Friday, October 18, 2013

Pumpkins Aplenty

I just finished my series on Apples and various recipes using them.  Now I will start on a short Pumpkin series.  Many people forget about pumpkins outside of carving fun faces into them for display on the front porch.  Even those large pumpkins used for carving can add a little to your pantry.  This first installment in my Pumpkins Aplenty series will be a handful of ideas on how to spice up those seeds scooped out of that great jack-o-lantern shell.  I will follow up with the best way I have found to make pumpkin puree, and then a few great ways to use that yummy ingredient.  Enjoy!!

Pumpkin Seeds:

After you scoop all the *guts* out of your jack-o-lantern shell you will have a gooey, orange pile of string and seeds.  With a little patience, that pile can turn into a yummy snack for the whole family!  Separate the seeds from the string and place them in a colander.  Be sure to rinse them extremely well to get the seeds as clean as you can. 

I have found that for the crunchiest seeds without burning, it is best to boil the seeds for 10 minutes in water with a teaspoon of salt.  Drain the seeds and let them dry.  (You can pat the seeds dry with a paper towel but they will stick so make sure you brush them off the paper towel so as not to accidently throw any seeds in the garbage)

Spread your seeds, in a thin layer, on a baking sheet.  Make sure none are overlapping.

Drizzle with olive oil.

Sprinkle with sea salt (For basic roasted pumpkin seeds.  If you are seasoning them with other spices, you will do that here)

Bake at 325 for 10 minutes.  Stir, and bake for another 10 minutes.  (Be sure to keep an eye on your seeds because they can burn very easily)

As much as I love a basic roasted pumpkin seed, sometimes it’s fun to add other flavors.  Here are a few of my favorites… 

(Sprinkle spices on after Olive Oil and befor roasting)  Measurements are for one cookie sheet of pumpkin seeds. 

~ 1tsp Cinnamon,  ¼ tsp Nutmeg, 2tbs Maple Syrup.  These seeds end up with a fantastic Autumn flavor!

~ ½cup Sugar, ½ tsp Cayenne Pepper, ½ tsp Sea Salt.  This is a great Sweet and Spicy treat.

~ 2tsp Curry Powder, ½ tsp Sea Salt.  If you like spicy snacks, this is the treat for you.

~ ½ tsp Chili Powder, ½ tsp Ground Cumin, ¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper.  After roasting, drizzle with the juice of half a lime.  The lime adds great flavor and cuts a bit of the heat from all those spices.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Apple Butter

In this final (for now) installment of my Apples Everywhere series, I will be sharing my Apple Butter recipe.  It took me a while to finaly get this one cooking since I have been busy nursing my Quarter Horse back to health after she scratched herself in the eye.  Anywho, this recipe is very similar to the Apple Sauce but you have to simmer much longer to get a good consistency.  I hope you enjoy!

((I will add a photo tomorrow.
I forgot to take one last night and didn't realize until I was already on my way to the library))

Core and cut about 4 pounds of apples.  Using different varieties in one batch will add flavor.

Combine apples and 3 cups cider or juice in a large pot.  Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

If you did not peel your apples, at this point you will want to run everything through a food mill or sieve.  If you peeled your apples (I always peel mine) mash them into a smooth pulp.  I like to use my immersion blender for this to make sure I get all the big chunks out.

Stir in honey, lemon juice, and cinnamon. 

Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for 1.5-2 hours.  Continue to cook until the butter is at your desired consistency.  A good reference is to cook until the mixture is thick and mound on the back of a spoon.

Ladle into hot, sterilized jars, place lids and rings, and process in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes (for half pints).  Larger jars will need a longer processing time.  

Friday, October 4, 2013

Spiced Apple Rings

If you have been following my blog recently you will know that I am in the midst of an Apples Everywhere collection of recipes.  In this third installment I will be sharing with you Spiced Apple Rings. 

Spiced Apple Rings are a bit more complicated than the previous two recipes but it’s well worth the extra effort.  I spent a decent 30 minutes sitting on my kitchen floor going through 2 large paper bags full of apples just to find the prettiest ones.  With the apple sauce and the pie filling, it didn’t realy matter what the apples looked like.  But for this recipe it’s best to have nice, round, uniform apples so you get the perfect slices. 

Fill a large bowl with cold water and the juice of half a lemon.
Again I needed two bowls so be prepared.

Make a spice bag by placing stick cinnamon, whole cloves, and sliced fresh ginger onto a 7inch double thick cheese cloth.  Tie corners together with clean kitchen twine.  The amount of spices you use depends on how much flavor you want in your apples.

With a total of 8 pounds of apples, peel, core, and slice apples into ½ inch thick rings one at a time.

Immediately place rings into lemon water.  The lemon juice keeps the apples looking fresh rather than browning as they are sliced.  I know some people use Ascorbic Acid Color Keeper but I prefer to keep it as simple and natural as possible and the lemon water works perfectly for me.

In a large pot combine 6 cups brown sugar, 6 cups water, and 1 cup apple cider vinegar.  Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. 

Reduce heat, add spice bag, and simmer covered for 10 minutes.

Drain apples and add to hot liquid.  At this point I had to do two batches since I could not fit all my apple rings into the pot at once. 

Simmer apples for about 5 minutes or until tender. 

Using a slotted spoon, pack apples into hot, sterile canning jars leaving a ½ inch headspace.

Ladle hot liquid into jars (leaving a ½ inch headspace), apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes.

After packing all my apple slices into 4 quart jars and 1 pint, I had a lot of liquid left.  I hate to let anything go to waste so I ladled the extra liquid into 4 pint jars and processed them with the apple slices.  I labeled them Spiced Apple Broth and plan to use them in cooking chicken, turkey, pork, or other meats.  I firmly believe the apple broth will make for a deliciously tender meal and I cannot wait to try it out.