Classic Apple Butter

The first time I had apple butter was on my toast at a restaurant. While I can’t remember which restaurant or even how old I was, there is no doubt in my mind that I was immediately hooked. If I went anywhere that had it, you can be sure that apple deliciousness was going to be on my toast. So it is no surprise that 2 years ago I decided I was going to make some.

(This post contains affiliate links)

Our garden was out of control that year, so I’d purchased a canning recipe book from Amazon in an attempt to figure out what I was going to do with the mountain of vegetables that was taking over the kitchen. While flipping through the book I came across the apple butter recipe and I got super excited. And for good reason. This apple butter is way better than anything I’d ever had before. We frequently eat this on toast, and it is super good as an ice cream topping. And while this recipe makes enough for you to give some to friends and family, you probably won’t want to share.

I’m all about full disclosure, so if you are thinking about making this recipe here a few things you should know. Firstly, while the ingredient list is very simple, this is a very time consuming recipe. It takes a significant amount of time to prep the apples, even if you use an apple peeler corer slicer. In addition, cooking the apple butter until it is thick enough takes about an hour and a half.

Secondly, there is a good chance that when you are cooking the apple butter it will pop and burn the crap out of you while you are trying to stir it. I would recommend keeping small children away from the stove while you are making this, just in case.

Lastly, because the apple butter pops while it is cooking, it will get all over your stove, cabinets, and probably the floor. Because it takes so long to make this recipe you will be tempted to postpone clean up until the next day. Do not wait. The apple butter will harden and you will have to rent a jackhammer to get it off. I exaggerate, but I think you get the idea.

To get started, place the apples and water in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and boil for around 30 minutes, stirring on occasion, until the apples are soft.

Classic Apple Butter from Cooks My Books

Puree the apples in food processor or blender. Do not over process. The mixture should look like applesauce.

Classic Apple Butter from Cooks My Books

Combine the apple puree, sugar and spices in a large clean pot. If using sweet apples, start with 5 cups of sugar. Add the additional cup of sugar after the mixture thickens if desired.

Classic Apple Butter from Cooks My Books

Bring the mixture to a boil again, then reduce heat. Continue to boil gently until the mixture begins to thicken, stirring frequently to prevent burning.

Classic Apple Butter from Cooks My Books

To check to see if the butter is finished, spoon a small amount onto a chilled plate. When the mixture holds its shape and does not separate, then the butter is done.

For canning: prep water bath canner, jars and lids. Laddle hot butter into jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim of jars, center lids and screw on band. Process for 10 minutes, then remove canner lid and wait 5 minutes before removing jars from the canner. Let cool, label and store.

Classic Apple Butter from Cooks My Books

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:17]

Soft Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Sugar Icing

It’s that time of year again. Fall. And you know what that means? Time for pumpkin everything! While my favorite pumpkin recipe is pumpkin pie, I usually use the recipe on the back of the Libby’s pumpkin puree can. So instead, I’m going to share my second favorite pumpkin recipe which is for pumpkin cookies.

I had these cookies for the first time when I was playing at friend’s house when I was a little girl. I must have really liked them, because I asked my Mom to make them for me. My Mom asked for the recipe and I’m glad she did. These pumpkin cookies are super soft with subtle pumpkin flavor and a delicious brown sugar icing on top.

First mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.

Soft Pumpkin Cookies from Cooks My Books

Using a stand or hand mixer, cream butter and sugar together. Add pumpkin puree, egg, and vanilla and mix well.

Soft Pumpkin Cookies from Cooks My Books

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined.

Soft Pumpkin Cookies from Cooks My Books

Drop balls of cookie dough onto well grease cookie sheet.

Soft Pumpkin Cookies from Cooks My Books

To make the icing, start by combining brown sugar, milk, and butter in a saucepan over medium low heat.

Soft Pumpkin Cookies from Cooks My Books

Cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly so it doesn’t burn or bubble over.

Soft Pumpkin Cookies from Cooks My Books

Remove from heat. Mix in vanilla and powdered sugar. The icing will thicken as it cools. Add more powdered sugar for a thicker icing.

Soft Pumpkin Cookies from Cooks My Books

Frost the cookies and enjoy!

Soft Pumpkin Cookies from Cooks My Books

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:16]

Coffee Cake

When I was little, I always got excited when my mom would make coffee cake. Usually reserved for special occasions, it was always a fun treat. As a child, I thought it must be super complicated to make it. But when I got older I asked my mom for the recipe and discovered it was super simple. It comes together in minutes, but has to be prepared the night before so the rolls have time to rise. Sticky buns, monkey bread, or coffee cake – whatever you call it, it is a delicious and easy breakfast that anyone can enjoy.

