Three Fall Dinners

I love roasted vegetables. Love, love, love them. It’s not quite cool enough for that yet (although we did have a delightfully fall-like First Day of Fall). With temperatures in the 90s this week, I think I’d rather hold off.

But I do have a few fall dinner dishes that are easy to cook and don’t make me feel like I’ve heated up the entire house. Some of them are soups. There’s very little measuring in these recipes.

One of my standbys is black bean soup. I once had a co-worker who ate black bean soup every day. I’m not at that point, but I do like to have the ingredients for this one around: diced onion, diced carrots, a can of black beans, vegetable broth, and a variety of spices. I saute the onions and the carrots in olive oil, rinse and drain the black beans, saute them with the onion-carrot mixture, add the broth and some water, season, and simmer for at least an hour. Then I blend it with the immersion blender.

It’s not very photogenic, so there’s no photo. It is delicious, though.

A new introduction is corn chowder. This may sound like it should be a standby, but I haven’t made it regularly in the past. This month, though, I came up with a recipe that I love and can easily make after I get home from work. Saute onions and then carrots in olive oil, dice a couple of small potatoes and mix them in, add vegetable broth and water, simmer until the potatoes are done, lower the heat a bit and add frozen corn and some half-and-half, and continue cooking until those ingredients are heated through. Somehow this winds up tasting buttery. I don’t know exactly why, but it does, and I’m happy about it.

Blue bowl with corn chowder

This next one I cook year-round. It makes me think of fall in the fall, but it is also a great summer recipe, so whatever. There is no sauce easier than Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce. If you haven’t made it, you may be skeptical about it: A can of whole, peeled tomatoes; half a stick of butter; an onion sliced in half; a bit of salt. Remove the onion and blend the remainder. That’s it. You think it needs basil and oregano and pepper and more. It doesn’t. You just put this on top of pasta and eat. I’m not saying you’re going to replace your regular recipe with this one–but, actually, I did.
Oh, and one more thing. Read labels and buy the low-sodium version of everything. You can add your own salt.

Bowl of rotini with Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce and parmesan

Beyond these? I’ve got a whole Pinterest board of recipes I hope to actually try, whether or not it’s fall. Maybe someday.

Fresh Week, Fresh Start

Well, last week was a bear, wasn’t it?

Over the weekend, Baguette and Mr. Sandwich went to swim class and our regular playdate with Bestie, while I went to my alumni club’s annual lunch, which raises money for scholarships. I haven’t been able to go for the past several years–it’s been too long a time to leave Baguette–but this year we made it work.

On Sunday, I took Baguette over to see Mr. Sandwich’s parents, who had been out of town, and he went for a bike ride–something he hasn’t been able to do in a couple of months. So it was a weekend full of doing things we would like to do more often, which is pretty cool.

Yesterday, our second CSA box arrived, full of fresh fruits and vegetables. What was in this week’s box from Good Life Organics?

fresh fruits and vegetables
Strawberries, potatoes, zucchini, oranges, apples, rosemary, an avocado, and chard

So last night, Baguette and I started out by snacking on some strawberries. Mr. Sandwich spiced up some chicken thighs and put them in the toaster/convection oven, and I cut up and boiled some potatoes. While the potatoes (and some garlic) cooked, I sliced up a zucchini and salted it. Then I sauteed it in coconut oil with more garlic (we love our garlic), adding lemon zest and lemon juice right at the end. I mashed the potatoes with the skins on and sprinkled the zucchini with parmesan. Presto, a fresh spring dinner!

Today, Baguette and I are taking more of the strawberries to eat during our respective days–me with my yogurt and granola for breakfast, and her with her macaroni and cheese (by the way, we’re trying some other brands in the hope of reducing food dyes) for lunch.

I’m trying to decide how to use the remaining zucchini–should I make a soup with my remaining meatballs and tortellini? Or should I slice it up for zucchini chips?

And if anyone has a great, easy recipe for chard, I’m all ears!

Birthday Extravaganzas

We worked hard to avoid one. My contention? A one-year-old doesn’t know it’s her birthday. She doesn’t know what birthdays are. So the party isn’t really for her.

That’s why we went with a party we wanted–cookout and cake, served to family. Mr. Sandwich wood-grilled steaks and sausages, and I grilled salmon and asparagus on the gas grill. I also made a tomato-rice-parmesan salad that I saw in Real Simple and couldn’t stop thinking about. And then there was cake (with a cupcake for Baguette) frosted in an unintentionally poi-like shade of purple.

As for the basic premise, I was totally on target. She had no idea why all those people were there, and passed out on her grandpa’s shoulder for most of the party. But I can’t blame her. Turning one is hard work.