NC Mountains Apple Pickin’

After making the apple crisp dessert the other week, I have been itching for a trip to the mountains to visit an apple orchard. Eric and I went with one of my old roommates several years back and I haven’t been back to one since. I googled apple orchard and what do you know… Sky Top Orchard is the first hit. Seems pretty popular. So I decided I was going. After finding out that this place was also only 36 mins away from Tupelo Honey Cafe, I knew another stop was mandatory.

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If you have seen my post from another trip I had to Asheville, you will see why I love Tupelo Honey Cafe so much. I’ve been back twice more since that trip and every time the food is out of this world. I loved it so much that I bought the cookbook and I am actually making a black bean burger from from the cookbook this week for dinner. I’m seriously obsessed. Luckily, we are getting one of these restaurants in Charlotte in the coming months. Let me tell you, I will be first in line.

We invited my mother-in-law on our day adventure as well, and I’m so glad we did. I am very fortunate to have a mother in law who is amazing. We have so much fun hanging out. So off we went bright and early Saturday morning up to the mountains. We got to the Orchard right at 9 am which was when they opened. Note to others: that is the way to do it. The place was packed by the time we were ready to leave. So getting there early is the way to go if you want a peaceful experience and not one with a bunch of crowds and chaos.

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You would not believe the amount of apples they had. I was blown away with just the large selection of apples in the front store. Once you are ready to pick some apples, they hand you a map of the farm. Looking out from the store, you can see apple trees for days. Plus there are so many different types of apples. Apples I have not even heard of.  They even have a sample table which is a great way to try all the different kinds of apples. We just wandered around the orchard picking apples as we chose. We ended up picking several different kinds.

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Eric loves Granny Smith apples, so we got a good amount of those for him. We also got my favorite apples: Fuji; love me some Fuji apples. Then we picked up a bunch of random apples in twos including: Rome, Cameo, Arkansas Black, and Pink Lady. I’m sure we will not be able to tell the difference now between all of the apples, but we picked the nonetheless.

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After picking apples we headed back to the storefront where we browsed through all the jams, jellies, butters, and apples. They also have fresh apple cider and apple pies. We all bought cider but Eric’s mom bought an apple pie (I need to ask her how it was). It looked mighty tasty!

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But the best part of the trip is the apple cider doughnuts. OMG… you walk up to the stand to purchase doughnuts and the heavenly smell of sugar and fried bread is in the air. It’s enough to make anyone salivate. I of course had to buy a dozen and it took all I had not to eat them all while holding the warm package in my hands. Ohh they are delicious. Eric and I had several with apple cider for breakfast the following day. You HAVE to heat them up. They are 10X better warm. Throw them in the oven at 200 degrees for about 10 minutes and its sheer perfection in your mouth.

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The views at the top of the orchard were also wonderful. You can pick your apples while enjoying the mountain views in the background. The air was crisp and the leaves were just beginning to turn. The skies were overcast which all came together to make a perfect day for apple picking. I plan to make it a tradition to go up there every year. And hopefully with Sarah and James, Eric’s sister and boyfriend. This is an experience that everyone should have. Nothing like a day in the NC Mountains.

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We went home with 10 pounds of apples each. Now I’ve got several dishes in mind this week with all these apples. We are having apple, fig, and Gruyere cheese paninis this week, apple based salads, grilled apple, and I may even make some apple cinnamon buns with whatever is leftover next weekend.

How are you celebrating fall?

Fall Season Dessert – Apple Pie

I really want to visit one of our NC Apple Orchards this year. Eric and I went with friends several years back. You can go pick you apples, enjoy the beautiful views, and even devour as many apple cider donuts that you want (that’s the best part). Just thinking about those apple cider donuts makes me salivate.

I’ve bought a lot more apples lately from the grocery store. If I was not so lazy, I would make my way up to the farmer’s market and get some local ones (this is the sad truth). Either way, apples are a great “to-go” snack. I usually like to eat them around 3 PM when those sweet cravings hit. Throw some peanut butter on some apple slices and you are good to go till the end of the work day.

My favorite apple at the moment is fuji. I usually buy a bag of organic fuji apples for $6.99 a bag at our local Earthfare. Not bad if you are comparing this price to the prices of pears, grapes, or berries. Especially considering the bag usually comes with 10 apples. So with that being said, I had several apples left from the week. One apple was used in my first ever homemade vegetable stock (post coming soon) while I decided to save the last 4 apples for this delicious dessert.

At the time, I didn’t realize this dessert was going to turn out so good, but man, it is tasty. I used an old recipe from my blog post called “Easy Dessert for Two” where I used left over berries to create a small portion cobbler. I used the same base of that recipe to create an apple pie flavored treat.

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This dessert turned out amazing. I savored every bite shortly after baking. I’m saving the rest for dessert cravings through the week.

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I have a feeling this dessert might end up being a staple in our house with left over apples.

Apple Pie Cobbler

Makes 6 servings

Filling:

4 Apples, chopped into bite sized pieces.
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1/2 Tbsp Sugar
1/2 Tsp Apple Pie Spice
Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
 

Topping:

4 Tbsp All-White Purpose Flour
4 Tbsp Brown Sugar
4 Tbsp Earth Balance (cold, cut into pieces)
4 Tbsp Rolled Oats
6 Tbsp Walnuts (or nut of your choosing; I would do walnuts, pecans or almonds)
 
Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.  For the filling, toss all ingredients together and split between the ramekins (save any juice from mixture and disperse between all ramekins).
3.  For the topping mix flour and brown sugar in a bowl. Add butter, cut into small pieces, and toss to coat. Mix with fingers until crumbly. Mix in the oats and the nuts. Divide evenly over top apples. Gently press to make sure none of the topping slides off.
4.  Place ramekins on a baking sheet. Place in the preheated oven and bake about 20 minutes or until top is golden and crisp.
5.  Let sit for 15 minutes to cool.
6. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream if you choose (but it’s so good, you don’t even need it).
 
Tip: What you don’t finish you can save for the rest of the week. Place aluminum foil over top of the ramekins and store in the fridge. Pull out and reheat at 325 for 11-15 minutes with foil still covering the top.