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Wise apples: Distinctive dishes to dazzle Thanksgiving guests

Apple brie melt
(Family Features)

Entertaining guests for Thanksgiving isn’t just about the main course that calls all to the table. What often makes a festive gathering more fruitful is a spread of delicious appetizers, delightful drinks and divine desserts that keep loved ones coming back to the kitchen for more.

For appetizing dishes for the first guest at the house to the last out the door, you can heighten the flavor and appearance of favorite recipes with one simple ingredient: apples.

Ranging from tart to sugary sweet, finding the right balance for your palate is key. Scent also can influence taste, especially when you have a balanced sweetness with an uplifting, fresh aroma.

Turn to an option like apples this Thanksgiving for satisfying texture and taste with a consistently balanced, refreshing sweetness coupled with a crisp crunch. They make for an easy snack when eaten fresh out of hand but also are perfect for pre-dinner appetites in small plates such as apple brie melt or apple stuffing bites with rosemary gravy.

The versatile flavor of apples isn’t just limited to food, however. For the adults in the room, pumpkin spice apple cider with a splash of bourbon is a seasonally appropriate way to quench thirst and break the ice. For a kid-friendly version, simply omit the bourbon so the whole party can savor a sip.

Apples offer an easy, eye-catching way to try new tastes and celebrate joyful occasions. The white flesh is naturally slow to brown when sliced for a fresher flavor in sweet treats like apple oat crumble and citrus caramel topping for a tasty way to elevate your holiday get-together.

Recipes

Apple oat crumble and citrus caramel topping

Apple oat crumble and citrus caramel topping
(Family Features)

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 apples, diced into large cubes

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup cold butter, diced small

1/2 cup caramel

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 orange, zest only

1 tablespoon orange juice

vanilla ice cream

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, stir together sugar and ground cinnamon.

Toss apples in lemon juice, then in cinnamon sugar mixture. Spread in a 9-inch pie dish.

In another bowl, stir together brown sugar, flour and oats. Using hands or a fork, cut in butter until pea-size crumbs form. Sprinkle evenly over apples.

Bake 40-45 minutes until mixture is bubbling and golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool 15 minutes.

In a small pot, whisk caramel, salt, orange zest and orange juice until warm.

Spoon apple oat crumble over a large scoop of vanilla ice cream and top with salted citrus caramel.

Apple stuffing bites with rosemary gravy

Apple stuffing bites with rosemary gravy
(Family Features)

Ingredients:

1 box stuffing

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups diced apples

1/2 onion, diced small

Gravy:

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups beef broth

2 teaspoons kosher salt

20 turns fresh cracked pepper

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary

Instructions:

Preheat broiler.

Cook stuffing according to package directions; set aside and allow to cool slightly.

In a large sauté pan, melt butter and sauté apples and onion until tender. Set aside to cool slightly.

Stir together stuffing and apple mixture. Spread stuffing on a sheet tray and allow to cool in the refrigerator.

After cooling, form stuffing into medium bites and place on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper.

Broil bites until golden brown and slightly crispy.

To make gravy:

In a small pot, melt butter and whisk in flour. Cook flour one minute, whisking frequently.

Whisk in beef broth, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Remove from heat and stir in rosemary. If desired, continue gently simmering gravy to thicken.

Arrange stuffing bites on a serving dish and drizzle with gravy. Serve hot.

Pumpkin spice apple cider

Pumpkin spice apple cider
(Getty Images)

Ingredients:

1 apple, diced

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon pumpkin spice

2 ounces bourbon

4 ounces pumpkin spice apple cider

demerara sugar

apple slices, for garnish

rosemary, for garnish

cinnamon stick, for garnish

Instructions:

In a pan over medium heat, sauté diced apples in butter and pumpkin spice for five to 10 minutes.

In a glass, combine bourbon and pumpkin spice apple cider. Top with sautéed apples.

Add demerara sugar, then garnish with apple slices, rosemary and cinnamon stick.

Apple brie melt

Ingredients:

1 round brie cheese (6-8 ounces)

2 apples

1/4 cup walnuts

1/4 cup dried cranberries

firm crackers

Instructions:

Unwrap brie and place on a microwave-safe dish. Cut off the top of the brie round and microwave 60 seconds until the middle is soft.

Slice apples into thick wedges.

Top brie with half the apples, crushed walnuts and dried cranberries.

Serve with firm crackers and remaining apple wedges. ◆