It’s been a lazy few days around here. Lots of rain, World Series to watch, slight fracture to my foot keeping me close to home… We’re midway through Fall and it’s beginning to show.

Food-wise, it’s one of my favorite times of the year. Soups and stews and casseroles are starting to tell me to cook them. It’s almost time to start baking bread in earnest.

If I can’t be outside enjoying the weather, I can be inside enjoying the kitchen.

I do like seasonal cooking. My cravings for stews make way for cravings for salads – heavier foods to lighter foods.

I’m really glad I started this Pre-Diabetic Plan back in September – even if I’m not in the official program. This year, I am doing my best to make those heavier foods a bit lighter.

Polenta is a perfect case in point. For years, I have made polenta with whole milk, butter, and cheese. Cook the polenta in the milk, add shredded cheese close to the end, and then a few pats of butter stirred in for even more flavor and creaminess. It’s absolutely delicious – and about 530 calories per serving.

For a while now, I’ve been making it with water, no added cheese, and a tablespoon of butter added at the end. Absolutely delicious – and 225 calories for that generous serving. What I missed by making it as rich as I did, was the actual flavor of the corn.  What a concept! Not saying I’ll never make it like that, again, but it won’t be for everyday dinner.

Atop the polenta was a really simple braised beef I made with 12 ounces of top round steak, a few mini-peppers, half an onion, a cup of red wine, and a jar of Victor’s homemade pasta sauce.

I browned the steak, added the peppers and onion, cooked them a bit, added the wine and reduced it by half, and then added the sauce.

I covered the pan and placed it in a 300°F oven for about 3 hours. I then shredded the meat, stirred everything together, and dinner was served!

Really simple and a great meal for watching the rain fall.