Spiced Apple Raspberry Cider

This isn’t another “grandma’s old-fashioned spiced cider” recipe. Well, kind of, but with a twist. While this recipe has many of the trappings of a traditional cider the addition of raspberries changes things up significantly. You may want to experiment with adding a little clove or using a mulling spice mix if the cinnamon isn’t spicy enough for you.

Ingredients

1/2 Cup spiced rum, optional

2 Packages (6 ounces each) Driscoll’s Raspberries

4 Cups apple cider

4 Lemon twists

1/2 Tsp. ground cinnamon

Put apple cider into medium saucepan. Set aside a few raspberries for garnish, put the rest into the cider. Add spices (cinnamon). Heat until almost boiling. Let cool. Strain raspberries if you please. Stir in rum if you are using it. Pour ciders, one lemon twist per mug, garnish with raspberry.

 

Classic Buckeye Recipe

Buckeyes are a favorite fall and winter treat among Ohioans. And an easy no-bake project you can do with the kids!

2-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

3/4 cup Peter Pan® Creamy Peanut Butter

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/4 cups semisweet chocolate morsels (1-1/4 cups = 7-1/2 oz)

1 tablespoon vegetable shortening

Blend together confectioner’s sugar, peanut butter, butter and salt in medium bowl with electric mixer on low speed. Mixture will be stiff. Line large baking pan with waxed paper. Roll peanut butter mixture into small, bite-size balls, about 3/4-inch round; place on prepared baking pan. Freeze 30 minutes or until set.

Place morsels and shortening in top of double boiler over simmering water in the bottom. Melt over medium-low heat; blend well. Reduce heat to low.

Insert wooden pick into top of frozen peanut butter ball. Dip into melted chocolate, leaving only the top 1/4 of peanut butter ball uncovered for typical “buckeye” appearance. Place coated side on prepared baking pan. Repeat until all pieces are coated. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or until chocolate is set. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

 

Feeding Wild Birds, What Kind of Seed?

Commercial bird seed comes in a variety of mixtures. Cheaper mixtures will contain large amounts of buckwheat, rice, oats, milo, flax, rape seed, cracked corn and canary seed.

What the birds really want to eat is black oil sunflower seeds. To avoid the mess of sunflower hulls, many people decide to spend a bit more and buy the hulled sunflower seeds containing only the “hearts” or “chips” of the sunflower.

If you buy a mixture of seeds, you may find that birds scatter most of the seeds on the ground, trying to get at the sunflower seeds. It is better to place these mixtures in a flat platform feeder, rather that in a hopper type feeder. There will be less waste and fewer seeds will wind up on the ground. Seeds on the ground will attract doves and some birds, but they will also attract mice, raccoons and other critters you may not want at your feeder.

If you are going to feed wild birds you need to continue to do it at least through winter until spring. If the birds become dependent on your feed they may forgo other resources in favor of the easy food you provide.

Autumn Crafts with Fallen Leaves

Parents, babysitters and other guardians might be scratching their heads and coming up at a loss on what to do to keep the little ones busy as it gets colder and they can’t play out as much. So here is one idea to help take the load off. Take the kids out, let them choose some leaves for one or more of the following craft projects.

How to use Autumn Leaves

 Use leaves as stamps for a fall painting.

Use leaves and other objects to make Autumn garland.

Glue leaves onto paper to make an Autumn collage.

Paint the leaves themselves; for older children highlighting the veins and adding simple line work like spirals and spots can produce some very interesting painted leaves.

Use the leaves to create an animal/creature collage on a piece of paper.

Collect acorns or another local, seasonal nut and paint them with faces; acorns make a great base for witch-heads.

Pine cones can be used similarly as acorns to create, with other craft supplies, fun or creepy critters.

Collect, identify and create rubbings of all the kinds of leaves around the neighborhood.

Bake with Your Kids!

As it gets colder and many of us are staying home more than normal, maybe even canceling holiday plans with family, parents will be looking for things they can do with their children. Cooking and baking together is a great family activity. Learning to cook is an essential skill for a healthy lifestyle that many children today are not learning in school or at home.

While this recipe isn’t exactly health food, French Toast is a good beginner’s recipe that isn’t too simple and isn’t too complex. And this recipe has an extra autumn spice kick. Your total time is only about 30 minutes and the prep time is only about 10 of those minutes. So, if the kids start to loose interest, you can send them off to play while the recipe finishes in the oven.

Apple Butter French Toast Sticks

Makes 24 sticks.

Ingredients

8 slices thick cut Texas toast sliced into 1-inch strips (any thick bread will do)

1 1/2 cups milk

4 eggs

1 tbs vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbs apple butter * pumpkin butter would be great too!

4 tbs butter melted or cut into cubes

2-4 tbs cinnamon sugar*

maple syrup, served with sticks after baking

fresh apples or berries for serving

Cooking Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cut each piece of thick bread into 3 sticks. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. After that whisk in apple butter.

Bathe each bread stick in the egg mixture for a moment; toss to coat. Remove, allow excess to drip off. Place on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining bread. Brush all  sticks with a bit of butter. Sprinkle with a touch of cinnamon sugar. Bake for 15-10 minutes. They should be slightly golden when done. Flip halfway through.

Serve warm with maple syrup and fresh apples.