Baking with apples is a great way to make the fruit last

Almost 20 years ago, I was dealing with a toddler and an infant.

I can remember writing this column with one hand on the keyboard and the other holding the baby. I used this method of working many times to have peace and quiet to put my thoughts into words.

This fall that new baby just drove out of the yard to college and I am left in awe of where the time went. He came home for the weekend and admitted that as much as he missed his family, he really missed good wholesome food more. He was seen repeatedly looking in the snack cupboard, the refrigerator, picking apples off the tree outside and sneaking baked apple treats off the counter.

The attraction for him was prepared food with no packaging.

The experience of using fresh garden produce such as apples cannot be replicated at any other time of year, but as satisfying as the crispness of biting into a fresh apple can be, eventually we have to find different ways to use up the abundant crop.

Full of antioxidants and fibre, using apples in our menus is a tasteful way to enhance our plates and also a way to use local food.

If you do not have access to a backyard apple tree, enjoy any of the Canadian varieties that are in season.

I love baking with Red Delicious and Honey Crisp varieties. The aroma when cooking with apple is second to none and when the in-house food critics give the thumbs up to these recipes, then I know that the food effort was worth the while.

Enjoy this compilation of my favourite apple recipes.

Roasted apple sage chicken

Years ago, a friend presented an amazing chicken dinner. It was the most juicy chicken I had ever had. When asked her secret, she replied, “add an apple to the chicken before roasting.”
It was an old trick that her grandmother had taught her.

  • 1 – 4-lb roasting chicken, fresh or thawed 1.8 kg
  • 1/4 c. unsalted butter 60 mL
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh sage 30 mL
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 apple, cored and cut into wedges
  • 1 quartered and peeled fresh onion
  • 1/2 lemon, quartered
  • salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 F(200 C).
In a small saucepan, combine the butter and sage and melt over a medium heat. Set aside.
Place the chicken into a roasting pan.
Coat the chicken inside and out with the melted butter and sage mixture. Then season with salt and pepper. Place the apple, onion, fresh lemon and garlic inside the cavity of the chicken and then tie the legs together.
Roast the chicken for about 1 1/2 hours, basting, often with the juices and any extra melted butter from the saucepan.

Remove the chicken from the oven once it has reached a temperature of 180°F (82 C) in the thickest part of the thigh. Roasting takes about 20 minutes per pound. Then remove from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before carving.
Note: if you do not have garlic cloves, use garlic powder or seasoning and sprinkle on the inside of the chicken when adding the apples. Serves four to six.
Source: adapted from www.justataste.com

Apple slaw with lentils

Such a seasonal side and a great way to use up cabbage as well. I recently bought a modern pressure cooker and prepared the lentils in the appliance with exceptional results. It provided more flavourable legumes as an alternative to boiling in water. Worth the splurge.

  • 4 c. green cabbage, shredded 1 L
  • 1 c. red cabbage, shredded 250 mL
  • 1 c. cooked or canned lentils 250 mL
  • 1/2 c. shredded carrots 125 mL
  • 1/4 c. chopped celery 60 mL
  • 1/4 c. chopped green onion 60 mL
  • 1 unpeeled red apple, cored diced
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice 15 mL

Dressing:

  • 3 tbsp. white vinegar 45 mL
  • 1 tbsp. granulated sugar 15 mL
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice 15 mL
  • 2 tbsp. oil 30 mL
  • 1 tsp. salt 5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. celery seeds 2 mL

In a large bowl, combine cabbage, lentils, carrots, celery and onion. In a small bowl, toss apple with lemon juice; set aside.
In a small saucepan, mix vinegar, sugar, lemon juice, oil, salt and celery seeds. Heat and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved, or heat it in the microwave.
Pour hot dressing over cabbage mixture; toss to mix well.
Add the apple. Refrigerate for at least two hours or up to two days.
Source: Recipe from Alma Copeland, which was originally sourced from Canadian Living, April 1995.

Crockpot apple Betty

The slow cooker is sometimes a helpful tool because you do not have to watch the roasting as closely if you have to be in and out of the kitchen. The slow roast gives awesome flavour to the dessert.

