Thursday, September 28, 2017

Awesome Life Friday #131: Autumn Apples

Welcome to Awesome Life Friday!

We're so looking forward to seeing what you've been cooking, creating, growing, decorating, reviewing, giving away, and thinking about this week!

While you're here, leave your posts at the other link up we co-host here - Party in Your PJs!  It starts on Tuesday evenings, and runs through Sunday.  I hope you'll join us there as well!

Here's what we've been up to this past week:

This evening, we are driving a few hours away to see our granddaughter for her first birthday!  We will only have a couple days this trip, sadly.  I miss her and her parents so much, but any time together is good!

So, now our favorite part - the FEATURES !  If you're one of our featured posts, we'd love it if you'd grab a button, and thanks to all of you who shared with us last week!

There were so many delicious Autumn Apple recipes that I decided to focus on them this week - don't you love the flavors of fall?!

Waldorf Kale Salad with Apple & Honey Citrus Dressing // Gluten-Free A-Z Blog
"This beautiful kale Waldorf super salad brings together apples and honey just in time for Rosh Hashanah- the Jewish New Year!"

Homemade Pancake Syrup Made with Apple Peelings // Little House Living
"This recipe is fairly simple and will use up the scraps leftover from making homemade applesauce or canning apples. You can use any kind of apples for this recipe."

Homemade Applesauce // A Fireman's Wife
"I usually make a couple batches of this in the few weeks following apple picking.  I think this is such a treat and so much better than what you can find in the store.  It is also super simple!"

Silly Apple Monsters Snack For Kids // My Joy Filled Life
"... while they will gladly eat an apple and strawberries when served, it never hurts to make snack time a little more fun.  These silly apple monsters do just that and make for a healthy snack any time of year."

Caramel Apple Cookies // The Monday Box
"Imagine the flavors of a caramel apple transformed into a cookie. Brown sugar and butter caramel, check. Sweet-tart fruity apple, check. Scrumptious, absolutely."

Caramel Apple Turnovers // Creatively Homemade
"When most people think of favorite fall foods – something made with pumpkin probably comes to mind. Not me though – I am all about the caramel apples!"

If you are one of our FEATURED bloggers, this button is for you!

Thank you all so much for sharing your awesomeness!

Are you all ready to party?  If you like, we'd love it you'd help spread the word by grabbing our button:

Here we go!

Pork with Apples, Onions & Potatoes (#cookthebooksclub)


The Cook the Books theme for August / September is Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Several bloggers read this children's classic and cooked a dish inspired by it.

There is certainly no shortage of food inspiration in Farmer Boy!  It is basically an homage to abundant food (and hard work, and the joys of farming - but mostly food and vast quantities of it).

I have to say, I do think the food descriptions, especially regarding how much was at the table every day, is an idealized vision in several ways.  Farmer Boy describes a year or so of Almanzo Wilder's life - later in the series, we meet Almanzo out in Dakota Territory when Laura does, and eventually they marry.  But in Farmer Boy, his family has a prosperous farm in upstate New York.

So the descriptions of all this food is the memory of a boy of a time in which he no longer lives.  The availability of foods, both grown and acquired, would have been far more available in NY than in pioneer country.

It is also the memory of a boy recounting his mother's cooking - and we know how often that can be idealized by children (especially sons).

It is also Laura's description and vision of her husband's youth - which was very different from her roving pioneer life that often included a lack of food  and few choices, and the need to be very creative with what one had.

If it sounds like Thanksgiving every day, I have to imagine that that is how she saw it as Almanzo regaled her with long lists of dishes served up multiple times a day, or told her about the time he and his sisters used all the sugar making ice cream several times while their parents were away.

Lastly, though, Farmer Boy (and many of Laura Ingalls Wilder's series) was published during the Great Depression.  This book was food porn for children growing up in very difficult times - and it came with a message that promoted self sufficiency and hard work and a willingness to go without treats and baubles in order to invest in one's future as the path to overcoming the Depression and getting all that food.

So - I don't think they actually ate quite that abundantly every single day, but I do think the story well describes the types of foods that would be available on an upstate New York farm and eaten often.

I grew up in Nebraska, and was much more interested in the Ingalls' pioneer adventures - I think I only read Farmer Boy once for completeness' sake, and never put it back on the rotation.  The book passes through a year seasonally, and each season has its own foods and its own tasks, and it was very pleasant to have a chance to revisit it.

For my dish, I decided to go with Almanzo's self-identified favorite dish - Fried Apples & Onions.

'"What would you like best to eat?"
They talked about spareribs, and turkey with dressing, and baked beans, and crackling cornbread, and other good things. But Almanzo said that what he liked most in the world was fried apples ’n’ onions. When, at last, they went in to dinner, there on the table was a big dish of them! Mother knew what he liked best, and she had cooked it for him.'

For our table, I served it along with Pork Tenderloin (they would have had pork, although I don't know that tenderloin was a cut used at the time - chops or a small roast would also work here), and I added potatoes to the saute, mainly because I had a few potatoes that needed to be used.

Now, there is no description of how this was prepared other than 'fried'.  I think a bit of maple syrup
would have been used at least sometimes, but I decided to let the sweetness of the apples and cooked onions be the only sweetener.

Pork Tenderloin with Sauteed Apples, Onions & Potatoes
Serves 6

1 package pork tenderloin (these usually come with 2 tenderloins)
3-4 medium apples, cored and diced (no need to remove skins)
1 large onion, diced
3-4 medium small potatoes, diced (no need to remove skins)
fat for cooking - I used olive oil and butter. Try bacon fat if you've got it)
Salt and pepper
Seasoning for pork as desired (I used a Penzey's blend - there are several that are good with pork)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup chicken broth

Season pork tenderloins with salt, pepper and other seasonings as desired.  In a skillet, add 1-2 tablespoons of oil or fat, and sear pork on medium high until it is browned (the inside will not be cooked yet).

Remove pork from heat and set aside.

Splash vinegar in the pan and deglaze, scraping up any stuck on pork bits.

Add about a tablespoon of butter or other fat.

Add apples, onions and potatoes to pan and stir to blend in the vinegar in the pan.  Let cook on medium high for about 10 minutes without stirring so they brown.  Then turn and brown other side for about the same time (watch for burning).

Stir and return pork tenderloins to the pan, nestling them down into the apple mixture.  Add broth to pan and cover to cook on medium for about 15-20 minutes or until the apple mixture is tender and the pork is cooked through.

Remove pork to a platter and let rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing into medallions.  Serve alongside the sauteed apples, onions and pork.

Or, if you're Almanzo, alongside "creamed carrots and boiled turnips, and countless slices of buttered bread with crab-apple jelly", at least three different varieties of pickle, a half dozen various types of pie, some cornbread, and maybe a doughnut or three to hold off the hunger pangs while this is cooking.

I look forward to seeing what deliciousness other bloggers pulled out of Farmer Boy! Check out the full round up here.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Party in Your PJs #176

Happy Tuesday!

Welcome to the Party in Your PJs Link Party, where your posts will be seen on four different blogs each week.

You'll also find the Awesome Life Friday link-up here at RCHReviews, every Thursday evening at 8pm ET so we hope to see you there as well.

Are you ready to party? I can't wait to see what you've brought to share!

 Meet the Co-Hosts

Nina @ Grandma Ideas 

Lynda @ Reviews, Chews & How-Tos 

Facebook // Pinterest // Twitter // Instagram

Donna @ Aging Like a Fine Wine

Facebook // Pinterest // Twitter // Instagram

The rules for the group board include:
1. Limit of one pin a day.
2. Just like the party anything goes, but clear wonderful pictures with great descriptions are most successful.
3. Please no Spam ( Spammers will be deleted without warning)
4.  If you pin to the Pinterest Board, please link to the Party in Your PJs Party also, the party runs from 7 pm Tuesdays-Midnight Saturday (Central Time)
5.  Finally have fun and share this group board  with blog friends and followers!  The more success the group board is the more success you will see from your pins.

Lynda's Features!

 Make sure you head over to the other member of Party in Your PJs
 to see their features - we each pick our own!

All links are pinned to a Party can follow the board on Pinterest...feel free to follow the board, there is lots of inspiratioPn to be found there.

Ok...let's party!

Rules -Link to post, not your home page
-Link to something YOU made, wrote or thought
-No Etsy or Business Pages
-Link Parties, Roundups and Giveaways welcome
- Don't Link and Run! Please visit other links, make friends, learn something new, leave a comment.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Awesome Life Friday #130

Welcome to Awesome Life Friday!

We're so looking forward to seeing what you've been cooking, creating, growing, decorating, reviewing, giving away, and thinking about this week!

