With the colder Fall weather the last few weeks, I've really been craving hearty hot meals. This last week I prepared three different dinners, all at different levels of involvement and they were all delicious. (This is not a sponsored post, these are all things I actually like.)

The most time consuming was the Beer Beef Stew. You have to prepare it about 3 hours prior to eating it, so there is enough time for it to simmer in the oven and you also need a large (7 qt) dutch oven to make it in. Otherwise, it is fairly easy and you can make everything in one pot, so the clean up is very easy. I used the recipe in Real Simple's Meals Made Easy, which is hands down my favorite cook book. The Beef and Beer with Yellow Potatoes recipe on their web site is essentially the same as in the cook book, but is says to use a casserole dish instead of a dutch oven. A dutch oven is much better if you have one. I used a dark beer, Yuengling Black and Tan, I added a whole bag of baby carrots and I used a whole package of bacon instead of just four slices. (You can never have enough bacon, right?)I served the stew with Portuguese rolls and a romaine lettuce salad with creamy italian dressing, sliced roma tomatoes and bacon bits.

 

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Another delicious Fall lunch or dinner is soup. Canned soups are ok, but they don't always have the freshest flavors. Homemade soup is easy enough, but they require a lot of prep. I found a packaged soup at Pennings, our local Farm Market and they were so delicious and easy. Pine Island Herb and Spice Co. sells these mixes on line, so you can enjoy them too! I made the Spinach and Potato Soup. It calls for water or chicken stock and I used Better than Bouillon. Try to find this chicken stock mix, or order it on line, it is very rich in taste. The soup packets make 8 cups of soup, so it's plenty for a dinner for four people. I served this with toasted rye bread and a romaine salad with sliced apples, walnuts and a raspberry vinaigrette dressing.

 

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The last meal, and the easiest, was a Griggstown Farm frozen chicken pot pie, also from our local Farmer's market. It is made fresh at a farm in New Jersey and it is just like home made. And it's so easy to just pop it in the oven an hour before dinner. With the crust and the vegetables, you don't really need to serve it with anything, but a classic oil and vinegar salad is very complementary.

 

Do you have any savory Fall recipes to share? I'd love a recipe for Butternut Squash soup. Or favorite cook books? Let me know in the comments!