Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sausage, Squash and Apple Chili

Yes, I said Apple and Chili. I like my chili sweet. It's no secret in my house that I'm a fan of the spicy/sweet combination, and chili is no different. I usually add a tablespoon of brown sugar or honey and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Some people even put in grape jelly, or so I've heard.

Well, when I went into my kitchen yesterday morning there in my fruit basket were apples, tomatoes and chili peppers. See, on the way out from my friend Ann's awesome Oktoberfest party, I noticed her garden. I was shocked by what I saw - fresh ripe peppers and tomatoes - because it's been cold, it's been warm, it's been dry, I thought the season was over. I couldn't help myself. I had to have some. 

The apples are left over from our orchard excursion, and most are marked for more applesauce and muffins (scroll down a bit if you missed them - you're gonna want to make some, trust me!) but I figured one could go to a good cause. I had to use them together. I was entranced by the idea of making something amazing with them. I wasn't sure where to go with the ingredients, though. I looked in my fridge for some protein and didn't have a lot to work with. But the spicy Jimmy Dean pork sausage on the bottom shelf spoke to me, and it wasn't talking breakfast. That was when the Sausage, Squash and Apple Chili was born.

Sausage, Squash and Apple Chili

You Will Need:
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Baking Sheet
  • Crockpot
  • Cutting Board
  • Knife
  • Cheese Grater
  • Fork (I use a fork instead of a spoon - you can use it to mash, stir and flip)
  • 4 Tomatoes  (I used Roma from the garden or use 1 can of whole/halved crushed)
  • 1 Small Can of Tomato Paste
  • 1 Pound Spicy Pork (Or ground beef or make it vegetarian and use red kidney beans)
  • 2 Cups Corn (I had corn off the cob in my freezer from the CSA or use 1/2 package frozen)
  • 1 Apple
  • 1/4 Butternut Squash
  • 2 Chili Peppers
  • 1 Bell Pepper (I'd go yellow, orange or red)
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion
  • 4 Strips Bacon (omit if going the veggie route - it would seriously be good without meat!)
  • 1 Beef Bouillon Cube (again, just leave out and maybe put in some salt and pepper instead)
  • 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon Paprika
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon Lime Juice (or lemon or vinegar)
  • 2 Cups Water
  • Sour Cream 
  • Gouda Cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees for the bacon
  2. Start by putting the sausage in the bottom of the crockpot, flip and cook thoroughly with the onion, garlic and cinnamon sprinkled on top
  3. Put bacon on a foil wrapped cookie sheet and sprinkle with brown sugar and red pepper flakes, cook for 15 minutes,chop into pieces and add to crockpot 
  4. Wash and chop all the vegetables (the hardest part is peeling and gutting the squash) into small chunks (I went super small in fear that my kids would recognize something and flip out) and don't forget to de-seed your peppers!
  5. Wash and cut tomatoes and mash a bit if using fresh
  6. Add all to crockpot with beef bouillon cube, water and tomato paste
  7. Stir in spices and lime juice
  8. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, top with sour cream and gouda
This is a perfect Autumn Chili. I picked gouda cheese because of the apples - if you've never had a gouda and apple grilled cheese, make yourself one! I promise you will be happy you did. If you're up for something a little bit different, but still comfort food, give this chili a try!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Awesome Sauce (I mean, Applesauce) and Peanut Butter Caramel Apple Muffin Cupcakes

I planned on making an apple upside down cake, but the more I thought about it, the more I knew it'd be too much and that my idea needed some reworking. I love baking, but I've never been much of a sweet freak, a whole cake is just not something that would be consumed quickly enough in my house, given that my oldest also lacks a sweet tooth. My grandma just gave me a nice new muffin tin, so I thought I'd let that go to good use instead.

I really only make 2 kinds of cupcakes ever, my Lemon Berry Cupcakes and a Chocolate Cookie Dough Cupcake that I'll have to share one of these days. Most of the other "cupcakes" that I make are really muffins with frosting. I'm all about making healthy things slightly unhealthy. Or, as I look at it, non-healthy things a bit healthy. So, when I went to come up with a recipe for a caramel apple in cake form, I went more towards the muffin route.

