I love everything about fall. From the fashion to the weather to the sports and, of course, the food, there’s something so cozy and welcoming about the season. Entertaining is my specialty, and even though everyone’s daily routines can get a bit hectic between summer drawing to a close and the kids going back to school, there are still plenty of opportunities to socialize whether you’re inviting friends over to watch Sunday night football or you’re spending the weekend picking apples and pumpkins.
These recipes celebrate all of my favorite favors of fall, so you can share them with those you love the most. From the Apple Pie Bars to the warm, spice-infused mulled Red Wine Blend Cider using Fre's alcohol-removed wine, these recipes are like a big hug, waiting to invite you home after a stroll in the brisk outdoors.
I am due to have our first baby on Saturday the 23rd, and as you can probably see I am starting to look and feel like a giant pumpkin! The first day of fall is September 22nd and so perhaps he will be born on that "holiday"! Paisley is as excited as we are, she likes snuggling up to my belly and I can't wait for her to meet this little boy, in less than a week! I have been trying to stay as busy as possible to keep my mind from wandering and getting anxious. I have put my nervous energy into the kitchen and created a few new favorites including slow-cooked apple cider, mulled red wine, apple pie bars and pumpkin donuts!
One of my favorite things to drink now that the weather has cooled is this slow-cooked apple cider, spiked with Fre's alcohol-removed Chardonnay. When I think of proper apple cider, I think of recipes like this. Where the comes from the juices from the apples seeping into the water, slowly but steadily infusing it with sweetness. (And it tastes even better when you spike it with the wine!)
Slow-Cooker Apple Cider with Fre Chardonnay
10-12 apples, assorted types (I used a mixture, including Granny Smith and Fuji)
3 cinnamon sticks, plus more for garnish
2 teaspoons whole cloves
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3-2/3 cup honey
1 bottle Fre Chardonnay
- Wash the apples and orange and roughly cut them into quarters, no need to remove seeds or stems.
- Place the cut fruit, cinnamon sticks, and cloves in the bowl of your slow cooker. Add the orange juice and then enough water (about 10 cups) until the liquid is about an inch from the top of the insert.
- Cover and cook for 4 hours on High.
- Strain the cider to remove all of the fruit.
- Give your slow cooker bowl a quick rinse to remove any extra pieces of fruit or spices and then return the strained cider to the bowl.
- Heat on low heat and add the honey, to taste, stirring well to combine. Add the wine. Serve warm with additional orange slices and cinnamon sticks as a garnish.
Sweet Paisley loves the fall too! We call her a penguin because we are quite certain that she would prefer to live in the antarctic, she is always hot! So when fall comes around she gets a little penguin pep in her step! Paisley is also interested in all of the new smells. Like fallen leaves on the ground, dew on the grass, and butter! Wait, butter? Yes, you read it right. Paisley thinks butter is the best thing ever. We do NOT feed Paisley any human food, but one time she got the butter off the kitchen counter and ever since that first taste she recognizes the delicious smell and finds her way wandering into the kitchen when I start baking.
I love eating apple pie around the holidays—slicing into that perfect crust and serving hot with ice cream. But a pie always seems like it should be made for a bigger occasion, not just everyday eating. I set out to create something that could mimic the flavor and feeling of a classic apple pie, but can be enjoyed on the weekday, in the morning, or for a late night treat. These apple pie bars will remind you of that perfect slice you enjoy with family and friends on big days. Paisley thought that she would get lucky and snag one!
Apple Pie Bars
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
5/6 cup sugar
1 tablespoon sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups flour
3 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cups chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the unsalted butter and 1/3 cup granulated sugar with a whisk.
- Beat in the sour cream, egg, and kosher salt.
- Stir in the flour and mix until a soft dough forms.
- Spread half of the dough into the bottom of the baking dish, pressing down lightly.
- In another large mixing bowl, combine the Granny Smith apples, ½ cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and ground cardamom.
- Place the apple mixture in the baking dish evenly over the dough and then cover with the remaining dough.
- In a small bowl, combine the chopped walnuts, light brown sugar, and ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle over the dough. Bake for 40–45 minutes until golden brown.
- Let cool, then cut into bars. Drizzle with caramel sauce. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
Don't mind Paisley's shaved leg! She spent the day at the vet hooked up to an IV because she had a seizure. There is nothing scarier than seeing a loved one (especially a loved furry-one) not feeling well. Thank goodness for the calming Mulled Red Wine that I made below using Fre's alcohol-removed Red Blend.
After a brisk evening walk there is nothing better than curling up on the couch with mulled wine! This is my new go-to recipe for these final weeks of my third trimester.
Mulled Red Wine with Fre's Red Blend
1 apple, chopped
1 pear, chopped
1 bottle Fre Red Blend
1/4 cup orange juice
2-4 tablespoons honey
2 cinnamon sticks
- Combine all ingredients in pot over stove. Bring to a simmer for 5-10 minutes. Serve warm.
You could say that the donut is my all-time favorite treat and has become a signature item of mine. These bite-sized donuts are perfect to bring along while you’re tailgating. Pack a steaming thermos of hot cocoa (or even pumpkin spice hot cocoa!) and pass around a few donuts to share while you’re all bundled up before the game.
Mini Baked Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Donuts
1 (15.2-ounce) box yellow cake mix
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups sugar for sprinkling donuts.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Combine the cake mix, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and mini chocolate chips in the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Lightly coat 2 mini donut pans with cooking spray. Using a piping bag, pipe the batter in the mini donut crevices of the pan.
- Bake for about 12 minutes, until the donuts have puffed up.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for 2 minutes. Take the donuts out of the pan and roll in the sugar. Use more or less sugar depending on your preferences.
- Repeat until you’ve used the remaining batter. Serve
This post is sponsored by Fre. The content and opinions expressed here are my own. I am really enjoying creating and consuming these delicious alcohol-removed wine recipes. Stay tuned for more!
For more information about Fre, visit their website here.