DIY Boiled Cider

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Boiled cider.  You can buy it, but in pure me style, why would I buy something I can make?!
I had a big bag of apples leftover from canning applesauce and so it was the perfect time.  Of course, you can buy apple cider to make yours too.
I don’t have an apple press, so I used my juicer.  Pour into a gravy seperater to skim off the foam (or just spoon it off after it has settled for a bit.)
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As you can see, what I’m left with is a fairly pale juice.
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But when it’s done, it will be the most appley thing you’ve ever tasted.  Rich, syrupy, and intensely apple!
If you don’t have cider, juice can be used as well.  I didn’t give an exact cook time, because that’s going to depend on if you are using cider or juice, and also how low/high your simmer is.
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What to do with it?  Add to apple pie or crisp filling, muffins, in caramel sauce, add to a frosting or glaze, cookies, cakes.. if you need more ideas you can look here.

Of course, if you don’t want to make your own, you can buy it here from King Arthur Flour
Hello fall!

DIY BOILED CIDER
Yield: aprox 2 1/2 cups per gallon

Apple Cider
Time

Pour cider into a large pot (nothing reactive, I use a stainless steel pot).
Bring to a boil over medium heat and reduce heat to a simmer and stir occasionally for a few hours until reduced to desired amount.  As it thickens stir more often and watch closely.  If it over reduces add some water back to desired amount.
I shoot for 2 1/2 to 3 cups per gallon of cider, that’s thick and pour-able without being super hard.
Pour into a jar with a lid and store in the fridge for at least a year.

DIY Boiled Cider

Yield: Approx 2 1/2 to 3 cups (per gallon of cider)

Ingredients

  • Apple Cider
  • Time

Instructions

  • Pour cider into a large pot (nothing reactive, I use a stainless steel pot).
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat and reduce heat to a simmer and stir occasionally for a few hours until reduced to desired amount. As it thickens stir more often and watch closely. If it over reduces add some water back to desired amount.
  • I shoot for 2 1/2 to 3 cups per gallon of cider, that's thick and pour-able without being super hard.
  • Pour into a jar with a lid and store in the fridge for at least a year.
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    DIY Ricotta Cheese

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    Ricotta cheese is definitely the “gateway cheese”.  I’m pretty sure most, if not all, people I know have had ricotta cheese that came from a carton.  But they have also not had the chance to enjoy fresh, homemade ricotta.  It is such a vastly different product that it will instantly sell you on the notion of going to the trouble (all though, it really is incredibly quick and easy!) of making your own.  It is so scrumptious you may not even want to cook with it.  You may want to sprinkle it with salt and pepper, drizzle of olive oil, and spread it on slices of baguettes… or just eat it with a spoon.  Can you say that about a carton of mystery cheese from the supermarket?!
    Before you start, read this post about choosing milk for cheesemaking, and about equipment here.

    DIY RICOTTA CHEESE
    Makes approx 2 1/2 to 3 cups

    1/2 gallon whole milk, NOT ultra pasteurized (see milk buying guide here)
    1 to 4 cups cream (Ultra pasteurized is okay here)*
    1/2 cup lemon juice
    kosher salt, to taste (I usually add 1/2-1 tsp)

    Prepare your strainer.  Line a large stainless or enamel colander with butter muslin or nut milk bag in a clean sink.
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    Pour milk and cream into a heavy bottomed pot. (Stainless steel or nonreactive)
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    Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until milk reaches 190 degrees F.
    You’ll know you’re getting close when the milk gets foamy.  Don’t let it boil though, as the cheese won’t taste quite as good.
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    Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice.  Stir very gently just to combine.  If you don’t see the curds separate add lemon juice, 1 T at a time.  Remove from the heat, cover, and leave undisturbed for 5-10 minutes.
    Pour the curds and whey into the prepared strainer.
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    Drain for about 10 minutes then gently twist the ends to squeeze out more whey.
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    Scrape out into a bowl and sprinkle with salt and any other seasonings.
    Very gently mix in.  Over mixing will make the ricotta drier and crumblier so be quick for the creamiest texture!
    If it isn’t as creamy as you want, try adding a few spoons of heavy cream.
    Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 7-10 days.

    Note: The more cream you use, the creamier your ricotta with be.  I typically use 2 cups per half gallon of milk.
    In this instance, ultra-pasteurized is okay for the heavy cream (also labeled as heavy whipping cream) because it is being used for added butterfat.  This will make for a super creamy ricotta, instead of a drier, crumbly farmer cheese.

