September 26, 2013

Fall Fun: Simple Ways to Enjoy Apples

Apples are one of my favorite things about fall. They really are nature's perfect fruit. I'm stopping by for a visit with Knoxville's Mornings with Fox43 today for a segment about apples.

Not only are they bountiful at stores, farm stands and farmers market right now, but today is also the anniversary of the birth of Johnny Appleseed.

Who else grew up listening to the classic Disney recording? This was a highlight of any visit to my grandparents' house during childhood.

We've all heard the old adage "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" and today I want to share some easy ways to enjoy the yummy apples that are available this fall.

Hillbilly Apple Dumplings

The first thing I want to share is a recipe I like to call Hillbilly Apple Dumplings. It's about as delicious as it is simple. I've seen several variations of the recipe, but I simplified it down where you can use 1:1 ratios for all ingredients. 

You'll need: 
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple
  • 1 can of refrigerated crescent rolls (8 oz)
  • 1 stick of butter (or less)
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 can of Mountain Dew 
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
Wash, core and slice apple into 8 pieces. Wrap one triangle of crescent roll dough around each slice. Arrange these in a 9x13 baking dish. Melt butter in a saucepan and add sugar and vanilla. Stir until lumpy (sugar does not need to dissolve). Pour the mixture over the crescent-wrapped apples in the pan. Pour Mountain Dew over the crescent-wrapped apples. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes.

Simple Caramel Apple Cider 

This recipe can hardly be called a recipe at all since it's just mixing store-bought ingredients. But come this time of year, I'm so tempted to pull through Starbucks for a Caramel Apple Spice drink. While it's fun to do that from time to time, it can get expensive so I'm sharing this idea to remind myself how easy it is to make this delicious drink at home. 

Begin with organic apple juice. Well, actually you should begin with store-bought caramel sauce. Spoon a little of it into a glass mug. Then, heat the apple juice on the stove top with a sprinkling of cinnamon. When it's warm, pour it over the caramel into the glass. Stir and enjoy. Now wasn't that easy and so much cheaper than a fancy purchased drink? 

Apple Tips and Products 

One of the best tips I've received for keeping apples from turning brown is to soak them in some type of soda water with citric acid. You can use lemon or lime juice, but sometimes if the apples are tart to begin with this only makes them more so. 

Any type of clear carbonated drink (think Sprite or Ginger Ale) would work, but you can go with a sugar-free seltzer water if you like. 
I also ran across this interesting sparkling drink that is flavored like Apple Cinnamon. It has citric acid so I guess it would work too. 

For cutting apples (especially if you cut large quantities), I recommend this tool. I got mine from Pampered Chef, but you can find these just about anywhere kitchen utensils are sold. It might seem sort of gimmicky, but it sure does allow you to save time. 

Another apple product I really enjoy is Sarabeth's Chunky Apple spread. It's the perfect level of sweetness and goes great on biscuits or toast.

Do you have an apple product or recipe you swear by? I hope you'll share it! And if you make my Hillbilly Dumplings, I dare you to eat just one. Happy Fall y'all!