Competing schedules in the day-to-day lives of a busy modern family make it difficult to share a home-cooked meal together, but not impossible. In fact, with a little planning, cooking together can become a fun family event and learning opportunity. This feature will focus on providing a child or a group of children, working together under the supervision of an adult, with one uncomplicated, healthy and delicious side dish recipe. The dishes will be centered on seasonal fresh produce items; the recipes will always contain tasks will allow even the youngest kitchen helper to contribute to the family meal. Parents should always read through each recipe carefully to judge the division of labor based on age and ability as well as to identify where adult attention might be especially needed.
Many of the recipes presented here will seem very basic — this is by design. It is hoped that these simple preparations will provide the culinary foundation and confidence to inspire kids to try more challenging recipes as their experience in the kitchen develops. Melissa’s encourages parents to find the time to gather as a family unit at least once a week for a dinner that everyone pitches in to prepare. It’s a wonderful way to teach a child some basic culinary skills and, more importantly, cooking with your children will build memories in all of your hearts forever.
Here’s a special occasion Holiday Baked Apple Dessert that your young kitchen helpers can contribute to the family holiday table that takes advantage of the wide selection of new-crop apples that dominate retail displays at this time of year. The recipe’s simple four-ingredient preparation also makes it a perfect culinary confidence-builder for the beginner cook since the flavor components are provided by two of Melissa’s most popular ready-to-eat products. Namely, a repurposed version of our Clean Snax® (Cranberry) line laced with Melissa’s Cinnamon Dessert Sauce, then stuffed inside a juicy sweet apple and baked. Come to think of it, the apple is also a ready-to-eat ingredient! Just add butter to make the fourth.
Seriously, move over pumpkin pie! I chose to use Fuji apples for this recipe because they are sweet, hold form when baked and, frankly, were the largest-sized apples available at my local retailer. The larger the apple, the larger the hollowed out cavity; the larger the cavity, the more scrumptious filling per serving! Another variety that would work well for this dish is the Honeycrisp, which tends to be quite large and very sweet. I found that a serrated spoon or melon-baller are both very kid-friendly tools for hollowing out each apple. The process adds a fun, arts-n-crafts aspect to the prep. The inedible, tough core and seeds are pretty obvious, but the separation from good fruit should be supervised so neither get into the filling mix.
Each convenient Clean Snax® clamshell package has approximately 30 bite-sized squares that contain nutrient-packed chia and flaxseed laced with honey and lightly salted. While Clean Snax® are gluten free, peanuts are a main ingredient for those with allergy concerns. Turning the Cranberry Clean Snax® squares into a granola-like form can be done quickly in the food processor. However, if you have a very young sous chef who you do not want turning on sharp-bladed machinery just yet, there is always the slower, bowl-and-mallet method. Potentially a little messier, but lots of culinary fun for the very young!
And this Holiday Baked Apple Dessert recipe is just as simple as that — hollow out the apples, combine the residual fruit with Melissa’s smashed Clean Snax®, fill each apple with that mixture and, finally, about halfway through the baking process, top each with Melissa’s luscious cinnamon dessert sauce. For the Turkey Day feast, serve this dish with lots of fanfare for those chefs at the kids table who made it and maybe a scoop of vanilla ice cream! Culinary kudos both inspire and build kitchen confidences! Happy Thanksgiving.
Holiday Baked Apple Dessert
- 4 large Fuji apples or any sweet apple of choice
- 10 oz Clean Snax cranberry
- 4 tbsp. Butter melted
- 4 tbsp Melissa's Dessert Sauce Cinnamon
- Slice off the top of each apple, then hollow out most of the fruit with a serrated spoon or melon baller. Separate out and discard the inedible apple core parts and seeds. Set aside hollowed out fruit in a shallow bowl of lemon water to prohibit browning during the rest of the prep. Each apple “cup” should have a medium thick wall to hold up during the bake.
- Using the PULSE setting on a food processor or blender, break up Cranberry Clean Snax® squares into a granola-like texture. After draining the lemon water, combine the fruit with the Clean Snax® in a large bowl until thoroughly mixed.
- Arrange the hollowed-out apples closely together in a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Brush the cavity of each apple with butter, then pack tightly with the Clean Snax ® mix. Bake at 350° until the apples begin to turn soft, about 20 minutes, then top each with a generous dollop of Melissa’s Cinnamon Dessert Sauce and bake for another 10-15 minutes or when the sauce has melted into and over the apple. Yum!