The U.S. Apple Association predicts that 216.2 million bushels of apples will be harvested this season. Among the popular varieties are Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith, McIntosh, Golden Delicious and Rome, as well as Red Delicious, the classic apple always found on the teacher's desk.
And a new study shows the proverbial "apple a day" may keep both the doctor and the pounds away.
Brazilian researchers found that participants who included an apple with every meal successfully lost more weight when dieting than those who did not eat the fruit.
For more information, visit www.us apple.org.
Cooks aware of the perils of pasta now can find two new gadgets to make it easier to make that perfect plate of pasta.
Progressive International offers a measurer that tells you how much pasta you're getting without breaking it in the process.
The pasta spoon answers the question of "when is al dente, al dente." A hook on the outside of the spoon allows one to grab a single strand of pasta from the boiling water. The Perfect Pasta Set is available for $7.99 at Rains of Ojai, 877-724-6748.
Beefed-up comfort food
In search of a no-hassle comfort meal? The National Cattleman's Beef Association offers this Easy Pasta Bake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Then brown 1/2 pound ground beef with 1/4 cup chopped onion and 1 clove of minced garlic in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until beef is no longer pink and is crumbly.
Drain the drippings and season beef with salt and pepper as desired. Then combine beef with 1 3/4 cups prepared pasta sauce and 1/4 cup water. Set mixture aside. Spray two 2-cup baking dishes with nonstick cooking spray. Place 1/4 package of refrigerated tortellini or ravioli in the bottom of each dish.
Spread the beef-and-sauce mixture over the pasta and sprinkle 1/4 cup shredded Italian cheese blend over the mixture. Cover dishes with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 5 minutes. Garnish with parsley if desired.
Farewell, fatty fries
Consumers trying to avoid trans-fatty acids need not sacrifice their french fries. McCain Foods is offering oven-baked french fries cooked in 100 percent canola oil, which has less saturated and trans fat than hydrogenated oils. The fries come in a variety of cuts and are available in local supermakets for a suggested retail price of $2.49 to $2.69.
* Cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc will be highlighted 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at Donna's at Cross Keys, 5100 Falls Road. $10. No reservations are needed.
* The annual Vintage Jazz Wine Festival will be held from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Linganore Winecellars, 13601 Glissans Mill Road, Mount Airy. $10. Call 800-514-8735.
* Join cheese experts for an evening of French cheeses and wine 6:45 p.m. Monday at La Colline Restaurant, 400 N. Capitol St. N.W., Washington, D.C. $80, $60 for members of Smithsonian Associates. Call 202-357-3030 or visit www.residentassociates.org.
* Chef Cindy Wolf will hold a dinner 6 p.m. Oct. 26 at Charleston Restaurant, 1000 Lancaster St., with proceeds going to efforts to reduce risk of breast cancer among low-income women in Baltimore. Dinner will be matched with wines selected by Charleston co-owner Tony Fore-man. $500. Call the American Cancer Society, 800-787-4337, for reservations.
* A wine tasting will be held 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday at Bradley's Wine and Spirits in Jacksonville to benefit the Jacksonville Volunteer Fire Depart-ment. $30. For tickets and more information, call 410-628-0428.
* A progressive dinner will be held noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at five Columbia restaurants to raise money for the Maryland Hospitality Education Foundation, which helps students interested in hospitality careers. $30. For tickets, call 800-874-1313, Ext. 1017, or visit www.mhef.org and click on "Hot Dish."
The Dish welcomes food news and notes. Send to The Dish, Attn.: Liz Atwood, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278; fax to 410-783-2519; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.