To get started, put the frozen rolls in a bundt pan coated with cooking spray, then sprinkle the butterscotch pudding over the top of the rolls.

Coffee Cake from Cooks My Books

Mix the melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon together until combined, then pour over the top of the rolls.

Coffee Cake from Cooks My Books

Cover the bundt pan with a wet dishtowel and let the rolls rise overnight.

Coffee Cake from Cooks My Books

 

Coffee Cake from Cooks My Books

In the morning, bake the rolls for 25 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or until the top is golden brown.

Coffee Cake from Cooks My Books

Invert the bundt plan on a tray, plate, or cookie sheet and serve while still warm. I usually use a cookie sheet covered in foil for easy clean up. And if the rolls aren’t quite done, the cookie sheet can go back in the oven.

Coffee Cake from Cooks My Books

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:15]

Banana Cream Pie

When I first started baking and cooking, I focused most of my attention on making cupcakes. I intended on making the cupcakes for my wedding so I wanted to try to master a few recipes. As a result I have made a lot of cupcakes over the past few years. And while I do enjoy a cupcake now and then they aren’t my favorite. Without any hesitation, I would rather have pie.

For as long as I can remember, I have loved pie and I have requested pie instead of cake on my birthday more than once. So it seemed logical that the next thing on my baking to do list should be to master making pie.

As luck would have it, I stumbled upon this recipe for Banana Cream Pie. It quickly became my go to recipe because it only has a few ingredients, comes together fairly quickly, and is a big hit at family gatherings.

First combine the graham crackers and sugar in a bowl. Stir in the melted butter until evenly distributed. Press the crumb mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of a lightly greased 9 inch deep dish pie plate.

Banana Cream Pie from Cooks My Books

Prepare pudding in a bowl by whisking the milk and pudding mix together. Refrigerate to set.

Banana Cream Pie from Cooks My Books

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar together.

Banana Cream Pie from Cooks My Books

Fold in half of the whipped topping and the banana pudding until the mixture is well combined.

Banana Cream Pie from Cooks My Books

Banana Cream Pie from Cooks My Books

Arrange the banana slices in the graham cracker crust.

Banana Cream Pie from Cooks My Books

Pour in half of the filling.

Banana Cream Pie from Cooks My Books

Repeat with remaining bananas and filling.

Banana Cream Pie from Cooks My Books

Put the remainder of the whipped topping into a piping bag with tip.

Banana Cream Pie from Cooks My Books

Pipe whipped topping around the edges of the pie and in the center. Or if you prefer, spread the whipped topping evenly over the top of the pie.

Banana Cream Pie from Cooks My Books

Refrigerate until set, about 1 to 2 hours. Serves 8.

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:14]

Banana Bread

My little boy seriously loves fruit. I have to keep the fruit hidden at mealtimes until he is done eating other things otherwise he will only ask for fruit. Honestly, that is probably all he would eat if I let him. His favorites fruits to eat are strawberries and blueberries, or any other type of berry he can get his hands on. He never met a berry he didn’t like. I try to throw in other fruit, such as bananas, to mix things up, but he isn’t quite as enthusiastic about eating them. As a result, some of the bananas were looking a little sad and brown in the fruit bowl the other day. Since he was napping, I decided to make some banana bread.

I had never made banana bread before, so when I started making this recipe I was a little surprised with how many steps were involved. Looking at some other recipes after the fact, I realized this recipe is a little more complicated than other recipes. But it is definitely worth the effort because this banana bread turned out fantastic.

To get started, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Banana Bread from Cooks My Books

Place peeled bananas in a microwave safe bowl, and then cover it with plastic wrap. Use a paring knife to cut a few vent holes in the plastic. Microwave the bananas for about 5 minutes, so they will get soft and release some liquid. Line a strainer with cheesecloth, and place it in a similar sized bowl. Pour the soft bananas into the strainer lined with cheesecloth. Let the bananas sit for about 15 minutes, stirring on occasion, until ½ to ¾ cup of liquid has drained.

Pour banana liquid into a small pan. Boil over medium heat, stirring consistently, for about 5 minutes or until it has reduced by about half. Make sure to watch it because it can bubble over easily.

Stir reduced banana liquid back into the bananas, mashing the bananas until there are no large chunks.

