Sausage & Cabbage Skillet ♥

Sausage & Cabbage Skillet, another Quick Supper ♥
graphic button small size size 10 Today's quick supper recipe: Supper in a flash, a big ol' skillet of rustic and homey sausage, potato and cabbage that turns quite sweet and succulent. Low carb, even with potatoes; even lower carb with turnip. Gluten free so long as sausage is gluten free. For Weight Watchers, just 6 SmartPoints. graphic button small size size 10

Ever since my 90-year old father came to live with us last spring, supper's been increasingly an adventure as his appetite becomes increasingly less adventurous. In recent weeks, he's asked for salads from an "American" garden (that means "familiar" vegetables versus a plea for locally grown garden vegetables) and "more meat and more potatoes". (And more cookies and more donuts and more ice cream and more pie, but then, that's a whole 'nother story.) Okay then, I'm on it!

This recipe from Lisa at the Homesick Texan is one of a handful of recipes that pleased all three of us at the table and went straight from cryptic notes to a 3x5 recipe card for easy access again and again. Lisa may consider this rustic, home-cooked skillet "Texan" but I swear, this one-skillet sausage supper has "Midwest" written all over it. The first time, any one of us, all products of the Midwest, might have downed an entire skillet on our own. It tasted that good.

How to Roast a Whole Pumpkin ♥

How to Roast a Whole Pumpkin (or Better Yet, Kabocha Squash)  ♥
graphic button small size size 10 How to bake a whole pumpkin in the oven, the pros and cons both. Plus, a huge tip, why I've stopped roasting actual pumpkins and instead roast Kabocha Squash (pictured). graphic button small size size 10

WAY BACK IN 2007 I WROTE ABOUT ROASTING PUMPKINS WHOLE IN THE OVEN Talk about easy – just throw the pumpkin in the oven, whole, and once it's done roasting, it slices open like butter, no more finagling with a knife, no more worry about losing a finger. But then, what to make with the pumpkin flesh? (While we're deciding, scoop out the pumpkin seeds to make Spicy Sweet Pumpkin Seeds. They'll help!)

For awhile now, I've read/heard that "canned pumpkin is just as good as fresh". So I decided to figure it out for myself and last year roasted my first pumpkin. What???? You didn't know that??? Well, that's because the roasting process went fine but the pumpkin flesh itself was so blah. And yes, I roasted a sugar pie pumpkin (and not a pumpkin for jack o'lanterns) which by all rights should be good.

This year, the roasting process again went fine. I didn't do side-by-side comparisons, but the flesh of this year's roasted pumpkin made one delicious pumpkin pie and pretty light-orange pancakes until the last bit turned into a pumpkin smoothie. Unfortunately I didn't save enough for Pumpkin Bread Pudding which my friend Ann served at our book club last week and ... yumm.

Day 140: Yellow Squash Soup with Spinach ♥
aka Early Autumn Leaves in Soup

Yellow Squash Soup with Spinach ♥, just squash, bell peppers and spinach in a simple soup but somehow ever so much more. Low carb. WW friendly. Easily vegan.
graphic button small size size 10 Today's easy soup recipe: Just yellow squash, bell peppers and spinach in a simple soup but somehow ever so much more. Great color, low carb and just one or two points for Weight Watchers. When made with vegetable broth, not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real". graphic button small size size 10

~recipe updated, first published way back in 2005~
~more recently updated recipes~

FIRST THE POETIC It's still summer-warm here in eastern Missouri and even as I write, outside the cicadas are calling, described by Faulkner as the "rasp of summer, August". But this afternoon, an early-turning tree in the neighborhood began to glimmer with autumn gold. It'll be mid- to late-October before peak leaf color reaches the Mississippi and Missouri river valleys. Until then, our rolling hills will be a mix of green with yellow, then yellow with green. Just like this pretty soup!

NOW THE PRACTICAL If you've over-indulged for a few days and need/want to cut back, BRING ON THE CAKE. It's counter-intuitive, I know, but follow the logic.

graphic button small size size 10 You're feeling so full, intuition says to eat little, perhaps nothing.
graphic button small size size 10 But your body doesn't understand that rationale. If it's deprived of the calories it needs, it fears the onset of starvation and changes your metabolism to preserve body energy, to form body fat.
graphic button small size size 10 So ... the trick is to trick the body. Give it the calories it needs but in calorie-dense foods without bulk – i.e., cake.
graphic button small size size 10 Once you feel less full (with exercise added, for me it takes a day) return to the normal regimen, providing the body, each day, the tight range of calories (and nutrients and bulk) it needs but no more – i.e., not much cake.

Slow Cooker Tomato Grits ♥ Recipe

Slow Cooker Tomato Grits, another skinny recipe ♥, tastes way richer than its calories.
graphic button small size size 10 Today's slow cooker recipe: A "skinny" pot of grits that tastes every so rich, thanks to ripe tomatoes and a tiny bit of blue cheese. Weight Watchers friendly. Naturally Gluten Free. Vegetarian. graphic button small size size 10

So there comes the time, about now, when the tomato plants are at the height of their production, when it's suddenly time to start cooking tomatoes from the garden, not just chopping raw tomatoes for salads.

