Crockpot Apple Butter

One of the great things about where we live is the close proximity to hot off the farm food. We recently bought our weight in a variety of apples and weren’t eating them quickly enough. The first thing I decided to do was make crock pot apple butter. I don’t utilize this glorious kitchen gadget often enough and this was a nice easy way to use up some apples. I didn’t need to stand and stir, watch for bottom of the pan burning, etc. All I needed to do was some prep work.

The recipe below is more than enough for my family of two adults, a toddler and a baby who is old enough to eat solids (aka not solely breastmilk or formula fed). It fit nicely in my crock pot to start and cooked down with plenty of room to mash it up without a mess.

You will need:

*Approx. 2.5-3 apples (look below for chart)

*1/2 cup white sugar (or use what you prefer)

*1/2 cup brown sugar (or use what you prefer)

*1 tablespoon vanilla extract (I used homemade)

*1 teaspoon cinnamon

*1/4 teaspoon clove

*1/4 teaspoon salt

Optional:

*1-2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or spiced alcohol

*1/4 teaspoon ginger or replace all spices with pumpkin pie spice

*honey or maple syrup to taste or to replace sugar

I found this handy guide via Google if you don’t have a scale to weigh apples:

Peel, core and chop all apples and add to crock pot.

Add all other ingredients including optional ingredients (if using store bought vanilla extract I would wait to add this until you mash the apples).

Mix well then set lid on to cook on low for approximately 10 hours. I tend to just leave it for the day then switch the heat setting before bed.

Stir occasionally.

Turn onto warm overnight. In the morning or after 8 hours or so check on contents to see if the mixture has cooked down well and browned. Turn off, remove lid and let cool for 30-60 minutes before continuing. You can add imitation vanilla extract, etc at this time. You can alternatively cook on low a few extra hours instead but I like it all to stew together as long as possible.

Mash contents up using a whisk or potato masher. Alternatively, purée in blender in small batches or use an immersion blender. I have also seen people blend down the apple mixture raw before cooking. Some even include the peel to create less waste and for any additional benefits the peel may have (still core and chop apples).

Now you can add your mixture to jars, Tupperware, etc. It freezes well! Use on toast, in cookie cups, as a cake filling, etc!

Enjoy!

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Almond Apple Butter Protein Shake

I was looking to add more protein into my diet and potentially use a shake as a meal replacement for our busy mornings. A friend suggested I go homemade after lamenting that the powders I’ve used were awful. I’m thinking of making up shakes and if they are good to go I’ll share them! Today was Almond Apple Butter!

*1 cup vanilla almond milk

*1/3 cup Greek yogurt

*1/4 cup Apple butter

*1/4 cup almond butter

*1/8 cup ground flax

*1/8 cup honey (the apple butter was already sweet)

Add ice if desired and blend! My baby loved it so much I had to top it off with cold coffee to give myself a full glass. You could add a banana to this but I forgot to pick some up. Chia, oat and/or cacao powder would also be good additions!

Homemade Lentil Flour

I made this back in May 2017 but just now got to posting. See my last blog for reasons why! 

I had started looking into trying to make foods higher in protein for my toddler. She’s high energy from the moment her eyes open to when they close for the night. I was told that some studies suggest a high protein diet can help to calm hyperactivity. So I started there. Plus, we all need protein in our diet. My child had started to get picky like most toddlers do. So I began looking for foods she may like with a better source of protein. I tried pumpkin protein bites, peanut butter protein cookies, etc with some success. My sister suggested lentil bread but wasn’t sure if that was actually a thing. The two year old loves bread so sneaking in more protein would be good! Unfortunately, lentils are an incomplete protein but I was already deep into recipe testing when I discovered this. 

I essentially used this recipe but took pictures and such of my own as a first step recipe before the bread recipe that will come next. I also changed a few things: http://thecookiewriter.com/homemade-lentil-flour-tutorial/

I took two cups of green lentils and split it in half. 

One half I ground in our Vitamix as best I could. If you are using a food processor or less powerful blender it has been suggested to work it in half cup measurements.

