Fall in New England is a visual feast. Vibrant foliage blankets hills and valleys—swaths of red, orange, and gold lining sparkling bodies of water and wrapping quaint town greens, the changing tapestry punctuated by white steeples. Picturesque farms are surrounded by a patchwork of fields offering apples, sunflowers, and pumpkins ripe for picking. Rustic barns display cheery chrysanthemums on hay bales and invite crowds to sample local produce. So the edible feast begins.

The rich aroma of steaming, mulled cider has greeted our family each fall as we step into the barn at our local farm. Our first fall field trip each homeschool year, these visits began as purely educational—learning about the farm animals or watching as truckloads of apples were pressed into cider. As my kids grew older, these visits evolved into choosing the best apples for crisps and pies, or simply sampling the freshly made cider and cider donuts. These, and other, flavors of fall are now enjoyed year-round in our household thanks to a few family-favorite recipes.

Butternut-Apple Soup, the first, combines mild and creamy butternut squash with the cook’s choice of sweet or tangy apples. This recipe, perfect for chilly nights, can be made in a large batch and frozen in smaller portions to enjoy for weeks to come. Kids can help chop apples, though adults should tackle the harder squash. Am immersion blender is useful for this delicious soup.

The second recipe, Apple Butter, is great for topping toast, muffins, crackers, or even white meat. Cooked in a Crock-Pot, this concoction fills your home with its rich, spicy scent. Apple butter can be frozen–or preserved using a hot water bath–to enjoy months later. (When canning, make sure to carefully follow procedures to ensure a safe final product.) Kids can help chop apples for this recipe as well, though I recommend canning when you have a block of uninterrupted time. When preserved in small Mason jars, apple butter makes wonderful holiday or hostess gifts.

Pumpkin Squares are the third recipe. Passed down through my husband’s family, this fall dessert pairs a light pumpkin cake with a luscious cream cheese frosting. Kids can help with this recipe from start to finish. It fills a large pan, providing many servings, and can be made year-round using canned or frozen pumpkin.

Even if you live far from New England, I invite you to try these recipes. Whether changing up a holiday tradition or stocking up on quick meal components, by doing so you too can enjoy the flavors of fall year-round.

Butternut-Apple Soup

40 oz. peeled, cubed butternut squash (or 2 bags of frozen)
4 ripe apples, peeled and cubed
1 large onion, chopped
32 oz. chicken broth
1 tsp. curry powder
½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
Dash cinnamon (to taste)

In large pot, sautee onion in a little olive oil until soft. Add squash, apple, broth, and seasonings. Cook over medium/high heat until squash and apple are soft. Puree using immersion blender. Serve hot.

Apple Butter

12 cups cored, chopped unpeeled apples
¾ cup apple cider
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cloves (or pumpkin pie spice)

Combine apples and cider in a large Crock-Pot. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until apples are soft. Puree with immersion blender. Add sugar and spice, then cover and cook 1-2 hours longer, removing lid for part of time to reduce liquid, if needed. (Richest taste comes from using a variety of good cooking apples, like Granny Smith, Gala, and Golden Delicious.)

Pumpkin Squares

4 eggs
1 can pumpkin
2 cups sugar
1 cup mild oil (like coconut)
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cloves

In large bowl cream eggs, pumpkin, sugar and oil. Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth. Pour into greased 15 x 11 x 1-inch jelly pan or cookie sheet. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Cool completely.

Frosting

3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. milk or cream
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. almond extract
2 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar

Beat ingredients and frost cake. Cut into squares to serve.

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Mom of three and grandmom of two, Debbie just completed 19 years of homeschooling. Her interests include kayaking, baking, crafts of all kinds, singing, and traveling. Life is especially good when she has a cup of tea nearby, her two Siamese on her lap, and a good book to read.