kid-friendly · Recipes

Classic Apple Crisp

It’s apple season, and lucky for me, Georgia takes after her mom: she LOVES all things autumn! From apple picking to hayrides, cider, fruit crisp, Halloween, pumpkin patches and cinnamon donuts, she can’t get enough and is the best companion for fall fun. We go to the apple orchard every year for u-pick, and stretch our peck of Macoun and McIntosh for weeks with cozy recipes and snacks. Last month, I shared an easy apple topping for pork chops with a promise to follow soon with an apple crisp recipe. Here it is!


Classic Apple Crisp

INGREDIENTS

  • Half a dozen apples (enough to fill a 9×13 baking dish) peeled, cored & sliced
  • lemon juice and cinnamon to taste
  • optional: nutmeg if you like the flavor

FOR THE TOPPING

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup oats (quick cooking or old fashioned are both fine)
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 375 and butter or grease the bottom of a 9×13 glass baking dish. I like to use that size pan, but you can absolutely make it in an 8×8 instead.

Spread the sliced apples in the pan and then top with the lemon juice and cinnamon (I just eyeball it) and nutmeg if using; stir.

Mix together the softened butter and the dry ingredients until well combined, then spread on top of the apples.

Bake about 30 minutes or until the topping is brown and the apples are tender.

Serve warm with whipped cream and/or vanilla ice cream!

Tips:

If it’s not apple picking season and you’re grabbing some at the grocery store instead, I always go for Granny Smith. You want something nice and tart that can withstand being baked without turning totally mushy, and they’re also a great size.

When it comes to softening the butter, I prefer to heat a sauce pan on low and put the butter in, then add the dry ingredients once it gets almost melted. Turn off the heat, stir together, and set aside.

If you’re taking this to a potluck, it also cooks up well in a disposable foil pan instead of a glass baking dish.


My philosophy when it comes to apple crisp is to keep it simple.

We have some top-notch apple crisp makers in my family, and the recipes are all kept in mental filing folders. I’ve picked up most of the makeup along the way as I’ve made my own, only adding some oats to the topping because that’s what I like best. Otherwise, it’s a formula taken from the Betty Crocker cookbook many years ago — as with the cookie recipe on the back of the Toll House chocolate chip package, sometimes the most basic, time-tested ones are the best ones and stay classic for a reason!

I hope everyone had a fabulous Halloween. Rapunzel’s wig survived the festivities, and now I have SO MUCH CANDY in my house, bound for my office candy dish ASAP!

Thanks to the freezer meal workshop I did earlier this year, we all ate a huge pot of chicken chili with beans, and I can’t wait to share that recipe with you. It was so easy and fed the entire eight-person crowd last night, with some delicious sides of guacamole, sour cream, hot sauce, extra sharp cheddar cheese and corn muffins made by my mother in law. I’ll post about that soon! Meanwhile, have a great start to the month of November. Boy is this year flying by. Before you know it, Thanksgiving will be here, and I’ll have to turn on the heat in my house. 😉

Meanwhile, enjoy a few images from our recent apple picking adventure to Smolak Farms in North Andover, Mass. (our family- and budget-friendly favorite!) They are offering half-priced apple picking now because it’s the end of the season, so now’s the perfect time to go and grab a bushel for your Thanksgiving pies!

kid-friendly · Recipes · Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken

Inspired by a popular post on Damn Delicious (one of my favorite cooking blogs), this recipe for Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken is beyond foolproof, with no braising, marinating or prep work required — just toss it in the slow cooker, come home after work and eat. You can use any cut of chicken and it still turns out moist and delicious. The original recipe called for chicken thighs, but boneless breasts were on sale and are something Georgia prefers, so we decided to try the recipe with those instead. And it worked perfectly. Life = easier, just like that!

Honey Garlic Slow Cooker Chicken

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 Chicken thighs (or two packages of boneless breasts, which I used here)
  • 16 oz. red potatoes (half a 2.5 pound bag)
  • 16 oz.baby carrots (one bag)
  • 16 oz. green beans, trimmed (one bag)

FOR THE SAUCE

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (preferably reduced sodium)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Dried oregano, basil, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste (about a tablespoon total)

DIRECTIONS

  • Mix the sauce together and set aside.
  • In your slow cooker, nestle the potatoes and carrots into the bottom of the pot, then layer the chicken on top. Pour the sauce over and set to cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
  • The original recipe calls for basting every half hour, which is fine if you are home but not fine if you’re working. It turns out well either way.
  • In the last 30 minutes of cooking, add in the green beans.
  • Serve warm on a cold day!

