Best Spots to Apple Pick In Central New Jersey

Welcome to apple season! I know, some of the orchards have been picking for weeks already – but now that the kids are officially back in school, I’m ready to embrace the fall.

Apple picking is such an iconic fall activity but it can also be a bit of a zoo. The most popular farms seem to be trending more towards the tourism and less towards the apples. When I go apple picking, I want good trees and friendly faces – not bounce houses, train rides, and a million other things to shell out money for on top of the entrance fee.

Stay Strong and Free

This is obviously not an exhaustive list of apple orchards – there are so many, and I’m sure everyone has their own favorites. These are my personal favorites, and ones that I highly recommend if you’re looking for somewhere to pick in the area.

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Terhune Orchards, Princeton

Terhune has two locations around the corner from each other. On fall weekends, the main farm hosts Apple Days and Fall Fun Weekends – there is live music and lots of activities – it gets busy and you can’t actually apple pick there. Instead, avoid all of that and head over to their orchard on Van Kirk Rd. where it’s much quieter. The trees are dwarves, so no ladders or pickers needed, and you’ll only need to pay for what you pick.

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Bonacorsi Family Farm, Flemington

Bonacorsi is my current favorite pick-your-own spot. It’s a no-frills, working farm, so you won’t get any of the extras, but this is a place that will make you feel like family – the Bonacorsis are always around to offer tips, recipe suggestions, or just to chat. Again, they have dwarf trees so no ladders or pickers required and there is no fee to enter, just pay for what you pick.

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Riamede Farms, Chester

Riamede is the perfect stop if you want to hit all the fall favorites with none of the fanfare. There is apple picking, pumpkin picking, a farm store that sells cider and doughnuts. On weekends, they also run a free hayride around the orchard. There is a modest per-person fee to get into the orchard, but it’s much less than surrounding farms.

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Melick’s Town Farm, Califon & Oldwick

Melick’s is definitely a bigger operation – they have more than 20,000 apple trees! – but it doesn’t feel that way. There are two locations to pick at, and they’re both great. Both have a plethora of apples for picking – no entry fee, just pay for what you pick – pumpkin picking, and hayrides on the weekends. The Oldwick location also features a working cider press.

Where is your favorite place to apple pick?

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Basil Burgers with Sundried Tomato Mayonnaise

I am in total denial that it’s Labor Day weekend. Where did my summer go?!

The bucket lists we created at the beginning of the summer still have a lot that needs to be checked off, so we’re spending the long weekend concentrating on family time and checking off a few last items. Oh, and there will be plenty of grilling.

If you’re looking for something fun-but-easy to make this weekend, these burgers are a great candidate – especially if you have a whole bunch of basil to use up. The addition of the basil makes these fresh and perfect for the end of summer.

BasilBurgers

Basil Burgers with Sundried Tomato Mayonnaise
(adapted from Taste of Home)
Serves 6

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (the dried kind – not packed in oil)
1 cup boiling water
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
Fresh mozzarella, for serving
Hamburger buns, for serving

Add the dried tomatoes to the water and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Drain and add the tomatoes to a food processor, along with the mayonnaise. Process until smooth.

In a large bowl, combine the Worcestershire, basil, Italian seasoning, garlic, salt and pepper. Break up the ground beef over the spices, and mix until well combined. Divide into 6 equal balls, and form into patties.

Grill over medium-high heat for approximately five minutes per side.  Add mozzarella during the last minute and allow to melt.

Serve on buns with sundried tomato mayonnaise.

 

Fresh Corn Salsa (5)

Raspberry Chocolate Sweet Rolls

This post is like a love letter shout-out to my moms club friends. Because, oh, do they humor me.

It’s hard to make friends as an adult, and I was super lucky to fall into this group shortly after becoming a mom. Having a local group of women going through the same stage of life has been invaluable for my sanity.

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And, like I said, they humor me. When I come up with something I get excited about, I can count on them to jump in and be excited too. My latest pet project? Monthly potluck dinners. This month’s theme was “Back to School” so everyone brought slow cooker meals and freezer-friendly casseroles. Next month, we’re doing “Fall Favorites”.

Besides the good company and the opportunity to try things I wouldn’t normally make, this also gives me a captive audience for recipe testing. I’ve been making cinnamon rolls for Christmas for the last few years, but I keep eyeing recipes that are variations. This sweet combo is amazing as a decedent breakfast or special dessert.

