Unstuffed Savory Apples

I’ve written about my love for stuffed apples before (twice, because that’s how deeply my love for stuffed apples runs), and I might just write about them again.  Why?  Well, this time it’s because I’ve changed the recipe in some fairly significant ways (like the stuffing process), and my way is faster, easier, and I happen to like the apple to stuff ratio better, too.  What’s not to love?  I also wanted to make this recipe one more time before our apple cider supply totally dries up for the season.

Stuffed apples are positively beautiful, in my opinion.

Image

photo by John Autry

Don’t you want to eat that immediately?

I also like plain old apples.

ImageThis is one of the Rome apples that was about to meet its maker in our kitchen.  Even though stuffed apples turn regular apples into a fancy work of art, here is my cooking recommendation: enjoy the pretty apple, then chop it up.  All of that extra surface area equals a happy stomach.  Why happier?  Because you’ll get to eat earlier.

cooked apple

Unstuffed Savory Apples

(makes 4-5 servings in approximately 55 minutes)

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup apple cider (or apple juice or even chicken broth, if cider is out of season)
  • 4 large Rome apples, chopped (feel free to use any apples you prefer–I used 1/2 Granny Smith because I love their tartness)
  • 1 lb. sweet Italian sausage (the kind that comes in a lump like ground meat, not sausage links)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or rosemary (they would both be delicious, but I used thyme)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese (or a combo of Swiss and Parmesan or whatever you have in your fridge)

Instructions

  1. Bring broth to a boil in a saucepan.  Stir in rice.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 50 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  2. Combine cranberries and cider in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave at high for 1 minute. Let stand for 10 minutes, then add to rice as it continues to simmer.
  3. Preheat broiler to low.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage, and sauté 5 minutes, stirring to crumble. Remove from pan.  Add chopped apple, yellow onion, and next 3 ingredients (through pepper); add additional butter or olive oil if the sausage drippings seem insufficient to cook the veggies (probably not necessary); sauté 4 minutes. Add garlic; sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add sausage, onion mixture, walnuts, and next 2 ingredients (through thyme/rosemary) to rice; toss. Transfer mixture to baking dish (any size that works for you–I picked a medium-sized round dish). Sprinkle with cheese. Broil for 5 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.

I’ve already eaten this meal three times this week, and I’m sad that the leftovers are almost gone.  That, my friends, is a happy problem.

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I’m Employed!

Well, I’m technically not employed yet.  But I did get a job offer, and I’ve signed an acceptance of that offer, so it’s pretty official.  I’m really excited about it.  I get to dust off my library skills, and I even get to hang out with co-workers who like reading.  It’s going to be good.

photo from theoutreachlibrarian.com

photo from theoutreachlibrarian.com

In addition to new co-workers and schedules and an inability to wear sweatpants every day, the new job also means it’s time for me to break out the cleaning supplies.  I have three business days between now and my first day of work, and we have guests visiting this weekend, next weekend, and for Thanksgiving.  We’re really really glad we get to see friends and family.  I just don’t want them to fully experience the stink bug genocide on our floor.  I know I keep talking about it, but who likes cleaning up stink bugs?  I’ve been avoiding it.

Last but not least, we’ve returned to some fall recipe favorites from last year.  You can check those out here.  We had the chicken with brussels sprouts and rosemary potatoes and mustard sauce the other day.  Next time, I need to make double the mustard sauce, but you live and learn.  And tonight is stuffed apple night, unstuffed (recipe on the same post).  Between the Italian sausage and the apples, I’m looking forward to it.

photo from Cooking Light (by John Autry)

photo from Cooking Light (by John Autry)

Mmm.

Fall Flavor Week

A great friend got married near Ithaca, New York last weekend, and Scott and I had the pleasure of celebrating with her and her now-husband.  It was gorgeous, with fall leaves everywhere and the general awesomeness of small towns and new places.

As per usual, I forgot to take pictures of the trip.  I’m sorry!  I did get to bring a piece of the wedding home, however.  Maggie’s flowers were (and still are) stunning.  They are a lot like her–artistic and unique, bright and full of life.  See for yourself:

All of that beauty and the chill in the air made me want to bring some fall home to our warmer neck of the woods, so I went online recipe-hunting.  These are the recipes that won:

  • Monday: Savory Baked Apples (om nom nom!).  I did use ground turkey instead of sausage, just because we already had some ground turkey in the freezer.  When all was said and done, Scott and I decided that while this recipe was freaking awesome, we would simplify it a bit next time.  Instead of the stuffed apples thing, we would chop up a few apples, include them in the stuffing when it says to add apples, and there you go.  No time-consuming apple-coring and emptying.  No pre-baking.  No “Is this the right apple to stuffing ratio?” questions.  It was genuinely delicious though.

photo from Cooking Light (by John Autry)

  • Tuesday: Beef and Butternut Chili (om again).  This one was delicious exactly according to recipe.  I mean, truly delicious.  There was a ton of flavor, the beef was tender, and little birds sang into the window as rays of evening light shone into the kitchen.  I even had time to clean up most of the dishes while the chili/stew/awesome simmered on the stove.

photo from Cooking Light (by Ditte Isager)

  • Wednesday: Chicken with Brussels Sprouts and Mustard Sauce.  This one was a tiny bit heavier on the veggies than the other recipes, which was good.  And I used boneless chicken thighs, which made the dish less expensive (bonus).  It was really good, but after the incredible flavors from the first two recipes, this one wasn’t quite as perfect.  Good.  Really, really good, but not amazing.  Oh, I also added some oven-roasted rosemary potatoes.

photo from Cooking Light (by Johnny Autry)

My stomach feels great about this week.  Thanks, Cooking Light!