Friday, September 28, 2012

Delicious Homemade Apple Recipes from Living On A Dime

Clayton (age 1.5) at the NC State Farmers Market

If you find that you have a few dozen more apples than you know what to do with, or if you just can't resist the great sales that stores have on apples this time of year, these recipes from Dining On A Dime will help settle your frugal dilemma.

Apple Tips:
  • When you have a partially eaten apple, save the good part and chop it into pieces. Place in a microwave safe dish. Blend together 1 tsp. each brown sugar, flour, oatmeal and margarine and a dash of cinnamon. Top the apple with the topping and microwave until tender.
  • Core and slice apples very thin. Dehydrate and use in granolas, eat alone or soften in warm water to use in recipes.
  • Slice apples and use in pancakes or waffles.
  • Freeze extra apples for later. Peel, slice and core them and then store in 2 cup portions in freezer bags.
  • Use soft apples in cooking.
  • Cut apples into small pieces and add to salads with a fruit based dressing.

Homemade Apple Butter
9 to 10 apples, cored, peeled and chopped
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cloves
1/8 tsp. salt
Place everything into a crockpot. Stir, cover and cook on high 1 hour. Cook on low for 9-11 hours or until thick and dark brown. Stir occasionally. Uncover and cook on low 1 hour longer. Stir with whisk until smooth. Refrigerate or Freeze. Makes 2 pints.

Apple Pie Filling
9 cups baking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
5 cups water
2 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Toss apples with lemon juice and set aside. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a Dutch oven and bring to a boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add apples and return to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until apples are tender (6-10 minutes). Cool for 30 minutes. Then ladle into freezer containers or bake immediately. Makes two 9-inch pies.

Fried Apples
4 large apples, cored and sliced
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Cut apples into 1/4 inch slices. Heat butter in a large skillet. Put the apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon in the skillet and cover. Over medium-low heat, cook apple slices 7-10 minutes or until they begin to soften and the syrup thickens. Serve coated with excess syrup on top. Serves 4.

Baked Apples
apples, cored
raisins (optional)
1 tsp. margarine
dash of cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
1 Tbsp. honey or brown sugar
(These ingredient amounts are per apple.)
For each person, use 1 apple. Fill the center of the apple with all the ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees until tender or put in a Dutch oven on top of stove and simmer on very low until tender.

Apple Snack
2 qts. apples, peeled, cored and halved
Coarsely grate apples. Place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 225 degrees until dry. Remove from cookie sheet and break into pieces. Store in an airtight container.

Apple Crisp
6 apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. cinnamon and/or nutmeg
1/2 cup water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange apples in a well-greased baking dish. Blend all remaining ingredients except water. Spread evenly over top of apples. Pour water over the topping. Bake 45 minutes until apples are tender and top is crisp. Serves 6.

Peach Crisp
Use peaches in place of apples.

Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the authors of the Dining On A Dime Cookbook. Dining On A Dime will help you save money on groceries and get out of debt by cooking quick and simple homemade meals. For free tips & recipes visit , sign up for our free Living On A Dime Newsletter and learn to save more!


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

What I Wore - First Day of Fall

Dress - Goodwill
It's Fall, y'all!  I love this time of year!  The cooler weather, pumpkins in every shape and size, colorful Mums, hot apple cider, cinnamon spiced baked goods, the State Fair, my birthday :)  I'm just in love this season! 
I've shared this vintage inspired dress before.  But, it's been patiently waiting in my closet for the change in season.  To me, the warm color just invokes the spirit of Autumn - the changing leaves, pumpkins, cinnamon and ciders.  The perfect first day of Fall dress!  And to complement the color of the dress, I wore my navy blue, veiled vintage straw hat from SuzAnna's Antiques.            


Vintage, veiled straw hat - SuzAnna's Antiques
Happy Fall!
Mary Ellen
pleated poppy

Monday, September 24, 2012

Preserving the Season - Canning Pear Honey

Preserving the season - locally grown pears
Godwin's Orchards, Johnston County, NC

With the change in season, pears have made an appearance at our farmer's market.  Last year, I bought pears from my pastured egg lady.  But this year, her trees didn't produce.  Fortunately, the gentleman I buy apples from also has pear trees.  He offered me a great price on the pears, so I bought the entire basket right then and there!

Interestingly enough, I don't really like pears!  But, I do love pear honey - which is like applesauce (but with pears, of course!) and crushed pineapple.  And despite the name, there's no honey involved.  The finished product just has a golden, honey color - hence pear "honey".  

Pear Honey
original recipe can be found here

3lbs fresh pears, peeled, cored and chopped {you'll need about 7 lbs of whole pears}
3 cups sugar
1-8 oz. can of crushed pineapple in juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1.  Combine all ingredients in a large stainless steel saucepan.
2.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
3.  Simmer for 40 minutes.
4.  Drain some of the cooking liquid and using an immersion blender (or masher), grind pears to a thick, applesauce like consistency.

My new canner - an anniversary present!
This girl loves practical gifts for the home :)

5.  Spoon into prepared canning jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. 
6.  Process in boiling water for 10 minutes.

I was able to make 7 half pint jars of pear honey - one of which was gifted to the gentleman from the orchid.  He's going to bring more pears to the market next weekend, so I'll be back in the kitchen canning very soon!

Attention Target shoppers...On my last Target trip, I found this box of 12 regular mouth canning lids with bands on clearance for $2.78.  That's the cheapest I've seen for this in our area.  Might be worth a look-see if you're in Target.  Also, tis' the season for discounted school supplies, backpacks and lunch boxes at Target.  Get a start on next year's school supply shopping or stock up for the rest of this school year!

Mary Ellen

Monday, September 17, 2012

Really Random Stuff

My Big Sis & I
(she's rocking the bell bottoms, I'm rocking the pig tails!)

No time to blog...Last week was incredibly busy (as is this week!).  My oldest sister made her annual visit.  It's always good to be in her company.  And the kids quite enjoy the spoiling they receive when their Aunt is in town!  Added responsibilities have me on my toes at work.  It's almost as if I've been assigned another position while still working my current position.  Well, it's exactly like that!  But, at least there's an end in sight to the current insanity.  I just have to make it there!  The kids brought home their first of the school year sniffles and spread it around.  Happens every year about this time.  Thank goodness for Cold-Eeze!  My cold symptoms were pretty much gone by Friday.  Just in time for our weekend beach trip!  With all that, there's been very little time to blog.  So, I haven't shared my new vintage hats, my new canner, new-to-me work dresses, my garden (or lack thereof).  But, I'll get around to it. :)

Mountains to climb...I'm currently facing a mountain on a personal level.  Or, at least it seems like a mountain to me.  The enormity of the task has me doubting my ability to succeed.  But, I'm reminded of the verse in Matthew 17, "...for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you."   I must move a mountain!

Competitive Motherhood...I'm not a competitive person.  In fact, I probably shy away from it whenever possible.  Dave, on the other hand, is very competitive.  And working in a male-dominated company, so are most of the gentlemen at work.  In men, I respect and can even understand the competitive nature.  It's like iron sharpening iron.  Dave thrives on competition and he's really on top of his game in situations where he must compete.  But in women, I don't find it so appealing.  Especially as it relates to mothering.  I absolutely understand being proud of your children, being proud to be a wife and mother.  But, I don't understand the mindset involved when one mother attempts to make another feel less than.  I've always held the belief that if one is truly content in their life and the choices they've made, there's no room for comparing and competing with someone else.

Much ado about nothing...Recently, I came across some articles in what would be considered the "traditional" side of the blogosphere about interracial couplings.  The discussions were "interesting" to say the least!  As a person who is married interracially, I think from the outside looking in, there's a tendency to over inflate the role of racial differences.  And to a degree, that's understandable if someone has never dated or isn't married to someone of another race.  But, I think what you'll find with most interracial couples are two people who connected on shared values, beliefs and/or experiences.  My husband and I had similar values, similar upbringings (two-parent, Christian homes).  We connected simply as a man and a woman.  We were compatible and could absolutely see ourselves marrying another.  We didn't see being different races as some great divide between us.  It just isn't.  Not then, not now.

Well, that's all I got for now!

Mary Ellen 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Time Is Love...Josh Turner

I only get so many minutes,
Don't want to spend them all on the clock...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11th

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

~ Saint Francis of Assisi

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Back to School!

The kids are officially back in school!  This is the first year all three kids will be in school full-time.  Ashleigh is in 4th grade, Clayton in 2nd grade and my baby Reed is starting kindergarten.  So far, everything is going great!  Ashleigh is in the same class as her bestest little friend.  There's none of the anxiety issues with Clayton this year.  And Reed seems quite ready for big kid school!  His first day, he went in unpacked his backpack, found his seat and immediately sat down and started working on his coloring sheet.  Reed was ready to go, but Momma definitely got a little teary-eyed as I walked away from the classroom! 

A tradition started by Daddy - breakfast out on the first day of school

Reed ready to go!

Here's to a great school year!

Mary Ellen

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What I Wore - 12th Anniversary Date Night!

Thank you so much for the wonderful Anniversary wishes!  :)  It doesn't feel like it's been 12 years.  It seems like just yesterday we were hanging out on campus together.  Me stressing about changing majors.  Dave almost flunking Hebrew because he was spending his free time with me instead of studying!

Dress - Goodwill
Shoes - Madden Girl (Goodwill)

For our Anniversary, we went out to our favorite dining spot, Winston's.  The food is excellent and the atmosphere is wonderful.  Perfect for a date night!  I call it "casual elegance".  A fine dining feel, but without all the stuffiness!  To dinner, I wore this black halter top dress with red floral print and tulle hem.  The shoes were an early anniversary gift from Dave.  Madden Girl peep toe heels with ruffles.  So cute!       

Mary Ellen

 pleated poppy

Sunday, September 2, 2012

12 Years & Counting!

September 2, 2000
David & Mary Ellen
Celebrating 12 years of wedded bliss!