Apple-Citrus Cranberry Sauce

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Oh hey, do you have a recipe for cranberry sauce for this weekend yet? I’ve been resting on the laurels of my chipotle cranberry mix but this year I wanted something a bit different and now this is my new favourite. This one is easier, too, which makes life better around the holidays.

Start with 2 12oz packages fresh cranberries, 2 large apples, and 2 large oranges. If you’d like a bit of extra zip, replace the oranges with grapefruit and go from there.

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Wash the cranberries and set them aside to drain.

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Peel the apples and cut them into small pieces (whatever size you would like to find dropped across your turkey).

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Zest and juice the oranges into a medium saucepan.

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Tip in 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar and give it a good stir.

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Tip in the apples and cranberries and heat over medium, stirring often.

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The liquid will simmer up and the cranberries will make very satisfying soft pops as they break open.

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Once you’re happy with your ratio of broken cranberries, remove the sauce from the heat and allow it to chill.

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This makes about 2 quarts, so plenty of sauce for dealing with leftovers!

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Happy Windfall Handpies

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There’s this tree in the green space where I walk with Gren and LongJohn in the mornings. It’s a beautiful old apple tree. I know it’s old because the apples on it are tiny and REALLY sour. But that doesn’t stop people from picking them – no sir. All the apples within a reasonable reach have been removed, so I scoured through the windfall after a recent storm and brought home about 15 or so more or less unscarred apples (because as you know I can’t resist stealing fruit from public places). I wanted to make turnovers, or handpies.

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Holy Hannah are strollers ever handy for carrying crap. And babies, I suppose.

This is the first bit of baking I’ve done while solo in the house with an active and demanding baby on my hands, so it was a challenge to test both my rusty cooking skills and my son’s patience threshold. All in all, it worked out for the most part. I also cheated and used puff pastry but can you really blame me?

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We didn’t cut the lawn for a long time and the long grass killed our mower. So now we REALLY need to cut the grass.

First, you need to peel the apples. I used about 15 of these tiny sour things but if you’re using regular apples maybe 3 large apples would suffice. Actually, before you peel the apples, you need to install the baby in his swing chair with Raffi for company. This will buy you about fifteen minutes.

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It takes a while to peel 15 tiny misshapen apples.

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Avoid the wormy ones.

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Chop the apples up roughly and sprinkle the pieces with lemon juice, both to keep them from going brown and to add some tartness to the mix (not that you really need tartness with sour apples). Wrap them up and set them aside.

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Next, whisk together 3 tablespoons cornstarch with 1/2 cup water.

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Tip your apple pieces into a pan with some liberal dashes of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and some sugar. Use about 2 teaspoons sugar for each regular apple – for the sour ones I went a bit more generous and added about 6 tablespoons for the whole lot.

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Re-install your baby in a new location with new focal points. You’ve got another fifteen minutes or so.

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Cook the apples on medium heat until they’re bubbly and the liquid is starting to cook down.

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Tip in the cornstarch mixture (you may need to re-whisk it because it’s not a solution and the cornstarch will likely be sticking firmly to the bottom of your dish).

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Stir quickly in and watch the juices thicken.

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Remove from the heat and spread in a thin layer on a plate to cool. Attempt to put your baby down for his nap.

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After failing to put your baby down for his nap (strange how a logical argument does not work on a three-month-old), grab some thawed puff pastry (this stuff comes in a box with two rolled out squares in it) and use a rolling pin to gently expand the sheet. You want the pastry a little thinner than it comes standard.

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Cut the square into 9 equal(ish) pieces.

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Place a dollop of the cooled apple goo on each square.

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Mmm, cooled goo …

Carefully peel the pastry off the paper and fold it over itself to form a triangle. Pinch the seams closed.

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Puff pastry objects to being handled so roughly so they look a little demented.

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Give your baby a different toy to punch. Encourage him to yell obscenities at the toy (I don’t speak baby so that’s what I’m assuming he’s doing) to buy yourself some more time.

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On the second sheet, I didn’t roll the pastry out as much, and it was easier to remove it from the paper. They looked less demented.

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Crack and beat an egg and brush each of the pastries with a bit of egg goo. Set them on a sheet of parchment on a baking sheet.

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Bake your pastries for about 20-25 minutes at 375°F and eat them as soon as they’re cool enough to hold in your hand. The demented ones stayed together better than the non-demented ones – just keep that in mind.

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Non-demented …
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Demented …

Enjoy!

