We all love apple pies and crisps but if you’re like me and you can’t leave the apple orchard without a bushel and half of apples, then you need a few fresh and varied ideas for putting all those delicious apples to good use! Here you will find 5 delightful and possibly unexpected ways to enjoy apples – in everything from cocktails to shortbread bars to snacks. All the ideas are simple and easy – a few requiring no cooking at all – because there are only so many hours in the day for slaving over complicated apple pies! (No offense intended towards apple pies.)
Now, there are people out there who ask why someone might go to the trouble of picking their own apples when there are perfectly good apples at the supermarket. The only thing I can assume is that those people have never been apple picking! If you have, you probably agree that, on a beautiful clear fall day, wandering through an orchard picking your own apples is nothing less than a little slice of heaven. Once you’ve bitten into an apple picked only seconds ago from the tree, surrounded by the fragrance of a thousand apples, you will never be able to eat a waxy supermarket apple again without feeling a touch wistful. And for those of you who live too far South for apples, you are welcome to consider this a little virtual apple orchard visit – either that or plan a trip to Upstate New York, ASAP!
But I digress – let’s get straight to enjoying all those delicious apples!
1. Pork Chops with Apples, Onions, and Rosemary
If you’ve never tried apples in a savory dish you might be surprised by just how delicious they can be! This seasonal classic is a favorite of mine that I find myself looking forward to as soon as the weather starts to turn crisp. The apples provide just the right amount of mild sweetness to balance out the rich pork and savory onions, while the rosemary adds the perfect hit of herbal brightness – a culinary grand slam! And the best part? It is as simple to pull off as it is delicious!
The 3 Keys to making this dish amazing:
- Make sure to turn the heat up to Medium High and get the pan nice and hot before throwing in the apples and onions. This ensures that the apples don’t get mushy and break apart before they are able to caramelize – where the real flavor comes out! When the apples and onions start to brown (as shown in the photo) take them out of the pan and set aside. Top with a sprinkle of fresh rosemary or another herb of your choice (thyme is nice too!)
- Turn heat up to High and sear the pork chops on both sides. Throw in a splash of sherry wine or brown liquor (bourbon or rum) and scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, before adding back the apples and onions.
- Put the whole thing in the oven and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.
That’s it – Enjoy!
2. Apple Snack Rings
Fresh apples are amazing but there are only so many that you can eat in a day so finding a way to extend their shelf life, with minimal impact to their form and flavor is a real win. These oven dried apple rings are so simple to make that the fact they are so good seems almost like cheating! And those apples that have gone a little soft sitting on the counter… that the kids will no longer touch? Well, this is exactly how to give them new life and a chewy, snackable texture that the kids will go crazy for… so much for extending their shelf life! 😊
The preparation couldn’t be easier – just core 3 or 4 apples, slice into approximately 1/8th inch rings, spread out on a sheet pan, sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 225 degrees for an hour and a half. Done! Chewy, sweet, deliciously healthy snacks.
3. Crunchy Apple, Blue Cheese, and Walnut Salad
I could eat this salad every day for lunch for the entirety of the fall season – the combination is that good! There are various versions of this salad but the key is in the pairing of crunchy and fresh elements with strong and savory.
For this salad I start with fresh mixed greens that I top with radishes, carrots, and apples for fresh crunch, walnuts for substance and texture, and blue cheese, kalamata olives, and scallions for salty, pungent savoriness. Bliss!
Every time I put together a delicious salad with a riot of nature’s most colorful produce, I’m always reminded of just how delightful it is that the most nutritious foods are also the most beautiful.
4. Apple Almond Shortbread Bars
I’m a big fan of apple crisp and generally make at least a few batches over the course of apple season but this week, to mix things up a little, I determined to find something new and different to try, that’s just as quick and easy to make. I was in the mood for an apple and almond flavor combo so when I found these Apple Almond Shortbread Bars on the wonderful Coley Cooks blog, I knew right away it was exactly what I was looking for. I absolutely adore buttery homemade shortbread (actually if I’m being truthful, I just love butter, period!😁) and the almond custard (actually called frangipane but don’t be put off by the fancy name – it’s made in the food processor with only a few ingredients) is the perfect compliment to tart sweet, thinly sliced apples. Arranging the apples in a pretty pattern on top makes it feels special enough to serve to guests but the fact that it all comes together in the food processor with very little fuss means you won’t mind whipping it up for the family on a Saturday afternoon. Yum!
5. Apple Infused Vodka
I’m not a big fan of sweet drinks so I’ve always found the flavored vodkas at the liquor store to be mostly too sweet and almost always too artificial tasting. However, infusing vodka with flavors at home is fun and so, so easy! And the result is so much more natural and delicious.
Because vodka is such a mild spirit, you can pretty much infuse it with anything, with good results. Apples are a no-brainer – they have lots of flavor without being too sweet and can be mixed easily with other flavors. Simply chop up the apples, place them in a mason jar, and fill the jar with vodka. Place a secure lid on top and let it steep in a cool dry place for 4 days – that’s it!
With this batch, I decided to try two combinations – apple & rosemary and apple & ginger. They still need to steep for a couple more days so I will give a full accounting of how they turn out – with cocktail mixing ideas – this weekend on Instagram, so keep an eye out for that!
Until then happy apple season! 😘