Shrunken Head Punch

We are in full Halloween mode here: decorations are up, costumes are in progress, treats have been purchased. And something I’m extra excited about this year: we’re having a trick-or treat party.

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Every year while growing up, our house was home base for trick or treating friends. We’d all meet up there, my parents would order lots of pizza, and we’d spend Halloween coming and going and eating too much candy.  This year, we’re having some friends over to do the same thing with our kids, and I’m totally geeking out about it.

If you’re hosting a trick or treat party – or other Halloween party – this is the perfect spooky drink to make. Leave it virgin for the kids, or spike it up with caramel vodka, vanilla vodka, or Fireball for the adults.  You can make the apples ahead and mix up the punch in less than five minutes when you’re ready for it.

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Carving the shrunken apple heads is the most difficult part of this, but the beauty is it’s Halloween – they can be perfectly imperfect. You can also make the faces to match the crowd – scarier faces for an older crowd while silly faces would be perfect for a preschool gathering.

We had a lot of fun with this – the kids especially got a kick out of “the faces floating in there”!

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Shrunken Head Punch
(a Kate’s Recipe Box original)
Serves 12

3-4 apples
1/4 cup lemon juice

6 cups apple cider
1 1/2 cups pear nectar
4 1/2 cups ginger ale

Optional: Vanilla vodka, caramel vodka, or Fireball, to taste

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Working with one apple at a time, peel and core the apples, then cut in half. Using a paring knife or other tool, carve faces into the apple halves and dunk in the lemon juice.

Lay the carved apples on a rack over a baking sheet. When they are all carved, transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 1-2 hours, until the apples appear shrunken. Remove from the oven and cool.

Combine the apple cider, pear nectar, and ginger ale in a punch bowl or large pitcher. Add the cooled apple heads, and alcohol, if desired.

Fresh Corn Salsa

Looking for more Halloween inspiration? Here you go! And check back on Thursday when we’ll have another round of Halloween goodies ready for you!

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Apple Cinnamon Cake #appleweek

This post is sponsored in conjunction with AppleWeek . I received product samples from sponsor companies to aid in the creation of the AppleWeek recipes. All opinions are mine alone.

I’m wrapping up #appleweek today with the simplest dish of the week – and my personal favorite.

One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that while the over-the-top, super involved recipes can be really fun, simple recipes with great ingredients are often just as good – if not better.

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This cake falls into the super simple category. The whole thing takes just about 10 minutes to prep, and instead of something super polished, it’s got the rustic beauty thing going for it.

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And honestly, it’s delicious. This is the perfect cake to pair with a hot cup or tea or coffee, a book, and some of this crisp fall air.  Who wants a slice?

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Also, now that you’ve seen all the apple goodness, be sure to pop over and enter to win some amazing prizes from #appleweek sponsors! You can enter here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Apple Cinnamon Cake
(adapted from Skimbaco Lifestyle)
Makes 1 9″ Cake

3 eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup + 2 Tbsp. sugar, divided
1 large apple
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract (I used Rodelle)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Powdered sugar

Preheat the oven 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9″ baking pan and set aside.

Peel, core, and slice the apple. In a bowl, toss the apple slices with 2 Tbsp. sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, until evenly coated.

Using an electric mixer, beat together the eggs, flour, sugar, and vanilla until fluffy.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Arrange the cinnamon-sugar coated apple slices on top, pushing them down just slightly.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool for several minutes, then remove from the pan and dust with powdered sugar.

Fresh Corn Salsa (12)

Out with a bang! Check out these Saturday Recipes:

 

Disclaimer: Thank you AppleWeek Sponsors: Swiss Diamond, Nordic Ware, Envy Apples, Imperial Sugar, The Spice House, Rodelle Vanilla, Flahavan’s Irish Oats and Nairn’s for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for AppleWeek recipes. All opinions are my own. The AppleWeek giveaway is open to U.S. residents, age 18 & up. All entries for the winner will be checked and verified. By entering you give the right to use your name and likeness. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. Seven (7) winners will be selected. The prize packages will be sent directly from the giveaway sponsors. The AppleWeek Bloggers are not responsible for the fulfillment or delivery of the prize packages. Bloggers hosting this giveaway and their immediate family members in their household cannot enter or win the giveaway. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or any other social channel mentioned in the AppleWeek posts or entry.

Apple Cinnamon Baklava #appleweek

This post is sponsored in conjunction with AppleWeek . I received product samples from sponsor companies to aid in the creation of the AppleWeek recipes. All opinions are mine alone.

