Old Fashioned Fruitcake. See Recipe Below.

Based on the cover photo for this post you might be a bit confused. Not only does it not look like an old fashioned fruitcake it in no way resembles a fruitcake at all. Why is that? Well I have been trying to create this post for about a year. In that time I had created a folder with all the lovely photos I had take of various old fashioned fruitcakes I have made over the past five years.

When I went to look for that folder sadly I could not find it or the copies of the pictures that should be in that folder. I did find one sad blurry photo from the very first year I made the cake. It is not the prettiest of photos so while it is included below in this post it is not cover photo worthy. Once I get another photo taken this season I will change the cover photo and update the post. Until then you are stuck with something a bit odd but I think in the holiday spirit.

As a kid I was subjected to two kinds of fruitcake: store bought fruitcake and homemade loaf pan fruitcake. The first was very sugary and a little gross because of the candied fruit. The second was made by my grandparents who always made fruit and nut breads around the holiday. This fruitcake was made in a loaf pan with a combination of real and candied fruit but because it was a lot of batter shoved into a tight space the cake always came out slightly burnt. Most children don’t like burnt cakes and I was no different. One would think this put me off to fruitcake forever but not so. Several years back I got it in my head that I wanted to make old fashioned fruitcake.

At the time I had been watching a lot of British TV shows set in the Victorian era. In the shows there was a lot of mention to various foods eaten and drinks imbibed. Most of the time I just let it all wash over me and enjoy the shows but not that holiday season. That year I wanted to know why everyone found these foods and drinks so tasty. The fruitcake seemed to haunt me the most because of my experiences as a child.

I set aside some time to research old fashioned fruitcakes. Some of the internet finds had me a bit confused by the language used. The cookbooks my mom had only had recipes for fruitcakes with candied fruit. After looking at some recipes for cookies in a cookbook Rent-a-Dad had bought as a gift for me one year prior, I happened to find an old fashioned fruitcake recipe that made some sense.

The recipe used real dried fruit, marzipan, and fondant. It sounded the closest to all the research I had done on good old fashioned fruitcake. I didn’t particularly agree with all of the fruit being used such as prunes or the fruit being left out like cranberries or cherries. So I made some adaptations to the recipe.

When I set out to make the recipe I realized I made one strategic mistake. I was making the fruitcake one week before Christmas and the recipe said to make it three weeks out so it can be properly soaked in rum. Well as I had been talking about this recipe for weeks my family certainly expected that I would deliver. So I made the fruitcake and instead of brushing rum on the fruitcake once every week, I brushed the same amount on the fruitcake over the course of three nights rotating the cake every night so the rum wouldn’t sink to the bottom and be more likely to really soak in.

Another change that I made was using my dad’s recipe for white frosting instead of store bought fondant. When the cake had soaked long enough I brushed it down with marmalade (instead of apricot preserves) before spreading white frosting on the cake. I then rolled out the soft marzipan I had purchased and layered it on top. The crowning touch was dusting the marzipan with powdered sugar to give the cake a snowy appearance.

A day later came the moment I had been dreading: cutting and serving the cake. The cake, weighing between 10 and 20 pounds, cut beautifully and looked like something straight out of a Dickens’s novel. It was enough cake to serve a small army. When I cut the cake several slices adorned each of my aunt’s cookie platters that I gave as gifts that year.

The tasting of the cake at our home was so enjoyable that even my husband who hates fruitcake loved it! Then came the phone calls from my three aunts. The fruitcake slices were a hit at each of their homes. Their children who all hate fruitcake had even stolen bites and asked for more. All of my uncles were furious because they wanted the rum soaked fruitcake with my dad’s frosting! Thankfully I had enough fruitcake that I could smuggle them each down a slice all of their own.

The following year I received so many questions as to when I would make my old fashioned fruitcake that I knew this was now a family favorite! In subsequent years making the old fashioned fruitcake has also been bitter sweet as all three of my uncles have since passed away and I remember how each of them had looked forward to the second year I made this cake. I still make this old fashioned fruitcake even though it now has a gluten free twist and it is still as good as the first year I made it!

