Monday, February 22, 2016

Creamy Asparagus Soup with Avocado



I was in the mood for a very creamy soup so I put together this velvety mix of tender asparagus, potato, avocado and a dollop of sour cream.


This was a wondrously silky soup and it can easily be made dairy free by trading out the butter for all olive oil and exchanging the sour cream dollop with extra avocado! The soup would be vegan with these changes as well as choosing vegetable broth.
On the other hand, I think this soup could be made without the avocado if you add extra sour cream. This is a really versatile recipe and you could change it around easily to suite your needs!

 
Creamy Asparagus Soup with Avocado

3 TBSP butter, OR 3 TBSP olive oil  OR 1 ½ TBSP each
1 small onion, white or sweet, diced
1 large or 2 small potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 bunch asparagus, washed with tough end snapped off

1-2 clove garlic
Salt and pepper to taste, I used about a tsp of salt and a few grinds of pepper
½ -1 tsp lemon pepper
1 tsp ginger paste, optional

½ tsp garlic powder

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 small avocado

1/3 cup sour cream  Optional, may skip and add another small avocado

 

In a large deep pot, heat butter or oil on medium low heat.  Add onion and cook for 4 minutes.

Then add potatoes and while the potatoes and onion cook for eight minutes or so, cut the asparagus into 1 inch pieces reserving  the tender tips to add later.

Add asparagus, except reserved tip pieces to the pot. Add garlic, spices and seasoning g. Cook stirring occasionally for a few more minutes then add broth.

Simmer for about 30 minutes or until all of the vegetables are very tender. This will probably be longer than you would normally cook vegetables and it may make you nervous but they need to be soft to puree completely to a silky consistency.

Remove soup from the heat and add avocado and sour cream, if you are using it.

Next you will let the soup cool a bit so you can puree it.

While you are cooling soup you can quickly steam the asparagus tips to tender crispness or you can wait and add them to the soup after it is pureed and cook them right in the soup. If you choose to steam them separately it will mean another pan to wash but you have more control over cooking it. But it would be fine to heat in the soup at a low temperature after it is pureed.

To puree, you may use a blender, which will probably yield the silkiest soup or a hand held immersion blender which is less clean up and can do a good job.   Either way let the soup cool before blending. If using a blender, I let it cool a bit longer and don’t overfill your blender.

Blend soup until silky and smooth. Return soup to the pan and heat up on low. Add asparagus pieces. Enjoy your creamy soup!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Biscuits - Soft, lofty and easy to make!


These soft, tender biscuits are a snap to make! They rise nicely in the oven and taste great. This is a basic baking soda biscuit recipe that uses simple ingredients you keep on hand.  I love that they can be frozen for later, what a great time saver and it means that you can make a big batch and only take out as many as you need .

You can make them with regular milk and a teaspoon of vinegar or use buttermilk for an even better flavor.

Remember not to over work them. Biscuits are not bread and you do not want to knead it like bread or it will toughen the biscuits! When you cut them, just press straight down without a twist or they will not rise as high. You may reroll the scraps to use them all up but the rerolled ones will be a little tougher.

I don't often use shortening but on occasion I really like it for pie crust and these biscuits. At least the newer versions of shortening do not have trans fat. Use more butter if you like.

These are not the most nutritious food but they are good comfort food with a nice bowl of soup or smothered in honey! All things in moderation…okay pass me a biscuit :-)

I will add a recipe or two to use with biscuits next time. Maybe Biscuits with sausage gravy...

 


Biscuits - Soft, lofty and easy to make!

 
2 cups white unbleached flour
1 Tablespoon Baking powder
1 Tablespoon white sugar
1 tsp salt

 
5   Tablespoons shortening, butter flavored, no-trans fat
2 Tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

1 cup milk, whole or buttermilk, May not need it all

1 tsp. white vinegar, optional  if using milk just  add vinegar to it  but omit if you use buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Then turn it down to 425 when you put the biscuits in the oven.

In a large bowl,  mix  together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.

Cut in the shortening/butter with a a pastry cutter or two butter knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Or you may use fingers to break up shortening into flour then add butter bits and mix.

Gradually gently stir in milk until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. You may use wooden spoon or your hands to stir.

Turn out onto a well-floured surface, and gently fold/knead 6 -8 times. Do not overwork!! Gentle folding makes tender biscuits.

Roll dough out to 1 inch thick. Cut biscuits straight down with a large cutter ( about 2 inch or so)  or use wide glass dipped in flour.  Do not twist when cutting biscuits.

Place biscuits onto an ungreased baking sheet which may be lined with parchment paper. For nice browned exteriors, place them an inch apart or more.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until top, bottom and edges begin to brown.

Note: You may brush with cream and dust these with cinnamon sugar before baking for a sweeter biscuit.

You can freeze these before cooking and then bake them later. Place the biscuits to freeze in a greased freezer Ziploc bag on cookie sheet or pie tin to freeze then remove the sheet or pie tin and leave the biscuits in the bag for freezer storage. To bake heat oven to 450 and cook for 8-10 minutes then turn the oven off but leave the biscuits in for another 6 -7 minutes. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Farro with Roasted Mushroom, Fennel and Onion topped with an Egg



I love roasted vegetables and I am always on the lookout for different ways to serve them. I also love farro, a nice chewy whole grain. There are loads of recipes on the web that combine farro with mushrooms and onion, because it is a rather perfect pairing.  There was a nice fennel bulb in my fridge so I added that to the mix. It adds a sweet crunch. 

I wanted to roast the vegetables  to give a nice toasty flavor and firm texture with a bit of caramelization. For roasting, don't slice anything too thin and try to keep them consistent.

I use a quick cooking farro from Trader Joe’s. It cooks in 10 minutes. You could  substitute quick cooking barley or brown rice in this recipe,  just cook it according to package instructions.


 Farro with Roasted Mushroom, Fennel and Onion topped with an Egg 


On the Roasting sheet:

8 oz. white button or cremini mushrooms, cleaned and thickly sliced
1 medium fennel bulb, fronds removed. Sliced vertically
1/2 large sweet onion, sliced vertically
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp crushed rosemary
½ tsp salt
½ tsp garlic powder


In the Sauce pan:
1 cup quick cooking farro,—(10 minute Farro from Trader Joe’s or other cooked according to package instructions
½ sweet onion chopped
1 TBSP olive oil
½ tsp crushed rosemary
½ tsp thyme
 ¼ tsp red pepper flake
2 cups broth or water
¼ cup chopped parsley, optional

2-4 eggs, one per person, optional but recommended


Preheat oven to 375F

Place a bit of olive oil on a rectangle baking sheet. On one half of the baking sheet, place the sliced mushrooms and on the other half put the fennel and ½ of the onion. Don't over crowd.  By the way, vertically slice by cutting onion and fennel bulb in half and then slice it. Sprinkle with spice and salt and a light drizzle of olive oil. Several times during roasting, use a spatula to turn it over and mix, moving outside pieces to center.

In a sauce pan, heat a TBSP olive oil and begin sautéing onion and garlic. Cook until onion begins to caramelize. Add spice and  farro. Let it saute for another minute.  Stir in broth and bring to boil over med high heat, covered. Boil for two minutes and lower heat and cover. 

Let it simmer for 10 minutes. If there is a lot of liquid left, drain a bit off. Remove from heat and let it sit for five minutes while covered.

Remove roasted veggies when they are beginning to get caramelized and edges are crisping a bit.

Cook up eggs by poaching or fry/baste. Season with salt and pepper. You can skip eggs but adds a nice taste and texture and it makes this a satisfying meal in a bowl!





Add roasted mushrooms, onions and fennel to farro. 

Place in bowls, sprinkle with parsley and top with an egg.  




Sweet Potato Latkes with Crockpot Applesauce

I don’t often fry but since it was Hanukah so I decided to fry up a nice batch of Latkes.  I wanted to be a bit healthier than fried potatoes so I used sweet potatoes. I think sweet potatoes go wonderfully with a nice simple applesauce that is a breeze to make.

A key to good latkes is low moisture in the potato mix and a regulated medium high heat between 365 and 375. If it cooks too fast it will burn on the outside before it is done on the inside. If it is too cool, you get soggy, greasy latkes.

 I spiced them lightly with things like cinnamon and nutmeg but they could be made with more spice or you could go a different route with some mild curry spice. If you want to try it with curry spice, I would still add a bit of pumpkin pie spice and pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg along with a bit of curry spice.

This recipe is easy and delicious. I serve it with homemade apple sauce, recipe to follow. You can also serve with sour cream and garnish with green onion and parsley.

These make wonderful appetizers or as a part of a meal. We served them as an appetizer before garlic skirt steak with an arugula salad with pears and toasted pecans.

