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Which apples are best to use in apple pie?

Who doesn’t love homemade apple pie? Come fall, it’s a must-make dessert for just about any baker in America. But if you’ve never made one, or if you think yours could improve, perhaps you should play around with your choice of apples. But wait! With more than 2,500 varieties of apples grown in the United States alone, how do you know which ones will make the best pie? Well, it all comes down to just two characteristics: firmness and flavor. First, you’re going to want firm apples that can hold their shape through the long, slow cooking process — no one wants applesauce pie! Second, you’re going to want to make a mix between two varieties of apples: sweet and tart. Buy half of your apples from the tart column and half from the sweet. A good balance between the two is what makes the best pies. So when we…

How Americans became so obsessed with pumpkins

Halloween and Thanksgiving are quickly approaching, but the spirit of the season has already been here for weeks. By early August, retailers were stocking shelves with pumpkin-flavored foods. Starbucks began selling it’s famous Pumpkin Spice Latte back on Aug. 27, and pumpkin beer has been available in bars for just as long. People associate pumpkins with fall, and as they look forward to the season, the demand for pumpkin everything increases. According to Nielsen data, sales of pumpkin and pumpkin spice-flavored items skyrocketed in 2017 $488.7 million – up from $286 million in 2013. But this hasn’t always been the case. There was a time when pumpkins weren’t celebrated as they are today — with products bearing their beloved image and contests cheering on their gigantic size. “American colonists were less than enthusiastic about pumpkins,” said Cindy Ott, author of Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon. The colonists were accustomed to eating a diet of domesticated meats and…

Does pumpkin pie have to be refrigerated?

If you only eat pumpkin pie in the fall, it’s easy to forget the rules of safely storing them. You may wonder if pumpkin and other custard-style pies can be left on the counter overnight or if you need to clear space in your fridge. And now that we’re on the topic, can pumpkin pie be frozen? Here are the answers to all your pumpkin pie problems: How to store pumpkin pie from a store This time of year you’re likely to see pumpkin pies at the grocery store sitting out on a table, rather than stacked in the fridge or freezer sections. Store-bought pumpkin pies are loaded with enough shelf-stable preservatives that they can sit out. Rule of thumb: if you purchased a pie that’s been sitting out, it can continue to sit out on your kitchen counter for a few days (or until its expiration date, if it…

Creamy Fig Almond Smoothie mixes up fall breakfasts

As much as I adore pumpkin flavored foods, autumn has so much more to offer — namely, fresh figs. I don’t think I had a fresh fig until my dad decided to test his luck on a potted fig tree. With the crazy cold Pittsburgh winters, it ended up more like the fig tree testing him. If you’re not lucky enough to live in the Mediterranean or other mild, semiarid climates like California and Oregon, you’ll probably just have to buy them at the store. Fresh figs are super fragile and often bursting with juice to the point they split open. Because of this, some stores stock figs that have been prematurely picked. So beware. You may find a variety of dark and light figs. Black Mission, Adriatic, and Brown Turkey are three common varieties. Each will have a slightly different flavor, but any will work well in this creamy…

Football whoopie pies are a total touchdown for game day desserts

Football season has officially kicked off, so bring on the food! These football-shaped whoopie pies will score points for being delicious as well as adorable. They’ll be the MVP of your tailgating table. Note: If you’re making these in the off season, or if you’re shorter on time, you can, of course, make this recipe without forming cookie batter into footballs.  Football Whoopie Pies Makes about 48 cookies, or 24 gobs Ingredients For the cookies 2 cups all-purpose flour 2/3 cup cocoa 1/4 tsp salt 1 tsp baking soda 1/2 cup hot water (in a large glass) 2/3 cup milk 1/2 cup shortening 1 cup sugar 1 egg 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 tsp butter flavoring For the filling 1/4 cup butter, softened 1/2 cup shortening 1 tsp vanilla extract 1 tsp butter flavoring 3 cups confectioners’ sugar 2 tbsp milk (if necessary) Directions Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a…

