We have almost had our first frost of the season. It is barely November, and Mr. Sanders, in anticipation of a predicted frost warning for our area early this morning, turned on the heat last night, to much mocking from this former New Englander. All he needed to do was huddle around the kitchen stove, and he would have warmed up quickly from our afternoon walk with Luke the wonder dog.
It is sweater weather again, finally, but it is still a refreshing novelty; we aren’t battling the elements just yet. It’s fun to rummage around in the closet for some old friends; the best sweaters are the most raggedy, pilled and stretched out. I am wearing a ratty old black wool pullover that I bought deeply discounted from a sales pile at a Gap in West Palm Beach at least 10 years ago. Its elbows are worn and translucent, but if I wear a black turtleneck, no one else notices. It is perfect for work and wearing to the Y. I also just found the Bean cardigan from college that miraculously still fits. I might just be buried in it.
Equally serviceable, and just as humble, is a sheet pan dinner. Rummage in the fridge and see what you have got. Or better yet, make a plan at the beginning of the week, for tasty items that can roast themselves for your warming dinner. No fuss and easy to clean up, sheet pan meals will keep you nice and warm until it it time to bring out the big guns: the roasts, the casseroles, the pot pies, the stews and the slow cooker meals.
I love parchment paper, which is a life saver for me for almost every meal. I keep a box of pre-cut sheet-pan-sized sheets in the cookie sheet, cutting board cabinet, right next to the stove. Some sheet pan recipes call for preheating the oven, and the pan, to 500°F or 450°F. Read your recipes carefully, so you don’t start a home fire. Thanks to an excellent liberal arts education, and Ray Bradbury, I will forever be mindful that paper ignites at 451°. And everyone’s oven is different – so be careful! (The Spy and I do NOT receive any compensation from Amazon, but this is a miraculous cooking item that I love: Parchment Paper Sheets )
Our household gods at Food52 have some practical advice for making sure your sheet pan chicken is extra tasty and browned attractively – baking powder. They suggest rubbing a “mixture of baking powder, salt, and other seasonings all over the chicken to promote browning and crispier skin.” Good to know. Sheet Pan Chicken with Broccoli, Chickpeas and Parmesan.
Food52 also has an excellent way to prepare pork chops. Sheet-Pan Pork Chops & Vegetables With Parsley Vinaigrette These tasty pork chops will make you appreciate the changing seasons.
Dorie Greenspan proves my point that you can never have too many chicken recipes: Balsamic Chicken Sheet Pan Supper And she understands that some of us prefer breasts to the ever-popular chicken legs or thighs.
We cook a lot of Italian sausage with onions and peppers on the stove top, which inevitable creates a huge delicious mess with all the splattering and sputtering. Maybe this will be an easier way to go, since the inside of our over is already coated with scorched corn meal and charred cheese drips from our weekly pizza creations. Sheet Pan Sausage and Peppers Add a salad, some focaccia, and a little red wine. Yumsters!
Sometimes we like eggs for dinner. Or for a hearty, holiday breadfast, one that will keep you going until the Thanksgiving dinner is finally on the table. Easy Sheet Pan Baked Eggs And Vegetables Eggs and Veggies
Enjoy the transition into the cooler weather. And be sure to turn your clocks back on Saturday night!
“I ate them like salad, books were my sandwich for lunch, my tiffin and dinner and midnight munch. I tore out the pages, ate them with salt, doused them with relish, gnawed on the bindings, turned the chapters with my tongue! Books by the dozen, the score and the billion. I carried so many home I was hunchbacked for years. Philosophy, art history, politics, social science, the poem, the essay, the grandiose play, you name ’em, I ate ’em.”
― Ray Bradbury