Apple Butter

I seriously eat an apple a day and my brother has been known to make fun of me (more than once) because he claims that eating the same thing every day is boring.  Well, let me tell you, the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” just may be true.  I hardly every get sick and plus apples are delicious!

As delicious as apples are they can also be expensive, so I usually pick up whatever type is on sale that week at the grocery store.  My favorites are Fuji, Gala, and Honeycrisp.  Last week while I was at Harris Teeter I noticed that it would be a better deal to get the 5lb bag of Gala apples rather than buy them individually.  I didn’t realize just how many apples I was getting until I got home and they completely filled up my fruit basket.  After being out of town this weekend I realized Monday that I needed to find a way to use up my remaining apples before they went bad.  I just happened to be browsing on Pinterest when I saw a post for Apple Butter.  Once I read the recipe I knew exactly how I was going to use up my apples!

The original apple butter recipe is from Organize Yourself Skinny and I adapted it based on what I had on hand and my preferences.

Apple Butter

  • 3lbs Gala apples, chopped (with the skin on)
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Nutmeg
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract

**you can adjust the spices to your desired taste

  • Place the chopped apples into your crockpot (I used these crock pot liners and clean up was a breeze)
  • Top with brown sugar, water, and spices
  • Cook on high for about 4 hours until apples are soft
  • Remove the apples from the crockpot and place into a mixing bowl (leave all the extra liquid behind in the crockpot)
  • Use an immersion (hand-held) blender to blend all the apples until smooth
  • Place the apple mixture into a saucepan and heat over low heat for 30 minutes-1 hour until desired consistency is reached.

I froze some of the apple butter I made and I cannot wait to eat the rest!  I bet it will be delicious on the new Pumpkin Spice Swirl Bread I just got from Target :)

Daily Gratitude: August edition

  • Tuesday July 29, 2014: I was able to use the fitness room at our apartment for a good weight workout (including arms/shoulders which is HUGE for me considering all the shoulder issues I have had)
  • Wednesday July 30, 2014: I had a great visit with not only my district manager, but also a regional manager at work
  • Thursday July 31, 2014: I got some yummy home grown tomatoes from one of my technicians
  • Friday August 1, 2014: I started off a new month with a workout and some cleaning
  • Saturday August 2, 2014: HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY to both my daddy and my niece Ainsley!!!
  • Sunday August 3, 2014: FINALLY the pool has opened at our apartment so we got to enjoy it today! Plus Chase and I met his dad for dinner, which was nice.
  • Monday August 4, 2014: Happy anniversary to Briix–to celebrate we took advantage of their buy one get one free pizza offer for dinner!
  • Tuesday August 5, 2014: I switched up our usually “Taco Tuesday” dinner by using ground turkey and Chase still said it was good!
  • Wednesday August 6, 2014: I got to spend some time with a grad intern at work today–its always fun for me to help others learn
  • Thursday August 7, 2014: Yay for being off work! I throughly enjoyed my time today
  • Friday August 8, 2014: Although work was super busy today, I am proud of myself and my technician for how we handled it.
  • Saturday August 9, 2014: One great thing about getting off at 5pm on the weekends is that I can go to the free wine tasting at Winston Salem Wine Market
  • Sunday August 10, 2014: I took advantage of our new pharmacy hours and enjoyed some “me time” this morning before work
  • Monday August 11, 2014: One of my technicians brought in a locally made tres leches cake and it was DELICIOUS!!
  • Tuesday August 12, 2014: I used a living social voucher for a massage that I almost forgot I had!
  • Wednesday August 13, 2014: Chase and I celebrated “taco Tuesday” a day late this week
  • Thursday August 14, 2014: We had a new grad training with us at work today.  It is always nice to have an extra hand!
  • Friday August 15, 2014: Today was an extra shift for me and I plan to use my extra pay to treat myself to something nice
  • Saturday August 16, 2014: I started the morning off with a great Zumba class before heading home to spend some time with my mom and see my brother’s new house
  • Sunday August 17, 2014: I went to church with my Nanny and we had a wonderful time celebrating a 90th birthday at her church
  • Monday August 18, 2014: Chase and I had a date night dinner at Briix
  • Tuesday August 19, 2014: Although work was super busy I feel like we had a very productive day
  • Wednesday August 20, 2014: I spent some time at work finalizing details for our team member events for flu shots.  It is nice to be able to get the loose ends wrapped up
  • Thursday August 21, 2014: I was incredibly lazy this afternoon and I loved every minute of it!
  • Friday August 22, 2014: It is days like these I remember how blessed I am to have a 30 minute lunch break to step away from things
  • Saturday August 23, 2014: Free pizza at work!  Woohoo
  • Sunday August 24, 2014: Again, I am loving our new Sunday hours.  I had time to get some cleaning done before work this morning!
  • Monday August 25, 2014: I took Krispy Kreme donuts to work to welcome our new staff pharmacist—and I didn’t even eat one!
  • Tuesday August 26, 2014: Did you know they make pumpkin spice flavored M&Ms?? I didn’t, but tried them at work and have to say they weren’t too bad
  • Wednesday August 27, 2014: I gave a big thumbs up this morning for a solid night of sleep…much needed for another busy day at work.
  • Thursday August 28, 2014: Today I was reminded that sometimes people can be plain mean, no matter how nice you are to them, and you just have to let it roll off your back
  • Friday August 29, 2014: I have been working on learning (or maybe I should say re-learning) Spanish using the app Duolingo and today one of my technician’s complimented me on my progress!
  • Saturday August 30, 2014: Woohoo for seeing my niece play in her soccer tournament today!
  • Sunday August 31, 2014: Enjoying a lazy Sunday with Chase is a perfect way to end the month of August.  Welcome Fall!

