Baked Cinnamon Apples

Did you ever buy apples and when you get them home and bite into them…. They are not very tasty, hard to bite into, just not at all what you expected?!

And then you are wondering, what the heck! Now what do I do with all of these apples?

I just did that, they were on sale at my store so I thought I would give them a try. What a disappointment.

And this is not the first time this has happened. I have even bought my regular tried and true favorite variety, but they were not tasty at all.

When this happens, I usually make apple pancakes, or sauté them and put them in maple syrup, or make baked cinnamon apples.

These baked apples taste like an apple pie without the crust. You can pour these over ice cream, French toast, pancakes or waffles. They are delicious over yogurt and oatmeal too. And I am sure there are a bunch of other yummy ideas that you can come up with

You could also make a crumb topping and turn this into a crisp.

I prefer the apples peeled for this recipe. I “rough” peeled them, meaning that there was some random pieces of the peel still on the apples. I did not like it! The apples were soft and the skin was tough

If you don’t have the cardamom, that’s okay. They will still be delicious without it. But I love cardamom so I almost always have some in my pantry and if I have a recipe that calls for cinnamon, I like to add the cardamom too.

After the apples are cut into 1 inch chunks and peeled, put them in a bowl and coat them with the juice of half a lemon. Make sure you zest the lemon first! Set the apples aside and put all of the spices, brown sugar, salt & pepper, lemon zest and cornstarch into a small bowl, blend well and then pour over the apples coating them evenly.

Now, let’s chat about the pepper for a second. You do not need to add the pepper BUT… Did you know that the pepper “spices” up the cinnamon and cardamom? When I make my chai tea, I toss several cracked peppercorns in the mix to really kick up the spice level.

Okay, so next you are going to put the apple mixture into a greased 8×8 inch baking dish and dot the top with cubes of butter. Cover the dish with foil. It’s really important to cover the dish with the foil! It helps to steam the apples and keep them from drying out.

Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until the apples are tender. I check on the apples at 20 minutes and then check about every 5 minutes to make sure they are perfect and not over baked.

I hope you give these glorious baked apple a try!

Baked Cinnamon Apples

6 apples, cut into 1” cubes, skin removed optional

1/3 cup brown sugar, heaping

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground cardamom

3 tsp ground cinnamon

1 T cornstarch, heaping

Salt and pepper

Lemon zest from one lemon

Lemon juice from half of a lemon

2-3 T butter, cubed

  1. Place apple chunks in bowl, coat with the lemon juice and set aside.
  2. Put the brown sugar, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, cornstarch, salt and pepper, and the lemon zest in a small bowl and mix together.
  3. Pour sugar mixture over the apples and coat evenly.
  4. Place apples in an 8 by 8 inch greased baking dish, spread evenly in the dish.
  5. Dot with butter and cover with foil.
  6. Bake at 400 degrees for about 35-40 minutes or until apples are tender.

 

Pretty Little Crocheted Dishcloths

I love winter for several reasons. First and most important is there is no more suffocating heat! I can walk outside and not break into an immediate sweat. I’d much rather be bundled up in a warm sweatshirt or coat. That said, I do not like the frigid temperatures and artic winds either.

Second, and probably just as important as the first, I have a break from tending to my gardens and yard. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE my gardens and yard. But it is hard work for me; not only am I single, so that means I do everything myself but, I also have several different types of arthritis. The RA and the arthritis in my spine being the worse. Every joint in my body has arthritis, I am far from crippled and I stay active but, I do hurt.

So by August, I am ready to stop the yard work. I just need a break from the work and doing it in that awful heat we have.

Two other reasons I love the winter months are that I finally have more time to focus on my hobbies and work on things inside the house.

For the last few weeks I have been working on these crocheted dishcloths. I love them!

They are made with cotton yarn so that makes them perfect for washing dishes and then being tossed into the washer and dryer.

They hold up remarkably well. And the colors don’t fade.

Unfortunately I used a smaller hook than the last time I made them so they are little too stiff, I may use them as pot holders for a bit until they loosen up a little.

Some people prefer them this way but I like them to be a bit loose, that makes washing glasses easier. But these are also great for scrubbing plates and maybe a pots and baking dishes if the food isn’t baked on too bad.

I sometimes sell them on Etsy although right now I have absolutely nothing in my shop and I have closed it for the time being.

I also have a shop on Shop Handmade, my shop name there is LillyBug Designs, named after my dog Lilly. I do have a set of knitted dishcloths for sale, along with scarves and other items. Now I crochet, I think crochet goes faster and I seem to like it better as the stitches are easier.

I am looking forward to working on some new patterns for dishcloths in the next few months while I am snuggled on the sofa with Lilly.

Turkey Noodle Soup on a Cold Snowy Night

It has been snowing here in south central Pennsylvania since about 1pm.

