How To Turn 40 Apples Into Jelly, Pies, and Applesauce

When our neighbors told us they were heading to Taos for the weekend to pick apples at a family orchard, they asked if we might want a few apples. After a bit of chatting, we came upon a plan: they’d bring home a lot of apples, and I’d turn them all into jelly, applesauce and apple pies. A side bonus? Our house smells divine.

One batch of apples – three delights.

What can you make with around 40 medium apples? Depending on size, you can end up with about 18 jars of jelly, three quarts of applesauce, and three apple pies. Here’s how:

Making Piles of Apples: Pie and Jelly

Note: (If you use a gluten-free pie crust, all the recipes here are gluten-free.) Wash all apples, removing bad spots including severe bruises. For each apple, do the following in assembly-line fashion: over one large bowl, peel and core each apple, leaving a thick portion of apple attached to the peel. Over a second bowl, take the meat of each apple and slice into small slices.  The peeling and core will be boiled for the jelly and applesauce; the slices will become pies.

Apple Jelly

Apple Jelly

In a very large stock pot, add peeling and cores and 10 cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil. (While it is boiling, you can begin work on pies.) Once the stock pot is at a boil, reduce heat to medium-high and slightly loosen lid. Continue to cook about 20 minutes until apples are soft. Once soft, turn off heat and let sit for five minutes.

Almost Applesauce

Scoop cooked apples and peels into a colander balanced over a large bowl, letting the juice collect in the bowl. DO NOT press the peels; just let it drip. When most of the juice is gone, drop cooked apples into an empty bowl. Repeat until all cooked apples have been strained. Set aside cooked apples for applesauce.

Simmering Jelly

Measure collected apple juice and pour 8 cups into an empty stock pot. (If you have enough, you can double this.) Add 6 cups sugar and 1/4 cup lemon juice. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a boil and add 1 package of Sure Jell. Stir until it is dissolved and then add to apple juice. Bring apple juice to a boil, stirring occasionally. (To test whether the jelly will thicken, remove a small amount on a spoon and slowly pour it back into the boiling juice. If it slightly holds to the spoon, it is ready.

Pour into clean glass jars, cover with new Kerr lids and rings, and invert for 5-10 minutes. Turn upright and let sit for 24 hours. Test lids to verify they have sealed. Jelly will store for several weeks in the fridge and for up to a year on a cool, dark shelf.

Apple Pie

Depending on the quality and size of your apples, you should be able to make between one and three deep-dish pies. If you want to freeze the filling for a later date, here is a cool trick – line your pie pan with plastic wrap, pour in filling, fold in plastic wrap to completely cover apple filling. Freeze until shaped; remove pan and slide plastic covered apple filling into a freezer bag. When you are ready to bake, the apples will already perfectly fit your pan.

Add 1 cup of sugar and 2 Tbsp. cinnamon to sliced apples; toss well. Pour into prepared pie crust; top with second layer of pie crust. Bake in 350F oven for 35-45 minutes, until crust is browned and apples are soft and bubbling. Remove and let sit for fifteen minutes before serving.

Applesauce

Straining Applesauce

Since we boiled our apple cores with the peels, the applesauce will be a lovely red. Using colander balanced over a large bowl, scoop small amounts of cooked apple peeling and cores into the colander. Using a colander press, vigorously press peeling against the sides to squeeze all the cooked apple into the bowl below. Discard squeezed peels. Either serve immediate (adding sugar to taste) or cook until heated. Pour into clean jars, covering with new lids and rings. Can in a water bath according to directions or store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

Red Applesauce

Spicy Sausage and Chicken with Roasted Green Chile and Peach Compote

Spicy Sausage and Chicken with Roasted Green Chile and Peach Compote


It is harvest season here in New Mexico … in our gardens and orchards. It is also one of our most favorite times of year when the aroma of fresh roasting green chile is present at grocers across the state. This recipe is a wonderful way to blend some fresh roasted green chile with peaches on the over-ripe side, as the more tender meat will produce more juice as the peaches are heated. The succulent, sweet fruit is the perfect counter-play to the heat of the fresh roasted green chile and spicy sausage. This dish is excellent over pasta.