Even though sometimes I forget it is so important to remember to be gracious for your life each and every day! Don’t waste your time looking to the future; enjoy the here and now!

Baked Ziti

A couple of weekends ago I went to see my mom for a quick one night trip.  While I was there I gave my brother’s girlfriend, Alesha, her belated birthday present.  I had gotten her a cookbook from one of my favorite Food Network stars, Ree Drummond (also known as The Pioneer Woman), called The Pioneer Woman Cooks.  I was excited because her recipes are relatively simple, she uses easy to find ingredients, and I thought my brother would appreciate her heartier meals too!  Alesha said she had heard of her, but she had never watched her show.  Luckily my mom had 2 of The Pioneer Woman episodes from The Food Network saved on her DVR so we all decided to watch one.  We chose the episode where Ree makes Baked Ziti for her kids and their cousins to enjoy while the adults eat steak and baked potatoes.

Since my brother was still working, and would be for awhile, we decided it would be best to cook at home that evening and since we were in the mood for new things we decided that Alesha and I would cook the baked Ziti.  I would like to point out that David, my brother, is not a big italian fan (neither am I), but I think it is more due to not being a huge lover of tomato sauce.  This meal was pleasing for everyone because it was not super saucy–it had just the right amount of balance between all the ingredients.  We found the recipe online (Baked Ziti by The Pioneer Woman) and followed it pretty much exactly except we used only ground beef.

It wasn’t hard to make and was actually my first time making a pasta sauce from scratch.  Now that I had done it once I can definitely say it is way better than the jarred kind!  We served the baked ziit with iceberg wedge salads and brownies for dessert.  The recipe makes a large panful, but the good news is that the leftovers are just as delicious!

DSC_0075

in the beginning there were onions and garlic

The sauce cooking away

The sauce cooking away

mixing it all together

mixing it all together

lettuce wedge salad bar

lettuce wedge salad bar

yummy!! the finished product

yummy!! the finished product

 

Ribs, Who Knew They Could Be So Easy

Chase loves ribs, but I have never made them because for some reason I had in my head that they were super complicated to make!  Good thing Chase’s dad was bragging about the ribs his mom made one night because I decided to ask her what the secret was.  Turns out you can cook ribs in the crockpot on low all day and they turn out very tender and moist with hardly any work.  Really! It doesn’t get much easier than that.

I placed a rack of pork ribs in my crockpot and covered them with water.  I then cooked them on low all day while I was at work.  When I got off work I drained all the water out of the crockpot and covered the ribs with some BBQ sauce.  I then cooked on high for about 30 minutes while I made some corn muffins and green beans to round out our meal!  Anything that can lessen my time cooking once I get home from work is a winner in my book!