Old Fashioned Fruitcake

Before starting this recipe a 10” or larger spring form pan is needed. If not available use a 10” or larger round cake pan that is at least 3” deep. Cut out a piece of parchment to fit the bottom of the pan. Also cut three 4 inch tall pieces of parchment paper and set to the side. Grease the sides of the pan and line the sides with the previously cut parchment paper. Make sure the pieces overlap (may need to use a little more grease to get the parchment paper to stick). Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

 

Dry Ingredients:

2 cups of flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour)

½ cup of finely ground almond flour

½ tsp salt

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp allspice

½ tsp coriander

½ tsp ground clove

 

Fruit Ingredients:

3 cups dark raisins

1 cup golden raisins

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup lightly packed dried pitted apricots, chopped

1 cup lightly packed dried pitted dates, chopped

½ cup lightly packed dried cherries

¼ to ½ cup marmalade

½ cup of rum

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

lemon zest*

* a good substitute for fresh zest is dried or even trying a ½ teaspoon of lemon flavoring. If making a substitute I prefer to use 2 packets of true lemon or an extra tablespoon of lemon juice.

 

Wet Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) of room temperature butter (I use salted)

1 ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar (a mix of light and dark works well also)

1 teaspoon Vanilla

5 eggs

 

Finishes:

¼ cup marmalade

2 pounds of Wilton White Frosting (similar enough to my dad’s recipe) or butter cream frosting bought from a local bakery

10 to 12 ounces of soft marzipan

Confectioners sugar for rolling and dusting

Rum

 

Directions:

Whisk together the flours, salt, and spices. Set to the side.

Chop the apricots and dates. Add in a separate bowl with the remaining fruit. Add the rum, lemon juice, zest, and marmalade. Let soak for 30 minutes.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth on a medium high speed. Add the brown sugar and vanilla. Once thoroughly mixed add the eggs one at a time and beat for an additional two minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl at least once during the process to ensure that all of the butter and sugar are mixed with the eggs.

Gradually add the flour and spice mixture at a reduced speed. Once the flour is fully incorporated beat for a minute. Then slowly begin to fold in all of the fruit mixture. Continue to stir in the fruit until it is completely distributed throughout the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared spring form pan being careful not to knock down the parchment side liners. I tend to scoop the batter one spoonful at a time into the pan until a good layer of the batter is holding up the parchment side liners. Make sure the parchment paper continues to stay about 3” above the top of the pan. The parchment side liners ensure that the fruitcake will not bake over top the pan and burn in the oven.

Set the filled pan on a baking sheet and place on a rack in the center of the oven. Bake for 2 hours or until cake is firm to the touch and golden brown in color*. The top may be slightly cracked. When a toothpick is inserted in the center it should come out clean.

Once the cake is done, pull from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool for a minimum of 30 minutes. After the cake is room temperature or cool to the touch release from the pan and let the cake completely cool. Once cooled completely place the cake in a container (I use a deep drying pan) and brush with rum. Wrap the cake in plastic wrap or store in an air tight tin.

Once a week, for three weeks, brush the top of the cake with ¼ of rum. I never have enough time for this step so once a day for three days I flip my cake and brush with rum so the rum has a chance to fully distribute through the cake. Remember to re-cover the cake so it does not dry out.

Once the cake has soaked for a suitable amount of time, transfer the cake to a plate. Brush the cake with ¼ cup (or more) of marmalade. Evenly spread the white butter-cream frosting over the cake. Let sit while you roll out the marzipan.

Lightly dust a pastry cutting board with powdered sugar before rolling the marzipan out to a ¼ inch. Make sure that as you are rolling out the marzipan that you are doing so in a circle pattern of at least 15” in diameter. When the marzipan is the desired thickness carefully roll the marzipan over the rolling pin to move to the cake. Gently lay on the cake. Smooth the marzipan out to remove any air-bubbles. Trim excess marzipan from the bottom of the cake and dust the entire surface with sifted powdered sugar for a “snowy white” look.

White fondant can also be used to create snowflake cutouts to decorate the cake with.

* If the fruitcake is browning up quicker than expected then between the 1.5 and 2 hour marker I have turned the oven off and let the fruitcake sit in the oven for a full hour. This is not a step I recommend to a new baker. This is a gutsy move and may end up with an under-baked cake.

Sugar Cookie: Classic and Gluten Free Inspiration. See Recipe(s) below.

The classic sugar cookie recipe included in this post is one that has been passed down from my grandmother to my mother, then from my mom to me and the grandchildren. The gluten free recipe options have been recent finds as I have had to changes to my diet and actually began to miss some of the cookies from my childhood.

My mom has always loved sugar cookies but they have always been my least favorite cookie. So at first when my diet changed I did not miss them. The biggest reason this has been my least favorite cookie was the after taste baking powder can leave behind when you finish the sugar cookie.

