Low Sugar Dairy Free Chocolate Sauce (3 Ingredients!)

Dairy free chocolate sauce….the new way to top a waffle.

Dairy Free Chocolate SauceWe sure do eat a lot of cream cheese around our house.

This has nothing to do with the recipe I’m about to share with you – except that it is my way of saying, “We definitely aren’t a dairy-free family.”

Why a Dairy Free Chocolate Sauce then?

  • Because coconut milk is nourishing and I like to use it in addition to cow milk as a way to give my family a variety of nutrients.
  • Because I love having recipes on hand that I can use to bless our friends who can’t eat dairy.
  • Because this Chocolate Sauce is rockin’ and I can actually eat it because it is low in sugar.

You pretty much can’t mess up this recipe. Go ahead. Try. Not that you would. (I mean, I can sometimes mess up a recipe without even trying, say…when I’m trying to talk and cook at the same time??)

But this recipe is really fool-proof and adaptable. You can make it a little sweeter if you like. You can keep the sugar low and enjoy this as a “dark chocolate” sauce. You can add a splash of vanilla extract or mint extract.

Oh my goodness, you could stir in some peanut butter! I just thought of that, will try it, and get back to you. You’ve gotta love it when a delicious brainstorm comes in the middle of writing a sentence.

How to use your Low Sugar Dairy Free Chocolate Sauce

  • We love it on fresh strawberries, bananas, blueberries, or raspberries.
  • Often we use it as an apple dip.
  • Try stirring it into a cup of hot coffee. Yup.
  • Instead of maple syrup, spread this sauce over your pancakes or waffles.
  • Hello. Just eat it on a spoon.
  • You can drizzle this on ice cream, but if you do have to eat dairy free, you’d also have to make or find dairy free ice cream (this was obvious but still worth mentioning)

Low Sugar Dairy Free Chocolate SauceYum

Low Sugar Dairy Free Chocolate Sauce
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 13.5 ounce can of full fat, unsweetened coconut milk
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ - ½ cup sweetener (honey, sucanat, or brown sugar)
Instructions
  1. Mix ingredients in a small saucepan, cooking and stirring on medium heat until well combined.
  2. Serve warm or cold.
  3. Store this sauce in a covered container in the refrigerator, rewarming on the stove-top as needed. It will keep for up to a month in the fridge.

Low Sugar Dairy Free Chocolate Sauce

This sauce just takes a few minutes to whip up and it seriously tastes like a gourmet treat.

Need Coconut Milk?

I typically purchase cans of coconut milk in bulk online. Some of my favorite resources are:

Want the Dairy-Full version? You’ll find one here. Be warned: it’s super full of sugar. I should play with that and see how we can reduce it!

Can you think of other great ways to eat this sauce? 

My Favorite Grilled Chicken Tip

Grilled chicken used to be so blah to me. This is because I find it difficult, when grilling boneless chicken breasts, to pull them off the grill at that magic moment that they are fully cooked but not overdone. Dry and tough and stringy – I’m just not a fan of boneless chicken breasts anymore.

A couple years ago, we discovered the secret. We didn’t realize this was a secret, we just happened upon it and loved our new chicken and never looked back. Last May during Asa’s graduation celebration week when we have a full house of people, one of the meals we served was Grilled Chicken. Everyone loved it and the question was asked, “Matt, what’s your secret to making such good chicken breasts on the grill?”

His reply? Don’t use chicken breasts. Use boneless chicken thighs instead.

Aha!! And here everyone thought we were serving them the perfect grilled, tender, juicy, flavorful chicken breast.

How to Make Perfect Grilled ChickenYum

  1. Use boneless chicken thighs instead of breasts. This makes all the difference.
  2. Marinate the thighs in something delicious before grilling (suggestions below)
  3. As you can see from the picture below, I blackened the chicken more than I meant to – and the meat still turned out juicy and flavorful! This is because chicken thighs have more fat than chicken breasts so they are much harder to ruin.
  4. We usually cook boneless thighs for 10-15 minutes on each side, turning it from time to time.

My Favorite Grilled Chicken Tip
Ever since I figured out this grilled chicken tip, I’ve started using boneless thighs just about anytime a recipe calls for boneless breasts – whether I’m grilling or not. The fat in chicken is a healthy fat – all the more reason to enjoy chicken that actually tastes good. Goodbye, boneless chicken breasts. I don’t miss you.

Obviously, bone-in chicken is also amazing on the grill. It takes longer to cook, but if you have the time – it’s worth it. In a pinch (often), I’ve found that cooking boneless chicken thighs on the grill makes for a super quick meal that has become a family favorite! I think we can all agree that super quick meals make us all happy.

An Easy, Complete Grilled Chicken Meal

Monday evening Matt, Elias, and Malachi had soccer practice, Justus had guitar lessons, and I had yoga class. Before leaving, I quickly grilled some chicken. We all met up at home later and got out the Homemade Ranch Dressing, some shredded cheese, and a container of mixed greens. We chopped up the chicken and drooled all over our amazing salads. See how easy that was?

grilled chicken2

Fresh tomatoes would have been amazing in this salad had I had some in the house.

Beyond cutting this chicken up in a salad, I’ve found that it’s super easy to steam a few different veggies while the chicken is grilling. Then we have a pretty fancy looking and tasting meal without any fuss at all. Bonus: it’s nourishing too! (Why would I be posting this otherwise??)

Make Enough So You’ll Have Leftover Grilled Chicken

We ate almost every piece of the three packages I grilled that night (it’s hard to have leftovers in this house). But if possible, I recommend grilling extra chicken if you can. The leftovers taste amazing cold or rewarmed. Eat it as is, in a tortilla wrap, or in a salad.

Marinade Ideas for Your Grilled Chicken

I’ve discovered that you don’t have to marinate your meat very long before you grill. Several hours is better than 5 minutes – but honestly sometimes I forget (how shocking) and just brush on some sauce or dressing before throwing the chicken on the grill. Grilled chicken thighs are very forgiving.

Sometimes we grill a couple different kinds so guests can have options. We make this chicken almost weekly from March to November.

Have you tried grilled chicken thighs? What are your favorite marinades?

P.S. While proofreading this, I occasionally read the word “children” instead of “chicken” in my sentences. This made me giggle-cringe and here I am telling you about it. This post is about chicken. CHICKEN. I need a nap.

Easy Crustless Pizza Pie

Without a doubt, this crustless pizza pie tastes as good as it looks. Better actually.

Malachi's Pizza Pie

This recipe is simple enough for my 11-year old to make by himself, and tasty enough that we all decided to add it to the menu frequently. The best part is: You can make this with any pizza toppings you like. Make it full of veggies, full of meat, or a combination of both.

I will say that we made one with hamburger and one with pepperoni and all of us enjoyed the hamburger pizza pie best. The day we made these for pictures, I had no peppers or mushrooms in the house. Boo. We made them with sauce, meat, and cheese and served olives and tossed salad on the side.

See how Malachi is using one of our DIY Recipe Card Holders to hold up his recipe? Here he is, measuring the ingredients for the Cream Cheese Layer of the Pizza Pie.

malachi pizza pie1

I promise he owns other shirts. Somehow, every time we took
pictures of him cooking, he was wearing the same thing! #ipromiseitsclean

Once the Cream Cheese Layer was in the oven, Malachi browned the hamburger meat – while standing on the AlienBoard. Is there any other way to do it? I promise you will not catch me multi-tasking in this way. But yay for the 11-year old!

malachi pizza pie2

Here is the easy-to-make, very tasty recipe for your family to enjoy. MAKE THIS WITH YOUR KIDS. But that was a given, right?