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Raspberry Chocolate Sweet Rolls
(adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)
Makes 16

For the dough:
1 cup milk
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 and 1/2 Tbsp. active dry yeast
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

For the filling:
12-oz. package frozen raspberries
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. cornstarch
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips

For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. heavy cream

To make the dough:

In a small saucepan over low heat, heat the milk until lukewarm. Add the warm milk to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Stir in the sugar and yeast using a spoon. Cover with a towel and let stand 5-10 minutes, until yeast is activated and looks foamy. Add the softened butter, eggs, and salt and mix until combined but the butter will be chunky. Slowly add the flour and beat at medium speed until a soft dough forms. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until the dough is soft and pliable, about 10 minutes longer.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it with your hands for about 2 minutes. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly greased bowl. Cover the dough and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.

Line the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper, sprayed with non-stick spray.

Place the dough on a floured work surface. Roll the dough into an even 10×24 inch rectangle.

To make the filling:

In a medium bowl, toss the still-frozen raspberries with the sugar and cornstarch. Gently mash the raspberries so they are small pieces. Spread evenly over the dough. Sprinkle with the mini chocolate chips. Tightly roll up the dough to form a 24-inch-long log. Cut into 15 even pieces. Arrange them in the prepared baking pan, cut sides up. Cover the rolls and let them rise in a warm place until they are puffy, about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Cover the rolls with foil and bake for about 25 minutes, until they are golden and the chocolate chips are melted. Transfer the whole pan to a rack to cool for about 15 minutes.

To make the glaze:

Whisk the confectioner’s sugar and heavy cream together in a small bowl until smooth. Add more sugar or cream, depending how thick you want the glaze. Pour glaze over the rolls. Serve warm.

Fresh Corn Salsa (6)

Balsamic Grilled Vegetables

In the food blogger world, we’re often working ahead. Like, I’m currently working on Christmas cookies, as absurd as that sounds on this 80 degree summer day. Sometimes I feel like I’m living three steps ahead, not in the moment, so I was super excited that more than 80% of you were still up for summer recipes when I asked on Facebook this week.

Hurray, summer!

I feel like I’ve missed most of it, honestly. The move chewed up so much of my time that I feel like I’m frantically playing catch up now before school starts.  Grilling is something I’m catching up on – we finally got our grill ready to go this week. This was the first thing I made.

This “recipe” is really flexible – it’s more of a method. You can use any vegetables you have on hand. Want it to cook faster? Cut the pieces smaller. Want the veggies to caramelize a little more? Don’t stir as often. Sub the balsamic for fresh Parmesan. Add a nice, crusty loaf of bread and serve it as a meal. So many options!

It can also be served warm, cold, or at room temp which makes it so flexible for potlucks or entertaining.

BalsamicGrilledVeggies

Balsamic Grilled Vegetables
(adapted from Stop & Shop)
Serves 6-8 as a side

1 eggplant
2 zucchini
1 red pepper
1/2 red onion
1 pint cherry tomatoes
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. fresh basil, julienned
2 Tbsp. balsamic glaze

Preheat the grill to medium-high.

Chop the vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Toss with olive oil and season with slat and pepper.

Add to a grill basket. Grill for 20-25 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

When done, transfer to a serving bowl. Top with fresh basil and drizzle with balsamic glaze.

Fresh Corn Salsa (4)

Peanut Butter Granola Bars

I can’t believe we’re already talking back to school, but here we are. I feel like we lost most of our summer to the move (because, we did), so I’m sort of wishing these next few weeks would slow down a bit. We still have a lot on our summer bucket lists that we want to check off!

But, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit excited about back to school. I can’t wait to get everyone back on a routine and have life be somewhat normal again. This move, man. It’s really thrown us off our groove!

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I’m also excited about getting the kids back on some sort of normal eating schedule. What is it about summer that makes them want snacks ALL THE TIME? As soon as I was mixing these up they were both in the kitchen, asking incessantly when they’d be done.

These totally got the kids’ seal of approval. And mine. I know no-bake granola bars are generally more popular, but in my opinion, you just can’t beat the chewiness you get from baked ones. They would make a really rocking lunchbox treat or after school snack.

