Apple Desserts

Fall is right around the corner and for many of us that comes with visits to local apple orchards. Of course the apples are delicious to eat on their own but there also many different types of apple dessert recipes to tempt us. Here are some differences among some of the various apple desserts:

Apple Brown Betty: baked apples with spiced bread crumbs layered between the fruit

Apple Buckle: moist cake topped with apples and a streusel topping

Apple Cobbler: less fussy than pie;  pie dough, biscuit dough, or cookie dough is spooned/dolloped on the top rather than being chilled and rolled out

Apple Crumble: baked chopped apples with a crisp streusel topping that does not contain oats

Apple Crisp: apple mixture with a topping that includes oats and brown sugar

Apple Pandowdy: this apple dessert is “dowdied” up when dough is cut or broken into pieces and pressed into the bubbling juices

I love Summer but am looking forward to Fall and visiting some local apple orchards. Whether I eat the apples as a snack or incorporate them into a dessert I know they will be delicious.

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Scrambled Eggs in the Oven

We had weekend guests recently and I was looking for some easy, time-saving recipes for brunch that would allow me to enjoy my company rather than standing in the kitchen cooking. When I was sharing what I did with my co-workers one of them suggested this would also be a great dish to prepare while children are getting ready for school in the morning to give them something substantial for their tummies.

I wanted to serve scrambled eggs and decided to try making them in the oven. I was very impressed with the outcome! The process was very simple and very similar to making scrambled eggs on the stovetop. For mine I melted butter in my baking dish before adding the egg/milk mixture I had whisked together. I started with one dozen eggs in a square baking dish but you could easily do two dozen eggs in a 9×13 pan. The American Egg Board has a good recipe on their website. After the initial 10  minutes in the oven I was skeptical as the mixture was still very runny but they set up nicely after an additional 10 minutes. They were not quite done at that point so I put them back for 5 more minutes and they were perfect.

Scrambled eggs for a group in 25 minutes!

I started with a dozen eggs.
Whisking eggs and milk together
After 10 minutes in the oven
Finished product!
Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Preserving food with children

Do you have children in your life you would like to share your love of food preservation with? My sister and I host a “Camp Iowa” for our granddaughters, who live in Chicago, every Summer. We are always looking for unique and fun hands-on projects to do with them. We enjoy preserving food together every Summer and are looking forward to when they can help us. We have been looking for research-based, tested recipes to use with them and came across a wonderful publication put out by the University of Georgia. The University of Georgia is where the National Center for Home Food Preservation is located. It  is also where testing is done on recipes for home preservation that you can find in “So Easy To Preserve” which this office recommends on a regular basis. I cannot stress enough the importance of using a research-based, tested recipe. If you are unsure about your recipe being a safe tested recipe please call us at AnswerLine and we will be happy to discuss it with you.

The publication we found is titled “Preserve It & Serve It“. It is a children’s guide to canning, freezing, drying, pickling and preparing snacks with preserved foods. It gives directions for preserving foods as well as recipes to use the preserved foods in. For example, you can make and preserve your own applesauce and then use it in Applesauce Cinnamuffins.

The picture I have included is of freezer peach jam. Freezer jams are a good starting point with children. They are pretty simple, there are recipes with and without pectin, and they look beautiful when finished. The jam can be used on toast, sandwiches, or ice cream, and used in a thumbprint cookie.

If you love home food preservation I hope you will share that enthusiasm with a child in your life. It is a lifelong skill and a great bonding experience!

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Sweet Corn

Sweet corn was a little bit late in my area this year but it has been here for a few weeks now and it seems the local stands sell out daily. We receive calls every year at AnswerLine concerning how long to cook sweet corn for “best” flavor. There is discussion every year among we coworkers as we all tend to do what we remember from growing up. Since there are no safety risks involved it is okay to cook the corn as we remember. However, much research has been done on the optimal way to cook sweet corn. Regardless of which way you decide to cook your sweet corn you will want to always start with the freshest corn possible and cook it as quickly after getting it as you can. Very soon after picking corn starts to convert the sugar in its kernels to starch. It also starts to lose some of its aroma and nutrients.

It is important to not overcook corn. The ears should be cooked only until the milk in the kernel is set. A very common way to cook sweet corn is to drop it into enough boiling water to cover and boil covered for @5 minutes. Penn State posted an article a while back that was interesting to me. One of their vegetable experts recommended after bringing fresh water to a boil to add 3 tablespoons sugar and a teaspoon of skim milk to the water. The reasoning was that the sugar helped the corn retain its own sugars rather than letting them be leached into the water and the skim milk enhanced the color of the corn. They recommended 7 minutes of boiling and also recommended never adding salt to the cooking water as that would toughen the kernels.

Many people like the convenience of microwaving sweet corn. One way to do that is to remove the outer husk, wash a single ear in cold water and wrap it in a paper towel dipped in cold water. Microwave each ear for 2-3 minutes on High. Another way is to remove the husks and silks, brush the ear with butter, seal in waxed paper and place in the microwave allowing at least 1 inch between ears. Microwave on High approximately 2 minutes per ear. Don’t do more than 4 ears at a time.

