October 2011, Festivals!
I love October—the month of fall colors, oranges, reds, golds, dark greens, browns. I love this month of seeing Halloween decorations throughout our communities, fall home décor, and festivals. Our October issue is dedicated to the region’s calendar of festivals during this first, full month of fall. We have compiled a list of events for you to peruse and use to plan a flurry of fall outings. Our feature festival story is The Great Mississippi Balloon Race, one of Natchez, Mississippi’s most popular events.
During this weekend the town is bursting with folks from all over. During their college years, my children brought friends home during this festival weekend to introduce them to Natchez in one of its shining moments. Preparing meals and snacks to have on hand for all the friends and family members stopping by as well as staying has been and is always an enjoyable part of Balloon Festival for me. Just last year our daughter brought home some friends from Mississippi State for this festival, and we had a blast serving the white bean chicken chili (See recipe below.) and other seasonal favorites for her bunch during lunchtime on Saturday of the Balloon Festival. I have pulled an easy menu with recipes to share in case any of you have guests coming to visit during the festival season. Of course…be sure to enjoy the tantalizing festival food on location, too….those are always a treat!!
Roasted Bell Pepper Dip
(from Warm Welcomes, Junior League of Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small red onion cut into quarters
1 (7 ounce) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained
12 fresh basil leaves, crushed or ½ teaspoon dried basil
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
Chilled blanched fresh asparagus spears
Red, green, orange, and yellow bell pepper strips
Divide the olive oil over the onion in a small baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until tender. Let stand until cool. Process the onion, roasted peppers, and basil in a food processor until pureed. Add cream cheese and pulse until combined. Chill, covered, for 3 hours or longer. To serve, mound the cream cheese mixture in the center of a serving platter. Surround with bagel chips, asparagus spears, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper strips, and mushrooms.
Cheryl and Mike’s Black Bean & Corn Salad
2 cans of shoe peg corn, drained
2 cans of black beans, drained
Cilantro (about ½ cup chopped)
¼ cup of chopped red onion
1 or 2 avocadoes, chopped
1 box of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
Mix all ingredients; squeeze the lime juice over the mixture; toss and serve.
White Bean and Chicken Chili
(From Giadu at Home, www.foodnetwork.com)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds chicken breast (The secret to good-tasting chili is to season your chicken and grill, roast, or smoke for additional flavor – Cheryl)
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons chili powder
3 tablespoons flour
2 15-ounce cans cannellini or other white beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper for seasoning
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped, fresh flat-leaf parsley
In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the cooked chopped chicken, 1 teaspoon salt, cumin, fennel seeds, oregano, and chili powder. Cook, stirring constantly. Stir the flour into the chicken mixture. Add the beans, and chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer, scraping up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Simmer for 55-60 minutes until the liquid has reduced by about half and the chili has thickened. Add the red pepper flakes and simmer for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Ladle the chili into serving bowls. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.
Cheryl’s Seasoned French Bread
1 loaf of fresh French Bread
Seasonings (I love the Slick Rick’s Garlic & Herb Seasoning from Slick Rick’s Foods in Natchez.)
Herbs De Provence Spice
Any kind of white or yellow grated cheese
Split loaf in half lengthwise. Butter generously both halves of the bread. Sprinkle seasonings generously. Top with grated cheese of your choice. Heat at 375 degrees until slightly toasty, and the cheese melts. Serve with chili or favorite dish. Yum!!