They initially were calling for 1-3 inches but I’m pretty sure we now have just a little bit more than that.

Can you find my little snowpup nugget? She absolutely loves the snow!

For tonight’s dinner I was just going to have some leftover stir fry from last night but after watching the snow all afternoon at work, I instead pulled some leftovers from the freezer.

I still had a little bit of turkey from thanksgiving that needed to be used, I had some buttered corn left from one of my Christmas dinners, and I always have chicken stock and some sort of noodles in my pantry. Oh, and I still have some thyme!

I have my herbs in a pot up against my house. My rosemary and thyme are still good!

There’s nothing better on a cold snowy night!

A nice bowl of noodle soup, a blanket and my pup.

Have a great evening!

Furniture Refinishing

I have often admired the beautiful pieces of refinished furniture that I would see on Pinterest. And I secretly wished I would have the talent and time to produce the lovely painted tables and chest of drawers.

One of my favorite things to do is to browse through some local antique shops, over the summer I found a hutch with glass doors that I just loved! Except for the color of stain. Soooo that was my first piece to transform.

I learned a lot, and mostly from my mistakes.

The hardware on the hutch is the original, they were very tarnished. And nothing I used on them was working well at all. I was very upset and frustrated. Needless to say I ended up soaking them and then used a scouring pad with some cleanser and white vinegar. It helped some but I now have some scratch marks on them.

Below is the after picture, I forgot to take a before picture. Seriously! *smh

This picture is how I have it decorated for Christmas. Each shelf has a small string of fairy lights wrapped around the dishes and the decor.

A small, slightly mismatched nativity set. My Grandparents had the full set, but I found these few pieces in my Dad’s attic. It was always one of my most favorite things at Christmas when I was little!

I also have a lot of family heirloom glassware that I filled with Christmas ornaments.

          

I have my Grandparents everyday dishes in my possession, and usually this hutch is filled with the entire set but for Christmas I am only using 2 pieces. I wanted to use some of the other heirloom pieces I have for some Christmas décor. So, one of the serving bowls from my grandparents set of dishes is filled with snowflake ornaments.

My Mom’s Christmas Princess House glassware. Remember those?

A set of snowman mugs and a cookie plate that I used when my kids were small.

The rest of the décor are things I have collected over the years such as the bottle brush trees, the snowflake ornaments, the glittery star, the Santa’s and greenery.

The reindeer on the top of the hutch I found a few years ago, they have a texture of paper-mache but had some gold leafing on them. I spray painted them copper and just love them now!!

The greenery that they are sitting in was actually used around the entrance to my dining room but the area is too small and it seemed cluttered so this year I used it for the hutch.

I am just about finished with my second piece of furniture. I’ll post it soon, I need to find new door knobs, I’m leaning to clear glass knobs. Stay tuned!

Lemon Ricotta and Roasted Red Pepper Fettucine

I have to admit, this dish turned out to be wayyyy more delicious than I had anticipated!

I love ricotta in my recipes but I have never used it as the main “cheese” ingredient, so I was delighted when I tasted the first bite!

And the roasted red peppers are ALWAYS yummy in my tummy. Red peppers are so good for us and are filled with vitamin C. I love buying the jarred roasted red peppers, one of those shortcuts I will never give up.

So, what started the idea for this dish? I have often read recipes using ricotta as the only cheese in pasta dishes but was never brave enough to actually try it. One evening I was nosing through my pantry and fridge trying to decide what to make for dinner.

I almost always have a jar of roasted red peppers in my pantry. I had the fettucine noodles too.

In the fridge I had some spinach for a salad that was looking a little sad. I also had a small container of ricotta cheese that I had planned to use to make a small lasagna (and clearly did not!). And I had a few lemons that were looking a little sad too.

I put water on to boil and went to work preparing all the ingredients I was planning to use. I zested the lemon and cut it in half, and chopped the roasted red pepper.

I used half of the box of fettucine noodles.

This recipe is so quick and easy, and I eyeballed everything but I do have a recipe below if you need it. Make sure you have all the ingredients ready to go because you will need them all at once.

Just before the pasta was al dente, I heated up my non-stick fry pan over a medium heat and added a little oil. I love using avocado, but olive is also a good choice here. Oh, and make sure you use a large fry pan.

To the oil I added about one and a half roasted red peppers that I had chopped. You don’t need to add this much, one would be just fine. But since I love them so much, I added the extra half.

I seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked them on low until they were heated.

Then I turned the pan to a low heat when I was ready to add the pasta to the pan. Just spoon the noodles in, its okay if some of the pasta water goes along because you are going to add more shortly.

As soon as the pasta is in the pan, add about one cup of the ricotta, and a large handful of spinach. Start with one ladle of the pasta water and start to work the pasta, ricotta and spinach around. Add a little more pasta water as needed but do not go overboard with it. You only want enough to soften the cheese and wilt the spinach.

