Apple and Sausage Penne Recipe

After we finished the first round of apple recipes from our apple picking adventure, we took a little break and cooked how we normally do…  By creating an on-the-spot delicious meal with only the ingredients in our fridge and cupboard!  Of course, we still had a plethora of apples, so we decided to incorporate some into this dish as well.

Our Apple and Sausage Penne was one of those “I can’t get enough of this!” meals.  It is the perfect blend of sweet and savory, the apples were an unexpected delight, and the sausage made this a wonderfully hearty dish!

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 3/4 bell pepper, diced
  • 4 cups diced apple
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 chicken breakfast sausages
  • 1 jar of Cabernet Marinara
  • 1 bag of penne pasta
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • 1/8 tsp ancho chili pepper
  • Parmesan, grated (optional)

Here’s what you do:

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to the directions.  We used Trader Joes High Fiber Penne, and used about 3/4 of the bag.  I always prefer penne when making a chunky pasta, but any type will do!

Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Slice open the casing of the breakfast sausage, crumble, and brown and cook until done.  Remove from pan.  We used chicken breakfast sausage from Trader Joes because we already had it on hand for another dish, but you can use any kind you like.  You could also omit the sausage to make this into a vegetarian meal.

Cooked Sausage

While your sausage is cooking, chop the onion, bell pepper, apple and garlic.  Once your sausage has been removed from the pan, saute your veggies and apple until tender, about 6-8 minutes.

Sauteed Vegetables

Add your spices and garlic, and cook another 1-2 minutes.  Add your cooked sausage back into the pan, add your pasta sauce, and cook to heat through.  We used Classico Cabernet Marinara, which paired perfectly with the apple since the sauce was a little bit sweet.

Apple and Sausage PenneAll that’s left is to combine the sauce mixture and strained pasta, top with Parmesan, and enjoy!  I believe this pot lasted 4-5 dinners for two.  I seriously can’t wait to make this meal again!  It was so warm, comforting, satisfying, and so very tasty!

Bonus!

Apple Cider MargaritaAs I mentioned in both my apple picking and 1st apple recipe post, we also walked away with a gallon of apple cider.  We were trying to find creative ways to use it up, and one way was… drinks!  We tried out this Apple Cider Margarita, and it was delicious!

We didn’t have Grand Marnier, so we substituted with triple sec instead.  We also omitted the orange segments, as we didn’t have any on hand.  But we figured the triple sec would add the orange flavor back in.  While the drink was great, it was a little strange drinking it with this meal.  Probably better paired with dessert, or as dessert itself!

I hope you enjoy these recipes, let me know if you try them out!  Until next time, Happy Eating!


Portland Pumpkin Patch

Corn Field Panorama

Pumpkin Patch Sign

It’s that time of the year again…  Halloween is fast approaching and we need to buy some pumpkins.  And this year we got to explore an Oregon pumpkin patch!  After researching a few places, I found The Pumpkin Patch on Sauvie Island.  It’s only about 30 minutes away from Portland, and offered a lot of fun activities in addition to picking out pumpkins. Read more »


Apple Recipes Galore

As I mentioned in my Apple Picking post, Daniel and I ended up bringing home about 20 lbs. of apples.  And we were on a mission to use all of those apples in a variety of sweet and savory recipes.  We mainly looked up recipes online, but actually ended up inventing a few ourselves as well!  Below is the first round of meals we made.  Enjoy!

Apple Pie

First up:  PIE!  I’ve never made a pie before, but have been wanting to for a while now, so this was the perfect excuse.  We followed the Apple Pie by Grandma Opie recipe, but changed a few things based on reviews.

  1. We cooked the pie at 350 degrees the whole time.
  2. Added 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, and 1 tbsp vanilla extract to the filling.
  3. Omitted 1 tbsp of water (because of the vanilla extract).
  4. Mixed the apples and syrup mixture together first before putting into pie pan.
  5. Brushed the top crust with milk, and generously sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.

We ended up only using 6 medium sized apples, which turned out to be the perfect amount.  We cooked the pie for 45 minutes uncovered, and then covered the top with foil for another 15 minutes.  I would definitely suggest waiting until the pie is cooled before trying to cut into slices, as it WILL fall apart!

We did use a store bought crust to cut down on time (since we knew we’d be cooking a lot that week).  The crust was a little small for our pan, so we chose not to do a lattice top crust.  It turned out just fine keeping it whole and cutting a few vents.  Next time I make a pie I will be trying out this Pie Crust recipe.

The bottom crust became a bit mushy, one reviewer suggested brushing the bottom with an egg white.  Not sure if that would have helped, but I will definitely try it for my next pie!  Other than that the pie turned out beautifully, and (in the words of my boyfriend) tasted “legit.”  Sweet success!

Chicken Salad IngredientsThe second recipe I made was a Curry Chicken Salad for lunch that week.  The recipe would have been fine on its own, but I added a few of our favorite spices to customize it a little.  I added 1 tbsp garlic powder, 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper, and a little bit of fresh ground black pepper.

Something I always keep in the freezer is Trader Joes frozen chicken tenderloins.  These are so great to have on hand – it’s a fast and easy way to add protein to any meal.  I always cook them straight from a frozen state by adding a little olive oil to a pan, and cooking them with the lid on.  Usually as they melt it provides enough moisture to steam them, but if not I’ll add about a tablespoon of water.  This takes about 10-15 minutes to cook a whole pan of chicken.  Towards the end I take the lid off so the tenderloins can brown.

Chicken

About 7 tenderloins made 2 cups of chicken (my pan is too small, so sadly I had to cook the last two separately).