So here is my try at Sweet Potato Latkes. Happy Hanukah!   



Sweet Potato Latkes

Makes about 20 mini-latkes

1 pound of sweet potatoes, peeled and grated (around 2 mid-sized sweet potatoes)
½ cup minced onion
1 egg, 1 egg white, beaten (many recipes call for just 1 egg & that is okay too)
4 TBSP flour
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp .pumpkin pie spice (blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice)
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp .nutmeg
¼ tsp. cayenne
½ - 1 tsp. ground black pepper
About 1 tsp kosher salt

Small bottle of peanut or vegetable oil*

Apple sauce, optional
Sour Cream with  green onion and parsley



Note: If you have an electric skillet, it is a great way to keep the temperature even. Otherwise use a wide and deep pan, perhaps with a thermometer to keep it at medium high heat. I set my skillet to around 365F-370F.

*Peanut oil is a great oil for frying but if you cannot get it you can use vegetable oil. After you are done you can strain the oil through a coffee filter or cheese cloth lining a sieve and save it for the next fry.
Grate the sweet potatoes, place in colander and let them sit for a bit. Squeeze out extra moisture with a paper towel, or towel or cheesecloth. 

 Mix all ingredients except salt, oil in a large bowl. Early adding of salt will pull more moisture out of potato and into mix.

Begin to heat oil in skillet and then add the salt to the sweet potato mix and blend well.  Let oil heat up and once it is hot enough, carefully add sweet potato mix by using a scoop or spoon and placing around 1 ½ Tablespoons of mix on a spatula. Gently flatten slightly, and use another spatula and slide it off into hot oil. Turn after it is getting crispy around the edges; it just takes a minute or so.

Remove onto a paper towel to cool for a minute. Taste to see if they will need extra seasoning and then serve nice and hot.

I serve with applesauce but you could also dollop sour cream with green onions and parsley.

Applesauce:  You can make applesauce several days before or that day! It is easy in a crockpot. Just peel, core and roughly slice 8 -10 apples. I like a mix of granny smith and other flavorful apples like pink lady or honey crisp. Place them in a crock pot with a 1/3 cup of water, 1/3 cup of white or brown sugar and cinnamon. You may skip the sugar and cinnamon if you want it plain and unsweetened.  Cook on low for around 8- 10 hours. Check to see if they are soft and mash them to the desire smoothness. If they are too thin, slightly uncover and cook on high for another hour or two. You can also make them in a sauce pan on stovetop in much less time but keep an eye on it!! I like the crock pot because I toss the apples in the night before and have applesauce in the morning!






Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Risotto with Roasted Kabocha Pumpkin or Butternut Squash and Bacon


I made this risotto recipe with a scrumptious Kabocha pumpkin tonight. It is a re- do of a recipe I posted years ago with a few changes in the recipe. 

I Love winter squash! I most often cook with butternut, pumpkin, spaghetti  or acorn squash.  Whenever kabocha is available I love to cook with it. I think it is particularly great in this risotto recipe!

Kabocha squash or Japanese pumpkin, is green speckled and pumpkin shaped.The kabocha has a nice flavor and isn't stringy or watery.  It is great roasted, braised with soy, ginger and garlic or cooked up in tempura. 
 Of course Butternut, would also be good in this risotto. Butternut can't be beat for great texture and color and a small seed cavity.


This risotto has an autumn flair with kabocha squash, butternut or pumpkin along with smoky bacon. The pumpkin and bacon are a wonderfully flavorful combination but it could be made vegetarian without bacon and still be quite tasty.

Risotto is a delicious rice dish that gets its creaminess from the way it is cooked rather than cream or loads of cheese. I made this particular recipe dairy free ( although I added cheese at the table for those who can have dairy )and it was quite creamy! Risotto is quite easy to make although it does take a bit of tending to as it is stirred throughout the cooking process. 

