Gourmet Carmel Apples

Gourmet caramel apples are the best way to have an apple a day. Here are some examples of apples I made with my nephews, niece and daughter a few years ago. As you can see my nephew went all out.

 

Simple dip the apple in warm caramel, then let it set for a few minutes to firm up. Then dip in milk chocolate or white chocolate. Roll in desired toppings and drizzle with more chocolate. Voila gourmet caramel apples that did not cost you a fortune. Some companies are charging $40.00 for an apple. Most are at a more reasonable price of around $9.00. These can be made and given as gifts for holidays or birthdays.

Step 1  Melt the caramel. I prefer to buy name brand caramels they melt better. Unwrap at least 1 pound of caramels, melt in medium sauce pan on medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of milk, this will make them more dip-able. Stir continually until all caramels are melted. I am the worst caramel maker in the world. I always goes hard and we end up with toffee. So you can make your own if your desire, cook to a hard ball stage the caramel holds it shape on the apples.

Step 2 Wash your apples with dish soap to remove any wax coating than may have been applied. Let dry completely. Insert sticks. Thick  bamboo skewers or old popsicle sticks work well.

Step 3 Crush Oreo cookies, Butterfinger candy bars, heath candy bars, nuts

Step 4 Dip your apple in the caramel roll from side to side to cover most of the apple. Lift out of caramel and bounce the apple on top of the caramel. This will help to pull the excess caramel off the apple. Wipe the bottom of the apple on the pan to remove any excess. Place on plate or cookies sheet that is sprayed with nonstick spry to prevent sticking.

Step 5 Melt chocolate. Place 1 bag of chocolate chips in medium glass bowl. Microwave for 20 seconds stir, repeat at 30 second intervals until chocolate is melted. Stir thoroughly between each heating. Chocolate will melt if stirred enough usually after second heating. For drizzling put 1/2 cup of melted chocolate in a zip lock bag, and snip tiny piece off the corner. To keep this warm place a bowl on a pan of hot water not boiling.

Step 6 Dip the caramel covered apple in the white or milk chocolate. Rotating the apple so the chocolate covers all areas. Immediately dip in desired cookies or candy. Set on cookie sheet sprayed with non stick spray. At this point I like to place the apple on small paper plates for easy delivery to friends.

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CHiffon Banana Nut Bread

Mash bananas with potato masher. Put in mixing bowl with milk, egg yolks, vanilla and sugar, mix well.
Sift in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Add nuts if desires mix until well blended.

In separate bowl beat egg whites and sugar until stiff peaks form.
Fold egg whites into banana, gently until mixed. Do not over mix.
Pour into pre-greased and floured bread pan 2/3 full.
Bake 375 degrees 45-60 min until top is golden brown. Test for doneness when a knife comes out clean it is done. IF the knife is gooey cook 15 minutes more.
Let cool 10 minutes, remove from pan let cool completely before cutting.

*Note if the top is getting too brown and center is still gooey cover loosely with a piece of tinfoil.

  • This can also be used to make muffins for a healthy morning or afternoon snack.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1 cup mashed bananas ripe but not brown
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 egg whites
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ½ cup nuts
Instructions
  1. Put bananas in mixing, add oil, milk, egg yolks, sugar vanilla, mix well.
  2. Sift in flour, baking powder baking soda and salt.
  3. Add nuts if desires mix until well blended.
  4. In separate bowl beat egg whites and sugar until stiff.
  5. Fold into banana mix gently until mixed. Do not over mix.
  6. Pour into bread pan ⅔ full
  7. Bake 350 degrees 45-60 min until top is golden brown.
  8. Let cool 10 minutes, remove from pan let cool.

Peaches

Peaches, is there anything more wonderful that a fresh juicy peach right off of the tree. Well maybe a bushel of fresh picked peaches right off the tree.

