Friday, September 19, 2008

Apples, Apples and more Apples (recipes!!)

I have apples running out of my ears. There is a HUGE apple tree in a vacant lot near us and since no one else is utilizing the free fruit, we are! I KNOW we've picked close to 60-75 apples - I've already made 3 batches of homemade applesauce, and 3 loaves of Apple Spiced Bread. I plan to make a cake and freeze it for Beth's Nursery School Cake Auction and I will be making another double batch of applesauce this weekend for Beth to take to school next week for her "apple" show and tell day snack. Here are a few recipes I've used this past week. All are WONDERFUL, so far!

This was a nice fall dinner. And although it looks complicated, it came together really easily! The "hardest" part was chopping the apples! It was SOO GOOD! I highly recommend it - I promise, its not hard and not really too time intensive!

Caramel Apple Pork Chops
4 Thick pork chops
1 tsp Vegetable oil
2 Tbsp Brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1/8 tsp Ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp Ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp Unsalted butter
2 Tart apples-peeled, cored and sliced
3 Tbsp Chopped pecans (optional)

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.
Brush chops lightly with oil and place in hot pan.
Cook for 5-6 minutes, turning occasionally, or until evenly browned.
Transfer to a warm dish and keep warm in a low oven.
In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Add butter to skillet and stir in brown sugar mixture and apples.
Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes, or just until apples are tender.
Remove apples with a slotted spoon and arrange on top of chops.
Keep warm.
Continue cooking mixture in skillet uncovered, until sauce thickens slightly.
Spoon sauce over apples and chops. Sprinkle with pecans. (I just added the pecans to the sauce instead of sprinkling them on top)

This is my applesauce recipe:

Homemade Applesauce
Cut and peel 10 medium-to-large apples, put in crockpot.
Add 1/2 cup water, 1 teaspoon Cinnamon, 1 cup sugar.
Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
Drain and mash apples. Cool.
Makes about 2-3 cups depending on size of apples used.

I usually do start the prep work for this after the girls go to bed and turn on the crockpot around 10:00 p.m. and just let it cook on low overnight. I take the top off for the last 20-30 minutes or so to let it thicken a tad.

A couple hints/tips:
Peel the apples and then cut into small chunks. Makes mashing easier later.You don't have to add *all* of the water - you may not need it depending on the type of apple used. Gala apples are pretty juicing - only use 1/4 cup of water maximum!You don't have to add *all* the sugar, either. Again, it depends on the kind of apple. Gala apples- 3/4 cup is plenty! Experiment to see what you need. Types such as Granny Smith and Fuji need almost all the sugar recommended.
The cinnamon and cooking of the apples will turn your applesauce brown - very brown! Don't be alarmed - it is supposed to look like that and it taste wonderful!

The Spiced Apple Bread recipe:

Spiced Apple Bread
Makes 2 Loaves

2 2/3 cups flour (I used 1 cup whole wheat, 1 2/3 cups regular)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil (I used 1/2 cup applesauce, 1/2 cup oil)
4 eggs – beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups coarsely chopped apples -- Gala
1 cup raisins -- optional (I didn't use)
1 cup chopped pecans -- optional (I didn't use)
2 teaspoons sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

PREPARATION:In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.
In a separete mixing bowl, combine sugar and oil. Beat in eggs and vanilla, then stir in chopped apples, raisins, and pecans. Add the dry ingredients and mix until well blended.
Grease 2 9x5-inch loaf pans and line bottoms with waxed paper. Greased waxed paper (I didn't use waxed paper). Pour batter into pans, smoothing the top with a spatula or spoon. Bake for 20 minutes at 325°. Pull out rack and sprinkle loaves with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Continue baking for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes; turn out onto a rack. Slice and serve (Better on day 2)

Original author's note: Absolutely yummy!!! So easy. I skipped the raisins. I also used walnuts instead of pecans. Instead of the ground cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, I just used 3 tsp. pumpkin pie spice. I used Gala apples.

...and one more of my favorites...I haven't made it yet this week, but I'm going to make a batch tonight for our camping trip tomorrow:

Apple Brownies

1 cup peeled, chopped apples
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (1 tsp is good, too!)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
8x8 or 8x11 inch baking pan, greased

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large mixing bowl mix 1/2 cup of butter that is softened or at room temperature with 1 cup of sugar.
3. Beat in 1 egg.
4. Add in 1 cup of flour a little bit at a time while you stir it into the butter mixture.
5. Add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder.
6. Add 1 cup of peeled and chopped apples.
7. Pour mixture into a baking pan greased with butter. Try to distribute the apples evenly around the pan.
8. Bake the brownies at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.
9. Cool before cutting them into bars.