6 spicy sausage links (cajun, andouille, or your favorite)
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 red bell pepper, seeded, stemmed, and julienned
1 green bell pepper, seeded, stemmed and julienned
3 small or 2 large fresh tomatoes, stemmed and chopped into 1″ pieces
4 very ripe peaches, skinned, seeded and thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped green chile
1/4 cup beef or chicken broth
4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. raw sugar
1 tsp. ground oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. garlic salt

Slice sausages lengthwise and then each half lengthwise again. Cut each slice into three equal pieces. Set aside. (For gluten free, verify that your sausage is a gluten free variety.)

Slice chicken breasts lengthwise into 1/2″-wide strips. Chop strips into 1/2″ pieces. Set aside.

In a hot wok or deep non-stick pan or skillet over high heat, pour 2-3 tsp. drizzled olive oil. Add peppers, green chile, and spices. Toss and stir quickly to sear peppers until slight charred and soft. Pour in an additional 2-3 tsp. olive oil and add peaches, immediately tossing and stirring.

Turn heat to medium and simmer for 3-5 minutes, until peaches are soften and have begun to release juices. Add soy sauce and raw sugar. Gently stir, cover with lid and turn heat to low, simmering for an additional 5-7 minutes. Juice should be slightly thick and boiling. Remove fruit and pepper compote and pour into a heat-tolerant container.

Return skillet to stove on high heat and add 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Add sausage and chicken, tossing to coat with oil and stirring to keep meat from sticking. Cooking thoroughly over medium to medium-high heat until sausage is browned and centers of chicken are completely white.

Add peach and pepper compote to meat mixture in skillet, gently tossing. Cook over low heat until thoroughly heated.

Serve with penne pasta, brown rice or over baked sweet potatoes. For gluten free, use brown rice pasta, but do not add the pasta to the skillet during the cooking process. Serve individually on plates and top with meat and fruit compote.

Substitutions: You may use frozen, sliced peppers and frozen chopped green chile, as well as frozen sliced peaches. Just allow for more cooking time and reduce heat to allow the additional liquid to somewhat evaporate. You may also use pre-packaged frozen chicken chunks or slices with the same defrosting allowances.

Fish Tacos With Spicy Aioli, Radicchio, and Avocado

 

Light and delicious, these tacos are delicious served up with black beans.

Fish Tacos with Aioli Sauce, Radicchio, & Avocado

Fish Tacos with Aioli Sauce, Radicchio, & Avocado

(makes 10 tacos)

10 fresh corn tortillas
1 1/2 lbs. Dover Sole or other white, flaky fish
2 1/2 Cups Salsa
1 Cup Fresh Cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 Cups Radicchio, coarsely chopped
3 Avocados, cubed
1 Cup Shredded Mexican Cheese
Aioli Sauce (see recipe below)

Prepare a 9X13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Spread fish evenly over the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle 2 Cups Salsa on fish. Sprinkle lightly with garlic salt (optional). Cover with foil. Bake at 350℉ for 30-45 minutes, or until fish flaked when pricked with a fork.

Remove fish from oven. Using a slotted spoon or spatula, strain fish and place in a medium mixing bowl. (You can pour the remaining sauce in the baking dish either into a container or in ice cube trays to use as broth in paella at a later date; freeze until ready to use.) Using two forks, gently flake fish.

Add Cilantro to fish.

Heat tortillas individually over the open flame of a gas stove, turning when each side is lightly browned, or in a very hot heavy skillet. Wrap heated tortillas in parchment paper or absorb moisture; wrap parchment paper in foil until ready to serve.

Evenly distribute fish over corn tortillas. Top with radicchio, avocado and cheese. Garnish with Aoili Sauce.

Aioli Sauce

This is the easiest sauce you’ll make and isn’t a “true” aoili sauce, but it is excellent on top of fish, chicken, potatoes, or pasta.

1 Cup Lowfat Sour Cream
1/2 Cup Salsa
1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce

Puree ingredients in a food processor or blender. Return to refrigerator until ready to serve. Stores great in an empty condiment bottle.

