New Mexican Posole

Pork PosolePork Posole from scratch
This is a beautiful recipe. We have made it several times over the past couple years and each time it surprises me how good it really is. The warmth of the spices and the rounded flavors from the fatty pork, combined with the brightness of the cilantro hit the spot every time. It’s home in a bowl. This weekend looks to be dark and rainy for a lot of us across the Texas/New Mexico/Oklahoma region and I can think of no better recipe to make for staying inside and taking comfort in being home than this one. ¬†Serve it with tortillas or cornbread for extra comfort!

These past few weeks have been hard. One or more of us has been sick since the very beginning of March. We’ve had the flu, some weird pink eye thing, a cough that lasted three weeks, the stomach flu and double ear infections – twice. I’ve felt at times over these weeks that it doesn’t really matter what I cook – everyone is just going to either not be in the mood to eat, barf it up, or wish they just had a cracker, anyway. It’s so hard to keep going and to keep doing what you love when life starts throwing crap your way. It’s so easy to give up and get fast food every day. (And I did.) But then, you feel worse. And so you go through the cycle again and it just doesn’t get better until you step back and plan ahead and make a few meals a week that FEEL good and nurture your body AND your spirit. (That can include cookies.) You don’t have to do it every day – but a couple times a week, it’s worth the effort. And it pays off in really good leftovers. ūüôā

I hope you are all well this week. And if you’re not, seriously, text me and let me know and I’ll bring you some soup.New Mexican Posole

Posole

New Mexican Posole

  • 1 ¬Ĺ pounds hominy
  • 3 ounces dried red New Mexico chiles (about 10 large chiles)
  • 4¬†pounds pork shoulder, not too lean, cut in 2-inch chunks
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled, halved and stuck with 2 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted until fragrant and coarsely ground
  • 2 cups finely diced white onion, soaked in ice water, for garnish
  • Lime wedges and cilantro for garnish

Drain hominy and put in large soup pot. Cover with water and bring to boil. Let simmer briskly for 30 minutes.

Toast dried chiles lightly in cast-iron skillet or stovetop grill, just until fragrant. Wearing gloves, slit chiles lengthwise with paring knife. Remove and discard stems and seeds. Put chiles in saucepan and cover with 4 cups water. Simmer 30 minutes and let cool. In blender, purée chiles to a smooth paste using some cooking water as necessary. Purée should be of milkshake consistency.

Season pork generously with salt and pepper. After posole has cooked 30 minutes, add pork shoulder, onion stuck with cloves, bay leaf, garlic and cumin. Add enough water to cover by 2 inches, then return to a brisk simmer. While adding water occasionally and tasting broth for salt, simmer for about 2 1/2 hours more, until meat is tender. Skim fat from surface of broth.

Stir in 1 cup chile purée and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and correct seasoning. (At this point, posole can be cooled completely and reheated later. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.)

To serve, ladle posole, meat and broth into wide bowls. Pass bowls of diced onion, lime wedges, cilantro and oregano, and let guests garnish to taste.

*recipe adapted from the New York Times Cooking

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Rustic Tomato Galette

rustic tomato pie

Deep Dish Tomato Pie
Deep Dish Rustic Tomato Pie
There’s no better time than the middle of October to post about a beautiful, summery tomato pie. ūüėõ In my defense, my tomato plants were late bloomers and didn’t really start ripening until the end of September. But I can see this amazing pie going either way: an homage to the bright, sweet, summertime flavors, or being comforting and warming with a depth of rich tomato flavor fitting for the colder months. I can not vouch for this recipe if you use tomatoes from the grocery store, but I would imagine it wouldn’t be half bad, considering the bake time and the way the tomatoes almost go sun-dried in flavor on the top layer. If you do that, make sure the tomatoes you buy are pretty soft and ripe and maybe just stick to Roma tomatoes to be safe.

