Pinterest Trial: German Apple Bread

Okay, so everyone that is anyone that is on Pinterest knows it’s full of awesome, we also all know that the full of awesome is not always…shall we say, so awesome. If everything pinned were as easy as the internet makes it look like it there wouldn’t be this lovely site Pinterestfail. I’ve also tried a number of internet recipes that ended up being a “What 7th hell did that nastyness come from,” and other times you find a gem that ends up in the family nightly dinner rotation. As the saying goes “you have to crack a few eggs to get an omelet?” I think that’s what the saying was anyway.

I was on the hunt for an apple bread for two reasons, I wanted to make another sweet bread to give away as gifts. I’ve been making mini loaves as gifts this Christmas, the second was to find more recipes to use up my insane amount of canned apples. I only have apple pie and apple crisp. Pie we hardly eat and every time I’ve offered to make apple crisp the family has nixed me. To the internets!…or more specifically Pinterest. That brought me to this recipe.

German Apple Bread – Made with Michigan Apples

I give it a thumbs up, and will be making it again. I did not go exactly by the recipe as I was using my home canned apples. The canned apples were made specially for pie making. The canning recipe is from the Ball Blue Book of Canning and Freezing, and can also be found on their website, Apples in syrup. 

I gave my canned apples a rough chop and for a quart size jar ended up with roughly 3/4 cup of extra apples. I tossed the extra apples in the batter as well. I don’t think this affected the taste, it did make the bread fall apart a bit more once sliced.

The only thing I might try differently is adding cinnamon to the batter recipe instead of just the topping. The bites with the topping were the best bites where the cinnamon, apple and touch of sour cream mingled together to create a really unique taste. I would like the cinnamon incorporated throughout. The second thing Husband said about the bread was “This would be more awesome with cinnamon in it,” so I think that cinnamon addition would be a good direction. The first thing he said is that he was yummy and to keep the recipe around.

The bread is great on it’s own without any changes. I recommend making up a loaf. I’ll be eating it for breakfast tomorrow morning.

I did, in fact, use Michigan apples, even picked them myself. I used the Cortland variety. I think a Snowsweet would be fabulous in this recipe.

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Enjoy!

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A Squirrel found a gourd-cicle in the yard! I could watch these little guys for hours, I often times wonder if the neighbors ever get annoyed that we feed the wildlife. The gourds we set out after the children used them as play things for most of October and November. They were meant to be decoration, but it didn’t turn out that way.

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Twice baked potatoes

I don’t blend the potatoes, they are chunky, with big chunks of potatoes and stuff. They are great with any strong beef flavor. I also love the large chunks of stuff because each bite is a bit different in both texture and taste, but the most delicious part if when you fork into a delicious gooey melted cheese pocket.

Version 1

  • 4 large baking potatoes
  • Green onions – one bunch sliced, the whole onion
  • 1 two cup bag of “yellow” cheese – colby jack, cheddar, etc.
  • 1/2 – 1 cup bacon pieces. My preference for store bought is the Costco humongo bag, or to cook the bacon myself.
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • salt & pepper

Version 2

  • 4 large baking potatoes
  • Green onions – one bunch sliced, the whole onion
  • 1 two cup bag of “yellow” cheese – coby jack, cheddar, etc.
  • 1 cup frozen broccoli florets (thawed), or steamed broccoli (cooled)
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • salt & pepper

To Make:

Bake potatoes in microwave. Let cool until they can be handled easily. Slice potatoes in half and scoop out inside of potatoes leaving about 1/4 of an inch of potato around the skin. The key is to make sure it will hold all the stuff you are going to fill it without breaking.

When scooping the potato out leave the potatoes in good sized chunks, and toss then in a large bowl.

Dump all the other ingratiates into the bowl with the potato chunks. It will be chunky. Give it a mix until everything is incorporated and feel free to add as much or as little to the mixture. The sour cream is the “glue” that holds everything together. It will be a dry looking potato mix but should stick together if being scooped with a spoon. Try not to over mix the sour cream, the goal is to have a few “pockets” of sour cream in between the potato chunks. (However, this is not a deal breaker, and tastes just as good if is all mixed in).