The way to make any cupcake healthier is to use half whole wheat flour, applesauce (instead of oil), yogurt (better for you than butter!) and as little sugar as you can. This works with any autumn flavored muffin or cupcake - pumpkin, apple, cinnamon, maple... These actually only have maybe 1/4 tablespoon of sugar in all. Now, they do have honey in them, too, though. And, I had to add a nice dollop of caramel to the center, but if you were serious about the sugar factor, you could easily get away with leaving it out and these "cupcakes" would still rock your socks off. I also went a bit further with the unhealthy side by adding Burnt Butter Frosting, which is almost the most amazing thing ever. But, again, if you wanted to stay on the healthy side - just sprinkle a little cinnamon and sugar on top or just leave it out completely - as I said before, these will seriously knock your socks off.

And, it all started with my daughter making the applesauce for me. I'm not a fan of chunky applesauce. I don't know what y'all see in it. I like it cold and smooth. I don't like cinnamon in it. I want apples. I don't want it sugary. I want it tart. My kids love sour things, not sure where they get that, but give them a lemon and they won't bother making lemonade. This applesauce is so good and good for you. By leaving the skin on you get all those nutrients and a beautiful pink color. The lemon isn't overpowering and the vanilla is just enough to give you a sweet aroma without overpowering the apples. This is so easy and good - we will be making more. We didn't use all of it in the muffins, but it's already almost gone.

Awesome Sauce (with Apples)

You Will Need:
  • Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Saucepan and Cover
  • Fork
  • Food Processor (unless you want it chunky, then fine! Just mash when cooled instead)
  • Medium Sized Jar
  • 4 Haralson Apples (or any apple)
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar in the Raw
  • 3/4 C Water
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1/2 of a Lemon Juiced
  1. Wash, core and chop apples into medium-sized chunks (don't forget to keep the peel on! No pealing! Just trust me on this)
  2. In saucepan squeeze the lemon over the apples and add water
  3. Put saucepan on stovetop on medium heat
  4. Stir in vanilla and sugar (I use a fork to stir)
  5. Cover and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the apples are soft
  6. Let cool
  7. Puree in food processor until smooth
Use it in muffins, cakes, cookies, bread or just for your kid's lunch box! But, now, now onto the "cupcakes"!

Peanut Butter Caramel Apple Cupcake Muffins

You Will Need:

  • 1 Large Mixing Bowl
  • 1 Small Mixing Bowl
  • Hand Mixer
  • Sifter (skip it if you want, but like I said in my Cornbread Post, it can be worth it!)
  • Cutting Board
  • Knife
  • Muffin Pan
  • Spoon
  • Nonstick Spray
  • 1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Applesauce
  • 1/4 Cup Yogurt
  • 2 Egg Whites (see? Healthy!)
  • 1/4 Cup Honey
  • 1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Wheat Flour
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Apple
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 1 Cup Caramel Sauce (I used Smuckers from a jar, you can easily make some, too!)
  • Peanuts (for garnish)
  1. Mix and sift dry ingredients in small bowl
  2. Mix together the wet ingredients, leaving the apple
  3. Chop apple into small pieces (I did little slivers) and squeeze 1/2 a lemon over them
  4. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until smooth (it is not runny like a cake batter, it's supposed to be more dense)
  5. Mix in apple pieces
  6. Spray muffin pan and fill halfway, making a little nest as much as possible (don't stress)
  7. Fill each nest with a small dollop of caramel and top with more muffin mix (just enough to cover caramel)
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 325 degrees
  9. Drizzle with Burnt Butter Glaze, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar or peanuts or just eat plain!
Burnt Butter Glaze
  1. Melt 1 Stick Butter on medium heat in small frying pan until it turns brown (remove immediately! Don't let it actually burn!)
  2. In 1 Small Bowl stir in 1 Heaping Cup of Powdered Sugar into the butter with an Electric Mixer until smooth