As I got older sugar cookies were more trouble than they were worth. I could never get the sugar cookies to retain their shape from the cookie cutter until I started pre-coating the cookie cutters with something like PAM. It didn’t seem to matter if I made the sugar cookie as a drop cookie or shaped, I was upset of the sugar cookie didn’t come out buttery. My family recipe calls for Crisco. When I tried using butter the cookies came out harder than a rock until I figured out that if I used butter helps but refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes prior to baking to retain softness. The final straw was that no matter how hard I tried I always burnt the edges of my sugar cookies. I felt like a sugar cookie failure because my mom and dad always made the best sugar cookies.

When I eat a sugar cookie I want it to turn out like all the gourmet cookies do: plump, buttery, a little crunchy on the outside but melt in your mouth when you get to the center. I could never get my sugar cookies to be like this. That is until this year when I tried two gluten free store-bought boxed batters.

During the years in which I was the business manager for a choir I never had enough time during the holiday season to make all the cookies from my youth. I started to keep cake and brownie mixes on the shelf that I could turn into gourmet style soft batch cookies. My favorite was Duncan Hines yellow cake batter. With the recipe on that box I could transform the cake mix into snicker doodles which were always a hit at the annual holiday party my church held.

This year I missed the annual church party because of family crisis. I also missed those drop cookies because I am trying to live gluten free (makes my life less painful). To cheer me up we decided to take the kids in our lives out to look at holiday lights. As per our holiday light tradition we take cookies and hot coco to enjoy in the car while driving.

I didn’t have any drop cookies I could easily make. So I took a gluten free cake batter and made a few adjustments to make sugar cookies. This was the best sugar cookies I had ever made! They ticked off every box on what I think makes a good sugar cookie: plump, buttery, a little crunchy on the outside but melt in your mouth when you get to the center!! Success!

Then I found out that Pillsbury had an actual boxed mix for gluten free sugar cookies. So I tried that boxed mix. Those were also quite delightful but I found my original batch to be more my taste. So below you have the option to take a gluten free cake mix and turn it into sugar cookies or to just buy the gluten free sugar cookie mix. Either way if your sugar cookie taste is like mine you can’t go wrong. Now if you really want to make a rolled sugar cookie dough then sadly I have yet to find the perfect gluten free recipe.

This year when I made the gluten free sugar cookies I found out something I didn’t know, my mom and dad always looked forward to my slightly burned sugar cookies. While I like my edges crisp they liked their edges slightly burnt but felt they always over baked their cookies when they tried to go for this option where as mine always ended up with burnt edges but perfect centers. Life is funny sometimes with the different perspectives we each have of the same memories.

 

 

Classic Sugar Cookie Recipe

Before starting grease your cookie pans (or line with parchment paper). Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

 

Ingredients:

2/3 cups Crisco (if using butter refrigerate the batter to retain softness and flavor)

¾  cups of granulated sugar

1 teaspoon Vanilla

1 egg

4 teaspoons of milk

1 ½ cup of all purpose flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

¼ teaspoon of salt.

 

Directions:

Thoroughly cream together the shortening, sugar and vanilla. Add egg and beat until light and fluffy. Stir in milk. Set aside.

Sift together all the dry ingredients. Once sifted blend the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until thoroughly mixed.

Baking Instructions 1:  If doing as a drop cookie, by the teaspoonful drop the dough onto greased cookie/baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

Baking Instructions 2:  If making as a rolled out shaped sugar cookie then wrap the dough in saran wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour up to 24 hours. On a lightly floured surface place the refrigerated dough and roll to about ¼ of an inch thick. Remember to slightly grease all sugar cookie shapes so the dough does not stick to the cookie cutter. Use a cookie spatula to move the unbaked cookies from to the baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

 

 

Grammy Knauss’s Note: This is a great basic recipe. You have the plain sugar cookie you can sprinkle with sprinkles from store or you can make the recipe a bit different by adding raisins or orange rind shavings (or teaspoon of  orange juice) or lemon rind shavings (or teaspoon of lemon juice) or broken up peppermint pieces or anything you think might appeal to you. You can add a tablespoon of peanut butter to the mixture. You can frost them after they are cooked and make cookie “sandwiches from them”.

