Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pumpkin Time...

I enjoy a good micro-brewed seasonal beer.  Now that fall has arrived you can find all kinds of specialty beer on the shelves.  There have been some good ones over the years, but this pumpkin beer is one of the best I have had.  I first dipped the glass in soda water and then sugared the rim with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.  Delicious!
Somewhere out there in party land there is a recipe that adds a shot of vanilla vodka to the beer.  I'm not that adventurous.  The warmth of the cinnamon and sweetness of the sugar were enough to hold my attention.
I chose to purchase a New England regional beer from the Shipyard Brewery out of Portland Maine, but I'm sure there are loads of local breweries near you that have a delicious pumpkin beer available.  Pumpkin beer is a flavorful way to welcome in fall.  Cheers!   

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tradition....Apple Picking With Kerry

Apple picking is my all time favorite fall activity and who better to share this annual event with than  the lovely Kerry.  Kerry is my son Steven's girlfriend. We've been enjoying each others company as well as the gorgeous apple orchards for four years now.  As usual we had a blast.
This year was a bumper crop for apples and the bushel we picked were really some of the best yet.  I decided to make crock pot apple butter.  I used my Pampered Chef Apple Peeler Corer Slicer, and made short work of roughly 6 pounds of apples.  It couldn't have been easier.  The crock pot does all the work and the aroma of it simmering all day made the whole house smell wonderful.

What a glorious pile of beauties.  I used a mixture of my favorite varieties for the apple butter.  Honey crisp, Gala, Cortland,  Macintosh, Granny Smith and Red Delicious.  You can use whatever varieties you prefer.  All are welcome.  Here's the recipe

6 lbs. apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 cups apple cider
1 1/2 half cups sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 star anise
1/4 teaspoon salt


Place apples in slow cooker.   Add the rest of the ingredients on top of the apples and pack them down well.
Cover and cook on high for 1 1/2 hours. Remove star anise after 1 1/2 hours.
Reduce heat to low. Uncover and give it a stir.  Put cover back on and cook for 8 hours or until thick and dark brown, stirring occasionally..
Uncover and cook for the last hour on low.
If a smoother apple butter is desired, you may puree it in a blender or food mill. I used my immersion blender.
Place in sterile jars with lids and process for 10 minutes in a hot water bath. Makes 5 half pints.

Try it! Even if you are not into canning you can freeze it in small containers.  It was mouth watering delicious.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Low Fat Blue Cheese Dressing....

Summer is winding down and the tomatoes are ripening on the vines faster than you can pick them. There is a bowl of heirloom cherry tomatoes on my kitchen counter just waiting to be eaten. The heirlooms seemed to be screaming for a blue cheese dressing.  Here is my low fat version of  blue cheese dressing that I think you will love.  
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese(crumbled up)
  • 6 oz. fat free Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. light sour cream
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. chopped chives
  • salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper
Mix all the above ingredients in a bowl and spoon over your favorite salad.  

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