Cherry Vanilla Apple Butter

Monday, October 29, 2012

A few weeks ago when Kacey and I went to the apple farm we bought a peck of apples to make, well, something. I've never made apple butter before so I thought, why not? Let's try that. However, this isn't your typical apple butter. I didn't add as much sugar as most recipes called for because I didn't want it too sweet. The cherry cider and hint of vanilla add a new layer without all the extra sugar. (By the way, I didn't realize until I made this that there wasn't any butter in apple butter. Who knew?) This is made in a crock pot, which made everything so much easier. 

1 peck apples - I used Cortland
1 cup cherry cider
1 tablespoon of vanilla
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon all spice
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Peel, core, and quarter the apples. This is probably the hardest part of the whole ordeal. Dump the apples into the crock pot with the apple cider and the vanilla and set on low for 6 hours. Give it a few stirs now and then. If you can't fit all the apples into the pot, wait until it cooks down a bit and add the rest. See? Super easy so far. 

After 6 hours, add the white and brown sugar as well as the spices and stir well. Supposedly it will cook down to a smooth mixture, but I gave it some help with a handheld mixer. Let it sit for another 5-6 hours. What did I tell you? Still easy. 

I'm not going to go into all the details about canning, that's enough for a whole other post. Instead, here's a good set of instructions for hot water bath canning.  If the apple butter is canned and properly processed in boiling water, it'll last for months. If you don't want to go through the whole canning process, put them into clean jars and either freeze them or put them in the refrigerator and use them within two weeks. It's amazing on pretty much everything and tastes like a velvety smooth spiced apple sauce. Definitely a new favorite!

Wedding Wednesday - Style Me Pretty

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I meant to post this last week, but life caught up with me. Our wedding was featured on Style Me Pretty! This was a huge "pinch me!" moment. I read Style Me Pretty almost every day when I was engaged, and even found our photographer through their site.

I was so excited when the post went up! But for now, I promise this will be the last wedding post for a while. At least until my sister in law and/or one of my good friends gets married next year,  them I'm sure I'll have more to say on the topic!

Fool and King, Ghoul and Goose

Monday, October 22, 2012

Once again real life seems to have gotten the better of me. Instead of stressing that I'm not posting as regularly as I'd like, I'm just going to say that posts will be a bit sporadic the next few weeks until everything calms down a bit. 

In the mean time, let's talk about costumes since Halloween is right around the corner. Confession time: I've always wanted to either throw or attend a masquerade ball. It just looks so fun! Those 18/19th century folk sure knew how to throw a party. You've got your crazy costumes, loads of food, fun dancing, and according to the sketch above, bears. All the ingredients to a killer night. (Ha, get it?) And just look at some of these costumes:

These 18th and 19th century women knew how to dress. There was none of this "sexy - insert-whatever-here" costumes. - Or perhaps there were? I mean, take a look at those hemlines. Costumes at masquerades seem to have had significantly shorter hemlines than your typical day or evening dresses. Still, look at the creativity behind some of these costumes; one woman is rocking wings that are fully attached to her arms. Another is wearing a ruff, witches hat, plus two animals. As for the bee costume, I actually think that's one of the best I've ever seen.

So here's to creative halloween costumes this year! Now I just have to think of one for myself....

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Monday, October 15, 2012

I love the combination of pumpkin and chocolate. A little weird perhaps, but these chocolate chip pumpkin muffins contain pretty much the perfect mix of the two. I used this recipe from Joy of Baking and they turned out fantastic. It's the perfect taste of fall, and a great morning treat as I'm running out the door to work. They even freeze well, although this time there weren't any left to freeze!

Fall Looks - Warm Sweaters and Preppy Plaid

Monday, October 8, 2012

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I love the look of cozy cable knit sweaters with plaid peeking out. There's just something about this tailored yet comfy look that makes me want to spend all autumn in it.

Ballerina Dreams

Friday, October 5, 2012

I started taking ballet classes pretty much before I could walk. I was pretty good at it too, but as a 12 year old I couldn't have cared less about dance and quit - right before I went en pointe. Stopping dance is probably one of the only things I really regret. I've been talking about taking a dance class for years, but I always had excuses: I didn't have time, the studio was too far away, I had been away from dance too long.

But a few weeks ago I finally bit the bullet and started taking an adult beginners ballet class! It was terrifying to walk into that door, but it's amazing! It's actually more of an advanced beginners class because most of the students are like me, we took classes way back in the day but have been out for a while. So while we don't remember the words for everything, once the teacher demonstrates how to do a movement it comes back pretty easily. It's incredible - I can have a super stressful work week, but just the thought of going to my next class is enough to make me happy. I know I'll probably never go en pointe, but for now I can't get enough of these classes and how happy dancing makes me feel!

Pioneer Cornbread

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Can you believe I've never had cornbread? It was just something we didn't grow up with. A little strange, considering my love of all things Laura Ingalls Wilder when I was young. Kacey pretty much had a heart attack when I told him I've never eaten chili with cornbread, and since we received the Little House Cookbook for a wedding gift, I thought it was time to try my hand at making it and see what the fuss was about. 

Well, the recipe in the Little House cookbook is a little um, rustic. As in cornmeal, salt, and water. And lard. Yeah. So I combined it with the cornbread recipe from the Pioneer Woman and made a bit of it up for my own pioneer style cornbread. Kacey kept raving about it, so I think it went over well. 

Pioneer Style Cornbread recipe:

1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups buttermilk 
1 egg
1/4 cup mixed shortening and bacon grease 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit 

Mix dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Add buttermilk and egg, stir until batter is just mixed. 

Here's where the crazy Little House style ingredients come in. You'll need 1/4 cup of either butter, margarine, or some type of shortening. I decided to use bacon grease since it's the closest thing I had to lard (I'm all for being authentic, but straight up lard is just a bit too much). I took about 1/8 cup of hardened bacon grease that was left over from breakfast (and yes, we planned ahead and made bacon just so I could use the leftovers) and about 1/8 cup of vegetable shortening. I figured this way I'd have the flavoring of the bacon, but not all of the cholesterol. (Not that this is a super healthy recipe in the first place). Whatever you use, melt the 1/4 cup of shortening in a small bowl in the microwave- it needs about 30 seconds. Pour melted shortening into the batter and stir until mixed. 

Heat a cast iron skillet or oven safe pan on the stovetop over medium high heat. Melt a tablespoon of either butter or bacon grease in the pan. Add the mixture to the pan and cook on the stove for about 2 minutes. 

Place the pan in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes. The edges should be a light brown and pulling away from the pan. Take out of the oven and cool. Enjoy with chili or whatever else you eat cornbread with. I apparently still have a lot to learn about this food. 

Current Craves - Dorothy Perkins

Monday, October 1, 2012

Dorothy Perkins Love

This fall I'm craving the ladylike styles of the UK based brand Dorothy Perkins. The peter pan collars and bow are right up my alley and the perfect compliment to jeans, boots, and warm chunky sweaters for the fall. Their pricing isn't too bad either - especially considering the conversion rate!
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