I’ve decided to experiment with making caramels. I saw a recipe, oh about a year ago and never got around to trying it. So I finally went for it. I thought it would be more difficult to make caramels, it just sounded hard. You have to watch the candy thermometer and stir but not stir and add this at a certain point but not too soon. It wasn’t that bad. The hardest thing I think was actually wrapping all the caramels!! It took me two hours to cut and wrap each caramel. By the time I got to the end, I had about two strips left and said ‘forget it.’ I rolled it up and stuck it in a mason jar to have later as caramel sauce, salted caramel sauce.
So from start to finish it took probably 4 hours, and that includes the cutting and wrapping. Whew!
But boy are they delicious! Next caramel concoction: Salted Chocolate Caramels!
As of yesterday I have begun to make my own Vanilla extract! I followed this recipe (for one bottle for right now) and I plan on ordering more bottles and vanilla beans to make gifts for friends. And so begins the Vanilla Diaries….
I purchased a bottle of vodka, a bottle of vanilla beans and a bottle from Michael’s. Below is a photo of the supplies I used, the bottle is bigger than the original recipe so I used 1 cup of vodka. Hopefully it still turns out!
As you can see at the end of my month, which happened to be on December 25, my vanilla had evolved. I have kept it longer and now it is January 14 and the color has deepened to a darker amber color. When you open this jar the smell is heavenly. I can still smell the vodka, so I’ve left it to sit a while longer to see if that scent can go away. I have yet to try it, I’m not sure what to put it in that calls for vanilla that I would be able to tell vanilla was actually added. Overall this vanilla diaries project was interesting. I was able to see from week to week how the clear vodka slowly became amber and then deepened to what you see below. I think I’ll try this out again but in a different manner.
So it’s lazy Sunday afternoon and I’m browsing Pinterest. Of course looking through all of the DIY projects and recipes you start to get a little hungry. Well I stumbled upon a recipe for Apple chips and thought, ‘why not?’ It was a simple recipe, 1 apple, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Now I had all the ingredients and went to work.
First, I cut and sliced my apple very thin, as thin as I could without a mandolin (note to self: find a cheap mandolin on Cyber Monday). So after I sliced up the apple, just one apple, I poured some cinnamon sugar mix on to a plate. I then took my apple slices and rolled them in the sugar mix and placed them on a baking sheet with foil. Once all the apples are covered and on the baking sheet, place them in the oven for one hour at 225 degrees. After an hour is up flip over the slices. This can get a little sticky so using your fingers instead of tongs works best. After you have flipped all the slices over place back in the oven for another hour and 15 minutes. When the time was up, I actually had left the house and let the apples sit in the oven while I was gone. When I came back the apples were done and were so crispy, crunchy and good I couldn’t believe it! They were better than store bought apple chips and a lot cheaper too!
Here are photos of all the steps:
Thanksgiving has now passed and I am thankful for being able to have my family over for dinner. I decided a few years ago that Thanksgiving was going to be ‘my holiday,’ meaning that this was the one holiday I was going to take over from my mother since she hosts every other holiday and my way of saying ‘Thank you’ to her was to host one big holiday dinner a year.
I usually try at least one new recipe every year, sometimes more than one. This year I found 3 new recipes on Pinterest, and a new bread recipe from my breadmaker recipe booklet. I think the recipe that came out the best was the Cranberry Apple Sweet Potatoes from Midwest Living. They were amazing! I saw this on Pinterest and though ‘a two-in-one recipe,’ that’s my kind of recipe! Everyone loved this recipe, including my mother who MUST have cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. The other recipes I tried were a Crispy Apple Coleslaw and To Die for Crockpot Mushrooms, which I substituted Italian dressing seasoning for the Ranch, since we keep kosher. I have been making this Sundried tomato bread for Thanksgiving but this year I wanted to try out the Beer Bread recipe and it was awesome! You could actually taste the beer!
Anyway here is the recipe for the Cranberry Apple Sweet Potatoes along with some pictures.
1 40 oz can of sweet potatoes/yams, cut and drained (or you can use fresh sweet potatoes)
1 21 oz can of apple pie filling
3/4 cup whole cranberry sauce
2 tbsp of apricot preserves and orange marmalade
1/4 chopped pecans (I omitted these, still a fabulous recipe without)
In an 8x8x2 baking dish, greased, spoon the pie filling in so that it covers the dish. Then add the sweet potatoes on top of the pie filling. Mix the cranberry sauce, apricot preserves and orange marmalade together then spoon on top of the sweet potatoes. Add pecans.
Bake at 350 degrees, covered for 25-35 minutes.
Crunch Apple Coleslaw