We have eleven pecan trees, so along with the leaves, pecans cover our yard this time of year. We already had about ten pounds collected just from our front yard, so this weekend we took them to the farmer’s market to have them cracked. Even though we still have to separate the shell from the meat, it’s so much faster than doing it all by hand that it is totally worth it.
While we were there, Thadd discovered a big box full of bruised apples for five dollars, so I bought those, too. Thanks to my apple peeler-slicer-corer contraption, I was able to quickly get them ready to freeze for later. Here’s a similar apple peeler to the one I use:
Some of the apples went straight to the stove with cinnamon and sugar to have as a sweet side and baked oatmeal topping.
I’m looking for more recipes to use the apples and pecans that aren’t overly sugary. So far, I’ve found a recipe for apple cider vinegar that makes use of the saved peels.
In the meantime, I made my favorite pecan dessert that is the opposite of not sugary: pecan pralines. (That’s puh-cahn prah-leans, y’all.) They are dangerously easy, especially when you have a ton of pecans on hand and the rest of the ingredients are kitchen staples.
Here’s the recipe I use:
3/4 cup each of brown sugar and granulated sugar
1/2 cup of milk
1 cup of pecans
1 tablespoon of butter
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Combine the sugars and milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook until it reaches the soft ball stage. (That’s when you can put a drop in cold water and it holds together in a ball shape but flattens on your finger when you take it out of the water.) I stir it pretty constantly and check it when it starts to look a little thicker.
Once it is at the soft ball stage, remove it from the heat and stir in the butter, vanilla and pecans until it’s well mixed. Drop the mixture by the spoonful onto waxed paper. If it gets too hard to spoon out, warm it back up for a bit on the stove. It’s best to have the waxed paper ready and work quickly, though. That way you don’t risk burning it and the resulting sadness.
Resist the temptation to try the yumminess immediately and let it cool. Seriously, let it cool. Hot melty sugar burns! The pralines will be more frosty opaque than glossy and easy to peel off the waxed paper when they are ready.
I usually get about sixteen pralines from one batch, but it will vary depending on how big you make them.
Fall is unofficially here, which means it’s time for all things pumpkin spice. Last year, I came across a recipe for a pumpkin spice chai latte. It was yummy, but I’m more of a coffee drinker, so I swapped the tea for coffee. With one or two other tweaks, I had a pumpkin spice latte made with mostly healthy ingredients for pennies.
1 and ¼ cup brewed coffee (or tea)
1 tablespoon of pumpkin puree
2-3 tablespoons of milk (original recipe called for coconut. I usually use almond milk or whole milk)
1/3-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Optional: a dash to 1/8 teaspoon of turmeric
Maple syrup, sugar or honey to taste. I like maple syrup.
To make: Blend all ingredients together. Top with whipped cream and a dash of nutmeg. Enjoy. Repeat. 🙂
I’ve also used this basic recipe to make a pumpkin spice smoothie. All you do is swap out the coffee for the milk of your choice and add a frozen banana or a fresh banana and some ice. I also like to add an extra spoonful of pumpkin to up the vitamin content, as well as some chia or flax seeds. You could easily leave those out, though.
I am so glad Fall is officially here. Yes, it’s still going to be in the 90s this afternoon, but at least our evenings are cooler and the mornings are consistently below 80 degrees. And it hasn’t been over 100 degrees in at least a week, I think.
Finnian enjoying the cool morning air at the playground.
Also, we have about two weeks until we get to find out if this baby is another Christopher clone or a little lady to help me balance out the testosterone. If s/he cooperates, that is. With Finn, I didn’t want to know at first, but ended up finding out at a later ultrasound anyway. Since I want to know this time, I fully expect my child to be difficult about it.
Anyway, on the right side of the blog there’s a poll. The voting closes at 9AM on Oct. 13. If you guess right, you’ll win the privilege of the first diaper change. Or something less disgusting. Hmmm, how about a high-five? Okay, so there’s no real prize other than the satisfaction of getting to say “I told you so.” But that’s pretty good, right?