Cinnamon Sugar Apple Peels

Since I have been spending my life in the kitchen surrounded by apples lately. I have been feeling really guilty about how many apple peels are going in the trash. I was throwing them out in the back yard for the birds to eat, but apparently I have stupid birds and they are refusing to eat them so now I have approximately 30 apple cores and peels in my back yard that Pixie keeps trying to play with and it is just weird. Like some apple grave yard or something.

So I started looking on pinterest for things to do with apple peels, I mean surely some crazy lady has a recipe or a craft or something that will keep these things out of the garbage right?

Well lo and behold I found this.

So I saved all of my apple peels from the next batch going into the dehydrator and laid them out carefully on my foil lined cookie sheet. I sprinkled them with cinnamon and sugar. Then I scrunched them all into a bowl and added more cinnamon and sugar because it really didn’t look like enough to begin with. I tossed them around a little bit and then put them back on the cookie sheet. I put them in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

They were not too impressive at first. They were soggy and weird. So I left them on top of the stove and went to watch tv for a while. I wasn’t about to get worked up about something that would have been in the trash anyway.

When I came back a few hours later and went to throw them in the trash, I picked up an apple peel and popped it in my mouth.

Holy. Shit.

It was good.

Like really really good!

Even after all the apple schnitz that I had already slammed down my throat that day I started slamming down apple peels too! They are sort of caramelized from the sugar and the heat and crunchy like a chip.

Well big shock. I ate them all.

So tonight I saved all my skins again and tried the same recipe as the first time.

No luck. They stayed soggy regardless, and the ones on the edge got burned pretty bad. I will continue trying, its not like I am really losing out on anything, I really hope I can get a few more good batches because they are so easy and otherwise the peels just end up in the trash or in the apple graveyard. They deserve better.

Citrus Salts

Always on the look out for something extra to add to my gifts during the holidays and throughout the year, I spend a ton of time on Pinterest in the DIY tab. I love finding cute and easy gifts to make, bonus if they are edible.

This week I found Citrus salts. The original post is here.

The original post calls for equal parts citrus zest and coarse salt.

I would not recommend that at all. I used a whole container of coarse kosher sea salt, about 6 or 8 cups, and only used the zest from 6 lemons. It isn’t completely dry yet, so I may add some more zest if I need but total that would be about 1 cup of zest for 8 cups of salt. It would be waayy too lemony if you used equal parts.

So easy. Put the salt in a container, zest the lemons into the container. Put a lid on the container or use a spoon and mix it all together until it is evenly mixed.

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Zesty lemons!

Let it air dry and then store in a cool dry place.

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I ordered little tubes to put mine in so I can put them in my christmas gifts this year.

I also, obviously, made enough so I can keep some for myself. I am already thinking garnishes on cocktails, and seasoning soups and yummy dishes. The possibilities are endless! I would also love to try grapefruit or lime salt too.

Stepford and the Apple Schnitz

It has been quite a month here in the Stepford house.

With the holidays approaching- Halloween, Little Darling’s birthday, Christmas, New Years- I have been trying to stay on top of all the extras I know will be coming so I won’t feel so overwhelmed closer to the actual dates.

I managed to get our costumes figured out months ago- Little Darling will be Minnie Mouse, a costume handed down to us from a friend. I will be a scarecrow because I already own plaid, cowboy boots, and can easily draw a scarecrow face on myself. Wonderful Husband was supposed to be away for Halloween but now he may be home, so he has been put in charge of his own costume.. something tells me he will be appearing as one of the following: a dad, a husband, a bored person. Possibly a cowboy if I can make him put his cowboy boots on and wear a hat. He isn’t what we will call “holiday friendly”, also known as: The Grinch of every season.

