Breakfast can get a little wacky in the fall. School schedules are in full swing, new work routines are on the horizon, traffic has picked up —and breakfast can seem like a chore. Anything besides cold cereal is clearly reserved for weekend fare. Or is it?
What if I told you that I could guarantee perfectly cooked, perfectly tender pork chops, every time? Would you believe me? Or have too many dinners of overcooked shoe-leather pork chops turned you off from this easy addition to the weeknight meal rotation? Let me convince you to try them one more time. Let me convince you to try roasting your pork chops in the oven.
Summer may be over according to the school and holiday calendars, but my kitchen counters continue to overflow with bowls of sweet cherry tomatoes that I associate with picnic season. In fact, it was a picnic that inspired this recipe for a polenta and roasted cherry tomato tart, and it's just right for carrying to your local park. Of course, if you can't squeeze in time for a picnic these days, the tart is just as delightful on a dinner table or in a lunch box.
Earlier this summer, I spent a week in Boston, staying with some good friends in their cozy Somerville apartment. A short walk from their house, I discovered 3 Little Figs Bakery & Cafe, and their roasted sweet potato sandwich quickly became a lunchtime ritual. This sandwich is one of those incredible combinations that's so perfect, you can't believe you never thought of it before: roasted slices of sweet potato, sun-dried tomatoes mixed with goat cheese, a mound of peppery arugula, and chewy wholegrain bread to hold it all together.
I have vivid memories of Turkey Gravy Day. And Pepperoni Pizza Fridays. My mom always packed our lunches growing up, but she did let us choose a day we'd like to get hot lunch, and those were my go-to favorites. Looking back, I realize that the nutrition factor was low although the flavor factor was, apparently, quite high. Today there are still Pepperoni Pizza Fridays, to be certain. But things are slowly changing in school cafeterias as well. For the better.
I refuse to jump on the fall casserole bandwagon just yet. Rest assured: we've still got tomatoes and corn and warm Indian summer evenings to look forward to around here. But that being said, the reality of back to school and no more summer Fridays changes things a bit for some of us, and early morning school traffic changes things for the rest of us (at least here in Seattle). So I thought it was a good time to pause and think about quick ways to guarantee early fall dinner success.
Planning a week of meals for two adults is difficult enough — add in kids and the task of coming up with weeknight-friendly meals that appeal to everyone can seem nearly impossible. This week we are asking meal-planning experts to share dinner menus for all kinds of diets and situations, and today Dinner: A Love Story author Jenny Rosenstrach has a flexible five-day plan of family dinners that keep everyone happy.
We don't even have kids nor do we have anyone in the house that is going "back to school," and yet the energy of this time of year is infectious. There is an upsurge in traffic at certain times of the day, office supply stores are swamped, and late afternoon grocery store trips become more of a hassle than usual. I think the back to school hustle and bustle affects us all, no? I notice the morning light beginning to change, and for some reason breakfast can start to seem like more and more of a challenge or chore. But then you remember overnight oats.
How many ways can you make a tomato salad? Last weekend I loaded up on gorgeously ugly and misshapen but absolutely succulent heirloom tomatoes and started the challenge. There was a messy caprese salad with chopped tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella with a little olive oil and balsamic. There was an even more simple affair with delicate multi-colored tomato slices with really good salt and pepper and a touch of oil. And of course there was a panzanella: hunks of crusty bread and tomato with cucumber and capers and all the rest.
Can you really stretch beyond those three tomato salads?
I had big plans for that jar of sauerkraut I made earlier this month. Plans involving plates of grilled sausages, deli-style reubens, and tangy late-summer slaws. But at the very top of my list were pierogi. I love dumplings in all forms, but these piping hot, chewy pockets of potato and cheese have held a special place in my heart ever since a Russian exchange student first introduced me to pierogi in high school. They are so satisfying served with nothing more than melted butter and a sprinkle of salt. They also freeze beautifully, so stockpiling them in the freezer for an easy comfort food meal on a busy night makes total sense.