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So you need a side to go with your Baked Potato Soup? This Beer-Cheese Bread was awesome with it. My mom and I loved this bread. This is definitely the best bread that I have ever made at home. I will be making this all fall to go with our soup and chili. 

Basic Beer-Cheese Bread

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
13.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3 cups)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 (12 ounce) bottle lager-style beer (I used Miller Lite)
Cooking spray
2 tablespoon melted butter, divided

1. Preheat over to 375 degrees.

2. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion to pan; cook 10 minutes or until browned, stirrings occasionally. Stir in pepper and garlic; cook 1 minute.

3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk; make a well in the center of the bowl. Add onion mixture, cheese, and beer to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Don’t over stir.

4. Spoon batter into a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan that has been coated with cooking spray. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of butter over the batter. Cook at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Drizzle other tablespoon of butter over batter. Bake another 25 minutes or until the bread is a deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool five minutes in pan on a wire rack, then remove the bread from the pan. Cool completely before slicing. 

Notes: This recipe is from the November 2008 issue of Cooking Light, which is a great issue. It’s filled with lots of great recipes for Thanksgiving.

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The cold weather has arrived in Columbus, and it sucks! I don’t know how I am going to survive being trapped in the house with an almost two-year-old all winter long. We spent so much time outside this past summer and fall, being inside all the time is a shock. But that’s a topic for another post…

Since the cold weather has arrived, it’s time to pull out the cozy, comfort food recipes. This past weekend, I made Baked Potato Soup for my mom and I as we winterized my house. I made it because it looked simple and easy, and it is. And, it is delicious.

The recipe is basic, but what makes the soup is the toppings. You must have the toppings! 

Baked Potato Soup

Ingredients:
2 and 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut up into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup half and half
1/4 cup sour cream (don’t use non-fat)
salt and pepper to taste

Toppings:
Bacon
Chopped green onions
Shredded sharp cheddar cheese 

1. Put potatoes in the crock-pot and add enough water to cover them. Cover and cook on high until the potatoes are cooked and falling apart, about 4 and a half hours.  

2. Turn the crock-pot to low, add butter, half and half, and sour cream. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until hot, about 20 minutes. 

3. Serve in bowls and add toppings. Makes about 6 servings. 

Notes: This soup reheats very well. To save some money, buy a block of cheddar cheese and shred it yourself. It is cheaper and the cheese tastes better too!

This recipe is based on a recipe from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann. Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook is a great cookbook!

I served this with the most amazing beer bread. Recipe to follow…

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As a single mom, I am always watching my money. I spent this past weekend winterizing my house with my mom (or I should say, my mom winterized my house while I tried to learn how to shrink wrap windows and kept messing up the windows so then she had to go back and fix them – thanks mom!).  

Lately, I’ve also been trying to reduce my food costs. I have significantly reduced how often we eat out and get take out. I always try to cook our meals at home – it’s healthier and more economical. 

Even though I’m reducing my food budget, I still buy as much organic food as I can. One way I do this is we eat very little meat in our house. I’m always looking for good vegetarian meals that are healthy, cheap, easy, and yummy. I found this recipe on one of my favorite blogs – A Year of Crockpotting. It sounded like an odd combination to me, but it is delicious! 

White Bean and Apple Chili

2 cans of white beans, drained and rinsed (I used navy beans.)
1 onion, chopped
2 apples, cut in tiny chunks, no need to peel ( I used golden delicious.)
3 cloves chopped garlic
3 T butter
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 cups veggie or chicken broth 
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (optional)

1. Put the butter into the bottom of your crockpot. Dump in the drained and rinsed beans. Chop up the onion and the apple. Add the spices, and pour in the broth. Stir in the yogurt.

2. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4-5. This is done when the onion has reached desired tenderness and the flavors have melded. Stir in the cheddar cheese before serving.

Notes: Like Stephanie said on her website, the chili is very mild, which is perfect for kids. I added Tabasco to my servings. I served whole-wheat, walnut raisin bread with it, which was awesome. It also reheats well.

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More fall recipes…

I love fall and fall recipes. I love apples and pumpkins, and so does my daughter.

So here is another fall recipe. It’s easy, healthy, the munchkin loves it, and uses my favorite kitchen appliance – the crock pot. (OK, the coffee part is actually my favorite, but you don’t cook with the coffee pot.)

I felt like a cooking rock star when I tried this recipe for the first time. Yes, I know when you read the recipe you will think I’m crazy because it is so easy. But I never would have though it would be this easy to make homemade apple butter. 

The most time consuming part of this recipe is cutting up the apples. It takes a lot of apples, but I didn’t peel the apples for this recipe, which saved me a ton of time. After cooking the apples, I put the apple butter in my blender. I have the oldest, worst blender ever, but it worked anyway. After blending, you can’t taste the peels.

This recipes makes 4 cups of apple butter. 

Crock Pot Apple Butter

Ingredients:
5 pounds apples (about 14 apples), cored and cut up
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves 
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice

1.  Fill a large crock pot with apples almost to the top.  Cover and let stand at room temperature all day.

2. Add spices and toss apples. Cover and cook on low for 10 to 12 hours, or overnight. (I did overnight.)

3. Remove the lid and let the apple butter cook an additional 2 to 8 hours on low until the butter reaches the desired thickness. (I cooked mine for 4 hours.)

4. Turn off the slow cooker and let cool. Then transfer butter to blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Store in plastic containers. The butter can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. (I refrigerated half of my apple butter and froze the rest.) 

Note:  I used Golden Delicious and Molly apples to make this. If you use tart apples, you may need to use sugar. The original recipe called for 2 cups of sugar. 

This recipe is based on a recipe from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann. Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook is a great cookbook!

[Photo Credit: Apple]

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I’m a lazy cook. I don’t like complicated recipes. I don’t like to bake because you have to be precise. I like simple recipes.

I also like healthy recipes too. I try not to give my daughter store-baked cookies and cupcakes, because I don’t know what is in them.

This fall, I wanted to make some cookies for the little one. I looked for pumpkin cookies recipes, and it was hard to find a healthy one. This original recipe had an entire stick of butter in it. I replaced it with applesauce, and the substitution was fine. The original recipe also called for 2 cups of white flour. Replacing with the whole wheat didn’t change the taste of the cookies. I will probably still work on making the recipe healthier by reducing the sugar.  

The recipe as is, is good. The munchkin loves them. She has been asking for them ever since I made the first batch this fall. 

Pumpkin Cookies

Ingredients:
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup canned pumpkin  
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup white, all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper, or grease the cookie sheets.
2. Mix together applesauce, brown sugar, egg, pumpkin, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix just until combined. Don’t over mix.
3. Drop by the teaspoon onto cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and let cool.

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On Saturday, October 4, the North Market will be hosting its Harvest Festival.

The Harvest Festival is free and has activities such as pumpkin pie, apple pie, and pumpkin bread contests; free cookies and apples for kids; face painting; crafts; and music. 

If you haven’t bought any local apples, pumpkins, squash or cider this fall, the Farmers’ Market at the North Market is a great place to do so. Last week, the selection was great. It seemed like there were more vendors at the market last week than in previous weeks. As usual, the Farmers’ Market opens at 8 a.m.

Scheduled Harvest Festival activities include: 
•Farmers’ Market and North Market merchants open at 8 a.m. 
•Pumpkin Bread contest, 9 a.m. 
•Live music by Slate Ridge, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. 
•Pumpkin Pie contest, 10 a.m. 
•Free pumpkin cookies for the kids, courtesy of Mozart’s Bakery, 10 a.m. while supply lasts. 
•Free apples for the kids, 10 a.m. while supply lasts. 
•Autumn crafts with the Columbus Jaycees, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. 
•Apple pie contest, 11 a.m. 
•Face painting, 11a.m. – 4 p.m. 
•Live music by Cowboy Hillbilly Hippy Folk, 12 – 2p.m. 
•Live music by Loosely Strung, 2 – 4p.m.

For more information about Fall activities in Central Ohio read this post about Circle S Farms and a great website to find pumpkin patches and apple orchards.  

[Photo Credit: Pumpkins]

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Once my daughter was born, I began to think a lot more about food. I had no idea what would be best for her to eat.

So, I starting reading a lot of books about food. Here is a list of my favorite food books:

What to Eat and Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition, and Health by Marion Nestle. If you only have time to read one book, read What to Eat. The book is broken down into categories and Nestle explains the reasons for purchasing one type of food over another. For example, why buying local can be better than buying organic. 

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan. This book completely changed the way I thought about food. I love Pollan’s writing style. 

The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matters by Peter Singer. This book helped me to see how my food choices affected myself and the larger world. 

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser – Before you give your children any fast food, read this first. This was the first food book I read, and it is incredibly enlightening. 

Eating Local:

Both of these books are lovely narratives of two families’ adventures in eating local. After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, I was ready to move to the country and buy a farm.    

Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally by Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver

All of these books changed the way I thought about food. Reading any of them will open your eyes and start you thinking about what you and your family eat. 

[Photo Credit: AnimalFast Food Nation]

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