And if you’re looking for more back-to-school inspiration, I’m linking up with some other bloggers today. From quick breakfasts to specials treats – and everything in between – they’ve got you covered:

 

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Peanut Butter Granola Bars
(adapted from Just a Taste)
Makes 18

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1 egg
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup. light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Like a 9×13″ pan with parchment and spray with non-stick spray.

With an electric mixer, beat together the peanut butter, honey, egg, oil, and vanilla until smooth.

In another bowl, combine the oats, sugar, and salt. Add the oats to the peanut butter mixture and stir until evenly combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and pat down evenly.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are golden-brown. Set on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before removing from the pan.

Cool completely, and then slice into 18 equal pieces.

Fresh Corn Salsa (3)

Roasted Peach Lemonade #farmersmarketweek

I’ve been waxing nostalgic lately about the summer before my senior year of college. I think a lot of it has to do with how easy life was then. I had cobbled together a few cushy jobs on campus – web design, the library – that were enough to pay my bills, but leave me with long weekends. I binge watched Sex and the City for the first time. Mark and I took our first real summer vacation. It was just a really laid-back time.

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And why have I been thinking about that summer? Because things here have been absolute chaos for months. I was overly hopeful that things would calm down once we’re in the new house, but the universe just laughed at that. I’ll be spending this afternoon home while the plumber fixes a leak from the kids’ bathtub (which involved cutting out the ceiling below it). And calling roofers, because the roof is leaking too. And did I mention I have a bubble in my tire that needs fixing? Of course, these are only the urgent things that have popped up in the last few days — the entire to do list is SO much longer.

But, back to that easygoing summer. One of the highlights was the fruit lemonades they served at the campus café. I randomly thought of their peach lemonade the other day, and decided I needed it asap.

This is a great recreation. Roasting the peaches brings out such a great flavor for really no effort. It’s the perfect addition for a barbecue or summer brunch!

Roasted Peach Lemonade

Roasted Peach Lemonade
(adapted from The Naptime Chef)
Makes about 4 cups

2 large peaches, halved and pitted
1 tsp. sugar
4 cups of your favorite lemonade

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with foil and place the peaches on skin-side down. Sprinkle the tops with sugar. Roast for 25 minutes.

Let them cool for a minute or two, then peel them (you should be able to easily pinch the skin off after roasting. Add the peaches to a food processor or blender, along with 1/4 cup lemonade. Blend until smooth and frothy. Stir into the remaining lemonade and serve.

Roasted Peach

#farmersmarketweek wraps up today! Here’s our grand finale:

Friday #FarmersMarketWeek Recipes

 

Corn and Zucchini Skillet #farmersmarketweek

Yesterday, I talked about the plethora of summer zucchini. Today, let’s talk corn.

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Since joining the CSA, our summer corn consumption has jumped a lot. This is partly because the corn we get is really, really good and partly because corn is one of our farm’s biggest crops, so there’s a lot to go around.

I love when there’s a plethora of things, because it gets me to break out of my comfort zone more. In pre-CSA summers, we’d do grilled corn on the cob whenever I picked up corn. But now that we pretty much always have, I feel like I have license to play around a bit more.

This simple but flavorful skillet was born out of my experimenting. I had corn and zucchini to use up – and a bunch of fresh herbs waiting to be used. Add in some fresh parmesan and this side dish was a sure hit!

ZucchiniCornSkillet

Corn and Zucchini Skillet
(a Kate’s Recipe Box original)
Serves 6

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
3 small zucchinis, coin sliced
2 large ears of corn, cleaned and kernels cut off
1 Tbsp. fresh chives, chopped
1 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped
1 tsp. fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the corn and zucchini. Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the herbs and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Fresh Corn Salsa (2)

Hitting your local farmer’s market today? Here is some more inspiration for you!

Thursday #FarmersMarketWeek Recipes

Zucchini Scones #farmersmarketweek

If there’s one piece of produce synonymous with summer, it’s got to be zucchini. I feel like everyone knows someone that has waaaay too much zucchini in their garden and is trying to pass it off on everyone. (PS, if you’re that person, I’m happy to take it!)

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These scones were something I made for myself. I figured vegetables in a not-overly-sweet pastry would be a hard sell, but as soon as these came out of the oven, the kids were BEGGING for them. They requested them for snack twice that day, and were thoroughly bummed when I informed them they weren’t allowed to have them again for dinner.

