Settling In to Fall

DSC_0693Although the official first day of fall is still a week away, there’s no denying that it’s already here. That autumn chill is in the air, leaves are just starting to turn, and it’s darker and darker each morning when I wake up. It’s sad to see summer go, but part of this transition is comforting. Fall is about beginnings – for many (and me this year) it’s time to go back to school, which is a natural transition time. We’ll all take fewer vacations in the next 3 months, meaning we all settle in where we are at home. It’s rather nice when you think of it that way.

As a friend recently put it – summer is about family and fall is about friends. We probably all spend more time with our friends in the fall than in the summer. Summer is full of family reunions and vacations, and fall is more community focused, through watching sports events, going apple picking, dressing up for Halloween. It’s a great time to connect with your larger family in the community around you.

So, in honor of everything fall has to offer (such as apple picking, corn mazes, pumpkin carving, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin flavored everything, boots, sweaters – do I sound cliche yet?), I’m sharing three previous posts that remind me why this season is so great.

  1. 4 Tips for Soup Season – how to make the most of the cooler weather and fall vegetables
  2. Butternut squash soup – put those tips to good use (plus a story about that time Evan read my diary)
  3. Will Run for Pie – a reflection on one of my favorite fall traditions, the NMH Pie Race (bonus: my simple apple pie recipe)

What are you excited about this fall?

Advertisements

Thanksgiving Round-Up

picstitch (2)

I feel a little guilty for not posting more Thanksgiving-themed recipes this week. Thanksgiving is like the Olympics of food events and I feel like I’m not doing it justice! I had every intention of sharing something new for your Thanksgiving feast. Last week, I attempted to make pomegranate-glazed Brussels sprouts but failed. It was a good idea in concept, but the finished product was a strange brownish reddish green color and tasted pretty sour. It wasn’t pretty.

To make up for my lack turkey-inspired recipes, here are a few past recipes that would be perfect additions to your Thanksgiving dinner. Have a happy turkey day!

Thanksgiving Round-Up

  • Sriracha Kale Chips: Crisp up a head of kale while the turkey is in the oven. These are a great snack to have on hand while everyone is hanging (or helping) out before dinner.
  • Butternut Squash Soup: Try soup instead of mashed butternut squash – this would be a perfect appetizer before the main Thanksgiving meal.
  • Oven-Fried Tomatoes: Not a traditional side dish for Thanksgiving, but sure to be a welcome addition to the table.
  • Simple Apple Pie: A classic turkey day dessert – make sure to save some room!

Simple Apple Pie

DSC_0893
The first thing I make after apple picking is apple pie. There’s no better way to fill your kitchen with a warm, apple-y smell.  This isn’t the healthiest recipe, but it’s easy. Only four ingredients stand between you and this simple pie – just apples, white and brown sugar, and pie crust. If you went apple picking recently, give this a try. It showcases the apple’s true flavor so choose your favorite kind!

Simple Apple Pie

Peel and slice 6 cups of apples (approximately 6 medium apples). Mix with ½ cup sugar and put in a strainer over a bowl for half an hour. The natural apple juice will start to drain into the bowl, which will decrease your chances of ending up with soupy pie. While the apples are draining, remove 2 pie crusts from the fridge and let sit on the counter – they are easier to handle when room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line the bottom of a pie pan with one of the pie crusts, centering it over the pan and letting some of the edge hang over. Layer the apples in concentric circles in the pan and arrange so that there’s a mound at the center of the pie.

Take the apple juice from the strainer and combine with 2 tablespoons brown sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until it starts to bubble. Let it cook until the mixture coats the back of a spoon and creates a syrup. Drizzle the syrup over the apples.

Top with pie with the other half of pie crust, pressing the top crust into the bottom crust at the edges of the pie pan. Use a knife to cut the excess crust, and pinch the pie crust into any design you’d like. Cut six long lines into the top of the crust to let steam escape. Cover the crust of the pie with strips of tin foil.

Bake for 45 minutes with the foil covering the crust. Remove from oven, take off the foil, and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Let cool for at least half an hour before serving.

Yield: 6 servings. Per Serving: $1.44, 304 calories, 14g fat, 59g carbs, 2g protein.

Caramel Apple Cookies

DSC_0807

Apparently victory tastes like… caramel apple cookies! This recipe brought home my third win at my company’s annual bake off. On a Friday afternoon a few weeks ago, everyone gathered in our lunch area to taste the treats baked by my very talented coworkers. This year, the desserts ranged from blueberry cheesecake, pumpkin cream cheese bars, and Mexican brownies.  I always submit a dessert for the Healthy Dessert category to prove that even healthy treats can be delicious.

After tasting these, you’ll be surprised that they’re only 81 calories per cookie. In fact, the judges almost didn’t believe that it was truly a healthy dessert! The original recipe came from www.myrecipes.com, but I adapted it by using less sugar and fresh apple. This is a great way to use up a few leftover apples if you’ve recently gone apple picking. Enjoy!

Caramel Apple Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large mixing bowl combine 1 ½ cups flour, 1 ½ cups quick cooking oats, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and ½ teaspoon baking soda. In a separate large bowl or mixer, combine ½ cup granulated sugar, ½ cup brown sugar, and 6 tablespoons butter at room temperature. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy and then add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 egg. Slowly add the flour mixture and fold in 1 ½ cups diced apple and 15 caramels, chopped.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop 2 teaspoons of dough onto the pan and flatten into a cookie. The dough may be loose, but baking will pull it together.

Bake for 12 minutes, remove from oven, and let cool on pans for 3 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks and serve!

Yield: 36 servings. Serving size: 1 cookie. Per Serving: $0.18, 81 calories, 2.5g fat, 14g carbs, 1.5g protein.

Fall in Vermont

I had the pleasure of going home to Vermont last weekend to partake in almost all of my favorite fall activities. I say almost because we didn’t make it to a corn maze – between picking up my mom’s farm share, visiting family, apple picking, and baking there just wasn’t enough time. There’s still time, however, to get to one in the Boston area (hint to all my Boston friends!) before the season is over.

Although the weather wasn’t great for apple picking (overcast and starting to sprinkle), it was still beautiful. We hiked to the top of the orchard for our favorite Honey Crisps, filled the rest of the bag up with Macs, and rewarded ourselves with warm cider donuts. There are many apple recipes to come, but for now, enjoy these pictures of beautiful Vermont in the fall.

DSC_0669 DSC_0684
DSC_0781 DSC_0753
DSC_0760 DSC_0693
DSC_0800 DSC_0801

From left to right, starting at the top: 1) kale share at Piccadilly Farm, 2) picking husk cherries, 3) apple harvesting at Green Mountain Orchard, 4) New England scenery, 5) Macintosh apple tree, 6) pick your own pumpkins, 7) Rosie’s first cider donut of the season, 8) delicious cider donuts that didn’t last long!