Like it or not, fall is in the air. A lot of us look at this time of year with mixed emotions because it means that summer is over, and summer is all about fun: shorts, t-shirts, and sandals, not to mention swimming, ice cream, and no school.

However, since the temperatures are starting to drop, fall also means that we can enjoy foods that were not as appealing to us during the warm summer months; namely, soups, stews, and one of our family favorites — chili. Nothing beats a nice hot bowl of chili or soup on a cool crisp autumn day. Add in some fresh crusty bread and I could eat it every day. Plus, soups and stews are easy to make and can be served over rice or noodles for a single dish meal that your family will love and appreciate.

Soups and stews are also convenient because they can be made a few days beforehand and stored in the fridge, where the flavors will blend and improve the taste. We use beer in our chili and you can experiment with your favorite brands, which will flavor it differently. There's also a "cool factor" to telling people you used your favorite micro-brew to make it. If you don't want to use beer, simply omit it and add water or broth instead.

Chili Con Carne

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef, browned and drained
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 T chili powder
  • ½ T ground cumin
  • 1 bottle/can of beer (I use pale ale, but Budweiser will suffice)
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with juices
  • 2 T honey
  • 1 t salt, or to taste
  • ½ t fresh ground black pepper
  • olive oil or canola oil

Method

In a 4 quart sauce pan, saute onions in 1 T oil until translucent, then add garlic. Saute for 5 minutes. Add chili powder and cumin and saute 2 minutes. Add red and green peppers, saute another 5 minutes, then add ground beef and mix around. Add beer, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, honey, salt and pepper.

Cover pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for at least one hour. For best results, cook in the morning or the night before and let it sit until your ready to eat, then re-heat.

Add a blob of sour cream or yogurt, and shredded cheese and onions if you like. Serve with warm corn bread.

Apple and Butternut Squash Soup

You can use just about any sort of winter squash, but we tend to use butternut because they're bigger with more flesh and are easier to peel. Butternut squash is surprisingly easy to peel with a peeler. You can also bake the squash and scoop them out, but that's one more step.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium to large butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ T curry powder
  • 3 cups broth or water
  • ¾ cup apple cider or juice
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
  • salt to taste
  • olive oil

Method

Saute the onions, cinnamon stick, and bay leaf in two teaspoons of oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add curry powder and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Add broth, squash, and apples and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove bay leaf and cinnamon stick and mix in a blender or with an immersion blender until smooth. Add cider/juice and salt and over medium heat warm soup for 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Roasted Root Vegetables

Ingredients

  • 2 large onions, quartered and separated
  • 3-4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
  • 3-4 parsnips, peeled and sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, add onions, carrots, sweet potatoes, and parsnips and drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and pepper and mix with a spoon to evenly coat. Transfer vegetables into 9 inch square baking dish and cook uncovered, mixing regularly, for one hour, or until vegetables are tender.