 

Gluten Free Sugar Cookie Inspiration

 

Before starting line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

 

Ingredients*:

1 box of Pilsbury Gluten Free Funfetti cake mix

½ cup of vegetable oil

2 eggs

 

Optional Ingredients for Frosting:

1 cup of powdered sugar

2 tablespoons of milk

2 to 3 drops of food color of choice

Icing bag for decorating

 

Directions:

Combine the cake mix with the oil and eggs until the mixture is moistened. The mixture will seem a little more wet then expected for cookies. Use a cookie scoop to have the cookies be uniform. Roll the dough in your hands before placing on the parchment lined cookie sheets.

Bake in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are set. Allow to cool for about 2 minutes before placing on a cookie rack. When cookies are thoroughly cool they can be decorated or eaten as is. Our family enjoys a coating of royal icing on sugar cookies. Right now deep blue in honor of Frozen seems to be the color of choice. Enjoy!

* I believe this recipe is just slightly richer than the gluten free boxed sugar cookie mix. However, if strapped for time, I still quite enjoyed the Pillsbury Funfetti Gluten Free sugar cookie mix.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins. See Recipe Below

Ever since I was a kid I was crazy for pumpkin this and pumpkin that. From the moment I started really baking on my own I was adding pumpkin to every recipe I could think of starting with pancakes. As an adult my affinity for pumpkin has not really waned much. I even have my nephew hooked on pumpkin flavored things. Last year I shared several of my most favorite pumpkin recipes adapted for a gluten free diet. The chocolate chip pumpkin muffin recipe shared below is a slightly adapted version of the already shared gingerbread muffin recipe.

Although I love to watch Food Network in all of its glory I have my favorite cooks and chefs. In the past couple of years I have narrowed down my cooking shows to Dinners, Drive-Ins & Dives; Halloween Wars; and the baking championships. My other favorite cooking show is from across the pond, the BBC’s The Great British Bake-Off.

The reason why these shows call to me while others don’t is familiarity and comfortability. Like those TV shows, while I love cooking, baking and trying new recipes I also have my favorite recipes. This is the comfort food that I can make without really thinking about it. Since our Stinkerbell started eating solid foods, my gingerbread muffin recipe has become one of those items.

This year I hit a rough patch. At first I didn’t want to bake because of the exceptionally warm fall weather and then because of the forest fires in our area. Once the weather returned to normal (ish) and the fires were under-control my household was turned upside down with illness. My mom developed shingles and I had a bad sinus infection. My mom’s condition is certainly more serious and meant a lot of doctor visits to specialists.

In all the crazy scheduling and upheaval I needed some portable breakfast food that I wanted to eat on a daily basis. Not only did I need something quickly that I could grab but something that wouldn’t upset my stomach in the morning when I took my antibiotics.

My initial go to was my gingerbread muffins but my nephew and niece were visiting. While they both like pumpkin they don’t like raisins. However… they love chocolate! So I had this brilliant idea to change my go-to recipe with lessening some of the spices and adding milk chocolate chips. The change was a success! Since then I have made three batches of chocolate chip pumpkin muffins! This pumpkin muffin recipe has been a real life saver for me this past month.

These pumpkin muffins make a great breakfast item as well as a mid-day snack. Because this is a homemade item you can control how much spices and sugar goes into the batter. Play with the recipe to suite your taste buds and needs!

 

 

GF Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

 

Dry Ingredients

1 ½ cups Gluten Free Flour (this is a 1 to 1 ratio so regular flour can be substituted)

½ tsp of salt

½ tsp baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon*

½ teaspoons ginger*

½ teaspoon nutmeg*

½ teaspoon allspice*

½ teaspoon coriander*

¼ teaspoon clove*

 

Wet Ingredients

2 eggs

1 cup (packed) brown sugar

1 cup of pumpkin

1/3 cup of melted margarine

¼ cup of water (as needed) **

 

Other Ingredients

1 cup of milk chocolate chips (semi-sweet tends to leave a bitter aftertaste)

 

Preheat Oven 350°

Melt the margarine in a microwave safe container for 20 to 30 seconds and set aside.

Combine all the dry ingredients and stir until all the spices are evenly dispersed.

In a separate mixing bowl combine the eggs and brown sugar and blend using a hand mixer. Add in the pumpkin and melted margarine. Slowly add in the dry ingredients until thoroughly mixed together then fold in the optional ingredients.

Spray the muffin tins with Bakers Joy or use cupcake paper cups in the muffin tin to easily remove the cooked muffins. Use a ¼ measuring cup to fill each individual muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick once inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Makes 16 to 20 muffins

*If fresh pumpkin (rather then canned) is being used then you will want to increase spices according to your palate. Fresh pumpkin can often be a little bland and therefore additional spices are needed for a rich flavor.

