Menu 2- Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall Fabulous Flavors

The leaves painting the skyline in shades of greens, yellows, oranges, purples and reds are a sure sign of Fall. Just like the Fall bounty of pumpkins, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, cabbage, spinach, leeks, beets, grapes, apples, cranberries and quince- using the same color palette. 

And as the seasons change, so should our eating, as the Good Lord gives us the perfect fruits and vegetables at the perfect time- chock full of vitamins and nutrients that help us flourish and stay healthy.

In honor of changing seasons, this week's menu focuses on Fall produce. Foods that are still fresh and flavorful- like Summer, but a bit more soothing to the belly and the soul. Bon Appétit, my sweets!

MONDAY: Cabbage Lasagna and Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar and Butter 

Notes: I leave off the maple syrup on the squash as I feel the brown sugar makes it sweet enough.

Cabbage Lasagna 
Yes, it sounds strange- but I LOVE this dish! The perfect low carb Lasagna

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 tsp. each dried basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano
4 cups chopped cabbage
1 onion, chopped
salt & pepper
1 c. spaghetti sauce- I like Classico Tomato and Basil
1/2 c. beef broth
1-1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
Parmesan Cheese to taste

Brown the ground beef with seasons and drain fat. Mix cabbage, onion, salt & pepper to taste and spaghetti sauce in a large bowl. Add the cooked ground beef. Mix well (mixture should not be soupy). Pour into a 9x13 pan, pour beef broth on top and cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Stir, replace cover and bake an additional 25 minutes. Remove the cover and top with cheeses. Bake a few more minutes until the cheese is melted.

WEDNESDAY: Chicken Georgia with Asparagus and Green Bean Salad

Notes:  This salad is amazing!  I leave off the tomatoes. A mini-food processor makes it so simple to prepare!

THURSDAY: Smothered Pork Chops with Apples and Sage and Braised Leeks

Notes:  I substitute Pork Chops for the Medallions and sprinkle with dried basil, oregano and a tiny bit of crushed red pepper with the salt and pepper during browning.

For the Leeks-
1 tsp. sugar
1 c. chicken broth
4 large leeks, washed well and dark green tops discarded
2 Tblsp. butter
1 Tblsp. olive oil
1 c. red onion sliced in thin rings
Salt & pepper to taste

Saute onions in oil and butter in large skillet over med. heat until soft and lightly browned. Push to side and add leeks, that have been cut in half lengthwise, cut side down and cook for about 2 minutes. Mix the sugar and chicken broth together and pour over all. Bring to boil, cover and cook on med. low for about 6 minutes. Remove the leeks, increase the heat and cook sauce for 2-3 minutes more until thickened. Pour the sauce over leeks.

To add a bit of a bite to balance all the sweetness, I add some blue cheese crumbles.

FRIDAY: Chicken Meatball Asparagus Soup and Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing, Havarti and Dried Cranberries

Chicken Meatball Soup
A splash of olive oil
1 med. onion, chopped
1 large bunch asparagus, sliced into 1-1/2" pieces
5 leeks thinly sliced (white part only)
6 c. chicken broth
1 lb. ground chicken
salt & pepper to taste

In a stockpot over med. high heat, saute the onion in olive oil until soft and light brown- about 8 min. Add asparagus and leeks and saute another 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix chicken w/salt and pepper. Roll into 1" balls and brown in a skillet with olive oil until cooked through. Add meatballs to soup.

For the Salad:
1/2 lb. bacon, cut into 1" pieces
2 Tblsp. bacon fat
3 Tblsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 lb. fresh spinach leaves
salt and pepper
Havarti Cheese cut into thin strips to taste
Dried Cranberries to taste (Craisons are my favorite)

Cook the bacon in a large skillet and fry until golden. Remove bacon and all but 2 Tblsp. of the fat. To make the dressing place the skillet with the fat back over med-high heat. Deglaze the skillet by adding the balsamic vinegar, scraping off all the bacon bits to incorporate, for about 1 min.

Place spinach in salad bowl, toss with the balsamic vinaigrette. Top with dried bacon, sliced Havarti and dried cranberries.