Cool Weather Comfort Food

Shhhh…. the baby’s sleeping. You know I can’t stay away for long. He’s two weeks old today, and my goal for the time being is to do at least one post here a week. It’s good me-time and I want to keep sharing all the great stuff I’m still somehow managing to squeeze in. So what have I been up to?

Keeping us all fed. With a little one that needs attention nearly round the clock, this is no small task. But with the crockpot, there is good food on the table at our house! It’s been raining for weeks here. We have little glimpses of golden fall sunshine, but mostly a lot of rain. And the weather has turned cool – tonight it’s supposed to be in the forties! So crockpot dinners and soups have been playing big into our dinner times recently.

We’ve turned to two of our favorite soups recently for quick dinners – bacon and whiskey chili with cornbread on the side and cioppino with sourdough bread. I can’t believe I haven’t posted my recipe for cioppino yet – it’s so good. If you’re not familiar, it’s a seafood stew that is rumored to have originated in the San Francisco area. It’s got a white wine, tomato and clam juice base, and usually contains a white fish (I typically use cod), shrimp, mussels (I prefer the smoked ones), and crab. I’ll have to get the exact recipe I use listed here soon – you have to try it. Since those are both quick dishes, we just did them on the stovetop. The cornbread was quick in the oven and we splurged and purchased the sourdough from Bennisons at last weekend’s farmers market.

But the crockpot has had equal play as well. I found two recipes online recently that sounded pretty good, so I decided to give them a try. My husband was able to get a pork roast at a good price at the store, so I wanted to do something special with it. CDKitchen has some great crockpot recipes on their site, including one for Apricot Glazed Pork Roast. It only uses five ingredients – pork roast, apricot preserves, chicken stock, dijon mustard and an onion. It was pretty good, and I served it with egg noodles for a simple side dish. We’ll be having it again, since my husband liked it so much.

We also did a crockpot Moroccan chicken from the site, but I need to play with this recipe a bit. It didn’t have enough of a flavor punch for me – it ended up tasting a little bland. Okay, a lot bland. I only had powdered ginger on hand, so next time I’ll use the fresh that the recipe calls for. And instead of the orange juice, I’ll use whole fresh lemons and juice. And I’ll punch up the garlic a bit too – two cloves wasn’t enough for our taste.

And just tonight, I improvised a bean stew in the crockpot. I used half a bag of dried white beans (pre-soaked overnight), an onion, a couple of carrots, a can of tomatoes with chiles, chicken stock and the leftover bland Morrocan chicken. I seasoned it with cumin and Mexican oregano. It was pretty good for something just thrown together while the baby napped. I also managed to make a loaf of bread on a subsequent nap! Not a time consuming yeast bread mind you, but bread! I’ve been craving home made white bread lately. Quick bread was the answer, and after some internet searching I came across a suitable candidate – herb quick bread. It’s a baking soda-risen bread, flavored with caraway, thyme and nutmeg. It’s a denser loaf than a yeast-risen bread, but still has a nice crumb. The flavorings have a bit of a Scandinavian profile, but the great thing about it being a white bread base is you can flavor it any way you want. You could do garlic, thyme, oregano and rosemary for an Italian-style bread, or layer cinnamon sugar and butter into the dough for a breakfast bread; anything really. This will definitely be a standby in our house.

Tomorrow if I can get some sausage at the store, I may do a crockpot jambalaya – I’ve been wanting to try the recipe that came with my crockpot for awhile now. And in other news, we plan on walking to the library and we need to clear out the garden and move the herbs indoors – the nights are getting cold! And I’ve been thinking about relaunching my Etsy site, so I need to some brainstorming on that… oh and plenty of baby-tending, a nap or two and hopefully a little time with a good book.