Home Cookin'

Most people don't know that apples are thought to have originally been the result of a cross between a plum in the rose family and a flower called meadowsweet. It resulted in a small bitter fruit. There are now more than ten thousand varieties of apples on earth! The apple is originally thought to have come from Asia. The domestic apple slowly spread across the continents to Europe. Early settlers brought cuttings and seeds from Europe with them to plant vast orchards along the eastern seaboard when they colonized the US. Slowly, as Americans settled the west, they brought with them cuttings and seeds and now orchards dot the countryside across the US. The Spanish and Portuguese people introduced apples to South America and eventually into California.

We've all heard the story of one of the most famous settlers, Johnny Appleseed, known for wandering the wilderness planting his seeds wherever he went. Johnny Appleseed spent 49 years of his life in the American wilderness planting apple seeds. Johnny Appleseed's real name was John Chapman. He was born September 26, 1774 in Massachusetts. He created apple orchards in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Ohio. After 200 years, some of those trees still bear fruit.

Johnny Appleseed's dream was for a land where blossoming apple trees were everywhere and no one was hungry. A gentle and kind man, he slept outdoors and walked barefoot around the country planting apple seeds everywhere he went. It is even told that he made his drinking water from snow by melting it with his feet! Johnny was a friend to everyone he met. Indians and settlers -- even the animals -- liked Johnny Appleseed. His clothes were made from sacks and his hat was a tin pot. He also used his hat for cooking. Johnny Appleseed died in 1845. It was the only time he had been sick -- in over 70 years! I guess the old adage, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" is true!

We've all heard the expression, "American as apple pie!" but what about the classic Apple Brown Betty? The brown betty is an early American classic dish with many different variations. Apple Brown Betty is one of the oldest desserts in American culinary history, dating back to colonial times. Made with buttered breadcrumbs, spices, sweet apples and a generous splash of sherry, this rustic dish is sure to please modern tastes as well.

Another American favorite is the apple crisp. It has as many variations as the brown betty, but hasn't been around as long.

Last but not least, we can't forget to mention the apple pie. Whether you like your apples sweet, or tart, this favorite is sure to please. Apple pie like many recipes can vary with different crusts and toppings. Even the apples used inside can change the taste of a good pie.

Apples come in a variety of flavors and sizes, from the Washington to the Jonathan, to the Granny Smith. Red, green or golden, sweet or tart, no matter what your taste, there is an apple recipe out there for you! So remember, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away!"

Dutch Apple Crumble

Crumbles and crisps offer the flavor of homemade pie without the fuss of making pastry.
  • 6 Gala or Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine

Heat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie plate. Prepare Filling: In large bowl, combine apple slices, brown sugar, 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon; mix well. Transfer apple mixture to pie plate. In medium-size bowl, combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking soda, and salt. With pastry blender or fork, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Gather small amounts of crumb mixture and press together to make large streusel-like pieces. Arrange crumble randomly on top of filling. Bake 35-40 minutes or until apples are tender and topping is golden.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 50 minutes

Pine-Apple Crisp

For Filling:
  • 3 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
  • 3/4 cup pineapple preserves
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
For Topping:
  • 2/3 cup flake coconut
  • 1/2 cup quick or old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1/4 cup whole almonds, chopped
  • Vanilla ice cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. For the filling, slice apples into thin rings, then cut rings into quarters. Combine pineapple preserves and flour in mixing bowl. Add apples, tossing to coat evenly. Pour into bottom of a 9-inch pie plate or similar shallow baking dish. For crumb topping, combine coconut, oats, brown sugar and flour in a mixing bowl. Microwave butter on high for 1 minute and add to chopped almonds. Add butter and almonds to topping ingredients; mix well. Sprinkle topping evenly over apple mixture. Bake 30-35 minutes or until apples are tender and topping is golden brown. Cool slightly. Serve warm with ice cream, if desired.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes

Apple Brown Betty

  • 4 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 4 Fuji apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry (optional)
  • Whipped cream for serving (optional)

Heat oven to 375° F. Lightly butter a 2-quart casserole or baking dish. Stir together bread crumbs and butter; set aside.

Combine apples, brown sugar, lemon juice, ginger, and cinnamon, mixing until well blended. To assemble brown betty, spread 1 cup of buttered bread crumbs in bottom of casserole; top with one third of apple mixture. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon sherry over apple layer, if desired. Spread another cup bread crumbs and top with half of remaining apples and another tablespoon sherry. Make third layer of one cup of bread crumbs and top with remaining apples and sherry. Spread remaining bread crumbs on top of apples.

Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes; uncover and bake 30 minutes longer. Cool until warm and serve with whipped cream, if desired.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time:1 hour and 15 minutes

Easy As Pie Apple Cake

From the StrainedPeas website.
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 21 oz. can apple pie filling

Mix all ingredients until well combined. Bake in greased 9x13 cake pan for 30 min at 350F degrees or until done. Top with favorite frosting if desired.