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Our New Food Dehydrator

Papa John and Mrs. Nice got us a beautiful giant Excalibur food dehydrator for Christmas this year, and we were so excited to use it that we could barely wait before we were fully unpacked to crack it open and start it up. It was super easy to put together and came with not one but TWO instruction booklets, which are also really easy to use. And having one gave me an excuse to pick up a new mandoline slicer and apple corer so I can make apple chips whenever I want. Which is right now.

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The corer, which I picked up from Amazon, was deceptively easy to use, and cleans really easily.

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The mandoline is also easy, and super sharp. And also from Amazon.

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For the first go-round in the dehydrator we stuck with plain apples, sliced about 1/8″ thick.

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I kind of wanted to play ring toss with these things.

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Instead I spread them evenly over one of the many dehydrator trays.

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I’m actually now keeping a small spray bottle filled with lemon juice in the fridge for spraying on fruit to prevent oxidation. You can also get some kind of bisulfide something-or-other but I haven’t quite gotten around to getting that yet.

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Then you shove it in the dehydrator …

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… put the door on …

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… and set it for however many hours you need. For apples it’s about 7 hours at 135°F.

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The machine turns off on its own which is awesome. So I came down the next day to these piles of tart and delicious gorgeousness.

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All you need to do is pack them loosely in an airtight container for a couple days so that the remaining moisture evenly distributes itself throughout the batch. Then you can do whatever you want with them.

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So the next day I tried bananas.

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These also were sliced about 1/8″ thick.

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And they take about 6 hours. They’re still in there now or I would give you an update.

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Next experiment? PINEAPPLE!

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Roast Pork with Apple Cider Gravy

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This was the main attraction for Mrs. Nice’s birthday lunch and it was super good. I used a pork shoulder instead of a pork belly (because I couldn’t find one at the time) and made some drastic adjustments in cooking time, but the recipe is more or less the same as the one from Good Housekeeping.

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Start by preheating your oven to 450°F and grab a large shallow roasting pan. Plop a 3lb pork shoulder right in the middle, so there’s lots of space on all sides. Rub it all over with olive oil and salt and pop it in the oven for 30 minutes.

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After 30 minutes, turn the heat down to 350°F and let it keep cooking, sizzling away, for another half hour. Then grab 6 small eating apples (these are giant Cortlands, which are neither small nor eating apples, but that’s neither here nor there), and coat them with oil and salt and pop them in the pan as well.

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Cook for another 45-60 minutes, until the apples have burst and are tender and the pork is registering at about 145°-160°F, depending on how well done you like your pork.

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Plop the roast on a cutting board and wrap it up in foil and a towel to rest and keep warm.

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Scoop out your apples and set them aside for a minute. Drain the contents of the pan into a small saucepan and let that come to a simmer. Whisk in 2 tablespoons flour and, when it starts to thicken, add in 2 cups apple cider, whisking until smooth.

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Reduce the heat and leave that for a bit to thicken. Stir it occasionally.

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Slice up your apples and lay them over a big serving plate.

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Carve the pork roast and arrange the slices on top of the apples, and dribble with gravy.

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Serve the extra gravy on the side for your Deadly Mashed Potatoes!

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Road Trip Snacks: Apple Slices

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Today the Pie and I are actually on our way back from our first vacation in forever. We ended up driving to and from our various destinations because we like road trips, and one of the best parts of road trips, aside from oddities you stop at and the stellar conversation, is road snacks.

I made these before we left out of 2 apples that had been sitting in the fruit bowl for too long.

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This is a super simple operation. Preheat your oven to 225°F and line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper.

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Now slice up your apples. Give them a good scrubbing and run them through a mandolin cutter or food processor so you have super thin slices. You don’t have to worry about coring them, but you will want to remove any seeds you find because those are poisonous. And poisoning yourself is never a good idea.

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Plop them on your parchment and season if you like (options include cinnamon, Chinese five spice, lemon, and maybe a little bit of sugar if you have tart apples). These ones are unseasoned. I also only had room for two baking sheets so the apples overlap. This means they will stick together once dried, but I’m okay with that. Apples is apples, after all. If you want individual rings (instead of a fun sheet you can break apart) then make sure to keep ’em separated.

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Bake the apples for 1-2 hours, until they achieve your desired level of crispness (this will depend on how thick the slices are). Store in an airtight container and enjoy!

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Apple Galette – Fancy Cheating

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For the first time in I don’t know how long, it wasn’t up to me to cook Thanksgiving dinner this year. I’d been traveling for two weeks straight and I simply didn’t have the time. I did, however, volunteer to make a dessert for the meal, and I decided on something autumnal but at the same time not too heavy: an apple galette, which I adapted from this Jacques Pépin recipe. The best part about galettes? They look SUPER fancy and elegant and they’re hella easy. So it’s almost like cheating. And I made the pastry and cut the apples the day before so it got even easier.