Easy Crustless Pizza Pie

5.0 from 2 reviews
Easy Crustless Pizza Pie
 
Author:
Serves: 1 pie
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup pizza sauce
  • 1½ cups shredded mozzarella, cheddar, or colby jack cheese
  • Any meat or veggie toppings you like
Instructions
  1. In a medium-sized bowl mix cream cheese, eggs, pepper, garlic powder, and parmesan cheese until creamy.
  2. Spread mixture into a pie dish.
  3. Bake in a 350° oven for 15 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, prepare pizza toppings.
  5. Spread pizza sauce over hot cream cheese layer.
  6. Top with any meat, veggies, and cheese you like.
  7. Bake in a 350° oven for 10 minutes or until cheese has melted.

Easy Crustless Pizza Pie

 

Simple Taco Soup

taco soup 1

I can’t get a good picture of this soup. This is so easy to make and it’s amazing to eat and the picture looks like eh, whatever. So just glance over the picture and know that you need to make this soup.

Here’s my happy little soup secret: This Taco Soup is made with none other than this Real Food “Velveeta” and Rotel Recipe. See, you make that recipe and you double or triple it because it just makes sense because it is so delicious. You eat it with chips, or you boil some pasta and make it into Spicy Mac and Cheese. Or if you’re feeling soupy, you stir in some chicken or beef broth and top it with crunched chips. It becomes Taco Soup and you love it so much you can’t even stand it. Or maybe it’s just me.

Simple Taco Soup

Simple Taco Soup
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 1 pound hamburger meat
  • 2-4 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 heaping Tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • sea salt to taste
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 10-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies (Rotel)
  • 1-2 cups shredded cheddar or colby jack cheese
  • 2-3 cups chicken or beef broth
Instructions
  1. Brown the hamburger meat in a large pot.
  2. Add butter to the meat, melting it throughout the pot.
  3. Sprinkle in corn starch, coating the meat.
  4. Pour in water, chili powder, and salt.
  5. Turn heat up and stir until the mixture thickens.
  6. Add cream, continuing to stir as the mixture thickens. (This all happens quickly in my experience.)
  7. Stir in Rotel and broth, heating for about 5 more minutes.
  8. Remove from heat.
  9. Add shredded cheese, stirring until the cheese has melted and the dip is smooth.
  10. Serve with tortilla chips.

I know I’ve said it before, but I really, really love making triple batches of Real Food “Velveeta” and Rotel. It’s super easy and it is so versatile! Every few weeks I make it and store it in my fridge to pull out for easy meals. Now we use it to make soup too!

Here are some pictures of your options to entice you:

Real Food “Velveeta” and Rotel, served as a dip:

Real Food Velveeta and Rotel Dip

The very same dip, stirred into boiled pasta and served as Spicy Mac and Cheese: 

Spicy Mac and Cheese

Same dip again, with broth stirred in, served as Taco Soup:

Simple Taco Soup

Do you see why I make big batches of this?? 

If you’d like to take a look at my favorite way to make nourishing broth for soups like this, check out this post:

How I Make Veggie-Packed Chicken Broth and Beef Broth

Have you made the Real Food “Velveeta” and Rotel recipe? What’s your favorite way to eat it?

Real Food Bacon Ranch Chip Dip

Bacon Ranch Chip Dip

I was looking through Pricematerz.com this week to see what produce I could get for great prices, and what do I see? Oodles of sale prices for chips, frozen pizza, and crackers. It must be Super Bowl Week.

I’d forgotten all about it. For us right now it’s Blizzard Week, and we are in preparation for Youth Rally Weekend (where our church hosts 120+ teens for a fun and spiritually encouraging weekend). Therefore, I’m very much out of football mode. This is not such a shocker, since I’m always out of football mode and don’t even know who’s playing this weekend. Denver? And some other team? Forgive me.

Now that I’m (only barely) caught up on what most Americans are thinking about this week, I’ve decided to share a new chip dip recipe in case you want to make this for your Super Bowl party. It includes bacon, sour cream, cream cheese, ranch dressing mix, and shredded cheese – so you know that means it is delicious. Since the recipe is coming from me – so you know that means it is easy.

Our family tested it with corn chips, potato chips, and baked tortilla chips. We all preferred a different chip – which basically means that anything goes.

