Saturday, September 24, 2011

Country Store Apple Butter - Weekend CrockPot Cooking

I haven't had Apple Butter in ages!  Now that Fall is officially here, our tastes change to cook and bake with all the warm spices of Autumn.  Here in Jersey, there is only one - just one Cracker Barrel Restaurant where you can get an Apple Butter fix any time of the day.  The restaurant is a few hours away, so I'm on my own here!

Apple Butter is very easy to make with the help of a CrockPot.  When it comes to filling your house with yummy scents and filling your tummy with warm, spicy, goodness, nothing beats homemade Apple Butter.

I thought I had thrown away my canning pot.  When I went up to the attic for Fall decorations, there it was - all dusty and lonely and forgotten.  I would have made this without the canning pot and just gave away most of it - but now I can keep it all to myself!!!! (I may give one or two away).

I searched several CrockPot Apple Butter recipes for the one that appealed to me most.  I was NOT about to peel 4 lbs. of apples, and I found a recipe that didn't require peeling or coring (much of the pectin is in the cores and flavor and vitamins in the peels) so I chose this method.

Apple Butter
  • 4 lbs. of good cooking apples, about 16 (I used Gala and Fuji and two Granny Smith)
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
Prepare the fruit:  Cut the apples into eight pieces, without peeling or coring them.  Cut out any damaged parts.
Put them into a large pot, add the vinegar and water, cover, bring to a boil, reduced heat to simmer and cook until the apples are soft, about 20-30 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Ladle apple mixture in small batches into a food mill.

This was taking too long.  I decided to puree the apple mixture in the blender and then pass through the food mill.  This took much less time and much less effort.
Beautiful apple puree underneath.

Place apple puree into CrockPot.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Cook on HIGH setting, UNCOVERED for 5-6 hours; stirring every 20-30 minutes or so.  Cook until thick and smooth and the apple butter mounds up on your spoon.
Now, if you would like to can it (which I suggest) it's easy, you'll see.

  1. Wash and dry jars and lids.
  2. While you're filling your jars (to within 1/2" of top) with your warm apple butter you should have your water bath heating up.
  3. Once the jars are filled, wipe the rims with a damp cloth and screw on the lid (don't over tighten).
  4. Place jars in the water canning rack, lower into the canner, make sure they are covered with water by at least 1" and turn up the heat.
  5. Once you reach a boil, boil for 15 minutes.
  6. Carefully remove jars from the canner and sit on a dry towel.
  7. Sit and listen.  Plink, Plink, Plink - the jars will seal as they cool on the towel.  Wipe jars clean and store or add your own special touches to give away as gifts.
Country recipe cards, labels and gift tags free to print at Country Clip Art.  Free labels for jams and jellies from Pick Your Own.

What else can you do with apple butter besides spreading on toast, homemade biscuits, waffles or pancakes?  Here are a few recipes that you might like:
Apple Butter Cake, Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Oktoberfest Recipes - Frikadellen

Get out your lederhosen, and frost up that beer mug, we're getting ready to celebrate Oktoberfest!
Bratwurst, knockwurst, kraut, potato pancakes, goulash and more!  Get your strudel on let's cook some German Food!  Oktoberfest is running now through October 3, 2011.


Frikadellen are German, pan-fried meat patties.  These small burgers are usually served to you with mustard and sides of potato salad in pubs.
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • 1 piece of day-old bread, softened in warm milk and squeezed dry
  • 1 lb. ground beef (or half beef and half pork)
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
Place chopped onion in a small bowl, drizzle with 1 tsp. oil, cover with plastic wrap and microwave 2-3 minutes, or until onions are softened.  You can add the onions raw if you prefer.

Break bread into small pieces into a medium bowl.  Add meat and the remaining ingredients along with the cooked onion and mix well.

Heat 1 Tbsp. butter and 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a medium frying pan.  Form 6-8 small patties and fry over medium-high heat until browned on both sides and cooked through.
Serve with mustard, potato salad and a cold beer.
These are good warm or cold on a sandwich!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Mom's Old-Fashioned Rice Pudding

I remember my Mom telling me about her mother's rice pudding.  She used to bake it in the oven and it was one of my mom's favorites.  She could never remember how she made it, and unfortunately, it was never written down.  If any of you know of a good recipe for a baked rice pudding, please let me know!  I've seen a few recipes popping up lately in blogosphere and this has been on my list, of what seems like, my never-ending "things I want to make next".  My neighbor stopped by the other day and gave me several of her recipes, which I will be posting, and her Mom's Rice Pudding was included.  My eyes lit up! This is very easy to make and it is so creamy and delicious!

