The four Ss can help us make the most of fall cooking

It is perfectly natural for your food choices to change as the weather does. The refreshing cool salads of summer may not satisfy us now. Instead, we want warmth and comfort as the temperature drops.

One evening, while browsing through some cookbooks to plan my menus, it suddenly came to me: autumn cooking often incorporates four Ss:

Sweaters — to cozy up in while meal planning, cooking and dining.

Stews and soups — To enjoy the taste of harvested produce prepared in a shared pot to enhance their individual flavours, which produces a comforting gourmet combination. This meal preparation method also includes chilli recipes and warm casseroles. These dishes almost always incorporate potatoes, which are out of the garden and ready for eating this time of year.

And of course, spice — To fill our homes with the aromatics of spiced seasonal dishes.

I hope you enjoy some of my favourites:

Slow cooker stew

This stew will welcome you home after a long day. It’s so warm and satisfying, and what a great way to use the root vegetables from the garden. Serve with fresh sliced bread and pickled beets.

  • 2 lb. stewing beef 1 kg
  • 1/4 c. flour 60 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 1 2 tsp. pepper 2 mL
  • 1/2 tsp seasoning salt 2 mL
  • 1 tsp. paprika 5 mL
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cut
  • 1 1/2 c. beef broth 375 mL
  • dash of Worcestershire
  • 2 tbsp. white wine 30 mL

Place meat in the slow cooker. In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, pepper, seasoning salt and paprika. Pour the flour mixture over the meat and stir until the meat is coated. Add the garlic, onion, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, broth, dash of Worcestershire and wine to the meat mixture and stir well. Cover and cook on low for eight to 10 hours or on high for four to six hours.
Note: You can also roast this in the oven at 350 F (180 C) for approximately two hours.

Autumn chilli with mashed potatoes

This meal hits the spot as the weather cools down and we need some warming. I did not experience having chilli over fresh mashed potatoes until I was an adult, and now it is an autumn go-to.

  • 1 lb. ground beef 454 g
  • 1 c. chopped onion 250 mL
  • 1/2 c. finely dicedpeppers 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped fresh mushrooms 125 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. of garlic seasoning or minced fresh garlic 2 mL
  • 1/2 c. rinsed uncooked lentils 125 mL
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (not drained) 19 oz. (540 mL)
  • 1 can red kidney beans, drained 19 oz. (540 mL)
  • 1 can brown beans in tomato sauce 14 oz. (398 mL)
  • 2 tbsp. chilli powder 30 mL
  • 1 tsp. seasoning salt 5 mL
  • dash of cayenne pepperif desired
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar 15 mL
  • 1 cup fresh hotmashed potatoes

Brown the beef, onion, peppers and mushrooms in a skillet with garlic seasoning. Add remaining ingredients, stir and cook over medium heat for approximately 40 minutes and then simmer until ready to serve. You can also prepare this recipe in a four to five quart (four to five L) slow cooker — simply brown the meat and vegetables as you would in the above recipe and then add to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for eight to 10 hours or on high for four to five hours. Serve over mashed potatoes. Serves 8.

Skillet shepherd’s pie

I often make this within the same few days that I make the chilli recipe because many of the ingredients are the same and you can prepare enough potatoes for both dinners. Instead of roasting, this dish can be done is short order.

  • 1 lb. ground beef 454 g
  • 1 c. chopped onion 250 mL
  • 2 c. frozen corn, thawed 500 mL
  • 2 c. frozen peas, thawed 500 mL
  • 2 tbsp. ketchup 30 mL
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershiresauce 15 mL
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic 10 mL
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch 15 mL
  • 1 tsp. beef bouillon granules 5 mL
  • 1/2 c. cold water 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. sour cream 125 mL
  • 3 c. mashed potatoes 750 mL
  • 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese 125 mL

Skillet the beef and onion over medium heat until meat is just cooked through. Drain off the extra liquids and stir in the vegetables, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and garlic. Let cook over medium heat for approximately five minutes.
Combine the cornstarch, bouillon and water, stir until dissolved and add to the beef mixture. Combine well and heat until bubbling slightly. Cook for an additional few minutes and then stir in the sour cream and heat until mixture is warm but not boiling. Layer the mashed potatoes over the meat, smooth the top and sprinkle with cheese. Cover with a lid or some foil until the potatoes are heated through and the cheese is melted.
Serves four to six. Source: www.tasteofhome.com.

