Since we moved to Georgia 14 years ago, it's been our family tradition to take a day trip to the North Georgia mountains every Fall to visit the apple orchards. 🍎 The trip was never really about the apples though. It was just a great place to spend the day together as a family. Hiking, wandering through a corn maze, picnicking, taking pictures in sunflower fields, searching for the perfect pumpkin in the patch, shooting the apple cannon, visiting the petting farm AND if we still had time - picking apples.
I highly recommend a Fall trip to the mountains if you live in the great state of Georgia. Even if you're not interested in apple picking - I suggest going for the apple treats alone - apple sticks, apple cider, apple cider doughnuts, fried apple pies, caramel apples and so much more. Deliciousness. 🍩🥧 The treats sold in the apple barn are legendary.
This year we decided to extend our stay in the mountains so we could add some new adventures to our annual Fall trip. We rode the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway on the Fall foliage tour, we took in the sights from horseback and we wandered around the apple festival booths in Ellijay.
It was a beautiful October weekend in the mountains. We had a lot of fun and we ate a lot of great food. We didn't pick any apples this year but we did buy some at the apple festival to bring home. They seemed like the perfect souvenir from our fun weekend get away.
Even though our weekend mountain escape is over, we still have the apples to remember our trip. Tonight I'm making Apple Bacon Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with some of our mountain apples. 🍎
Apple Bacon Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
3 slices bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
3/4 cup gruyere cheese, shredded
Transfer to bowl and let cool 10 minutes. Stir in gruyere. Wipe skillet clean.
Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes.
Remove twine and slice into 1" pieces.
Just a reminder - if you're not interested in all of the commentary that accompanies the recipes on my blog - just remember that you can always scroll to the bottom of the post and click on the blue link for a printable version of the recipe. I get it. We're not all visual learners. I recognize that there's a certain percentage of my followers who don't appreciate the step by step instructions and that is exactly why I spent endless hours adding a button to the bottom of each and every recipe. Simply click on the blue button for a link to a printable word document for each recipe. If you're the kind of person who likes to have a stack of recipes on hand - printing is also a great way to keep track of the recipes that you want to try.
It's supposed to be cold and rainy here all weekend. (Hello, crock pot dinner and football games!) I love my slow cooker but I don't use it nearly as much as I think I should. It would certainly save me valuable time doing dinner prep but I just don't pull it out of the cabinet very often. Part of the reason that I don't use it very often is that when I think slow cooker - I think pot roast and potatoes and pork shoulder. And that's not really my jam. 😂
This Chicken and Corn Chowder recipe was a great reminder that crock pots are good for more than just roasts. 🥣 Fall is soup season and this is the perfect transition from salads to hearty, warm winter soups. I scooped out my bowl of soup before adding the cream to save on calories but the rest of my family loved the rich, creamy Chicken and Corn chowder recipe as written.
Whether you've got a football game to watch this weekend, a yard full of leaves to rake or just a weekend of relaxing on the couch, this recipe is perfect. It comes together quickly and you can just sit back and enjoy the amazing aroma of chowder while it simmers in the slow cooker all afternoon. The hardest part of this whole recipe was NOT lifting the lid on the crock pot every hour to take in the amazing aroma.
There's nothing better than having a meal ready to eat at 6:00 without last minute prep work. I'll admit that it still feels strange to prep dinner at 10:00 AM but I'm determined to get in the habit of using my slow cooker more so I better get used to it. Believe it or not, I managed to get this chowder in the crock pot while I was simultaneously making french toast and scrambled eggs for breakfast. (It's actually kind of amazing that we didn't end up with celery in our eggs.) Whatever works.
Slow Cooker Chicken and Corn Chowder
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 slices pancetta, diced
1/4 cup minced celery
1 shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf
3 cups frozen corn
3 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup heavy cream (optional)
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Season with salt and pepper. Serve with fresh parsley.
If you like a creamier chowder - stir cream into chowder.
Check out all of my other slow cooker recipes using the categories side bar on my blog. There are awesome recipes like Mediterranean Chicken and Farro and Acorn Squash. If you've got a great recipe that you make in your slow cooker - I'd love for you to share it with me. I love new recipes.
Have you tried to pick out a healthy box of cereal lately. There's no telling how much of my life I've wasted standing in cereal aisle, staring blankly at shelves filled with rows and rows of cereal boxes. ⏱ All I want to do is choose a box of cereal for my family that's relatively healthy and not loaded with sugar. I used be a Raisin Bran fan but I recently read that Raisin Bran has the more sugar than MOST other cereals on the shelves. 😳 Wait - it's fruit right?
It seems like every week, I stand in the aisle, staring at the shelves trying to choose a new healthy cereal. It's easy to eliminate the boxes with pictures of cookies or doughnuts on them but there's a lot of unhealthy cereal disguised in healthy looking boxes too. I carefully scrutinize ingredient lists and nutritional information until my brain gets overloaded with facts and grams and calories. At some point, I end up just grabbing a box and hoping for the best.