Baklava has been on my baking bucket list for so, so long. It’s one of those dishes that I love to get when we’re out, but I always assumed it would be hard to make. I was wrong. A little time consuming? Maybe. But not hard.

This version is fall-perfect with apple chunks in the layers and apple cider in the syrup.

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I used apples from #appleweek sponsor Envy Apples in these. This was my first experience with Envy, but they’re definitely an apple that I’ll seek out now. They’re perfectly delicious eaten on their own, but they were also fantastic to bake with. Every recipe I’ve posted this week using apples has been made with Envy Apples!

Here they hold the flavor and crunch perfectly so you get undeniably apple bites in the middle of this baklava.

Since Envy Apples is one of our sponsors, they’re also offering up a fabulous prize for our #appleweek giveway – a $60 Visa giftcard and a shipment of apples! You can enter here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Apple Cinnamon Baklava
(adapted from Yummy Crumble)
Makes 1 9×13″ pan

2 cups chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 large apple, peeled and chopped
1 package frozen phyllo dough, thawed
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
½ cup apple cider
Dash ground ginger
Dash ground cloves
Dash ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread out the chopped nuts on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes, until fragrant. Transfer the nuts to a food processor along with the brown sugar and 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Pulse a few times until the nuts are chopped medium-fine and sugar is well incorporated. Set aside.

Unroll the phyllo dough on the counter and cover with a damp tea towel to prevent it from drying out.

Using a pastry brush, brush a 9×13″ baking pan with melted butter. Lay two sheets of dough in the pan, and brush with butter. Lay two more sheets of dough over and brush with butter. Lay another two sheets over and brush with butter. (You’ll have 6 sheets total.)

Spread 1/3 of the nut mixture layer over the dough. Spread half of the apple over.

Lay two sheets of dough on top of the apple- nut mixture and brush with butter. Lay two more sheets of dough over and brush with butter. Lay another two sheets over and brush with butter.

Spread 1/3 of the nut mixture layer over the dough.

Lay two sheets of dough on top of the nut mixture and brush with butter. Lay two more sheets of dough over and brush with butter. Lay another two sheets over and brush with butter.

Spread 1/3 of the nut mixture layer over the dough. Spread half of the apple over.

Lay two sheets of dough on top of the apple- nut mixture and brush with butter. Lay two more sheets of dough over and brush with butter. Lay another two sheets over and brush with butter.

Using a sharp knife, cut into slices in a diagonal pattern.

Bake for 45 minutes, until golden.

While it bakes, combine the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until it’s reduced to half.

When the baklava is baked, pour half of the syrup over. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, then pour some more over until fully absorbed.

Fresh Corn Salsa (11)

Here are Friday’s Recipes, full of apple goodness:

 

Disclaimer: Thank you AppleWeek Sponsors: Swiss Diamond, Nordic Ware, Envy Apples, Imperial Sugar, The Spice House, Rodelle Vanilla, Flahavan’s Irish Oats and Nairn’s  for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for AppleWeek  recipes. All opinions are my own. The AppleWeek giveaway is open to U.S. residents, age 18 & up. All entries for the winner will be checked and verified. By entering you give the right to use your name and likeness. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. Seven (7) winners will be selected. The prize packages will be sent directly from the giveaway sponsors. The AppleWeek Bloggers are not responsible for the fulfillment or delivery of the prize packages. Bloggers hosting this giveaway and their immediate family members in their household cannot enter or win the giveaway. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or any other social channel mentioned in the AppleWeek posts or entry.

Cider-Glazed Roasted Chicken #appleweek

This post is sponsored in conjunction with AppleWeek . I received product samples from sponsor companies to aid in the creation of the AppleWeek recipes. All opinions are mine alone.

For me, it is so, so easy to go into these event weeks and make all sweet dishes. The desserts are always a treat and while #appleweek is a great excuse to try out some really fun ones, I always try to make a conscious effort to work in some savory things too.  Getting to try out this Swiss Diamond XD Nonstick Roasting Pan was a great reason to make this  gorgeous chicken for our dinner one night and it was so, so good.

Because you’re starting with a whole, fresh chicken, it does take longer to cook – but the time is largely hands off. I threw potatoes, onions, and apples in the pan too, so this was pretty much a on-dish meal for us – I just added a simple side salad.

Also, this pan is totally dreamy. I never knew a roasting pan could cook so evenly! Or clean up so easily! While I’ve typically only used my roasting pan for holiday turkeys, this pan will surely be in heavy rotation around here.

