Apple Dumplings = kid and teenage fun

I’m always looking for ways to get my kids to help me out around the house.  Sometimes that means not just helping me with chores but with cooking, too.  Thankfully, both of my boys (16 and 20 respectively) love helping me out in the kitchen, especially when there is food involved (when it’s cleanup time, however, that’s a different story all together). Typical young adults. 🙂

This year the treat to make was apple dumplings.  I really love this German recipe and hope you will, too.  If you have kids, grab them in the kitchen to help you make them.  It’s a lot of fun and they are oh, so yummy (especially with a dab of ice cream at the end).

So, here’s the recipe:

1 1/2 c sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 c water
1/4 c butter or margarine
2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2/3 c shortening
1/2 c milk
6 small apples, peeled and cored
1/3 c sugar

For Syrup:

In a saucepan combine 1 1/2 c sugar, 1/4 tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 2 c water.  Bring to boiling. Reduce heat and cook for 5 more minutes.  Remove from heat.  Stir in butter and set aside.


Combine flour, baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt.  Cut in shortening until it resembles course crumbs.


Add milk all at once; stir just until moistened.  Form into a ball.  On a floured surface, roll out into an 18×12 inch rectangle; cut into six 6-inch squares.  Place an apple in center of each square.  Sprinkle apple generously with a mixture of 1/3 c sugar and the remaining 1/4 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp nutmeg.  Dot with butter.  Moisten edges of dough, fold corners to center atop apple.  Pinch the edges together.  Place in a 13x9x2 baking dish.  Pour syrup over dumplings.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes or till apples are tender.


Bon Apetite!

(note:  I only made four squares because I had big apples.  Adjust accordingly).

E-Gad! Two months to Christmas and I’m out of vanilla extract!

And what does this have to do with writing?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.

But holy crap! I looked at the calendar and it dawned on me, Christmas is 2 months away – to the day.  That means only one thing:  restock the spice cabinet!

I found out I needed, among many things, whole cloves, baking powder, and vanilla extract.  But it can’t be any vanilla extract.  It has to be homemade.  So…  time to get in the attic and bring down my mason jars and make a store run for rum and vanilla beans.  Yum, heaven.

So, how do you make homemade vanilla extract? Oh my gosh, it’s so easy, and I swear  you’ll never go back to store-bought again, but you’ve got to get started now (within the next 3 – 4 days at the latest).

You’re going to need:

a jar with a tight-fitting lid
3 vanilla beans
about a cup of rum (I prefer Appleton Jamaican Rum over Bacardi or Meyers). Taste it and you’ll understand why.

First, sterilize your jar and lid by pouring boiling water over them and then letting them soak in the scalding bath for about 10 minutes.

Next, with a sharp pair of kitchen scissors or paring knife, cut your vanilla beans in half, leaving an inch at the end connected.


Place the three beans in your sterilized glass jar with tight-fitting lid and cover with rum.

Seal it up good and tight and store in a dark cupboard for two months.  Once a week, give it a good shake and return it to it’s dark hiding spot.  Come December 24, you’ll have the best vanilla extract to ever cross your tongue.

Look at that great color!  And, the great thing is, it never runs out as long as you keep adding the rum.

I hope you try this recipe.  I know you will love it.  Enjoy!!!