I wasn’t really planning on this blog post today. If I had planned it there would’ve been more pictures! Since this little experiment turned out so great, I had to share.


I had some apples on the counter that were past their prime and quite wrinkled. No one wanted to eat them. I just hated to throw them away. So, I decided I would try to make apple chips!

I’ve tried to make apple chips before. They just never turned out quite like I hoped. I think I just didn’t get them sliced thin enough. Here’s what I did today…

Take five small withered apples  (OK, they don’t have to be small, and they don’t have to be withered.  Any size or freshness will probably work.)

Wash your apples and leave the skins on.

Core your apples. I used an applecorer that I had. Use whatever method you prefer.

Cut the cored apples into quarters. Carefully slice each quarter into about 12 very thin slices.

As I sliced my apples I placed the slices in a bowl filled with leftover Sprite. The citrus in the Sprite helps keep the apples from turning brown immediately. This step is probably not necessary since the apples will brown in the oven.

Spray a cooling rack with nonstick cooking spray. Place the apple slices on the cooling rack in a single layer.


I placed my cooling rack on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. My apple slices filled two cookie sheets with a few leftover for snacking.

Place the apple slices in an oven preheated to 225° for 2 1/2 hours. I rotated my pans halfway through.

The apple slices won’t be completely crispy when you first pull them out of the oven. They will, however, crisp up as they cool. I really hope there are some of these left by the time my family gets home this afternoon!

The Pioneer Woman had this recipe for caramel apples posted on her blog not too long ago. It is listed in the Tasty Kitchen tab on her website.

I thought the girls would enjoy giving it a whirl.

The apples turned out pretty nice, and we had loads of fun making them.

The girls were really impressed with their work after I showed them a catalog that sold similar apples.

These are from Pittman & Davis. Six of their apples cost close to $40! Now, they DO have chocolate. Maybe they look a little more professional than our and that includes the shipping, but $40?!

Here is the recipe for the Tasty Kitchen version:

Ingredients

  • 12 whole Apples
  • ¼ cups Butter
  • 1 cup White Syrup
  • 14 ounces, fluid Eagle Brand Condensed Milk
  • 2 cups White Granulated Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Preparation Instructions

Assemble all ingredients: wash and dry apples, insert sticks, and butter a cookie sheet and dinner plate before starting to cook.

Heat all ingredients except vanilla in a heavy 2-quart saucepan over medium/low heat. Stir constantly! (Unless you really like the look of scorched bits on your apples.)

When caramel reaches soft ball stage (235°F–240°F) remove from heat and add vanilla. Let cool a few minutes.

Using the stick inserted in the apples, dunk apples in the hot caramel and twirl slowly away from the heat for a couple of minutes. It’s nice to have a helper or two at this point.

Place caramel-covered apples on a buttered cookie sheet. Optional: drizzle with melted chocolate or roll in chopped nuts.

Extra caramel from the bottom of the pan:
1. Can be scraped out with a spatula into a buttered plate or dish to be cut into individual pieces when cool.
2. Can be thinned in the pan with half-and-half and eaten warm, as a dip for apple wedges.

As you can see we only made 6 apples. I know my girls. I didn’t really think they would eat 12 caramel apples. Plus I wanted to try out using the leftovers as caramels.

The “leftover” caramels were very yummy.

However…

they sat on the counter with with no one showing any interest in them.

After a few days they kinda started to slide over in the pan and lose their shape. I figured I would pop them in the microwave to remelt them and shape ’em up!  Well, let me give you a word of advise here.

STIR!

For some reason I didn’t stir them while they were heating. Duh!

I really do know better.

So, my caramels got a little burned in the microwave. I just scooped out the burned part best I could then stirred it-a lot.

Maybe reheating in the pan was not such a good idea after all.  I buttered the pan before I poured in the “first batch” of caramel. Well, the reheating in the pan didn’t allow me to rebutter. I figured there was enough butter in the pan already. It was a bit of a challenge to get the “new” caramels out of the pan.

If you look closely you can see little burned bits.

I actually ended up cutting the candy squares you see here into fourths. They just seemed too big. The fourths were really a little smaller than I wanted, but oh well!

After my caramel-removing-workout, I grabbed some leftover trick or treat candy.

Oh, yeah, that’s the good stuff.

I melted them in the microwave. I stirred this time! Then I dropped the caramel into the melted chocolate.

I am not a professional chocolatier by any stretch of the imagination. I did know to not stick them in the fridge. That makes the chocolate turn white. However, I did have mine next to the kitchen window and it got really cold the other night. Mine turned white anyway! Rats! I didn’t add any shortening or anything. That might have helped. I just didn’t want the chocolate to be too thin.

I thought the candies were yummy anyway. They tasted a bit like Storck Chocolate Riesen.

Critics’ Corner

Well, I failed to get comments on either of these culinary treats before everyone left house this morning. Guess I’ll have to update later-sorry.

