Spiced Apple Butter

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Don’t hate, but I have only recently discovered the wonders of apple butter. As a kid, my experience with apple butter was limited to seeing my mom order it alongside a basket of biscuits at the local Cracker Barrel. (Yes, I lived far enough out in the exurbs of Chicago that we had our very own Cracker Barrel…) In my ignorance, I never quite understood apple butter and instead reached for the packaged grape jelly.

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But my curiosity over apple butter was piqued after seeing the boyfriend order it on all of our Cracker Barrel road-trip pit stops. I quickly learned to remind him to request the side of apple butter when ordering to avoid the inevitable sadface that occurred when he forgot.

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Once I got in to canning last summer, I knew that I needed to cook up some apple butter. But first, I tried out peach butter from some of the 50 pounds of peaches I ordered from the Farmer’s Market. And wow, that was amazing! So next up was apple butter.

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This is the second batch of apple butter I’ve canned, as I had a few over-ripe apples in the fridge and was down to only 1 jar of apple butter left from the first batch. It’s incredibly easy to cook and comes together quite nicely, as long as you have the patience. So make sure you set aside a full day in the kitchen to tend to your apple butter as it will require some careful tending.

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But, trust me, all of that time and effort will be worth it when you can pull out a fresh jar of homemade apple butter! Spread it on hot toast or biscuits, or stir it in to yoghurt (as the boyfriend found out is amazing as well!).

Click below for the recipe. If you have a question, feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! Enjoy! 🙂

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Cherry-Bourbon Jam

This past weekend was extremely productive! I made three batches of homemade jam, canned my sweet pickles, made two batches of simple syrup, baked up tons of mini pizzas, and made a giant coffee cake to bring in to work. Whew… By Monday evening, I was exhausted! But after cleaning up my work room and the kitchen, I was finally able to sit down, relax, and catch up on a few episodes of Once Upon A Time, the newest show that the boyfriend and I are binge-watching!

If you follow me on Twitter, I posted a picture of all the jams and pickles and syrups from this weekend’s cooking and baking and canning extravaganza! I bought a boiling-water canner a few weeks ago, and this was my first opportunity to use it. So I picked up some beautiful cherries from the Farmer’s Market (along with rhubarb, beets, bread, and the cutest baby zucchini!) and decided to make jam.

The boyfriend and I tend to keep no less than 7 different types of jam and jelly in fridge at any given time. We put it on toast, in PBJs, and pair it with cheese. But buying the organic jams or the mostly-fruit (no corn syrup please!) spreads at $5 each adds up quickly. So, in my effort to make everything homemade and eat fresh and/or locally produced food, I decided to add jam to my repertoire!

And this Cherry-Bourbon jam is phenomenal! The cherries and the bourbon (I used Maker’s Mark) pair beautifully together, and it’s not cloying sweet like store-bought jam tends to be. The recipe makes about 3 8-ounce jars, which can be kept refrigerated for about 3 weeks or canned to be kept for up to a year in the pantry. Not that it will last that long anyways… 😉 And check back tomorrow to find out what I’m baking with the Cherry-Bourbon jam!

Click below for the recipe! Have a question? Feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! 🙂

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Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote

Well, I’m back from New York, no worse for the wear. Meeting the boyfriend’s parents went really well, and spending time with his family was great! And now that I’m back home, it’s time to continue Rhubarb Fest 2012! 🙂

After the amazing Rhubarb Crisp from last weekend, I had about a pound of a half of leftover rhubarb to use. (I always over-buy because if I don’t, it’s always gone by the next time I go to the grocery store or farmer’s market!) Since I was going out of town, I chopped up the extra rhubarb and threw it in the freezer so that it wouldn’t go bad while I was away. And then my brain started thinking about what to do with leftover rhubarb when I got home…

When I was a kid, my mom always packed my lunches. And I remember the early Spring or late Summer lunches that occasionally held a little container of rhubarb goo. That was always the favorite part of my lunch. No cookies or candies or fruit roll-ups for me. I wanted the precious rhubarb goo that only manifested during a short season each year. I think I was the only kid at the lunch table that would gladly slurp up the fruity and tart rhubarb compote. The other kids always looked at me strangely when I pulled out a tupperware of dark red stewed rhubarb, wondering what the heck I was eating. It certainly wasn’t the only reason the other kids thought I was weird, but it sure didn’t help much! 😉

As an adult, I’ve stewed up rhubarb a few times, whenever I have leftovers or no idea what else to make or just want some childhood nostalgia. However, while I always remember my mom making hers with only rhubarb, I decided to sweeten my recipe up with a pretty hefty amount of strawberries, reducing the sugar significantly to compensate. The compote is great on toast and biscuits, amazing over ice cream, or simply satisfying by the spoonful! And now I’ll have to head to the grocery store to buy more rhubarb before the season abruptly ends because I’m sure the mason jar in my fridge won’t last long… Especially after Friday when you see what I use the compote for! Check back to find out! 😀

Click below for the recipe! Have a question? Feel free to ask in the comments below! And thanks for reading! 🙂

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