Apple Crisp

I cried after my last farmers market of the year.

There was a local arts + crafts show occurring after market, and I wanted to wait around for it to start. It would start 30 minutes after we were done cleaning up, which seemed like forever after already being out in the cold Philly air for six hours that day. I sat in the car and cried. And I thought about it. I thought I was crying because of the seemingly long wait to check out arts + crafts (dramatic, much?). But I wasn’t. I was crying because I didn’t want market to end. I didn’t want to get into the car and go home. That would just mean that I’d have to admit that it was over.

While reminiscing with Greg recently, I told him that I’d never forget the very first time I got to work market. It was just over two years ago. I was still at IUP, finishing my bachelor’s and Greg was living in Philly, just beginning his time at Drexel. It was a Saturday, and I was sitting on the bed in his tiny studio apartment. He was sitting at his desk when he turned to me and said, nonchalantly, “We are good to work market tomorrow.” I freaked out. I had always loved farmers markets and for me, it was a dream to work at one. I get to work at one TOMORROW?? And for his family’s farm?! Dream. Come. True. The next day, I geared up with a light green Three Springs tee shirt, traveled to market, and loved every second of it. 

That was September 2012. Then, until May of 2013, I worked market when I was in Philly, visiting Greg on weekends – and yes, that is how I wanted to spend my Sundays visiting. May 2013 – present, I’ve worked market every Sunday that Greg and I have been home in Philly – which has been most.

This past Sunday was the last market that I will have worked as a Philly resident. The last Saturday that I made sure to be in my Queen Street apartment bed early, to be refreshed for market Sunday. The last Sunday morning that I took my breakfast to go, to eat in the car while taking in the Philly skyline on the drive to market. The last Sunday we searched for a parking spot along Pine Street. The last Sunday Greg and I came home with goodies from all of our favorite Headhouse vendors. To be honest, there won’t be many “lasts” in Philly that I am sad about, but all of these, are surely some of them.

Completely bittersweet.

I can honestly say that I’ve looked forward to working Sundays for the past 2 years. I’ve enjoyed every moment working at market for Three Springs Fruit Farm. All of this is thanks to Greg, and his family. Thank you Greg, thank you Three Springs and thank you Ben (Greg’s cousin), for giving me the opportunity to live out a dream. How a farmers market has made me so happy and particularly emotional, I do not know, but it surely has. In this new adventure that Greg and I are embarking on, I can hope that I find something that makes me as happy as market has here. 

Now, this recipe. I’ve had this apple crisp recipe and post sitting in my drafts for months. I couldn’t find the right words to pair with the post. But it’s time to share, and my recent emotions with my last market seem the right fit for a recipe featuring Three Springs apples.

I know that there are a lot of apple crisp recipes out there, and a lot of people are loyal to one, so I’ll tell you just a bit about mine.

Here’s what I love about my crisp recipe. The apples are just lightly sweetened, with no cinnamon – just 1 tablespoon of sugar in all of those apples, for a very natural apple taste. The apple skins are still on – a must for me. There’s no traditional white flour – instead I’m using almond flour which adds a great, nutty flavor (and for gluten free friends, is naturally gluten free). And butter, because sometimes it’s just necessary and it tastes so darn good in this. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

-Almond flour: I know that it is not a staple ingredient for most people, but it is for me and I love always having it on hand. It adds great taste and texture to baked goods. If you don’t keep almond flour on hand, consider it. In addition to today’s recipe, use it in these, these and this, too!

-Apples: Use any variety, don’t be particular. Admittedly, I am particular about many things in life, but which apples I bake with is not one of them. I’ve made this crisp many times and have used a mix of different apples each time – whatever I’ve had on hand. What you use will be good. Also, use local apples when possible!

-Arrowroot starch: This is what I have been using instead of cornstarch. Arrowroot is a natural and more nutritious option. Cornstarch can be substituted if desired, and although I have never made it with cornstarch, I feel fairly confident it would produce a similar end product.

-Penzeys vanilla sugar: I picked this up about a year ago and to be honest, this is the first time I’ve used it. I am in love with it for this recipe though and plan to keep stocked with it just for this. It’s just sugar mixed with vanilla beans (yum!). Plain, white sugar can be substituted, and, if you’re feeling fancy, throw in some vanilla beans with that sugar.

It’s been awhile since I’ve share a dessert recipe with you (or any recipe, for that matter!), and this is one that I feel especially good about. I hope that this crisp is enjoyed in every way by all who try it.

