Baked Applesauce Donuts with Maple Glaze

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We slept with the window open, woke to cool crisp weather, and I swear I could smell fall! That smell quickly faded into a humid 80-degree late summer day, but that didn’t keep me from wanting to bake a fall-like treat.

Each fall I make loads of applesauce that I freeze. Since apple season is around the corner, we have to use up our few remaining quarts. In comes the donuts! About a year ago, my Nana gave me a donut pan that has been sitting in a drawer, losing hope of ever being used. Fear not little pan!! Now that I know the goodness that pan can create, it will be well-loved for years to come!

These donuts are so easy. You need a few staple ingredients from your cabinet, plus a bowl and whisk. In a few minutes, voila! Amazing applesauce donuts with virtually no sugar. Top them with a simple maple glaze and you’ve got a great sweet fall treat!

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Applesauce Donuts with Maple Glaze

1 cup milk

1 egg

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

2 tbsp sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

Maple Glaze

2 tbsp butter

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1 cup confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a donut pan. In a bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, vanilla, and applesauce. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until smooth. Fill the pan 3/4 full with the batter and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let the donuts sit in the pan for 5 minutes before removing them to cool on a parchment lined cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining batter. There should be enough for 12 donuts.

While the donuts are cooling. Melt the butter in a saucepan with the maple syrup. Once the butter is melted, remove from heat and whisk in the confectioners sugar. Continue to mix until smooth. Dip one side of the donut into the pan and put back onto the cooling-rack to set.IMG_3285

Maple Barbecue Sauce

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Woo wee has it been a while or what?!?! I can’t believe the blog still gets plenty of visitors considering I haven’t posted in NINE months. I was thinking about how much I miss using the blog as an excuse to try new recipes and share life’s journeys with my followers. So, I logged back in and I’m happy to be here.

Let me quickly recap the last nine months in a few short words… finished year #2 teaching, started my Master’s program, got engaged, got married, went on a honeymoon (Iceland), went to take classes (Montana)…….

Yep – all of the above did happen!

On another note, I have realized the success to a great barbecue is a great barbecue sauce. What I have also realized is that plenty of the barbecue sauces on store shelves have way too many ingredients, including preservatives and color additives (yuck). And with our unlimited supply of maple syrup, why not toss that into the bunch! The following makes two cups of a tangy, tasty, spicy, and sweet sauce. It can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks in a tightly sealed container (or make and freeze a big batch of pulled pork!).

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Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 1/4 cups organic ketchup
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup, Grade B
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup cold water (add up to 1 tbsp cornstarch if needed)

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients except water. Bring to a boil slowly. Add the water. Let simmer for 5 minutes or until thick. If you started with a really thick ketchup, the cornstarch is probably not needed. If needed, mix a bit with some cold water and add to the sauce. Let simmer for another few minutes. Remember that as it cools, it will thicken up.

A Homemade Christmas

IMG_0001Wine cork ornaments made by my Mom, Nana, and my Mom’s cousin, Jane!

This year, as my family and I went to our pre-planned Christmas events, I started noticing a trend. There seemed to be a whole lot of hand made gifts being given; gifts with thought and heart. While this has little to do with food, I thought it would be neat to share with my readers and hopefully spark a few ideas of creativity.

Ty and I had planned on doing a little gift making ourselves, mainly because they mean more… and supplemented by the fact that we are lacking funds. And as he says “my time is free”. Take a look below to see a sampling of what we gave and received this year.

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Ty’s beautiful gift to me. My new dog-tooth-chew-mark-less coffee table. There is even a bullet in the wood!

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My Yankee Sawp gift. A Bromeliad Terrarium. 

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Homemade Dill Pickles, Bread & Butter Pickles, Dill Relish, and Beet and Cabbage Relish. I’ll perfect our tags some day…

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Detailed view of a gorgeous cutting board Ty made. Man’s got talent!

