Posts Tagged ‘apples’

Fall In

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Three kids is a lot of kids. I mean, it’s not A LOT of kids. 15 is a lot of kids. But three kids is more kids than I have hands or eyes, so the logistics of taking them out in public can be difficult.  It’s actually not so bad, since I can keep one kid literally tied to my body at all times, especially when we’re out doing things and it’s not really safe to just leave him on the floor. If it were up to me, that’s where he would hang out most of the time, since he’s pretty entertained by ceiling fans and smiling and I can smile at him from the couch.

But the two bigger ones still expect me to be Fun Mom who Does All The Things, so last weekend we went and Did All The Things. Since they have the attention span of gnats I managed to fit all the fun into just one warm, beautiful Saturday so we could stay home and do nothing on the colder, less beautiful Sunday. I like to pretend I am Supermom but I can only keep it up for like, 4 hours. Then I turn into regular old fed-up, impatient, tired mom.

Luckily it really was a gorgeous day and I did not collapse after climbing the giant hill to the apple trees and I even managed to bring my camera, which is the thing that I have been letting go in the name of sanity. But it was really fun to do fall things AND take pictures.

Please enjoy some pictures.

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That’s Mohegan Sun, the casino. We take people there when they visit.

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This thing fires water bottles at big targets. Evan would have spent every dollar I own doing it all day.

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I hate corn mazes, but Evan took charge and actually lead the way through. There was another mom with a 4 year old who walked with us and even she was impressed.

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There is still corn all over my house from this corn pit

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Apple Picking – Holmberg Orchard 2013

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Someone mentioned recently that they don’t have apple orchards where she lives (apparently it doesn’t get cold enough??) and I felt really really bad for her. What do you do when you want 40 pounds of apples? Where do you take your children to wear them out so they fall asleep on the floor and you can eat fresh baked apple pie and drink mulled cider while you watch Breaking Bad?

When we first moved here to Connecticut, I lived in an apple orchard (the one I still use for a lot of my photo shoots) and they’re still one of my happy places. Orchards are full of delicious food that literally grows on trees. You can turn them into alcoholic beverages. WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT?

We’ve been going to Holmberg’s for a bunch of years now (looooook tiny ginger!) and I’d say it’s officially a tradition.

p.s. I once won the town fair prize for best apple pie. I never pass up a chance to mention that.

p.p.s. The orchard was PACKED that day. I’ve never seen it so busy (of course I usually take the kids alone on like a Tuesday, so it shouldn’t have shocked me a beautiful Sunday was a popular time for apple picking). I’m pretty proud of myself for photos where it looks like we’re the only people there.

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Are you ready to move to Connecticut yet?

Carrot Apple Flax Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

This started out as a recipe for bran muffins, but since my version doesn’t actually contain any bran I had to call them something else. Also, the original recipe didn’t have frosting but that was just a damn tragedy. Everything should have frosting. They’re just about as healthy as a muffin can get before you move into inedible cardboard territory and contain both a fruit (wait, are raisins a fruit? if they are then it contains TWO fruits) and a vegetable so you can feel good about feeding them to toddlers. Just don’t feed them TOO many because, hello, how much fiber does one 25 lb child NEED?

The best part about these muffins is, like my cereal bars, you can add or subtract based on what you have on hand and/or can find at your grocery store. I couldn’t find bran flour so I used wheat germ and substituted whole wheat flour for the white. If you wanted them to be more cake-like I would definitely use white flour (OR try the white whole wheat flour I saw at the store but was too dumb to actually put in my cart thanks to having both kids with me). You can add nuts, dried cranberries or blueberries, zucchini or squash. If you don’t like cinnamon use cloves or more nutmeg (actually, I might throw more spices in anyway the next time I make them.) And of course, if you hate deliciousness you can always omit the frosting.

Here’s what you need:

What, you don't buy baking soda in giant 10 lbs bags?

1 ½ Cups whole wheat flour
½ cup wheat germ
¾ cup ground flax (I found it near the oatmeal at the store)
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¾ cup milk (I used 1%)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tablespoons applesauce
2 cups shredded carrots
2 apples, peeled & diced
1 cup raisins

Mix all the dry ingredients:

Add the wet ingredients, fruit and carrots:

Fill muffin tin cups about 3/4 of the way (I used paper liners, you could just spray the tin with some Pam):

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. While they cool, make the frosting.

Cream cheese frosting:

2 8-oz packages reduced fat cream cheese
½ cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Beat it all together:

This makes MORE than enough frosting for the muffins – you could probably halve the recipe easily. But then you wouldn’t have nearly as much left over to eat with a spoon store in the fridge for next time.

The muffins are sort of carrot cake-y and a little dense but not too much. You can’t really taste the apple so if you WANTED to I would add at least another whole apple. I ate two to taste test them and now I am STUFFED – they are really really filling thanks to the whole wheat, wheat germ and flax seed, although none of those flavors are distinguishable from the muffin as a whole. With the frosting you could easily trick children into thinking they’re cupcakes, especially if you added an extra half-cup of sugar to the muffins.