Baked Chicken with fresh Apricots and Goat Cheese

(reposted from my Gluten-Free Culinarian Blog)

Once again, it’s that time of the year when complete strangers will come up and hand you a grocery bag full of fresh fruit or veggies, muttering something like, “We can’t let it go to waste. We planted the &*$#@ tree, but how is any one person supposed to eat that many apricots?” And the truly shameless drop them on your doorstep in the dead of night. If you’ve recently come into a fresh supply of apricots, this is a wonderful way to use the… shall I say more bruised among the lot? This is a subtly rich dish with a piquant after-bite that can be made ahead. Serve with roasted potatoes and a fresh veggie platter (the cheese topping is awesome scooped up with fresh celery).

Baked Chicken With Fresh Apricots & Goat Cheese

(serves 6)
3 Large Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
2 Cups Apricots, seeded and halved
1/2 Cup Goat Cheese, crumbled (spiced or plain)
1/2 Cup Cream Cheese, room temp

1/4 Cup Pimentos, drained (if you cannot find gluten-free pimentos, substitute chopped roasted red peppers)
1/4 Cup Chives, minced
1/4 Cup Pine Nuts, roasted (optional)
1 Tbsp. Gluten-free Soy Sauce
1 tsp. Ground Red Chile Powder

Prepare a 9X13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Slice chicken breasts lengthwise (so that you end up with 6 full-length, thin chicken breasts). Lay chicken breasts on the bottom of the baking dish.

In a medium bowl, blend soy sauce with cream cheese. Fold in all additional ingredients except for apricots. Spread cheese mixture evenly over raw chicken.

Lay fresh apricots skin-side up on top of the chicken and cheese layers.

Lay apricots skin-side up on top of cheese mixture. Can be made one day ahead; cover with plastic wrap and return to refrigerator until ready to bake.

Bake uncovered in 375℉ for 45 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked through the center.

Remove and serve immediately.

A Bombshell Day

A Bombshell Day

Some days are what we’d call Red Letter Days. You know, the ones that hold special significance for us. Like the birth of a child or the day we get married or the first day of an important career milestone. Other days are what I like to call Bombshell Days. Those are the ones that rock our world, change the way we move forward. I’ve had a few of those, and so I can pretty much say this is going to be one of my Bombshell Days.

To help give my reaction to the news I received today, it might help to provide a bit of background for perspective. I was born in 196… ok, maybe not that much background.

Background

I’ve basically been sick since my first memories. I was the kid who fell in love with books because it was all there was to do in my bedroom while my friends were at school. The kid whose grandfather bought goats just to see if I could handle goats’ milk. (Yeah, he was pretty awesome.) And whose mom schlepped from doctor to specialist to ultra-specialist in hopes of finding out why I was always sick. After testing, I found out I was allergic to just about everything that moved and quite a few things that didn’t move. I took shots for years to build up my immune system, went on special diets, and tried some pretty funky solutions in a quest to feel healthy like everyone else.

I was a very sickly 102 pounds when I married (but at least I was thin, right?) and then spent the next several years finding out it was almost impossible for me to carry a baby. After three miscarriages, we finally had our first child, a beautiful, wonderful daughter. Three more miscarriages, and we brought our oldest son in the world. And after another miscarriage, we decided it was just too hard and gave up on having a third. A year later, we discovered we’d been blessed with one last pregnancy that meant 5 months of bed rest before our last son joined our little family.

After he was born, my health just completely fell apart. I had blackouts from rollercoaster blood sugars that couldn’t be explained and that didn’t develop into type 1 diabetes as predicted. I gained weight and then more weight and then more weight until I had blossomed from a small to a large. Borderline thyroid results allowed me to start on Armour, but that didn’t result in weight loss. Nothing seemed to help.

The Diagnosis

And then the unthinkable happened. I got a diagnosis. My new doctor told me I had Celiac, and while it meant a huge learning curve and completely new diet, it was an answer that explained so much. And so I dove in with two feet and a whole lot of research. I preached gluten-free to my kids, started plying new dishes on my family (some really not so good experiments as well as a few winners), and began celebrating the hope of better health.

And I did feel better. Quite a bit better. I didn’t lose any weight to speak of, but my energy increased, the bloating in my stomach disappeared for several weeks, and the headaches I experience almost daily were greatly reduced. I became a total, avid convert. Until a few weeks ago when I went for my annual checkup with the same doctor who helped me through all ten of my pregnancies. After perusing my file, he commented that there was no test for Celiac. Along with a boatload of other tests like lipid panel, liver, cancer markers, thyroid, and A1c, he added the test for Celiac markers. And so I added gluten back into my diet to prepare for the test. I was a bit concerned, because the world didn’t end when I ate my first piece of bread. And I didn’t spend the next three days sick. I’d been there, before – sick after a meal, so I was perplexed.

The Bombshell

My doctor called this morning – with good news, he said. All of my blood work was normal. Including the test for Celiac markers. Absolutely no indication of Celiac. None. Nada. Nothing. Not even a smidgen.

And so now all I have is questions. Why did the other doctor tell me I had Celiac? Why did I feel better at first off of gluten? Why did I get sick sometimes after eating gluten and not others? And, most of all, now what?

Seriously. Now what? I personally have no idea. And now I’m back to no answers, only questions. If you have answers, buddy, I’m all ears.

Gluten Free Poppyseed Pumpkin Loaf

This loaf is rich, moist and dense enough to serve for breakfast, an afternoon snack or even as a dessert topped with whipping cream spiked with a touch of ground ginger and cinnamon. It also easily doubles. If you’re baking for gluten and gluten-free, check the end of the recipe for tips on dividing the recipe to create one gluten-free loaf and one gluten loaf.

Gluten-free Poppyseed Pumpkin Loaf

Poppyseed Pumpkin Loaf
© Lisa Abeyta; reprint only with permission

In a large microwave-safe mixing bowl, melt in the microwave for 25 seconds on high:

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter

Whisk into melted butter:

1 small can (2 cups) Pumpkin puree
1 Egg
1/2 cup canned Condensed Milk (may substitute whole milk)
1/4 cup Applesauce, unsweetened
1/4 cup Sour Cream
1/4 cup granulated Sugar
1 Tbsp. poppyseeds
1 tsp. ground Cinnamon

In a separate bowl, combine:

1/2 cup Bisquick baking mix, gluten-free
1/4 cup Pamela’s Baking Mix, gluten-free
1/4 cup Brown Rice flour
1 scant Tbsp. baking powder

Blend dry ingredients into batter just until blended; over mixing will cause your bread to be tough.

Batter should be sticky but not runny.

Bake in 350F oven for 30 minutes, or until knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

To create one gluten-free and one gluten loaf:
Double all of the liquid ingredients, divide equally into two mixing bowls and add 1 1/4 cups unbleached wheat flour, 1 tbsp. baking powder and 1/4 tsp. salt to the gluten batter. Baking directions are the same for both loaves.

This recipe is already adjusted for high altitude bakers.

How Do You Let People Know You’re Not At Your Best?

I was having this conversation recently and am curious how you handle this: How do you tell someone you may not be at your best due to not feeling 100% without appearing to be fishing for sympathy?

With sometimes multiple meetings scheduled in a day, it is often impossible to “call in sick” when I’ve managed to ingest some gluten without realizing it. And thus the challenge begins. Do I let clients know I may need to suddenly leave the meeting, or do I just hope to get through it before a new bout of stomach ailments appear (and just bolt out the door if I have to and explain later)? Either way, I think it’s tough. My health becomes a topic of conversation – not something I want to have happen when I’m working with others in a professional capacity.

A family member recently told me they thought I was sick more than I was well. It was then that I realized each time I mentioned I was moving a bit creaky due to the weather (I have Fibromyalgia as well as Celiac) coupled with each time I mentioned suffering from eating unidentified gluten, what they heard was, “I am sick again today.”

So I’m hoping you’ll share how you handle a chronic illness without letting those around you think you’re fishing for sympathy or becoming an invalid when all you’re really needing is a bit of space to handle the challenges of the day.