There is something about Fall that propels me into the kitchen. Maybe it’s a subconscious and primal urge to add a layer of fat for insulation for the winter or maybe I just like that it’s finally cool enough to actually want food that is warm. Whatever the reason, I have been cooking and loving it the last few weeks, taking breaks only for the unseasonably warm days of late.
Due to the weariness brought on by chasing a toddler through the greater Madison area, I have not been developing my own recipes, rather re-visiting old favorites and discovering some new cookbooks. I thought I would take a post to share with you some of my blog favorite recipes for Fall, my latest cookbook obsessions, and some meal planning tips as we move into cooler weather. Let’s get started……
Badger Girl Fall Favorites
Here are some of my favorite throwback recipes.
Slow Cooker Veggie Chili: I know everyone has their favorite chili recipe, but how many of them are more healthy than a salad and way more tasty? There is nothing bad in this chili and it is so comforting on a cool day. I always make a huge batch and then freeze portions for busy weeks (like this one!). Best served topped with fat free Greek Yogurt, a little cheese and LOTS of shredded lettuce.
Veggie Packed BBQ: I love making a huge batch of this and then freezing portions to use on busy days. This is a family recipe that is packed with tons of produce and a great way to use up all the carrots you get in your CSA or at the farmers market.
Vegan Quesadilla Dip: If you are going to a football party and you want to bring something dairy-free, I highly recommend this dip. You don’t even have to tell people there is no dairy, I promise that everyone will devour it.
And no fall recipe roundup would be complete without pumpkin recipes, here are my three favorite pumpkin treats:
Pumpkin Protein Bars: These are packed with protein and the only added sugar comes from the mini chocolate chips. These freeze well, so make a pan and then throw some in the freezer. Great with coffee and wine.
Whole Wheat Pumpkin Doughnuts: All you need is a doughnut pan to make your own doughnuts at home. This is a great treat for the holidays or just something for your weekend coffee.
Pumpkin Oat Bars: The biggest, best compliment I ever got was that my sister always has a pan of these in her kitchen. She makes then in two 8×8 pans, freezes one and keeps the other on hand.
That’s it for my recipes, now onto cookbooks.
Though I love blogging and reading cooking blogs, I am old school when it comes to recipes: I LOVE cookbooks. I have way more than I care to admit in a public forum, but they are so worth it to me. I always include dates that I make the recipes and notes and you just can’t do that on a blog.
Lately, I’ve been reading (and cooking from):
100 Days of Real Food
Author Lisa Leake swears off processed foods for her and her family. This book is a great resource and I have loved everything I made including: apple chips, slow cooker steak fajitas, quinoa veggie burgers, Asian inspired rice, whole grain pumpkin muffins, and pork lettuce wraps. I love that the recipes are easy and dependable. I trust that Lisa will take me where I need to go where I am cooking and you don’t always find that with cookbook writers. This week I am trying the slow cooker pulled pork.
Author Anna Thomas is a well-versed vegetarian cook and writer. The recipes are a little more involved but totally doable during nap time. I am a huge fan of her green soup with mushrooms, and am now trying to venture out to try the other recipes. Last week we made arugula and apple soup, this week kale and sweet potato. This leads to some my next topic….
Meal Planning Tips
I love soup. It makes a great warm and light lunch, and I think you can judge a cook (or cookbook author) on their soup.
As we move into cooler weather, my goal is to make at least one soup a week. That soup will be lunches for all of us, even Manatee as I just bought him a thermos to take to work. We also eat it for quick dinners, appetizers, and snacks. So much better than snacking on crackers and cookies! I also plan to freeze portions so when things speed up, we still have homemade soup to nourish us. To me, nothing says love more than homemade soup.
As the base for all my soups, I use my homemade (from veggie scraps) broth that I highly recommend- it’s cheap, it’s healthy, it’s easy, and since it’s from your scraps, it’s made with everything you like and eat.
Other tips for planning meals this fall:
-Use your slow cooker. I use mine at least once a week. It’s a great way to make a hot meal without having to work during witching hour (aka 5-7 pm).
–Plan a meal out. I love taking a break in the middle of the week for going out or getting take out. Take out does not have to be un-healthy! We usually get steamed chicken and mixed vegetables with sauce on the side and our own brown rice. We get it so much that our local Chinese restaurant knows our order as soon as we give our address. You can also get a rotisserie chicken from a store you trust and make your own sides.
–Use your freezer. We keep ingredients for homemade pizza in our freezer at all times. It’s so much better than frozen or even delivered pizza. If you are in Madison, you can get great crusts from Gino’s or Woodman’s sells Angelic Bakery’s whole grain crusts that we love. And when you have leftovers, freeze them! It’s so nice to have options when you don’t want to cook.
-Plan for leftovers. Don’t plan a meal for every night because it’s likely you will have leftovers. Have at least one night where you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.
I hope these tips, recipes, and cookbooks are helpful for you. I would love to hear from you. Do you have any favorite fall recipes? Cookbooks? Tips for busy school nights? I would love to hear them!