This uses up the last of the diced pumpkin I had on hand, and let me tell you, it is a pretty spectacular dish. The original recipe has a LOT of additional bits and baubles, and some more obscure ingredients, so the version I cooked has some significant changes. If I ever find some of those ingredients, I’ll probably try again, but for now, the version I have is pretty damn good.

The one more obscure ingredient I will recommend getting is harissa – a local farmer’s market stand that specializes in peppers and spicy stuff had their own homemade version, so that was pretty easy to find for me. In case you don’t have something equivalent where you are, Smitten Kitchen has a harissa recipe that I will probably try out at some point; otherwise, try a Whole Foods or an online spice store. 

Pumpkin Chicken Tagine

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces (mine was probably closer to 2 lbs, I used chicken I had in the freezer, 2 large breasts)
  • 1 onion, diced (I used half of a large onion)
  • 1 T fresh garlic, grated
  • 1 T fresh ginger, grated 
  • .5 t ground tumeric
  • .5 t ground cinnamon
  • .5 t ground ginger
  • .5 t ground cloves
  • .5 t cayenne pepper
  • 2 c chicken stock
  • 4 c pumpkin (about 2 lbs), diced
  • 2 c apples (about 3-4 apples, 1 lb), cored, peeled, and diced
  • 1 T harissa
  • 1 T honey
  • sea salt and pepper
  • (also recommended for the main recipe is .25 c dried cranberries, saffron threads and preserved lemon, I substituted a few squeezes of lemon juice for the lemon and forewent the cranberries and saffron EDIT: will probably add the cranberries back in next time I try this)
  • (additional optional items for garnish: .25 c toasted sliced almonds, 2 T chopped cilantro, .25 c yogurt, .25 c pomegranate seeds)

Heat your oil in a large pot over medium high heat.  Add the diced chicken, and brown lightly on all sides, and then remove and set aside. Add the diced onion and saute for about 5 to 7 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the tumeric, cinnamon, ground cloves and ginger, garlic, fresh ginger, and cayenne pepper, and saute until fragrant, about a minute. 

Add in all of your other ingredients (the pumpkin, apples, chicken, honey, harissa, salt and pepper, and chicken stock), give it a thorough stir so it all combines, and let it come to a boil, before reducing to a simmer.  Cover, and simmer for about twenty minutes, until the pumpkin is tender. 

And then, enjoy your fantastic spicy fall stew, ideally with some couscous on the side!

So, my friend paintboxsoapworks has been talking about this apple butter a lot recently this fall, and I finally got her to write the recipe down. Because, seriously, apple butter plus bourbon and a vanilla bean? World of yes, there. Right about the time she posted it over on her blog Butter and Eggs, one of the jam stalls at the farmer’s market offered a 6 or so pound bag of Cortland apples for $6, so the stars aligned pretty perfectly on the timing for this. And what I got out of this recipe is gonna last me a while – that’s one quart jar and two 10 oz jars on that final picture. 

The only alteration I will note on this recipe is that I did this entirely in my crockpot, as opposed to in the stove, and started the crockpot about halfway through peeling all the apples (which took about an hour total). 

Vanilla Bourbon Apple Butter
Makes at least 1 qt jar plus 2 10 oz jars apple butter

Ingredients

  • appx 5 lbs medium to large apples, peeled and chopped (I got a six pound bag of Cortlands)
  • .5 c water
  • .5 to 1 c dark brown sugar (I used 1 c, adjust based on your tastes)
  • 3 T lemon juice
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • ground nutmeg and cinnamon to taste
  • pinch salt
  • .25 to .5 c bourbon or whiskey (I used half a cup of Bulleit)

Combine all of your ingredients in a crockpot set to high, cover, and cook for approximately two and a half to three hours.  Stir fairly frequently; the apples are ready when you can take them and smush them against the side of the pot with a spoon. The difference between pictures 1 and 2 is after approximately two hours of cooking on high. 

Turn off the heat, remove your vanilla bean, and then take a stick blender (best gift I’ve ever gotten, seriously) and blend, until you get a silky sauce similar to picture 3. Give it a few extra passes, as there might be a chunk of apple or two that it misses. (If you don’t have one, a normal blender will probably work fine, but you’ll need to do it in batches, and it will be messier.)  

