Apr
15

opal apples

A few years ago, I stumbled upon the Standard Market in Westmont, IL, it’s a cute little market that I honestly don’t remember much about besides it being the place that I had my first run-in with the Opal Apple. The Opal is sunny, and ripe and more yellow than any other apple I’ve ever seen before. I was so stunned by the beautiful, brilliant color, I took a photo and immediately posted it on instagram (I thought I was so cool for finding something new that no one else had seen before) Actually, to be honest, I kind of freaked out at how cool those apples were – I did an internal freakout so don’t worry, no one thought I was crazy. Don’t ask me why this memory is still vibrant after 2 years. Fruits (ahem, apples) excite me, ok?

Sure, the Opal apples are beauties (flawless, if you ask me) but they tasted even better than they looked. They are crunchy, sweet (really sweet, actually,) and slightly tangy. Honeycrisp apples are some of my favorites because they are juicy, sweet, and crispy – but step aside, Honeycrisp – the Opal Apple is giving you some competition.

Opal Apples

So anyway, back to my story about the grocery store – it ended. The story, that is. I didn’t see those apples again for 2 years. I honestly never thought I’d see them again. Until a few weeks ago when I spotted these gems at Sprouts. And anyway, since we’re talking about grocery stores, I find it necessary to tell you that my home is about 3 blocks from the busiest Sprouts Farmers Market in the United States. See, reading my blog makes you smarter. 

Every time I go to Sprouts, I’m afraid I won’t see the Opal apples, I’m afraid they’ll disappear (like that one time…) but they haven’t. Today, I read that they are in season from November to March so I think they’ll be disappearing soon. (Don’t worry, I’ve stocked up.)

A few facts about the Opals that I found today – 
1. These apples are totally non-GMO (win!!)
2. The Opal apple was introduced to the USA in 2010 and is grown exclusively at Broetje Orchards in Prescott, WA. (I’d love to visit that orchard – vaca!!)
3. These apples don’t brown after cutting them. (I noticed that, without noticing it – if you know what I mean…)
4. Other cool stuff
5. These apples are perfect for eating raw (crunch, crunch) OR in a salad, but they also hold up well when you bake with them. I used them in some carrot cake oatmeal cookies (recipe soon!) and they ROCKED my socks.

Opal Apples

I googled around other blogs and websites written about the Opal Apple while writing this post and I notice that some bloggers got a paid sponsorship to write posts about these apples! Lucky ducks! No one paid me to write this post, I did it simply because I’m in love… “what’s love got to do with it”, you ask? Not money. Crunch.

Sources: serious eats, The Healthy Voyager, Social Cafe Mag, Opal Apples, Pinch Of Yum

Love

Crista


Dec
13

Cranberry Whiskey Applesauce

OK, I realize that you may be thinking I’m a little late out of the gate with a Cranberry Sauce recipe. Thanksgiving has come and gone, and no one is thinking about cranberry sauce anymore. Except for me. I am. Because I discovered that it’s complimentary to many different food items and meals besides the traditional Thanksgiving feast.

In fact, I made this Cranberry Whiskey Applesauce for Thanksgiving and then made it AGAIN because it was so good…. (and because I had leftover ingredients). I served on the side of a rice and beans dish last night, it’s good with waffles, it’s good with butternut squash and kale, it’s good with a lentil loaf, it’s good atop pumpkin cornbread, waffles, pancakes, basically, everything. It’s good with everything.

AND, it’s still the holiday season so I still consider myself relevant with this recipe. So there. 

Tin Cup Whiskey

I’ve made applesauce before and I’ve made cranberry sauce before, I’ve even made Cranberry Applesauce before, but this was the first time I added whiskey. The reason that adding whiskey appealed to me is because I was cooking for my boyfriends parents who are Irish… and they love them some whiskey. In fact, when they were here visiting we all got drunk-ish on whiskey shots one afternoon. Shamefully, I couldn’t even take one shot – I had to sip. They kept talking about how “smooth” the whiskey was, while I tried my hardest just to keep up. Sigh. I’ve got a lot of work to do if I’m going to be a part of that family.

