Oops, ignore that goofy headline (if you saw it) – my new track pad has a mind of its own!
Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and was able to spend quality time with family and friends! My tasks yesterday included baking butternut squash rolls and dessert. The dessert was a hit – the rolls… umm, a little less so. I’ve made the rolls several times and they are 100% fabulous when the recipe is followed, but I sometimes get a little overzealous in my attempts to modify. If it ain’t broke folks, don’t fix it. So on to this dessert… while I love pie, I knew I wouldn’t have time this year to deal with crust making, etc., and I wanted to make use of my slow-cooker since the food would be traveling a short distance in cold weather. While it takes awhile to bake, this apple pear ginger crisp is easy to throw together and a great option for those who can’t have lactose or dairy (just skip the butter – Fleischmann’s unsalted margarine is lactose-free and Earth Balance sticks are dairy-free). Modified from a recipe over at ‘What’s Gaby Cooking’, it turned out beautifully… and I think it tasted even better today!
Why should you make this instead of plain apple crisp? My comparison is this – fresh apple juice tastes really good, right? Well, when winter rolls around, spiced apple cider tastes even better. This, friends, is the apple cider of apple crisps.
Apple Pear Ginger Crisp
4 apples (I used 3 honeycrisp & 1 pink lady)
2 larger or 3 small pears (I used 1 Bosc & 1 D’anjou)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp crystallized ginger, chopped finely
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/4 Cup (minus 1 Tbsp) granulated sugar
2/3 Cup lightly packed brown sugar
2/3 Cup rolled oats
3/4 Cup flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 Cup unsalted butter or margarine
How-to (slow-cooker method):
Peel, core, and chop up your apples and pears (I usually chop into very small pieces, but this is a matter of personal preference).
In large bowl (or directly in your slow-cooker if you wish), stir apples and pears with lemon juice, crystallized ginger, cinnamon and sugar until all fruit is coated. Place into your slow-cooker (if you didn’t mix it up in there) forming an even layer across the bottom.
In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the dry topping ingredients (save the butter/marg. until later), making sure to break up any lumps in the brown sugar.
Evenly spread your mixed dry topping ingredients on top of the fruit in your slow-cooker.
Cut your butter or margarine into small cubes and evenly layer them on top of your dry topping layer.
Secure the lid on your slow-cooker, placing several (3-4) layers of paper towels underneath the lid. This is optional (and at your own risk), but it seems to catch much of the condensation that forms under the lid, keeping the topping from getting too moist.
Set the slow-cooker on low, and leave it be for 2-3 hours. At this point, I checked it and the fruit was simmering, but the butter on top had not yet melted completely. So, I took a fork and poked some holes through the butter to let some of the heat from below escape and turned the setting to high for about an hour, then back to low for a short time. Basically, this is a ‘you’ll know when it’s done’ kind of thing – you should definitely hear the fruit bubbling, and all of the butter on the topping should be melted and baked in. (Next time I make it, I’ll note the timing a little better for you precision bakers!)
Enjoy plain or with ice cream (sooo good with Trader Joe’s vanilla soy ice cream!)
How-to (oven method):
Since I haven’t tried this in the oven, I can’t be super specific, except to tell you to follow the slow-cooker instructions, placing your ingredients in a 9×9 baking dish rather than a slow-cooker. The only modification I would suggest is pre-combining the butter in your topping. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients using a fork, until crumbly. Sprinkle topping evenly on top of your fruit layer. Bake at 350 degrees until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden and appears done. Time-wise, the original recipe suggests 45-50 minutes, but it’s always good to peek a bit sooner!
Other ideas: If you are a fan of nuts, you might try mixing in some pecans with your topping! Leftovers – great on waffles or pancakes!
Don’t forget… a couple more days to enter the holiday mini-ornament/magnet giveaway. Enter by midnight CST 11/31; winner will be contacted on Monday Dec. 1st!
Posted in Holidays, Recipes | Tagged apple pear crisp, baking, cooking, crock pot, crystallized ginger, dairy-free, dessert, lactose-free, recipe, slow cooker, Thanksgiving | Leave a Comment »
**I’m bribing you to read ’til the end! You’ll find a chance to win my holiday giveaway below.**
Does it sneak up on you every year, too? The giving season is here and while it’s easy to walk into the corporate web, it’s just as easy to steer clear. This year, consider supporting small, local or handmade businesses – or consider giving up the gift exchange altogether and spend that time and money on volunteering or donating!
A few simple ideas…
*Give a gift to a local elderly person who may not otherwise receive anything through this program: Be A Santa To A Senior
*Help a local family or person with daily living essentials or holiday items through this site: 2 Hands (note: I have used this site a few times; use common sense when selecting a person to assist – unfortunately, there are always a few trying to take advantage when it comes to a potential handout. I generally tend to choose those who seem appreciative and are asking for important everyday items or a few smaller holiday needs.)
