Fall is apple picking time. Heading out into the fresh, crisp, sunshine on a hay-scented tractor wagon may be one of the best highlights of the season. The orchards beckon this time of year, but what to do with the abundance of apples? Read on for a variety of delicious options for your one, two, or three 10 lb. bags of apples.
A childhood favorite – dinner was a special time when my mom served this as a dessert or side dish.
1 bag of apples
1 bag of cinnamon Red Hot candies
(measurements should be 1 oz. of Red Hot candies per apple used, so 20 apples would need 20 oz. of Red Hots)
Peel and core apples, then dice and toss into a crock pot set on medium heat. Allow apples to simmer about 3 hours, then remove to a food processor or blender and whirl until smooth. If you prefer a chunkier applesauce, skip this step and simply mash using a potato masher. Stir sauce, return to crock pot, and add the Red Hot candies. Allow to cook until candies are melted, stirring well to ensure sauce is mixed. Serve hot or cold.
If you want to can your applesauce, wash and sterilize your jars and lids, and fill your canning pot and keep at a simmer while preparing your jars. Fill each jar about ½” to ¼” inch from the top. Wipe the jar rims and lids well, then top and screw on the lid. Lower them into your canning pot and cover with at least an inch of water. Boil quart jars for 20 minutes, remove, and allow to cool. I find the top is usually popped before processing is completed, but they may continue to pop for several hours after processing. If, after the jars have been left overnight, any lids remain unpopped, refrigerate and use as quickly as possible. The popped lids (meaning the dimple has inverted and can no longer be pushed up and down) may be stored about 18-24 months.
Apple-Nut Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
My mother used to make an elaborate apple-walnut cake every once in a while, moist and nutty, garnished with a rich cream cheese frosting. Using a cake mix in this recipe cuts down on some of the preparation time without sacrificing flavor.
2 cups finely chopped apples
½ cup applesauce
½ cups chopped walnuts
½ cup chopped pecans
1 spice cake mix
Preheat oven to 350F. Mix ingredients until moistened, then beat about 2 minutes on medium speed. Pour into greased and floured 8″ pans and bake around 30 minutes, until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool on a rack. Frost when cooled.
Cream Cheese Frosting
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
¼ cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar
walnuts and pecans for garnish
Beat cream cheese and softened butter together until blended and fluffy. Beat in powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Frost bottom layer, then add top layer and finish frosting. Sprinkle cake with nuts. Serve.
Microwave Baked Apples
Another yummy favorite passed down from my mom, with alteration for a quicker, easier treat.
4 cored apples, preferably a tart Granny Smith
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. cinnamon
4 tsp. butter
Place apples upright on a microwave-safe dish. Mix together sugar and spices and place an equal portion into each apple. Add a teaspoon of butter to each apple. Cover dish and microwave 2-3 minutes until apples are softened but not mushy. Serve warm with a bit of ice cream