How to Freeze Apple Pie Filling – Easy!

When it comes to making and preserving Apple Pie Filling, you have a few choices. You can can it (can can, can you do the can can, can you…). You can freeze it, which I will describe here today. Or (and this is by far the most novel idea of them all) you can put the filling directly into a pie crust and bake it immediately.

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It all comes down to how much freezer space you have, how much pantry space you have, if you love canning produce, if you have plenty of jars, or if you really just want to eat an apple pie after dinner on this very day.

But really most of it comes down to apples. You can’t do any of this if you don’t have apples.

So…do you have apples? I have apples. This year I decided that the easiest way for me to preserve Apple Pie Filling is to freeze it.

If you want to can apple pie filling so that you can store it in your pantry, you can learn how to do that here. You should know that I break out in a sweat every single time I type the word p-a-n-t-r-y. I re-read it four hundred and eighty times to make sure I didn’t leave out the “r” because that would bring a whole new unintended meaning to my sentence.

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Here’s how to freeze apple pie filling:

1. Wash, core, and slice apples into a large bowl. I leave the peeling on. (Once again I sweat and make sure I added the “l” to p-e-e-l-i-n-g.)
2. Stir in 1/4 cup sucanat or brown sugar plus 1 teaspoon cinnamon per every 5-6 apples.
3. Transfer mixture to quart-sized freezer bags, 3-4 cups of apple pie filling per bag.
4. Label the bag and freeze it for up to a year.

How to Freeze Apple Pie Filling

When you’re ready to make an apple pie, simply thaw and dump the contents into an unbaked pie crust, then proceed as you normally would to make an apple pie. Here’s my Whole Wheat Pie Crust recipe. Even easier, use the filling to make an Apple Crisp or a Salted Caramel Apple Crisp.

It’s wonderful having prepared apple pie filling in your freezer, and yes, even in your pantrrrrrrry.

How’s your apple supply? Have you been able to get your hands on plenty of good apples this year? 

About Our Garden and Our Cat. Wait. We Have a Cat?

Did I just say our cat?

I don’t even know where to start.

Mostly I want to tell you about our garden, but what I have to share isn’t terribly exciting because most of our garden produce isn’t ready yet. (Yes I know it’s almost August. It’s a Nebraska thing. It’s also a Coppinger thing as we got our garden planted a little bit late this year. We blame this on the Nebraska thing.) So just pretend to be interested when I say, oh look – it’s a picture of green tomatoes that aren’t ready to eat yet.

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We do have a single yellow squash that appears to be an over-achiever. It got nice and big while we were away at camp, and while we wish it wasn’t so big and stringy, it will taste nice sliced and grilled along with some barbecue chicken. Otherwise though, there are no more squash ready.

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As you can hopefully see below, we have two tiny zucchini which will be ready soon. All the squash plants are full of flowers, so in a couple weeks I’ll be begging you to come take some off my hands. At the very least, you should share your favorite squash recipes with me.

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While we are lacking in abundant produce from our garden so far this year, there is one thing we are not lacking:

Bunnies.

I am here to tell you that bunnies are not cute. Bunnies are naughty. Like wag your finger and tsk like your great aunt naughty. Would you look at this?

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What is that in the picture, pray tell? That is a nothing. It was a green bean plant. But now it is a nothing. We have two whole rows of nothings. That is because all the bunnies (every single one of them in the whole wide neighborhood) held a meeting to announce that the Coppinger fam was doing this thing called church camp which means that they were not around to say “scat bunny!” for 14 whole days. They decided to get their party on. In our garden. Within our rows of green beans. Naughty, naughty, naughty.

We have about 1.5 green bean plants that just might survive, which of course will feed our family of six for two bites each. This leads me to tell about our cat.

I can’t believe any of what I am about to write, mostly because we don’t have a cat, nor do we want a cat, nor do we want any pet at all because do I or do I not have enough mouths to feed said the mother of many, many teenage boys.

So this cat. It showed up in our yard over the weekend all hungry and meowy and stuff. Before I knew it, my husband – my husband – was outside giving it some milk. Wha??? We know better than to feed stray cats, do we not? I think we do. “Why are you doing that?” asked the mother of many, many teenage boys.