This pie has¬†a bright, peppery and tangy whole-grain mustard on the bottom of the tomatoes and the smooth, chewy layer of cheese in the middle and then topped with two layers of extra ripe heirloom, beefsteak and Roma tomatoes. I decided to use half whole-wheat flour in my usual crust recipe because whole wheat absorbs more moisture and I knew this pie would be pretty juicy. And it is quite juicy, but I decided to stop thinking it had to be like a tart and started to embrace the tomato for what it is: a fruit to be used in a fruit pie! And every fruit pie I’ve ever had, has an adequate amount¬†of juiciness¬†throughout. Why should a tomato pie be any different? So if you will embrace it, too, I think you will really love this recipe. The flavors are electric. And I hope that you have some good tomatoes left in your garden. And if you don’t, you’re more than welcome to stop by and pick some from mine! Happy October ūüôā

Rustic Tomato Tart Rustic Deep Dish Tomato Pie

Rustic Tomato Galette

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Print

1 recipe fool-proof pie crust with half the flour being whole wheat
About 3 pounds fresh tomatoes in an assortment of sizes and varieties
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
2 cups low-moisture mozzarella (shred it yourself – don’t buy pre-shredded or it won’t melt right)
dried oregano
salt and pepper
1 egg, whipped

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Slice the tomatoes into 1/4″ slices and lay out on paper towel-lined sheet pans. Sprinkle with kosher salt on each side of the tomato and let them sit and drain for a few minutes this way. This draws out excess moisture. Let the tomatoes drain while you handle the crust.

Roll your pie crust out and gently form it into a 10″ cast iron pan, letting the excess hang over the edges.¬†Spread the whole grain mustard evenly on the bottom of the crust. (I used this brand and yes, it looks like nothing but mustard seeds!)

Spread the shredded mozzarella over the mustard and then give the cheese a generous sprinkling of dried oregano.

Arrange the tomato slices evenly over the cheese in an overlapping pattern. Sprinkle that layer with oregano and then finish up with the rest of the tomatoes. Gently fold the overhanging pie crust over the tomatoes. It doesn’t have the be perfect. “Galette” is French for “I stopped caring how this looks.” So you get a free pass. If the crust breaks off, just pinch it back together. Really, this is forgiving and you want the extra crust to be there. It’s a buttery, flaky, tomato-juice-absorbing wonder.*

Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet and brush the crust with egg. Bake for an hour, until the crust is golden brown and the pie is bubbling like crazy. Place a sheet of tin foil over the pie and let it bake another 15 minutes. Let it sit for ten minutes before slicing and serving.

*At this point, you can chill your pie overnight if you’re making this ahead. If you do that, increase your bake time to an hour and a half (or even longer – you’re just wanting a deep brown in your crust and an almost caramelized top layer of tomatoes.)

Potatoes That Taste Better Than The Chicken

Roasted Chicken and Potatoes
Fall is around the corner, my friends. The beginnings of fallish things are happening from the wonderful cooler temperatures and crisp mornings to the not-so-wonderful appearance of Christmas decorations ALREADY. I’m not one to start up the Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving and I’m not one to drink a pumpkin spiced latte until it can actually do its job of warming me up because I’m cold from natural causes (as in, I didn’t sit in my car with my AC on full blast to get the same effect. That’s cheating AND rushing the perfect moment, which I feel, should come about authentically.) My friend Libby is rolling her eyes at me because she LOVES rushing fall and pretending it’s cold outside. In fact, she already had a pumpkin spiced latte! ūüôā I’m fine with seasonal enthusiasts. Honestly – whatever makes you happy! But as for me and my household, we won’t decorate for Christmas until Thanksgiving is over. ūüôā

Another thing that¬†makes me happy is starting to think about fall dinners. I love the braising and stewing and the simmering of heavy, warm spices on the stove. One meal that gets me to thinking about the warmth of the winter is this simple and yet divine dish: roasted chicken on top of potatoes. We made this recipe a loooong time ago by¬†Jean-Georges Vongerichten. His recipe was so delicious, we’ve done it a few dozen times since and have varied and simplified and it’s always delicious and always perfect. I never mess this recipe up and it’s always so amazingly delicious. And let’s not ignore why: the potatoes are cooked in schmaltz. You’d also be delicious if you were roasted in chicken fat.

