Monday, October 3, 2011

All Things Apples

Nothing says fall like apples...well, maybe pumpkins, but apples definitely scream autumn, even if we don't really have that season here in Texas. And research is proving that an apple a day really could keep the doctor away, so anything that helps me get that apple in is a good thing.

A Trick
A trick I keep forgetting to can soak apples in Sprite for a few minutes (like while you're cutting the rest up...10 minutes will do), and they won't turn brown! This also prevents that yucky too-lemony flavor store-bought precut apples have. It works well to send apples in the kids' lunches or for me to take with some peanut butter to school.

Apple-Pear Butter
I had some apples that had a texture I didn't like, at least for snacking. And I had some pears that were on their last legs. I figured I could make some apple-pear butter in the crockpot. After looking at a few recipes online, I came up with my own. For one thing, I only had about 5 small apples and 4 or 5 pears, and most of the recipes called for tons of apples. I will say, after making it once, I'll definitely make a bigger batch next time. Sarah Beth told me this afternoon that it was super-duper delicious. :)

Place cored and quartered apples and pears (my large crockpot was barely half full). You can leave the peel on and pull them out later or you can peel them first. My apples were so small that it was harder to peel them. Add about 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar. Cook on low for 6-8 hours until the apples and pears are very soft. Pull out the peels using a pair of tongs. They should come off the apples very easily. (And from what I've read, leaving the peels on during cooking actually adds to the nutrients.)

Add 1/4 cup brown sugar (or more, if you'd like...I didn't want too much sugar). Add 2 tsp. cinnamon and 1/2 to 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice. Add a pinch of salt. And then add 2 tsp. vanilla. Stir to combine.

Cook on low another 8 hours or so. You'll probably want to vent the lid at some point to allow the liquid to evaporate. I put mine on high for the last 30 minutes or so this morning and the liquid really started to carmelize nicely.

We had this on little mini biscuits fresh from the oven this morning. I'm thinking I'll add it to oatmeal in the morning. It was really good. I didn't put mine in a blender or anything to make it super smooth, but you definitely could. Mine's not super sweet, but you can play with the sugar to your own liking.

Caramel Apples
Ok, so I haven't made these yet, but I'm planning on it closer to Halloween.

I bought the caramel bits because the thought of unwrapping all those candies didn't sound so fun. I hope to make some caramel apples like these...

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