So anyway, I knew that I could not invite an Irish family in to my home on the holiday without having a bottle of whiskey on hand. I went to Trader Joe’s and found a CO local whiskey, Tin Cup. It’s got some relation to Stanahan’s whiskey (which is da bomb) but I don’t quite remember what the relation was. The Tin Cup is like Stanahan’s little sister, or anyway that’s how I see it…. It’s also more affordable than Stanahan’s! (like)

So the recipe….

easy Cranberry (Whiskey) Apple Sauce
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 6-8 apples*, chopped
  • 3 cups cranberries
  • ¼ cup apple cider, apple juice, or water
  • ½ cup raw turbinado sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup whiskey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • a pinch of sea salt
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients in a large pot and simmer on low-medium heat for about an hour or two.
  2. Once the cranberries and apples have softened, move the pot away from the heat and let it cool slightly (this could take another hour).
  3. Either mash the sauce with a masher for a chunkier sauce OR put the mixture into a blender and puree for a smoother sauce.
  4. Serve warm, chilled, or at room temperature.
Notes
*I prefer to use a sweet apple variety (like Honeycrisp) to compliment the tartness of the cranberries.

 Cranberry Whiskey Applesauce

Love

Crista


Oct
12

homemade apple butter

 This time last year, we were picking apples off the apple tree that grew right in the front yard. It was a luxury to have an apple tree, stemming, and producing fruit although the apples weren’t “perfect” like most of most of the apples available for purchase in the store. Our apples were disfigured and some of them were wormy – they required some “cleaning up” before being able to use them. But look, I’m not complaining.

Every year, I forget to get out to an apple orchard in late August or early September for apple picking – I always show up right at the end of apple picking season (mid-October) just in time for picking pumpkins. I love, love picking pumpkins, I’m going to go out next weekend to pick up a few, but I want the apples too! Do I need to set a reminder for myself next year??

Random: Someone once told me that if you plant the seeds from an apple, chances are it will grow in to a crab apple tree, even if the seeds came from a different variety. I guess most varieties are “clones” – it sounds like a complicated/unpredictable process to create those clones, I don’t even want to think about it or talk about it – I’ll leave it to the experts.

Back to last year: After picking the apples, coring, and cleaning them, we made several batches of apple butter. I wish I still had some – all of a sudden, I’m craving it again. I may make a 2014 batch, however it will be a small batch because I don’t have the space to can the excess AND it would have to be made with store-bought apples… which just wouldn’t be the same…. especially here in Colorado. I still haven’t figured out the best apples to buy in Colorado…. I miss Honeycrisp, we have them available here but they aren’t as great as they are in the Midwest…..

I don’t recall the Apple Butter recipe that we used last year but I found several recipes via Pinterest that caught my attention for this year:

Slow Cooker Apple Butter

Slow cooker Vanilla Rum Apple Butter

Apple Butter (no sugar added)

Cranberry-Apple Butter

Slow Cooker Ginger Spiced Apple Butter (no sugar added)

I love all the different variations of “apple butter.”  I’m especially liking the idea of the Cranberry-Apple Butter, maybe I’ll make a batch for Thanksgiving and serve it with warm biscuits! (Yes, I AM ready to start thinking about Thanksgiving.)
Which version catches YOUR attention? 

apple tree

Love

Crista


Nov
19

honeycrisp apple juice

One of my favorite fruits to eat are Honeycrisp Apples, there is something about the firm texture of the apple that makes it desirable to bite in to and each bite is bursting with a sweet, tart flavor. Every time I bite in to a Honeycrisp, it feels like a special occasion. Satisfaction.

On a recent trip to Whole Foods, I purchased a bottle of fresh-squeezed Honeycrisp apple juice and it was to die for! I had never thought to juice Honeycrisp apples ONLY to make a juice! It was super sweet, and indulgent. I had to have more so I decided to make some at home. I juiced 3-4 Honeycrisps, which made enough juice for one large serving that I kept all for myself. It’s not a “cheap” juice to make, but it’s WORTH IT!! 