Banana Bread from Cooks My Books

Using a stand or hand mixer, combine the banana mixture with the butter, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla.

Banana Bread from Cooks My Books

Add the flour mixture, and stir with a spatula until only some streaks of flour remain.

Add walnuts, if using. Mix until combined. I don’t like nuts in my baked goods, so I skipped this step.

Pour the banana bread batter into a greased loaf pan. Sprinkle the sugar over the top of the uncooked batter.

Banana Bread from Cooks My Books

Bake for 55 to 75 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 15 minutes.

Banana Bread from Cooks My Books

Remove from pan and continue to cool on a wire rack.

Banana Bread from Cooks My Books

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:13]

Hot Chocolate Mix

I have been thinking about hot chocolate a lot lately. Probably because it has been snowing here for a few days and I’m freezing my buns off. I have always loved hot chocolate. Even the thought of taking sips from a big mug on a cold day makes me grin.

When I was a kid, I remember happily making hot chocolate from the little Swiss Miss packets. But when I was a little older, everything changed one day when my mom said “I found this recipe for a hot chocolate mix in an old cookbook. Let’s give it a try.”

It took a couple of times to get the mixture just how we wanted it, but after that I was hooked. I never wanted anything else. And with only 4 ingredients, it is super simple to make.

To make the mix, stir the dry milk, powdered creamer, powdered sugar, and Nesquik together in a large bowl until combined. That’s it. You’re done. If you want the mix to have a more uniform look, like the ones you get at the store, you can put the mix in a food processor or blender and process it in batches. Return to the bowl and mix together again. Store in an airtight container. I use quart size mason jars. The mix will fill up about 4 of them.

Hot Chocolate Mix from Cooks My Books

To make the hot chocolate, add 3 to 4 tablespoons of the mix to 1 cup of hot water. Stir until the mix has dissolved. Add marshmallows or whipped cream, if desired, and enjoy.

Hot Chocolate Mix from Cooks My Books

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:12]

Teriyaki Chicken and Vegetable Rice Bowls

I won’t hesitate to admit that I’m a bit of a Pinterest addict. Before I had my son, I could easily browse garden tips, home decorating ideas, and recipes for hours. During one of these sessions, I came across a recipe for teriyaki chicken. I decided to give it a try because it was pretty similar to recipe I made with shrimp, only it had an awesome homemade teriyaki sauce. And I already had all of the ingredients to make it, which was an added bonus.

This recipe quickly became one of my husband favorite things to eat. And I don’t feel guilty about eating it often. It’s even great leftover. You can’t go wrong with chicken, vegetables, and rice.

First, make the teriyaki sauce by adding the soy sauce, 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water, brown sugar, honey, rice vinegar, and garlic to a small saucepan. Mix  everything together and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat.

In a separate bowl, whisk together cornstarch with the remaining 2 tablespoons water, then add to the saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to a boil for 1 minute longer, making sure to stir continuously so the sauce doesn’t burn. Remove from heat.

To cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the chicken breasts in half in order to make 2 smaller chicken breasts. I do this so the chicken will cook faster, but you can skip this step if you want. Just adjust your baking time.

Place breasts in a lightly greased 9 by 13 baking pan, then season with salt and pepper. Next, brush the chicken breasts with some of the teriyaki sauce.

Teriyaki Chicken from Cooks My Books

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the meat rest for about 5 minutes, and then cut into strips or cubes.

Teriyaki Chicken from Cooks My Books

To cook the vegetables, place the butter and chopped vegetables in a large pan with lid over medium heat. Next, season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Teriyaki Chicken from Cooks My Books

To assemble the bowls, first scoop a layer of rice into the bowl. Next, add a layer of vegetables, then a layer of chicken. Finally, drizzle the desired amount of teriyaki sauce over the top. Serve and enjoy!

Teriyaki Chicken from Cooks My Books

 

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:7]

Sugar Cookies

Last year in early spring, we went to visit one of my sisters in Arizona. We had so much fun while we were there. We saw a road runner and butterflies while visiting the Botanical Gardens,  and soaked up some much needed sun at the pool. It was almost Easter, so as a fun treat my sister made some sugar cookies from a recipe that she had gotten from a family member on her husband’s side. They were so good that I asked for the recipe. With Valentine’s Day coming up in a few days, I thought this would be a great opportunity to share the recipe with the world.

First, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Sugar Cookies from Cooks My Books

Cream together the butter and sugar using a stand or hand mixer.

Sugar Cookies from Cooks My Books

Add eggs and extracts and beat until just combined.

Add flour mixture to wet ingredients and mix well.

Sugar Cookies from Cooks My Books

Scrap dough onto well-floured surface. Roll out thick.

Sugar Cookies from Cooks My Books

Cut desired shaped and place on lightly greased cookie sheet.

Sugar Cookies from Cooks My Books

Bake for 8 minutes, and then let cool on a wire rack.

Sugar Cookies from Cooks My Books

For the frosting: Cream the butter using a stand or hand mixer on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed.

Reduce speed of mixer to low, and add the powdered sugar slowly. Mix until incorporated.

Add the vanilla and mix until combined, then increase the speed of the mixer to medium-high for around 2 minutes, or until frosting becomes light and fluffy. Add food coloring if desired.

Frosting from Cooks My Books

Frost cookies and serve.

Sugar Cookies from Cooks My Books

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:9]

Quick and Easy Cheeseball

Yesterday, I was watching the Super Bowl with my husband when he said “We need some finger foods. We usually have snacks during the Super Bowl.” I racked my brain for something that would be quick to make. I wanted to make something that we already had all of the ingredients for so I didn’t have to go to the store. It took a minute, but then it came to me. A cheeseball.

I went to the kitchen and grabbed my family cookbook. I could look up the recipe – butter, cream cheese, black olives, and green onions. Seemed simple enough. And then I remembered there was some leftover bacon in the fridge from breakfast. Everything is better with bacon right?

Before you start mixing anything, make sure that your butter and cream cheese are room temperature. To do this, I usually leave the butter out on the counter. For the cream cheese, I put in it the microwave using the  softening function.

Once they are softened, cream together butter and cream cheese in a bowl using a stand mixer or hand mixer.

Quick and Easy Cheeseball by Cooks My Books

Stir in olives, bacon, and green onions with a spatula until well incorporated.

Quick and Easy Cheeseball by Cooks My Books

Scoop the mixture onto a sheet of wax or parchment paper. Roll into one large ball or two small balls. Usually, I will do the one large ball.

Roll the ball(s) in the chopped walnuts until completely covered, if desired. You can skip this step if you just aren’t a fan of nuts, or have an allergy. This is also were having two smaller cheese-balls comes in handy, because you can roll one in the chopped walnuts and leave the other plain. I skipped this step this time because we were out of walnuts.

Place on plate(s) and chill in the refrigerator until set.

Quick and Easy Cheeseball by Cooks My Books

Serve with your favorite crackers. I usually use wheat thins because they are sturdy and won’t crack when I’m trying to scoop up some cheeseball.

Quick and Easy Cheeseball by Cooks My Books

 

 

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:1]

Parmesan Chicken

A few years back, I was trying to decide what to make for dinner. I was bored with my usual go-to chicken dinners, so I decided to try something new. After poking around on the internet for a bit, I stumbled across this recipe for Parmesan Chicken on Simply Recipes. After looking over the recipe, I decided to make it for two reasons.

  1. I had all the ingredients
  2. Little bites of paremsan chicken baked in butter sounded delicious.

Since then, I’ve made it many times and it has always been a big hit. I’ve even had family members request that I make it for special occasions. But don’t take my word for it, give it a try for yourself.

(This post contains affiliate links)

To get started, melt the butter in a bowl or pie plate. Add the minced garlic and stir together. Then, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, dried parsley, salt, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and black pepper in a separate bowl or pie plate.

Dip the chicken chunks into the garlic butter to coat. Be sure to reheat the butter if it starts to thicken.

Parmesan Chicken by Cooks My BooksIMG_0058
Pieces in garlic butter

Next, move the pieces to the pie plates with the breadcrumb mixture and coat. When I first started making this, I would use small bowls, but I’ve found it’s easier to use pie plates.

Parmesan Chicken by Cooks My Books
Pieces coated in breadcrumb mixture

When coated with the breadcrumb mixture, place the chicken into a greased 9 by 13 baking dish (or whatever size you have), leaving a little bit of space in between each piece. Depending on the amount of chicken, you might need to use more than one baking dish. When all of the chicken is in the pan, drizzle the remaining garlic butter over the chicken pieces.

Parmesan Chicken by Cooks My Books
Ready to go in the oven

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit (75 degrees Celsius).

Parmesan Chicken by Cooks My Books

We usually eat this with spaghetti marinara and corn.  Yum!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:2]