after coming home last week with 6 (six!!!) full bags of apples from our apple picking adventure in connecticut, i realized that despite my lack of creativity in the kitchen, i really should be able to do more than just an apple pie or apple crisp this fall for my family. our friend kelsey nixon, who happens to be one very talented chef here in new york city, kindly showed me 4 fun and simple toddler friendly apple recipes! kelsey covers a breakfast, lunch, and dinner dish below plus the sweetest little dessert! i want her to just move into my kitchen permanently and whip this stuff up all the time, or better yet, maybe all of us can just move into her kitchen (because isn’t that space just gorgeous?) thank you again kelsey, and hope these might be helpful to a few of you as well!
Here is what Kelsey says:
One of the greatest things about early fall is apple picking. It’s become a tradition for many and if you’re like most families, you end up coming home with more apples than you know what to do with! You can only bake so many apple crisps and dip apple slices into peanut butter for so long before you end up staring at your heap of apples trying to not feel guilty that you might not get through them all! We’ve all been there. To make the most of your hand picked delicious apples, I’ve come up with a few recipes that include apples for every meal of the day (including dessert!). The best part is that everyone in the family will love these recipes – especially your toddlers!
Breakfast – Spiced Apple Pear Butter
As a parent of a toddler, I make a lot of toast! It’s a frequent request from my little guy and we particularly love spreading this rich and delicious apple butter on crispy toast or bagels in the morning. It’s similar to applesauce, but the biggest difference is that apple butter is cooked longer and slower than traditional applesauce which allows the sugar in the apples to caramelize, turning the apple butter a deep brown color. Not only does this produce a wonderful flavor, but the concentration of the sugar gives it a much longer shelf life making it a perfect spread to keep in your fridge to get you through the fall months. The best part is that this long and slow cooking process is done in your slow cooker, making it super easy! See the full recipe here.
Lunch – Grilled Apple, Bacon, Cheddar Sandwich
What kid or adult doesn’t love a warm grilled cheese sandwich for lunch?! This classic sandwich with a twist is the perfect combination of flavors – apple, cheddar, bacon, and mustard. It may sound a little crazy, but when all of that goodness ends up into between two slices of bread, you’ve got a match made in heaven. In way it’s like a grown up grilled cheese that still excites the kiddos! See the full recipe here or find it in my cookbook Kitchen Confidence.
Dinner – Pork & Apple Meatballs over Buttered Egg Noodles
One of my favorite ways to incorporate apples with savory flavors is using pork – the sweet and rich flavors play really well with one another. My homemade meatballs were begging for a makeover and a grated tart apple seemed like a fun addition to the ground pork base. While these started out as an experiment, we quickly realized that they are terribly addicting in the best kind of way. Watch out or your toddler may just swipe the meatballs from your own plate! These were so easy to put together, a formal recipe isn’t even required. Simply combine 1 lb. ground pork, 1 tart apple (peeled and grated), 1/2 white onion (grated), 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs, 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, and 1 large egg in a mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper. Mix to combine but avoid over-mixing. Once combined, portion into golfball sized meatballs on a lined baking sheet. Transfer to an oven on low broil and bake for 8-10 minutes or until they start to turn golden brown on top. Serve over buttered egg noodles tossed with grated parmesan cheese and a little chopped parsley.
Dessert – Caramel Apple Bites
An entire caramel apple is definitely too much for a toddler to handle, but there’s something about the nostalgia of a caramel apple that’s fun to enjoy as a family. These itty bitty caramel apple bites are not only fun to eat, they’re also really fun to make! Pick out your largest apples and using a melon baller or a metal 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon, scoop out an apple ball from your big apple. A large apple should yield about 8 apple bites. You can use your favorite homemade caramel recipe or simply melt down the wrapped caramels that you find in stores this time of year to create a caramel sauce perfect for dipping. Insert a toothpick (with a dull end on the opposite side preferably) and dip your apple bites into the warm caramel sauce. Transfer the bites to a baking sheet lined with wax paper to cool before enjoying.
What’s your favorite unexpected way to incorporate apples into your cooking this time of year?
All photos by Kylie Whiting.