Homemade Apple Butter

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After our recent trip to Fishkill Farms, I knew that this was going to be the perfect opportunity to finally make homemade apple butter this season. With fresh organic apples from the farm and a recipe from Skinnytaste, I decided to spend a Sunday afternoon making this delicious spread that reminds me of my childhood days. I was nervous with how it was going to turn out, but I have to say, it was pretty spot on!

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Ingredients:
 
  • 6 large apples, peeled, cored, finely chopped (honeycrisp, gala, ambrosia) – *I used a couple extra apples and the apple type was whatever we found at the farm
  • 1/3 cup raw sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, not packed
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg – *For all the spices, I had an Apple Pie spice that I used instead which had these ingredients

Directions:

Place the apples in a slow cooker. Top with sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg and mix well. Cover and cook high 5 hours, or low 10 hours, stirring once halfway, until the apples are tender and dark brown.

Uncover and puree with an immersion blender. *(I do not own an immersion blender, so I actually had to spoon it out and blend it in my regular blender…not really recommended, as it’s hot and this is a difficult procedure! However, it got the job done.) Cook on high uncovered 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until thickened.

Spoon into jars or containers, cover and refrigerate.

Makes 2 cups.

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Nico has been enjoying peanut butter and apple butter sandwiches for lunch as I did as a child, and he absolutely loves it! I have enjoyed some on toast as well. If you have other great ideas for how to enjoy apple butter, please share!

Hope you all had a fantastic Halloween last night. My boys dressed up as Curious George (Nico) and the Man in the Yellow Hat (hubby). Luca was a skeleton (with a pumpkin hat), and I was a panda (naturally). We enjoyed our neighborhood Halloween Parade, which was fabulous, and then took off for some Trick or Treating. Nico had his first candy this year, and had no idea what to do with a lollipop. It was a pretty funny experience to say the least. We let him have a few pieces…and then my husband and I had a few too many pieces…and now I need to GET IT ALL OUT OF MY HOUSE!

21 Day Fix Round 2 starts tomorrow as well as my Thankful for Fitness Challenge Group, and it’s healthy eating and living from here on out so that I am going into the holidays feeling happy, healthy, and strong.

Who’s with me?

Happy Sunday!

XO,

Gina

{27} Lately…

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Lately I’ve been…

reading Finished beachy read,  Another Piece of My Heart, by Jane Green.  Nothing groundbreaking, but a decent vacation read.

writing  A deposition for a court date.  I’m a witness!  Don’t get too excited, it’s just traffic court…

listening  To lots of upbeat music, because Friday I returned to the gym after a 20 month hiatus.  And I actually went again on Monday, and went for a run this morning.  Hoping to keep this momentum going, because I’m already feeling more energized (apart from my sore limbs).

thinking  That we had a really great time last Sunday at the Industry City Dance Party in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.  Zack was eager to go, and I was a little worried that we would be “those people” bringing a baby into an entirely inappropriate situation, but I was happy to find all sorts of kids and babies rockin’ out on the dance floor with the best of them.  It was definitely a party.  And not a kid’s party.  But the fact that kids were welcomed and deemed appropriate there was pretty cool.  Nico (not surprisingly) loved it, and our little fam had a really great time getting our dance on.

smelling  My fav scent, Light Blue.

watching  All the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos.  I was a little annoyed by them at first…people dousing themselves so they didn’t have to donate…didn’t make a lot of sense to me.  But after reading this blog post, I have a new perspective.

wishing  Nico an early Happy 1st Birthday!  He is turning ONE on Friday.  I just can’t believe it.

hoping  That I can get my act together this week for a party planning extravaganza.  And by extravaganza, I mean myself, a glass of wine, my living room, and some DIY crafting.

wearing  In the photo above I’m wearing my new ModCloth dress that I got at their 70% off sale!  It’s sold out, but check out some of their other sale dresses here.  Did I mention I was able to go shopping this weekend…ALONE?  It was kind of amazing.

