Fall

Dad’s Homemade Applesauce

Fall is official in Ohio when the apple orchards open for picking. The first up is typically the Honeycrisp and they are gone within a day. If you ever have the chance to pick fresh Honeycrisp, it is absolutely worth the craze at the orchard. A fresh Honeycrisp right off the tree is the best apple you will ever have.

Sadly, we missed the honeycrisps this year. We instead caught the last bit of Suncrisps, also amazing. I really mean last bit though. I was climbing the trees and Joe was lifting B for every last Suncrisp we could spot. 

They were worth it. G would agree…

Unfortunately since the Suncrisps were slim pickings, we gathered a small bag to munch on and moved onto the Romes. I actually had never had a Rome Apple before, but they were awesome. It was also M’s first time to the apple orchard and she liked it just as much as mama.

And I love everything about the orchard… But what I love most is being able to share the experience and tradition of apple picking every Fall with these little ones. 
Okay, on to the applesauce…
One of my favorite childhood memories is making homemade applesauce with my dad. I’m making it sound like I really helped, but I didn’t. I sat at the kitchen table with him while he peeled and cored the apples. I would munch on the peels as they spiraled off the apples. I loved everything about those moments.

When I was pregnant with B I craved my dad’s homemade applesauce. I didn’t crave much when pregnant but dad’s applesauce and mom’s mac n cheese. I brought my dad a bag full of apples once and he graciously made me a pot of his applesauce. I don’t think I shared a spoonfull. 

I wanted to share the memory of making applesauce with B. He’s the best little helper. 

We used about 20 apples to make a full pot of applesauce. 

We peeled, cored, and sliced the apples with the help of our little tool. Of course, this can be done by hand but way easier with one of these bad boys. 

Put the apples over medium heat. Once slightly softened, I used a wooden spatula to further break up the apples. Add 1 1/2 cups water, 1/2 cup light brown sugar and two cinnamon sticks.

Cook on medium heat until the apples have softened completely and browned, approximately half an hour. 
I prefer my applesauce like my dad’s, chunky, so I don’t puree it. If you prefer smooth applesauce, you can puree in a blender or by using an hand emulsion blender. 

Honeycrisp Apple Fritters

honeycrisp apple fritters

About once every weekend, I announce “I need to bake something. What sounds good?” to my family. There’s rarely a shortage of suggestions and for the past month or so, my husband has been repeatedly requesting apple fritters. I would briefly consider his suggestion, but then dismiss it because it just seemed like too much work. Until this weekend. The poor guy had been sick all week and finally got his appetite back. So when he asked for apple fritters for the 5th time, I complied. Read More

The Vermont 75

Since returning from our little jaunt to Vermont, I’m finding that many of my sentences are starting with “Well, in Vermont….” or “We had the best ___ (food/drink/etc) in Vermont”. I’m sure we’re being pretty annoying to our friends and family (sorry guys). But we can’t help ourselves –  they just do things right in Vermont!

We had such a great time visiting Burlington, Stowe, and Woodstock (and several towns in between). Even though we were a little early for fall foliage season, the scenery was still breathtaking. Rolling hills and mountains, brightly painted barns, covered bridges, old stone houses, rivers, lakes, and waterfalls … Vermont really has it all. Here are a few of my favorite photos from our trip.

Union Covered Bridge –  Woodstock
Moss Glen Falls – Stowe

Bicycles at The Woodstock Inn – Woodstock

Woodstock

Local Butcher Shop – Woodstock

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Waterfront Park – Burlington
Citizen Cider – Burlington
Our visit to Citizen Cider actually inspired this drink. We enjoyed a tasting of several of the cider varieties they produce, and then sampled one of their cocktails, which was their spin on a French 75. It was amazing. The only problem is that we can’t get Citizen Cider down here in South Carolina (hopefully they are working on that!), so we’ve had to adapt this recipe slightly. 
The Vermont 75
Ingredients

3 oz. hard cider of your choice (Citizen’s, if you can get it in your state!)
1 oz. gin (we brought some Vermont-made Barr Hill Gin back in our suitcase)
1/2 oz. lemon juice (or skip the lemon juice and honey syrup and use one ounce of our Meyer Lemon simple syrup)

1/2 oz. honey syrup (recipe below)

Directions

Pour gin, lemon juice and honey into a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Pour into champagne flute and top with cider. Stir gently. Garnish with an apple slice.

Honey Syrup
Love this stuff! Adds so much more interest to a drink than regular old simple syrup. 

4 oz. honey
4 oz. water

Heat in microwave, stir until dissolved.

Sausage, Spinach & White Beans with Goat Cheese

There are so many reasons I love the fall – brilliantly colored leaves, apple orchards (and cider), football, pumpkin patches, Halloween, Thanksgiving etc. Plus there’s the fact that everyone else seems a little happier (because they love fall too!).

This Sausage, Spinach and White Beans dish epitomizes the perfect fall dinner for me. It’s hearty and healthy and is sure to warm you up on a cool fall day.

Sausage, Spinach & White Beans with Goat Cheese

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
4 links of hot or sweet Italian sausage, sliced on the bias
1 can of cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of diced tomatoes (14 oz)
1/2 of a yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups of spinach, rough chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 of a cup of crumbled goat cheese, for topping

Directions

Start by heating your olive oil in a large skillet pan. Add sausage pieces and brown on both sides. Remove from pan.

Add the onion to the pan and cook until translucent. Add garlic, cooking just until fragrant. Add can of diced tomatoes (with juice). Add sausage back to pan. Add white beans. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add chopped spinach and cook until just wilted. Serve in shallow bowls with goat cheese sprinkled on top. Enjoy with some fresh bread!

Sausage, Spinach & White Beans

$3 Halloween Decoration

I’ll be honest. I don’t love Halloween. I like it, but it’s definitely not my favorite holiday. For this reason, I’m a little stingy when it comes to shelling out money for Halloween decorations. Come Christmastime, money feels like no object. But Halloween? Not so much.

During my weekly trip to Target, I wandered into the Halloween section and immediately spotted some cute and spooky skeletons in cages. The size that I wanted was going to run me about $25 and as I looked at it with my DIY-er eye, I realized I could probably make something very similar for a couple of bucks. And so I did. Here’s how!

Supplies

15 ft of 1/4″ dowel rods
2 equally sized pieces of scrap wood (my pieces were about 7.25×5)
16″ plastic skeleton (Dollar Store … Target has them too, but you’ll pay a little more)

First, cut your dowel rods into 18″ lengths. Stack your two end pieces of wood and mark holes every two inches or so (stacking them will make sure that your holes line up when you insert your dowel rods).

Make sure your hole pattern is the same on the sides that are across from one another. Using a 1/4 inch drill bit, drill all the way through the one board and part-way through the board underneath (the board underneath will serve as the top).

Drill a small hole in the middle of the under-side of your top piece, and secure a small hook to hang the skeleton. (This step is not pictured)
This part takes a little patience. Insert your dowel rods into the bottom end and then carefully line up the dowels with the holes in the top end. You could put a bit of glue in the holes if you really wanted it to be secure. I’m using this decoration for a couple of weeks in a location that is out of reach from the children, so I wasn’t too worried about building something super sturdy. 

Spray with black paint – two coats is ideal. Hang your skeleton from the installed hook and pose as desired.