Absolutely gorgeous weather we are having these days! The birds are gathering in large flocks in the sky, getting ready to migrate, and pumpkins are ripe in the fields, waiting to be collected. The sun is still warm and the light is golden. It reminds me of this quote from Walt Whitman: “Give me the splendid silent sun with all his beams full-dazzling, give me juicy autumnal fruit ripe and red from the orchard.” It is the time of ripeness and fullness. My mom recently gave us a bag of Empire apples from an orchard near where she lives. It is such a good feeling to have lots of apples piling up in the kitchen, just waiting to be eaten or baked into a tasty concoction. I promised more apple recipes for apple season, and below I have posted a recipe for apple cinnamon muffins. I made a dozen yesterday morning and they are already gone. They are so moist and delicious, and they work great as part of a breakfast or for a snack. I know my kids love them, so it is a good way for me to be sure they eat something filling for breakfast before rushing out the door. I originally got the recipe from “The Family Circle Cookbook: New Tastes for New Times” many years ago, and have made only minor changes to it because it has worked so well for me. I hope you enjoy these muffins, and hope we all can savor the beautiful autumn while it is here.
September is such a beautiful month here, with the warm sun, cool nights, and everything still green with just a hint of color in the trees. I stopped by the side of the road this morning to take this photo because the morning mist looked so magical. It is on days like this that I believe I live in the most beautiful place on earth. (I know there are more beautiful places, but I do love it here). Amidst all this natural beauty is a very busy schedule, and so the recipes I have been sharing lately fit well with busy lives. Because the weather is typically so pleasant this time of year, lots of things are going on all at once to take advantage of it. The recipe in the post below for Tuna-Black Bean Quesadillas is one I turn to often when we are pinched for time and I don’t want to think too hard about dinner. I will be the first to admit that this is not a glamorous meal, but it is really tasty and packed with protein for active people. I like to serve these quesadillas with lots of colorful things, like cilantro, sliced avocado, tortilla chips, and fresh salsa. The combination of tuna and black beans may sound odd, but those two ingredients really go well when cooked together with some melted cheese, and they are nutritious without being overly filling. I had to include the photo below–just as I was about to take the picture, our dog stuck his nose right up to the quesadillas and almost had a bite! He is a very opportunistic dog, and is always looking for a chance to snag a bite of anything he can find. I hope you enjoy these quesadillas as much as we do!
The pasta recipe I have posted below is one of the meals I make again and again. I think of it as one of my workhorse meals. Not only is it a crowd-pleaser, but it is relatively easy to prepare, full of vitamins and protein, and filling without being heavy. One of my favorite aspects (besides that is tastes delicious) is that it does not have a lot of components and it does not require a lot of dishes! And with fall broccoli becoming ready to harvest, it is a great way to use broccoli. Both broccoli and carrots are full of vitamins and minerals like vitamins A and C, beta carotene, calcium, iron, and potassium. The chicken provides protein and the pasta gives it substance and that comfort-food feeling. There is something about a warm pasta meal that soothes and cheers many a weary soul. I have used whole wheat pasta and traditional pasta, and the dish tastes great with either, though it works best with the shorter pasta like penne or rigatoni–spaghetti makes it more difficult to mix with the vegetables. I try to use chicken that is either organic or at least raised humanely and fed high-quality feed. It costs more to buy meat like this, but since we do not eat meat every day, it works out. The Ranch dressing gives the dish a yummy flavor and keeps it moist without making it heavy. With the nights getting consistently cooler and darker earlier, it is comforting to have a warm, steaming meal at the end of the day. You can serve this meal with bread and/or a tossed salad if you want, but it can stand alone if you want to really keep things simple.