Apple Butter in a slow cooker

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Autumn is the season for apples. Unfortunately (or fortunately in this case) I bought apples every time I went to the store or market and suddenly I realized that I had a ton of apples. What better way to use up a lot of apples then make homemade apple butter?! I really like the apple butter from the store, but I love making it myself because I know exactly what's in it and I can control the chunky level. I got this recipe from a Better Crocker Slow Cooker magazine from 2001 (modified a little of course). Needless to say I've made this a lot of times. I love how versatile apple butter is. It's great by itself on toast, but also in oatmeal, muffins, or even on top of your pork chops.
Click here for printable recipe. 

Posted by Jen. 

The Ingredients:

12 medium Granny Smith apples (peeled, and cut into 4ths)
1 c packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 c apple juice
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves

The Directions:
Add chopped and peeled apples to slow cooker. Toss with lemon juice. (today I actually used orange juice because I didn't have lemon juice)
Mix the sugar and spices together in small bowl and toss with apples. (you can experiment with the level of sugar. I think it would still be fine with a little less sugar) Pour apple juice over top.
Cover and cook on LOW heat for 8-10 hours, or until apples are very tender. Mash apples with potato masher.
You can control the chunky level. You can leave it chunky or continue mashing to achieve how you want it. Today I used my immersion blender to see what would happen. I think immersion blenders were made for this. (OK, so I get excited over a new kitchen gadget) If you don't have one you could blend it in the blender. Just be careful as it will be hot!)Let cook on Low, uncovered for about another hour to thicken up.
Once cooled pour into container to store in refrigerator. This made about 6 cups (as seen from my Tupperware picture below). If you're into canning then this would be great to can and save for later. What a great way to end a cold day!


Menu 11/28 - 12/4

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday--Garlic Chicken Pasta with Spinach--Garlic + Lemon + Tender Chicken + Pasta = 100% Yum

Tuesday--Sweet and Sour Chicken--this dish has been making appearances on our menu for over a decade now and it's still as well-loved now as it was then. 

Wednesday--Creamy Pesto Chicken (new)

Thursday--Honey Lime Enchiladas--This Mexican dish is one my husband requests often!

Friday--Make your Own Personal Pizzas--a kid and mom favorite!

Saturday--Makeover Chicken Crescents--one of our family's favorite meals ever! 

Sunday--Crockpot Chicken Parmesan--my daughter keeps asking me for this one again

Go check Organizing Junkie for lots more Menu Plans!


Cranberry Tip-Top Salad

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Every year for Thanksgiving dinner we used to eat this cranberry salad at my grandma's house. I'm not sure where she got the recipe nor do I know why she always called it "Tip-Top". All I do know is that now I always serve it at my Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners and it will always remind me of my grandma. Oh, and it tastes great too! I love the sweet of the cream cheese and cream mixed with the tart of the cranberry. Of course, I took a good thing, and made it better, because that's how I roll. So here is my grandma's traditional Cranberry Tip Top done my way. I hope it becomes one of your holiday traditions as well.
Click here for printable recipe. 

Posted by Jen. 

The Ingredients:

2 cans cranberry jelly (not whole)
3 Tbsp orange juice (squeezed from 1/2 orange)
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 c mayonnaise (NOT Miracle Whip)
1/2 c powdered sugar
zest of 1 orange
8 oz Cool Whip
chopped walnuts, optional

The Directions:
Beat together softened cream cheese, mayonnaise, and powdered sugar until smooth. Zest orange over bowl (just the orange part!). Mix well together.
Fold or stir in the Cool Whip so that it is all incorporated. (now I've got "Kids Incorporated" theme running through my head.Ha! Now, so do you! Is that showing my age?!) Moving on...
*At this point you would mix in some nuts if you are using them. My grandma always used chopped walnuts, but A. I don't like Walnuts and B. My son has a severe nut allergy, so I never use them. Your choice. I'd use maybe a 1/2 cup.

Spread mixture into a 9 x 13 pan and cover with plastic wrap. Make sure that the plastic wrap touches the creamy layer. Place into freezer for about 1 hour and make cranberry mixture.
Pour 2 cans of cranberry jelly into a bowl and squeeze the juice out of 1/2 the orange you zested. Beat until smooth and there are no cranberry jelly lumps.

Spread over the frozen cream mixture. Again cover with plastic wrap and make sure that the plastic is touching the cranberry layer. Freeze until ready to serve.

Fancy Version:
If you have a Bundt pan or other fancy looking bowl, you can make this inverted to have a beautiful salad presentation at your holiday table. Just reverse the order of doing everything. Place the cranberry mixture on the bottom of the Bundt pan and freeze. Then put the cream layer on top and again cover and freeze. When serving, place Bundt pan in bowl of hot water to loosen the frozen salad, and invert onto a plate. This way you have the cranberry on top!


Sweet Potato Crescent Rolls

Monday, November 21, 2011

For a split second I was a little unsure  about the sweet potatoes in these, but then I remembered that I've made cinnamon rolls with potato flakes in them and loved the uber soft texture that they have.   So then I figured if potatoes are good, then sweet potatoes would be even better since they have...more flavor...more sweetness...more vitamins.   I made these using about 2/3 white whole wheat flour and oh-la-la, these were some of the best rolls I've had in a long time!   Their soft texture and hint of sweetness made them rolls we won't soon forget! 

Recipe Source:   Taste of Home

 Tis the season for soft, homemade dinner rolls!   These will be the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving menu!
Click here for printable recipe. 

