Friday, November 23, 2012

Apple strudel

Here is the best recipe out of the best recipes I have ever made... and eaten. This is my grandma's apple strudel. I used to watch her make it and now I make it myself. Here you go, the good old recipe for Czech Apple Strudel. 

For the dough (makes 2):

3 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup butter
3/4 cup of water
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vinegar

For filling (for 2 strudels):
12 medium size apples
vanilla sugar

For brushing the top:
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk

Preheat the oven for 400 degrees. Pour the flour into a bowl and grate cold butter on top of it. This is how cool it will look.

Then add the water, vinegar, and salt, and knead it till it feels nice and tough, but not dry. If it is too sticky, add flour... if too dry add water. 
Form a ball out of the dough and place it into the fridge. You can leave it till the next day and just take it out before you are ready to work with it so the butter has a chance to soften up in there a bit. Or just leave it in the fridge till you are done with preparing the apples and you can use it the same day. 

In the meantime, peel and grate the apples. I used about six medium size apples for one strudel. Flour the surface and place the dough on it. Flatten it...

... and roll it out with a rolling pin into a circle/oval shape, 1-2 millimeters thin.

Spread the grated apples on top of the dough, leaving the sides exposed. Sprinkle it with cinnamon, vanilla sugar, and coconut. Some people also use walnuts and raisins. I just sprinkle it to cover the whole apple surface.

Here is a picture of the vanilla sugar I use. I thought I should include a picture of that because it is not an usual item to buy. They do have it in regular grocery store.

Now we are ready to wrap it all up. Start with folding one side over...

Now carefully lift the whole part with apples up and fold it again...

And now fold the other side over so you don't have to try lift the whole thing up...

Wrap up the ends like this...

Finally I brush some egg with milk over the whole piece.

Place it in the oven for about 30 minutes but keep checking towards the end as ovens vary.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Apple crisps

These apple chips are naturally sweet and it is a great way to preserve your apples for the winter months.

First I peeled the apples and rinsed them under cold water. Then I cut out the core.

I cut the apples into thin slices. From experience, the thiner the slice the crispier the chip. If you have thicker slices, they will be either gooey or hard to bite. That said, the first slice on the photo below is too thick... go with the third or fourth.

Preheat the oven for 200 degrees Fahrenheit. I placed the slices on a cookie sheet and baked them for 4 hours. Turn the slices over and bake for another 2 hours. Keep checking towards the end just in case. Every oven is different in their temperature setting and you don't want to end up with burned apples. I store them in a regular brown paper bag.

Here is your finished product! Crunchy, sweet, delicious apples chips - the kids were fighting over them!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Apple Sauce

This apple sauce was made from apples my husband picked with the kids on their walk in a backyard of a deserted house. He said they were all laying on the ground, being eaten by bugs and rotting - you can imagine how much cutting and cleaning I had to do! :-)

First, you have to peel the apples, wash them, and cut out all the bad parts. Then cut them into pieces, discarding the core. Rinse them and boil them in water till nice and soft. Check by poking them with a fork.

I took them out and placed them into a blender to be pureed. Add some of the water they boiled in, if you like your apple sauce more liquified. 

And voila! I didn't add any spices or sugar. This is as good as it gets. You could add some cinnamon or nutmeg.. maybe vanilla sugar if you want to experiment with taste.

Now can I get some apple trees for my yard PLAESE!!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

All about apples

This week I am planning to host "All about apples" week. I had good feedback on my "All about pumpkins" week, so here come some more useful and easy recipes. 

Tune in this coming week for a tutorial on how to make apple sauce, apple chips, and my grandma's recipe for a good old Czech apple strudel. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cowgirl Baby Shower

This past weekend I was busy preparing a baby shower for my very close friend, whose precious baby girl Natalie came to us unexpectedly 13 weeks before her due date. She is such a trooper - strong little girl, who is making tremendous progress everyday and who is a great example of God's love and promise to us!
On Sunday group of ladies got together to celebrate baby Natalie and I will give you a small tour through this special event. (I should mention that this beautiful house is NOT mine)

I made this sign to be the center of the room... the focus on baby Natalie - that is why we were all there :-) and I will post a tutorial for you later this week.

We were able to borrow some props from stables were my friend volunteers on weekly basis.

Wasn't this little saddle just perfect?

Here is a full detail of the fireplace area.

Cute center piece for the table. Don't forget to include burlap fabric, even if just a little accent of it!

You need an area for presents... and you might want to say "Thank you" to your guests for their thoughtfulness! 

Here is a full shot of the gift area.

I kept the games only down to three. This one was my friend's idea. We had people bring their baby picture. I put together a list of names of all the guests and each of the guests also got a name tag in case some people were not familiar with each other. Each picture was assigned a number. When it was time to play, I gave each person pen and paper and they guessed who is who in the baby picture. Everyone was laughing!

We also played the famous "Don't say the word BABY" game, which is always a challenge at a baby shower. Each of the guests got this neckless when they walked into the house - and the game was on!

My third game was "What's in the bag" - but I don't have that pictured. I placed several baby items into a bag and guests had to try to figure out what is in there, by touching them, not looking. They had one try and then they had to write the items down. 
Here was a box with my prizes...

Here is a closer look inside. I had a homemade pumpkin butter, homemade granola, fresh farm eggs, candle, and thank you notes. All decorated to fit the theme.

Ok, I have to include a close up picture of the egg carton design. I copied the original outline of an actual egg carton, only I included my personal photos - our shed and our girls.... and my own text. What do you think? My husband thinks I have too much time on my hands LOL - but really, I just can't help it...

Few more decorations we got from the stables.

Here are few shots of the food and table decorations that were mostly provided by another friend and the owner of the house. They did awesome job cooking and decorating the table. All I did was just added few accents to it.

Thank you for coming, please take one chocolate cupcake with pink cream cheese vanilla frosting!

Here I am with mommy!

Congratulations to the proud parents!!! 

Friday, November 09, 2012

Homemade Pumpkin Butter

It is the end of a very busy week - for many reasons - and so here is the last recipe I promised you. 

For this yummy pumpkin butter you will need your pumpkin puree, I posted about yesterday. Click here if you need instructions how to make it. Of course, you can also use the canned pumpkin.

What I used:
3 1/2 cups of pumpkin puree
3/4 cup apple sauce 
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all your ingredients in a pot, bring it to boil, turn it down to simmer, and cover with a lid, leaving it slightly open. I used a wooden spoon to help me keep it open. I ended up cooking mine for about 40 minutes until I was happy with the consistency. Keep checking on it! After it cools down, you can spoon it into cute glass jars and leave it in your fridge for few weeks. 

We are enjoying it on our morning toast. 
The kids are big fans! 
It tastes great with a banana. 

And I am using one jar for a cowgirl/country themed baby shower that I am throwing for my friend this weekend. It will be a prize for one of our games! So I prettied the jar up a bit :-)