** There is often more water in freshly cooked down pumpkin (if boiled and not roasted) then in the canned pumpkin. If fresh pumpkin (boiled) is being used then only 1/8 cup of water may be all that is needed.

French Apple Pie

Posted by Nicci | Recipes

French Apple Pie

See Recipe Below

french-apple-pie

One of my favorite pies of all time has been a French apple pie. This was not a pie my family had at any holidays. Rather it was one my dad would order from a local bakery for a concession stand he ran for our bingo night at the church. Even though I helped my dad cut and set out the pie it was only once in a while that my dad would buy me a slice for us to split. This was also one of my dad’s most favorite pies as well.

What is it about this pie that we loved so much? Why, the layer of royal icing topping off the pie, of course.

One would think that this extra bit of sugar might make the pie a bit on the sweet side but it never was. It was always just the right combination. In so many ways it was like having the best part of a cake with the best pie on the planet.

Sadly the bakery that made the French apple pie went out of business decades ago. My dad never found another bakery in our area that made pies quite like that one. Even though our family made homemade apple pie for some reason we never made French apple pie. My dad and I would talk about how much we missed that pie. Over the years my mom would buy other kinds of apple pies to see if we liked them as much. Truthfully my family loves most types of pies but I would always compare them to that French apple pie.

This Thanksgiving, instead of making a regular apple pie or purchasing a pre-made pie, I decided to make a French apple pie. Rent-a-Dad, never having ever tried a French apple pie but loving my dad’s royal icing recipe, was totally on board to try this “new” pie recipe.

Using my own spiced apple pie filling recipe, a store bought pie crust (gluten free) and my dad’s recipe for royal icing, I set out to recreate a childhood memory. So how did it turn out? Well within the first 48 hours only a ¼ of the pie remained. While the filling was a little spicier than the one from my memory it was still everything I ever loved about this particular pie. The pie crust recipe included is not the one I used, as I am trying to stay true to the FODMAPS diet as much as I can, but is a family recipe that I never want to loose.

If you love to try new types of pie and have never had French apple pie before I hope you give this recipe a try!

 

Grammie K’s Pie Crust Recipe

The recipe is for a standard 8” or 9” pie plate.

Ingredients: for 1 pie shell or open pie

  • 1½ cups SIFTED all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup shortening (like Crisco solid) or butter
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons of COLD water

Ingredients: for 2 pie shells or a covered pie

  1. 2 cups SIFTED all-purpose flour
  2. 1 teaspoon salt
  3. 2/3 cup shortening (like Crisco solid) or butter
  4. 5 to 7 tablespoons of COLD water

Directions:

  1. If using butter freeze until stiff but not hard. About 15 minutes.
  2. Sift flour and salt together
  3. When using butter use a grater to make the butter pieces small enough to cut into the flour with minimal manipulate. If using shortening cut in with pastry a blender until pieces are the size peas. (For extra tender pastry, cut in half the shortening till like cornmeal, then cut in the remaining shortening till like small peas).
  4. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon water over part of the mixture.
  5. Gently toss with fork
  6. Push this to side of bowl.
  7. Repeat steps 3, 4 and 5 until all is moistened.
  8. Form into a ball (for double crust or 2 rolls divide dough in half forming 2 balls)
  9. Flatten on lightly floured surface by pressing with edge of hand 3 times across in both directions.
  10. Roll dough from center out to edge until 1/8 inch thick.

 

**DO NOT OVERWORK DOUGH AS IT WILL NOT BE USEABLE IF YOU DO**

 

To Bake Shell Plain Shell (no filling):

Used for pudding pies and lemon meringue pie, pumpkin and sweet potato pies.

  1. Set oven to 450 degrees
  2. Fit rolled pastry into pie plate
  3. Trim ½ to 1 inch beyond the edge of pie plate.
  4. Fold under and flute (pinch) edges – you need both hands for this- using index finger of the right hand push the pie edge into wedge made by index finger and thumb of the left hand. Do this all the way around the pie.
  5. Prick bottom and sides well with fork.
  6. Bake at 450 degrees fro 10 to 12 minutes or until golden.

 

To Bake Double Crust Pie:

Used for fruit pies such as apple, cherry, blueberry, etc. Use one shell for the top and one shell for the bottom.

