Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Easy Homemade Apple Cider

Did you know you can make your own apple cider using your food processor?  It's so easy, you'll never pay the big-bucks for apple cider again.   Here in Florida we don't have many apple orchards. In fact, if you know of any, please tell me.    But every October, there is an apple festival in north Georgia.  My sister went and gifted me with a bushel of apples.   These were Gala apples.  I thought they would be too mild for applesauce (another easy-peasy thing to make at home) so I tried this.  (I prefer apple cider over apple juice, but that's me)

There's no recipe per se.  But all you I-Need-A-Recipe folks, don't fret.  You don't need one.  You do, however, need a food processor and cheesecloth. Well, you don't even need cheesecloth.   I used what's called bar cloth. Walmart sells these in packs of five in the kitchen towel area.  Get those.  You'll get tons of use from that five-pack.

Here goes,

Wash the apples really well, because you're going to leave the peels on. You know those nifty little apple slicer/corer things?  Using that will help the process along quite nicely, but if you don't have one don't worry.   Just slice it the way our grandmothers, or great-grandmothers, did it.  You don't want the core and seeds, mind you.

Toss those slices into the food processor.   Don't fill it full of slices, half full is fine, otherwise you will be there a while.   I know, it seems counter-intuitive, but doing multiple half-full bowls is really quicker.  Process it until you have "mush", or as mushy as you can.

Have a large bowl, with a collander inside and the barcloth, or cheesecloth, inside the collander. Dump that mush into that.  (such technical terms)

Next, gather up the edges and give it a good squeeze to make a ball.

Quite a bit of juice is already draining.

At this point, I ladled out a taste.  Ooooh.  Heaven!

To make sure you get all the goodness (juice) extracted, place a heavy object on top of the bag of mush (those technical terms again).  I used the heaviest pot I could find.  Let that sit a few hours, or overnight if you don't have "critters".


and there you have it.  You apple cider maker, you.

Note:  This is not pasturized, so it won't keep as long as commercial stuff.  A week is fine in the frige.  But if you want to do bulk batches, you can freeze it.    Enjoy.  

How do you enjoy fall's bounty of apples?  I'd love to hear.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Vinegar the virtues of

I like the idea of using "green" cleaners.  I'm not sure if it's more for the money saving factor, or the fact that I've lessened the disturbance to my environment.   But I just became a big, no make that huge, fan of vinegar.  What won me over was the ability to clean!    I had a stubborn mess on one of the shelves on my refrigerator door.  Now, before I show you the picture (and I can't believe I'm sharing this with you), I feel compelled to tell you that, despite what it looks like, we're not pigs.   Ok, that being said, here's the (gasp) picture...
Remember... don't judge

You see, there's some "sticky substance" to the left.  Probably from spilled tea.  Sweet tea, of course. and scuffed areas (i have no idea how that happened).  Scuffed, or scratched, areas on plastic just hold on to dirt and it's near impossible to get totally clean.   I used vinegar, full strength, and just plain old paper towels.  I didn't even have to use a scrubbie, and I'm happy to say this is the result:

Don't worry about any special kind of vinegar. The white vinegar.  Actually it's clear.  Just not the apple cider vinegar.  In fact, get the cheap kind and that's the white vinegar.   I have now started buying it by the gallon jugs.     Also, you know that drip tray thingie on the door for the water and ice?   Well, I tried everything on that.  I used bleach, other commercial cleaners, and nothing happened.   I soaked the grate in plain white vinegar, and the little place it fits in and Viola!  It's a miracle!    If you don't like the smell, don't worry.  It disappears in about 30 minutes or so.  

I'm curious, do you have a favorite cleaning remedy?   How about other uses for vinegar?   Would love to hear!  

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Red Velvet Cheesecake cookies with white chocolate drizzle

I want to share a new recipe I tried out this past week for the Real Women Eat's Christmas Tea.  We were doing a gift exchange, but with a twist.  The "gift" had to be a baked item, and it was supposed to be something we have never made before.  So, my collection of recipes just wouldn't do this time. Off to Pinterest I go.  I found Two Peas and Their Pod's site where these beauties were.  She had me at "red velvet" and when I saw these were cookies, all the better!  (I'm such a cookie monster!) These cookies should come with a warning... they are very rich.  LOL.   They're not hard, but they do take a little bit of time investment, but oh, so worth it!   So here goes....

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cookies


Cookies:
  • 1 box red velvet cake mix (I used Duncan Hines)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cheesecake filling:

  • 4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

White chocolate drizzle:

  • 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips, melted

Directions:

To make cookies, combine cake mix and flour. Whisk until clumps disappear before placing in mixing bowl. Mix together cake mix, flour, eggs, oil and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap. The dough will be oily.  And I really mean oily!   The recipe said to refrigerate for 2 hours.  I had running around to do, so they stayed in there a lot longer than the two hours (and were fine)

To make the cheesecake filling, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Using a teaspoon, scoop out cheesecake filling and place on a plate. Continue scooping out cheesecake filling into teaspoon balls until you have 10. Place plate in the freezer and freeze for at least two hours. Again, more than two hours didn't hurt. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper-  or a silicone baking mat if you have one.  I don't. 

To assemble the cookies, take about 1/4 cup of red velvet cookie dough and flatten in your hands.(I used one of those ice-cream-looking scoops that I use for cupcake batter)   Place a teaspoon of cheesecake filling in the center and wrap the cookie dough around the filling. Gently roll into a ball and place on prepared baking sheet. Scoop onto lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheets. Only bake 3 cookies at a time. The cookies are large and will spread.  Trust me, she knows what she's talking about.  So, really, only three at a time.  Ya, hear??

Bake for 11-13 minutes or until the cookies begin to crackle. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Remove from baking sheet to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.

Melt the white chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl or over a double-boiler. Drizzle the white chocolate over the cooled cookies. Let the cookies set until the chocolate hardens. 

Note: I bought the white chocolate chips, but ended up using the white candy coating wafers instead thinking it would harden quicker.  I didn't see where I saved any time using the wafers so go ahead and use the white chocolate chips!  



These cookies are really rich and I doubt you'll be finishing them in a day, so store in the frige.  My husband ate one and said he felt like he had eaten half a dozen...THAT rich. 


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