I have been working on all of our Christmas gifts, all of which are homemade presents put into gift baskets. While some people are like *scoff* a homemade gift is a cop out because they didn’t have to actually think about it, they just made the same thing for everybody. No- Listen- it is the thought that counts. And you can be DAMN sure that I thought of every single persons name that is getting gifts from me while I was cursing over my grape jelly that didn’t set up and has to be completely redone. Along with jelly, there was a candle making night, several bread days, a popcorn night still to come, and countless hours in the kitchen making sure everything is pretty enough to go out and tastes good enough to be attached to my name. It is a labor of love and I really truly enjoy dropping off these baskets at Christmas time. It may not be expensive or come from a department store, but its the best of me and I give it gladly.

Everything has been going great! I am excited to have Christmas almost all taken care of so I can focus on family and food for the holiday, and with Wonderful Husband away it wasn’t much of a chore to spend extra time in the kitchen after Little Darling went to bed.

Then came the apples.

Last weekend my Mother in Law was planning to come down so we could go find her a Halloween costume, My FIL asked if I wanted her to bring down some apples. I say sure. Why? Because we don’t say no to free food in the Stepford house. My MIL showed up with a milk crate full of apples and a dehydrator.

I was a slightly nervous, but I had already committed. Since I wasn’t sure what else to do with apples besides eat them fresh, I decided to try out the apple schnitz my SIL has been raving about since the day I met her. Anytime anyone mentions apples she is all over it- gonna make apple schnitz? Is there gonna be schnitz? Send me some if you make some!- being that I am not from their part of the state, I had no idea what schnitz was.

Hint: its dried apples

Of course, I looked on pinterest to find a good recipe.

I found this one.

I have an apple peeler, also a gift from the in-laws, so it was short work peeling my apple and getting it ready for my mandolin. Then it was total hell slicing that sucker on the mandolin. the core and seeds were mangling my little friend. The blade is now bent and I am disheartened. I wasn’t real sure what to do with the apples after that so I just put them in the dehydrator and left them for a few hours.

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Ta da! Pretty apples. Not really worth the effort though so I decided in the future I would peel them, slice them with my handy apple slicer, and then just put the slices in the dehydrator. Not as pretty, but way easier on everyone involved. Any by everyone, I mean me.

Everything went pretty well with my first round of unpretty apples. Sliced and diced. Sprinkled with some lime juice and some cinnamon. 10 hours later and I had some really nice unpretty apples. I figured since I had a butt load of apples I would make a bunch of these apple chips and stick them in my gift baskets for christmas. A win-win! Then I made the mistake of tasting one. I mean, its an apple chip, how good could it be? Let me tell you how good it can be. There are almost none left. Almost every apple chip that has come out of the dehydrator has gone into my mouth. I am unstoppable.

I texted my in-laws today asking if there is Appleholics anonymous because if so, I need it.

Tonight I started my fourth batch of apples.

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I swear, these ones will get bagged and put away for Christmas. They are just so delicious and festive. Not to mention free.

I texted my FIL and asked if I could have more apples because I have eaten all the apple schnitz I have made. FIL replied that you are supposed to eat the fresh apples now and save the dried ones for the long cold winter. Well- Note to everyone out there- never put me in charge of food storage for winter, we will all be dead by November.

While it is tedious work, it really isn’t that bad. The peeler is exceptionally fun to use, and it doesn’t take incredibly long to load up the dehydrator. And look at how self sufficient we are being!

So, go buy yourself a dehydrator and find an apple tree. I would offer to do it for you, but I am not to be trusted when it comes to the apple schnitz. You probably won’t be either once you try them.

Stress and the Spaghetti Squash

I have probably said the phrase “why is this wet?” about seven thousand times today.

Little Darling has been sick again, I really thought we had this cold kicked but it is coming back. No fever or anything thankfully, But my entire life is covered in baby snot. Baby snot on the blankets. Baby snot on my pants. Baby snot in my mouth when she is covering me in the new found act of kisses. Baby snot on the couch and on the carpet and on every single toy we own.

