bratwurst with apples & onions: the most october meal ever

fullsizeoutput_93b.jpegLately it seems like everyone is obsessed with fall. October, especially. And guess what… I’m shamelessly obsessed too. Not only do I yearn for the perfect, crisp, sunny day where fall foliage can be seen creeping out from the green leaves, I crave autumn cuisine — soups and stews and basically any sweet or savory dish with apple or pumpkin involved. A serious favorite of mine is the pumpkin cookie recipe I shared a few years ago.

I have been wanting to post this dish for a while because it’s one of my favorite October dinners. It is a warm and hearty meal worthy of that perfect fall day, which yesterday was just about the closest we’ve come so far on Long Island! After a stop in to the lab like a good Ph.D. student, Mike and I picked up a pumpkin and some local apples (and maybe some apple cider donuts too…) to celebrate a beautiful October Sunday.  I then spent the evening preparing this dish, apple crisp, and tonight’s vegetable lentil soup — which I am going to make every effort to post sooner rather than later!

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bratwurst with apples & onions

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. Wondra flour
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 cups sauerkraut, rinsed, drained, & squeezed dry
  • 1 large onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 3 large apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 8 whole smoked bratwurst
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 2 Tbsp. dry vermouth
  • 2 Tbsp. ketchup

Method:

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place fennel seeds in a small plastic bag and crush with a mallet. Add the flour and pepper to the bag and shake to combine. Spread the sauerkraut over the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch ceramic baking dish. Sprinkle 1/3 of the flour mixture over the sauerkraut. Arrange onion slices over and sprinkle with half of remaining flour mixture. Spread half of the apple slices over and then sprinkle with remaining flour mixture.  Place bratwurst on top and then arrange remaining apple slices around bratwurst. Tuck in the bay leaves. Mix the broth, vermouth, and ketchup in a measuring cup. Pour the broth mixture evenly over the dish. Cover tightly with foil.

Roast the bratwurst 40 minutes. Uncover and then roast about 25 minutes longer until sausages and apples begin to brown.

Serve with fresh Pumpernickel bread.

Recipe adapted from: Bon Appetit (a super long time ago!)

How I eat it: with a tall glass of apple cider on the side

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bowtie pasta with sweet sausage & tomatoes

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This is one of my favorite, simple dinner recipes. It is yummy and hearty enough for a Sunday meal, but also quick and easy enough for a weeknight. Also, leftovers remain amazingly delicious! (Coming from someone who is generally not a huge fan of leftovers, that is high praise.)

This recipe actually originates from my parent’s neighbor’s friend — I know, it’s already passed through quite a few hands! I have not done much to adapt it as it really is pretty perfect as is. So, I give credit to my mom, my neighbors, and their friend for sharing this recipe – and now I will share it with you! Enjoy!

bowtie pasta with sweet sausage & tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 28-oz. can plum tomatoes
  • 1 cup heavy cream (or half & half)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • Pecorino romano cheese, grated
  • 1 lb. farfalle pasta

Method

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Remove casings from sausage and add to skillet along with crushed red pepper. With a wooden spoon, break up sausage into bite-sized pieces. Cook over medium heat until browned. Add onion and garlic, cook 8-10 minutes until tender.

Coarsely chop the canned plum tomatoes and add to the skillet with the juices from the can. Add cream and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened (~5-10 minutes).

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta, al dente. Drain pasta and combine with thickened sauce (I like to transfer the pasta over to the skillet of sauce with a slotted spoon to get some of the starchy water in to thicken the sauce!). Top with chopped basil and pecorino romano to taste.

Recipe adapted from my parent’s neighbor’s friend

How I eat it: with A LOT of grated cheese (see below!)

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turkey chili

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Don’t look at my previous post! Okay, I know that actually made you look at my previous post. And I know, it’s from August 2015… and it’s February 2017 (insert that monkey emoji that’s covering it’s eyes to convey feelings of shame).  Although I haven’t stopped cooking, my busy past year and a half has prevented me from blogging.

If you remember in this post, I shared that Mike and I got engaged in January of 2015. Well, planning our wedding while in school, getting married, and moving in with Mike has been an absolute whirlwind! But, a truly great whirlwind. We were so lucky to share our wedding day with family and friends out in beautiful Montauk. And now, we are all settled in to our first place together.

I feel so grateful to have everything we need to cook yummy meals in our apartment. Thank you to everyone who helped set us up so perfectly.  It’s been just about six months in our place and we’ve been able to sit down to a home-cooked dinner together each night as we wind down from our busy days. And we’ve been able to host our family and friends for holidays or just for fun!

Since we’ve moved in, Mike has been encouraging me to blog again.  However, I was complaining that I could no longer hijack my dad’s Nikon to take food pictures.  Well my wonderful husband solved that problem with a Nikon D3300 under our Christmas tree this year.  I definitely still have a lot to learn about photography and now that I have my own DSLR camera, I am looking forward to trying to improve my photos. And hopefully as I continue to blog without year(s)-long interruptions, you can track my progress!

Anyway, let’s get down to the recipe: turkey chili. Last week, the Northeast got hit pretty hard with snow and chili seemed like the perfect thing to enhance the coziness of a snow day. There is a great recipe by Geoffrey Zakarian for beef chili – it has beer and tons of meat and spice.  But, I like this recipe for a lighter, healthier version that makes me feel less guilty about piling on the toppings. I’ve taken my favorite aspects of several turkey chili recipes and have coined this one as my own. Enjoy!

