I Love Food, and Talking About Food, and Sharing Recipes. Also Here is a Wiggams the Cat Update.

Last week was a fun food (and cat) week at our house. That means that we’re eating like kings (and queen) this week. Check out these raspberries we got to pick (for free, oh my goodness, thank you friends with oodles of raspberries):

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That had to have been $30 worth of berries if we were to have bought them at the store, and these are by far superior quality! There are more where those came from, so we’ll be heading back to pick again this week. We’ve been eating them to our heart’s content, but look what I made with the last few of this batch:

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Simple Raspberry Syrup recipe coming up.
It took five minutes of brainless work to make that goodness for our Quick Mix Pancakes this morning.

In other (free and plentiful) fruit news, our neighbor has been sharing fresh peaches with us. Man, this time of year is delicious. We’re freezing most of these and making a lot of Peach Milkshakes.

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Tomatoes are doing great for us, though not really great enough to make sauce and can it this year. We’re just enjoying them with our salads and as side dishes.

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Those are my Easy {Low} Sugar Cookies you see there. They have nothing to do with the tomatoes except that they made it into the same picture. That is also a juicy steak on the plate with the tomatoes. This fall, we’re gonna grill until we can’t grill no more (aka when it gets too cold to stand at the grill).

I finally got another Bountiful Basket order last week. I’ve been unavailable during every delivery day for several weeks, so it was awesome to be a part of it again. I loaded our kitchen table with fruits and veggies! (And also some Whole Wheat Bread for our soccer trip sandwich convenience.)

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This plate was too pretty to ignore, so I snapped a shot before I handed it to Matt. (He’s used to it.) That is Creamy Salsa Enchilada Casserole from Lesson 2 of the Let’s Do This! eCourse, in case you were wondering. Of course I made two casseroles that day so we could eat one and freeze another.

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We just got a load of apples delivered to us from “the Apple Man” also known as “the Honey Man” also known as “our friend with the orchard and honey bees.” It is always a joy when he and his wife show up on our porch. I help disperse the apples to friends, and we all make loads of Homemade Applesauce.

Malachi loves the cat…

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Oh hey look – it’s Wiggams (and Malachi). They like each other just a little bit. I am so happy to share that I saw Wiggams doing her job of pouncing and eating in our back yard last week. I was both grossed out and proud, but mostly proud (and pretty grossed out). Yay, Wiggams! This is why we kept you. Plus, we can’t help but love you. Who knew?

What fall foods are you enjoying these days?

Peanut Butter Apple Cookie Bars

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I’ve managed to whittle my apple supply down to about only 50 pounds of apples after making two rounds of Apple Sauce, Apple Butter, Caramel Apple Dip, Apple Crisp and Mini Apple Pies. Since I’m still surrounded by apples, I knew I had to try these Peanut Butter Apple Cookie Bars when I saw them at the Diva Entertains Blog. If you are unable to eat nuts, I would imagine you could substitute Sunbutter in this recipe, but I haven’t tried it to know for sure how it would work.

Peanut Butter Apple Cookie Bars (adapted from Diva Entertains Blog)

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups sucanat (or brown sugar)
1/2 cup peanut butter (homemade or natural)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups whole wheat flour (I use freshly ground hard white wheat)
1 1/2 cups peeled and diced apples

In a large mixing bowl, stir together melted butter, peanut butter and sucanat until creamy. Add eggs, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda and salt, stirring until well combined. Mix in flour thoroughly. Fold in diced apples.

Spread dough into a 9×13 inch baking dish. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until golden. Allow bars to cool before adding the glaze.

Peanut Butter GlazeYum

2 cups powdered sugar (I recommend making your own with sucanat or using organic, unbleached)
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter (homemade or natural)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients and beat until smooth. Drizzle or spread over the cooled bars.

