The minute the leaves begin to turn and the air feels crisp in the morning, I want to make ALL THE PUMPKIN AND APPLE THINGS!!! The warm, homey scent of these fruits of fall comforts me as I say goodbye to the carefree days of summer. So here are eight of my favorite ways to delight in fall flavors. Your kids can help make all of these recipes (or maybe even make them on their own!).
Buy once, use twice: The only difference between pumpkin pie spice blend and apple pie spice blend is that the pumpkin pie spice adds ginger and allspice. I find that these subtle, spicy-sweet notes add as much to apple recipes as they do pumpkin ones. So I pop into The Spice House or Penzey’s, buy one container of pumpkin pie spice, and make it my goal to use it all up by the New Year.
Pump(kin) It Up!
Note: All of these recipes call for plain pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling. Read your cans carefully. Or you can roast your own pumpkin and puree it yourself. Get on with your Martha Stewart self.
Pumpkin Smoothie: Place a half of a frozen banana, ½ cup pumpkin puree, 1 teaspoon vanilla, ¾ cup milk, 1- 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, and ½ teaspoon (or more) of pumpkin pie spice in the blender. Blend. Enjoy a veggie serving as breakfast. Boom! You’re practically a nutritionist.
Pumpkin Bread: I love this recipe from Deb at Smitten Kitchen. Pro-tips: Use melted butter, not oil. This loaf is as huge as it is advertised, so I divide the batter into smaller pans and/or make muffins. I substitute 2-3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice instead of her mix of cinnamon and such. I also omit the cinnamon sugar topping to help convince myself that I’m eating healthfully.
Pumpkin Oatmeal: Add ¼ cup pumpkin, 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, and 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup to your regular oatmeal recipe. If you don’t have one, look at the side of the oat package. It’s up to your preference: stove or microwave, milk or water. I like rolled oats WAY better than instant for this.
Pumpkin Echiladas: Martha Stewart does it right with this easy enchilada recipe. I add one can drained and rinsed black beans to chicken and scallion filling, and save time by using a rotisserie chicken. I can get ten to twelve enchiladas with the filling mix, so you might need more tortillas. I also jazz up the sauce by adding 2 teaspoons cumin and ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice to the sauce. This is easy to make 1-2 days ahead or to freeze so it can be a quick weeknight meal.
Apples Are Not Just for Pie
Sautéed Apples, Leeks, and Brussels Sprouts with Bacon: Fry up a ½ lb. bacon. Remove the bacon and let it drain on paper towel. Lay one pound of halved Brussels sprouts face down in hot bacon fat and cover, cooking over medium heat. Uncover after about four minutes, when they are bright green. Let the flat side get brown over medium low heat, then season with salt and pepper. Set aside. You might need a teaspoon or two of butter if the pan is looking dry. Add two or three thinly sliced leeks and let sweat until wilted, then add three or four peeled, cored and sliced apples. Continue sautéing the apples and leeks until the apples are slightly softened. Season with salt and pepper. Add Brussels back in and stir in one tablespoon apple cider vinegar. Crumble the bacon over the top and serve.
Pork Tenderloin and Apple Sheet Pan Supper: Season a pork tenderloin with olive oil, and a seasoning blend (salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, oregano, and a tiny bit of brown sugar). I throw it on a cookie sheet with sweet potato wedges tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. At the 15 minute mark, I add apple wedges seasoned with oil and a dash of pumpkin pie spice, and broccoli florets tossed in the same stuff as the sweeties. One (big) cookie sheet, one very complete dinner in 30 minutes.
Apple Crostata: This is the lazy woman’s apple pie, and I am even lazier than the recipe! I use a store bought crust and I don’t peel apples. I skip Ina’s spices and make the crumble with 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice. I always serve this with ice cream or whipped cream.
Apple Pancakes: These are so simple: make pancake batter as you normally do (from a mix, from scratch, same diff), but add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, two peeled and grated apples, and ¼ to ½ teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice to your mix. Cook and serve as you normally do pancakes, except these are much more special.