I also love this recipe because it is one of those dishes that everyone can agree on. Add a salad or some braised greens and you’ve got yourself a complete meal!

Potatoes Cooked in Chicken Fat Chicken Potatoes

Potatoes Taste Better Than the Chicken*

1 whole chicken, about 3 lbs
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
coarsely ground salt and pepper
butter to coat the pan and chicken
1 head of garlic, sliced in half
sprigs of thyme, rosemary, whatever you have

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Butter a large cast iron skillet and place the cut potatoes in a single layer. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Pat your chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Rub with butter and then stick the halved garlic head into the chicken cavity and add whatever herbs you like. Place the chicken on one of its sides on top of the potatoes.

Roast for 20 minutes. Turn the chicken onto its other side and roast another 20. Then, turn the chicken breast-side up and continue roasting until juices run clear and an instant-read thermometer says at least 165F, about 15-20 minutes more. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes and carve on top of the potatoes and serve them along with the chicken. Beautiful.

*adapted from Jean-Georges Vongerichten

Chinese Chicken and Rice Soup

Chinese Chicken and Rice Soup - spin on the traditional Chinese Chicken and Rice Soup
I placed Olive’s bowl at the table first so it would have time to cool down while I got mine and Matt’s ready. I started hearing Olive saying, “Mmm!” and “This is so good and juicy, Mama” and at first I assumed she was putting on another one-act play because Olive hasn’t been too enthusiastic about meals, lately. ¬†Certainly not enthusiastic enough to compliment the food. ¬†Usually, it seems as if she just merely tolerates food until she can get down and play again. ¬†And as I thought back while she was inhaling this soup, I remembered the last time she was this enthusiastic about food, it had very similar ingredients in a potato curry Matt made. ¬†She is apparently our Asian flavor lover. ¬†And I love that. ¬†I love that she won’t bat an eye at cilantro, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce and lemongrass. ¬†She will certainly protest if I try to get her to eat…lettuce, or something else benign like that. ¬†But big, bold flavors are her bag (as long as it’s not SPICY!) And the occasional chorus of “mmm” and “this is good, Mama,” is so few and far between that I make mental note of the dishes that inspire that response in her. ¬†I never thought I’d care so much about someone’s opinion of food until I had a child. ¬†But sharing food and sharing a JOY of food is precious and even more so when that person is family.

We’ve done a few spins on classic dishes in the past¬†and have loved the results. We’ve done biscuits and curry “gravy” and a green chili corn chowder and loved the fusion of classic American dishes and flavors from other cultures. ¬†I made up a spin on the classic Campbell’s Chicken and Rice you may have grown up eating, but instead, included all the flavors we love from Asian cultures. ¬†It was super comforting and would be fantastic for a cold, rainy day like we’re having today. ¬†I didn’t have coconut milk, but I think it would be a fantastic addition in place of the heavy cream. ¬†This soup is built with lots and lots of taste-testing along the way. ¬†Every soup should be, I think. ¬†So I’m giving approximate ingredient amounts, but I encourage you to taste and add things you love for yourself. ¬†We added Sriracha (of course) and lots and lots of cilantro as a garnish and some tasty frozen Vietnamese egg rolls for a side and enjoyed the heck out of this dish. ¬†I hope you do, too! ¬†Happy Monday.

