Divine Taste: Seviyan Kheer (Indian Vermicelli Pudding)

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Sukhkarta Dukhharta Varta Vighnachi ||
Oh Lord who provides Joy, takes away Sadness and removes all “vighnas” (obstacles) in life

Nurvi Purvi Prem Krupa Jayachi ||
Who spreads love everywhere as his blessing …

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The festive season has kicked off in India with Ganesh Chaturthi today, celebrating the arrival of the beloved elephant-headed God Ganesha or Ganpati. Prayers are being held, songs are being sung, modaks are being consumed by the truckloads ;)

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Ganesha is one of the most important Gods in the Hindu echelon and in Mumbai it is a festival that also brings people together and once upon a time had an important part to play in India’s freedom struggle. You can read all about it in my last year’s post, when I made modaks for Ganesha’s sweet tooth :)

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Many of my blogger buddies have been posting a plethora of dishes to celebrate this joyous festival, but I have been so, so busy at work, that I have simply not been able to make anything elaborate.

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I came home from work today, lit a diya (lamp) in front of my little Ganesha idol and the munchkin and I prayed. She also wished Ganesha a happy birthday <3 

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It was then that I decided to make something quick yet delicious as an offering to Ganesha. A really easy and quick vermicelli and milk pudding called Seviyan Kheer, which used to be one of my favorite desserts as a kid. 

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Vermicelli (seviyan), pan-fried in ghee till golden and then cooked in sweetened milk with nuts and raisins…rich, warming, cardamom and ghee-scented goodness…

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Doesn’t it look like a complicated dessert? It took me 20 minutes to make it! Isn’t that perfect :)

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I am bringing along this divine deliciousness to Angie’s Friday Fiesta and I hope the party-goers will join me in the celebrations :)

Ganpati Bappa Morya !!

Here’s the recipe.

Seviyan Kheer (Indian-style Vermicelli Pudding

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Print

Ingredients:

1 cup broken Vermicelli (Seviyan)
500 ml milk
2 tablespoons Sugar (or as per taste)
2 tablespoons Ghee (Clarified Butter)
2-3 Green Cardamom pods
7-8 roasted or fried unsalted Almonds, chopped
7-8 roasted or fried Cashew nuts, chopped
2 teaspoons Raisins

Directions:

Heat the ghee in a pan.
Now add the vermicelli and fry till they become golden brown.
Pour the milk into the pan, mix and let it come to a boil.
Add sugar and mix well.
Lower the flame and let the milk simmer for 5-7 minutes till the vermicelli gets cooked. Crush the seeds from the cardamom pods and add it to the pan.
Lastly add chopped almonds, cashewnuts, raisins or any dry fruits.
Serve the seviyan kheer warm or cold.

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It’s a Wrap: Kolkata Egg Roll, My Way

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This one has been sitting in my albums for some time; a quick lunch I made on a hot summer day, about a month ago. You know, before it got all dark and gloomy…

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Kolkata Egg Roll is a very popular street food from (where else!) Kolkata, the capital of the east Indian state of West Bengal. Bengalis pride themselves on their wonderful cuisine and the street food in Kolkata is no exception.

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This egg roll is a favorite among college students and office-goers as a grab-n-go snack, as it is so portable, yet so filling and of course scrumptuous :D

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The egg roll is usually made by cooking eggs on a skillet and throwing a flaky paratha on top of the half-cooked egg and rolling it up along with  some chopped veggies and a squirt of ketchup.

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I wanted to make something on the lines of the Kolkata egg roll, but make it more healthy and substantial enough for a light lunch for me and the munchkin.

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So instead of paratha, I used corn tortillas that I had on hand. And I added salad leaves, sliced radishes, tomatoes, cilantro, red onions and a Raita-style yogurt dressing.

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Don’t they look pretty and refreshing :) They are also lip-smackingly good! Slightly crispy tortilla, fluffy egg and the fresh, tangy salad within! Yum…

Here’s the recipe.

Kolkata Egg Roll

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Print

Ingredients:

2 Large Eggs (1 Egg per Roll)
2 Corn Tortillas/ Flour Tortillas/ Parathas
1/2 teaspoon Red Chilli Powder
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon chopped Cilantro
A large handful of Salad Leaves (Arugula, Baby Spinach, Watercress…)
3 small Radishes, sliced
1 small Tomato, chopped
1 small Red Onion, chopped
2 teaspoons Cooking Oil

For the Raita-style Dressing:
2 tablespoon Yogurt
1/4 teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
A pinch of Turmeric
1/4 teaspoon Salt

Directions:

Warm the tortilla in a skillet and keep aside.
Beat the eggs with salt, red chilli powder and a teaspoon of water till a bit frothy.
Heat 1 teaspoon oil a skillet (large enough to hold the tortilla).
Add half the quantity of the beaten eggs to the skillet, spread and cook over medium heat.
When the eggs look half-cooked, place the tortilla over the eggs. Gently flip the tortilla over, such that the egg is now on top.
Cook on medium heat till the egg layer looks completely cooked.
Remove to a serving plate and top with salad leaves, red onions, tomatoes, radish slices and cilantro.
Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together and drizzle the dressing over the veggies on the tortilla.
Form into a roll, wrap in parchment paper or foil and serve hot.
Repeat to make one more egg roll.

