Homemade apple sauce

I am someone who almost always uses a recipe when I cook. I usually feel pretty free to modify as needed (or as I feel), but the great thing about homemade applesauce, is there are so few ingredients, it’s really very very easy! I also like the ability to add tasty spices.

This weekend I made a couple of different batches of applesauce. I used the same kind of apple in each batch (one with Jonagolds the other with Romes, I think. I’m not sure since I got them through my CSA), but you could mix and match your apples and it would turn out just fine. I also have this awesome attachment for my kitchenaid mixer that basically grinds the apples up after they are cooked and spits out the hard stuff (cores, any peel that is too hard, etc), but you don’t necessarily need this either. As long as you core your apples well beforehand, you don’t even have to peel them and you can just chop them up and then once cooked, smash them. I’m just lazy, so I like having kitchen appliances help aid me in that laziness. 🙂

So, here’s what I do:

I typically use about 8 apples, cored (use an apple corer, if you have one) and chopped roughly

Add these to a pot with about 1/4 cup sugar (more if you like it sweeter, non if you want unsweetened) and about 1/3 cup of water. I always start with less water since I figure I can always add more later
If you want spiced applesauce, you can add cinnamon sticks (I added two) or vanilla beans (cut open. Again, I added two). So I made one batch of vanilla bean (with the Jonagolds since they are more subtly flavored) and one batch of cinnamon (with the Romes since they are a stronger tasting apple)

Cook this all on about medium low heat, covered, for about 45 minutes or until the apples are soft.

After they are soft, either smash with a potato smasher or run through that fancy Kitchenaid attachment. And ta-da! You have homemade applesauce which is way way better than anything you can buy at the store. 🙂

Jonagolds (mid-coring)

Chopped Jonagolds with two chopped vanilla beans added to the pot (and the water and sugar) before cooking

Romes before chopping

Chopped Romes

The Jonagolds after cooking about 45 minutes (until smooshy). Make sure to remove the beans before smashing.

The Romes after cooking (with two cinnamon sticks). I removed those before smashing.

My awesome Kitchenaid attachment that makes the smashing go so easily and gives me a smooth consistency. You can make this recipe without it, however!

The final product! You can tell which one had the red apples vs. the gold ones. 🙂 Both are super tasty, though! I didn’t can these (since I knew we’d eat it up before we needed to), but this is an easy thing to water bath can as well.

 

 

Carrots, carrots and more carrots

My CSA has recently been delivering us tons and tons of carrots. The good news is they keep really well. The other good news is this soup recipe which I tasted years and years ago uses a full pound of them, so it means I can use up the carrots pretty quickly.

This recipe is for a Szechwan Carrot Soup. What I like about it is both that it’s incredibly easy to make and very flavorful (I like spicy, and this uses a little bit of red pepper flakes. I always add about twice what the recipe says and it’s still not super spicy). The other great thing that I finally did this time was make the cream sauce topping (using some creme fraiche that I had left over from a different recipe that I made). 🙂 I must say, it definitely added an element to the soup that I had never had before, but I wouldn’t say rush out and buy cream and sour cream to make it. But, if you have it around, it’s worth adding to the finished product.

Epicurious.com is one of my favorite sites to find tasty recipes (I even use the iphone app all the time). Hope you enjoy this recipe!

It’s a little hard to see the beautiful orange of this soup in this photo, but it really is pretty. I use an imersion blender to make it smooth, but you could use a blender. I just think that’s a pain and I do love the easy quick function of an imersion blender!

Apple Cream Cheese Cake

A friend of mine made this recipe for Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year). I wasn’t on top of it enough to make it for then, but I did have lots and lots of apples to use up, so asked her for the recipe so I could make it later. I followed the recipe exactly, and used a silicon bundt pan (since my regular bundt pan always sticks). I do wish I had a larger bundt pan for this recipe, however, as the batter basically filled mine, which meant when it rose, it kind of mushroomed over and wasn’t super pretty. The good news is it didn’t spill over into my oven. 🙂 And it tasted delicious, so it wasn’t a huge deal, but I would recommend a larger bundt pan if you have one. 🙂

Here’s the recipe and a couple photos of mine (the glaze I wasn’t quick enough to put on the cake, so it isn’t so pretty, but again, quite tasty!).

Apple-Cream Cheese Bundt Cake

Ingredients

CREAM CHEESE FILLING: 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

APPLE CAKE BATTER:
1 cup finely chopped pecans
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
3 large eggs, lightly beaten

3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup applesauce (I used homemade applesauce that I had canned last year)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups peeled and finely chopped apples (about 1 1/2 lb.)

PRALINE FROSTING:
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar

Preparation

1. Prepare Filling: Beat first 3 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended and smooth. Add egg, flour, and vanilla; beat just until blended.

2. Prepare Batter: Preheat oven to 350º. Bake pecans in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. Stir together 3 cups flour and next 7 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in eggs and next 3 ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in apples and pecans.

3. Spoon two-thirds of apple mixture into a greased and floured 14-cup Bundt pan. Spoon Cream Cheese Filling over apple mixture, leaving a 1-inch border around edges of pan. Swirl filling through apple mixture using a paring knife. Spoon remaining apple mixture over Cream Cheese Filling.

4. Bake at 350º for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and cool completely (about 2 hours).

5. Prepare Frosting: Bring 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup butter, and 3 Tbsp. milk to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly; boil 1 minute, whisking constantly. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Gradually whisk in powdered sugar until smooth; stir gently 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture begins to cool and thickens slightly. Pour immediately over cooled cake (this is where I let mine cool a little too quickly before pouring, so it wasn’t so pretty).

 

The cake after pulling it out of the oven and taking it out of the pan. It’s a bit mushroomed at the (now) bottom, but oh well!

After putting on the glaze (which I let cool a little too much before putting on the cake, so it’s not super pretty).

A view of the inside (with cream cheese filling). This totally made this cake. I’ve made other apple cakes before, which are good and moist. This one with the cream cheese filling totally made it!

 

Using winter veggies

I have a bunch of winter veggies that I needed to use, so was excited when a friend posted this recipe on facebook. I delayed making it so I could find the time to do so, since I assumed it would be time consuming. Now I wish I had just done it earlier. This took very little time (other than waiting for the veggies to roast) and was absolutely delicious and very easy!

Sorry for the lack of pictures, but I’ll let you look at theirs. The only change I made was to swap out collard greens for the kale since that’s what I happened to have this week from my CSA.

http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/kale_and_roasted_vegetable_soup/

Super easy and delicious!