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Dump 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar, and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons ice cold butter (cut into small pieces) into the bowl of a food processor.

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Pulse for about 5 seconds, until you have some rough crumbs. Drizzle in 1/3 cup ice water and pulse again for another 10 seconds, until the dough starts to come together.

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Scoop it out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and pat it into a small disc. Wrap up tight and refrigerate until chilled. I left it in overnight.

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Next, grab yourself 4 apples of your choice and give them a good scrubbing. You can peel them if you want but I like the colour that leaving the skin on brings to a dish. And yes, I know there are six apples in the picture, not four.

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Halve, then quarter the apples and remove the core. Slice them into crescents about 1/4″ thick.

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If you want to do the apples the day before, you totally can. I layered my slices in a plastic container and sprinkled each layer liberally with lime juice (this prevents browning and adds a nice level of tartness to the finished dessert). Then I covered them with plastic wrap and sealed the container. They were fresh as daisies the next day.

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When you’re ready to git ‘er done, preheat your oven to 400°F and lightly flour a clean work surface. Roll the pastry dough out until it’s about 14″ in diameter. You can free-form this galette by laying it on a baking sheet, but I have a very shallow tart pan that is ideal for making sure nothing gets away on me. Lay your dough into your dish (you will be folding over the edges, but if the edges are super extreme feel free to trim them).

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Slap on one layer of apple slices, arranged however you like – I did concentric circles. Drizzle that layer with about 1 tablespoon honey.

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Do another layer, or until you run out of apple slices. Then sprinkle the top with a mixture of 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Cut 1 tablespoon butter into tiny pieces and distribute those evenly over the top.

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Fold the edges of the dough over the top of the apples.

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Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until the crust is nicely browned and the apples are cooked through. Keep an eye on things and remove the pie if things are starting to burn. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Dutch Baby Pancakes with Apple Compote

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This is a super easy peasy breakfast item that makes you look all fancy pants. Though after you eat it your fancy pants won’t fit anymore. I found it in the paper a while back and saved it for a brunch with Krystopf, Atlas, and Gen. Zod.

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The pancake gets part of its fanciness from an apple compote that is spooned on top before serving. You can make the apple compote that goes with it ahead of time and just heat it up when you need it.

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Start with some raisins. Grab 2 tablespoons raisins and dump them in a cup of hot water to soak for 10 minutes.

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Then find yourself some apples. The recipe calls for 2 Golden Delicious apples and I went with that (though I doubled the recipe in these pictures for two pancakes), because the Golden Delicious is neither too sweet nor too tart and lends itself well to cooking.

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Core the apples, halve them, and then slice them (unpeeled) into 1/4″ wedges.

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Now, heat 1 tablespoon butter in a non-stick skillet on medium heat until it’s melted. Toss in the apples and cook them until they start to get a bit brown and soft, but aren’t yet mushy, about 8 minutes.

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Drain your raisins and toss them in, together with 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/4 maple syrup (use the real stuff here, don’t make me cry). Stir that around and then reduce the heat to a minimum just to keep things warm.

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You can also transfer the apples to a container to cool and store them in the fridge until you need them.

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To make your big fluffy pancake, heat your oven to 450°F and grab an oven-safe non-stick pan or cast iron skillet. I went with the non-stick option on these and it worked great. Grab a bowl and dump in 1 cup flour (you can do half whole wheat and half white if you wish, that’s up to you).

In a separate bowl, beat together 1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon maple syrup and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

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Then beat in 2 large eggs plus 2 large egg whites.

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Look at the size of that yolk in my tiny hand.

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Add your liquids to your flour and whisk until just combined. You can have some lumps.

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Put your pan or skillet on the stove and heat it so that 1 tablespoon butter melts. Slide the pan around until the melted butter coats the whole surface.

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Pour your batter (lumps and all) into the pan and slide it into the oven. Bake it for 15-20 minutes, until it’s all golden brown and puffed up into a giant soufflé-like object. Leave the oven door closed until it’s done.

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When you’re ready, remove the pan from the oven and slide the pancake onto a cutting board (it will deflate, don’t worry). This is where the non-stick really comes in handy.

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Spoon the warm compote all over the pancake and cut it into four wedges – serve immediately. I promise it’s worth it. I doubled the batch for the apples but I made my batter in two separate batches so that while we were eating the first pancake I could slide the second one into the oven.

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