September dishes to welcome fall

The recent cool, wet weather has us all in the mood as September takes us into fall on Sunday.

Pumpkins and fall decorations are appearing throughout the valley. Crock-Pots that were stashed away for summer are reappearing as ovens are being turned on again.

Our kitchen island is displaying the cutest “baby acorn squash” that my husband Fred’s garden produced.

And our tomatoes suddenly decided to ripen at a rate of dozens at a time, which means our oven was on all night as tomatoes slowly roasted for sauces, appetizers, hot dishes and more.

Hello fall, hello National Chicken and National Rice Month and may the local fruits and vegetables enhance our fall dishes.


After experimenting, here’s a healthier version.

Chicken Tenders or Sliced boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut horizontally to a 1/2-inch thickness

Crushed Rice Krispy cereal (preferred over crushed crackers, corn flakes or bread crumbs and flour)

1–2 jars of your favorite Italian pasta sauce (chunky)

1–2 garlic cloves, minced

Basil Chiffonade

Leftover diced roasted vegetables ­— whatever you have, such as eggplant, red/green bell peppers, onion, zucchini, mushrooms, carrots, roasted tomatoes

Egg white, slightly beaten or low-fat mayonnaise

Shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Oil a non-stick baking sheet, then prepare chicken according to one of these versions:

Version one: Dip chicken in egg white, press crushed cereal both sides to coat.

Version two: Brush chicken with mayonnaise and dip in cereal to coat.

Heat oiled baking pan for a few minutes before adding chicken and returning to the oven. Chicken should be browned and delicious in 20 minutes.

Turn once during baking making sure the chicken isn’t sticking to pan before you turn.

While chicken is baking, heat sauce, garlic and vegetables in saucepan. Get cheese ready.

When chicken is done, top with sauce, basil and shredded cheese.

Serve with baked acorn squash filled with packaged brown rice mix and baked fall apples for dessert.


Rotisserie chicken as a quick meal idea has been suggested in just about every cookbook, food column (here, too) and “meals in minutes” food show.

So why repeat it? Well, it is one of our favorite cool weather dishes. 

Get one rotisserie chicken and remove meat from bones for main meal. Refrigerate all bones, leftover chicken and the container it comes in.

When chilled, remove any fat collected in bottom of container. You’ll see dark, rich jelled broth in ridges. Add a little water and microwave for just a few seconds.

Add the dark, rich drippings to a Crock-Pot with a quart or more of 1/3 less sodium chicken broth and rotisserie chicken bones (whole carcass)

Add celery stalk, thick onion slice and a carrot.

Cook on low for a few hours, strain for a delicious broth.

When ready, add chopped onion, thinly sliced half cup celery, sliced carrot, 1 cup finely diced butternut squash, fresh ground pepper.

Add leftover chicken and 1/2 pound sliced/browned kielbasa.

Cook on high or low in Crock-Pot until vegetables done.

Serve in bowls over brown rice. (Choose brown rice because:

Only outer hulls are removed, retaining bran layer that offers 15 essential nutrients, including dietary fiber, the B-complex group, antioxidants and more.)


■ Brown rice has shorter shelf life, stores best in refrigerator or freezer.

■ You can use brown rice in all recipes, even pudding.

■ Reheating leftover rice: Add 2 tablespoons liquid (water, broth, juice, etc) per cup, heat in micro-wave, on stove or in oven.

■ Store cooked rice in refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for six months.

■ Use brown rice for cereal. Add raisins, pecans, peaches, pears, applesauce, etc.

■ A 1/2 cup (108 calories) is a serving. My problem? Stopping at 1/2 cup.

■ Long rice for stir-fry, pilafs, etc.  Medium and short grain for puddings, risotto and other creamy dishes.

This also can be served as a hot dish.
1 3/4 cups cooked brown rice
1/2 cups cut up roasted chicken
1/3 cup sliced green onions or sweet onion
1–2 jalapeno peppers, finely minced and seeded
1/3 cup picante sauce (I use medium heat. It’s up to you.)
2 teaspoons lime juice
Zest of one lime
1/3 cup finely diced jicama
1 clove garlic finely minced
1/4 cup, chopped, dry roasted peanuts
Pinch of sugar
Two ways to prepare:
Version 1: Sauté onions, peppers, jicama and garlic in nonstick deep skillet for a few seconds. M mix lime juice and picante sauce; add rice and sauce to skillet and cook until heated through. Top with dry roasted peanuts and cilantro.
Version 2: Toss everything together and serve as a chilled salad.

I am roasting tomatoes like crazy since they decided to produce late last month by the dozens.
They were the hit of the holidays last year as appetizers. I had orders for many more this year. My husband treated them like gold.
This year I tried jarred minced garlic on my first trays of tomatoes, being lazy. We discovered we prefer fresh minced garlic. Yes, it takes longer, but I feel it’s worth it. It’s up to you, you may want to try both.
I also am trying just roasting the tomatoes without any oil or garlic. Since I already did well over a hundred tomatoes with oil and garlic.
This recipe is adjusted from last year’s recipe.
Ripe tomatoes (red, yellow ... whatever)
Cloves of garlic finely minced (The amount depends on how many you are doing and how much you like garlic)
Olive oil (If you have garlic olive oil, you may omit some of the minced garlic)
Basil chiffonade
Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly brush oil on foil. Wash tomatoes, dry and remove core. Cut in half horizontally, gently removing the loose seeds. Place on baking sheet cut side up. Mix oil and garlic together and dab/brush on tomatoes. This year, I sprinkled a little fresh basil on them as well.
Roast at 200 degrees for 6–12 hours (varies with size). Check them once in awhile.  Try to keep same sized tomato trays as it makes for more even roasting. They will be flat but still moist, chewy and caramelized.
Notes: If tomatoes are exceptionally large, you may want to cut across into three sections. I planted smaller tomatoes this year for roasting purposes.
Once roasted, keep them in refrigerator in a tightly closed container for two weeks or freeze.
I placed them on paper towels to drain any extra oil, then placed them on clean foil and freeze until firm. Once frozen, place them in bags or freezer containers.
When taken out of freezer, warm them up in the oven to serve on toasted baguette slices or baked pita chips. Try tossing some feta cheese on them. We did this last holiday season and they disappeared so fast, I didn’t get one!
Use roasted tomatoes, right out of the bag, in commercial or homemade pasta sauce, casseroles, salsas, soups and stews of all kinds, meat loaf, on sandwiches in dips and spreads.


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