With brilliantly hued foliage and cooler temperatures, autumn is a favorite time of the year. After a long, hot summer and serving lighter meals, it is joy to get into the kitchen to prepare meals using the abundant fall crops, with apple dishes being a favorite.
We recently made a trip to the Smoky Mountains where we stopped at different markets for assorted apples and fresh apple cider.
One of our favorite stops was the Apple Barn in Sevierville, Tenn. The Apple Barn is located in a huge complex with a cider barn, winery, creamery where homemade ice cream is made, bakery, candy shop and two restaurants. There is also a Christmas shop and general store along with plenty of apples.
The Apple Barn is owned by a family whose father originally used the land for a tobacco and cattle farm. When the tobacco wasn’t doing so well, apple trees were planted to turn the land into an apple farm, which now has over 4,000 trees with 14 varieties of apples.
The 1920s house where the family lived is now the Applewood Farmhouse restaurant that serves southern classics, with fried chicken, chicken and dumpling and chicken pie being their signature dishes.
When seated, an Apple Julep drink is served with apple fritters and their homemade apple butter. A choice of apple cobbler or apple spice cake also comes with the meal.
Apples and apple products can be ordered online at applebarnciderbarn.com.
On the way back from the Smokies, we stopped at the Jaemor Farmers Market in Alto, north Georgia, which has a large selection of apples during the fall season. The staff is friendly and will answer questions on the sweetness of apples in names you might not recognize.
The market offers a variety of fresh produce and freshly baked items, and the aroma of fried apple pies drifts through the shop. Kettle corn is generally being popped in front of the market, providing additional sweet smells.
Jaemor Farms has an online store at jaemorefarms.com/store.
A couple of years ago, we visited Mercier Orchards, Georgia’s largest u-pick farm, in Blue Ridge, located about an hour above Atlanta. During weekends, visitors ride a wagon pulled by a tractor up the hill to pick apples.
Surrounded by mountains with distant, towering peaks in Tennessee and North Carolina, Mercier Orchards offers freshly picked apples, apple cider and assorted jellies and jams, among many other items.
While at Mercier, stop by the bakery for a pie to take home or try a freshly made fried pie with homemade ice cream. Breakfast and lunch are available at the cafe.
The Mercier family purchased the orchard in 1943 from a pharmacist, who planted the original orchard at the turn of the century.
Over the years, the 27 acres grew into a 200-acre fruit farm, retail market and bakery. Mercier is still family run with four generations working in the business.
During the fall season, the orchard produces 26 varieties of apples in jewel tones from deepest ruby to bright greens. Mercier will ship gift packs and baskets, which can be ordered online at mercierorchards.com.
The town of Blue Ridge is quaint, and you can take a train ride through the mountains to view the colorful foliage. During the autumn months, the mountains become ablaze with a spectrum of vibrant colors. Boarding for the railway is at a historic, 100 year-old depot in downtown Blue Ridge. During the fall months, the train runs most days and twice a day on weekends.
Since we returned home from the Smokies, I have been looking over apple recipes. It is difficult to beat apple pie. After experimenting with several recipes, I adapted a few to create Favorite Apple Pie with a crumb topping. For a special dessert, serve it with vanilla ice cream and a caramel sauce. It you really want to go over the top, sprinkle toasted pecans over the sauce.
A really easy apple dessert that is also scrumptious with vanilla ice cream is Harvest Apple Crisp. I have been making this recipe for many years, and it is still a favorite at our home for fall and during the winter months.
When baking, select Granny Smith apples, as they hold up better in cooking. Red and Golden Delicious, Gala and Fuji are just a few good ones for salads and eating.
You don’t have to make a trip to the mountains for apples. Check out Wright’s Market and local farmers’ markets for an assortment of fresh apples.
As the leaves turn richer in color, treat your family to an apple dessert this coming week in celebration of fall and cooler temperatures.
Ann Cipperly can be contacted at email@example.com.
Apple Barn’s Apple Julep
1 qt. apple juice
1 cup pineapple juice
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
Combine all ingredients. Serve over ice.
Favorite Apple Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce
1¼ cups sugar
¼ cup all purpose flour
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. cinnamon
6 cups pared, sliced Granny Smith apples
1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 stick cold butter
Vanilla ice cream
Caramel Sauce, recipe follows
Mix together sugar, flour, spices and salt; combine with sliced apples. Place piecrust in 9-inch tart or pie pan. Fill with apples.
Combine Topping ingredients until crumbly; sprinkle over apples.
Bake in preheated 425-degree oven for 10 minutes; lower heat to 350 and bake 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with vanilla ice cream and Caramel Sauce, if desired.
Easy Caramel Sauce
1 stick butter
1¾ cups brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup heavy cream
Combine ingredients in saucepan and bring to rolling boil, stirring constantly about 1½ to 2 minutes until thickened. If sauce becomes too thick when cool, warm a few seconds in the microwave to thin.
