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It's Fall, Y'all – Time to Start Cooking Again

The days are shorter and fall’s officially here. That means one thing: time to start cooking again. Yes, you can do it – after six months of hot weather filled with sandwiches, salads, and defrosted meals, a little cooking is in order.

Favorite fall foods and beverages on my can’t-wait-to-enjoy-again list are bowls of chunky chili topped with sour cream, steaming cups of hot apple cider, bowls of seafood gumbo and jambalaya with crunchy French bread, hearty comfort meal suppers of chicken tortilla soup and sweet treats of coconut and pecan pound cake; cinnamon muffins and apple tarts and strudels.

If you’re gotten spoiled with summer’s easy meals, try dishes so easy to prepare they’ve been given special names.

Think “one-pot meals,” “all-in-one-bake," or “one-dish wonders.” Whatever you call them, the ingredients of most of our favorite fall dishes can be stirred together and cooked in one pot, then delivered straight to the table without searching for another serving dish.

Classic “one dish wonders” are beef stew, chili, chicken cacciatore, corned beef and potatoes, and stuffed bell peppers. Whether it’s cooked on the stove top, baked in the oven, or a Crockpot does all the work, most if not all of fall’s hearty dishes take mere minutes to assemble. Even better, they’re more substantial and filling than summer’s light fare.

Last week, I wrote about the top restaurants in Mississippi to enjoy soup. Based on the number of responses from readers interested in making their own, I’m including one for a thick and delicious version that can be put together the night before in a Crockpot base, refrigerated, and plugged in the following morning. By suppertime, it’ll be dark outside, but a comforting fall dinner will be ready to enjoy.

Happy fall, ya’ll!

“Nacho” Normal Slow Cooker Soup

1 pound ground beef or turkey, cooked and drained of fat

1 cup yellow onion, chopped

1 cup green bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 (15-ounce) can Mexicorn, drained

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed well

1 (15-ounce) can petite-diced tomatoes, drained

1-1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1-1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3.5 cups chicken or beef broth

8 ounces of cheddar cheese, shredded

1 cup heavy cream

3-4 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Add cooked beef or turkey, vegetables, beans, seasonings, and broth to a 6-quart slow cooker.

Stir gently to combine. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.

When cooked, stir in shredded cheese. Whisk together flour and heavy cream until smooth. Pour into slow cooker, stir to combine. Cover and continue cooking for an additional 30 minutes. Serve warm with chopped green onions, sour cream and tortilla chips.

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