|Modified Szarlotka and Friends' Homemade Applesauce|
Last weekend we had the privilege of spending time with some dear fellow homeschooling/homesteading friends as they spent the afternoon and evening here at our house. The fall weather was incredibly beautiful since the leaves have really turned their brilliant autumn colors this past week. I wanted to make some hardy, seasonal dishes for dinner, but I also wanted to enjoy spending time talking with my friend while sipping a modified Szarlotka (Polish Apple Pie Cocktail.) The menu ended up being a hodgepodge of cooler-weather dishes that didn't take hours and hours to prepare. For the drink above, I simply used the Grey Goose vodka I had on hand and mixed it with apple cider over ice. My friend was kind enough to bring along the freshly canned applesauce from her kitchen that we had along with dinner.
Our Casual Dinner Menu:
Pseudo-Polish Apple Pie Cocktails (aka Spiked Apple Cider)
Homemade Applesauce (made by our friends)
Broccoli Cheese Soup
Fall Garden Salad
Crescent Rolls (store bought, I'm sorry to say)
Easy Chicken Pot Pie
Fall Decorated Sugar Cookies
|Broccoli Cheese Soup|
This was a very laid-back affair, and there were eleven of us for dinner with most of them being children, so everything was put out on the countertop and stove at once in a buffet style. This Broccoli Cheese Soup is fantastic in the fall and winter. Thick and creamy and filled with fresh broccoli and onions, it is chocked full of vitamins and calcium, but also some fat and calories, I'm afraid. A small bowl will go a long way. I discovered that doubling the recipe was unnecessary, and we are still eating it three days later.
Broccoli Cheese Soup
Saute 1 pound of chopped onions in 1 stick of butter until clear. Add 2 pounds of chopped fresh broccoli and 1 quart of chicken stock. Cook until tender. Add and blend 1 quart of half & half cream and 1 pound of American cheese. Thicken soup with approximately 4 teaspoons of corn starch dissolved in 1 cup of water.
|Fall Garden Salad|
We are still harvesting peppers and cherry tomatoes from our summer garden, and now we are in our second planting of radishes, Swiss chard, spinach, and arugula. It's refreshing to have fresh greens amidst the typical heavier fall vegetables of squash, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins. I cheated this weekend and used bottled honey mustard salad dressing.
|Easy Chicken Pot Pie|
The main dish was this Easy Chicken Pot Pie. I think it's easy because it doesn't require making and rolling out your own dough. Packaged crescent roll dough is used instead, so it saves a lot of time and additional mess. This is terrific as a leftover too. I doubled the recipe below to fill a rectangular cake pan. The normal recipe will fit in a casserole dish.
Easy Chicken Pot Pie
For the filling, combine 1 can of cream of chicken soup, 2/3 cup of evaporated milk, 1 Tablespoon of dried parsley flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon of dried rosemary. Pour into a casserole dish with 3 cups of cubed cooked chicken and 1 package of frozen mixed vegetables (succotash). For the crust, unroll 1 package of Pillsbury crescent rolls and place over the top of the filling. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is golden.
We have so many pears right now, and they are getting soft quickly, so this dish was a bit of a necessity. We ate them without ice cream, so they could be eaten with dinner or as a dessert. This recipe is from the book Homesteading, edited by Abigail Gehring.
Slice 6 pears and cut out the core and seeds, making a small "bowl" in the center. Place them in a greased baking dish. Then mix together 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon cloves. Gradually add 4 Tablespoons of melted butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Fill the hollows of the pears with the sugar mixture, and bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if desired.
In addition to the above items, we also had more crescent rolls (again, I cheated and used store-bought) and frosted sugar cookies. Our teen daughters cut out and decorated the cookies before dinner. I found these cute little metal cookie cutters in fall shapes in my attic and thought they would make great sugar cookie "sandwiches." However, they all baked together into big lumps of sugar cookies in the oven, so the girls just made orange frosting and decorated with fall sprinkles. They were gobbled up before the end of the evening by all the kiddos, but they didn't look pretty, so no pictures were taken.
This was a leisurely, stress-free dinner with good friends and a wonderful end to a busy, rather hectic week. Sometimes I feel guilty that I'm not doing "real" entertaining when the dinner is a hodgepodge of foods served from the stove or countertop on everyday plates. But while life is so full and busy with a farmhouse filled with children and so many chores to do, I remind myself that simply enjoying the rare treat of making and sharing a meal with the people we care about is more important than an impressive presentation. The Pinterest-inspired centerpieces and formal table settings can wait another season or two.