Crockpot Applesauce

My friend has an apple tree and she asked me to come over and pick some apples.  I was thinking there might be a couple on there, but the tree was seriously drooping and there were hundreds of apples on the ground.  “I’ve given up,” she said.   “Please just take as much as you can.”  So I went a little overboard and now we are all pretty sick of apples! 🙂  But I made lots of yummy things – apple crisp, apple pancakes, and tried some applesauce!  I am not a huge applesauce fan, but my kids are, and really the crockpot does all the work.

Crockpot Applesauce (original recipe from skinnytaste.com)

  • 8 medium apples (Use a combination of Golden Delicious, Honey Crisp, Fuji, Gala, etc.)
  • 1 strips of lemon peel – use a vegetable peeler
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 inch cinnamon stick
  • 5 tsp light brown sugar (unpacked) – or agave

Peel, core, and slice the apples.

Place them in the slow cooker. Add the cinnamon stick, lemon peel and brown sugar.

Set crock pot to low and cook for 6 hours. Stir apples occasionally, apples will slowly become a delicious applesauce.

Remove cinnamon stick and use an immersion blender to blend until smooth.


Makes 3 cups.

 

Healthy Game-Watching Dips

I’ve been ready for some football since the beginning of the summer, and now it’s finally here!  We’ve been going to sooooo many football parties and I’m always at a loss for what I am supposed to eat when there’s nothing but brownies, cookies, hot wings, and soda.  But do not fret my little readers.  We have here two awesome and healthy (and delicious I might add) alternatives to the football munchie woes.  We tried them both with a superb success rate and they are going down in the PGM journal of recipe keepers.

Here they are (excuse the iphone pics)”

Black Bean Dip (from my Fabulous new friend Lissette)

  • 1 can drained black beans
  • 1/2 onion
  • 6-8 sprigs cilantro
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp herbamere (a spice mix made from veggies found at most health food stores)

Blend and enjoy!

Homemade Salsa (from the gardener out back, who also happens to be my neighbor: The Bestie)

  • 2 tomatillos
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1/2 a bunch cilantro
  • lime juice
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1/4 – 1/2 onion
  • pinch of garlic salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • chile powder (optional)

Blend in a food processor.

Here’s a tip from the author:  salsa will taste better if you use a variety of tomatoes, peppers, onions, etc.).  She is right.  It was delish.

Enjoy enjoy

 

 

Holy Guacamole

I remember the first time I saw someone make guacamole. We had just moved from North Carolina to The BRONX, and I was scared out of my mind. I had met a really cool girl at church named Amber, and I thought – maybe I can be friends with her. Not 15 minutes later, I walked up to my building, and I looked up and lo and behold there was Amber. She lived in THE SAME BUILDING! What are the chances (seriously not good!). I was so happy I could have kissed her. We DID become good friends, and one night we showed up at their house for dinner (invited, of course). Her should-be-culinary-chef husband was working away in the kitchen finishing up some last minute touches. I asked if I could do anything and he handed me a bowl full of stuff, including avocados. “Wanna mash this up?” He said. I guess it had never occurred to me that people make their own guac! So I mashed it up and it was fabulous.

Fast forward 6 years and here we are. Last night we had a smorgasbord of taco salad ingredients laid out on the table and I was just going to chop up some avocados when I thought, “Hey! I should make some guacamole!” So I found a quick recipe and it took me all of 2 seconds.

Here it is:

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Easy Guacamole (original recipe from allrecipes.com)

  • 2 avocados
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 ripe tomato, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Peel and mash avocados in a medium serving bowl. Stir in onion, garlic, tomato, lime juice, salt and pepper. Season with remaining lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Chill for half an hour to blend flavors.

The best part is that it has lime in it, so it doesn’t turn brown. Very delicious and quick.

What’s For Snack Time Wednesday: Plum Jam (3 ingredients and sugar free!)

So…turns out jam making is a chore!  Woah Nellie, I am wiped out!  But, it was a great experience and I’m glad I did it.  I just made one batch in case it turned out awful.  But it didn’t!  It was just time consuming.  3+ hours of cooking on the stove, and my friend said to me, “I bet you could make it in the crockpot.”  Genius.  Has anyone ever tried that?  My biggest surprise about the whole thing was how much it cooked down.  I used 24 plums, and it filled a big pot.  By the time it was done, it probably made about 1 cup of jam (see that jar back there?).  I’m learning all kinds of lessons here.

Anyway, here is the recipe.

Plum Jam (original recipe found here)

  • 3-4 lb. ripe, Italian plums
  • 10 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Wash the plums and cut them into small pieces (1/2 inch or so), removing the stone as you do it. Place them in a heavy pan and pour a little water in the bottom, no more that a half a cup.

Bring the plums to a boil, stirring often so that they don’t burn on the bottom. Add the cinnamon stick and the cloves.

Boil gently for 3 or more hours, stirring often.

Place the cooked plums in a ricer or sieve and stir to remove the skins and spices. Bring the jam/butter back to a boil until it has reduced as far as you want it and is very thick. Ladle the butter into clean, boiled, preserving jars or into freezer bags. Freeze or can, as you wish.