Risotto with Roasted  Kabocha Pumpkin 

or Butternut  Squash and Bacon 


1 small winter squash such as kobocha, pumpkin or butternut ( about 2 1/2  to 3 cups diced)
6 bacon strips, prefer uncured, no nitrates, applewood smoked

1 small Onion, diced
1/2  tsp coriander
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp garlic powder, optional
¼- ½ tsp. red pepper flakes, crushed, optional
½ tsp, smoked paprika or  paprika
Pinch of cinnamon

1 tsp garlic, minced, optional
1 tsp. ginger paste, optional
1-2 TBSP  olive oil or vegetable oil
1-2 TBSP butter 
2 Cups  Arborio Rice


  1  cup  White Wine  

 4 cups veggie or chicken Broth, 
2 cups water

  1/4 Cup  Freshly Grated Parmesiano Reggiano, optional

Salt And Freshly Ground Pepper To Taste

Extra parmesan for topping at table, along with shelled, roasted pepitas if desired
There are two ways you can cook the winter squash.  You may dice and cook it on the  stove,  which is my preferred method for Kabocha squash. You may also roast the squash first which I like to do when using butternut. I will describe the roasting method in the notes**



Begin with a large heavy pot or deep pan and cook the bacon until crispy. 

Pour all of the drippings from cooking bacon into a small bowl. 

Cut the kabocha, squash or pumpkin in  half. Scrape out seeds and if you would like, set aside to roast later and discard any stringy parts.

Cut the squash into slices and then carefully cut away the skin, If you are using kabocha, it'is okay to leave a bit of green skin on, it is edible and will soften up when cooked.

Dice up the squash into small pieces. 

Next heat the pan the bacon was cooked in and add about 2 TBSP of the bacon grease back into pan,  Or if you prefer you may use oil, or oil and butter.

Add the diced squash to pan and brown it.
 Try not to over stir. After a few minutes turn the pieces over and let it cook another couple minutes. 
If needed you may add more bacon grease or oil.
Add diced  onion.Add spices, garlic and ginger. Cook another 4 minutes until squash is nicely browned here and there around the edges and tender  with  some  crispy bits. 
.
Remove the kabocha or squash mixture to a bowl. 

In small sauce pan, heat up chicken broth or veggie broth and water. Keep on low simmer. Take about  a half cup or so of the squash mixture and add it to the pot of simmering broth , mashing it into the broth to be added as risotto cooks.
Back to the pan you used for the bacon and squash. Add 1 TBSP each of olive oil and butter. Add the two cups of Arborio rice. 
Add wine and continue stirring rice, a figure 8 pattern is recommended, while wine is absorbed. Make sure you stir all areas of the pot so rice will not get mushy. Once most of the wine is absorbed into the  rice add 1 cup or a couple of ladles of hot broth. Repeat this process as each cup of broth is absorbed. 
Continue to add broth until rice is al dente- tender but with a bit of texture to it. If you run low on broth, add water to broth pan to heat before you get to the bottom of broth. This process will take about 20  minutes.
As the last  cup of broth is almost absorbed,  add the rest of the squash mixture and gently blend. Also, crumble or chop bacon and add it as well.
Once rice is at desired consistency. You may add a bit of Parmesan cheese, about a 1/4 cup or so, but if you wish it to be dairy- free it is fine to skip. I also have some grated Parmesan at the table. 
Taste and add desired salt and pepper. I find this does not need a lot of salt due to the bacon.
Serve as soon as possible. If you like, top with cheese or roasted pumpkin seeds    ( I prefer shelled, natural seeds roasted for 10 minutes with olive oil and salt in 350 oven.)

**Roasted pumpkin/squash version - 
After prepping squash, removing seeds and strings and cutting in half,  place cut side down on an oiled baking sheet . You may line pan with foil for ease of cleaning. 
 Place in middle of the oven and bake just until tender and soft. It takes around 30 minutes give or take, but start checking at 20 and keep testing if it is getting softer every 5 minutes, Do not overcook- especially the kobucha or it will get mealy and dry. Butternut may take a bit longer to get tender. 
Remove squash from oven and turn halves over to cool. Once cool enough to handle, remove skin, being carefully to leave most of it large dice sized pieces. You can either slice the squash then carefully cut away skin Or using a large spoon, remove the  the squash out of the shell.   Cut into large chunks, no need to be completely uniform, as some will break up.  I like to use about 2 1/2 -3 cups of squash in this rice.
Dice about half of the roasted squash and brown in the bacon grease for a couple minutes before adding the onion, spices, etc as described above. Take the rest of the squash and add it to the pot of simmering broth , mashing it into the broth to be added as risotto cooks.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Moroccan Chicken Meatballs with Apricot Chutney


Here is a simple chicken meatball recipe with a Moroccan flair. The apricot chutney that accompanies these little tender bites really adds a nice multi-layered flavor. The Apricot Chutney can be used with other recipes. It is also delicious with cream cheese or goat cheese on crackers. 

