Fantastic fall activities

Autumn R

Staff Writer

Since Halloween and Thanksgiving are already over, it is time to turn the fireplace on and start getting ready for colder days and holiday celebrations. Spending excessive amounts of money on activities is just not an option for many people, who wind up bored sitting doing nothing at home all day. For those who take time to explore their options, there are plenty of delicious recipes, entertaining games, and simple but exciting arts and crafts to partake in this season!

While people find themselves stuck inside more at this time of the year, they also find themselves bored with eating the same ordinary foods like mashed potatoes, soup, and chicken. Junior Lauren Dickey says, “My mom seriously makes the same comfort foods during fall every week. I wish she would branch out and look up some new recipes with like apples and pumpkin to get me and my family in the fall mood, but she says the recipes she finds are too time consuming.” Usually, that is always the problem in parents’ lives: they have been at work all day and do not want to take long to make dinner or sweet treats for fall. Fortunately, there are so many recipes that are scrumptious and do not take forever! For dinner options, try chicken pot pie with biscuits instead of a pie shell, yummy chili, or Tex-Pex pumpkin patties, which are like crab cakes but with pumpkin instead of crab. There are endless ideas and recipes to move away from the same old traditional comfort foods.

Before dinner the kids moan and groan about how hungry they are, so what is the solution? Kids love snacks, and so do guests. Junior Lauren Nielly says, “My mom always has people over during the fall season for parties and stuff. I wish she got a little more creative with desserts.” Instead of just throwing out a bowl of candy for the kids or some brownies or chips and salsa, and fruit for the adults, jazz it up a little! Get creative! Make some caramel-covered apples with reindeer faces, cupcakes that look like Santa, or mini pumpkin tarts!

So far there are dinner, appetizer, and snack recipe ideas, so what now? Dessert of course: Leaf-shaped cookies, apple cider caramel cookies, mini acorn shaped doughnuts, apple pie, pumpkin pie with cranberry topping, fruit cobbler and more await the eager baker! To make apple cider sugar cookies and apple pie, look at the recipes at the bottom of the article. They all sound so yummy, and the best part is that all of these recipes take less than an hour in prep time.

Recipes are always fun to do with family and friends, but maybe arts and crafts are more appealing to some. To spice up the home, make some crafts or decorations for around the house! Making place mats, leaf collages, acorn necklaces, or adding some bling to pine cones can really add to the mood of one’s house. Junior Cindy Nielson says, “My family and I don’t really put any fall decorations up, except last minute for Halloween. I want to do some fun fall crafts, but I don’t really know what there is to do.” Many people are in the same position as Nielson. Whether it be trying to find decorations for the house or yard, or just trying to find some crafts to do for fun with friends and family, getting in the spirit with some glue and the beautiful fall nature is not hard to do! Go outside, collect some orange, red, brown, and green leaves. Glue them into any type of collage shape, and then laminate them for a festive placemat! That way, every time the family gathers for dinner, the placemats can add beauty to the table while reminding the family of the fun had while making this simple project. Another craft with leaves is to poke a hole into the leaf and thread a string through over and over until the string is filled with leaves; then hang it from the ceiling or on the front porch. Pumpkins are pretty much the epitome of the fall season, but most people do not see that they can make a craft out of them. Taking the miniature pumpkins and adding some rhinestones, or even drawing goofy faces and putting them all over the house is a fun craft to display. There are plenty of crafts that can be made and enjoyed with elements of nature, so get going and start crafting!

To some people, arts and crafts are boring, so what about some festive games for entertainment? Some games worth trying are the chopstick pass along and wall football. “To play Chopstick Pass along, give each player a set of chopsticks, and place an unshelled walnut, an acorn, a cranberry, and a pea on a small plate next to the oldest player. The player begins by using the chopsticks to pass each object, from largest to smallest, to the person on their right, who receives it with chopsticks and passes it along to the next player. The object is to try to get all four objects back to the starting plate without dropping any of them. Players unable to manage the chopsticks can use a teaspoon instead” (familyfun.go.com). This is a game that can be played and enjoyed by all family members.

