Savory Baked Apples

Recently cooked for a student ministries fundraiser dinner, which by the way was a success! One of the side dishes was a favorite. So I thought I would share it with you to enjoy!

Savory Baked Apples 

  • 1 cup cauliflower crumbles
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup apple cider
  • 4 large Rome apples, cored
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted and divided
  • 1 link mild Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 3 tablespoons minced green onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
  • 1/2 cup shredded Swiss & Gruyere cheese mix


Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  2. Chop walnuts if needed. Toast walnuts on sheet pan in a single layer for 8-10 minutes checking frequently.
  3. Combine cranberries and cider in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH 1 minute. Let stand for 10 minutes. 
  4. Using a small spoon, carefully scoop out centers of apples, leaving a 1/2-inch-thick shell, and chop apple flesh. Brush the inside of apples with 1 tablespoon butter. 
  5. Place apples on a baking sheet, and bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until just tender.
  6. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage, and sauté 5 minutes, stirring to crumble. Remove from pan; drain. 
  7. Wipe skillet, and melt remaining butter in pan. Add cauliflower crumbles, chopped apple, yellow onion, carrot, cinnamon, and cayenne; sauté 4 minutes. Add garlic; sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add sausage, cauliflower mixture, walnuts, green onions and sage; together toss. 
  8. Divide filling mixture evenly among apples; top with cheese. Bake for 5-10 minutes or until cheese melted and almost golden.
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Shaved Fennel and Arugula Salad

We had another successful youth fundraiser dinner at our church. The students raised $16,000 for their summer mission trips. So proud to have worked along side the kids to make Terrace on Chicago to happen for the 9th year in a row. Enjoy this refreshing salad from the dinner.

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Shaved Fennel And Arugula Salad

Yields: 6 servings

1 medium-large zucchini, sliced into paper thin coins
2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed and shaved paper-thin
2/3 cup loosely chopped fresh dill
2 oranges fresh blood orange juice, plus more if needed
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
fine grain sea salt
4 or 5 generous handfuls arugula
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Blood orange zest
Salt and pepper

Combine the zucchini, fennel and dill in a bowl and toss with the orange juice, olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside and marinate for 20 minutes, or up to an hour.

When you are ready to serve the salad, put the arugula in a large bowl. Scoop all of the zucchini and fennel onto the arugula, and pour most of the orange juice dressing on top of that. Toss gently but thoroughly. Taste and adjust with more of the dressing, olive oil, orange juice, or salt if needed. Let your taste buds guide you. Serve topped with pine nuts and feta. Salt and pepper to elevate taste.

Catering: Chicken Choila

Yesterday I had the pleasure of making and serving a meal from Nepal for the most part to our church’s VBC set up crew. Our theme this year is Everest. We have 265 kids preregistered! 

We served a version of Chicken Choila served over Basmanti rice with a side of Carrot-Cabbage Kosambari, watermelon and for dessert S’more Bars to about 100 volunteers. Num!

 Chicken Choila

6 servings

2 lbs boneless chicken tighs

2 T roasted cumin seed powder

1 T paprika

1 T crushed dried red chili

5 cloves of garlic finely chopped

1 ginger nub grated

1 whole red onion finely chopped

Salt & Pepper – Taste

2 T Mustard Oil or vegetable oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp Fenugreek Seeds

1 bunch cilantro leaves finely chopped

1 T of coriander powder

1 or 2 freshly squeezed lime juice

3 green chilies finely chopped

Prep Ahead: In a bowl marinate the chicken in 1 tbs oil, 1 tbs of roasted cumin powder, salt & pepper and 1 tbs spoon of coriander powder. Rest aside for at least 30-45 minutes.

Grill the chicken directly over charcoal. If you don’t have a grill, you can also use the oven. Just make sure that the oven is set to Broil and use the top most slot of your oven (close to the fire). Or cook on the stove top too.
Once the chicken is cooked, rest aside for 10 minutes. If you cut the chicken as soon as you take it off the grill then it is going to loose its moisture and the chicken will get dry soon.
Dice the chicken in cubes (preferably small pieces)

When Ready to Serve: In a mixing bowl or tray, layer the chicken with roasted cumin powder, paprika & crushed chilies, onions, 3 cloves of garlic, ginger,coriander leaves and chopped green chilies. Season with salt and pepper. Now in a pan heat some oil. Put in the cumin and fenugreek seeds and roast it until it turns brown. Add the rest of the chopped garlic in the hot oil. Now pour the mixture on top of the mixing bowl. This process in Nepali is called “Jhanu or Jhaneko”.


Now mix everything together and add the fresh lime juice. Taste the food, if its lacking any ingredient you can always add some. Enjoy!