**DO NOT PRICK THE BOTTOM OR SIDES OF THE BOTTOM PIE SHELL WHEN BAKING A FILLED PIE AS JUICES WILL RUN OUT AND SCORCH.**

  1. Fit rolled pastry into pie plate.
  2. Trim the pie shell even with rim of pie plate.
  3. Fill the shell with enough fruit filling to either be level with edges (pre-cooked or canned filling) or slightly domed if fruit filling is fresh/raw.
  4. Cut slits into the top crust (for venting)
  5. Lift the top crust by rolling it gently over a rolling pin.
  6. Then unroll it loosely over the well-filled pie.
  7. Trim top crust to ½ to ¾ inch beyond the edge.
  8. Tuck top crust under edge of lower crust.
  9. Flute the edge as for a single crust.
  10. If you use a canned filling use baking directions they suggest.
  11. For from scratch pies follow the directions below.

 

**TO HELP KEEP EDGE OF PIE FROM BURNING: FOLD STRIP OF ALUMINUM FOIL AROUND RIM OF CRUST, COVERING THE FLUTED EDGE.**

 

French Apple Pie

Pie Filling Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of granny smith apples
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of brown sugar*
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons powdered cinnamon*
  • 1 teaspoons nutmeg*
  • 1 teaspoon ginger*
  • ½ teaspoon powdered clove*
  • ½ teaspoon coriander*
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (if needed)
  • 3 tablespoons of butter (2 to 3 more tablespoons if needed)
  • ¼ cup of raisins
  • ¼ cup of dried cranberries

 

*My family loves the full spice profile that the brown sugar and this amount of spice adds to the pie. If your family likes a more traditional apple pie flavor then use 2 to 3 tablespoons of white sugar and half the amount of spice in the ingredient list.

 

Pie Filling Directions:

  1. Peel and dice apples.
  2. Place the diced apples in a mixing bowl.
  3. Add the brown sugar, sugar and all of the spices to the apples and toss. The apples should provide enough natural juices to let the sugar and spices coat the apple pieces. If the apples won’t easily coat with the sugar and spice mixture then add lemon juice.
  4. In a large skillet melt the 3 tablespoons of butter over medium hear. Add the apple mixture, dried cranberries and raisins.
  5. Continue to stir the mixture around in the skillet letting the sugar melt and the apples begin to break down (sweat). Check the crispness of the apples every few minutes. You want the apples to be slightly tender and the dried fruit to be plump/slightly re-hydrated.
  6. If the syrup forming from the sugar begins to burn add more butter to the pan, one tablespoon at a time.
  7. Once the apples are to your desired tenderness turn off the burner and remove the frying pan from the heat.
  8. Add the mixture to the pie shell until slightly over filled. Cover with second pie crust.
  9. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until crust is golden brown.
  10. Store any of the remaining pie filling in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

 

Icing Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of milk

Icing Directions:

When the pie is fully cooled, mix milk and powdered sugar. Pour over the crust starting in the center of the pie and working outwards.

Second Life for Stale Bread

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The idea and recipe below are great ways to turn stale bread and week old dry donuts into something yummier than its original purpose. You may want to skip my narration this week as it has a more somber tone as the ability to have stale bread is something some people literally die wanting. The motivation behind my narration this week is a combination of growing up being a thrifty cook and a recent reminder from my mom to be thankful for everything I have.

Our dinning room table is more than a place to gather for meals. Fresh bread, tomatoes, and apples can be found there as well as a bowl of treats, a pile of “homework” and sometimes my purse. We probably do less eating at our table as we do talking. Our dinning room table is a social place. We gather around it to talk about our day, get chores done, as well as to see what is new and yummy.

Sadly our dining room table also collects things. With our busy schedules we do eat less there as a family and more as individuals. As such one end of our table collects pastries and breakfast items.

At least once a week I go through the items on our table to make sure they are not stale or moldy. About a week after going apple picking with my family in October I was handling this task when I found two very dry apple fritters. I was about to throw them away when I sat down and had a good long think.

My mom and I had recently been talking about the state of affairs around the world in connection to how things were when she was a child. Technology has changed so much but things like hunger and starvation not so much…

As a child living on a US base in Morocco my mom witnessed the local children eating out of their garbage because they did not have food. My grandmother already thought she was a savvy and thrifty cook as she grew up during the great depression. She saved her bacon fat and used drippings to make gravy. When it came to removing meat from bones to get the most out of a meal my grandmother was meticulous. So any food scraps that got thrown away were not much of anything but there were still children digging for them trying to make a meal out of next to nothing from their trash.

