Winners and Spiced Applesauce

First, the giveaway winners….I know you would want to know that first!

The two winners who will be enjoying the Taste of Alabama BBQ are:

Random.org first pick:  #16-Charlotte

Random.org second pick: #13-Denise

I will get your prize to you sometime next week!  Congratulations! And let us know how you like your sauces!

Now…. This applesauce. Man.  Chunky, and oh so easy.  Crock pot easy!   No kidding.   Your kiddos will love it.

Serve it on toast, serve it on pancakes, Smear it on a big old biscuit, on top of some yogurt, or as a side dish with some grilled pork tenderloin.   Good stuff.  And you know I made mine healthy with Splenda so hubby and I could eat it.

Try it and I am telling you…you will love it.  So much more flavor than any you buy in the store and with the apple slices left chunky you are getting the best of both worlds.  Like eating apple pie without the crust.

If you want to make it the regular way, just leave out the splenda sugars and use 1/2 to 3/4 cup of regular sugar, and everything else is the same.  The recipe below is what I used.

Spiced Chunky Applesauce

12 cups peeled, cored ad thinly sliced apples = recommend using either Fuji or Golden Delicious apples and it will take about 9-12 apples depending on the size of the apple to get 12 cups out of the apples-

(a trick to keeping them from turning brown while slicing all these apples up is have a big bowl of salt water handy and put the thin slices in them as you slice them – won’t turn.   You can use this method to slice your apples and put in refrigerator overnight and then pack them for your kiddo’s lunch the next day.  Won’t turn. And the salt adds a great flavor to the apple.)

1/2 cup Splenda sugar (or 1/s cup regular sugar if you prefer)

3 Tbsp Splenda brown sugar (omit if you are using regular sugar – I used this to help thicken the sauce)

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (I used a little more and you can, too, if you want a little more spice flavor in it-i thought it needed it)

1 cup water

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Fresh ground nutmeg (optional, but I recommend a small bit- sure added just a bit more flavor)

Add apple slices to crock pot.  Combine sugar(s) and cinnamon and add to apple slices and stir to coat apples.

Stir in water, lemon juice and the nutmeg if using.  Cover and cook on high 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours or on low 5 to 7 hours.  Stir for a chunky sauce.   Serve hot or cold.

applesauce

Doesn’t that look good?   I let mine cook 6 hours and it is perfect.  So good.   Try this. I can assure you it will please every member in your family.  Enjoy this beautiful weather this weekend!

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When one has Basil…

Make fresh Basil Pesto!

One herb that grows quite well in my little section of herb growing fun is basil.  I have the regular green basil…

green basil

this was just cut for my above recipe!  And still plenty more for other cooking recipes.

And I grow a beautiful purple basil.  See?

purple

Today I decided to make some fresh basil pesto…with a new twist!  I added some chopped jalapeno to add some heat and man is it good!   What a difference!   And for supper, I plan on taking a roasted chicken breast I have cut up in to cubes, stir some of this beautiful pesto in to it, and serve it along side some fresh sliced tomatoes.  Help me Rhonda.

If you like pestos, try jazzing yours up with a little jalapeno in yours.  Or just leave it out.  Pesto is versatile, and good!

Here’s how I make mine:

Fresh Basil Pesto

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed

2 cloves garlic (some of the recipes, I notice, calls for 3 cloves of garlic – 2 is enough for us!)

1/2 cup olive oil

1/3 cup pine nuts, (I like to toast mine for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly, in a dry skillet.)

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

and 1/4 to 1/2 jalapeno pepper, if you dare!

Place the basil leaves, toasted pine nuts and garlic in food processor and pulse until just chopped.  Add Parmesan cheese (and jalapeno pepper if using) and while the processor is going, slowly pour the olive oil in.  When combined, stir in salt and pepper to taste.

Serve on pasta, on chicken (this was delicious, by the way!) however you like your pesto!

Now on to cutting my other herbs and drying!  Have a great rest of the week!

It’s a beautiful day – let’s grill something

Y’all know I love my homemade taco seasoning mix.  And y’all know, if you have made it, that it is quite spicy.  (yummy!)  And y’all know that hubby doesn’t eat quite as spicy/hot as I do so I had come across one that isn’t so spicy that I have been wanting to make and try.  I love homemade seasoning mixes as you can add/subtract the seasonings to your liking.

