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Mid-Week Winner

A few weeks ago, I was looking for some inspiration. I was in the mood for fall food, and I needed some fast, easy meals. I pulled several issues of Everyday Food off the shelf and started leafing through the pages. Nothing seemed to catch my attention until I hit page 44 of the September 2012 issue. (And this is why I hang on to my cooking magazines. If I’d recycled that one, we’d have missed dinner!) At a glance, it looked like something that I could make without going to the grocery store. The recipe also promised one-dish ease, something I am always down with. 🙂

I swapped the sweet potatoes for carrots, since that’s what we had from our CSA. One orange vegetable is as good as another, right? I decided that no roast is complete without onions, and some fresh thyme seemed like the perfect complement to the fall flavors. And while the recipe called for a roasting pan, I saw no reason not to use my favorite skillet.

I was amazed at how incredibly easy this was to throw together. I made it the evening before we left for our most recent adventure (a backpacking trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore), and I had enough time to make dinner, make cookies for the trip AND pack my backpack. Win-win.

ci-pork-roast

Cast Iron Pork Roast with Apples, Onions and Carrots

4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 2-1/2 lb. pork roast
3 Gala apples, quartered and cored
3 medium-large carrots, cut into 2-3″ chunks
1 red onion, cut into wedges
2 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 to 1-1/2 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 475°. Coat the bottom of a cast iron skillet with two teaspoons of olive oil. Place the pork roast in the center of the pan, fat side up, and generously season it with salt and pepper.

Roast until the top of the pork is golden, about 15-20 minutes.

While the pork is roasting, toss the apples, carrots and onion together in a large bowl with the remaining two teaspoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove the pork from the oven and place the vegetables in the pan around the pork. Sprinkle the thyme on top of the vegetables and pork. Return the pan to the oven and roast until the vegetables are tender and the pork registers 140°, about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven.

Let the pork rest for 10 minutes on a cutting board, and scoop the vegetables into a bowl. Place the pan on a burner over medium heat. Whisk 1 tablespoon of flour into the drippings and cook for a couple of minutes. Slowly whisk the chicken stock into the roux and cook, whisking constantly, until the pan sauce has thickened.

Slice the pork roast, then return the meat and vegetables to the pan, coating them with the pan sauce. Serve immediately.

Adapted from Everyday Food Magazine, September 2012

Click here for a printable version.

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Posted by on October 14, 2016 in Main Dishes

 

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Too Good To Be Seasonal

I know, I know. This post is six months too late or too early, depending on your perspective. But really, who says you can only enjoy stuffing on the fourth Thursday of November?

It may be a seasonal dish for some people, but it’s one of my favorite things. I love it in all forms (although I wish people would stop filling it with mushrooms), and I’m not ashamed to admit that even the Stove Top variety holds a special place in my heart. In fact, my cousin and I do our very best to eat the entire bowl each Thanksgiving.

Turns out, one of my favorite bloggers agrees with me, and when I saw her recipe, I knew that I just had to try it. And once we tried it, I knew there was no way we’d only eat it one day a year.

It’s easy to make, and it goes well with practically everything. I’ve added sausage (per Deb’s note at the bottom of the recipe) and called it dinner. (I’m sure I served it with a salad for balance, of course.) It’s a great way to use up the stray pieces of celery that get lost in the bottom of the crisper drawer (or the apple that’s on its last legs). And, thanks to my ever-growing cast iron obsession, I realized that I could make it in my  skillet, save a dish and have it look pretty at the table (or on the kitchen counter).

AppleHerbStuffing

OK, so it’s technically dressing, since it’s not “stuffed” in anything before baking. Potato, potah-to. 😉

Apple Herb Stuffing

6 cups of torn bread chunks, I typically use French bread
4-5 tablespoons unsalted butter (4 if you’re baking the stuffing in a cast-iron skillet; 5 if you need to prepare a separate baking dish)
1 large onion, sweet if you have one, regular if not, finely chopped
1 large stalk of celery, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (or a scant 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/2 teaspoon table salt, plus more to taste
fresh ground black pepper
1 large or 2 small tart apples, peeled and finely diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 fresh sage leaves, minced, or a generous pinch dried sage
1/2 chicken stock
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 350° and make sure that the oven rack is in the center position.

Place the bread cubes in a single layer on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the bread is lightly golden, about 15-20 minutes, stirring every so often. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool while you prepare the rest of the stuffing.

If using a separate baking dish, butter a one-quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter. If you plan to bake your stuffing in the same pan that you’ll cook the vegetables in, skip this step. (Cast iron for the win! We are all about streamlining things over here. Ha!)

