Holiday Spiced Apples

WIN_20150922_082659Oh, don’t be a scrooge. I know it’s a bit early to use the word “holiday,” but if you’re going to make Holiday Spiced Apples for your own holiday buffet or offer festive jars as gifts, you need to plan ahead. This recipe is easy to prepare, but tastes best after the flavors marinate in the jar for at least two weeks.

8 quarts is a nice quantity for gift giving, and will allow you to save a jar or two for yourself! The same recipe can also be canned in 16 pint size jars, if you prefer a smaller size. Or cut the recipe in half for 4 quarts or 8 pints. If you don’t want to can the recipe at all, simply store your spiced apples in airtight containers in the refrigerator. They’ll last for several weeks.

WIN_20150915_144614Ingredients (Makes 8 quarts)

40 medium apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thick

4 cups cold water

1/2 cup lemon juice

1 1/2 cups “red hots” cinnamon candies

1 tablespoon whole cloves

1 tablespoon whole allspice

1 teaspoon ground ginger

6 cups sugar

6 cups water

4 1/2 cups vinegar


Step 1) Dip peeled apple slices into a bowl containing 4 cups cold water and 1/2 cup lemon juice. This prevents browning. After dipping, set apple slices aside in a large bowl.

Step 2) Combine all remaining ingredients in a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Stir often, so that the cinnamon candies don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

Step 3) Reduce heat to simmer, and stir until candies are dissolved. Add apple slices.

Step 4) Simmer the apple slices in brine for 2 minutes. Ladle spiced apple slices into sterilized canning jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Remove air bubbles by running a butter knife or a canning tool along the inside of each jar. Wipe the tops of the jars clean with a damp cloth, and top with lids and rims.

Step 5) Process quart jars in a boiling water canning bath for 15 minutes (pints only need 10 minutes). Do not open sealed jars for at least two weeks, to allow the flavors to blend. Enjoy your spiced apples!

Derrick’s Orange Hazelnut Biscotti


See recipe below!

“‘I know I’m not family, but Madeleine is my best friend. I love her like a sister. I flew halfway around the world, overnight, when she called. When I say she won’t be alone, I mean that. I will do anything and everything I can to help her adjust. I promise you that…’ Derrick set out a plate of his signature homemade orange hazelnut biscotti and poured Madeleine a scant half glass of wine. She breathed in the heady aroma and tasted the tiniest sip, intent on making her two ounce pour last as long as possible.”

How to Bake a Chocolate Souffle Blue Cover~Excerpt from Carly Ellen Kramer’s food fiction novel, How to Bake a Chocolate Soufflé

Available at in paperback and Kindle format.

Author signed copies (no extra charge) are also available right here at Crowded Earth Kitchen!

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Cream together 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup sugar, 3 egg yolks, and 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest. Add 3 cups flour, 1/2 cup finely ground hazelnuts, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Mix well.

Shape dough into two rectangles, approximately 9×4 inches. Bake on a parchment lined pan in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly.

Cut rectangles on a slight diagonal into 1/2 inch slices. Place slices cut side down on a parchment lined pan and return to the 350 degree oven for another 15 minutes.

After biscotti have cooled, drizzle with an icing made from 1 cup powdered sugar and 2-3 tablespoons orange juice. Garnish with coarsely chopped hazelnuts.

Mom’s Poblano and Cilantro Rice


WIN_20150921_140829Every summer I grow poblano peppers, many of which find their way to my mother’s house. She works some sort of kitchen magic on those peppers, and they turn into all sorts of wonderful things (some day I’ll get her recipe for Poblano Pepper Lasagna on Crowded Earth Kitchen, but that’s a recipe for another day…)! One such wonderful thing is this Poblano and Cilantro Rice.

I’m not actually sure if this is her original recipe or if she found it elsewhere. – if it’s not, I’ll post an update with an original source for you. Either way, it’s delicious!

Ingredients (Makes about 4 cups)

3 teaspoons oil, divided

l/2 cup chopped onions

2 poblano peppers

2 teaspoons chopped garlic

1 teaspoon cumin

l/2 teaspoon salt

l/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

l/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

l 3/4 cup chicken broth (or use vegetable broth for a vegan option)

1 cup uncooked rice


Step 1) Roast poblano peppers by either a) broiling for 2 minutes per side or b) holding with tongs over a gas stove burner for 1 minute per side. The peel will bubble and blacken – this is what you want to happen. Place the peppers in a plastic bag for 5 minutes. Peel off the skin (this will be easy) and remove stems and seeds. Chop peppers in large pieces.

[Side note: My mom peels the peppers, which is truly what most people recommend. I roast the peppers but do not remove the blistered peel. I like the little charred flecks in my dishes… and I’m lazy!]

Step 2) Heat 2 teaspoons oil in skillet over medium high heat.  Cook onions and poblanos for 3 minutes.  Add garlic, cumin, salt, cilantro and parsley.  Cook just a few seconds to combine.  Remove from heat and puree with l/2 cup of the chicken broth until smooth.

Step 3) Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in the same pan over medium heat.  Add the raw rice, and cook 2 minutes.  Add the puree mixture and cook for a minute or two.  Add the remaining chicken broth, stir and cover pan.  Reduce heat to medium low, and simmer, without stirring, 10 to 15 minutes til rice is tender.

Step 4) Fluff with a fork and serve.  Garnish with additional cilantro.