Monday, August 20

Crock Pot Applesauce, Easy Carnation Fudge Recipe and Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

I was a busy bee on Friday.  I had been looking forward to Friday all week long, just because I had the day off.  I knew I wanted to start on my organization and de-cluttering of the house, I was expecting a package in the mail, and I felt like doing some dessert making.  How was I going to get all of that into one day??  Well, I can tell you that Friday definitely felt like I had been hard at work for 12 hours straight by the time I finally sat down to relax that night.  My feet and legs ached from standing for quite literally all day.  But that's okay, because I felt like I had gotten some things accomplished, which always makes me happy.  You can read about my start on organizing our linen closet here.  But right now, I'm going to share the recipes that I made for weekend sweets.  Here we go!

I began the cooking festivities with fresh apples and a Crock Pot.  I created a simple recipe for making applesauce in the Crock Pot, which I'll share here (there isn't really a recipe, so I'll just tell you what I did):
First, peel, core, and cube 3 lbs. of apples (you can use multiple kinds, just whatever is in your fridge).

Put all of the apples into the pot and add 1 C water.  Cook on high for an hour.
Add 1/4 C cinnamon (or whatever tastes good to you--I just happen to be a cinnamon fiend) and 1/4 C white sugar and reduce the heat to low.
Stir the pot occasionally, to prevent burning or sticking.  Cook on low for at least 6 hours, or until the sauce achieves your desired consistency.  Once it gets to the thickness you like, add more sugar and/or spices to your taste.  If you like chunky applesauce, then you're done!  Scoop the applesauce into a fridge-friendly bowl to cool and eventually refrigerate.  If you like smooth applesauce, use a stick blender or puree the mix in a food processor until smooth.  Then transfer to a fridge-friendly bowl, allow to cool for a few hours, and refrigerate.  Keep in the fridge, and it'll last a week or two (if you don't eat it all first!).

Then, I moved on to the chocolate stage of the day.  I started with making a candy that I usually only make around Christmas, but hubby was jonesin' for some chocolate, which is rare, but being the good little wife I am, I had to accommodate his craving.  I whipped up a batch of Carnation Chocolate Fudge (they call it fudge, but I don't think it would technically qualify as a fudge--it's more like a soft chocolate candy).  You begin with 2 TBSP butter (do not use margarine!), 1 1/2 C white sugar, 2/3 C evaporated milk, and 1/4 tsp salt:

Turn the heat on medium to bring the mixture to a simmer.  Stir the contents occasionally to make sure that everything is combined.  As soon as the mixture comes to a simmer, set the timer for five minutes.  This is very important.  Any longer, and you end up with a dry, crumbly chocolate.
When the five minutes is up, turn off the burner and remove from the heat.  Add 1 tsp. of vanilla, and mix well.  Then add 1 1/2 C of semi-sweet chocolate chips and 2 C mini marshmallows, and stir until everything is combined and smooth:
Now, line an 8x8 or 9x9 pan with foil:

And pour the chocolate mixture into the pan.  Tap the pan against the counter to settle the chocolate and pop air bubbles that might be inside.  Allow the pan to cool at room temperature until the mixture stops steaming, then place plastic wrap over the top of the chocolate to keep fridge odors from penetrating the candy.  Refrigerate for at least two hours, or overnight (overnight is best).  When you go to cut the fudge, use a long sharp knife, and wipe the blade with a wet towel between each cut to get clean cuts.  Super easy and really tasty recipe!

To see the recipe, click here.

The final dessert I made was all for me, although hubby has eaten some too.  This is the peanut-butter-and-chocolate-is-my-favoritest-ever-combo dessert.  Introducing: crunchy chocolate peanut butter bars.  I actually came across this recipe on Pinterest, and it intrigued me.  And after I made it the first time, I vowed to never forget it, and make it every chance that I got.  PMS is a great reason to make it.  But first, a little prep work.  Line an 8"x 8" pan with foil, then butter the foil and set this aside (I only had a brownie pan available, but that worked just fine).
Then, the recipe calls for an addition of crushed graham crackers, and I always enjoy this part.  Take five whole graham crackers and place them in a resealable baggie.  Begin the graham cracker carnage: I used the flat side of a meat mallet for crushing my crackers.  This is a good time to release any tension and frustration that you might be feeling at the moment: "Why" smash "doesn't" smash "anyone" smash "ever" smash "read" smash "my" smash "blog" smash, or something like that.

Now, let's commence with the making of the goodness.  You begin with a stick of butter.  Sounds good already, right?

Once melted, remove the butter from the heat.  Then add 1 3/4 C powdered sugar and stir until the mixture is smooth.

Now, add in the peanut butter and the crushed graham crackers and stir that until well combined.
Spread the peanut butter mixture into the buttered pan and set this aside for a moment.  Now, in the same pot that you made the peanut butter mix, melt another 1/4 C of butter.  Once melted, add 1/2 C of chocolate chips (I used semi sweet) and stir until almost melted.
Remove from heat to prevent burning, and stir to melt the rest of the way.  Spread this chocolate over the peanut butter and refrigerate for at least a half an hour before cutting (I prefer longer, though).  Store these in the fridge in an airtight container or wrapped in foil.  To see the original post and the website where I found this incredible recipe, click here: The Brown Eyed Baker.
Owl Corner
Photo from National Geographic
Today I'll tell you about the Spotted Owl.   This neat guy is usually found in forests along the West Coast and areas of the southwest United States, including stretching into Mexico.  They have been at the center of the discord between loggers and tree huggers in the Pacific Northwest.  They range in size from around 16" tall to 19" tall, with an impressive wingspan of between 40"-50".  Females are usually slightly larger than males.  The females will lay a clutch of between 2 and 4 eggs in nests found 60'-100' up in trees.  The baby owls are born pure white, and develop their brownish color and spots as they grow.  These owls live in old-growth forests--forests that are at least 200 years old.  Rarely are they found in newer forest areas.  They tend to prey on small mammals and rodents, such as flying squirrels, rabbits and wood rats.  They have also been found to have a long lifespan, up to 17 years.  These owls are considered threatened because of the loss of habitat.

Information from and The Owl Pages.

My husband and I started a new Bible Study this weekend.  It is about finding joy in the Lord, and we had an interesting discussion about the differences between happiness and joy.  It seems to us that happiness is more of a temporary feeling or emotion, whereas joy is a deep contentment that does not go away or fade over time.  The study used Matthew 5:3-12 as a great basis for finding true joy in all that the Lord does:
Blessed are the poor in spirit [humble], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.  Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.  Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.  Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."  In order to find true peace in the Lord, we must become the person that He wants us to be, by slowly changing us through our life experiences.  We must trust in all that the Lord does in our lives, even when we perceive it to be a bad thing.  No parent wants their children to be sad or to suffer, so why do we think that God wants that for us?  No, He doesn't want that!  He just has to use those times to mold us into the person that He wants us to be!  In that we can and should find a deep joy and contentment in all that the Lord does.  It just won't always be easy.

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