Basically there are two types of peaches, the cling stone and the freestone. Like what the name indicates, the stone or the pit of the free-stone does not stick to the flesh and is easily removed. The cling-stone has a stone that is not easily removed. The free stones are probably more popular especially if you are canning or cooking with them. Their are innumerable varieties, the ones I am most familiar with are the Hale, Alberta, Red Haven.

The peach skins when bought at a stand are usually fuzzy, hence the term peach fuzz. The fuzz is easily removed with washing. If the peach is ripe the skin will come off easily. For canning and baking the peach can be placed in a hot water bath for 30 seconds and then placed in a cold water bath to make removing the skin easier. They slice easily once peeled. I like to place the round side in my palm and make 6-8 slices using a small paring knife. My mom canned bushels and bushels of peaches when I was growing up. The canned peaches are delicious during the cold winter months.

Depending on the region that you live in will determine what is available. What you buy is a personal preference and what is available nearest you. Peaches should be round and firm yet give a bit when gently squeezed. They should smell strongly of peaches and make your mouth water. When you bite in them the juice should burst in your mouth and run down your chin. I never buy peaches in the grocery store, I always wait until they are at the grove stands. Having a back yard tree is the best option.

There are so many things to do with peaches, jam, cobbler, pie, in a bowl covered with cream and honey, waffles, muffins, torte, ice cream and of course just eating them. They can be easily canned to keep the wonderful peach season lasting all year long. Peaches can be baked with cinnamon to enhance the sweet flavor. They also go well when mixed with berries. Here are a couple of delicious peach recipes.

Fruit Kabobs

These are so simple and oh so delicious. When you serve these at a party everyone will be so impressed. Serve these to your kids and they can not resist eating fruit. Let your kids help and it is a great bonding time.

Melon balls

To create melon balls, use a small cookie scoop. Cut the melon in half and remove the seeds. Press the scoop down and twist your wrist turning the scoop under the flesh. This is not a forward dragging motion but a down and twist. Dragging will result in long strands.

Cut the remaining fruit into cubes or balls. Remove the top of the strawberries, use these whole. Wash and dry the grapes and other berries. Remove the deep eyes of the pineapple…nobody wants to spit these out at your party.

When making your fruit kabobos it is a good idea to put sturdy fruit on the ends, this helps keep the delicate fruit from sliding off. I like to alternate the colors as best I can to create and eye appealing display.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve. The extra pieces are yours to enjoy, or put in a tossed salad with vinaigrette. A basic fruit salad is yummy too.

Refreshing Citrus Gelatin Salad

This recipe came to me from a dinner our church group was serving to the senior citizens in our area. So I have always called it Senior citizen Jello. The ingredients and recipes were distributed to about 20 ladies. Within in hours we were all calling each other asking if we understood how to cook this. None of us could understand how to combine these ingredients. The following method is what some of us came up with. I find it very delicious. The chunks of orange mixed in the lemon are so tantalizing to your tongue

Ingredients
  • 1 large packet orange gelatin
  • 2 cups boiled water
  • 1 large package cooked lemon pudding
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 banana
  • 1 small can mandarin oranges
  • 1 container of whipped topping
Instructions
  1. Dissolve gelatin in 2 cups boiling water, stir thoroughly. Add enough ice cubes to equal 4 cups, pour in shallow pan to set up.Place in fridge for 30 minutes
  2. Meanwhile, separate 3 eggs reserving the egg yolks.
  3. In saucepan add pudding mix, ¾ cups sugar, egg yolks and ½ cup water. Stir thoroughly, this helps combine all the ingredients well so there is not any separating of the eggs and the cornstarch in the pudding.
  4. Add 2½ cups water to saucepan, combine well, cook over medium heat until hot and bubbly remove from heat.
  5. Stir pudding every few minutes to release heat.
  6. Once gelatin is set, stir to make small chunks.
  7. When pudding is warm to the touch but not hot, add to gelatin. Stir quickly to combine. We do not want the gelatin to melt in the pudding. We want small chunks to remain, but the pudding needs to be warm enough to bond with the gelatin.
  8. Pour into shallow pan or individual cups, put in fridge to set up until completely cool.
  9. Once set, slice one banana on top.
  10. Cover with whipped topping, then place orange slices on top for decoration.
  11. Serve immediately or cover with plastic if serving later.
Notes
If you choose to put bananas on top of the cool whip you must dip them in a lemon juice bath first to prevent browning. This is the reason they are under the whipped topping.