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Apple Crisp
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Ingredients
4-5 large apples, any variety
1 tablespoon Penzeys vanilla sugar (or plain, granulated sugar, see note in post)
1 tablespoon arrowroot starch (or cornstarch, see note in post)
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
6 tablespoons cold butter
Instructions
Preheat oven to 350*.
Rinse, dry and slice apples as thin as you can get them.
In a large, but shallow baking dish, add apples, 1 tablespoon sugar and arrowroot starch. Mix gently to coat all apples.
In a mixing bowl, add oats, almond flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix well to combine.
Cut butter into small cubes and add to the dry oat mixture. Using a pastry blender or your fingers (like me!), mix butter into the dry mixture to make the crisp. When done, the mixture will look like coarse crumbs and butter will be fully incorporated.
Evenly distribute crisp mixture on top of the apples in the baking dish. Bake 45 - 60 minutes, or until apples are soft and crisp is slightly browned and crispy.
Enjoy!
The Dreaming Foodie http://www.thedreamingfoodie.com/

Butternut Squash, Pear + Curry Brown Butter Soup

This soup. It has been my go-to since late September when butternut squash first started popping up. I am in love with this soup. There are so many butternut squash soup recipes out there, so I don’t know just how to convince you that this is the one to make, but know I believe that you’d be happy if you do!

Some reasons to try this soup:

1. This soup is simple. It uses fewer than ten ingredients (not including dried spices) and requires no complicated methods or tools.

2. It’s butternut squash soup. With pears. And curry brown butter. Those flavors, in every single bite. I feel like I don’t need to say more.

3. This soup will warm you to the core on this chilly autumn days.

While there is really nothing complicated about this recipe, here are a few notes to keep in mind:

- The curry brown butter is from this recipe, from 101 Cookbooks. I felt inspired to put the curry brown butter from their lentil soup into this soup and I’m awfully glad that I did. Brown butter is not hard to make, and is more than worth the small amount of effort. Read my description below on how to make brown butter, or for a very detailed description of it, with photos, click here.

-Use any type of pear that you have. Don’t be picky. For this batch of soup, I used pears that I had sliced and frozen earlier in the season, and that worked wonderfully. For past batches of this soup, I used fresh, chopped pears.

-This soup can be left chunky (like in the photos) by using a potato masher to “mash” the soup. If you desire a much smoother soup, use an immersion or regular blender to blend the soup until smooth. I’ve blended it before and enjoyed it that way, too.

-Speaking of leaving it chunky, I haven’t tried it yet, but I think the chunky version would go wonderfully over rice.

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Butternut Squash, Pear + Curry Brown Butter Soup
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Ingredients
Olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 large carrots, sliced thin
1 large butternut squash, cubed
4 medium pears, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3-4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon each of dried oregano, onion powder, black pepper and cumin
1/2 teaspoon + 1 tablespoon curry powder, used separately
3 tablespoons butter
Salt, to taste (I used 1/4 teaspoon)
Instructions
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onions and carrots. Cook, stirring several times, for about 5 minutes, or until veggies begin to soften.
Add butternut squash and pears to the pot and stir. Cook 10 minutes longer, or until squash begins to soften and everything is slightly browned.
Add the fresh, minced garlic and the 1/2 teaspoon each of dried oregano, onion powder, black pepper, cumin and curry powder. Stir well, then add 3 cups of veggie broth.
Bring soup to a boil, then turn heat down to medium and let it simmer for about 15 minutes, or until all veggies are very soft.
While the soup is simmering, make the curry brown butter. Heat 3 tablespoons of butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Let butter melt completely, while whisking constantly, until you see brown specks appear. Add 1 tablespoon of curry powder and whisk a few more times. Remove from heat and set aside.
Once soup is done simmering (veggies are soft) add the curry brown butter to the soup pot.
Using a potato masher, mash everything together well to make a chunky soup. Alternatively, using a immersion or regular blender, blend soup until smooth.
Give the soup a taste, and adjust seasoning to your liking. Add some salt, more broth or other seasonings if you desire.
Enjoy!
The Dreaming Foodie http://www.thedreamingfoodie.com/

Down the Shore

Just like last year, my family took an autumn trip “down the shore” (Philly’s way of saying “to the beach”!). Last year was one day in Cape May with my parents and this year was a long weekend at a new-to-me beach, Ocean City, Maryland, with the addition of Greg and family friend, Sokol.

