Post 92 – How About Them Apples!

We took our annual apple picking trip Columbus Day weekend and we returned with 66 pounds of apples!

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(Ah the beauty of nature! I just love the color of these apples! Like purple plums! I wonder what happens to those sad apples that fall to the ground…)

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Our 66 pound stash included a full bag of just Honeycrisp (delicious!), some baking apples like Cortland (pie!) and some tasty eating apples like Gala and Fuji. We had the pleasure of hosting my brother-in-law and sister-in-law for the weekend so they helped us pick more than our usual amount.

On our way home from apple picking, we also made a stop at Walden Pond where we enjoyed snapping some silly panoramas with the scenic fall backdrop. Despite the cold temperatures and constant drizzle of rain during our picking, it was a wonderful way to spend a chilly fall day.

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Sadly the weekend had to end at some point. We sent them home with as many apples as they could carry and promises to visit them in their new home in Luxembourg in the future.

After a weekend of eating apples for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, pie baking, and making our famous meat-stuffed apples (as well as sending some back with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law), we were down to about 35 pounds! I made some applesauce this past weekend and our stash is down even lower! We’ll see how long it takes to finish these off.

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While making the applesauce I enjoyed an informal apple tasting, stealing a slice of different apples here and there, comparing the texture and sweetness and crunch. I have always marveled at the beautiful colors nature creates with real, good foods, but I am even more amazed that even just within the category of apples how many different colors they come in. Check out this rainbow of apples!

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I hope you are enjoying the last few days of warmer temperatures and bouts of sunshine. The winter will be here before we know it.

Eat well!

 

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Post 91 – Cupcakes for dinner!

That cozy time of year has started to settle here in Boston (for the moment at least – it was 85 this weekend!) and with that comes a change in the recipe routine. It’s time to start the soups, stews, and hearty meals that stick to our bones and keep us warm. Time to make all those pumpkin recipes you’ve been pining after on Pinterest. Well, my friends, do I have a recipe for you! Cupcakes for dinner! Feels like a treat, looks like a treat, and incredibly satisfying – how could you go wrong? (Wow, this post is already sounding like a sales pitch!)

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Of course I’m not talking about regular cupcakes – these are meatloaf cupcakes, personal meatloaves, muffin-shaped meatballs, meat-cakes or whatever you want to call them. They are quicker to bake than one big meatloaf and can be personalized and even decorated if you’re feeling fancy. I’m sure they would be a hit with young kids.

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Start with your favorite meatloaf or meatball recipe, grease (or line with baking cups) a muffin tin and smoosh that meat mixture right in those muffin cups. I adapted this scrumptious recipe for meatballs with pumpkin in them and I highly recommend it (just use canned pumpkin instead of the butternut squash to save time). Bake them at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until cooked through and nicely browned. NOTE: You might want to put the muffin tin on a sheet pan just in case the grease spills out and burns on the bottom of your oven.

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While they’re baking, chop up some potatoes (any kind), boil, and mash with a bit of butter and milk. Top your tasty meat muffins with your choice of mashed potato or sweet potato “frosting” – piped on if you’re feeling extra special (though if you leave the skins on the potatoes, as I did, piping is a little tricky so I just dollop-ed).

 

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Serve them up with your favorite roasted vegetables, salad, or sauteed greens. Delicious, easy, and sure to make you feel like you’re having a treat.

 

Meat Cupcakes

your favorite meatball/meatloaf recipe

OR

2 lb. ground beef

2 eggs

1 15-oz can pure pumpkin puree

3/4 cup shredded Parmesan

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 tsp. ground cinnamon (sounds weird, but is so good)

3/4 tsp. Kosher salt

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a muffin pan with cupcake liners or spray with a pan spray.  I made about 16 muffins with my mixture.

If you have time and so desire, toast your pecans for a few minutes in a saute pan on the stove or on a sheet pan in the oven. Be sure to watch them so they don’t burn. This should only take a minute and really enhances the flavor of the nuts. In a large bowl, lightly beat your eggs to break up the yolks. Add in the remaining ingredients (including pecans, making sure they’ve cooled a bit) and mix to combine all ingredients.

Divide the mixture between the muffin pans, filling the meat muffins to the rim. You could try mounding the mixture slightly too if you like that look, though they might make more of a mess. Bake in your preheated oven for 20 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165 and they are nicely browned.

Top with homemade mashed potatoes and serve. Yum!