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This meal all started with one mouthwatering look at Pioneer Woman’s blog last week. The second we saw the recipe for Pioneer Woman’s pork roast with apples and onions, we knew we had to have it. Pioneer Woman served her roast with wild rice, but, here at Blended Kitchen, we’re not big fans of it. We substituted her wild rice for something with a little more flavor (and a little more fruit!) – Israeli couscous with golden raisins, straight from Food Network Magazine. Then there was a berry very delicious dessert: blueberry cornbread mini-muffins with the most decadent vanilla butter we’ve ever tasted. (And trust us, we like our butter!)

Together, these three dishes create a fall feast for those cool, crisp nights in November. Another benefit? You get three of your five recommended servings of fruits in this one meal alone! Oh, and it makes your house smell really good. The family couldn’t stop commenting on how wonderful the roast smelled the entire time it was cooking.

Pork RoastIs your mouth watering yet?

While we “grown-ups” wanted to lick our plates, The Nugget wasn’t so pleased with the meal. That being said, would we make it again? YES! Would we serve it for company? You bet! Every dish? No question! Would we have a grilled cheese for Nugget? For sure! Read on for our fruity fall feast recipes.

Pork Roast with Apples and Onions Pioneer Woman | November 2011
This pork roast is absolutely TDF (that’s “to die for,” for those of you who were wondering.) It’s also pretty easy to make. Our one warning? You need A LOT of time to let the pork, apples and onions do their thing in the oven. We cooked our roast for exactly three hours (woof!) in the oven at 300 degrees on convection and our pork came out fall-off-the-bone tender. After it roasts for three hours, you should plan to have about 30 minutes to reduce the juices into a thicker sauce.  We did not plan that into our schedule, so we didn’t have the sauce. And it turned out okay because the pork was so juicy it didn’t even need it.

Another thing we didn’t add was the beef broth. Why? We just forgot it. In the end, we didn’t care that we left it out. Yeah, the pork was that good.

Pioneer woman didn’t specify what size roast to use, so we used a four pounder. After we browned the meat, we cut it in half and placed both halves face down in the roasting pot to ensure that the meat would be fully cooked.

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 whole Pork Shoulder Roast (also Called Pork Butt, ours was four pounds)
Salt And Pepper, to taste
4 cups Apple Juice
1 cup Beef Stock
3 whole Apples, Cored And Cut Into Wedges
3 whole Medium Onions, Sliced
1 whole Bay Leaf

To make the pork roast, heat olive oil in a large pot over high heat. Salt and pepper pork roast, then sear on all sides to give it some color.

Pork Roast

Reduce heat to low. Add apple juice, apple slices, onions, and bay leaf. Cover and simmer for 3 hours. (Or you may place in a 300 degree oven if you prefer.)

Slice apples (we used an apple corer)

Add apple juice (and beef stock, if you want) to the pot.

Load it up with apples and onions!

This is what the roast should look like when it's finished cooking.

When the roast is done, remove the roast, apples, and onions to a platter.

Raise heat to medium-high (to high) and boil liquid, reducing it until thick and rich. Spoon thick sauce over the roast, then cut the roast into slices. Serve with apples and onions.
Israeli Couscous with Raisins Food Network Magazine
It’s no lie, this couscous Israeli good. (Big Peter came up with that one. He’s so punny funny!) The idea for an Israeli couscous dish came from a meal Lindsey raved about recently from Three Kings Public House. The Three Kings dish featured Moroccan spiced pork shanks with spiced apricot & date chutney atop vegetable couscous. We thought that the nuttiness of the couscous would be a great complement to the pork roast. We were right (but when aren’t we?) The texture and taste of this dish were great. We all had second (and third) helpings!

It took about 12 minutes to cook the couscous. We cooked the onions and raisins while we were waiting for the couscous to finish, then we added it all together. This dish is meant to serve four, but we doubled it to feed our blended kitchen.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups Israeli couscous (we used Trader Joe’s Israeli couscous.)
1 diced onion
1 cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons water
Handful of sliced almonds
Handful of chopped parsley

Cook 2 cups Israeli couscous as the label directs; drain.

Saute 1 diced onion in olive oil with a pinch of cinnamon until golden, 5 minutes. Add 1 cup golden raisins and 2 tablespoons water and cook 2 minutes.

Sauté the onions and add raisins to pan. Then add 2 tablespoons of water to rehydrate the raisins.

Toss with the couscous and a handful each of sliced almonds and chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the onions, raisins, parsley and almonds to the couscous.

Blueberry Cornbread Mini-Muffins Pioneer Woman | November 2011
Cindy always says she’s not a baker. She’s wrong. These mini-muffins with vanilla butter just prove that Cindy has fabulous baking skills. Big Peter doesn’t have a big sweet tooth, but he couldn’t get enough of these muffins. They aren’t too sweet, so the mini-muffins would make a great breakfast treat with a little Greek yogurt.

Pioneer Woman left out a few steps in her recipe, so here’s what we did differently:

  • We added the sugar to the dry mixture.
  • We combined the dry ingredient bowl and the wet ingredient bowl when both bowls had all of their ingredients in them.
  • We didn’t have a vanilla bean, so we used 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract instead.
  • We used a cup of thawed frozen blueberries instead of dried blueberries (and they were deliciously juicy!)

1 cup Yellow Corn Meal
1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
2 Tablespoons Sugar
1 cup Buttermilk
1/2 cup Milk
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 whole Egg
1/4 cup Shortening (Melted)
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
8 ounces, weight Dried Blueberries

Vanilla Butter
1 stick 1/2 Cup Butter, Softened
1 whole Vanilla Bean
2 Tablespoons Sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine corn meal, flour, salt, and baking powder in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, milk, egg, and baking soda. Stir to combine. Add melted shortening, stirring constantly. Add vanilla extract, then stir in dried blueberries (you can use a little more or a little fewer if you’d like.)

Pour into a greased mini-muffin pan, trying to make sure blueberries stay evenly distributed. Bake for 10 minutes or so, or until golden brown.

To make the vanilla butter, combine the softened butter, the caviar from the vanilla bean, and the sugar. Stir until totally combined, then spread into a ramekin and serve with the warm muffins. (Butter can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge.)

Cute plate, huh?

Nom. nom. nom.