Quick Fruit Salad

Last Thursday while I was shopping in Harris Teeter I saw that they had both blueberries and strawberries on sale.  I love fruit and thought that I could use these plus blackberries to make a quick fruit salad!

 

Quick Fruit Salad:

  • 1 container blueberries
  • 1 container blackberries
  • 1 container strawberries
  • 1 package Jello instant pudding mix, vanilla flavored
  1. Rinse all fruit and quarter the strawberries
  2. Add fruit to a large bowl
  3. Sprinkle the instant pudding mix over the top of the fruit (the plain mix NOT prepared) to lightly cover
  4. Mix well
  5. Cover and refrigerate to allow time for the pudding mix to combine with the fruit juices to create a sweet tasting dressing for the fruit salad

**I think if there had been more fruit juices in my fruit salad it would have worked just a tad bit better, but it was still delicious!

I can’t wait to try this idea with other fruits as well

 

Preparing For The Week Ahead

Last night as I was browsing through Pinterest I saw a pin that caught my eye.  It was titled “9 things you should do every weekend to RESET for a fresh, smooth week” and I was definitely intrigued.  I whole-heartedly agree with Blair that doing a little planning and prepping on Sunday can make the coming week much better.  Today our pharmacy hours change and while I am looking forward to getting off at 7pm during the week my whole schedule changes (and will change again at the end of August when my new staff pharmacist starts).  This week I work Monday-Wednesday and then Friday-Monday meaning Thursday is my only day off out of 8 days so I know I need to be prepared and ready to take on the week.

Thanks to Blair’s post here are some things I will accomplish today:

  1. Wash my sheets and make my bed
  2. Do laundry and choose outfits for the week
  3. Prepare breakfast and lunch for Monday
  4. Empty all the trashcans
  5. Wipe down the bathroom and kitchen & tidy the rest of the house
  6. Restock the fridge/pantry

In regards to restocking the fridge and pantry I have also decided on some quick dinners to make when I get home from work:

  • Monday: to celebrate Brixx’s 16th anniversary they are doing a BOGO sale so I think we will go out to eat tonight
  • Tuesday: taco tuesday!!
  • Wednesday: spaghetti (using half the browned meat from Tuesday night)
  • Thursday: **I’m off work today so I plan on making mini meat loafs, twice baked potatoes, and a veggie

Hopefully between all these little tasks and errands we can go enjoy our new pool that just opened!!

 

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Restaurant Review: The Quiet Pint

Last night our neighbor across the hall, Skylar, and his friend Landon stopped by to see what Chase and I were doing for dinner.  We didn’t have plans so we all decided to head out and grab a bite to eat.  I was off work yesterday so the extent of my activity had consisted of the gym and a quick run to Wal-Mart so I was still sporting some pretty sweet gym attire, but no one seemed to mind too much.  Skylar had tried a new place called The Quiet Pint over near Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center so we decided to give it a try!

Even though we ended up getting there about 745pm on a Friday night we were able to find parking quickly and didn’t even have to wait for a table.  The inside is quite small and kind of feels like the tables are smushed together in some areas, which isn’t too bad until you have to ask an entire side of a table to get up so you can use the restroom.  All the tables were high which was fine with me, but Chase said he kept leaning back forgetting there was no back.  They did have a great craft beer selection both on draft and in the bottle/can.  I tried the Sierra Nevada Summerfest which was on special and actually really good!

The menu looked super exciting and I was having a hard time decided what to get.  I finally decided on a burger topped with pimento cheese and hand cut fries for my side.  Chase got the classic macaroni and cheese for his meal.  Unfortunately the food was just ok, nothing special, and definitely not what I was expecting.  My burger kind of seemed like a frozen patty that didn’t have too much taste, but also seemed kind of greasy which was weird.  The fries were over cooked to the point that every bite tasted burnt so I just left them alone.  Chase’s mac and cheese was ok, but again didn’t quite live up to my expectations from reading the menu.

After we ate we ended up moving to the bar to have another couple of drinks.  The bar is nice and roomy with 4 good size TVs to watch.  The only thing I didn’t like was that I was on the end of the bar so I couldn’t really hear any of the conversation.  The name may have quiet in it, but let me just say it was loud in there!

I would definitely go back for drinks, but I think I will probably pass on the food in the future.