IMG_0485Some redneck wine glass made by my Mom and Nana. Everyone got a kick out of these!

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We received various framed photos. This happened to be one from the photo booth at my brother’s wedding.

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Ty’s sister gave me a set of hand-made cards. They are stunning. I’m stealing this idea for later!

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My Aunt Beth made this stunning necklace! She puts my jewelry making skills to shame!

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Did you know vanilla extract can be made with vanilla beans and high quality vodka? Well, Ty’s sister did! She gave us this cute jar with homemade vanilla extract.

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A beautiful seashell angel from my aunt to hang on my Christmas tree next year… or hang on my wall, though I’m afraid it will be lost against the wood. 

hot hot heat

Yesterday, as I left work, my car thermometer read 95 degrees. Today, it read 96 degrees. I hate heat. I hate HUMID heat. I played hooky from work on Tuesday knowing that the heat was approaching (and because I needed a personal day!). For 3.5 hours, I weeded the garden.  Well, I weeded the garden beds- our little tiller broke to keep the weeds down between rows. I picked up a hand tiller, scary looking thing, but have yet to use it due to the heat. Maybe tomorrow?

I snapped a picture of the growing greens. We have 28 tomato plants- with their hoop house ready to go in the event that blight decides to make another visit. There are a whole bunch of onions, shell beans, snap peas, various other beans (green, french, purple, wax), cabbage, broccoli, squashes, garlic, kale and a couple rows of corn. A couple of our other plants are struggling due to the heat.

Speaking of heat. My place 82 degrees inside. I am struggling with what to make for dinner. Salads are great on a hot day, but I covered that ground yesterday (and Monday). What can you make that is easy on a hot day?? Either uncooked or only using the grill?? Suggestions are appreciated!

Check out this gorgeous garden! No sign of squash beetles yet!! Only some flea beetles.

and life goes on…

So I have been away from the blogging thing for a while, my apologies to the few who may read this…

I have no excuse, except that life got in the way. I am reorganizing my priorities and since I love writing, cooking, gardening, and sharing things that I know or have learned (or want to learn), I realized I needed to start up again. I need an outlet at the end of the day; a way to release my mind from whatever life throws at it.

What have I been up to lately? Well, figuring out life goals for one- going back to school (YIKES!), planting a gigantic garden, working, and trying to enjoy summer. So yes, school. What am I thinking? Well, I am thinking of becoming a teacher, a high-school science teacher to be exact. There is a great alternative accelerated program that I somehow managed to get in to. I hope to enjoy the summer and reap the rewards from hard work in the garden. Plus- I plan to can everything possible in hopes I won’t put myself in even MORE debt during school! Now if only a hunting fairy-man shows up with some deer to stock the freezer for the winter.

Although summer has really just begun, I have managed to enjoy a few things…

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This is about half of the garden, which is approximately 1100 square feet! I snapped this right after planting some shell beans, snap peas, kale, carrots, and radishes… among others…

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The first real summer sunset of the season.

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Boomer found a place to relax on his first camping trip (and first canoe trip!) during Memorial Day-weekend.

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Summer also calls for one of my favorites- grilled pizza (and wine).

Fragrant Butternut Squash soup

Today at work, I played with poop.  Yep, that is right.  Poop.  Well, not ‘poop’, but waste water treatment ‘sludge’.  I also didn’t really play with it, but I unfortunately had to handle it.  The smell of fermenting human excretion doesn’t leave your nose for quite a while… what better thing to get rid of that smell than a thanksgiving smelling soup!?! (I have a HARD time loosing my appetite…)

Soup was on my mind all day.  On this cool, dark, and snowy day.  My fridge and ‘pantry’ are looking quite bare, but I did have a nice looking butternut squash.  Since I always keep onions, carrots, and celery… I had the perfect base for a pureed soup.  I also have my place to myself tonight… so something warm and cozy is needed to help me relax.  This recipe made enough to feed an anorexic family of four.  For me, it was a solid dinner with a lunch portion left over.  Feel free to double!

