Friday, October 24, 2014

Applesauce Making

Earlier this week my mom came over and we made applesauce. Boy did we make applesauce. We started with three bushels of apples, one bushel for three different types, and we made them all. Last year we had the same amount but go so tired towards the end that we quit a little early. This year we toughed it out and four hours later we had about fifteen or so containers of delicious applesauce. 

So funny story. We planned on canning everything as you can see above. We put the first batch into the canning pot, which consisted of 4 quart jars full of our applesauce and when we opened the pot fifteen minutes later to check on it we found that two of the jars had completely shattered in the pot. So after we regrouped we ended up deciding to just freeze everything. We had bought tupperware containers to freeze some anyways so it worked out perfectly. Then we left the canning pot full of water and broken glass for Seth to clean up because we couldn't figure out how to clean it up and it was really heavy. 

For those of you that make your applesauce every year, if you do not have the fruit and vegetable strainer attachments for your Kitchen Aid mixer then you are making your applesauce all wrong. We chopped up the apples, skin on, to help them cook faster, cooked them, and then we placed them on the tray of the attachment and squished them down the tube and magically out came applesauce and the skins and yucky stuff came out the front, separate from the sauce. It's kind of like magic! And it saves so much time when making applesauce. Also, we don't add any sugar to our applesauce. If you make your applesauce with different types apples, you will get a wonderful, sweet, unique flavor that requires zero added sugar.

Aside from the containers that we froze I also made five pouches for William using the Fresh Squeezed Squeeze Station that I will be using for all of his homemade baby foods. This was the first chance that I had to try out the squeeze station and I love it! The whole dealio is that you puree the food and then, using the squeeze station, you squeeze/push it into squeeze bags. You can then freeze the food right in the bags until baby is ready for them. They even sell a spoon attachment, which you attach to the top of the bag so you can feed baby directly from the bag when they are too little to squeeze the food out themselves. It's like those squeezey applesauces you can buy in store but better because you make the food yourself!

We did have six apples leftover at the end, they just didn't fit in the last batch so opted to leave them out for eating rather than cooking them down. I can't wait to dive into our delicious applesauce this winter, it's wonderful eaten traditionally or warmed up over ice cream or fruit crisp. Has anyone else canned/made applesauce this season?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Recipe // Roasted Peppers + Onion

Originally, this recipe was supposed to be a roasted potato side dish. But when I went to wash the potatoes that were in my pantry, they were yucky. Poop. I still wanted to share some sort of roasted side dish type recipe and since I had like seven bell peppers in my fridge I thought I would share this easy recipe for Roasted Peppers + Onion.

This little concoction is so easy to make and is also quite versatile. Add to shredded chicken for taco night, put it in a bowl with brown rice and tofu, really the possiblities are endless. I've been putting it on salad with breaded chicken breasts and bleu cheese dressing (because bleu cheese goes with everything).

Yields: ~4 servings          Prep Time: 10 minutes          Cook Time: 15 minutes          Total Time: 25 minutes

1/2 red onion
4 bell peppers in various colors
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp dried parsley

1. Preheat oven to 375°. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Peel and dice the onion and spread it across the foil.

3. Wash and dice the papers and spread across the foil.

4. Drizzle olive oil over the peppers and onion and toss to coat. Sprinkle the seasonings over top and toss again, being sure to keep the peppers and onion in an even, single layer.

5. Place in the preheated oven and cook for 15-20 minutes, tossing halfway through roasting, or until peppers and onion are tender and browned. Serve warm.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Taking Stock Vol XII

making: crockpot BBQ chicken for dinner tonight.

cooking: Thanksgiving recipes to post on the blog.

drinking: water.

reading: Last Call by Rob Cornell

wanting: it to remain light longer in the evenings.

crafting: a top secret DIY tutorial for an upcoming post.

wishing: William would go to bed before 11pm. 

enjoying: the sunshine.

waiting: for Seth to get home so we can all go for a walk.

liking: past episodes of the Joy the Baker podcast.

wondering: how long it will take for William to get used to his new sleep routine.

loving: my baby boy. He's seriously the sweetest.

hoping: I can find my missing postage stamps so that I can mail my pen pal her letter,

smelling: baby lotion. William got a bath today and smells yummy.

needing: more continuous sleep.

wearing: jeans and an old t-shirt since I'm just hanging at home.

following: my 21 Before 22 goals.

noticing: that I need to dust the house.

thinking: about plans for Little City Adventures.

bookmarking: free for Kindle books on Amazon. I never realized how many free books are available for download.

thanking: my little brother for stopping by to visit me and William. I missed my not so little, college student brother.

giggling: at the new fall TV shows. Bad Judge, Black-ish, Mysteries of Laura to name a few, are some of my favorite new TV shows.

feeling: tired but organized.

