Tasty Tuesday–Spiced Apple Rings

I was very disappointed when I went shopping for our New Year’s dinner and discovered that there are no longer jarred spiced apple rings available in my area. I really, really love spiced apple rings, so I decided to make my own. Most of the recipes I found included large amounts of Cinnamon Imperials, which doesn’t surprise me based on the taste and color of apple rings, but they were almost impossible to find at Christmas, so I had to come up with a recipe that had the right flavors without them. I’m really happy with how it turned out, and they weren’t even that hard to make!

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 3-4 drops red food coloring (optional…it adds that recognizable color)
  • 3 slices lemon
  • 3 large cooking apples (I used Granny Smith because they’re my favorite, but if you prefer a uniform red color, you could certainly use a different kind!)

In a large skillet, heat first nine ingredients to boiling. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer 5 minutes to blend flavors.

While syrup is simmering, core, but don’t peel, apples and slice into 1/4 inch thick rings. Cook half of rings at a time in the syrup. Simmer until tender but firm, 5-10 minutes…you don’t want the apples to get mushy or fall apart. Remove first half of apples rings and cook second half in same syrup (if it gets too thick, add a little extra water).

Discard lemon slices. Place all the apple rings in a wide, shallow dish (I used a pie plate) and pour syrup over. Cover and refrigerate for up to one week.

2022-23 School Year–Week Sixteen

Following our extended Christmas break, we finally got back to work this week! But we started with something fun…a trip to the St. Louis Zoo. It was the perfect January day to visit, because many of the animals were very active!

We also did actual work. Ladybug did a lesson on ratios in algebra 2. She started reading To Kill a Mockingbird. In history, she read about the life of Muhammad and the continuing decline of the Persian Empire. She identified noun clauses in grammar. She wrote a short play in creative writing, using Stitch from Lilo and Stitch for her inspiration. In chemistry, she worked with the concept of stoichiometry, and found that the math wasn’t too intimidating!

Chickadee worked on identifying polygons and drawing circles with a compass in math. She started a chapter about ungulates in science, beginning with her favorite animal, the elephant. All of her grammar this week was review, which was convenient after so much time off! She read about Greek mythology, and also some of the battles of the Greeks, as well as the first marathon, in history. We started reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and we made Turkish Delight!

We hit the halfway mark in both math classes this week, so it’s all downhill from here!

Tasty Tuesday–A Look Back at Festive Feasts and Holiday Baking

The holiday season is officially over, so let’s take a look back at all of the festive feasts and holiday baking we enjoyed, starting with Thanksgiving. I think the turkey turned out especially well this time around!

We had our “pick out dinner” on Christmas Day:

And our “fancy” Christmas dinner two days later. I never want to prepare a beef tenderloin any other way!

On New Year’s Eve, we had our traditional hot chocolate bar, but we made it fancy, with the addition of homemade hot chocolate bombs!

And on New Year’s Day, we had our traditional pork tenderloin, with an untraditional (for us) side of twice-baked potatoes:

On to the baking. Of course there were pies (seven!) for Thanksgiving:

We made five types of German Christmas cookies in Christmas School:

And another ten types of Christmas cookies besides!

There were eight different cakes throughout the season:

And some other various treats including Christmas cracker candy and lussekattes:

This was a fun and delicious season, but now the kitchen is closed!

Tasty Tuesday–Recipes from the World of Tolkien

I’m sure we’re not done with Recipes from the World of Tolkien, but here’s a look at everything we’ve made so far…it’s another really fun cookbook to have around!

  • Turin Turambar Tarragon Chicken
  • Bilbo‘s Seed-Cake
  • Barliman Butternut’s Blackberry Pie
  • Spiced Pear and Cranberry Muffins
  • Lake-Town Beef Pot Roast with Horseradish Dumplings
  • Whole-wheat Molasses Scones with Molasses Butter
  • Elvish White Bread Rolls
  • Lembas Bread
  • Sam’s Coney (but actually chicken) Stew
  • Apple and Blackberry Cake
  • Fish and Chips
  • Bilbo’s Eleventy-First Birthday Cake
  • Beorn’s Warm Baked Cheese
  • Westfarthing Fairings
  • Traveler’s All-in-One Breakfast in a Pan

I’ve really enjoyed trying some new things and learning some new techniques…I’m grateful that cooking has become such a big part of our school!

Hail the New!

“Fast away, the old year passes
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses”

Can you believe it’s already 2023? 2022 (for the most part) just zoomed right by! Here’s a look at how we celebrated New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day this time around.

I like a theme, so we started the day yesterday with hot chocolate rolls:

We spent a lot of the day decorating sugar and gingerbread cookies. Mickey Mouse shapes were very popular this year!

I also (finally!) made eggnog:

We decided that 2022 deserved one more Disney Dinner, so I made one of our favorite recipes from Delicious Disney, Monte Cristo sandwiches:

After Apollo 13, we had our traditional hot chocolate bar, with the addition of hot chocolate bombs that Ladybug and I made!

Another new addition was hot chocolate Chex mix:

My only motivation to stay up until midnight is ringing in the New Year on my Animal Crossing island, and I made it!

New Year’s Day is the perfect excuse to wear something sparkly, am I right?

Of course we started the year with a special dinner, so I set the table with the china again, and this time, I learned a new napkin fold to make things a little fancier!

