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17 November 2017

Caramel Apples Two Ways: Caramel Apple Snack Plate with Autumn Glory Apples

Let's be real: is there anything more delightful in the fall than a caramel apple? In my humble opinion, there simply isn't. However, while caramel apples are super fun to make and quite delicious, too, prep and clean-up can be a sticky mess. Between melting the caramel just right, finding suitable sticks, and buffing the apples so the caramel sticks, you never quite know if the path to fall's favorite treat is going to take a few minutes or several hours. 

Case in point: when I set-out to develop caramel apple "cake-pops." I had a brilliant idea of making miniature caramel apples, and I got to work scooping tiny balls out of my Autumn Glory apples with a melon baller. These were going to be EPIC...and as I dipped the tiny little balls into caramel, my recipe dreams crumbled to the ground: the caramel slipped right off into a sticky puddle. Not exactly what I had imagined. And so, I improvised.

The idea behind the cakepops was to create something healthy yet fun. With my caramel apple topping bar already prepared - a little midweek treat to myself - I turned lemons into lemonade. I melted some caramel soft candies, added a little sea salt, sliced up a delicious, sweet cinnamon-flavored apple and enjoyed a caramel apple snack plate. Here's what I included on mine:

- Crushed pretzel sticks
- Candy-covered miniature chocolate candies
- Caramel with sea salt

The possibilities with this are endless. I love the idea of doing this cheese plate style with tons of toppings for a "healthier"girls night. Think things like shredded coconut, crushed toasted pecans, miniature chocolate chips, sprinkles, and even melted fondue cheese.

Get kids involved, too! They'll love watching the oozy caramel capture tiny toppings before their eyes.

I mentioned today's post would have caramel apples two ways: come back next week for steamy baked caramel apples; the perfect end to a fall dinner party. 


06 November 2017

Fabulously Fresh Thanksgiving Side: Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Apples

Thanksgiving, especially in the South, can be a bit...heavy. There's cream of something in everything, potatoes rule the roost, and pie takes the cake. While I absolutely love all of the hearty foods that we're about to indulge in, I also like an opportunity to have something a little lighter. 

Brussels sprouts are one of my favorite vegetables, and we're in the thick of the season. In fact, Trader Joe's has huge stalks of sprouts proving their freshness. Between loads of sprouts and the abundance of apples, this simple shaved Brussels sprouts salad will be a Thanksgiving showstopper and have guests hungry for more. 

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Apples 

For the salad, you will need:

- Several hearty handfuls of Brussels sprouts, trimmed
- 1/4 cup of dried cranberries 
- 1/4 cup toasted pecans 
- 2 apples, chopped
- 1 shallot 
- olive oil for frying shallots 

For the dressing, you will need:

- 2 tablespoons olive oil 
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon Dijion 
- salt and pepper to taste 

To prepare:

Mix salad dressing ingredients together and set aside. 

Using a food processor, shred Brussels sprouts using the shredding attachment. If you do not have a processor, cut your sprouts into thin slices using a knife or a mandolin. 

Add shaved sprouts to a large bowl and add remaining ingredients up until shallot. Gently toss and refrigerate. 

Slice shallots into thin rings. Add enough olive oil to a small pan and fry shallots until they are crisp. This goes quickly, so pay attention as not to burn. Allow shallots to dry on a paper towel. 

Just before serving, pour dressing over salad and gently toss. Top with fried shallots. 

Note: If you aren't into shallots, feel free to use pancetta in it's place. Simply fry like bacon over a pan. I love adding a little salty crunch, and either the shallots or pancetta works well! 

*recipe modified from Iowa Girl Eats

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