Maple Walnut Apple Crisp

I hope you’re ready for some apple recipes!

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If you make one apple dessert this fall – make this maple walnut apple crisp! Apple crisp has ALWAYS been my favorite apple dessert. Why? Because I love the crunchy, sweet topping. AND because it is easier than pie (haha) – no crust needed!

My Taller Half and I recently went to Smolak Farms to pick apples. The orchard is picturesque and has dozens of apple varieties! I LOVE apple picking. Ever since I was a little piglet, I always looked forward to biting into a crisp, juicy apple just picked from the tree, and then would do this over and over again for until my belly was waaaay too full. This year, I held back a bit and didn’t make myself sick. It was a perfect fall day and we picked TONS of apples. I just couldn’t wait to get home and bake with the freshly picked fruit.

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A beautiful day at Smolak Farms!

Now, let’s talk about this crisp! It has such a thick, crunchy, cinnamon-y topping. Hands down my favorite apple dessert. It also went really fast!

20130925-213732.jpgThe filling of this crisp has tart apples (I used a mixture of Gravenstein, Cortland and Granny Smith), mixed with meaty walnuts, cinnamon and sweet maple syrup! And then there is the topping. OOOh the topping. It is so crispy, so thick, and crunchy (and of course cinnamon-y) and perfectly balances the tender, soft apples. You NEED to make this crisp. Bonus – It takes 5 minutes to put the topping together and only 5 minutes to make the filling. So what are you waiting for?!! Let’s make some maple walnut apple crisp!

20131016-235032.jpgSprinkle cut, peeled apples and chopped walnuts with cinnamon and a few squirts of lemon juice

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Pour the melted sugar, maple syrup, vanilla and butter “sauce” on top

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Prep the topping by mixing flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and cut with chilled butter -just smash it up with your hands until it is crumbly, like so:

Crisp topping

Then add the walnuts to the topping and spread the topping over the apples

( look how thick that topping is!!)

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Place in the oven and wait 45 minutes for sweet, cinnamon-y, apple-y, maple-y, oat-y goodness.

OH. MY. GOODNESS.

20130925-213824.jpgOne more thing- If you don’t have walnuts, or don’t like walnuts you can substitute any other nut – almonds, pecans,  peanuts, hazelnuts etc… or just leave the nuts out. They add some texture and taste but are not essential to your new favorite apple dessert.

Recipe: Maple Walnut Apple CrispMaple Walnut Apple Crisp

Servings: 6-10 (or 2 if you are me)

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

Filling

  • 5-6 apples, peeled, cored, chopped chunky (I used Gravenstein, Cortland and Granny Smith – but any firm, baking apple will do – you may have to adjust the sugar if the apples you use are less tart and more sweet)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (substitute almonds, pecans, peanuts etc… or omit)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • Few squirts of lemon juice (About 1/2 -1 tablespoon)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping (adapted from Ambitious Kitchen)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats (not quick oats)
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (substitute almonds, pecans, peanuts etc… or omit)
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F and spray an 8×8 pan with non-stick cooking spray
  2. Make the filling: In a large bowl, toss apples and walnuts with cinnamon and lemon juice and pour into a 8×8 baking pan.
  3. In a small saucepan on low heat, melt the butter, sugar and maple syrup***  while stirring.  Do this slowly, you don’t want your sugar to burn! When combined, remove from heat and add vanilla extract.  Pour sauce over apples in baking pan and stir to coat apples.
  4. Make the topping: In a large bowl, add all the topping ingredients EXCEPT the butter and walnuts.  Stir until well combined.
  5. Add the butter and use your hands to incorporate the butter and the dry topping.  This involves squeezing the butter and the flour/oat mixture together in your hands – until the mixture becomes crumbly – you don’t need to overwork this – you want the mixture to be lumpy.  Just smash it between your fingers with the oat/flour mixture – it will be uneven and will look like wet sand.  If you don’t like the “hand” technique, you can also use 2 forks, 2 knives, or a pastry cutter (oh so fancy!).
  6. Stir in walnuts and sprinkle the crumbly topping over the apples
  7. Place on top of a baking sheet, to prevent a sticky mess (just in case the apples/sugar bubble over) and bake at 350 degrees F for 40-50 minutes. As always, baking time may vary based on your oventop should be brown and you should see bubbles on the sides of the baking dish. The apples should be tender.
  8. Allow crisp to cool for about 10 minutes before serving – just so you don’t burn your tongue on SUPER hot, bubbly sugar/apple goodness.