I just put mine in a jar and plan on eating it throughout the week.

Consensus:

Me:  It’s bitter since it doesn’t have any sugar, but it’s pretty good!

The Mr.:  Says it is TART, not bitter (excuse me).

The Uncle:  Says it reminds him of Christmas

The kiddos:  Ate it like it was normal jam.

What’s For Snacktime Wednesday: Whole Wheat Banana Bread – No Sugar!

Hello folks,

We are back from New York City!  It was a very long day of frantic cleaning/packing and then a long red-eye flight across the country, but the kids were champs and were so excited to see their toys that we had a big party at 2 am.  It’s been a whirlwind couple of days, and it’s about to get crazier!  We are heading to a wedding tomorrow, so more time on the road!  In the meantime, here’s a delicious snack I’ve been making with all my quickly ripening bananas.

Whole Wheat Banana Bread (Original Recipe from 100 days of Real Food)

  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt or sour cream
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup oil (or applesauce)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease pan.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger.
  3. In a separate bowl mix mashed bananas with yogurt, honey, eggs, oil, and vanilla.
  4. Fold the banana mixture into the flour mixture until blended. Do not overmix.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  6. Bake large loaf for 40 – 50 minutes or until it comes clean with a toothpick.

Happy Snacking!  Back from sunny San Diego next week!

PGM Endorsement: Lara Bars

My sis is married to a health nut, and she’s gotten pretty into it to.  So she is always texting me things:  Have you tried this recipe?  Have you tried this product? etc.  We love bouncing ideas off each other.  A while back she said something like, “Have you ever had a lara bar?  They are legit.”  I remember my health nut boss eating one a while back in NY, but I had never tried one.  The other day I was at Costco and the kids were sick of running errands, and hungry.  Not a good combination.  The Wild One seriously had his younger brother in a headlock, and he was (of course) crying.  If I didn’t do something quick I was going to turn into everyone’s favorite shopper with the melting-down kids.  I spotted a box of Lara Bars, glanced over the ingredients and then tore into the box.  I broke a bar in half and gave it to the kiddos.  Instant gratification.  They were quiet and they liked it!  I happened to give them a chocolate peanut butter bar, which was pretty tasty.  I’ve also tried apple pie (good) {ingredients: dates, almonds, apples, walnuts} and cherry pie (barf, but Tornado loved it.  More for him)  {ingredients: cherries, dates, almonds}.  Sidenote in case anyone is wondering…yes, I did buy the box.  I didn’t just tear into it and steal a bar.  Phew.  Glad I got that off my chest.

Check out the website here.  They have 20 different flavors to choose from.  Among my favorite so far  is

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip

{Ingredients: Dates, Chocolate Chips, Peanuts, Sea Salt}

THAT’S IT!  Love it.  These bars a bit pricey, but to me it is worth it for a very healthy snack made of whole foods that the kiddos seem to love.  Thanks for the suggestion, sis!

New Segment: What We Ate

I’ve had several people ask me what I eat in a normal day, especially if I try not to use processed foods very much.  It’s been a very long transition, so most of this stuff seems pretty easy to me now.  When I think back to when I first started I was a completely lost, so I hope this helps give some ideas to someone out there…I think I’ll make this a new segment, and I’ll try to take pics of everything in the future.

This is not a perfect day, but pretty good.

Breakfast:  Bagels and cream cheese (we don’t normally have bagels but they were leftover from company in town), fruit salad made up of fresh pineapple, oranges, and apples

Snack: Raisins

Lunch: Ham Sandwiches (leftover from a honey baked ham we had recently), sweet potatoes sprinkled with brown sugar and butter, cottage cheese

Snack:  Dried Fruit Mix (the kind with no added sugar or preservatives…just fruit)

Dinner:  Sweet and Sour Chicken over Rice (Original Recipe from my MIL)

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 Meaty Thighs
  • 3/4 Cup Water
  • 1 Cup Ketchup
  • 1 Large Onion, chopped
  • 1 Can Chunk Pineapple
  • 1/2 Cup Vinegar
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar ( I use less of this and pour in pineapple juice to sweeten it up)
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 2 Tbs Corn Starch (sometimes does not need)
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1 Green Pepper, chopped

Directions:

Boil and debone the chicken.  Fry meat with the onion and green pepper in small amount of oil until vegetable is tender.  Add 3/4 cup water, ketchup, sugar, salt, pineapple juice (drained from the can of chunk pineapple).  Simmer.  Thicken sauce with the cornstarch, diluted in 1/4 cup water.  Stir until thickened.  Serve over warm, cooked rice.

My hubby took one bite of this and said, “mmmmm…tastes just like Sybil’s.”  His mom is an amazing cook.  The boys liked it too and it’s a pretty easy yummy dinner.  We also ate a salad and some sort of side vegetable…probably peas.

There you have it – a typical day in our house.  We normally eat meat about once a week, so I guess this was the day!