my husband and I decided to indulge after putting the kids to bed. ;)

The hot chocolate mixture is super rich and dark chocolate-y. I think we would prefer it with more mint and a bit more sugar itself, and less dependent on the sweet whipped cream mixture you add as a topping.  But it is fun, and delicious, and RICH. Not something you can drink a huge amount of in one sitting. (or maybe I'm getting old and can't indulge like I used to be able to? Gasp!)

I think in the future we will probably make the whipped cream topping with crushed peppermints but use a different hot cocoa recipe (Alton Brown's is one of our favorites) and add more peppermint extract.

The recipe is originally posted here.

Ultimate Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Whipped Cream:
1 cup (8 ounces) heavy cream, chilled
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 tablespoons crushed peppermint candy

Hot Chocolate:
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, grated
1 quart (32 ounces) whole milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Place the cream, powdered sugar and peppermint extract in a chilled mixing bowl, and beat on high speed until soft peaks form. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the crushed candy. Refrigerate the whipped cream.

Place the chocolate in a large metal mixing bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir the chocolate occasionally with a rubber spatula.

In the meantime, pour the milk into a heavy-bottomed 2-quart saucepan. Whisk in the sugar and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the milk begins to simmer and bubbles form around the edge. Turn off the heat.

Once the chocolate has melted, reduce the heat so the water under the pan barely simmers. Pour 1/3 cup of boiling water into the melted chocolate, and whisk or beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Slowly add the hot milk mixture as you whisk. When the ingredients are well incorporated, remove the bowl from the pan of simmering water and stir in the vanilla and peppermint extracts.

To serve, ladle the hot chocolate into mugs, and top with a generous dollop of peppermint whipped cream. Garnish with more crushed peppermint candy. Serves 4.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bean Salad

This is a delicious salad! It makes a great potluck dish, light lunch or dinner side dish.  It is so versatile - you can change the dressing or switch out ingredients to get many variations. Super healthy too!

(I ate it all before taking any pictures, a shame because it is a beautiful salad full of colors. You can see a picture at this similar version at allrecipes.)

Bean Salad

1/2 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup rice
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained
1 cup frozen whole corn kernels, cooked
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 Tbsp salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Cook the rice and barley, let cool. (cook the corn too!)
In a large bowl combine barley, rice, beans, corn, onions, bell pepper, cilantro. Mix well.
In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, garlic, chili powder, salt, pepper flakes, pepper. Whisk in oil, pour over salad, and toss well.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are one of my husband's favorites. The recipe comes from his sister. They are like big soft pillows of pumpkin and chocolate goodness.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1/2 Tbsp baking soda
1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 Tbsp nutmeg
1/2 Tbsp vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 cups (12 oz pkg) chocolate chips

Cream the shortening and butter. Stir in the eggs by hand just until mixed. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend.  Bake at 375 F for 13-15 minutes. Cookies will still look slightly undercooked but when touched will be firm with slight bounce. Remove and let cool on sheet for a few minutes before transferring to cooling rack.


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