You can enter to win a cookware set from Swiss Diamond, and lots of other great prizes from #appleweek sponsors, here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Cider-Glazed Roasted Chicken
(adapted from The Comfort of Cooking)
Serves 4-6

3-4 lb. whole chicken
1 lb. new potatoes
1 onion, cut into wedges
2 apples, cored
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 sprig rosemary, removed from the stem and roughly chopped

1 cup apple cider
1 1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. sherry cooking wine
1 tsp. grainy mustard

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

In the bottom of the roasting pan, combine the potatoes, onion, apples, and 1 Tbsp. of olive oil. Toss to evenly coat and season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken on top. Rub with remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and liberally sprinkle with rosemary.

Cook the chicken for approximately 1 hour 20 minutes, until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees.

About a half hour before the chicken is done, combine the cider, brown sugar, sherry cooking wine, and mustard in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 10-15 minutes.

When the chicken is done, pour the cider glaze evenly over everything, and tent the pan with foil. Let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Fresh Corn Salsa (9)

Want to see what other apple dishes are cooking up today? Here are Thursday’s Recipes:

Disclaimer: Thank you AppleWeek Sponsors: Swiss Diamond, Nordic Ware, Envy Apples, Imperial Sugar, The Spice House, Rodelle Vanilla, Flahavan’s Irish Oats and Nairn’s  for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for AppleWeek  recipes. All opinions are my own. The AppleWeek giveaway is open to U.S. residents, age 18 & up. All entries for the winner will be checked and verified. By entering you give the right to use your name and likeness. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. Seven (7) winners will be selected. The prize packages will be sent directly from the giveaway sponsors. The AppleWeek Bloggers are not responsible for the fulfillment or delivery of the prize packages. Bloggers hosting this giveaway and their immediate family members in their household cannot enter or win the giveaway. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or any other social channel mentioned in the AppleWeek posts or entry.

 

Apple Maple Breakfast Sausage #appleweek

This post is sponsored in conjunction with AppleWeek . I received product samples from sponsor companies to aid in the creation of the AppleWeek recipes. All opinions are mine alone.

I’ve already chronicled (complained about?) how crazy our summer was so I’m not going to rehash it again, but suffice it to say we’ve really been enjoying our un-busy fall weekends so far. It’s been a lot of family time and catching up on non-urgent things we enjoy.

It also means we’ve had time for some leisurely breakfasts – a real novelty.

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Mark usually takes the helm and makes big batches of pancakes or eggs for everyone. When I saw The Spice House had a special seasoning blend for breakfast sausage, I knew exactly what I wanted to try making.

The additional of apple and maple syrup make this sausage perfect for your fall breakfast table. Yes, it’s a bit of effort to make it yourself, but I promise it’s so worth it. This is hands-down the best breakfast sausage I’ve ever had.

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You can enter to win a prize pack from Spice House, as well as goodies from other #appleweek sponsors, here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Apple Maple Breakfast Sausage
(a Kate’s Recipe Box original)
Makes about 18 sausages

3/4 lb. ground beef
3/4 lb. ground pork
1/3 cup finely diced onion
1/3 cup shredded apple
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 1/2 Tbsp. Spice House Breakfast Sausage Seasoning

In a large bowl, mix everything together.

Spread out the mixture to 1/2″ thickness and cut into patties using  biscuit cutter. Or, divide the mixture into golf ball-sized portions and shape them into patties.

Cook in a skillet over medium-high until cooked through, flipping over halfway.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate or freeze. These can be reheated on the stovetop or in the microwave.

Fresh Corn Salsa (7)

More apple delights this way! Here are Wednesday’s Recipes:

Disclaimer: Thank you AppleWeek Sponsors: Swiss Diamond, Nordic Ware, Envy Apples, Imperial Sugar, The Spice House, Rodelle Vanilla, Flahavan’s Irish Oats and Nairn’s  for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for AppleWeek  recipes. All opinions are my own. The AppleWeek giveaway is open to U.S. residents, age 18 & up. All entries for the winner will be checked and verified. By entering you give the right to use your name and likeness. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. Seven (7) winners will be selected. The prize packages will be sent directly from the giveaway sponsors. The AppleWeek Bloggers are not responsible for the fulfillment or delivery of the prize packages. Bloggers hosting this giveaway and their immediate family members in their household cannot enter or win the giveaway. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or any other social channel mentioned in the AppleWeek posts or entry.

Hasselback Apples #appleweek

This post is sponsored in conjunction with AppleWeek . I received product samples from sponsor companies to aid in the creation of the AppleWeek recipes. All opinions are mine alone.