The ingredients:

2 Tbs. active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (110-115 F)
1 can (15-ounces) cut sweet potatoes / yams, drained and mashed (about 1-1/4 cups mashed)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening (I used butter flavored Crisco)
1 egg
1-1/2 tsp. salt
5 – 5-1/2 cups flour  (I used about 3 cups of white whole wheat flour in place of part of the all purpose flour)
1/4 cup butter, melted

Directions:  In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water; let stand for 5 minutes. Beat in the mashed sweet potatoes/yams, sugar, shortening, egg, salt and 3 cups flour. 

Add enough remaining flour to form a stiff dough.  Turn onto floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.  (If using mixer with dough hook, let knead for 4-5 minutes)  Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down; divide into fourths. Roll each portion into a 10 inch circle;

cut each into 8 wedges.  Brush with butter.  Roll up from the wide end and place pointed end down, 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets.
Cover and let rise until doubled, about 40 minutes.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 11-13 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the pans to wire racks.  Makes 32 rolls. 


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Thanksgiving Week Menu

Sunday, November 20, 2011

 We've got a crowd of 17 coming to our house for Thanksgiving dinner plus another 6 for dessert, so I've got this week's menu stacked with quick and easy dishes early in the week.   Later in the week, I've got some of our favorite ways to use Thanksgiving leftovers (including letting Dad take over in the kitchen for a couple of days!)  :) 

Oreo Turkeys
---we just made these as a family this past weekend, but I thought it'd be a fun activity for the kids to make with their friends

Mommy's Concoction--this one's super easy and  I have a package of hot dogs to use up!

Tomato-Basil-Parmesan Soup in the Crockpot--yumminess in the crockpot!

Cheese Sticks--easy, cheesy, and flaky!

Sour Cream Noodle Bake--Another quick, easy, and family friendly dish!

Thursday (Thanksgiving)--Since other people are contributing food as well, this menu is not our complete Turkey Day menu. 

Turkey--I bought a 20-pounder this year to feed our crowd! 

Sweet Potato Rolls (coming soon),

Lara's Famous Apple Pie
--I think I'd be banned from Thanksgiving festivities if I didn't bring this pie!  

Blueberry Cream Pie- a delicious new discovery! 

Scalloped Potatoes (coming soon),

Cranberry Walnut Sauce (new)

Gorgonzola and Walnut Salad--love the flavor on this salad!

Turkey and Gravy on Toast (Daddy's post-Thanksgiving specialty)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies --my husband's favorite! 

Turkey Tacos
--this recipe is one of my family's favorite ways to use up leftover turkey!

Mango-Spinach Smoothie--we love, love, love this healthy smoothie!

Shepherd's Pie (made with leftover mashed potatoes and turkey)--we'll use leftover turkey (if we have any left) instead of the ground beef in this.  This is another of my husband's specialties, so no cooking for mommy tonight! :)

Apple Pull-Apart Bread--This recent discovery of ours is autumn baking at it's best.  Each soft piece is stuffed with apple's making my mouth water just thinking about it!

Go check Organizing Junkie for lots more Menu Plans!


Oreo Turkeys for Thanksgiving

Anyone who's been following along with our cooking adventures for long, knows that both me and my blogging partner, Jen love making fun food for our kids!  I had made these Oreo Turkey Treats with my kids a few years ago and these Turkey Cupcakes last year, but when I saw these cute little treats at Our Best Bites, I just couldn't resist.  Not only are they super cute, but I loved their idea of sticking little name placards on them and making them into Thanksgiving table place holders.  Don't stress about them being too fragile, I was surprised at how sturdy they were after the icing set up.   

Recipe Source:  Our Best Bites
Click here for printable recipe. 

The ingredients:

(amounts needed per turkey)

2 Double Stuff Oreo cookies (getting the double stuff variety is important, so that there's room to put the candy corn feathers)
Chocolate Frosting (I like to use the cookie icing from the baking aisle)
6 candy corns (5 for tail feathers, 1 for the beak)
1 miniature peanut butter cup
1 Whopper candy
Yellow frosting (I recommend the "writing icing" from the baking aisle)
Red frosting (I recommend the "writing icing" from the baking aisle)

  Take one Double Stuff Oreo and squeeze in a small amount of the chocolate icing in between the 2 cookies (but without taking them apart) and about half way around the Oreo.

Gently insert 5 candy corns into the icing.  

Put some chocolate icing along the top edge of the other Oreo and "glue" it with the icing perpendicular to the Oreo with the candy corn feathers.  Set aside and allow icing to harden (5-10 minutes). 
Trim off the edge of the miniature peanut butter cup, so that there's a flat edge.

Place some chocolate icing along the cut flat edge and the back of the peanut butter cup. 
Place the peanut butter cup onto the Oreos as shown, to become the turkey body.  (I don't think it really matters which way the peanut butter cup goes.  One of my kids put it on upside down and the rest of us put them on right side up.  Either way, I thought they turned out cute.)  
Put some frosting on the back of the Whopper candy and place above the peanut butter cup, to become the turkey head. 
With the yellow icing, pipe eyeballs onto the Whopper.  Cut off the tip of the remaining candy corn and with some icing, "glue" it to the Whopper head to become the beak.
  With the red icing, pipe a wattle (the red thingy hanging from its neck). 

Sit the turkeys upright and with yellow icing, draw legs and feet onto the bottom Oreo. 
Now put them out where people can oooo and awwww over how cute they are!   

Try them with little name placards on toothpicks sticking out with the tail feathers for place settings at the Thanksgiving table.   


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About This Blog

My name is Lara and while I'm definitely not a gourmet cook, I do love preparing tasty, healthy meals for my family. Finding new recipes to try and sharing the ones we've already fallen in love with is a passion I've had since college and the reason why I've started this blog! With five kids, I'm usually in a hurry, so you'll find most of these recipes kid friendly and simple to make.

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