3 Years and a Half-Peck of Apples.

Last weekend, Jarrod and I celebrated our 3 year anniversary as a family. It was a gorgeous early fall morning that we set out to Kansas City, and stopped by a red barn selling freshly pressed cider from local Missouri apples. Of course, they had warm, homemade apple cider doughnuts enveloped in the perfect amount of cinnamon and sugar. I bought a dozen, because… well, when do we ever get to eat freshly fried up cider doughnuts? They were fluffy, light, apple-y, and soft. Washing down our doughnuts with warm, tart apple cider, we discussed our next move—a 30 minute drive to neighboring state Kansas, for some apple picking fun. We found ourselves in a beautiful orchard nestled in farmland. Adjacent to the apple trees stood a grand farmhouse and a barn, both adorning matching paintings of apples on the shutters surrounding the many windows of the two buildings. In front of the barn was a pond, with ducks quacking and eating the ‘duck feed’ that visitors to the orchard could purchase for 50 cents a handful. It was just perfect. A fun, family-friendly orchard complete with hayrides up through the orchard to the rows of trees with apples fit for picking. Jarrod had never been apple picking, which baffles the Long Islander in me, who has gone apple picking a multitude of times growing up. With our empty half-peck bag for our apples, we started exploring, stopping to examine the yellow-green orbs dotting the trees in the soft October sunlight.

When we came to a large tree with many promising apples, without even dropping off my purse on the ground, I hoisted myself up and strategically maneuvered my way up the sturdiest-looking branches, finally finding myself within arms-reach of a cluster of apples. I should mention here that I’m actually pretty terrified of heights, but I think I was too high on adrenaline to even notice that I was a good 20 feet off the ground in a freaking tree to barely notice. Up in that tree, tossing down apple after apple to Jarrod, I found myself realizing how lucky I am. How lucky I am to have such a caring, thoughtful husband who will drive 3 hours to take me on a surprise daytrip to fully embrace a Midwest fall activity. Lucky that, despite me having bonked him on the head with an apple not even 20 minutes ago while hoisted on his shoulders, he was trusting me to hurl two dozen more just-as-hard apples at his face, from 14 feet above.

After our bags were brimming with apples of all shapes and sizes, we sat by a fireplace, roasted some marshmallows, and sipped on frozen cider. I’m not kidding. This place is magical. I’m only half-disappointed that a unicorn didn’t appear out of thin air to offer us graham crackers and chocolate to complete our roasted marshmallow treat.

Fast forward a week to today, and we still have a near-full bag of apples. Apples are great, because they’re just so dang versatile—especially the more tart, less sweet variety (at least, I think so). I made two dips this week/weekend— one was for ‘Dip Day’ at school, for which I made a chocolate cheesecake dip, and the other was a more standard Heath Bar-Salted Caramel fruit dip. Both are equally divine and easy to make.

Since I blabbered on and on about our anniversary trip, I’ll wrap it up quick and share with you the recipes for these yummy dips. Happy Fall, everyone J

Chocolate Cheesecake Dip (from Something Swanky)

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • ½ C butter, softened
  • 2 ½ C powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 5 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2-3 Tbsp. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 C mini chocolate chips

Put it Together:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth.
  2. Mix in brown sugar, cocoa powder, salt, flour, vanilla, and 1 Tbsp. milk.
  3. Add powdered sugar and another Tbsp. or two of milk until you reach a consistency you prefer.
  4. Mix in mini chocolate chips.
  5. Eat with Nilla wafers, graham crackers, apples, strawberries, or whatever else you’re craving. YUM!!


Heath Bar Salted Caramel Dip (adapted from Lemon Tree Dwelling)

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • ¾ C packed brown sugar
  • ¼ C powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 C Heath Bar crumbles

Put it Together:

  1. Mix cream cheese, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt together in a bowl.
  2. Add in powdered sugar.
  3. Add in Heath Bar crumbles.
  4. Enjoy with your choice of dippers…. My favorites are tart apples and honey-wheat pretzel sticks! Also, just dipping a spoon in the dip and eating it. Don’t judge. You know you considered it!!

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