Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Apple Butter

It’s fall!  I love fall- corn mazes, pumpkin patches, Thanksgiving, and APPLES!  Last week Spencer and I went to Carter’s Mountain Orchard on a preschool field trip to eat donuts, learn about the life cycle of apples, and to pick a few.  We came home with quite a haul, and so this year I decided to make apple butter.  
My favorite breakfast: Toaster waffles with cream cheese and apple butter.
View from Carter's Mountain
Spencer and a couple of his preschool buddies on the field trip.

I should have followed Denni’s advise she left in the applesauce comments, but I used this slow cooker recipe from Allrecipes instead.  It had great reviews, and I was less than thrilled with the apple butter I made several years ago from a recipe I got off the Earth Fare website (which doesn’t seem to have recipes anymore).  I was a little shocked at the sugar, but decided not to alter it this time around.  I did omit the cloves, however, because I don’t have any and I don’t care for them anyway.

You will need

5 ½ lb apples ($6.54 if I had bought them, but they were included in the cost of the field trip)

4 cups (!) sugar ($2.44 per 4lb, $2.44/64oz = $.04 x 30oz = $1.20)

2 tsp cinnamon ($1.97 per 2.37oz, $1.97/2.37oz = $.83 x  .133oz = $.11)

Pinch of salt

Pinch of cloves, if you’d like.

8 half pint jars and lids (I finally have enough in stock that I only have to buy new lids!) ($2.65 per 12ct, $2.65/12lids = $.22 x 7lids = $1.55)

These are Golden Delicious, Jonagold, and a few random ones that we had at home.

Peel, core, and chop the apples into chunks.  Throw the apples into the food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Dump the apples into the slow cooker and add in the rest of the ingredients.  Stir everything together, and leave on high for an hour.  Give the pot another stir, and turn the temperature to low.  Leave on low for 9 to 11 hours (I let it sit overnight).  Uncover, stir again, and let it sit on low for an additional hour, or until it has thickened to your desired consistency.  Can or freeze your apple butter.  (For canning instructions, see the jalapeno jelly or applesauce posts)

Apples peeled, cored, chopped, and processed.
Apple butter after stewing overnight.  The house smelled so good!
And here's the haul minus one half pint I gave to my mom after she graciously watched my crazy kids this afternoon!

This stuff is crazy delicious!  It is very sweet, and again, I should have looked at Denni’s comment before I dumped a QUART of sugar into the pot, but it’s a condiment, so I guess it’s not a big deal. 

Try It 

$2.86 for 8 ½ cups of apple butter, or $.34/cup.

Buy It

$4.95 for 2 cups of local apple butter from Graves Mountain, or $2.48/cup.


Even if you had to buy new jars and the apples, the total would have come to $16.08, or $1.89/cup, making it still completely worthwhile.  Plus, it is so good!  Try It, but maybe with less sugar.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

French Dressing

And by that I mean the red stuff, not the Crane Crest deliciousness.  I don’t usually use French dressing at home, but I do get it when we go to restaurants from time to time.  I’ve been wanting to make dressings for a while, and I thought this would be an easy jumping off point.  After a big search, I settled on this recipe from Allrecipes.
A little sweetness for my spinach
You will need

½ cup sugar ($2.44 per 4lb, $2.44/64oz = $.04 x 3.75oz = $.14)

½ cup Heinz ketchup ($3.25 per 32oz, $3.25/3.3125cups = $.98)

½ cup vegetable oil ($2.79 per 32fl.oz, $2.79/32fl.oz = $.09 x 4fl.oz = $.35)

1 organic clove garlic, pressed or minced ($.50 per head, $.50/10cloves = $.05)

¼ cup white vinegar ($3.29 per gallon, $3.29/128fl.oz = $.03 x 2fl.oz = $.05)

¼ tsp hot sauce ($1.49 per 12fl.oz, $1.49/12fl.oz = $.12/6tsp = $.02 x .25tsp = $.01)

1 ½ tsp celery seeds ($5.65 per 1.62oz, $5.65/19.62tsp = $.29 x 1.5 tsp = $.44)

1/8 tsp Worcestershire sauce ($1.85 per 10fl.oz, $1.85/53tsp = $.03 x .125tsp = less than $.01)

1 Tbsp minced chives ($.199 per .75oz, $1.99/65pieces = $.03 x 5pieces = $.15)

Mix everything together in a jar, refrigerate until you're ready to use it.

