Life is short. It is meant to be spent with family and good friends. It is meant to be exciting and fulfilling, and even a little challenging yet rewarding! I firmly believe in having a life bucket list and ‘kicking’ things off as I wonder the road less traveled! One of my many bucket list items is to have at least one themed dinner party a month for a year. It may seem silly, but I love to entertain and host get-togethers. I love taking an idea and planning every little detail, especially when it is centered around a fun theme! Well, recently I was given the opportunity to plan a fall-inspired party. Because I wanted to start my goal of having monthly themed dinner parties, and finally ‘kick’ this item off my bucket list, I instantly knew what I wanted to do! First up an apple themed dinner party full of fresh apples, apple juice, apple sauce, candy apples and as many apple recipes as I could think of!
I invited several close friends and family and started planning! I wanted everything from the décor to the menu to the party favors and after dinner entertainment to be centered around this fabulous fall fruit. Yes my friends, cheat on pumpkin and make apple the flavor of fall!
To make my party a success I headed to Walmart to get everything I needed. Not only did Walmart have everything from apple board games to red paper napkins, to these fun new Candy Apple M&M’s; I could get everything I needed without spending a small fortune. To help me stay on budget I used these $1.50 off any two (2) M&M’s brand chocolate candies and $1 off any two (2) Mott’s sauce or Mott’s juice drink coupons to save even more!
Once home I went to work! I kept the décor simple. For the centerpiece I filled a nice wicker basket with a variety of fresh apples (and a few pears) and placed the basket full of apples on top of some burlap fabric and red gingham fabric. For each place setting, I placed a red folded napkin on top of the plate and topped the napkin with an apple.
Our menu had fresh apples, applesauce and/or apple juice in everything! Several dinner guests were worried that it would be apple overboard but the apple ingredients complemented everything just right and the end result was a fantastic, err… apple-tastic meal!
Below is the exact menu I served. Some recipes were super simple and I shared quick notes on how to make them below. Other recipes are already here on Kitchen Concoctions and others I will be sharing in the weeks ahead, so stay tuned!
Apple Dinner Menu-
Specialty Drink: Apple Mocktail (Mix equal amounts Mott’s Apple Juice and ginger ale plus diced apples in a large pitcher.)
Appetizer: Apple Honey Crostini (Recipe coming soon!)
First Course: Festive Fall Salad (Recipe found here on Kitchen Concoctions. Made as written but replaced orange juice in dressing with Mott’s Apple Juice for a stronger apple flavor.)
Apple Cheddar Stuffed Chicken with Apple Dijon Sauce (Recipe coming soon!)
Apple Spiked Mashed Sweet Potatoes (Simply add Mott’s Apple Sauce to your favorite basic mashed sweet potato recipe.)
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Apples (Recipe coming soon!)
Dessert: Caramel Apple “Bar” (Directions below!)
Party Favor: Fall Trail Mix Cookies (Recipe below!)
For dessert I wanted to set up a DIY Caramel/Candy Apple “Bar.” I thought that this would be unique and a fun way for my dinner guests to interact with each other. I made homemade caramel sauce for dipping, but if I do this again in the future, I would use store bought caramel sauce or caramel dip. This is because I had to make the homemade caramel sauce last minute and it set up quickly.
So my guests could eat their apple creations immediately, we did not dip/decorate whole apples. Instead, I sliced a variety of apples and we dipped the slices in the caramel and toppings. This worked out great and my dinner guests had fun dipping and then immediately eating their delicious apple creations! Another party tip is to put all your toppings in small bowls before the party and wrap with plastic wrap and set aside. This makes for quick and easy serving!
Below are some of the toppings and supplies needed for a homemade DIY caramel apple bar.
DIY Caramel/Candy Apple “Bar” Supplies-
Homemade or Store Bought Caramel Sauce/Dip
Apples (whole or sliced)
Fall Plain M&M’s
Chopped Nuts (walnuts, peanuts, almonds, pecans)
Mini Chocolate Chips
Fall Colored Sprinkles
For after dinner entertainment, we played a popular apple themed board game and laughed our heads off! Like I said, life is meant to be spent with friends and family and full of laughter!
After the party, I wanted to send my dinner guests home with a fun and sweet reminder of the enjoyable evening. So I whipped up these Fall Trail Mix Cookies ahead of time and packaged them in some treat bags tied off with twine for easy transport.
There is no doubt about it, these cookies taste like fall! Just like my dinner party, I crammed as much fall, a.k.a apple, into these little cookies! From those festive Candy Apple M&M’s to some Mott’s Apple Sauce and Apple Juice; these cookies were a great way to end a night of fun, laughs and good eats!
1 2/3 cups white whole wheat flour or unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ cup cubed unsalted butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2/3 cup Mott’s Unsweetened Apple Sauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon maple extract (optional)
1 ½ cups rolled oats
2 cups ‘fall’ trail mix (with dried cranberries, dried apples, pepitas, pecans, walnuts)
1 cup Caramel Apple M&M’s
2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons Mott’s Apple Juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
In large bowl stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices. Set aside.
In another large bowl, using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed, about 3-4 minutes. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in apples sauce and extracts.
Slowly mix in flour mixture, mixing just until combined. Slowly fold in the oats and trail mix. Next, carefully fold in M&M’s, making sure not to over mix.
Using a medium sized cookie scoop (approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough), scoop dough onto prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges start to brow.
Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 8-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack, to cool completely.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together powdered sugar and apple juice to form glaze. Once cookies are completely cool, use a spoon to drizzle glaze over cookies. Store cookies in an air tight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.