FUN FACT: Honeycrisp Apples were developed and released in Minnesota in 1991, and I first started eating Honeycrisp apples when I lived in Minnesota 7-8 years ago! I never paid much attention to the fact that I was first introduced to them in the region that produces them. They have recently become very popular and are easy to find throughout the entire country.

honeycrisp apple juice

Love

Crista


Oct
22

Applesauce Drop Cookies
I got a hold of some of my late grandma’s recipe cards a few months ago and I sifted through them to decide which ones I wanted to make an attempt at re-creating. 
Finally! I got to make one of the recipes (and it turned out to be a huge success)!

Applesauce Drop Cookies
If you look closely at this recipe card here, you can see that grandma labeled this recipe “good”… I would label it ‘very good”. Also noted is that she originally heard this recipe on the radio – WADM radio, it looks like. ((could you IMAGINE hearing a recipe on the radio?!?!)) Unfortunately, there was no date on this recipe – I can only imagine how long ago she wrote out this recipe card.

Applesauce Drop Cookies
I love these cookies for this time of year A. because it is apple season and apples are so darn good right now and B. because they are fragrant and comforting.

Now I did not follow grandma’s recipe to a T. I made a few substitutions to make this recipe vegan, more healthy, and all-around more tasty. I took out the egg and replaced it with a flax egg (I learned how to make a flax egg from The Post Punk Kitchen), I replaced the white flour with whole wheat flour (could you possibly use gluten-free flour??), I used Earth Balance instead of butter or traditional margarine, and I used raw turbinado sugar and coconut sugar instead of white sugar and brown sugar…. plus, I used homemade applesauce and homemade apple butter.

Applesauce Drop Cookies 

Applesauce Drop Cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ cup Earth Balance vegan butter, softened
  • ½ cup raw turbinado sugar
  • ½ cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 flax egg* or egg
  • 1 cup applesauce** and/or apple butter OR 3-4 apples
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips OR raisins (optional)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, blend together the sugar and butter then combine this mixture with the flour mixture.
  4. Add the egg or flax egg, applesauce, rolled oats, nuts, chocolate chips and/or raisins.
Notes
*To make a flax egg, combine 2½ tablespoons of ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of water and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes. This mixture will replace one egg.

Applesauce Drop Cookies

What I like most about these cookies is how moist and chewy they are, I really don’t enjoy dry, crunchy cookies. Thanks Grandma for the awesome recipe! 

Applesauce Drop Cookies

Love

Crista


Sep
22

Have you ever made apple crisp in a skillet?
We just recently did it for the first time ((using apples fallen from our tree)) and we were super impressed with the result. The apples cooked thoroughly and quicker than they would have in a traditional baking dish. apple-crispapple-treeapple-tree
Isn’t this apple tree gorgeous? 

apple-treeapples-from-treeapple-crisp
For the apple crisp, we used the Apple & Pear Crisp recipe that I made last winter but we didn’t any pears this time. I will say that the pear + apple combination was the bomb… but I will also say using homegrown apples was the bomb. 

apple-crisp
To help you avoid guilt and allow you pleasure while eating this apple crisp, here are 6 benefits of eating apples. How’s that for an excuse to have dessert?
(I had this apple crisp for breakfast, whoops)

Love

Crista


Sep
18

Over the weekend, we went to see the JOBS movie. The movie was great, however unsatisfying. The movie offered an account of  Steve Jobs career as it related to the startup of Apple. It was almost as if the movie could have ben called “Apple” instead of “Jobs”. What disappointed me is that the movie did not expose the personal life of Steve Jobs.There were a few moments when I thought the movie would display the emotion that Steve Jobs felt during some of the life changing human interactions he experienced it, but after only skimming the surface, those moments would end. There were many questions unanswered about what a genius like Steve does when he is at home. I know he lived a very unique life and that is what I was hoping to learn more about in the movie. you know who else I wanted to know more about? Steve Wozniak.