Yall.  This.  Oh my.  It is so good.  We had some chicken we wanted to grill out last week, and, well, the weather.  Enough said.   So I took the chicken, sprinkled this all over it, making sure it was well coated, let it sit for about 15 minutes while the oven heated up, placed it in an aluminum foil lined pan, and let ’em go!  Could not have been better.  I did drizzle just a tad of olive oil on top of the chicken for moisture.  (I always use skinless boneless so I didn’t want them drying out and they didn’t).

We loved these.  Hubby especially!  Leftovers were slightly re-heated and served over a salad.  Man.  Flavor in every bite.  I know two little girls that are getting their very on jar delivered to them today!

Make some and try it.   You will like it, especially if you like a little less heat.

Mild Taco Seasoning Mix

1/4 cup cumin

1/4 cup salt (kosher)

2 Tbsp garlic salt

2 Tbsp ground pepper

2 Tbsp Smoked Paprika (make sure to use the smoked paprika and not plain – it adds a depth of flavor you need)

Mix together and store in an airtight container (I use my mason jars for my spices!).

Use about 2 Tbsp per 1 pound of ground meat.  If sprinkling on whole pieces of meat to cook (like breasts, thighs, wings, or even pork tenderloin, even fish) just eyeball or use to taste.

This would be good on a good firm fish to make fish tacos.  Create your own dish today!

Jalapeno Dressing….oh yes!

This will make your skirts fly up and your pants legs flap in the breeze – even if there isn’t a breeze! I made this yesterday and I can’t wait to have it on my salad tonight. I must say, I wish my jalapeno peppers had been a bit hotter. I like heat and apparently right now the jalapeno peppers I am getting are not that hot. I even left the seeds in and just didn’t get as much heat I wanted but the flavor – oh my. the flavor is definitely still there – so incredibly good. But less heat makes it easier for hubby to eat the dressing – or not! More for me!

This will definitely be one of my favorites. Serve on a bed of field greens, some marinated chicken breasts that have been grilled (marinated with my homemade taco seasoning of course) and if you like, add a couple of slices of avocado. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. Try some and see what you think.

Jalapeno Dressing
1/2 jalapeno roughly sliced (or use the whole jalapeno -why not?) (with or without seeds – your choice)
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar (and yes, I did use my Splenda Sugar)
1 garlic clove, peeled and roughly chopped (I threw mine in whole and the blender chopped it up just fine)
1/2 cup blended oil (1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup vegetable oil – or if you would rather, use 1/2 cup all olive oil – but use a light olive oil so the flavor of the oil does not overpower the dressing)

Place the jalapeno slices, lime juice, vinegar, salt, sugar, and garlic in a blender and blend at low speed, using the quick on/off pulses, until the jalapeno and garlic clove is finely chopped. Now with the motor running, slowly pour in the oil in a thin stream.
Pour into a container (a canning jar works great-makes about a cup so an 8-ounce works great) and store in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving. Give the jar a good shake to make sure all is blended well.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce and smoothies….huh???

I wanted to do something different this Thanksgiving that did not include serving “canned jellied cranberry sauce.”  Now don’t get me wrong, I have been eating this stuff since probably birth and like it but wanted to make “homemade, from scratch” as we all know I have plenty of “scratch’ at my house!

I was also hesitant because my peeps have always ate the above mentioned canned stuff and I was not sure how they would react to homemade chunky flavorful stuff.  Well, let me be the first to tell you, there will never be any turning back to the canned stuff now.   Not only was it good, it was great!    Makes all the difference in the world,  And you know what else,  Leftover homemade cranberry sauce makes the best smoothies, I have been informed by the best sources.

Next time you find yourself in need of cranberry sauce, make it from scratch.  You won’t regret it. And then use the leftovers for smoothies, or better yet, make that leftover turkey sandwich.  Yummy!  There are a lot of different recipes out there, but here is the one I used.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

12 oz bag fresh cranberries, washed and picked over (get out any bruised or damaged cranberries)

1 cup sugar

zest of one orange

juice of one orange

2 Tbsp water

(conserve 1/2 cup cranberries if you want a more chunky sauce – I didn’t and mine was plenty chunky)

Cook the 12 oz bag of berries, the one cup sugar, and the orange zest over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes or until sugar dissolves on low heat, stirring.

