Thursday, October 25, 2018

Made From Scratch: Slow Cooker Maple-Bourbon Applesauce

Take a lot of apples, add in a little maple syrup and a shot of bourbon, and with the help of your slow cooker, you'll make some really delicious applesauce.


Slow Cooker Maple-Bourbon Applesauce || A Less Processed Life

One of my favorite fall activities is hitting up one of our local apple orchards and picking a peck of apples. This year we had the foresight to visit our favorite orchard on a weekday afternoon, which meant we weren't tripping over crowds of other people, or, perhaps more importantly, have to wait in long lines to get tasty apple treats.

Slow Cooker Maple-Bourbon Applesauce || A Less Processed Life

Because, okay, yes, I'm there for picking apples ... but I'm also there (okay, maybe mostly there??) for the delicious freshly-baked apple treats, including apple cider donuts (a must!). This year we started our apple orchard visit with some sweet sustenance – I had a slice of caramel apple pie and hot apple cider while Dustin enjoyed an apple dumpling and hot coffee. Fully satiated, we grabbed a bag for our apples.

Slow Cooker Maple-Bourbon Applesauce || A Less Processed Life

This year we picked a peck of cortland apples, which have a sweet and slightly tart flavor – perfect for applesauce. Once back at home, I made a couple different batches of slow cooker applesauce. Each of the batches produced about 2 1/2 pints of applesauce. Instead of canning, I opted to freeze the applesauce I made. It should keep in the freezer for up to three months. Though theoretically you can use glass canning jars in the freezer, I've had bad luck with breakage in the past, so I've been using these plastic freezer jars from Ball instead.

Slow Cooker Maple-Bourbon Applesauce
makes just over 2 pints

4-5 pounds apples, any variety
1/2 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon bourbon
pinch fine sea salt
3 (4-inch) cinnamon sticks

1. Wash the apples. Core, peel, and slice each apple. (I love my handy dandy apple peeler/corer/slicer machine.)
2. Place the sliced apples into the bowl of a slow cooker.
3. Pour in the cider, lemon juice, maple syrup, and bourbon. Sprinkle with salt and stir to combine. Add in the cinnamon sticks. (I like to bury them in the apples.)
4. Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours. Stir occasionally.
5. Use an immersion blender to puree the applesauce to a smoother texture if you prefer. Spoon the applesauce into freezer-safe containers. Let the sauce cool slightly before placing the lids on each container and placing them in the freezer. Applesauce can be kept frozen for up to 3 months.
SHARE:

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

What I'm Drinking: Cranberry Ginger Spritzer

Ease into the fall season with this refreshing Cranberry Ginger Spritzer.

Cranberry Ginger Spritzer || A Less Processed Life

I recently had the opportunity to create a recipe for Cape Cod Select Premium Frozen Whole Cranberries. Here are a few cool facts about this brand:

* Cape Cod Select is a small women-owned family business.
* The Rhodes family has been growing cranberries on their 800-acre cranberry farm for more than 75 years and is now in its fourth generation.
* Cape Cod Select cranberries are grown to some of the industry's highest standards and are non-GMO verified and hold GLOBALG.A.P. Certification.
* Cape Cod Select has a focus on sustainability, powering its facilities primarily with solar power and using better growing practices on their farm.


These cranberries are sold nationwide – here's where to buy Cape Cod Select frozen cranberries in a store near you or you can order frozen cranberries from Cape Cod Select directly.

Cranberry Ginger Spritzer || A Less Processed Life

September is right around the corner and that means that the holidays are not far behind. Am I skipping right over PSL season? Quite possibly, but I might circle back. In the meantime, I'm loving this Cranberry Ginger Spritzer, which is a perfect transitional cocktail between the heat of summer and the crisp, cool nights of autumn.