  • Yields: 8-10 servings
  • Preparation Time: 35 minutes

Apple Pie in a Bag

  • 8 cups Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 9-inch pie shell
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter or margarine
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest

Heat oven to 400° F. Toss apples with orange juice, cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons each flour and sugar. Fill pastry shell with apple mixture, mounding in the center. In small bowl, combine remaining flour and sugar; with pastry blender or fork, cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in orange zest. Gather mixture together to make form a soft dough. Flatten small pieces of dough between fingers and arrange on top of apple filling. (Dough will not completely cover filling.) Wrap pie in a 30- by 15-inch piece of parchment paper, folding parchment over top of pie making sure it does not touch pie; staple ends of parchment to seal. Set on rack in center of oven and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Carefully open parchment and allow steam to escape. Remove pie from parchment and cool on wire rack.

  • Yields: 8-10 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Granny's Quick Apple Pies

These individual desserts can be prepared in less than 30 minutes.
  • 3 cups peeled, cored, and sliced Granny Smith apples
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 3 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 6 (3 1/2-inch) prepared crumb tart shells
  • 6 tablespoons whipped topping

In 8-cup microwave-safe dish, combine apples, juice, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cover with vented plastic wrap and microwave on high (100 percent) 5 to 6 minutes or until apples are tender, stirring well after 3 minutes. Dissolve cornstarch in water and stir into apples. Microwave on high 1 to 2 minutes or until mixture is thickened. Spoon into tart shells and cool. To serve, top each tart with 1 tablespoon whipped topping and, if desired, sprinkle lightly with additional cinnamon.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes

Apple Butter

  • 4 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and quartered
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • Brown sugar as needed
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • Grated rind and juice of 2 lemons

Cook the apples in the liquid until soft. Pass through a food mill. Add 1/2 cup brown sugar for each cup of puree. Add the spices, rind and lemon juice and cook over very low heat until thick and dark brown. This may take 3 to 4 hours. If not to be used within a week or two, pour into hot sterilized jars and seal tightly.

  • Yields: 5 pints
  • Preparation Time:3 or 4 hours

Cresent Apple Dumplings

From the StrainedPeas website.
  • 1 can crescent rolls
  • 2 Granny Smith apples
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large box vanilla pudding

Peel and quarter apples into eight pieces. Roll each apple piece into a crescent roll. Sprinkle top with sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, make pudding according to box directions, then mix vanilla with it. Take baked apples and pour vanilla pudding mixture over top and serve warm.

  • Yields: 8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Easy Microwave Applesauce

You can customize your homemade applesauce by adding a choice of flavoring, such as vanilla, lemon, or spice.
  • 8 Washington apples peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)

In 2-quart microwave-safe dish, combine apples and water. Cover with lid or vented plastic wrap; microwave on high (100 percent) 12 to 14 minutes or until apples are tender. (If microwave does not have carousel, rotate dish every 4 minutes.) Stir sugar and choice of flavoring. Microwave on high 3 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Stir and set aside to cool before serving. If finer texture is desired, mash or puree apple mixture and put through strainer.

  • Yields: 6 cups
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Microwave Baked Apples

  • 2 medium (about 6 to 8 oz. each) Criterion apples
  • 4 tablespoons favorite fruit preserves
  • 2 tablespoons apple juice

Pare top third of apple; core. Arrange apples in microwave-safe baking dish; fill centers with preserves. Pour juice in bottom of dish; cover with vented plastic wrap or lid. Microwave on HIGH (100%) 4-5 minutes or until apples are tender.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Caramel Apple Quesadillas

From the StrainedPeas website.
  • Vegetable oil spray or melted butter
  • 18 caramel candies, unwrapped
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Six 6-inch flour tortillas, softened
  • 2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cover a baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil, and spray the foil with oil or brush it with melted butter.

Place caramel candies and milk in a small microwave-safe bowl, and microwave at MEDIUM (50%) for 45 seconds. Stir, and repeat as necessary until the caramel is smooth. Stir in the cinnamon. Spread the caramel mixture on each tortilla to about 1/2 inch from the edge. Arrange apple slices over one half of each tortilla, and fold over the other half. Press down with the palm of your hand or with a spatula to enclose the filling.

Space the quesadillas evenly on the baking sheet, spray with oil or brush with butter, and then sprinkle with half the sugar. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn them with a spatula, sprinkle with the remaining sugar, and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the quesadillas are browned. Allow to sit for 3 minutes, then cut each into halves and serve immediately.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Apple Stir Fry

  • 1/2 cup sliced onion
  • 2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon crushed dried basil
  • 1 cup fresh or thawed frozen snow pea pods
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 Gala or Golden Delicious apple, cored and thinly sliced

In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; add onion, carrots, and basil; stir fry 3 minutes. Add pea pods, water, and ginger; stir fry 2 minutes. Add apple and cook 2 minutes longer. Serve hot.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time:10 minutes