The Taxman Cometh & Poverty Stew with Cilantro-Lime Salsa Verde

It doesn’t rain but it pours. If you live in northern New England and it’s April, that’s both literally and figuratively. As if April wasn’t bad enough already with mud season, someone had to throw in Tax Day. Sure, I knew it was coming but I was too busy skiing to start in March let alone February.

With a week to go, I’m scrambling to get through all the forms. I think I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. It’s not the difficulty; I can add and subtract. (Heck, I can multiple and divide too.) It’s the complexity, the arcane language and wading through all those forms. Before you go and recommend one, I already use one of those software tax packages. Except for the one W2, the pile of 1099s and receipts from the dentist, home office expense and the like, I’m not shuffling paper. The majority of the slogging is from one screen to another. It may be automated but the whole thing still feels like a quagmire. Come to think of it, all those forms and receipts are still a lot of paper.

That’s what I get for being part of the gig economy. Gigs – sounds like fun doesn’t it. Not only is it a cute little word but it reminds me of musicians. While it definitely has its benefits, it’s not always as cool as it sounds. The gig economy is all about contract work, part-time and temporary jobs. Musicians, writers and artists have been doing it forever.

Now, everybody is getting in on the action. Corporations, large and small, are hiring gig workers to fill gaps and manage the ebbs and flow of business. Some gigs are fulltime and last for months. They’re the consultants, software developers and graphic designers who come on board for big projects. I’m guessing H&R Block has been hiring gig workers like crazy for the past month or so.

Not all gigs are nine to five. Many are for a few hours a week – the teacher who tutors your reluctant fourth grader. Some giggers start young – the middle schooler who walks your dog. Some are seasonal. Think of the guy who cuts your grass every summer. Others, like your Uber driver, start and finish a gig in less than an hour.

Long or short, it doesn’t matter. Before you know it, the gig is up and it’s time to find a new one.

I love gig work because it opens the door to all sorts of interesting, new people, experiences and places. From the everyday to special occasions, I’m delighted to cover it. I’ve written about celebrations and tragedies as well as history, religion, traditions and the lack-of. Every story is a challenge. Every story is an adventure.

Gig work isn’t perfect. You’re generally on your own for health insurance, retirement savings and whatever other benefits a company might offer. Forget about paid vacation time, sick days or holidays. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. Then, when it comes to filing your taxes, gone are the days of a single W2. With multiple employers, you have a pile of W2s and/or 1099s plus a bunch of self-employment driven deductions. As I said, it’s not difficult; it just takes a while, like forever.

Happy tax season and bon appétit!

Poverty Stew with Cilantro-Lime Salsa Verde
Whether you get a refund or need to write a check, this hearty stew will get you through all the shuffling and calculations. If you need to write a really big check, skip the chicken. Enjoy!
Serves 8

1 pound dried black beans
2 bay leaves
12-16 ounces hot (or sweet) Italian sausage, casings removed
Olive oil
About 3 pounds chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 red or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon or to taste pureed chipotle in adobo*
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup espresso or strong coffee
About 4 cups chicken stock or broth
Sweet Potato Polenta or plain polenta cooked according to package directions
Cilantro-Lime Salsa Verde (recipes follows)

Rinse and soak the beans overnight in 10-12 cups water.

Drain and rinse the beans, put them in a pot, add water to cover by 3-4 inches and 1 bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to very low, cover and simmer until tender, 45 minutes-1 hour.

Meanwhile, lightly coat a casserole with olive oil and heat over medium-high. Breaking it up into pieces, sauté the sausage until cooked through, remove from the pan, drain and let cool. When it is cool enough to handle, finely chop the sausage. Reserve.

Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Place the chicken in the casserole, skin side down and cook until lightly browned, 2-3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the casserole and reserve.

Put the onion, carrots, celery, bell pepper, spices and oregano in the casserole, season with salt and pepper and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Stir in the wine, espresso, sausage, beans and remaining bay leaf.

Add the chicken and wiggle the pieces about half way down into the beans, add enough stock to cover the beans plus about an inch. Bring everything to a simmer and transfer to the oven.

Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 30-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 30 minutes.

When cool enough to handle, remove the chicken from the casserole. Discard the skin and bones and cut or tear the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Stir the chicken back into the beans.

The stew is best if be covered and refrigerated for several hours or overnight.

Reheat the stew on the stovetop or in a 350-degree oven until bubbling.

Serve the stew with a spoonful of Sweet Potato Polenta and a dollop of Cilantro-Lime Salsa Verde.

* Toss a can of chipotle peppers along with the adobo in a small food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a clean glass jar, store in the refrigerator and use as needed.

Cilantro-Lime Salsa Verde
Zest and juice of 1 lime
2 cloves garlic
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon or to taste roughly chopped jalapeno
About 2 cups cilantro leaves
1/4 cup or to taste extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt to taste

Put the lime zest and juice, garlic, scallion and jalapeno in the bowl of a small food processor and pulse to chop and combine. Add the cilantro and olive oil, season with salt and process until finely chopped and well combined.

Let the salsa sit for at least 30 minutes before serving. Can be made ahead, covered and stored in the refrigerator. Serve at room temperature.

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One Year Ago – Lemon Pound Cake
Two Years Ago – Lavender Scones
Three Years Ago – Calzones with Marinara Sauce
Four Years Ago – Chocolate-Espresso Cheesecake
Five Years Ago – Runners’ Chicken with Pasta
Six Years Ago – Steamed Artichokes with Bagna Cauda or Warm Lemon-Garlic Sauce
Seven Years Ago – Death by Chocolate Cake
Eight Years Ago – Filet de Perche Meunière
Nine Years Ago – Chicken Provençal

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How are you coping with tax season? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2018

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Persisting Women Pork Stew with Beans & Greens

It began with a simple grassroots effort. A school district in California realized that their kids had little if any knowledge of women’s contributions to the state, to the country and to the world. So, they dedicated a week to women’s history. There were special programs and curriculum. The grand finale was a parade and celebration. It was 1978.

In 1979, educators and activists got together at The Women’s History Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. A teacher from Sonoma shared her district’s success and it lit a fire. Spreading to schools and colleges across the country, Women’s History Week took off. Unable to contain the enthusiasm to just seven days, there were soon calls for a month of education and celebration. National Women’s History Month was declared in 1987.

This year’s theme is Nevertheless, She Persisted. The goal is to honor women who persist in fighting all forms of discrimination against women. Persistence, it is an amazing word. Could it be the secret to women’s success?

Take for instance, the right to vote. Today, most of us take that right for granted. Not my grandmother. In her time, the voting age was twenty-one. However, she could not go down to town hall and register to vote on her birthday. Women did not have that right. She was twenty-five when the Nineteenth Amendment was finally ratified into law. The fight for suffrage began as one of twelve resolutions at the Seneca Falls Convention in the summer of 1848. Success took seventy-two years of persistence.

I remember when one of the credit card companies turned my mother down. Whether it was a holdover from laws limiting women’s property rights or misguided custom, it doesn’t matter. Mom was incensed. The person at the other end of the phone told her they would be more than happy to grant a joint card with my dad. She just couldn’t have one in her own name. Mrs. Nye was fine; Elizabeth was not. She finally got her card a few years later. I’m guessing it was after the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974.

At about the same time, I was appalled to learn that wage disparity of women to men was fifty-nine cents to the dollar. It didn’t matter that I was a teenager earning minimum wage at my summer job. Or that the busboys were also earning minimum wage. It was the principle. Since then, the wage gap has narrowed to seventy-nine cents. Persistence continues.

Throughout the month, let’s celebrate the women who came before us. Let’s honor the women in both our personal and collective histories. We’ll thank our mothers and grandmothers, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman and Amelia Earhart. We shouldn’t forget our favorite aunts, cousins and neighbors along with Shirley Chisolm, Ella Fitzgerald, Margaret Sanger, Rosa Parks, Sally Ride, Julia Child, Billy Jean King, the 1996 Women’s Soccer Team and the 2018 Women’s Hockey Team. Because of them, we stand stronger, we are better educated and our lives are freer, richer and safer.

Armed with persistence and patience, women have fought and won the right to vote, to education, to work and to own property. The path has rarely been easy and the journey continues. In spite of a rapidly changing world, we still measure the timeline to equal rights for women not in days or even years but in decades.

With a toast of gratitude to brave and persistent women, I wish you bon appétit!

Pork Stew with Beans & Greens
Invite friends over for a cozy dinner and celebration of women. Enjoy!
Serves 8

1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
2 ounces slab or thick cut bacon, roughly chopped
1 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups cooked white beans, drained and rinsed (about 12 ounces dried beans)
4-6 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup dry vermouth
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 bay leaf
1 pound pre-cooked kielbasa sausage, cut into 2-inch slices
16 ounces baby kale or spinach

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter in a heavy casserole over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crispy. Remove the bacon and reserve.

Season the pork with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium-high, add the pork and cook for a minute or two per side. Remove from the casserole and reserve.

Reduce heat to medium and add the onion, carrot and celery, sprinkle with thyme, allspice and chili flakes, season with salt and pepper and sauté for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté 2 minutes more.

Return the pork and bacon to the pot and add the beans, 4 cups stock, vermouth, mustard and bay leaf. Gently toss and stir to combine, bring to a simmer and transfer to the oven.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Add the sausage and, if necessary, more stock to the pot, return to the oven and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Add the kale in handfuls and stir or toss until it wilts. Return the pot to the oven for 5 minutes.

Spoon the stew into shallow bowls and serve with a chunk of crusty bread.

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One Year Ago – Shrimp Curry with Spinach
Two Years Ago – Mini Tarte Tatin
Three Years Ago – Rainbow Salad with Black Olive Vinaigrette
Four Years Ago – Potato & Cheddar Soup
Five Years Ago – Traditional Irish Soda Bread
Six Years Ago – Guinness Lamb Shanks
Seven Years Ago – Strip Steak with Gorgonzola Sauce
Eight Years Ago – White Bean Dip
Nine Years Ago – Warm Chocolate Pudding

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

During National Women’s History Month, who are the heroes you most want to celebrate? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2018

First in the Nation – Primary Day in New Hampshire & Oven Braised Chicken with Mushrooms, Onions & Garlic

I_votedThose of us lucky enough to live in New Hampshire have lots to be proud of. (Yes, yes, I know. For the grammar police, that should be … lots of which to be proud.) Anyway, our glorious foliage in the fall is world famous. But that’s not all. Our state offers beautiful lakes for swimming, waterskiing and sailing, country roads for cycling and mountains for skiing and hiking. And finally, more than a few luminaries hail from the Granite State. Bode Miller, Robert Frost and the Budweiser Clydesdales are the first that come to mind.

Then, every four years, our brilliant leaves and wonderful outdoorsy activities pale in comparison to the hoopla created around our first in the nation primary. As for those famous faces? We’ll brag about them again later. For now, they take a backseat to the notables who travel our highways and byways during primary season. Suddenly, our little state is the place to be.

The excitement goes on for months. The candidates were here last summer to march in Fourth of July parades, still here in October to buy pumpkins for Halloween and back again in December to pick up their Christmas trees. Unlike the rest of the country, except of course for Iowa who threw their caucus last week, we get to see all of the presidential candidates up front and personal.

Followed by packs of handlers and journalists, they hold court in town halls and coffee shops. We have a front row seat to their every move. And, if by chance we miss something, well, the leading story on the evening news invariably starts with, “In New Hampshire today …”

Admittedly, this election has been more entertaining than most. Neither Barnum nor Baily could have staged a more interesting spectacle. Sometimes inspiring, other times infuriating, frightening, or laugh out loud funny, no one can deny the theatrical quality of this particular election. Part pep rally, part revival meeting, part over-rehearsed and part improvisation, it is the best reality television has to offer. From the soft-spoken few to the wild-eyed and impassioned many, none of the candidates are short on declarations, recriminations, claims and counterclaims. Look up melodrama in an on-line dictionary and you’ll find multiple links to the 2016 primary campaign.

Speaking of Barnum and Bailey, the republicans started out with enough candidates to fill a clown car. (It’s true; I checked the math.) Party establishment types, upstarts, a billionaire and a brain surgeon, jammed into the car. While the republican field still has plenty of candidates, several have been trumped. Their numbers are rapidly dwindling and the clown car is now half-empty. Or should I say half-full? Anyway, I expect that the New Hampshire primary will help to weed out a few more.

What about the democrats? In the early days of the campaign, the rivalry on the democratic side was not so much dull as nonexistent. Forget the clown car; a unicycle was about all the democrats needed for their parade. Then, one of our neighbors from Vermont, stepped into the race. Democrats across the Granite State and across the country are feeling the Bern. The democratic run to the convention may have fewer players but the contest is getting more and more interesting.

The Farmer’s Almanac is predicting cloudy skies and a chance of scattered snow flurries on primary day. Assuming that the farmer is correct and you have some flexibility as to when you go to the polls, you’ll have no excuse to stay home. Besides, they’ll give you an I VOTED TODAY sticker. With any luck, that sticker will buy you a free cup of coffee or a doughnut. If not, well then, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you did your part and contributed to the democratic process.

Don’t forget to vote and bon appétit!

Oven Braised Chicken with Mushrooms, Onions & Garlic
In the old days, politicians promised a chicken in every pot. Try this one on primary night. You’ll be glad you did. Enjoy!
Serves 4

2-3 ounces thick cut bacon, chopped
4 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
About 1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup or more dry white wine
1/2 cup or more chicken broth
4 ounces fresh (peeled and trimmed) or frozen pearl onions
4-6 cloves garlic, trimmed, peeled and left whole
8 ounces whole mushrooms, trimmed and cut in half or quarters

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a skillet large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer in the oven for 10 minutes.

Put the bacon in a skillet and place over medium-low heat. Stirring occasion, cook until the bacon is crisp. Reserve.

Sprinkle the chicken with half of the herbs de Provence and season with salt and pepper. Place the chicken, skin-side down in the hot skillet. Return the pan to the oven and roast the chicken at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.

While the chicken roasts, put the onions, mushrooms and garlic in a bowl, sprinkle with the remaining herbs, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Add the bacon and drizzle with enough bacon fat to lightly coat and toss again.

Put the mustard in a measuring cup or small bowl, whisking constantly slowly add the wine and broth.

Turn the chicken, add the wine and broth mixture and scatter the mushrooms, onions and garlic around the pan. Return the pan to the oven. Adding more wine and broth if necessary, continue roasting until the chicken is cooked through and golden and the vegetables are tender and caramelized, 30-45 minutes more.

Serve the chicken thighs with a spoonful of mushrooms, onion and garlic.

A great dish for a party, double or triple the recipe use a large roasting pan. This recipe is very forgiving. If dinner is delayed, add more broth and wine, reduce the oven temperature and let it bubble for an additional 30, even 45, minutes. It can also be made ahead and reheated.

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One Year Ago – Capellini with Lobster & Caviar
Two Years Ago – Sour Cream Cupcakes with White Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting
Three Years Ago – White Chocolate Mousse with Raspberry Coulis & Fresh Raspberries
Four Years Ago – Mixed Greens with Roasted Beets & Lentils
Five Years Ago – Chicken Niçoise
Six Years Ago – Greek Pizza
Seven Years Ago – Triple Threat Brownies

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How are you doing with your resolutions? Are you resolute or not? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016

Guy Fawkes Night & Moroccan Spiced Vegetables & Chickpeas with Couscous

Bonfire Night - geograph.org.uk - 1034248If you know me at all, you know I dread November. By the fourth or fifth of October, a defense mechanism sets in and I lose track of time. All too soon, it’s Halloween. This fabulous eve of ghosts and goblins seems to come only minutes after the Columbus Day leaf peeper invasion. And then, it’s November.

Gray, dreary, cold November; there’s nothing to look forward to until the end of the month. Finally, Thanksgiving pulls us out of the doldrums and lifts our spirits. Or so I thought; until I remembered Guy Fawkes Night is tomorrow! An English holiday, it’s rarely, if ever, celebrated on this side of the pond. Who cares? Heck, it’s dark at 4:30 in the afternoon; we could all use, make that need, a little frivolity.

Guy Fawkes was part of a rebellious group who tried to blow up the English House of Lords and take down King James I. He was caught, tortured, tried and found guilty. He would have been hung but he committed suicide before anyone could get a rope around his neck. Is it irony, fate or fluke that Guy Fawkes Night falls just hours after the midterm election? Let’s go with none of the above.

Like many commemorations, Guy Fawkes Night has lost most of its political overtones. It has become a night for bonfires, fireworks and fun. Sounds a bit like the Fourth of July and a good excuse for a party; not a bad idea on a dreary November night. Call it an evening of rebellion; rebellion against a cold, cruel November.

Also known as Bonfire Night, the first thing you will need is towering pile of old wood. Oops, think again, a visit and fine from the fire department will probably ruin the your evening. It might be best to settle for cozy fire pit. Expect a chill in the air and encourage your guest to practice LL Bean chic with fleece and down. It is New Hampshire after all. Mull some cider and maybe add a shot of applejack or rum. If the weather is soggy, don’t hesitate to move the party indoors. A fireplace works fine for me.

Going with the theme of rebellion, invite everyone to share a personal story of insurgence, mutiny or foot stamping. The results will be anything but dull. I’m guessing there will be a few stories of college sit-ins. Depending on your group, there could be some more recent protests as well. Perhaps, you’ll get a play-by-play account of an almost-raging response to a telemarketer. Or another’s retort to the idiot who stole, yes stole, their parking space this morning. You know the feeling, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” And who knows, maybe one of your friends actually told the boss to take that job and shove it.

From the deadly serious to the mundane, the sublime to the ridiculous; it will be an enlightening evening. A trip down memory lane, you’ll hear about petitions, vigils and boycotts. More than history, you may learn some things that you never knew, never would have guessed about each other.

Perhaps one of your friends missed his chance to compete in the Olympics when the US refused to go to Moscow. You will find out who gave up any and everything from grapes to red meat, chicken, chocolate chips, Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirts and Mickey Mouse. You might even get a firsthand account of the March on Washington or Occupy Wall Street.

Happy Guy Fawkes Night and bon appétit!

Moroccan Spiced Vegetables & Chickpeas with Couscous 
A dash of color and spice for a cold night, serve this flavorful stew as a vegetarian main course or as a side dish with chicken or lamb. Enjoy!
Serves 6 or more

Olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, roughly chopped
2-3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon cloves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red or yellow bell pepper, roughly chopped
1-2 medium zucchinis, roughly chopped
1-2 cups crushed tomatoes
1-2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup golden raisins
1-2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
12 ounces fresh mixed baby kale or spinach
1 1/2 cups couscous
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1-2 scallions, thinly sliced
Garnish: chopped cilantro or parsley

Heat a little olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and spices and sauté until the onion starts to become translucent. Add the garlic and sauté a minute or so more.

Add the carrots and celery, season with salt and pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, chickpeas and stock and stir to combine. Bring the stew to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover and gently simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the zucchini and simmer for about 10 minutes more.

Stir in the kale and continue cooking until it wilts.

While the vegetables are simmering, cook the couscous according to package directions. Add the pine nuts and scallion, drizzle with a little olive oil and toss to combine.

To serve: spoon couscous into shallow bowls, top with vegetables and sprinkle with cilantro or parsley.

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Bonfire photograph via Wikimedia Commons, courtesy of Gwen and James Anderson, participants in the Geograph® Britain and Ireland project. Copyright © by Gwen and James Anderson.

One Year Ago – Smashed or Mashed Potatoes
Two Years Ago – Apple Muffins
Three Years Ago – Mixed Greens with Warm Roasted Squash
Four Years Ago – Spinach Ricotta Pie
Five Years Ago – Seared Scallops with Lentils
Six Years Ago – Tomato, Olive & Feta Tart
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How do you cope with the gray days of November? What’s your strategy to keep smiling through the fog and drizzle? Feel free to share – let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2014

October & Autumn Vegetable Chili

Octo from the Latin meaning eight and ber from the universal meaning it’s getting chilly outside. Elkins_Dam_Foliage_02Wait a minute, back up the train. An octopus has eight legs, an octagon eight sides but October is the tenth not the eighth month of the year


In spite of the confusing name, October has a lot going for it. With fall foliage at its peak, this is especially true in New England. Above and beyond the crimson and gold landscape, October is a great month for foodies.
. What’s up? Blame it on Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome. He made eight the new ten around 700 BC by adding January and February to the start of the calendar year. As far as I’m concerned, he is also responsible for any septo-, octo- , novem and decem errors I made on my SAT’s. If it weren’t for Numa, I’d be a Harvard graduate and a billionaire with long legs and fabulous hair.

Someone or other has declared October Applejack Month so you might want to think about inventing a new cocktail. Something with cider and applejack sounds fall-ish and festive. Debut your cocktail on the 11th, also known as It’s My Party Day.

Speaking of parties, Columbus Day on the 14th gives many people a day off and a long weekend. The fall foliage will be at its peak and it’s a great time to bring friends and family together for a celebration. After all, you’ll have an extra day to recover!

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, October is also Cookie Month. Why not bake a batch of your (or my) favorite cookies

and celebrate Mad Hatter Day with a fabulous tea party on the 6th? If that doesn’t work out, you can try again with a National Dessert Day gala on the 14th.

When you need a break from cooking, feel free to call for take-out. October is National Pizza Month. That said with endless possibilities, it’s fun to make your own. Consider throwing a pizza party. If you choose the 18th, be sure to end with chocolate cupcakes. Yes, the 18th is Chocolate Cupcake Day. Who would have guessed?

With beautiful squash, parsnips, beets, broccoli and cool weather greens in the market, it will be easy to celebrate National Vegetarian Month. Some linguine or penne tossed with your favorite fall vegetables will be delicious on World Pasta Day, the 25th. If eating your vegetables makes you feel a little too pure, indulge a bit on the 21st with National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day.

It’s also Seafood Month. Make plans to grill up some shrimp or swordfish before it gets too cold to cook outdoors. If it turns cold and rainy, you can always sauté or roast your favorite seafood or make a cozy chowder. Sounds delicious.

A bunch of new films hit theaters this month. All the better to enjoy National Popcorn Popping Month. Forget the milk duds and jujubes, munch on some popcorn and let the magic of Hollywood take you away.

And finally, drum roll please, one of my favorite holidays – Halloween comes at the end of the month. But more about that later …

… in the meantime, happy October and bon appétit

Autumn Vegetable Chili
Bring a batch of spicy chili to your next tailgate party or potluck supper. Enjoy!
Serves 12

autumn_vegetable_chili_021 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
3-4 carrots, chopped
3-4 celery stalks, chopped
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
6 cups cooked small white beans, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried chipotle chili flakes or to taste
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cups crushed tomatoes
1-2 cups vegetable stock or water
1 cup dry white wine
1-2 bunches (about 1 pound) Swiss chard, roughly chopped
Garnish: toasted pumpkin seeds and fresh chopped cilantro

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Working in batches, sauté the vegetables in a little olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until lightly browned.

Transfer the vegetables to a large casserole and add the beans, spices and herbs. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, vegetable stock and wine. Bring the chili to a simmer over medium-high heat, cover and cook in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Can be made ahead to this point. Cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate. Bring to a simmer over medium heat on the stovetop and continue with the recipe.

Add the Swiss chard to the chili and stir to combine. Return to the oven and cook for 5-10 minutes more.

Serve the chili in shallow bowls garnished with pumpkin seeds and chopped cilantro.

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One Year Ago – Lemon Rice Cakes with Spinach & Manchego
Two Years Ago – Apple Crumb Cake
Three Years Ago – Ginger Scones
Four Years Ago – Curried Eggplant Soup
Five Years Ago – Braised Beef Bourguignon
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What about you? Where will you take a child this week? Feel free to share. Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook as well as a day in the life photoblog! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2013