Homemade Applesauce – how to make and can

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It is Autumn again, and you know what that means…APPLES!  Anytime I get a chance to buy apples by the bushel, I’m in!  And a bushel of apples means Mom is making homemade applesauce!

My whole family loves applesauce.  We use it on almost anything.  Toast, pork chops, chicken, yogurt topping, and of course, as a quick and tasty snack.

When my toddler was a baby, I made pure applesauce – nothing added.  Now that his palate has grown, I get to go back to my favorite recipe.  YUM!

I use this recipe for both freezing and canning.  Either way is great.  And once you taste homemade, there is no going back to the store brand.

Homemade Applesauce
Ingredients:
8 pounds apples
2 cups apple juice
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
Juice from 1 medium lemon
(Ball Fruit-Fresh, nutmeg, allspice are also optional)

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Start by choosing your favorite apples.  I like them naturally sweet, so I use Pink Lady, Gala, Honey Crisp or McIntosh (my all time favorite, but more expensive and a shorter season).  I also like to add in a few Granny Smith apples to even out the sweetness with just a tad of tart.  As a general rule, 1 pound of apples will get you 1 pint of applesauce.  Rocket Science, right?

Prepare your canning supplies.  This is what I use.

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Next, grab your cute little helper.

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Now comes the fun – peeling, coring and cutting those 8 pounds!  I use an Apple Peeler that I received as a gift (thanks Mom!). LOVE THIS THING!! Makes the job SO much easier.

Prepare a bowl with cold water and the juice of 1 medium lemon.  I also add in a few shakes of Ball Fruit-Fresh to preserve the color, but this is optional.  Peel, core and cut apples.  Immediately place in cold water bowl as you go. applesauce-5-ciaofromtexas

Once finished, remove apples from water and place in large pot or dutch oven.  Add remaining ingredients.  Cover and cook on medium heat for 25-30 minutes.  Apples should be cooked, but not completely soft.

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Using an immersion blender, blend the entire pot until it reaches your desired consistency.  I like my applesauce smooth, so I blend for a few minutes.

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And now you have homemade applesauce.  Yes, it really is that easy!

Fill your prepared and heated canning jars and return to water bath.  Return water to a full boil.  Once a full boil is achieved, cover and continue boiling for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and set to the side for several hours for canning jars to settle and seal.

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Remember, if the lids of your jars retract when you press on the center, the seal has not been made.  You may either water bath them again, or just refrigerate and use within 1-2 weeks.

Last, but not least, enjoy that fabulous taste of Autumn!

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Why I quit blogging (and what I learned in the process)

You may have noticed, my blog reel has been absent lately.  The truth is, I quit blogging.  Well, temporarily at least.  I quit because I felt I was being less myself and more like what I thought I needed to be.  Or, I should say, what I thought I wanted to be.

Do you remember in high school, or even in every teen angst movie, where you saw the people you wanted to be and the more you tried to be like them, the less you became your true self?  I’m not saying this is a bad thing.  We all need to strive towards something.  But when that something is not what you truly are, or who you will ever truly be, it can be a very lonely and disappointing place.  Which is why I stepped back to see who I really wanted to be in this big wide world of technology and who I really am.  Call it an identity crisis, call it a spiritual journey, call it whatever you like, but I called it quits.  To all things there is a lesson though.

First and foremost, I learned I am not like a good amount of bloggers out there.  I work full-time outside the home, my kids go to public school, I do not cook every meal every day nor do I make fantastically trendy school box lunches, I do not have designated craft time where we create something magical each day, my house isn’t organized or well decorated or well-kept, my bed is never made, my garden tends to grow more weeds than edible veggies, and there is usually a laundry basket of clothes on top of the dryer that needs tended to.  If you fall into the above category, highest kudos to you.  I’m envious, but unfortunately that is not me and I can’t pretend it will ever be me.  But that is okay!  We all fall into this world together to work together and learn from each other, and that is what is important.  H. Jackson Brown Jr said “Every person that you meet knows something you don’t; learn from them.”  That is true on so many levels and that is what I intend to do.

Next, I learned that I do have something different to offer.  I may not create food dishes that get 1 Million views from Pinterest or are featured on the next edition of Food Network.  What I can do is help convert mainstream recipes to gluten-free, add some time-saving tricks, and help someone create an economically conscious dinner menu for a busy school night.  That may not sound like much, but not everyone is Martha and many of us need a little boost in the kitchen.

I also learned how to find a little peace in my life.  I found it when I stopped trying to come up with the next big thing, create the next big tutorial, or run with the big dogs. I was able to return to yoga and my inner self, enjoy the sunset for no other reason but to enjoy it and create a horribly decorated cake that my children couldn’t be happier with.  All because I stopped and was just in the present.  Trying to be something else is really time-consuming and exhausting.

