Homemade Slow Cooker Apple Sauce

Apple sauce…..really easy to make, super difficult to photograph. Pre-editing, my apple sauce looked like chunky gravy. Now that you have that image in your head, I bet you really want to make this! Of course it didn’t help that I was taking these pictures at oh about 10pm at night. I really envy food bloggers who can take pictures of their food during daylight. Unfortunately that only really works for me on the weekend because I a. have a full time job and b. live almost at the 49th parallel. I just don’t have enough spare time during daylight hours. This will improve quite a bit in the summer when the day is much much longer but for now I’m relying on Adobe Lightroom. I like the way these pics turned out anyways….kind of moody.

 

So why make apple sauce when it is easy to find in the grocery store? Well it’s super easy and this recipe makes quite a lot. You don’t have to sweeten it with sugar and it will still taste sweet. And you know exactly what goes in there, which isn’t much. Plus it makes your house smell fantastic while it’s cooking away. Really, the only special piece of equipment you need is the slow cooker. You just have to peel and roughly chop the apples like I did above, wait a few hours and you are done.

 

There are so many great uses for apple sauce as well. It tastes great plain, but can also be used with pork, pancakes and oatmeal. It can also be used as a fat substitutes in recipes. If a recipe calls for 1 cup of oil or melted butter, try substituting half of that with half a cup of apple sauce. You may find you can even replace it all and this will drastically reduce the amount of fat in a recipe and make it healthier.

One other note, don’t leave this recipe completely unattended….you might find that your apples will cook a lot faster than you think. Cooking time will depend on your apples and your slow cooker.

CREAMY TOMATO AND BASIL SOUP

Mr. Ketchup is currently undergoing training for the air force in a city that is about 4 hours away from our home. He always complains about the food on the base and is so excited to eat real food when he comes home on the weekend so I try to make it good. He really enjoyed this recipe, which always makes me really happy to hear. I’m already planning on what to make him for next weekend….maybe stromboli? Not sure yet.
I must admit I’m not a huge fan of soup, although I’m beginning to realize that I’m not a huge fan of canned soup. My favourite soup has to be tomato soup, and when I saw this recipe in Cooking Light I knew I had to make it. I can’t wait until summer roles around so I can make this with fresh tomato and basil.
You might be wondering what that little piece of bread is sitting next to my soup bowl.
THAT my friends is some incredibly delicious Italian Cheese Bread made from a Little Caesar’s Pizza Kit. Now, I purchased this kit because a. it’s delicious, b. it’s for a fundraiser and c. did I mention it’s delicious? I’ve been thinking about it for some time though…..the ingredients contain a lot of unhealthy preservatives in it yet the kit itself is actually rather simple. I’ve decided to make my own copycat recipe for this kit because I think I can make it a homemade version that tastes just as good, or better. So look for it in upcoming posts!
I think this recipe also falls under the surprisingly-easy-to-make category as well. My husband said it was wayyyyy better than store bought soup. I think it would also go well with grilled cheese croutons.

Creamy Tomato and Basil Soup

Makes enough for 4 (or 8 smaller servings as an appetizer)
4 cups chopped, seeded, peeled tomatoes (about 4 large)
4 cups low-sodium tomato juice
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup 1% low-fat milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 cup (4 ounces or half a block) cream cheese, softened
Basil leaves, thinly sliced for garnish (optional)
Bring tomato and juice to a boil in a large sauce pan (the one I used was a bit too large). Reduce heat, simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
Use an immersion blender (or food processor or regular blender) to process until smooth. Stir in milk, salt, and pepper.
Add cream cheese, stirring well with a whisk and cook over medium heat until thick.
Ladle soup into bowls, garnish with sliced basil, if desired.
PS- I am attempting to make macarons for the first time tonight. Wish me luck!

