Slow Cooker Applesauce

Rewind to 20 years ago in our tiny kitchen on Parkside, where my mom would be cooking apples on the stove, and my sister Liz and I would take turns turning the mill to strain the applesauce. We loved the fun, messy, time-intensive process, but nothing topped eating the fresh applesauce hot out of the pan. Fast-forward 20 years to my current tiny kitchen, where I’m up to my ears with apples from our trip to the orchard. I decided it was time to make applesauce.

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Since I don’t own a food mill, I decided to give slow-cooking applesauce a try.  Not only did it make my tiny kitchen smell aaaaamazing, it turned out so delicious that I am convinced I’ll never want to buy applesauce from the store again! It was so simple, and the apples we picked were so juicy and sweet that it didn’t require any added sugar.

I love this recipe because you toss the ingredients in the crock pot, set it on low, and can go work on something else. I let it cook all morning and afternoon, and this gave the applesauce a chance to really break down and let the flavors mingle. The result is perfectly chunky, cinnamon-y, naturally sweet applesauce that is perfect on its own or baked into breads, muffins, etc.

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Slow Cooker Applesauce

Makes about 8 cups

3 lb. apples (about 9 medium-sized)

Juice from 1/2 lemon

3 t ground cinnamon

1/4 t ground nutmeg

1 cinnamon stick, whole

3/4 C water

Method:

Peel and thinly slice apples and add to crock pot. Squeeze lemon juice over apples and add spices and water. Give it a stir and set to low for 7-8 hours. Stir every hour or so.

Tip** If you let it cook long enough, the apples will break down on their own and shouldn’t have more than a couple little lumps. If you want a perfectly smooth consistency, you can use an immersion blender to get your desired consistency.

Keep in airtight container in fridge for up to a week, or freeze for up to 6 months. Enjoy!

Stuffed Acorn Squash (Whole 30 & Paleo)

My mom always baked acorn squash with butter and brown sugar, until it was so soft it was basically falling away from the skin. The top would perfectly caramelize, making the whole house smell like Thanksgiving. When I make it now, one bite brings me straight back to eating dinner as a family at our kitchen table in the house on Parkside.

I had some organic pork sausage in the fridge this week and thought the best way to kick off my squash marathon would be by stuffing the one I’m most familiar with a bunch of yummy things!  I have to say that this turned out so delicious, I’m inserting it into my week night meal rotation for the rest of the year. If you don’t like one or two of the stuffing ingredients, just sub it out for something else! This meal is so hearty and flavorful, I believe it has the power to convert even the weariest of the squash-avoiders.

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Stuffed Acorn Squash

Makes about 4 servings

2 acorn squashes

1 T olive oil or coconut oil

1 lb bulk pork sausage (sugar-free if you’re doing Whole 30/ Paleo)

1 small onion diced

1 celery stalk diced

1 small apple diced

3 handfuls chopped kale

1 t dried rosemary

1 t dried thyme

1 t garlic powder

Pinch of allspice

1/2 t cinnamon

1/4 C golden raisins

1/3 C chopped pecans

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Fresh parsley for garnish

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Method:

Heat oven to 400°

Cut squash lengthwise and remove seeds with a spoon. Brush with oil and salt. Place cut side down on baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper and bake for about 35 mins, or until soft.

Meanwhile,  brown sausage in a pan over medium heat until no longer pink. Keep fat in there! It adds so much flavor. Add onion, apple, and celery, cooking until soft. Add kale, and stir until wilted.

Add all seasonings, raisins, and pecans. Stir until combined and remove from heat. Spoon into prepared squash and top with fresh parsley. Enjoy!