Increase heat to medium heat, and cook until cranberries burst, about 12 minutes.  Then add the juice of the orange, the 2 Tbsp. water and more sugar to taste at this point along with a pinch of salt and pepper (salt and pepper a must for flavor – you won’t regret it).  and reduce to low and simmer for a bit more. Can be refrigerated until use.

I made mine the day before.   If you make this using splenda sugar (yes, I did make a small bowl for hubby this way) remember that the splenda sugar does not make the liquid that regular sugar does so you will have to add more liquid as it cooks – I added the juice of another orange to that small amount and then also added a bit more water (I just eyeballed the amounts for this small amount) and it turned out great for hubby.  He loved it also.

Hope you are all having a great week!

Mardi Gras Wings from Publix

Ask Publix for their secret rub mix contents to their Mardi Gras Wings and you won’t get it.   It is apparently a rub made especially for them, by them, or by a company for them.   But if you have ever had their Mardi Gras wings, you know they are unique, and good, and savory, and different.   

I have thought and thought on these wings, and knew several ingredients that they contained.   I was missing two that I didn’t think about when I found this recipe that another blogger (Lemonythyme.com) had played around with and this combination almost hits it dead on.   I still feel there is a little something we are not hitting on, but this rub is so close, I may not worry about it or it just may “click” one day and then, there you go.  Perfect!

We made some wings with this rub on it and they were so good, and moist, and flavorful.  I can’t wait to roast a whole chicken with this rub on it.  (If you roast a whole chicken, don’t forget to rub the inside of the cavity, and under the skin with the rub also).  

Give it a try and see just how close you think this comes to the original “Publix Marti Gras Wings” – and if you have never had those, you have missed out on some good Football Food!  Or anytime food, for that matter!

Mardi Gras Wings Seasoning Mix

2 Tbls. dried rosemary

2 Tbls. chili powder

1 Tbls. kosher salt

1 Tbls. garlic powder

1 Tbls. dried ground oregano (I think it may need 1 1/2 tbsp dried oregano and will add this amount next time as a tester)

1 Tbsp Tony’s Creole seasoning

1 1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp. dry ground mustard

1 tsp. black pepper

Mix all ingredients above and store in an air tight container.

To use, Place wingettes on sheet pan; coat with canola oil and stir to coat; liberally sprinkle seasoning on wings and stir with hands to mix coating on wings.  Bake at 375 degrees until desired doneness (we like ours crispy done).  Stir several times during cooking.   

These could also be grilled on your grill once you have coated them in the canola oil and then mixed with the seasoning.

Some of the comments said it had a tad too much rosemary and may need just a pinch of fennel seeds.  I experimented by backing off a 1/2 tbsp of rosemary and adding a pinch of fennel seed but next time I will not do that.   When you eat the wings from Publix there is no fennel flavor and there is a rosemary flavor.   I will keep the amount of rosemary above in the mix and nix the idea of adding any fennel at all.  

Like I said, play around with it.  It would also work well on a pork tenderloin, or now that deer season is almost here, on a back strap or tenderloin. This seasoning is great just as it is.  Hope you like it!

Creole Seasoning Mix – It’s what’s for dinner

We are having grilled Tilapia tonight.   And we both like ours with different toppings.  It will be a smorgasbord of flavors!  Hubby is trying the “pork dust” on a couple of his filets.   I want some seasonings on mine – while I like fish, I don’t like it to, well, taste “fishy”.  Go figure that one out!   I guess I just don’t like a very strong fishy taste.  So I will be using an already made seasoning mix we have and one I make up – a Creole Seasoning mix.   Give it a try sometimes when you are cooking fish – or sauteeing some shrimp to go on top of a salad – or grilling some shrimp skewers!   It would also be good to flavor up some rice.

 

Creole Seasoning Mix

1 Tbsp onion powder

2 Tbsp dried oregano

½  Tbsp dried thyme

½ tsp cayenne pepper

2 Tbsp garlic salt

1 Tbsp dried basil

1 Tbsp black pepper

2 Tbsp paprika

 

Mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container (such as a ball jar).  Great to season seafood, poultry, pork tenderloin.