    DIY Ricotta Cheese

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 gallon whole milk, NOT ultra pasteurized (see milk buying guide here)
    • 1 to 4 cups cream (Ultra pasteurized is okay here)*
    • 1/2 cup lemon juice
    • kosher salt, to taste (I usually add 1/2-1 tsp)

    Instructions

  • Prepare your strainer. Line a large stainless or enamel colander with butter muslin or nut milk bag in a clean sink.
  • Pour milk and cream into a heavy bottomed pot. (Stainless steel or nonreactive)
  • Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until milk reaches 190 degrees F.
  • You'll know you're getting close when the milk gets foamy. Don't let it boil though, as the cheese won't taste quite as good.
  • Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice. Stir very gently just to combine. If you don't see the curds separate add lemon juice, 1 T at a time. Remove from the heat, cover, and leave undisturbed for 5-10 minutes.
  • Pour the curds and whey into the prepared strainer. Drain for about 10 minutes then gently twist the ends to squeeze out more whey.
  • Scrape out into a bowl and sprinkle with salt and any other seasonings.
  • Very gently mix in. Over mixing will make the ricotta drier and crumblier so be quick for the creamiest texture!
  • If it isn't as creamy as you want, try adding a few spoons of heavy cream.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 7-10 days.
  • Note: The more cream you use, the creamier your ricotta with be. I typically use 2 cups per half gallon of milk.
  • In this instance, ultra-pasteurized is okay for the heavy cream (also labeled as heavy whipping cream) because it is being used for added butterfat. This will make for a super creamy ricotta, instead of a drier, crumbly farmer cheese.
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    Bear with me!

    I know some of the links aren’t working, It’s taking me some time but all the links will be fixed soon and you’ll be able to pin from my site now! (yay!) Plus, the recipe index will come in handy to not only you but me!  I totally forgot about that chicken tortilla casserole.. yum.  And printable recipe cards! yay!

    Vanilla beans, and vanilla sugar

    I heart vanilla beans.  They are one of those amazing ingredients that make everything they touch magical.  I buy mine from Penzeys or Costco and store them in my pantry.  They can last for a couple of years, and I love having them on hand.  Want to know how to use them?
    Using a small paring knife, cut in half lengthwise.  Then use the back of the knife to scrape out all the amazing goodness. : )  For recipes that call for vanilla extract, just remember that about 1/2 of 1 bean is equal to 1 tsp of vanilla extract.  Only, it tastes WAY better!
    What to do with the pod? Wait! Don’t throw it away! You can simmer it with something to add vanilla flavor, like a berry sauce, or my favorite, make vanilla sugar!
    Just throw it in a jar with some sugar and leave for a week or two.  You’ll have sugar infused with vanilla flavor when it’s ready! 

    Krispy Pops (My Cake Pop Alternative)

     I love Bakerella‘s super cute cake pops.  So much so that when I saw her book, I had to buy it, even though I had yet to make any.  They were just all so cute!  I envisioned making them with my girls for a really fun activity.  Enter: reality.  A three year old doesn’t have the best skills for such detailed work, especially when she’d rather just eat them before we’re done.  And as much as Amelia likes art and cooking projects, autism doesn’t help make this kind of project go smoother.  So while I did make some for halloween it was definetely not the fun time I had planned.  But that’s just how life is when you have young children, especially if any have special needs.  You have to adjust and make the best of it.  So enter my substitution I made.  Instead of using cake, I substituted Rice Krispy treats! They are much sturdier for little hands, and we can still use all of Bakerella’s amazinging adorable designs!  For this project, we made Christmas trees and some balls that could either pass for snowballs or a new year’s ball.  And yes! the girls thought they were REALLY fun! 
    KRISPY POPS (CAKE POP ALTERNATIVE)
    3 T butter or margarine
    10 oz regular marshmallows (about 40), or 4 cups miniature marshmallows
    6 cups Rice Krispies, Cocoa Krispies, or Fruity Pepples (or like sized cereal)
    FOR ASSEMBLING:
    popsicle sticks
    styrofoam block
    candy coating or almond bark
    sprinkles and decorations of choice
    Melt butter in a large pot on low heat.  Add marshmallows, stir until combined and melted.
    Remove from heat, stir in cereal until well coated.  Spray a 9 by 13 inch pan and spatula with cooking spray and use sprayed spatula to spread mixture in pan.  When cool, cut in about 1 1/2 inch squares.
    Form each square into desired shape, using fingers to press.  Insert a popsicle stick in the end, pressing krispy treats around stick.
     Put in the freezer until cool.  Dip in melted candy coating or almond bark, shaking the excess off gently.
     For the trees, drop a few candy chips on for ornaments, and a large star sprinkle on the top.
    Insert into styrofoam to set up.
     For the balls, we used silver or pearlized gold sanding sugar, white pearl nonpareils, or silver dragees.
     I really likes this one, with white sanding sugar.  The girls thought they looked like snowballs.
     And we even did “flocked” trees. : )
     I hope you give them a try, it was really fun!

