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Fall is a favorite season for many. A reprieve from the summer heat, changing leaves and cozy blankets can brighten everyone’s spirits. There are fall festivals to attend and many of those include two staple items: fresh picked apples and a field of pumpkins. Sometimes we go overboard at the festival and buy bags of every variety of apples and pumpkins for each family member. So now that you are home from the festivities and bursting with fall fruit and veggies, what do you do with them?

Apples

The fun of apple season is trying all the varieties and learning the subtle differences to pick your favorite. A fun activity for your family is to pick one of every apple variety you can find and have an apple sampling. Give each family member a rating form and let everyone sample the different varieties and decide their favorites. You can talk with your kids about the differences in sweetness, colors and textures.

After you have sampled apple varieties and picked your family’s favorites, try having an apple topping bar. Peanut butter, melted chocolate and caramel are all fun ways to turn this fruit into dessert.

If you find yourself overwhelmed with apples, try some different apple recipes. Cakes and pies are always hits, but you can also add apples to other things. Try making apple cinnamon muffins or cookies. Add diced apples to oatmeal or try apple slices on a peanut butter sandwich.

Already have your oven heated from dinner? Halve some apples, remove the core and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. While your family eats dinner, apples can be baking for a post-dinner treat!

Pumpkins

We are living in a pumpkin spice-crazed society. Every item in your grocery store offers a pumpkin variety during the fall, and they are selling like pumpkin-spice flavored hotcakes! But how do you turn an actual pumpkin into your favorite pumpkin goodies?

The first thing you need to know about your pumpkin spice favorites is that they didn’t begin in a field of Halloween pumpkins. The big pumpkins we decorate with and carve silly faces in are not yummy when cooked. What you need for cooking is called a pie or sugar pumpkin (even the name sounds delicious!). Pie pumpkins are the small pumpkins you see sold near gourds in the produce aisle.

Once you are ready to cook with them, you need to clean the outside of the pumpkin really well and then cut the pumpkin in half. Pumpkins are hard to cut, so be prepared with a good knife and strong, steady hands for this step. Scrape out all the seeds and strings on the inside of the pumpkin and then cut the halves into smaller pumpkin sections. Put the sections skin-side up in a baking dish with a small amount of water just to cover the bottom of the dish. Cover tightly and bake at 325 degrees until tender. Scrap out all the pumpkin yumminess, and you are ready to start cooking!

In addition to your favorite coffees and baked options, there are many savory recipes for pumpkin, including soups and chilis. Try branching out from your favorites into some new ways to enjoy pumpkin this fall.

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