Thirty Hand Made Days

Carolyn’s Frangipane Apple Tart

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

When Baby Evan was just a couple months old, my little sister Carolyn came to visit. She wanted a chance to meet her only nephew before moving to Africa for two years, since it’s not exactly a place you just fly home on the weekends from. I would like to tell you her visit was lovely, full of hugs and laughter and hair-braiding but honestly, I was still in that oh-my-God-I-just-had-a-baby-and-I’m-never-sleeping-again stage of new motherhood and I barely remember it. I’m sure it WAS really fun though. Since we got past the stage of hating each other we have a lot more in common than you’d expect a homebody Navy housewife mom and a traveling Peace Corp volunteer artist to have. Starting with we both love Arrested Development and dessert. Although most of the visit is a blur the part that is CRYSTAL CLEAR is the apple tart she made. I think we ate the entire thing between us before it was even cool. But, hey, I was nursing 24/7 and she was about to leave for a place without ovens. Or indoor plumbing.

Of course I wouldn’t let her leave the continent without giving me the recipe, but in true free-spirit fashion, she wrote it in some sort of crazy shorthand on the back of a Gerber onesies cardboard insert. No, seriously:

To make things a little easier on myself, I got my Google on and tracked down what I think is the original recipe which provides useful information such as what exactly do I DO with the apples and the apricot jam? Although first I had to figure out what “fraugipani” was. Turns out it’s bad-handwriting for “frangipagne”, which is a kind of almond filling.

Are you getting hungry yet? I bet you are. And I haven’t even told you Carolyn spent a semester in France so she knows good pastry. Ready for the recipe? Allons!

1 1/3 cup flour
pinch of salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg yolk
3 Tbsp cold water

Mix the flour and salt, then add in the butter and egg yolk.

Oh those French and their love of butter.

Stir it together with a fork and then add the water a little at a time until you can press the dough together. If it’s still too dry, add a little more water.

My pastry took exactly the 3 Tbsp called for to look like this.

Wrap the ball of pastry in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Remember, it has raw egg in it. Not that it's ever stopped me, but at least CONSIDER not eating it.

Frangipane filling

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp apple brandy (or whatever kind of liquor you have laying around)
2/3 c ground almonds*
2 Tbsp flour

2 – 4 apples (I used Braeburns)
1 tsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup apricot jam (or whatever you have in the panty)

Cream the butter and sugar, then add in the eggs.

I guess you could use a mixer, but it goes pretty fast by hand.

Dump in the brandy Kahlua and mix well. Combine the almonds and flour in a separate bowl, then add it to the wet ingredients.

The only thing in my liquor cabinet that seemed like a good substitute.

I suppose I could have used vanilla or almond extract instead. Oh well.

Roll out your chilled pastry crust so it fits in a tart pan or a pie plate. Fold up and flute the edges so it looks pretty.

Shockingly, I don't have a tart-specific dish, so this is just a 9 inch pie plate.

Preheat the over to 400 degrees.

Spoon the filling into the crust evenly.

The filling gets puffier while it bakes, so don't worry if it looks a little empty.

Peel, core and slice the apples into thin wedges. Arrange them super fancy and all artistic-like over the filling, pressing down firmly. Or if you’re just going to eat the whole tart yourself, just throw them on there.

This is just two apples, not the 4 my sister called for, since they were on the large size.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce oven temp to 350 degrees.Bake for 10 more minutes, sprinkle the tart with sugar and bake another 10 minutes.

Looks pretty good, doesn't it?

While the tart is still warm, brush the apricot jam over it so it gets nice and melty.

You could water down the jam a little so it spreads without messing up your pretty apples.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or just eat it strait from the pie plate before anyone else can get their grubby hands on your tart. I’m taking mine to knitting group tonight so I don’t snarf the whole thing down myself. Although they won’t get to see it looking this pretty since there’s going to be a piece missing.

*A note about the ground almonds. I was going to just use almond flour but I couldn’t find any at my local Stop & Shop, so I used my handy-dandy mini-Cuisinart to just grind them up myself. Several other versions of this recipe call for marzipan instead, which would be an easy alternative.

Absolutely the BEST kitchen appliance ever.

Apple-Buttermilk Custard Pie

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

I’m going crazy cleaning and finishing all the decorations for Baby Evan’s 1st birthday next weekend so I’m a little lacking in the creative department right now. Although I have no aspirations to be the ACTUAL Pioneer Woman, this is my attempt at a PW style recipe post, hence the eighty bazillion pictures. Please to enjoy.

Like I’ve said before (just this week actually) I am not a very good cook. I am, however, a more than decent baker. In fact, I once won first prize at the Ledyard Town Fair for my two crust apple pie and went on to do fairly well in the state-wide competition. Considering I was the only entrant under the age of 50 I’m just pleased I wasn’t last. It helped that I lived in an honest to God apple orchard at the time. Being able to bake with fruit that was still growing just minutes before I peeled it definitely gave me the motivation to really perfect my pie.

