Fall Caramel Apple Pie – Yum!


What do you do when a friend gives you two grocery bags full of the best little apples? You make a fall apple pie of course! But not just any apple pie. Today we are making the best Caramel Apple Pie you’ve ever tasted. Yum!

Fall Caramel Apple Pie
Fall Caramel Apple Pie

Caramel Apple Pie Recipe

1 Pie Crust (boxed, Ice Water or Granola)

Pie Filling

  • 5-6 Large Apples or 10-12 Small Apples
  • 1.5 TBS Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp Ginger (optional)
  • Pinch of Cardamom (optional)
  • 1/2 C Brown Sugar

Streusel Topping

  • 1/4 C Packed Brown Sugar
  • 2 TBS Flour
  • 2 TBS Butter, Melted
  • 1/4 tsp + Pinch More Cinnamon
  • 1/2 C Pecans, Chopped

Caramel Topping

  • 1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk

About 8 hours before making your pie, open a can of sweetened condensed milk, pour about 2/3 of the can into a pint sized mason jar and seal the lid. Place in crock pot full of water (covering the mason jar by about an inch) and set to low for about 8 hours. Place remaining sweetened condensed milk in a ziplock bag in the fridge.

Prepare your pie crust. Take apple coring tool and core washed apples. Slice in half and then in rings about 1/4” thick. As you work, place sliced apples in a bowl of cold water with juice of 1/2 lemon to prevent browning.

Once finished slicing apples, drain the water from your bowl and dry apple slices on a tea towel or paper towels. Place back in dry bowl. Add pie filling spices and brown sugar and mix well. Next, arrange apples slices in pie pan on top of crust.

Add several thin tabs of butter on top of apples.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Now we will make the streusel topping. Mix brown sugar, flour, nuts and cinnamon together with a fork. Then add in melted butter. Stir until well combined. Sprinkle evenly over top of the apples.

Bake at 425 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Use a pie ring or foil to cover the edges of the pie crust after the first 10 minutes of baking. After baking time is complete, remove from oven.
Dulce De Leche Apple Pie
Caramel Apple Pie

Allow to cool completely. Now, take your caramel topping from the crock pot and pour into a small bowl. Mix in the remaining sweetened condensed milk from the fridge. Use a whisk and mix well until it is smooth. Drizzle this over top of the Apple Pie. Slice and enjoy a bite of homemade caramel apple pie goodness.

I think the caramel topping is more of a dulce de leche flavor, which works really well for a Caramel Apple Pie and any leftover can be put on the scoop of vanilla ice cream that goes with your pie. Yum! If you still have leftover caramel topping, put it back in a mason jar, seal and store in the fridge. It will keep for about 5-7 days.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Ice Water Pie Crust

1 Cup Flour
1 Stick Butter, Frozen and Cubed
1-2 TBS Ice Water

Mix in food processor until small beads of dough form, give a few pulses more. Put dough on floured surface, roll to just large enough to cover pie pan. Try not to handle dough more than necessary to avoid transferring heat from hands to dough.

Tip: If your pie turns out “soupy”, next time either dry the apples more thoroughly or add in a tablespoon of Corn Starch (non-gmo of course!) to the apple filling spice mix.

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Best Ever No-Bake Cheesecake (Minus the Cheese)

Brilliant Berry Icebox Cheesecake Minus the Cheese

In honor of the once-in-a-generation summer solstice and full moon occurring on the same evening this week, (June 20th), I give you a pie worth passing on to the next generation! And in deference to the “great heatwave” we are experiencing in the southwest lets make it a super-simple, no-sweat, light yet delicious Beat-The-Heat No-Bake Cheesecake (minus the cheese), in Brilliant Berry flavor. Guaranteed as delicious as the Strawberry Moon was beautiful this year.

While technically there is no cheese in this no-bake cheesecake, I promise that you’ll love it all the same. This is a healthy, raw, almost vegan version of an old favorite. You can even make it without the added Maple Syrup and Honey to cut sugar if your diet requires it, and it will still be a tasty treat.

This dessert combines the health benefits of virgin coconut oil and berries, and is rich enough to satisfy the biggest dessert craving, but light enough to not weigh you (or your scale) down.
Without further adieu:

Brilliant Berry No-Bake Cheesecake (Minus the Cheese)

2 Cups Mixed Berries, Defrosted If Frozen
Generous 3/4 Cup Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
1/4 Cup Cashew Butter
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1-2 TBS Honey (to taste)
1-2 TBS Maple Syrup (to taste)
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
1 Granola Pie Crust

Blend first seven ingredients until smooth. I use the large blender cup that came with the NutriBullet. Taste and adjust for sweetness as desired. Pour into pie crust. Freeze for 1-2 hours. Remove, cover and refrigerate until ready to eat. Thank you Strawberry Moon. Enjoy!

Brilliant Berry Icebox Pie
Brilliant Berry No-Bake Cheeseccake (Minus the Cheese)

I made this pie for my bug’s first birthday as an alternative and healthy smash cake. It was a huge success. Not only did she devour the pie, but she had an amazing sensory experience with the smooth and creamy texture too.

