Ok, maybe more like OH, the place that I went. This past week I had the immense pleasure of traveling back to Ohio to spend a few days with my dear friend, Amanda, and food – as usual – played a large role when it came to planning our agenda. I was incredibly fortunate to be in town for the last few days of Dine Originals’ Restaurant Week (I’ll go into detail in another post), but the most memorable meal of the long weekend ended up being a pot-lucked brunch at our friends Amanda and Stephen’s house. (There are two Amandas…I try to keep things as confusing as possible, if you haven’t noticed.)
Amanda and Stephen recently graced this world with the most beautiful baby girl I’ve laid eyes on, Miss Evelyn Rose. She’s all smiles and pretty eyes and rosy cheeks and none of that wrinkled alien-ness that we all kind of expect from newborns. I’m sorry, I know it’s not the kindest thing to say, but a good percentage of wee little babies just aren’t much to look at until they get a few months under their belt, myself included. But this precious dear? She was pretty from Day One. And such a sweetheart.
So, as an excuse to meet little Evelyn for myself – and to log some seriously overdue mimosa-time with her parents and our friends – I did what any classy lady would do and invited myself over for brunch. Nimble folks that they are, Amanda and Stephen totally rolled with it.
Brunch Buddies + Baby Evelyn. Love.
In addition to our mimosas, we merrily consumed no less than a crap-ton of brunchtastic fare:
Mediterranean quiche with artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes and feta; stuffed baked apples with cranberries and walnuts; classic French toast with strawberries; biscuits with butter and jam, bacon (duh), coffee crumb cake, cookies and more. It was one of the tastiest meals I’ve had in C-Bus, made all the more lovely by the warmth of good friends that I don’t get to see nearly often enough. Tears, people. There were very nearly tears, I love these folks so much.
The Usual Suspects: Bacon (!!!), Quiche, Mimosas and Fraawnch Toast, Stuffed Apples
Fortunately, my memory is tied inexorably to food, and I look forward to revisiting this sunny November brunch whenever I please just by recreating these rad stuffed apples. It might just be my new go-to recipe when that first lick of real fall weather strikes. Or maybe just when I’m feeling a bit homesick for my second family in the ol’ Midwest.
Much love and thug hugs to you guys. You’re the best.
Note: There is probably a better way to write this recipe, but this is the way I do it. The filling and the streusel are nearly the same, the only difference being the addition of flour and white sugar in the streusel, but for some reason it seems more natural to make each component separately. Baking time aside, it only requires about 15 minutes of active cooking, max. To really take these to the next level, try adding a few savory flavors. Bacon, thyme and black pepper come to mind…
- 8 apples, thoroughly washed (Rome, Gala, McIntosh, or your favorite baking apple)
For the filling
- 1 cup rolled oats
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ stick (4 T) cold butter, cubed
For the streusel topping
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 T sugar
- 4 T flour
- ¼ cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts, finely chopped
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ stick (4 T cold butter, cubed)
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease bottom and sides of a 9” x 13” casserole dish.
Trim bottom of apples so they sit upright and remove core and seeds using the one-two punch of a paring knife and small spoon or a melon baller. Be careful not to cut all the way through to bottom of the apples, if possible. Arrange in greased pan.
Combine all filling ingredients in a medium bowl and use a pastry cutter or your fingers to rub butter through sugar and oats until mixture resembles chunky crumbles. Distribute filling across apples, packing tightly to fit as much as possible. Scatter extra filling (if there is any) around apples in baking pan. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 40 mins.
Meanwhile, repeat the process to make the filling with streusel ingredients and stash in the freezer until apples are cooked. When 40 minutes have passed, remove foil and top apples with streusel mixture (break it up with a fork if it’s gotten too firm in the freezer), carefully packing it onto the tops (careful, they’re hot!). Sprinkle extra around pan.
Bake, uncovered, for an additional 10-15 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Serve warm with ice cream and enjoy with friends.