Work it Off Wednesday (WOW): Tomato and Pepper Salad

It’s rather hard to take a picture of such a basic salad but I would have to say that this one turned out the best. This recipe came from Nonna Ketchup (my husband’s nonna). There is really not much to this recipe but it’s delicious in it’s simplicity. Nonna Ketchup never measures anything of course but I played around with measurements and this is what I came up with.

Turkey Pot Pie

Probably my new favourite use for leftover turkey is turkey pot pie. Yes you can eat the leftovers as you normally, or make a hot turkey sandwich with them, which is also good. But if you want something that completely mixes the leftovers up in a brand new way and tastes fantastic, you can’t go wrong with turkey pot pie. It’s also a great idea to freeze the leftover turkey for a month or two and then pull it out later to use because by that time you are no longer totally overwhelmed with turkey.  Don’t get me wrong, I like turkey…..but sometimes too much of a good thing, really isn’t good.

 

Pie can be quite intimidating to make. It’s the crust that tends to get people of course. I’ve made several different recipes for pie crusts now and while there is no foolproof method, all I can say is that they aren’t that easy to screw up. It’s true, they don’t have to be perfect and they will still taste fantastic, AND they will still taste better than the store bought version. Why, just take a look at my pie. The edges aren’t all that pretty but it still taste amazing. Also, I find that the easiest method for rolling out the dough is between layers of plastic wrap, as originally mentioned in my butter tarts recipe. It helps keep the dough together, and prevents it from sticking to the counter.

 

Oh and if you want proof of how much we loved this recipe, just take a look at the leftovers. Only two people ate that much! One other thing to note. is that this recipe can very easily be doubled. I made two pies and froze one for later. OR you can double the recipe and bake it in a casserole. It’s very flexible.

Work it Off Wednesdays: Vanilla Berry Smoothy

Smoothies are really easy to make. Really easy….this one took me about 10 minutes tops and that was because I was writing down calorie info. What makes it even quicker is if you have frozen berries like in the picture. Frozen berries are just as healthy as fresh berries yet they are often cheaper and they last quite a long time in your freezer.
It’s also really easy to mix up the flavours of your smoothie. Through in some fresh bananas, or pineapple. For a great post-workout smoothie you can also add peanut butter or you can even add whey protein powder which you can get at health or bulk food stores. The possibilities huge but you of course always want to keep in mind that the more you add, the more calories you add and if you want to make a healthy smoothie you should always just add healthy ingredients. This smoothie is only 100 calories per serving!
For today’s WOW topic I’d like to take a step back and talk about how is it you actually lose weight. In the end it’s all about calorie in, calorie out. You have to burn more calories than you consume in order to lose weight.
So lets do the math. 1 lb of fat consists of 3500 calories. So if you would like to lose 1 lb of fat per week you would have to have a caloric deficit of 500 calories per day.
For a more detailed description of this process you can view this article here.

Vanilla Berry Smoothies

Makes enough for 2
1 cup skim milk
1 cup frozen berries
1 cup 0% plain yogurt
seeds from half a vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp honey
Place all of the above ingredients in a blender. Pulse until the desired consistency is achieved, being careful not to over blend.  Enjoy (yes, that’s really it!).

MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, A COCKTAIL

midnightexpress-1556

So as you might remember, I recently switched hosts to something cheaper that also has excellent support. Let me tell you, it was a pain in my behind. If you ever have to do this by yourself, don’t leave it until nearly the last minute. It is always a bad idea. For some reason the mobile service providers (eg. Rogers and Telus here in Canada) decided to update their DNS entries (eg. if my blog was a person, it would be it’s address) much slower than than the regular ISPs and so my blog didn’t show up on mobile devices for several days. Now, if I had planned ahead, I could have redirected to my new host (eg. forwarded the mail in the address example) but I didn’t. Lesson learned. At any rate, we are back up and running now and I can finally share with you some new recipes! Huzzah!

