November 06, 2013

Baked Apples For Two and Pork Quinoa Bake

On the weekend when I was driving home, I saw the perfect tree. It was tall and had ample branches for climbing. I wanted to sit in the tree and watch the world go by. When I was younger, I loved climbing trees. Each one was a challenge, and even though I was afraid of heights, I loved climbing to the tallest branch and enjoying the peaceful feeling of looking over everything below; it was a kind of freedom. 

fall leaves

There is also that freedom of jumping into a pile of leaves. Have you ever seen a dog jumping and running around a pile of leaves? They are the picture of pure happiness. I was outside playing around with my camera and had to capture the warm yellow and brown colours of the season.

There is something so refreshing and crisp about fall. Speaking of crisp, I picked up a bag of Honey Crisp apples from a local apple farm. These apples aren't your puny, grocery store apples; they are in a league of their own.

I made "baked apples for two," which is a quick and easy apple crisp dessert without having to make an entire apple crisp. Unless you're in the mood for an entire apple crisp. Because of the price of Honey Crisp apples, I would suggest rationing them.

baked apples for two

I adapted the recipe from this "Stuffed baked apples with walnuts and dates" recipe from Family Fresh Cooking. The apples will be soft, almost like applesauce, and the filling isn't too sweet or rich.

Baked Apples For Two

2 apples, cored
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
4 dates or 1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup coconut, soy or almond milk
Maple syrup and brown sugar to drizzle


1. Melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the oats, walnuts, dates and coconut milk and heat for a few minutes.
2. Pour the lemon juice into each apple and then the heated filling and bake in the oven covered at 350 for about 45 minutes.The apples will also fit in a muffin tin to bake individual portions. The ones I bought were abnormally large, so I had to fit them together into a casserole dish.

I also experimented with a few quinoa recipes I have seen and came up with my own. It's not quite a pilaf, bake or casserole. Quinoa is also a lot less heavy than using rice or pasta.

pork quinoa

Pork, Apple and Kale Quinoa

1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 bunch kale (about 1 cup)
1 pork chop (approx. 1/2 lb or ground pork)
1 onion, diced
¼ cup walnuts, chopped


1. In a medium saucepan, brown the pork for a few minutes in 1 tsp of olive oil for about 4 minutes until slightly browned, then remove and set aside.
2. In the same saucepan, add the onions with a touch of olive oil, chopped apples and kale and saute for about 5 minutes. Make sure not to let the kale burn.  

3. Add the uncooked quinoa and toast for about a minute then add the chicken broth and water and let everything simmer until the quinoa is cooked. You can cook the quinoa beforehand if you would like and add it to the vegetables for a quicker cooking process. Transfer to a casserole or baking dish and add the pork back to the quinoa mixture. 

pork quinoa

4. Bake in the oven covered for about 20 minutes at 350F until pork is cooked through. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts on top to serve and any additional toppings. A dollop of applesauce or feta cheese also works well.

Once you've had this hearty meal with maybe a cup of hot apple cider, put your boots on, go outside and stomp on all of the piles of leaves you can find. Freedom is a beautiful thing. 

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