Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A One Pot Meal: Easy and Delicious

There’s an apple orchard near my house, and every autumn when I was younger, we went apple picking. My parents attempted to place some limit on the number of apples we picked, but you simply cannot go apple picking and bring home only twenty or so apples. Thus, we always came home with pound upon pound of apples so that they filled every nook and cranny of the fridge.

For the first couple of days, we would just enjoy the crisp sweetness of plain raw apples. Then we would start dipping them in peanut butter and caramel sauce, and later on, we would begin baking: making apple crisps and applesauce. Some year during this baking period, my mom first made sausage and apples. A dish that perfectly melds the fattiness of sausage with the sweetness of apples and cinnamon, it became one of my favorites.

Since it’s delicious and easy to make, sausage and apples has become one of my staple meals, but last week, when I went to make it, I decided the recipe could do with a bit of a makeover. Into the mix, I added squash and mushrooms, and the recipe below was born. Like its predecessor, this meal is easy to make and tastes great. Sausage and apples will always have a special place in my heart, but this alteration has earned a spot as well.

Sausage, Apple, Squash, and Mushroom Bake
(Serves 2)

1 pre-cooked sausage (I used aidells Chicken & Apple sausage)
1 acorn squash (butternut would work as well)
1 apple (preferably one that is good for baking such as granny smith or Rome)
1 cup of mushrooms
Salt, pepper, and cinnamon to taste

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
2. The squash will take the longest to cook, so I recommend starting with that. First, slice the squash in half from stem to tip. This can be difficult, so use a good knife. If you find the squash is too difficult to cut, microwave it for about a minute and then try again. After slicing the squash in half, use a spoon to scoop out the seeds.
3. If you’re not in a rush, place the halves cut-side down it in a pan filled with a shallow layer of water, and place the pan in the oven for about 50 minutes or until soft. If you have less time, place the squash cut side down on a plate and microwave on high in four-minute increments until soft.
4. After removing the squash from the oven or microwave, allow it to cool briefly. Then use a knife to peel off the skin. Cut the squash into bite-size cubes and place them in an oven safe casserole dish.
5. Peel the apple and cut it into bite-size pieces. Slice the mushrooms, and cut the sausage into small pieces. Add these all to the dish.
6. Sprinkle all the ingredients with salt, pepper, and cinnamon as desired. Personally, I suggest a generous amount of cinnamon (~2 teaspoons), a fairly generous amount of pepper (~1 teaspoon), and just a dash of salt.
7. Stir all the ingredients together to distribute the spices.
8. Place the pan in the oven and cook for about 10-15 minutes. The key to telling when it’s finished is when the mushrooms and apples are the right texture.
9. Serve and enjoy!

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