Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fall-ing In Love and Feeling Autumn-ish

Hey Peeps!!!

Life is still going strong on the crazy for me, but I'm slowly settling into a routine, which is NICE!

This weekend, the "Autumn" really started to sink in. The air was crisp and leaves, they are a-changing.

Growing up in the Southeast, we only had two seasons--hot and hotter. "Fall" is usually just a week filled with torrential downpour, and then it gets a little cool and stays just "cool" until December when winter kicks in. It's not unusual in South Carolina to have a 80-degree day in the middle of October. The weather is just whack.

When I moved to Illinois, I fell head over heels for Autumn. Here, there are four DISTINCT seasons. The WINTER--that I could do without, but fall is just. so. gorgeous. The crunchy, browns, oranges, reds, and greens on the leaves; pumpkin pie; fall on the local farms; fall festivals; dry, cool breezes; and corn mazes. Each year, Fall never ceases to catch my breath and pull me into it's embrace.

During the weekend, in the spirit of Fall, we went for a brisk walk around the neighborhood pond (it's one-mile around)...

It's that "sunflower" time of year! We have a TON of them growing in a field behind our house. I'd cut some, but it's so lovely to see the butterflies flit around them.

Canadian Invasion! haha--these geese have dominated our neighborhood recently.

Elegant creatures, but don't let appearances fool you! These Canadian geese are some BA birds. They can get MEAN!

I swear my dog was a duck in another life. She LURVES the water, which is weird, considering she's your typical "small dog" bichon/shih tzu mix.

Bay Bay's a convincing actress too, Beaufort, my water-fearing dog, was like "OKAY, I'm coming in too!" As soon as he got out in the water and realized where he was, he like, "DO NOT WANT!!!" :)

My little duckling.

Canadian Trail Crossing :)

We also have these three fabulous white geese at our neighborhood pond. They are such snobs! You rarely see them fraternize with the other ducks and canadian geese.

Pond water swim = BATH TIME. Now, Bay Bay is thinking "DO NOT WANT!"

Beaufort's face says it all.

I also took some time to decorate for fall.

I'll tell you a secret--I got all these fall decorations from the Dollar Tree. When sprayed with gold floral glitter--anything from the Dollar Tree looks fab!

Lately (maybe because onset of fall weather?), I've been into soups and stews. So today, I have not one, but TWO very easy lentil vegetarian stew recipes.

Why lentils?

Well, random "health tidbit": Did you know that lentils, a small but nutritionally mighty member of the legume family, are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Not only do lentils help lower cholesterol, they are of special benefit in managing blood-sugar disorders since their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal. Lentils also provide good to excellent amounts of six important minerals, two B-vitamins, and protein-all with virtually no fat. The calorie cost of all this nutrition? Just 230 calories for a whole cup of cooked lentils. This tiny nutritional giant fills you up--not out (Source: WHFoods).

Easy Curried Sweet Potato and Lentil Stew
From Betty Crocker's Vegetarian Cooking cookbook--amazingly easy veg. recipes in this one!

2 Tbsp. margarine or butter
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 Tbsp curry powder
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 14.5 oz. can of vegetable broth
3/4 cup dried lentils, sorted and rinsed
1/2 tsp. salt and pepper
1 cup apple juice
3 cups, peeled, finely diced sweet potatoes
1 cup frozen green beans
Sour Cream or Plain Yogurt, if desired
Chutney, if desired

1. Melt margarine in 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook onion and curry powder in margarine 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Stir in flour. Gradually add in broth, stirring constantly, until thickened.

3. Stir in lentils and salt and pepper; reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Stir in apple juice, sweet potatoes and green beans. Heat to boiling, reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer an additional 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender. Top each serving with yogurt, sour cream or chutney if desired.

I didn't have any yogurt or sour cream, so I opted for sharp cheddar. My motto is, everything tastes better with a sprinkle of cheddar!

Fall stew recipe #2--a big batch o' veggie chili!

Big-B Vegetarian Lentil Chili
Adapted from this Better Homes and Gardens recipe

4 14.5-oz. cans diced tomatoes
1 15-oz. can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-oz. can chili beans in sauce
1 jalapeƱo, seeded and diced
1 medium chopped onion
2 cups dry red lentils, rinsed and drained
1 packet chili seasoning mix
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (8 oz.) (optional)
Tortilla chips (optional)

1. In 8-quart Dutch oven combine undrained tomatoes, rinsed and drained beans, chili beans, 3 cups water, jalapeƱos, onions, dry lentils, chili mix. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Stir in garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste; heat through. Serve with shredded cheese and tortilla chips. Store leftovers, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Or divide among 1-quart freezer containers and freeze for up to 3 months. Makes 6 (about 1-1/2-cup) servings + leftovers.

Freezing Directions: To Freeze: Cool mixture. Pour mixture into 1-quart freezer containers. Seal, label and freeze.
To Serve: Transfer a portion to a large saucepan. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through.

MMmmmm...easy, cheesy, lentil goodness.

I HEART the Fall and Fall foods, so be on the look out for lots of "heart-healthy" fall recipes to come (maybe some not-so-healthy ones too--wink, wink). Also, if you have an awesome Fall recipe to share--send it my way. If you're a blogger, send me a link!

Q.O.D. (question of the day): What's your favorite "fall food?" (I love soups and stews, but I have to be honest and say my favorite fall food is pumpkin-anything!)What's your favorite season and why?

1 comment:

  1. Love lentils in soups and stews. I think chili is a fave fall "food." I'll take anything with butternut squash. Yum. Glad you're settling into a routine!