Fall is here, and it’s time for hot cider, hearty stews and, naturally, pumpkins and apples. They’re everywhere – piled in front of grocery stores and farmers markets, decorating the classroom and even gracing the front desk at the gym. And why not? They’re colorful, festive, have a long shelf life and…yes, they taste pretty darn good.
If you’re always on the look for something beyond the basic pumpkin or apple pie, you’ve come to the right place. Apples and pumpkin have been on my radar for a few weeks now, so I’ve collected quite an assortment of recipes to try. Between those and my already tried and true faves, you’ve hit the mother-load of delicious fall recipes. Plus, if you’ve ever contemplated how to create your own pumpkin puree (or even if you haven’t), you’ll never believe how easy it is. I’ll give you the simple step by step ingredients along with pictures along the way.
For a simple and yummy way to start the day try this Apple Sausage Oven Pancake. My mom used to make this when I was little and it was always a hit. For a little something to go alongside your lunchtime sandwich you might like this savory Apple Salsa or maybe this sweeter Apple Salsa suits your tastebuds better. At dinner, there’s not much in the fall that pairs so well together than apple, maple, and cheddar. That’s why this Maple-Walnut Chicken Thighs with Cheddar-Apple Rice is so good. Don’t let the long name intimidate you, its basically just cooking up some rice and chicken with a few extras added in.
When you’re craving a sweet try these Caramel Apple Crisp Bites will hit the spot. You might even want to kick it up a notch and use salted caramel sauce-yum! Or if you’re cooking for a crowd, try this Caramel Apple Sheet Cake — moist, delicious and makes a lot. For some old-fashioned comfort, give these Apple Dumplings a try.
I’m hope you’ll enjoy some of these recipes as much as my family, but before you make them you must know, DO NOT throw away your peels and cores. That’s right I said DO NOT. Those leftover scraps can be turned, quite easily, into delicious Apple Jelly – you can skip the food coloring, its naturally beautiful. Or make Cinnamon Apple Peels for a sweet treat. To have enough you may want to save up your cores and peels for a few days — if so, stick them in the fridge to keep them fresh.
They’re cheap this time of year – sometimes just pennies per pound. Some farms give them away free. And they’re perfect for lots more than just turning into jack-o-lanterns. Pumpkin is good for you. It’s a rich source of beta carotene, vitamin A and other antioxidants. And pumpkin seeds contain polyunsaturated oils.
Pumpkin can be turned into the traditional pie, of course, or a popular quick bread. It also goes into cookies, bread pudding, pancakes, waffles, cakes, cheesecake, muffins, bars and other baked goods. But it has savory uses, too – pumpkin soup (served in hollowed-out mini pumpkins), paired with sausage in a stew, and as a filling for ravioli or lasagna.
DIY Pumpkin Puree
A few years ago canned pumpkin was in short supply. After talking to the folks at Libby’s we learned that occasionally there are canned pumpkin shortages due to weather related issues affecting the growing and harvesting of pumpkins, most of which come from the Midwest. An alternative to relying on canned pumpkin is make your own pumpkin puree. It’s much easier than you might think.
To make something with fresh pumpkin, start by roasting it in the oven. Cut it into halves or quarters (depending on its size), scoop out the seeds (save for toasting later, if you’d like), and put the pieces in a roasting pan with about half a cup of water, and roast it in a 350-degree oven till it’s really tender. Let it cool, then scoop it out of the skin with a spoon. Puree the pulp in a food processor or blender to make sure all the stringy bits are gone. At this point, either use or freeze the pumpkin puree.
Here is another quick way to make puree. The best choice for puree is a small sugar pumpkin. However, don’t think you have to let those larger pumpkins go to waste. You will get a thinner puree with less of that deep orange color, but the puree will still work for your recipes. Simply cut back on liquid ingredients to compensate.
- Cut the stem off and slice the pumpkin in half.
- Scoop out the seeds.
- Put both halves in a large recloseable food bag — do not seal bag — put in half at a time if it fits better.
- Microwave on HIGH for 10 minutes.
- The pumpkin skin should fall off or peel off very easily at this point.
- Put all the peeled pumpkin in a large bowl and mash (I used my hand mixer and blended until smooth)
- Push pumpkin through a strainer, ricer or blender until very smooth.
That’s it — use as you would canned pumpkin. You can also freeze it to use at a later time.
On a cool Fall morning there’s nothing like a creamy bowl of steaming oatmeal. But who has the time for all of that measuring and stirring on a busy morn? Never fear, the solution is here. Try this Pumpkin Pie Slow Cooker Overnight Oatmeal. However, on days you do have a bit more time, whip up these simple Pumpkin Pancakes. If you’re more of a breakfast smoothie/shake kind of person, give this Pumpkin Protein Shake a try — fruit, veg, milk all in one!
For a quick afternoon sweet treat, you’ll like this spin on a classic: Pumpkin Spice Krispie Treats. When it comes to dinner, a warm bowl of Pumpkin Pie Bisque hits the spot. I’d cut the sugar in half as commenters suggest. A restaurant near me serves their pumpkin soup with crumbled up pie crust, give it a try if you happen to have some lying around. For a perfectly pumpkiny ending to a Fall day, try this Pumpkin Crisp. It’s simple and tasty.
Pumpkin Apple Butter is a lovely way to enjoy the flavors of the season now and later. Plus you can can it and turn it into wonderful, homemade holiday gifts.
Here is an easy recipe that is sure to be a favorite:
4 cups fresh (or 29-ounce can) pumpkin
4 large eggs, beaten
1 ½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 13-ounce can evaporated milk
1 yellow cake mix
1 cup (2 sticks) melted butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
½ cup chopped nuts
Blend together pumpkin, eggs, sugar, spices and evaporated milk. Pour into a buttered 13-by-9-inch pan. Sprinkle dry cake mix over the top (it seems like a lot, but it works). Drizzle melted butter over cake mix, then top with brown sugar and chopped nuts. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour and 20 minutes.
Top with fresh whipped cream. Serves a bunch — at least 12.
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