Chinese Chicken and Rice

Chinese Chicken and Rice Soup

2 cups shredded chicken from two chicken breasts or 4 chicken legs/thighs (bone in)
2 kaffir lime leaves
A two inch piece of peeled ginger
2 stalks lemongrass, split
1/2 white onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBS rice wine vinegar
1 TBS brown sugar
1 tsp fish sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream (or coconut milk)
salt to taste
1 cup jasmine rice
1 carrot, diced small

In a large stock pot, add¬†the (raw) chicken (bone-in) and cover with water till it’s submerged by abut 2 inches. Add the kaffir lime leaves (can be found at most chinese markets in the freezer or fridge section – this isn’t¬†essential but it gives the soup that¬†thing that I can’t describe but it’s wonderful), ginger, lemongrass, onion and garlic and bring the water to a boil. ¬†Let the chicken boil until the internal temp registers at least 165 when inserted into the thickest part of the meat. ¬†Remove the chicken, let it cool, and pull off all the meat. ¬†Return the bones to the pot and let it continue to boil while you cook the rice.

In a small saucepan, add 1 3/4 cups water, a tablespoon of olive oil, the diced carrot and a pinch of salt and the cup of rice.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, stir and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes until tender.

Remove the chicken bones, the lemongrass and onion and discard. ¬†Return the shredded meat to the pot. ¬†Add the vinegar, sugar, fish sauce¬†and salt to the broth until it tastes…right. ūüôā This is the point where you need to trust your palate. You may like it with more vinegar or more sugar, more fish sauce, whatever. ¬†I tasted and adjusted and then added the heavy cream.

Spoon rice into bowls and ladle the chicken soup on top.  Garnish with LOTS of cilantro and serve!

Chicken Tikka Masandwiches

Chicken Tikka Sandwich with Cucumbers
I made one of our favorite Indian dishes the other day from a recipe I saw in the latest issue of Real Simple Magazine and it turned out great!  We had a ton of leftovers and so the next day, I decided to turn them into these amazing little sub sandwiches.  With tons of cilantro, crunchy cucumber and cold sour cream to offset the spicy chicken, it became the perfect sandwich.  I highly recommend doing this original recipe and then adapting it into these tasty little sandwiches.  It would also make an amazing wrap with black beans and rice!

Chicken Tikka Sandwich Shredded Chicken Tikka Sandwich

Chicken Tikka Masala (sandwiches)

1-15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons garam masala
salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 8 and I used bone-in and the bones came right out – no problem)
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a 4-6 quart slow cooker, add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, tomato paste and spices and stir and taste for seasoning.  Place the chicken thighs over the tomato mixture and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4.  Shred the chicken and remove bones (if you used bone-in).  Stir in the heavy cream and let it keep cooking for about 10 minutes while you get everything else ready.  Serve over rice with lots of cilantro, or make these sandwiches by splitting hoagie rolls down the center and layering the chicken with sour cream and topping with fresh sliced cucumber and cilantro.  And garnish with lots of sriracha sauce for extra spice!

White Bean Stew with Smoked Sausage and Kale – Using Up Leftovers!

Scrappy Stew - White Beans, Kale and Roast Chicken
So it seems winter is going to beat us down at least one more time before spring officially arrives. ¬†Maybe more, but I’m hoping for just one last hurrah. ¬†I used to love winter and all its coziness and hot tea and warm socks. ¬†But now that I’m a mother of two little people, I find winter to be quite suffocating. ¬†I just NEED there to be the option to go outside. ¬†When I had Ellie back in November, I quickly taught Ollie how to open the backyard door by herself. ¬†That was probably the best move I made all year. ¬†She could come and go while I fed the baby and everyone was happy. ¬†But when it snows, there’s this expectation from Ollie that we MUST GO OUTSIDE NOW AND YOU MUST GO WITH ME. ¬†And it just isn’t that easy. ¬†And frankly, as most of you know, it takes 15 minutes to get a child bundled up to go outside and then 5 minutes for them to get so cold they want to come back in. ¬†I fail to see how it’s worth the effort.

