I love fall. Love it! Adore it.
Lucky for me, fall is more than all of that. It’s everywhere! It’s cold weather and warm food and brightly-colored leaves and the smell of fireplaces and hot apple cider. We celebrated fall this year with a trip to Kansas City–well, it was supposed to be the city, but we were staying on the outskirts, and we didn’t make our planned trips into the city because there was a big marathon in town and the streets were closed. Instead of going to spend a day at Crown Center, we spent time at the Legends Outlets and went apple picking at Cider Hill Orchard, a place I learned about from the local parenting magazine’s website.
Pro tip: when you visit cities, find out if that area a local parenting magazine, which is usually an excellent source for finding current activities in that area for families. Of course, I’m completely biased, having worked for the Oklahoma City parenting magazine for many years!
It was a great way to spend a morning; we arrived (a carload of city folk) at this lovely venue, selected the 10-pound bag for picking and piled into the hayride. We rode around the grounds to the ready trees, and with a quick tutorial on using the apple picking tool, got to work. It was fun, and that 10-pound bag filled up quickly. The kids ate apples right off the tree (with the blessing of the owner) and felt like little rebels.
There were many other families there to pick and also groups gleaning the fallen apples for the needy–they had easily gathered several bushels of good apples.
We made our way through the orchard, back toward the beautiful old Victorian where, as promised, the fire pit in the back was fully stocked with sticks and marshmallows. We made our way over to the store to pay for our apples and also picked up a few cups of hot apple cider and a bottle of farm fresh honey as well.
Heading to find a picturesque corner to enjoy our cider, we spent some quality time on the swings and feeding the ducks. This was the frugal part of the post, because all of that was well under $20. My biggest regret is that not once did I say “how do you like them apples!?” when we were at the orchard. I consider it a personal failing from which I shall endeavor to recover from.
When I got my bag of apples home, I had to decide what to do with them. I decided on apple pie–but instead of a big, full-size apple pie, I made tiny little apple tarts. About four batches of them. Easy to make and by the last batch, I had it down to a science. Enjoy one (or two; they’re small!) warmed up with a scoop of vanilla… heaven!
I don’t remember what type of apples we brought home but they are somewhat dry and tart. The little pies were good, but when I subbed the honey we bought at the orchard, they became great. What’s better for an apple pie than a sweetener made from apple blossoms?
Muffin Tin Apple Tarts (makes 12)
4 cups apples, peeled & diced (I used about 9-10 small to medium apples)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup honey
Refrigerated pie crust
2 tablespoons cold butter (roughly)
Place diced apples into a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine cinnamon, flour and pumpkin pie spice and add to apples, stirring to coat. Add honey and mix well. Set aside.
Unroll pie crust (you only need one) and cut out 12 circles with a biscuit cutter or a cookie cutter or a mason jar collar (which is the perfect size). If the last circle or two isn’t quite complete, it’s okay.
Spray or oil your muffin tin. Roll out each circle until quite thin–no specific size, just big enough so you can gently press into the muffin cups to form your crust. Repeat with each circle.
Distribute apples evenly among the crust-lined cups. Take that butter and cut it into roughly equal little chunks, dotting one on top of each tart.
Bake in your pre-heated 375 oven until done. Yes, that’s what I wrote down, “until done.” My oven temperature is wonky, so I would recommend that you check on these after about 15 minutes and go from there. Your apples should be brown and bubbly, the crusts lightly browned and they should easily release from the muffin cups.
Mari Farthing is co-admin of Oklahoma Women Bloggers. She would totally scale tall buildings for her family, loved ones and occasionally a nice glass of Malbec if it’s been one of those days. Mari blogs at Mari’s Virtual Notebook and Mari’s Edits.
All photos in this post have been provided by Mari and used with permission here. Photos are the sole property of Mari and may not be used without permission.