He was doing it because he was mad at the bunnies.

Oh, well in that case.

Wait. Wha???

No, but really. Matt explained to me (and I’m assuming he’s done hours of research on this) that bunnies do not like cats. Having a cat around might make the bunnies run the other way.

Being quite mad at the bunnies myself, I suddenly joined my husband in liking and wanting the cat.

Seriously, who is writing this? Like, want, cat, same sentence – I don’t even know who I am anymore. But I weighed the benefits. Bunnies eating all my bean plants or a cat rubbing its back against my porch rail? It’s a no brainer.

By the next morning, our ten year old had named the cat Wiggams (or Wigs for short) (or Wiggie if it’s being especially cute). He asked for string to play with it, and made it a home out of a cardboard box (because cats love this).

Then somebody else – who shall remain nameless – found herself scooping some pieces of chicken and tuna from the fridge onto a little plastic lid to put into the cat’s house, calling “here Wiggams” while doing so, because poor little Wiggie looked hungry and oh my goodness what in the world and who even am I??

So are you missing this cat? If so, call 555-BUNNIESARENAUGHTY. Trust that your cat is well fed but now answers to the name Wiggams. If you take the cat, you have to also take all of the bunnies.

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I learned that if you say “look at the camera” to a cat, the cat will not respond accordingly. It’s like he doesn’t even appreciate the tuna. Dude. Wiggams. Just look up for a second.

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Okay, then.

I suppose this story is “to be continued.” Stay tuned to hear more about garden produce and a camera shy cat named Wiggams. But not about fresh green beans -because bunnies are naughty.

How to Blanch and Freeze Broccoli

There was this one day when I saw that I could order 20 pounds of broccoli for just $12.50 and we all know how much I love good deals on good produce.  Then there was that other day I picked up my order and found that 20 pounds of broccoli filled a box big enough for my 10-year old to play in.  This was also the day we had four basketball games and the day I wanted to make heart-shaped pancakes for my family because they might not have known how much I loved them unless I shaped their pancakes into hearts and also because it was Valentine’s Day.  I  never bite off more than I can chew.

I also never can make nicely shaped heart pancakes, which is clearly another issue to tackle another day.

So there I was, flipping a triple batch of ugly heart pancakes on the griddle, packing lunches to take to our basketball games, and staring down 36 crowns of broccoli.  I love relaxing Saturday mornings.

I started a pot of water boiling on the stove, flipped the pancakes, and started to chop broccoli.  I almost (happy valentine’s day) slid the prepared broccoli into the pancake batter, but stopped myself just in time, took a deep breath, and got my camera because that’s how quickly my brain moves on to the next thing.  I am a blogger, after all, which means that just at that moment I realized that I should probably document the project so as to share the broccoli blanching details with you.

Matt suggested I also take a picture of the heart pancakes and I was all, seriously?  No one wants to see these.  So instead you get to look at my pot of boiling water which mostly looks like I’m about to set my kitchen on fire.  It’s just steam though, I think.

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How to Blanch Broccoli

Step One:  Boil water.  One might wonder at the fact that it takes an entire tutorial to explain this process. Don’t worry.  The exciting part is yet to come.

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Step Two:  Wash and cut your broccoli.  (Told you it would get more exciting.)

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Step Three:  Place cut broccoli into your pot of boiling water for 2-3 minutes.  (This stops the aging process so your vegetables will maintain better nutritional value.)

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Step Four:  Immediately remove broccoli from boiling water and run it under very cold water.  (This stops the cooking process.)

Step Five:  Spread the cooled broccoli on a clean towel to dry.  I didn’t get a picture of this.  I was probably flipping ugly pancakes.

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Label a freezer bag and fill the bag with blanched, cooled, and dried broccoli.  Freeze for up to 6 months.

You can use your prepared broccoli for soups and stir fry.  The work is done!

How to Blanch and Freeze Broccoli

If you have a trick for making nicely shaped heart pancakes – do tell.  If you have any tasty broccoli recipes, I believe I’ve made it clear that I would benefit.  And in case you’re wondering, I slept very well the night of the basketball/broccoli/ugly pancakes.  