The one thing I DO love about cold weather is the food. I love making a huge pot of beans and eating it over the following days in various ways. ¬†Over cornbread, with smoked sausage, in a quesadilla, with a fried egg, whatever, it’s all good. ¬†And this most recent batch of stew we made was my favorite. ¬†Because Matt made it. ¬†Seriously, though, we both make our beans in the same way and much in the spirit of the Family Meal Blog, I always love when a recipe is made by someone else in this family. ¬†This stew also does my most favorite thing in the entire kitchen-world: it uses up leftovers! ¬†We threw in a half used can of diced tomatoes, a handful of kale, onion, and some¬†leftover turkey and sausage from a local bbq joint¬†and it was frankly, amazing. ¬†The beauty of a good bean stew is that you can add anything and if the beans are good, you’re good to go. ¬†For this, I recommend using dried beans instead of canned, although canned would cut the prep/cook time by a good 8 hours. ¬†They just don’t have the depth of flavor that starting with dried beans does. ¬†And because we’re a part of Rancho Gordo’s Bean of the Month Club, (yes) I recommend you get their beans if you can find them!

White Bean and Kale Stew

 

White Bean Stew with Smoked Sausage and Kale

  • Servings: 8-10
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*start this recipe the day before you want to eat it! Modified for a slow cooker below the recipe!

1 lb dried white beans, such as canellini
2 bay leaves
1 small onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced (these three ingredients together are called mire poix)
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 can fire roasted tomatoes (we used half a can because that’s what we had leftover in our fridge)
1 smoked sausage link, chopped
4 oz. smoked turkey breast
1 small bunch of kale, rinsed and chopped

The night before you want to eat this stew, rinse the beans and then submerge them in a large stockpot by about 2 inches of water along with the bay leaf.

In the morning, bring the beans to a boil in the same water you soaked them in and add the onion, carrot and celery and garlic cloves. ¬†Season with salt and pepper. ¬†Reduce to an active simmer and cook until beans are tender. ¬†This time can really vary. ¬†I’d say on average, I have the beans simmering for about 2 hours before they are a texture I like. ¬†Some like al dente beans. ¬†I’m not one of those people. ¬†I also don’t like them to be total mush, like canned, but it’s your preference, really. ¬†Just start tasting them after an hour and keep going if you’re not satisfied.

After about an hour of simmering, add in the tomatoes and meats (and honestly, the meats were leftovers in our fridge. You could add bacon, ground beef, no meat at all Рthis soup will be amazing no matter what).  Toss the kale in about 30 minutes before serving and adjust the seasoning of the stew with extra salt and pepper.  Remove the bay leaves and serve with crusty buttered bread.

Slow Cooker Note: this could all be done in a slow cooker if you wanted to get it on before you go to work.  Just soak the beans in a large slow cooker overnight with the bay leaves with at least 2-3 inches of water covering the beans.  In the morning before you leave for work, add in the mire poix and garlic and turn it to low.  When you get home, add in the rest of the ingredients and turn it on high for about 30 minutes to let it boil.  Adjust the seasoning and serve.

Cheesy Potato Fritatta

spanish tortilla with scallions
It’s the middle of the week. ¬†There has been a loss of momentum. ¬†Or maybe you’ve just gained yours? Either way, you have no idea what to make for dinner and all you have are some leftover potatoes. Do you also have eggs? Everyone has eggs. ¬†Do you have an onion?¬†¬†Maybe some cheese? ¬†A bit of salt and pepper and olive oil? ¬†Then you’re set. ¬†And dinner will be marvelous. ¬†And filling. ¬†And comforting. ¬†You don’t have to make things complicated to make them delicious and I can’t count how many times I’ve declared, “There’s nothing to eat in this house!” only to be humbled by actually finding something, and not only something, but something truly delicious. ¬†How lazy I can be sometimes! ¬†This meal was inspired by¬†a book called An¬†Everlasting Meal, which is a sort of love-song to making the most out of everything you’re given. ¬†It saved my family from take out with this simple recipe and I will certainly make it again!

