Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Apple Butter

Just the other week we made a trip to the apple orchard and I became the proud owner of too many gorgeous apples!! Too many apples--that's right...(This is a great "problem" to have)  I can never stop myself from picking extra produce at those beautiful U-Pick farms!  Here's the best part, with a minimal amount of work, (the slow-cooker does all the heavy lifting)--we now have a really delicious batch of apple butter... for pancakes, biscuits, really, it would be great on anything!!-- It's so good and the perfect addition to any October menu.

This apple butter was made in our slow cooker and truly, this recipe could not be easier.  It does take some time to cook the apples down...16 hours...(seems like a long time--but the slow cooker does all the work...) and the results are amazing!!  Don't let the long slow-cook of this apple butter scare you... it's worth it!

To begin I used a 6-quart slow cooker, ours is a Crock-Pot.

You'll need apples...I like to use two different varieties... why??  Apple flavors vary, and by using two different varieties your finished product will have a depth of flavor.  I use this same principle when I bake apple pies, multiple apple varieties yield the best all-around apple flavor.  The apples you choose regardless of variety should be fresh, unblemished, and smell really good-- like apples. I used about 8 cups of peeled and sliced apples for this recipe or about 12-15 medium-sized apples. (I used Macintosh and Honeycrisp)

Another great tip, be sure your spices are fresh.  Spices begin to lose their flavor-power after about 6-8 months...sometimes sooner.  If you have old cinnamon or old cloves in the back of the cabinet... those older spices can still be great for mulling apple cider or cinnamon toast, but when going to the trouble to make an amazing baked good or this apple butter, consider refreshing your spices before the baking season gets underway....the flavors of all your finished pies, cookies--and apple butter will be even better!

Apple Butter

8-10 cups of peeled and sliced apples (Try to use two different varieties for a well-rounded apple flavor)
2 cups granulated sugar (divided)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Peel 8-10 cups of fresh apples, cut into 2-inch chunks.  Be sure to remove and discard all of the apple peel, seeds, and any hard parts of the apple core. 
Fill a slow cooker with the prepared apples.
Add 1 cup of sugar and lightly stir to coat the apples.  Cover the apples and cook on HIGH for 6 hours, stirring occasionally during the 6 hours.
After the 6 hours, Add the remaining 1 cup of sugar and the cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  Stir gently and cover.  Cook on LOW for 10 hours more.  Stir occasionally during the 10 hours.
After the apples have cooked down, the mixture will begin to thicken and the apple butter will take on a darker color. Use the back of a wooden spoon to break up any apple bits that might remain.  
Let the apple butter cool and then spoon into lidded jars.  Store the apple butter in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

*The longer you cook the apple butter, the color will deepen and the richer and more concentrated the flavors will become.  If you prefer a darker, richer apple butter, keep cooking it on low until you reach the consistency you're looking for.  This process of reaching the thickness and flavor really depends on the type of apple used and the freshness and juiciness of the apples too... it all plays a role in the finished product.

If you have a smaller slow cooker or a larger one, you can still use the basic recipe, simply adjust the sugar and spices for the number of apples you are using... less sugar and spice for a smaller amount of apples--and the apples may cook more quickly, Conversely, add a little more sugar and spice for a few more cups of apples, including adding a little longer cooking time. As always, season to your personal taste.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Fall Baking Bucket List

 Happy First Day of Fall!! 

Friends... I am so excited about this new season that starts today!

I'm thinking about all the good things that are just ahead...right down that country road...Do you see it too??  The yellow and orange fall leaves and the wood fence??  Oh, good, I knew I couldn't be the only one daydreaming about all of the fun-filled autumn days...they're here.

It's a new season and also a time of tradition... like the family favorites that appear on the Thanksgiving table or the favorite chili recipe that makes Sunday feel so cozy with an abundance of football and good food. I love sharing the same family traditions every year, pumpkin patches, and hayrides and making our favorite seasonal foods, but maybe in a new and different way--this year.  

My kids love soup served in bread bowls...and usually, when we grab lunch at one of our favorite spots, that's what they order--bread bowls with a cheesy broccoli cheddar soup or a tomato bisque--either way it's delicious.  Just the other day I thought... "Karri, why in the world are you not doing your own version of a bread-bowl right here at home...??"-- the kids would looove it!! So, it's on my list... my fall baking bucket list-- trying new things, creating new recipes, while making time to enjoy the classic tried and true recipes that make fall, feel like fall. I must have been experiencing a creative moment, because it was just about then, that the idea struck me that YOU deserved a fall baking bucket list too... 

So have I have "baked-up" something special just for you... 

To ring in the official start of fall, the crackling fires, cookies, pies, and warm baked bread-season, let's not waste a moment... I have put together a Fall Baking Bucket List!!   Here is my official Blue Ribbon Kitchen guide to the most essential fall recipes, from my recipe box, to yours. Most of these recipes are big winners, and some BIG Ohio State Fair Best-of-Show winners are included too...   You can never have too many first-place winning recipes...that is a fact. 

 My favorite fall recipes are all right here in this post...just for you.  

Scroll down and you'll find easy links to all the recipes listed here. 

 Please enjoy... and I wish you a happy first day of fall!!



Thursday, September 3, 2020

Heirloom Recipes: Georgia's Oatmeal Cake & Mom's Ginger Cookies

Hello Friends! 

Today I am sharing two sweet recipes handed down in our family 
for generations...

I'm lucky to come from a long line of fabulous cooks...

both the women and men in my family have specialties they have perfected and tweaked over the years... and as it turns out, they are a generous bunch, taking the time to teach the kids and grandkids over the years and share their recipes...

My favorite recipes... are the vintage ones.

These are the best kind of recipe, the hand-written kind... 
the recipes written on delicate paper recipe cards, 
yellowed from time, authored by those we cherish.  

The recipes are undeniably delicious and the 
memories that accompany these sweet recipes are priceless.  

A little wooden recipe box holds so much inside,
 not only the recipes but...the memories of a lifetime, 
baked as holiday meals, family reunion potluck dishes,
 and the comforting casseroles we take to friends in their time of need... 
The recipes boxes that sit on so many kitchen counters, 
hold the food memories that we treasure.  
I am particularly fond of the recipe cards that are tattered from wear,
 dotted with drips and kitchen spatters having been a well-loved recipe.  

Much like my old rag dolls, you can tell which ones received the most love...
 the most loved recipe cards bear the marks of regular use, 
and can signal a winning dish.

The glorious smells of the kitchen can tell me exactly what season it is...
 whether its a bubbling pot of vegetable soup or the undeniable scent
 of Thanksgiving baking in the oven... 
we all have food memories that take us back in time
 to places and people who have meant so much to us.  

I was recently given the recipe collection belonging to my grandmother...
My grandmother and I have spent many an afternoon
 talking about the parties she hosted and the 
friends that shared their recipes and the happy times they spent sharing delicious food... 
 The fun of reminiscing lets us remember dear family friends.

My grandma said to me just last night, "Remembering these recipes bring
the memories to life and we get to relive those happy times all over again."

 Oh, what fun it has been to read through the ingredients and to see the popularity of dishes thought the decades; the long lost deviled ham logs of the 1960's to the microwave fudge of the 1980's... it's a parade of recipes and memories all rolled into one.  

I am so excited to share my grandmother's cake and mother's cookie recipe on Fox19 today... they will both be watching and what a thrill to see these tried and true family favorites live on, hoping to find a place on other kitchen tables and to be loved by families, like yours.  
Please enjoy these family heirloom recipes and here's hoping they make their way into your very own recipe box.  



Get the recipes here:

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Candy Pumpkins and a Winning Pumpkin Cake Recipe

Are you ready for a little pumpkin fun?

I certainly am...and from the looks of things out my window...fall is right around the corner.  

My son was watching the hummingbirds visit the feeder yesterday... as he watched, a small gust of wind whirled through the backyard, and a cascade of light yellow leaves began to fall to the ground from our maple tree... He exclaimed "What is happening??  Why is our tree losing leaves?? It's still summertime....!"  I reminded him September is here... and fall is coming... 

He wasn't thrilled.  The summer comes in goes in a hurry these days.

But guess what??  

I am thrilled!  I'm bringing out the welcome-wagon for my very favorite season... it's quite literally on our doorstep. {Disclaimer: I may say the same about every season, I tend to be equally excited about the new possibilities of each season}

Right now, today, it is officially pumpkin season... at least that what it says on my calendar.

I'm here for the pumpkins and the cozy firepit nights, I'm here for the leaves, and the caramel apples... the hayrides, and the bright blue crisp autumn skies...I'm here for all of the gorgeous fall days that are right around the corner.

One of the cutest pumpkins of the season... will be the ones I make!

How can that be you might think??

Today, I'm sharing the how-to for these super-cute candy pumpkins.

These little edible cuties, are a surefire way to add a little fall flair to you desserts... thinking ahead to Thanksgiving...these little pumpkins make darling toppers for cakes and pies.  

Speaking of cake... I am including the recipe here for one of the BEST fall desserts I've ever tasted, my two-time, Best-of-Show winning: pumpkin cake.  It's truly delicious, and the perfect make-ahead dessert... 

The secret about this cake... Yes, there is a secret: It tastes better after a day resting in the refrigerator!!  What an amazing trick for this cake, to create magic all on its own...while you are freed up to do other things.  I love a cake that's not too fussy, don't you??

Below is the handy How-To Guide for making candy pumpkins:

What you'll need: