Join Me in the Kitchen with Vicki McGraw

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Contributing Writer
Vicki McGraw
Elegant Edibles Catering

It’s apple time! Just go to any of our local markets and you will see them…the big bins of crisp, juicy, red, green and yellow apples. Macintosh, Gala, Ida Red, Pink Lady, Golden Delicious and more. The varieties abound with a variety of colors, textures and delightful flavors. Whether you prefer a softer, sweeter apple like the Macintosh, the tart, crisp bite of a Granny Smith, now is the perfect time to buy!

Apples are a wonderfully versatile fruit. They can be eaten raw or cooked in a variety of ways. Applesauce and pies are the most obvious, but using your imagination can lead to some wonderful tastes! Apples offer a crunch and subtle flavor to salads (both sweet and savory), as well as a sweet background to meats and other savory dishes. There is nothing like a pork loin roasted with apples, or a chicken breast stuffed with herb and apple stuffing. By adding apples to these dishes, you not only get the essence of their delicious flavor, but the bonus of extra moisture to keep your meats juicy.

As we all have been told, an apple a day will keep the doctor away, and will clean your teeth, too! Apples make the perfect lunchbox addition…they are hearty enough to survive the “backpack experience” and still be edible! A small apple will satisfy that midday snack craving without destroying your diet (I love to snack on an apple, but if I’m home, I have to share with my dog…Bailey LOVES apples!). And let’s not forget the Halloween party classic, bobbing for apples! I have a friend who makes beautiful pomanders by pressing whole cloves into a fresh apple and then letting the apple dry out. The apple shrinks as it dries, thus bringing the cloves even closer together. Simply tie a pretty ribbon around it and you have a great ornament! So, we have not only food, but medicinal qualities, and craft ideas, all from that fruit of original sin!

When my kids were little, I always made applesauce for them. It is easy to make and as we know, fresh is best! They loved helping make it, too. They started out by stirring, then as they got bigger, they got better with the peeler and then progressed on to the knife to cut the apples into pieces. It’s not usually necessary to add sugar to my applesauce, (I prefer the natural sweet, sometimes tangy flavors of the apples), and by mixing varieties of apples in one batch, I can change the flavor profile. I would puree my applesauce when the boys were babies, but once they grew up, we discovered that we all like it chunkier. A dash of cinnamon simply makes it perfect! You can substitute applesauce for the bananas in your favorite banana bread recipe, and use applesauce in place of oil in many recipes, as well. By keeping them in the refrigerator crisper, they will stay fresh and delicious longer, that is if your kids don’t eat them all in a day or two, like my guys always did!

What an amazing fruit, and there is no better time than fall to stock up and enjoy!

Apple Herb Stuffed Chicken Breast

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 large apple, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, sliced
2 T diced onion
½ t thyme
½ t rosemary
1 t parsley
Salt and pepper
2 T butter
½ c milk
2 cups bread cubes

Saute apple, onion and celery in butter until tender, add herbs, salt, pepper and milk and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Add bread cubes and gently mix to moisten.

Using a sharp knife, cut a slit in the thick part of each breast to create a large pocket. Divide the stuffing between the 4 breasts, filling the pocket loosely.

Bake at 350* for 45-50 minutes, until chicken reaches and internal temperature of 165*.

To read more of Vicki McGraw’s commentaries on good cooking, fine recipes and perfect party treats, visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on Join Me in the Kitchen’s own page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.