Friday, October 28, 2011

Cranking out apple pies

On Saturday I made a Caramel Apple pie for my sweeties birthday.  The recipe was from the Good Morning America recipe contest of 2001.  The winning baker was Marsha Brooks from Carmel, Indiana and she called her pie Crunchy Carmel Apple Pie
For me it's the best, easiest  Caramel Apple Pie you can whip upThis pie  is so good.   Just how good was it, you ask?  Good enough for me to make two more on Sunday, so I could freeze them.

Ingredients for the Pie:
1 pastry crust for a deep-dish pie 9" (homemade or store bought)
1/2 Cup sugar
3Tbl all purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
6 Cups thinly sliced peeled apples
1 recipe crumb topping(see below)
1/2 Cup chopped pecans
1/4 Cup caramel topping
I decided to use my handy dandy apple peeler/corer, which took me half the time to ready apples for two pies than it did the day before when I hand cut apples for one pie.
Ingredients for Crumb Topping:
1 Cup packed brown sugar
1/2 Cup all purpose flour
1/2 Cup quick cooking or regular rolled oats
1/2 Cup butter

Directions for the Crumb Topping:  Stir together brown sugar, flour, rolled oats.  Cut in 1/2 Cup butter until topping is like coarse crumbs.  Set aside.
Directions for Pie: In a large mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt.
Add apple slices and gently toss until coated.  Transfer apple mixture to the pie shell. 
Sprinkle crumb topping over apple mixture. 
Place pie on a cookie sheet so the drippings don't drop onto your oven.  Cover the edges of the pie crust with aluminum foil. 
Bake in preheated 375 oven for 25 minutes.  Then remove foil and put back in for another 25 to 30 minutes without foil.
Remove from oven.  Sprinkle pie with chopped pecans then drizzle with caramel on top.
Cool on a wire rack and enjoy warm or at room temperature.  It's exquisite with vanilla ice cream on the side.
The peeled and cored apples, waiting to be cut in half and tossed with the dry ingredients. 
Since I only have two glass pie pans, I can only make two at a time.  Then I cut the pies in half and sealed them my vacuum sealer.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fall Snow Storm

In the late evening of October 25th,  and for the next 18 hours the Denver Metro area received an average of 8.5" of snow.  It was the first fall snow storm.
Everything that should come in the house did, the grills were covered and the patio cushions were put away.
An early AM photo with another eight hours of snow ahead.
Bob, clearing a path to the back for our fussie dog.
The meteorologists are telling us the temperatures will be in the 60's by this weekend, so there may still be a few good days left in the hammock this year.
 I'm sure the grill will be up and running in a day or so.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My watering can fetish

I know I might worry about the garden a little more than most, but having  my watering cans staged and filled throughout the yard gives me some peace of mind.  You never know when a plant might need a splash of water, and me without a hose.
Those that know me might even say I have a watering can fetish, that's okay with me.  There are so many options when it comes to watering cans. 
Notice here I have the old glass 1/2 gallon milk containers in a metal carrier.  I love that bit of nostalgia.  I recently emptied those and put them away for the winter.  Don't want the bottles to crack from freezing.
And this bright green can really does a stand out job near the eggplant.  I know we are at the end of the growing season,  and I am thankful that it did last through October.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Oat Squares

I found this apple bar recipe on Whole Foods website, quite tasty and very moist.  I wrapped each individually in plastic and placed them in the freezer.  They defrost nicely overnight in the refrigerator and can be zapped in the microwave for a bit to warm.

Apple-Cinnamon Oat Squares

Serves 16

If you're always looking for a new way to eat oatmeal, how about on the go? You can enjoy these tasty squares warm, at room temperature or even cold for breakfast or a snack. They're simple to make ahead and keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator so you can grab and go throughout the week.


2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 1/2 cups steel cut oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup raisins(I use cranberries)
1/2 cup ground flax seeds (not whole flax seeds)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 (about 1 pound) Pink Lady apples, cored and grated-( Use whatever apples you have.)


Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Transfer to a foil- or parchment paper-lined 9-inch square baking pan, press down and smooth out the top and bake until firm and golden brown, about 1 hour. Let cool in pan; cut into squares and serve warm or at room temperature.


Heath Starts Here Program
Per serving (1 square): 140 calories (50 from fat), 6g total fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 25mg sodium, 20g total carbohydrate (4g dietary fiber, 7g sugar), 3g protein

Smells like tomatoes in my kitchen

Tonight's expected low is 30, so I spent a good amount of time picking tomatoes, peppers, raspberries and apples today.  HELP!!!!  It's a bit overwhelming.   
Fortunately I had some pretty fall mums to gaze at while I was outdoors.
This is a dwarf burning bush.  When it starts growing in the spring it's covered in dark green leaves that change into this brilliant red in the fall. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Greenhouse

About 9 years ago, I bought a small,  portable 8' X 8' greenhouse.  I used it that first winter, before I really knew what I was doing, and haven't used it since.  The time has come to use it.  I put it up this past week over a portion of the garden.
Doesn't it look like the tomato plants are trying to bust out of the house?  This picture makes me laugh, like they are trying to make a break for it.  We were really close to freezing last night.  I have 5 other tomato plants that I had to wrap individually, only because they have so many green tomatoes on them that I am not ready to give them up.  Usually, at this time of the year I would just let them go.  
We'll see what the difference is between those on the outside that I wrapped in sheets and those on the inside of the greenhouse.  My daily high temp should be 70 degrees for the week.  I'm thinking of leaving the frame in place all winter, but taking the exterior walls down.  This way I'll get the moisture in the ground, and given the right conditions I may be able to get some vegetables growing in my own green house early in the spring when I put the exterior walls back up.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Apple Almond Gingerbread

As I've mentioned, I have a lot of apples in my yard, so I am always on the hunt for something new to do with them.  I tried this Apple Almond Gingerbread recipe from Whole Foods.  WOW!!  It's really good.  Supposedly it freezes well. 

Apple Almond Gingerbread
5 tablespoons butter, melted, plus more for greasing
3/4 cup slivered almonds, divided*
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons lowfat buttermilk
1/3 cup unsulphured molasses
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 Fuji or Gala apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped 
Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease an 8-inch loaf pan with butter.  Put 1/4 cup almonds in bottom of pan and then rotate pan to distribute them around the bottom and sides (they'll stick to the greased pan); set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, molasses, sugar, butter, vanilla and egg.  In a second large bowl, combine flour, ginger, baking soda and remaining 1/2 cup almonds.  Add apples and toss well.  Stir flour mixture into molasses mixture and then spoon batter into pan.  Bake until cooked through and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes.  Let cool in pan for 30 minutes and then invert onto a plate and serve warm or at room temperature.


I used two apples instead of one, and since there were 3/4 Cups of almonds in the bread, I used almond extract instead of vanilla.  I replaced 1/2 Cup of the wheat flour with spelt flour.
Delicious!!  You might even think you're eating chocolate bread.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The apples are abundant

The apple tree is loaded right now with deep beautiful crimson red fruit.
Apparently I haven't been using them fast enough. Time to get into action.
This morning I picked a bowl full and washed them so that I could core and slice them for the dehydrator.   
Slicing them uniformly and very thin insures they will dehydrate at the same rate.  Even at that, 6 trays of apple slices takes about 9 hours.  Every hour I would rotate the bottom tray to the top. 
Without touching, they were side by side when the process started.  You can see how much they shrink as they dry.  
Ta da... organic, wholesome, delicious sweet apple slices.  Ready to take on a hike, a boat ride, put in a bowl of oatmeal, or just snack on while you're daydreaming in the hammock.
Hard to believe that a dozen apples can be reduced to 8 1/2 ounces in a vacuum sealed bag.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Wheatberry and apple salad

This is my favorite Wheat berry salad.  I discovered this recipe in the April  2007 issue of Eating Well Magazine.
According to the magazine, If you are looking for a recipe to turn your friends and family into wheat-berry fans, this is the one.  I agree.

1/3 C freshly squeezed orange juice
1/3 C dried cranberries
3 C cooked, cooled wheat berries (master recipe to follow)
1 large Fuji apple, unpeeled, diced
1/2 C toasted pecan halves, toasted and coarsely chopped
3 Tbl raspberry vinegar
3 Tbl extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1.  Combine orange juice and cranberries in a small bowl.  Let stand for 15 minutes.
2.  Combine wheat berries, apple and pecans in a large bowl; stir gently.  Drain the cranberries, reserving the juices.  Stir the cranberries into the wheat berry mixture. 
3.  Whisk the reserved orange juice, vinegar and oil in a small bowl until combined.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour over the salad and stir gently to coat.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to combine.  Serve cold or at room temperature.

Note:  any red apple will do.  I usually use two apples- 1 green 1 red.  However, since red is in my yard right now, I used two red apples here.

Master Recipe:  Wheat Berries

2 Cups hard red winter-wheat berries
7 Cups cold water
1 tsp salt

1.  Sort through wheat berries carefully, discarding any stones.  Rinse well under cool running water.  Place in a large heavy saucepan.  Add water and salt.
2.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer gently for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  Drain and rinse.  To serve hot, use immediately.  Otherwise, follow the make-ahead instructions.
Makes about 4 1/2 Cups

You can freeze cooked wheat berries and pull them out as you need them.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Granola, is it a cereal or a snack?

When it comes to making Granola, I'm always trying to build a better wheel.  I want that perfect balance between healthy and tasty.  My husband would say  "the wheel is fine, stop kicking the tires."   But then, he eats as much snacking as he does for breakfast. 
I always start with at least 4 Cups of whole oats, in addition to 1/3 cup of wheat germ and shredded coconut.  Then choose 2 Cups of nuts: lately my choice has been almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.  You need 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and salt.  This last dry ingredient may sound crazy but it gives a little zing: a teaspoon of garam masala.  I never would have thought of that, but was inspired by a recipe from My Father's Daughter by Gwyneth Paltrow.  Mix all those ingredients together in a large bowl.
Combine 1/2 C of maple syrup, 1/3 C brown rice syrup, 1/4 C canola oil, 1/3 C honey in a small bowl, then pour over oat mixture.  Stir to combine well, then spread on two lightly greased cookie sheets and bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Stir mixture and rotate pans from top to bottom every ten minutes.  If you like it more toasty, let it bake a little longer.
In between checking the oven, chop between 1-2 cups of your favorite dried fruit.  I used 1 cup cranberries, 1/2 cup each of apricots and medjool dates.  Add the fruit once the granola is completely cooled, then seal it in an airtight container.  Even though it's quite nutty already, I still add walnuts and pecans to my bowl in the morning.
Sometimes I replace some of the oats with soy, wheat, rye or barley flakes.  If you have flax seed, you can add some fresh ground to the dry mix.