  • 1-1/2 quarts milk (6 cups) plus 1/2 cup
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • Cinnamon 

    In a medium saucepan, combine milk, rice and sugar and bring to a light boil, stirring often (I added a pinch of salt).  Simmer for 45 minutes, or until rice is tender stirring occasionally.   Beat 2 eggs with  an additional 1/2 cup milk and stir into mixture.  Cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly until thickened. Add vanilla.  Cool and sprinkle with cinnamon.

    ~In Memory of Faye Silvio from her daughter, Angela
    Secret Recipe Club

    Sharing with Sweet Indulgences Sunday 
    Sweets for a Saturday
    These Chicks Cooked
    Joy of Desserts - Vintage Recipe Thursday
    Miz Helen's Country Cottage

    Monday, September 12, 2011

    Greek Phyllo Chicken Bundles - Kotopita

    I have to put this recipe under the "Chicken Pot Pie" category.  A delicious, creamy, chicken and veggie filling, surrounded by flaky, phyllo pastry.  Phyllo dough can be found in the freezer section of most grocery stores.

    The only tricky part of this recipe is working with the Phyllo dough.  It dries out very quickly and it is essential that you keep the paper thin layers covered with a damp towel or plastic wrap while you are working with them.  Pull out layers as in the recipe and then immediately re-cover.
    • l lb. boneless chicken breast, cubed
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
    • 2 cups onion, chopped
    • 1 cup celery, chopped
    • 1 cup carrots, chopped
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 cup chicken stock
    • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • 4 ounces Feta Cheese
    For the Bechamel sauce you will need:
    • 2 cups milk
    • 4 ounces butter
    • 5 ounces flour
    • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1 egg
    • Melted butter
    • 1 pkg. phyllo dough
    For the filling:  In a medium pot, over medium heat, add the chicken and the olive oil.  Stir in the garlic, onion, celery, carrots, salt and pepper.  Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes.

    For the sauce:  In a medium pot, bring the milk to a boil over low heat.  At the same time, melt the butter in another pan.  Add the flour to the butter and mix well on low heat until the flour absorbs all of the butter.  When the milk reaches the boiling point, slowly whisk it into the flour mixture until it thickens.  Whisk in the Parmesan cheese and the egg.  Remove the sauce from the heat and lit cool 10 minutes.  Set aside.

    After the chicken mixture has cooked, strain the mixture to remove any liquid.  Let cool for 15 minutes.  Mix the bechamel sauce into the chicken mixture.  Add the Parmesan and feta cheese and mix well.

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 12 x 18 baking sheet.  Take 2 phyllo sheets and place on surface.  Brush lightly with butter.  Place 2 more sheets, butter, 2 more sheets and butter.  Total of 6 sheets.  Add 1 cup of filling.

    Fold over into a bundle brushing with butter as you fold.

    Place on baking sheet and lightly brush with butter.  Bake until golden brown 40-45 minutes.
    ~Adapted from Adel Elostta
    Makes 8 servings
    Cook's Note:  Some of the filling came out of some of the bundles so be sure to seal them well.

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    Butter Pecan Baked Apples

    Fabulous Fall is almost here!  Time for anything appley goodness!  Like a warm, almost caramel baked apple!

    These apples are not overly-sweet and hold up well to baking.  Let's get on with it shall we?
    • 5 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
    • 5 Tbsp. butter
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup craisans
    • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
    • 3 Tbsp. Old-fashioned Oats
    • 1 tsp. orange zest
    • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1/3 cup maple syrup
    • 1/3 cup apple cider
    Trim 1/4" off the bottom of 4 apples.  Cut 1/2" off the top and save.  Peel the apples and take out the core leaving 1/2" wall.  
    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  In a cast iron pan, melt 1 Tbsp. butter.  Place apples top side down and saute until caramelized; about 3 to 4 minutes.

    Chop the remaining apple in 1/4" dice.  Add 4 Tbsp. melted butter, brown sugar, cranberries, pecans, oats, orange zest, cinnamon and salt.  Stir to combine.  Stuff apples with mixture, mounding filling on top.  Top with reserved apple top.
    Combine maple syrup and apple cider and add to apple.  Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes, basting every 10 minutes.
     An Apple Pie without the crust!

    Baked Apples

    ~Adapted from America's Test Kitchen

    Sharing with Gooseberry Patch
                       Joy of Desserts - Vintage Thursday

    Friday, September 2, 2011

    Ricotta and Roasted Pepper Frittata

    Frittatas like this one are a popular main-course in the southern Italian region of Calabria. In America, ricotta is usually made from cow's milk. I have never had the fresh ricotta of Italy which is made from sheep's milk. I have made fresh ricotta and it's super simple to make! Homemade Ricotta.
    Season with more black pepper, if you like.
    This would be delicious with sliced Italian Sausage!

    ~The New Comfort Food
    Sharing with la bella vita - Fresh Food Friday

    Artisan Cast Iron Dutch Oven Bread

    This recipe is a typical one with two rising periods.  Most of this time it's the yeast working and not you! 2 cups water 1...