The other half I toasted in our cast iron skillet. Stirring the entire time. I did this for about 10 minutes on high heat. I should note if you’re using a wooden spoon to stir lightly so you don’t burn it from the constant movement against the hot skillet. 

I then let the toasted lentils cool completely before grinding in our blender. 

Mix both the raw and toasted lentil flours together! The combination lends the blend a better flavor than purely raw or all toasted. 

You can put the flour in a sifter to only get the most finely ground flour if you wish. 

If you have a picky kid you can use this as a hidden protein. It needs more prep than regular flour (more liquid, longer cook time, etc) but is great for flatbreads, pancakes, etc. Look up gluten free recipes with lentil flour or just lentil flour recipes! We are not a gf family but some of the recipes are amazing!

Veggie Scrap Broth How To

A few months ago I was making broth from kitchen scraps like I normally do (unless I’m making meat stock or broth) and I took pictures for the blog. I was dealing with post partum depression, military life and getting my toddler evaluated for neurological disorders so you can say I was a little overwhelmed. I just couldn’t get myself into my writing. I have a dozens of photos to make blogs for but I haven’t been able to get my brain to function enough to write. Here it is. Finally. 

So onto the broth! This is such a great way to utilize all of your veggies! To not waste one bit. To start you just need to begin saving scraps! Everything I cut off and normally toss (or compost in our old home) would be put in freezer bags (you can use jars or Tupperware but we were low on space) and frozen. Even veggies nearing their end that you wouldn’t get to in time. I didn’t add veggies that were too starchy like potatoes but we almost never have scraps from those as we eat the skins. You can add the skins if you would like to but I think it changes the consistency and flavor. I also avoided the main part of things like beets. Though I did use the leafy greens. 

I ended up saving four of the gallon sized ziplock bags to make a mega batch! Much more than what I actually needed (I still have a few jars left and I made this in late June!). I had continuously put off making it because I couldn’t get to it with my kids needs. So I ended up with a ton of scraps! I think storing it less of a time would be better so if you try this go one bag at a time! 

I added everything to my big canning pot and went to town adding herbs and spices. Chosen for their flavor and health benefits! You can also add extra veggies for flavor and health. Such as garlic! Or things like soy sauce, miso, etc. 

Then I covered with filtered water and stirred it up!

I didn’t have a weight or anything to keep the veggies down (not necessary but I prefer to) so I used the rack that normally holds my cans. Worked decently! 

I covered heated on high for about 15-20 minutes and then cooked on low for around 2 hours. It was such a big batch I wanted to get everything well! You can also do this in a crock pot. Once finished I took the lid off and let it cool for about an hour. 

I forgot to get pictures of this but I strained the chunks out with a colander then used a ladle to pour the broth through cheesecloth that I fixed onto a big jar. 

I used that jar to fill smaller jars and ice cube trays full of broth goodness to freeze! 

When I ran out of jars and trays I cooked down what was left (not all pictured here) to make a concentrated bit to use for cooking with the next week. I put it in everything and even just drank some hot. It’s good! I used to love drinking broth or stock as a kid. 

The cubes are great for dishes that need a little moisture and so instead of adding water you can toss in a bit of broth! I put them in a ziplock after freezing. I would keep trays specifically for food as they retain the smell and a bit of flavor after use. 

Turmeric Powder Tincture 

When I first met my now husband he introduced me to herbs to help with skin issues. He suffered a skin injury that required almost a year of medical attention but wanted to help his skin in any way he could. So he looked to herbs. The best way to get the herbs he chose to help in his opinion was to ingest them. Now we use many of the herbs he loved in our food and tisanes frequently. Turmeric is one we go through a lot of. It helps with inflammation and many skin issues are the product of other health problems such as this. Check out the link at the end of this post for more in depth information.

When a neighbor/friend asked if I wanted her bag of turmeric she didn’t like (it has a peppery taste that isn’t appetizing to some) I started brewing up ideas for usage. More than putting it in almost everything we eat. Which poses an issue with my toddler who ends up staining her clothes with any food saturated with it. I decided the first thing I wanted to make with it was a tincture. 

