Friday, October 26, 2012

Mulled Apple Cider with Shrunken Apple Heads

Jason and I hosted our last Game Night last night - at least until after we've had the baby and had time to adjust to our new life with a child. Because the weather has been so nice, we borrowed our friend's fire pit, set up chairs outside, and had a pumpkin carving contest. It was probably the quietest game night we've ever had, as everyone concentrated on carving their best pumpkin possible.

Kelly was a pro [apparently she carved three pumpkins a year on average when her aunt hosted her annual pumpkin carving party back in Florida], and she carved her mummy without a hitch. The ghoulish face Ben picked was amazing once he lit the candle and I finally figured out what I was looking at! Sheri's creation had to be the most creative, as carved a Mickey Mouse face and attached little pumpkins to the sides for ears!

And then there was Evan, Ohio State fan extraordinaire. He bravely attempted to free-hand "OSU" onto his pumpkin, which sadly resulted in a gaping hole when the entire thing fell in. Nevertheless, he persevered and made quite the convincing bat!

All-in-all, we had a great time.

In preparation for Game Night, I made Caramel Apples, the cider recipe listed below, and handed out homemade Peppermint Marshmallows as prizes for stellar pumpkin carving.

Mulled Apple Cider with Shrunken Apple Heads
adapted from epicurious and Martha Stewart

Shrunken Apple Heads

Preheat oven 250

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a glass Pyrex container, combine:
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

Using a sharp knife, cut in half lengthwise (through the stem):
3 large granny smith apples
Peel and remove core.

Using the knife, carve a face in one of the apple halves. Place in the lemon juice for 1 minute. Remove from lemon juice, allowing excess juice to drain before placing on parchment paper. Repeat with remaining apple halves.

Bake face-side-up in oven for 90 minutes.

After timer sounds, remove from oven. Place one whole clove in each eye socket [12 whole cloves total]

Set aside and prepare apple cider.

left: pre-cooked; middle: cooked; right: complete with eyes

Mulled Apple Cider

In a medium saucepan, combine:
6 cups apple cider
3 inch cinnamon stick
8 whole cloves
juice of one navel orange
1/2 teaspoon ginger

Bring to a simmer over medium low heat. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and cloves. Cover.

When ready to serve (and definitely not before), place the shrunken apple heads into the cider. If it becomes necessary to reheat the cider, remove the apple heads first. Heating the cider while the apple heads are bobbing around will result in delicious cider full of apple mush!

Drink up!

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