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A new twist on a traditional holiday recipe


Everyone loves traditional holiday fare—mom’s stuffing, grandma’s sugar cookies, or that best-kept secret recipe that keeps friends and family coming back for more. But where does tradition end and boring begin?

This holiday season, if you’re looking for unique twists on traditional family recipes, or are looking for something entirely new to introduce into your holiday menu, you’re not alone.

In fact, many families are looking to wholesome ingredients as a way to add flavor and healthfulness to their holiday meals and baked goods.

One way to steal the culinary spotlight is with California raisins, which bring natural sweetness to a multitude of seasonal dishes, from indulgent confections to savory main courses.

“The versatility of raisins is endless,” said Larry Blagg, senior vice president of marketing for the California Raisin Marketing Board. “Because they are an all-natural, dried-by-the-sun fruit with no added sugar, California Raisins add nutritious sweetness to any holiday meal or favorite dessert.”

In addition to their wide range of uses in holiday cooking, California raisins are also the most economical dried fruit, making them one purchase this season that won’t break the bank. For a fresh take on holiday staples that are sure to become new traditions in your household, try this delicious recipe, or look for other holiday recipe ideas at

Blue Ribbon raisin apple hand-held pies

Servings: 16 individual pies

Raisin apple filling:

1 1/2 cups chopped tart apples

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons water

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

3/4 cup California raisins

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon granulated white sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Pinch ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Blue ribbon pastry:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon white granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks

1/3 cup vegetable shortening

4-5 tablespoons cold water

Egg wash:

1 egg

Pinch of salt

For filling, combine apples, brown sugar, water, lemon juice and raisins in 2-quart saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes until apples are just tender. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix flour, sugar, salt and spices together well, and add liquid from cooking apples to make slurry. Then, add all to pan with apples and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until thickened; about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla and butter. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile for pastry, measure flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon into large bowl and with pastry blender, fork or two knives, cut in butter and shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing after each addition until flour is moist and dough just holds together. Turn onto lightly floured surface; knead together and shape into flattened disk. Divide into 4 equal pieces; wrap separately in plastic wrap or wax paper and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F. On lightly floured surface, roll out pastry dough, one piece at a time, and cut each piece into 4 small rounds with 3 1/2- or 4-inch cookie cutter. Place 1 scant tablespoon filling just below center on each piece; moisten edges and fold over, sealing edges with fork. Arrange on baking sheet and prick tops of each hand-held pie in several places with fork or cut one small slit with sharp knife. Beat 1 egg with pinch of salt for egg wash and brush onto pies. Bake at 375°F for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned. Cool and serve.

Note: McIntosh apples recommended.