Fall Colors and Flavors

October is my favorite month in Santa Fe!  The Aspen leaves are changing and the air is so fresh.  Unfortunately I have been fighting a cold (or maybe allergies) since Labor Day, and the Chamisa and Ragweed in the air certainly aren't helping, but I love being outside in the fall.  I took Kua for a short hike on the Aspen Vista trail last weekend to see the fall colors, and I look forward to some more hiking later this month.  There's such a small window between the end of the summer and the first frost and I just want to enjoy every minute of it.








Fall is also rich with yummy flavors and it just puts me in the mood for baking pastries, cooking soups, and enjoying comfort food.  I made some  St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake for a birthday party this past weekend, and these Apple Cinnamon Muffins from my favorite blogger were also a huge hit!  The cinnamon crumbles on top remind me of the Cinnamon Crunch bagels at Panera... yum!


Apple Cinnamon Muffins



Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Ingredients:


For the Muffins:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 Granny Smith apples (6½ ounces each), peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch pieces (3 cups)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
2½ cups (354 grams) all-purpose flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1¼ teaspoons salt
1 cup (198 grams) granulated sugar
2 eggs
¼ cup (50 grams) vegetable oil
½ cup (120 ml) apple cider
½ cup (113 grams) plain whole milk yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Topping:
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon


Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the apples, brown sugar, ¼ teaspoon of the cinnamon. Cook, stirring often, until the moisture has completely evaporated and the apples are well browned, about 9-11 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and the remaining ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon together in a large bowl.
4. Whisk the granulated sugar, eggs, oil, and 4 tablespoons of melted butter together in a medium bowl until thick, about 30 seconds. Whisk the cider, yogurt and vanilla into the sugar mixture until combined.
5. Fold the sugar mixture and the cooled apples into the flour mixture until just combined. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups.  (The cups can be filled nearly to the top, and I made about 15 muffins.)
6. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon for the topping. Sprinkle the muffin tops evenly with the topping.
7. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 18 to 22 minutes, rotating the muffin tin halfway through baking. Let the muffins cool in the muffin tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and place on a wire cooling rack. Cool for 5 more minutes before serving.

These muffins are delicious when they're warm!  I could eat about 4 in one sitting.  Enjoy!

Note... I forgot to add the topping until after I baked the muffins ("pregnancy brain" is becoming a real thing!), but I just drizzled some melted butter over the baked muffins to make the topping stick and they still turned out delicious.


Cooking the apple mixture

Mixing everything together

Getting ready to bake


This week I made my Green Chile Chicken Stew with fresh ingredients from the Farmer's Market!  I love cooking warm meals on breezy fall nights, and this soup makes the whole house smell delicious.






In other news, this is the first season since 2005, when I was finishing my freshman year of college, that I'm not watching Grey's Anatomy (gasp!).  I haven't jumped aboard the Netflix train yet, but I enjoy "The Voice" occasionally and I just started watching NBC's "This Is Us," which may end up being my show of the year! 

Stay tuned later this month for some updates on home projects, nesting, and preparing for Baby Ross to make her debut! :-)



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