Add in the sippy cups and bottles that are spilled countless times every day, my life is looking pretty crusty and sticky currently.

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Since she isn’t feeling well, she isn’t sleeping through the night. Which means I am not sleeping through the night. Lots of 4am wake up calls for tylenol and rocking chair sits. While this normally doesn’t affect me, for some reason I am really feeling it this week.

There have been countless snooze button hits, several skipped loads on laundry, and even a few pj days. Wonderful Husband has been away, which is sometimes a relief because I don’t have to worry about making dinner or packing lunches, but can be an extra stressor because sometimes I need a snuggle and some adult conversation after LD heads off to bed.

Being that I haven’t spent much time doing much of anything, there aren’t many new recipes to talk about. But then I remembered that I never posted about my spaghetti squash!!

Surprise! A new vegetable ended up in my cart at Aldi the other day! A spaghetti squash. Which I have never eaten or even seen in real life only on pinterest. But I was super excited to try it!

To roast it up was super simple. The hardest part was cutting the squash in half. That sucker was rock hard! When I finally got in halved, I scooped out the guts, I salted it and popped it into a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes- I would probably leave it in for an hour next time. Then I let it cool off until I could handle it without burning my fingers off. Once it was manageable, I just took a fork and started forking the insides out. It comes out right like spaghetti, crazy cool.

I just put it on a plate with some homemade meatballs and marina sauce. It was super good! It really did taste like spaghetti, Wonderful Husband said it was yummy and even took leftovers to work the next day. It was pretty filling, and I will definitely be experimenting more with this squash in the future. I am also going to save some seeds from the next one I buy so I can plant some in my garden next year. Yay Homesteading!

This really comes in well on the health-o-meter too. Spaghetti squash is about 40 calories per cup compared to about 200 calories per cup for real pasta. So you can have the comfort food (and lots of it) without any of the guilt. In the future I would love to try out a pesto or even an alfredo with a spaghetti squash and see how a cream sauce does with it.

Until then, I will be drowning in baby snot and apple juice while counting my blessings and spending nap time snoozing on the couch.

Tech Savvy Stepford

I would not call myself a technologically savvy person really. I can’t work my phone, or my lap top, or my tv…or really anything that has buttons. Sometimes even blouses cause me problems.

But here I am, beginning this adventure to try and make my blog into a “real” blog. Since I have stuck with it for a few months, I decided to buy my domain name. You may notice that I am now showing up as thestepfordhomestead.com instead of .wordpress.com. I finally forked over the cash to have a real blog name so I can start to generate a little more guest traffic and hopefully turn this blog into something that can start bringing in some extra cash.

I really enjoy writing and I would love to start contributing to the household income, even if it just some fun money for Little Darling or an extra tank of gas. Nothing about this is simple, I just spent an hour dicking around with a website trying to learn how to embed codes in my blog that link to advertising. So, my apologies if there are random links all over the place for the next few weeks.

Please, help a sister out though, and click on any links you see. I promise they do not link to any type of virus or russian or spam. They will probably link to a useful site you will find interesting, and if they don’t, I will still get paid for it! Yay!

At least that is how it is supposed to work, I won’t know unless you start clicking though!!

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I am not really sure why the companies pay for it, other than it is more exposure and they are getting more guest traffic. Everybody is fighting for their own little piece of the internet.

I am also looking into reviewing products on my blog. You contact a company, they send you a thing, you use the thing, you write about the thing, you get paid from the company. That sounds like so much fun!! I hope I can find a reliable site to use so I can review some awesome products that we all can get a use out of.

So This is my fun, test, test, test, test blog to see how this embedding thing works. Feel free to let me know what it looks like on your end!!

I can’t win

I swear some days I can’t win for losing. Nothing goes right and no matter how hard I try I just break everything I touch. It probably comes as no shock to most women that this normally happens close to my cycle. It’s like my body can’t handle the extra hormones so it just funnels together and makes me clumsy and stupid.