Another thing I discovered was that it doesn’t matter if I monetize my blog, or get grand sponsors or freebies.  I don’t want to write what an advertiser wishes I would write, or put what I want to write aside because a certain post or review or project is due.  Some have that career goal, and that is a great career for them, but not for me.  Sure, reviews and freebies would be fabulous, but it’s not my goal.  And again, that is okay.  That doesn’t make what I write any less “me” or any less important.

And finally, the most importantly lesson I learned is that I will never be Ree – The Pioneer Woman (although I think we could totally be besties!), or Nicole Curtis – The Rehab Addict or even Layla from The Lettered Cottage.  But I could totally be me.  The me that is imperfect and small and a dreamer, the me who struggles every day to juggle every ball thrown at her, and the me that wants to write even if there aren’t 1 Million people reading.  It’s funny how when you step back from trying to be like everyone else, you find the true and imperfect and wonderful you.

So, I will start writing again.  I will post the simple recipes my family likes, the crazy non-exotic places we go, the imperfect crafts and DIY attempts (even when they are not anywhere close to fabulous!) and what ever other ramblings come into my head (you have been warned).  And I will be posting all of this because I want to for me, not because I want to pretend I could be someone else.

There you have it.  The journey I took when I quit blogging and the lessons I learned.  Because if you don’t learn a lesson from it, it really is just a wasted experience.

Pistachio Pudding

Pistachio Pudding is one of those easy, yummy and often forgotten dishes.  It is a great to bring to a potluck, picnic or just for anytime really.  Another thing that is so great about this pudding, you can add whatever other goodies you would like.  Customize it to your family. How easy is that!

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pistachio-salad-ciaofromtexas-1Pistachio Pudding

1 box (3.4 oz) Pistachio Instant Pudding

1 can (20 oz) Crushed Pineapple (drained)

2 cups Mini-Marshmallows (white or multi-colored – your choice)

1 container (10-12 oz) Cool-Whip

Optional ingredients (oranges, cherries, chopped pistachios, bananas, coconut, etc)

 

Combine pudding mix and Cool-whip in large bowl and gently hand mix together.

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Add pineapple (and what ever other goodies you decide on) and mini-marshmallows and gently mix together.  Refrigerate at least 1-2 hours prior to serving.

pistachio-pudding-ciaofromtexas-4 (I added Maraschino Cherries and Mandarin Oranges to mine – both drained)

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It does not get much easier than that.  And let me tell you, this is a crowd pleaser.  I never have leftovers of this yummy dish!

Bookshelf Confessions

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Do you ever just sit and stare at the variety of books you have collected over the years?  What does your bookshelf say about you?  You may want to pull up a chair and grab a cup of coffee to see what all mine has to say about me.  It’s “Bookshelf Confession” time! This one […]

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Anxiety sucks!

There, I said it.  Anxiety sucks.  It’s not something most people talk about.  It’s not even something most people would consider a “real” issue, but it is real, and it is not fun. I am going to tell my story of anxiety eventually, but for right now, let me just say this journey has not […]

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Ambrosia Salad Recipe

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Ambrosia Salad is as southern as cobbler.  And just like cobbler, everyone has their special touch they add to make it their own.  This is my version of a southern classic.  This is pretty intense, so pay close attention. Ambrosia Salad   You will need: 1 can crushed Pineapple (partially drained) 1 can mandarin oranges […]

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Oh respect, where have you gone?

Maybe I’m naive, maybe I’m fantasizing, or maybe I’m just down-right old-fashioned, but I miss the common respect among people.  I miss the southern hospitality that the south is supposed to be known for, and even more importantly, what Texas is supposed to be known for.  Texans are supposed to say things like yes ma’am, […]

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End of Summer Blues

While many moms are super excited about school starting soon, I am not one of them.  I do look forward to getting back on a schedule, but I have quite enjoyed the slower pace summer tends to bring.  I must admit, I am also slightly mourning for the summer “to do” list that wasn’t even […]

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A Texas Favorite – Cowboy Boots!

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Being that I live in Texas, it’s almost blasphemy that I don’t own a fabulous pair of Women’s Cowboy Boots.  I own a pair, but they aren’t fabulous, and they are barely worthy to be worn by a Texan. In my search, I have found there are some amazing styles out there, ranging in price […]

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Is this it?

Do you ever have that “is this it” moment?  When I was a kid and dreamed of being an adult, was THIS the life I dreamed about? Do you remember when you were a kid and dreamed about how perfect everything would be when you became an “adult”?  You would travel to uncharted territories.  Discover […]

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