These can be cooked on in a pan stove top or baked in the oven.  You may choose to cook them in the apricot chutney or to cook separately and use chutney as a dipping sauce if desired. Or you may try a different sauce such as a tomato based sauce with Moroccan spices.




Moroccan Spiced Chicken Meatballs


Sauté in olive oil over medium-low heat for 4- 5 minutes and cool--

1/3 - ½ cup minced onion
2 tsp garlic paste or crushed garlic
2 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp, salt, coriander, ginger, optional
½ -1 tsp cumin, black pepper, smoked paprika, optional
¼ tsp cayenne, optional
Other optional seasoning: 1 tsp za’atar or greek seasoning mix or mint or thyme,  


Mix in a large bowl:

1 ¾ lb. or so ground chicken (or may use beef or turkey or a combination)
1 cup bread crumbs, (or cracker or panko crumbs)
2 eggs

Add cooled onion, seasoning mixture and thoroughly combine.

Using small scoop or teaspoons scoop out uniform sized meatballs; rolling each for a smooth exterior.  You may make the meatballs smaller for appetizers and larger if served over rice or couscous.

Stove top cooking method: Heat a bit of oil in a large shallow pan and add meatballs, not too close together.  Brown them over medium heat, turning gently after 5 minutes.  Brown the other side for about 5 minutes. If you are going to cook in the apricot chutney, take meatballs from pan to a plate and remove excess oil from pan. Add prepared apricot chutney and meatballs to the pan and simmer on medium low 10-15 minutes.
If you are not cooking in the apricot sauce, then continue cooking them a couple minutes longer until completely done before serving.


Oven baking method:  Preheat oven to 400 and put meatballs on cookie sheet prepped with a bit of oil. Place in center of oven and bake for 6 minutes then turn them over to cook other side. Continue baking another 5 minutes or until just barely cooked through. Remove from baking dish and place them into pan filled with apricot chutney.  Simmer for 10 minutes. OR you may cook them completely and serve with sauce to dip.

Garnish meatballs with fresh chopped parsley, and or cilantro and toasted almond slices.
Serve with couscous, quinoa or rice.




Moroccan Apricot Chutney

   About ¾ cup dried apricots, chopped 

  1/3 cup orange juice

  ¼ to 1/2 of small preserved lemon, rinsed, seeded, finely chopped*

4-5  TBSP apricot jam

4     tbsp. white wine vinegar

   1 TBSP orange blossom water, optional

   Pinch of cayenne, cinnamon, salt, and/or sumac


Put the apricots, preserved lemon, jam, orange blossom, vinegar and seasoning in a small, saucepan. Cook over medium –low for about 8 minutes until soft and bubbly. It is ready to add to meatballs for simmering.
If you are going to cook chutney as a dipping Sauce, simmer for about 12 minutes more on low.


    *If you don’t have preserved lemons, and cannot buy them, then you may             substitute 2 tsp. lemon juice and grated zest and a ½ tsp salt. 
    Taste and add more of whatever is needed. This will not be quite the same but       will help. Preserved lemons really are a unique flavor addition and they
    keep in your fridge for quite some time!





Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Slow-Cooker Apple Butter and Apple Sauce

 This is the time of year for all things fall and you will often find apple butter simmering at my house. I don’t can my apple butter, I just make a batch, and we eat it up or give it away. I love the way it fragrances the whole house so I don’t mind making a new batch every few week. With this easy recipe it is effortless to cook a nice sized batch. It makes me love Fall even more!




Here is some Fall Color near our home at Rocky Mountain National Park.

The only real work to making slow cooker Apple Butter and Apple Sauce is prepping the apples. I let the crock pot/slow cooker do the cooking so I don’t have to watch it. Often I throw them in just before I go to bed and let them finish off during the day!

 I do peel  and core my apples,   but I often peel them in one long strip so I can put the peels in the pot until it is done cooking and then just pull them out. If you have a food mill you could cook your apples unpeeled for the same effect. There is a nice flavor in the peels but it is fine to leave them out and still have a yummy result!

How to make Apple Sauce at the same time as Apple Butter

The same basic method is used for making either apple sauce or apple butter in the slow cooker.  Apple sauce is just cooked less time with less spice.When I make apple sauce I sometimes just use apples and a bit of apple cider or juice with perhaps a little lemon juice and a cinnamon stick or bit of spice. If the apples are not sweet enough I may add just a little sugar.  
  