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Free Fall: Easy Apple Crisp

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It feels like someone just flipped a switch here! We have gone from sweltering heat to cold, dark rainy days in the span of a week!

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The leaves are changing color, chrysanthemums have made their colorful entrance and days are getting shorter, so much shorter…

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Summer is suddenly, so suddenly slipping away and autumn is just around the corner.

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While I am mourning the end of summer, I am also loving the fact that it is finally cool enough to turn on my oven :D

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And with my little apple tree full of fruit, cool weather is the perfect opportunity to make a big pan of lovely, buttery, golden apple crisp.

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This is a really easy recipe: the ‘crisp’ layer is made of oatmeal, flour, butter and a bit of sugar, simple, yet absolutely delicious!

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Most crisp recipes call for the apples to be peeled, but since these were apples from my own garden and chemical-free, I thought this would be a great opportunity to get the health benefits from eating apple peel. So, I left the peel on; a lot less work and gorgeous texture and color to boot!

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And the aroma when this glorious creation is bubbling away in the oven… it should be bottled and sold to departmental stores :D Just divine…

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We had this warm, luscious apple crisp by the bowlfuls, topped with Vanilla ice-cream. Does fall get any better? I don’t think so :)

I hope my friends at Friday Fiesta will agree. Margherita is co-hosting with Angie today, so it’s sure to be an elegant affair!

Here’s the recipe.

Easy Apple Crisp

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 1.5 hours
  • Print

Ingredients:

For the ‘Crisp’ Layer:
1⁄2 Cup All-purpose Flour
1⁄4 Cup Turbinado Sugar or Brown Sugar
A pinch of Salt
1⁄2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
6 Tablespoons Cold unsalted Butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup Oatmeal

For the Apple Layer:
6 medium-sized cooking Apples
3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Lemon juice

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 180 C.
In a bowl, combine flour, turbinado sugar, salt, and cinnamon.
Add the butter pieces and break them down into the mixture by using the tips of your fingers and rub to mix well.
Stir in the oatmeal. Place the bowl in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
Peel (optional), core, and cut the apples into small chunks. Toss well with the brown sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice.
Pour this mixture into an 8×8 baking dish, then sprinkle the crumb topping evenly all over the top.
Pop in oven and bake for 1 hour or until golden brown and bubbling.
Serve with dollops of Vanilla ice cream.

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Health Bites: SuperFood Chikki (Indian-style Nut Brittle)

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It’s already a lot cooler here than two weeks ago and I will have to get jackets out soon, in addition to the raincoat I am already using.

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We are finishing off the last of the popsicles and ice-creams in the freezer and sighing about the end of summer :( Well, I am anyway; the husband doesn’t mind. He’s looking forward to the crisp, cold air. Brrr…

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And I think the colors of Autumn are already beginning to show in the food I’ve been cooking lately!

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Like the browns, yellows, dark greens and reds of this super-nutritious treat I made last weekend. Meet SuperFood Chikki :D

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What is Chikki, you ask? It is an Indian version of nut brittle made with Jaggery. The most common variety of chikki is one made with peanuts, but many other varieties abound with mixed nuts, coconut, and spiced versions.

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Traditional chikki is made by making a syrup by melting jaggery (and sugar sometimes), boiling it and then adding the nuts. This mixture is then formed into a slab, cooled and then cut into pieces.

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Now I wanted to take the idea of chikki and raise the health quotient quite a bit. Instead of jaggery or sugar, my sweeteners were date syrup and honey.

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And what went into it to make it so healthy? Well, how about Goji berries, Almonds, Sesame seeds, Sunflower seeds, Pumpkin seeds, Oats, Dried Apricots, Raisins, Coconut flakes…

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Since I did not use any sugar or jaggery, I had to bake these in the oven like you would to make granola bars. These are so delicious, you wouldn’t believe they are also so good for you.

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Crunchy, chewy, nutty, these are extremely versatile and you can add your favorite ingredients in there. They are the perfect pick-me-up when cold weather hits and they will power you up to fight all the ailments that chilly weather brings too :)

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Here’s the recipe.