Not many of us on this earth will have movies and books written about us after we die. If we want our story to be told, we have the opportunity to do it while we are alive, and make it available for the world to see. My buddy Sean (and his crew) recently developed an iPhone app, StoryApp that allows the user to tell their story. The blogging platform is another way for users to tell their stories, which is what I how chosen to tell my stories. (I use StoryApp too, it’s badass)

The reason I want to tell my story so bad is because I have strong influencers and beliefs that I know will enhance peoples lives if they choose to hear me out and take part in what I’ve taken part in. It is no secret that since the day I read the book Skinny Bitch, food became one of my number one influencers. Food & eating influence my how I spend my money, the conversations that I have with people, where I choose to travel, among many other things. I booked a trip to the Waterfall Villas in Costa Rica solely based on a review I read about the food available there.

I had a conversation with my mother last week and during that conversation I was shocked at what came out of my mouth. I was shocked, but I wasn’t shocked – my thoughts were premeditated and I meant what I said. I said to her: “I know how you are going to die, It will be cancer.” I’m not sure how she felt after I said that to her, but she responded with something like: “I know I need to give up the diet soda”. And then I said it again: “It is going to kill you.”

My mom may or may not have the same belief that I do but I hope to someday help her see what I can see. If I keep telling my story, and sharing my beliefs, those who read my story will eventually find something that they can relate to. My motivation is found through hearing the story of a person who made a life change based on a story I told them.

Yesterday I received a text from my mother-in-law to tell me about a life changing moment she had experienced. This woman who has been drinking soda every day for years hadn’t had a soda in over a week. While at work, she broke down and opened up a can but after taking just a few sips she decided to dump the rest out. She immediately sent me a message to tell me what she had done – she knew I would be proud of her, and I was. THAT is the kind of story I like to hear.

Stories that serve people. I have lived in my current location for almost a year now and I just recently found a sense of community with a group of yogis who attend the same yoga classes that I do. I have become fond of one teacher in particular because I am drawn to her style, her voice, and her flow. The first class I took of hers, she asked my name, and she is the one who invited me to be a part of the community. Every time I take her class, I walk out with a new perspective on life. Through yoga, she is teaching me important life lessons.

During class today (in which she was a student, not the teacher), I found myself wondering  about her. Where does she live? Is she married? What is her family like? How did she get involved with yoga? Does she have a full-time job? Or has she dedicated her life to yoga? You see, I trust this woman to offer me life recommendations and in order to enhance my learning, understanding, and my practice I would like to get to know more about her and her journey.

Originally, I labeled this blog a food blog even though I decided that I don’t appreciate labeling. I take it back. This is my life in a blog. I might talk about food often because it deeply affects my daily life, but I might choose to talk about traveling, or gardening, or some gadget that I found that I think other people could benefit from having.  I’m not sharing just to share, I share in hopes that you can relate with me and benefit from the stories that I have to share.

Blogging can be some what like a full time job and I hope to turn it in to my full time job some day. I spend countless hours working on blog posts, taking photos, and most recently designing my blog to make it look more attractive and user-friendly for two reasons: 1. Attractively display my stories. 2. Create a home/space to invite my friends to.

I’d also like to invite my friends to share their stories on peace. love. quinoa. There are many amazing people in my life whose story I know needs to be heard like my girfriend who has lost 60+ pounds by giving up junky food, I have a friend who is an expert at meditation, and a friend who has beat Crohn’s Disease by changing her diet. This is real life and these are real people and they are the people who inspire me on a daily basis.

So I welcome you, my friend. Welcome to my home. Welcome to the space that I spend a lot of time in. I do it for you, I do it for me. I do it because I enjoy it and I am obsessed with it.

/////////////////////////////////////////

A penny for my thoughts, oh, no, I’ll sell ’em for a dollar
They’re worth so much more after I’m a goner
And maybe then you’ll hear the words I been singin’
//the band perry// 

Love

Crista