Fall Favorites

Posted on October 15, 2008. Filed under: Attempts at Cooking, Everyday Me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Fall is here! Hooray! Fall is one my all-time favorite seasons. The temperatures are generally crisp and cool (I say generally because my high temperature in DC today is 80, not quite so crisp).  There are plenty of fall activities including apple picking, pumpkin patches, apple pies and other warm treats, pumpkin carving and of course, trick or treating (or at least dressing up!). Overall it’s a great season and we are right smack in the middle of all the fun! I thought I would share some of my favorite treats and recipes with everyone in the spirit of fall.

Pick your Own – It should be obvious but pick your own is the way to go for apples and pumpkins! By picking your own you get a chance to go out into a farm, or orchard and enjoy a bit of nature. If you aren’t so into smaller children try to go early in the morning to avoid larger crowds and families. Also, keep in mind that by picking your own at local farms you are supporting those local farms and helping stay there as YOUR local farm. Nothing beats going down to a familiar place year after year to pick apples and pumpkins, berries and get some really great home-grown produce! You support them by purchasing their products, so keep on helping. There is another benefit to pick your own though as well; cost. Picking your own is a much cheaper alternative to buying apples and pumpkins in local stores. The apples that I was able to pick in Virginia were just under 75 cents / pound, and the pumpkins were… 45 cents/pound. Those are GREAT deals! And it was fun! We got to wander around through the apple trees and have fun reaching and grabbing great apples with the divine mission of filling our bucket to the top! Also the pumpkins were fun because we each found a pumpkin with its own personality (Mine of course is lopsided and my boyfriend’s looks pretty perfect – go figure?!).  Pick your own is the way to go!!

Apples – There are tons to do with less than a bucket-full of apples. With 8 cups of sliced apples you can make a very large pie. Just imagine the possibilities of a bucket-full of fresh apples. This is a little unorthodox, but my boyfriend and I prefer to pick a bunch of different types of apples and when we bake them into pies and such we mix the varieties to get a good mixture of tastes in there. It really makes them taste fresh!

Pumpkins – Carve ‘em up! There is nothing better to do with pumpkins then carve ‘em! Be sure to place adequate newspaper or other mess-catchers around your carving station to ensure an easy cleanup. We both had great pumpkins, of a medium – small size and carved them within an hour. Since I don’t have all the great pumpkin accessories to carve with we were resourceful and settled on using my kitchen knives. They worked, harder to make various shapes with but they worked. And i think our pumpkins look just darling! Mine looks a little lopsided of course and a bit awkward – with eyes that are uneven and a too-wide grin. But I like him! Now that the pumpkins are carved we were able to salvage a vast amount of pumpkin seeds for our own enjoyment. I am ready to toast them up and munch on them for weeks!

Recipes!

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds:

  • 2 cups Water to every 1/2 cup of seeds (approx.)
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp salt for every cup of water
Preheat oven to 400°F. Separate the seeds from the core (stringy guts) & Rinse the seeds in a colander
In a small saucepan add the seeds to water and salt & bring to a boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes, remove and drain.  If you prefer to NOT boil them, that is a very normal alternative, you can just salt ‘em up and throw them right into the next step. I’ve done both. Spread olive oil over bottom of roasting pan. Spread the seeds over the pan, in one layer (If you would like to add some more salt sprinkle some on top). Bake on top rack for 20 minutes or until seeds brown (Personally it usually takes only 15 minutes). When browned, remove and let cool. Be sure to cool the seeds all the way down before eating – they get warm! You can crack them and eat the inside seed or eat them as a whole (I do a mixture of both depending on my mood).
** Variations to this include throwing on some chili powder for a spicy kick after you soak them but before you put them in the oven, or if you skip the soaking just prior to throwing them into the oven.
Other ‘toppings’ to add to them include: Nutmeg, Garlic, Cinnamon, Hot red pepper – anything that you sprinkle on and enjoy!

( A similar recipe is available online through http://www.elise.com/recipes/archives/001438toasted_pumpkin_seeds.php
 )

Apple Pie
Honestly – I use a Betty Crocker Recipe I’m a cheater!! And store crust is also just fine…not the same but it works! 🙂

Crust:

  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2/3 cups + 2 tbsp shortening
  • 4 – 6 tbsp cold water (I used 4.5)

Pie

  • 1/3 cup Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 8 cups thinly sliced & peeled apples (They call for tart – I use a mixture) about 8 apples
  • 2 tbsp butter/margarine
  • Pinch of milk

In medium bowl, mix 2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt. Cut in shortening, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until it’s all the size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).

Gather pastry into a ball. Divide in half; shape into 2 flattened rounds on lightly floured surface. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate about 45 minutes or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable. Be sure it is soften prior to rolling!

Heat oven to 425°F. With floured rolling pin, roll one pastry round into round 2 inches larger than upside-down 9-inch glass pie plate. Fold pastry into fourths; place in pie plate. Unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side.

In large bowl, mix sugar, 1/4 cup flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir in apples until well mixed. (**this is helpful if you have another person to help you slowly add apples to the mixture) Spoon into pastry-lined pie plate. Cut butter into small pieces; sprinkle over filling. Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1/2 inch from rim of plate.

Roll other round of pastry into 10-inch round. Fold into fourths and cut slits so steam can escape. Unfold top pastry over filling; trim overhanging edge 1 inch from rim of plate. Fold and roll top edge under lower edge, pressing on rim to seal; flute as desired. ** Now to be really fancy – I personally LOVE using little cookie cutters to make a lattice or general shape in the top of my pie. This time I used a knife and did a free-hand design. Be sure that you aren’t cutting out TOO much of the dough, but it makes more of a lattice style top than the picture on Betty’s website.

Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through slits in crust. Serve warm if desired.  (And of course throw on some ice cream for an a la mode treat!)

View this recipe online at: http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/recipe.aspx?recipeID=36596&Source=SearchResultPage 
They also have nutrition info on that website – why bother its dessert, and delicious so we all know the nutrition – don’t torture yourself

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One Response to “Fall Favorites”

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Yes! Those pumpkin seeds are delicious, cannot stop eating them.


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