Putting up Green Beans for Winter

This was originally posted in 2008. This is evident in the fact that Justus and Elias are only 8 and 6 in the picture below. They are now 14 and 12. Time flies – and little boys become teenagers. The green bean freezer method is still the same, however. Since we have been harvesting many the past few weeks, I thought it would be fun to re-post this tutorial. :)

How to Freeze Fresh Green Beans

After posting about how I put up corn for winter, many of you asked about green beans. I just happen to be in the middle of crazy green bean season. So…here you go!!

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After picking our beans, I usually get my boys on “bean snapping duty” right away. (They never complain about this job. I think it’s because they are given permission to “break things”….what do you think?)  They snap off the ends and put the green beans into a colander. As soon as the colander is full I wash the beans to try to get as much “garden” (my nice way of saying bugs and dirt) off.

It is my understanding that in order to maintain as much green bean nutrition as possible, it is best to only snap the ends off the bean…not to snap the bean into pieces. It makes sense that if you snap the green bean into three pieces, when you cook the bean, more of the nutrients will be washed away in the water. But if it’s a whole bean…more of the nutrients stay inside the bean. (And you can have “My green bean is longer than your green bean” competitions while you eat dinner.)

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After washing the green beans, I then put them into a pot of boiling water. This blanching process stops their aging process. (No, you can not blanche people in order to stop their aging process.)

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After about two minutes in the boiling water, the green beans are a brighter green…and they go back into the colander where they are given a cold, cold shower. This process stops the cooking process that the blanching part started.

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After the green beans are cooled from the cold water shower, I then spread them out onto a dry towel. I use another towel to pat over the top of them to help dry them off more. If your beans are too wet when you put them into a freezer bag, you’ll have ice form around your beans. (You don’t want ice to form around your beans.)

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And then, I put my beans into a gallon freezer bag and label it. And into the freezer it goes. I know some people prefer to can their green beans. I don’t can them for two reasons:

1. Freezing them maintains more of the green bean’s nutrition.
2. I’m incredibly afraid of my pressure cooker. (When I got my mom’s pressure cooker, it didn’t have a manual with it. I have no idea how to use it properly.)  I do not need to cause an explosion in my kitchen.

So there you go! As I begin to can and freeze my tomatoes and fruit for the winter, I’ll be sure to show you those processes too! (Yeah, because those don’t require a pressure cooker, just a hot water bath…and I’m not so afraid of those.)

Hot Pepper in the Eye Remedy

Have hot pepper in your eye? Grab milk (preferably whole milk) and splash it into your eye. Aaahhh blessed relief. Then come back and read my story.

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Hot Pepper in the Eye Remedy

First I would just like to say that the number one remedy for bringing relief to the pain of hot pepper in your eye is simply to wear gloves while cutting peppers and NEVER EVER TOUCH YOUR EYE after cutting them.

However, since I was not quite so smart last Friday, I had to come up with another remedy.

It all started so innocently. We needed to leave for our homeschool PE class that morning, but I was trying to get some of the peppers from our garden cut up and frozen before we left. Matt has been the pepper guy at our house most of this summer so I was not aware that some of them were of the very freakishly hot variety. (They were shaped like tiny sweet bell peppers.)

I got all the peppers cut up and put away, cleaned up my mess and washed my hands. I then proceeded to help get the boys ready to head out the door for PE. My eye was itchy…and so I scratched it.

Bad idea.

As if someone had lit a match on my eyeball I shrieked and turned in a circle (because I didn’t know where to go or what to do). I believe that little move is called the Eyeball Fire Ballet Step. I then ran out of the kitchen and upstairs to Matt, who was thankfully home that morning. Neither of us really knew what to do, but I quickly put a cold, wet washrag on my eye. This brought a small amount of relief, which is good because all four boys (who aren’t used to seeing their mom run screaming out of the kitchen) had made their way upstairs to see if I was still alive. At least I was able to look up at them with one eye and a half smile to give them a little assurance that I was okay.

Matt went ahead and loaded up the boys to take them to PE. I decided to stay home and be miserable. The pain was not going away, and was in fact creeping all the way up to my forehead and all the way down to my chin (not kidding), making me feel as though I might pass out. I have a pretty high pain threshold, but wow.