Last week Little Darling and I were both really sick with some weird cold/flu bug. Fevers and coughing and snot and stuffy noses. It was awful and ultimately led to a disgusting house, a lack of laundry, and a general sense or disorder. I did five loads of laundry yesterday to catch up, all the sheets and blankets and dirty clothes. It was insane. I still had to wash and switch out a bunch of Little Darlings new winter clothes that were given to us by a friend, so that happened. I had to run the dishwasher twice to catch up on dishes and that didn’t even include last nights dinner dishes. It was a rough, rough week.

Today we had to go grocery shopping to replenish the empty fridge and cabinets and get ourselves back on track with healthy food. Little Darling had a hot mess melt down in the middle of Aldi with screaming and crying and flailing so hard she lost a shoe. Then in Walmart I tried to buy a new pair of skinny jeans and ended up having to buy a size 11- I have NEVER been in double digit pant sizes before- so that led to depression and guilt and promises that I was never eating again and I was a fatty-mcfat-fat, a disgusting cow, ugh. I don’t care that all pant sizes are different, and I don’t care that my size 7 jeans at home fit just fine. I care that I was a size 2 before I had the baby, and while I know I will probably never be a size 2 again, I can’t stand being this big.

I was feeling so guilty when I got home that I decided to make fat flush cabbage soup for dinner. Basically cabbage and tomatoes and a few other veggies in chicken broth. I added some cayenne pepper and lime juice to punch it up a little bit.

Really, in the back of my mind, I knew, that anything with “fat flush” in its name should just be called “toilet flush”. And I don’t really know why it didn’t dawn on me while I was making this soup that I was probably going to regret it quickly. But, nonetheless, I made a huge pot. Wonderful Husband informed me he wouldn’t be eating it and instead asked to go to the bar with some friends. I said fine, I had big plans of working on the remodel tonight anyways.

Within about twenty minutes of eating the soup I was regretting it. I will spare you the gory details and lets just say that I will probably lose some weight from eating this giant pot of soup over the next few days. So that’s a silver lining.

With the fat flushing out of the way, I geared up to paint the newly installed crown moulding in the bathroom. It’s a long story, but we ended up using moulding instead of finishing the corners where the walls meet the ceiling so now the ceiling needed painted to up to the moulding and the moulding needed painted to match the ceiling. I crawled up in the attic and got the paint and a paintbrush and went to work opening the can.

Wonderful husband had already given me the lecture about not getting paint all over the brush and how to clean it properly etc. He is still steamed that last week while I was trying to clear coat the trim for Little Darlings door I ruined a $20 brush. My bad. He was currently downstairs getting ready to head out to meet his friends. I first used a screwdriver and jabbed at the edge of the can. I have painted many rooms and have opened many cans of paint. However, this can would not budge. I got a bigger screw driver and tried again. No luck. I dug through Wonderful Husbands tool box and got what appeared to be a small file and started pushing it under the lip of the can. The file glanced off the edge, skimmed across the top, and lodged in my hand. Legitimately, the file was stuck in the webbing between my thumb and pointer finger. I stared it for several seconds while curse words formed in my head. Too shocked to even make a noise, I slowly pulled the file out of my hand and held it up to look at the damage. Blood started seeping out of the perfect slice across my skin. Shit.

I wandered around the room for a second, sort of dazed and confused and not really sure how to proceed. I finally headed down the steps to the kitchen so I could rinse it off. Halfway down I heard Wonderful Husband in the dining room- What did you do now?

Not wanting to seem stupid, I said I couldn’t get the paint can opened and I accidentally cut myself. He asked what I was using to open the can and I replied that I was using the little file from the tool box.