Copy and paste and play along! Leave your link below!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

S'mores Indoors

Along with pumpkin, s'mores are the best fall related food. Don't even try to argue with me. S'mores have chocolate, sweet and fluffy marshmallows, and crunchy graham crackers. Basically, perfection. Almost everyone has fond memories associated with s'mores whether it be spending time with your family around the fire pit at your house, making new friends around the bonfire at summer camp, or celebrating a high school sports win around a huge bonfire. And where ever there is a campfire, there are always s'mores. The two just go together. It's the combination for a perfect fall evening. 

But what do you do when you are craving s'mores and you don't have a fire pit in your back yard or a huge field nearby that is bonfire friendly? Well you make them indoors! No, I am not telling you to start a fire in your home. That is frowned upon. Instead, you can make delicious s'mores in the oven. 

I'm serious. They are just as delicious as roasting your marshmallow over a campfire and in fact, it's actually easier! And your arm doesn't get tired from holding a stick over the fire.

Making your own s'mores is deliciously easy and the marshmallow will still get nice and golden. The best part is the chocolate gets even meltier than a "traditional" s'more where the chocolate never seems to melt. 

Start by preheating your oven to 400° and lining a baking sheet with aluminum foil. You can get away without the aluminum foil but trust me, clean up will be 100x easier if you put the aluminum foil down first. 

Then break the graham cracker in half and place one half on top of the aluminum foil. On top of that graham cracker half place the chocolate and then the marshmallow. Don't place the other half of the graham cracker on top, instead set that aside on the counter. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake your s'more for 3-5 minutes or until the marshmallow is golden brown. I recommend checking on it every few minutes so that the chocolate doesn't completely melt and the marshmallow burns. 

After pulling it out of the oven, place the other half of your graham cracker on top, slowly, smushing the marshmallow a bit. And there you have wonderfully gooey and delicious s'mores.

Classic s'mores of milk chocolate, marshmallow, and graham crackers are delicious but if you are looking for a few unique ways to spice up the traditional s'more, subscribe to my weekly newsletter. In this Wednesday's newsletter I will be sharing six delicious ways to eat s'mores that I bet you have never tried. S'mores flavors like salted caramel hot chocolate, chocolate covered strawberry, and more will be covered in the newsletter. So go subscribe and get some deliciousness delivered to your inbox at 10am EST on Wednesday!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Recipe // Vegan Mashed Butternut Squash

Well looky there. A Thanksgiving recipe in a Christmas dish. Just try to ignore the candy cane stripes and pay more attention to the delicious recipe. I know, it's hard. The Christmas-y stripes are distracting me as well...

One of my favorite fall foods is butternut squash. I love it in soup, roasted in the oven, baked in mac 'n cheese, and now I love it mashed. William has a dairy intolerance of some sort (and to be honest, I do too but I usually just ignore because I love cheese) which means that I probably shouldn't eat dairy either since he gets his food from me. You have no idea how hard this is for me. Sometimes I cheat but then I pay for it by having to catch baby puke. Awesome. Knowing that Thanksgiving is coming and I need to limit my dairy intake on Turkey Day, I thought that I should combine my favorite fall food, butternut squash, with one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes, mashed potatoes, but make it William-friendly. And thus, Vegan Mashed Butternut Squash was born.

This is a smooth dish full of flavor and much lighter on the stomach than mashed potatoes would be. Don't go into this expecting a mashed potato texture or you will be sorely disappointed. Potatoes and squash have a much different texture when cooked, so this dish is a bit stringy compared to creamy mashed potatoes. But like I said, it's feels much lighter and it includes no dairy whatsoever. 

Yields: 4 servings          Prep Time: 45 minutes          Cook Time: 10 minutes         Total Time: 55 minutes

1 medium-large butternut squash
1 cup (or more) unsweetened almond milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp dried sage leaves

1. Peel and cut squash into cubes.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add peeled squash. Bring back to a boil and then let simmer for about 30 minutes or until tender. Drain and put squash into a large bowl.

3. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease an 8x8 baking dish or 4 individual oven-safe ramekins (placed on a baking sheet) with vegetable oil cooking spray. Set aside.

4. Add garlic and sea salt to squash. Using a fork, mash the squash while mixing it with the garlic and salt. Then, add 1/2 cup of almond milk and mash/mix the ingredients together. You can also use a hand mixer. Slowly add 1/4 cup more milk until you are happy with the consistency. Add dried sage and mix everything with a spatula or wooden spoon.

5. Pour the mashed quash into the greased baking dish or ramekins and smooth the top into an even layer. Top with a pinch of sea salt and the tiniest pinch of sage leaves. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes or until squash is warmed through a top is a bit set. Serve warm and if you would like, add some fresh, minced sage leaves on top.
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