Enjoy the crunch of crisp apples in autumn

This traditional fall fruit can add a savory or sweet touch to meals and give you a nutritional boost

    One of the most delicious fall fruits is apples.
    And this time of year, there’s nothing better than heading out to a pick-your-own orchard to gather your favorites.
    This crisp, crunchy fruit is ideal to eat on its own or in salads, but is also delicious cooked in entrees, side dishes and sauces, and baked into desserts.
    Try apples and pork for a classic dinner combination, or apple crisps and pies for a delightful end to a meal. Applesauce is a fall tradition, as is apple cider.
    To add complexity to a dish, use a number of different varieties. Just remember that some apples that are best suited to baking — think Jonathans and Courtlands — others for cooking, including golden delicious, and still others for eating in hand, such as Honeycrisp.
     Although red apples are what people visualize when the topic comes up, this fruit also comes in shades of green and yellow — think Granny Smith and golden delicious apples.
    Apples not only taste great but also provide essential vitamins, minerals and fiber, with health benefits that make them a super food. After all, as the old saying goes, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
    Just remember to eat the peel as well as the flesh, since many nutrients are found in the skin.
    According to the Wisconsin Apple Growers Association, eating an apple a day for four weeks can help lower LDL, or bad cholesterol, levels as much as 40%.
    Apples can also help increase the number of good bacteria in your gut, the association states.
    The freshest apples are available from September through November, although most varieties are available year-round. Purchase colorful apples that are firm with a fresh, not musty, fragrance and smooth skin without bruises or gouges.
    Some apples have dry tan or brown-colored areas on the skin, called scald, that typically have little or no effect on the flavor.
    It’s generally recommended that before using, lightly scrub apples in cool water to remove the wax-like coating and any leftover insecticides.
    Don’t forget to brush lemon juice onto cut surfaces to prevent them from quickly turning brown.
    Make sure to store your apples appropriately. Apples ripen six to 10 times faster at room temperature than when kept refrigerated.
    Apples should be stored in a cool, dark place. If you don’t have a cold cellar, place apples in a plastic bag and store them in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
    Following are apple recipes from thechunkychef.com and acouplecooks.com.

 

    acouplecooks.com

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1-3/4 cups old-fashioned oats
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup shredded crisp-tart apple, such as Honeycrisp or Fuji
For serving:
Maple syrup
Chopped pecans
Peanut butter or almond butter
Sauteed apples

    In a small microwave-safe bowl, microwave butter in 15 second increments until melted. Set aside to cool.
    Place Greek yogurt, milk, oats, eggs, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and cooled butter in a blender. Blend until the batter is very smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides a few times. This will take a few minutes. Continue blending until you don’t see any bits of oats and the batter is creamy.
    Peel and grate the apple, then stir into the blender.
    Heat a large nonstick skillet or griddle over medium-low heat. Lightly coat the surface of the pan with nonstick spray. Drop batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto the pan and, with the flat bottom of your measuring cup or the back of a spoon, spread to be 1/2 inch thick. Let cook three to four minutes, until the edges look dry and small bubbles appear on top. Gently flip and continue cooking on the other side for one to two minutes, until golden.
    If pancakes turn golden before they are cooked through, reduce the heat; if they aren’t cooking through, increase the temperature a little.
    Serve the pancakes immediately or place on a baking sheet and keep warm in a 200-degree oven.

Applesauce
 
4 pounds sweet cooking apples, such as Macintosh
3/4 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Maple syrup, optional

    Core and dice apples. Leave on the skins for an applesauce with a rosy color or peel the apples.
    Place apple pieces in a large pot or Dutch oven with the water. Add cinnamon stick and kosher salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and cook 30 to 35 minutes, until apples are softened, stirring and mashing down apples several times. When the apples are cooked down, turn off the heat and remove the cinnamon stick.
    To make a chunky applesauce, mash down the apples with a potato masher. If you left the skins on, remove the skins with a fork.
    To make a smooth applesauce, either run applesauce through a food processor or blender until it’s smooth but still has texture, then pass through a strainer to remove any pieces of the peel, or pass it through a food mill, which quickly removes the peel.
    If applesauce needs sweetening, add a drizzle of maple syrup.

 

Baked Apple Oatmeal
 
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 -1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 apple, cut into small cubes
1 large egg
2 cups milk
1/3 cup pure maple syrup, plus 1 tablespoon for drizzling
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon salted butter

    In a medium bowl, mix together rolled oats, pecan pieces, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice and kosher salt. Place into a buttered 8-inch or 9-inch square pan. Add diced apple on top.
    Whisk the egg, then add milk, maple syrup and vanilla. Slowly drizzle the milk mixture over the oats. Shake the pan to make sure it gets evenly incorporated.
    Bake in a 375-degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top is golden and the oat mixture has set. Remove from the oven and cool about 10 minutes.
    Before serving, melt butter with the remaining maple syrup in the microwave or on the stove. Drizzle evenly over the top and serve.
    Store leftovers refrigerated for as long as one week and reheat in a 300-degree oven or microwave until warm.

