Spiced Apple Cupcakes

I love apple butter.  It reminds me of my Great Grandaddy.  He lived to be 99 years old.  Every day, he ate apple butter, applesauce and took geritol.  He also ate from his own garden into his 80s when he was moved to a senior citizens assisted living complex.  He hated it at first, because he said he "didn't want to be with all them old people"...I know right? He was 80 something and didn't even think he was old.  When I graduated high school in 1992, he came down to stay the week.  He made one last trip down to Georgia from Virginia shortly before he died.  He told Nana that he felt trapped in his old body.  In his mind he felt like he was in his 30s or 40s.  But his body wouldn't and couldn't keep up.  Old age is sad, thankfully we have the hope of paradise on earth when we will see Grandaddy again.

So back to the apple butter.  I wanted to make a yummy spicy apple cupcake for the fall and found a good recipe, made some necessary changes because I was determined to use apple butter.  And this is what was born:

Spiced Apple Cupcakes
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
4 eggs
1-1/2 cup apple butter
2 apples, peeled, shredded and squeezed of their juice (we used Granny Smith)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Sift flour, baking soda, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, beat butter, sugar and brown sugar until fluffy.  Add one egg at a time and beat well after each.  Stir in the shredded apples.  Alternately add flour mixture and apple butter to the bowl and mix on low speed.  Divide batter evenly among liners and bake for 18-20 minutes.

We frosted these with Dulce de Leche Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  Drizzled them with thinned dulce de leche and sprinkled with pecans.  We called them Caramel Apple Cupcakes.

So good!

Strawberry Meringue Cookies

Strawberry Meringues are low fat and you could make them low sugar by reducing the amount of sugar.  However, these are tasty just the way they are.

Strawberry Meringues
3/4 cup egg whites (from about 5 eggs)
pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)
1/4 cup strawberry gelatin
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Whisk egg whites, salt, gelatin and sugar in kitchenaid until sugar is mostly dissolved.  Increase speed to high and beat until no sugar granules can be felt when you rub a little between your fingers.  Remove bowl from stand mixer and, by hand, stir in vinegar, extract and cornstarch.  Scoop onto parchment lined cookie sheet and bake in 180 degree oven for 2 hours.  Do not open the doors and turn oven off.  Leave in the oven overnight or at least 8 hours.   

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes
3/4 cup gluten free flour mix*
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
2/3 cup vegetable oil (I use canola for most everything)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons milk (may substitute coconut milk for allergies)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a mixing bowl sift together gluten free flour mix, cocoa powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt.  Set aside.  In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs until foamy (about 5 minutes).  Add oil and whisk until combined.  Add sugar and mix thoroughly.  Gently add the cocoa mixture and stir by hand until mixed.  Add the milk and extract and mix until combined.

Scoop evenly among 15 cupcake liners.  And bake for 18 minutes.  Toothpick will insert and come out clean.  The cupcakes will not "feel" done to the touch so make sure you use a toothpick.  Do not overbake them, they will taste like a dried sponge.

These are delicious and if you didn't know they weren't gluten free, you wouldn't know.

*gluten free flour mix = 3 pounds Asian white rice flour and 2 pounds cornstarch sifted together.  Keep in large bin with tightly fitted lid.  You may store in the fridge, but make sure to bring to room temperature before baking. 


Buffalo Sloppy Joes

This was a yummy dinner!  Everyone loved it, including Daddy! 

Here's what we did:

Buffalo Sloppy Joes (adapted from Taste of Home)
1 tablespoon oil
1 onion finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely grated
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds ground turkey
2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
1/4 cup buffalo wing sauce (you can add more if it's not spicy enough)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
bleu cheese crumbles

Saute onions, celery, carrots and garlic in oil over medium heat until softened and translucent.  Add ground turkey and break up with the back of a wooden spoon.  Cook through for 10 minutes.  Stir in tomato sauce, wing sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire suace and pepper.  Cook another 10 minutes or until bubbly and heat through. 

Enjoy on buns, over split baked potato or over mashed potatoes.  Serve with a sprinkling of bleu cheese crumbles if desired.


Homemade Banana Pudding

Daddy loves banana pudding.  We prefer the cold kind.  But Pappy loves the homemade kind with the homemade vanilla pudding. 

Homemade Banana Pudding
    2 cups milk (I've used all kinds of milk varieties)
    2 tbsp flour
    4 egg yolk (save the whites)
    1 cup sugar
    1 tsp vanilla extract

    Vanilla wafers (entire box)

    3 ripe bananas, sliced

    4 egg whites (from the yolks above)
    1/4 cup sugar 
Heat milk, flour, yolks and sugar over medium heat in heavy duty pot. Whisk until combined. Bring to boil, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Meanwhile, pour a box of vanilla wafers into a 2 quart casserole dish (13x9) and top evenly with sliced bananas. Once the pudding as thickened, remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Pour pudding over the bananas and wafers. Set aside. In a clean mixing bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Spread over the pudding mixture and create swirls and peak using the back of your spoon. Broil in the oven for 30-60 seconds or until the peaks are golden brown. Cool completely or eat warm. Whichever your heart desires.

Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti

I had some leftover grilled chicken and had originally planned to make Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken Lasagna, but didn't have any lasagna noodles.  This is what we ended up eating and it was SO good!

Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, minced
3 cups diced grilled chicken (this was seasoned with chili powder, paprika and salt & pepper)
1 jar spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup Buffalo wing sauce (1/2 cup if you don't like spicy)
4 oz Neufachatel cream cheese, softened
spaghetti noodles
Bleu cheese crumbles

Heat oil over medium heat and saute minced garlic until fragrant.  Add chicken, spaghetti sauce, Buffalo wing sauce and cream cheese.  Stir until cream cheese has melted into sauce.  Boil pasta noodles until al dente according to box directions.  Serve with Bleu cheese crumbles.


We served this with a green salad topped with sliced Granny Smith apples and Bleu cheese crumbles, drizzled with Balsamic Dressing.

Christina's Split Pea Soup

I've never eaten split pea soup and was really excited when Christina shared this yummy soup with us.  You loved it so much, you ate it for lunch and supper in the same day!

Here's how she does it:

Split Pea Soup with Ham (courtesy of our cousin Christina)
1 bag green split peas
2 quarts cold water (8 cups)
ham bone or 2 ham hocks
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 potato, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon marjoram

Bring peas, water, ham bone and onion to a boil; cover and reduce to simmer for 1 hour.  (She told me 1-1/2 hours, but after an hour it was ready).  Remove meat from bones and add back to pot.  Add veggies and seasonings and simmer for another 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through.

This is so yummy!!!

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