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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Applesauce Raisin Muffins, Cold Weather Goodness

 Cold weather weekend mornings are perfect for homemade goodness at breakfast or mid-day snacking. Better yet if these muffins started with homemade applesauce!

This recipe was probably cut from a Taste of Home magazine but who knows from what issue.


4 cups flour (you can use 1/2 all-purpose and 1/2 oat or wheat)
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbs ground allspice
2 tsp baking soda

Combine and sift to blend these four dry ingredients in a large bowl.

1 cup butter (soften in microwave if right out of refrigerator)
2 cups sugar

Cream the butter and the sugar in a mixing bowl
Then beat in:

2 eggs
2 cups applesauce
2 tbsp vanilla extract

Fold the butter/sugar mixture into the dry mixture and stir just until moistened. 

Add 1 cup raisins
Don't over mix or muffins can be tough.

Grease muffin pans
Pour the batter into 24 muffin cups about 3/4 full each

Bake at 350 degrees F
20 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick tests done

Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing or muffins may stick.
Cool on a wire rack

Yield 2 dozen
Freeze for later if desired

Enjoy this old-fashioned, healthy recipe!
Ideal for a quick, nutritious breakfast, lunch or anytime snack.
Perfect to make ahead and save for holiday gift giving and party contributions.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Apple Crisp, Cross between a cookie and a pie

Apple season is here and you can never have too many recipes on ways to enjoy them. It is the week before Thanksgiving and the weather has taken a downhill spiral seemingly overnight. So what is there to do on a blustery Sunday afternoon but enjoy home baked goodness and a steaming hot cup of coffee.

This recipe for Apple Crisp is a combination of a crisp oatmeal cookie and apple pie. But you don't have to deal with making a pie crust and most likely the ingredients are already in the cupboard. Originally from an issue of Taste Of Home magazine, this recipe was contributed by Gertrude Bartnick of Wisconsin.


Preheat the oven to 350 F

In a mixing bowl, combine these four ingredients:
 1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Cut in:
1/2 cup butter which is 1 stick.

If right out of the refrigerator, soften for 20 seconds in the microwave. You want it softened a bit but not melted.
Use a pastry blender tool to cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly.
Press half of this mix into a greased baking pan.
The recipe says to use a 2 1/2 qt. baking dish or a 9 inch square baking pan.
I had doubled the recipe so in the photo shown I had used a 9 x 12 in. baking dish.

Peel and chop:
4 cups apples

Add the chopped apples to cover the crumbly mixture already in the baking pan.

In a saucepan, combine:
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Cand stir this sugar mixture until it comes to a slight boil and turns thick and clear.

Pour the sugar mixture over the apples which are already in the baking pan.

Sprinkle with the remaining crumb mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until the apples are tender and the topping is golden brown.

Let sit to thicken up before cutting into it to serve.
Serve warm as is or add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to each serving.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Winterberry Holly, A Deciduous Native Shrub

Mention holly and most people think Christmas and holiday decorating. The image that comes to mind is the bright red berries and the glossy, pokey, evergreen foliage. But did you know there is a deciduous holly that doesn't have those glossy leaves and loses them every autumn?

The holly we are most familiar is Ilex opaca, the American Holly.
The deciduous holly is Ilex verticillata.
Both species are natives to eastern and south-central United States and very beneficial to our wildlife.

The Winterberry Holly is generally considered a wetland holly but it does grow just fine in drier soils. The difference is that in wetter soils it suckers to form a spreading thicket and in the typical garden soils it tends to be more of a clump.

 A tough, easy to grow shrub with few serious disease or insect threats, this shrub is a winner. The size ranges from a height of three to fifteen feet with a variable width as well.

There are male plants and female plants. Originally I didn't know this and only planted the one you see in the photos, so obviously there must be males around or this one wouldn't produce berries.

In the spring, Winterberry Holly produces tiny white flowers, not much to write home about. But by late summer, the slender branches are covered right to their tips with numerous berries. This photo was taken in November and you can see that the leaves are still hanging in there.

Then when the leaves do finally drop, the shrub is in it's glory all winter long.

The berries provide beautiful winter color to the landscape for months until they are finally stripped by the birds and small wildlife.
Keep in mind that though the berries provide an important food source for wildlife, they should not be eaten by humans as they are considered mildly poisonous.

Therefore, if you do cut branches of the Winterberry Holly and bring them indoors for holiday decorating, keep them out of reach of small children and pets. If the berries or leaves are ingested, they can cause vomiting and diarrhea.