‹ News Releases

Amateur cooks win with unique recipes in MAC contest


March 3, 2015

CONTACT:  Diane Smith



LANSING, Mich. — Amateur cooks from all over the United States entered their favorite apple dish in Michigan Apple Committee’s amateur recipe contest, held from December 2014 to January 2015. Entries were judged based on taste, originality, preparation and apple significance.

Winners of the contest will receive a KitchenAid® Mixer. They are, in no particular order:

Smoked Bacon Wrapped Gala Apples – Sherri Williams of Crestview, Florida
Apple Sausage Stuffed Shells – Mary Marlowe Leverette of Columbia, South Carolina
Salted Caramel Apple Breakfast Bake – Martha Laviolette of South Rockwood, Michigan 

For the first time this year there is also an honorable mention who will receive a Michigan Apples gift basket. The honorable mention is Tart and Tangy Bacon Apple Turkey 3-Cheese Panini with Michigan Apple Chutney – Ann Jones of Geneva, Illinois. 

“We appreciate the creativity of these great cooks and bakers, and all of those who submitted recipes,” said Diane Smith, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee. “They help us to showcase the remarkable versatility of Michigan Apples. They can be used in so many different applications.”

The 2014 Michigan Apple Committee Amateur Recipe Contest was open to amateur bakers and cooks 18 years of age and older, in 23 states. MAC, with help from culinary experts, selected the top three recipes. Check the Michigan Apples Website to view the winning recipes.

The Michigan Apple Committee is a grower-funded nonprofit organization devoted to marketing, education and research activities to distinguish the Michigan apple and encourage its consumption in Michigan and around the world. For more information, visit www.MichiganApples.com.

Smoked Bacon Wrapped Gala Apples

1 tablespoon maple sugar
1/2 teaspoon bourbon smoked sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 Gala apples
4 slices thick bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil, extra virgin

1/4 cup apple juice
2 tablespoons red apple balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil, extra virgin
2-3 pinch bourbon smoked sea salt

1.  Combine sugar, salt, pepper and cinnamon in a small mixing bowl.
2.  Brush bacon wrapped apples with olive oil and sprinkle with maple sugar mixture.
3.  Smoke apples for 2 1/2-3 hours in a 250 degree smoker. Baste every 30 minutes or so with basting sauce. Garnish with chopped parsley.
4.  You can substitute brown sugar for the maple sugar and substitute maple bacon slices for the regular bacon slices if you wish.

Apple Sausage Stuffed Shells

12 large pasta shells, prepared according to package directions
1 pound sweet Italian sausage
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, cooked and well drained
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
3 Michigan Northern Spy apples, peeled and grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
6 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups apple juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove sausage meat from casings and brown in a heavy skillet on medium heat for 10 minutes, break into small pieces. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a mixing bowl. Save drippings. In mixing bowl, add spinach, 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, apples, egg and nutmeg and mix well. Divide evenly between pasta shells and place in a single layer in lightly oiled 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Make sauce by mixing flour into 2 tablespoons of sausage drippings in skillet. Stir together well over medium heat until flour is lightly browned, then add water, apple juice and salt and pepper. Cook until slightly thickened. Pour over stuffed shells. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, about 30 minutes or until bubbly. Serves 4-6.

Salted Caramel Apple Breakfast Bake

1 loaf French bread, cut into chunks, including crust
3 cups peeled, cored Michigan apples of mixed variety, chopped (I use McIntosh/Fuji/Gala)
8 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups half and half (or cream)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 stick butter
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar, mixed with 1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)

Caramel Sauce:
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon salt (or a pinch more, if using unsalted butter)

In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes and apples and lightly toss to mix. Mix together eggs, half and half and extracts and pour over the bread/apple mixture. Let stand for a few minutes to allow the bread to soak up the egg mixture. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the brown sugar to melt. Add the nuts. Place the soaked bread/apples into a greased 13 x 9 casserole dish and pour the butter mixture all over the top of it. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.

While this is baking, prepare the caramel sauce. Place the sugar into a medium-sized saucepan and stir continuously while it melts. It will look like it is not right at first; it will look clumpy. But, then it will turn into a dark brown, thick liquid. (I suggest using a wooden spoon for this.) Add the butter. It will bubble up, so be careful. Stir butter in until completely melted. Drizzle in the cream and stir. Boil this for one minute, the turn off the heat and add in the salt. Set aside until just warm and the bread is done. When bread is done, remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes. Pour warm caramel sauce over the bread and serve. (If you have caramel sauce left, store in the refrigerator for another use.)

Tart and Tangy Bacon Apple Turkey 3-Cheese Panini with Michigan Apple Chutney

2 slices (1/2-inch-thick) sourdough bread
2 tablespoons Michigan Apple Chutney, recipe follows
1 ounce sliced extra sharp white cheddar 
1 ounce grated Gruyere cheese
1 ounce sliced smoked Gouda cheese
2 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked crisp
2 ounces honey-roasted deli turkey breast, sliced thin
1/2 Michigan Apple, cored, sliced thin (suggest an Ida Red or Honeycrisp) 


Preheat a seasoned grill pan or griddle over medium heat. To assemble, spread 1 slice of bread with 1 tablespoon Michigan Apple Chutney, then top with Cheddar, half of the Gruyere, bacon, turkey, apple slices, remaining Gruyere, Gouda, finishing with another tablespoon of the chutney spread on the other slice of bread. Butter the outsides of the bread and transfer to the hot grill. Grill about 3 minutes per side, using a sandwich press. I cover with a dome or metal mixing bowl the last couple minutes to help melt and warm the interior of the sandwich.

Yield: 1 serving

Michigan Apple Chutney:
2 Michigan apples, cored, peeled and chopped (recommend 1 Golden Delicious and 1 Honeycrisp)
1 purple or red plum, peeled, pit removed and chopped
2 tablespoons diced onion 
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup Michigan Apple cider
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage

To make the chutney, combine all Chutney ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until soft apples start to break down and thicken.  (I use a potato masher for a smoother consistency.) Remove from heat and cool slightly.