potato egg fritatta

Potato Fritatta

2 small potatoes (about 2 cups, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ slices)
1 small onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheeses (can be omitted without any damage done)
salt and pepper
3 eggs, beaten (four if you add the cheese, like I did)

Heat oven to 375F.
In a large skillet over medium heat, heat about 1/3 cup of olive oil and add the potatoes and onions. ¬†Season well with salt and pepper. Cook, slightly covered, until the potatoes are soft. Strain the potatoes and onions out of the pan and put them in a bowl. ¬†Reserve the olive oil from the pan. ¬†Let the onions and potatoes cool and then add in the cheese, beaten eggs and more salt and pepper. ¬†In a 10″ non-stick skillet, add some of the oil from your other skillet and make sure all the sides and bottom are nicely coated. ¬†Pour the egg/potato mixture and cook over medium heat on the stove until the bottom looks set. ¬†Transfer the pan to the oven and let it finish cooking until the top is slightly puffy, about 15 minutes. ¬†Remove from the oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes, and then invert onto a serving plate. ¬†Serve with sour cream, chopped chives or scallions and hot sauce! This dish is great warm, room temp, or even cold. It would be a super easy lunch on the go or weekend breakfast. ¬†

Cheesy Broccoli Rice from Scratch

broccoli rice casserole
This was undoubtedly a comfort food for many of you growing up, as it was for me. ¬†Creamy and cheesy with just a hint of something green, but mostly rice and cheese. ¬†So all in all, the perfect vegetable dish. ūüėČ My mom made it a lot and sometimes I crave it but I’ve never made it myself.

A lot of recipes you see online call for cans of stuff, velveeta and things that just don’t seem like…food. ¬†Now, I’m not saying that the from-scratch version is any better for you, BUT it has all real ingredients and gives you a good feeling and that’s what makes the indulgence worth it. ¬†I decided one day I would make this dish and since I don’t keep any cream-of-whatever on hand, I made a simple bechemel (white gravy base) and added in lots of extra sharp cheddar. ¬†Each ingredient cooked separately in chicken stock to give lots of added flavor and the results were fabulous!

We still have lots of snow on the ground and the roads are hard to travel, so warm, cheesy dishes are the perfect meal to stay inside and enjoy. ¬†Be warm and well fed! ūüôā

Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole

 

Cheesy Broccoli Rice

  • 1 head broccoli, chopped small
  • 2 cups chicken broth (although vegetable broth would enable the entire
  • dish to be vegetarian)
  • 1 cup white rice
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 TBS unsalted butter
  • 4 TBS flour
  • 1 cup whole milk (plus more to adjust consistency)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • breadcrumbs and extra cheese for topping (I used crushed Ritz crackers)

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a large, deep skillet, bring the broth to a boil and throw in the broccoli. ¬†Steam it with a lid covering until the broccoli is starting to get tender, about 5 minutes. ¬†Remove the broccoli with a slotted spoon and set aside in a large bowl. ¬†Add the rice to the broth and cook until tender (about 15-20 minutes). ¬†Dump rice into the bowl with the broccoli (it’s okay if there’s a little extra liquid).

Wipe the skillet clean and melt the butter over medium heat. ¬†Whisk in the flour until it’s all coated and bubbling, but not turning brown. ¬†Whisk in the milk and let it come back up to a boil, adding more splashes of milk to maintain a gravy-like consistency. ¬†I’m sorry I don’t have exact amounts, but it’s really an add enough until it looks right kinda thing. ¬†Stir in the cheddar and whisk until melted. ¬†Add more milk if it seems too thick. ¬†Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper until it tastes right and then stir in the broccoli and rice. ¬†Top with breadcrumbs and extra cheese and melt in the¬†oven until bubbling.