    Pudding Cinnamon Rolls

    I was making a batch of these today and realized that I’ve never gotten around to sharing the recipe!  I’ve had the pictures just waiting to be posted, along with a backlog of recipes.  I seriously need a personal assistant to take care of half of my work load (can I get an amen from about 99% of you?!)  Between managing a home, 2 kids, homeschooling, therapy for my daughter, blah, errands, blah, church, blah, you get the picture.  Amelia has decided that she does not need to sleep after about 2 a.m. anymore, so let’s just say I’m a LITTLE tired.  So what do I do? Make cinnamon rolls of course!
    There is something about baking that makes me feel more relaxed.  It’s also a great activity to do with kids.  It teaches math, patience, and best of all, it means you’re spending time together.  I hope you’ll take the time to have a family night tonight and make a batch up of something together. 
    PUDDING CINNAMON ROLLS
    ROLLS:
    1/2 c warm water
    2 T active dry yeast
    2 T sugar
    3 1/2 oz package instant vanilla pudding
    1/2 cup butter, melted 
    2 eggs
    1 tsp salt
    6+ cups flour
    FILLING:
    1 c butter, room temperature
    2 c brown sugar
    4 tsp cinnamon
    FROSTING:
    8 oz cream cheese
    1/2 c butter, room temperature
    1 tsp vanilla
    3 c confectioner’s sugar
    2-3 T milk
    Combine water, yeast, and sugar in a medium bowl.  Stir to dissolve and set aside.
    In your mixer bowl, prepare pudding according to package directions.
    Add butter, eggs, and salt.  Mix well, then add yeast mixture. Mix briefly.
    Add flour gradually, knead until smooth. (This is a sticky dough, don’t be tempted to overflour).
    Place in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
    Roll out on a floured surface to about 34 by 21 inches. 
    Mix butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon together, spread on dough.
    Roll up tightly, rolling on the long side.
    Cut every 1 1/2 inches using a serrated knife or thread. NOTE: I like to cut the log in half, then cut each half into 12 rolls.(You should get 24 rolls)
    (To use thread or dental floss, work the middle of a strand of thread under dough roll, then cross over on the top, pulling until thread goes all the way through.) 
    Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. 
     (NOTE: I sometimes fit them closely on 1 large cookie sheet – just be careful or they can raise over the edge!, or you can put them on 2 cookie sheets and spread them out).
    Cover and let rise until doubled in size.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes.
    Remove when they are golden, don’t overbake.
    To make frosting, mix butter and cream cheese together, add vanilla and sugar, mix well, then add milk for spreading consistency.  Frost while warm.  Makes 24.

    How to crush peel / garlic

    Lay garlic clove with flat side down on a cutting board
    Lay knife on top of clove..
    And whack down (not so hard to just peel, harder to crush)
    Your garlic should look like this, with the peel loose:
    Now you can chop, mince, crush, whatever you need it for. (And take out a few aggresions)

    How to… peel, core, and chop apples

    I know, you’re thinking this isn’t even worth posting. But I get questions like this often.
    And I realize that not everone owns an apple corer and would like to see the easiest, most effective way I know of doing this.
    First, cut off one side of the apple, cutting to the side of the core:
    See?
    Now, put cut side down, and cut again, to the right of the core:
    Again, rotate so that the last cut edge is face down, and cut again to the right of the core:
    Flip again, and repeat.
    Now, you have a square core and four sections. If you need it peeled, do so now.

    How to… Grate and Shave Parmesan

    I thought it would be good to share what I mean when my recipes call for grated or shaves parmesan, and the tools I like to use to do so. I have 2 different Microplanes, the fine grater, and the extra coarse grater. I like using both of these, and they have lots of other uses, like zesting citrus, etc. They are definetely worth having around. I would say the fine grater is a little more useful for me, being that I really love citrus zest. And to “shave” parmesan, a regular vegetable/potato peeler works great.

    How to… Chiffonade

    So this only sounds fancy schmancy. (is that really a word?) But it’s really just little strips or ribbons. And I know alot of you probably know what it is, but just in case, here’s a little demo…
    I used fresh basil leaves, my favorite thing to chiffonade.
    Stack leaves in a stack:
    Roll up snugly..
    Using a sharp knife, cut into thin strips…
    And there you have it.. chiffonade!
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