How to pick the best butternut squash

Fall has finally arrived and winter squash are stocked on the shelves — acorn, spaghetti, and of course, butternut. Butternut squash a must-have fall vegetable that dates back nearly 10,000 years ago.  It’s true. Archaeological evidence suggests that squash was first cultivated in what is now known as the Isthmus of Panama. Squash was one of the three main crops (known as the “Three Sisters” — maize, beans, and squash) planted by Native Americans. If you’re looking for authentic North American fall foods for your Thanksgiving feast, squash certainly qualifies. (Read more at: How Americans Became so Obsess with Pumpkins) The most noticeable difference between winter squash and summer squash, like zucchini and yellow squash, is the exterior skin. Summer squash have thin, flavorful skin you leave on and eat, while winter squash have a tough, inedible outer shell. It’s because of this shell, however, that winter squash can be…

8 reasons you should eat more apples

“An apple a day” isn’t just a cute saying. There are some real research-backed benefits of eating apples. Apples are grown in all 50 states, so you’re never very far from a freshly picked apple. And that’s a good thing because they can greatly improve your overall health and reduce your chance of disease. But let’s get down to the juicy details. Here are eight reasons you should incorporate an apple into your daily diet: 1. Apples are nutritious First and foremost, you should eat apples because they’re just generally good for you. One medium apple has just 95 calories, 4 grams of fiber, 14% of your daily vitamin C, and other beneficial amounts of potassium, vitamin K, manganese, copper, and vitamins A, E, B1, B2, and B6. A medium apple equals about 1.5 cups of fruit (two cups of fruit daily are recommended for a 2,000 calorie diet), so you’re…

Pumpkin and sage stuffed shells

The best thing about fall? The food, OF COURSE! While summer is the season for fresh fruit and farmers markets, fall is time for casseroles, crock pots, and delicious comfort foods. Which takes me to my latest recipe… We had two days of fall-like weather last week and already I’m inspired to break out the pumpkin! These pumpkin ricotta stuffed shells would be a perfect addition to your holiday spread, or anytime you want a savory, seasonal dish to share — this recipe makes a lot of shells! The fresh sage and nutty Romano cheese are the perfect way to accent that rich pumpkin flavor. Plus, the light pumpkin taste in the sauce makes this dish truly something different. You’re going to love this this seasonal switch-up on an old classic. Note: Get 100% pumpkin puree (I like Libby’s brand). Other pumpkin blends can sometimes come with fall spices mixed in…

What produce is in season in September?

If you’ve ever hesitated at the grocery store because you didn’t know going into fall what fruits and veggies were going to be delicious and which were going to be gross, this article is for you. Of course, “gross” is an exaggeration, but we’ve all purchased produce that was clearly out of season. These fruits and vegetables may look beautiful, but just don’t taste their best. They might be dry or grainy. Plus, out of season produce is usually more expensive, meaning you’re paying more money for less-than-delicious produce. But fear not! Here’s your September guide for what fruits and vegetables are in season. Use this list to plan your shopping list — and your menu — and you’ll be enjoying juicy, nutritious, perfectly ripe produce the whole month long. Apples You know fall is right around the corner because apples have arrived. Learn how to cook and can your…

Pumpkin banana smoothie a delicious breakfast for fall

I know what you’re thinking. It’s not technically even fall yet. If you’re one of those people who can’t even look at a pumpkin until September 21, then I advise you to temporarily seek recipes elsewhere. I’m about to blow up this blog with pumpkin recipes — this Pumpkin Banana smoothie is just the beginning. I love using a bit of pumpkin puree in my fall breakfast smoothies. It’s an easy way to add fiber and flavor while getting in a festive mood. Plus, pumpkin is packed with protein, rich in antioxidants, and high in vitamin A. One trick I can’t emphasize enough is freezing your fruit — or even just half of it. So, say your recipe calls for berries and bananas — make sure your berries are frozen and use a fresh banana. Freezing at least one of your fruits can save you from having to water your…