Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Absolute Best Fall Recipes

Fall is my absolute favorite time of year, and I love all of the food that goes with it. I've compiled some of my go-to recipes in this blog post, and I'd love for you to share yours in a comment below.

Pumpkin Apricot Cookies
I love my friend Alice. Recently, she went out of her way to drop off a batch of pear-applesauce that she made from scratch (of course, from apples picked at an orchard), and it was so good that I almost ate the entire container in one sitting. That made me love her more. Plus, she bought me my first copy of The Joy of Cooking as a "just because" gift. Her generosity always stuns me. 

Alice is due in February with her first child. This is how I know that she's going to be a great mama: she loves to comfort people she loves with homemade recipes, and she savors family traditions. I am thrilled that she lent me her gramma's famous pumpkin apricot cookie recipe to share with you all. 

-3.5 cups flour
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon salt
-1.5 teaspoon nutmeg
-1.5 teaspoon cinnamon
-1.5 sticks of butter
-1/2 cup pumpkin puree
-2 cups brown sugar
-2 eggs
-2 cups chopped dried apricots
-1/2 cup cold black coffee

1. Sift first five ingredients and set aside.

2. Cream butter and sugar, then add eggs and pumpkin. With mixer on low, add coffee add flour mixture slowly. Mix in fruit. Refrigerate dough 1 hour.

3. Drop small 1 or 1.5 inch balls of the dough about 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-14 minutes at 350. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the cookies start to brown.

Apple Muffins
Click here for the recipe online.

My mom has turned into quite the gourmet home cook over the last several years. She is constantly trying out new recipes and encouraging my very "meat and potatoes" father to be adventurous, as well. He recently decided to become a rice eater (although beans are still off limits). And he now likes guacamole. Craziness, I know.

Last year, my mom and my maid-of-honor, Kerri, hosted a bridal shower for me at my parents' home in Southern Illinois, and my mom made these apple muffins for breakfast for all of us girls. I fell in love. They are easy to make, and with apples in season, they are the perfect fall breakfast item. 

Pumpkin Bread
My best friend Britt's sister, Erin, recently shared with me a recipe for what she advertised as the best pumpkin bread ever. I completely trust Erin's opinion when it comes to baked goods. Not only does Erin often test new recipes for her husband and two little ones (and one lucky one on the way), but she is a self-taught amazing cake decorator. If you live in the Chicago area, seriously check out her work. 

I recently made Erin's recipe for pumpkin bread, and I have to agree: it is amazing. She told me beforehand that she thinks what sets it apart from other recipes is the addition of coconut milk. I wholeheartedly agree. 

-3.5 cups all-purpose flour
-2 cups packed dark brown sugar
-2/3 cup white sugar
-2 cups pumpkin puree
-1 cup vegetable oil
-2/3 cup coconut milk
-2 teaspoons baking soda
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
-1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
-1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour two 8x4 inch loaf pans.

2. In a large bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, white sugar, pumpkin puree, oil, coconut milk, baking soda, salt, ground nutmeg and ground cinnamon. Mix until all of the flour is gone. Fold in the nuts. Pour batter into the prepared pans.

3. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

4. Remove from oven and cover loaves with foil tightly. Allow to steam for 10 minutes. Remove foil and turn out onto a cooling rack. Tent lightly with the foil and allow to cool completely.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup [recipe courtesy of Barefoot Contessa]
The first time I tried this soup was at my cousin Casey's house in Virginia. I was visiting in January 2009, and it was, to put it mildly, frigid outside. One (of very many) unique traits about Casey is that she purposely doesn't have a microwave in her home. I emphasize the word purposely. So, on a cold Saturday afternoon, she heated up this butternut squash soup in a Dutch oven on her stovetop, and I was instantly blown away by its intense yumminess. I've tried a lot of butternut squash soups in my day - the famous Wolfgang Puck's, the vanilla-enhanced version at Mosaic - but this is by far and away, the best recipe I've stumbled upon. I don't do all the condiments on top, but I wholeheartedly endorse a sprinkling of green onions. 

Since my visit almost two years ago, Casey and I have traded recipes online, and I'm thankful to have someone who thinks of me often when scouring cookbooks and planning menus. Casey and I both love a warm and cozy meal, and we share the understanding that food brings a family together. 

By the way, I've spent many an hour peeling and cubing a butternut squash to prep it for roasting. I think that process takes longer than actually making the soup does. The next time I make it, I am going to simply halve the squash and roast it with the skin side down. When the flesh is soft, you can scoop it right out. Much easier! 

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili 
I am not a huge meat eater (unlike my husband), so I prefer my chili to have plenty of veggies. When Matt and I feel like a healthy meal, I'll use turkey in this recipe. But, it's just as great (or better?) with ground beef. I started with a recipe that I found online, but I've added my own pizazz over the years. With a dollop of sour cream on top, it's so delicious. I could eat the leftovers for days. And I do. 

Of course, you might want to adjust the ingredients according to your personal tolerance for heat. I have a pretty high tolerance myself.

-1 tablespoon olive oil
-1 yellow onion, chopped
-2 tablespoons minced garlic
-1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
-1.5 pounds ground turkey (or beef)
-1 (28-ounce) can crushed organic tomatoes, undrained
-1 small can tomato paste
-1 (16-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
-1 tablespoon chili powder
-1 tablespoon sugar
-2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
-1 teaspoon hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
-1.5 teaspoons sea salt
-1 teaspoon dried basil
-1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
-2 serrano peppers, minced

1. In a large skillet, saute onions, garlic and bell peppers in olive oil over medium heat until onions are translucent. Add ground turkey and cook until browned.

2. Meanwhile, add the remaining ingredients to a crock pot set to low heat. Bring to a simmer.

3. Add the ingredients from step one and cook for a another hour or two.

Pumpkin Bars
[recipe courtesy of Paula Deen]

Seriously, with all that butter and cream, you can't really go wrong with any Paula Deen recipe. Unless you are watching your weight or your cholesterol. Other than that, eat up! 

I made this recipe for my brother John's birthday party last year, and even I was amazed at how well the pumpkin bars turned out. The best part might be the cream cheese frosting.

Pumpkin Dip 
I am instantly obsessed with all things pumpkin when the fall weather arrives. When I overheard my department chair, Agnes, discussing her go-to pumpkin dip recipe a few years ago, I asked (well, demanded) that she share the it with me. 

The dip was a big hit at Matt's and my Halloween party a few years ago. It's great served with ginger snaps. And it's so easy to make. But a warning - it makes a ton. Unless you are expecting a crowd, you might want to cut the recipe in half.

-4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
-2 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
-1 30 oz. can pumpkin pie filling mix
-2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
-1 teaspoon ground ginger

1. Combine sugar and cream cheese. Beat until well-blended.

2. Beat in remaining ingredients. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

3. Serve with purchased ginger snaps.


ahd said...

This is so much fun and I want to make every thing!! Thanks Katie!

Courtney said...

I want to make all of this, and I'm going to try my hardest to do it. YUM.

jbiby2 said...

I have made the Pumpkin Dip you mentioned before and I learned the hard way that it makes a TON! I ended up throwing most of it away. Good advice on cutting the recipe in half!

Britt Holzmacher said...

Oh MY that all sounds delicious! Those apple muffins are SO good... better when Jude made them rather than when I did them myself. I'm especially excited about the chili. Thanks!

Melissa said...

These look amazing Katie! I'm going to make the pumpkin bars for a tailgate this weekend...can't wait! :)