Fuji Apple Mac N Cheese with Apple & Gouda Cheese Sausage

1 12 2013

I made up this dish as I was making it. I had an opened package of sausages in my fridge that needed to be used as well as some apples. I was inspired by some mac & cheese with apples that I ate in 1988 in Switzerland. Yes, I still was thinking of it 25 years later…. Being the first of December it was feeling firmly mid-autumn on the California Central Coast, and this seemed like a seasonally appropriate dish. The organic Fuji apples were grown at Bellvue’s See Canyon Farms 1-1/2 miles down the road from our house; you can barely get any more local than that!

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This recipe is for 4 servings, and is hearty enough to eat on its own.

From Trader Joe’s:

  • 16 oz. package of organic brown rice penne pasta
  • 1/2 lb. block of English cheddar with caramelized onions

From New Frontiers:

  • 4 sausages with apples & gouda cheese
  • 3 Bellevue’s See Canyon Farms organic Fuji apples, chopped in 1/3″ cubes
  • 2 cups 2% or whole milk, depending on how rich you want the sauce to  be. You could even use cream.
  • 4 T. unsalted organic butter

From my pantry:

  • garlic powder (you can use fresh garlic, which could be sauteed with the roux)
  • sea salt
  • ground cinnamon

1. Fill a large non-stick pot with water, add about 2 tsp. salt, and bring to a rolling boil.

2. While you’re waiting for the water to boil preheat a cast iron skillet on medium high.

3. Wash, dry, and chop the apples.

4. Add 2 T. butter to the cast iron skillet, and just as it melts add the apples and stir immediately to coat the apples with the butter.

5. By now the water should be coming to a rolling boil. Add the pasta, and set a timer for 7 minutes (for perfect al dente texture). Stir the pasta immediately a few times, and then stir it before you drain it. This is so it doesn’t stick to the pot or clump together.

6. Stir the apples frequently so they don’t burn, and that they start to lightly caramelize evenly. Don’t let them get past medium caramel. Remove the apples and put them in a bowl. Actually, I did this, because our daughter is a vegetarian, so I needed to keep the apples and sausage separate. If no one minds the apples and sausage mixing, add the sausage to the apples just when they barely start browning, and finish browning them together in the cast iron skillet.

7. In a large glass measuring cup measure 2 cups milk and microwave for 3 minutes.

8. Right when the 7 minute timer for the pasta rings drain the pasta in a colander and immediately rinse with cold water to arrest the cooking.

9. In the same non-stick pot used to cook the pasta place on medium high heat and add 2 T. butter and 2 T. flour to form a roux. Stir while cooking for a few minutes just until the roux turns very pale straw/brown.

10. Add the hot milk 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well between additions and smashing any clumps with the back of the spoon to form a smooth sauce. Before adding each addition 1/2 cup of milk let the sauce heat up again when it just starts to bubble (this happens quickly).

11. Add cinnamon, garlic powder, and salt to taste. I used about 2 tsps. cinnamon, 1 tsp. garlic powder, and 1 tsp. salt.

12. Once all the milk is incorporated to the roux let it simmer for a few minutes, then add the grated cheese and stir continuously.

13. Once all the cheese is melted, and the sauce is smooth add the caramelized apples and pasta and stir well.

14. Serve in pasta bowls, and top with the browned sausage (if it isn’t already mixed into the pasta with the apples).

15. Add freshly ground pepper if desired.

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Pinnacles in Autumn

1 11 2013

Eriogonum fasciculatum (California Buckwheat)Pinnacles National Park in AutumnEriogonum fasciculatum (California Buckwheat)Eriogonum fasciculatum (California Buckwheat)Eriogonum fasciculatum (California Buckwheat)Azolla filiculoides (Mosquito or Water Fern)
Azolla filiculoides (Mosquito or Water Fern)Azolla filiculoides (Mosquito or Water Fern)Azolla filiculoides (Mosquito or Water Fern)View of High PeaksColorful Lichen at Pinnacles National ParkColorful Lichen at Pinnacles National Park
Condor Gulch ViewsCondor Gulch ViewsLeaning PineTrailside Manzanita (Arctostaphylos)Trailside Manzanita (Arctostaphylos)Trailside Manzanita (Arctostaphylos)
Condor Gulch Trail & High PeaksRJ and MeSpontaneous Trail DocentSpontaneous Trail DocentLower High Peaks TrailColorful Lichen at Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles in Autumn, a set on Flickr.

We hiked a 6 mile loop from the Peaks View parking over dry streambed and then through a riparian area to the Bear Gulch day use area. From there we hiked up Condor Gulch, which had spectacular views of the High Peaks area. At the intersection with the High Peaks trail we turned right (east) and descended toward the Old Pinnacles trail, where we made a right turn (southeast) and hiked about a mile back to the Peaks View parking lot to close our loop.





Things Are Not What They Seem

22 04 2013

Things Are Not What They Seem

At an airport – going nowhere soon
Airplane – no crew
American Eagle aircraft – operated by SkyWest Airlines





Dinner at Robin’s

12 04 2013

Harmony Headlands State ParkGarden at Robin's RestaurantGarden at Robin's RestaurantGarden at Robin's RestaurantGarden at Robin's RestaurantGarden at Robin's Restaurant
Garden at Robin's RestaurantIn the Alcoveuntitled shoot-April 12, 2013-16Amuse BoucheSesame Crusted Oyster Mushroom "Calamari"Robin's Chow with Jumbo Prawns
Tofu CrostiniPan-fried Blue Corn Crusted AvocadoStrawberry-Rhubarb NapoleonGarden at Robin's RestaurantGarden at Robin's Restaurant

Dinner at Robin’s, a set on Flickr.

For my 46th birthday my husband took me on a date on the northern coast of San Luis Obispo county. After an easy hike at Harmony Headlands State Park we dined at one of my very favorite restaurants, Robin’s in Cambria. I ordered the special spring vegan prix fixe menu and he ordered Robin’s famous incredible salmon bisque and Robin’s chow with jumbo prawns. We shared everything ~ delicious!





The Getty Center Garden

2 03 2013



The Getty Center Garden, originally uploaded by flygrl67.

Lovely day at The Getty Center





These smell SO good!

28 02 2013



These smell SO good!, originally uploaded by flygrl67.

These smell SO good!





First Larkspur

27 02 2013



First Larkspur, originally uploaded by flygrl67.








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