Cranberry Ginger Spritzer || A Less Processed Life

This cocktail gets just the right amount of tart cranberry flavor with the generous incorporation of cranberry simple syrup, which you can easily make from scratch. Grapefruit juice balances the tartness of the cranberry flavor and a little ginger beer adds a zippy topnote. This drink can easily be made as a mocktail by omitting the vodka and adding just a tiny bit more ginger beer. 

Is anyone else as ready for sweater weather as I am?

Cranberry Ginger Spritzer
makes one cocktail

1 ounce cranberry simple syrup (see recipe below)
1/2 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
1 ounce vodka
ginger beer, for topping
whole cranberries, for garnish

1. Add ice to a cocktail shaker or pint glass. Add the cranberry simple syrup, grapefruit juice, and vodka. Stir to combine.
2. Strain into a rocks glass full of ice.
3. Top with ginger beer and garnish with whole cranberries.

Cranberry Simple Syrup
makes about 2 cups

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
8 ounces whole frozen or fresh cranberries

1. Add the sugar, water, and cranberries to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
2. Strain the solids through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Discard the cranberries. Let the simple syrup cool to room temperature, then pour into a container with a tight-fitting lid. Cranberry simple syrup can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

You can find Cape Cod Select Premium Cranberries on social media here:

Facebook (Cape Cod Select Premium Cranberries)
Instagram (@CapeCodSelect)
Twitter (@CapeCodSelect)
Pinterest (CapeCodSelect)

** I was provided with frozen whole cranberries by Cape Cod Select to create this recipe; the recipe and my opinions are my own. **
SHARE:

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

What's For Dessert: Coffee Ice Cream

Coffee's not just for breakfast, particularly when it's made into a delicious and creamy treat. Although if you want to eat this coffee ice cream for breakfast, I'm not going to judge.


Coffee Ice Cream || A Less Processed Life

Here's the sitch: if your plans are to achieve or maintain a hot summer bod, don't buy an ice cream maker. No, seriously, don't.

Coffee Ice Cream || A Less Processed Life

Because once you get an ice cream maker, you're going to want to make homemade ice cream all the time. It's just So! Dang! Easy! And there are just too many flavors that you're going to want to try to make. Trust me. Save yourself.

Coffee Ice Cream || A Less Processed Life

I had a hankering for some coffee on a hot day, and I had plenty of whole milk and heavy cream in the fridge (not hot-bod-friendly ingredients). What's better than a hot cup of coffee on a sweltering day? A refreshing scoop of coffee ice cream, that's what.

Coffee Ice Cream || A Less Processed Life

To make coffee ice cream, you let whole coffee beans steep in the cream mixture. I intended to just let the beans steep overnight, but ended up not making the ice cream for 48 hours. I found the coffee flavor to be just right after a 48-hour steep. But you can play around with the timing to get the perfect flavor that you like. I recommend using good beans for your ice cream–you don't need to go all out and use the fanciest beans around, but definitely don't skimp, either, as the flavor will really come through, and if you don't like certain beans in a cup of coffee, you're not going to like them in your ice cream, either. 

Coffee ice cream for breakfast? Don't mind if I do.

Coffee Ice Cream
makes 2 pints

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1 cup whole coffee beans
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 teaspoons coconut oil

1. Pour 1 cup heavy cream into a medium heavy-bottomed pan. Stir in the sugar, pinch of salt, vanilla, and coffee beans. Stir over medium heat until all of the sugar has dissolved in the cream.
2. Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream and 1 cup of whole milk. Stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight or for up to 48 hours. The longer the mixture steeps, the greater the coffee flavor.
3. When ready to churn the ice cream, strain the custard to remove the coffee beans. Freeze the ice cream in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
4. Serve immediately (the ice cream will be soft) or scoop the ice cream into a freezer-safe container and chill until firm. 

SHARE:

Friday, June 22, 2018

What's On the Side: Mediterranean Couscous Salad

Capture the flavors of summer in this easy-to-make recipe for Mediterranean Couscous Salad.