Sample. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Fill the potato skin shells. You really need to pack the mixture down into the skins, and they potato mixture will be heaping over the skins. Think of it as if you are looking at a cooked bread loaf that is bursting out of it’s pan. That’s about the same ratio of potato mix to potato skin you’ll have.

Then, once stuffed you can grill them, bake them in the oven, or microwave them until they are heated thoroughly.

*Note: I’m typically using really large baking potatoes, so when adding the other ingredients just judge it based on how much potato you have for the potato mixture.

I’ve thrown just about everything in a twice baked potato. I find the key ingratiates are the cheese and the sour cream because they act as the glue that holds everything together. I’ve tossed in red and green peppers, spinach, ricotta, you name it,  I’ve mixed it in a potato and twice bake it. These two are the two I go to when ever I’m making them for someone else.

Ah, the Christmas Season

The Christmas or Holiday season, which brings it extra stuff to do. Currently I am too tired to actually write a post. I am exhausted and in a sufficient lack of time. I am that lady in the Kmart ads that Christmas snuck up on. Incidentally why do their commercials only feature women, is this some random thing ladies have to worry about and not men? Ah, advertising.

So here’s a run down of everything I would like to blog about but don’t have the time nor energy.

1) Made a turkey, fattest turkey I’ve ever made. Turkey was made in to various other meals – nothing too spatular. The idea of turning this turkey into freezer meals fell by the wayside for time and we just picked at it until it was gone. The last little bit needed to be used up. I asked Husband if he wanted “Turkey Slop” or a soup. He voted for Turkey rice soup and then when we sat down to eat it for dinner instead wanted to eat “Turkey Slop” over potatoes. I would have preferred “Turkey Slop” and now I have one bowl of turkey rice soup in my fridge. I do NOT like anything rice soup and now I’m going to have to eat it…AGAIN.

If you are wondering what “Turkey Slop” this is basically the recipe:

Turkey Slop:
Left over Turkey meat
Frozen Veggies
Turkey Gravy
salt and pepper to taste
Mashed potatoes, noodles, or toast
Cook turkey and frozen veggies in gravy until warm and bubbly, serve over mashed potatoes, noodles or toast.

2) ‘Tis the season for baking, and candy making. I tried to cut back on the candy making this year because a) I don’t need it eat it b) my kids don’t need to eat it and c) I know we’ll get a slew of candy for Christmas. I asked Husband what kind of fudge I should make he said and this is a direct quote “Don’t make a crap ton like before.” I ask him what he would like me to make He then says “Peanut butter, regular chocolate, chocolate with peanuts, and a peanut butter with peanuts.”

uhhh… I think someone got lost on the “don’t make a crap ton like before” part. hahahaha! I did not make all that fudge. Not saying I haven’t in the past. This year I did peanut butter for the Husband, because it’s his absolute favorite, regular chocolate – no nuts, and one experimental which was dark chocolate peppermint with some crushed candy canes on top. It’s delicious. I have the ingredients to try my hand at peppermint bark, but we’ll see if I actually get around to making it or not. I whipped up a batch of mini-loaf pumpkin break and banana bread. I used to make truffles too but decided that was a no-go for this year as it’s rather time-consuming and I’m already strapped for time.

3) I’ve take on work-work, and it seems I’ll be taking on quite a bit more after the first of year. Yay! since a good chunk of it is paying work. However, I still don’t have my own site put together. Something I have been delaying simply because there is what feels like an insurmountable amount of work that goes along with it. Not just putting the site together but finding all the sample pieces, getting the photographs for ones I don’t already have photos of, editing said photos…and well, you get the picture. My goal is to have it up and running before the first of the year. Since I am so super behind on Christmas-y type stuff the bulk of the work will have to put off until after Christmas. It’s going to be tough to hit that goal.

