Here in Florida, apples definitely do not grow on trees. Orange groves we have a plenty. But apple orchards, not so much. So on a recent trip to North Carolina, I was a bit crazy about gathering some local apples. We were too late in the season to pick any ourselves, but a couple of market stands sufficed quite fine. I returned home, happily, with fresh apples, apple butter and apple cider in tote. (Thank you DaddyBird for the many roadside stops without a single grumble!)
Much of my bounty was used in apple empanadas for a friend's potluck-style Day of the Dead Party (recipe below). The rest was gobbled up by the many apple-loving members of my household. A favorite after-school snack: sliced apples drizzled with melted caramels.
This season, we've also had fun apple stamping (not with those precious NC apples, of course).
And with bobbing for apples and apple races at our annual family campout.
Here I am again, going on about produce. But really, what's not to love about a fruit that brings so much joy, in so many ways?!
MamaBird's Apple Empanadas for a Crowd
4 large apples, peeled & diced
1 cup apple cider
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 boxes refrigerated pie crusts* (4 premade crusts)
1-2 egg(s), beaten
Filling: Simmer diced apples, cider, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg over low heat until apples are soft. In separate bowl, mix cornstarch with enough water to thin; stir into apple mixture and cook until thickens.
Assembly: On a floured surface, roll out refrigerated crusts (one at a time) to about 1/8" thick. Cut into 3-1/2" circles with biscuit or cookie cutter (you can also use a glass or bowl). Brush pastry circles with beaten egg & place a spoonful of apple filling in the center. Fold pastry over to form a half moon and pinch together; seal edges with a fork. Brush top of empanada with beaten egg and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. [Note: make these in batches, reserving unused pie crusts in refrigerator as you work; the empanadas hold their shape better in assembly when the pastry is cold.]
Bake at 375 degrees, on a parchment-lined baking sheet, until golden brown (about 15 -20 minutes). Yields approximately 30 empanadas.
*Of course, if you have the talent and time, homemade pastry would elevate this recipe to the next level. Although, the storebought crust was delicious - and fail safe. Great advice my mother once gave me is that not every aspect of a dish/meal must be homemade. So make the filling, buy the crust. Or buy the filling, make the pastry. Or, if you must, knock yourself out and make it all!