Fall Flavors, Pumpkins & All Things Autumn

By Lori Davis –

Grandma Hatfield’s Southern Apple Pie

Nothing says Fall season like a good old fashioned -apple picking – flaky crust – smell of cinnamon Apple Pie!

My grandmother’s recipe was always a secret and blue ribbon, for when she passed from this earth she left me one of my most treasured items. A box full of all her recipes, with old food stains and love written all over them. And this one was my favorite for before her I thought cake ruled!



1/4 c all purpose flour

1/3 c granulated sugar

½ c brown sugar

¼ tsp kosher salt

½ c salted butter stick

¼ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp water

2 tsp choice of jam (stay away from reds or blues)

3 pounds of mixed apples

1 can (yes can) pears

2 pie crusts – premade day before

1 whole stick of salted butter for mixture

1 tsp granulated sugar & ½ tsp cinnamon for mixture


Pre-Made Pie Crust Recipe

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes*
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 6 to 8 Tbsp ice water

Put flour, sugar, and salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple times to mix. Add about half of the butter to the food processor and pulse several times. Then add the rest of the butter and pulse 6 to 8 times until the largest pieces of butter are about the size of large peas. Sprinkle the mixture with about 1/4 cup of ice water (make sure there are no ice cubes in the water!) and pulse again. Then add more ice water, a tablespoon at a time, pulsing once or twice after each addition until the dough just barely begins to hold together.

You know that the mixture is ready if when you pinch some of the crumbly dough together with your fingers, it holds together. Be cautious with the amount of water you add, too much and the crust will be tough.

Carefully empty the crumbly dough mixture from the food processor on to a clean, dry, flat surface. Gather the mixture in a mound. Push down with the palm of your hand on the dough crumbles a few times. This will help flatten the pieces of butter into layers which will help your crust be flaky. Divide the dough mixture into two even-sized mounds. Use your hands to form each one into a disk. Do not over-knead! Kneading develops gluten which will toughen the dough, not something you want in a pastry crust. Sprinkle each disk with a little flour, wrap each one in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour or up to 2 days.

Remove one crust disk from the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes in order to soften just enough to make rolling out a bit easier. Roll out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch circle; about 1/8 of an inch thick. As you roll out the dough, check if the dough is sticking to the surface below. If necessary, add a few sprinkles of flour under the dough to keep the dough from sticking. Carefully place onto a 9-inch pie plate. Gently press the pie dough down so that it lines the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Use a pair of kitchen scissors to trim the dough to within 1/2 inch of the edge of the pie dish.

Or use your own crust recipe ?



Prep 30 min / Cook 1 hour /

  1. Melt butter in a sauce pan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add white sugar, brown sugar, nutmeg , cinnamon and water; bring to a boil. Reduce temperature, and simmer 5 minutes.
  2. Dump cut apples sliced into chunks into large bowl. Add can of pears and jam. Stir lightly. Add pot of sugar and flour mixture into bowl and stir to completely coat apples.
  3. Fill pre-made pie crusts with apple mixture, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work crust. Cut designed shapes from top of crust, if chosen. If not then cut four thin slits in middle of pie. Bake 15 minutes at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes.

Once finished baking brush butter mixture on top and let sit for half hr. 


TIPS: I along with my grandma believed the best apple pies come from using a range of all types of apples. A lil homemade jam and her secret ingredient, to which family, friends and strangers always tried to guess it. Well, in this version it was the almighty Pear! People along with myself have and can change recipes to enhance or try a different format. But I suggest NOT omitting the pear for that gives it unique flavor and messes well with the jam. But feel free to change to a different jam of your choosing or whatever your family likes. I have tried apple, pear and even orange. But the best I have used was old school Apple-Butter and/or Pear jam.

Now crust is a key factor to any pie baker but don’t overthink it. I have a tool that can wrap around the edges or foil as my grandmother preferred. And the trick to using covering the edges comes down to simple rule; Half the cooking time on using the tool or foil the first half of baking then remove to give it a crisp, flaky, not burnt color.

Being fall or any season or theme I love using cutout tools for design or freehand a design to enhance the look of your pie.

Grandma did teach me that premaking the pie crusts the day before works better. She is correct for a day for it to be settled and not warm does make it not only taste better but hold much better in the oven. As a busy woman on the go and for many bakers this just isn’t feasible, so do at will.

When it comes to buttering the overall finished product. I added this years later for Granma Hatfield simply used lard mixed with butter but let’s face it; our arteries and organs can’t handle that.

I melt a whole stick of butter (salted – yes salted) with spoon full of sugar/cinnamon mixture. Brush on right out of the oven. No need to continue baking for it will be hot enough to set.



Welcoming Braising… 

I like many did not start Braising until few years ago and always figured it was simply an extra step in cooking, that I just didn’t have time for. Even when being from Texas we love our meats and want to make sure they are handled, prepared and all factors done correctly. Well then Braising is one of those fore mentioned that you will end up thinking why you have not been braising all along!

BRAISING – Is referring to anything that is cooked slow and on low temperatures. The end result is the most tender of any meat you will get. Similar to a slow cooker but doesn’t take 6 plus hours to produce.

Meats I have braised are tough cut meats such as of pork shoulder, beef chuck and lamb. Now chicken and fish can be braised but I have found if cooked properly braising may not be needed.

I have braised recently my vegetables with my meats and it wowed me! They were so favorable due to being infused during the braising process with meats and once cooking time was complete is wowed my family as well.



Slow-Braised Texas Beer Leg of Lamb 

I make this every week of Halloween and for no other reason that it has become a fam favorite. It just has stuck so everyone knows last week of Oct this goes down in the house aling with prepping for trick or treaters.

I start by barbecued the lamb on very high heat, mainly to brown the surfaces but also to give it a smoky taste. And funny is that I am the grill or barbeque master in our house. I love using it when times ot braise and any time of year allows for it. I did this a day in advance, and I would recommend giving yourself a head start. If you’re the last minute or beyond swamped type (as am I), just start early morning on serving day. The size of the leg does not really matter, but you’ll have to reduce the cooking time a bit if you don’t have a whole leg to, say, 6-7 hours. You’ll know it’s finished when it comes straight off the bone.



1 leg of lamb

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups tomatoes, crushed
  • 2 cups red wine
  • Couple pinches of salt
  • 3 tablespoons dijon mustard


For the Texas rub

2 tablespoons paprika/2 tablespoons light brown sugar/1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon kosher salt/1 tablespoon cracked black pepper/2 teaspoons granulated garlic

2 teaspoons granulated onion

Combine all dry rub ingredients together, set aside



Pre-heat the oven to 225°F. Rub your leg of lamb with some oil, salt and paprika. Grill it on the barbecue on all surfaces (or in a pan if you have one large enough), and make sure the grill is really hot. Put the wine, onions, and tomatoes in a large roasting pan. Add the leg of lamb. Mix all of the Texas Beer rub ingredients together. Brush the lamb with the mustard, and rub the spices on the surface. Cover and cook in the oven for 7 to 8 hours. Take it out a couple of times and baste it with the juices so that it doesn’t dry out. Reserve the meat. For the sauce, strain the liquid and reduce it by half on medium-high heat. Skim away the fat during reduction. Serve.



To Squash or Not to Squash…

I grew up detesting this oh so odd shapes yet gorgeous vegetable and my family adored it. In fact we had simple fried squash with every freaking meal. Well, that and okra!

But the older I got and the more experienced I became in the kitchen; I found out there are so many different version of the veggie and many other ways to eat it besides the all mighty fried.

During Fall we love to decorate with the acorn squash and have it as centerpiece on our family table. The go to is acorn squash soup and the squash itself as the bowl. Now I still do this but we get it already.



Roasted Fall Vegetables

What I love about this simple and easy Fall recipe is that it is just that. Simple and easy… It’s colorful and yummy.

It can be used as a side dish or feel free to add a light meat to it. I think it goes well with a fish but that’s just me.


TIP: Leave the roots on the vegetables for appearance sake and time-saver. Also for a prettier looking table-set, choose colorful and contrasting veggies to bring out the appeal.

Leave peels on all in this dish even the acorn squash. Scrub veggies with veggie brush and water then cut into semi-rings.




  • 1 medium potato
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 4 small shallots
  • 1 medium acorn or delicata squash (cream-coloured with green stripes)
  • 2 small parsnips
  • 2 small turnips
  • ¼ c olive oil
  • salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3 to 4 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar 



Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C, or gas mark 6).

Slice the vegetables then cut into bite-size and attractive-looking pieces. Place the vegetables in a large bowl, add olive oil, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss.

Spread the vegetables on an oiled baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until vegetables are caramelized (browned or roasted to sweetness). Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat.

Tear up sage leaves and add to the skillet.

Cook until the butter browns but does not burn. Remove from heat; add the vinegar and season with salt to taste. Serve by placing veggies on a seasonal platter for presentation. Drizzle just enough of the sherry-sage butter over the veggies to add taste—don’t drench.




Lori Michelle Davis


My grandmother taught me all things southern and how to cook and bake with love. My dad taught me gourmet for her was a chef as well as a pilot. My brother is a chef and was one of George Bush Sr personal chefs so we all grew up surrounded by foodies. I also attending Western Culinary Institute in OR for pastry courses and use to teach children’s cooking classes at Central Market in Texas. I love both cooking and baking but baking is my passion! I love recipes but I like to concoct my own versions of the same ol same ol. BUT… I so respect a classic through generations so I am not one to mess with tradition. My dad would teach me mini beef wellingtons while my grandma would teach me homemade pies and fudge. So it was DNA in me to be involved with food, on some level. Reason my passion for entertaining stems from my childhood. I never wanted to be a chef for I could not be contained but wanted to learn so many different things and careers in my life.



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