September 9, 2013

Baking Fall Treats: Bushels of Apples

What's the best way to celebrate the start of Fall?  Well, until this year I may have answered differently, but now I must say it's with all things apples!

Why so much excitement about apples?  Well, last year Iowa didn't have many, but this year my parents' neighbor's trees were very bountiful!  And this weekend starts all the apple fun, because my mom was awesome enough to bring us up a bunch of yummy Iowa apples. 

Not much going on in this photo...  But, did you notice that tray full of delicious apples?!  Well, Al was thrilled because I made two dishes of apple crisp that week.  Then, for his birthday, I made one of his favorite desserts: French Apple Squares

Also, those cute chevron curtains in the background were a weekend project. {I've been looking for 6 months for the right colors to replace the lace curtains in our kitchen.} A bargain sale price and enough fabric to make two valances for the kitchen, a table runner, and a throw pillow for the living room in addition to these two cafe curtains... But, I digress.

The Fall festivities continued when we took the boys to La Crescent's Apple Fest parade the 22nd of September.  They loved the parade and candy, and I loved the great deal on 15 pounds of Wealthy and La Crescent apples! 
In addition to lots of applesauce and another apple crisp, I tried a new recipe for apple cake:

Crust/Topping: 3 c flour, 1 1/2 c brown sugar,
1 1/2 c oatmeal, 1 1/8 c butter.  Mix & put in
greased 9x13, saving 1 1/2 cup for topping.
Mix 6-8 c sliced apples with sauce.  For sauce,
cook: 1 c sugar, 1 c water, 1 Tbsp corn starch
until clear & then add 1 Tbsp butter and 1 tsp
vanilla.  Pour apples with sauce over crust and
add topping.  Bake in preheated 325 degree oven
for 1 hour.

The apple fun continued the last weekend of September when we met family at the Gays Mills’ apple orchards.  It was great to end our summer with another trip to PDC to see my sister and family, some of our cousins, and extended family.

They even had a pick-your-own pumpkin patch at Sunrise Orchards.  It's been too long {maybe 5 years} since we've taken the kids to pick their own pumpkins and enjoy some Fall fun...  I think we've started a new family tradition

So, what do you do with a bushel of McIntosh and Gala apples?  Make more apple crisp, applesauce, and French Apple Squares of course.  Also, it's good inspiration to try some more new recipes!

Who knew applesauce was so easy?!  Thanks to cousin Kristi for the links to freeze applesauce and for canning applesauce.
I think next year I'm going to try canning (because my freezer is pretty full right now). I made pink applesauce again, at the boys' request, but then they decided they don't like it anymore.  Oh well, I'm going to use it in another new recipe for Applesauce Sweet Bread tomorrow.  So here are a couple new favorite recipes...
Apple Butter:

I have never made this before, but I'm so glad I did!

After seeing a friend write about making it one day, I thought that sounds easy enough.
And, yes, it is tasty!

Fill crock pot with apples and add: 1/2 c sugar, 1/2 brown sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 1/8 tsp allspice,
1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp cinnamon, and a dash of ginger and/or cloves.

Cook on high for 1 hour and then on low for up to 8 hours.  Stir occasionally.  Puree when done and freeze in containers.

Instead of just giving the boys' teachers an apple and cute thank you card, we also gave them each a little apple butter too.  Al thought it was a little too cute, but the teachers have been raving about how they can't stop eating it.

Drum roll please... My first ever apple pie and homemade crust!

The few leaves changing color already and all our apples, gourds, and pumpkins inspired me to come home and do a little Fall decorating:
Happy Fall everyone!

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