Shopping list

A shopping list, three different quick and comforting fall dinners

There are foods that scream fall — and it’s not just a pumpkin spice latte or an apple cider.

Summer cooking can be synonymous with adventure, fun and freshness. We grill in the yard. We dive face first into a giant frozen watermelon. We mix substantial cold salads rather than reheat the kitchen.

But in the fall, things change. We want to snuggle and nest. We seek comfort and familiarity. We look forward to big bowls of stew or casseroles of ribs.

However, fall also means school is back. Families can have busy schedules – football, scouts, after-school jobs. So, even if we want that “Mom spent hours in the kitchen” feeling, who has the time to do this job every day?

There are ways to get there without all the effort. Technology can help with slow cookers, air fryers and electric pressure cookers. Then there are trends like plate dinners or skillet dinners. All are ways to get things done quickly and easily – allowing you to take a child to play practice or curl up on the couch with a hot chocolate and a good book.

But can it get boring? Not necessarily. A little creativity can take the exact same building blocks and produce something that tastes different every day.

So that’s what I did. My shopping list included a few fall favorites: pork loin chops, potatoes, carrots, green beans, and onions. (Pork not your thing? Chicken, sausage or mushrooms would work well too.) Using these, I created meals using three different tools.

For the slow cooker, I made a pork cacciatore served over parmesan mashed potatoes. For the electric pressure cooker, I made a very autumnal Pumpkin Pork Stew. And for the simple plate, I made pork chops and roasted vegetables in a rich honey, mustard, and garlic glaze.

They were all delicious. They required little work. As a bonus, they also saved money by being very seasonal and allowing more bulk purchases. Pork? It was a value pack that proved its economy.

Autumn is more than cinnamon. It’s less about flavor and more about an intimate helping of satisfaction, and there’s more than one easy way to get there.

Pork Cacciatore with Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

2 pounds pork loin chops, cubed

1 onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 carrots, chopped (or 1 pound baby carrots)

2 cups of green beans

1 can (20 ounces) crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup red wine (or beer, apple cider or chicken broth)

1 tablespoon of honey

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

2 teaspoons of salt

1 teaspoon of pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 pounds russet potatoes, cut into wedges

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of pepper

In a 5-quart or larger slow cooker, combine pork with vegetables. Pour over tomatoes, wine and honey and add Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Cook over low heat for 6 to 8 hours.

In a 2-quart saucepan, cover the potatoes with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the potatoes are tender. Drain and mash with butter, sour cream, Parmesan, salt and pepper.

Ladle the pork cacciatore over mashed potatoes.

Autumn Pork Stew

2 tablespoons bacon grease (or olive oil)

2 tablespoons of flour

2 pounds pork, cubed

1 onion, chopped

3 carrots, sliced

2 celery ribs, sliced

1 cup green beans

4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

2 teaspoons of salt

1 teaspoon of pepper

1/2 teaspoon sage

1 teaspoon rosemary

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (regular paprika or cayenne pepper will work)

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 Granny Smith apples (or firm pears), cored and sliced

1 can (15 ounces) pureed pumpkin

4 cups of chicken broth

1 cup apple cider

1 cup beer (or more broth or cider)

1 cup sour cream

Paprika for garnish

In a 6-quart electric pressure cooker or multicooker, heat the bacon grease or olive oil on the sauté function. Toss pork with flour and add to slow cooker, stirring periodically until browned.

Add vegetables and seasonings, sauté for 2-3 minutes. Stir in apples, pumpkin, broth, cider and beer. Disable the sauté function. Switch to soup or low pressure mode for 30 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. Stir gently before serving. (No pressure cooker? Use a slow cooker or go old school with a Dutch oven.)

Serve bowls of stew topped with sour cream and paprika. Perfect with fresh cookies or crusty bread.

Pork and Vegetables with Honey Garlic Mustard

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds pork loin chops

2 teaspoons of salt

1 teaspoon of pepper

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or cayenne

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon sage

4 russet potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces

4 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup green beans

2 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 onion, sliced

1/4 cup honey

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 crushed garlic clove.

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a 15-by-10-inch baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Drizzle with oil.

Season the pork chops with salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder and sage. Put aside.

Toss the vegetables on a baking sheet with oil (and salt and pepper to taste) and spread in a single layer. Bake 25 minutes.

Arrange the pork chops over the vegetables. Mix honey, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. Baste pork and vegetables. Bake until pork is 145 degrees on thermometer and vegetables are cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Lori Falce is the community engagement editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Lori at [email protected]