Saturday, October 16, 2010

An Apple a Day

I've been eating a lot of apples recently.  Tis the season, I guess.  In our adventures to the farmers markets I've been able to experience a variety of apples that I haven't had the pleasure of trying before.  There are so many different kinds and each has their own distinct flavor and texture. Not to mention all their healthful qualities.

There's the old adage everyone knows..."an apple a day keeps the doctor away".  But do you know all the ways it really can keep you healthy?  I found a website,, that gave a list of 10 health benefits of apples...

1.  Bone protection and strenghthening
2.  Asthma help, not just apples but apple juice as well, women who are pregnant and eat lots of apples have children with lower risk of asthma
3.  Alzheimers prevention, it protects brain cells
4. Lower cholesterol, you can lower it by 16% by eating 2 a day!
5.  Lung cancer prevention
6.  Breast cancer prevention
7.  Colon cancer prevention
8.  Liver cancer prevention
9.  Diabetes management
10.  Weight loss management (now theres one we can all use!)

Heres just a few varieties of apples to enjoy, some sweet, some tart, some crispy, some softer, some good for baking, for making sauce, or just for eating!  How many of these ave you heard of?...Gala, Honeycrisp, Ginger Gold, Jonathan, Jonalicious, Mutsu, Braeburn, Rome, Stayman, Pink Lady, Fuji.  Get out there and try them all!

Some other very interesting facts I recently learned about apples...
*The average medium sized apple is only 80 calories (back to that weight loss!)
*There are more than 7500 varieties of apples grown around the world, 2500 of them in the U.S.
*Red-delicious is the most popular and most produced apple in the U.S.
*The only apple native to North America is the crabapple.
*And did you know that you're supposed to store your apples separately from your other fruit in the fridge? Apparently certain enzymes and gases in apples hasten the ripening of the other fruit.  So if it seems like your fruit and veggies are ripening too quickly, you might want to see if there's an apple nearby!  On the other hand, sometimes you need something to ripen quickly like a really young peach or a banana for making banana bread.  Stick it next to the apples; it'll be extra ripe in no time!

Today we had a western themed fall festival at our church and I made a dessert for a judging contest.  My recipe is called Bourbon Apple Bundles.  Once again, I took someone else's recipe and modified it to my own liking.  And thankfully it paid off, as I tied for 3rd place in the "pie" category, even though it's not technically a pie.  But close enough!

Bourbon Apple Bundles (modified from a Pampered Chef recipe)
(this recipe is also doubled from the original)
Ingredients:  4 medium apples (I used Honeycrisp), 2 packages of refrigerated breadsticks (you can also use pie crust but add an extra 10 minutes to baking time), 1 medium orange (optional), 2 TBsp butter melted, 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of cinnamon, 1/4 cup of bourbon, splash of lemon juice to prevent apples from browning
Also I added a dollop of cream cheese icing on top of each bundle after baking: 2-8oz pkgs of cream cheese softened, 1 stick of butter softened, 2 cups confectioners sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, and colored fondant for decorating

Directions:  Preheat oven to 375. Peel, core, and thinly slice apples and then cut slices in half crosswise.  Put slices into large bowl with splashes of lemon juice and the bourbon.  Gently stir to coat.

Unroll dough, if using breadsticks separate at perforations; if using pie crust, slice into 1-inch wide strips.  Place 3-4 apples slices at the end of each dough strip and roll up.  Place bundles in a deep baking dish.  Zest orange to measure 1 tsp of zest and set aside.  Juice the orange to measure 1/3 cup juice.  Pour juice into bottom of baking dish but not over bundles. Brush melted butter over bundles.

Mix zest, sugar, and cinnamon.  Sprinkle over bundles (you may have a lot leftover, depending on how sugary-cinnamony you like it).  Bake 30-40 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Tip:  To prevent cinnamon from burning as it bakes, either add cinnamon mixture halfway through baking time or cover dish partly with foil towards the end of the baking.

For the cream cheese icing:  mix together cream cheese and butter until creamy.  Add vanilla and then slowly add the powdered sugar.  Mix until well blended. 
Once the bundles have cooled for at least 10-15 minutes, spoon a dollop of the icing on top of each bundle.  Use small cookie cutters to cut out fun fall shapes from the colored fondant and place one shape on top of the cream cheese dollop.
The apple bundles are also great with some rich vanilla ice cream!

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