loving  My new haircut (also seen in photo above) from the amazing Tim Dueñas.  Feels so much lighter and loving having some layers again.

laughing  At this adorable friendship on Daily Laughs.

wanting  The summer to stick around a little longer.  I’m not ready for the beach days to end…

needing  To start checking some more things off my bucket list.  And as I’m looking at it…thinking about making some edits.

feeling  Incredibly nervous as today is Nico’s first day with his new nanny and new playmate.  We are going to miss our old one so much, and it’s going to be a tough transition week for all of us, but I’m hoping he will adjust quickly.  

craving  These sweet cinnamon oven roasted peaches.  Thinking this is just the recipe I need for the peaches in our yard this year.

clicking  Looking for a few sweet new baby gifts for little ones on the way.

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What have you been up to lately?

Hope you are all having a fantastic week!

XO,

Gina

***I was inspired by Tina of Like Ordinary Life to create this post, and she was inspired by Lauren of siddathornton, who started The Sunday Currently.

{26} Lately…

Lately I’ve been…

reading Finished a few good ones recently.  First up was The Fault in Our Stars.  I wanted to read the book before watching the movie.  Of course, it’s predictable and a total tearjerker, but I was pleasantly surprised with how well a male author (John Green) was able to capture the mind of a sixteen year old girl.  Next, I read Dark Places, by Gillian Flynn.  This author never disappoints.  Although the main character, Libby, is a little unlikable in my opinion, Gillian Flynn is always keeping you on your toes with her novels and makes you want more.  Heading to the beach this weekend, so if you have any beach reads to recommend, please do!

writing  A ginormous to-do list of everything I need to get done before our trip to the Outer Banks.  And a packing list.

listening  Summer…my summer anthem by Calvin Harris.  Prepping a little playlist for our road trip.

thinking  That this beautifully written blog post from my friend Sascha really hits home for the working mom.

smelling  The delicious homemade eggplant parm the hubby cooked this week.  Fresh eggplant, tomatoes, and basil from the garden.  Melt in your mouth amazingness.

watching  The Bachelorette finale really threw me for a loop!  I realize I am delayed on watching my shows, so sorry for being late to the party.  I won’t throw out any spoilers for those who may also be behind on their TV watching, but let’s just say I was really surprised!

wishing  Time would slow down a bit.  My little baby is almost a year old already!  I can’t even take it.

hoping  I can pull off this fabulous fishtail braid at the beach next week shown in this tutorial by Nikki.

wearing  Lots of leopard print this week.  Feeling feisty.

loving  The end of summer sales!  ModCloth, Free People, J. Crew, & Zara have some pretty good ones going on right now.

laughing  At how Nico loves to be chased around the house.  I will crawl after him, and he will start crawling away squealing with delight…then come back and start chasing me while laughing.  That belly laugh is enough to get me laughing and smiling all day long.

wanting  To be with my little boy today.  In case you couldn’t tell, I’m missing him a lot while at work this week.  Looking forward to spending a whole week with him at the beach and introducing him to the place I have vacationed since I was a small child.  Also excited that the whole family will be able to see how much he has grown.

needing  A little girl (one day) so I can buy these adorable ribbons from Brit!

feeling  Totally inspired by hometown friend Candice as she becomes the first plus-sized model to appear in next year’s Pirelli calendar.  Doesn’t she look fantastic!!??

craving  Something sweet.  What else is new?

clicking  On 1st birthday party ideas for my little guy.

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What have you been up to lately?

Hope you are all having a fantastic week!

XO,

Gina

***I was inspired by Tina of Like Ordinary Life to create this post, and she was inspired by Lauren of siddathornton, who started The Sunday Currently.

Homemade Pesto Sauce

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Our garden has been a hit this year!  Especially for fresh, homemade pasta sauces.  This was my first venture at making my own pesto sauce, and I have to say, it turned out pretty darn good!  Not to mention, it was super easy to make.  Thanks Mom!

