Mom’s Apple Crisp

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It’s 4th of July! And nothing says ‘Merica like an apple crisp recipe from a mom who taught you to cook and spends her days playing jazz and volunteering at her church. My mom is the reason I cook. When we were young, every night for dinner we had a choice between doing dishes or helping mom cook. My siblings chose cleaning for the lower time commitment aspect, and I chose cooking because it was more fun. My siblings are smart, but no one in the family can boil water better than I can.

This recipe is one of my mom’s favorites. It’s delicious, crowd-pleasing, easy, and can be made ahead and frozen for later. I’m pretty sure my mom always has a rotating frozen apple crisp in her freezer. The only thing you really need to know about this recipe before we get started is that it’s really addicting. Really. And you will, somehow, justify eating this with each meal including as your morning breakfast (it’s apples!). You’ve been warned, now let’s get cooking!

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Moms are the BEST cooking buddies! And yes, you do need this Apple Peeler – Corer from Williams – Sonoma to make this recipe much easier to make

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Apples galore!

Ingredients
1 1/2c flour
1 1/2c sugar
1tsp salt
1tsp cinnamon
2tsp nutmeg
2 sticks COLD butter
3-4lbs apples (fuji or gala)

Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees

In a large bowl, sift or fork-mix together flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cut butter into small squares. Crumbling the butter in your fingers into the dry ingredients  until it resembles a crumbly texture (see photo below).

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Yup, you actually do need to measure

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Make sure to mix your dry ingredients before adding your butter

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Here’s the right consistency for your crumble top

Use apple peeler-corer (I like this one from Williams Sonoma) to peel and core apples. Cut up apple into 1/3 or 1/4 pieces and place them into a large, 16 3/4″ x 10 1/2 glass rectangular bake, piling the apples in until rounded (see photo below).  Smoosh the crumble topping on top of apples (see photo below). Place the glass baker on a cookie sheet. This helps catch any drippings when you put it in the oven.

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Make sure your apples are nice and piled up – they cook down about 1/3 in the oven

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Smoosh the toppings down on your apples so it’s nice and compact before baking

At this point, you can wrap in aluminum foil and freeze for an easy make-ahead meal. I swear, my mom always has this in her freezer for a last-minute dessert!

Bake in 375 degree oven for 50-60 minutes, letting cool before serving. I serve this with vanilla ice cream and (shhhh) I also eat this as breakfast!

Ta-Da! ‘Merican apple crisp!

Beet, Apple & Fennel Salad with Creamy Ricotta Dressing

Beet, Apple & Fennel Salad with Creamy Ricotta Dressing

Beet, Apple & Fennel Salad with Creamy Ricotta Dressing

I love a simple, fresh and healthy salad. I try to eat salads every day at work. But if you do the math on my years at the Gap times days of work less days of vacation less cheating with a burger plus days I justify my burger by adding a side salad…well…that would be a lot of salads. And everyone who has losing weight as a New Year’s resolution (like, every woman ever) vows “salads for life” and keeps that vow for about…three days. You know why we can’t hold those resolutions longer? Yes, you know why. Salads can be so boring! Iceberg lettuce, shredded carrots, the occasional broccoli floret and as much ranch dressing as you can justify to mask the boring-ness of veggies. So I set out to make a salad that would help me start that New Year resolution early. And stick with it. For at least four days this time.

This salad has a salty, creamy ricotta “dressing” that amps your salad up and makes it crave-worthy. The fennel/apple/beet combo will brighten your winter work day.  And the simpleness of the recipe will help you keep resolutions of making your own lunch. So let’s get salading…

Fennel comes in a “bulb” that looks a little like celery and onion had a baby. The “fawn” or delicate leafy pieces add flair to your presentation

These are apples….you know what they are! Choose a crisp apple such as Fuji, Braeburn, or Honeycrisp

Beet, Apple & Fennel Salad with Creamy Ricotta Dressing

Ingredients
1 1/2c ricotta
3tbs + 1/4c olive oil
1/4c hazelnuts, finely chopped
4 roasted beets*
1/2 crisp fuji apple
1 fennel bulb
arugula
2tbs champagne vinegar
cooked chicken breast (optional)
salt & pepper

*Note: To save time, I used store-bought beets, which are pretty darned decent. To roast yourself, heat an oven to 350 degrees. Toss beets in olive oil, salt, pepper and wrap in aluminum foil. Cook for 20 minutes or until soft when pierced with a fork. Let cool and peel beets.

Directions
In a mixer, add ricotta, 3tbs olive oil and salt & pepper to taste. Mix on high until creamy. If desired, increase creaminess by adding more olive oil. This creamy sauce can be made in advanced and stored in an air-tight container in the refridgerator.

Heat a saute’ pan to medium and toast hazelnuts until fragrant, about 5 minutes, staring frequently. Careful – nuts burn quickly! Set aside nuts.

Thinly slice apple. Chop off roots of fennel and reserve the “fawn”, or soft, leafy parts from the top. Cut fennel into fours and cut out the tough core. Thinly slice.

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, champagne vinegar, and a pinch salt & pepper to make a light vinaigrette.

Spread ricotta mixture on the bottom of a plate. Lightly dress arugula with vinaigrette and place over ricotta. Top with beets, apples, fennel, toasted hazelnuts, (and chicken, if desired) and finish with a sprig of fennel fawn.

Eat, enjoy, and smile, knowing that you’re starting your New Year’s resolutions early – in a very delicious way.

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