  • 1 c. flour 250 mL
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. white sugar 125 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon 2 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg 2 mL
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 c. butter, cut into pieces 125 mL
  • 1 c. chopped walnuts 250 mL
  • 1/4 c. white sugar, or to taste 60 mL
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch 15 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon 2 mL
  • 6 c. apples, peeled, cored and chopped 1.4 L
  • 1/2 c. frozen or fresh cranberries for colour (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice 30 mL

Mix flour, brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together in a bowl. Combine butter with the flour mixture using fingers or a fork until coarse crumbs form. Stir in walnuts and set aside.
Whisk together second amount of sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon. Place the apples (and cranberries if desired) in a slow cooker, stir in the cornstarch mixture; toss with lemon juice. Sprinkle the walnut crumb topping on top. Cover and cook on high for two hours or on low for four hours, until apples are tender. Partially uncover the slow cooker to allow the topping to harden, about one hour. Serves six. Source: www.allrecipes.com

Okanagan apple cinnamon muffins

We loved these muffins in the harvest season, in the cooler or with coffee in the mornings.

  • 1 1/2 c. flour 375 mL
  • 3/4 c. white sugar 175 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 2 tsp. baking powder 10 mL
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon 5 mL
  • 1/3 c. oil 80 mL
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 c. milk 80 mL
  • 2 apples peeled, cored, and chopped


Topping:

  • 1/2 c. white sugar 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. butter, cubed 125 mL
  • 1/3 c. flour 80 mL
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 7 mL

Preheat oven to 400F (200 C).
Grease 12 muffin tins or line with paper. Stir together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Mix in oil, egg and milk. Fold in apples.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins.
In a small bowl, stir together topping ingredients, mix together with a fork and sprinkle over unbaked muffins.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Makes 12 small muffins.
Source: Prairie Pooches and Friends Favourite Recipes. (The proceeds of this cookbook goes toward Prairie Pooches Rescue. For more information contact brilynjiricka@hotmail.com.)

Pumpkin apple cranberry bundt

This fruit filled cake has just the right spice.

  • 1 1/2 c. peeled and diced apples 375 mL
  • 2 tbsp. butter or margarine, melted 30 mL
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped fresh or frozen cranberries 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar 125 mL
  • 3 tbsp. flour 45 mL
  • 3/4 c. finely chopped walnuts 175 mL
  • 2 c. granulated sugar 500 mL
  • 1 c. butter or margarine, softened 250 mL
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 c. canned pure pumpkin 500 mL
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla 15 mL
  • 3 c. flour 750 mL
  • 2 tsp. baking powder 10 mL
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon 5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg 2 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves 1 mL
  • 1 / 8 tsp. ground ginger .5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda 2 mL

Preheat oven to 325 F (160 C).
Mix the chopped apples into first measure of butter to coat in a medium bowl; add cranberries, brown sugar, flour (the first measure) and walnuts, toss until well blended. Set aside.
Beat granulated sugar and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Add pumpkin and vanilla; beat just until blended.
Combine the second measure of flour with the baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and soda. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended after each addition. Spoon half of batter into a greased and floured bundt pan.
Spoon apple mixture over batter, leaving a 1/2 inch border around outer edge.
Spoon remaining batter over apple mixture. Bake for 70 to 80 minutes, or until a long wooden pick inserted in centre of cake comes out clean.
Allow to cool and decorate with a glaze, icing sugar or nothing. Source: www.myrecipes.com.

Easy apple pie slab

So simple and a fast track to a delicious pie when time is short.

  • 1 box Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box
  • 1 c. sugar 250 mL
  • 3 tbsp. flour 45 mL
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon 5 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg 1 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. salt 1 mL
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. juice 20 mL
  • 9 c. thinly sliced, peeled apples (9 medium) 2.12 L
  • 1 c. icing sugar 250 mL
  • 2 tbsp. milk 30 mL

Heat oven to 450 F (230 C). Remove pie crusts from pouches. On lightly floured surface, unroll and stack crusts one on top of the other. Roll to 17 x 12-inch rectangle. Fit crust into 15 x 10 x 1-inch pan, pressing into corners. Fold extra crust under, even with edges of pan.
In small bowl, mix granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and lemon juice.
Add apples, stirring to coat. Spoon apple mixture into crust-lined pan.
Bake 33 to 38 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Allow to cool.
In small bowl, mix powdered sugar and milk until well blended. Drizzle over pie. Let stand until glaze is set, about 30 minutes.
Makes 24 squares. Source: www.bettycrocker.com.

Jodie Mirosovsky is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: team@producer.com.

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