Whether you can or can’t imagine this scene let me tell you it has stuck with my mom through her whole life. When asked about her life in Morocco she will tell you how amazing it was. In the same breath she will also tell you about the abject poverty she saw and what we (Americans) take for granted. Something else she will tell you is how she did a lot of growing up while she lived in Africa.

After my mother, her sisters and my grandmother witnessed children eating out of their garbage they were determined to find out what they could do. My grandmother spoke to the children and their parents asking them to knock on their door instead of eating out of the garbage.

What my grandmother decided to do was create scrap bags that could be picked up at her back door. Everything was separated out from used coffee grounds to potato peels she decided not to fry up. Sometimes, rarely, it also involved stale bread. It may have shocked them that the very tiny food waste they had could still be used for someone else’s meal but it also opened their eyes as to what true poverty was.

As a child when my mother would tell me to eat my food because there were children in the world starving she knew first hand. If I would “hmmm and haw” she would share her experience. I know this sounds extreme but it helped shape me into a socially conscious person because I would ask her about the homeless in our country. Since I was a young child we would participate in programs that fed the homeless and collected much needed items to create Christmas shoebox gifts…

After I had my good long think I said a pray for those who don’t have much, thanked God for what my family has, and decided the stale apple fritters maybe had a second life in them after all.

If you want to learn more about giving your meals and stale bread a second life just do so cautiously and consciously. Taking week old stale bread and turning it into bread pudding is much safer then trying to give a week old pot-roast new life. Some food MUST be thrown away. Some things are way too moldy and gross to even contemplate something other than the garbage bin.

Reading this may spark thoughts and ideas about socially conscious eating. There is no one good definition to what this movement means. For most people it is about knowing where your food comes from or the impact it has on the environment. For our family it is about having a LARGER view of life from being thankful for what we have to making an effort to cut down on our carbon footprint or attempting to reign in excessive consumerism.

 

So what did I do with my week old apple fritters?

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I made fritter toast of course! Sometimes my family likes a little “crunch” with their ice cream dessert. I sliced my fritters thin enough to toast and lightly toasted each slice. While the fritters were toasting I pulled out my already made deconstructed apple pie. I heated enough for three servings, gave each bowl a scoop (or two) of vanilla ice-cream and added the fritter toast, sprinkled on powdered sugar and topped off with caramel sauce.

Using the week old apple fritters this way was a success!

 

My mom’s favorite recipe for stale bread is:

Bread Pudding and Brandy Sauce

Ingredients:

2 c. sugar

4 cups low fat milk

5 eggs

2 tbsp. vanilla

1 loaf/French baguette (enough stale bread to fill rectangular baking dish)

½ cup raisins

1 tablespoon powdered cinnamon

2 teaspoons nutmeg

1 teaspoon powdered clove

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon coriander

Using an electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs until creamy. Add vanilla, spices, and milk. Cut the bread into pieces. Add bread to mixture and let soak, about 5 minutes, until soft. Fold in raisins.

Grease 9×13-inch pan. Pour mixture into pan. Cook in preheated oven (350 degrees) for 30 minutes.

NOTE: For softer raisins pre-soak raisins in boiling water for five to ten minutes. Drain liquid and fold in raisins to the pudding.

 

Brandy Sauce:

1 stick butter

1 c. confectioners sugar

1 oz. brandy

On low heat, melt butter. Once melted add 1 cup of confectioners sugar mixing thoroughly. Remove from heat and let cool to room temp before adding the brandy. Suggested use: The sauce will harden like royal icing as it cools. Poor entire mixture over the bread pudding within 20 minutes of bread pudding being removed from oven.

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See Recipe Below

When my husband asked me to make this treat up for our annual church picnic last weekend I knew instantly that I wanted to share the recipe on our blog. What I have been unsure of is what story I wanted to share. Finally two thoughts came to mind. A quick lesson on the diet I am following and the origins of this recipe for my family.

All of the recipes I have shared so far on our blog have been gluten free. Why? The no brainier is that I have been following the FODMAPS diet and one of the requirements of that diet is to go gluten free, at least at first. So yes the recipes I am sharing are of meals or treats that I can currently eat. I feel it is important to share recipes that I use regularly and not something I tried maybe once just for my blog. Each recipe I share is meaningful to me for a variety of reasons from knowing what it is like to struggle with a diet to having a recipe that has been passed down for several generations. I am in no way telling anyone else how to run their life and what they should eat. I do hope that the recipes I share help others struggle less with the diet that they might not want to be on or even find a yummy treat to share with their family.

