You know what else makes me giddy? Running! I'm so excited about this weekend. It's the Run, Ladies, Run! Half Marathon in Friday Harbor. I am heading up to Anacortes to catch a ferry for San Juan Island early Saturday morning with a group of gals for a fun, kid-free escape, and of course a fabulous run on Sunday. Saturday morning can't get here soon enough!
In the meantime, I have a lot to accomplish in the next 24 hours. Monday is my baby's 2nd birthday! Her doctor gave us the green light to have a playdate party outside, which is totally awesome. We've been sort of in seclusion here at home to avoid germs before her surgery on Tuesday. But, Dr says if we're outside, it should be fine. Woohoo! So, I made a batch of vanilla cupcakes this afternoon to pop in the freezer and have ready for Monday. Also, since I won't be around this weekend, I will need to stock up on soft, easy-to-eat foods like coconut yogurt, jello, and sorbet tomorrow. Since my other daughter will be staying with my mom so that we can keep our attention just on Emma, I'll need to make sure she has some allergen-free snacks and treats packed, as well as clothes, etc. Clothes....that reminds me, I need to do laundry. Oh, I should probably pack my own clothes, too. What the heck am I doing on here right now?!
Well, anyway, since I brought up freezing the cupcakes, I wanted to mention again just how easy it is to freeze foods. Anytime you make cupcakes, muffins, cookies, bars....make extra. And freeze them! I buy freezer bags in bulk at Costco and go through them like there's no tomorrow. I know, I should really use reusable freezer containers, but bags are just so much easier at this stage in life. I'll get there someday. I promise.
One of the most frequently used ingredients in my kitchen is applesauce. I use it a lot in my baking. Every person under this roof loves to snack on it, as well. And let me tell you, Tree Top's got nothing on me. My applesauce is the bomb. Why? Because it's pure and simple. It's applesauce. Not sugar sauce. Not cinnamon sauce. Not water sauce. Applesauce. Sometimes with a splash of vanilla. Sometimes a hint of agave. But mostly just good old organic (it IS after all on the dirty dozen list) apples. My applesauce is so smooth and sweet, my kids won't even touch the store bought stuff.
Here's what you do:
Peel, core and slice a bunch of apples. I buy organic Fuji apples at Costco because they're cheap. Using a variety will boost flavor. Experiment with what you like, and report back to tell me what I should be doing differently!
Dump them in your crockpot.
Pour some water on top (the amount depends on how saucey you want....play around with this, but start with a little, you can always add more)
Add a teaspoon or so of vanilla. Or more. A dash of cinnamon is acceptable, too.
If you must sweeten, use a splash of honey or agave. Not too much, though, you'd be amazed at how tasty unsweetened applesauce can be.
Set your crockpot on low for 8 hours. Let your house fill with the sweet smell of amazing applesauce.
Take a potato masher or a whisk and stir/break up any chunks that are left. Unless you want them, some people like their sauce chunky!
If you want to freeze your applesauce, pull out an ice cube tray (or make a mad dash for the store if you're like me and use only your automatic ice cube maker from the freezer). Fill each cube with sauce and plunk it in the freezer overnight. Pop out the frozen applesauce cubes and throw them in a freezer bag (there I go again with the bags!).
Done. Now you have applesauce at your disposal for all sorts of baking and snacking needs.
Bet you'll never guess how I prepared and stored all my prepared baby food. ;)