Autumn is one of my favorite times of the year. It is also one of my favorite seasons for cooking. As we shift from summer to fall, the seasonal change is evident in the veggies and fruits that are available in our local markets. The Fresh Box this week got me excited for fall – apples, sweet potatoes, peaches, eggs, corn on the cob, zucchini…it was a great mix of the combined seasons. Also this week, Jacksonville Fresh partnered with a local farm, Hodges Home Grown and stocked up the freezer with their all natural, grass-fed, free-range meats. So – I grabbed some pork chops and thought I’d lean in to the seasonal shift…as Autumn approaches, let’s get warmed up for an amazing culinary season ahead! 

The Autumn Approach

Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Cook Time: 25 Minutes (Pork Chops) / 15 Minutes (Peaches) / 30 Minutes (Corn on the Cob) / 50 Minutes (Squash Casserole) / 45 Minutes (Sweet Potatoes)

Yields: 2-3 Servings

Ingredients (bold ingredients found in your Fresh Box or at Jacksonville Fresh Market/Shop this week): 

  • 1.5 LBS Hodges Home Grown Pork Chops
  • 2-3 Small-Medium Sweet Potatoes (whole)
  • 2-4 Corn on the Cob (roasted then cut off the cob)
  • 1 Large Sweet (Vidalia) Onion (medium dice)
  • 2 Small-Medium Zucchini (¼ inch circles)
  • 3 Medium-Large Yellow Squash (¼ inch circles)
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 Pint Portabella Mushrooms (small dice)
  • ½ Bag of LiveBrine from Olive My Pickle       
  • 2 Med-Large Peaches (medium dice)
  • 1 Small Red Bell Pepper (small dice)
  • 4 Garlic cloves (small mince)
  • 1 CUP Cheddar Cheese (grated)
  • 1 CUP Buttermilk (non-dairy cream sub)
  • ¼ Sour Cream
  • 2 TBSP Mayonnaise (Vegenaise sub)
  • Olive Oil Spray
  • 1 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce (Vegan option sub)
  • ½ Sleeve of your favorite Crackers (Ritz-like)
  • 2 TBSP Tamari (Soy Sauce sub)
  • 1 Lemon (zested)
  • ¼ CUP of Brown Sugar
  • 20 Chives (chopped small)
  • 6 TBSP of Olive oil
  • 6 TBSP of Butter (you can sub a vegan butter)
  • 2-4 TBSP of Salt (I use Coarse Kosher)
  • 1 TBSP of Black Pepper
  • 6 Sprigs of Thyme (pulled and finely chopped) / 2-3 Large Sprigs of Thyme (kept intact)

The order of things: 

  • Brine/Marinate the Pork Chops
  • Organize all tools
  • Preheat oven 
  • Prep all veggies – wash/rinse, dry, cut
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Squash Casserole
  • Everything else…then Enjoy!

What tools you’ll need: 

  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • Tupperware (to fit pork chops for brine/marinade)
  • Chef’s Knife
  • Microplane
  • Casserole Dish (I used a disposable – squash casserole)
  • 2 Small Saute Pans
  • 1 Large Mixing Bowl
  • Aluminum Foil
  • 1 Small Mixing Bowl
  • 2 Baking Sheets
  • Measuring cups/spoons

Instructions for Pork Chops:  

  1. In a tupperware, place pork chops and intact 2-3 sprigs of thyme, grind some black pepper and cover with brine. (if you decide to marinate a different way then just apply that marinade here) Place tupperware in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours up to overnight. (I left mine in for 6 hours)
  2. Remove pork chops and thyme from the brine, pat dry with paper towels and let sit on the counter top while you prepare the cast iron. 
  3. Heat cast iron to medium-high heat, add 4 TBSP of olive oil.
  4. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the top of your pork chops and then add them (seasoned side down) to the heated pan. They should sizzle! 
  5. Leave your pork chops alone for about 4-5 minutes so that the top side is seared and sealed with flavor. 
  6. Add your thyme sprigs into the cast iron pan (they will pop when the oil/water meet so just be careful) Sprinkle more salt and pepper on the unseasoned side before flipping over.
  7. Flip your pork chops over in the pan and put into the preheated 350 degree oven. Let cook for about 10-15 minutes. 
  8. Check doneness and pull from the oven if they are where you want them, and let rest until ready to serve. 

Instructions for Squash Casserole: 

  1. Spray olive oil spray to coat your casserole dish. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine zucchini, yellow squash, red bell pepper, onions and grated cheddar cheese. Go ahead and place these in your casserole dish – spread evenly and flat sides down. Set the casserole dish aside.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk, sour cream, mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Whisk or whip very well until it’s almost a custard consistency…a few small lumps is okay, but you want it blended as much as possible.
  4. Take your wet ingredients mixture and pour it over the top of the veggies in your casserole dish. 
  5. Crush up one sleeve of your favorite “buttery” cracker (I used Ritz) and sprinkle evenly over the top of the casserole. 
  6. Dice up 4 TBSP of butter and evenly place over the crushed up crackers. 
  7. Cover with aluminum foil and put into the preheated oven. Set your timer for 40 minutes.
  8. At 40 minutes, check the tenderness of your casserole (test it by sticking a fork in to check tenderness). If it is tender, then remove the aluminum foil and place back in the oven uncovered. Set your timer for 10 minutes. Once it’s browned on top, remove from the oven. 
  9. Set the casserole to the side and let it cool for 15-20 minutes.

Instructions for Corn on the Cob: 

  1. Shuck corn on the cob, rinse and dry.
  2. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. You can turn on the broiler for the last 5 minutes if you want browning/char on it.
  3. Remove corn from the oven. Let it sit for a few to cool off. 
  4. Cut the corn off the cob and place in a bowl. Add 1 TBSP of butter, salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Instructions for Sweet Potatoes: 

  1. Wash sweet potatoes, dry off.
  2. Cover the baking sheet with aluminum foil and place whole sweet potatoes on the baking sheet. 
  3. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven. Use the aluminum foil to wrap the sweet potatoes to keep warm and set to the side until ready to serve.

Instructions for Peaches: 

  1. In a small saute pan, heat up 1 TBSP of butter and ¼ CUP of brown sugar. 
  2. Once they are combined and not as granular, add the diced peaches. 
  3. Stir frequently while keeping the peaches and sugar on a medium heat for about 10 minutes. (it should bubble into a slight boil)
  4. Bring heat down to low-medium and add the zest of 1 lemon and add the chopped chives.
  5. Set off the heat, allowing the peach sauce to thicken up.

Instructions for Mushrooms: 

  1. In a small saute pan, heat up 2 TBSP of olive oil.
  2. Add diced mushroom pieces, cook on medium-high until they start getting brown and crispy. 
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add finely chopped thyme and continue to cook for a couple minutes.
  4. Set to the side until ready to plate. (the texture of the mushrooms should be crispy and chewy like bacon bits)

Okay, so that was a fun meal to put together! It got me ready for all that autumn has to offer – my mind is in overdrive with recipe creations! Love it! I hope you’ll find inspiration in the ingredients found in your Fresh Boxes as well as at our local markets. You can taste the difference when your ingredients are locally sourced, and when they are sourced with care. This meal embodied comfort food and looked like autumn on a plate! 

(not pictured – salad mix from your Fresh Box – added roma tomatoes and cucumbers diced with a balsamic vinaigrette) 

I hope everyone has a wonderful week! Make sure you find at least one thing to challenge yourself with this week – personal growth is attainable on all levels! Peace & Kindness to All!

This tomato was almost as big as my head! It made the perfect tomato sandwich! Yum!