 

Mini Apple Pies

Whole wheat pie dough
3 tart baking apples
2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 tablespoon butter
1 cup sliced almonds
2 pinches kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

    Make pie dough. After the dough has rested for 30 minutes in the refrigerator, remove it and allow it to come to room temperature.
    Peel, core and dice apples into small pieces. In a bowl, combine apples with the honey or maple syrup, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and bourbon.
    Butter a muffin tin. Roll out dough into a thin circle, then cut out nine circles about four inches in diameter. Lightly press dough into the muffin tins.
    Melt butter. Mix with sliced almonds, kosher salt and cinnamon.
    Using a slotted spoon, scoop apples into each cup. Add a spoonful or two of the juice from the bottom of the bowl into each cup but do not fill the entire cup. Spread almonds in a thin layer on top of each pie.
    Bake in a 425-degree oven for 15 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 10 minutes more. Remove from the oven and let stand in the pan about 15 minutes, until cool enough to touch. Remove pies from the pan and cool an additional 15 minutes.
    Freezing these pies works well. Bake as instructed, then freeze in a sealable container. To reheat, place pies right from the freezer into a 350-degree oven for about 15 minutes, until warm.

Cinnamon Apple Smoothie

2 cups fresh apple chunks, skin on, chopped
1 ripe banana
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup milk
8 ice cubes
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon maple syrup or honey, optional

    Place all ingredients in a blender, breaking the banana into pieces. Blend until creamy and frothy, stopping and scraping down the sides as necessary. If desired, garnish with an apple slice.
    Serve immediately or store in a covered jar in the refrigerator for one day.

 

Spinach Apple Salad
 
1/2 cup glazed or toasted walnuts or pecans 1 apple
1 ripe pear
3 cups baby spinach leaves
3 cups baby mixed greens
For dressing:
2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons olive oil

    To make dressing, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, maple syrup and salt until fully combined.
    Gradually whisk in the olive oil, adding one tablespoon at a time and whisking until it incorporates and an emulsion forms.         Taste. If you prefer a sweeter balsamic vinaigrette, add as much as one tablespoon additional maple syrup.
    To make salad, core the apple and pear, then cut them into thin slices.
    Place greens on serving plates and top with apples, pears and walnuts. Drizzle with dressing and serve.

 

thechunkychef.com

Old Fashioned Easy Apple Crisp

6 golden delicious apples, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons sugar
1-3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, diced into small cubes
Pinch of kosher salt
 
    In a mixing bowl, combine chopped apples, sugar, 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon and lemon juice.  Stir, then transfer to a buttered 8-inch square baking dish.
    In a bowl, combine brown sugar, oats, flour, one teaspoon cinnamon, salt and diced cold butter. Use a pastry cutter to cut butter into the oat mixture, using a slight downward twisting motion, until mixture resembled pea-sized crumbs. You can use two forks or even your hands to cut butter into the mixture.
    Spread topping over the apples and gently pat to even it out. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 40 to 50 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly.
    Serve warm.

 

Spiced Apple Bread

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 medium apples, peeled and diced
2 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

    In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar, eggs and oil until smooth. Lightly beat in diced apples.
    In a separate bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt and stir.
    Add flour mixture to the apple mixture, then use a spatula and stir until just combined and no flour streaks remain.
    Transfer batter to a lightly greased 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
    Let bread cool in the pan about 10 minutes, then turn bread out onto a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.
    Slice once cool, and serve.

 

Maple Apple Blondie

2 apples, peeled, cored, and diced
3/4 cup butter
Scant 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
For frosting:
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups powdered sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons half and half
Scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
 
    Place one tablespoon butter in a large saucepan and melt over medium heat. Add diced apples and cinnamon and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
    Melt remaining butter and place in a large mixing bowl. Add sugars and maple syrup and stir until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and stir until combined.
    Add flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda and stir until just combined and no flour streaks remain. Stir in cooked apples.
    Transfer batter to a 9-by-13-inch baking pan that’s been lined with foil that extends beyond the sides and is coated with cooking spray. Spread batter evenly. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center has a few moist crumbs on it but no batter when removed.
    Cool blondies in baking pan.
    To make frosting, place maple syrup, melted butter, powdered sugar and one tablespoon half and half in a small bowl and whisk to combine. If needed, whisk in another tablespoon half and half until frosting is a spreading consistency.
    Spread frosting over the cooled bars and let sit until frosting has set. Use the foil to lift the bars out of the baking pan.  Transfer to a cutting board and slice into bars.

 

One-Pan Apple Glazed Chicken Thighs

6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, excess fat trimmed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup no sugar added apple juice
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced, or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 to 2 medium gala or golden delicious apples
 
    Pat chicken dry and sprinkle with salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and paprika on both sides.
    To a large pan or skillet, add olive oil and heat over medium-high heat until oil is shimmering. Add chicken thighs, skin side down, and cook four to five minutes per side, until golden brown. Remove and place on a plate.
    Add apple juice and minced thyme to pan, using a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits on the bottom of the pan.  Bring to a boil and cook a minute or two, until liquid has reduced by half.
    Place chicken in the pan, scatter apples around it, cover and cook over medium heat for three to four minutes. Spoon a little sauce over the chicken and serve.
    If you’d like the sauce to be a little thicker, combine one tablespoon cornstarch and one tablespoon water and stir. Remove chicken from pan and add cornstarch mixture and cook, stirring, for a minute or two. Return chicken to pan after sauce is thickened.

 

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