Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Celebrating Fall on the Farm - DailyBuzz Moms 9x9

I was selected to participate in the DailyBuzz Moms " Fall into Autumn!" September 9x9.  This is my submission. For more great ideas be sure to check out the other 8 blog posts.

Crisp, clean air, cool evenings and a whole new set of new seasonal foods to enjoy makes Fall my favorite season. After the busy pace of Summer activities and longer daylight hours, Fall is the perfect time to relax and enjoy the slower pleasures of a colorful and flavorful season.

Armed with a few good recipes to really celebrate the tastes, sights and smells of the season, anyone, even if you live in the city, can bring the best of Fall into their own home. I am going to share a few of my favorites to get you in the mood for this fabulous Fall season. So, from our farm to your home here they are.

When we decided to move to the family farm it was because we were passionate about raising our children to be mindful of the seasons. Eating local and seasonal became a fun challenge, though Fall isn't really a challenging time to find good food. There is so much available right now. Our apples are ready to be picked in the orchard, prunes are ready to be shaken from the trees, squash sits out in the fields and all the beautiful root vegetables are waiting patiently in their rows to be unearthed.

My favorite seasonal foods are pumpkins and other squash. There are so many reasons to embrace squash this season, they are great to store, nutritious and inexpensive. Luckily if you can't get out to your local farm market or stand,  squash is readily available in supermarkets everywhere.

We grow several varieties and I try to incorporate them into our lunches and dinners baked, pureed, steamed and even grilled. A simple baked squash is easy to fill with various ingredients to create an entire meal. Some of our family favorites include stuffing with rice, lentils or even fruit, as in my apple and prune stuffed squash recipe. So let's begin with the tastes of Fall.

This combination may seem odd, but the apples and prunes both lend a sweetness that combines well with the spices and butter, and compliment the simple squash. This recipes is sure to please even the pickiest eaters. For a little added protein, top with your favorite chopped nuts.

Apple Prune Stuffed Squash

You Will Need:

  • 1 acorn squash, halved and seeds scraped out
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 tart apple, sliced thin and cubed
  • 6 prunes (dried plums), quartered
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the squash in a baking dish large enough to accommodate it easily. Add the water to the pan and cover with aluminum foil. Bake till the squash is fork tender, start checking around 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a skillet heat up the butter and saute the apple chunks until tender. Then add the prunes, half the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg to the pan. Toss to coat.

When the squash is ready, drain out any excess water and fill with the apple filling and top with the remaining brown sugar. Return to the oven till the brown sugar melts and everything is warmed through.

Everyone seems to bake their squash differently. I like to put 1/2 cup water in the bottom of a baking dish with the cut side of the squash down. I cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes. Then I turn over and drain the water out of the squash (leave in the baking dish) and continue baking uncovered till the squash is fork tender. I find using water keeps the squash from drying out around the edges. The flesh is creamy and moist.

This easily serves my family of 4, but I wouldn't mind diving into a whole half myself. Enjoy!

A big part of Fall is the changing leaves and many colors that dot the hillsides. To capture the sights of Fall I made my kids their favorite jigglers with a colorful twist.

Fall Colors Jell-O Jigglers

I usually grab the smallest boxes for of Jell-O for this project. Grab your favorite flavors in an assortment of Fall inspired colors. We chose grape, orange and strawberry, though both green and yellow flavors would also be a nice addition.

You Will Need:

  • 3 or more different flavors (colors) of Jell-O gelatin, small (3.4 oz size)
  • 1/2 c. boiling water for each package
Mix the packages of Jell-O separately in measuring cups or bowls. Whisk well to dissolve all the powder. Pour one whole package into the bottom of a 9x9 glass baking dish. Put in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes.

Mix the other boxes well and let cool slightly.

Before the refrigerated Jell-O can set-up, add the other slightly cooled colors. Don't stir too much as the colors will spread out on their own. You can also reserve some of the Jell-O to pour on top after refrigerating the dish again.

Have fun and experiment with pouring and layering the colors for fun and delicious treats! When the gelatin has set-up completely, use small leaf cookie cutters to cut out shapes. A thin flexible spatula inserted under the shapes can help you life them out easily. 

My son snagged a few as I was snapping pictures. They love Jell-O!

I have a Wilton set of fondant cutters that are a great size for jigglers. I have a fall set I took the acorn and leaves from, but there are other various sets for all occasions.

Let's not forget about the wonderful scents and aromas associated with Fall. To celebrate those I created my own simple potpourri to display around the house. Once you see how simple this is to make for yourself, you will never bother to buy a bag of it again.

My husband is very sensitive to artificial scents, so whenever I can use natural fragrances around the house I do. This time of year there are so many options for making the house smell amazing. Some of my favorites included spiced cider or homemade apple sauce in the crock pot all day. But if you are looking for something that is as pretty to display as it smells good, this potpourri recipe is perfect.

Orange Spice Potpourri

You Will Need:
2-3 oranges
1 lemon
1 grapefruit
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
2 cinnamon sticks
4 star anise, whole
Natural Orange essence *optional

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Slice the citrus as thin as your can. I found my ceramic knife works best, but any sharp knife will work. Place slices in a single layer on a towel. Press the fruit segments to release the juice, but try to keep the fruit segments in place. This will make a prettier presentation when dried.

Place the citrus slices in a single layer on the parchment. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake for 1 hour and then turn and check your fruit. They should be dried but not brown. This alone will make your house smell amazing!

When dried, arrange the citrus slices and other spices in your favorite dishes and place around the house. I like to put mine near a window where it will heat up. If you want a stronger scent, or it starts to fade, sprinkle with natural orange essence for a boost.

I hope you get the chance to try some of these Fall favorites of ours. What represents Fall to you and your family? What recipes, smells and sights do you treasure this time of year?

*Disclaimer I was not compensated for this DailyBuzz Moms 9x9 blog post submission, but the challenge winner will receive a prize. All opinions and thoughts are my own.
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  1. Everything in this post looks incredible! The pics are gorgeous!

  2. Congrats on being selected! Your photos are so pretty!

  3. This is so awesome...what beautiful pictures. Love the prune squash.

  4. Gorgeous photos. Reminds me of my days growing up in the midwest. We lived in the city, but were never too far from driving past farms. Love the change of seasons! Great recipe selection, too. Looking forward to trying them out!

  5. What a beautiful post! I always want to soak up everything fall and your post highlights my favorites. This time of year goes by way to fast!

  6. Love the colors.. here in Florida I get green or brown. The jello leafs look great!

  7. Beautiful photos and amazing recipes. I miss the fall so much now that I live in the desert. :(

  8. LOVED your post for so many reasons - thank you!

  9. I really love the pictures showing the leaves beginning to turn yellow. Everything here in TX is still very green and I have been watching closely to see the beginning of the change. It's one of my favorite things about the season.

    I look forward to trying your squash recipe soon. It's looks and sounds amazing. I was wondering, do you think that using the water in the pan would work as well when roasting pumpkin?

    Also, I absolutely can't wait to try making the Orange Spice Potpourri! It's looks so beautiful and I can only imagine how wonderful it smells. Thank you so much for sharing!

  10. These pictures are really lovely and colorful. Fall has so many pretty colors and it is such a fun season! The recipes are fantastic and I would love to try the Orange Spice Potpourri (I could almost smell the fantastic scent).
    twinkle at optonline dot net


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