the easiest recipe you’ll ever make

Growing up I got spoiled for life on applesauce because my Grandma Molly used to make the most awesome chunky sauce that she would freeze and share with family.  Best gift ever.  I remember fondly the mornings when my mom would thaw out a container for us to eat for breakfast.  I’ve never been able to enjoy the store-bought kind as a result…

So last fall I decided to recreate my grandma’s applesauce in my own kitchen.  As long as you don’t mind peeling, coring, and chopping apples it really could not be simpler, especially with the aid of a slow cooker.

You just throw the chunked, skinless apples into the slow cooker with some cinnamon and water and let it do its’ thing on low for a few hours and then you stir in a little brown sugar and voila.  Comfort-y heaven in your mouth.  It has seriously been motivating me out of bed on weekdays for the past week so I highly suggest you get on board and make yourself some and forget you ever once purchased that junk they sell in the grocery store…

Slow Cooker Applesauce

  • 14 apples (I used a variety of sweet and tart apples), peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

Place apples in 4-quart or larger slow cooker and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Add water.

Cover.  Cook on low for 2 to 4 hours, or until apples become mushy.  Stir in brown sugar and mix well with an immersion blender or potato masher.

twist on a classic

This may look like your standard, run-of-the-mill chocolate chip cookie but it is not.  Oh no.  In a belated nod to Cinco de Mayo I decided to make Mexican Chocolate Chip Cookies.  What makes them Mexican, you ask?  Cinnamon and a touch of black pepper.

The cinnamon and pepper add a nice touch of spiciness.

As they might say in Mexico: delicioso!

Mexican Chocolate Chip Cookies (from www.epicurious.com)

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips

Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then vanilla. Sift next 6 ingredients over butter mixture; beat just until blended. Mix in chocolate chips. Refrigerate dough until cold, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter 2 large baking sheets. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto sheets, spacing 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake cookies until golden brown but still soft to touch, about 10 minutes (for crisper cookies, bake 12 minutes). Let stand on sheets 3 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool.

mid-week treat

Last week I ate at an Indian restaurant with friends and had some of the finest Masala Chai Tea I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying.  Now, I’ve definitely sampled my fair share of chai tea over the years and used to buy cartons of the pre-made liquid kind from the grocery store, but after researching recipes this weekend I realized how easy it is to make from scratch.  And since I am always a fan of making things from scratch whenever possible I couldn’t resist.

Making the tea did require a trip to the spice section of the grocery store to buy ingredients in whole form: cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cloves, and black peppercorns.  Making the tea also gave me a chance to use the mortar and pestle my mom gave me for Christmas.  And I am always looking for an excuse to bust out the mortar and pestle.

I wish the masters of the interweb could figure out a way to transport scent through our computers because man oh man if you could smell it while the spices were steeping!  It was awesome– sweet and spicy at the same time.

After straining the spices you add milk, a bit of sugar, and finally the tea.

This cup is for you:

Masala Chai Tea

(Adapted from Indian Masala Chai recipe found on www.food.com )

servings

Update

  • 4 whole cloves
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 3 cups water
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 black teabags (I used decaffeinated but certainly caffeinated would be fine too)

In a mortar crush the cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon, and black peppercorns, or use a coffee grinder.

Transfer the crushed spices to a small saucepan, add the water and ginger and bring to a boil.

Remove the pan from the heat, cover and let steep for 5 minutes.

Add the milk and sugar to the pan and bring to a boil.

Remove from the heat and add the teabags.  Cover and let steep for 3 minutes.

Stir the chai, and then strain it into a warmed teapot or directly into teacups.