Thursday, November 15, 2018

How to Make Fresh Applesauce

Applesauce is a perfect complement to a pork dinner. I always have a pork tenderloin on hand in my fridge for a quick weeknight dinner.  A pork tenderloin roasts in about 20 minutes and if you buy one of the marinated options there is absolutely no prep time required.  That can be a real lifesaver when you are running behind and need to get dinner on the table. One of the things I do to make these pork tenderloin dinners my own is to serve them with my homemade applesauce.

A Homemade Applesauce Recipe

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Homemade Applesauce
Homemade Applesauce
Homemade applesauce tastes so much better than any jarred sauce that I have purchased and takes so little time to make that I never buy applesauce anymore.  September and October are the best times of year to make your own fresh applesauce as so many delicious apples come to market.  You can have the applesauce cooking on the stove in about five minutes and it will be ready when the pork tenderloin is ready to serve.

This is a five ingredient recipe.  How easy is that?  Just use my recipe as a starting point and adjust the salt, sugar, and cinnamon until the applesauce is perfect for your tastes.  I like to use an apple variety that cooks down easily like McIntosh or Cortland, but you can use any variety you like. Choose any variety that looks and smells the most enticing.  Mixing different kinds of apples is also yummy.  You'll also want to use a good quality cinnamon because cinnamon and apples are the costars in this recipe.
How to Make Homemade Applesauce

I like to peel the apples for my applesauce.  I don't use a fancy apple peeler.  I just use my favorite vegetable peeler from OXO.  I actually like peeling apples and can usually peel an apple with one long ribbon of the peel.  Don't be too fussy with the peeling.  Leaving a few stray pieces of the peel in the applesauce will add to the color of the final product.

Watch Me Make My Homemade Applesauce



The tools you'll use to make your applesauce are very low tech.  All you need is a sharp vegetable peeler, a sharp paring knife, and an old-fashioned potato masher.  You probably have these already in your kitchen.

Donna's Homemade Applesauce

Applesauce Ingredients
Applesauce Ingredients
Printer Friendly Recipe
Serves 4


  • 4-5 medium apples, Cortland or McIntosh, peeled and chunked
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • a pinch of fresh nutmeg
  • 2-4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2-4 tablespoons water

Directions
Taste your apples to assess how sweet they are.  Decide how much sugar you think you need.  I always start with less sugar because I like my applesauce to have a little tartness.  Mix the apples, salt, sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon together in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the water.  Two tablespoons are usually enough.

Cover the pot and let the mixture come to a boil.  Turn the heat down to simmer.  Cook the mixture for 10 to 15 minutes, until the apples start to collapse.  Remove the pot from the heat.  Using a potato masher, mash the apples until you get the consistency you want.

Mash the Applesauce with a Potato Masher
Mash the Apples
I like to leave some chunks in my applesauce.  Taste your applesauce and add more sugar or cinnamon as needed.

Chunky Homemade Applesauce
Chunky Homemade Applesauce

Serve your homemade applesauce warm or chilled. Make extra applesauce and mix it with your favorite plain yogurt or serve it on top of your morning oatmeal.  It's also delicious served warm with vanilla ice cream.  Yum!

Essential Kitchen Tools

OXO Vegetable Peeler
4-inch Paring Knife
A potato masher

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Enjoy!



Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Donna's Grilled Caprese Chicken with Honey Balsamic Reduction

Donna's Caprese Grilled Chicken is a quick, easy, and delicious recipe that you can whip together after work, but feel like you are indulging yourself.  It is a perfect weeknight dinner because it can be ready in less than thirty minutes.  All you need to do is have your ingredients ready to go.

Add a drizzle of honey balsamic reduction before serving to make this a very special dinner that seems fancy but is so very quick and easy.

Grilled Caprese Chicken with Honey Balsamic Reduction
Donna's Grilled Caprese Chicken with Honey Balsamic Reduction


Grilled Caprese Chicken with Honey Balsamic Reduction
This recipe pays homage to Caprese salad, with the addition of roasted red peppers.  The recipe came to be one summer when our tomatoes were starting to be ready for picking.  I wanted a dinner that was quick, fresh tasting and would showcase our delicious tomatoes.  My hubby loved it, my sons loved it, and ever since it has been on our regular menu rotation.
Grilled Caprese Chicken

I always keep boneless chicken breasts in my freezer, all ready and pounded thin so they are ready to go.  They are a staple at our house.  Fresh mozzarella is usually in the refrigerator because we use it to make our pizzas, and we are homemade pizza fans.

You'll also need roasted red peppers.  For today's recipes, I used peppers I had roasted on my grill a couple of days ago but jarred roasted peppers work just as well.  If you don't keep roasted red peppers on hand in your pantry I beg you to start.  They add wonderful flavor to many dishes.

Finally, you'll need fresh tomatoes and fresh basil.  You can either use slices of lovely, fresh garden tomatoes or chopped cherry tomatoes.  Both will be delicious.

Donna's Grilled Caprese Chicken
Donna's Grilled Caprese Chicken

Another time saver with this recipe is the marinade I use for the chicken.  I always keep a robustly-flavored, bottled Italian dressing on hand to used as a chicken marinade.  The dressing adds great flavor and couldn't be easier to use.

The end of summer is the perfect time to make this recipe. You can make it other times of the year, using canned diced tomatoes and pesto, but fresh from the garden tomatoes and basil really make the difference.  Let's see how to make it, shall we?

Donna's Caprese Grilled Chicken 

Grilled Caprese Chicken Ingredients
Grilled Caprese Chicken Ingredients
Printer Friendly Recipe
Serves Four

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded thin
  • 1 jar roasted red peppers, cut in strips
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • Fresh basil leaves, sliced in ribbons
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • your favorite bottled Italian dressing, for the marinade

Directions
The key to success with this recipe is to have all the ingredients prepared and ready to go beside your grill. The entire dish will cook up quickly so you don't want to be running back and forth to get your ingredients.

Place the raw chicken in a glass baking dish and sprinkle with Italian dressing to cover.  You can marinate the chicken for as little as 15 minutes or up to overnight.

Prepare the remaining ingredients and place on a platter or cutting board.  Preheat your grill.  When ready to cook, place the chicken pieces on the grill and cook for 3 minutes.  The chicken will release easily from the grill when ready to turn.  You'll have lovely grill marks.

Turn the chicken.  Begin building the flavors right away.  Place the slices of tomato on each piece of chicken.  Salt and pepper the tomatoes.  Sprinkle with the sliced basil, leaving a little for the top.  Place the roasted pepper on top of the tomato and basil.  Then add the mozzarella cheese.

Cover the grill and cook for three to five more minutes.  Check to be sure the cheese is melting, and add the remaining basil.  Cook another 2-3 minutes.

A fresh tasting Caprese Grilled Chicken
Celebrate the Fresh Flavors of Summer with Grilled Caprese Chicken

Honey Balsamic Reduction

Make your grilled Caprese chicken special with a honey balsamic reduction.

Bring 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar and 3 tablespoons of honey to a boil.  Cook until the mixture thickens. Set aside to cool. Drizzle over your chicken before serving.

That's all there is to it!  Enjoy this easy, yet super delicious dinner that highlights the fresh tastes of summer.

Thank you for sharing this yummy post on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Yummly.


Enjoy!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Hand-Knit Christmas Stockings for Christmas in July


All the talk of Christmas in July this month has started me thinking about Christmas and traditions. Family traditions play a big part in creating a family's identity.  They enrich and give color to a family and my family is no different.

Does your family have cherished traditions? You might have traditions for celebrating birthdays.  Do you have specific clothes that have become part of your family's traditions? Weddings, christenings, and Christmas often include specific items that are worn by family members.  We've never done it, but many families dress in the same pajamas for Christmas morning.

One of my family's Christmas traditions is hand-knitted Christmas stockings.

