Even though most of us are at the end of apple season, I'm sharing my favorite recipe for homemade applesauce. Because...most of us can go to the nearest grocery store and buy a great big bag of apples anytime we want. Wow! We have it good! Feeling thankful right now. I have heard stories from my Mom and my Grandpa about what my family had to eat during the great depression (like lard sandwiches and mush) so I'm guessing a big bag of (store bought) apples would have been a lavish treat.
Since we're on the subject of food insecurity, I looked up the stats for the state of Kentucky where I live. I found data from 2016 that shows 17% of Kentuckians are food insecure. That's 743,310 people just in KY including over 222,000 children. As a mother of four, it breaks my heart to think of children without enough to eat. I did not set out to write on this topic today, but since we're here, take it as a reminder to count your blessings and if you have more than enough, share with those who do not. Most communities have opportunities available through food banks and churches to help those who need it. Find an opportunity and bless someone.
To make this applesauce, put all of the ingredients in a microwave safe dish and microwave for several minutes until tender enough to mash. It really is that simple except for all of the time it takes to peel and core the apples. There is nothing simple about peeling and coring apples when you have little ones around, but if you can find the time ...totally worth it.
My parents have an apple tree. We don't know what kind of apples they are, but they make really good applesauce. My Mom came down to visit this fall and brought us a big grocery bag full of apples. Since we have an extra fridge, I stored them and made several batches of applesauce over the next two months. I was even able to gift some to friends and freeze some for later. Homemade applesauce makes great gifts, but if you don't process it so that it is canned you need to make sure the recipient knows to refrigerate or freeze it.
Since I was making so much applesauce, I finally figured out that I could use the crock from my slow cooker to make triple batches. It was the largest microwave safe dish I could find that would still fit in the microwave. I did not use the cover since it has a metal ring around the rim, but the crock worked perfectly. You will want to cover the applesauce with a vented lid or cover of some sort when microwaving. We have a vented microwave cover so I used it as a lid for the crock when cooking. A sheet of wax paper would work fine too. Actually, if want you could just cook this in the slow cooker all day. Wouldn't that make your house smell amazing? Once the apples are cooked, you just mash everything together to make applesauce. I just use a simple potato masher (pictured above). You could use an emersion blender or hand mixer too.
In a microwave-safe dish combine ingredients. Cover with a vented lid
(to let steam out) or a sheet of wax paper. Microwave on high for 10 minutes.
Using a hand blender or potato masher, blend to desired consistency. Serve warm or chill for later use.
This is one of my favorite sides to serve with pork loin or Pork Schnitzel. A nice pork loin with some homemade applesauce would go well as part of a festive Christmas meal.
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Even if you only bake pies once or twice a year, there's something magical about shaping dough, filling it, then baking and sharing your creation with those you love. A homemade pie is a labor of love. It is effort put forth to take simple ingredients and turn them into something special, something memorable. Food brings people together and memories are made around food, both in the kitchen and around the table. Let's make those memories extra special this year with a little extra (homemade) effort and lots of love.
This year for Thanksgiving I decided to jazz up the pecan pie a bit with maple syrup and bourbon. We use real maple syrup all the time so I decided to substitute it for half of the corn syrup. It was a good syrup blend and worked well for both flavor and texture. Bourbon seemed like a natural addition to a maple pecan pie especially since we have been official Kentuckians for a couple of years now.
I went light on the bourbon adding only 2 Tablespoons. Many recipes call for 3 to 4 Tablespoons of bourbon. I thought 2 Tablespoons added just the right amount of flavor without overpowering other flavors. You can always start with 2 Tablespoons and add more if you think it needs it.
Since we're talking food memories and bourbon, I'm getting into the Holiday family memories mood. I have the fondest memories of going to my great grandmother, Doddin's house in Cynthiana, KY every Christmas. We usually only saw Doddin once a year because we lived a 12 hour drive away. Her house was pretty formal and my sisters and I had to mostly sit quietly while we visited in her sitting room. My great grandmother always had a tray of homemade bourbon balls. If I remember correctly they were strong and we weren't allowed to eat them. But that was ok because we always got to go in her kitchen for a special treat of Reese's cups and Coke.
Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie
1 unbaked pie crust
1/3 C. granulated sugar
1/3 C. packed light brown sugar
1/2 C. light corn syrup
1/2 C. maple syrup
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. bourbon
1 1/4 C. pecan halves
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Whisk ingredients together to combine and pour into unbaked pie shell.