Most recipes I found suggested using the root. Fresh or dried in slices to help the alcohol base saturate it more easily. Well, I didn’t have a root. I had powder. So I did a 1:5 concoction to test it out. 1 part turmeric powder to 5 parts alcohol. It worked great! It was also really fun to work with and see the lovely color changes. The powder is a gorgeous yellow color and once it settled it created a red hued liquid. Later I saw it was more orange when not stacked the way it was but still lovely. 

One small pint jar creates a ton of tincture in my opinion. So unless you have a large family using it, are taking the tincture several times a day or are creating to share this should work great to start with. I filled two 2 oz dropper bottles to last me a while and barely made a dent in the tincture. I left the rest to continue brewing until I needed to strain some off again for use. 

This is what I used: 

I filled roughly 1/5 of the jar with powdered turmeric then filled it up with the alcohol.

After mixing gently and being sure to scrape any bits off the bottom I noticed the amount of product went down.

So I topped it off with a bit more alcohol. 

Then I added the lid and shook it up! Making sure to get any clumps out. 

It WILL settle and you will notice that it may look something like this:

It will definitely still brew perfectly fine so no worries! What you need to do though is shake vigorously every day at least once until the day before you decide to strain it. 

Typically, you would leave this for 14 days then let it rest on the 15th day before straining. That’s the bare minimum needed. I let mine brew for almost 3 months. Many saw the longer the better with tinctures. 

When the time came to strain I got out my sterilized bottles, a funnel, a bowl to catch any spillage, a measuring cup and a magic eraser sponge because I’m bound to spill something! 

I poured off some of the liquid from my jar into a measuring cup. Purely for the ease of pouring from it. I made sure to let the jar settle so I would get the least amount of powder in as possible. You can strain your concoction if you wish but I found that powders can be tricky business to work with. So I decided to use just the liquid from the top of the jar. 

Once I filled my bottles I put the leftover tincture back in the jar to save for a future pour. Letting it continue to brew.

I put some in my iced tea to test out immediately. A few drops definitely effects the flavor! If it’s too much to sip a drink with it then use the dropper to squirt directly into your mouth then chase with a drink or food if needed. Or add it to your food. 15-30 drops a day up to four times a day is the highest recommended dosage. Though I am not a doctor or certified herbalist so please do your own research! 

I then labeled my bottles and put the jar back in the dark cupboard. 

For an in depth look at the uses and side effects of turmeric feel free to check out this article: http://www.m.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-662/turmeric

Steel Cut Oat and Honey Bread

If you have read some of my older blogs you would know we like to buy in bulk and store food in glass jars. My husband bought me the “Outlander Kitchen” (http://outlanderkitchen.com) book last year and with it a ton of oats. Then he went to sea and I had no one to cook and bake for. I was pregnant and had no appetite most of the time and even though my family loves my food I felt insecure in giving it away to others with different tastes. So I didn’t use much. I had my baby at the start of the year and decided to finally start using it up. Here is one recipe I wanted to share (not from “Outlander Kitchen” just FYI)! Steel Cut Oat and Honey bread! It’s a bit crumbly but delicious! You can easily add to it as well. Add in raisins, chocolate chips, spices such as cinnamon, etc. You can top it with a glaze, honey butter, chocolate drizzle, etc as well. I made mine “plain” to show you a good starting point. It doesn’t taste plain at all though! You can easily use this blend in muffin tins as well for individual treats. 

You will need: 

*2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

*1 cup steel cut oats (I used quick cook but both work)

*1 cup boiling water 

*1 egg

*2/3 cup milk (I used cashew)

*1/4 cup honey (at least!) 

*3 tsp baking powder

*1 tsp salt 

*1/2 stick butter (or 4 tablespoons oil of choice)

*butter, cooking spray or whatever you prefer to grease your bread pan

Take oats and add boiling water to them in a heat proof bowl. 



Let sit for an hour for quick cook or two hours for regular steel cut. 

Start to preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit as the next steps will go quickly. 

Melt butter and honey on low while stirring continuously. I used a whisk (my tiny one ran off with my toddler).

When the honey and butter are fully melted and combined add the mixture to the oats and blend together. 

In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients fully.

Add milk to the oat blend before dropping in the egg. Mix well. 


Add the wet and dry ingredients together.

Here I used my Kitchen Aide as my kid likes to watch it work) but you can mix with a spoon. Mix until just fully blended. Do not overwork it. 

Grease bread pan and pour in mixture. 

Shake gently and then slap against the counter to even out the dough and have it fill in any gaps. 

Bake for an hour on the center shelf. Some ovens may require a little more time. Use a knife to check to make sure the dough is baked through. 

Immediately take out of the pan to cool. You can top it now if you wish or don’t top it at all. I used salted butter as it brings out the flavor. 

Let cool fully then slice and enjoy! 

Pumpkin Coffee Creamer Recipe

As soon as Fall items began to appear in July we started stocking up. We love Fall so much we even were handfasted in it and had a Fall and Norse themed reception. Our home includes Fall decor and color schemes all year round as well. This Summer despite the heat we have been burning Pumpkin Spice candles and my husband keeps an eye out for pumpkin spice flavored goodies alongside me. When I found pumpkin spice coffee a few days ago at Target (Archer Farms brand) I snatched it up! We’re obsessed and we’re not ashamed to admit it! Going home with the coffee I wanted to use a special creamer along with it. My regular varieties wouldn’t do. Luckily, I had all the ingredients to make my own Pumpkin Creamer! It’s easy and delicious! I made a large batch to test it out with a friend. You can easily cut the recipe in half or double it for big batches! 

You will need: 

*3 cups milk of choice. I used cashew milk as its thicker than my almond milk but you can use other milk alternatives, half and half, whole milk, plain vegan creamer, etc. 

*4 heaping tablespoonfuls of pumpkin purée (I may have made mine overflow because mmm PUMPKIN)

*4 tablespoons of REAL Maple Syrup (you can also use brown sugar, agave or even molasses but I would cut the amount of molasses in half) 

*1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (more or less to taste)

*1 tablespoon cinnamon (more or less to taste)

*1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (optional)

Add all ingredients together! I put everything except the milk in first purely to show the ingredients for this post.

Turn heat on high and began whisking constantly and consistently. 

Keep whisking until concoction begins to boil.

Turn off heat and continue whisking for another 30 seconds or so (my pan gets super hot so I don’t just leave it in case of burning). 

Let cool! You can use it immediately in coffee or chill in the fridge. I tend to use refrigerated creamers as my additive to cool hot coffee. On hot days I drink cold brew so having cool creamer helps with that as well. Shake well before using! 

This should last about one week in the fridge. It depends on how often you open it, take it out, fridge temperature, etc. If you drink coffee a lot and blow through creamer I would make a large batch of this and keep jars of it in the freezer to last you all season! Defrost in the fridge for a day or two and use! Enjoy! 

Homemade Chicken Broth/Stock

We love soup. There really isn’t more to say about it! Any time of the year is soup time. Even when it’s hot! In the past few months we have been unfortunate enough to purchase two boxes of stock that were opened. The second we even looked at the seal but apparently not hard enough. When we have fresh herbs and such handy we just let the soup we are making create its own broth. For these however I was making really basic chowders that needed something already made for it. I KNEW BETTER than to just buy some but sometimes when you are pregnant and without much time and just want a bowl of chowder before you scream at someone…then you buy store bought stock. Luckily, I had some dried ingredients I used to create a quick stock after opening another already opened box. Sometimes I’m not always so lucky though.

We had another super convenience food buy recently as well. A store made rotisserie chicken. We also picked up a raw chicken to cook the next day. I used the carcasses and odd uneaten bits to turn into a broth. I started with just one in a enameled cast iron pot. I added vegetable scraps, dried herbs, spices and a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to help pull goodness from the bones. I noticed even on low the container would get too hot. So I transferred it to a crock pot with another carcass and set it on low for about 4 hours then on warm for another 20 or so. I wasn’t keeping too close of track. Some recipes say 8 hours is good while others suggest 24…so choose what works for you! 

I strained off the chunky bits and put the stock in mason jars to freeze. Mine had some fat and such in it that rose to the top but that tasty goodness will be delicious in future recipes. When you want to use them just leave out to defrost! We use stock often so these jars were a good size for us but you can portion them differently easily! 

There are many health benefits to stock made like this compared to store bought. Minerals from the bone marrow, potassium, protein, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, etc! You can get similar or all these and more from other animal broths/stocks as well. Vegetable broth is also very healthy if not moreso! Happy homesteading! 

Crepes! Crepes! Crepes! Recipe 

The first crepe I can remember eating was in San Francisco as a young teenager. Since then the only food labeled crepes I had were those I made myself. I had been blessed with having German pancakes my Opa and Mom made me during my lifetime that were basically the same thing but I had never learned their recipes. Looking for German pancakes online led me to what we always called: “Dutch baby.” Another family favorite. I decided to stay with this crepe recipe. I love how versatile they are. They can be made sweet, sour, salty or savory or some kind of blend of all. Filled with anything from jam to bacon bits to fresh fruit or custard or whipped cream. They are even delicious just with a little butter. My toddler loves them plain and ran off with pieces as soon as I finished cooking them! 

You will need: 

*2 tbsp sugar (white or raw have both worked for me)

*2 eggs 

*2 cups of milk (I used one cup plain kefir with one cup cashew so alternatives things work well) 

*1 cup flour

*1 tbsp melted butter

*1 tsp vanilla extract

*1/3 tsp salt

*oil or butter for cooking

*fillings and toppings of choice

Add all ingredients together in a bowl! 

Mix or whisk until smooth! 

Lightly coat frying pan with oil or butter. 

Depending on the size of your pan and ladle use 3/4 to 1 full scoop of mixture. I used 3/4 at first but moved up to 1 full scoop as my first one was so thin it broke easily. I put my pan on the side then swish the mixture in a circle around the pan until it was even. 


Cook on each side for 1-5 minutes. I cook mine on low to avoid burning and encourage even cooking. So mine take longer. I keep mine warm in the oven while I cook the others as it can take some time to make a batch. 

Use one of these dodads that I can never remember the name of to loosen up the sides as it’s frying. It helps them from crisping up too much and makes it also easier to get a spatula under to flip it. 

Once done you can fill them and roll them up then add toppings! Serve immediately! 
I put homemade nectarine jam in my husbands crepes. Use as little or as much as you please! 

I added a homemade chocolate spread with hand crushed almonds inside two of mine. The third had local raw honey and almonds (it ended up being my favorite one!). 

I topped all of them with butter and powdered sugar! So decadent and delicious! You can use a whipped topping with fresh fruit or a multitude of other toppings and fillings. So many possibilities! Enjoy! 

Maple Cacao Banana Bread Recipe

Banana Bread is a favorite in our house! We even bake it as gifts as we love to experiment with different ingredients we add to our recipes. Share the love! Today, I started with a plan to make chocolate chip banana nut muffins but thought it might be easier to transport a pre-sliced loaf on a walk later today. I wanted something a little different so I looked at our ingredients and saw maple syrup and Droste cacao. Perfect! The maple syrup helps to sweeten the bread as cacao can be bitter. This recipe doesn’t need to include nuts but I added pecans as I love varying textures in my banana bread. This recipe makes two loafs. 

You will need:

*4-6 bananas (2-3 is recommended per loaf)

*3 cups flour

*2 eggs 

*3/4 cups sugar 

*3/4 cups brown sugar 

*1/2 cup melted butter

*1/3 cup maple syrup

*2 tbsp cacao of choice (I used Droste) 

*2 tsp baking soda 

*2 tsp vanilla extract

*1 tsp salt

*optional 1-2 cups of nuts of choice or chocolate chips. 

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. 

Smash up your bananas! I used half frozen bananas I had chopped up when very ripe (the riper the sweeter they will be) and half fresh. 

Start melting butter.

Add dry ingredients.

Add maple syrup!

Add melted butter! 

Mix lightly before continuing.

Add vanilla and then the eggs.

Dump in nuts if you decided to use then!

Mix mix mix! 

Greased two bread tins then pour your bread mixture in. Bake for 1 hour or until fully cooked. 

Let cool for 3-5 minutes then pop out of containers. 

Let cool then enjoy!