While you're here, leave your posts at the other link up we co-host here - Party in Your PJs!  It starts on Tuesday evenings, and runs through Sunday.  I hope you'll join us there as well!

Here's what we've been up to this past week:

So, now our favorite part - the FEATURES !  If you're one of our featured posts, we'd love it if you'd grab a button, and thanks to all of you who shared with us last week!

Three Tier Stand For Fall Decor // The Country Chic Cottage
"I am adding a few touches of autumn to a few rooms and couldn’t wait to add a centerpiece to my table.  I ordered this three tier stand and it was the perfect rustic farmhouse style accent."

10 Ways to Save Money Without Really Trying // Pretty Extraordinary
"Does the phrase “saving money” make you cringe? I promise that doesn’t need to be the case. There are tons of ways you can save some money without a lot of effort."

How I Recovered the Seat on My Lane Cedar Chest // Petticoat Junktion
"Today I’m sharing how to recover a Lane cedar chest…and the cedar chest is mine. It was a birthday gift from the hubby and kids a long time ago." 

12 Recipe Ideas for Oktoberfest (Sauerbraten) // The Bearded Hiker
"I made sauerbraten – sour roast.... Basically, it’s a German pot roast.  But it sits for four days in a lovely marinade of wine, vinegar, and earthy things like juniper berries and clove.  The end result is amazing!" 

Dos and Don'ts of Donating After Disasters // Of the Hearth
"Aftermaths like this are faced each year in various locations around the world after earthquakes, wildfires, floods, tornadoes, and other disasters. Many of us want to give to the relief and rebuilding efforts after these disasters. What things should we keep in mind when doing this?"

Gluten-Free Maple Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal // Strength & Sunshine
"Bake up this quick & cozy Gluten-Free Maple Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal recipe for a delicious autumn breakfast! Vegan, top-8 allergy-free, & baked right in a cast iron skillet with a crisp maple sugar top!"

If you are one of our FEATURED bloggers, this button is for you!

Thank you all so much for sharing your awesomeness!

Are you all ready to party?  If you like, we'd love it you'd help spread the word by grabbing our button:

Here we go!

Southern Chili Spaghetti #foodbloggers4fl


As I am sure everyone is aware, the Caribbean islands and our Southern states have been rattled by not just 1 but 2 very powerful hurricanes (and now a third)! This is looking to be a very active hurricane season and it's not even close to over.

Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma made their way through the South with no holding back.

There was so much devastating destruction caused by these two storms that we all need to be thinking of our neighbors to the South until they can get back to rebuilding and back to normal again.

95% of the Miami area sustained building damage with the winds and flooding. It is so scary to think of what those people had to go through and are still dealing with.

So little time to get the things that matter most to you and get out of there before they were trapped. I know a few people who live in Florida and made it through unharmed but what a scary thing to have to endure.

Irma made its way to affecting 5 states. One of the states affected was Georgia, where I have an extensive group of family located. They were without power for days with no end in sight.

The rain and storms pounded them for days and schools were closed.

I lived in Georgia for 2 years and while we had a few scares when it came to tornadoes, the storms out there are no joke. I was raised in California where you are lucky to get a little rain throughout the year. Meanwhile, the southern states spend a majority of their time wet and under a cover of clouds.

As intense as it was for them, the islands to the south of the continental US and Florida itself are experiencing real devastation - so just as we did last week for Hurricane Harvey and Texas, today we are collaborating with several bloggers to highlight a few ways to help out.  The following are a list of places to donate:

We also want to share a really good article on what sort of help to offer and when:  So You Want to Go Help After a Major Disaster.  It goes a long way to making the really overwhelming question of how to help a bit more manageable.

One thing I learned from living in Georgia was that they have an amazing knack for comfort food and family. This is something that our southern neighbors need right now - comfort and family.

When you think Southern cooking, what do you think of? Fried Chicken, collard greens, Mac and Cheese? Yum, I am making myself hungry now!!

Like all the regions in the South, they have so many  unique foods out there in Georgia. Everywhere I went, they had offerings of corn bread, biscuits, banana cream pie pudding, and so much more.

One thing stuck out to me more than anything because it was so unexpected: Chili Spaghetti! Excuse me, what?! Chili Spaghetti, what the heck is that?

