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Apples perfect for fall season

Typically, when we think of apples and cooking, our minds just naturally go to sweet dishes like apple pie and apple cobblers. But I have learned over the years, that apples turn into wonderful additions for savory dishes giving a plain old pork loin a whole new lease on life.

If you get your hands on a good amount of apples this season, some of these recipes would be great additions to what you keep in your box of favorites.

Different apples give different flavors from sweet and crunchy to tart and mellow. Pick the ones that suit your taste when trying a new recipe for your family.

I’ll start out this week’s list of recipes with a savory use for apples. And, since it uses the slow cooker, it’s about as easy as you can get. You can certainly make some substitutions and, depending on the crowd size, you can certainly cut the recipe in half.

Bratwurst, Apple and Sauerkraut

4 lbs. uncooked bratwurst links

4 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth

32 oz. jar, sauerkraut, rinsed and drained well

4 medium Granny Smith Apples cut into wedges

1 medium onion, sliced thin

1 ½ tsp. caraway seeds

pepper to taste.

In a large skillet, brown the bratwursts on all sides over medium-high heat. Transfer to a slow cooker and add the remaining ingredients. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or until sausages measures at least 160 degrees on a meat thermometer.

Here’s another savory dish that uses apples in an interesting way.

Sausage Casserole

1 lb. bulk sausage

2 cups biscuit mix

1 1/3 cup milk

2 large eggs

¼ cup canola oil

2 medium apples, peeled and sliced thin

2 tbsp. cinnamon sugar

Maple syrup as desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, cook and crumble the sausage until no pink remains. Mix biscuit mix, milk, eggs and oil in a bowl until well blended. Stir in the sausage. Transfer mixture to a greased 13×9 baking dish. Top with sliced apples and sprinkle on cinnamon sugar. Bake until set, about 35 to 45 minutes. Serve with syrup. To make this dish ahead of time, assemble and refrigerate covered. Take the dish out of the refrigerator while oven is pre-heating to 350 degrees. This may take a little longer to bake after being chilled. Cook until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Of course you can’t have a list of apple recipes unless you have a sweet addition. This apple spice cake is good on its own but is even better with the frosting.

Apple Spice Cake

With Brown Sugar Frosting

4 nedium Honeycrisp apples, peeled and cut into one-inch pieces (about 1 ½ lbs.)

2 cups sugar

½ cup canola oil

2 large eggs, room temp

2 tsp. vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

½ cup buttermilk

1 ½ cups chopped nuts

FROSTING:

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

½ cup butter, softened

1 cup confectioners sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 ½ tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 ½ cups chopped nuts.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round baking pans. Place apples in food processor and pulse until finely chopped. In a large bowl, beat sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla until well blended. In another bowl, whisk flour, pie spice, baking powder and salt. Gradually beat flour mixture into sugar mixture alternating with buttermilk. Stir in the apples and nuts. Pour into pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely. For the frosting, beat cream cheese, butter, sugars, vanilla and spices until smooth. Spread frosting between the layers and over the top and sides of cake. Gently press the nuts into the frosting on top of the cake. Leftovers should be refrigerated.

And finally, a recipe you can keep handy for the upcoming holiday season when fresh cranberries show up in the grocery stores.

Cranberry Apple Crisp

3 cups chopped, peeled tart apples (Granny Smith works great)

2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

1 cup sugar

3 tbsp. all-purpose flour

Topping:

1 ½ cups quick-cooking oats

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup butter, melted

¼ cup chopped pecans

Combine apples, cranberries sugar and 3 tbsp. flour. Pour into a greased 11×7 dish. In a bowl, mix topping ingredients until crumbly and sprinkle over apple mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes or until fruit is tender.

If you use frozen cranberries in this recipe, you could make one now. Just call me if you do. I can’t imagine anything better than cranberries and apples to kick off fall in the best way.