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The calendar definitely says it’s fall, but the forecast feels a little bit summery here, doesn’t it? I am loving the warm days, being able to have the windows open, and like last night eating dinner outside. We even spent Saturday night, into the wee hours, hanging out around an outdoor fire. It’s a great time to be outside!

When we do have a cold spell, I am all about the comfort food, and since I have gained more weight than I would like in the last few months, I am trying to find some balance in health and comfort. I am also joining a gym tomorrow. Hold me to it.

This dish kind of randomly came together. It’s a whole wheat penne bake with a béchamel sauce, hearty mushrooms and Brussels sprouts, and a little bit of cheese to make it just that little bit decadent. I love pasta dishes that involve white sauces (like this must-try butternut squash white bean lasagna), and this one is made flavorful with a zesty Dijon mustard.

pasta ingredients

As always, this recipe was something that I eyeballed. It ended up making enough for dinner and a few lunches, the perfect Sunday supper, in my eyes. I started by bringing water to a boil for the whole wheat penne and adding plenty of salt. I think that it would be really good if the pasta was cooked in chicken stock just for a little added flavor.

While the pasta was cooking, I started my white sauce. I always start with a roux of Kerrygold butter and whole wheat flour and then slowly add in whole milk once the flour is browned and smelling nutty. I stir the sauce until it’s thick and then add some freshly ground nutmeg. Nutmeg always brings out a great flavor in a white sauce. This sauce is made extra flavorful with a big scoop of Dijon mustard.

While the pasta boiled and that white sauce thickened, I was caramelizing shallots and mixing in shredded Brussels sprouts and chopped mushrooms. The veggies alone would have been a delicious side; a little bit of butter and the combination of flavors was amazing. Rather than doing that, waited until the vegetables were slightly softened, and then I got started building my pasta dish.

caramelized shallots

I drained the pasta and layered pasta and vegetables into a casserole dish, pouring over the white sauce and then finally topping it with dollops of ricotta cheese and a fine sprinkling of mozzarella.

pasta bake

Since everything was already hot, I just cooked this for about 10 minutes and then hit it with a medium broiler until the cheese on top started to brown. Digging in was a treat, the dish hot and bubbly with a nice hint of creamy and tangy and vegetables in every bite. You could add meat to this, but we didn’t need to. It was definitely delicious and filling all on its own! I love red sauce with pasta, but my stomach is not always a fan, so dishes like this will be making repeat appearances this winter!

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Tags: comfort food, dinner, fall recipes, pasta, pasta recipe, recipe, vegetables, Vegetarian

Seriously, where has the time gone? I feel like it was just the first week of our Red Fire Farm CSA and we were looking forward to 20 weeks of local produce from the CSA as well as from our garden. Our garden is still raring to go; I thought that it was dead and gone weeks ago, but a huge new tomato crop has just popped up, and I am savoring each one as it ripens on the vine.

I have to say, between our CSA share and our garden, we have gotten MUCH better at eating fruit and vegetables. I have looked forward to finding out what was in each share and trying to figure out what to do with it. We’ve decided not to do a winter share and to focus more on shopping locally at the Codman Square Winter Farmers Market which has so many great vendors, like Red’s Best for delicious Chatham cod.

Before our CSA is over, I thought I would give a quick update on what we have been getting and what I have been making. Our share from Red Fire Farm has been pretty big every week, and at the height of harvest, it was HUGE.

Even late in the summer, our share was teeming with tomatoes and basil, and we made good use of them with simple flatbreads, complete with store bought whole wheat crust. These were perfect for those endless summer evenings where cooking was not a priority.

pesto pizza

As time wore on, our CSA share became heartier, featuring lots of carrots and cabbage and onions. A quick and simple dinner of braised chicken thighs and cabbage with carrots, soy sauce, sesame oil, sriracha, and a bit of orange marmalade made for a nice early fall meal, maybe slightly helping me to look forward to snuggly nights in and comfort food.


vegetables and chicken

Our early fall shares looked a little like this. The grapes were a little different from the ones we sorted in California, but they were tart and delicious. Loads of kale turned into chips, and that amazing winter sunshine squash up front? It was part of smoothies and chili and eaten all by its sweet and delicious self.


Red Fire Farm CSA

Of course there have been apples, lots and lots of apples from Cold Spring Orchard in Belchertown. I only like apples in the fall, and I have been loving these on their own but also in homemade apple sauce and smoothies.


An overwhelming amount of shallots was shared with friends, but we also used them in dressings and slow roasted in sauces and soups.



homemade sauerkraut

And in homemade sauerkraut. . . that I am afraid to eat. Have you ever made sauerkraut? Every week our CSA emails us recipes, and the one for sauerkraut seemed so easy. I decided to make ours with cabbage and apples but then started to fear that I would make it improperly and kill us. So it sits waiting to be eaten. . . if you don’t hear from me for a while, come looking.   all the vegetable soup

And finally, we have the most common uses for our CSA veggies, “all the vegetable” soups and salads. I have taken to eating mixing bowls full of salad again, and it makes my body feel really good. I swear, piles of raw veggies are like a dose of caffeine for me. I am starting to find energy again and hope to keep it up even when this CSA is over. While we loved our Red Fire Farm CSA, we’re thinking next year we might go a little more local and try The Food Project. Stay tuned; I am sure there are plenty of local vegetables in our future.

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Tags: CSA, farm to table, Food, fruit, local food, recipes, vegetables

Our CSA continues to fill each week with a little bit of excitement and lots of healthy local produce. The last couple of weeks have simply been bursting with summery delights like heirloom tomatoes, peaches, and corn, possibly the best foods in the world (paired with a lovely Rosé, of course)


Heirloom Tomato BLT

As is often the case in the warmer months, simple was really our goal in highlighting the beautiful food provided by our local farmers. Big, juicy heirloom tomatoes and crisp local lettuce lent themselves to quick and easy, yet completely heavenly BLTs while green beans were perfect sautéed in a little olive oil, chopped garlic, and black pepper.

green beans

Each week brings its own share of greens, and I imagine that will continue once summer ends. Rainbow chard is yummy chopped and cooked down with a little olive oil, a great balsamic vinegar, and some salt and pepper. This would be a great side dish for a good cut of beef and your favorite red wine.

rainbow chard

We drooled over the fresh peaches we received, super juicy and sweet. They were more often than not eaten on their own, but once warm night called for a peach and tomato salad topped with goat cheese and a little fig balsamic. Simple and perfect.

peach and tomato salad

Finally, while we did eat plenty of corn from our CSA, the below dish is actually from my beloved Steel and Rye. Their soups are always phenomenal, and this chilled corn soup was one of my favorite dishes of the summer.

chilled corn soup

What seasonal dishes are you loving right now?

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Tags: cooking at home, corn, corn soup, CSA, farm, green beans, healthy, peaches, produce, summer, tomatoes, vegetables

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