OK, so this doesn’t photograph very well as a finished product. Trust me when I tell you it’s even BETTER as leftovers! 

This is a great recipe to pair with the Maple Dijon Pork Chops I posted about a couple of weeks ago when you’re meal planning for the week, because you can buy one bag of potatoes and use half in this meal and half with the chops; the same goes for the green beans.

Are you all set for Halloween?? We are in full Spooky Swing. Last weekend was the “Boo at the Zoo” event at the same place where we hosted Georgia’s birthday party this year, and we had a blast with friends riding the kiddie rides, seeing the animals in their exhibits, dancing to some monster tunes and of course picking up some toys and (healthy) treats along the walking paths. Monday we had a trick-or-treat in my office, which was another hit, and tomorrow G has her preschool Halloween party. It’s an exhausting life when you’re three — and the actual holiday hasn’t even hit yet! I’m not sure Rapunzel’s wig will make it to Monday intact… 🙂

Have a great rest of the week everyone. 

Baby & Toddler · Holidays · JPG · kid-friendly · minted · Slow Cooker

Boo! A Halloween Recap

Hope everyone had an awesome trick-or-treat! We had family over, walked around our neighborhood, and tried our hardest to tucker Georgia out before Daylight Saving Time hit us Sunday morning. Georgia dressed as her all-time favorite, Minnie Mouse, and the lucky girl got to wear her costume THREE times this week: once at my office Halloween party on Monday, another time at the daycare Halloween parade Thursday, and again Saturday night for the real Halloween. She was one happy lady! Just see how happy in this video.


Last year (see below!) she liked walking around and meeting people, but this year she was really into the whole routine. She made it through the entire neighborhood, instead of just half a dozen homes on one side of our little street, and she said “trick or treat!” “thank you!” and “happy Halloween!” to everybody we met.

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Last year. My Baby!!

The best part is that, while she likes picking out colorful wrappers, she couldn’t care less about actually EATING the candy, so more for me!  Good thing I have a candy dish in my office for sharing the wealth.

The transition to Daylight Saving Time went fine for us. We had moved Georgia’s bedtime later bit by bit all week leading up to it, so Sunday morning she woke up at 6:10, which wasn’t too bad, and she took her normal nap from 1 to 3 p.m. My goal was just to have her wake up later than 5 and to take her usual nap, and in that, we succeeded. Spring forward is always much worse for us when it comes to sleep disruptions for Georgia anyway. Everyone felt a little out of whack Sunday with the time change, so we just made it a lounge day. Now it’s back to work.

Remember how I was lamenting my lack of Slow Cooker recipes last week? Well, you guys delivered when it comes to ideas! So many people reached out and offered their family favorites, and I’ll be posting the results as I try them out. Hopefully we have some winners. Meanwhile, I wanted to share these two great ideas from A Year of Slow Cooking: A1 and Dijon Steak, which I just know Mark would love, and Brown Sugar Chicken, which sounds satisfying for my and Georgia’s sweet tooth. That blog even has a slow cooker apple crisp, but I’m not sure how you’d achieve a crunchy top that way, so I haven’t tried it out.

I hope to have even more slow cooker ideas to share in the coming weeks! Plus, an early holiday shopping guide. You know me, I like to be done with Christmas by Thanksgiving, and then I finish designing our holiday card that weekend so I can mail it in early December. Can’t believe that time of year is already approaching! Here’s last year’s card, and the post about our photo shoot.

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Photography by JPG // design by Minted

In closing, I just wanted to also thank everyone who sent well wishes (and mushy recipes) when I had my wisdom teeth out last week. It went fine, and I’m feeling back to my old self now. My friend Jean even sent me homemade soup (and she has a one-year-old!) that tasted simply divine.

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She gave me the recipe from Epicurious, and you better believe I’m going to make it! If I do, I’ll share here. I think Georgia would like it, too.

Have a great week everyone and I’ll be back soon! xoxo

News · Tips and Tricks

Digest It: Food News for Fall

OK, so pumpkin stuff is everywhere, the temperatures are dipping below 60, Mr. Autumn Man is popping up on the Onion, and blah blah blah. Over in my house, we are in denial. Just say no to boots and tights! And people with jackets? Don’t even get me started!! Here’s where my brain’s at:


In that vein, I’m going deeper into denial by fixating on very summery recipes, food trends and news tidbits these days. A few things I’m finding helpful in pretending winter isn’t coming:

Shape Magazine’s Annual snack awards. So helpful in evaluating junk vs. worthwhile tidbits for in-between-mealtime eating. The best part is that they are categorized according to what you’re craving, from crunchy to creamy and sweet to savory. (Is anybody else craving ice cream with pretzels after reading that?) Some of my favorites from the list are Wholly Gaucamole’s travel packs, Blue Diamond’s Sriracha Almonds, Chobani’s Salted Caramel Crunch yogurt and Whole Foods Tropical Greens popsicles. Doesn’t that say summer? Or at least vacation?

