Archive | February, 2014

Like Butta!!- Apple Butter

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Here’s the situation: my partner, Kevin, and I  would buy a three to five pound bag of apples for our weekly healthy snack and sometimes we forget that we bought the apples in the first place!  The apples would sit and after two weeks would turn brown and mushy or dehydrate into miniture shrunken head versions of their previous glory and would look just sad and forlorn.  Then I suddenly remembered about apple butter!!  This would be a great way to use whatever apples that are in good shape that were forgotten.  “What is apple butter?”  I remember asking the first time I had it, it is just mashed apples, spiced and cooked down to a thicker consistency.  “Is there butter in it?”, no, butter is not used to make it, but the word butter is used to describe the spreadability of the end product- “Like Butta!!!”

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and quartered (roughly 14 medium)
  • 3 cups apple cider
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

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Preparation:

  1. In a large 8-10 quart sauce pot, combine apples and cider, bring to boil then reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Remove apples and purée in a blender in batches with some of the liquid. In the last batch, add sugar and spices. (Alternatively, press apples through a food mill or sieve and return pulp back into pot and then and sugar and spices.).
  3. Return all puréed mixture to pot and bring back to boiling then reduce heat to lowest setting possible. Cook uncovered, over very low heat for 1 hour and 45 minutes, stirring often.  If the apple butter is thicker than desired add a little bit of apple cider or water and stir.  Ladle hot apple butter into hot, sterilized canning jars if desired.  Spread over your favorite bread or pastry.

Notes:

  • If you are using apples other than Granny Smiths, add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to balance the sweetness.
  • I cooked the apple butter down to a jelly/ thin paste so that there is even more flavor and it makes the butter more spreadable. If you want a more classic apple butter, pass it through a sieve for a somewhat chunkier consistency and change the cooking time to 1 1/2 hours.
  • Don’t be alarmed!! As the apples cook down and is mixed with the cinnamon, the sugars will caramelize and the mixture will turn a reddish brown color.
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Tex-Mex Salisbury Steak (from America’s Test Kitchen)

Honestly, I have never made Salisbury steak before and I didn’t know what to expect, I was delightfully surprised!  This is not your grade-school teddy bear shaped Salisbury steak nor your frozen dinner Salisbury steak covered in a salty flavorless sauce of yore, this version has a bounty of wonderful flavors with an added kick of spice to your taste buds.  Another added bonus was the speed, this recipe was finished in just under an hour, about 48 minutes to be exact, preparation and all; if you’re in a hurry, this would be the one for you to make.  I served this with some cilantro rice, which is basically 1 1/2 cup cilantro thrown in the food processor with one cup of the water or broth to be used with the rice and then add the rest of the water or broth to your rice as needed.  This would also be wonderful with some mashed potatoes, roasted mashed roots, or mashed cauliflower.

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Ingredients

  •   4 (6-inch) corn tortillas, torn into rough pieces
  •   2 tablespoons vegetable oil (like canola)
  •   1 large onion, sliced thin (I sliced it in half vertically and then made thin half moon slices)
  •   3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and sliced thin lengthwise
  •   1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  •   salt and pepper
  •   1 1/2 pounds 85% lean ground beef
  •   1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  •   1/4 cup whole milk
  •   2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  •   1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth

Preparation

  1. Pulse tortillas in a food processor until coarsely ground, then transfer to a large bowl.  Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat; add onion, jalapeños, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 pepper.  Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.   Transfer half of mixture to a small bowl and set aside.  Transfer the other half to the food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.
  2. Add beef, 1/2 teaspoon salt, cilantro, milk, and chopped onion-jalapeno mixture to bowl with processed tortillas and gently mix until combined.  Divide beef mixture into 4 equal portions and gently shape mixture into four 1/2 inch thick oval patties (pat the steaks down if necessary).  Heat remaining oil in empty skillet over medium high heat until just smoking.  Cook patties until well browned, 3-5 minutes per side.  Transfer to plate.
  3. Add reserved onion mixture and flour to skillet and cook until four is golden and fragrant about 1 minute.  Slowly stir in broth, draping up any browned bits, and bring to simmer.  Return patties to skillet, cover and simmer over medium low heat for 4 minutes.  Remove lid and cook until patties are cooked through and the sauce is slightly thickened, 4-10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.