Ingredients:
1 medium butternut squash
1/2 medium onion
2 carrots
1 large stalk of celery
1 medium potato
3 cups vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic
Sage, thyme, and rosemary (other spices as needed)
1 tbsp butter

-Peel all veggies that need to peeled (and the potato).  Chop up.  Since this soup is pureed, no need to dice pretty!

-Melt the butter in a stockpot over medium heat.  Add the garlic and saute for a few minutes.  Then add all of the veggies and few pinches of herbs (heavy on the sage)… saute until browned.  Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for about 40 minutes.

-When the veggies are soft, pull the soup out in ladle’s and puree in a food processor (if you have an immersion blender… lucky you!)  Return to the stove and let simmer a little longer.  Spice as needed.

 

Healthy homestyle?! How about stuffed peppers!

It’s been a while… I know. I am trying.

So, healthy homestyle?! That is an oxymoron right? Wrong! This week, I actually figured out a meal plan on Monday. It was great. Monday night I had pasta with seafood marinara sauce. Tuesday, Hunter’s pie (with Venison!). Wednesday, healthy stuffed peppers!! I try to create homestyle meals with a healthy twist. Stuffed peppers is an easy meal to make horribly unhealthy or totally healthy! Here is a healthy and easy version.

Ingredients:
4 large bell peppers
1.5 cups uncooked rice (I used brown and wild)
1 medium onion, diced
1-2 jalapenos, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 large summer squash (optional)
1 can diced tomatoes (or 4 fresh roma’s)
Olive oil
1 lb ground chicken or turkey
Spices (cilantro, crushed red pepper, cumin, chili powder, etc.)
1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheese (pepper jack, cheddar, etc.)

-Cook the rice… if you have chicken broth available, use that!

-Cut the tops off the peppers and remove the core and seeds. Par boil the peppers for ~5 minutes or until soft. Dice the tops of the peppers and reserve for the stuffing.

-In a skillet, saute the garlic and jalapeno’s in about 1 tbsp of olive oil for 3 minutes. Add a few dashes of spices, to your desire. Then add in the squash, onion, and pepper. Saute for 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the ground meat and saute until no longer pink.

-Add both the can of diced tomatoes and the rice. Stir until the liquid is reduced.
-In the meantime, preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
-Cut the peppers in half and lay in a 9×13 pan (or another large casserole). Top the peppers with the rice mixture. Bake for about 20 minutes, then top with shredded cheese. Bake for another 5-10 minutes. Let cool. Serve with hot sauce and a dollop of sour cream.

Avocado and Shrimp Chopped Salad

The past few years, I haven’t really watched the Super Bowl.  While I am not that big of a fan of football, I will still watch it if ‘my’ team (meaning the Patriots) is playing.  I hope they win, but do I punch a hole in the wall or cry if they lose? No.  If it’s the Bruins and the Stanley Cup…. well, that’s a different story.

This year, I used the Super Bowl as an excuse to eat about a thousand calories of fried goodness.  Honestly though, I bet it was more like two thousand calories.  The next day, I was in need of vegetables and healthy foods to unclog my arteries. This salad was the perfect fit!  Homemade croutons, sauteed shrimp, and chopped avocado fit well with a homemade lemon vinaigrette.  The dressing is good enough to make and use on any salad or as a marianade. Give it a try!

For the salad:
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1-2 roma tomatoes
1/2 bell pepper
1/4 of a medium onion
1/2 avocado
croutons
20 or so, medium sized shrimp, peeled
Olive oil
Parsley and dill

– Split the lettuce between two bowls (this will make two large salads, adjust according to need).  Chop the remaining ingredients and split between the salads.

– Toss the shrimp with some lemon juice a generous pinch of dill and parsley.  Heat a splash of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the shrimp and sautee for a few minutes (my shrimp were on the small side, so they took only about 2 minutes).