Berry Medley Salad

Ingredients

1 container raspberries
1 container blackberries
1 container blueberries
1 small container Greek yogurt any flavor

Rinse and drain berries. Lay out on paper towel and pat dry to remove water. Let rest for a few minutes.

Pour berries in a medium size bowl, add 1 package of Greek yogurt (any flavor).

Gently fold berries and yogurt so you do not crush the berries. Chill 1 hour before serving.

Options
1/2 cup whipped cream can be added if desired
Any combinations of berries will work in this

Note:This can be a bit tart for some eaters, especially children. Some honey (2-4 Tablespoons) can be added to sweeten this a bit. We prefer it unsweetened. Actually I eat this for breakfast with the unflavored unsweetened yogurt.

Options
1/2 cup whipped cream can be added if desired
Any combinations of berries will work in this

Note:This can be a bit tart for some eaters, especially children. Some honey (2-4 Tablespoons) can be added to sweeten this a bit. We prefer it unsweetened. Actually I eat this for breakfast with the unflavored unsweetened yogurt.

Positively Perfect Pies

Delicious pies start with the perfect crust, followed by fresh ingredients. There are a few tips for making the perfect pie.

How to cheat on your pie assignment.
One year I was assigned pies at Thanksgiving dinner. I had worked three 12 hour night shifts in a row up until the day before thanksgiving. I slept until about three in the afternoon then I was going to get up and make the pies, I was planning on my daughters help. I did not get a very cooperative response from her about doing this. I went to the store to buy the ingredients in a less than happy mood. I walked around the store collecting all the fresh ingredients. Since it was November and I lived in a town 90 miles from anywhere else. Fresh berries were not available so I bought frozen. As I was reaching in to get them, I noticed in the next case frozen triple berry pies which said hand made. In that instant My common sense took a vacation and I reached for the frozen pies and returned all the other ingredients.
I went home removed the pies from their aluminum foil trays and put them in my decorative pie pans and baked them. They looked absolutely irresistible. My son arrived from out of town just as I was removing the pies and he commented on how wonderful they looked. I patted myself on the back feeling I had accomplished the greatest heist. He walked over to the garbage to throw something away and saw the pie wrappers, he looked over at the pies then he looked at me and in shock he said “YOU bought pies, and you’re passing them off as your own?” He was shocked since I had made pies from scratch his own life. I swore him to secrecy. My daughter came home to the delicious aroma of pies she said “you made them already I wanted to help” My son started laughing uncontrollably, and she knew I had cheated. I swore them both to secrecy.
Next day, I take these beautiful pies into my sister’s house parading them very ceremoniously. Everyone is ooohing and aahhing, as their mouths are watering for the delicious homemade Stacy pies. We eat a delicious homemade Thanksgiving dinner, which for my sister is a once a year feat. We follow it up with pies, everyone is raving at the deliciousness of the pies and how wonderful of a cook I am. Just then my two kids start laughing uncontrollably. I give them the evil eye. Everyone else is confused about what is so funny, then they look at their pies and they look at me and all at once they all say, “YOU BOUGHT PIES, and you put them in your own pie pans to make them look homemade!” I was caught. They have never let me live that deception down.

