Autumn Apple Brownies

I hope your family is enjoying the spectacular skies and colorful leaves of this autumn season. I recall seeing the first bright red leaves appear in late August, and now, those same trees have many empty branches.

While pumpkins are everywhere, I’m still holding on to apple season! This is a very simple, quick brownie recipe that can be prepared in 15 minutes, with a bake time around 30 minutes. The bonus is that there is no need to use beaters! I’m all about quick clean up!

Ingredients:

    1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

    ½ cup melted butter

    1 egg

    2 teaspoons vanilla extract

    1 cup flour

    1 ¾ teaspoons baking powder

    ½ cup toffee chips (I use Heath)

    1 ½ cups peeled and diced apples of your choice     

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350º.  Stir together brown sugar, butter, egg and vanilla.  Add flour and baking powder, mixing ingredients well. Stir in apples and toffee chips.  Spread batter into a greased and floured 8×8 inch pan.

Bake at 350º for 30-35 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Completely cool before cutting.

Tips: *Substitute chopped nuts for the Heath toffee bits, if desired. *Double recipe for a 13×9 pan.

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Frosted Apple Squares

Our family had a great time going for our annual apple picking adventure last weekend! Now, I have a counter full of apples to peel and make into yummy treats!  (And, we still have plenty for the school lunches as well!)

This recipe is very similar to an apple pie recipe, but made into soft bars. They are not firm like a cookie-bar, and best eaten with a fork. While I prefer less icing (a light drizzle), my kids prefer to frost them like cake!

Any square or rectangular pan of your choice (I wouldn’t recommend using a pan larger than a 15×10 or the dough will be too thin.) The measured amount of the ingredients works best in a 10×10. All ingredient amounts can be easily altered to accommodate your desired size pan.

Photo: start cooking.com

Photo: start cooking.com

14 oz. (9” pie size) box of two rolls of refrigerated, ready-made pie crust dough

7 medium-sized apples, peeled and sliced

¾ cup sugar (I’ve used a full cup when making a larger sized pan)

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 cups confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar)

3-4 Tablespoons milk

Flour for rolling dough

1 egg

Foil

Mix sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Beat egg in a small bowl. This will be used to brush along the top of your dough.

Sprinkle flour onto counter. Roll one dough roll out into the shape of a rectangle/square. Be careful not to make the dough too thin. Spread rolled dough into the bottom of the pan and slightly up the sides. Using a fork, poke a few holes into the bottom of the dough.  Lay sliced apples in the pan. Sprinkle cinnamon/sugar mixture evenly over the top.  Roll second dough out and carefully place it on top of the apple mixture. Pinch edges with fingers and trim if necessary. Poke a few holes on the top with a sharp knife.

Brush egg lightly over the top of the dough.  Cover edges with foil (just as you would with a pie) so they don’t burn. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil. Bake another 10 minutes, or until light brown. For the 15” pan, you may need to bake a total of 40 minutes, for a 10×10 or even an 8×8, start checking it at 15-20 minutes. Cool completely.

Mix powdered sugar with milk until you have a very thick white frosting. Add more or less milk and sugar until your desired consistency is met. Drizzle or frost when pan is completely cool (I put pan in the refrigerator or freezer for easier cutting). Cut into squares and store in refrigerator.

4 Fast Treats!

Usually, when I need a quick dessert or treat, I’m most likely to forget the easy ideas. If the kids tell me at the last minute that they need something yummy that evening for friends, my mind wanders to complex treats that I don’t have time to make. Here are a few simple ones that I’ve recently reminded myself about… rolls1. Chocolate Dessert Rolls

1 can crescent rolls and Chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Open can of rolls and pull apart dough at perforations.  Place a small handful of chocolate chips in the middle of your dough pieces and roll dough (with chocolate chips at the center) into any fun shape of your choice. Bake for 12 minutes.

Graham2. Chocolate Covered Anything

Chocolate wafers (any color – think of school colors for kids events)

Pretzel Rods        Strawberries         Oreos           Graham Crackers

My go-to items to cover in chocolate? Pretzel rods, strawberries, graham crackers and Oreos. Lay out waxed paper on counter. Melt chocolate wafers in 30 second increments until smooth. Dip items and place on waxed paper. While wet, if desired add sprinkles to pretzel rods. After strawberries, grahams, and Oreos are dry, add icing to decorate.

flavored marshmallows

3. Fruit Kabobs with Marshmallows

Skewers

Assorted cut strawberries, grapes, bananas, blueberries, etc.

Plain white, decorative shaped, or flavored marshmallows

Alternate adding fruit and marshmallows onto skewers.

kiss4. Indoor Smores with Hershey Kisses

Graham Crackers, broken into squares

Large Marshmallows

Hershey kisses

Preheat oven to 350. Cut marshmallows in half across center. Lay one marshmallow on each graham cracker square on ungreased cookie sheet. Place a cookie sheet full of prepared grahams with marshmallows in the oven until the tops of the marshmallows are light brown. Take out of the oven, push Hershey kisses into the softened marshmallows and serve.

Zucchini Parmesan Crisps

I’m always looking for new ways to get my kids to eat zucchini and this one is delicious, but not deep-fried!  This terrific recipe is courtesy of Food Network and Ellie Krieger.  See note below for a great tip about crisping vegetables.

Ingredients:

Cooking spray

2 medium zucchini (about 1 pound total)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan (3/4-ounce)

1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs (I used seasoned)

1/8 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Slice the zucchini into 1/4-inch thick rounds. In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini with the oil. In a small bowl, combine the cheese, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper as desired.  Dip each round into the Parmesan mixture, coating it evenly on both sides, pressing the coating on to stick, and place in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake the zucchini rounds until browned and crisp.  25-30 minutes (depends on the size of your zucchini, so watch the oven).

Note: I always let raw veggies sit on paper towels to release water before attempting to crisp them, but I’ve never salted raw veggiesOne of the reviewers of this recipe suggested salting the raw zucchini rounds on paper towels and letting them sit to release water (thus allowing the vegetables to turn out “crispy” and not “soggy” after cooking).  I was shocked at the additional amount of water that drained out! What a wonderful tip for crisping veggies!

7-minute Crab Dip

Great with crackers or pretzels.  I love it because it’s EASY!  7 minutes to chop onion and crab, measure, mix together, and serve!

Ingredients

½ cup cream cheese

¼ cup sour cream

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 Tablespoon chopped red onion

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire

½ cup chopped imitation crab (or use fresh)

Add salt and pepper if desired

Directions

Place cream cheese in the microwave for 10 seconds to barely soften for easier stirring.  Add all other ingredients and mix until completely blended.  Serve and enjoy!

Option: Using 2 T. of chopped green scallions is a substitute for the red onion, if desired.  Tip: If you soften the cream cheese too much, place dip in the fridge for a few minutes before serving for a firmer consistency.