Green Apple Bagel

Fall is my favorite time of year. And of all the things I love most about fall—pumpkins, pumpkin carving, visiting farm stands and corn mazes, re-watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!—apple picking will forever remain at the top of my list.

Most farms that offer apple picking tend to offer the other sweet stuff, too: cups of cider, hayrides, and apple-infused baked goods. It’s an excellent way to spend a weekend afternoon before winter settles in for good. Best of all, you come home with a bag full of apples ready to be eaten.

Figuring out what to do with all those apples can be confounding or it can be a lot of fun. Try new recipes, and encourage your children to help. Find an orchard in your area, plan a date, and when you arrive home with your bounty, use these sweet recipes to get yourself going!

Sweet & Sour Apple Sandwiches

1. Core an apple and slice it horizontally, into 1/2 inch-thick pieces.
2. Take two slices and spread one with your child’s favorite nut butter (peanut butter, almond butter, or sunflower/soybean butter if your child is allergic).
3. Add chocolate chips and flakes of granola or cereal for crunch.
4. Top it off, and enjoy!

Apple & Pear Cider Cups

6 apples of your choosing
6 red pears
1 liter good-quality apple cider
4 cinnamon sticks (more for garnish but optional)
2 whole star anise (more for garnish but optional)
2 lemons, halved

1. Using a knife, remove the tops of all of the apples and pears. Begin hollowing out each of the pieces of fruit and place on a serving try. Sprinkle the juice of the lemons over the apples and pears to prevent browning.
2. In a large pot, add the apple cider and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and add the cinnamon sticks and star anise. 3. Cover and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Remove the cinnamon sticks and star anise and ladle the warm cider into the apple and pear cups.
5. Garnish with additional cinnamon sticks and star anise. Serve warm, not hot.

Caramel Stuffed Apple Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (7.4 ounce) box Alpine Spiced Apple Cider Instant Original Drink Mix (Not sugar free)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 (14 ounce) bag Kraft caramels or other caramels of your choosing

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line rimless cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a stand mixer, cream together butter, sugar, salt, and all 10 packets of apple cider mix until smooth and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla extract, then mix in the baking soda and baking powder. Add the flour and mix until just combined.
3. With a standard (size 50) cookie scoop, scoop the dough scrapping off the excess as you go up the bowl. Flatten the dough slightly in your hand and place a caramel in the center. Work the dough around the caramel sealing well. Place the cookies two inches apart on the sheets.
4. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. After baking, carefully slide the parchment with the cookies onto the counter. Let cool until they are no longer soft but still slightly warm. Twist gently to remove, and cool the rest of the way upside down on the parchment or on a cooling rack.

Cinnamon Apple Cake

1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
3/4 cup (6 ounces) fat-free cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups chopped peeled apples (about 2 large)
Cooking spray or butter for greasing

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Beat 1 1/2 cups sugar, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended (about 4 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition; set aside.
3. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture, and beat at low speed until blended. Combine 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon. Combine 2 tablespoons of the cinnamon mixture and apple in a bowl; stir apple mixture into batter. Pour batter into an 8-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray, and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon mixture. If you use a 9-inch springform pan or square cake pan, reduce the baking time by 5 minutes!
4. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until cake pulls away from the sides of pan. Cool cake completely on a wire rack, and cut using a serrated knife.

Andrea Fisher is a North Carolina-based writer, blogger, and foodie. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

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