Despite the pollen parade and the mass return of students to Columbia (turning a town that’s peaceful and spacious 3 months out of the year back into Frat Central), fall is my favorite season. I love the crisp (albeit allergen-filled) air, the beautiful leaves, the seasonal food, and the holidays–my birthday is October 4, our anniversary is October 17, and of course, there’s Halloween. This year, I’ve also got an awesome Harry Potter-themed joint birthday party with my friend Lana to look forward to. (Keep an eye out for more posts on the subject–I’m hard at work on my costume!).

So when the air gets just the tiniest bit chilly–even if the leaves are all still green, there’s zucchini and summer squash out the yang in the store, and we’ve barely dipped into the months ending in “-ber”–I start craving nothing but fall food. Apples, pumpkin, squash…warm, comforting dishes you can pile into a bowl and curl up with on the porch after sunset. (Or at 10 PM, which seems to be when we normally eat dinner these days, and maybe instead of curling up on the porch we’re watching The Exorcist. But I wanted to paint you a nice mental picture.)

Jimmy’s a good cook and is always happy to step in when I’m not feeling it, but I do most of the cooking around here, because it’s a nice chance to step away from the computer and lose myself in the zen of making food for a while. The other night, he requested one of his favorites, a delicious mushroom stroganoff I found at Kahakai Kitchen. I adapted it juuuust slightly, as I’m not vegan, but I bet it would be equally delicious just as written. We needed a little something extra, so I poked around to see what we had and whipped up some sweet potato-cheddar biscuits from perennially awesome BrokeAss Gourmet.

mushroom stroganoff and sweet potato cheddar biscuits

The biscuits are a delightful shade of autumn-y orange, the mushrooms are warm, creamy, and comforting, and the fall-edition Woodchuck Cider peeking out from behind the bowl provided a cold, crisp contrast to all that gooey goodness. We used whole-wheat rotini as a base for the stroganoff because we had some left over, but Jimmy’s partial to egg noodles here.

Mushroom Stroganoff
adapted from Kahakai Kitchen
(serves 2-3)

1 large yellow onion, chopped
16 oz white mushrooms, quartered
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbsp whole wheat or unbleached all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup milk (anything but skim)
1/2 tsp dried thyme, or to taste
16 oz cooked noodles (I recommend whole wheat rotini or egg noodles)

Heat a dash of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes, or until softened but not brown. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook until the mushrooms release their juices. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms. Stir continuously with a whisk or wooden spoon until the flour is mostly dissolved. Add the vinegar, thyme and milk, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm over cooked noodles.

Sweet Potato-Cheddar Biscuits
adapted from BrokeAss Gourmet
(makes around 6 biscuits)

1 approximately 6” sweet potato
3 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups flour, plus more for rolling/baking
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar, plus more for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cook the sweet potato, either by peeling, chopping and boiling it, or cooking it in the microwave in plastic wrap or a magic potato bag (that’s what I used). Let cool until the potato is cool enough to handle. If the skin is still on, remove it, and mash the potato with a fork in a mixing bowl. Mash the butter into the potato. Stir the flour, baking powder, and baking soda into the potato mixture. Just as it comes together, mix in the shredded cheese (you may need to use your hands for this). Flour a surface and pat the dough into a circle, approximately 3/4″ thick. Using a biscuit cutter or a glass with straight sides (I used a mismatched highball glass that stands in as my impromptu biscuit cutter), cut out as many biscuits as you can. (Feel free to mush the dough back up and spread it out again until there’s not enough left for another biscuit.) Place them on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper, flour, or Silpat, and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Enjoy! (But I don’t recommend The Exorcist as quality mealtime entertainment. Lots of bodily fluids in that movie. Stick to the sunset/porch/sweater scenario.)