Apples, Apples, Apples: Sauced, Stewed, and Baked

During autumn and winter, at least in Michigan, we have three staple fruits that aren’t usually too costly: bananas, oranges, and apples. In honor of Alan’s being a doctor (and absolutely loving apples), I’ve changed that old adage about “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” to “an apple a day keeps sickness at bay.” That might be a slight exaggeration, but fresh apples are definitely a family favorite for lunch and snacks, and if I’m looking for a healthy dessert, some form of apple something often makes the dinner menu. Today I decided to share three similar but very simple ways to prepare apples that never fail to please: apple sauce, fried apples, and baked apples. I’ll start with baked apples (the very simplest for small numbers) but touch on all three. All of them have lots of pluses: They are even easier than pie to make, not to mention having only half the calories and all the best (gooey, fruity) stuff!

Baked Apples Ala Mode
(one apple per serving)

Core one apple for each servingPlace each apple  in a dish and top with:
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar (or less if you want)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or a few good shakes of your spice bottle)
1 teaspoon water

Microwave for 10 minutes if you’re in a hurry. If you have your oven going anyway and have time, add 2 teaspoons water, cover them loosely with aluminum foil and bake at 350°F. for 30 minutes or until completely tender. Serve warm with ice cream (and/or whipping cream on top)!

Stewed Apples (aka “Fried Apples”)

Do exactly the same thing as above for baked apples, except place all the apples plus the 2 teaspoons water per apple in a frying pan and cook on medium-high heat until the apples are tender and somewhat caramelized. I have no clue what the real recipe is at Cracker Barrel (where they serve  yummy fried apples), but I was inspired by this restaurant, and “frying” apples this way provides a pretty close replication. (I think Cracker Barrel removes the skins, and you can do that. There are health [and financial] advantages to using the skins. The peels have fiber and vitamins. If you’re one of the many people who are concerned about pesticides on the skins, consider  buying organic, and then you won’t have to worry about the skins being contaminated.)

Applesauce

Last, but not least, is homemade apple sauce. This is pretty close to divine as far as I can tell. It’s basically pie filling without the crust. For apple sauce, I generally peel the apples and cut them into smaller chunks, but otherwise use exactly the same proportions of apples, butter, sugar, water, and cinnamon. Cook them over medium heat in a covered sauce pan, stirring often to ensure they don’t burn on the bottom. For applesauce, you can also use granulated white sugar instead of brown sugar. Either works fine, but brown sugar (pictured above) comes out a darker, richer color. Some apples, like Macintosh, break down and become mushy more easily. Honey crisps taste great but hold their shape more, so if you prefer smoother to chunkier sauce, you may want to use Macintosh, or a combination of honeys and macs. Frankly, I’ve made applesauce out of any and every kind of apples out of my refrigerator, and I’ve yet to get any serious complaints from the peanut gallery. Also, some cooks like to make their applesauce smooth by running it through a food processor, but I don’t like to take the time and think “chunky” seems more authentic for some reason (like real bits of potatoes in mashed potatoes). One of my mantras is: Fuss less; savor more! I hope you savor lots of apples and apple concoctions this winter! Keep those illnesses at bay!  🙂

For I will restore health unto thee,
and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the Lord
” (Jeremiah 30:17).