Vegetable chowder

Serve this soup with a fresh bread or buns. Dipping is a must.

  • 2 to 3 uncooked chicken or turkey breasts, cut into very small pieces
  • 4 tbsp. chicken brothor equal amount of bouillon 60 mL
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 finely choppedcelery stock
  • 1 large parsnip, peeled and sliced
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 / 2 c. flour 125 mL
  • 4 c. milk 1 L
  • 2 tbsp. butter 30 mL
  • 2 10 oz cans of cream corn (284 mL)
  • 1 tsp. salt 5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp pepper 2 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika 1 mL
  • seasoning salt and/or seasoning salt to taste

Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet, add the chicken and broth and cook until no longer pink. Set aside. In a soup or stock pot, sauté the potato, carrot, celery, parsnip and onion. When softened, add the chicken to the pot. Stir and add the flour, milk and butter. Cook over medium heat until thickened. Stir often. Once thick, add the cream corn and spices for flavour. Makes four generous servings. Add some water if the soup seems too thick. Garnish.
Note: I always make this soup on the stove top, but at meals where everyone is eating at different times, I keep it warming in a slow cooker. This method keeps the soup from burning to the pot on the stove. Just remember to stir occasionally.

Skillet apples on ice cream

This dessert is so simple and quick, and is a great way to introduce some spice. It’s another alternative to roasting and is best when using a firm apple such as Red Delicious, Honeycrisp or Granny Smith. However, any variety would be tasty.

  • 4 large apples
  • 2 tbsp. butter 30 mL
  • 3 tbsp. brown sugar 45 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon 2 mL
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg .5 mL
  • pinch of ground clove
  • vanilla ice cream

Peel, quarter and core the apples. Slice the apples into thin slices. Melt the butter in a skillet and then add apples and a dash of salt to bring out the flavour. Saute seven or eight minutes, add sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and cook two minutes more. Spoon the sauteed apples into dessert dishes and top with ice cream. Source: www.foodnetwork.com.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

This is a pumpkin muffin with some spice. It’s great for a snack or served with a dessert of fresh fruit if desired. These muffins were baked in a silicone muffin pan from Trudeau. These pans bake evenly and the silicon allows you to just pop them up and out of the pan after cooling.

  • 1/3 c. butter, softened 75 mL
  • 1 c. sugar 250 mL
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 5 mL
  • 1 1/4 c. pureed pumpkin 300 mL
  • 2 c. all purpose flour 500 mL
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder 6 mL
  • 1 tsp. baking soda 5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 2 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg 1 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves 2 mL
  • 1/8 tsp. ginger .5 mL
  • 1 c. plain Greek orregular yogurt 250 mL
  • 1/2 c. chopped nuts 125 mL (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C).
In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs one at a time and then add the vanilla. Add pumpkin and mix well.
In a separate bowl mix together the flour, powder, soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Fold into the creamed mixture alternately with the yogurt until well combined. Stir in nuts if desired. Spoon into muffin tins. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool, remove from the pan. Makes 12 large muffins.

Variations: Add a 1/2 c. frozen or fresh cranberries to the batter for additional flavour and colour. For the chocolate lovers, add a 1/2 c. of chocolate chips. For a creamier, more indulgent treat spread a cream cheese mix over the muffins.

  • 1 250 g package of cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp. butter, softened 30 mL
  • 1 c. icing sugar 250 mL
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 2 mL

In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, icing sugar and vanilla until smooth. Ice muffins when cooled.

Jodie Mirosovsky is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: team@producer.com.

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