For a different twist: Use cherries with a drop of almond extract, or straight up strawberries in place of mixed berries for a variety of no-bake cheesecake tastiness (minus the cheese).

My husband insists that this is the best berry pie ever. Give it a try and be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Granola Pie Crust Recipe

2 1/4 Cups Sunbelt Bakery Banana Nut Cereal
3 1/2 TBS Butter

Pre-heat oven at 375. Blend cereal ’til crumb consistency. Melt butter. Mix butter and crumbs well. Press into pie pan with the back of a spoon. Place in pre-heated oven. Bake for 9 minutes. Remove and cool. Pie crust should be golden brown and fragrant.

Hot Tip to Stay Cool:

Beat the heat. Keep heat out of the kitchen by using a small convection oven outside. I move my convection oven outside next to my BBQ during the summer months. The oven I use is big enough to cook with a 9×13 pan, and also fits a 12×12 square baking sheet. You can find this style of convection ovens at most retail stores for $85-250. I purchased mine at an estate sale for $40. It is perfect for casseroles, pies, sweet potato fries, pizzas, etc.

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Fresh, Homemade Fig Newtons


Fresh, Homemade Fig Newtons

Summer is in full swing and the heat is on! Not many varieties of fruit trees produce ripe fruit in the dead heat of summer, especially during the 115°+ heatwave we get in the southwest each year.  Enter the fig tree.  It’s been around since the dawn of man.

The fig is a smallish tree that grows in more of a bush like way, with branches twisting, arching and growing downward. This gem of a tree produces hundreds of plump, sweet fruit each year, but not until the sun warms the earth enough to cook an egg on the asphalt. The fruit is enhanced by the late summer monsoons which imparts even more juicy sweetness.

In years past we’ve eaten the fruit from our Blackjack Fig, given it away, shared plenty with the hungry birds in the neighborhood, and composted the expired fruit, yet we still have more than we can consume.  This year I was determined to not let any go to waste.  Fresh fig newtons, an  Leftover fig preserves? Yes please!

Image of Fresh Fig Jam  Cooking In A Sauce Pan
Fresh Fig Jam For Homemade Fig Newtons

What makes a yummy fig newton?  Figs, of course. And a hint of lemon, and the gooeyness of the center. Then there is the shortbread cookie that is soft and not overly sweet, with a taste of vanilla. Add a dash of cinnamon and voila tastiness perfected.

Here is my recipe, give it a try and let me know what you did to put your spin on it, be sure to comment below!

Fig Mixture:

  • 15-20 Fresh Figs (I had a mix of small and medium size figs), chopped fine
  • 1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
  • Lemon Zest from 1 Medium Organic Lemon
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla


  • 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 12 Tbs Butter
  • 3/4 Cup Maple Syrup
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 4 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 Tbs Lemon Zest

Remove butter and eggs from fridge to bring to room temperature.

Trim stems off figs. Chop figs into fine, small pieces. in medium saucepan add first four ingredients and bring to boil over medium-low heat, stir occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer just under an hour, stirring frequently.  Once mixture is thick, similar to jam, remove from heat. Once cool, add vanilla and mix. Note: if your figs weren’t very juicy you may need to add up to 1/4 cup of water while simmering.

Preheat oven to 350°. While simmering fig mixture, in a medium-size bowl whisk together the dry ingredients for shortbread.

In a large bowl, beat together softened butter, maple syrup, then add eggs and mix on medium-high for 2 minutes.  Add vanilla and lemon zest and mix well.

Gradually add flour mixture to large bowl of wet ingredients, mixing on low speed until well combined.

Take a large piece of parchment paper, spray it with cooking spray or wipe with olive oil.  Fold in half, oil sides together.  Grab about 1/4 of dough mixture and pat into a flat square-ish shape.  Place between oiled parchment. Cover bowl of dough and place in fridge. Roll dough in parchment, attempting to keep square shape, until dough is approximately 1/4” thick. Place in freezer for 5 minutes. Tip: Roll the dough/parchment on a cutting board, then pick up the board and stick the whole thing in the freezer.

Remove rolled dough from freezer, carefully peel back top layer of parchment, use a knife to cut dough in half. Spread fig jam on one half.  Carefully use knife to separate dough from parchment, place one half of dough on top of fig covered other half of dough.  Pinch edges together to seal shut.  You can also use dough from fridge to help seal up any cracks.  Slide cookies on to baking sheet.  Place baking sheet in oven.

Bake for about 25 minutes.  Remove from oven when shortbread is puffed up and just turning golden brown. Note: I baked in a large convection oven, on my back patio in 115° ambient temperature, so baking times may need to be adjusted.

Want fresh fig newtons year round?  If you have an overabundance of fruit, can it!

Giving fresh figs away is always a fun experiment.  Most people have never eaten a fresh fig before and aren’t really sure about what you are trying to feed them. Then they try a bite and either love it or hate the texture. Proceed with caution if you choose to give homemade fig newtons away (if you can get out of the house with them before they are all gobbled up) because you may end up with a horde of fig newton crazed people sleeping on your doorstep waiting for your next batch of cookies to be made. You’ve been warned.

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