Thanks to my mom, we stayed in an ocean front condo with views that actually and literally took my breath away. Our days became pretty routine, pretty quickly. Morning started with bright sunshine, on our balcony, with coffee and views of boardwalk-goers below us and ocean waves in front of us. We rode bicycles to breakfast each morning and spent most of the day riding along the boardwalk, spending time at the few places that quickly became our favorites – snacking on popcorn (Fisher’s), french fries (Thrasher’s), ice cream (Dumser’s) and beer at what was undoubtedly my favorite find of the trip – Backshore Brewing Company. The five of us held a mini-golf tournament, playing one game per day and adding the total scores at the end (Dad was the victor), played oceanfront scrabble, and spent a lot of time just relaxing and enjoying the views.

As we often say, it was another great trip in the books. Just like my post from our trip to the Poconos, there are many photos (36!) ahead. Enjoy!

THE PLACE

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THE PEOPLE

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Freezing Peaches

Today, more on cherishing the end of summer.

I couldn’t have been happier to see peaches still at market last Sunday – a variety of them appropriately named “Encore,” and of course thanks to the best – Three Springs. After missing market for three weeks for various reasons, I was worried I had missed that last call for peaches, but gratefully I was able to snatch a bag-full of the last ones.

While I think that there is not much better than eating a sliced, fresh peach, I’ve recently gotten into freezing the juicy summer stone fruit. Greg and I drink smoothies most mornings and because of that, frozen fruit is an always on-hand item in our freezer. Naturally, having a freezer full of Three Springs peaches makes me happier than having a freezer full of generic grocery store fruit, so freezing peaches it was! It does require a tiny bit more work than buying grocery store fruit, but not too much work, I promise! (It’s worth the effort!)

I don’t know why freezing peaches seemed like such a mystery to me for such a long time. I’ve done much reading, research and experimentation over the summer and today I’m going to share with you what I’ve found. What works for me, and what is the simplest process out there. There is no peeling, blanching or measuring in the process that I use. It’s a simple as just washing, slicing and freezing! So as simple as this post sounds (how hard is it to freeze peaches?), I thought it’d be worth sharing in case there is anyone out there like me. And even though this is the first week of fall, I have a feeling that I am not the only one with a fridge full of summer to preserve.

{Keep in mind – I’m freezing peaches mainly for making smoothies. Maybe I’ll use them for a dessert or for muffin making at some point during the winter, but my main use will be for smoothies. If your main use for them would be much different than for smoothies, I would suggest doing further research for your specific desires.}

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Freezing Peaches
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Ingredients
Fresh peaches
Baking sheet(s)
Parchment paper
Sharp knife
Cutting board
Gallon freezer bags
Instructions
Start with fresh, preferably local peaches. Wash the peaches thoroughly. I just use good old fashioned water to wash my fruit! Let peaches dry.
Prepare your peach freezing station. Line a baking sheet (or several baking sheets, depending on how many peaches you are freezing) with parchment paper. Plan for about 4 peaches per baking sheet, of course depending on the size of your peaches and baking sheets. Slice the peaches. I leave the skins on. I don't mind the slight texture the peach skins add to my smoothies.
Evenly arrange peach slices on baking sheet(s). It is important that the slices are not touching. Line them up with a bit of room between each slice.
Once baking sheet(s) are full, place in freezer for up to 24 hours, or until peaches are frozen. I usually leave the baking sheets in the freezer for a full 24 hours.
After 24 hours, remove baking sheets from freezer and let peaches sit at room temperature for 5 minutes. This will make peaches slightly easier to work with. Transfer peaches from baking sheets to gallon-sized freezer bags. I usually do one baking sheet per bag.
Seal bag tightly, with as little air left in the bag as possible and place in freezer!
Once the bag is empty, I wash it out, let it dry and reuse it for my next batch!
The Dreaming Foodie http://www.thedreamingfoodie.com/

Happy Birthday Amanda

I want to wish the happiest of days to my best friend. Happy birthday, Amanda! {Last year, I made Amanda pumpkin s’mores cupcakes for her birthday – to view that post, click here!} It’s hard to believe that in the last year, since your last birthday, we have gone wedding dress shopping, picked out your wedding flowers, celebrated your bridal shower, made wedding cupcakes, cookies and your wedding cake(!) and now, for this birthday, you’re Mrs. Nielsen! In the last year, we’ve discussed moving, jobs, apartments, missing our families, what we want to be when we grow up, all the details of your perfect wedding day(!) – I can’t wait to see where we are and what we are talking about in one more year. :) To the bestest lifelong friend – who actually knows how to cheer me up when life’s got me down, who makes me feel not only good, but GREAT, about my life decisions, who is a beautiful example of a human full of love, hard work, loyalty and kindness, and who can even spend an entire evening, from 600 miles away, laughing at pictures of fat cats with me – have the greatest day! {Here are a few photos of us from her beautiful wedding day – all photographs by the wonderful Jessica Vogelsang Photography!}

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