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What you need:

2 cups fresh basil leaves

3 or 4 garlic cloves

olive oil – I don’t really measure…enough so that the mixture ends up like a sauce and not chunky

1/4 pine nuts

1/2 cup Romano cheese

blender or food processor

1/2 cup heavy cream (if you want to make pesto cream sauce)

How to make it happen:

Put about half of the basil leaves in a blender or food processor with the olive oil to grind up.  Once it’s smooth, add the other ingredients (except the cream) and remaining basil and olive oil to grind up.  Make sure it is all well blended and smooth.

You can either freeze or use fresh.

Transfer the sauce to a small pot to heat it up.  If you want to make pesto cream sauce, you can whisk in the heavy cream right before turning off the heat.

Boil up your favorite type of pasta, and top it with this delicious sauce!  Once the pasta is boiled, I drain it and then coat it with a layer of the sauce so that it doesn’t dry out and stick together.  Serve it up in bowls, and then top with as much added sauce as you like.  I also add some extra grated Romano cheese to the top, because I’m a cheese fanatic.

Delish!

Hope you enjoy, and would love to hear if any of you try this recipe out.

Happy Monday.  Have a great week everyone!

XO,

Gina

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Garden Fresh Homemade Tomato Sauce

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It’s that time of the year!  The time when our tomatoes are coming up in the garden, and more importantly…time for fresh pasta sauce!  I typically make my own homemade sauce (carrying on the family tradition) all year long using cans of tomatoes, but there is something about those fresh tomatoes that really make the world go ’round.  I have tried both all fresh and all canned versions of this recipe, but my preference is actually a 50/50 method of half fresh, half canned.  For some reason, that packs the best punch of flavor in my book, and it’s just the perfect combo for an amazing sauce.

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The recipe is quite simple.  Most of it is all about taste and preference.  I hardly measure anything, and I kind of pinch and throw in as I go.

What you need:

4-6 cloves of garlic chopped (or whole, but I chop mine)

chopped yellow onion (or white or spanish) – I use about 1/4 of a medium size onion

extra virgin olive oil

fresh tomatoes from the garden (I used about 12)

canned tomatoes (my favorite brand is the Sclafani crushed, I used 1 can for this batch, because that was about how many fresh tomatoes I had, and I wanted it to be a 50/50 mix)

fresh basil from the garden to taste (I used about 10 leaves)

salt

pepper

dried italian herbs (if you have more fresh, the better!)

sugar (my secret ingredient)

How to Make it Happen:

First prep the fresh tomatoes by dicing them up to remove all the seeds (the more seeds you have the more bitter the sauce is, so I remove them all from the fresh tomatoes).  Then, you can either put them in a food processor to blend or keep them as is (again your preference of texture!) and put them aside.

Saute the garlic and onions in the olive oil in a large pot on medium heat for a couple minutes or until the onions are translucent.

Add the fresh tomatoes and the can of tomatoes to the pot and stir, stir, stir.  Lower heat so it’s not popping bubbles of sauce all over the kitchen.

Next, stir in the basil, salt, pepper, extra Italian herbs, and sugar to taste.

Let it sit, stirring frequently, and tasting frequently.  You may find you want to add a few herbs, a little more sugar, etc. as it cooks.  You can really cook it as long as you want.  The flavors will change a bit as time wears on, and you may want to add more to it.  I am all about the quickness, so unless I have a very large pot of sauce, I don’t really cook mine for more than 20-30 minutes.  I am usually just cooking for two, so it can cook pretty quickly.

Boil up your favorite type of pasta while you are waiting for the sauce.  Once the pasta is ready, drain it, and coat it with a few large scoops of sauce so that it doesn’t dry out and stick together.  Serve it up in bowls, and add as much extra sauce as you like!  I top mine with grated Locatelli Romano cheese as well, and voila!  Dinner is served.

Buon Apetito!

XO,

Gina

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