4) We made “gingerbread” houses. I used graham crackers. A stand mixer and Cream of Tartar is the key to getting Royal Icing to stick like glue. Here’s the recipe I used: 2 lbs powdered sugar, 3 egg whites, 1 tsp vanilla and 1/4 water (or until just moistened). Paddle attachment on mixer. Mix for a full 10 minutes on highest speed. That icing was even better than glue. I was able to make lattice with just the icing, nothing supporting it from behind. My child called it spider webs and the promptly stuck their finger though it. If you want to try the Royal icing bit for holding stuff together that is a campion recipe. I’ve tried using packaged royal icing and making it in the past with no success so the key is really the Cream of Tartar.

5) Grandma is still in the nursing home. She’s on a salt free diet. My mom brought her a salt shaker, mom told grandma to hide it. Grandma got caught with it and the confiscated her salt. My mom seems a bit perturbed about the no-salt diet and I can see my mom’s point. Grandma is 90, a pinch of salt…or hell a gallon of salt at this point is not going to kill her, and if it does at lest she’ll end making that terrible cafeteria-esq nursing home food at least have some semblance of taste. They confiscated my mom’s salt shaker, so my mom seemed pretty annoyed by that. Personally I thought that if she knew it wasn’t allowed already why not hit up the dollar store for some of those little ones you see at events. Easily hidden and it doesn’t matter how many are confiscated, it’s a dollar for a two pack! Grandma requested my mom make some fudge. I told mom not to bother since I had already made too much. I need to make a fudge delivery quickly, but there is a small (or rather large) problem. I can’t seem to get the fudge out of the pan. It’s super creamy but not setting up like it should. I’ve been getting a row out a day with out it falling to pieces. I made the fudge four days ago.

Thanksgiving remnants, or how to make the best turkey stock ever.

Thanksgiving has been over, everyone has stuffed themselves silly and passed out watching the Lions (If you didn’t, well too bad for you, the Lions actually won this year). With the ending of Thanksgiving comes the second best part of Thanksgiving, the left-overs. This year I cooked ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! I don’t know how I got out of doing anything but hey, I’ll take it. This year all I had to do was show up and eat. I think this resulted because nothing was planned. No one said anything about getting together for Thanksgiving even though I asked several times what everyone’s plans were. It turned out the in laws were traveling and my mom seemed to be avoiding the topic all together. The weekend before Thanksgiving I declared that I wasn’t going anywhere and we’d have a mini Thanksgiving with just the four of us, but then at dinner with my mom she announces that she picked up everything at the store earlier that day.

Ha! I guess it’s a good thing no actual plans were made.

Since my mom was cooking and not my dad (because he’s been dead for three years) the turkey was of normal size and not a gargantuan bird. We almost always had a 20+ pound turkey growing up, even if it was just us plus one. Even if my mom went out and picked up a normal sized bird my dad would go back out and find a turkey that put Godzilla to shame. There were always left overs. I would get so excited that I could take real turkey sandwiches to school for lunch, but the Turkey NEVER made it to Monday. I was always so disappointed. Random side fact I hate Turkey lunch meat and vary rarely eat it. The only time I eat it when I’m suck at some luncheon where all they have are turkey sandwiches, and then I’m just choking it down because I have to eat something other than frozen wholesale cookies.

The lack of gargantuan turkey resulted in zero turkey left overs. That totally sucks, but Husbands employer is making sure we are stocked well with turkey. I swear it’s one of the last companies that still gives a turkey out for Thanksgiving and I am quite thankful for that yearly turkey! Even without getting any fabulous leftovers I did score the turkey caracas. Yes I take the caracas. I see no reason to waste a perfectly perfect caracas to make some turkey stock.

Typically I’ll save the stock to make gravy or use in other recipes and of coarse left over turkey soup. At this point I only had enough turkey to make a batch of turkey noodle soup (and I had a bunch of carrots and celery that needed to be used up as well).

Making Turkey Stock from a Turkey Caracas:

  • Turkey Caracas – the meatier the better
  • Large onion cut into large chunks
  • 2-3 stalks of celery cut into 4/5 inch chunks
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of pepper
  • water
  • cheese cloth
  • large bowl or second stock pot

Place all ingredients in a large stock pot, you may need to break the turkey caracas. It is not unknown for me to take a hammer to some of my larger caracas. Always an interesting time when Husband asks me why I’m walking into the kitchen yielding a hammer. Cover the caracas with water.