When I want to make apple sauce at the same time as apple butter I add juice or water and lemon juice rather than vinegar and just a bit of cinnamon and sugar at the beginning of the cooking. For Sauce I usually use the full cup or so of apple juice in the process.  I take some of the apples out for the apple sauce after about 6 to 8 hours  and then add  extra spice and cook the rest of the apple mixture longer for apple butter.

Which Apples should be used

The apples used should be good for cooking with so any good baking apples are great.  I like a variety but choosing only one kind is great too and fun for a flavor change. My favorites are a mix of granny smith for tartness and perhaps honey crisp, when it is on sale, for sweetness with one other such as Braeburn, Jonagold, Pink lady, Jazz, Crispin, Rome, jonathon, winesap  or  gold delicious to round things out. I don't use red delicious which can get mealy and lack flavor for cooking.  I have thrown in a few Gala apples when they are in the basket. I also use any home grown apples I can get my hands on since they are free!  Honestly, any apple with a strong flavor can work in a mix.It is not like pie which requires an apple to hold together after baking.

Uses for Apple Butter 

While apple butter gets used up quickly on things like bread or biscuits there are other ways to use it. Mix it into oatmeal or yogurt. Top pancakes with it. Bake it into muffins. bars, cookies or cakes. 
Apple butter is an easy way to make desserts like apple crisp or apple pie amazingly flavorful, spicy and juicy! Just mix in 1/2- 3/4  cup of apple butter into the raw apples and then continue recipe as usual.

Another delicious but less common use for apple butter is as a glaze for meats such as pork tenderloin, ribs, ham, roast chicken. You can also make a dish of pork chops, chicken pieces or turkey cutlets with apples butter, apples, onions and potatoes. I will post that recipe next.

I have posted an apple butter recipe before but I have made a few changes so here is the updated version.


 Slow-Cooker Apple Butter and Apple Sauce


About 8 cups of apples, usually a variety is nice but one kind is fine-granny smith, honey crisp, Braeburn,  Jonagold , Rome etc  
1 cinnamon stick
½ -1 cup apple juice, cider  or water optional (not everyone adds liquid)
2 TBSP apple cider vinegar OR fresh lemon juice, optional
½ to 1 cup brown sugar, more or less if desired
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
¼ tsp. nutmeg, optional

Prepare apples by peeling. If you want, you can peel long strips so you can leave the peel in for the first half of cooking. Simple remove them after the 6-8 hour cooking time.
Place apples, cinnamon stick, lemon juice and apple juice or water and sugar if you are using it into a crock pot. Cook for 6- 8 hours or so until apples are very soft. Mash apples up a bit with spoon or masher. If you would like to have apple sauce you may remove some of the mixture now and let it cool. You can use a blender if you want to make it smooth or just mash it further for chunky applesauce.
Leave the lid of the crock pot slightly ajar and cook on low for another 3-4 hours until apples are completely softened, thickened and a nice caramel color is achieved. Add extra liquid if needed during cooking process.
Blend with a hand-held Immersion blender or puree in batches in a regular blender. Or you could mash well with a masher.  The texture should be thick and smooth. You may push it through a sieve if it has too many unblended bits.
 If the apple butter is too thin, leave the lid off and the crock pot on high for an hour or so. Or you could simmer on stove in another pan. Basically, the apple butter is done cooking when a ribbon drizzled over the surface keeps it shape.
Serve on biscuits, rolls, baguettes, or other bread or cakes. Stir into cake batter, yogurt,  ice cream or pumpkin pie filling.  Add it to oatmeal. Stir into apples before making apple crisp or apple pie. Use it as a glaze for Pork or chicken. Spread it on a ham, turkey, cream cheese or peanut butter sandwich. Or just eat it with a spoon 

This can be made without crock pot in a large heavy pan. Cook on  low on the stove top, stirring often. I cook it on a bit higher temperature so it gets done faster and I do it during the day so I can watch to pot.  Since you will be opening the lid you will want to use more juice or water. You could also put the apples in a covered cast iron pot or other oven proof cookware and cook over night at 225 F. I usually finish it on the stove top and while I don't recommend it but you could still bake for last part to thicken by turning the heat up to 325 F or so and cook uncovered, stirring and checking often until the consistency is correct.  

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