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a 10″ skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the celery and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the apple to the skillet and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

Place the bread in a large mixing bowl and scrape the contents of the skillet on top of the crumbs. Whisk the egg and 1/2 cup of stock together in a glass measuring cup and pour it over the bread crumb mixture. Stir in the parsley and sage and mix until just combined.

If you’re baking the stuffing in your already-prepared baking dish, spoon / scrape the stuffing into your baking dish. If you’re baking it in your skillet, spoon / scrape the stuffing back into the skillet. (Deb notes that you can add an extra 1/2 cup of chicken stock if you think it looks dry, and you can also let the stuffing rest, if you’re prepping it as part of larger meal. I’ve never done either.) 

Bake, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes, or until the stuffing is golden brown on top and no liquid shows when you poke it with a knife. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

From Smitten Kitchen

Click here for a printable version.

 

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2016 in Side Dishes

 

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Apple Butter In My Muffins

A couple of years ago, I started using the crockpot to make apple butter. It was an easy solution for the hundreds of apples we brought home from the orchard, and it makes the house smell incredible. Plus, it cooks while I sleep, and then I store the apple butter in the freezer. That’s a win-win in my world.

My apple butter usually winds up on biscuits or in baked brie, but when Andy requested muffins for a work potluck, I decided to see if anyone had ever put apple butter in the muffins before they baked, rather than on the muffins afterwards.

A few seconds later, Google came back with more than four million results. (Further proof that there’s nothing new left under the sun.) After skimming the first few items (does anyone really get past the first page of search results?), I narrowed it down to two choices. And from there, I simply went with the one that had the streusel topping. Although, I would have preferred a recipe that had the apple butter mixed into the batter, instead of spooned into the center. Maybe I’ll experiment with that someday.

Like any good muffin recipe, these came together quickly and easily. After all, if I’m going to spend hours in the kitchen, I’m going to make something fancier than muffins. I decided to skip the glaze (mostly because I was feeling lazy), and while I’m sure it would be fantastic, you can’t miss what you don’t know. The muffin itself isn’t overly sweet, but the apple butter and the streusel make up for it. And then I don’t feel like I’m completing negating my evening bike ride by eating one. (Please don’t tell me if that’s not true, OK? Ignorance is bliss.) 😉

AppleButterMuffins

 

Apple Butter Muffins
Makes about 16 standard-sized muffins

For the muffins: 
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt.
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup apple butter (I didn’t actually measure this out. I just scooped spoonfuls from the jar.) 

For the streusel topping:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup walnuts
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 425. Line a muffin pan with liners and set aside.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together in a small bowl. Whisk to combine.

In a large bowl, beat the egg, milk and vegetable oil together until combined. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and gently mix until the ingredients are just combined. (Don’t overmix!) 

To make the topping, use your now-empty dry-ingredients bowl and stir the flour, cinnamon, brown sugar walnuts together. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter until the mixture is well-blended.

Place a heaping teaspoon of the muffin batter in the bottom of the prepared muffin cups, and then place a heaping teaspoon of apple butter on top of the muffin batter. Sprinkle a hearty pinch of streusel on top of the apple butter, and then top the streusel with another heaping teaspoon of batter. When all of the muffin cups are filled and the batter is gone, top the muffins with the remaining streusel.

Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 375 degrees. Bake for another 15 minutes, or until muffins are golden brown and test done with a toothpick. Remove the muffins from the oven and allow them to cool on a wire rack before serving.

From Tastes of Lizzy T’s

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2015 in Breads, Muffins & Rolls

 

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Fall Wonderfulness (a.k.a. Our Apple Crisp)

Last weekend, Andy and I picked 130 pounds of apples. Yes, 130 pounds. Clearly, we have zero restraint around fruit. (After all, we’re the same people who picked 50 pounds of strawberries and bought 30 pounds of blueberries earlier this year.) Thank goodness that apples have a pretty long shelf life. And while a lot of those apples will end up in sauce, a fair amount of them will wind up in Andy’s other favorite* dessert: apple crisp.

Over the last seven years, we’ve refined our process and created the perfect system for cranking out batches of crisp. Andy peels, cores and slices the apples. While he’s busy filling the baking pan, I mix up the crumb topping. (Yes, I clearly have the better end of the deal. Don’t tell him though.) Once the pan is full, I toss the apples in cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle on the topping. If we time it right, I can mix up a batch of crumb topping while I’m prepping dinner, which means that the crisp goes in the oven just as we’re sitting down to eat. The result is warm apple crisp for dessert, and if Andy’s lucky, there’ll be vanilla ice cream to go with it. 😀

AppleCrisp

*His favorite, right after vanilla bean ice cream and chocolate chip cookies, anyway.

I’ve made this more times than I can count, and this is the first time I’ve bothered to write down the recipe. This is another one of those recipes that I do by “feel” – if it looks like it needs more oatmeal, brown sugar or cinnamon, I add some. Feel free to do the same. 🙂 

Apple Crisp 

8-10 cups of sliced apples
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
1 cup old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375. Spread the apple slices in a 9″ x 13″ baking pan. Sprinkle the granulated sugar and about 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon on the apples. Gently stir to combine.

In a medium bowl, mix the oats, flour, brown sugar and remaining cinnamon. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the oat mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the apples. Sprinkle with extra cinnamon if desired.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the apples are tender and the topping is golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve warm or at room temperature.

Barely adapted from A Taste of the Country, Fifth Edition

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2014 in Dessert

 

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Muffins to the Rescue!

Sometimes, I feel like I’m caught in a mad race against time with my produce. The lettuce is wilting in the fridge!  The peaches are seconds away from dissolving into a syrupy mess on the counter! The cilantro has turned black! NOW. IS. THE. TIME. TO. PANIC. AHHHH!!! (Over-dramatic? Who, me? Never.) 

These muffins were made in one of those produce-induced panics. The apples were moments away from turning into applesauce in the fruit bowl, so it was either bake or send them to the trash can. I do my best to avoid pitching food, so “to bake” it was. This happened a few days before Thanksgiving, and since Thanksgiving means a road trip for us, I decided that muffins would be a good solution to my apple problems. After all, muffins are portable and individually packaged – perfect road food, right?

Karen suggested her apple muffins, and while I know they would have been good (and MUCH healthier than these!), I didn’t have several of the ingredients. So, to AllRecipes.com I went, and came up with this recipe. It came together quickly (a plus, as I had about 15 other things on my to-do list that night) and featured pantry staples. As I mixed up the batter, I noticed that the recipe didn’t have any spices in it – what kind of “apple pie” is this? I added cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. I also left off the crumb topping – mostly because I felt like the muffins were already sweet enough. Surprisingly enough, we didn’t miss it at all. (Guess that goes to show that you can’t miss what you don’t know!) 

http://images3a.snapfish.com/232323232%7Ffp734%3A4%3Enu%3D326%3B%3E498%3E257%3EWSNRCG%3D386669769%3B32%3Cnu0mrj

They may not be the flashiest muffins, but they sure did hit the spot halfway through our road trip!

Apple Pie Muffins

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
pinch of cloves
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk (I subbed milk with lemon juice this time.) 
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 cups diced apples

Preheat oven to 375. Line muffin tins with paper liners. (I ended up with 20 muffins, but I think the original recipe had me overfill the tins. You might be able to get 24 muffins out of this.)

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Meanwhile, in another bowl, combine the butter and brown sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Stir the egg, buttermilk and vanilla into the sugar mixture.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour the wet ingredients and the apple chunks into the well. Gently fold the wet ingredients and the apples into the flour mixture, being careful not to over-mix.

Fill the muffin wells two-thirds of the way full. Bake until muffins test done with a toothpick, about 25 minutes. Let cool in pans 10 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

Adapted from AllRecipes.com

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2012 in Breads, Muffins & Rolls

 

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Apple Pie a la Mode, Sort Of

Nothing’s better than a slice of warm apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, right? (Okay, so the pie COULD be strawberry, but since berries aren’t in season, just go with me on this one, okay? It’s apple time around here.) How about apple pie and vanilla ice cream all blended together in sweet, cinnamon-and-vanilla-bean-spiked awesomeness?

I thought so.

I’d had my eye on this recipe ever since Annie posted it back in, oh, JULY, but I hadn’t gotten around to making it until just a couple weeks ago. Next time, I won’t wait four-plus months to try out a new ice cream flavor! The cinnamon/vanilla bean ice cream was the perfect base for the graham cracker crumbs and apples. I shared it with some friends one evening, and Andy and I may or may not have eaten the leftovers straight from the bowl a day or so later. My only complaint (and I was the only one who noticed, so it’s possible that I’m a little OCD) was that I felt like some bites of the apple filling were just like eating frozen applesauce mixed with my ice cream. The flavor was excellent; the texture was just a bit off, but not nearly enough to make me stop eating it!