*When you do your holiday cooking/baking this year, make a few extra servings and spread the joy to others (perhaps a women’s shelter, a Ronald McDonald House, or the nice person down the street who lives alone).
*Make your own gifts (Pinterest is a great resource) or buy handmade! Local craft fairs and websites like Etsy are fantastic when it comes to finding something unique.
On that note…
I’ve updated my Etsy store with new mini-ornaments, gift wrap acccesories, wine glass charms, corn heating bags, and more… take a look for holiday ideas! Now through December 18th, use code HAPPYANDSIMPLE to get 10% off any purchase from my shop.
And finally, a holiday giveaway! (UPDATE: This contest has ended. Congrats to Caitlin – hope you enjoy your ornaments!)
Enter some sort of comment in response to this post (sorry, US residents only this time around) and you will be entered to win either a set of 3 mini ornaments or a set of 3 magnets in my new ‘snowcapped mountain’ chevron pattern shown below (colors may differ). The winner will be notified on December 1st!
Posted in Holidays, Simple observations | Tagged Black Friday, cards, christmas, corn heating bag, Etsy, generosity, Giveaway, giving, handmade, holiday, inspiration, Magnets, mini, Ornaments, owl, shopping, tree | 10 Comments »
Posted in Photography | Tagged autumn, bokeh, fall, goodbye, leaf, Leaves, macro, nature, photo, photography, pine, seasons | 1 Comment »
Have you ever stood underneath and looked upward into a big tree that’s blindingly bright with all its colored leaves?
Have you ever gone outside late at night and done the same thing?
I am often out with pup well after dark, and one of the highlights of this week has been standing underneath the tree in my front yard and gazing up. By day, the tree wears brilliant shades of orange, red and yellow; by night, the leaves are serenely golden and translucent by the light of the moon. Moments better experienced than photographed.
A strong wind blew in today, and most of the tree’s leaves are swirling near the ground.
Oh autumn, how I love thee.
Apple cider, bonfires, colorful leaves… what are your favorite fall associations?
Posted in Photography, Simple observations | Tagged autumn, berries, fall, happy, Leaves, nature, observations, orange, photography, photos, red, simple, tree, yellow | 1 Comment »
Happy Halloween! My apologies for the long-term absence here in the blog world – but you will be seeing more of me, starting now!
I haven’t baked in awhile, but at about midnight last night my mom called and ever-so-subtly mentioned that she would like to have a Halloween cupcake to give my nephew. Well, “a” Halloween cupcake turned into two dozen cupcakes, a dozen cakesicles, and one layer cake. …Kind of forgot just how much batter that recipe made!
Pinterest inspired the spider cupcakes, but instead of gumballs and licorice, I used Whoppers, sixlets, and melted chocolate chips for the legs (just carefully melt the chocolate in the microwave – spoon it into a ziploc bag, snip off a tiny tip and squeeze away).
The mummy cakes were an afterthought. Over the summer, I bought an electric cakesicle maker on clearance for about $5 (because I have no self-restraint when I find a deal). It has taken me months to find a use for it, but this was perfect… and now it can go in the garage sale box, ha. If you don’t have one of these gadgets, simply make a thin cake in a square or rectangle pan and cut pieces to the right shape. Pipe on buttercream in zigzags and add some eyes!
I’ve shared chocolate cake and icing recipes on the blog before, so I won’t repeat them here – but I do want to re-share my favorite baking tip – try replacing your all-purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour! Unlike regular whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour lends a lighter texture and flavor, so you can use it to replace ALL of the flour in your recipe! Bob’s Red Mill is the brand I buy at my local grocery store.
I’ll be back soon with some autumn photos and adventures in making wild grape wine (and that dang raspberry brownie recipe I’ve mentioned about 10 times)!
Hope you’ve satisfied your sweet tooth today!
Posted in Holidays | Tagged baking, cakesicle, cupcakes, DIY, Halloween, mummy, Pinterest, spider | 3 Comments »
Artist or not, did you know that doodling can be beneficial?!
Click HERE to read the article.
Every so often I get the urge to scribble with a Sharpie. This is the latest… scanned and digitally colored.
What do your doodles look like?
Posted in Art & Design | Tagged art, doodling, drawing, feather, green, illustration, Sharpie, snowy owl, turquoise | 4 Comments »
A haiku written in celebration of Patagonia’s 40th anniversary… but also a personal reminder of so many beautiful mornings spent waking up in the mountains. If you’re a fan of camping, you most likely know the feeling well – waking up just before sunrise, chill looming in the air, awaiting warm rays of sunshine streaming in to put a positive spin on a new day.
Do you have a favorite sunrise memory?
Side note: raspberry brownie recipe still to come!
Posted in Outdoor Adventure, Photography, Simple observations | Tagged camping, haiki, mountains, nature, patagonia, photography, poem, poetry, sunrise, writing | 2 Comments »