SuperFood Chikki (Indian-style Nut Brittle)

  • Servings: Approx 35 pieces
  • Time: 1 hour plus cooling time
  • Print

Ingredients:

2 cups Oatmeal
1/2 cup Almonds, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup Pumpkin Seeds
1/4 cup Sunflower Seeds
1/4 cup Sesame Seeds
1/4 cup Goji Berries
1/4 cup Raisins
1/4 cup desiccated Coconut, loosely packed
1/4 cup dried Apricots, chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted Butter
1/2 cup Honey
1/4 cup Date Syrup

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 160 C. Butter an 8 by 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.
Mix together the oatmeal, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, goji berries, raisins, coconut and apricots in a large mixing bowl.
Place the butter, honey and date syrup in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
Cook and stir for a minute. Then pour over the ingredients in the large mixing bowl. Mix well.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown.
Cool for 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.

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Tricolor Trio: Three Classic Indian Chutneys

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India, my India, the land of milk & honey…

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The land where snake charmers work side by side engineers developing cutting-edge technology…

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The land where Cricket and Bollywood unite the poor and the rich, the Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians…

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Today India continues its tryst with destiny that started exactly 68 years ago.

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Like Indians all over the world, I have my own traditions when it comes to celebrating my country’s independence day. And one of those traditions is to cook with the colors of the Indian flag.

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But I have been ridiculously busy with work this week and hadn’t been able to give much thought on what to make this year. And yet, I don’t like breaking traditions.

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So here’s what I made as a quick fix today: a trio of very traditional Indian Chutneys. A chutney is a condiment that you use as a dipping sauce or a side with snacks.

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The three chutneys are from different corners of India, to give you an idea of the diversity of Indian cuisine, while also tickling your taste buds.

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Let’s begin with Saffron, the first color in the Indian flag, signifying courage and sacrifice. To capture the color, I made this Red Chilli, Peanut and Garlic Chutney from the state of Maharashtra in Western India. Spicy,nutty and wonderfully textured, this dry chutney is essential for Vada Pav, the Bombay ‘burger’.

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Then comes White, signifying truth, peace and purity. And this mellow, yet wonderfully flavored Coconut Chutney, popular in all South-Indian states captures white beautifully. This chutney is an absolutely essential condiment to be served with idli, dosa, medu vada, uthappams, appams… all south Indian breakfast (and all-time-of-the-day-or-night) classics.

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Last but not the least, we have the color Green, signifying prosperity. And this fresh, herby, spicy Mint and Coriander Chutney is the epitome of ‘Green’. It is used extensively in North India in all the ‘Chaat’ dishes. It makes a fabulous spread for sandwiches. It can also be added to biryanis or curries to add extra depth… a very versatile condiment to have on hand.

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This lovely trio is accompanying me to two fabulous events:

  • Angie’s Friday Fiesta, which is just the right place to put me in the weekend mood :D
  • Shruti’s Independent India event, where you will see a riot of Tricolor Dishes.

Do come and check out both these events. You will meet a wonderful, wacky set of people who are ridiculously creative!

Happy Independence Day to my fellow Indians everywhere :D

Here are the recipes for the Chutney Trio.

Trio of Classic Indian Chutneys

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 15 minutes each
  • Print

The Color Saffron: Dry Red Chilli, Garlic and Peanut Chutney

Ingredients:

8 Garlic Cloves
1/2 cup grated Dry Coconut
1 tablespoon Sesame Seeds
1 tablespoon Roasted Peanuts
4 dry Red Chillies
1 teaspoon Coriander Powder
1/2 teaspoon Tamarind Paste
1 teaspoon Oil
Salt to taste

Directions:

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in skillet or pan and roast garlic cloves over low flame for 1 minute.
Turn off flame and transfer it to a plate
Dry roast grated coconut in same skillet over low flame until light brown. Turn off flame and transfer it to a plate.
Dry roast sesame seeds over low flame until seeds start to pop (approx. 30 seconds) and transfer to plate.
Dry roast red chillies in the same skillet over low flame for about a minute. Turn off flame and transfer it to a plate
Let roasted garlic, roasted coconut, red chillies and sesame seeds cool for 5 minutes.
Add roasted peanuts, sesame seeds, tamarind paste, red chillies, garlic, coriander powder and salt in grinder jar or food processor jar.
Grind until it is a medium coarse powder. Taste for salt and add more if required.
Chutney is ready. Transfer in an airtight container.
You can store it for up to 15 days in refrigerator.