Mediterranean Couscous Salad || A Less Processed Life

Here's the sitch: sometimes you don't have to make everything from scratch. There's definitely no shame in my game when it comes to taking advantaged of packaged ingredients to make my life easier, such as using a box o Near East Toasted Pine Nut Couscous in this salad recipe. (Note: this post is 0% sponsored by Near East; I just love their product. They have no idea who I am.)


Couscous is one of my favorite side dishes since it cooks up in just five minutes. While this particular couscous is delicious by itself, I decided to up the flavor game by adding in some fresh ingredients along with a simple lemon vinaigrette dressing.

Mediterranean Couscous Salad || A Less Processed Life

The result is a delicious salad that takes less than 10 minutes to put together. This salad is perfect for any summer gathering–and from personal experience, I can tell you that the leftovers make for a tasty light lunch the next day!

Mediterranean Couscous Salad
makes 6-8 servings

1 package Near East toasted pine nut couscous
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small cucumber, peeled and chopped into quarters
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

For the vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the couscous according to the package directions. Fluff with a fork and let cool.
2. Spoon the cooled couscous into a large bowl. Add the halved tomatoes, diced cucumber, chickpeas, and lemon zest. Stir to combine.
3. In a small jar or measuring cup, whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (I used about a pinch of each.)
4. Pour the vinaigrette over the couscous salad and stir gently to combine. Toss with crumbled feta cheese just before serving.

SHARE:

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

What's For Dessert: Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Mint chocolate chip is my favorite flavor of ice cream, and this recipe using fresh mint leaves and semisweet chocolate has taken my love for this flavor combination to a whole new level. 


Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream || A Less Processed Life

An automatic ice cream maker is a dangerous appliance to own. (I have this Cuisinart one.)  Especially after you make ice cream for the first time and realize just how dang easy it really is. Looks like I'm going to need to amp up my summertime workout schedule to combat my love for freshly made ice cream.

Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream || A Less Processed Life

I have always been a fan of mint chocolate chip ice cream, or "toothpaste" ice cream, as my Dad likes to call it. Whether bright green or white in color, if it has a minty flavor and a plethora of chocolate chips, I am in.

Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream || A Less Processed Life

Prior to purchasing an automatic ice cream maker, we had a hand-crank one. So, while I am no stranger to homemade ice cream, I have to admit we never veered from my favorite vanilla ice cream recipe. I figured my favorite flavor was a good place to start in my foray into "exotic" flavors of ice cream. And seriously, this recipe does not disappoint.

This recipe is for a Philadelphia-style ice cream, meaning the recipe contains no eggs. There's no tempering, no extra straining, no setting up of an ice bath. Truthfully, this recipe is very easy. The worst part is waiting the requisite amount of chilling time (three hours or up to overnight) before churning the ice cream. 

If you like mint chip ice cream, I think you'll like this. Its refreshing flavor is the perfect complement to a hot summer's day.


Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
makes 2 pints

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
¾ cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 teaspoons coconut oil

1. Pour 1 cup heavy cream into a medium heavy-bottomed pan. Stir in the sugar, pinch of salt, and fresh mint leaves. Stir over medium heat until all of the sugar has dissolved in the cream.
2. Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream and 1 cup of whole milk. Stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least three hours or overnight. The longer the mixture steeps, the greater the mint flavor.
3. When ready to churn the ice cream, strain the custard to remove the mint leaves. Freeze the ice cream in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
4. While the ice cream is churning, melt the chocolate with the coconut oil using the microwave or a double-boiler. Stir until smooth. When the ice cream is nearly finished churning, pour the melted chocolate in a slow stream into the ice cream maker.
5. Serve immediately (the ice cream will be soft) or scoop the ice cream into a freezer-safe container and chill until firm. 
SHARE:

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

What's On the Side: Easy Coleslaw for a Crowd

The arrival of the summer season calls for picnics, barbecues, and cookouts. And you can't have a cookout without coleslaw. This recipe for Easy Coleslaw is a real crowdpleaser.