Also, check out this awesome flat saute by Earlywood.  My mom got it for me for my birthday and this was my first time using it. I loved it! Super great for stirring and scraping the bottom and sides of the pot.

Turkey Chili

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. ground turkey
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 jalapeños, finely chopped
  • 4 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1/4-tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz. can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained (I sometimes omit these because I prefer no beans, but Mike likes beans)
  • 1/2-cup chopped scallions
  • red hot sauce to taste
  • green hot sauce to taste

My favorite toppings:

  • shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • chopped avocado
  • chopped tomatoes
  • pickled jalapenos
  • scallions
  • sour cream
  • red & green hot sauces

Method:

Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat.  Once hot, add onions and garlic and sauté until tender (~5 minutes). Add turkey, breaking up with a fork and cook until browned (~8 minutes).  Add bell pepper, jalapeño, chili powder, oregano, and cayenne pepper. Cook until peppers are tender and spice is incorporated (~5 more minutes).  Then, add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, kidney beans (if using), and scallions.

Cook on low heat for at least one hour with the cover on but ajar, stirring occasionally. I like to let it simmer for a good 4 hours if I have the time to let the flavors blend. Add red and green hot sauces to taste.

How I eat it: with every topping listed above and some good cornbread on the side

Note: This is a great recipe to take half the batch and freeze it for a quick and easy meal that tastes even better the second time around!

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quinoa with corn, avocado, tomato, & lime

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Corn and tomatoes.  I don’t know about you, but those are the two foods I absolutely CRAVE in August.  Last Sunday, I made this corn soup recipe again.  One of my favorite things about this soup is that you make your own vegetable broth, with plenty of extra to freeze and save or use right away for a different recipe.  Usually I like to make a risotto with my leftover broth — such as this zucchini risotto with shrimp or this red wine mushroom risotto.  But, lately my mom and I have been on a bit of a quinoa kick.  What we like to do is make a big batch of quinoa salad on Sunday and then take it to work for lunch throughout the week.

This recipe is really great because it is healthy, packed with flavor, and surprisingly filling and satisfying!  The jalapeño and lime adds a southwestern tastiness, and the avocado is what makes it feel like a complete lunch.  I find that without something containing some fat (healthy, unsaturated fat such as in avocado or nuts) in salads that I intend to eat as a meal, I am just not as satisfied!

all chopped up ready to go

quinoa with corn, avocado, tomato, & lime

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion, from one small onion
  • 1 cup tri-color quinoa
  • 1-2/3 cup corn broth (see recipe here) or store-bought vegetable broth
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • corn kernels from 2 cobs (cooked or uncooked, your preference — I used uncooked)*
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded, membranes removed, and finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh chopped parsley (or cilantro if you like)
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 avocado, cut into bite-sized chunks

Method

Rinse the quinoa if not pre-washed.  Do this by placing quinoa in a fine mesh strainer (so seeds cannot fall through) and running under cold water until there are no longer suds. This removes bitter-tasting saponins from the seed. Then shake the quinoa dry in the strainer.

suds                                     no suds

Heat olive oil over in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add onions and sauté until soft and translucent (about 5 minutes).  Add quinoa to the pan and stir constantly for 3-5 minutes, until quinoa is toasted and thoroughly mixed with the onions.  Add the corn/vegetable broth and turn up the heat and bring to a boil.  Turn down the heat and cover with a lid, simmering for 20 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is cooked. Fluff quinoa with a fork, then transfer to a bowl and cool in refrigerator.

When quinoa is cool, add chopped vegetables.  Make sure to add the avocado last and squeeze the lime juice over it (the acid helps prevent the avocado from turning brown quickly).

*Quick tip on cutting corn off the cob:  Place the fat end of the corn perpendicular to a pie plate and slice down with a large, sharp knife.  The pie plate will catch all most of the flying kernels!

cuttin' the corn                                        kernels

How I eat it: cold for lunch, maybe with some fruit on the side for something sweet!

Recipe adapted from: Once Upon A Chef

quinoa close up

spicy brussel sprouts with lemon and parmesan

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I’ll admit it. I was always a typical kid who didn’t want to eat her brussel sprouts.  Actually, for a while I was one of those typical adults who didn’t really want to eat her brussel sprouts either. It was only a few years ago that I discovered that brussel sprouts actually can be delicious. And for those of you who are still skeptical of this veggie with a bad rap, I think I can turn you… if you try this recipe!

I am proud to take credit for this concoction myself. We had bought fresh brussel sprouts (don’t go for the bagged stuff) and we were unsure what to do with them.  Now putting bacon in the mix is always a good option, but in this case we were cooking kielbasa as the main so we wanted something lighter and fresher on the side.  I basically took a few of my favorite flavors, and things that we always have on hand and tossed ’em in a frying pan with the sprouts — super easy and super quick! Also, I like my veggies a little more al dente, and sautéing doesn’t get rid of that fresh crunch! And if you are a fan of more well-done vegetables, no problem — just leave them in the pan for longer over lower heat.

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spicy brussel sprouts with lemon and parmesan

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. fresh brussel sprouts, cleaned and quartered
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 5 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. red pepper
  • juice from half a lemon (~1/4 cup)
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly grated parmesan
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Once shimmering and before butter browns, add minced garlic.  Saute for one minute until garlic is tender; do not let it burn.  Add brussel sprouts and season with salt, pepper, red pepper, and lemon juice.  Cook until sprouts start to crisp up, 7-10 minutes. Top with parmesan cheese and serve hot!

frying em upHow I eat it: in bulk

A “no rhyme or raisins” original

freshly prepped