Hasselback apples. Or as I like to call it: small batch apple crisp. While this can surely be sized up for a crowd (and wouldn’t this make a lovely dessert for a fall dinner party?!) it’s really perfect when you need a dessert for two.

This was Jake’s personal favorite from all of my #appleweek cooking. He raved about it for days!

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This is a pretty basic dish which really lets the apple shine through. The bake times included are for a firm apple. If you’re using a softer variety, you’ll want to cut the bake times a little so your apple doesn’t mush.

Also, a sharp knife is really going to help here it’s hard to get the nice thin slices without one. I used my Swiss Diamond Knife and it was perfect.

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And don’t forget, you can enter to win prizes from Swiss Diamond, Flahavan’s, and the other #appleweek sponsors here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Hasselback Apples
(adapted from My Recipes)
Serves 2

1 large, firm apple
2 Tbsp. brown sugar, divided
1 Tbsp. butter, melted, divided
1/2 tsp. cinnamon, divided
1 Tbsp. Irish oatmeal (I used Flahavan’s)
1/2 tsp. all purpose flour
Dash of salt
Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Peel and core the apple and slice in half. Place the apple halves cut-side down and slice thinly most of the way through, leaving the bottom attached.

Spray a small baking dish with non-stick spray. Transfer the apples to the baking dish.

Combine 1 1/2 tsp. brown sugar, 1/2 Tbsp. butter, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon. Brush evenly over the apple.

Cover the pan with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes. Remove and let cool for a few minutes.

Combine remaining sugar, butter, cinnamon, oats, flour and salt. Spoon evenly over the apples. Bake for an additional 10 minutes. Broil for 2 minutes to crisp up the top. Serve with ice cream.

Fresh Corn Salsa (10)

More apple goodies this way! Check out Tuesday’s Recipes:

Disclaimer: Thank you AppleWeek Sponsors: Swiss Diamond, Nordic Ware, Envy Apples, Imperial Sugar, The Spice House, Rodelle Vanilla, Flahavan’s Irish Oats and Nairn’s  for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for AppleWeek  recipes. All opinions are my own. The AppleWeek giveaway is open to U.S. residents, age 18 & up. All entries for the winner will be checked and verified. By entering you give the right to use your name and likeness. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. Seven (7) winners will be selected. The prize packages will be sent directly from the giveaway sponsors. The AppleWeek Bloggers are not responsible for the fulfillment or delivery of the prize packages. Bloggers hosting this giveaway and their immediate family members in their household cannot enter or win the giveaway. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or any other social channel mentioned in the AppleWeek posts or entry.

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?

Cranberry Apple Crisp

Yes, January is almost over. And yes, I’m just now sorting through my Christmas pictures. Apparently this is life with two kids.

To be fair, all of the good family pictures and such were on my phone. I really need to get better at my camera!

I did find this, though. A quick shot of a delicious dessert – so I just had to share. If you’re someone who doesn’t like overly sweet desserts, this is for you. The tart cranberries and apples offset the sugar in this nicely.

I recommend serving it warm with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. Heavenly!

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Cranberry Apple Crisp
(from The Blonde Cook)
Serves 6-8

For the filling:
3 cups cored, chopped and peeled granny smith apples
2 1/2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. flour

For the crisp:
1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 11×7 baking dish with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and flour for the filling. Stir in the cranberries and apples and mix, gently, until evenly combined. Pour into prepared baking dish.

In another bowl, stir together all topping ingredients until well combined. Sprinkle evenly over fruit mixture.

Bake for 50 minutes, until edges are bubbly and fruit is tender.

Broccoli Apple Salad

Does anyone else crave fresh produce in the summer? I’d blame it on pregnancy, but this happens every year. Farmers’ markets become crazy dangerous because I just want to buy everything.

Summer also makes me lazy, though. I can’t tell you how many times I end up cooking up those impulse farmers’ market just before they go bad. Salads like this that require no cooking are always my best bet.

To my surprise, the toddler really liked this too. I fully expected him to just pick out the cranberries and apples, but the dressing was just sweet enough that he would happily eat it all.

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Broccoli Apple Salad
(from The Recipe Critic)
Serves 6-8 as a side

4 cups fresh broccoli florets
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup diced red onion
2 large Gala apples, chopped
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

In a large bowl, toss together the broccoli, carrots, onions, apples, pecans and cranberries.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Pour over the broccoli mixture and toss until evenly coated.

Refrigerate until serving.