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In a tropical vein, I am always looking for a good mock Orange Julius recipe. Darn it if I don’t love those things, junk that they are! It’s like I’m right back at the mall doing back-to-school shopping in 1992. Find the recipe here.

nytimes.com

And this is super summer-y, but have you ever found yourself with so much extra cucumber from your garden that you can’t possibly hope to find a new way to eat it? Enter the trend over-taking New York, the “Smashed Cucumber Salad.” I haven’t had a chance to try it yet, but it’s supposed to be a game-changer.

I’ve always loved House Beautiful Magazine, and this piece really hit home. I have the smallest refrigerator of all time — smaller even than my college apartments — and am always, ALWAYS looking for tips to make better use of it. I can’t even fit a gallon of milk on the top shelf, that’s how tiny it is! This list is pretty good, in particular this binder clip tip below. Great for freezing a bunch of those warm-weather fruits that just won’t taste the same when they’re out of season come winter.

Last but not least, if you live in Massachusetts, I have two fun things for you to consider! 

The first is a Pop-Up “Urban Apple Orchard” at the Ritz Carlton in Boston, starting this weekend and continuing at the hotel every weekend up to Halloween. They will be serving caramel apples, spiced cider, mini pastries and locally-picked apples by the full and half dozen, with proceeds benefiting The Food Project. Georgia and I agree: plentiful apples, and more specifically going apple picking, is one of the only worthwhile things about the weather turning colder. Also, making apple crisp, which is on our agenda for next month for sure.

And last but not least, if you’ve ever wanted a vanity or charity plate for your car but no cause really spoke to you, or you simply never got around to it, here’s your chance to get in at the first stage of a new licence plate supporting local food! Visit mafoodplate.org to find out more about how and when you can be among the first to sign up for a “Choose Fresh and Local” license plate. I’m going to do it, but first I have to replace the regular plate that got lost in a snow dune last winter. Which I’ve been meaning to do all summer.

And the other exciting thing I have on the calendar for mid-Fall is the Halloween Trick-or-Treat event at Stone Zoo, or “Boo at the Zoo” if you like! Let’s just say animals will be looking festive and so will Georgia.

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From what I understand there will also be a haunted maze (possibly too scary for a toddler; we’ll see), crafts, ‘ghoulish’ games and, of course, a costume contest. Probably we don’t have a chance there — we are going less creative this year as Minnie Mouse, which is Georgia’s favorite! And joking aside, giving animals items like pumpkins is more than a prop, it’s an enrichment tool for their development and well-being. You can learn more about that here.

Have a great weekend everyone and let me know what you’re doing to pretend summer is still here get in the mood for Fall!

Holidays · News

Halloween Pics & Food News

Well. Georgia loved Halloween! Her whole family came over except for my in-laws, who were out of town, and we took her out for trick-or-treating for the second time in her life. The first time, she slept through it in daddy’s arms! This time, she was walking on her own, and she loved meeting all our neighbors! We’ve gone from having zero kids in the neighborhood to families with young children in every other house in the space of three years, which is awesome. I loved seeing all the costumes, the decorated houses, and chatting with some of our older neighbors who we don’t get to see very often. All in all, a feel-good Friday night, and we even navigated Daylight Saving Time unscathed.

Georgia also helped me decorate the house before our visitors arrived! We kept it simple by ordering pizza and wings for the whole crew. Her monogrammed “winged bat” treat bag is from Pottery Barn Kids, and her ladybug costume is Carter’s from Macy’s in Boston.

You better believe I stocked up on clearance candy this weekend for my office!

So what else is new?

Well, I was extremely excited to read about a new Swedish study that shows (in mainstream medicine, anyway) what homeopaths and complementary & alternative health practitioners — not to mention the rest of the world — have known for years: that milk is really not that good for you.