– Top the salad with the shrimp and croutons.

For the vinaigrette:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice (freshly squeezed please!)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon dill
Coarsely ground pepper, to taste

– Mix everything together and whisk or use a jar and shake vigorously!  Shake again before drizzling over the salad.  Enjoy!

because I can…

Because I can…. this is what it was doing all day (snowing!!) and this is what my precious puppy looks like.  Yes, yes, he has some ears to fill, but he is pretty damn cute.  How someone could return him to a rescue for not being ‘good enough’ is beyond me!

Last night, I had a slight accident while making some homemade croutons.  My pointer finger and thumb had an argument with a far superior and sharper bread knife.  I cut myself clean.  About 1/3 of the way through my thumb and about ¼ of the way through my nail and skin on my pointer finger.  After about an hour of bleeding, a few tears, and some stress of ‘is my health insurance up yet?!’, I hopped in my car with a red stained rag on my hand and drove to the woods about 10 minutes away.  I hiked about a ½ mile up hill, crossed a melting brook, while yelling for my boyfriend and the dog (he can hear better right?).  I didn’t find them… I was cold.  I was still bleeding and I didn’t know if I needed stitches.  I made it home, tossed some hydrogen peroxide on the cuts, wrapped them up, then wrangled open a bottle of wine with one hand (and a broken opener).  Impressive, I know.

My boyfriend cuts himself daily so I figured he would know what to do.  Apparently he noticed footprints in the snow following his and then saw some tire tracks in the usually barren fields.  He figured I would be the only one stupid enough to think to drive down the icy field to his pump house (he’s a maple syrup maker).  He came home, saw my hand and said, “yep, your thumb may need a few”.  I am on the verge of being broke, so I opted to sooth the throbbing with more wine, throw a butterfly on the thumb and hope it would stop bleeding.

 

hello!

So I have officially delved into the blogging world!  A few months ago I noticed myself always Googling recipes in blogs… “Butternut squash bisque recipe blog”, “spicy dill pickle canning recipe blog”, etc.  I love reading personal stories and experiences behind a recipe.  Then I started realizing that blogging is more than sharing a family recipe.  While some people share heart-wrenching stories of overcoming odds, some people write a journal of one’s life to share with distant family members.  I hope through my own journey, I can meet fellow bloggers who share my interests and help others through their own struggles.  Although I am still unsure of the direction this blog will take, there is one thing that I plan on sharing… my desire to lead a more simple life.

I am 24 (25 next month) and have hit my quarter-life crisis!  I got laid off two days ago and have now joined the ranks of unemployed in this country.  Although I am terrified of what will happen next, I have a great support system around me.  My parents who support any and all decisions I make (though when they know I am going to fail, they shut their mouths as I learn my lesson, then offer open arms when it happens).  My two older brothers, who teased me quite a bit… and well, still do.  But I still value and honor their opinion and advice.  My boyfriend, who helped me realize that life is about doing what you want, not what you are told is status quo.  And my two critters… Cappie, a 10 year old Maine Coon cat, who I saved from being brought to a shelter a few months ago by a neighbor.  Seriously, how would a 10 yr old, outdoor cat, get adopted while locked up in a cage?! (fyi- I hated cats.. until I met this one)… and finally Boomer, a crazy 4.5 month old mutt that my boyfriend and I adopted in early December.

I may not have a steady income currently and suddenly being without a job was a shock, but I am thinking of this as a blessing.  I did not like my job, in fact I struggled with some moderate anxiety while being there.  The management was degrading, the treatment of non-management was sub-par, and the rules were only in place for the little people… allowed to be broken by anyone else.

In the meantime, I have no clue what I will do…. but I have a silly dream of opening a winery in VT and maybe this is my calling, maybe that dream isn’t so silly (my supportive family certainly thinks it is a great idea).

So here is to dreaming big….

and to chasing those dreams.