So THIS. I recently tried a cocktail similar to this at a bar with a friend and the first thing I did was take a picture so I could recreate it at home. Do you ever want to drink with friends but are kind of pooped and need a pick-me-up but want to get your drinkin’ on? Well then the Midnight Express is for you. My aunt (love you!) would argue that the caffeine cancels out the booze but they both pack quite the punch when combined in this manner. Espresso, Bailey’s and Kahlua make a fantastic combination. What’s that? You want to see a picture of Mr. Ketchup drinking this?

midnightexpress-

Sorry he’s a little shy. This is as good as it’s going to get right now. I was tempted to turn his whole head into a tomato like he really is a Mr. Ketchup but I decided that that would be weird. Also, I still suck at photoshop.

Steel Cut Oats

So a while ago I posted on my private Facebook about how much I loved steel cut oats. Some people asked me how that’s even possible….they aren’t that good! Well I totally disagree. They do take some getting used to. Steel cut oats are chewier than regular rolled oats and have a very different texture to them. The first time I made them in the slowcooker I thought I had screwed it up and threw it out! Not to worry guys…..if your steel cut oats taste chewy, they are made right!

So then why steel cut oats over regular rolled oats? Why are they better? Well the two have similar nutritional values although rolled oats are more processed. Instant oats on the other hand can have added, undesirable ingredients. Bottom line is that both steel cut oats and rolled oats are very beneficial to your diet. They both have a lot of healthy fibre that will keep you feeling hungry longer and will help get things moving down there. They are also beneficial to lowering your cholesterol.

Another complaint about oats in general is that they take too long to cook. Not to worry, the recipe I am about to show you can be made ahead of time, divided up and reheated in the morning. You will just need to at minimum add a bit of milk and then reheat for 1-2 minutes in the microwave. Done.

But aren’t steel cut oats rather bland? How can they actually taste that delicious? It’s all about how you prepare them really. When I make my oats I add milk, vanilla and cinnamon for added flavour. Below are some examples of what I add when I eat it in the morning. My favourite is 0% Vanilla Greek Yogurt and a banana but I have also added ground chia or flax seeds, unsweetened apple sauce, apple, fresh or frozen berries and nut butters. Add whatever you want!

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

I’m doing something a little different with this recipe. All of these photos come from my Instagram app on my iPhone. Instagram is a photo editing app that allows you to manipulate a photo either before or after taking it. You can use it to apply filters to give your photos an artsy feel to them. Personally my favourite photo out of the bunch is the one above. Doesn’t that just look cool? Also the shadows from the blinds in our kitchen just make it perfect. One of my personal struggles with blogging are the photos. I tried using my husband’s fancy Canon and failed. I look at other bloggers’ posts and they look stunning. I then have to remind myself that I’m a newbie at this. Other bloggers admit to starting out taking pictures with point and shoot cameras or their iPhones. It’s ok! I’ll get there one day.

In the end what matters most is that I bring you guys delicious recipes, right? Well trust me, these ones are good. Mr. Ketchup said “These are the most delicious ‘healthy things’ that I have ever tasted!”. So that’s good right?

I had meant to bake these on the weekend and use them as snacks for lunches the rest of the week. Yes I make both of our lunches….if I don’t Mr. Ketchup would buy his and that would not only cost more but it would be less healthy for him. Yes, he is pretty lucky. What was I saying again? Oh yes, the majority of these were gone the first day. These only made it to lunches on the Monday, and Mr. Ketchup got the last one on Tuesday. Oh and no I didn’t take a bite of that wrapper too before I snapped the above pic. It tore when I tried to remove it. This recipe is kind of sticky so even if you use wrappers you need to spray them….trust me!

So what are your thoughts on my Instagram pics? I won’t be taking pics this way all the time as I need to learn how to use a regular camera but I think it creates a fun effect.