It shouldn't be this hard to choose a cereal that's low in sugar and high in whole grains. I don't think that I'm an indecisive person. I feel like there are just more and more options on the grocery store shelves every single week. Have you seen the yogurt section lately? There are literally twenty different kinds of nearly identical blueberry yogurt varieties. 🍶
It's easy for me to get overwhelmed when I'm at the grocery store. I want to pick out the most healthy food to serve my family but it's getting harder and harder for me to navigate through all of the products on the shelves. Sooooo, I do my best to shop the fresh foods around the perimeter of the store and avoid the processed foods in the interior aisles. It's never going to be possible for me to eliminate processed food completely from my shopping list completely because I can't live without things like garbanzo beans and tortillas. 🌮 And who would want to?
Thank goodness for recipes with ingredients that I don't need to research ahead of time to make sure they're safe and healthy to feed my family. Cabbage, carrots, mint, lime and onions are all things that I can buy all year at my local Sprouts store. Grilled Coleslaw with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette is the perfect side dish with delightfully fresh and easy to choose ingredients.
Grilled Coleslaw with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette
1/2 small napa cabbage
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 lime, halved
1 green onion, sliced thin
1 Tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Butternut squash is one my favorite of all of the edible gourds. (Doesn't everyone have a favorite gourd?) Any vegetable with BUTTER in the name is a winner in my book. I typically like to eat my squash roasted or grilled but for a nice change of pace in the Fall, I enjoy turning a big beautiful squash into soup. 🥣There's something about cool evenings, a blanket of crisp leaves covering the ground and a big bowl of butternut squash soup that I find so comforting. (I also like caramel apples and apple cider doughnuts in the Fall but I'm choosing to channel my energy into healthier seasonal cravings today.) 🍩🍏😂
The great thing about this Butternut Squash and Red Pepper Soup is that you can make it "light" and healthy or really go for it and create something super rich and creamy. You can make my recipe as written for a bowl of super flavorful deliciousness OR you can reinvent it and create your own bowl of squashy goodness. Stir in a tablespoon or two of cream, sprinkle toasted walnuts or roasted corn on top or toss on a few homemade croutons. Go crazy with your vegetable soup. So many herbs and nuts to experiment with.
Butternut Squash and Red Pepper Soup
4 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/2" pieces
6 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 cups chicken broth
1 Tablespoon sherry
Sprinkle individual portions with pancetta.
Who knew that eating my vegetables could be so delicious?
Does it mean that you're a foodie if you sign up for a cooking class while you're on vacation? (Not asking for a friend.) 😂 I'm fully embracing my foodie status today - There was no way that I was going to miss out on the opportunity to learn to cook LIKE an Italian FROM and Italian - in ITALY - even if it means I earn the title "foodie". 🇮🇹 Spending the day making classic Italian food with the love of my life in the beautiful town of Bellagio was pretty much a dream come true.
We started off our cooking class with a trip to the market where we shopped for our ingredients. Then we spent the afternoon creating the most delicious Italian food that I've ever tasted. Homemade pasta, bolognese sauce, bruschetta (aka ragu) and tiramisu - oh my.
I'll admit that it's possible that sitting at an elegantly dressed table under a grapevine awning in the middle of our favorite little Italian town on a beautiful Fall day, influenced my opinion of the food. I may have forgotten some of the details about that day, like the weight of the flour and the amount of fresh sage to put in the sauce, but I'll remember the memories that we made on this special day for a very long time.
It took 7 people (including 1 professional) 6 hours to create this dream Italian meal. I anticipated that it would take me roughly 3 days to recreate this meal at home - by myself. 😂 Soooo, I decided to tackle it in stages - or a series of days to be exact.
This is how my Italian cooking week went -
Day 1 - I shopped for ingredients including Italian tomatoes, ground veal and dried ladyfingers. (In case you're curious - I had to visit was 3 different grocery stores to get these special ingredients.)
Day 2 - I tackled the Bolognese sauce, divided it into containers and stored it in the refrigerator.
Day 3 - I made the tiramisu and let it sit in the frig overnight (A technique that our instructor recommended for better consistency.)
Day 4 - I made the bruschetta and homemade pasta, opened the wine and served my version of food.
My goal was to replicate the cooking class meal as closely as I could - with ingredients that are available on this continent. 😂 (I actually did a little happy dance when I ran across these tomatoes in World Market because this was the exact brand of tomatoes that we used to make our Bolognese in Italy.) Replicating the meal was easier than trying to recreate the beautiful ambience in stunning Bellagio.
1/4 cup olive oil
1 stalk celery
3 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
25 ounces tomato puree
1 cup water
7 ounces finely chopped canned tomatoes
1 cup red or white wine
salt and pepper
1/3 pound ground veal
1/3 pound ground pork sausage
1/3 pound ground beef
Discard bay and rosemary and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.
Serve ragu with pasta.
I made two separate batches of ragu because well, it's ragu and you and can never have enough. Just to be sure that I was being thorough in my research, I wanted to make a batch of the ragu made with white wine and compare it to a batch of ragu made with red wine. (All in the name of research. 😂)Turns out - even though I'm partial to a glass of red wine with dinner - I was a fan of the white wine ragu. Don't get me wrong - both ragu sauces were amazing and I would never turn down a bowl of either. I recommend doing your own "research" though. 🍝
Ciao from Bellagio!
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