Minions leads to popcorn and toppings

I finally got my copy of Despicable Me and of course made hubby sit through it last night while we both snickered, laughed, and had fun watching those cute yellow, then purple, then yellow, creatures.   I have plastic Easter eggs that look like minions.   Nothing says Easter like minion eggs!   

But that made me wanting some popcorn.  Which reminded me that I have some great toppings for popcorn.   Which reminded me I haven’t shared those toppings with you.  So here they are. Four of them.  A flavor for all kinds of tastes. Make them, get those minion movies and have an enjoyable family night.  

Italian popcorn seasoning

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp dried oregano

1 Tbsp dried thyme

1 Tbsp seasoned salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

 ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients, stirring well to combine.  Store seasoning in an air tight container.

 

Southwest popcorn seasoning

¼ cup chili powder

¼ cup ground cumin

2 Tbsp garlic powder

1 Tbsp ground coriander

1 Tbsp salt

Combine all ingredients, stirring well to combine.  Store seasoning in an airtight container.

 

Ranch-style popcorn seasoning

¾ cup dried parsley flakes

¼ cup onion salt

¼ cup garlic salt

¼ cup onion powder

¼ cup garlic powder

2 Tbsp dried dillweed

1 Tbsp ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients, stirring well to combine.  Store seasoning in an airtight container.

 

Cajun popcorn seasoning

½ cup paprika

1/3  cup seasoned salt

¼ cup onion powder

¼ cup garlic powder

¼ cup dried oregano

¼ cup dried basil

2 Tbsp dried thyme

1 tbsp ground black pepper

2 Tsp ground cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients, stirring well to combine.  Store seasoning in an airtight container.

Fresh Herb Vinaigrette

I grow herbs.  I love growing fresh herbs and walking out and cutting what I need for a particular recipe.   Fresh basil, fresh sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, drizzled with olive oil, the best summer salad.   

I made this fresh herb vinaigrette and had all the herbs right out in my herb garden.  YEA!  And it was so good.   If you are a fan of vinaigrette dressings, you will like this.  

 

Fresh Herb Vinaigrette

3/4 cup white wine vinegar (i believe it would be just as good if you used apple cider vinegar)

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons sugar (use Splenda if you are so inclined and a little more if you lean on the sweeter side))

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 cup extra-light olive oil

1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano

1 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon

1 Tbsp choped fresh thyme

1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil

1.  In a small bowl, combine vinegar, Dijon mustard, sugar, salt, garlic powder, and pepper, whisking until sugar dissolves.  In a slow stream, gradually add olive oil, whisking to combine well.  stir in parsley, oregano, tarragon, thyme, and basil.

 

I store mine in a mason jar (what else?)  so that all I have to do is shake well before using.

Sure is good!  Give it a try.  Would be a good marinade for chicken or pork before grilling, also.

 

S’mores Butter – It’s from the Devil, for sure

You want this.  And you want it today.  S’mores Butter.  Yep.  To quote my taste testers,” its probably the best thing I have ever eaten. Ever. EEEVVVVEEERRRR! I could eat it with a spoon, by itself, not slathered on anything.”   

So there.   Is that enough to make you want some?  Get that biscuit, slather it on.  Get that fresh baked bread (yes my bread  machine makes great homemade bread without all the work) and spread it on.   Got Bagel? There you go.   English Muffin?  Well. Pancakes, even.  Oh, my.

You just may want keep some of this on hand.  Always and forever. Just remember, if you put this in the fridge, place on counter for about 30 minutes prior to serving so it can soften up.  I just put mine on the counter and leave. 

Here’s my version of this heavenly wonder. It makes a lot.  Because it doesn’t last long.  

S’mores Butter

2 1/2 sticks butter, softened to room temperature

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon, or more to taste

1 large Hershey’s candy bar (I used the 4.4 ounce size)

1 cup mini marshmallows

4 graham crackers (make sure it is the whole cracker and not half), broken into small pieces – I put mine into a zip lock and smush)

1.  Beat butter until creamy; add sugar and cinnamon and beat until combined.  You can taste and see if you need to add a little more sugar or cinnamon to your taste at this point before adding the other ingredients. 

2.  Chop candy bar until some are very tiny pieces.  You can leave some in small chunks if you like.  Pour into butter, and stir to combine.  Then take crushed graham crackers and mini marshmallows and add to butter chocolate mixture and by stirring, mix until well combined.