Is it just us, or does food taste better in the fall? Crisp, sweet, tart apples, warm and spicy pumpkins, not to mention all of those Halloween sweets. Take advantage of the delicious offerings of the season with these ideas for cooking with your kids.
These sweet treats couldn't be easier. Flatten a refrigerated biscuit (the kind that comes in the can that kids love to "pop") on a cookie sheet. Drop a spoonful of peeled and chopped apples on top then sprinkle a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon on top of that. Place another flattened biscuit on top, then bake according to the directions on the biscuit package. The recipe (which you can read in more detail by following the link) may be simple, but the taste and the smell are pretty authentic!
Peel and slice apples 8 large apples and have your child arrange them on a 9 x 13 baking dish. In a large bowl, combine 1 3/4 cup sugar, 1 1/2 cup flour, 2/3 cup butter, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, 2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 cup water. Kids can help measure, then really get in there to mix it all up with their hands. Dump the mixture in crumbly handfuls onto the apples, then bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes.
Insert sticks into the stem end of washed and dried apples (you can either use craft sticks or the "caramel apple sticks" that are readily available in grocery stores this time of year). Unwrap the caramels from a 14-ounce package. Put them in a microwave-safe bowl with a tablespoon of water. Heat the caramels for about 3 minutes, stopping to stir every minute. Continue heating until the caramels are completely melted and smooth. Be careful! The bowl and the caramels will be very hot. Help kids dip the apples into the caramel then hold them over the bowl to allow the excess to drip away. Place the dipped apples on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper and coated with cooking spray or a light layer of butter. A package of caramels makes about 5 apples.
Add Some Fun: Just after the apples are dipped, kids can roll them in nuts, rainbow cupcake sprinkles, chopped up chocolate chips, shredded coconut, mini M&Ms, or any combination of the above!
Extra Credit! Make Your Own Caramel
Caramel seems intimidating, but it is super easy, far easier than unwrapping all of those caramels! In a saucepan, bring two cups of sugar and 1/2 cup of water to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium-high and simmer (without stirring) until caramel is golden brown, about eight minutes. Remove from heat and carefully stir in 1/2 cup of heavy cream (be careful here—it will splatter a little). Transfer to a small bowl and let cool for five minutes before dipping the apples.
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Carving pumpkins is one of my favorite fall traditions, but about the time I'm elbow-deep in pumpkin guts, I need motivation beyond the promise of a glowing, grinning face. Enter toasted pumpkin seeds, an easy, delicious, post-carving snack! While you're carving, have your kids dump the pumpkin guts into a large bowl. After carving, have them separate the seeds from the slimy pumpkin fiber. Rinse the seeds then pat them dry. Toss the seeds with a tablespoon of olive oil and a little salt. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until light brown. Let cool before snacking. You can also get creative with the seasoning: try black pepper, cinnamon, chili powder, cayenne, cumin, brown sugar. Whatever suits your family's fall palate.
Halloween Dirt Cake
This one has it all. It's creepy and atmospheric, but sweet and delicious. And it couldn't be easier. Crush a 20-ounce package of Oreo cookies in the food processor (or put them in large freezer bags and let the kids go at them with a rolling pin or meat mallet). Prepare 2 packages of chocolate pudding according to the package directions. In a large bowl, mix an 8-ounce package of cream cheese, ¼ cup softened butter, and 1/3 cup of powdered sugar. Add the pudding and mix well. Fold in a 12-ounce package of whipped topping. In an 8x8 pan, alternate layers of the crushed cookies with the pudding mixture, making sure to end with a final layer of cookies. There's your dirt, now your kids get to decide what to put in it. Gummy worms and other candy bugs? Vanilla wafer tombstones? Candy pumpkins? The sky is the limit. Or maybe, in this case, the earth is.
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