Hand-Knit Christmas Stockings, A Family Tradition



My mom started the hand-knitted Christmas Stocking tradition for my siblings and me.  She made each of us our own, huge, wonderful Christmas stocking that was always filled to the brim with surprises by Santa.

Over the years, the tradition has expanded and been passed down.  Spouses were welcomed to the family with their own custom-knit Christmas stocking.  As grandchildren were born, Mom made each child his or her own custom-knit stocking for their first Christmas.

A Girl and Her Christmas Stocking
A Vintage Family Christmas Stocking
Snowman Christmas Stocking

These stockings have become a well-loved family tradition and now the honor of knitting them has passed to me.  I have been busy the past couple of years, making custom stockings for new family members and even passing the tradition on to other families.  I like to make a special stocking as a baby shower gift for moms-to-be.

These hand-knitted stockings are large.  The ones I make are 25 to 30 inches long and about eight inches wide.  Made of acrylic yarn, they stretch nicely which makes it easy to fill them with goodies of all shapes and sizes.  I think that's why the kids in the family love them so much.  They never know what surprises Santa will be able to fit into their stockings.

The adults in the family love these hand-knit stockings, too.  We still fill stockings for the adults in the family.  Generally, spouses and significant others take over for the moms and dads when the time is right.  These stockings are so durable that all the adults in the family still use the same stockings they had as children.  That makes this tradition a special reminder of the good times the family has shared through the years.

Santa Christmas Stocking


I've started an Etsy store in order to share this tradition with other families.  Most of the stockings I am selling are knit following vintage 1950s patterns.  I love the vintage feel of the designs for Christmas stockings.  

Because these stockings are hand knit by me, there is a very limited supply.  I have a few stockings in inventory, ready to be personalized with a name.  Those can be shipped within a week of the order.  

I also accept custom orders.  Most recently I completed an order for six stockings that replicated ones that had been knit many years ago by my customer's grandmother who has since passed.  My customer was so delighted to receive the six stockings I lovingly made for her family. 

I'm still accepting custom orders for 2018.  Custom orders will be accepted through September 30th for delivery in the fall. 

Three Santa Christmas Stockings
Three Personalized Santa Stockings


Santa has been the most requested style of Christmas stocking to date.  Other styles are available to order as well.  Choose from colorful stripes, Santa, Mrs. Claus, Reindeer, and a Snowman.  

If the idea of custom Christmas stockings for your family appeals to you, please check out my Etsy store.  You'll find some stockings in inventory just waiting to be personalized.  I'd be happy to knit a custom order as well. To me, these are not just Christmas stockings.  They are about tradition, family, and memories.

I'd love for you to share my stockings with family and friends on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Grilled Potatoes with Lemon and Onions

Do you have a recipe box?  I have been collecting recipes from a variety of sources for many, many years.  Those recipes are stashed in multiple places.  One of those places is a small metal file box that is overflowing with index cards, scraps of paper, and clippings from various magazines and newspapers. Today's grilled potatoes recipe is one of the recipe gems from the collection in my recipe box, just in time for the summer grilling season.

The Best Grilled Potatoes
Awesome Grilled Potatoes


You'll love this favorite grilled potato recipe.  It is genius in its simplicity.  A little butter, onion, lemon, and chicken bouillon combine to make a delicious side for your next grilled dinner.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Best Asian Vegetables

Occasionally, we like to have take-out sushi for dinner. When we do, I will make either fried rice or these Asian Vegetables as a side dish.  I particularly like these Asian Vegetables as the side dish because I leave the veggies in big enough chunks to make them easy to eat with chopsticks.

After all, chopsticks are part of the fun of eating sushi for dinner!


The Best Asian Vegetables

My vegetable preferences for this side dish are broccoli, zucchini, red bell pepper, and onions.  It is a simple, but delicious, mixture that is easy to whip up while the sushi is being fetched. The Asian flavor in this vegetable dish comes from a simple and easy to prepare sauce.