As I've said, I adore fall. I love the colors, the sights, the sounds, and the flavors. Ooh, the flavors. Apple, pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, cardamom, ginger. It's almost enough to make my mouth water right now. Some kind soul was generous enough to bring bags of apples and pears to work, leaving them in the kitchen with a note encouraging others to help themselves, saying they were particularly well-suited for baking. I took the opportunity to bake some fall treats and ran with it.
First, I made apple oat bars. Being the ambitious (but still rather inexperienced) cook that I am, I endeavored to make bars without refined sugar or oil. I made the base with ground oats, a little flour, and egg whites, which worked pretty well. The filling was apples cooked in the crockpot until soft, some diced, some run through the food processor. The topping was just oats and more cinnamon, but it didn't crisp or hold together well, so I'll have to add some sort of binder to the topping next time. Overall, these were pretty good, but lacking any over-the-top wow factor. I will continue working with the recipe until I get a better version I can customize with other fruits.
And I made applesauce. It was by far the easiest of the apple-baking recipes. I combined diced apples (although I had to peel them first) with cinnamon, vanilla, Stevia, and water in a crockpot and let the slow cooker do its thing. Of course, I had to stir it from time to time, but it was a nice hands-off way to make my apartment smell good and get some delicious cinnamon-y applesauce. I've been eating it plain and topping oatmeal with it.
And I made apple chips. These, too, had a pleasantly short list of ingredients- just apples and cinnamon. I don't have an apple corer, so I cut my apples into quarters to remove the core, and then cut them into slices. The thinner slices crisped better in the oven than the slightly thicker ones did, but I found that keeping them in an airtight container returned all of them to a semi-chewy texture by the next day. I can't decide if I like them that way or not.
And I made apple pie cinnamon rolls. While I have yet to actually eat any of these because I finished them so late last night and didn't want to burn the roof of my mouth by eating them when they were piping hot, they smelled fantastic and came out looking much better than I thought they were going to when I put them in the oven. I will admit that I created quite a mess assembling them, since my filling was really watery (probably cooked for too long in the crockpot), running out onto the table and making the dough incredibly difficult to roll into a log. The result was a wet, doughy, apple cinnamon mush mess all over my cutting board and dining room table (thankfully the cutting board took the brunt of it). I must say, though, that after scooping the dough up and re-shaping it into semi-respectable rolls to nestle into the pan, they appear to have recovered quite well from their unappetizing beginnings.
And I made chai spice pear oatmeal. I neglected to take a picture of this one, probably because I devoured all three servings so quickly. I combined the ingredients in mason jars and stored them in the fridge, making it super easy to grab and take to work for breakfast. I really liked the combination of the flavors, although I didn't have cardamom and omitted all but just the tiniest bit of sweetener, since I don't normally add much sweetener to my oatmeal. I was a bit hesitant to try pears in oatmeal, especially with spices I normally associate with apples, but the flavors complemented each other very well, and I would make these again in a heartbeat.
And the fun's not over yet! I currently have a batch of apples in my crockpot to make plain applesauce to use for baking. And I have intentions of going to an apple orchard to not only get some apples, but pumpkins, too! Now what kind of pumpkin concoctions should I make? I'm already thinking about maple pumpkin scones and pumpkin gingerbread. And butternut squash soup. And stuffed acorn squash. Basically all the fall foods.
What are your favorite fall foods?