Simple, Delicious Maple Apple Crisp (Optional: Gluten-Free)

Apple crisp

Just in time for the holidays, here’s a wonderfully simple and tasty apple crisp. We’re fully gluten-free at home these days, so we used a flour substitute, but regular flour would work just as well, of course.

If you are also gluten-free, be sure to use both vanilla extract and oats marked as gluten-free as well. Bob’s Red Mill makes some of the oats, though, disappointingly, they are not organic.

Overall, this desert is easy and comforting winter food, and is relatively healthy on that scale. The apples get a wonderful gooey-ness to them, and the oat crisp is just enough texture to keep things interesting. I’ll say that I was initially skeptical of the lemon-maple-vanilla flavor pile-on experiment I cooked up, but it works as well. I’ve made this twice now, and would venture to say that you can’t really mess it up. And you’ll want some ice cream for over top — we used a ginger-flavored local ice cream last night, which was out of this world.

I think I’ll go and eat some of the leftovers from last night right now!

IMG_5651Ingredients:

Filling:

  • 4-5 cups organic apples (no need to peel; and you really want organic as apples have the highest levels of pesticide residues out there)
  • 1/2 cup (organic, unsulphured) raisins (or cranberries)
  • 1/4 cup (organic) maple syrup
  • juice from 1/2 of a fresh (organic) lemon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg or 8 scrapes of a fresh nutmeg (far more potent!)
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (check to be sure it’s gluten-free if so desired)

IMG_5665Topping:

  • 1 cup (organic, or gluten-free) oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (optional, but nice)
  • 1/3 cup (organic) flour or gluten-free substitute (we used gluten-free pancake mix, which worked well)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Generous pinch salt
  • 2-3 Tbsp. melted (organic, grassfed) butter, as you prefer

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large baking dish, toss the apple slices with the ingredients for the filling.

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Prepare the topping by mixing the dry ingredients together, and adding the melted butter. Spread over the apples and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the apples are soft.

IMG_5670Top with ice cream or whipped cream. Serve to delighted young (and old!) fans.

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A Perfect Pasta Salad: Basil-Feta-Orzo-Spinach Summer Salad

This is a family recipe, so much so that its origins are lost in the mists of time. I think I can claim having discovered it first, but I wouldn’t want to wager (much) on that. Regardless, it’s now for me what summer tastes like.

This salad is a terrific setting for basil from the back garden, because it’s almost like a deconstructed pesto. It’s wonderful with chicken, and is also a great-tasting, unfussy dish for a party or barbeque.

Here’s what you need to know:

  1. This is as easy as it gets
  2. It’s really, truly, even oddly delicious
  3. It’s even better cold

Ingredients:

2 cups (organic) spinach, ripped into pieces and tough stems removed

1 generous handful (organic) fresh basil, torn to smallish pieces by hand

1 good-sized block of decent (organic) feta cheese, cubed

3 Tbls pignoli (pine) nuts (my sister toasts them; I prefer not to)

1/2 box (organic) orzo pasta

Generous amount decent (organic) olive oil

Fresh-ground black pepper

Optional variations: halved (organic) cherry tomatoes, squeeze of fresh (organic) lemon juice

Directions:

Put the pasta water on with a good dash of olive oil and salt and set to a boil.

Prep the first four ingredients in a bowl large enough to fit both them and the cooked pasta. Cook the pasta as directed and drain. While still hot, add to the bowl.

After several minutes of letting the ingredients warm up and the spinach and basil begin to wilt, toss the pasta with the ingredients and add olive oil and fresh pepper to taste. Enjoy warm or cold.