Pork tenderloin is a fairly traditional New Year’s Day main course here, although I did prepare it differently this time. I also made twice-baked potatoes, roast carrots and parsnips, and for the first time, spiced apple rings, since you apparently can’t buy them in a jar anymore.

It was delicious, and not as much work as Christmas dinner (and way, way less work than Thanksgiving!).

For dessert I made a hot chocolate cake, complete with homemade marshmallow creme (I told you I like a theme!).

So that’s how we said goodbye to 2022 and hello to 2023…and now I’m looking forward to giving the kitchen a bit of a break!

Tasty Tuesday: The Top Five–Food Photos of 2022

It’s time to take a look back at 2022, starting with my favorite food photos of the year (minus desserts and drinks)!

Let’s start in February, with this beautiful quiche I made for the tea party we had to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne:

A lot of my best food photos this year occurred during our “Disney Dinners,” like these Moana’s Motunui Sliders:

Some of my other best food photos came from my adventures in German cooking, like this Bavarian Obatzda with homemade pretzels:

We had a lot of fun with The Nightmare Before Christmas cookbook…I love how colorful this “Snake and Spider Stew” was!

More German cooking…this time, a whole dinner plate featuring homemade schnitzel:

And a bonus picture, because nachos at the ballpark just photograph so well!

I took a lot of food photos this year, so stay tuned for specialized lists focusing on desserts and drinks, too!

Luciamorgon

Happy Santa Lucia Day!

As always, we started the day with lussekattes, served by our little Lucia.

We had stroganoff for dinner again this year. I’m not really sure why, but it makes for a very nice dinner on Santa Lucia Day.

For dessert, I made a cranberry cake with cream cheese frosting. This is the third year in a row I’ve made a cranberry cake for Santa Lucia Day (I really like the way the red fruit against white frosting reflects the colors of the holiday), so I guess it’s a family tradition now. I’ve never made the same cake twice, though!

This was another nice Advent day!

Nikolaustag

Happy Nikolaustag!

We started the day as we start every St. Nick’s Day…with stockings. The children always receive a new ornament, and this year, the ornaments came from our trip to Disney World. I had such a fun time picking them out at Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe the Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square back in June!

We always decorate the tree on December 6th…in addition to our Mickey Ears ornaments (and the final installation of the “12 Days of Christmas”), we also added an ornament made from marble from the steps of the US Capitol that we picked up when we toured the building over the summer:

For dinner, as I did last year, I made Döner Kebab. One more year, and it will be a full-fledged tradition!

For dessert, I stuck with the Disney theme and made Mini Gingerbread Bundt Cakes with Orange-Vanilla Sauce from a recipe on the Disney Parks Blog:

We always have wassail on Nikolaustag, too:

Now I feel like the Christmas season has really begun!

2022-23 School Year–Week Fifteen

This was a weird week of school because it fell between our short Thanksgiving week and the start of Christmas school. We did wrap some things up, and even though we didn’t read The Fellowship of the Ring this week, we did make three new dishes from Recipes from the World of Tolkien: Beorn’s Warm Baked Cheese (brie baked with honey and topped with pecans and dried cranberries), Westfarthing Fairings (light, crispy cookies flavored with lemon and fall spices), and Traveler’s All-in-One Breakfast in a Pan (which we had for breakfast-for-dinner).

Ladybug worked on isolating a variable in an equation full of variables in algebra. In chemistry, she finished the chapter introducing the concept of moles. We also finished reading The Scarlet Letter. We wrapped up adverb clauses in grammar. In history she read about the Persians and the Byzantines.

Chickadee learned how to identify and measure angles in math. She finished the chapter on rodents and other animals (including rabbits, hedgehogs, armadillos, sloths, and anteaters) in science. In history she read about the Medes and Persians (and Cyrus the Great), as well as Athens and Sparta. She also enjoyed reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever for the first time!

Up next: two weeks of Christmas school featuring crafts, cookies, and stories related to Christmas in Germany/German-speaking countries!

2022-23 School Year–Week Thirteen

This was a busy and fun (not to mention short!) school week! We had one day that was a field trip day (Tuesday) and one day off (today, for Veteran’s Day). But first…cooking! Ladybug helped me make another three recipes from Recipes from the World of Tolkien…Lembas Bread (spicy cornbread), Sam’s Coney Stew (but actually chicken thighs according to the suggested substitution in the cookbook), and apple and blackberry cake:

Chickadee also did some baking with me this week…we made “Canterlot Cornbread” from the My Little Pony Baking Book. It was some of the best cornbread I’ve ever had!

Our previously mentioned field trip was to Creve Coeur Park for our annual walk on the four-mile loop around the lake. We timed it so Turkey, Bunny, and Moose could come with us, and he had a great time!

We did get some school work done, too. In algebra 2, Ladybug learned how to identify discriminants. In chemistry, she learned about decomposition, formation, and combustion reactions, and did an experiment to break down water into its constituent parts using an electrolysis machine. She read about dynasties in Japan and China in history. She has almost finished the second part of The Scarlett Letter. She tried her hand at crime and horror writing in creative writing.

Chickadee had mostly a review week in math, covering many of the topics she’s worked with so far this year. In science, she learned about chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas. She learned about early Greece and the Mycenaeans in history. We continued to read through Centerburg Tales. And we got to tag along with Bunny on a visit to the St. Louis Art Museum today!

Next week we have a full week of school, with some Thanksgiving fun thrown in, and then it will be Thanksgiving Week already!