Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Easy apple side dish

I’ve been finding all kinds of excuses to make baked apples the last few weeks.
I can’t help myself. I’m drawn to the displays of fresh apples in the grocery store and love to try different varieties. For baked apples, I usually buy Rome, but this year I’ve chosen smaller McIntosh apples that cook quickly and have a great flavor.
For years, I’ve been content cooking my apples the same way. They aren’t baked, actually, but rather cooked in the microwave.
I use my apple corer to scoop out the hard center of the whole apple, then fill it with a little butter and plenty of brown sugar and cinnamon.
But Monday night, I tried something different. 
I cut my apples in half and used a spoon to scoop out the seeds and hard core. I also removed the stem. Then I placed the apple halves in a microwave safe pie plate, cut side up. Into each scooped out center, I put a dab of butter (maybe a 1/2 teaspoon) and a small spoonful of brown sugar. I added a few dried cranberries and pecans to the top of the apple and then sprinkled cinnamon over the surface.
I cooked them in the microwave for 3 minutes, took them out and checked them. They were not as soft as I like, so they went back in for another minute. When I removed them this time, they were just right. With a spoon, I scooped some of the sweet syrup from the bottom of the pie plate and drizzled it over the surface of the apple halves before serving them.
We’ve always loved my simple, unadorned baked apples, but let me tell you, we loved them dressed up as well! The flavor was wonderful, and we loved the different textures from the cranberries and nuts. And, as always, the peel was  soft and delicious and coated with syrup, so please don’t leave it on your plate!
I’ve been thinking of other options for the apples including raisins, walnuts, even apple pie spice. I’ve also seen recipes that use granola on top. I will try that too.
These quick and easy apple halves will be on my menu again tonight alongside pork cutlets, field peas and macaroni and cheese.
This time, I’ve promised my husband we will each get two halves! One half was not enough Monday night.
lisa@wilsontimes.com | 265-7810

Microwave ‘Baked’ Apples

Baking apples (I use Rome and McIntosh)
Brown sugar
Ground cinnamon or another spice or spice blend (such as apple pie spice)
Dried cranberries or raisins
Pecans or walnuts
Wash apples. Remove stems and slice in half from top to bottom. With a small spoon, scoop out seeds and hard core. Place apples, cut side up, into microwave safe dish with sides. I used a pie plate.
Into each indention, place a little butter (maybe 1/2 teaspoon) and some brown sugar. Place nuts and cranberries or raisins on top and sprinkle surface of apple with ground cinnamon or other spices. Add about a tablespoon of water to bottom of pie plate.
Cook in microwave for 3 minutes. Remove and check apples to see if the are as soft as you like. The four rather small apples I cooked required a total of 4 minutes. When cooking is complete, baste apples with syrup that has formed in bottom of pie plate.

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