Why do we have so many chips on hand? Oh my goodness, you do not want to see my stash of chips right now. It has just a little something to do with my preparations for Youth Rally Weekend where somewhere between 15-20 teenage boys will be staying at our house from Friday-Sunday. They’ll eat their meals at the church building, but it’s so weird that they are all hungry again when they come back here for the night. It’s like they’re normal or something.

For this dip recipe, you’ll need this Homemade Ranch Dressing Mix recipe. Make it by the jar-full because that mix is what makes the world go ’round.

Real Food Bacon Ranch Chip Dip

Real Food Bacon Ranch Chip Dip
 
Author:
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 1 pound bacon
  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons homemade ranch dressing mix
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (I used colby jack)
  • 2 cups sour cream
Instructions
  1. Cut bacon into ½-inch strips.
  2. Cook the bacon to your liking, then drain.
  3. Stir cooked bacon into a bowl with all other ingredients.
  4. Spread mixture into a 2-quart baking dish.
  5. Bake in a 400° oven for 20-25 minutes or until dip is bubbly and hot.
  6. Serve with corn chips, potato chips, or baked tortilla chips.

Easy Real Food Bacon Ranch Chip Dip

Unrelated to bacon and ranch but very much related to dip and the Super Bowl…

This Homemade Chocolate Ganache happened this week in my kitchen.

chocolate ganache with fruit

I’ve already started playing with some of the recipes in the big free Paleo Package being offered right now. (Remember – I’m not going Paleo. I just appreciate their nutrient-rich recipes for my family!)

This Chocolate Ganache recipe is in the 5-Minute Paleo Recipes book included in the package. You’ll want to look it up! I had to add more honey than the recipe suggested – but YUM! What a fun way to eat fruit. Now I desperately need strawberries to be in season so I can eat them by the truckload with this dip!!! You can get your free package here.

Are you in Super Bowl Week mode? Or Blizzard Week mode? Or Something Else Week mode? Or all/none/some of the above?

Simple No-Bake Granola Bar Bites

No-Bake Granola Bites
This is a non-recipe recipe. This means that you can sub out ingredient for ingredient as you have preferences, allergies, and stock piles. Love flax seeds? Throw ’em in. Can’t have peanut butter? Use the nut butter you like. Prefer maple syrup? Use it instead of honey. Running low on raisins? Oh well. Don’t like chocolate chips?

Wait. Who doesn’t like chocolate chips??

Here’s how this non-recipe works:

  1. Plop 1/2 cup peanut butter (or whatever butter) and 1/4 cup honey (or maple syrup) into a bowl. I really do mean plop. Just eye-ball it. An exact 1/2 cup of peanut butter is not necessary here.
  2. Stir in 1 1/3 cups total of whatever dry ingredients you want. Oats, flax, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, raisins, chocolate chips, anything else you like.
  3. Scoop the mixture into balls and enjoy.
  4. Store them in the refrigerator.

Here’s the printable version:

Simple No-Bake Granola Bar Bites

5.0 from 2 reviews
Simple No-Bake Granola Bar Bites
 
Author:
Serves: 16
Ingredients
  • ½ cup peanut butter (or any nut butter)
  • ¼ cup honey (or maple syrup)
  • 1⅓ cups total dry ingredients of your choice (oats, flax, seeds, raisins, chocolate chips)
Instructions
  1. Plop ½ cup peanut butter (or whatever butter) and ¼ cup honey (or maple syrup) into a bowl.
  2. Stir in 1⅓ total cups of whatever dry ingredients you want. Oats, flax, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, raisins, chocolate chips, anything else you want.
  3. Scoop the mixture into balls and enjoy.
  4. Store them in the refrigerator.

Simple No-Bake Granola Bar Bites

As you can see, these Granola Bites are easy to put together in just a few minutes. They are great to take on the road or pack in a lunch. Of course, if you just want to sit right down at your kitchen table and eat them, that’s okay too. You could even make them at night and eat them for breakfast the next morning. Basically, this is one of the most versatile recipes in your whole wide kitchen. Everyone wins!