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As you can see, drizzling the glaze kinda led to spreading the glaze like a frosting in my case, so feel free to drizzle or spread or slop the glaze on there however you’d like. They’ll pretty  much taste great no matter how you do it. :)

A Week of Apples

I have a grand total of 110 pounds of apples in my kitchen right now. You know what this means don’t you? Yes, it means that by the end of this week my fingers are going to look brown and dirty. And they’ll stay that way for about two weeks until the brown wears off. It’ll be really cute and not at all embarrassing (as long as I keep my hands stuffed into my pockets while out in public).

Oh, and if I don’t wear an apron while I’m working with all of these apples, the front of my shirt will also be covered in brown splatter stains, which will never come out. I learned this the hard way a few years ago when I made applesauce all day, while wearing a cute Disney shirt, before going to a soccer game. I completed the task of making applesauce, ran it through the water bath process to can it and put the jars away in my pantry. I didn’t look down at my shirt until I was at the soccer game that night cheering for my boys. It was then that I noticed that Eeyore was completely covered in ugly brown specks. (Of course, it had to be Eeyore.)  I was by far the most pitiful looking mother out at the soccer field that day. Of all days to leave my jacket at home.

So now you know:  While you peel, core, slice and chop apples – the juice will spit and splatter everywhere. If you work on 110 pounds of apples, everything around you, including every crevice on your hands, will turn brown for days.  There’s not much you can do about this, so just embrace the fact that you’ll look like you’ve been working under the hood of your car. To avoid answering any difficult-to-answer questions from the powers that be, remove all school papers, bills, library books, and photos before proceeding. And for the love of Eeyore, please wear an apron.

My 110 pounds of apples await, and I guess it goes without saying that my apron is ready for action. Here’s what I’m looking at doing this week:

I’ll start by making and canning as many jars of Applesauce as I can make before I get sick of making applesauce. I will probably be using a slightly different method than the one described here, so I’ll give an update on that sometime during the week.

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If, in fact, I still have a few pounds of apples left after making applesauce, I hope to then make a few Mini Apple Pies. These are great to have in the freezer for a quick breakfast or dessert.

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I may also can a few jars of Apple Pie Filling. This is great to have on hand to when throwing together a quick apple crisp or of course, to make a big apple pie. Here’s my Whole Wheat Pie Crust recipe if you’re interested.

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I may also use my Excalibur Food Dehydrator and make Apple Fruit Leather and/or dried apple rings. When you have 110 pounds of apples, you can just keep going with the apple preserving until you’ve got a wide variety of apple goodies, or until you faint onto the floor of your kitchen – whichever comes first. Don’t worry – I plan to get my boys busy helping me with these projects this week. They are great applesauce makers.

We also plan to simply eat a bunch of these apples. I love having so many apples on hand for snacks. If you haven’t tried making Caramel Apple Dip, I highly recommend it. It’s one of my favorite ways to eat apples.

Throughout the week, I’ll be snapping pictures and sharing my apple preserving progress. Prepare to get sticky around here. I might even experiment with Apple Butter like several of you requested last week!

What is your favorite way to eat apples? Ever ruined an Eeyore shirt with apple spatters? This is why aprons were invented.

 

Healthy Fruit Crisp

I think that making a fruit crisp is one of the easiest desserts to make. But that may be because of a little short-cut I like to take.  Hey, I’m all for making special treats and doing it the lazy easy way.

Here’s my trick:  You know how a fruit crisp has a “crumb topping”? All the recipes I’ve seen say to “add all the dry ingredients together” then “cut in the butter until the mixture resembles course crumbs”. I am REALLY not a fan of “cutting in the butter” in any recipe. It takes extra effort and makes an extra mess and now that I am all grown up and not in Home-Ec class anymore, I have become a butter cutter inner rebel. I believe we should all take a stand against things we feel strongly about.  And so, I hereby stand firm on my belief and I refuse to cut in butter.

I hope you can still respect me after that confession. If you still choose to cut in your butter, we can still be friends.

As a replacement (aka lazy) option to cutting the butter into the dry ingredients in a fruit crisp, I have chosen to simply MELT the butter and stir it into the oat and flour mixture. I KNOW. And check it out…I have still made crumbs:

I love this fruit crisp recipe because you can use any fruit you want. This time, I made peach fruit crisp because it just so happens that I got to go pick some lovely peaches at my friend Kim’s house. Depending on the kind of fruit you use, you may want to add more sucanat (sugar), but I’ll leave that up to you!