If Chopstick Pass does not sound interesting and card games are more enjoyable to the family, try Happy Snood. “The idea of Happy Snood is to collect four cards of one kind (four twos, say, or four kings) and not to be the person left without a snood (nose and mouth of a turkey.) To begin, place the snoods (one fewer than the number of players) in the center of the table within grabbing reach of all players. Each player is dealt four cards. The dealer keeps the deck. Then the dealer picks a card from the deck, then discards one card from his hand, sliding it facedown to the player to his left. That player takes it, picks one card from his hand, and passes it to his left. Each player in turn does the same, as quickly as possible. Each person should have four cards in his hand at all times. The player to the right of the dealer places discarded cards in a pile to his left to be used by the dealer when the original deck is used up. Play continues until one player has four of a kind, at which time he takes a snood on a stick from the pile and holds it in front of his face. The others race to grab the remaining snoods. The player who ends up empty-handed gets an ‘S.’ The snoods are returned to the center of the table, and the game resumes. As players complete the word ‘snood,’ they’re out. The winner is the last remaining player” (familyfun.go.com). Even though this is a game for kids, dads and other family members enjoy playing it too!

Almost all boys (and some girls) love football, and so wall football is definitely a hit. “For the game pieces, first create a goal post from two-inch-wide strips of poster board. (The uprights and the crossbar are each 20 inches long, and the post is 6 inches tall.) Poster tack will help to stick it on the wall. For the footballs, cut 5-inch-long shapes out of brown card stock. Use a white opaque paint marker to decorate and add players’ names to the footballs. Put a blob of poster tack on the back of each one. Players line up about six feet away from the goal. One at a time, each player is blindfolded, spun around three times by another person, and set loose to try to stick his football between the uprights. (No reaching out your empty hand to feel the wall.) Play several rounds with 3 points awarded for each field goal. Highest score wins” (familyfun.go.com). This game can increase bonding time between family members.

This is a time to spend with friends and family, so be active and enjoy the season! Play some games, bake some delicious treats together, or even get out the creative side and make some arts and crafts. There are endless possibilities and cheap ways to get into the fall festive mood, and what better way than to share those moments with loved ones?

Recipes:

 

Apple Cider Caramel Cookies

1/2 c. shortening

1 1/3 c. brown sugar, firmly packed

1 egg

2 1/4 c. sifted flour + 3 tbsp.

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 c. raisins

1/2 c. apple juice or cider

1/2 tsp. salt

1 c. grated, peeled apples

1 c. walnuts, chopped

Caramel Icing:

1/4 c. butter

1/4 c. brown sugar, packed

1 1/2 c. powdered sugar, sifted

1/4 tsp. salt

2 1/2 tbsp. light cream or milk

 

Cream shortening, sugar and egg until light and fluffy. Sift together dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture. When well blended, stir in remaining ingredients. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. Makes 60 cookies.

CARAMEL ICING: Cook butter and brown sugar only until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Stir until well blended.

Apple Pie

2 Pillsbury refrigerator pie crusts

1 cup apples, peeled, cored and chopped

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

grated lemon peel (optional)

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

pinch nutmeg

2 teaspoons cornstarch

Combine remaining ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, or until apples are tender. Remove from heat. Let filling cool 15 minutes.

Remove pie crust from refrigerator 15 minutes before use.

Place one crust on a work surface. Slice dough, using a sharp paring knife or pizza cutter, straight down the middle, to make two half circles.

Place 2-3 tablespoons filling onto one side of the half circle. Brush the edges of the pie crust lightly with water.

Fold down to make a pocket; crimp and seal. This makes a quarter circle pocket. Repeat with remaining half circle, then with the second pie crust. This will make four large quarter pockets.

Fry the pie pockets in deep oil at 365°F or bake on a foil lined baking sheet at 375°F for 15-20 minutes or until browned.

Drizzle with confectioners’ icing while still warm: (Mix a few tablespoons of confectioners’ sugar with several drops of milk and vanilla until mixture is of a drizzling consistency).

Cooks Note: This same filling may be used with your homemade pie crust. Roll out pie dough and cut into 7 inch rounds, fill and fold over to make half-circle turnovers.

(http://www.cooks.com/rec/doc/0,1937,137163-226202,00.html)

 

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