Fall activities in Columbus always seem to include apple picking. We have so many great U-pick farms nearby, and I love ANY activity that encourages my 4-year-old to pick fresh fruit off a tree and snack away. What I DON’T love is the fallout 3 days later when she’s sick of eating fresh apples, and I’m sick of making apple sauce. Ugh.
I’m a savory girl at heart and not a huge fan of sweet treats so it’s always a struggle to use up my apples. I thought others might be in the same boat? If so, here are 3 recipes to try.
Apfelkuchen (German Apple Cake)
So I know I just said I wasn’t a fan of sweet treats and here I am I starting with a cake recipe….but hear me out. This is a European style cake and is not as sweet as traditional cakes. If you prefer a sweeter cake, you’ll need to increase the sugar OR as my husband loves to do in our house – serve it with vanilla ice cream!
Side note: Did you know that Columbus has a fantastic Kinderchor?! My daughter sang with the Columbus Kinderchor last Christmas and it was so much fun to hear her singing songs in German. One of the songs she learned was “Bache Bache Kuchen” (Bake, Bake a cake!) and while I was mixing the batter for the Apple cake, she kept shouting out all my ingredients in German. You should look for the Kinderchor performances this holiday season – nothing sweeter than the littles singing “O Tannenbaum.”
1 cup flour
¼ cup brown sugar + 1 Tbl for topping
1 Tbl apple pie seasoning
¼ cup white sugar
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
3 small apples, cored and peeled
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup (1 stick) softened butter*
*Who has time for butter to soften?! Not this busy mama. You can take a stick of butter directly from the fridge and pop in the microwave for 10 – 15 seconds. Perfectly softened butter. Also, I always save the butter wrapper to grease my pan.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Take two cored apples and cut into a small dice. Take the last apple and thinly slice – this will be to decorate the top of your cake.
Cream together softened butter and both sugars. Add in eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, apple pie seasoning and salt. Blend into the creamed butter mixture. Mix in the diced apples (reserve the sliced apples for the top of cake)
The batter will be fairly thick, but it’s ok. As the apples cook down, they’ll provide wonderful moisture and flavor into the cake.
Pour batter into a greased 9 or 10-inch baking pan or deep pie plate. Top with sliced apples, and sprinkle remaining brown sugar on top. Bake for 25-30 min or until the center is baked through. I like to stick a fork in it to make sure it’s done.
Caramelized Onion-Apple Tart
I think technically this might be a more “grown-up” recipe – perfect for a date night in, or to share with a book club, but let your kids try it and they might surprise you. My 4-year old couldn’t stop eating this. (To be fair, her favorite picnic is “boo-sin with bwead” -baguette smeared with Boursin cheese)
2 large white onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 Tbl butter
2 large apples, cored and thinly sliced (I left peels on)
A few sprigs of fresh Thyme
Salt to taste
Frozen Puff Pastry
⅓ cup of veggie cream cheese or Boursin cheese
Egg wash (1 egg mixed with 1 Tbl of water)
I’m going to be honest with you. This is a pretty easy recipe for many people. Patient people. Calm people. People that have Zen. I’m not that person, and as such, this was a struggle for me. But you guys, this is so insanely delicious, I forced myself to make this dish. Any other caramelized onion fans out there? I LOVE caramelized onions. But man oh man, they are a challenge for me to make because I AM SO IMPATIENT! The trick to delicious caramelized onions is to cook them slow and low. I know what you’re thinking…who has time for that?! But please, from one impatient mama to another, try to get past that step in the recipe. It’s worth it. I promise you.
Melt your butter into the largest sauté pan you can find over low heat. Add sliced onions. If it looks like an insane amount of onions, you’re on the right track. Lightly stir the onions to coat with the butter. At this point, feel free to clean your kitchen. Read a magazine. Drink some wine. Between indulgent articles and sips of wine, don’t forget to stir the onions every few minutes. About 20-25 minutes into this (super freaking boring) step, add in the sliced apples. Keep stirring occasionally. I know you’re tempted to turn the heat up to medium, but DON’T. Keep it low and slow.
Pull out your package of puff pastry (we’re only using one of the two packages) and let it sit on the counter to thaw. Mix up your egg wash. (Crack an egg into a small bowl, add 1 tablespoon of water, and beat together)
After another 20 minutes, you should be getting close to onions that are a deep brown color.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Keep stirring those onions and apples. Add some salt to taste (I added a ½ tsp), and about a tablespoon of fresh Thyme. (I like to hold the sprig upside down by the tip of the stick, and use my thumb and index finger to slide the leaves off quickly….wheee!)
Once your pastry dough has thawed, press it into a greased 9 x 13 glass pan. Spread the cream cheese OR Boursin cheese on the dough, leaving about a half inch crust. Spread the apple-onion mixture on top of the cream cheese. Using a pastry brush, brush the edges of the pastry with egg wash. Bake until the edges look crispy and golden, about 25 – 30 minutes.
There is something about apples and pork that just goes so well together. This is one of my favorite fall recipes – in fact, the kitchen smells like fall when you start making this. It’s simple, delicious, and quick – the trifecta!
2 large apples, cored (I left peels on)
2 stalks of celery, small dice
1 small yellow onion, small dice
½ lb of your favorite bulk sausage
4 slices of bread
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp ground sage
Salt, to taste
Cube bread and set aside. (If your bread is stale, even better! If not, sometimes I like to pop them into a 200-degree oven for a few minutes to harden them up a bit)
Cook sausage and drain all but a tsp of fat. Set sausage aside. In the same pan, add in your celery and onion. Cook over medium heat until soft. Add in a couple of tablespoons of water, and your poultry seasoning and sage . Stir in the cooked sausage. Stir in the bread. Add more water if needed. Taste and add salt if needed (depending on the brand of sausage you’re using, you might not need to add any). Once heated through, fluff with a fork before serving.
This stuffing is great with chicken or turkey. I like to layer thin pieces of chicken and stuffing into a baking dish, season the chicken and bake until cooked through. Confession: I also like to just eat it with a fork. I justify this because….hey! It’s got a bunch of food groups – meat, bread, veggies, fruit…right?