Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Perfect Fall Dinner

After a very, very long and unusually warm summer, fall has finally arrived. And with it has come the rain. Soon, there will be mushy leaf puddles to stomp in as I venture from between home, classes, and teaching. I'm about to begin working my first real job as an after school program assistant, in addition to nannying, and working with 3rd graders, and choir, and orchestra, and harp lessons, oh and regular school. And though I am nervous about the busy schedule I know awaits me as soon as October begins, I am thrilled for fall to begin. I cannot wait to bike home after school and orchestra on crisp autumn nights, or to drink cider while watching scary movies. Yes, I think fall will be okay.

Yesterday, as it rained outside, I came to the sudden realization that fall was, indeed, here. The forecast no longer predicts any 80 degree days, and the probability of precipitation is nearing 100% each day. I already had Al Fresco sweet apple chicken sausage, which I picked up 5 for $3.99 at Fred Meyer a while ago and had defrosting in the fridge.


The sausage I bought was raw, which made for a bit of a challenge just because I was so worried about undercooking it and then making myself ill. But, I've done it twice and have lived to tell the tale!
It's actually pretty simple. I just fried them in a frying pan for about 20 to 25 minutes. The package said to turn it occaisionally, but I actually turned the sausage about once every minute because I was afraid of cooking it unevenly. I might have been a bit too worried about it, though. Anyway, it turned out ok. I liked it, at least. And really, apple sausage is the most underrated form of sausage. It's so good. Great for summer because it's sweet, but even better for fall because of the apple.

But what goes with apple sausage in the fall?

I went to the grocery store to figure this out (before I started cooking dinner, of course). That's when I noticed microwavable sweet potatoes in the veggie section. I LOVE sweet potatoes. They are my favorite thing at Thanksgiving dinner, but why wait until then?

Sweet Potato

The best part about these sweet potatoes, though, were the fact that they are so easy. They're wrapped in special plastic, so just pop them in the microwave for 5 to 8 minutes (until tender, as desired) and WAM! You've got yourself a steamed sweet potato. No work, no mess, no fuss. How dorm friendly is that?
You can enjoy your sweet potato plain, or add brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and/or whipped cream, as desired. I chose to add about half a Tablespoon of brown sugar (because you doesn't love brown sugar and sweet potatoes?) and such a small hint of Allspice that you almost didn't know it was there. And, of course, whipped cream because we already had some in the fridge so why not?

Green Beans

I decided that since I was kind of cheating with my sweet potatoes, I would learn at least one new cooking method. Afterall, I'm in school, I'm supposed to learn things, right?
So, I learned how to cook fresh green beans. Not the kind in the can (though, I remembered once I got home that I had some of those already). The actual kind. Good old Wikihow taught me how to make these. Here's my preferred method:

Fresh green beans
Water in a medium sized pot
Salt (you can use pepper if you desire, too, but I hate pepper so I didn't)

Fill a medium sized pot with just enough water to cover all of your green beans. Boil the water, don't add in the green beans yet.
Clean the green beans. Then, snap them and pull off the stringy stem. Or, alternatively, just cut the ends, to speed up the process. You can cut one or both ends, but make sure there's no stem attached, that's the important part.
Once the water is boiling, add your green beans. Wait until the water returns to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low heat and let them simmer for about 4 minutes. I did 5 because I was distracted. Just make sure they are as tender as you'd like.
Then, drain your green beans. Return them to the pot and season as desired, with salt and/or pepper.

In the end this was really a fantastic dinner. It reminded me of some my favorite parts of Thanksgiving dinner, without all that yucky turkey. Of course, it was missing my Grandma's homemade rolls, but, it was as close as I could get. And, really, for a quick and easy dinner, I was pretty glad.

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