3. Bake 40-45 minutes until crust has browned and filling has set. I make foil pie shields to cover the crust edges and protect them from over-browning and leave them on for most of the baking time. Let pie cool before serving.
Serve with whipped cream and enjoy!
I love to eat healthy fresh foods like salads, but as the temperature drops, I find myself craving warm comfort foods like soups, casseroles, and breads. While these can be healthy, I notice a decreasing amount of fresh vegetables grace our table this time of year.
The key for me is finding fresh vegetables that I love to cook and eat. Some of my favorites this time of year are carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, cabbage, acorn squash, butternut squash, and sugar snap peas. Sugar snap peas are pretty much my favorite all year long, but they can be a bit pricier so I keep my eye out for the marked down packages. I never pay full price for sugar snap peas because in my local stores, they run $5 to $6 a pound, but when they mark them down 50% or more, I snatch them up. They are usually packaged in the produce section with a sale by or use by date so when they get close to that date, the store marks them down. I use within a day or two of purchase and they are always fresh and delicious.
Since shrimp are on the pricier side too, when I see a deal I buy a pound or two for the freezer. Some of my favorite shrimp recipes are Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo and Shrimp and Grits. I like to buy raw shrimp for recipes so there is less chance I will overcook them. I am almost always multi-tasking in the kitchen since I have four kiddos so any help in the "not overcooking department" is always appreciated.
Slightly sweet and savory with just a little kick, you will love these honey lime shrimp with sugar snap peas. So much flavor in the sauce...pour it over the rice to soak into every delicious bite!
Honey Lime Shrimp with Sugar Snap Peas
1 pound medium or large raw shrimp
1/2 cup olive oil
¼ cup honey
Juice and zest of 2 limes
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
¼ to ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ to ½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 pound fresh sugar snap peas
Hot cooked rice for serving
1. Thaw shrimp in a colander under running water. Then peel off shells. Most shrimp is deveined when processed, if not, remove veins. Set shrimp aside.
2. Mix the marinade ingredients together in a Zipper seal bag or plastic container. Add the shrimp. Refrigerate for ½ an hour or more.
3. Heat a large skillet or wok to medium high. Then add the shrimp, marinade and sugar snap peas. Cook until the shrimp turns a creamy pink color. Serve over rice.
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I think beets are one of those vegetables that are often overlooked like turnips or brussel sprouts. Maybe you've never tried them. Maybe they grace your table once a year for a special dinner. Maybe you tried canned beets once at a salad bar. Whatever your experience with beets, these roasted beets are a game changer.
Simply delicious! These balsamic roasted beets are tossed in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper and roasted until tender. That's it. Simple seasonings that come together to create an amazing flavor explosion.
And guess what? You don't even have to get out the measuring spoons. Just drizzle the olive oil and vinegar, grind the salt and pepper and toss. If you have never peeled beets before, let me tell you it's really easy to peel beets after they have simmered for an hour. The skins will soften and come right off with a pairing knife.
Balsamic Roasted Beets
4 to 5 large beets*
Fresh ground salt and pepper
1. Boil beets, then reduce heat and simmer on low for about an hour.
2. Peel beets, then quarter and toss in a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
3. Toss with salt and pepper.
4. Bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour at 400 degrees F. or until tender.
*4 to 5 beets is just a recommendation (for a family of 4 to 5). Make as many or as few as you like.
We have enjoyed an abundance of fresh peppers and tomatoes this fall. We actually still have a huge pan of green tomatoes gradually ripening on the counter. It's fun to see them starting to turn orange then red among the bright green sea of tomatoes.
We love stuffed peppers, although the kids find them a bit challenging to eat. Plus the work of stuffing the peppers (while not difficult) is a step I would rather skip so I make this kid-friendly casserole instead. I love making one pan meals like this stuffed pepper casserole. If you are a regular here, you are used to seeing my favorite pan in the world...my iron skillet. This baby can cook just about anything anywhere. It makes preparing this casserole a breeze transitioning from stove top to oven with ease. If you don't have one, no problem. Just use a skillet when cooking on the stove, then transfer to an ovenproof casserole dish.
I actually came up with this dish last summer when we had an abundance of pepper from the garden so we have enjoyed it a lot over the last year. It's one of our favorites and I hope you will enjoy it too.
Stuffed Pepper Casserole
4 medium bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 sweet onion, diced
2 cloves minced garlic
1 lb. lean ground beef
4 tomatoes, diced
1 heaping cup cooked rice
1 Tbsp. worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese plus a little extra to sprinkle on top
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Brown beef with pepper, onion, and garlic in skillet at medium-medium/high heat.
3. Then remove from heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients.
4. Sprinkle top with extra cheese then bake about 25 minutes until heated through and cheese is melted.
As the weather turns cooler and the leaves start to fall I find myself craving the warmth of hot tea and fresh baked goods. These pumpkin chip muffins have been a family favorite for many years. You may have seen them on the blog before...this old post just needed an update.
I always feel like baked goods are healthier when they are homemade because I can control the ingredients. I have been baking with coconut sugar a lot lately since it has a lower glycemic index than regular granulated sugar, so I put coconut sugar in these and they are amazing. You would never know the difference. I also use coconut oil and often add ground flax to up the nutritional benefits of these muffins.
I don't use as many chocolate chips as I used to because they just don't need them, plus kids and chocolate equals messy faces and hands. You can easily double this recipe which if doubled uses a whole 15 oz. can of pumpkin. I like to just double it and then I don't have a half can of leftover pumpkin to store. Plus any extra muffins freeze beautifully.
3/4 C. Coconut sugar (or granulated)
1/4 C. melted Coconut Oil (or vegetable oil)
3/4 Cup Canned pumpkin
1/4 C. water
1 1/2 C. flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg (I just grate some whole nutmeg)
1/2 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup ground flax (optional for the added nutrition - does not change the flavor)
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease and flour muffin pan or use paper liners.
2. Mix sugar, oil, and eggs. Whisk in pumpkin and water.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt. If using ground flax, you can add it here.
4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients stirring just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
5. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Place muffins in the oven and turn the temperature down to 350 degrees F. Bake for about 20 minutes for regular muffins and around 25 minutes for extra large muffins.
Makes 12-14 regular size muffins, depending on size.
This has to be the most requested meal in our home. The boys all say this is their favorite. Want to get your kids to eat more lettuce? Here you go...let me introduce you to lettuce wraps.
Lettuce wraps are these amazing little pockets of crisp light lettuce wrapped around savory meaty morsels of deliciousness. The flavors compliment each other so well.
Last year we bought a pig, as in an entire hog in our freezer. I wrote a little about it here. When I came home from the processor with our pig, I couldn't believe how much sausage we had. Actually, I was kind of overwhelmed at first at the thought of trying to use so much sausage. One can only eat so much sausage & gravy or fried sausage patties before growing tired of the same ole thing. So I started coming up with new ways to use ground sausage and this has by far been our favorite.
Get as creative as you like...try adding shredded carrots, cabbage, or even diced bamboo shoots. This recipe is really versatile so make it your own.
Asian Pork Sausage Lettuce Wraps
1 C. uncooked white rice
2 C. water
1 T. olive oil
1 ½ lb. ground pork sausage, mild
1 clove garlic, minced
½ sweet onion, diced
1 (8 oz.) can water chestnuts, drained and diced
A pinch up to ½ tsp. red pepper flakes, depending on how spicy you like it
3 T. oyster sauce
2 T. soy sauce
1 tsp. or more sesame oil
4 green onions, chopped (optional for garnish)
Romaine and/or Iceberg lettuce leaves
1. Combine rice and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until water is absorbed.
2. Heat a wok or large skillet to medium high heat. Drizzle about a T. of olive oil in the skillet. Cook the sausage, garlic, onion, water chestnuts and red pepper flakes until meat is browned.
3. Then add the cooked rice, oyster sauce, and soy sauce to heat through.
4. Remove from heat and add sesame oil and green onions stirring to combine. (Or garnish with green onions.)
I serve the pork mixture in a large bowl with a plate of pre-separated lettuce leaves. We love using both romaine and iceberg lettuce leaves for wraps. They both have a firm crunch and hold up well for filling.
Today we're talking about some seriously amazingly delicious pork...pork carnitas. So tender, so versatile, so flavorful. Am I making you hungry yet? I sure hope so!
I don't know if I have mentioned this before or not, but last year we bought a hog. As in an entire hog in our deep freezer. At first I thought it was a challenge to use so much pork. Then as I got more used to cooking with pork and coming up with more ways to use it, I discovered I really like cooking with pork. There are so many things you can do with it... like make amazing pork carnitas.
In fact, I used our last cuts of pork shoulder to make these carnitas. We have almost finished our entire hog. Luckily our new hog will be here soon. â
Doesn't this look delicious? Tender with a little crispness on the edges. The sugar in the cola helps give the meat its flavor and caramelized crispy edges. I do not promote drinking cola (just ask my kids and husband, ha ha), but I make an exception here. If you don't want to add cola, you could use broth instead.
I made this for my son's birthday party last week and used two cuts of pork shoulder. I did not weigh them so I am not sure how many pounds of meat I cooked. It was a small party at which we fed about a dozen people. What you see pictured in the skillet is the leftover meat so this does make a lot and is perfect for parties. (Also, the leftovers are amazing.) It is really fun to serve with chips and salsa, guacamole, fresh lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro etc. I found these little "street taco" sized tortillas at the grocery store and they are perfect for carnitas and especially for little hands at kids birthday parties.
(Food photography tip: Take pictures of leftovers the next day to make use of natural light. Also a great tip when you are a busy Mom hosting a 10 year old's birthday party. It's so much easier to focus on taking good photos when you are not busy and feeling rushed.)
4 or more pounds pork shoulder ( also known as Boston butt)
Small amount of oil
1/2 T. (approximately) fresh ground salt
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1 T. oregano
1 sweet onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 C. orange juice
1 C. or more real sugar cola
Fresh squeezed lime juice and more fresh ground salt and pepper for flavoring the finished pork.
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Cut the meat into chunks and season with salt, pepper, oregano, and cumin. Brown the meat in a small amount of oil (I use coconut oil) in a large dutch oven.
3. Then add onion, garlic, orange juice, and cola.
4. Cook covered in the oven for 3 to 3 1/2 hours or so, until the meat easily shreds with a fork.
5. Remove any bones and shred the meat adding extra cooking liquid back to the meat. If you like you can put the meat under the broiler to crisp the edges for 5 to 10 minutes. (Meat pictured was not crisped under the broiler.)
6. Salt and pepper to taste and squeeze fresh lime juice over the top.
I serve in an iron skillet because I think it looks attractive, but it is also handy for re-warming the meat on the stove if desired. When re-warming, add a small amount of cola or broth to the skillet for moisture.
I received this product for free from Moms Meet (momsmeet.com) to use and post my honest opinions. Compensation for this post was provided and this page may contain affiliate links.
One of the fun things about blogging is getting to try new products and since we are into more natural healthy things, I was excited to get a box of ARCTIC ZERO® Fit Frozen Desserts® on my doorstep. Yes, it was delivered to my house via the magic of dry ice and a cooler box.
I'm not one to shy from healthy fats, but I would like to reduce our sugar intake so I jumped at the chance to try Arctic Zero. The creator of Arctic Zero made it for his Mom who suffered from Type 1 Diabetes. It is low glycemic making it a great choice for anyone trying to reduce sugar intake. It is sweetened naturally with monk fruit. It is made with hormone-free whey protein and is lactose free, GMO free, and available in gluten-free options. Arctic Zero is also certified kosher.
I should mention that Arctic Zero Fit Frozen Desserts are frozen very hard and have to thaw for about 15 minutes or you can pop them in the microwave for about 30 seconds before serving. They have to thaw a few minutes to make them scoop-able.
We had a lot of fun trying all of the flavors and deciding on our favorites. My husband and I both love Cookie Shake. It is our favorite. It reminds me of those pre-packaged frozen solid chocolate milkshakes from grade-school (in the 80's) that were a special treat if I was lucky enough to have been given extra lunch money. It also reminds me of one of my greatest weaknesses...fudgesicles.
If you haven't figured this out already I really like chocolate or rather I LOVE all things chocolate so my second and third favorites are Cherry Chocolate Chunk and Rocky Road Trip. In full disclosure, the only one I really didn't like was Cake Batter. It was very plain and didn't have enough flavor for me.
