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‘Falling’ into place

Cathie Campbell/For The Madera Tribune Fall is here and thoughts may turn to meals such as this slow cooker pot roast.


Fall is my favorite time of year, although for many years summer topped them all. I loved summer because of being able to enjoy several of my favorite outdoor activities (if it wasn’t too hot, that is).

But fall has my favorite holiday (Halloween) and it is also the time of year when most of my favorite recipes are made. I love the fall colors in nature, too. I love to see pumpkins everywhere, and have even started collecting hand-blown glass pumpkins. I am tempted to keep those out all year round.

I don’t have many, as they are expensive! Help me celebrate fall by enjoying some meals that are just right for chill-in-the-air evenings. Time to start thinking about getting our sweaters and hoodies out of storage. Chicken and cornbread casserole

5 cups cubed cornbread

1/4 cup butter

1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)

4 celery ribs, strings removed and chopped (about 2 cups)

3 cups shredded cooked chicken

1 can (10 3/4-oz.) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted

1 can (10 3/4-oz.) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage (I don’t find this necessary as long as your poultry seasoning is not too old)

1/4 teaspoon pepper 1. Preheat oven to 350. Place bread cubes on an ungreased 15-by-10-by-1-inch baking pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until the bread is toasted and browned. Cool on baking pan.

2. In a large skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and celery; cook and stir 6 to 8 minutes or until the vegetables become tender and translucent. Transfer to a greased 4-quart slow cooker. Stir in cornbread, chicken, soups, broth and seasonings.

3. Cook, covered, on low setting for 3 to 4 hours. Mixture should be heated all the way through. Makes 6 servings. Italian sausage and kale soup

My favorite Italian sausage is Saladino’s Sweet Italian. About 20 ounces of your favorite Italian sausage, casings removed

1 medium onion, chopped

8 cups chopped fresh kale (tough stems removed)

2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, optional

1/2 cup white wine or chicken stock

26 ounces (3 1/4 cups) chicken stock

1 can (15-oz.) white beans, such as cannellini, rinsed and drained

1 can (14 1/2-oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil), chopped

1/4 teaspoon pepper 1. In a 6-quart stockpot, cook sausage and onion over medium heat 6 to 8 minutes or until the sausage is no longer pink, breaking into crumbles. Remove with a slotted spoon.

2. Add kale to pot; cook and stir 3 or 4 minutes. Add garlic and, if desired, pepper flakes; cook 1 minute. Add wine; cook 2 minutes longer.

3. Stir in sausage mixture and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 15 to 20 minutes or until kale is tender. Makes 8 servings (about 2 quarts). Slow cooker pot roast

This is good over some mashed potatoes. Also, I would add some carrots and a bit of celery to this. 1 cup warm water

1 tablespoon moist beef base

1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1 boneless beef chuck roast, about 3 pounds

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup butter

1/3 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt 1. In a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker, whisk water and beef base to mix well. Add mushrooms, onion and garlic. Sprinkle roast with pepper; transfer to slow cooker. Drizzle with Worcestershire sauce. Cook, covered, on low 6 to 8 hours or until meat is tender.

2. Remove roast to a serving platter; tent with foil. Strain the cooking juices, reserving vegetables. Skim fat from cooking juices. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour and salt until mixture is smooth and free of lumps; gradually whisk in cooking juices. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cooked vegetables. Serve with the roast. Makes 6 servings. Apple pumpkin muffins

While not a dinner recipe, this still fits in with a fall theme! 2 1/2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 eggs

1 cup canned pumpkin (not prepared pie filling)

1/2 cup canola oil

2 cups finely chopped peeled tart apples 1. Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, mix first 7 ingredients (flour through nutmeg). In another, smaller bowl, mix eggs, pumpkin and canola oil. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until moistened.

2. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until the muffins test done. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before removing them from pan Makes 1 1/2 dozen.


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