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Walnut and Date Stuffed Baked Apples

This new spin on the homey, old-fashioned dessert has much less added sugar than the traditional version, with just a little maple syrup drizzled on top, and a walnut filling sweetened with finely chopped dates. The dried fruit melds in seamlessly with cooking so you don’t even realize it’s there — you just get its sweet essence punctuated with the aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

Storage Notes: Leftover baked apples can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Tested size: 4 servings

1/2 cup (2 ounces) walnut pieces
4 large cooking apples (about 2 pounds total), such as Rome, Cortland, Gala or Braeburn
3 tablespoons finely chopped pitted dates
4 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 pinch kosher salt
1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice

Position a baking rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

Place the walnuts on a small, rimmed baking sheet and toast until fragrant and slightly darkened, about 5 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a cutting board, let cool, then finely chop.

Core the apples, leaving their bottoms intact. (Use a melon baller to scoop out the core, but not all the way through.) Place the apples upright into a rimmed baking dish just wide enough for the apples to snugly fit, such as an 8-inch square baking pan.

In a medium bowl, combine the walnuts, dates, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the apple juice with the remaining 2 tablespoons maple syrup. Stuff the center of each apple with the walnut-date mixture, then pour the apple juice around the apples. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the apples are tender.

Serve hot or cold, drizzled with the pan juices.

Source: From Cookbook Author and nutritionist Ellie Krieger

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Apple & Roasted Chicken Turnovers

This recipe for the short-of-time cook turns store-bought (or leftover) roast chicken, fresh Ontario apples and frozen pie crusts into flaky bundles perfect for entertaining or tucking into lunch boxes.

Makes 24 turnovers.

Chef Tip:
Don’t have cooked chicken on hand? An equal amount of roasted sliced or shaved turkey from your deli can be easily substituted.

Variety Tip:
For best results, use local Ambrosia, Honeycrisp, Empire, or Cortland apples.

1 cup cooked shredded chicken 250 mL
1 cup lightly packed grated Ontario Apples (about 2 apples) 250 mL
1/2 cup shredded old Cheddar cheese 125 mL
1/4 cup minced green onion 50 mL
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper 2 mL
4 frozen prepared deep dish pie crusts, thawed 4
1 egg yolk whisked with 1 tbsp water 1

Before you begin: Preheat oven to 425°F (225°C)

In medium bowl, combine chicken, apple, cheese, green onion, salt and pepper.

Place thawed crust on a lightly floured surface and using a 3-inch (7.5 cm) round cookie-cutter, cut 5 rounds from each pie crust. Using a rolling pin, re-roll scraps and cut 4 more rounds.

Place 2 tbsp (25 mL) of filling in the centre of each round, fold round in half and pinch slightly to secure. Using the tines of a fork, crimp around edge of turnover to prevent filling from spilling out and arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining rounds and filling (you will have to use two baking sheets). With a sharp paring knife, cut a small slit in the top of each turnover and brush with egg mixture.

Bake turnovers in preheated oven until golden, about 12 minutes.

Source: From the Ontario Apple Growers

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Smoky Ontario Apple Oka Bites

A warm amuse-bouche of sweet Ontario apple wedges, smoky bacon and soft creamy Canadian Oka cheese. These bites are melt-in-your-mouth delicious and remarkably simple to prepare.

Makes 24 pieces.

Chef Tip:
If Oka cheese is unavailable, Gorgonzola makes a savoury substitute.

Variety Tip:
For best results use Ontario Honey Crisp, Gala, Fuji, Cortland or Red Delicious apples.

12 slices double-smoked bacon 12
1/4 grainy mustard 50 mL
2 Ontario Apples cut into 24 wedges 2
8 oz Oka cheese, cubed into 24 pieces 250 g

Before you begin: Preheat oven to 375°F (190°F).

In a skillet over medium heat, cook bacon in batches until cooked through but not crispy. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate and let cool.

Cut each strip of bacon in half to make 24 small strips. Spread each strip with 1/2 tsp (2 mL) mustard and wrap around an apple wedge and piece of cheese. Secure with toothpick. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Arrange bites on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven just until bacon starts to bubble and cheese begins to melt, about 3-5 minutes. Do not overcook. Serve immediately.

Source: From the Ontario Apple Growers

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Apple and Spinach Salad

Apples, mushrooms and toasted pecans on a bed of spinach are topped with a warm apple cider, maple syrup and bacon dressing.

Makes 4 servings.

Variety Tip:
For best results, use Ontario Cortland, Crispin, Empire, Golden Delicious, Idared, Jonagold, McIntosh, Gala, or Honeycrisp apples.

4 slices bacon, cut into small pieces 4 slices
1 small onion, diced 1
1 lb mushrooms, sliced 500 g
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar 50 mL
1/4 cup maple syrup 50 mL
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 cups torn spinach leaves 2 L
2 Ontario apples, thinly sliced 2
1/2 cup toasted pecans 125 mL

Prepare the dressing:

In large skillet over medium-high heat, cook bacon until desired crispness; remove with slotted spoon and set aside. Add onion and mushrooms to bacon drippings; cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until onions are soft.

Stir in apple cider vinegar and maple syrup; boil 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.

Prepare the salad:

Place spinach, apples, pecans and bacon bits in salad bowl or arrange on individual salad plates. Toss salad with warm dressing or spoon over salad on plates. Serve immediately.

Source: From the Ontario Apple Growers

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Apple and Squash Soup

Two fall favourites, apples and squash, team up in this creamy textured but light tasting soup.

Makes 12 servings.

Variety Tip:
For best results, use Ontario Empire, McIntosh, or Gala apples.

1 tbsp vegetable oil 15 mL
2 cups chopped onion (about 2 medium) 500 mL
1 clove garlic, minced 1
1 tsp dried thyme 5 mL
4 cups chopped peeled butternut squash 1 L
3 cups chopped peeled Ontario apples 750 mL
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock 1 L
1/2 cup milk or cream 125 mL
pinch nutmeg pinch
Salt and pepper, to taste

In large saucepan over medium heat, heat oil. Add onions and cook about 7 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally. Stir in garlic and thyme; cook 1 minute. Stir in squash, apples and stock.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until squash is tender. Puree in small batches in blender or food processor, until smooth.

Return puree to saucepan and add milk; re-heat, stirring often. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Source: From the Ontario Apple Growers