Cool Finds Friday

It’s been a busy busy week. I meant to post another recipe today but SOMEBODY decided to plan a last minute get together at our house for today. So now we have 6-8 people from SOMEBODY’s work coming over tonight for pizza and drinks. I wouldn’t have minded if he had told me more in advance as then I could have planned and made some yummy appies. Still thinking of what I could possibly make tonight in the span of um….. half an hour. Probably baked brie but that requires a trip to the grocery store. Might whip up some easy fudge. At any rate, that meant that last night was spent cleaning instead of editing photos and writing up a post. You can all blame my husband for that. Instead you get a Cool Finds Friday post, which is a lot quicker to produce.

This week has also been interesting because I’ve been trying to make more social connections through well social media. I hope to make some good foodie friends soon!

In other news, Monday will be the start of my first blog contest ever!!!! So excited for this! I think you guys will like this one. This one is available for Canadians only as it’s a Canadian thing. Yes I know it’s kind of backwards to most blog giveaways. Sorry international friends, but I hope to have more giveaways for you in the future.

Oh I’m sorry, did you come to this post expecting some cool finds instead of my ramblings? Well then here you go!

1.

Cheddar-Jalapeno Cornbread

So when Mr. Ketchup and I were on our way out to our new home, we had this amazing jalapeno-cheddar cornbread and since then I’ve wanted to recreate it but have been lazy as you kind of need something hearty to go with it. Like chili or something. Anyways, I think that these would probably be pretty close to what I had.

2.

I’ve also totally become obsessed with the idea of hot chocolate truffle balls. Just plop them into some hot milk and you’ve got fantastic hot chocolate. Such an AMAZING idea!

3.

Since I love pasts so much, I’m always looking for different but easy-ish takes on recipes. This recipe looks like something you’d find at a restaurant for sure!

4.

pie

Speaking of different takes on stuff, check out that pie! And those little Christmas tree decorations! So adorable!

5.

These cheese truffles from How Sweet It Is also look like the perfect Christmas appetizers that I COULD have made had SOMEONE not told me the last second about hosting a get-together. That boy really can’t plan!

Friday Finds: Spring and Easter Edition

Hope you all have had another awesome week! It’s been pretty great around the Ketchup household because Mr. Ketchup is back home  and it’s actually his birthday today so we are going out to a local restaurant that’s one of his favorites  Fun times will be had by all. Oh, and welcome to spring! Some of you may not know this, but where I live is pretty mild, and we hardly get any snow in the winter (maybe a couple of days) and we get lots of rain. Similar to Seattle really. Anyways, our local weather welcomed us to spring with a wind storm that knocked out our power, and hail two days in a row. Thanks a lot spring! I think it’s just revenge as we had been making fun of people living in the rest of the country who all seem to still have snow while we had temperatures around 10 degrees Celsius (about 50 degrees Fahrenheit for my American friends). Ah well, C’est La Vie. In the foodie world, I’ve seen numerous spring/Easter recipes popping up all over the place so I’m going to share a few of those with you today.

1.

Whole Grain Carrot Muffins

It wouldn’t be Easter without carrots of course. These Whole Wheat Carrot Muffins are both healthy and delicious.

2.

Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Easter Eggs from www.laurenslatest.com

And it REALLY isn’t Easter without eggs and chocolate. Combine them both with these Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Easter Eggs. These and Cadbury Mini Eggs are hands down my favourite Easter treat. I’ll let you in on a secret. When I was little, I used to swap the Cadbury Cream Eggs out of my basket and into my sisters and steal my favourites. Don’t tell her I said that though.

3.

 

 

This is a cheesecake cake. Better yet, it’s a Meyer Lemon Cheesecake Cake. Yum! Ever since I have heard of the concept of cheesecake cakes I’ve wanted to make one. I really need more special occasions so I can make more cake.

4.

Zeppole recipe

Zeppole aren’t really Easter, but they are spring-like. They are traditionally eaten by the Italian’s on St. Joseph’s Day every March 19th. I’ve never heard of them before but they look delicious! I need to find out if Nonna Ketchup can make these.

5.

Lemon-Macaroon-Nests-3

Coconut is another huge Easter flavour. Aren’t these Lemon Macaroon Nests adorable?

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