Saturday, October 15, 2011

Apple Love

Apples are a favorite food around here, and we get excited in the fall when the new apples start showing up in the market. I wanted to share some apple love and a couple of my recipes today.

Yesterday I met with my fellow committee members to work on baskets for our upcoming auction. I like to bring a snack for a mid morning energy boost. I had some homemade granola on hand, some organic Honeycrisp apples, and peanutbutter, so whipped up a snack for the group. They were delicious.

After slicing the apples, I spread one side with PB, then dipped the PB side into the granola. A really quick and nutritious snack. I know it's healthy because the granola is homemade - no unwanted stuff in it. Natural PB without added hydrogenated fats is my preference - there are several really good brands on the market.

**Look for the granola recipe at the end.

Last night I made mulled apple juice for movie night. I had picked up two huge jugs of organic apple juice - the murky kind with all the good stuff in it - for a really good price at Whole Foods, and some mulling spices. It's quick and easy - just simmer the apple juice or cider with mulling spices for a bit until the juice has nice color and aroma. Strain out the spices, or if you prefer, wrap them in cheesecloth to save on straining later. Mulling spices can be found in packets at the market in the spice aisle, or near the apples in the produce area. My house smelled wonderful!

This morning brought more apple love. I cut up some Granny Smith apples to make applesauce - we like the skins on.

These were simmered, covered, in a little apple juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, and about a teaspoon of vanilla. I recommend tasting as your apples soften to adjust the sugar and cinnamon to your liking. Applesauce served warm is a family favorite, is so easy, and makes the house smell yummy.

But that's not all!

I pulled out a tube of crescent rolls. I like the Immaculate brand, which is organic also. Any brand will do just fine. I separated the triangles of dough and flattened them all. On half, I spooned a heap of the applesauce I'd just made. Then I topped with a triangle of dough, using a fork to crimp the edges. I used the pastry brush to fully cover the top with beaten egg to produce that nice olden appearance while baking. I'm sure you could also sprinkle coarse sugar on top, but I didn't have any.

Before baking.

Fresh out of the oven!

The result was fantastic. I wish there was such a thing as "scentiweb" so you could get a whiff of the wonderful appleicious odor wafting through my house.

As promised, here is my granola recipe.

Homemade Granola
⅓ cup real maple syrup
¼ cup honey
¼ - ⅓ cup of oil (canola, olice, grapeseed, safflower - whatever you have)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 - 5 cups rolled oats (not quick cook)
1 ½ cups unsweetend, shredded coconut (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup shelled sunflowed seeds, raw
1 cup ground flax seed
[Improvise with any nuts or seeds you have on hand - just add them in.  I’ve used pumpkin seeds, pecans, almonds, etc.]
Dried cherries
Dried blueberries
Unsulfured dried apricots, chopped
Chopped dates
[Any dried fruit of your liking - I never make it the same!  I use whatever I have on hand. ]
The dried fruits will be added at the end.  I don’t measure, but rather add each until I’m happy with the amount of dried fruit in the granola.
Preheat oven to 350*
Combine the first 6 ingredients in a saucepan and wisk until combined and warm.  
Combine all of your oats, nuts, seeds, coconut, and flax seed in a large mixing bowl. 
Add the warmed liquid mixture to the oat mixture.  Combine thoroughly.
Spread on baking sheets with rims like jellyroll pans, lined with parchment paper.
Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes if regular oven, about 20 minutes for convection oven.  Times vary, so cook until evenly golden brown. Every few minutes, stir the granola to prevent burning, and so the granola gets evenly browned.  Remove when done and allow to cool.  Add your dried fruits of choice and mix.  Store in an airtight glass or plastic container at room temp.
This granola is great on yogurt, as cereal with milk, with peanut butter, or just by the handful.  
**I prefer my granola on the not too sweet side, so add more sweetener if you prefer.

Enjoy!  If you decide to give the recipes a try, please let me know.  ;)


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