They're piling up on the counter, as ripe as can be, you don't want them to go to waste. But as a seasonal eater, you're also not going to pull out all the canning gear to make tomato sauce or something similar. Because, you see, here in the Midwest, garden tomatoes are for August, September and in good years, the early part of October. They're not for winter.

And so it came to be last fall. (Yes, I saved this recipe from then, knowing you'd appreciate it now more than then.) Twas a Friday night, the end of a long two weeks. Briefly, we talked about heading out for dinner, a strong Old-Fashioned called. Instead? I warmed up some Slow Cooker Tomato Grits cooked earlier in the day and cooked Frozen Steaks, you got it, straight from the freezer. With a good bottle of wine from downstairs? The best "Free" meal ever.

Curried Corn Chowder with Coconut Milk ♥

Curried Corn Chowder with Coconut Milk, another healthy soup ♥ A Veggie Venture
A hearty corn chowder, laced with zucchini and carrot and pungent with curry.

It's the time of year to throw a zucchini into everything we can. I know, I know, it's folly to think a household of three could make a dent in a backyard garden's zucchini production. Could a barnyard of pigs? I wonder.

For this soup, however, the zucchini was Plan B, after all, the goal was corn chowder not a mixed vegetable soup. But Plan A's farmers-market corn was wormy, only three of six ears were edible, the other three went straight to compost. But it turns out, I loved the zucchini addition, it not only added volume but also balanced the corn's natural sweetness. Besides? Color! The green inspired the addition of still more color, orange grated carrot.

Baked Orzo Casserole ♥ with Eggplant, Olives, Goat Cheese & More

Baked Orzo Casserole with Eggplant, Olives, Goat Cheese & More, another flavor-packed make-ahead summer casserole ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 A gorgeous summer casserole, orzo loaded with Mediterranean vegetables, every single bite delivers a surprise of fresh, summer flavors. The orzo casserole is inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi and is a great dish to carry during late summer and early fall. It easily switches between a vegetarian casserole or my favorite, laced with chicken. graphic button small size size 10

Oh people. I do love this casserole. SO.MUCH. You know how some casseroles are dense and heavy? Good for girding ourselves for cold weather! But this casserole is light and almost airy in texture, even though it's packed with late-summer and early fall vegetables like eggplant and tomato. Good for summer!

But what really makes this casserole special is how every bite includes so many different textures and flavors, tiny cubes of creamy eggplant and slivers of briney olive and sun-dried tomatoes and tiny burst of salty capers. And did I mention goat cheese? Yeah, goat cheese. For the record, I also buried chicken in the casserole, not too much, just enough to make it a substantial supper. But don't worry, the chicken is optional, this makes one mean, mean Meatless Monday vegetarian supper.

For my book club last week, I served it with Tomato Platter with Olives & Feta and a big summer salad. Sumptuous, that supper!

Fresh Tomato Sauce ♥

Fresh Tomato Sauce ♥, how to make tomato sauce, not for canning, but fresh for supper with perfect summer tomatoes.
graphic button small size size 10 How to make tomato sauce, not for canning, but fresh for supper. Make it with summer's best tomatoes and eat it straight-away, still warm from the stove, laced with the essence of basil. graphic button small size size 10

~recipe updated~
~more recently updated recipes~

WAY BACK IN 2007 In the years I was digging my roots as a cook, I had the great fortune to move to Texas – nothing to do with Texas itself and everything to do with the fact that my mother's best friend from grade school lived all of two miles away. Phyllis and her husband tucked me under their culinary wings and on occasion, I'd spend a Sunday on a stool in their working gourmet kitchen, some times helping, mostly wide-eyed and soaking up the possibilities: I'd never heard of the stove-maker Viking, had never known a house with two ovens let alone a third dedicated as a warming oven, didn't know that pastry rolls out best on stone-cold marble.

So I have a whole collection of recipes bearing Phyllis' name. This is one. You'll see, it's not fancy food (though Phyllis would chide me for not blanching the tomatoes to remove the skins) but it is what I hope you think of as "classic Alanna", simple food prepared well.

The one requirement is really good tomatoes. If you're going to make tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes, at least a sauce this simple, the tomatoes must-must be perfect-perfect. That said, my notes say that when tomatoes aren't in season, Phyllis also makes tomato sauce from boxes of Pomi Tomatoes, a good choice when good tomatoes aren't available. I also have good luck with (albeit pricey) canned San Marzano tomatoes, watch for them at Trader Joe's, I used them to make Quick Tomato Sauce two years ago.

EVER SINCE, OVER THE YEARS This is simple, spare fare, such an easy, celebratory way to revel in summer tomatoes. Another summery recipe from Phyllis I remade just last month? Cold & Creamy Cantaloupe Soup. Dreamy good!

"[Phyllis'] tomatoes/basil sauce - just perfect!" ~ Barbara
"I am making this again today ... awesome recipe." ~ Barbara