Keep an eye on the heat, you may need to lower the heat even lower so pasta does not dry out. When the cheese is melted and the spinach is wilted, turn the heat off.

Last, you will need to add the zest and juice of one lemon. YUM! Serve and enjoy.

Lemon Ricotta and Roasted Red Pepper Fettucine

½ box fettucine noodles

1 cup ricotta cheese, you can certainly add a little more if you want

1 to 1-1/2 roasted red pepper

1 lemon

1 large handful of baby spinach

Avocado oil, salt and pepper

  1. Cook fettucine noodles to al dente, make sure you salt the water.
  2. While the noodle are cooking you will need to zest a lemon and cut in half, set aside.
  3. Chop the roasted red pepper, set aside.
  4. Make sure your spinach and ricotta cheese is ready to do, this dish comes together quickly.
  5. When the noodles are almost al dente, using a large fry pan add some avocado oil and saute the chopped roasted red pepper, season with salt and pepper.
  6. Add the cooked noodles to the red peppers in the fry pan, also add the ricotta and the spinach.
  7. Add 1 ladle of the pasta water and start working the noodles, cheese and spinach around so the cheese melts and the spinach wilts
  8. If you need to add more water, only do about a half ladle at a time so you don’t overdo it!
  9. Turn the heat off and add the lemon zest and squeeze all the lemon juice into the pasta.

This serves 2 and only takes about 15 minutes to prepare.

Christmas Memories

I have always loved Christmas. I love the reason we celebrate, our Lord Jesus. I love the gift giving, I just adore giving my loved one’s gifts. I love the decorations and I usually go all out and decorate every room in my house!

And I cannot forget to mention all the wonderful memories I have from my childhood at Christmas. My parents always did their best to give my brother and I a wonderful Christmas.

My parents always had big family Christmas dinners, and while we ate our dinner we were serenaded by Andy Williams, Johnny Mathias and Bing Crosby Christmas albums. To this day that is still my most favorite Christmas music to listen to.

It was always my job to set the table. That is when we used the good utensils (they were not silver), and the good dishes; which I just unpacked and put in my cabinets to use. And guess what? They were not just good dishes, it was actually fine china!!!

I only remember having a live tree one year in my childhood. My Dad and I went to get the tree on a Sunday after mass. Back then little girls always wore dresses with little white socks and black patent leather shoes. I remember being so cold and telling my Dad that I was sure it was going to snow because it was so frigid.

So we picked out the tree and took it home. The only tree decorations I remember is the silver tinsel that we got to pull out of box in little strings and toss on the tree.

The only tree that I remember was the silver foil like tree that rotated, there was a light that sat on the floor that had a colored disk on the front, that rotated changing the colors from red, blue, yellow and green. And the tree had bows that snapped on the tips of each branch, they looked like the bows we buy to put on our gifts.

And my favorite memory was when Dad would put up the outdoor decorations! The only types of lights we had were those large bulbs, and we always had the multicolor lights. He would string the lights to the roof line of the entire house, and around the doors and windows.

And in the windows he would place plastic electric candles with orange lights, anyone else remember having them?

On the roof we had a Santa and all his reindeer, including Rudolph. Rudolph had a red-light bulb for a nose, of course! I am not exactly sure how old we were when he stopped putting the set out, but I do remember that he went from the rooftop to the yard. I think that transaction may have been when we stopped believing in Santa.

I am super sad that Dad got rid of the set. Oh how I wish I had it but he got rid of it a very long time ago.

One of the things we did as a family when I was little, was drive around and look at all the lights. There was one house we went to every year that I can only say resembled the Griswold house. And the yard was FULL of lighted décor. There is a house not far from me that does this too, I love taking my grandkids there to see everything that they have set up.

One year when my two boys were little, I drove into a development that I was not familiar, and I could not get us back out! One of my boys gave me directions though!!! LOL My own homegrown GPS Kiddo!

When my kids were small, I always bought live trees. We made our own ornaments because money was tight since I was a single mom. I didn’t even have the money to buy lights for outside, but they didn’t seem to mind as long as I would drive them around to see the lights around town.

And now in my more mature years, I no longer put up a big tree. I started using artificial trees about 12 yrs ago. Last year I didn’t put up a tree at all, in fact I sold it! I was perfectly happy with all my Christmas décor around the house.

But this year I was nosing around Target (my guilty pleasure) and found a tabletop tree with sparse branches. It was mine! My Mom gave me handmade crocheted snowflakes a very long time ago, and they go perfect on my new tree. When it’s time to put Christmas away, all I have to do is carry the tree to the basement and throw a cover over it!

Some of the ornaments my kids made, I still have. I will be putting them in a basket and setting them out to enjoy and remember.

I really enjoyed searching for and finding these childhood photo’s. My parents and my brother have all passed but I know they are still with me.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas!