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Banana Bread
Helena Lin / Spoon

6 Easy Recipes That Taste like Fall

Fall has officially arrived. With the weather cooling down and the holidays peeking around the corner, I’ve been bringing out my cozy sweaters, fluffy blankets and… baking supplies.

There’s something about seeing pumpkins and pumpkin spice everywhere, from my Instagram ads to the shelves outside the grocery store, that makes me crave fall-themed foods. (Although I personally think cinnamon should be appreciated year-round.) So, I’ve gathered six recipes that you can try out this season in just a matter of minutes.

I know cooking and baking can be a bit tricky when you’re limited to a college dorm or sharing a kitchen with four roommates. Or maybe you don’t want to make an extra trip to the grocery store in the middle of a pandemic. Or you’re drowning in midterms, and it kind of feels like the worst possible time to pull out some oven mitts. But I promise, taking a break to whip up a quick treat is worth it. In my experience, baking is one of the best ways to relieve stress. It always calms me down, gives me space to focus and I end up with a snack to fuel me through the rest of studying.These recipes are ordered starting from the simplest, and I’ve noted easy ingredient substitutions as well as optional additions to spice things up.

Mocha hot chocolate

Ingredients: milk, instant hot chocolate and instant coffee

Substitutions: Feel free to use a nondairy milk alternative. Instead of instant hot chocolate, you can use one teaspoon of cocoa powder and one teaspoon of sugar.

1. Pour one cup of milk into a microwave-safe mug, leaving enough room to stir. Microwave for two minutes.

2. Add one packet (about two tablespoons) of instant hot chocolate mix and one packet (about one teaspoon) of instant coffee nto the mug. Stir until dissolved. Enjoy!

Optional additions: vanilla extract, cinnamon

Pumpkin spice latte

Ingredients: milk, pumpkin puree, pumpkin spice and vanilla extract

Substitutions: Feel free to use a nondairy milk alternative. If you don’t have pumpkin puree, you can leave it out and just make a spiced latte instead! Similarly, you can use cinnamon instead of pumpkin spice.

1. In a microwave-safe dish, combine one cup of milk, two tablespoons of pumpkin puree, a quarter teaspoon of pumpkin spice and a quarter teaspoon of vanilla extract.

2. Mix thoroughly and microwave for two minutes or until hot. Enjoy!

Optional additions: coffee or espresso, sugar, whipped cream

Homemade applesauce
Apples Sliced
Kristine Mahan / Spoon

Ingredients: apples, water, sugar and cinnamon

Substitutions: Honey is a great option instead of sugar.

1. Find a microwave-safe dish or a saucepan, depending on how you plan to cook it.

2. Combine two sliced apples, a quarter cup of water, one tablespoon of sugar or honey and a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon.

3. Cook in the microwave or on the stovetop for five to 10 minutes, until apples are soft. Check periodically to see if the water has evaporated; if so, add more water to prevent burning.

4. Remove from heat and mash with a fork. Taste and add more sugar or spices if needed.

Basic apple crumble

Ingredients: apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, oats, flour, butter and salt

Substitutions: The flour, butter and salt are not entirely necessary. You can use oil instead of butter; it will still help the oats get crispy.

1. Find a microwave-safe or oven-safe dish, depending on how you plan to cook it.

2. Combine one medium apple diced into cubes, one teaspoon of brown sugar and one teaspoon of cinnamon.

3. Microwave for two minutes OR bake for four minutes at 350 degrees F.

4. While apples are cooking, assemble the topping: combine two tablespoons of oats, two tablespoons of flour, one tablespoon of brown sugar, one teaspoon of cinnamon and one small pinch of salt. Add one tablespoon of softened butter and mix.

5. Remove the apple mixture from the microwave and sprinkle on the topping.

6. Microwave for two more minutes OR bake for three more minutes.

7. Enjoy! (Serve with ice cream or whipped cream for a real treat.)

Pumpkin bread
Banana Bread
Helena Lin / Spoon

Adopted from Laurie Bennett via Allrecipes and Once Upon A Chef.

Note: This makes a lot of pumpkin bread, but it’s catered for exactly one can of pumpkin puree. Feel free to scale the recipe up or down based on how much you want to eat or how much pumpkin puree you have. Baking time is pretty flexible with this as well, so don’t be afraid to try it even if you’re not a pro baker!

Ingredients: pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water, sugar, flour, baking soda, salt and pumpkin spice

Substitutions: You can use Greek yogurt instead of eggs. Baking powder contains baking soda, so just use triple the amount. Pumpkin spice can be replaced with cinnamon if that’s all you have.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour pans. (See step six for details about what kind of pan to use.)

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine one 15-oz can of pumpkin puree, four eggs, one cup of oil, two-thirds cup of water and two cups of sugar. Mix well.

3. In another bowl, whisk together three and a half cups of flour, two teaspoons of baking soda, one teaspoon of salt and one tablespoon of pumpkin spice.

4. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, stir gently until just combined.

5. Pour batter into the pan(s).

6. Bake until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean, about 60 minutes if using five by nine-inch loaf pans (you’ll need two of those for this recipe), about 45 minutes if using an eight by eight-inch square pan or cake pan and about 24 minutes if using a muffin pan.

7. Let cool before wrapping in plastic wrap or transferring to a container. Store at room temperature for three days or in the refrigerator for up to a week. You can also slice it and then freeze it.

Optional additions: chocolate chips, pecans and walnuts

Cookies Snickerdoodle
Jocelyn Hsu / Spoon

Adopted from Trisha Yearwood via Food Network and Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Note: Makes one to two dozen cookies, depending on size.

Ingredients: butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon

Substitutions: You can use six tablespoons of oil instead of a half cup of butter.

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking pans with parchment.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine a half cup of softened butter and a half cup of sugar. Mix with an electric mixer or by hand, until smooth and creamy. Add in one egg and one teaspoon of vanilla extract; beat until blended.

3. In a separate bowl, combine one and a half cups of flour, one and a half teaspoons of baking powder and a quarter teaspoon of salt. Whisk thoroughly.

4. Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, until fully combined.

5. In an empty bowl, mix two tablespoons of sugar and one teaspoon of cinnamon.

6. Roll the cookie dough into small balls (about one rounded tablespoon per ball), then roll each ball in the cinnamon-sugar mixture and place on a baking pan, about two to three inches apart.

7. Bake for eight to 10 minutes. The center should still be soft, but the edges should appear done. They will continue cooking after you take the pan out of the oven, so if you like softer cookies, remove them from the pan as soon as possible and transfer to a cooling rack.

8. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

Liliana is a senior at the University of Pittsburgh, majoring in Communication and minoring in Museum Studies. Outside of writing for Her Campus, she enjoys making art, talking about life, and doing cartwheels on the beach.
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