Fall Food Round Up

So, before I go plastering the pages of this blog with apples and cinnamon… smearing pumpkin from one end to the next.  Would anyone be opposed to some mac and cheese?  Ya know…Pretty much have you thanking the heavens for sweatshirts and bulky sweaters…I figured I should do a bit of a recap of the fall like flavors that have already appeared on the pages of this blog.  From cookies that pair well with hot cups of coffee to muffins that host apples and cinnamon.  Or some warm chicken chili, which is always in heavy rotation in my humble abode.

These are just a few of my favorites…give the recipe index a once over if you are looking for more fall/comfort foods.

P.S….you can also see the learning curve that has happened with me and my camera.  Oh do I just wanna go and remake and retake some photos!  Yikes.

P.S.S  Have a great weekend!

Chai Sugar Cookie


Chocolate Espresso Bean Shortbread  Cookies


Chocolate Walnut Biscotti


Molasses Pumpkin Cookies


Oatmeal Pecan Apple Raisin Cookies


Cinnamon Sugar Pound Cake


Granola Bars


Apple Cider Muffins


Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread


Pumpkin Bread


Caramel Popcorn


Cassoulet


White Chicken Chili


Creamy Tomato Soup w/ Blue Cheese

Creamy Tomato Soup w/ Blue Cheese

Here we go again.  Or I.  But I like to think we are in this together.  Since we are.  So, it is a total we situation.

Back to my normal…which, minus all the laundry and dishes and bill paying…kinda sorta rocks.  Buuuuttt, no matter what you are returning to, coming back from vacation can be difficult…so difficult, that it would have just been easier to stay on vacation – ha!  We all wish, right?!?

Let us get back to talking about food.  It takes my mind off that whole laundry sit, which is totally cool with me.

No matter what the weather is outside your window….sometimes your food choices just don’t match.

Ice cream in January.  Pumpkin pie in July.  Grilled peaches in December.  Hot soup in June.  Anyone with me?  Yeah, I figured that much…we can be weird together!  What weird things do you crave out of season?  Right now (and most summers) it is soup.

Lately, my craving for tomato soup has been Out. Of.  This.  World.  Completely, and totally.  I have gone to restaurants known for their monster grilled cheese sandwiches (i.e. Melt for my fellow Clevelanders) hoping the Soup du Jour would be tomato…because it is awesome.  Trust me friends.  It is.  It wasn’t on their menu last time…talk about a total let down (upside?  a fried egg on my burger, so we made up rather quickly).  After this outing, my need for tomato soup increased 7.6 fold.  I was on the hunt.  Officially.  I had hopes, high hopes, for the hospital’s cafeteria.  Daily, I scoped out the soup options.  I talked about it from when I got to work ( ahem, at 6:30am) until I could wander/escape down there.  It got to the point that my lovely coworkers started to report back to me the soup possibilities, if they found themselves down there before me.  I even got one to call the cafeteria for me…newbies.  Gotta love ‘em!

All of this effort and nothing, people.  Zero tomato soup.  I was on the verge of buying a can of Campbell’s and calling it a day, but I found myself with a bit of time and a few cans of San Marzano Tomatoes…and within no time I had a pot of tomato soup simmering away on my stove and a bit of sweat forming on my brow…Gross.  The sweat not the soup.  Tip of the day…turn on a/c if making soup in the middle of the summer.  Unless you love sweaty brows.  Which, more power to ya.  I think.  I don’t know.  Sweaty brow or no sweaty brow…just make the soup.  Be it December or June.

Oh! and definitely, and I mean definitely, add some cheese.  I prefer blue cheese, but not a blue cheese fan?  Totally OK, just add another crumbly cheese.  I bet feta would be crazy good or goat cheese?  Life is better with cheese, as is soup.

Creamy Tomato Soup w/ Blue Cheese

Adapted from Michael Symon

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Medium Yellow Onion, diced
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 – 28 Ounce Can of San Marzano Tomatoes, with juices (dont’ have/can’t find San Marzano - use what you can find – but splurge on San Marzano if possible!)
1 – 14 Ounce Can Chicken Stock
1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
2 Teaspoons to 2 Tablespoons Sriracha Sauce (depends on how spicy you prefer)
Salt to taste (about 1 teaspoon total)
3/4 Cup Half + Half
1/2 Cup Blue Cheese, plus extra for garnish

 

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions and a pinch of salt and sweat for a few minutes.  Add garlic and continue to sweat for an additional few minutes, until onion and garlic start to become translucent.  Add tomatoes, stock, and oregano and bring to a simmer.  ( taste and add salt here if needed)  Stir in half and half and sriracha sauce and continue to simmer for an additional 30 to 40 minutes.

Transfer soup along with blue cheese to a blender, working in batches if needed.  Blend until smooth or desired consistency.  I like mine a bit chunky, but to each their own.  Pour back into original pot and taste - add extra salt or sriracha if needed.

Serve once soup is reheated.  Top with blue cheese and enjoy.

Cassoulet…oh la la

At the beginning of a week, I enjoy making a large one (or sometimes two) pot meal that will take me through the entire week.  Nothing overly fancy or complicated, just wholesome, healthy, and filling.  Flavors that get richer and more intense as the week goes by, leaving me just as content on Thursday or Friday as it did on Monday or Tuesday.

One pot dishes that don’t require a side are the best to have in your repertoire.  Sides, while they have their place in the kitchen, just complicate a dinner.  Complicate it enough to make the actual preparation of a meal stressful and unfun.  At least in my books, but then again I am not a planner.  And you have to be a planner to get two sides completed at the same time as the entrée…all of it cooked correctly and hot.  That is just not me…maybe some day.  But I don’t like planning anything really – I don’t like planning parties, I don’t like planning nights out, and the thought of planning, say a wedding, makes me nauseas.  Not joking.  So side dishes are just out of the question, plus on a week night…beyond a side salad, are sides actually necessary?  Not in my house.

My new favorite one pot dish?  Cassoulet.  Cassoulet.  Sorry, I really like the sound of the word.  It sounds (even in my head) fancy and French and ooh la la.  It sounds fancier and more difficult than it truly is, trust me.  This dish is rustic and comfort food from start to finish.  Truly enjoyed with close friends and bold red wine or singularly with a cold beer and an inquisitive cat.

The only downside to this dish is the amount of time it takes to prepare the beans (about 2 hours :/).  I don’t recommend substituting canned beans because they will turn straight to mush and no one likes mush.  To cut down on the time prep the day of making, consider soaking the beans overnight…or if you have a free evening, be like me and do the quick soak (see, not a planner a-header).  Also, you will need a large dutch oven - something that can go from stove top to oven.  This is kinda sorta critical.

 Cassoulet

Adapted from Bon Apetit

Serves at least 5

Ingredients

3 Cups Dried small Great Northern Beans

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

5 Chorizo Sausage Links ( a little over a pound)

1 Leek , sliced in half and cut thinly into half-moon slices (use only white and light green parts)

1 Yellow Onion, finely diced

6 Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced

3 Anchovy Fillets (optional, but they don’t add a fishy taste, so I recommend them)

1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste

1+1/2 Teaspoons Sweet Paprika

1 Cup Dry White Wine

1 Can (15 ounce) Chicken Broth

1 Can (28 ounce) Whole tomatoes, drained and crushed.

6 Fresh Thyme Sprigs

3 Medium Bay Leaves

1  Rosemary Sprig

Salt and Pepper to taste

Topping

3 Tablespoons Butter

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 Cups Panko Breadcrumbs

Chopped Chives

Salt and Pepper to taste

Preparing the beans.

Place beans in a large pot and cover with about 8 cups of cold water.  Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 1 hour.

Drain beans.  Add fresh cold water (about 8 to 10 cups) and bring to boil.  Reduce temperature to maintain a simmer (medium heat) and cook, uncovered, for an additional 45 minutes until beans are tender – not mushy.  Reserve 1 cup of bean broth, drain remaining liquid.  Set beans aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add chorizo sausage and cook until all sides are golden brown (about 7-10 minutes).  Transfer sausage to a plate and set aside.  Add sliced leeks and diced onions.  Cook until vegetables are tender (about 5-7 minutes), stirring occasionally.  If they start to brown too quickly, reduce temperature.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in sliced garlic and anchovy filets.  Stir until the anchovies break down.  Add tomato paste and paprika.  Stir constantly until the tomato paste begins to brown - about 2-3 minutes.  Stir in 1 cup bean broth, wine, chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves, and rosemary, and the beans.  Bring everything to a boil.

While you are bringing everything to a boil, preheat oven to 450°F.  Once boiling, cover dutch oven and place in oven and bake for about 30 minutes.  Remove from oven, stir, and add sausage and drippings to pot – completely submerge sausages.  Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Return to oven and bake for an additional 35-40 minutes until the liquid is reduced and thickened and the beans are tender.   If the dish begins to dry out, feel free to add extra water or broth as needed – a little bit at a time.

When you have about 15 minutes remaining in cooking time begin preparing the breadcrumb topping.  In a medium skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.  Once melted, add panko breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper.  Toss to combine and cook until crumbs begin to turn golden brown – stir often.

When the beans are done baking, remove from oven and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs.  Drizzle breadcrumbs with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Return to oven for an additional 10-15 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.  Remove and let sit for several minutes before serving.  Serve with chopped chives.

Remember to remove thyme and rosemary sprigs, and the bay leaves.  They will be easy to spot and can be pulled out at any time once the leaves have fallen off the sprigs.

Buttermilk Biscuits

There is a big part of me (about 78.4%) that wants to live on a farm, surrounded by rolling hills….

Picture it.  A simple farm house with a welcoming wrap around porch.  A porch, where you would find a lazy bloodhound (Sam) sleeping and maybe a corgi (Howard).  They would be stretched out next to weathered rocking chairs that creek quietly as they slowly rock back and forth.  There would be many moments cherished on this porch and in these chairs.  It would be a place to watch the sun rise and set (why the wrap around porch is key).  A safe place to watch storms roll in and a dry place to sit during a warm spring shower.  A place to listen to baseball games on the radio while drinking a cold beer.  A place to sit with my future husband and plan our future or our next vacation or to simply talk about our day.  Rocking chairs are key.

There would be oak trees and weeping willows in the front yard.  One would have a swing dangling from one of its branches.  The grass beneath the swing would be gone, leaving only a worn out patch of dirt.  And lots of wide open space, so a game of kick ball could take place or just a bit of pitch and catch.

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