Pumpkins, apples, squash - Fall is a time of the year many chefs look forward to because of the bountiful harvests that produce appetizing dishes.
Whether it's a sweet tooth or a savory dish that satisfies your taste buds, here are some fall dishes families can enjoy making in the kitchen together.
A fall staple for many families is the caramel apple. It's also the perfect recipe to use your creativity, said Cheryl Molenda, president of the American Culinary Federation Chefs of Northwest Indiana.
"Caramel apples can be made with any number of toppings - chocolate, nuts, coconut, candies," she said. "I've had them with cinnamon Red Hots that were melted down and the apples dipped in them."
50 pieces of chewy caramels, unwrapped
4 popsicle sticks
4 medium-sized apples
2 tablespoons evaporated milk
After washing and drying the apples, insert a popsicle stick into each core.
Place the caramels and evaporated milk in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes.
Immediately dip the apples in the melted caramel mixture, using a spoon to cover the apples in caramel.
Place the apples on waxed paper and dribble any chosen toppings evenly over the apples. Let stand to harden, or refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Northwest Indiana has several places to pick apples, and apple crisp is an easy recipe for kids to make with the apples they pick.
10 cups peeled and sliced apples, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup water
1 cup quick cooking oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking power
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the sliced apples evenly in a 9-by-13-inch pan.
Mix the white sugar, 1 tablespoon flour and ground cinnamon together, and then sprinkle the mixture evenly on top of the apples. Pour the 1/2 cup of water over top the apples and mixture.
In a separate bowl, combine the oats, 1 cup flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and melted butter together. It will form a crumbly mixture, which you will place evenly over the apples.
Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes.
Roasted pumpkin seeds
As family members are carving out their pumpkins this year, be sure to save the seeds inside. Roasted pumpkin seeds are a delicious snack on their own, but also can be sprinkled on top of salads and pasta dishes, said Alison Needham, author of "A Girl Defloured," a website that features gluten-free recipes.
Seeds from one pumpkin
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
Scrape the seeds out of one medium sized pumpkin, separate from the guts and rinse the seeds well in a colander. Pour the seeds onto a clean dishtowel and rub dry.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees, and place the seeds on a large, rimmed baking sheet and toss with olive oil. Sprinkle evenly with the salt, paprika and cayenne pepper.
Roast the seeds for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, or until lightly golden brown and crunchy.
Store in an air-tight container.
Gluten-free pumpkin pancakes
There are countless pumpkin recipes available in the fall, but this one is not only spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, it's gluten free for those restricted on a certain diet.
Want to impress your kids even further? Needham suggests shaping them into pumpkins or leaves by using a piping bag, bottle or zip-top bag with one corner snipped off.
2 cups all purpose gluten-free flour blend*
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 cups milk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 extra large eggs
2 tablespoons melted butter
chocolate chips (optional)
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Heat a griddle over medium low heat.
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, pumpkin puree, eggs and melted butter. Add to the dry ingredients and whisk to combine.
Pour about 1 tablespoon of oil on the griddle and spread with a paper towel. Pour batter, a 1/4 cup at a time, onto the griddle to make dollar-sized pancakes. Top each with a few chocolate chips, if desired.
When the pancakes bubble and the edges look dry after about 3 to 4 minutes, flip and continue cooking on the other side for 2 to 3 minutes longer, or until cooked all the way through.
Remove to a serving tray, cover with foil and set in the oven to keep warm while you make another batch. Serve hot with warm maple syrup or whipped cream and chocolate chips.
*To make all purpose gluten-free flour blend: Combine these ingredients (store leftovers in pantry): 3 cups brown rice flour, 2-1/4 cups sorghum flour (also called sweet white sorghum flour), 2 cups tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch), 3/4 cups sweet rice flour (also called glutenous rice flour), 3/4 cup potato starch (not potato flour), 1/4 cup cornstarch, and 3 teaspoons xanthan gum.