How to make homemade pies
One year in Relief Society an 86 year old woman came to teach pies. She had made pies at a local cherry farm and sold them for over 50 years.
Pie Lady Perfect Pie Crusts
1 cup butter flavored Crisco
2 1/2 cups fresh flour
1 tsp salt
½ cup ice water

Combine flour, salt and Crisco in a bowl. Using a pastry blender cut the Crisco into the flour until evenly blended. Slowly sprinkle in ½ the water mixing with a fork add small amounts of water until the flour is evenly distributed, DO NOT OVER WORK THE DOUGH. Form the dough into a ball on a lightly floured counter. Gently roll outward until it is ¼ inch thick. Roll the dough onto the rolling pin and place in the pie pan gently pressing into the corners. Do not stretch the dough. Any tears can be fixed by pressing gently together with a wet finger. This makes 1 double crust.

Baked pie shell

Prepare pie shell as above, place in pie tin, prepare edge. Pierce the entire bottom and sides of pan with a fork. Bake at 350º for 15 min until lightly brown and bubbly looking. Cool completely before adding filling. There are many other remedies for preventing big bubbles on the bottom of the pan such as beans and metal chains. Piercing works great just pierce to excess.

Decorative crusts, lattice, cutouts

Fillings

 

Razzleberry pie (I do not use blueberries or strawberries although some people do)
1 ½ cup sugar
½ cup cornstarch
½ cup water
5 cups of berries, raspberries, boysenberries, blackberries (Frozen is acceptable)

Combine cornstarch and sugar stir until mixed well, add to water in saucepan. Bring to boil, add 1 cup of berries boil until thick and bubbly about 10-15 min, gently fold other berries in. I like to keep 2 cups of berries out and put them in the pie shell so that there are some nice whole berries in the pie. Carefully place top crust on and seal the edges. Make any decorative edges and tops you desire. Vent the top. Bake on the BOTTOM rack in a 375º degree oven for 1 hour. You can cover the edges with tin foil if you desire. Removing half way through baking, to prevent edges getting too brown. When top is golden brown and juices are bubbling the pie is done. Cool before eating.

Pecan Pie
3 eggs
1 cup Karo syrup
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cups pecans chopped coursley

Combine all ingredients and pour into a pie shell. Use pecan halves to decorate top if desired. Bake at 350º on bottom rack for 1 hour. Cool completely before cutting.
Cream Pie fillings.

I don’t have a good custard filling recipe so I used a cooked pudding.
2 ½ cup milk
1 egg
1 small box cooked pudding or ½ of a large box
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all ingredients in pan, cook over medium heat until boiling, remove from heat. Pour into baked pie crust. Chill 2-3 hours.

Options coconut cream, banana cream with fresh banana slices. For French silk let chocolate pudding cool completely then fold in fresh whipped cream before putting in the shell.

Lemon Meringue
I use the boxed lemon cooked pudding
Mix according to package directions and poor into cooked pie shell.
Whip egg whites which were separated from filling. Add ½ cup sugar half way through process. Once stiff peaks are formed spread over cooled filling, going completely to crust, meringue will shrink during cooking so you need to make sure it is touching the crust so it does not pull away.
Preheat oven to 375º degrees. Place pie on top oven rack. Bake pie in the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Watch this carefully so you don’t burn the peaks. Eggs do not get fully cooked. There are warning about eating raw egg. So please use only the freshest eggs and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Downhome apple pie
8-10 sliced granny smith apples
1/3 cup water
3 tablespoons butter
1 ¼ cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon apple pie spice plus a pinch of nutmeg

Fill large pan with apples, butter and water, bring to rolling boil. Cover reduce heat and simmer for 15 min. Meanwhile combine sugar, cornstarch and spices mix well, add to apple mixture. Stir until thick and bubbly. Pour int pie shell. Cover with second pie shell or crumb topping (recipe below). Pierce pie crust several times to vent air. Bake 1 hour on bottom rack of over 375º

Traditional crumb topping
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup butter
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Combine all ingredients and sprinkle on pie filling

Cover with tin foil for half of baking time

Oatmeal Crumb topping
1⁄2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
3⁄4 cup flour
3⁄4 cup oatmeal (any type but instant)
1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients and sprinkle on pie filling