With the cold wash rag over my burning eye, I somehow did a swag search on “hot pepper in the eye” to see what I needed to do. Did I need to go to the ER? Could they maybe take off my face so that the intense pain would stop?

I finally found a suggestion to use a shot glass full of whole milk to wash the eye, which would neutralize the capsaicin in the peppers that was causing the burning. Whole milk I had, a shot glass…not so much. In the meantime, one of the homeschool moms (who had heard of my woes at PE class) called to say the exact same thing (although she didn’t mention the shot glass).

Using one of our little drinking glasses, I was somehow able to get milk into my eye. (Don’t ask me to demonstrate.)  I also did a fairly good job of making the milk run all the way down my face and neck, but whatever.

Instant relief.  I stood there, blinking milkily in unbelief. Could I really have just gone from that much pain to practically no pain with just a few swishes of milk? Indeed I had.

I then decided that I should make cookies, both because I deserved and needed a cookie after my trauma…and because I thought that when the boys got home, they might like to see that their mama was normal (relatively speaking) and okay.

Kinda brings a new dimension to the idea of milk and cookies bringing comfort, doesn’t it?

So let’s review:

  1. Wear gloves when you cut hot peppers and don’t touch your eye.
  2. But if you don’t and then you do…swish your eye with milk.
  3. And then make cookies.

(P.S. It wasn’t until after the flame in my eye was extinquished that I realized that my hands were also burning like mad. Funny how the eye pain overshadowed the pain in my hands. I’m still a little afraid to put my contacts in normally. Good grief did I learn my lesson.)

This post was originally published September 19, 2010.

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow.

Remember all the lovely pictures of our garden that I took on Monday and shared for Gratituesday? Those pictures are all we have left of our garden.

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Here’s what our spinach and lettuce looked like on Monday.

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Here’s what our spinach and lettuce looked like the very next day.

Tuesday night (yes, the very Gratituesday I had shared those happy garden pictures), a huge hail storm hit our town. It smashed our garden all to bits.  Seeing how this hail storm effected all of our garden areas, we sure hate to think what the farmers around here may have lost.

Can we replant? Probably. Will we? Yes, it’s not too late to replant some of it. Is this the end of the world for us?  No, but it is a huge disappointment. It was a lot of work, many hours, and quite a few dollars worth of plants and seeds – down the drain. I know this loss could have been a million times worse. Our home is fine. Our children are fine. Nobody was hurt. Still, waking up to a sad garden mess was disheartening.

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Most of the leaves on our pepper, okra, and tomato plants were broken off.

The moral of the story:  We can make plans, work toward a goal, and look forward to something – but the end result is never really up to us. We just get to sit back and trust God.

We’re thankful that God knows what we need and that He will provide – even if it might look a little different this year. We’ll be grateful for the handful of plants that seem to maybe be surviving.  We’ll get back out there and put more seeds and plants into the ground. Who knows but that “Garden…round 2″ may be better than ever?!

Putting Up Green Beans From Our Garden

Our green bean plants are beautiful this year. Matt and the boys have been picking beans like crazy. I guarantee that when they bring a bucket of green beans in to me, I display a much more excited reaction than if they were to bring me a bouquet of flowers. Garden produce makes my heart flutter. :)

Here was our counter-full of beans last week once we picked, snapped, and blanched them for the freezer. (Don’t you worry. We ate a bunch of them too.)  :)

You can learn more about how we prepare green beans from the garden here. Even if you don’t grow your own beans, I’d recommend looking into purchasing fresh beans from your local farmer’s market or another resource near you. They are soooooo good!

If you have any fun homemaking tips, we’d love for you to share them in the comments section or link them up here today. Feel free to share kitchen tips, cleaning solutions, recipe ideas, cooking short-cuts, household money-saving suggestions, decorating ideas, gardening tips, or anything else you feel fits this category. (No product reviews or giveaways – thanks!) As always, when linking your blog post, please post a link back to this blog so that your readers will know where to find more Homemaking Hints.

 

The Garden

Several of you have requested to see how our garden is growing this year. Therefore, I braved the millions of mosquitoes and took several shots of our glorious soil with green things growing out of it.

