Sunday, October 28, 2012

Entertaining - Hosting an Autumn Harvest Social

This time of year is the perfect time to gather your friends around and celebrate the bounty of the harvest and enjoy the delicious foods that come with Autumn.  This can be your "friends-giving" or just an excuse to get together and carve pumpkins.  These recipes are easy to put together and really show the flavors of the season.  All you need to make this a perfect party are some nice martini glasses and simple plates and flatware.  The rest of the atmosphere will come from the relief of being inside during a cold and rainy day.

Menu for a fabulous party!

Cocktail - Blood and Sand Martini
Appetizer - Sesame Seed Kale Chips
Salad - Beet, Pear and Avocado Salad
Dinner - Shepard's Pie
Dessert - Pumpkin Cookies with Chocolate Frosting

Monday, October 22, 2012

Roasted Apple, Carrot and Shallots

We had the most fantastic summer in memory so the transition to autumn was definitely hard to do.  The first day of bad weather I made this dish and it was so delicious that I was able to make peace with the fact we are changing seasons and that isn't always a bad thing.  I love using season foods and right now, these three items are your best friends.  The apple adds a touch of sweet but doesn't overpower the other flavors.  Serving it with pork chops or chicken is a must!


1 small apple, a Grannysmith is perfect
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally
1 medium shallot, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt/pepper to taste
2 slices bacon, cooked and chopped (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Core the apple and dice and place in a medium bowl.
3. Add sliced carrots and shallot to the apples
4. Sprinkle thyme, salt/pepper and then add olive oil and toss veggies to coat with oil.
5. Place on cookie sheet (even on a piece of foil to make clean up easy) and cook in the oven 30 minutes until shallots are starting to brown.
6. Remove and serve with your favorite autumn main dish (this veal piccata would be perfect!)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sesame Seed Kale Chips

I've been making kale chips all summer, but I finally decided to brighten up the dish with some of my favorite flavors...tahini and lemon!  These chips are irresistible so be prepared to add this to your weekly grocery list.  You will never look at kale the same way again (and that is a good thing!)


1 lb kale, leaves torn from stems
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon tahini
1 small lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Pull out two cookie sheets.  You do not need to pre-grease these.
2. Whisk olive oil, tahini, lemon juice and salt together in the bottom of a large bowl.
3. Add kale and use tongs to evenly toss the dressing over the leaves
4. Lay out on cookie sheets so the leaves are not overlapping each other
5. Sprinkle with sesame seeds
6. Cook 20-25 minutes until leaves are dry and crispy.
7. Devour!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Carrot and Coconut Curry Soup

I love soups that don't require a lot of ingredients or a lot of babysitting.  This time of year there are a lot of carrots in the farmer's markets and this recipe is a great way to use them up and have a nutritional and satisfying meal.  This soup is definitely best served with naan or pita bread.


2 pounds of carrots, peeled and topped
1 red onion, cut into big chunks
2 tablespoons curry
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
olive oil
1 15 oz can coconut milk

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. On a rimmed cookie sheet, add carrots, onion and sprinkle with curry, cumin, salt and then drizzle with olive oil.
3. Allow to roast in the oven for about an hour.
4. When done, remove from the oven and place in a large soup pot.  Fill with water until veggies are almost covered.
5. Stir in coconut milk and reheat until bubbling.
6. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup.
7. Serve with naan or pita bread.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Beet, Pear and Avocado Salad

This recipe comes straight from Mollie Katzen's "The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without".  The combination might sound really strange, but everyone I made this for loved it!  Feel free to substitute apple for the pear.


4 roasted beets (see note below)
1 large pear (just barely ripe)
1 avocado
juice of one lemon
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup goat cheese crumbles
olive oil

1. Roasted beets are pretty easy.  I tend to always have some ready this time of year due to a plethora of beets in the area.  Remove the tops of the beets, wash well to remove the dirt, dry with a paper towel, place on foil, drizzle with olive oil and create a "packet" with the foil.  The steam will cook them in an 375 degree oven in about 45 minutes.
2. Slice cooled beets and place on serving dish
3. Repeat with pear and avocado
4. Juice lemon over the salad mixture to prevent it from turning brown
5. Sprinkle chopped walnuts and goat cheese over the salad
6. Finally sprinkle a few tablespoons of olive oil over the salad and sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper.
7. Serve as a delicious side dish or autumn lunch with some fresh homemade bread.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Autumn Fruit and Nut Cake + Maple Glaze

My friend Hillary is an awesome baker and she made a version of this cake for a family friend's birthday.  I wanted to make this into a breakfast dish that would really hold up to a good cup of coffee and here is the final result.  This is also co-worker and husband tested and approved!


1/2 cup raisins + 1 tablespoon flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 stick butter, melted
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 medium size pear, cored and diced
1 small carrot, peeled and diced
1 cup chopped walnuts

3 tablespoons real maple syrup
1/3 cup powdered sugar

1. Combine raisins and 1 tablespoon flour to coat the raisins.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a springform pan or other cake pan (even a muffin tin will work)
2. Beat 2 eggs on high speed about 1 minute.
3. Add sugar and beat until combined, another 1-2 minutes.
4. Add vanilla and melted butter and beat until combined, about 1 minute.
5. In a separate bowl combine remaining flour, baking soda, spices and whisk together to incorporate.
6. Slowly add to the liquid mixture and stir until combined.  This might seem a little dry, but that is okay because we are adding fruit and carrots.
7. Use a spatula to incorporate pear, carrot, walnuts and raisins.
8. Carefully pour into the greased cake pan and use the spatula to evenly spread the batter in the pan.
9. Cook about 45 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean and top is a beautiful even brown.
10. Let cool 15 minutes.
11. While cool, combine maple syrup and powdered sugar to create the maple glaze.  If it needs a bit more liquid, add a touch more of the maple syrup.
12.  Pour over the cooled cake and serve with some coffee.