It’s been very quiet here on the blog for the last month, so I thought I should give you an update. The kids started school several weeks ago: one in-person and the other via distance learning. The distance learner has now transitioned to a part-time hybrid schedule and since each kid is on a different schedule and the school is in the city, I’m spending a large part of my days in the car driving to and fro. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the need to be flexible and to roll with the punches.
I won’t bore you with the details of my children’s various educational models because the big, and far more exciting news of the month is this: we adopted another Belgian Malinois, our third!
My husband has a soft spot in his heart for these dogs, having worked with them for many years in his professional life, so two weekends ago, he and our son drove down to El Paso, Texas to pick her up. To say we were surprised at her condition is an understatement, actually we were shocked by the shape she was in. Her story is that which you might see on one of those tear-jerking ASPCA commercials. She spent her entire life chained and abused in someone’s backyard and came to us near starvation. Really it was as if she was nothing but two timid eyes staring out from beneath a pile of fur and bones. When we got her home, we found that she still had sutures in her stomach from a surgery in June which no one bothered to have removed. She had missing and broken teeth, a sore paw, and she had never been inside a house before. Needless to say, we’re approaching training as if she were a puppy – starting with the most essential: house breaking and kennel training – and going at her own pace, trying to remember what she’s been through when we get frustrated. She’s learning by leaps and bounds and the amount of weight she’s gained in just a week’s time is unreal. We named her Lita and I will share photos as she becomes less camera-shy.
A few days after the guys came home from Texas, the weather began to change. I didn’t really believe it would snow – wishful thinking, I suppose – but on Tuesday night the winds picked up and we woke to the howling of a summer snowstorm. This kind of weather is bizarre even by Colorado standards, and it makes me crave the warm spices of fall.
With all the changes happening around us, I felt we all needed something warm and soothing and that’s where these apples come in. Baked apples are a classic, comforting dessert. I stuff mine with oatmeal which makes them feel just a bit more healthy and nourishing (that is, if you don’t count the Calvados with which they’re doused right before baking). On any other day, I might top the apples with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, but considering I was craving spice, I made a cinnamon and brown sugar ice cream instead. It’s a recipe that I’ve had in my back pocket for a while, just waiting for the right moment to share. It goes so perfectly with these baked apples.
I hope that you’ll love these two recipes as much as we do. And now that we’re settling into a new routine, I have many more autumn-inspired recipes to share here on Cerise Chérie.
Cinnamon Ice Cream
- 1 cup milk
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp finely ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2 cups heavy cream
Be sure the bowl of your ice cream maker is well-frozen before starting.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and salt until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the cream. Place the mixture in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to let the flavours marry.
When ready to churn, pour into the ice cream maker and process for 20 minutes. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer safe dish. Cover and place in the freezer until firm.
Baked Apples with Calvados and Spices
- 4 large, crisp apples (Fuji or Honeycrisp)
- 1/4 cup oats (old fashioned or quick)
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves
- 4 tsp butter (plus more for greasing the pan)
- 4 tsp Calvados
- 1-2 TBSP water
Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C) and butter a baking dish large enough to fit the four apples snuggly.
Cut the tops off the apples. Using a melon baller, scoop out the apple cores, leaving the base intact.
In a small bowl, mix together the oatmeal, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. Use a teaspoon to place the filling inside the cavity of each apple, packing it firmly. Place the apples in the pan and pour a teaspoon of Calvados over each apple, letting it soak down into the sugar and oats. Top each apple with a teaspoon of butter.
Pour 1-2 tablespoon of water into the bottom of the pan. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover. Baste the apples with the juice in the bottom of the pan. Return to the oven and bake an additional 25-30 minutes, until the apples are tender when pierced with a knife. Allow apples to cool slightly before serving
To serve, place a cooled apple in a bowl and top with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream.