Quick and easy recipes for fall

Posted Friday, Oct. 11, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Just call me Grace. It’s finally fall and I welcomed it with a fall of my own on a slippery, wet concrete floor. With my dominant hand in a splint, it’s been difficult to cook this week. Not wanting to bail on a previous commitment to take a dessert to a book club event, I reluctantly resorted to taking a cake made from a boxed mix. All of the recipes I’d earlier thought about involved too much mixing, too much hands-on, too much time.

Wonderful friends at book club reminded me that as long as you put some love into a recipe, it’s considered homemade. Others were of the opinion that turning the oven on qualifies as cooking -- and don’t you love friends like that? Putting too much pressure on myself I’d forgotten the real things in life that matter - quality time with family and friends.

Keeping things simpler, I’ve included some quick and easy recipes from some of my favorite celebrity chefs along with my easy apple crisp to enjoy as the weather turns cooler.

Suzi’s Old-Fashioned Apple Crisp

4 lbs. Granny Smith apples (or a mixture of your choice)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon rum extract

Topping

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup oatmeal

1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, diced

Peel, core and cut the apples into large wedges. Taste the apples to see how sweet they are. Combine the apples with the sugar (using less if necessary) and let them sit for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x14x2-inch oval baking dish.

If the apples are very juicy, pour off some of the juice and add the spices and flavoring. Pour into the dish.

To make the topping, combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal and cold butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is the size of peas. Scatter evenly over the apples.

Place the crisp on a sheet pan and bake for one hour until the top is brown and the apples are bubbly. Serve warm.

Charleston Cheese Dip

Recipe adapted from Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened

1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese

1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese

2 green onions, finely chopped

1 dash cayenne pepper

8 butter crackers, crushed, such as Ritz

8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Corn chips, crackers or bagel chips, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, mix the mayonnaise, cream cheese, Cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, green onions and cayenne pepper. Transfer the mixture to a shallow baking dish, such as a 9-inch pie pan. Top the mixture with the cracker crumbs and bake until heated through, about 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and top with the bacon. Serve immediately with corn chips, crackers or bagel chips.

Chicken Fried Steak on Stick with Whatsthishere Sauce

Recipe courtesy Brian Boitano

(Note: This may look like a complicated recipe at first glance with so many ingredients, but it’s just basically seasoning your batter – no need to really measure. And frying steak on a stick is quick and easy – even one-handed!)

1 lb. cube steak, sliced into 1-inch wide strips

18 (12-inch) bamboo skewers

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon hot sauce

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup semolina flour or cornmeal

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 cups canola oil

Sauce

1 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon horseradish

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons buttermilk

1 teaspoon hot sauce

2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves

Thread the sliced cube steak strips onto the skewers.

In a baking dish whisk together the egg, buttermilk and hot sauce. In a second baking dish, combine the flour, semolina flour, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, salt and pepper.

Heat the canola oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat to 350 degrees.

Dredge the beef skewers in the flour mixture and shake off excess so they are lightly dusted. Dip them in the buttermilk and egg mixture coating both sides, then put back in flour mixture making sure to coat completely.

Working batches of six, fry the skewers in hot oil until the coating is golden brown and crispy, about four to five minutes. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. The skewers can be held in a preheated 250-degree oven while frying the remaining skewers. Arrange the skewers on a serving platter and serve the sauce.

Sauce:

Whisk all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.

Chicken Marsala

Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence and JoAnn Cianciulli

4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)

All-purpose flour, for dredging

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced

8 oz. crimini or porcini mushrooms, stemmed and halved

1/2 cup chicken stock

2 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

(Note: I like to serve this over bow-tie pasta and suggest doubling the wine, chicken stock and butter for enough sauce to cover the pasta.)

Put the chicken breasts side by side on a cutting board and lay a piece of plastic wrap over them; pound with a flat meat mallet, until they are about 1/4-inch thick. Put some flour in a shallow platter and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly.

Heat the oil over medium-high flame in a large skillet. When the oil is hot, dredge both sides of the chicken cutlets in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess. Slip the cutlets into the pan and fry for five minutes on each side until golden, turning once – do this in batches if the pieces don’t fit comfortably in the pan. Remove the chicken to a large platter in a single layer to keep warm.

Lower the heat to medium and add the prosciutto to the drippings in the pan, sauté for one minute to render out some of the fat. Now, add the mushrooms and sauté until they are nicely browned and their moisture has evaporated, about five minutes; season with salt and pepper. Pour the Marsala in the pan and boil down for a few seconds to cook out the alcohol. Add the chicken stock and simmer for a minute to reduce the sauce slightly. Stir in the butter and return the chicken to the pan; simmer gently for one minute to heat the chicken through. Season with salt, pepper, and garnish with chopped parsley before serving.

-- Suzi Hogan and her husband, Tim, live in Mansfield and her e-mail address is suzi.recipes@yahoo.com.

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