It’s no secret that sales of cow’s milk alternatives like rice, soy, almond, coconut and hemp milk have taken off in recent years, and with good reason: many boast impressive health claims and taste great too. Apparently, the dairy industry has taken notice, and is launching a major ad campaign to reinforce the notion that milk “does a body good.” Of course, it’s easy for me to say avoid milk, because I straight-up hate the taste of it and always have, and I’m lactose intolerant like 80% of humanity. So I understand that true milk lovers will have a harder time accepting that a big industry has lied to them their whole lives, and that milk contributes to higher mortality among populations that drink it most — and that bone health is excellent in populations that don’t drink it at all.

That said, you DO have to do your research when it comes to milk substitutes. It’s not as simple as chugging a bunch of soy or almond milk, and none of those options should be given to babies or toddlers outside a doctor’s supervision. Time ran a decent comparison of some popular non-dairy drinks earlier this year, and Self has a good slideshow that takes you through the options for replacing conventional cow’s milk, including organic milk, which is what we give Georgia every day.

Speaking of dairy alternatives, check out this amazing-looking Vegan Strawberry Orange Julius (whose flavors I’ve celebrated before!)

What else caught my eye lately:

Apparently you should always preheat your baking sheet

Did you know you can still use ingredients that have “gone bad?”

The stark differences between what the rich & poor feed their babies

Even more reasons to love eggs (except when you’re newly pregnant)

A list of the top nutritional powerhouse fruits & veggies you should be eating

This genius idea for remaking school fundraisers that rely on junk food

And, OK, fine ~ I’ll share a couple vegan recipes. This comes from Chloe Coscarelli’s new book on Italian vegan cooking (it IS possible and it’s not very hard). I love how accessible and filling her recipes are. You don’t feel you’re making a sacrifice.

Chloe’s Bow ties in garlic cream sauce and vegan lasagna

Have a wonderful week, everyone.

Oh, and if you haven’t already, get out there and vote!

 

Recipes

Rotini with Sweet Italian Sausage & Spaghetti Squash

Did you know how easy it is to make spaghetti squash? I recently learned how, so I wanted to share a quick tutorial. Then I needed something to serve it with, so of course I turned to pasta! I’m Italian, it’s getting cold out, and I have a carb-hungry toddler to feed. I got the inspiration for this pasta from a former co-worker whose wife made a similar dish that came out so well he raved about it on Facebook (what a guy!) I thought, “you know what? I haven’t simmered sausage in tomato sauce for a really long time. I’ll bet Mark would like that.” So I did. And he did.

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Rotini with Sweet Italian Sausage

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 package sweet (not hot) Italian sausage
  • 1 lb. rotini pasta, or similar shape
  • 1 jar marinara sauce, preferably something simple (I chose chunky roasted tomato and garlic from Classico, which is among the healthier brands)
  • grated cheese for topping, such as parmesan
  • optional: eggplant (I had some leftover from another recipe, sliced and grilled with fresh tomatoes, so I added it into the sauce)

DIRECTIONS

In a skillet, cook the sausage over medium either in an inch of water or plain in the pan until they start to brown. I chose to break mine up with the spoon to cook faster, but you can also leave them whole and then simmer longer once you add the sauce so they cook through and stay moist. You can choose to keep the fat and pan scrapings, or drain them off before adding the sauce.

Meanwhile, in a separate (good sized) pot, boil water for the pasta and cook until al-dente; drain and set aside.

When the sausage is sufficiently browned, add the eggplant (if using) to the pan, then the jar of tomato sauce. Cook on low until the flavors meld, as long as half an hour if you’d like. Finally, add both into the reserved pot of drained pasta, and cook on low for a couple minutes so the flavors blend.

Top with freshly grated cheese, such as parmesan.

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Now what better to pair with this hearty pasta than a light fluffy squash? The kind you can cook in a jiffy? Enter our spaghetti squash. Here are the simple steps to cooking this tasty vegetable, which I’ve seen people serve like they do regular spaghetti, complete with tomato sauce and other pasta toppings. I’m not sure it would quite satisfy my carb cravings that way, but I know many folks who swear by it as the staple of a weight-loss diet. I think it makes a lovely side, and all you have to do after cooking is top it with shredded cheese — or have it plain!

HOW TO: COOK SPAGHETTI SQUASH

I don’t know why I thought this was difficult, but it’s beyond easy. As long as you have a high-quality, sharp knife and a sturdy cutting board, the hardest part is the first slice to cut it in half.

Step by Step

1) Preheat the oven to 400.

2) Cut the squash in half and scrape out the seeds (they’ll look similar to pumpkin seeds) and discard.

3) Place face down in a glass baking dish and pour in water until the edges of each half are just submerged.

4) Cover with tinfoil and cook for at least 30 minutes in the oven, or until tender when poked with a fork.

5) Transfer to a bowl and scrape out the “spaghetti” strands with a fork.

6) Top with cheese or serve plain. That’s it!

In other news, have a great Halloween tonight! Maybe check out this network of dentists that will buy your extra candy to make care packages for the troops? — and while you’re watching the sweets, go easy on the soda, too! Apparently it can age you as much as a daily smoking habit. If you’re near a Chipotle tonight, you’re entitled to free goodies for showing up in costume. And when we are all candied out, this is the refreshing-looking fruit I’m going to share with G (all the yum, no tedious chopping and scooping just to get to the good parts). Speaking of G, here she is at our office “trick or treat” party, sporting her ladybug getup a few days early 🙂

Stay safe tonight!

Holidays

The worst candies for Halloween

I have to re-blog Sarah Fit again today ~ she has a helpful and funny guide to the top five candies you should avoid on Halloween, with great tips on how to scan labels for sneaky hidden ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup masquerading under a different name. And tragedy of all tragedies, Butterfinger is the worst one. My favorite!! 

Real Simple also has a fun side-by-side comparison to help you pick the ‘better’ candies. I was happy to read in here that Snickers — my other favorite — edged out Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and that Peanut M&Ms won out over Skittles. Read the whole article to compare your favorites!

Looking for more Halloween alternatives to giving out (and eating) tons of candy loaded with crap ingredients? Check out Mama Natural’s complete guide to Halloween, including information on her “80/20 rule” for eating the trick-or-treat haul, and some cool information on helping kids with allergies to enjoy Halloween. I’ll be busy decorating the house and my office for trick-or-treaters! We always put up these ghost lights to line our walkway, and how pretty is this Halloween-themed wreath from Etsy?

Etsy, $65, RedRobynLane shop.

In case you are wondering, Georgia is going to be a lady bug this year. Pictures, of course, are forthcoming!

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Baby & Toddler · Restaurant Reviews

Bites in Brooklyn

Hey everyone ~ whew, what a yucky past couple of weeks this has been in our house. I thought we’d seen the worst of the back-to-school bugs, but apparently these germs weren’t quite done with us! Two weeks, two chest colds and a couple of very gross stomach bugs later, I’m back on the blog and ready to share some great fall recipe ideas and snippets from our life. This past Monday, Mark and I left Georgia with her grandmother and took a mommy-daddy day trip to Brooklyn. He was shooting an episode for the travel channel at Brooklyn Fire Proof sound stages, so I hung out for a couple hours at the attached gallery/cafe space, BFPEast. Boy, did I feel old and square killing time with the hipsters in East Williamsburg. But I had an awesome lunch and found the company pretty laid-back and friendly, especially considering how little I ate relative to how long I lingered:

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I overheard two climate change activists talking about their weekend, which included bfpeast’s $5 brunch. It sounded awesome. Personally, I tried the mac n’ cheese with jalapenos on top. omgdelicious.

We did the entire trip in one day, and managed this only because we avoided Manhattan, where the UN was starting their high-level meetings. We even made it through Connecticut in time to stop for dinner at our favorite road trip break spot, Rein’s Deli. When I was pregnant and suffering big-time with “morning” sickness, Mark stopped here to get me matzoh ball soup and pickles on his way back from a job in New York. I hated having him drive alone, but I was pumped that he brought home some amazing comfort food for me and our baby-to-be!

Speaking of which, guess who walked this weekend (finally)????

Of course, she squats whenever I try to take a photo of her walking by herself, but you’ll have to take my word for it. We took her to brunch Sunday and she made the waitresses practice walking with her up and down the middle of the restaurant! She also took off on her own when we went shoe shopping at Carter’s and she spotted the Lego table in the middle of the store. The cat has the same effect…poor kitty. I don’t think she’s gotten over the idea of Georgia crawling yet, and now this?