If you are like me and have a huge sweet tooth but want to consume less sugar, give Arctic Zero Fit Frozen Desserts a try. Arctic Zero Creamy pints are fat free and only 35 calories per half cup serving and 150 calories for the entire pint. Arctic Zero Chunky pints are low in fat (1-2.5 grams) and only 75 calories per half-cup serving and 300 calories for the entire pint, allowing you to indulge without guilt. They also contain 3-4 grams of protein and 2-3 grams of fiber per serving and would be perfect for smoothies and shakes.
Arctic Zero Pints are available to purchase at select Target stores, Albertsons, Kroger, Publix, Sprouts Farmers Market, Safeway, Walmart and Whole Foods Market as well as online at amazon.com and arcticzero.com.
Which flavor do you most want to try?
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My husband is one of those who has to have meat at every meal. In fact he eats leftovers for breakfast. He doesn't really like many breakfast foods, but loves dinner food so leftovers for breakfast is his usual fare.
Since we have been so busy and my husband really likes/craves/must have meat to live, I made a crock pot of slow cooked chicken breast last week which we enjoyed in many things all week. We had these taco salads, chicken salad sandwiches, panini's, and burrito bowls which were all fantastic and fairly simple.
I know a plate of shredded chicken isn't much to look at, but this is just to give you an idea of how much chicken I made. I slow cooked 5 chicken breasts all day with fresh ground salt, pepper, and garlic powder sprinkled over it (no measuring, just eyeball it). No need to add water, the chicken bastes itself in the slow cooker. Once the chicken is done, simply shred it and pour any juices left in the slow cooker over it for added flavor and moisture.
Our boys ate dinner at Vacation Bible School every night last week so we were able to get 4+ meals out of 5 chicken breasts. If the boys had been home for dinner, we would probably have only gotten 2 to 3 meals from this much chicken.
In case you are wondering how busy we have been, we have been incredibly busy around here. First, we have four children, including a nine month old who crawls everywhere and has decided he has outgrown naps. He is tired and falls asleep on little car trips around town or when he is nursing, but as soon as I try to lay him down in his crib, the crying starts. It is more like crying/screaming and he sits up the whole time. I have tried to leave him a while to see if he will give up and lay down for a nap, but he is persistent. He literally sits up and cries forever until I pick him up. Luckily he sleeps really well at night, but naps are hit or miss right now. I know this isn't a parenting post, but I will solicit your advice on this one.
In addition to being busy parents, we have done some traveling this summer and have more travels in our future. Packing for 4 kids (including a baby) is no small task. I am a list maker and my to to-do list is looking a little crazy right now. We are road tripping it and I am trying to be prepared for all of the things we will need to travel with kids. We'll see how it goes, maybe I will post our packing/traveling adventure with tips on what worked and didn't work. Any travel/packing tips are also much appreciated.
Making a taco salad is like painting on an empty canvas. You can make it however you like. I started with sweet potato and blue corn tortilla chips then added black beans, shredded chicken, fresh corn, lettuce, and diced tomatoes. We drizzled salsa verde on top before serving. You could also add guacamole, sour cream, fresh squeezed lime juice, shredded or crumbled cheese and of course salsa. So many delicious possibilities.
(To make shredded chicken)
Chicken breasts (desired amount)
Fresh ground salt and pepper
If you want to throw in anything extra, go for it...maybe cumin or cajun seasoning...the possibilities are endless.
Slow cook chicken breasts all day (until done) on low with fresh ground salt, pepper, and garlic powder sprinkled over it (no measuring, just eyeball it). No need to add water, the chicken bastes itself in the slow cooker. Once the chicken is done, simply shred it and pour any juices left in the slow cooker over it for added flavor and moisture. If you make extra, you can refrigerate leftovers and use for several days in all kinds of delicious meals.
(For Taco Salad)
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 to 2 ears of fresh sweet corn, cut from the cob (can microwave a couple of minutes if you want it warm)
Shredded lettuce (I use Romaine)
Diced fresh tomatoes
Shredded chicken (recipe above)
For added flavor you may like:
Salsa or salsa verde
Fresh squeezed lime
Shredded or crumbled cheese
Simply arrange ingredients on plates to make taco salads.
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Welcome to Home Ec @ Home
Hi, I'm Faith, a former Family and Consumer Science (Home Economics) Teacher turned work at home Mom, bringing you family friendly, homemade recipes and homemaking tips to simplify your life. Join me on my homemaking and mothering journey.
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