Easy Cheesy Cauliflower Hashbrowns

cauliflower hashbrowns

Let me just say that it’s hard (for me) to take a good picture of hashbrowns while they are steaming on a griddle.

Below is a picture of the original recipe for these hashbrowns. I worked a little harder, added a few extra ingredients, and made them into Cheesy Cauliflower Cakes. My family loves them and the recipe makes us actually like cauliflower.

Cheesy Cauliflower Cakes

This is all well and good, except that:

  • the cakes don’t always stay together
  • they have bread crumbs in them which I don’t always have available
  • the bread crumbs mean I can’t serve them to anyone who can’t have gluten
  • making them into cakes is one more step in the cooking process

I act like that’s a huge ordeal. It’s not. But I wanted you to know that you can cut out a few ingredients (eggs and bread crumbs), then pour the entire mixture onto a griddle or skillet and fry them like hashbrowns. They taste the same if you ask me, and they are easier!

Cheesy Cauliflower HashbrownsYum

Easy Cheesy Cauliflower Hashbrowns
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • ¾ cup shredded cheddar or Colby jack cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons dried minced onions
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Palm shortening or expeller pressed coconut oil for frying
Instructions
  1. Cut cauliflower into florets.
  2. Steam for about 10 minutes or until tender.
  3. Drain.
  4. Mash with a potato masher. (I found that this created what looked like shredded potatoes.)
  5. Stir in shredded cheese, minced onions, and salt until well combined.
  6. Melt 1-2 Tablespoons of palm shortening or coconut oil in a skillet or on a griddle.
  7. Pour cauliflower mixture into hot oil.
  8. Fry over medium heat until brown and crispy – about 5 minutes on each side.
  9. Serve right away.

 

Easy Cheesy Cauliflower Hashbrowns

Yesterday when we made these Cheesy Cauliflower Hashbrowns, I served them with cantaloupe, peas, blueberry muffins, and fried turkey sausages. It’s was a super easy – fruit and veggie packed meal. (I keep finding coupons for Oscar Mayer preservative-free, uncured turkey sausage. We’re loving it for quick additions to our meals!)

Have you tried the Cheesy Cauliflower Cakes recipe I shared a few months ago? Try this hashbrown variety. It’s even easier!

Homemade French Onion Dip

I’m getting ready to write this recipe for you, but suddenly I’m in a panic because I don’t know what makes French Onion Dip French. I get my onions from America and I don’t do anything Frenchy to them. Am I somehow supposed to Frenchify my onions? If so, what does that look like? My once super simple recipe has now become completely stressful.

french onion dip

I therefore decided to do some research on the matter since I have plenty of time to waste, but mostly because I don’t want to steer you wrong with a recipe. The first thing I came across online was a packet of Simple Organics French Onion Dip. Its tagline? “America’s Most Popular Dip.” Well that clears all the questions right up.

I couldn’t let it go, so next I did an online search for “what makes French Onion Dip French?” Because the internet never lets us down, an actual article titled Why Is French Onion Dip called French? came up. It said a few things and some other stuff, but my favorite sentence was this:

“There are now recipes for French onion dip that combine actual caramelized onions with the usual dip ingredients (mayonnaise, sour cream) and other flavorings, but this is not a dip you’d find in France.”

What?? Well, we it appears that in our quest to discover the origin of this dip, we can conclude that this dip is not French at all. The dip has nothing to do with France or French people or French food. French Onion Dip is a made up name, just because it sounded good for marketing purposes. In defense of Lipton, I would concur that French Onion Dip is a better sounding title than White Onion Dip or the obvious, Just Onion Dip. The name French Onion Dip sounds more fun and fancy. Either that or I’ve gotten sucked into the marketing ploy.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, we can move on with life and learn the recipe.

Homemade French Onion DipYum

Homemade French Onion Dip
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 3 Tablespoons dried minced onion
  • ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
Instructions
  1. Stir the ingredients together.
  2. Chill for at least two hours before serving (or serve right away because who actually follows that instruction?).
  3. Serve with fresh veggies or potato chips.