I do want readers to understand one very important thing: A lot of what we already eat on a daily basis is already gluten free, from oatmeal with blueberries and walnuts to steak and potatoes.

So when I hear that my diet is denying me of much needed nutrients I just have to chuckle. It’s a hard diet to follow but more because I am someone of French and Italian decent who loves her pasta and bread. So cutting out gluten is hard but it won’t kill me. I still get to eat carbs just not wheat based carbs and that might not be permanent. As far as I know I do not have Celiac disease. I had to eliminate a lot of different food items on the FODMAPS diet that are hard on the digestive system. I get to slowly add these food items back into my diet to see what does and does not work for me but that doesn’t mean I have stopped eating veggies and fruit.

As for that origin story…

Anyone who has gone to college and lived on the meal plan offered understands the difficulties of finding a balanced meal. That doesn’t mean the food service doesn’t try but it is hard to find something everyone likes. We all come from different backgrounds with very different likes and dislikes.

What I witnessed as successes was the steak night for us meat eaters (until the grade of meat declined), the cereal bar was always a staple and in my last year the quesadilla bar where we got to make our own quesadilla’s that were hot and fresh as opposed to being room temp and dried out. I found that even when the food service tried to be consistent that items varied from week to week. One week a very yummy mushroom soup would be replaced by a very salty version the following week. The pasta was generally mushy and I am more an al dente pasta eater. The salad bar always had the basics but I am not a salad person, well not a “basic” salad person. Overall the food service was hit or miss for me. Mostly miss.

The one item that always seemed to be a great hit was the rare day when the dessert bar had O’Henry Bars. Sometimes it was advertised on the weekly menu and sometimes it wasn’t. On days where it was advertised, if you forgot all you had to do was see the students lined up all ready for the food hall doors to open. Students would first make sure to get the yummy treat before their main course. On the days where it wasn’t advertised you knew by the students leaving the food hall with disposable plates piled high with this confection.

It always amused me to see fellow student’s hording their favorite treats. One would thing the food service would get the clue and fix that treat more often but no. It was like they saved it up for the last day of that block (term) or when they knew one subject had a particularly hard test coming up, essentially something to cheer the students up with.

When that final day came and I graduated college the one food item I would come to crave and miss the most were those O’Henry Bars. My husband and I would talk about somehow getting that recipe but never did anything about it other then looking it up on the internet. The recipes we saw never sounded quite right. Then one day when swapping favorite recipes with a friend I found an O’Henry Bar recipe that sounded very familiar to the basic treat we loved so much.

The recipe I had found had some negative comments from the flavor was off to the bars never really set quite right. It took four or five tries making the recipe before finding a combination that worked well for us from taste to how the bars set. A lot of cooking is like that though. One tried and true recipe for me may be wrong for someone else. Some of that is varying tastes but also cooking styles. I am one of those people who can “wing” some recipes while my dad always stuck to following a recipe word for word.

The recipe below is similar enough to what our memory holds of those famous yummy treats from our college days. Much like those days back in college, my husband looks forward to when I bake up this treat and he still hates to share it.

Gluten Free O’Henry Bars

Ingredients

2/3 cup margarine (or butter)

1 cup brown sugar

4 ¼ quick cooking oats

½ cup of light corn syrup

1 tablespoon of molasses

3 teaspoons of vanilla

1/8 to ¼ teaspoon of salt

1- 12 ounce package of chocolate chips

2/3 cup of peanut butter

 

Pre-heat oven to 375°. Grease a 9×13” baking pan and set aside.

Cream the margarine and sugar. Add the oats, corn syrup, molasses, vanilla and salt. Stir together until oats are completely covered. Press oat mixture firmly into the greased pan.

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Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the top of the oats are golden. While the oats are still hot take a butter knife and gently fold the top edges of the baked oat bars slightly back. This will help release the bars from the pan when you are ready to cut them and serve them later.

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Let the baked oats cool about 10 to 15 minutes before beginning the next step.

Put the chocolate chips and peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for a minute, and then stir. If the chocolate chips are not completely melted return to the microwave for an additional minute. Stir to make sure all the chocolate chips are thoroughly melted and mixed with the peanut butter. Spread the melted topping over the cooling baked oats.

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Let the entire pan of oats and chocolate air dry for fifteen minutes before scoring the bars into the desired serving size. Let the bars completely cool an additional fifteen to twenty minutes before serving. If you are in a rush put the pan in the refrigerator for five to ten minutes before scoring then an additional five to ten before serving. If try to serve this dessert up right after it is assembled you will have a hot gooey mess.