Fall is here! The equinox has passed, the leaves are changing, scarf-covered women are sipping Pumpkin Spice Lattes (me, I’m talking about me), and all is right with the season! Unless you have already headed south for the winter, you are starting to notice a new feel in the air, a general pumpkiny aesthetic, and if you are anything like Nic and I, a craving for comfort foods. So, let’s talk fall food!
I must preface the next section: I am not a culinary expert. I call kitchen tools by the wrong names, I measure by handfuls and sprinkles, and I had to actually time things to know how long things cook. Obviously, we are very formal around here. I also have several food allergies and that makes cooking challenging, but the thing to know about cooking is that it is easy once you just start doing it. So, without further ado, here are a few of our most favorite fall meals, plus a festive drink!
Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti & Meatballs
1 large spaghetti squash
2 -3 jars of your favorite marinara sauce
2 lbs. ground turkey
3 roma tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic
4 fresh basil leaves
3 fresh sprigs of oregano
4 fresh sprigs of rosemary
1 cup almond flour (sub in other type of flour, or half a sleeve of your favorite crackers crushed up, if you would like)
Salt and pepper
In a small blender, food processor, or with expert chopping abilities, combine the garlic, basil leaves, oregano and rosemary. Make sure you pull the leaves off the oregano and rosemary sprigs. TIP: Pull the leaves the opposite direction of how they grow and they will slide right off! This is now your herb mix for your meatballs and marinara sauce. (Want less maintenance? Use dry herbs – a teaspoon each).
Begin with the meatballs. This is the most time-consuming part of the meal. Mix the 2lbs. of ground turkey, the egg, the flour (or crackers), and ¾ of the herb mix in a bowl. Roll the meatballs and lay out on a plate or a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper. Set these to the side while you prepare your squash and begin your sauce.
Prep your squash by chopping the ends off, then split it long-ways down the middle. Don’t be surprised if you pull a muscle doing this. Experts say to microwave it for a few minutes before cutting to soften it – I don’t really like to do that. So I just, you know, put all my body weight into it and pray to keep all my fingers. This is like a choose-your-own adventure recipe – we’re all adults here.
Get a spoon and scoop the seeds and yucky stuff out of the middle. Drizzle olive oil on the squash then sprinkle salt and pepper on generously. Turn the squash face down onto a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil. Parchment paper tends to keep the first layer of the squash from charring.
Put the squash in the oven at 450 degrees for about 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of your squash. The squash is finished when it passes the fork test. If the fork can go through the ‘shell’ side of the squash without effort, the squash is tender and ready. Set it aside to cool for at least 15 minutes.
While the squash is in the oven, throw the jars of marinara, chopped roma tomatoes, and ¼ of the herb mix into a big pot on the stove. Heat and stir until tomatoes are tender.
Next get a pan, drizzle olive oil in it, and begin cooking your meatballs. The turkey will be white all the way through when they are cooked. Use tongs to turn them as they cook, and be brave enough not to eat them all before you add them into the marinara sauce. If you are like me, you hide a few and enjoy them with your cooking wine … or favorite cooking beverage.
The squash should be finished or close to it by now, and your meatballs are soaking up flavor in the marinara sauce. Let your squash cool for 15 minutes. Once it is cool enough to pick up with the use of a paper towel or two, wrap a couple of paper towels around your hand and pick up the squash from the ‘shell’ side and hold it over a bowl. Using a fork, scrape the inside and you will see noodle-like squash come falling out. Once you have scraped both halves, you can choose to plate that first then pour the marinara on top, or you can add the squash to the marinara pot and serve that way. I’m all about choices here.
If you have people who dislike squash or the idea of spaghetti made from veggies, kick them out. Just kidding … make them pasta and talk to them about their life choices …. also a joke. You can incorporate any type of pasta here. See? Choices.
This is a time-consuming recipe and can take an hour – or slightly less with a co-chef, but the reward is the incredible flavor and altogether yummy meal!
1 ½ cups of baby spinach
10-12 sun-dried tomatoes (jarred are perfect)
This is a fantastic and versatile breakfast option! We make these ahead of time and eat them through the week for something to accompany our coffee, or a quick protein-veggie option.
Crack eggs into a big bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. You can add ½ cup of almond milk or any other type of milk to add a little fluff to the egg, but this step is optional and we don’t normally do this.
Spray a muffin tin with olive oil spray. Ladle the eggs into the muffin tin and fill each one about ¾ full.
Chop your veggies – our favorites to use are sun-dried tomatoes and spinach. Add your veggies to the egg-filled muffin tin (only a little in each one). You can add cheese to them, grated potatoes, fully-cooked turkey bacon, bacon, or sausage. Lmitless, I tell you!
Set the oven to 350 degrees, cook until the eggs are just fully cooked – this usually takes about 10-13 minutes.
Adult Crowd Favorite: Mulled Berry Wine
1 bottle cheap Shiraz (or Syrah – same thing, fancy pants)
1 sachet (for steeping)
1 cup cane sugar
1 ½ cups unfiltered apple juice
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp ground nutmeg
(You can add two star anise if you like a licorice flavor – I do not, so there.)
In a small crock pot, on high, pour the bottle of wine, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg in and stir carefully. In the sachet, add the berries (and the anise if you opt in on this), tie it up and drop them in. Use two sachets if your berries won’t fit in one – it’s ok … you’re making wine, this is flexible work. And it’s going to taste good either way. If you are feeling fancy, add some citrus zest, the carelessness of your 20s, or real cinnamon sticks.
On the stove in a small pot on high, pour in the sugar and apple juice and stir to a boil. Cool a tiny bit and add it to the crock pot. Stir it in and take a deep breath. Your home now smells of fall and joy.
Stir and cook for about 25 minutes and allow all your ingredients to get acquainted. Serve in a mug with a cozy blanket and a Netflix marathon. Also good for scenery viewing, fireside chats, music listening, adventure regaling, or blogging.
Cooking is mostly to taste – except meat – you better cook that stuff up! No one likes a cute little bout of food poisoning. If you are wanting to branch out and try new veggies or new foods, my advice to you is cut it up, throw it in a pan with olive oil and salt and pepper and give it a try! I always love a little oregano and chili powder thrown in, but you do you, friend!
If you are a more visual learner or just like to be entertained, make sure to click on the video links under each recipe to get a step-by-step look at making these!
What is your favorite cold-weather recipe for fall? Please share in the comments.