Hello dear readers, fellow bloggers and those who come here to roll their eyes and sneer. I need some advice. We have realized that we can not afford even one Christmas present for my boys who still live at home. Not even one. I thank God that we tend to be food stockpilers so that I have an ample supply of baking foods and other stuff to make Christmas (and the blog) merry with yummy foods. But it still kills me to have to tell my boys that I can’t afford to give them Christmas presents, especially since my youngest, at three, is having his first year of talking about Santa Claus and asking what Santa is going to bring him. Moving tapped us out money wise and our bills are higher now. We can make ends meet but there is absolutely NOTHING in the budget for extras and since we moved rather quickly, I hadn’t thought to save extra towards Christmas or to stockpile gifts early. So I need your advice.
I absolutely SUCK at crafts. I mean, really really bad with no artistic bent whatsoever. I can crochet but I can only crochet straight lines. I can draw but only if it’s in a coloring book and even then I go out of the lines I can use scissors but I am probably better off with the safety type they give kids in Kindergarten. I don’t want to use food as gifts because 1) I make goodies anyway so it wouldn’t feel like a gift to my boys, just more food momma made and 2) they would scarf it down in five minutes flat and that would be that until the aching tummies happened.
But I know that some of you are the crafty sorts. So my hope is that some of you can give me ideas on some crafts to make that are doable by Christmas by a woman who can only crochet straight lines. I don’t have a whole lot in the way of supplies (that pesky money thing again lol) but I have old clothes I can cup up, paper, pens and pencils and even some fabric paints (the kinds you squeeze out of tubes) from a time when I was deluded enough to think I might be able to use them w/out covering everything in paint.
So there is where I am hoping that you, my much more talented and creative friends, can help me. I am also looking for just general ideas for Christmas gifts that aren’t necessarily crafts but are doable for free or so cheap as to make a penny cry. I think if I have to wake up Christmas morning and have my boys see a tree that is empty underneath it, I will crawl under a rock and stay there forever.
So moving on. I have an amazingly yummy and easy recipe for you today. We all know I went through an apple phase earlier in the Autumn season. Well… it’s backkkkkkkk! I found a recipe in a Southern Living Baking magazine that I had been wanting to try. I wish now I had tried it sooner because it so so simple yet with a taste that made me want to stick my face down in the frosting and never come back out. I didn’t do much to change it though what I did do made this even better than what it would have been, I believe. I added some crystallized Ginger to the cake batter, used Gala apples instead of Granny Smith because that’s what I had, added more vanilla and a slug of bourbon and added maple flavoring to the frosting. These changes put this into the realm of ove the top wonderful. Yet still very homey, very comforting and very easy with just enough batter to hold the apples together. Another bonus is that this smells like a big gigantic snickerdoodle cookie as it bakes. So give this a try. I think you’ll like it.
Apple Ginger Cake With A Browned Butter Maple Frosting
- 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups flour
- 1/4 cup crystallized ginger
- 1/4 cup bourbon (optional)
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 1/2 pounds Gala apples, cored, cut into 8 wedges then each wedge cut in half (the original recipe called for peeling but I didn’t bother)
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 16 ounce box powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup milk (I had to use like a tablespoon or so more)
- 1/2 tsp. maple flavoring
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast the pecans in a single layer on a cookie sheet until lightly toasted and smelling yummy, about 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl, stir together the 1/2 cup melted butter, sugar, eggs, bourbon and vanilla extract.
- In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and crystallized ginger.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter/egg mixture. Stir just until combined then add in the apple pieces and 1 cup of the pecans. The batter will be very thick; that’s who it’s supposed to be.
- Spread batter into a lightly greased 13×9 inch pan.
- Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and cake it golden brown. Cool completely in the pan.
- While the cake is baking, start your frosting.
- Cook the 1 cup butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the butter turns a golden brown. This will take about 6 minutes or so. Immediately take off of the heat and pour into a bowl. Refrigerate until the butter is just beginning to solidify.
- Beat the butter in a medium bowl until fluffy. Add in the sugar, milk and maple flavoring. Beat together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Trust me… the more you beat, the lighter and fluffier most butter based frostings become. Keep beating.
- Spread the frosting on the cooled cake and sprinkle on the 1/2 cup of pecans.
- Eat. Moan. Repeat.