Turkey Stock

Here is the stock in the pot waiting to come to temp.

The key with making a good turkey stock is cooking it long and low. Now is the time to watch the stock, turn the heat to a medium heat. Keep a watch on it as you do not want it to boil!

Turkey stock - heating

Once the stock starts to get the little bubbles like the above picture cut the heat to a simmer, then simmer for a few hours until the meat on the caracas easily falls off.  Turkey sock if boiled will get cloudy. Keeping it just under a boil and simmering for a few hours will keep the broth nice and clear.

Once the meat falls off easily take the pot off the stove and let cool. It’s important to let it cool off since you need to handle bits of bones. Once cool enough pull out all the large bits of vegetables, a slotted spoon is great. Then start working on the bones. Pick off as much of the meat as you can if not all of it. Throwing out the bones, skin and bits of whatever other nastiness is in there. Put the meat in a separate bowl.

Once all the vegetables, bones, everything else you can get out, ready your strainer. Take the cheese cloth and tie it around the top of the stock pot or large bowl. The second container needs to be able to hold all of the stock. Make sure that the cheese cloth has some give in the middle, it should NOT be pulled tight across the top of the second container.

Start to slowly pour or ladle the stock from the cooking pot into the new one. This may sound like a very annoying extra step but it leaves you with the best homemade stock ever. This will get out any of the fine bone particles that may have fallen apart when cooking. It also helps pull out a good amount of the fat/grease from the stock as well. As you’re pouring the stock though the cheese cloth you will need to stop from time to time to let it drain, and if you have particularly fatty bird you’ll have to pull off the cheese cloth and rinse out the fat and other whatevers you strain out.

Sadly I do not have a photo of this step because I lost my cheese cloth (again!). I had to improvise using paper towels, which did not work out as well as I thought it would have. The paper towel ended up soaking up the liquid a little too well and started a stream from the paper towel onto my stove top. I should have used my trusty dusty kitchen towel – which I’ve done in the past when I don’t have cheese cloth available. If you do have to improvise this will ruin your kitchen towel as the greasy fatness never comes out well and ends up staining the towel. So, don’t use one that you might be overly attached to. I am not at a loss for stained up kitchen towels.

I turned my stock into Turkey soup by adding back in the meat cleaned off the bones, about six carrots, 4 celery, 1/2 large onion (all chopped). Simmered with a palm full of Marjoram, Rosemary, a 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper and a pinch of salt. I added in a half a back of No Yolks noodles – Extra Broad slightly under cooked and let them finish cooking in the soup. Serve with some crusty bread for extra deliciousness.

Tomorrow I’m cooking up our turkey, which started to thaw with the warmer weather in it’s impromptu freezer (AKA a car outside).

Stand Mixer: Yes!

I am the proud new owner of… A Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer. Yay! 

With the amount of cooking I do one would think that I would already own one of the beauties, but I did not. At least not until last week. My Aunt called my mom’s house looking for me. My family must be on to me that I don’t ever pick up my phone, but they all know we go to my mom’s house for dinner every Sunday. She wanted to know if we wanted to take their old couch, and we did. One of the legs was broken on the couch but ended up being an easy fix. However, the leg is still not fixed. When we put it down without the legs it became a super short couch. Wee One was so excited when we set it down she ran over with this look as if we just set down a couch just for her. We just haven’t had the heart to put the legs back on the couch, because some a certain someone will be really disappointed. 

After we said we would take the couch my aunt also asked if I wanted a coffee pot and the Kitchen Aid mixer. Honestly I was dumbfounded that anyone would want to give away their stand mixer, but if she was going to get rid of it I was all about taking it. 

We also took the coffee pot and Husband saw the coffee pot he was excited as well, because it was just like the old coffee pot that broke and we were unable to find a replica. Our coffee pot was put in storage and the new-old pot is now in use. (The breaking of the last coffee pot made us realize that having a back up is extra important!)