I can take absolutely NO credit this year for how the garden looks. Matt has worked VERY hard and keeping the weeds under control and everything looks so, so pretty.

I basically started on one end of the house and went all the way around the back to the other side taking pictures. Yes, we have more than one garden spot. If it has the capability to grow things (and it isn’t an area used regularly to kick soccer balls), it has been tilled and it shall bear fruit. Well, vegetables as the case may be.

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Here we have several tomato plants and some pepper plants. 
Looks like the beginnings of salsa, wouldn’t you think?

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Ah, more tomato plants. Yes, there will be many tomatoes. We are not afraid.

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Ooh, the first fruits. Vegetables. Wait. Tomatoes are a fruit. 

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We planted the corn in two stages so that it would be ready at two different times. 
The first round is just a bit taller than me. We’re so proud.

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Here are more pepper plants growing in the raised garden bed Matt made last year. 
Our yard is really not crooked. I just took a crooked picture.

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Here’s our little garden of potatoes. See all the blossoms? 
That means there are lots of french fries growing underground.

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Beside the potato plot grows our beloved peach tree. 
There are only a few peaches on it, so this year we will be mooching peaches off of others if possible. 
The tree sure looks pretty though.

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And last but not least, the green beans. Four long rows of green beans. And look:

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I picked a whole bowlful on Tuesday!! 
When I steamed some that night, I thought perhaps I was in  heaven. 

And then we may or may not have steamed more of them for breakfast this morning. Who could resist?

Gratituesday: Ah, Lovely Dirt

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Before Saturday, I STILL had not had a chance to get my hands dirty. I hadn’t had a chance to get into my garden at ALL. (You’re shocked at me, aren’t you?!)  I had longed to get out there, but just not had even one moment to think about the garden yet.

Thankfully, Matt had found a few bits and pieces of time during the past few weeks to get our garden areas tilled up and to plant a few things. Ooh, and he even brought us home a big truck load of horse manure.   Crazy how excited I was to see him that day.  Saturday, we were finally able to both work in the garden together and get several more things planted.

The day was sunny and beautiful. Just ask Matt…I was completely giddy. I was running my  hands through the soil…just for fun. It felt so good.

Yes, in case you didn’t already know that I am a garden geek…now you know for sure. I can’t help it. The garden gives me so much joy.

Wanna take a look at a few parts of it with me? (There’s more to be planted…these are just a few shots.)

lettuceWe have lettuce ready to eat…it is so beautiful!

cornYou can’t see it…but there’s corn in these rows!!

 

peppersAw, cute little pepper plants.

potato_containerOh yes…I did plant potatoes in my trash can again!!

I’m just so thankful for our garden. I love how we can see God in the entire process of watching food grow from a seed. I can’t wait to share more with you during the coming months!

What are you thankful for this Gratituesday? Write about it on your blog, then come link up with us here. If you don’t have a blog, be sure to leave a comment letting us know what you’re grateful for!

If you are linking up a blog post for Gratituesday,
please copy and paste the following sentence into your post! Thanks!


Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

The little Green Project 2010

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My husband and I decided that this year for our little Green Project, we’d show you how we manage our compost. Composting is SUCH a great way to use produce waste to put nutrients back into the soil. See, we have this great little plot out in our back yard that we…

Hold on. Why don’t I just let Matt tell you about it. For the record, can I just tell you what an honor it is to have my beloved describing the contents of my bucket of garbage to you?

And there you go. Our compost plot. 

As you can imagine, digging a hole and burying our slimy banana peels and cantaloupe guts is one of the boys’ favorite summer chores. Nothing…I repeat nothing is more fun for them than being sent out with a shovel on a 103° day to bury a bucket of slop. 

SO…what’d you come up with for your little Green Project this year? Tell us about anything green:

  • Saving Green
  • Eating More Greens
  • Earning Extra Green
  • Going Green
  • Your Green Thumb
  • Crafting Something Green

You’re welcome to link up an older post if it fits the above categories. You’re welcome to link up more than one post. If you don’t have a blog, please leave a comment letting us know of your little Green Project! Then let’s all go visit everyone’s blog and learn more about their little Green Project!

If you’re linking up a post, please copy and paste the following link into your post…

Join us at Heavenly Homemakers for the little Green Project!