Oct 012010
You might think that apple picking is something that would get old by the time you’re 23.  That it’d be exciting for an eager 7 year old reaching on her tippy toes for that perfect apple, and that by age 23 you might rather just get in a car, drive to the store, and buy apples that were so kindly picked for you by apple farmers somewhere.  For me, this is not the case.  Not only is the apple picking part just as exciting as it was when I was a wide-eyed 7 year old, but the idea of what to make with the apples is the most exciting part of all.  I had to keep it healthy, so I came up with this…simply baked apples stuffed with dried cranberries and walnuts, served with homemade brown sugar-cinnamon fro yo.
So this is a two step post.  1) Picking the apples, and 2) making something ridiculously tasty with said apples.  We arrived at the apple farm, expecting to be released into the wild, free to pick apples as we pleased.  But this was a no nonsense place with quite a few rules. No climbing trees, I get.  Safety first.  But showing me what a full barrel is? 

Then we took a nice little hay ride over to the trees.  Jeff and I are ready to go with our pickers.

Mmmmm apples are look so much more appealing on a tree than under grocery store fluorescents.

And the winners are…

Ok on to step two.  Creation.  This baked apple dish was one of those strokes of luck where I don’t follow a recipe and it somehow turns out great.  I cut the apples in half, scooped out the core, and filled with a mixture of nuts, dried fruit, and brown sugar.  A little drizzle of honey over the top.  And that’s it! Keeps the integrity of these amazing apples but gives them a little excitement. 
But the real exciting part of this recipe was the homemade brown sugar-cinnamon frozen yogurt I made to go with it.  I used strained plain yogurt, vanilla extract, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  Put it in the ice cream maker for half an hour and it was amazing. The perfect accompaniment for these beautiful apples.  Apple picking certainly does get better with age…7 year old Marissa could not have pulled this off.
Nutritional Highlights:  They’re apples…of course they’re healthy!  Full of fiber, vitamin C, and low in calories.  Plus, these ones are local and freshly picked meaning they’re at their peak nutrient level.  The way I used these apples in a dessert is definitely far healthier than an apple pie or crisp.  Nuts add protein and the frozen yogurt is a lower calorie/fat version of the ice cream that is required to  accompany any good apple dessert.  Happy apple season!!
Baked Walnut-Cranberry stuffed Apples with Brown Sugar-Cinnamon Frozen Yogurt
For the Apples:

Cut apples in half and scoop/cut out core. In a separate bowl, mix any nuts/dried fruit you like with a little bit of brown sugar (for two halved apples I used walnuts, hazelnuts, cranberries, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and a pinch of salt). Fill the apple cavity and drizzle a little honey over the apples. Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes.

For the Fro yo:
Strain 4 cups of plain, low fat yogurt over night (or you can use greek yogurt). Mix in ¼ to ½ cup brown sugar (depending how sweet you want it), 1 tspn cinnamon, and 1 tspn vanilla extract. Let this sit in fridge for at least an hour so brown sugar “dissolves” and isn’t granular. Put in your ice cream maker as directed. Sooooo good!! Some notes: If you want a not tart yogurt, start with vanilla yogurt instead of plain and you also won’t need to add as much sugar since there’s already some added. Taste the yogurt once you’ve mixed in the sugar and make sure the sweetness is to your liking because this is how it will taste when it’s done…just frozen.

Enjoyyyy!! This dessert is unreallll.