On the Side: Chicken-Apple Sausage

A few months ago I purchased a pound of ground chicken for the purpose of making homemade chicken sausage. But I couldn’t get it made in time, so I froze the meat until an opportune time. An opportune time arrived in the form of a long weekend with my husband and I dug out the recipe I’d planned to make. Served alongside some eggs and asparagus, these sausages were delicious. And since you’re making them yourself and know all the ingredients included, they are certainly healthier than your average sausage.

CHICKEN-APPLE SAUSAGE
(from The Simple Art of EatingWell)
Print This Recipe

2 teaspoons oil
1 small onion, diced
1 medium sweet apple, peeled and diced
1 pound ground chicken
1 Tablespoon of finely chopped fresh sage (or 1 tsp dry)
1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, chopped (optional)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add apples and cook, stirring, 2 more minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and cool for 5 minutes. Wipe out the pan.

Add chicken, sage, sugar, fennel (if using), salt and pepper to the bowl with the apples and onions. Gently mix to combine.

Generously coat the pan with cooking spray and heat over medium. Using a 1/3-cup measure, scoop 4 portions into the pan, flattening each into a 3-inch patty. Cook until the patties are browned and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side, adjust the heat as necessary to prevent burning. Coat the pan with cooking spray again and repeat with remaining sausage mixture.

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Crock-pot Cooking: Baked Maple Apples

I’ve been in a bit of a cooking rut lately. To try and unstuck myself, I’ve been checking out cookbooks from the library, reading favorite cooking blogs, perusing cooking magazines. This weeks cooking inspiration attempt is my crock-pot, helped out by the newly released cookbook, More Make if Fast, Cook it Slow, written by the crock-pot queen herself, Stephanie O’Dea.

Monday nights I get home from yoga around 7 p.m. I need something easy for supper. This week I knew I was serving leftovers, but I wanted a little something extra. So, I quickly put together these baked apples. And in two hours we had a nice little treat. Super easy and perfect alongside a meal, or as a lightly sweetened dessert.

We love cinnamon in our house, so I sprinkled these with cinnamon before baking. The orange juice added a bit of a tangy quality to the sauce. If you don’t prefer that, you might try substituting apple juice.

BAKED MAPLE APPLE HALVES
(from More Make it Fast, Cook it Slow)
Print This Recipe

2 large apples, cored and cut in half
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 c. orange juice
2 Tbsp maple syrup
Whipped cream, if desired

Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Put the apple halves into the bottom of the slow cooker, flesh-side up. In a small bowl, melt the butter in the microwave. Stir in the orange juice and maple syrup. Spoon the butter and syrup mixture evenly into the apple halves. Cover and cook on low for 2 to 3 hours, or on high for 1 to 2 hours. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.

Simple Suppers: Apple, Leek, and Cheddar Quiche

About a month ago, I made this Quiche for a quick Saturday night supper when my sister and her husband were in town.  It was incredible! Seriously, I took a bite and I think I complimented myself on the deliciousness.  And when I went to town this weekend I brought along some leeks for the express purpose of making this recipe for my parents.  And once again, everyone loved it!

I found the recipe in Recipes from the Root Cellar by Andrea Chesman. The first time I made the recipe I added chopped mushrooms and put it all in a pie crust. The second time, no mushrooms, no crust. Both times, delicious. So, that’s to say, the recipe is adaptable and easily made gluten-free.

APPLE, LEEK, AND CHEDDAR QUICHE
from Recipes from the Root Cellar
Print This Recipe

Pastry for a 9-inch or 10-inch single crust pie (favorite gf crust works great)
3 Tbsp butter
1 large leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 large apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
2 Tbsp flour (for gf: 2 Tbsp all-purpose gf flour, or 1 Tbsp corn starch)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 c. firmly packed grated sharp cheddar or smoked cheddar cheese
3-4 eggs
Milk or cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 375°.

Roll out and fit pastry crust into a 9- or 10-inch pie pan. Flute the edges

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the leek and saute until limp, about 3 minutes. Add the apple and saute until the leeks are tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour and thyme.

Sprinkle 1/2 c. of the cheese into the pie shell. Layer the leek mixture on top. Cover with remaining cheese. Beat the eggs in a glass measuring cup and add enough milk to make 1 1/2 cups. Season with salt and pepper. Pour over the pie filling.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until puffed and browned. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Weekend Fare: Baked Apples

This is a wonderful, healthy dessert. You can put these baked apples together quickly for unexpected company or enjoy them as an addition to fall brunch. They make your house smell wonderful!

BAKED APPLES
Print This Recipe

4 apples, washed and cored
1/2 c. dried fruit (I used cranberries & golden raisins)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tb. honey or brown sugar
1 Tb. butter, cut into quarters

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Score the side of the apple by gently running a knife all the way around the middle of it – through the skin.Place cored apples in a baking dish. In a separate bowl, combine the fruit, cinnamon, and honey. Stuff the fruit filling in the core of each apple. Top with 1/4 of the butter. Place 4 Tb. of water in the bottom of the pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, basting halfway through. Enjoy as is or top with caramel drizzle, yogurt, or whipped cream.

My Kitchen View

I’m getting back in the cooking groove. I had some apples starting to get a little soft, so I made a big batch of unsweetened applesauce and planned to freeze it but we’ve been eating it instead. It is probably one of my kids’ top favorite side dishes!

We recently enjoyed pasta with a homemade creamy tomato parmesan sauce.

I love apple season so we had Apple Crisp for Sunday dinner. Topped with vanilla ice cream, of course!

And I made a roast in the slow cooker cooke with apple cider.

Weekend Fare: Chicken Curry

We love international cuisine – even our kids enjoy ethnic foods. This is one of our favorite recipes. I served it over rice this time but our absolute favorite way is to have it over mashed sweet potatoes (mashed with a little plain yogurt, salt, and butter). Give it a try! The kids love that they can choose their own toppings.

CHICKEN CURRY
Print This Recipe

2 cooking apples, unpeeled, cored, and diced
1 lg. onion, finely chopped
1-2 Tb. curry powder (according to your taste)
2 Tbs. canola oil
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
2 c. chicken breast, cooked and diced (I bake it or boil it)
1 1/2 c. chicken broth

Sauté apple, onion, and curry powder in oil in skillet until tender and glazed. Season with salt and pepper. Add in cooked chicken and chicken broth and let simmer for 20-30 minutes. Serve over cooked brown rice or mashed sweet potatoes (try mashing with a little plain yogurt and salt). Top with raisins, craisins, pineapple tidbits, toasted chopped almonds, plain yogurt, and/or toasted coconut.

6 servings

Off The Shelf: River Cottage Family Cookbook

For those of you looking for a nice cookbook to give to a budding young cook in your family, let me suggest The River Cottage Family Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Fizz Carr.

What I love about this book is that it doesn’t attempt to water down cooking. It takes real recipes and real concepts and begins to teach children the very basics of cooking in a very inspiring way. I was so excited about the book when I first saw it that I ordered a copy for my then 8-year-old daughter and we immediately began reading and cooking from it.

Take a look at the contents: Flour, Milk, Eggs, Fruit, Vegetables, Fish & Shellfish, Meat, The Cupboard, Sugar & Honey, and Chocolate. Each chapter begins with an introduction, giving helpful information about the topic and how to use it. This is followed by numerous recipes. For instance, the chapter on Eggs talks about what an egg really is, how to crack and separate an egg, what does an egg white do and how to fold it into something, how to know an egg is fresh (it will sink in a bowl of water), and what kinds of eggs to use.

Now, have a look at the recipes included in the egg chapter: Custard, Pancakes, Soft-boiled eggs, Omelette, Eggy Bread (French Toast), Meringues, Sponge Cake, and Drop Scones. Each chapter is filled with beautiful, inspiring photos and easy-to-read type. And while this book hails from the UK, it has been translated into American English and cooking terms to make things easy!

Rachel and I decided to make the Baked Apples from the Fruit chapter. This is a simple recipe for a child to help make and the result is a delicious, comforting food on a cold winter night.

BAKED APPLES
(The River Cottage Family Cookbook)

butter
Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples, 1 per person (or use whatever apples you have)
soft brown or granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F. Smear a little butter over the inside of a baking dish.

With a sharp knife, carefully cut a line completely around the waist of each apple to give it a sort of thin belt. This stops the apple from exploding as the flesh foams and expands in the heat of the oven.

Remove core and seeds of each apple. Cut a small slice off te bottom of the apple so it will sit in the baking dish without rocking from side to side. Stand the apples in the dish slightly apart from each other, so they don’t join up and get stuck together while they cook.

Pour sugar into the well of each apple right up to the top. (At this point we stuck a few dried cranberries in with the sugar — raisins are good too!). Dot a generous knob of butter on top of the sugar. Spoon a tablespoon of water for each apple into the base of the dish.

Place the dish in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes (other varieties of apples may take longer). The apples should be puffy and the skin a little split. Stick a sharp knife into the flesh of the apple at the thickest part near the core. If the flesh feels hard, let the apples cook for 5 minutes longer. Turn the oven down a little if they are getting too brown.

Serve everyone an apple and a good spoonful of the delicious syrupy sauce poured over the top. Some people adore the skin of a baked apple; others prefer to push it to one side. But whatever you do, eat with plenty of cream, Greek yogurt, or English custard.

Off The Shelf: Apples

With our focus on apples this week, it is appropriate to highlight a few apple cookbooks.

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 My favorite was Apple Cookbook by Olwen Woodier. This book gives a history of apples and plenty of helpful information on cooking with apples before delving into the recipes.

Chapter titles include: Breakfast and Breads, Drinks and Snacks, Salads and Sides, Apples Make the Meal, Apple Pies and Cakes and Apple Desserts.

Thumbing through a book like this every so often reminds me just how much variety is possible with one ingredient. There are all the expected items: apple bread, apple crisp, apple pie, etc. But then you run across something like Apple Ratatouille or Curried Apple Meat Loaf and it makes you think. Even if you don’t fancy that particular recipe, it spurs your mind onto new horizons.