Well it is exactly just that... Chili poured on top of spaghetti noodles. It was everywhere that they sold burgers. One place that I tried it was Steak and Shake. It was delicious.

I understand that this is also what "Cincinnati Chili" is - but from what I can tell, that is layered rather than combined and their chili is sweeter.

But chili spaghetti? That's a Georgia specialty! After we moved, I had to learn to make it for myself with my own twists.

So, I have a prize winning Chili recipe. I earned a prize for this at an American Legion Chili Cookoff!

But first, the eternal fight with chili is - Beans or No Beans? Well, Georgia uses Beans! We use beans and love it! So with this recipe, I suggest you follow true to it and embrace the beans or it just will not taste as good as it should!

Georgia Chili Spaghetti
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6-8 hours

1 pound ground sirloin, uncooked
1 can dark red Kidney Beans, not drained
1 can diced tomatoes (Italian style), not drained
1/2 a can of Tomato Paste
1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce (yes, 1/4 cup - don't skip this!)
1 tablespoon of ketchup
A dash of Salt and Pepper
1 tbsp of Red Chili Flakes
1 box Spaghetti Noodles, cooked to your liking

Add everything to  a crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. The longer you let it cook, the thicker it will get.

You want it to be semi-thin when you pour it on top of the noodles so if it gets too thick, add a bit of water when you start cooking your noodles, and stir.

Once it is all cooked up and  smelling amazing, you want to cook up your noodles. Once those are done and strained, put them on your plate and pour the chili right on top as you would a marinara sauce!

I dice up some green onions and put on top. You can also sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on there if you like. Mix it all in and take a bite!


A couple of comments - you may use any sort of hamburger, but it won't have the same taste as the sirloin does.

I add this into my crock pot frozen.

You can cook first if it feels better to you. But, I find that when I add it in uncooked, it breaks up to the really small consistency that you get with a good chili.

If you do it like I do, make sure that half way through your cook time you break up the hamburger, as it should be cooked by then. It may stay a patty at the bottom if you don't.

Also, I add in my beans and tomatoes without draining. The juice from the kidney beans acts as a thickening agent!

This is my comfort food and I cannot wait to dig in every time I make it!!

I hope you'll take some time to check out what other bloggers are doing  for this collaboration:

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Honey Harvest Popcorn Clusters


This month's Fantastical Foodfight celebrates National Honey Month!  With so many wonderful foods coming to harvest at this time of year, doesn't it make good sense to feast a bit on the delightful honey produced by the lovely little pollinators that make everything else possible?

Of course it does!  So this month, I made an indulgent little snack full of autumn flavors that showcases the delicious taste of honey - choose local if you can and support our beekeepers.

As you'll see in the recipe, this includes a little maple syrup along with the honey - this was a matter of necessity being the mother of invention, because I didn't have quite enough honey left for the recipe. I'm leaving it in the instructions, though, because the maple syrup added a nice rich bit of depth to these clusters that really played well with the ingredients.

The trail mix I used was a store brand blend that consisted of cranberries and dried cherries along with pumpkin seeds, pecans, cashews and pistachios.  You can select your own favorite trail mix blend, but do avoid those that have chocolate bits or other meltable additions - they'll just melt all over the place when you bake it and burn.

Honey Harvest Popcorn Clusters
Makes about 10 cups (accounting for the bits you'll nibble while you make this)

10 cups popped popcorn
12 oz. trail mix
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine popcorn and trail mix in a large bowl (you'll want enough room to toss honey coating in with the popcorn).  Set aside.

Prepare a large sheetpan by covering with a layer of parchment paper.  Preheat oven to 325F.

In a saucepan, combine butter, honey, syrup and salt.  Cook on medium low until butter has melted, stirring constantly.  Then raise heat and boil for one minute, stirring.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.

Pour honey mixture over the popcorn blend, and toss to combine. All popcorn should be coated and there shouldn't be any unincorporated honey in the bowl.

Turn popcorn onto parchment papered sheet pan and spread out.

Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown and toasty.  Every 10 minutes, stir and turn over so that it browns evenly and doesn't burn.

Remove from oven.  Prepare a 2nd pan with parchment paper and divide popcorn clusters between the two pans so that they can cool and dry out without sticking together too much.

Once completely cooled and set, store in an airtight dry  container at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Riiiiight - this is no way going to last two weeks.

Take a peek at what other honey-based recipes bloggers are sharing! Sweet!