We took G for her one-year appointment last week, and she’s right in the 50th percentile for height and weight…everything except her enormous head. Have I mentioned this yet? Her head has been tracking in the 98th percentile since she was about 5 months old, and after ruling out any dangerous reasons for it at Children’s, we just have to laugh at the way she outgrows clothes “head first” and how we have to buy her hats meant for four-year-olds. We have a gorgeous winter hat from Restoration Hardware that a relative bought us and she wore exactly once before her potato head couldn’t squeeze into it anymore. Fed up with such difficulties, and fueled by the desire to own a trendy winter hat myself, I knitted us matching slouchy hats on the car ride to and from New York:

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Georgia’s hat has just a baby amount of slouch. The pattern is pretty easy — you just knit in the round in a 2×1 rib for however long you want the headband to be, then switch to seed stitch on larger needles (I used 11 and 13) until the desired size. I fit mine to my own head on the go, and then just used up the leftover yarn from one skein of Lion Brand Thick & Quick for Georgia’s hat. With no decreases (which would eliminate the slouch), you simply bind off after purling together three and then two stitches at a time and pull the yarn through the remaining loops at the top! It’s so easy. I want to go make a hundred more in different colors.

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Oh! Before I forget…is anyone else “going to” Alt for Everyone this weekend? I am super excited to be joining in this year! I can’t wait to translate lots of what I learn back to this community as well as the web family I manage at my day job. If you’re going, I’d love to connect online this Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I’ll be the one on a sugar high from the delicious lemon candies they sent in the swag bag!

Well, that’s all I’ve got for today. In my free time (ha!) I am already shopping for Georgia’s Christmas outfit (because, you know, booking holiday photos for the Christmas card has to happen in September these days…) and my strategy this year is probably going to be stalking ThredUP and Kidizen for fancy consignment duds. The thing gets worn twice at best! Seems smart to go second hand, yes?

Have a great rest of the week, everyone!

Recipes

Apple Kielbasa with Sauerkraut

This is a great one-dish comfort meal. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve started occasionally eating meat again. This recipe satisfied both Mark and I, and is a very filling option for chilly fall nights. Make it in a big casserole dish and go oven to table with it!

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This recipe comes courtesy of the Boston Globe.
I mentioned it in my fall flavors post a few weeks ago and finally got around to trying it. I used turkey kielbasa to be a little bit healthier, a mix of Cortland and Mackintosh apples because they were in season in New England when I made this, and packaged mashed potatoes from Ikea, which saved time and was super delicious.

Apple Kielbasa with Sauerkraut

Served over mashed potatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 package turkey kielbasa, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored & sliced
  • 1 jar (16 oz.) sauerkraut, drained
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 TBSP grainy or French mustard, like Dijon or spicy brown
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil for sauteing the onions

20131024-043654.jpgDirections

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and prep your sliced ingredients.

In a flameproof casserole dish, such as this Le Creuset french oven I used, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and one apple. Cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes or until the onion starts to brown.

(Note: if using a cast iron pan such as Le Creuset, it is VERY important to start the heat on the low end. This type of cookware heats up very efficiently and you can’t cool the dish once it has gotten too hot.)

Stir in the sauerkraut, wine, mustard, salt and pepper. Place the sausage slices on top.

Bring to a boil then transfer to the oven (uncovered) and roast for 45 minutes, or until the sausages are pretty well browned.

If you are making the prepared mashed potatoes, place them in the oven a few minutes before the casserole dish as they require slightly longer to cook.

Remove the pan from the oven and stir in the remaining apple chunks.

Serve over the mashed potatoes with a glass of wine or a bottle of beer!

20131024-043633.jpgBy stirring in one apple before you roast the dish and another one right before serving, you create a sweet sauce that also has a touch of tartness. Otherwise, all the apples would turn to mush!

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To plate, spread a layer of the mashed potatoes on each dish and top with the kielbasa. You can obviously make mashed potatoes from scratch if you have more time than I did, and you could also serve over egg noodles or rice if that’s more your style.

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A little bit goes a long way. Yum!

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In other news, Georgia had her first Halloween a couple weeks ago! We went trick-or-treating with friends whose son was a bit more age appropriate for appreciating the holiday. Baby G’s age didn’t stop us from dressing her up, even if it meant Daddy had to carry her around in his arms all night. (We kept it to less than 10 houses and she still fell asleep).

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By the way, I feel like I owe a huge THANK YOU to everyone who reads this blog and has stuck by me through a challenging postpartum period (is there any other kind?) Even though I’ve only managed to post every other week (at best) since having Georgia, my readers have hung around, and the blog has had high traffic and plenty of new comments and visitors. In fact, I’ve recently started to get as many as 500 visitors a day, which is so much more than I ever thought would happen when I started OrganicGlory and hoped that anyone beside my mom would read it. My dream is to keep writing, trying new recipes, and sharing my life with you, and I’m honored that people I’ve never met have taken the time to visit my site and share it with others. That so many have stayed and shared some of themselves in return is truly amazing.

#blessed