To be fair, they really are delicious. The buttery, flaky layers here are so on point! There’s just enough sweetness in these to make them perfect, but not overly sweet, and they’re a great way to use up some of that zucchini that I know you have hanging around!

ZucchiniScones

Zucchini Scones
(from Baker by Nature)
Makes 8

2 and 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 stick (unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream (full fat)
2/3 cup zucchini, grated and drained
3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated, divided

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment.

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar. Cut in the butter until it forms a course meal.

In a smaller bowl, combine the egg and sour cream. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in the zucchini and 1/2 cup cheese.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board and work it into a round loaf shape. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut like a pie into 8 wedges.

Carefully transfer the wedges to the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the tops with remaining cheese.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

These are best served the same day.

 

Fresh Corn Salsa (1)

Looking for more farm fresh inspiration? Here’s what other bloggers have cooked up for you today as part of #farmersmarketweek!

 

Wednesday #FarmersMarketWeek Recipes

Fresh Corn Salsa #farmersmarketweek

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One of the things I love about being part of a CSA farm is that I’m learning a lot about how to prepare food. Like, last year I got schooled in sweet corn. Do you cook it? Then you’re doing it wrong!

Fresh from the field corn is so, so good raw. One day when we were there, they taught the kids how to pick and husk the corn in the field, and told them to try it raw. It’s even sweeter raw, and the kids gobbled it up. For the rest of the summer, it was their snack of choice and I didn’t get a chance to cook another ear!

This easy salsa uses farm-fresh sweet corn. If you have a local source, that’s your best option. We love this with chips, but it’s also great tucked in burritos and to top tacos.

FreshCornSalsa

Fresh Corn Salsa
(a Kate’s Recipe Box original)
Makes about 2 cups

3 large ears of sweet corn, cleaned and cut off the cob
1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. lime juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

Stir together the corn, pepper, onion and cilantro.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lime juice, salt and pepper.  Pour over the corn and toss to coat.

Fresh Corn Salsa

Looking for more #farmersmarketweek inspiration? Here is what my fellow bloggers are cooking up today!

Tuesday #FarmersMarketWeek Recipes

 

Sour Cream Peach Pie #farmersmarketweek

Today I’m kicking off Farmer’s Market Week and I couldn’t be more excited!

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With the mid-summer move this year, we never got our garden going, so we’ve been relying heavily on our CSA farm all summer – and we’ve been eating well! I can’t wait to show off what I’ve been making to use our farm share ingredients, and I’m excited to be linking up with other blogger friends all week – you can check out today’s batch of recipes below. It’s sure to be great inspiration for you and me!

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I’m starting the week off with this gorgeous peach pie.  This is actually a recipe that I made a few years back and regretted not photographing for the blog – it’s delicious. And since it’s served cold, it’s really perfect for a hot summer day. The fresh peaches pair wonderfully with the creamy sour cream base and the crunch of the brown sugar topping.

Really, guys, go grab some peaches and make this – you need a slice in your life!

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Sour Cream Peach Pie
(slightly adapted from Oh Sweet Basil)
Makes 1 pie

1 unbaked pie crust – store bought or 1 minute pie dough

Pie filling:
3 cups peaches, peeled and sliced
3 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup sour cream (not fat free!)
1 tsp. vanilla

Crumb topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
4 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into chunks

Peach topping:
1 cup peaches, peeled and sliced
2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. flour

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and prepare your pie dough in the pan.

Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, whip the egg yolks until light in color.  Using a spoon, stir  in the flour, salt, sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Stir in the sour cream and vanilla until well combined. Fold in the peaches. Pour into the prepared pie crust.

Bake for 15 minutes.

While that bakes, make the crumb topping: whisk together the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in the cold butter until pea-sized crumbs form.

Then, make the peach topping: Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and flour. Toss the peaches in until coated.

Remove the pie from the oven, and cover with the crumb topping. Press the peaches in around the top of the pie.

Return to the oven for 30 more minutes. If the crust starts to brown too much, cover it with foil.

Remove from the oven and let cool, then transfer to the refrigerator for at least 3 hours to firm up.

Monday #FarmersMarketWeek Recipes