Easy Coleslaw for a Crowd || A Less Processed Life

The arrival of Memorial Day means that summer is (unofficially) here. This fact can also be verified by the quantity of out-of-state license plates now seen throughout town.

Truth be told, we kind of missed spring this year up here in the Northwoods. We went straight from the depths of winter (and ice-covered lakes) into the heat of summer. And by heat of summer, I mean record-breaking high temperatures. There's a good chance I might melt before the heat breaks. TBD.

But I have to admit I love a good summertime cookout and eating al fresco. (Particularly if my chair is in the shade, ha ha.) And a cookout wouldn't be a cookout without a little coleslaw on the side. This recipe is super-easy, very tasty (the aleppo pepper gives it the tiniest amount of heat), and makes enough to feed a crowd. What's not to like about that?

Easy Coleslaw for a Crowd
makes 12 servings

For the dressing: 
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (I use fat-free)
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon aleppo pepper (or you can use plain freshly-ground black pepper)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt

2 16-ounce packages of prepackaged coleslaw mix

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients until well-blended. If necessary, season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
2. Add the coleslaw mix to a large serving bowl. Stir in the dressing as desired; toss to coat. Use more or less dressing depending on how you like your coleslaw; you can refrigerate extra dressing for up to a week. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

SHARE:

Monday, April 2, 2018

What's For Brunch: Blueberry Baked French Toast

This blueberry baked French toast is decadent, delicious, and a perfect match for brunch-time mimosas.

Blueberry Baked French Toast || A Less Processed Life

Although I can't quite relate to the Hamptons lifestyle, there's something about Ina Garten that I just love. Perhaps it's her down-to-Earthness or her simple-to-follow recipes ("What's not to love?"), but whatever it is, if Ina is making it, I want to try it.

Blueberry Baked French Toast || A Less Processed Life

And so it goes with this recipe for baked French toast that was featured recently on one of her shows. Dustin's parents were in town for the Easter holiday, making it the perfect time to try out a recipe that feeds a crowd. And let me tell you, this baked French toast did not disappoint.

It has 10 eggs – yes, 10 whole eggs, by god! And this recipe also calls for a mixture of heavy cream and milk (although you could sub in all half-n-half, as Ina uses). So, yeah, this recipe definitely doesn't scream "health food," but it does scream "delicious."

Blueberry Baked French Toast || A Less Processed Life

Everything comes together in the blink of an eye the night before, so all you have to do is pop it in the oven in the morning. (Just remember it takes about an hour to cook, so roll out of bed, pop it in the oven, set the timer, and then roll back into bed if you'd like!)

The custard is delightfully decadent, the blueberries add a burst of fresh flavor, and you can never go wrong with a little powdered sugar on top. And don't forget a drizzle of maple syrup on top! Ha, who am I kidding ... drench it in the good stuff!

Blueberry Baked French Toast 
makes 6-8 servings

unsalted butter, at room temperature
10 cups (1-inch-diced) day-old challah bread
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
10 eggs
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups 1% milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar, for topping
powdered sugar, for serving
pure maple syrup, for serving

1. Grease a 9" x 13" x 2" baking dish with the unsalted butter. Place 5 cups of diced bread into the baking dish in an even layer. Top with an even layer of the blueberries. Top with the remaining diced bread.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, heavy cream, milk, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla extract, orange zest, and salt.
3. Pour the egg mixture over the bread layers. Lightly press down the bread cubes to ensure they are evenly moistened. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 45 minutes. Check to see if the top is becoming too browned; if so, lightly cover with foil. Bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until the custard is set and the fruit is bubbling.
5. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm with pure maple syrup.

(adapted from this Ina Garten recipe)
SHARE:
© A Less Processed Life. All rights reserved.
BLOGGER TEMPLATE MADE BY pipdig