It is November right? I mean 70 degrees in November! Really?! Since I plan my menus a week or so in advance, it's hard for me to base it on the temperature outside. Typically November is chilly and is great soup weather - not this year. But I'm too much of a planner to veer from the plan, so we had hot soup on the warmest day! Wes, nor I, seemed to complain though so maybe it doesn't really matter what the temperature is outside. Let's not get carried away, I still can't see myself cooking up a big pot of chili in the middle of July.
I've been seeing a lot of recipes for Butternut Squash Soup and even though I'm not a huge fan of that particular squash, the color is very fallish and I wanted to be like everyone else. With the right ingredients, any vegetable can taste good, especially in a soup. The particular recipe I chose incorporated fresh crab meat and I had just seen Whole Foods was discontinuing a particular brand, so I jumped at the chance to get to use it (I only used one 5oz can though). Turns out that this was a happy marriage in this Butternut Squash and Crab Bisque. The crab was subtle, yet still very much an element of the soup. The squash melded nicely with the mirepoix. Of course the half and half was a welcome addition to add a little richness to the finished soup. I wouldn't want this every day but it was a nice, healthy option for a nice warm fall day!
I have this old binder where I used to keep my recipes (before my computer filing system began). It's loaded with lots of good things but it's so large that I'm reluctant to ever get it out and go through it. It's really too bad because some of our favorite recipes are in there. It really isn't until I have some inspiration or actually crave one of these recipes that I get the book out. I had such an occasion recently when Wes requested a homemade pizza that I remembered these Muffuletta Calzones. The pickled veggies make them a little spicy and a little salty (and we don't even add the olives) but we've found the sweetness of pizza sauce counteracts both. I do not use all the ham or salami the recipe calls for - I only use about 4 slices of salami and 1/3 lb ham for 4 calzones. I've found Whole Foods has a whole wheat pizza dough ball over by their pizza by the slice department and it was actually tasty. If you don't have a Whole Foods, your local pizza place would probably sell you the dough or a bread store should have it as well. Even if you don't like this particular recipe, you should definitely try your own calzones sometime.
I had a recent bad experience with a chuck roast and was reluctant to use it again but I'm so glad I did. I've determined that the first go-round I must not have braised the meat long enough in the oven to reach the desired fall apart consistency I was hoping for. This time I used the ever faithful crock pot (aka love of my life). This is a great recipe to prepare right as you leave for work in the morning because it welcomes you home as soon as you pull in the garage. The rub, adobo pepper, and onions really add a lot to these Shredded Beef Tacos. You can add any of your favorite taco toppings to suit your tastes. A good melting Mexican cheese is best but any cheese will do.
Wes has become famous (at least in our house) for his meatloaf. It's not really his but he makes it and I want him to feel special so I refer to it as his. I couldn't begin to count how many times he's made this over the years but each time is just as good as the last. Of course anything tastes better when you didn't have to make it but don't let that deter you. He's even experimented with it and has settled in on liking to kick up the amount of horseradish. He doesn't usually use the full 2 lbs of hamburger so he scales everything accordingly, that is everything except the sauce. We've both decided we like the extra ketchup-y goodness on top so he adds a little extra. We round off the meatloaf with the traditional mashed potatoes and peas - it's a rule that they must go together, right?
Horseradish Meat Loaf
from Southern Living's Homestyle Cooking 2002
2 lbs ground beef
3/4 cup uncooked regular oats (we've used instant and they worked fine)
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup milk
1 T. prepared horseradish
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup ketchup
3 T. brown sugar
1 T. horseradish
2 tsp spicy brown mustard
Combine first 9 ingredients in a large bowl; stir well. Form beef mixture into a loaf and place in a 9x5-inch loafpan.
Combine 1/2 cup ketchup, brown sugar, 1 T. horseradish, and mustard in a small bowl, stirring well. Spoon half of ketchup mixture over top of meat loaf. Bake, uncovered, at 375 for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Spoon remaining ketchup mixture over meat loaf, and bake 10 more minutes.