I washed my hand off and got a paper towel and he followed me back upstairs to open the can for me. While I was in the bathroom getting a band aid I hear him sigh resignedly and say “By -little file- do you mean the wood chipper?” .. I dunno.. isn’t a wood chipper the thing they put bodies in in Fargo? I sure as hell know not to put a can of paint in a wood chipper. Come on.. I’m not that stupid.

I exited the bathroom to see Wonderful Husband holding my small file and I said yea that! He looked at me… “And again.. Dearrr.. This is an expensive tool and you are using to try and open a can of paint! This is a wood chipper, it is made to chip wood. Ya know, like to cut it. See this?? (points to end of file that sliced my hand) This is a blaaaaadddde, it will cut you. And now its all broken from you jamming it in to the paint can”

Well geeez, sue me. I didn’t know it was so fancy and important. Looked like a little file to me. And those are dime a dozen. Maybe he should label his tools. Or maybe I should stop trying to do shit on my own.

He grabbed a screw driver and popped open the can of paint. Gave me one last warning about not messing things up and went on his way to meet his friends.

I got my step stool and proceeded to paint all the crown moulding and the bits of ceiling that needed done and then put the lid back on the can of paint and went to wash out the brush. Needless to say, I got paint all over those bristles. His nonsensical warning about not getting paint past the top inch of brush- HA. What kind of painter can paint like that? Ok, probably most good painters can, but guess what, I’m a house wife, not a painter. So there was paint EVERYWHERE. I couldn’t get it all off and ended up having to text Wonderful Husband for instructions on how to get it clean to the best of my ability.

When I got all done and had the brush properly cleaned and put away, I was gathering up my stuff to head downstairs when I heard a dripping sound. It sounded like it was coming from the new master closet, you know, where we just ran all the brand new plumbing? I panicked. I had to investigate, because GOD FORBID there be a leak in our brand new plumbing and brand new master closet. Never fear! Stepford is here! I will surprise Wonderful Husband by being construction-y (?) and find the leak and fix it and save the day.

I proceeded to walk into the closet and electrocute myself on the newly installed light switch which isn’t screwed into the wall yet. After recovering from the shock of my life- for reals- I crawled all over that closet (with a flashlight of course, I wasn’t about to touch that stupid switch again), Little Darlings room, the kitchen, and even the attic looking for the source of the drip. I finally texted Wonderful Husband that I feared a leak, only to receive a response that it is just the stink pipe dripping down the inside and falling onto the elbow of the pipe. Nothing to be concerned about.

So, if anyone needs me, I will be in hiding until my period is over. It obviously isn’t safe for me to be out among real people while on it. The hormones can’t be trusted.

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Chicken Fried Rice

I was feeling really hungry last night for dinner. Since I spent most of the week sick and living on hot tea and saltine crackers I was craving something good and delicious from dinner. What I really wanted was for Wonderful Husband to stop at the Chinese place on the way home and bring home several orders of deep fried grease general tso’s with pork fried rice and crab rangoon. Instead, I decided to make chicken fried rice.

Healthier, cheaper, and arguably easier.

Here’s what I used:
Coconut Oil3 Chicken Breasts
1 onion
1 spoon of garlic
1 bag frozen peas
1.5 sweet potatoes (diced)
1/2 cup soy sauce
4 cups cooked rice

Here’s what I did:
I put some coconut oil in my largest frying pan, put the three chicken breasts into a medium sized pan, and the rice into the microwave. I sauteed the chicken with a little bit of butter and salt and pepper. I put the garlic, onion, peas, and sweet potatoes into the large frying pan with the oil and sauteed them, covered, until the potatoes were tender.

When the chicken was done, I cut it up into little chunks and added it to the frying pan with the veggies. When the rice was done I added it as well. When everything was all mixed up, I dumped in the soy sauce.

This turned out dramatically well. We both ate two platefuls. I would actually have liked it to have had more soy sauce, but it was really good as it was.

I will definitely make this again, and it is totally customize-able with whatever you have on hand. A much better alternative to wasting half a pay check on take out!