Chicken Apple SaladDefinitely try this recipe if you like chicken salad!  Next time I might add a bit more curry power and chop the apples smaller, but this was one tasty lunch!

CranberriesNext up:  dinner!  We made Apple Bacon Baked Chicken and Sweet Potato Fries with Spicy Aioli.  This recipe was great not only because it incorporated apples, but it also used apple cider (which we had far too much of)!  We did not soak the cranberries as long as the recipe indicates; we just soaked them while preparing the rest of the ingredients, which seemed sufficient enough.

We wanted to switch it up a little and bought turkey breasts instead of chicken.  Trader Joes had two HUGE turkey breasts, which I cut in half and pounded out to about a 1/2 inch thick.

Turkey Breasts

We used apple smoked bacon, which obviously went perfectly with this recipe!

Turkey Breast and Bacon

Turkey Apple BakeThis meal was SO good!  Hearty, tasty, comforting, and the epitome of fall flavor!  Here are a few things that I would do differently next time:  I’d add the apples and onion halfway through the cooking time, as they became extremely mushy (would have liked a little more texture).  And I’d cut the onion and apple slices a little smaller, maybe even exclude 1 of the onions.

The recipe for the sweet potato fries and spicy aioli came from a recipe binder Daniel had, so I am including them below.  Please note that I am not taking credit for inventing them!

Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet Potato Fries

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  In small bowl, combine Lawry’s seasoned salt, paprika, garlic powder and chili powder; set aside.
  2. In large bowl, toss sweet potatoes with olive oil; sprinkle with seasoning mixture and toss to coat.  On baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, arrange potatoes in single layer.
  3. Roast, turning once, 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender and golden.

Fortunately, the temperature for the fries and turkey breasts was the same, so we were able to cook them at the same time.  Easy peasy!

Spicy Aioli

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Here’s what you do:

  1. Mix all ingredients with a whisk in a medium bowl.
  2. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Serve as a dipping sauce for fries, or as a spread on burgers.

This aioli is to die for, you’ve absolutely got to try it!

Apple MuffinsLastly, we couldn’t forget about breakfast.  Specifically, Apple Strudel Muffins!  We read through a lot of the reviews, and here is what we changed based on reviewer suggestions:

  • Added 1 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp nutmeg to the batter.
  • Shredded half the amount of apple and chopped the other half for even distrubution.
  • Used 1/2 brown sugar and 1/2 white sugar.

This recipe made 14 muffins for us (two of which were bigger than the rest).  These muffins were perfect with my cup of coffee in the morning, but they would also be delicious with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Whew, there we have it – the first round of apple recipes!  My next Foodie post will be an original apple dinner recipe.  Thanks for reading!  Let me know in the comments section if you try any of the recipes (and how you like them)!


Apple Picking in Hood River

Draper Girls Farm

A few weekends ago Daniel and I went apple picking!  I was excited to take Daniel because he had never been before, poor guy.  I was also stoked because while I have been before (grew up in Maine, after all), I hadn’t been in probably over 5 years (thanks to living in LA).

I did a little research and found three options:  Draper Girls Country Farm, Sherwood Orchards, and Mountain View Orchards.

Sherwood Orchards was tempting because it was only 30 minutes away, but it looked a little small.  Mountain View Orchards looked like it had a lot of activities in addition to apple picking, but it was the furthest and Daniel didn’t seem too keen on driving that far.

I ultimately chose Draper Girls because it had a beautiful view, they made their own fresh apple cider, and it was the 2nd closest to us. Read more »


Chili Mac Dinner Recipe

We always keep ingredients for Chili Mac in our cupboard, and it’s often our go to dinner recipe!  Not only is it delicious, but on a busy night it’s a super quick and easy meal to get onto the table.  It’s great if you have a bunch of veggies you need to use up before they spoil.  And there are so many ways to vary the basic recipe it never gets old!

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 boxes of mac and cheese
  • 3/4 large white onion, diced
  • 3/4 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can turkey or chicken chili

Here’s what you do:

Prepare the mac and cheese according to the instructions on the box.  In a large skillet, saute onion and pepper in olive oil for about 3 minutes (or until slightly softened).

Onions and Peppers

Sauted VeggiesIf you have any softer veggies, you can add them to the pan and cook for another 3 minutes.  For this batch of chili mac, we had some mushrooms we needed to use up, so in they went!  Add frozen corn and black olives, and cook for another 3 minutes or until the corn has defrosted.

Add spices, garlic, and chili into the pan and cook until heated through.  Add the chili to your prepared mac and cheese, and you’re done!

Ordinary mac and cheese…

Mac and Cheese

Chili mac!

Chili Mac Dinner Recipe

For Daniel and I, this usually lasts about 4-5 dinners if we don’t have a side dish.  We often pair it with a salad though, so it ends up yielding A LOT more.  Bonus:  Chili mac freezes extremely well!  We always have too much to eat and end up freezing about half the pot, which is great for nights we don’t feel like cooking!

Chili MacWe prefer to use either turkey or chicken chili, but you can certainly use any chili you like.  We’ve seen a tofu chili at Trader Joes, which would easily turn this meal into a vegetarian friendly dish!  Some other ingredients we’ve added in the past:  beer, diced canned tomatoes, canned green chilies, extra shredded cheddar cheese, and we’ve substituted regular mac and cheese with white cheddar shells.

We have topped it with bread crumbs and parmesan, and popped it in the oven to turn it into Baked Chili Mac!

Baked Chili Mac

We’ve also added it on top of a hotdog with jalapenos to make a Chili Mac Dog!

Chili Mac Dog

Trust me, you’ve got to try it!