We have already enjoyed sweet corn at our house this season although I have not tried adding the extra sugar and little bit of skim milk to the cooking water. I’m planning to try that the next time!

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Freezing Peaches

Peaches are in season! If you like peaches you probably have a favorite source – Colorado, Georgia, Missouri, etc. Missouri peaches are my favorite and they are plentiful right now. I enjoy freezing peaches to be able to use them in the middle of Winter. Somehow having those peaches on my cereal or on angelfood cake makes the Winter day seem much more tolerable.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation has detailed instructions on freezing peaches in a syrup pack or sugar pack along with freezing crushed or pureed peaches.

I have a favorite recipe for freezing peaches that I received from a friend many years ago and have been using it ever since. I am sharing it for anyone that is interested. For one lug of peaches you will need 2 cans of frozen orange juice, 4 cans of water, and 8 cups of sugar. Mix together the orange juice, water and sugar in a large bowl. Dip the peaches one at a time in boiling water for 30 seconds then plunge into cold water to make peeling much easier. Peel the peaches and slice into the orange juice solution. Fill your containers leaving ample head space for expansion during freezing.

If I could just freeze a whole peach as is for later enjoyment I would but since I cannot this is one way I can enjoy the delicious peach flavor all year long!

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Canning in half gallon containers

Canning season is upon us and we receive many calls each year about canning safely. I don’t very often run across half gallon jars but I happened to just this last weekend. Although it is possible to can something in smaller jars using the same amount of time as the next size larger jar it is not true in reverse. There are no formulas for extending the processing time for a larger jar.

The only processes that USDA, National Center for Home Food Preservation, and University of Georgia have to recommend for half gallon jars are for very acidic fruit juices. Those would be apple juice and grape juice and ONLY the juice is allowed. There are no research-tested boiling water processes for other foods for jars larger than those published with recipes.

I am including the recipes for apple juice and grape juice in case you are interested in canning those. Please remember those are the ONLY two things that can be safely canned in half gallon jars. There are no tested recipes for other juices.

Please call AnswerLine if you have any questions about canning safely!

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Buttermilk Substitutions

We had a caller last week requesting a substitute for buttermilk. She was getting ready to bake muffins and because the recipe called for so little buttermilk and she didn’t have any on hand was wondering what she could use in place of it.

We get quite a number of callers asking about substitutions. We have several good resources available with suggestions so please call or e-mail us if you ever have a question about what to substitute for an ingredient you do not have on hand at home.

Today I’m going to focus on buttermilk since that was my most recent question. Nothing can match the pure taste of buttermilk exactly. It adds a tangy flavor and increases the leavening power when interacting with baking soda. “Clabbered” milk is the most widely used substitute for buttermilk. “Clabbered” means soured and thickened. The most common way to clabber milk is to add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to one cup of milk. The lemon juice acidifies the milk allowing the leavening in the batter to do its job. If you don’t have lemon juice on hand, many people substitute vinegar which accomplishes the same thing. You would use 1 tablespoon of vinegar to one cup of milk.

Some people do not like the hint of lemon that is in products with that substitute used. If that is you, you may want to experiment with cream of tartar or watered-down sour cream or yogurt. When using cream of tartar, whisk 1 and 1/2 to 1 and 3/4 teaspoon into your dry ingredients. If you add the cream of tartar directly to the milk it will clump.

When using watered-down sour cream, use equal parts sour cream and water. If using regular plain, unsweetened yogurt use approximately 1/4 cup liquid to 1 and 3/4 cup yogurt to make two cups. If using Greek yogurt mix one small container with 1 and 1/3 cups skim or 1% milk to make 2 cups of substitute for buttermilk.

If your baked goods recipe does not call for much buttermilk any of these substitutions will work. If you are making something like salad dressing and buttermilk is the main ingredient you will want to make sure you use actual buttermilk. If you do buy buttermilk and only use a small amount of it you can successfully freeze it. After thawing in the refrigerator it may have separated a little bit but just give it a stir and it will be fine to use.

We don’t always get responses after we give out information from our office but in the case of this caller she did let us know that she used a substitute and thought the flavor was not affected but the batter seemed a little thinner which caused the finished product to be a little flatter and that made them more difficult to remove from the pan. She will make a note on the recipe that buttermilk is preferred.

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Freezing strawberries

This is the last week for picking strawberries at the farm I go to. I am always sad to see the season end. The berries are consistently delicious! The ones I buy in the store the rest of the year never measure up. I do make sure I freeze a certain amount to have on hand during the Winter as I enjoy the flavor in smoothies and desserts.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends using a sugar syrup or sugar pack when freezing strawberries. This process works very well and helps preserve the color and texture of the berries. It is however a quality issue, not a safety issue.

Many people prefer not to have the added sugar. This also gives you more options when you are ready to use them later in the year. For my purposes I prefer the dry pack method. It is easy right now to spread my berries out in a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet and let them freeze individually overnight then transfer them to my freezer bags/containers. By letting them freeze individually first it is easy to just remove the amount I need without any of them sticking together in a glob.

I will enjoy the fresh strawberries of the season as long as I can and also make sure I freeze some to enjoy later.

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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