Vegan Black Bean & Sweet Potato Chili | Simple Bites #dinner #vegan

Eating the Pantry: Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili Recipe

Last night we enjoyed dinner at my in-law’s place and during the meal, Noah informed his grandmother that at home we were ‘eating the pantry’.

Her eyelids fluttered for a second and then she politely inquired what ‘eating the pantry’ meant, exactly. It does sound strange, I will admit, but it was rewarding to hear my boys explaining the very practice I’ve been teaching them. Apparently, they do listen and understand.

Other than a milk run and a bag of produce from a local market, we haven’t bought groceries yet in 2015. We’re living off the kitchen stores…that well-stocked pantry with its grains, legumes and pasta, the canning shelf of fruits, tomatoes, applesauce and jams, and the freezer, with its jars of stock, frozen summer berries and vegetables.

There are plenty of ingredients to cook from; it just takes a little more planning. It’s a lot more vegetarian eating, which is a welcome change after the excess of the holidays (four turkey dinners).

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Sheet-pan turkey dinner

Sheet Pan Turkey Dinner

The other night I complained to Danny “I just want to get in my kitchen and cook for two days solid”. And I completely meant it.

This month is among the most exciting for whipping up tantalizing appetizers and show-stopping desserts, but I’m way behind. Yes, we’ve been back and forth from the hospital with Clara a lot, getting interrupted sleep and trying to prep for Christmas, too. It’s been okay, really; I know others are far worse off than we are, but man, I miss my kitchen.

So when I recently had an afternoon to throw something together for dinner, I put a spin on a familiar favourite. This new recipe is a direct result of craving holiday comfort food yet having limited time to prepare it (like last year’s Slow-Cooker Christmas Chicken in Milk).

I tend to stress eat and can’t subside on granola bars and wraps from the hospital cafeteria when times get tough. I need a meal. Well, enter the sheet pan turkey dinner.

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Coconut Curried Pumpkin with Cinnamon Rice | Simple Bites {vegan}

Coconut Curried Pumpkin with Cinnamon Rice {vegan}

My local farm stand closed for the season on Monday, leaving nothing behind save for a few wisps of straw and dried corn husks.

Driving by that day, I saw them tossing pumpkins with abandon into the back of a wagon. The season was over and it seemed the sooner they could rid themselves of the squash the better. I pulled off the road, grabbed my change purse and went to inquire.

The farmer let me take as many as I wanted for fifty cents each and I drove away with big plans to roast them all for purée. I also made off with several cabbages, romanesco, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts on the stalk. All for under 10 dollars. It was a good start to the week.

Coconut Curried Pumpkin with Cinnamon Rice | Simple Bites {vegan}

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10-Minute Creamy Cauliflower Capellini Recipe | Simple Bites #dinner #recipe #vegetarian #family

Creamy Cauliflower Capellini

A flock of Canadian geese woke me from my slumbers early this morning; their trumpeting infiltrating my dream until I roused myself and went to the window.

The flock was so low, it seemed as though their wings would touch the tops of our maple trees. On and on they swept past, their downy undersides casting shadows over the homestead as they headed south. I heard them loud and clear: fall is here.

I’m ready for autumn. We’ve made peace with the return to school (what other option is there?), we harvested loads of berries, and the pantry is well stocked with pickles. I’ve invited friends over for a corn roast this upcoming weekend and plan on bobbing for apples and decorating with pumpkins. Let the sweater weather come; I’ll be watching the leaves turn and the geese leave us behind.

I’m also ready for comfort food, and it starts with today’s simple recipe for Creamy Cauliflower Capellini that comes together in under ten minutes.

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Grilled Chicken & Sweet Pepper Fajitas

I‘m late to the grilling party this year, mostly because our ten-year-old gas barbecue finally called it quits earlier in the summer. I flipped a few burgers over a campfire, and even grilled trout over the open flame, but it wasn’t until we were well into August before we invested in a charcoal grill.

Just in time, too, because I can’t go through this time of the year with out grilled fruit salad, cedar planked salmon, or smokey shrimp tacos. This grilled summer vegetable salad is another favourite…and the list could go on and on.

Our Weber came at the recommendation of family grilling expert, Jan, and my photographer/grill master friend, Tim. I have been wanting to make the switch to charcoal for some time, although I wasn’t quite prepared for the learning curve. It’s…challenging. And how I love a good challenge.

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