Creamy Roasted Carrot Soup

roasted carrot soup with cayenne and ginger
Fall means soup. ¬†Soup means it’s cold enough outside to not want to die at the thought of eating soup for dinner. ¬†And it being cold enough outside seems to make everything around here better. ¬†I sleep better, we can play outside longer without my redhead overheating and everything just feels fresh. ¬†And I’m a bit of a broken record when it comes to hailing soups as a surefire way to get your kids to eat their vegetables, but I’m going to say it, again. ¬†Cooking just about any vegetable and pureeing it into a soup is the easiest way to get a baby, toddler, picky adult to eat a vegetable otherwise sneered at due to its texture or appearance. ¬†Olive used to eat asparagus. ¬†But then, she turned two and decided she was no longer interested. ¬†But the other day I made a batch of asparagus soup and she drank it down. ¬†Same flavor, different delivery vehicle. ¬†And when you add a piece of crusty, buttery bread on the side, the soup suddenly seems like a complete meal.

My go-to soup in the fall is usually butternut squash. ¬†But I nearly always have a half-used bag of carrots in the fridge, waiting to become something more exciting than diced up for chicken pot pie. ¬†The other day I made this soup and I loved it. ¬†We ate on it for several days – always a good side dish or starter, and good for dunking toasted bread. ¬†I don’t need to say it, again, but this batch of soup would fill up about 12 baby food jars. ¬†Can you lend 30 minutes to making a vegetable soup? ¬†How about $3 for a 2lb bag of carrots? ¬†How much is a jar of baby food, again? ¬†You get the point.

Yay, soup!

roasted carrot soup
Roasted Carrot Soup
serves 6-8

1 sweet onion, diced
3 TBS olive oil
2 lbs carrots, peeled and chopped
6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and Pepper to taste
ground ginger and paprika for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat until it shimmers.  Toss in the onion and saute until tender but not browned, about 5-6 minutes.  Add in the carrots and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring to coat in the oil.  Add the stock and let the pot come to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.  Puree directly in the pot with an immersion blender, or take in batches to a standard blender and puree until smooth.  If you used a standard blender, return the soup to the pot and add the heavy cream.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and then ladle into bowls and sprinkle with ground ginger, paprika and a splash of cream or sour cream.

Rosemary Pork Chops with Grapes and Parsnips

rosemary pork chops with parsnips and grapes
Yesterday¬†was rainy and dark. ¬†A cold front moved¬†in yesterday¬†afternoon and cooled everything down a few degrees and it put me in the most severe autumn mood. ¬†I bought the ingredients for this dish at the beginning of this week because the forecast said there was a chance of rain every day and it just felt like fall had officially arrived! ¬†I found this extremely autumnal recipe a few years ago in an issue of Martha Stewart Living and it became a very frequent dinner occurrence for us. ¬†It takes literally 15 minutes from start to finish – maybe 20 if you include peeling the parsnips. ¬† It’s perfect for a family on a budget as I can usually find discounted pork chops no matter when I go to the grocery store. ¬†Parsnips may be hard to find at a mega grocery store, but if you can’t find them, you can substitute in carrots. ¬†Parsnips are like carrot’s albino cousin. ¬†Maybe slightly more bitter, but they mellow out while cooking. ¬†The combination with the sweet grapes is perfect, though, so if you can find them, branch out and try them! ¬†For babies, simply steam come cubed up, or puree after steaming with a little water or chicken stock!

pork chops with grapes and parsnips

Pork Chops with Parsnips and Grapes*
serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 boneless pork chops, about 1/2″ thick
salt and pepper
2 or 3 large parsnips, peeled and sliced 1/4″ thick
1 cup red grapes
3 tsp fresh chopped rosemary

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Season pork with salt and pepper and add to skillet along with parsnips. Brown pork and parsnips on both sides, about 5 minutes total. Add grapes and rosemary, and cover. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until pork is cooked through, parsnips are tender, and grapes have just burst, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve pork with parsnips, grapes, and pan juices.

*recipe adapted for quantity from Martha Stewart Living