Autumnal Butternut Squash

This semester I’ve been taking an online nutrition class.  It’s been really fun and interesting.  Our last project of the semester was to try 5 new, whole foods, meaning foods that haven’t been overly processed.  As a child who grew up with a strict one-bite rule, I’m a big fan of trying new things and was eager to tackle this assignment.  Coming up with 5 foods that I’ve never tasted was a bit of a challenge, but I’ve managed to come up with quite a few things and hope to continue challenging myself to try new things.

One of the first things I thought I should try was fennel.  I’ve avoided fennel because I’m not a fan of licorice or anise flavored things.  So with a brave (and skeptical) heart, I bought my first fennel bulb.  Fennel is a good, low-calorie source of vitamin C, fiber and potassium.  The whole fennel plant is edible, the leaves can be use as a fresh herb, and the stalks are good for soups, but I focused on the bulb.  Raw fennel does smell very strongly of licorice, but doesn’t have too strong of a licorice taste, it’s mostly just crunchy like celery.  And when I cooked it in this dish, it was very pleasant.  The sweet notes from the butternut squash, cranberries and apples pairs nicely with the floral and more mellow flavor of the cooked fennel.  We served this dish to some family friends and once I told them about the fennel they could taste it, but otherwise it just adds a nice complexity to the dish.  We served this with pork, but it would also be great as a Thanksgiving side dish.

Autumnal Butternut SquashAutumnal Butternut Squash (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 6

Adapted from Foodie Crush

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 1 fennel bulb, diced
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and diced (I cheated and got the pre-cut kind from the grocery store), about 4 cups
  • 2-3 Tbsp fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 large tart apple (I used pink lady, but granny smith would work great too)
  • 3/4 cup water (or apple juice if you have it on hand)
  • salt, to taste

In a large cast iron pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add shallot and fennel and sauté until softened.  Add butternut squash and sauté for a few minutes.  Add remaining ingredients.  Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer with the lid on for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Check for seasoning and doneness, add more water if needed.  Serve hot or at room temperature.

Fresh Apple Bundt Cake

This cake is a great way to use the fresh fruit of autumn.  This cake is super moist and filled with apple-y flavor.  Dusted with a little powdered sugar, it’s the perfect balance of sweet.  Perfection is this cake with a cup of tea or coffee, or really get into the holiday spirit with a cup of hot cider!

Fresh Apple Bundt CakeFresh Apple Bundt Slice (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 12

Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup natural unsweetened applesauce (1 proportioned cup is the perfect size)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3-4 small apples (I used pink lady, but granny smith would work too), peeled, cored and diced in 1/2″ cubes (3 cups total)
  • powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Generously spay a bundt pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together butter, oil, and sugar until pale yellow.  Add applesauce and beat until well mixed.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add vanilla.Fresh Apple Bundt (A Seat at the Table)

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Add dry ingredients to wet in three batches, reserving a few Tbsp to toss with the apples, mix until just combined and then fold in the apples.  Pour batter into prepared bundt pan and bake for 48-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Check the bundt halfway through and if browning too quickly, cover with foil.  Allow cake to cool for at least 1 hour before flipping out of bundt pan and on to your platter.  Once cake is cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Zucchini Cake

So this is one of the desserts I made for Friday night’s Carroll Cafe.  I had made a Cinnamon Sugar Zucchini Cake, and as I was slicing it to serve I sampled a piece and was HORRIFIED by how it turned out!  It was gummy and weird and totally not cake-like.  I’m not sure what went wrong, but I had about 2 hours to come up with a different zucchini cake.  So of course, it was trusty Grandma Helland’s recipe that saved the day.  I adapted Grandma’s Apple Cake recipe and it was a crowd pleaser, as always.

This is a tender, moist flavorful cake that’s prefect for fall.  It’s a nice treat but isn’t too sweet, so it’s perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.  It’s great for a fall treat and is definitely a last minute crowd pleaser.