The Color White: South Indian Coconut Chutney

Ingredients:

1 cup grated fresh Coconut
1/2 inch piece Ginger, roughly chopped
1 small clove Garlic, roughly chopped
1 Green Chilli, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon Daaliya (Roasted Pigeon Peas Lentils, available in Indian grocery stores)

Directions:

Add all the ingredients except daaliya into a food processor or grinder jar and grind to a smooth paste, adding just enough water needed to make a paste.
Then add daaliya to the same jar and grind further till all the daaliya is incorporated and the chutney is smooth and creamy.
Serve this chutney with idli, dosa, medu vada, uthappams and appams. This chutney should be consumed fresh.

The Color Green: Coriander Mint Chutney

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh Coriander leaves (cilantro)
1 cup Mint leaves, packed
5-6 of Green Chillies (adjust to your taste)
2 inch piece Ginger
5-6 cloves of Garlic (adjust to your taste)
A squeeze of fresh Lemon or Lime Juice

Directions:

Grind all ingredients together with just enough water and salt to a smooth chutney.
Enjoy green chutney with chaat, pani puri, as a sandwich spread, as a dip for papad, bhajiya, vada and with samosa.
This chutney can also be frozen, if not being used immediately.

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Summer Greens: Hariyali Chicken Tikka

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The weather has been cooling down here this week and it’s been raining a lot. It looks like the end of summer is near :(

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And we realised that we haven’t barbecued since April, when we celebrated the munchkin’s birthday on a lovely sunny day!

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How had we managed to let summer pass us by without a barbecue?? The situation had to be remedied immediately…

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So I put together these really delicious, herb-marinated chicken skewers. ‘Hariyali’ means greenery in Hindi.

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The greenery in these skewers comes from lots of cilantro and mint. It’s a really simple recipe to make with the green herbs, green chilli, ginger, garlic and yogurt.

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That is it! No complicated spices involved at all. The green herbs lend a lovely freshness to these skewers that is perfect for summer grilling.

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Not too much marination time needed either. Just marinate it for about an hour and set about cooking the rest of your meal. Simple!

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And these are really, really succulent. The yogurt ensures it!

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Plus you can taste the cilantro and mint in every flavorful bite.

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Serve them with a squeeze of lime and have plenty of cold drinks ready :)

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Here’s the recipe.

Hariyali Chicken Tikka (Herb-marinated Green Chicken Skewers)

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Time: Approx 1.5 hours
  • Print

Ingredients:

500 grams boneless Chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup Greek Yogurt
2-3 Green Chillies (adjust as per taste)
1 tablespoon Ginger-Garlic paste
1/4 cup Mint Leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup Cilantro, roughly chopped
Salt to taste
Lime and Red Onions to serve

Directions:

Grind together the cilantro, mint and green chillies into a coarse paste.
In a large bowl, combine yogurt, ginger-garlic paste, cilantro-mint-chilli paste and salt.
Add the bite-sized chicken pieces.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Skewer onto soaked bamboo skewers and grill over charcoal or in a grill-pan until done.
Serve with wedges of lime and red onion slices.

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How ’bout them Apples: Homemade Aromatic Applesauce

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Late summer and Apple season is in full swing, with trees overladen with fruit.

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Here in Denmark, if you have apple trees in your garden and more apples than you can eat or cook with, it is tradition to leave a basket full of apples at your entrance for passers-by to help themselves. Isn’t that nice :)

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With my little apple tree, that is not the case yet, but late July and August certainly see me making a lot of apple desserts, especially since the apples from my tree are more on the tart side.

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In the past, I have made Apple Blackberry Crumble, Apple Caramels, Danish Old-fashioned Apple Cake, Mini Apple Pies, all fabulous desserts that are perfect for late summer or autumn.

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I have plans for more exciting apple desserts, but first I wanted to try my hand at making Applesauce.

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I have seen wonderful recipes all over the net using applesauce as a substitute for butter and eggs when baking. Doesn’t that sound just amazing?

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The only issue is, I have not been able to find applesauce in the supermarkets here :( Maybe it is available, I just don’t know where to look…

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And then I came across this ridiculously easy recipe from the awesome Pioneer Woman to make applesauce at home!

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 I did a little jig and decided to try it with my homegrown apples :D

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It is creamy, tart-sweet and is wonderfully aromatic with Cinnamon and Nutmeg. I can’t wait to make all kinds of goodies using it :) Pancakes, muffins, cakes…yummmmm…

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Here is the recipe.

Homemade Aromatic Applesauce

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Print

Ingredients:

6 pounds Apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 slices
1 cup Apple Juice Or Apple Cider
Juice Of 1 Lemon
1/2 cup Brown Sugar, packed
1 teaspoon Cinnamon, more or less to taste
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes.
Carefully puree in a food processor or blender (don’t fill too full; split into two portions if needed) until smooth.
Store in the fridge and serve as needed.

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