Since a regular old two-crust is old news, I’m always on the look out for new apple pie recipes. I recently heard about buttermilk pies and was intrigued. I’ve never been exactly sure what buttermilk is (sour milk? unfinished yogurt?) or what it’s for (biscuits? pancakes?) but when I found this recipe that claimed it turned into CUSTARD I knew I had to try it. CUSTARD is one of the top three things I absolutely cannot resist in a dessert, along with meringue and lemon curd. Oh and graham cracker crusts. Or key limes. And marzipan. Ok, I just REALLY like dessert. But this pie is special. Really special. From the pastry crust to the sugar topping it is delicious and sweet and tart and creamy and SO GOOD I almost divorced my husband when he tried to eat the last piece without sharing.

I highly recommend this pie. Or you could just invite yourself over for dinner and I’ll make it for you.

Apple-Buttermilk Custard Pie
Adapted from Cooking Light (and when I say adapted, I mean I made it a lot less “light”)

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
4-5 tablespoons ice cold water

Throw the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Toss in the shortening too and then mash it up with a fork until it’s in little pieces. Don’t mix it TOO well, since the little pieces of shortening in the crust is what makes it flaky. Add cold water about a tablespoon at a time until the dough is sticky enough to hold together. Do most of your mixing with the fork but make sure you test it by squishing it together with your hands or you’ll end up adding too much water.

Sometimes I just make pie crust and eat it without baking a pie. I know it's weird.

Streusel Topping:
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons chilled butter

5 cups sliced peeled apples**
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup granulates sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 3/4 cups buttermilk***
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Roll out the dough large enough to fit in a 9-inch deep dish**** pie plate. Try not to handle the crust any more than you have to, the less touching you do the better it ends up.

I got this Roulpat mat just this week and it made my pie crust sooooo much easier to roll out. I didn't have to add any extra flour to keep it from sticking so the crust was super flaky.

Fold over the edges and pinch them to make a fluted edge.

I once bought a fancy fluted edge maker. It was crappy. Just use your fingers.

To prepare the streusel, lightly spoon 1/3 cup flour into a measuring cup. Combine the flour, brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a medium bowl. Cut in butter with a fork (or pastry blender, if you’re fancy) until mixture is all mealy. Put it in the fridge.

Try to resist eating all the sugar-butter right out of the bowl.

Preheat over to 325 degrees.

To prepare the filling, heat a large skillet to medium heat and throw in the butter. Add sliced apple, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until apples are tender.

My apples are sliced into little rings like that because I use an apple peeler-corer-slicer that attaches to my countertop. It's an absolute necessity if you plan to make more than one apple pie a year.

Pour into prepared crust.

Mmmmmm....appley goodness.

Combine 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, salt and eggs, stir with a whisk. Add buttermilk and vanilla, and stir a little more.

I had to steal this whisk from the baby. He LOVES whisks. Is that weird?

Pour over apple mixture.

Yikes, that's a full pie!

Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. Reduce over temperature to 300 degrees (do not remove pie) and sprinkle streusel topping over filling.

Try to sprinkle it around evenly, but it doesn't really matter since all the butter melts anyways.

Bake at 300 degrees for 40 minutes or until pie is set. Let stand 1 hour before serving.*****

All puffed up right out of the oven. DON'T EAT IT YET.

*The original recipe suggests using a store-bought crust, which I personally consider just plain un-American. Only communists use store-bought crust. Communists who kick puppies and burn flags and hate freedom and don’t want to find a cure for cancer OR save the whales. But really, my recipe for pie crust is the easiest thing in the world and impossible to do wrong. At least try it before using the crap from a box.

My pie crust/pie recipes - as you can see they've been well loved

**Granny Smith is the most popular pie apple but unfortunately they don’t grow here in New England. When apples are in season I prefer Cortlands or Mutsus. Just try to avoid Macintosh in pies since they cook down really quickly and you end up with mush.

***The “light” version calls for fat-free buttermilk but my grocery store didn’t have fat free (OH DARN) so I used low-fat. I’ve had trouble finding buttermilk at all at some grocery stores so just use whatever you can get.

****My pie plate is NOT “deep” so I just built up the edge of the crust. It still came really really close to overflowing. I recommend using an actual deep-dish plate.

*****NO REALLY, LET IT SIT. If you don’t the custard is all runny and soupy. I KNOW it looks delicious and I KNOW you just baked a whole pie all by yourself and you deserve to eat a huge chunk right now but it will be even better in an hour. For the record, my recipe says “Yields 10 servings”, but I think they’re talking about doll-servings. It yields 8 actual person sized servings, but you’ll probably eat two pieces at a time, so at least try to save some to share later.

OK, NOW you can eat it. Better hurry though, looks like someone else already started.