674643-194x300Did you know that apples are in the Rosaceae (rose) family and are related to strawberries?

That interesting fact is from the Vermont Harvest of the Month campaign, a valuable resource to help connect our schools to healthy food and local farms. Upper Valley Farm to School has partnered with Green Mountain Farm to School and Food Connects to provide creative tools including recipes, curriculum ideas, and beautiful artwork for teachers, cafeterias, and parents.

Try making butternut-apple crisp bars (recipe below) with local Empire apples and butternut squash. Apples and squash are in season now and can be found at area farmers’ markets and farm stands. Search our Online Guide to find these fall treats near you!

apples-red-Lisa-sept-08-112-FCX-PYO-wellwood-orchards-11-300x225Butternut-Apple Crisp Bars
3 cups butternut squash, peeled and sliced
3 cups tart apples, sliced
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 cup brown sugar or honey
⅓ cup chopped nuts
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. salt
⅛ tsp. ground cloves

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F and grease a 9-inch square baking pan.
2. In a large bowl, combine squash and apple with ½ cup brown sugar or honey, lemon juice, cinnamon, and cloves.
3. Spread evenly in the prepared pan, cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, combine flour, remaining ½ cup of brown sugar or honey, and salt.
5. Stir in butter, until crumbly, then add nuts.
6. Spread evenly over squash-apple mixture.
7. Bake uncovered for 40 more minutes.
8. Cut into squares and top with ice cream, if desired.

Yield: 9 servings
Source: Recipes from America’s Small Farms: Fresh Ideas for the Season’s Bounty

Apple and Cheddar Scones
Barely tweaked by Smitten Kitchen from The Perfect Finish
Makes 6 generous scones

2 firm tart apples (1 pound)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar plus 1 1/2 tablespoons for sprinkling
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt plus additional for egg wash
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes plus additional for baking sheet if not lining it with parchment
1/2 cup sharp white cheddar, shredded
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs

Position a rack at the center of oven and preheat oven to 375 °F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Peel and core apples, then cut them into one-sixteenths chunks. Placed them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake them until they take on a little color and feel dry to the touch, about 20 minutes. They will be about half-baked. Let them cool completely. (You can speed this up in the fridge.) Leave oven on.

Sift or whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together. Set aside. Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, along with cooled apple chunks, cheese, cream and one egg. Sprinkle flour mixture over the top and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together. Do not overmix.

[Don’t have a stand or hand mixer? Mix the cold butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender, hand-chop the apples coarsely and mix the rest together with a wooden spoon until combined. Again, don’t overmix it though it will be harder to do this by hand.]

Generously flour your counter top and place the scone dough on top of it. Sprinkle with flour. Use a rolling pin to gently roll (or use your hands to pat) the dough into a 1 1/4-inch thick, 6-inch circle. Cut circle into 6 wedges. Transfer them to a baking sheet that has either been buttered or lined with a fresh sheet of parchment paper. Leave at least 2 inches between each scone.

Beat remaining egg in a small bowl with a pinch of salt. Brush the scones with egg wash and sprinkle them with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake until firm and golden, about 30 minutes. With a spatula, lift them to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.

Do ahead: Scones are best the day they are baked. However, they can be made ahead of time and stored unbaked in the freezer until you need them. Simply brush them with the egg wash and sprinkle them with sugar, and bake them still frozen for just a couple extra minutes. This way they are always freshly baked when you want them.