Canned Homemade Apple Sauce

I finally went apple picking. It was everything I had hoped it would be and MORE. Not only was the weather perfect, but the fruits of our labor were exceptionally sweet! I am fortunate to live by an awesome little place called “Weaver’s Orchard.”
PRIMARY-Logo300px
Weaver’s boasts a beautiful orchard with over 30 varieties of apple. Not to mention the raspberries, pumpkins, blueberries and all of the other pick your own yummy treats. They also have a farmers market and lots of other fun, delicious things on site.
Ethan and I went on the perfect September day. I bought a 16lb bag and went to town. I got a few of as many kinds of apples as I could get. Honeycrisp, Red Delicious, Jonagold, Granny Smith, Sun Crisp and a few others. They looked quite pretty all piled up in my mom’s green fruit bowl.
IMG_4286
After washing the apples in a warm water and vinegar mix in the sink, it was time to SAUCE!
Ingredients:
8-12 apples peeled and chopped (I used a variety of apples)
2 cups of water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 ginger
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 cup Maple Syrup (YES! That is the secret!)
1/4 cup good honey
3-5 canning jars/lids

I like my apple sauce nice and spiced so that it tastes like apple pie. It even lends itself to be a bit closer to apple butter. ANYWHO.
1. Peel and chop your apples. Add all ingredients to a crock pot set on high and stir.
IMG_4288
Your house will smell AWESOME! This is great to do in the fall because it smells AH-MAZING.
2. Cook on high until the apples are completely mushy and soft- this takes about 6-8 hours depending on the apples you use and how many.
3. Using a blender or hand held blender, blend the apples until smooth, or your desired consistency. Some people like chunkier apple sauce- what ever floats your boat.
IMG_4301
4. While blending, I started my boiling water for my jars/lids.
5. After blending I dumped the blended apples into a large pot on the stove and brought them up to a good boil. Be careful, it will pop and splatter and it is VERY HOT!!!! Homemade apple sauce is much darker than the stuff bought in the store. It is also darker because of the spices added.
6. This next step is a two-three person job that my mom and or dad usually help with so that it is done quickly before anything can cool! (Thanks guys!) Once jars and lids are brought to a boil in the water, pull them out and ladle in the hot sauce. As long as the jars, lids, and sauce are all nice and hot, you will not need to water bathe them again. It took about 3 ladles of sauce per jar. Set them aside on a towel with space in between so that the air can get in and cool them. Do NOT put them in the fridge they will crack and break. They must cool slowly. The tops should pop within an hour or two. If not, you may need to put the jar in boiling water for 5-10 minutes to heat everything back up to induce the sealing of the lid.
IMG_4303 IMG_4304
This batch made 3 pint jars and enough at the bottom of the pot for everyone in the family to have a spoonful. I have been trying to share my apple sauce, but it’s so hard when I want to keep it all for myself! I got two batches out of my 16lb bag from the orchard. I definitely plan on getting at least a 24lb bag next year. The two batches made 7 pints and 3 of the smaller sample size jars to share with friends.

Advertisements

Sweet Blueberry Rolls with Blueberry Lemon Sauce

This morning I got the bee in my bonnet to do some serious baking. I knew we had yeast in the fridge, so it was game on. The first thing on the list was cinnamon rolls. Then I remembered we had blueberries in the freezer. HECK YES! The decision to make blueberry rolls was swift. The blueberry lemon sauce was a stroke of genius in the midst of baking. The basic roll recipe came from my mother’s handy, dandy, anniversary edition of the Betty Crocker Cook Book. If you don’t have a copy, GET ONE. It is one of the most useful, all around DA BOMB cook books you will ever get.

IMG_4064

Ingredients for rolls:

1 cup hot water (110-125 degrees)

2 packets quick rise yeast

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1/3 cup sugar

3-3 1/2 cups flour

Salt

Ingredients for Filling:

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Honey

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

2 Tablespoons of SOFT butter

Ingredients for sauce:

Juice of 1 lemon

Juice from thawed berries

2-2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Dash of cinnamon

1. I’d like to begin with stating that I cheated just a little bit. I used the KitchenAide bread attachment to make and knead my dough. Seriously, best investment in the world. In the bowl, dump in your packets of yeast, water and two table spoons of sugar. Gently mix and let sit for 5 minutes. This gives the yeast time to activate, eat the sugars and get bubbly. You will know its ready because a sort of foam forms and you can smell that yeasty bread smell.

2. After the yeast has activated, add your flour, sugar, and dash of salt. Turn on your mixer to medium-low. You may need to use a spatula and scrape the sides a bit.

3. Once the ingredients are incorporated, set the mixer to medium and let it do its job. It should take about 3 minutes. Normally, this part would be done by hand, but thankfully, the mixer hooked me up.

4. In a large bowl, grease with vegetable oil. Plop the dough into the bowl, using your hand, coat the top in oil as well. Cover with a towel and place in a warm environment. We have a warming area on our stove. While I was mixing I turned this on. As I was prepping the bowl and such I turned it off. This gave the dough a nice warm place to rise without baking it. Set the timer for at least an hour. I let mine go an hour and a half.

While the dough was rising…..I took the blueberries out of the bag and put them in a fine strainer. I then put the strainer over a bowl. By doing this, the juices that sweat off of the berries as they thaw are caught to be used for the sauce to drizzle over when it’s all said and done. Every now and again I’d give them a little shake just to help that process along a bit.

5. After the dough has risen, pre-heat your oven to 350. On a lightly floured surface, roll out your dough into a large rectangle about 1/4 of an inch thick. It may seem thin, but it will puff up as it bakes. Trust me.

6. Using your hands, smear the SOFT butter over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar. Drizzle honey over all of it. I did a zig-zag pattern and just kinda did what ever. There’s no exact science too this.

7. Give the blueberries one last good shimmy in the strainer. Sprinkle the berries around liberally.

8. Gently, starting with one long side, begin rolling the dough until you have a log.

IMG_4056

7. Using a serrated knife, cut 2 inch sections. Place the sections into a greased 13×9 giving them space to expand. If you squish them in like sardines they won’t get big and fluffy. Notice how I gave them all “personal space”

IMG_4057

8. Place uncovered in the oven for 25-35 minutes, or until they begin to turn golden brown on top. See how they fluffed up!? Giving them growing room IS important!

IMG_4065

While they are baking…..add the juice of 1 lemon to your blueberry drippings. Add in your vanilla, dash of cinnamon and powdered sugar as well. I used a small whisk to combine it all. I wanted to make this on the thick side so I used quite a bit of powdered sugar, if you want a thinner “glaze” like viscosity, use less powdered sugar. I also put mine in the fridge to help it syrup up.

IMG_4059

Allow the buns to cool a bit, drizzle with sauce, and ENJOY! My brother got the first official roll taste and he ate the whole thing before I could snap a picture of him scarfing it down.

IMG_4069 IMG_4066

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Milk Shake

Yes. Another strawberry recipe. I have a giant strawberry patch. What else am I supposed to do with them!? This one is super fast, super easy and sure to be a pleaser!

Ingredients:

IMG_9844

1 cup of Milk

Vanilla Ice Cream

Fresh Strawberries

One hot chocolate packet

1. The order in which you dump the ingredients is extremely important here!!!! Ice cream, hot chocolate packet, strawberries, milk on top. If you do not put the milk on top of the hot chocolate mix it will fly up and not combine into the shake like you want it too.

2. Blend until combined with no strawberry chunks or ice cream globs. Unless you like that sort of thing. You might need some more milk to reach the desired consistency.

3. Pour into a glass and enjoy! YUM!

IMG_9903

Variations: Add chocolate syrup, use chocolate or strawberry ice cream, throw a banana in there, make it chunky

Bridge Street Chocolates-New Treats

I fell in love with chocolate at an early age. I fell in love with Bridge Street Chocolates just a few short years ago. It is a beautiful love affair. I am constantly telling people about it, this tiny little shop in downtown Phoenixville, PA. I wrote an article on Gail, the owner, last Spring for a school assignment. That can be found here at “Ministry of Chocolate.

I was downtown meeting a friend for lunch and found out she had NEVER been there! WHAT!? NO WAY!? So in we trekked. Gail is usually off Mondays and Tuesdays and happened to have stopped in to grab some work to take home. Being that she is one of my favorite people, of course it was a treat alone to see her! As I introduced my friend to my favorite little chocolate friends, I came across a new addition to the case- French Chocolate Macaroons. Wait, let me say that again. French. Chocolate. Macaroons. If you thought it couldn’t get better than that, oh, it does.

Smooshed in between two perfect chocolate macaroons is a chocolate, espresso filling. I am usually a sucker for the truffles. I get some combination of them every time I go in. Except that day. After eating one, I knew that that was what I was getting that day. 3 more French Chocolate Macaroons were put in my favorite little box. I ate two and brought one home for my mommy. I, mean, chocolate is only as good as the company you share it with right?

IMG_2994

 

I couldn’t help myself though. I had to get another honey stirrer. The lavender is my absolute favorite of them!

Soft, Fluffy Sugar Cookies

Yes, I already have a sugar cookie recipe. See HERE. No, they are not the same. Why? Because my brother is a prickly cactus.  The goober graduated high school and his party is this weekend.

10336757_10203911909863243_3153558696266963874_n

My last first day, senior year of high school, his first day of freshman year and then obviously his graduation. 🙂

He requested sugar cookies like you buy at the grocery store with that super sugary awesome frosting. Mom was going to buy them but OF COURSE I couldn’t let that happen. In true Anna fashion I looked up about 8 different soft, fluffy sugar cookie recipes, looked at the similarities and differences and went for it. I created my own kinda recipe. So far this method hasn’t failed me yet. These were super easy and at 9:30pm when I decided to make the dough so I could just make the cookies in the morning, I had all of the ingredients in the fridge and pantry to whip them up easily.

Ingredients-

2 sticks butter

3 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups of sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

4 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sour cream

Directions-

1. Cream butter, sugar, sour cream and vanilla

2. Add in 3 eggs

3. Slowly add in flour, baking powder and salt

4. Mix only until dry ingredients are combined. DO NOT OVER MIX! I have a tendency to want to whip everything up thinking it will make it extra fluffy when really it can make it tough and dense. These are supposed to be FLUFFY. Just mix until there are no more pockets of flour.

IMG_2764

5. Make a cross with two piece of intersecting plastic wrap. Plop the dough in the middle and wrap it.

IMG_2765

6. Let refrigerate over-night or at least an hour.

IMG_2766

Pre-heat oven to 350. You have one of two options here. You can roll out the dough 1/2 of and inch thick and use a round cookie cutter or glass to get your desired shape OR you can simple take a large scooper, and gently smoosh down a bit as I did below.

IMG_5174IMG_7625

*I wrote this post between the night I made the dough and the next day when I actually made the cookies. Something I totally didn’t think about that I’m now sharing as an easy tip. Form the dough into a log an inch or so in diameter and THEN wrap and refrigerate it. After it has chilled you can use a serrated knife to just cut medallions about half of an inch thick and plop them down! This takes away having to scoop and press down! It’s done for you already.*

Cook 11-12 minutes. You do not necessarily want the cookies to get brown. There is no brown sugar in the recipe, and the ones you see in the store aren’t brown around the edges are they? NO!

Remove and cool on cookie sheet. Once cool slather on that yummy frosting- recipe found below.

6-8 cups powdered sugar (based on desired viscosity, sweetness etc)

2 teaspoon vanilla

2 stick of butter

3-8 tablespoons milk/heavy whipping cream (based on desired viscosity)

Food coloring- optional

Sprinkles/Jimmies- Necessary

1. Cream butter with vanilla.

2. Slowly add powdered sugar. It will be really dry

3. Add milk/heavy whipping cream until the frosting is at your desired thickness

4. Add food coloring at this point if you so desire.

5. Whip the frosting until it is smooth and fluffy

6. With a small spatula or knife slather on a nice thick layer of frosting

7. Top with jimmies

This will make a lot of frosting, but this recipe makes a lot of cookies and you need to put a healthy amount on each cookie. All of that frosting is totally necessary.

IMG_2782 IMG_2784

My brother’s favorite color is green so I dyed the frosting a nice light green as to not dye everyone’s mouths green as well. There is just a little bit of crunch from the bottom but the rest of the cookie is nice and soft.

This recipe yielded 4-5 dozen. There’s a bit of a discrepancy from taste testing the dough and eating a few as they finished. 😉

Strawberry Scones with Lemon Drizzle

It’s become my thing that one day a week when I am home, I make some kind of dessert. This week as my mom and I looked through to see what we had in the baking cupboard she said “well we have strawberries but you can’t do much with them.” WHAT!? Strawberries are one of the most versatile fruits out there and can be put into just about everything. I’ve had the itch to make scones recently, so strawberry scones was decided upon. For the briefest of moments I considered throwing in mini chocolate chips but decided I’d stick with the light fresh taste of summery lemon.

Ingredients:

Scones-

3 cups all purpose flour

1 cup Bisquick

1 cup oats

1 1/3 cups milk

1/2 cup sugar

1 stick COLD butter

1/2 cup Crisco

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

4 teaspoons baking POWDER! (I will admit one time I made scones and I grabbed the baking soda instead of baking powder. Nothing will ever express how nasty they were. My friend from school was way too eager to tell the world of my epic baking failure)

1-2 cups chopped strawberries

1 lemon

Lemon Drizzle-

Juice of half of a lemon

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Dash of ground, dry ginger

1/4 teaspoon honey

1-1 1/2 cup of powdered sugar

Instructions:

Chop strawberries. I left mine a bit on the chunky side. If you feel so inclined to dice them smaller, by all means. If you’re feeling really fancy you can throw in some blueberries too!

In a large bowl combine flour, oats, bisquick, sugar, baking soda and salt. Chop cold butter and Crisco into the dry ingredients with a hand pie crust thing. If you’re crazy a fork will do just fine. I’ve done it before when a pie crust thing wasn’t available.

IMG_2656

Once the butter and Crisco are pea sized pieces, add in the milk and juice of half of a lemon. Continue to work through.

IMG_2657

With your hands work in the strawberries. They will kinda fall out and not necessarily stick in the dough the best. Don’t fret.

Pre-heat your oven to 400

Flour a section of counter and dump the dough out. I cut my batch in half to make it easier to work with. Lightly flour the top of your dough and press with your hands to shape a rectangle about 1/2 of an inch thick. Using a sharp knife cut the dough into squares. Some people make a circle and cut like a small pie. I’m partial to the triangles myself. I did also cheat a bit and pull some berries from one part of dough and press it into a section I thought might be a bit lacking.

IMG_2658

Place triangles 1/2 inch apart on a parchment covered cookie sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes or until the edges and top start to get brown.

Lemon Drizzle

Whisk vanilla, juice of the other half of the lemon, powdered sugar, honey and ginger in a small bowl until it is thick enough to drizzle with the whisk or spoon.

Allow the scones a few minutes to cool before drizzling. Pair with a nice vanilla or breakfast tea, good book, and ENJOY!

IMG_2662 IMG_2665 IMG_2663

The great thing about this recipe is that it is very versatile. Remove the strawberries and lemon from the recipe and throw in chocolate chips. The oats are also optional, something I just like to add personally. Use milk and hazelnut coffee creamer to add a different depth of flavor. Beyond the main scone recipe this recipe can be as unique and personal as you!

Brownies with Peanut Butter Frosting

Brownies with Peanut Butter Frosting

So I’m sure y’all have recognized a theme of chocolate and peanut butter in my life. Let’s face it, nothing goes better with peanut butter than chocolate. Not even jelly. Yeah, I said it. Better than peanut butter and jelly. … Continue reading

Giraffe Cake

SUMMER IS HERE! I’ve spent the last few months crazy busy with school and spent an entire semester in a high school classroom teaching Shakespeare. To say I was in my element is an understatement! But now that school is finally done, it is time for me to play catch up! I’ve got lots of yummy recipes, new books reviews, new critters to discuss AND some serious travel about to happen! To start, my new favorite recipe….

So this cake has nothing to do with giraffes. It doesn’t even have giraffe spots or anything. The colors just reminded my friends of a giraffe, hence, the name. But I guess chocolate and peanut butter DO look like giraffe colors!

get-attachment.aspx

Cake Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 stick of butter
1 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup coffee
2 eggs
1 cup hot water

Frosting Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup marshmallow fluff
1 stick softened/room temperature butter
1 cup powdered sugar
Vanilla
Mini Chocolate chips

Pre-Heat oven to 350

1. Cream butter and eggs then add in the oil, coffee and water
2. Sift all dry ingredients while the wet ones are coming together.
3. Slowly add in the dry ingredients to the wet until just mixed in. DON’T OVER MIX!
4. Butter and flour 2 8 inch rounds, divide the batter between each
5. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean

While the cakes are cooling….

1. Cream the room temperature butter with the peanut butter with a splash of vanilla
2. Add in the marshmallow fluff and slowly add in the powdered sugar

This frosting is not very sweet and makes just enough without over powering the chocolate cake.

Place one round on a cake stand. Smooth out about half of the frosting. Sprinkle some of the mini chocolate chips on top. Place the second round on top. Cover the top with the rest of the frosting and more mini chocolate chips.

TA DA! 🙂 There is your yummy, just sweet enough chocolate peanut butter giraffe cake! 🙂
get-attachment-1.aspx

Ministry of Chocolate- Bridge Street Chocolates and Gail Warner

It was a blustery cold day in Phoenixville as I knocked on the glass door. Gail’s kind smiling face welcomed me into the shop. Warmth and the undeniable smell of chocolate immediately enveloped me. I don’t think anyone could help but smile walking into a shop that smelled and looked so delicious! I had gone before business hours to have time to talk uninterrupted. I thought I was going to learn about running a chocolate store, but learned more about the person behind the store than I ever thought possible.

Gail Warner is a New Jersey native that started college in New England and then transferred to Eastern College as a social work major. When her father passed away at the age of 48, 18 year old Gail left school after three years. During her brief absence she toyed with the idea of opening a “Bridge Street Chocolates” in Lambertville, NJ but the inexperienced Gail realized her dream was unrealistic. She returned to school, but found herself at Eastern University. There she was a business major and was part of a traveling music ministry called Malachi. After graduating she became a successful business woman for the next 20 years of her life. At 47 ½ she looked in the mirror and asked the question “If I died in 6 months at the same age as my father would I be happy with my life?” “The answer was so easy and clear,” she told me, “no.” It was here that the idea of opening Bridge Street Chocolates came back to the surface.

With 20 years of business experience under her belt, Gail left her great job in the business world to open her own chocolate shop. “This shop has tested my faith in many different areas but God has always been faithful.” She took courses in chocolate making, grabbed her dream and ran with it. When looking for a location a friend mentioned Bridge Street in Phoenixville. After some searching, she found the perfect location at 158 Bridge Street in down town Phoenixville. Warner decided to do chocolate over rather than cupcakes or cookies for a number of reasons. Chocolate doesn’t require big ovens or mixers which means it can be done in a smaller space. Chocolate- good, well made, luxurious chocolate stores are few and far between. The last reason she chose chocolate- who doesn’t LOVE chocolate!? “Chocolate makes people happy. It’s a little luxury that can brighten a day. It’s good.” On December 15, 2010 Gail Warner finally opened the doors to her lifelong dream.

Since then the chocolate store has become a favorite for the town as well as students on campus. Chocolate covered pretzels and bacon are always a favorite along with sea salt caramels. However her best sellers are the decadent truffles. Crème Brule, champagne, coconut, tiramisu, hazelnut, coffee and sea salt caramel are just a few of the wonderful flavors she keeps on hand. During the summer months her fruity artisan truffles head towards the top of her best sellers list. Gail’s personal favorites? “It depends on the day. Some days I want a pretzel, some days it’s the coconut truffle, or caramel pecan. Sometimes just a simple chocolate square hits the spot and I think ‘Wow, this is good.’”

Gail Warner came into the Phoenixville community three years ago and has taken our local chocolate world by storm. She has done wonderful things for students on campus like discounts during finals week and even giving out a free piece or two on Community Cleanup Day for the crews around down town. Though she loves working with chocolate she loves working with people more. “One day a woman will come in celebrating that she just found out she was pregnant. Months later she’ll come in with a stroller, and a bit later she will come in with a little one toddling after her. Chocolate is for anyone any day. Some people come in after a stressful day and I’m the one they talk to. Some come in to celebrate, others just because. It is my job to make them feel welcome; to feel cared for and worth my time and energy.” Gail Warner sells mouthwatering chocolate, has some of the best customer service around and has a phenomenal testimony of faith. By combining these ingredients she has truly made Bridge Street Chocolates her ministry.

576201_10200832293394756_505429845_n

Like her on Facebook to keep up with current goodies, partnerships and events! To order from Gail visit Bridge Street Chocolate or just stop in!

Strawberry Cake

Semi homemade, quick, and easy- this recipe doesn’t take a rocket scientist to create! Strawberry cake with fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream. It’s so much easier than it sounds!

Ingredients:

1 box Strawberry cake mix
1 pint heavy whipping cream
fresh strawberries
2 tbs powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
cocoa powder/flavored coffee creamer (optional flavoring)

1. Mix and make strawberry cake mix according to box directions in 2 round cake pans. Let cool completely

2. While the cakes are baking and cooling dice half of your strawberries. Remove the tops and half the rest.

3. pour COLD heavy whipping cream into bowl/mixer. Begin beating until the cream starts to thicken. Add powdered sugar and vanilla.

4. At this point you can personalize the flavor of the whipped cream. Add some cocoa powder, flavored coffee creamer, really anything you’d like. I LOVE adding a splash of hazelnut creamer. Something about the nutty goes so well with the sweet of the cake and strawberries.

5. Continue to beat until the mixture becomes stiff and forms peaks.

6. Once the cakes are cool, spread a layer of whipped cream. Add diced strawberries on top.
It should look something like this straw

7. Add the second cake on top. Spread the rest of the whipped cream and lay the halved strawberries on top.
You now have a fabulous semi-homemade strawberry cake! Perfect for summer and people will think you spent all day in the kitchen!
straw 2