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Zucchini CakeCinnamon Sugar Apple Zucchini Cake (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 12-16

  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and grated
  • 1 small zucchini, grated (can sub two more apples)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a 9×13″ pan with nonstick foil or grease with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix ingredients in order given.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake for approximately 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  At about 30 minutes you may need to cover with foil to keep top from browning too quickly.    When cake is done sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar (a mix of about 1/4 cup sugar with 3/4 tsp cinnamon works well, sprinkle to taste).  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Apple Crisp Muffins

These were delicious.  The perfect taste of fall flavors.  Dad said they were the best muffins he’s ever had.  My only complaint is that the recipe only made 10!  Next time I’ll definitely be (at least) doubling the recipe!

These are super moist due to the combination of butter, oil and applesauce.  The fresh apple pieces get tender (but not mushy) and the oatmeal crisp topping adds a little extra sweetness and the perfect amount of chewy crunchiness.  You’ll definitely want to make these this fall.  They’re great fresh from the oven or at room temperature.  But if you think they’re going to last more than a couple of days, make sure you refrigerate them in a ziploc bag, since they’re so moist they won’t last long on the counter.

Apple Crisp MuffinsApple Crisp Muffins (A Seat at the Table)

Makes about 20 muffins

Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (2 snack pack applesauces)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups peeled and chopped apple (about 4)

Crisp topping:

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

In a large bowl, mix together butter, oil, applesauce, and sugars until well mixed (the mixture might look curdled).  Add egg and vanilla and beat to combine.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Add half the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix until just combined.  Add half of the remaining flour and mix again until just combined.  Toss the apple pieces with the remaining flour, then carefully fold the apples into the batter.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line 2 muffin trays with muffin cup papers or grease muffin tin generously with cooking spray.

Reusing the dry ingredient bowl, mix crisp topping ingredients together until well mixed and crumbly (I find using my hands is easiest).

Scoop batter into prepared muffin tins, should be about 3/4 full (a 4oz cookie scoop is the perfect size).  Top with about 1 Tbsp of crisp topping, then bake for about 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let muffins cool in tin for about 10 minutes before removing and letting cool completely on a wire rack.

Apple Turkey Burgers with Cheddar and Caramelized Onions

Sadly apple picking at my favorite farm has ended.  Mom and I made a good showing this year, I think we went fruit picking at least twice a month since the farm opened in late spring.  While I will miss the abundance of apples, it will be nice not to try and force 20 lbs of apples into the fridge and I can probably do with a break from apples for a little while (if you eat three apples a day do you keep the doctor away for an extra long time?).

One of my favorite bloggers, Iowa Girl Eats, had this recipe for Orchard Turkey Burgers that sounded so intriguing.  I’ve had it pinned since August, and just happened to pick up some ground turkey at the store and on the way home I knew this is what I had to make.  It was delicious!  I loved that it doesn’t need to be served on a bun.  The apple in the burgers is subtle but keeps them super moist and tender.  The extra-sharp cheddar contrasts with the caramelized onions to create a real flavor explosion!  Definitely a keeper recipe!

Apple Turkey Burgers with Cheddar and Caramelized Onions

Serves 8

Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

  • 2 jumbo onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 lbs lean ground turkey
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, grated
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper, to taste
  • extra-sharp cheddar cheese, sliced

Heat large skillet over medium heat.  When oil is hot, add sliced onions.  Cook the onions slowly over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.  Season with salt to taste.  Cook for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown and deliciously caramelized.

Meanwhile, mix together turkey, grated apples, thyme, garlic and onion powder, sat and pepper.  Divide mixture into 8 equal portions and form into patties.  Lightly brush the outside of the patties with olive oil.  Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat.  When pan is hot, add patties.  Cook for about 2-3 minutes until golden, flip the burger and add cheddar cheese on top.  Cook for another couple of minutes until browned on the bottom and cooked through.  Serve over a bed of greens and top with caramelized onions.