Apple Pie Ice Cream

1 cup whole milk*
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream, divided
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon (the original recipe called for a cinnamon stick, but I’m fresh out of those…) 🙂
6 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large apples, peeled and thinly sliced (I have no idea what kind I used; they’re from Andy’s parents’ trees.)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup chopped graham crackers

In a medium saucepan, stir together the milk, one cup of cream, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean pod into the pot (and, if you’re me, practically swoon over HOW GOOD IT SMELLS) and drop the pod into the mixture. Heat the pan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is heated through. Cover the pan, remove from heat and let steep for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the remaining cream into a large mixing bowl and set a mesh strainer over the top. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks until smooth. Slowly whisk the hot cream into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat it over medium heat, stirring constantly. The mixture is done when it coats the back of a spoon (somewhere between 170 and 175 degrees, if you’re keeping track with a thermometer). Pour the custard through the strainer into the remaining cup of cream and then stir in the vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until the mixture is thoroughly chilled. (I left the vanilla bean pod in during this step and removed it prior to churning.)

While the custard is chilling, melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Add the apples, cinnamon and sugar and stir to coat. Cook until the apples begin to soften, about 10 minutes. (I may have overcooked mine, which could have led to the texture issue I talked about earlier. In my defense, I did have four projects and all four burners working on the stove at the same time.) Add the vanilla and cook for another minute or until the liquid cooks off. Remove from heat and let cool. (Mine hung out in the fridge all night – I mixed everything up on Thursday night and churned it before work Friday morning.)

Remove the vanilla bean pod from the custard. Churn the chilled custard according to the ice cream maker’s directions. Once the ice cream has finished churning, scoop about half of it into a large mixing bowl. Stir in half of the apples and graham crackers, then scoop the rest of the ice cream into the bowl. Stir in the remaining apples and graham crackers. Freeze until firm.

*I pretty much never buy whole milk, but let’s face it, ice cream is not a health food. It needs the extra fat! 🙂 To avoid having a lot of extra whole milk, I simply diluted some more cream to what I figured was “whole milk” consistency. 

From Annie’s Eats, who adapted it from The Perfect Scoop

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2012 in Dessert, Ice Cream

 

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Getting Saucy

There’s a slight chill in the air, the nights are getting longer, and my Saturdays involve college football. (GO BUCKEYES!) Fall has arrived! For Karen some people, fall is ushered in by all things pumpkin. For me, fall means apples. Apple pie, apple crisp and applesauce.

Some might say that I’m somewhat of an applesauce snob. I remember being a kid and telling someone (maybe my aunt?) that I wasn’t going to have the applesauce with dinner because it was from the store, not homemade. (In hindsight, I bet I sounded a little bratty then. Sorry ’bout that.) I don’t think of it as being a snob, just having high standards. This is one of those times where the homemade stuff really is better. It’s not hard to make, and since I freeze mine, rather than can it, it’s a cinch. (Plus, frozen applesauce makes an excellent snack. It’s like a slushy, only better.) 

My sauce set-up: pan to catch the sauce, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice, a bowl to catch the skins, seeds and cores, and two bowls to place the warm, sweet goodness.

Don’t let that picture scare you; homemade applesauce is easy.

Here’s what you’ll need: 
Apples (I use a mix of apples for the best flavor; some of my favorites are Cortlands, Macs and Jonathans.) Sugar
Spices (I use cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice.)
A large stock pot for cooking down the apples
A food mill/sauce maker OR a vegetable peeler and a potato masher
Freezer containers

First, rinse off your apples and cut them in quarters. (If you don’t have a strainer like the one pictured above, you  will also need to peel and core the apples. If you’re going to make a lot of sauce, I’d suggest investing in one. It’s a huge time saver!)

Place the apple chunks in the stock pot with about an inch of water. Simmer over medium heat until the apples are soft and mushy.

Just about ready for their time in the strainer…

Pour the cooked apples and juice (yes, with the seeds and all) into the strainer. Place a pan underneath the strainer to catch the applesauce and another bowl underneath the waste spout to catch the seeds, cores and skins. Crank away! If you don’t have a strainer, take out your potato masher and smash the apples until they’re the consistency you want.

Pour the fresh applesauce into a bowl and season to taste with sugar and the spices. I use 1-2 tablespoons of sugar for that giant red bowl shown in the picture, and I add the spices until it tastes good! Fill your freezer containers, label, date, and you’re done! Don’t freeze it all though – the only thing that tastes better than frozen applesauce is fresh, piping hot applesauce!

From my mom

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2012 in Marinades, Dressings & Sauces

 

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