I decided to try Apple Pancakes. They were delicious, especially paired with real maple syrup and some sauteed pears I put on the side. The children gave them two thumbs up.

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APPLE PANCAKES

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 cups sour cream or 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt (I used yogurt)
1/4 cup apple juice or cider
1/4 cup sugar or honey (I used honey)
1/4 cup melted butter
2 eggs
2 medium apples (McIntosh, Golden Delicious, Empire)

Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl, blender, or food processor. Add the sour cream, apple juice, sugar, butter, and eggs. Beat or blend until smooth. The batter will be very thick. Allow the batter to rest for 30-60 minutes (I only had 15 minutes).

Core and grate the apples. Stir into the batter.

Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat and grease with approximately 1 teaspoon vegetable oil. Drop the batter onto the hot griddle a few tablespoons at a time (for large pancakes, measure 1/4 cup batter).

When bubbles appear on top, turn and brown the other side. (Note: these pancakes took a lot longer to cook than regular pancakes. Just make sure the inside is cooked before you remove it from the skillet!)

Yield: 4-6 servings

IMG_7300I also found it a mind-expanding exercise to look through Apple Pie Perfect by Ken Haedrich. While I tend to like my apple pie the same way each time, it was fun to imagine what it might be like to try an apple and pear pie, or an apple cheesecake pie, or maybe a maple apple pie. I did try the apple-raspberry pie and the taste combination was wonderful, although the method for making it seemed more complicated than it needed to be. I’ll be trying my own version next time.

 
IMG_7301Another book that just happened to cross my path is one entitled The Magic Apple Tree: A Country Year by Susan Hill. This is a sweet little memoir of seasonal life in the English countryside some thirty years ago. It is not a fast-paced book, but is filled with descriptions of nature, hearth and home, and local customs. It’s a book to read by the fire with a hot cup of cider.

 

 

Our Apple Treeby Naslund and Digman and The Apple Pie Tree by Hall and Halpern are two lovely childrens’ books that describe the life cycle of the apple tree and would be perfect to read to young ones at this time of the year.

Fall Seasonal Recipes

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This is the perfect punch to serve in the Fall or around Thanksgiving.

SPICED CIDER PUNCH

1 gallon fresh apple cider, divided
2 c. orange juice
2 liters sparkling water

At least 8 hours before serving, mull half the cider by placing it in a saucepan and adding mulling spices. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1-3 hours. Strain out the mulling spices and chill.

When ready to serve, combine mulled cider, plain cider, orange juice and sparkling water.

I made an ice ring using apple juice and fresh cranberries.

Serves 24.

ROMAN APPLE CAKE
(from More With Less)

IMG_7199

1 c. sugar
2 ¼ c. flour
¼ tsp. salt
3/8 tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. soda
½ tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
2/3 c. oil
2 eggs
2/3 c. milk
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
3 c. raw apples, peeled and chopped

 Crumb topping:
1 Tbsp. melted butter
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. flour
½ c. chopped nuts (optional)
¼ c. rolled oats

 Combine dry ingredients. Mix together oil, eggs, milk, and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until combined. Add chopped apples. Pour into greased and floured bundt pan or 9×13 pan or muffin tins. Cover with crumb topping. Bake 35-40 minutes (or until done) at 350.

ROASTED SQUASH AND SAUSAGE PASTA
Heather

IMG_3619

1 butternut squash
1 lb. fresh sausage (sweet Italian or Polish)
1 red onion
1 box whole wheat pasta
1 tsp. thyme
salt & pepper
oil
1 cup grated cheese
Peel and dice squash. Cut sausages into pieces (about 1.5 inches long). Chop onion. Combine onion, squash and sausage on a baking tray. Coat with oil, salt, pepper and thyme. Roast at 375F until squash is tender (about 1 hour.).
Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to box directions. Keep warm. When squash is cooked, add to pasta and throw in a few handfuls of grated cheese.
Serves 4-6.
 
PEAR-ALMOND CAKE with CHOCOLATE CHUNKS
(from Everyday with Rachael Ray, September 2009)
Alaina
IMG_7705
1 c. flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. granulated sugar, divided
2 lg. eggs plus 1 egg white, divided
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 lg. pears, peeled, cored, & thinly sliced*
1/2 c. chocolate chunks (I used semi-sweet chocolate chips)
1/2 c. blanched almonds, sliced (I used whole, raw and chopped them myself)
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan, line with parchment paper, grease the paper, then flour the pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together 3/4 c. granulated sugar and the 2 eggs until pale yellow, 1 t0 2 minutes, whisk in the butter. Stir into the flour mixture until just combine. Pour half of the batter into the prepare pan and top with half of the pear slices and half of the chocolate; repeat with the remaining batter, pears, and chocolate.

Using the food processor (or a blender), finely grind 1/4 almonds with the remaining 1/4 c. sugar. Add the egg white and process until smooth. Drizzle over the cake and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 c. almonds. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Let cool slightly, then dust with confectioners’ sugar.
Serves 8 – Enjoy! It’s delicious!

*Bananas were suggested as a substitute.