Category Archives: Tips

Apple Butter by Aunt Grace

Aunt Grace’s Apple Butter recipe.

I used to have a couple apple trees and they produced kinda’ small apples, but tart and good for cooking.

I pick enough apples to fill a 5 gallon bucket. This will make 2 batches of apple butter and you will need 2 crock pots if you use the entire 5 gallons of apples.

The following recipe is for only ONE batch (1 crockpot full) of apple butter:

2.5 gallons apples (1/2 the 5 gallon bucket)

3 cups sugar (I decreased this to 2 1/2 cups last batch and liked it better)

1 tsp cinnamon (I double this usually, though)

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp vanilla (I used my homemade vanilla in the last batch…YUMMY!…and I tripled the amount

Peel, core and slice apples and put the slices into crockpot till full. (I use a SmartPot Crockpot)

Pour the sugar over the apples, then add the cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.

No need to stir…simply cook overnight (I cook for 9-10 hours in my crockpot) and then get the jars ready to can them in the morning. Either stir the apples (they will be super tender) or mix them with a blender, depending on your preference of smoothness. Leave the lid on the apple butter until you have added it to the canning jars so that it will be hot. (I leave crock pot on warm setting until I spoon it out of the crockpot)

Yields approx 4 pints (a tadbit more if you cooked 9 hours, a tadbit less if you cook over 10 hours…also will be sweeter the longer you cook it, so if you prefer it more tart, go w/9 hours)

I use half pint jars to can the apple butter because I have a small household, but for a larger household, you may want to use pint jars.

Canning instructions for apple butter: wash and rinse 8 half-pint jars and also boil water, then turn heat off and add 8 flaps and lids to the scalding hot water. Place jars on a dishtowel very close together and fill each jar w/the apple butter, then add a flap and tighten the lid. It will be HOT, so use an oven mit, or something to protect hand. Place another dishtowel over the jars and just leave it alone till you hear that WONDERFUL pop that shows it has sealed.

I also recommend this neat little kit that I found at Walmart in the canning section…I threw the box away, but I recall it was blue. It includes a little gadget w/a magnet on the end that picks up the flaps and lids out of the hot water to make it easier to can…plus the ladle and jar funnel (wide, like the jar mouth) are perfect size for these little jars…and a ruler that measures up to an inch at the jar lip so you can fill to a precise measurement based on recipe instructions.

NOW PICTURES: Below is a half-full jar of apple butter along w/the neat canning kit I mentioned above:  (I LOVE gadgets)

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This is another pic of the magnetic gadget actually picking up a flap:

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Here is one of my favorite kitchen gadgets:

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AND FINALLY, this is a close up of one of my apple trees I used to have:

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Mac n Cheese

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WOW! I forgot how GOOD Mac n cheese is with real butter! I usually use Blue Bonnet Light. Do not get me wrong, that tastes good, BUT this recipe will “make you wanna smack your momma”…so maybe you should not make it when your kids or mother are around…

I am one of those cooks that adds a little here, a lot there, so getting this recipe on paper is not an exact science for me. I did not actually measure my milk for example, so I suggest put in a little and increase if needed…

My recipe as follows:
1 – 16 oz box rotini, bow tie, or elbow macaroni (I prefer rotini but today I mixed rotini and bow tie because I did not have a whole box of any of the above) prepared as directed and drained
1 stick butter
1 package shredded sharp cheese (says 2 cups and is 8 oz pkg)
1/2 cup milk (add more if seems too thick)

In separate pan combine butter, cheese and milk on low medium heat until melted. Remove from heat and stir in noodles.

 

TIP: for leftovers such as next day reheating…add a couple TBS butter, 1/8 to 1/4 cup milk and a handful of shredded cheese to the mac n cheese and reheat in microwave for a minute (if there is a lot of macaroni, otherwise, do not add so much and heat in less time)…at this point stir together and keep heating until thoroughly melted and reheated…it will be nice and gooey again, no longer dry.

Classic Vanilla Cupcakes

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This link below is for some AWESOME classic vanilla cupcakes that I have used this week two ways. One is to make coconut icing with lemon curd filling, the other is to make strawberry cream cheese icing with chunky strawberry sauce filling. This vanilla cupcake is the perfect base for a cupcake where you want the icing or filling to be the focal point. Yet the cupcake still has loads of vanilla flavor and it still holds its own in taste. It is firm enough that you do not have to worry about it crumbling on you. I LOVE this recipe!

The only thing I did differently was to use cake flour instead if all purpose…

http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,196,138166-225200,00.html

Closeup of my cupcakes:

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Photo Mar 21, 6 05 16 AMT

To make the green coconut, just put about 1/4 cup or LESS milk in a tupperware bowl and put green food coloring (be very conservative as it will take to the dye very fast)…then add a bag of coconut and toss together until the dye is mixed thoroughly with the coconut. I refrigerated until the day I needed to use it (I prepared two days ahead) and then the morning I was going to use it, I poured it out on paper towels over wax paper to make sure it was not too damp to use. It was moist, but not too much that it would drip or anything. It soaks up the milk immediately and turns whatever color you put in the milk.

Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

Well folks, it was bound to happen…eventually I would have to actually MEASURE what I put into my mixing bowl as I make icing!  My hubby is sick with mono right now and poor guy is asking for one of his favorite desserts:  cake with peanut butter frosting.  Without further ado, I give you peanut butter frosting for either 3 – 9″ layers or 2 – 10″ layer cakes (I made the latter).

Peanut Butter Frosting

2 cups peanut butter

3 cups powdered confectioner’s sugar

1/2 cup plus 2 TBS milk (save 1/2 the milk see if needed first) – I used whole because that is what was in fridge

1 TBS vanilla extract

Mix peanut butter, powdered sugar and 1/2 the milk in a bowl (I use stand mixer).  After mixing, add the remaining liquid 1 TBS at a time until the frosting no longer looks chunky like cookie dough and instead looks smooth and spreadable.  Do not add the remaining milk if your frosting already looks smooth.  You can also test it by taking a small amount and attempting to spread it on the cake.  If it is spreadable, do not add more liquid. 

The recipe above is not as sweet as I like it, my hubby likes it this way where the peanut butter is more “powerful”.  Taste it first after you have added 3 cups sugar and if you want it to be sweeter and a little less “powerful” with peanut butter, add 1 more cup of powdered sugar, then milk by 1 TBS at a time and beat each time you add a TBS until it is smooth.  I do not suggest adding more than an extra cup, though.

This can be pretty greasy due to all the peanut butter, so keep that in mind when you think about eating the whole cake and also when you decide which peanut butter brand to use. 

Frosting yields just over 3   1/2 cups

For the cake, I made the Swans Down Cake Flour Recipe on the box called 1-2-3-4 Cake as follows:

1-2-3-4 Cake by Swans Down Cake Flour

1 cup butter (equals 2 sticks) softened

2 cups sugar

3 cups Swans Down Cake Flour sifted (NOTE FROM TERESA:  if you need to convert recipe to use all purpose flour, 1 cup all purpose flour is = to 1 cup plus 2 TBS Swans Down Cake flour.  Measure out 3 cups all purpose flour, then remove 6 TBS of what you measured and this will be the equivalent of 3 cups Swans Down Cake Flour.)

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

4 eggs

1 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour three 9 inch cake pans (NOTE FROM TERESA: I used two 10 inch pans instead).  Make cake: In a mixing bowl cream butter and gradually add sugar, creaming until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  In another bowl sift flour with baking powder and salt (NOTE FROM TERESA: if you do not have a sifter, you can use your collander with a towel over the top of it to help keep the flour dust from covering you and tap it over a bowl, or use a fork to mix it…I prefer using the collander).  Add flour mixture alternately with milk and flavorings to creamed mixture, beating after each addition until smooth.  Pour batter into cake pans. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Cool in pans 10 minutes.  Remove from pans and finish cooling on racks.

TIP from Teresa for COOLING RACK:  If you have one of those large cooling racks that have very little “breathing” room underneath, just use 4 votive candle holders or 4 shot glasses, something about that size on the corners to raise the cooling rack and help cool your cakes more effectively.