You can’t really mess up this recipe, so don’t worry about measuring exactly. Life’s too short to use (and wash) measuring spoons. Feel free to add a touch of garlic powder or black pepper. And about the potato chips mentioned in the recipe? I find the kind with the fewest ingredients and the healthiest oil (usually safflower) and go with it. Potato chips with this dip make a great party food.

Homemade French Onion Dip - Three Ingredients!

It goes without saying that the next item on my agenda was to see why fries are French, or if in fact they actually are at all. Low and behold, fries originated in the U.S. but were called French because they were “served in the French manner.” Huh.

Are you doing something fun for New Year’s Eve? I’ll probably make this dip. Then we can sit around with our friends and talk about the origin of food and where different foods got their names. I’ll be the life of the party.

Cinnamon Sugar Pecans ~ a Great Gift or Christmas Snack

Cinnamon Sugar Pecans

I don’t know how much these cost in the mall. All I know is that last week when my friend munched on these Cinnamon Sugar Pecans that were sitting on my table she said, “You made these?? These are phenomenal! We buy these at the mall every Christmas – but you made these??!”

Ah, well. I sure do love it when my friends come over and say nice things about my food. I mean – I love it when friends honor me with their presence and I can, in turn, bless them with something tasty to eat. Well, shoot. The food and friends thing – it’s just a win-win you know?

So back to how much Cinnamon Sugar Pecans cost at the mall. I have no idea. They must cost a lot because making these at home is not the least expensive snack or gift you’ll make this Christmas. Pecans aren’t cheap. I prefer organic nuts, but the cost throws me a little bit. I’ll only make these for the occasional treat seeing as our family (along with some friends) downed almost an entire pound of these in a day and a half. Of course, this is not surprising. We are the Coppinger family after all. “Oh look at all her tall, thin boys. They must not eat as much as other teens.” {Laura passes out with laughter.}

The least I can do for us all is to provide a recipe so we can make these at home to avoid having to spend more on these specialty pecans at the mall. I’m guessing these are lower in sugar, too. You’ll love how easy these are to make. And they do make a great gift – if you can package them up before they all get eaten by your family. Christmas blessings to you on that one.

Here are some online sources I like for pecans:

  • Braga Farms – I love this source. We visited their farm. They are fantastic people. I buy from them when I can.
  • Amazon – These are about half the price as those above, but they aren’t organic. They are a good quality, though.

Cinnamon Sugar PecansYum

5.0 from 1 reviews
Cinnamon Sugar Pecans ~ a Great Gift or Christmas Snack
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • ½ cup sucanat or sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 pound pecan halves
Instructions
  1. Mix sucanat, cinnamon, and salt in a gallon-sized ziploc-type bag.
  2. Set aside.
  3. Whisk egg white, vanilla, and water in a large bowl until frothy.
  4. Toss in pecans, coating them all with liquid.
  5. Pour the coated pecans into the bag with sucanat/cinnamon/salt mixture.
  6. Seal the bag and shake gently to coat the pecans as evenly as possible.
  7. Spread the coated pecans on a parchment paper or silicone mat lined cookie sheet.
  8. Bake in a 250° oven for 1 hour - stirring every 20 minutes.

Here’s a little look at each easy step of making these pecan snacks: whisk the egg white mixture, stir in the pecans, shake them in a bag with the sugar mixture, spread them on a pan to bake. None of this is difficult.

Steps to Make Cinnamon Sugar Pecans

Easy Cinnamon Sugar Pecans
As a happy aside – my family enjoyed sprinkling some of these on our French toast this morning at breakfast. I’m so excited that these are now a part of our list of holiday goodies to enjoy!

cinnamon pecan french toast

I feel like I should now make a gift card to go with these pecans, just in case I can set any aside to give as gifts. Here are some pretty terrible options I came up with as to what the card should (not) say:

  • Hope your Christmas is as nutty as you are!
  • I think you’re nuts!
  • You’re gettin’ nuttin’ for Christmas.
  • Don’t open before Christmas -no pecan! (that one is truly horrible)

Please, Friends. Help me come up with a good gift card tag line. Or maybe we should just eat all of these without sharing.

