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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Apple Cider Pressing 2014

One of our families favorite activities in the fall is pressing apple cider!  We have several apple trees, all different varieties.  This year our two heaviest bearing trees were our Gala and Honey Crisp trees.  Honey Crisp is one of my favorite apples!  So sweet!   Cider seems to taste best if it comes from a mixed variety of apples so in this small batch we used from the Gala, Honey Crisp, and a few Jonathan's.  It was perfect!   

We only took time to press 7 1/2 gallons on this particular day but we plan to have at least one more cider pressing day this fall.  I usually just fill plastic jugs and freeze them to use later, though once in a while I'll water bath can some of it in quarts.

Here are a few pictures from our little family day!

Here are our amazing apple washers!  They washed a few bushel of apples.
They did end up pretty wet themselves.

Once the apples are washed we cut them into 1/4th or 8th's depending on how large the apple is.
Some of us have more fun than others at this! 

Did you know if you cut an apple from side to side rather than from top to bottom you get a pretty star "flower" like this?  You'd know that if you were in Mrs. Murray's 1st grade class!

The cut apples are then dropped into a grinder to make a mash of apples.

Dave built this press himself.   The mash is put into a bag and then pressed in the top bucket.  Cider runs out of the holes and into the pan that directs it into another bucket.

We may have had another gallon of cider to save but these boys loved drinking it right as it was pressed!   They sure are cute helpers.

Wes started out in shorts and a t-shirt but finally agreed it was cold enough to dress warmer.  He did leave the shorts on though and no socks or shoes.   But the cider is worth it!

This has become such a fun fall tradition.  It is even more fun when we invite neighbors and friends for a day of cider pressing and visiting!  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Bread Bowls

There's nothing that fancies up a soup like serving it in a bread bowl!  Thickened soups work best in my opinion, but any hearty soup will work great.   I just used my favorite French Bread recipe for the dough and divided it into 6 bowls.  I thought they were just about the right size.  Tonight we filled them with Cream of Potato soup topped with cheese.

Mix up a batch of the dough - you can find the recipe HERE.   Be sure the dough is nice and firm - not sticky at all.  Divide into 6 pieces.  Shape into a nice, round roll and place on a greased cookie sheet several inches apart. (I did 3 bowls per cookie sheet)  Let rise until doubled and bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until nicely browned.   Let cool enough to handle.   Slice off top and pull out enough of the bread inside to make room for the soup.  

These will freeze fine for a few weeks if you need to make them ahead.

Bread Bowls are also a fun way to serve savory dips.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

French Puff Muffins

We love muffins!  Once in a while, for special occasions, we make these delightful French Puffs.  They are moist, tender, and just melt in your mouth.  Mmmmm!  This morning we are watching the LDS General Conference on T.V.  My kids tell me these muffins are tradition for conference mornings!  (Often, "tradition" means that we did something once and they liked it so we should do it again. )  The main recipe is in my old Betty Crocker Cookbook I got when I was married.  The cover is gone and pages wrinkled, stained, and torn, but the tried and true recipes in it are still legible. 

Give these wonderful treats a try!  They are so easy and elegant!

French Puffs

1 egg
3/4 C. milk
1/2 C. oil
2 C. flour
1/3 C. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

Heat oven to 400°.  Grease a tin for 12 muffins.  Beat egg,  milk, and oil.   Stir in remaining ingredients all at once just until flour is moistened (batter will be lumpy)  Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full.  Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Immediately remove from pan.

Melt 1 cube butter in a bowl.   Place 1/2 C. sugar in a separate bowl (you can add a sprinkle of cinnamon if you like cinnamon sugar).    Roll each WARM muffin in melted butter and then coat with sugar.  Place on plate until ready to serve.  Serve warm.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Fall Garden Harvest

Look at these adorable garden helpers!

The weather is cooling and was forecasting rain for the weekend so last week we harvested quite a few of our onions.  We are blessed to live in an area where temperatures and humidity allow us to store produce for several months in our garage once it's harvested.   These onions will be set out to let the outer skin and tops dry up and then we'll put them in mesh bags and hang them in the garage to store.  Most years I've been able to keep them in usable condition until March or April.  Once in a while I have to put a heater in the garage at night if the temperatures are getting below zero, but most of the time they're okay.

Wes and Ben helped pull the onions and put them in the garden cart.  They did a good job and were amazed at the huge onions!

Soon it will be time to dig potatoes and carrots.  We'll keep the carrots in coolers and potatoes in burlap bags in the garage for the winter as well.  

Love the ability to grow and enjoy our own harvest!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I've been wanting to try a Chicken Tortilla Soup for a while but there are so many recipes out there I couldn't choose which one to try.  My daughter is visiting this week from Tennessee.  She woke up this morning with all congested and though soup sounded good for dinner. She likes Chicken Tortilla Soup so we just made our own version (to add to the myriads out there) with the ingredients she likes best.

My younger girls had a cross-country race today and we'd arrive back home just in time for dinner.  This soup cooked up nicely in a crock pot so when we got home all we had to do was bake the tortilla strips.  They could have been baked ahead, but I ran out of time before we left. 

My daughter thinks she'd like to try this lightly thickened, but I liked it just like this.  If you like it spicier you could add some cayenne or other hot pepper.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

6 C. chicken broth (canned or made up from water and bouillon)
2-3 C. cooked, diced chicken
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 large onion, diced
1/4 C. green or red pepper, diced, optional
2 cans diced green chili's
1/2 - 1 C. frozen corn
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. oregano

Place all of the above ingredients in your crock pot and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours.  

Serve with shredded mozzarella or shredded pepper jack cheese and baked tortilla strips.

Baked Tortilla Strips

Place a couple of flour tortilla's on a baking sheet.  Spray with cooking spray or brush with butter.   Use a pizza cutter to cut tortilla's in half, and then into strips.   Bake for 8-10 minutes at 375 or until crisp.