Country Apple Galette

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One of the most challenging parts of having a baking blog is deciding what you want to make. Sometimes I have an inspiration or a vision and I know exactly what I want to bake. More often than not, I get a recipe suggestion from a friend or family member who stumbled upson something that they really liked. Not that long ago, my blogging friend Tracy Lee Karner had the ingenious idea to give out free ideas for one of her blog posts. I puzzled over what I should ask for, and finally decided that I would request a recipe. She came up with the great idea for this country apple galette.

This simple baked apple dessert is the perfect ode to fall for my blog this year. Fall is easily my favorite season. With the delicious flavors of squash, pumpkins, cranberries, and apples—fall is paradise for a baker. This pizza-style galette is made with a simple and versatile pastry dough that comes together in a food processor in less than 20 seconds. It can be filled with any mixture of fruits or vegetables that inspires you while you’re in the kitchen. And because the tart is free form, you can shape the pastry into a round or rectangle.

Country Apple Galette Recipe
Adapted from Jacques Pépin

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Pastry Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup ice water

Topping Ingredients
4 Golden Delicious apples
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon honey, preferably wildflower
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Directions
In a food processor, combine the flour with the sugar, salt and butter and process for about 5 seconds. Sprinkle the ice water over the flour mixture and process until the pastry just begins to come together, about 10 seconds; you should still be able to see small pieces of butter in it. Transfer the pastry to a work surface, gather it together and pat into a disk. Wrap the pastry in plastic or wax paper and refrigerate until chilled. (You can also roll out the pastry and use it right away.)

Peel, halve and core the apples and slice them crosswise 1/4 inch thick. Set aside the larger center slices and coarsely chop the end slices and any broken ones; about half of the slices should be chopped. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon.

Preheat the oven to 400°. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry to a 12-by-14-inch rectangle and transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet. Spread the chopped apples over the pastry to within 1 inch of the edge. Drizzle the honey over the chopped apples. Decoratively arrange the apple slices on top in concentric circles or in slightly overlapping rows. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar evenly over the apples and dot with the pieces of butter. Fold the pastry edge up and over the apples to create a 1-inch border.

Bake the galette for about 1 hour, until the pastry is nicely browned and crisp and all of the apples are tender. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the galette cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
If you’d like to save some time, the buttery pastry can be made ahead and then refrigerated overnight.

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Dark Chocoalte and Cherry Granola Bars

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Was I really a college freshman more than a decade ago?

Definitely. I came to this realization last week when I was trying to figure out why the college freshmen looked so… young. Then it hit me. I wasn’t young anymore, I was… old. At least according to the standards of the short-short wearing, midriff exposed babies walking around campus who were suspiciously eyeing my pencil skirt and cardigan combo.

It’s safe to say that I have no desire to repeat all night study sessions or share a 200 square-foot dorm room with a roommate. No thank you. But the college experience is so much more than that, and I definitely miss many of the aspects of college life. As I’ve watched the students around campus it’s brought back memories of my years in college, which is what prompted me to create a list of advice that I would give my college freshman self.

1. Less is more, when it comes to packing for your dorm room.

2. Spend more time studying than you did in high school; get to know a few professors really well; pick campus activities that matter to you and get involved; go out of your way to make friends with classmates who are quiet, may be struggling; and leave time to have fun!

3. Communal showers exist. Say goodbye to privacy until Thanksgiving break. And remember flip-flops in the bathroom. No exceptions.

4. Look for cheap textbooks online. There’s no reason you need to pay $100 plus dollars on your science textbook. The bookstore clearly does not have your best interest in mind—try looking on Amazon.

5. Learn to get along with your quirky roommate. Make a cleaning chart, set some ground rules—whatever it takes to make these next nine months bearable.

6. Whatever you do, don’t mix drinking and social media (because you’re obviously underage). On the topic of drinking, it is rampant on most campuses. Don’t be an idiot. Enjoy yourself responsibly.

7. Don’t freak out if your major is undecided. Remember everyone is lost at some point. You’ll figure it out.

8. Have fun, college is the time to make the mistakes you’ll laugh at for years to come.

9. Take care of yourself. Eat well. Exercise. Go on adventures. Actually do the things you were excited about whenever you thought about college. If that means being an activist when no one else is, then activist away, I tell you! If it means sitting in your jammies, reading some textbooks on your porch and drinking lemonade, then get a place with the most kick-ass porch there is.

10. Most importantly, relax and BREATHE. These really will be the best four years of your life.

With respect to number nine above, it can be hard to eat healthy when you’re in college. The freshman 15 isn’t just a joke. It’s important to have healthy snacks that are close on hand, and even better yet ones you can make on your own. When my mom sent me this recipe for granola bars, it seemed like the perfect snack to have on hand. Whether you’re a college freshman, or an “old” person that just needs a snack to make it through the afternoon. Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate and Cherry Granola Bars 

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Ingredients
2 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

Directions
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch or 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil. Then lightly oil or spray with cooking spray.

Add oats and almonds to a small baking sheet then bake 5 minutes, stir and bake another 3 to 5 minutes until lightly toasted. Transfer to a large bowl.

Combine butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla extract and the salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until butter melts and the sugar completely dissolves. Pour butter mixture in to bowl with toasted oats and almonds. Mix well. Let cool about 5 minutes then add cranberries and a 1/4 cup of the mini chocolate chips. Stir to combine.

Transfer oat mixture to lined pan then use a rubber spatula or damp finger tips to firmly press the mixture into the pan. Scatter remaining 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips over pressed granola mixture then use a rubber spatula to gently press them into the top. Cover then refrigerate at least 2 hours. Remove block of granola mixture from pan then peel away aluminum foil. Cut into 12 bars.

Heather’s Helpful Hints
This recipe is pretty forgiving so feel free to try out a mixture of nuts and dried fruits that sounds tasty to you. I was thinking that macadamia nuts with white chocolate and coconut would be a fun mixture!

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