Serve warm, with vanilla Ice cream if you please. I didn’t have any.  Shameful.

ENJOY!

*** For easy maple syrup measurement, spray tablespoon with non-stick cooking spray prior to measuring and maple syrup will slide right out.

Happy Fall!

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Pulled Chicken Tacos with Homemade Honey BBQ Sauce

Check out this tasty sauce….

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I never liked BBQ sauce.  That’s right.  I was a BBQ sauce hater.  HATED it.  That is, until I tasted homemade BBQ sauce.  Wow.  Sweet and Spicy. MMMmm  So finger licking good. So good, that I licked the bowl. Seriously. I did. I’m not embarrassed to admit it – I hope this stuff makes you do the same!

I first came across homemade BBQ sauce on the blog Simply Scratch.  This blog is AMAZING.  It has delicious recipes as well as step-by-step photo instructions.  Go check it out. Seriously. Go.  Then come back here. 🙂

20130628-091036.jpgLet me tell you why you NEED to make this BBQ sauce. It’s sweet and delicious and SO MUCH BETTER than bottled sauce.  It is super EASY to make and uses mostly ingredients you probably have in your kitchen.  Oh, and did I mention it goes on EVERYTHING. yes. EVE-RY-THIN-G. Chicken, Pork, Burgers, Fries, Veggies, Chickpeas. Spoons. MMmm.

So lets talk about what we’re doing with this sweet and spicy BBQ sauce today. I made some oven BBQ pulled chicken and all I had in the house were corn tortillas, so they became BBQ pulled chicken tacos!  🙂  I’m so clever.

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This recipe is PERFECT for Fall Sundays.  This being a blog that focuses on fast and easy recipes – I understand that this takes time, but I LOVE these types of recipes for fall and winter: recipes that do all the work while I do other things. Cleaning, working (watching football) and your delicious dinner is slowly baking away in your oven (or crock-pot).  Since I don’t have a crock-pot, I just baked the chicken in my oven.  I’ve made this recipe with both boneless, skinless chicken breasts and boneless, skinless chicken thighs. These pictures are of pulled breast meat, but the dark meat looked and tasted sooo much better.  So much so, that there weren’t any leftovers for me to take pictures of the next morning.

When it comes to chicken or turkey, I go to to the dark side. I’m a dark meat loving lady. There is a misconception that dark meat is bad for you, but the difference in both calories and fat are minimal.  Per ounce, boneless, skinless white meat has 46 calories and 1 gram of fat and dark meat has 50 calories and about 2 grams of fat. Yes, dark meat has more saturated fat, but it also has more iron, zinc, riboflavin, vitamins B6 and B12 than white meat. *(I’m not a registered dietician, just rambling off some nutrition facts)  So don’t shy away from the dark side!

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Steps for how to make pulled chicken-before it goes in the oven 1. BBQ sauce 2. Saute onions and garlic 3. Add chicken, salt and pepper. 4. Cover with BBQ Sauce.

Recipe: Pulled Chicken Tacos with Homemade Honey BBQ Sauce

Servings: 8

Ingredients for Honey BBQ Sauce (slightly adapted from Simply Scratch)

  • 1 cup of Honey
  • 1/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 and 1/4 cup of ketchup
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water (use less if you want a thicker sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1 and1/2 teaspoons of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Ingredients for Oven Pulled Chicken

  • 2 lbs of Boneless, skinless chicken (Breast, thigh or mixture of both – I prefer thighs)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or canola or vegetable)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of BBQ Sauce (or enough to cover all your chicken)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Extra BBQ sauce for serving

Instructions:

  1. First, make the BBQ sauce. Add all ingredients into a large bowl and stir until well combined.  Use immediately or store covered in the fridge.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
  3. In an heavy, oven safe pot* with a lid add olive oil, onions and garlic.  Cook on medium heat until onions are soft, about 5 minutes.  Add chicken and a pinch of salt and pepper to each piece of chicken as you put them in the pot.
  4. Cover chicken fully with BBQ Sauce
  5. Cover the pot – either with a lid or aluminum foil.  Bake in the oven at 325F for about 90 min. or until chicken shreds easily with 2 forks.
  6. Shred chicken using two forks to pull apart.  Serve on corn tortillas with extra BBQ sauce some avocado and pickles – or your favorite toppings!

*If you don’t have an oven safe pot, you can do step 3 in a pan and then transfer everything to a baking dish before covering in BBQ sauce.  Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil before placing in oven.

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