Slow-Cooker Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili


Finally, crisp fall air has made its way down South.  My weekly CSA box is filled with butternut squash, fresh garlic, apples, and hearty greens.  I am loving fall and all it gives us.  With halloween around the corner, I wanted to plan a menu that would be perfect fall night or maybe even post trick or treating.


Butternut squash is one of my favorites, but it can be a challenge, not to mention dangerous, to peel and cube.  By first roasting it, you can scoop out the baked squash and turn into a delicious hummus that goes with just about everything.  Spread on toasted bread and top with feta, pomegranates, and avocado for a beautiful snack or starter.  Butternut Squash Hummus Crostini 


As much as I love fall, hectic back to school schedules have set in and I have found myself turning to my slow-cooker on a weekly basis.  My Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili is my new fav and of course, a Simple Guacamole is a must with crisp tortilla chips to serve on the side.  I know I have done something right when my five year old devours two bowls.



I have a weakness for homemade apple pie and this recipe might just be number one of my list…Warm Apple Pie with Pecan Crumble.  Ok, so it is not so healthy, but apple season is only once a year!  Happy fall – enjoy!


3 Ways with Basil Pecan Pesto

Every summer I plant a half dozen or so basil plants from Spicy Globe to Thai Basil.  Each variety pairs perfectly with the summer fruits and vegetables from our garden and CSA box.  It is funny how mother nature works.   Peaches, tomatoes, zucchini, and even watermelon always make fresh basil shine.

Fortunately, my kids love fresh pesto.  I can put pesto on anything and they will eat it (guess that is better than ketchup).  Over the years, I have made many different versions of pesto, but my Basil Pecan Pesto is my favorite.  it is a great way to use an over abundance of basil and the toasted pecans add a rich flavor that I prefer over pine nuts.  Leaving out the cheese will allow you to freeze small portions to use later.  Simply thaw and stir in fresh Parmesan.

The only equipment you need is a good blender or food processor and about 10 minutes of your time.  So what do you do with fresh pesto other than toss with pasta?  Here are a few ideas that I think you will love…




Burrata with Pesto:   Burrata is an Italian cheese made from fresh mozzarella and cream and is packed in water.  It is literally heaven in a plastic tub.  Many high end grocery stores carry it and Trader Joe’s has a really good one for an even better price.  Serve at room temperature with fresh pesto drizzled on top and serve along side fresh bread and sliced tomatoes for summer treat.




White Bean Spread:  Puree two cans of rinsed and drained white beans with 2 tablespoons each of tahini, fresh lemon juice, olive oil and water.  Add 1 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons of lemon zest.  Serve with basil pesto drizzled on top (thinned with additional olive oil if needed)  and bread sticks or flat bread.



Pasta with seared tuna and summer vegetables:  Season fresh tuna with salt and pepper, sear in olive oil, and slice thin.  Toss cooked whole wheat spaghetti noodles with pesto and enough reserved pasta water to coat noodles.  Gently toss in fresh squash and zuchinni sliced into ribbons (using a carrot peeler) and assorted olives.   Top with capers and tuna to serve.