Sunday, October 07, 2007

Road trip to pick some apples!

Busy busy! Coming from the kitchen we made 11 new recipes this week - our favorites were the Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies, Pumpkin Ravioli with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and the Maple-Walnut Cupcakes with Candied Walnuts.

No luck for a lazy Sunday to be had by us today - we got up bright and early to drive down and meet up with my family in Winona, MN. We start there and then travel over to Wisconsin to pick apples and shop. I grew up doing this almost every year! Since Jeff and I had moved away from Minnesota, we only got to live vicariously through their trip reports, but now that we are back we can finally join them again!

Sit back, relax and join us in our trip report by pictures - I even made dinner tonight, albeit a quick one, but don't forget to check it out at the end! As always - if the words are blue in the post, you can click on them as they are linked to another page... you can also click on the pictures to view them at a larger size.

We took this quick snap from the car as we loved how the clouds were opening this morning - this was over Lake Pepin.

Here is one of the apple farms that we always go to every year and do some pickin'.

See? Pick 'em yourself!

This is my sister Jennifer (struttin' around in her shades) carrying a heavy bushel of apples.

Mom, who never stands still for one second, is busy moving to the next tree to fill up her box!

Oops, I caught Jeff a little off-guard with this shot! Hee hee!

One of my many nephews, Brody, came along for the trip and had a blast once we finally found a tree his height!

Here's an action shot of me trying to get that perfect apple... just a little higher!

Hmm... I look a little angry here - but in my defense, I was just bitten by a few mosquitoes!

Look at the magnificent myriad of fall colors on the trees behind the apple farm!

One of the shops we stopped at had buckets and buckets of these beautiful corn cobs

Dad always makes sure we swing by one of the large Lock and Dams that are along the mighty Mississippi river.

Before we left, we also made a visit to Lark Toys - it is a giant shop of homemade wooden toys, among other items to view. They had this cotton candy-colored duo waterfall at their mini golf coarse that we just had to take a picture of!

I don't know how they managed it, but Dad and Jennifer's husband Steve did not make it into any of the pictures! Bah!

Here is our haul - 39 pounds of apples for a whopping $16! Woo!

By the time we got back, I was pretty tired from lots of driving (yes, Jeff played "map person" again...) and did not feel like doing anything for dinner. I almost gave in and just stopped on the way back to pick up something at Panera, but remembered I had a stash of recipes set aside for times I feel like this. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind eating out once in awhile, but we just prefer good 'ol homemade food.

After a quick 10 minute marinade for a few chicken breasts, this Apricot-and-Cheddar Chicken Melt literally came together in a flash. To jazz up the plain chicken breasts, they are first sliced in half to speed up the cooking time and then go for a quick swim in a mixture a of white-wine vinegar, Dijon and garlic. After just 5 minutes under the broiler, the chicken was completely cooked through, yet still quite juicy and tender. The cooked chicken is spread out on sliced baguette pieces that have been slathered in sweet and tangy apricot preserves. Layers of thinly sliced deli ham and shredded sharp white cheddar are then placed on top of the chicken breasts. The assembled sandwiches slide back under the broiler until the baguette toasts slightly to get a hearty crunch and to let the cheese get all bubbly and gooey.

Apricot-and-Cheddar Chicken MeltNot a lot of clean up? Check! Quick to make? Check! Tastes as good as it sounds? Check! Seems like I found a new go-to recipe when I need something in a hurry and I don't feel up to doing much work!


  1. Joe, you are the cutest guy. How do you stay so thin with all of your great cooking? This looks like a great day. We pick blueberries every summer, but these apples look delicious. Jancd (older than your mom, probably!)

  2. I like the trip report and the pics. You really enjoyed your day. It most be nice to be with the family again. Also supper looks good! I'm with you, I like good homemade food, even if it's something quick.

  3. Quite the hall, Joe. We are going apple picking next Sunday.

  4. Great pics!!! We enjoy family outings to pick apples also!

    Love your blog -- keep up the great work!

  5. Sounds wonderful....can't wait to see what you do with all those apples! I've turned into such a fastfood hound -- I do try to eat healthy, but it's not the same as home cooked. That chicken melt looks mighty tasty and easy. I should do more of that!

  6. Joe - is it just me, or does Jeff look like a mirror image of James Taylor? :)

    Thanks for the pictures - just gorgeous!

  7. Your trip sounds like it was loads of family fun. And I love how you pulled dinner together - a recipe that I will now put into my own "quick dinner" files.

  8. Wow--you got a great price on those apples! That is amazing--I may have to head over to WI for those prices...!


  9. make that haul rather than hall. In either case you have a bunch of apples

  10. Joe, I love the photos of your apple picking adventure. And I know EXACTLY what you mean about dinner. So many nights I feel too tired to make dinner, and yet I find a way to whip up something quick yet good instead of resorting to take-out, which is almost always disappointing compared to our good homemade food. G, my husband, really doesn't like eating out or getting take out any more. He says I've spoiled him.

    For those nights when we need dinner quick quick quick, I often rely on linguine carbonara, which I can throw together pretty fast -- or a container of homemade pasta sauce or soup from the freezer. Thanks for sharing one of your good tricks; those sandwiches look delish!

  11. I want to go apple pickin too!

    Your mom looks muscular. That's a good thing.

    Jeff looks angry. Tell him I said so.

    That's a lot of apples. How are you ever going to use them all?

    The sandwich looks really good. I'm sure it tasted better than Panera, and it didn't cost $7.00.

  12. Jancd - Lots of exercise and self-control I guess!

    Helene - It was a nice mini-getaway!

    Carole - Hope you get lots of tasty apples too!

    Anon - Thank you!

    Janice - The melt really hit the spot that night!

    Anon - Hmm... James Taylor might be a stretch, hee hee!

    Christine - I can't wait till next year, assuming we will still be in the area!

    Courtney - I know! I didn't realize how good it was until we got home and weighed them!

    Julie - Yeah, the last couple of times we ate out it was pretty disappointing too!

    Emilie - Good question! I had some ideas, but we have a ton of apples!

  13. Joe - loved the Apricot & Chicken Cheddar Melt! I used Manchego instead of cheddar, because I had some to use up, and it worked well. You are right - this is a very tasty meal, with minimal effort. Thanks!

  14. Oh, I miss those Upper Midwest apples! Especially the Haralsons.

    Nice job with the photos...

  15. Holly - So simple and so good! I'm glad to hear you liked it.

    Karen - Thanks!