When I cook, I pretend I am auditioning for a Food Network competition. Great motivation, right? After years of reading cookbooks like they were fiction novels, watching cooking shows and taking notes, I have collected a file folder full of recipes and meal ideas. In making so many lists, you notice a few ingredient trends—onions, carrots, celery, meat (hamburger or chicken), potatoes, and eggs. At a moment’s notice, I can throw a meal together with just a handful of additional ingredients. Whether you are a skilled cook, a foodie, or none of these, let me share a bit of my enthusiasm with you, in the hope of inspiring you with quick, easy fall meals that anyone can make.
CHILI, THREE WAYS
There are a variety of ways to make chili: with hamburger/turkey meat, chicken, or beans only. Then, add individual seasonings, a chili or taco seasoning packet, one whole onion, a heaping tablespoon of minced garlic, and occasionally an orange or yellow bell pepper. The peppers should be chopped and sautéed before adding everything else into the pot. Bonus: if using a slow cooker, you can put everything in at the same time. I always add a few liquids in addition to two cups water: a can of vegetable broth and one bottle of beer (Sierra Nevada, my favorite). Adding canned or dried beans is a personal preference. Personally, being very PRO BEAN, I combine pinto, black, and garbanzo beans, about a cup of each—or you could also use lentils. Once everything has had time to cook together, the first meal I prepare is served with corn chips, cheese, and sour cream or a side of corn bread. I like to make this first thing in the morning, so everything is nice and tender, just in time for dinner. If there is still any left, I will either freeze for another time or serve a second time in my cast iron skillet with corn bread batter on top for a chili casserole. This chili can also be served with over a baked potato, a chili con queso dip, or over hot dogs or French fries.
Here are a few more of my recipes for ‘go-to’, easy fall meals. They can be prepared on the stove, oven, or slow cooker.
BASIC ROAST BEEF RECIPE
• 4-5-lb. chuck roast
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 whole onions
• Salt and pepper, to taste
• 1 cup (if wanting to use alternative liquid) beer, soda, or Italian dressing
• 2-3 cups beef or vegetable stock
Ways to change it up and make multiple meals:
• 6-8 carrots, cut
• 4-5 potatoes, cubed
This makes a nice meal altogether in a slow cooker, or you can have everything separated and even make mashed potatoes, as opposed to roasted.
• 1 jar of banana peppers – makes a Beef Drip Sandwich
On day 2 of leftovers: add favorite BBQ sauce and shred. Add to a baked potato with all of the fixin’s.
SWEET POTATO BOWL
If you like to use bacon, fry some up and sautee the veggies in the bacon grease.
If not, coat the pan with olive oil (or coconut oil), add the chopped/diced the veggies and sautee.
• 1 onion
• ¼ red, yellow, or orange bell pepper
• 2 medium sweet potatoes
• 2-3 handfuls of kale, spinach, or swiss chard
After everything is soft, I like to fry an egg over medium and put on top.
You can also add rice, kimchi, ginger, and sesame seeds for an Asian-inspired meal.
And probably the most simple versions of my easy fall meals are found at Trader Joe’s! I pick up a bag or two of chicken or vegetable Fried rice, chicken or pork dumplings from the freezer section, and a box of ginger miso soup for a complete meal.