Doesn't that look appetizing?

Ready to go in just a few quick shakes!
Try It

$2.17 for 15fl.oz, or $.14/fl.oz

Buy It

$3.15 for 16fl.oz of Kraft Catalina dressing, or $.20/fl.oz

If you're a fan of the red-type French dressing, Try It!  It took very little time, and it tastes pretty close to the store bought variety, but a little fresher.  Feeling pretty good about my future with dressings right now.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cinnamon Scones

There is nothing better than a fresh scone to go with a fresh cup of coffee, I’ve always known that.  But recently I’ve gone to tea at a tea house, and served fresh scones with clotted cream and jam.  My mind was BLOWN.  I’ve been thinking about scones ever since!   I did a wide search through my cookbooks and the internet, and settled on this mouth watering recipe from KingArthur Flour.

You know you want one.

You will need

½ cup organic ½ & ½ ($3.79 per 32fl.oz, $3.79/32fl.oz = $.12 x 4fl.oz = $.47)

1 cup cinnamon chips (I used Hershey’s Cinnamon Chips, which I found using their locator tool on the Hershey website since they are a little hard to find!) ($2.69 per 10oz, $2.69/1.66 cups = $1.62)

2 ¾ cups organic flour ($5.04 per 5lb, $5.04/80oz = $.06 x 15.125oz = $.95)

1/3 cup sugar ($2.99 per 5lb, $2.99/80oz = $.04 x 2.5oz = $.09)

1 Tbsp baking powder ($1.59 per 10oz, $1.59/19.69Tbsp = $.08)

¾ tsp salt ($.47 per 26oz, $.47/30.69tsp = $.02 x .75 tsp = $.02)

½ cup cold organic butter cut into pieces ($4.99 per lb, $4.99/4sticks = $1.25)

2 eggs ($3.99 per dozen, $3.99/12eggs = $.33 x 2eggs = $.67)

1 tsp vanilla extract ($.01 per ml, $.01 x 4.92ml = $.05)

5 Tbsp melted butter ($4.99 per lb, $4.99/32Tbsp = $.16 x 5Tbsp = $.78)

¾ cup brown sugar ($1.79 per 32oz, $1.79/4.73cups = $.38 x .75 cups = $.28)

2 Tbsp cinnamon ($1.97 per 2.37oz, $.197 x .4oz = $.79)

This is what crumbly looks like.  I used my fingers this time.

Mixed enough, don't want it to get tough!
Mix the filling ingredients together and set aside.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Cut in butter till crumbly (or work it in with your fingers the way your grandma did!). In a separate bowl, combine ½ & ½, cinnamon chips, eggs, and vanilla.  Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined (treat it like a biscuit and don’t overwork it!). 

Put the dough on a well floured surface, and pat it out into a 9” square, about ¾” thick.  Spread the filling evenly over the dough, then fold in thirds like a letter.  Pat/stretch your dough into a 3” x 18” rectangle, about ¾” to 1” thick.

My biggest mistake was not using a ruler to measure my scone log.

Cut the rectangle into 6 squares, then cut each square diagonally so you have 12 triangles.  Put them on a rimmed baking sheet about 1” apart.  Stick the pan in the freezer while the oven heats up to 425 degrees.  When the oven is hot, bake for 16-20 minutes, or until golden.

These were amazing!  They looked like a hot mess, the cinnamon filling oozed all over the pan (make sure your baking sheet is rimmed!), and I had trouble getting the dough to fold neatly, but all of that was forgotten once I bit into the thing.  Soooo good!

Delicious but very messy
Try It

$7.05 for 12 scones, or $.59 per scone.

Buy It

Somewhere between $2.50 and $3.95 per scone depending on the coffee shop or tea house you are going to.


These are amazing, to be sure.  I couldn’t help thinking, though, that with the obscure chips and the messy folding, I might like a quick cinnamon roll just as much (which cost $.45 each).  They were very tasty and tender, though, and I think I could use this as a master scone recipe- ditch the filling, and use chocolate chips or dried fruit in place of the cinnamon chips and it would be fantastic.  I still say Try It, it’s as good as you’ll find in a coffee shop, and they stayed fresh tasting for a few days, even uncovered!