Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Crockpot Applesauce

Here I have another apple post, but I was given about 1/2 of a bushel of fresh from the tree apples so I need to use them. I've had this recipe for Crockpot Applesauce bookmarked since last fall when Barbara posted it. This was the perfect time to try this wonderful recipe. Homemade Applesauce is delicious, and I like mine with a bit of tartness to it. The apples given to me were Red Delicious, which are very sweet and I rarely buy them for that reason, but I added some tart Granny Smith apples to the mix, and the applesauce was amazing. If you haven't ever had homemade applesauce, you are missing a great treat. It is so much better tasting than store bought. Here's how it's made.

adapted from Barbara Bakes

10 Red Delicious apples

6 Granny Smith apples

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

juice of 1 lemon

1/3 cup water or apple juice

Peel and core the apples and cut into large slices. Place apples in crockpot and add the sugar, cinnamon, lemon and apple juice or water. Stir. Cook on low for about 8 hours, or on high for about 5 hours. Stir a couple of times during cooking. When done, you can mash the apples or puree them to the consistency that you like. I use a potato masher on my applesauce because we like it somewhat chunky. My crockpot apparently cooks faster than some, because my applesauce was done in 3 hours. So I mashed it, placed it in a bowl and let it cool, and put it in containers in the refrigerator. I love it served cold the best. The lemon juice adds a freshness to the apples. It is tart, yet lightly sweet, with the wonderful flavor of cinnamon. It's good!

NOTE: Taste the applesauce while it is hot. If it needs more sugar, it will easily be incorporated while the sauce is warm.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Delicious Apple Crisp

I love autumn. I love the fresh, crisp air in the mornings, the leaves turning vibrant shades of red and yellow. And I love the foods of autumn, apples being one of my most favorite. Does anything smell better than apples and cinnamon baking in the oven? The aroma in our house as this Apple Crisp bakes is intoxicating! The mix of Granny Smith and Gala apples gives a tart, delicious flavor under the sweet cinnamony topping. I didn't add nuts to the topping this time as my daughter's boyfriend is allergic to nuts. I don't want to make the boyfriend sick! I posted this recipe when I first started my blog almost 2 years ago, and it definitely needed a better picture. This recipe fills a 9x13 inch pan, making it a good size for family gatherings and pot luck dinners. It has graced our Thanksgiving table some years also. I hope you enjoy!

from Lynda's Recipe Box

Topping ingredients:

3/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup old fashioned oats

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

10 tablespoons cold butter

3/4 cup chopped nuts-almonds, pecans or walnuts, optional

In a large bowl, mix the flour, oats, cinnamon and brown sugar together. Cut the cold butter into pieces and work into the flour mixture with a pastry blender until crumbly. Stir in the nuts, if using. Store in the refrigerator until apples are ready.

Apple mixture:

9 cups of peeled, sliced apples-I used Granny Smith and Gala mixed together(use whatever baking apples you have at your location)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg- optional
Peel and core apples. Slice apples into a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice. Add the sugar and spices and stir; pour apples into a 9x13 inch baking pan. Sprinkle the topping mixture evenly over the apples. Place pan in a preheated 375 degree oven and bake the crisp for 35-40 minutes, until apples are bubbly and the topping is golden. Remove Apple Crisp from oven to a cooling rack. Cool somewhat before serving. It smells so good that it is hard to wait before taking that first bite! Serve it alone, or with ice cream or whipped cream. Enjoy every bite!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Panko Crusted Chicken with Mustard Maple Pan Sauce

I love finding tasty recipes to use for boneless-skinless chicken breasts. They are so quick and easy to use for weeknight dinners. This recipe for Panko Crusted Chicken is absolutely delicious with it's tangy Maple Sauce. The Panko is so crusty on this chicken and it does not get the least bit soggy like other breaded chicken. The Maple Pan Sauce is so good, I'd call it a restaurant quality dish. There was so much fabulous flavor from the mustard and the maple syrup that I licked my plate clean! Trust me, you won't want to wast a drop of this sauce. I am going to make it again tomorrow and it's going on my regular recipe rotation. I served it with oven-roasted potatoes, but it would be equally good with garlic mashed potatoes, or even a rice dish. Please try it, you won't be sorry!

Panko Crusted Chicken with Maple Pan Sauce
adapted from bon appetite
4 small chicken breasts, (or 2 large breasts cut in half)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1 cup panko crumbs- Japanese breadcrumbs
2-3 tablespoons oil-I used canola and olive oil - recipe calls for olive oil
salt and pepper

Sauce Ingredients:
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons coarse grained mustard
3 tablespoons real maple syrup
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Using a meat mallet or rolling pin, pound the chicken breasts in a resealable bag, or between 2pieces of plastic wrap. Mix egg, parsley and 1 tablespoon Dijon in a shallow bowl. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Dip each chicken breast in the egg mixture, and turn to coat. Then dip each piece in the panko crumbs and turn to coat well, pressing crumbs on the chicken. .
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken; cook until brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side.
Meanwhile, whisk broth, syrup, coarse-grained mustard together in measuring cup.
Transfer chicken to plates. Add broth mixture to the skillet; boil until reduced to about 3/4 cup, stirring occasionally. Stir in the butter. Spoon sauce along side the chicken. Enjoy!

NOTE: I reduced the sauce a bit more the second time I made it so it would be more syrupy, but it tastes amazing either way you do it. I have reduced the mustard slightly in this recipe, so check out the link to see the original recipe.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Tuscan Minestrone Soup

The first chill of Fall air blew in finally last week, which overjoyed me, so I made one of my favorite easy soups. This yummy soup is full of healthy veggies and it's very simple to throw together. It uses canned chicken broth and tomatoes, which is a wonderful time saver. After all the vegetables are chopped, the soup only takes about 20 minutes to cook. My husband and I love this stuff, although he prefers some chicken added to it. Either way, this body warming soup is delicious,especially with some crusty bread. This recipe is based on one by Bob Greene, author of The Best Life Diet. Give it a try for a quick, delicious and healthy bowl of soup.

adapted from the book The Best Life Diet

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small-medium zucchini, diced

1 small-medium yellow summer squash, diced

1 large carrot, finely diced-about 3/4 cup

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups canned, low sodium, low fat chicken broth

1 (15 ounce) can of diced tomatoes-I used canned fire-roasted tomatoes

1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans- I have a hard time finding these in my town, so I sub with Great Northern Beans when I have to.

1/2 cup pasta, elbow or small shells

fresh thyme sprigs, if available

1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs, or use fresh herbs that you have available

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced

Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the carrot, onion, zucchini, and yellow squash to the pan and cook, stirring until the veggies begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour the chicken broth and tomatoes into the pan, and bring to a boil. Add the beans, pasta and thyme and simmer until the pasta is done, about 10 minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs and season soup with salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh basil. Top each serving with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy! Makes about 6 servings.

NOTE: I use whatever herbs I have available, oregano, basil and thyme. My thyme plant died in the heat this summer, so I used 1/2 teaspoon dried in this recipe. I also used 1 tablespoon fresh oregano in place of the teaspoon of dried herbs. Also, sometimes I have to use more chicken broth, depending on the size of squash used. Original recipe calls for medium sized squash.