Homemade Apple Cider in the Crock Pot

Once upon a time, my friend Anne and I went to an orchard nearby and picked over 100 pounds of apples. At the time we had 6 children – ages 12 and under – between the two of us. Therefore, I think it is obvious that neither of us had enough to do with our time and we were frequently bored. That’s why we picked so many apples. That, and the fact that the apples were (mostly) organic, very delicious, and wonderfully priced. Most importantly of all though, it is so much fun to take your kids to an orchard to pick fruit. Days like this are some of my favorite memories of time spent with my boys when they were little.

On that very 100-pound apple day, we borrowed the orchard owner’s apple cider press. He kindly came to our house to set it up, promising to come pick it up again when we were finished using it. Our plan was to get all of our kids involved with pressing cider the old fashioned way. Wouldn’t that be fun?! It was a good plan. A beautiful idea, really.

And so we began.

Oh my goodness, I just realized I have pictures. I have pictures!!! 

cider1 cider2 cider3 cider4 cider5 cider6 cider7 cider8 cider9 cider10

Those pictures make me so happy, I cannot stop giggling. Such precious memories!!! I am going to sit here looking at those for the next few hours. After all, five out of six of those kids are teenagers now, so we are more bored than ever.

Well anyway, it didn’t take long for Anne and I to realize that having our small children press 100 pounds of apples into cider all afternoon was probably a bit unrealistic (you think?). Each child took a turn, then they all headed off to play. Anne and I spend the next few hours pressing cider like super-heros. We got stiff. We got sore. We had a blast. We were a sticky mess. But we had gallons of apple cider by the end of the day.

applecider1

It was fresh. It was raw. It was the best apple cider ever to be made or consumed on this planet.

If I may, I encourage you to find opportunities to pick fruit with your children. There is something so sweet about this experience. Make cider in an apple press if you ever have a chance. It is so much fun. You will look back at this and the pictures you took whilst pressing apples and you will be so in love with the memories.

In the meantime, I have another homemade apple cider recipe option for you. Just this year, I learned to make apple cider in the crock pot. It is much less work than a cider press, though obviously not nearly as endearing. Still, this recipe turned out delicious. I added no sugar! It’s just apples, water, and cinnamon sticks. Deliciousness!

Hot Apple Cider

Homemade Apple Cider in the Crock PotYum

5.0 from 2 reviews
Homemade Apple Cider in the Crock Pot
 
Author:
Serves: about ½ gallon
Ingredients
  • 10-15 apples, any variety
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 4-6 cups of water
Instructions
  1. Wash, core, and quarter apples.
  2. Place them in a crock pot with the cinnamon sticks.
  3. Add water, enough to fill the crock about ⅔ full of water (but not enough to cover the apples and cinnamon sticks).
  4. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until the apples are very soft.
  5. Use a potato masher to mash the apples and release the liquid.
  6. Cover and allow the cider to cook on low for another hour.
  7. Strain the chunky liquid through a thin cloth. (I saved the solids and blended them to make apple bread.)
  8. Serve warm or store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Homemade Apple Cider in the Crock Pot

This recipe isn’t super specific on measurements. I simply fill my crock pot with cored apples, throw in cinnamon sticks, pour in water to fill about 1/2-2/3 full, then let it cook. Your house will smell like the holidays all day long – an added bonus!

**Free Cinnamon Sticks!***

I wanted to remind you about the free package of cinnamon sticks you can get from Olive Nation this week. They are the best! Here are the details:

Use the code CINNAMONGIFTS for a 10% discount on any sized order. If your order reaches $50, you’ll receive free shipping. AND!!! Your order of $50 or more entitles you to a free gift at check-out!! You can choose from any that they offer, but you should know that for this special promotion, they put together an extra big package of free cinnamon sticks – just for us! (It’s a pack of 10!) For all the fun gift-making purposes mentioned in this post, I’d pick that freebie if I were you.

Have you ever made apple cider – using a press or a crock pot or another method?