Harvest Apple Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream
I have been making this recipe since early marriage. It is easy and always popular, especially in the fall months.
4 cups sliced tart apples
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, optional
Preheat oven to 375. Grease bottom and sides of 8-inch round or square pan.
Spread apples in pan. Combine remaining ingredients except ice cream. Mix well and sprinkle over apples.
Bake about 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and apples are tender. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream. Makes 6 servings. Easy to double.
Sour Cream Apple Pie
1 cup sour cream
¾ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups peeled, diced apples
1 recipe bottom only pie pastry
Beat together sour cream, sugar, flour, salt, vanilla and egg. Add apples. Pour into 9 inch unbaked pie shell. Bake in 400 degree oven for 25 minutes.
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
¼ cup butter
Combine and sprinkle on top of pie. Bake 20 minutes longer.
Salad With Kiwi, Apple and Pecans with Poppy Seed Dressing
Nancy Veale shared this recipe years ago, and it has remained a favorite at our house.
1 head loose leaf lettuce, washed and drained
3 to 4 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced
3 Granny Smith apples, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Arrange torn lettuce leaves on salad plate. Top with sliced green apples, kiwi and pecans. Spoon Poppy Seed Dressing over salad. Instead of arranging salads on plates, can serve salad in a large bowl. Add dressing to taste and toss just before serving.
Poppy Seed Dressing
1 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
3 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. poppy seed
Combine dressing ingredients. Store covered in refrigerator.
Butterscotch Apple Cookies
Katlin Mulvaney’s apple cookie is one of the best I have tasted. Years ago when I was judging cookies at the fair, this recipe was a standout for first place.
2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ cup butter, softened
¾ cup grated apple (1 small apple)
½ cup raisins
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. salt
1 1/3 cups firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup apple juice
12 oz. pkg. butterscotch flavored morsels, divided
½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
¼ cup butter
½ cup butterscotch flavored morsels reserved from 12 oz. pkg.
1 ½ cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 ½ Tbsp. light cream
¼ tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In bowl, combine flour, baking soda, ground cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In bowl, combine butter, brown sugar and egg; beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add flour mixture alternately with apple juice. Stir in grated apple, raisins, and 1 ½ cups butterscotch flavored morsels.
Drop by rounded tablespoons three inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 12minutes. Cool; spread with icing.
To make icing, combine butter and remaining ½ cup butterscotch morsels in saucepan; stir until melted. Add sifted confectioners sugar, cream and salt; beat until smooth. Cool slightly. Makes 42 cookies.
Apple-Feta Tossed Salad
2 Tbsp. butter
1 cup walnut halves
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. pepper
5 cups torn romaine
5 cups torn red leaf lettuce
1 medium red apple, chopped
1 medium yellow or green apple, chopped
1 cup crumbled Feta cheese
6 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. finely chopped onion
1½ tsp. Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. chopped parsley
1/8 tsp. pepper
In a skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add walnuts, sprinkled with sugar and pepper. Stir until well coated. Spread onto baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Cool on wire rack.
In a large bowl, combine lettuces, apples and Feta. Blend together dressing ingredients in a blender. Drizzle over salad and toss to coat. Sprinkle walnuts over salad and serve.
Apple Cinnamon Scones
2 cups flour 1/4 cup sugar 2 tsp. baking powder 1/3 cup butter 1 egg 1 tsp. vanilla 2 Tbsp. cinnamon 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream *** this is the secret*** 1 Granny Smith apple
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Beat egg and add butter.
Peel, core and chop apple into small pieces. Add to egg and butter mixture. Add rest of the ingredients.
Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead dough gently about 4 times. Don’t over-work the dough. Pat the dough into a circle that is about 7 inches round, and about 1 ½ inches thick (about the size of a saucer) Cut this circle in half, then, cut each half into 3 pie-shaped wedges (triangles).
Place the scones on a greased baking sheet.
Make an egg wash of one well-beaten egg mixed with 1 tablespoon milk and brush the tops of the scones with this mixture.
Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown.
Easy Caramel Apple Pie
1 deep dish frozen piecrust
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. self-rising flour
¼ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. cinnamon
3 to 4 sliced Granny Smith Apples
½ cup four
¼ cup sugar
½ stick butter
¼ cup chopped pecans
12 to 15 caramels, unwrapped
Small amount milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stir together sugar, flour, nutmeg and cinnamon; mix with cut up apples. Pour into pie crust. Mix together topping ingredients until crumbly. Sprinkle on top of filling. Cover pie with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove foil and bake 15 minutes longer. Melt caramels with a small amount of milk until easy to spread. Pour on top of pie. Can use bottled caramel sauce instead.
Green Salad With Apples and Cranberries
1 bunch romaine
1 small bunch leaf lettuce
3 apples, chopped
½ cup dried cranberries
Oil and vinegar dressing
In a large bowl, break lettuces into bite size pieces. Add apples and cranberries; toss. Just before serving, add enough dressing to coat lettuces.