Healthy Fruit CrispYum

5 cups sliced fruit (apples, peaches, pears, cherries, blueberries or a combination of all)
2 Tablespoons sucanat or brown sugar

Stir the fruit together with the sucanat and place in a small baking dish (8×8 inch).

Make your Crumb Topping

1/2 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup sucanat or brown sugar
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/4 cup butter (MELTED, for Pete’s sake)
1/4 cup chopped nuts or coconut flakes (also optional)

Mix together oats, sucanat, flour and cinnamon. Stir in melted butter and joy upon joy, it creates crumbs with little to no effort. Add nuts or coconut flakes.

Sprinkle crumb topping over fruit. Bake in a 375° for 30-35 minutes or until fruit is tender and topping is golden brown.

Easy_Fruit_Crisp

If you’ve made and canned Apple Pie Filling, just dump it into your baking dish, sprinkle on your crumb topping and bake. SO easy!

I just have to know…are you a butter cutter inner, or a butter cutter inner rebel like me? Never thought about it before? Yeah, I figured I was the weird one with butter cutter inner issues.

Favorite Apples (Question #70)

It’s apple season and I LOVE it. I’d been holding back on buying apples both because there were no organic apples available and the regular ones at the store were a crazy high price. I was feeling quite apple deprived, especially since I had bought the wonderful treat of Gjetost cheese and I NEEDED apples to go with it.

Finally a friend of mine called to say that the apples in her orchard were ready to be picked! I grabbed my bags and ran to her house (okay, I drove) and started picking. She sliced some samples for me to try and I’m pretty sure there were tears of apple joy running down my face. Mmm, they were so good. I was most excited because Gala apples are my favorite, and her Gala tree was the tree ready to be picked! I brought home loads (for only $0.75/pound!!!!). We’ve been eating apples to our hearts content. LOVE GALA APPLES!!!

A few days later, I was able to go pick more apples (red delicious, I believe) from another friend’s tree. She didn’t charge me a thing…in fact she gave us TWO jars of jelly as a THANK YOU for taking the apples off her hands. Um, you’re welcome?

THEN, we got another phone call and went and picked apples for free again. There are so many apples in my house, we are tripping over them. 

I love tripping over apples. Seriously. Apple season is awesome!!

I’ve shared some bags with others…and I’ve used my dehydrator to make apple rings…

I am now in the process of working through all the bags and making applesauce. I’m hoping this weekend to can a bunch of apple pie filling. If I get that done, I’ll be sure to share pictures and a recipe!!

My question for you today is…what is your favorite variety of apple?   My favorite is by far Gala…but Pink Lady and Honey Crisp are also nice. Then of course there’s Yellow Delicious and Empire…

It’s a little hard to decide! What’s your pick?

Gratituesday: Oh, the Abundance

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I am writing this Gratituesday post as a reminder to myself to be grateful for Pete’s sake. You know why? Because lately I have been a whiny baby who has been feeling very sorry for herself. 

What in the world is wrong with me? 

I’ve been whining because I have tomatoes and peppers needing to be picked at a crazy fast pace. I can hardly keep up with making them all into tomato sauce and salsa. They are constantly covering my counter-tops.

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Also, my friend gave me a huge bunch grapes that I need to hurry and do something with.  And I have two sacks of apples that I keep tripping over that really should be made into applesauce. And there are more apples to be picked if I could ever get around to going to pick them.

My kitchen is exploding with abundance…and I am whining.

I’m whining because I have too much food.  Really Laura? I’m whining because I have so much work to do, really?

It’s time for me to stop whining and be grateful. 

Thank you for letting me confess my rotten attitude and for holding me accountable to changing it.

God is good and if I can’t remember that…perhaps I should just take a good look around my kitchen at all the abundance. Because of Him, my family will not go hungry. 

Nope, in fact…we’ll be eating like kings.

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!

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