Celebrations are common in July. American Independence Day is celebrated each July 4th, and that momentous occasion lays the foundation for a month-long celebration of Americana.

Since the United States first gained its independence from Great Britain, many things have been described as representing the best of American culture. Rock-n-roll music and baseball have long been deemed “as American as apple pie,” but how did apple pie come to be synonymous with America?

Few fruits have been associated more with America than the apple, due in large part to John Chapman, affectionately known as Johnny Appleseed. Chapman was born in Massachusetts during the Revolutionary War. Chapman’s father fought in the war, then survived to return home to farm and teach his son the family business. The younger Chapman is said to have spent 40 years clearing land and planting apple seeds in Midwestern states. Apples thrived and became important foods for early settlers. Apples were easy to grow and store for use throughout the year, plus they were – and still are – versatile fruits that can be used in many different recipes.

Apple pie is a popular dish made from apples, but a close cousin to pie – turnovers – can be just as delicious. Turnovers are handheld desserts made with many of the same ingredients as pie. They are small pastries made by covering one half of a piece of dough with filling, folding the other half over on top, and then sealing the edges. Apple turnovers can be a sweet treat for July 4th barbecues or other events this summer. Enjoy this recipe, courtesy of PillsburyTM.

Easy Apple Turnovers

Serves 4

11/2 cups thinly sliced, peeled apples (roughly 11/2 medium-sized apple)

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 box Pillsbury® refrigerated pie crusts

1 egg

1. In a 2-quart saucepan, mix apples, brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of the water and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until bubbly. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender.

2. In a small bowl, mix flour, granulated sugar and salt. Gradually stir into apple mixture, cooking and stirring until mixture thickens. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Cool 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, heat oven to 350 F. Let pie crust pouch stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.

4. Remove pie crust from pouch; unroll crust on ungreased cookie sheet. Spoon cooled fruit mixture evenly onto half of crust to within 1/2 inch of edge.

5. In a small bowl, beat egg and 1 tablespoon water; brush over edge of crust. Fold untopped half of crust over apple mixture; firmly press edge to seal. Flute edge; cut small slits in several places in top crust. Brush top with remaining egg mixture.

6. Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Serve warm or cool. Drizzle with icing, if desired.

Expert tips: Tart apples, such as Granny Smith or McIntosh, make flavorful pies. Braeburn or Gala apples provide good texture and a slightly sweeter flavor.