Wow! That Pioneer Woman has some really good recipes!

I snagged this one not too long ago. It was a HUGE hit!

I was so excited when this recipe showed up in my email. (That’s how it works when you are a blog subscriber-hint, hint.)

There was an apple, that really needed to be used, in the fruit basket, and I knew I had the rest of the stuff.

Funny thing about that knowing. Turns out I did NOT have grated cheese of any sort. So, I pulled out the old cheese grater and went to town.

Pretty sad, huh? But hey, it worked just fine. A gal’s gotta do what a gal’s gotta do!

We’ll start with the grits first. Click the picture for a closer look. You can’t print from the pictured print button. You must go to the Pioneer Woman’s actual page to do the special printing-the link is above. Sorry, I’m not that fancy yet.

Chop up your bacon and onion.

Cook it in a pot. So far-pretty easy!

Add grits, chicken broth, and water. Now, PW used some fancy stone ground grits. I had just regular old grits, so that’s what I used. I think they may have even been the quick cooking kind. I remember having to adjust the cooking time a bit. Cook until the liquid is absorbed but not dried out!

Pour in the cream. Remove from heat and add the cheese.

Oh, yummy yummy!

On to the Chops.

I had little skinny breakfast chops. They cook faster.

Brown the chops in a pan with some olive oil and butter and salt and pepper. I used my cast iron skillet. It seems to make everything taste better.

Do you see the juice on the plate? Save that! Always save the juice!

Cook the apples in the same pan with all the pork chop goody. Add the wine and vinegar. If you don’t keep wine on hand, like me, cooking wine works just fine. (Please ignore that statement if you are a culinary professional. I’m sure your skin is crawling off by now. Alton Brown says to never use cooking wine. Oh, well.)

Be sure to scrape up all that pork choppy goodness while you are cooking your apples.

Next, add the maple syrup, yes, I said maple syrup.

The real deal maple syrup is pretty expensive. I, once again, used  what I had, which was pancake syrup. Unscrunch your face! I know it sounds weird, but trust me. It will be yummy!

Stack the pork chops on top of the apples in the pan. Cover and let it simmer for 20 minutes or so.

Put a big scoop of grits on your plate, then pork chop, then apples.

Serve it up and wait for the applause! Oh, so good!

Critic’s Corner

Chip: I loved everything about this meal.

  • The grits were incredible — cooked with bacon and cheese — I’ve told Peggy that from now on when I refer to “grits” it is this recipe to which I am referring. This is what grits were meant to be.
  • The pork chops were awesome. In the first place it’s meat. In the second place it’s pork. Need I say anymore?
  • Several things were fried. The bacon and onions in the grits were fried, the pork chops were fried, the apples were fried, everything is better fried.
  • The absence of a vegetable certainly added to the enjoyment of this meal. Peggy lamented over not having served a veggie with this dish, but I pointed out that it merely saved me the trouble of having to take an obligatory and polite bite of something green — a bite that could have been better used on these awesome grits and pork chops.

Megan: The grits were just ok. I loved the flavor, but I kept getting squishy bacon. The pork chops were probably some of the best pork chops I’ve ever tasted.

Katie: The grits were awesome! I loved them! The pork chops were very delicious. Just  awesome! No better way to explain it!

Right now I am supposed to be either loading the dishwasher, cheering on the Razorbacks, or baking cookies to take to a friend’s house later. But I’m not. I’m sharing this yummy recipe with you! (Go, Hogs!)

This recipe was in the October 2010 issue of Southern Living. (Yes, that is the actual page out of the magazine. You can see where I folded down the corner of the page and where I ripped it out of the magazine.) Check out the recipe here or click on the picture below. This was my first attempt at this recipe. It was ooooo, la, la!

Fresh Apple Cake

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

1/2 cup butter, melted

2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 4 large), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick wedges

•Preheat over to 350˚.

•Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 5-7 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.

•Stir together butter and next 3 ingredients in a large bowl until blended.

•Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; add to butter mixture, stirring until blended.

Next come the apples. Apples have been rather expensive lately-$1.69 a pound! I don’t remember exactly how much apples were when I bought them, but I am telling you I DID NOT pay $1.69 a pound!

They are happy looking though, aren’t they. I love my little basket with the ceramic handles. I think my friend Tammy Shumake gave that to me. (insert a warm, fuzzy smile here)

Back in my days as a Pampered Chef consultant, the Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer was one of the stars of the catalog. Can you tell I’ve had mine a while? I’m missing one of the little feet off of the stand.

It really is a cool tool. It was always a crowd- pleaser at parties. It does just what the name says. It peels, cores, and slices all at the same time! However, this tool is not required for this recipe. Duh, like you really thought it was!

After you have done all your peeling and such, cut the apples into smaller pieces.

•Stir in the apples and 1 cup of the pecans. (Batter will be very thick, similar to a cookie dough.)

•Spread batter into a lightly greased 9 x 13 pan.

•Bake at 350˚ for 45 minutes or do that toothpick thing.

•Cool completely on a wire rack. If you don’t cool completely, your frosting will be all melty and you don’t want that!

Now, here comes the really cool part. There were three different frosting recipes to choose from for this recipe—

Browned-Butter, Dark Chocolate, or Cream Cheese! click the picture-the recipe link in the second paragraph will take you to all three frosting recipes, too!

I chose the Browned-Butter Frosting. Doesn’t it just sound yummy?!

I had never “browned” butter for anything—at least not intentionally.

Browned-Butter Frosting

1 cup butter

1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

•Cook butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, 6 to 8 minutes or until butter begins to turn golden brown. Remove pan from heat immediately, and pour butter into a small bowl. Cover and chill 1 hour or until butter is cool and begins to solidify.

With my lack of butter-browning experience, I was not very confident about my butter. Was my golden brown the golden brown it was supposed to be?

Here is what my butter looked like after a stint in the fridge. What am I supposed to do with all that junk in the bottom of the bowl?!

I think maybe I needed to let my melted butter solidify a little longer, then scoop it out and leave the crumbs behind. Nobody said that in the recipe!

• Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add powdered sugar alternately with milk, beginning and ending with powdered sugar. Beat mixture at low speed until well blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

I’m really thinkin’ that I needed a little more milk in my frosting. It was VERY YUMMY, but it was kinda hard to spread. A few more pecans wouldn’t have hurt my feelings either.

By the time I finished writing this post, the dishes got loaded, the Hogs won, and the cookies got baked and taken to the friend’s house. I’m sure you feel better knowing that. haha

Critics’ Corner

Chip: It was good.

(This short response is a personal protest! I accused him of “taking over my blog” because he wrote a long comment for the Apple Slaw.  Therefore, he got all sassy and wrote this short comment. I even asked him at press time if he wanted to add anything.  A curt “NO!” was all I got.)

Megan: This dessert has captured the essence of fall. It was a superb masterpiece.

Katie: It felt like it was fall. All I needed was a cup of apple cider! I savored every bite.

I saw this recipe in the September 2011 Southern Living. Aren’t y’all proud of me? I was pretty quick on this one!

I’m not really sure WHY I made it. I don’t even like slaw that much. There was just something about the ingredients and the pretty picture that made me want to try it.

It just sounded so good. Click the picture to see the recipe, or you can click here.

I originally planned to make the Cranberry-Almond Coleslaw. I changed my mind and went with the original Apple Coleslaw.

Chop up your celery, onion and apple.

Put the slaw in a bowl. I love my square bowls. They are from Pampered Chef-go figure.

Mix the chopped stuff with the slaw.

Love my square bowl, but it was too small for the mixin’. So, I used my big salad bowl. Mixing by hand was easiest for me. Taking a picture of myself mixing by hand was a challenge, however.

Now, you will see in the recipe that you are supposed to mix up the dressing and pour it on the slaw. Well, the picture wasn’t too pretty. You’ll have to use your imagination.

What goes better with slaw than BBQ pork sammies?! All I did was throw a pork roast in the crock pot to cook. I put a little sauce in with it but not too much. I let everyone add their own sauce. The rolls were those frozen rolls that you let rise. Unfortunately, I baked them at the wrong temperature, so some of them were a little on the burned dark side.

Cute plates are usually helpful when new food items are presented. Remember, you eat with your eyes first!

I have to say, I was not wild about this recipe. Like I said, I don’t really like slaw that much. I do tend to prefer a mayonnaise based slaw to a vinegar or mustard based slaw. For a vinegar based slaw it was pretty good. I probably would have been happy with no dressing at all. Try it out for yourself. Let me know what you think. Be sure to see what the critics had to say.

Critics’ Corner:

Chip: I’m not normally a fan of mixing sweet things with savory things — sorry fans of “Cincinnati Chili,” but putting cinnamon in chili is just gross — but slaw is one of those things that can be a tad sweet. I never would have thought to add apples to coleslaw, but they really provided a neat flavor and texture that worked well here. I liked it.

Katie: Yack!

Megan: I’m with her 100%

Fluffy Peanut Butter Dip

This is a really easy recipe. It’s kinda’ healthy, too.

Click on the picture below to see the recipe.

See, yogurt and apples are healthy!

There’s just something special about a new jar of peanut butter. Sniff-aaah!

Oops, I guess I didn’t take a picture of the yogurt or cool whip being added. I’m sure you can use your imagination.

Ok, might have been a better picture it the bowl had been a color other than “Granny Smith Green”.  I was working toward happy kids, not perfect pictures.

Critics’ Corner

I’ve made this recipe so many times I forgot to get “comments”.

Why have I made it so much?

BECAUSE THE KIDS LOVE IT!

Really, it is so yummy! I have to keep someone, who will remain nameless, Megan, from eating it with a spoon.