Turn your crockpot back on to low, and cook for another half hour. Do a quick taste test at this point, and determine if you’d like to add more lemon, sugar, or spices. Hayley reminds you that hot apple butter is going to taste sweeter/stronger than after you’ve chilled it, but that the spices will continue to bloom once it’s chilling in the fridge.

You’ll know the butter is done once you’ve got a thick sauce that stands up in peaks when you drop it back into the pot (see: picture 3 for the beginnings of that).  Do one last taste test, spoon into jars, and let cool before putting on the lids, and refrigerate/freeze as you so choose!  

I’ll be using this on this morning’s midmorning snack – apple cherry bread from the farmer’s market. 

So, this? This right here? This may be one of the best desserts I’ve ever made. The bacon lattice on this means that the bacon grease cooks and drips down into the spiced baking apples, resulting in what is pretty much the perfect storm of savory and sweet. Like, if I was trying to get someone into bed, this is the pie I would make.  

I made this in my awesome friends’ kitchen in return for them putting me up for the better part of last week.  My friend had this to say about the pie: “I want to marry this pie and have its baby. I’d let you eat the baby.”  I’d say it went over pretty well.  😛

Brief note: I ended up wetting down the brown sugar spice mixture when I probably should’ve nuked the brown sugar, which led to a soggier crust than it should’ve. Good to know for the future.

Bacon Apple Pie

Ingredients

  • 9-inch pie shell, unbaked
  • ¾ c packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • .5 t nutmeg
  • .5 t ground cardamom
  • .25 t ground cloves
  • 1.5 to 2 lbs peeled and cored apples, sliced thick
  • 8 to 12 slices thick-cut bacon (definitely go with farmer’s market bacon if you can)

Preheat your oven to 350, and set your unbaked pie shell on a flat, sturdy baking sheet and set aside.

In a bowl, rub together the brown sugar and spices with your fingers until properly blended.  Add the apples to the mix and toss to coat. Dump the bowl’s contents (all apple slices, any juices, and loose spiced sugar) into the pie shell. 

Lay the unsliced bacon on the top of the spiced apples, starting at the center, going vertically, and then weaving the horizontal ones in an over/under pattern to get a lovely lattice work going. Should be between four to six slices both horizontally and vertically.  Once they’ve been woven, trim the edges and pinch crust over the ends to seal the pie. 

Cover the pie with aluminum foil and bake for an hour in the middle of the oven on the baking sheet. After an hour, take the foil off and continue baking for fifteen additional minutes, until the bacon is similar to the final pic. 

And then, enjoy the sexy sexy pie. 

So, this? This is one of the best things you can do during the fall.  The slow cooker makes the apple-brown sugar-cinnamon combo filter all throughout your house for the full six hours of cooking.  Plus, it’s a great way to use up a bunch of apples, especially if you can find them for cheap at the farmer’s market.  (I got thirteen apples for… I want to say $4 or $5, maximum.  Tis the season.)

This recipe is going to be a bit approximate, as I upped just about everything to match the higher apple content.  I’ll give suggested minimums along with what I did personally.  The thirteen apples I got filled up the crock pot most of the way, and gave me a good pound of applesauce.

Crockpot Applesauce
Lasts 5 lunches as side (at 1 lb of sauce)

Ingredients

  • apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (recipe suggests 8 minimum, I used 13, a mix of Cortland and another type that the vendor didn’t specify)
  • cinnamon sticks (original recipe suggests one, I used five)
  • brown sugar (original recipe suggests 5 t, I just kind of shook the bag out on top of the apples, probably about 3 T worth)
  • lemon juice (original recipe recommends 1 t, I squirted about a quarter of a small lemon bottle onto the top of the apples)

Peel, core, and chop your apples, putting them in the crock pot once chopped. If you find yours filling up most of the crock pot like I did, layer in your cinnamon sticks.  Top with the lemon juice and brown sugar, and at least one cinnamon stick.

Cover your cock pot, turn to low, and proceed to cook for six hours.  Stir at least once every hour, especially as you get towards the last three hours, as the apples will get mushier, and if you stir them, it’ll help them break down into the sauce easier.

Once your six hours is up, the sauce should be looking like the final picture.  I just took out my cinnamon sticks from there and spooned it into a container, as I like this sort chunkier, but if you want it smoother, still remove the sticks and blend it.