Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Best of Fall: A Feast to Remember


Fall is a perfect season for spending more time in the kitchen. As summer heat wanes we begin to bring cooking back into the home rather than outside on the grill. Our meals become richly flavored, robust and cozy after the light, fresh fare we seem to enjoy during the warmer months. The first cool, crisp day - a harbinger of autumn - inspires thoughts of deeply flavorful stews, pot roasts and pumpkin pies, and we long to fill our kitchens with the aromas of harvest time.

Here in The Virtual Kitchen I wanted to gather you, friends and family, around the table for an autumn feast. This is our table, and it is as graced by God and our Faith as it is by the beautiful people surrounding it. So welcome, sit down with us. Savor the fall tapestry of food woven by the devoted hands of wives, mothers, friends....and taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Soups and Salads

Vicki at Deo Gratias brings us her yummy New England Clam Chowder, which she serves up for World Series gatherings at her home. She lends a very helpful tip for seafood preparation you don't want to miss!

Did you know the beautiful Heather at These Thy Gifts is a former personal chef? You will not be the least bit surprised when you taste her favorite recipes. Her Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger and Lime is a perfect accompaniment to her Roasted Butternut Squash, Arugula and Goat Cheese Salad, and they are just as beautiful as they taste!

Our sweet Meredith shares goodness abundantly with her readers, and her food blog - Sweetness in the Kitchen - is no different. I placed her Golden Stew of Pumpkin, Cabbage, Turmeric and Riso and Chicken Barley Soup here under "Soups and Salads", but both recipes make hearty main courses, perfect for fall. Be sure to check out the ingredients in the Golden Stew (I love that name!) - sherry, chives and tarragon among others. Mmmm!

Main Course

Heather brings two entrees to our table, and both perfectly set the tone of autumn and it's warm, sweet flavors. Her Cider Braised Pork Shoulder with Caramelized Onions and Mustard Maple Ham Steaks with Cider-Madeira Sauce fill the house with fall aroma.

Mary Ellen at Tales From the Bonny Blue House brings not only her lovely smile and gentle demeanor, but she serves us a scrumptious Crock Pot Beef Stew - simple and delicious!

I love the main course Elizabeth brought over from her food blog, Kitchen Comforts. Her Cranberry Chicken is beautiful. Hmmm....simplicity, deliciousness and beauty all in one? It is just like Elizabeth to be so balanced in the goods of this life!

A good friend of your hosts here and mother of this scrumptiously adorable baby brings us two entrees I know you will love. This woman cooks and bakes like no one, and she does it in a spirit of true hospitality. Thank you, Erika!

Curried Beef Stuffed Squash

3 medium acorn squash (about 1 pound each), halved and seeded
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon beef bouillon granules
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup cooked rice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt

Invert squash in a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 35-45 minutes or until almost tender. Meanwhile, in a skillet, cook beef, onion and garlic until meat is browned and onion is tender; drain. Dussikve bouillon in water; add to skillet. Stir in remaining ingredients; mix well. Turn squash cut side up in pan and fill with meat mixture. Fill pan with hot water to a depth of 1/4 in.; cover loosely with foil. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until heated through. Yield: 6 servings

Savory Meat Pie

2 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 pound ground beef
3/4 cup sliced green onions
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
Pinch ground cinnamon
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1/4 cup chili sauce
Pastry for double crust pie (9 inches)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon milk

In a saucepan, cook potatoes in boiling water until tender; mash and set aside. Meanwhile, in a skillet, brown the beef; drain. Stir in the next nine ingredients. Simmer for 4-5 minutes. Stir in potatoes, parsley and chili sauce; remove from the heat. Place bottom pastry in a 9-in. pie plate; brush with mustard. Add the meat mixture. Top with remaining pastry; seal and flute edges. Cut slits in the top crust. Brush with milk. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350; bake 25 mintues longer or until golden brown. Yield: 6 servings.

Side Dishes

Heather's contribution, Gingered Mashed Sweet Potatoes, is one I am looking forward to making this week, and I know my girls will love it too. Yum!

My friend Jen and fellow Catholic, homeschooling mama sent me a link to Roasted Winter Vegetables from the Food Network. She says it is so delicious she will eat the leftovers for breakfast, and, judging from the recipe, I believe her! Thank you, Jen.

The ever kind and generous Barbara brings us not one, but three side dishes to complement our meal. From her food blog, Bless Us O Lord, she shares a Sweet Potato Souffle, Green Beans with Shallots and Peppers and a mouthwatering Cranberry Relish. Be sure to peruse the plethora of good and beautiful foods while you're there!

Jill at Kindred Spirits, who recently had a new baby (Welcome, Henry!) finds time to cook with a newborn in the house! Today she serves a simple, but delicious Wild Rice with Fruits and Nuts, along with a beautiful Red Applesauce our children will surely enjoy just as much as we will. Thank you, Jill!

If you've tried any of Waltzing Matilda's concoctions before, you know you will love her Spicy Sweet Potato Muffins. Matilda, they look deeelicious!


Did you notice the Mile High Strawberry Dessert on the table? I doubt any of us will be able to turn it down. Thank you, Vicki from Deo Gratias, for another yummy contribution!

I have no doubt that Cheryl's Pumpkin Muffins are just as delicious as they look and sound. Cheryl devotes herself to everything she does, whether it is tending to her family, smocking, embroidery, cooking, baking....well, you get the picture! Thank you so much, Cheryl.

Margaret's A-Apple Pie is a true recipe of love, requiring no "recipe" at all, just love. Can you think of a better ingredient than that? She also shares her all-time favorite Crunchy Caramel Apple Pie recipe, which happens also to be a favorite of Emeril Lagasse. Warm caramel and apples together...need I say more?

Mary Ellen brought a delicious dessert to complement her stew above. Favorite Gingerbread is sure to please even the finickiest eaters in the house. Wonderful!

Erika also contributes a dessert to go with her entrees above. I made these cookies with Gianna last weekend, and they were delicious!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup cooked or canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup diced, roasted almonds
1 cup chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, pumpkin, and vanilla. Mix and sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Add to creamed mixture; mix well. Add almonds and chocolate chips; mix thoroughly. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto well-greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from cookie sheets while still warm; cool on racks. Yield 5-6 dozen.

One of our favorite homeschool bloggers, Maureen at Trinity Prep School gives us this delightful Taffy Apple Salad. Don't be fooled by the suggestion of "salad" in this recipe! :)

Last, but most certainly not least, the lovely Kimberlee at Pondered in My Heart finishes off our feast with her warm and autumnal Rice Pudding and cozy Pumpkin Spice Cake. Kimberlee, these sound as divine as the beautiful rosaries you make!

Thank you to everyone who contributed to our fall feast or stopped by for a visit! It was splendid. The food was delicious. The company, wonderful. I'm full. I'm tired. Though I'd happily do it for you, I am thanking heaven I don't have to clean up! :)


JANET said...

What a wonderful autumn roundup of recipes! Thanks for hosting this.

Margaret in Minnesota said...

Can you imagine if this party were held in real life? You can bet I'd be attending, and you'd better BELIEVE I'd help clean up!

This is a beautiful festival, Kristen. Thank you for hosting.

scmom (Barbara) said...

Thanks so much, Kristen. Everything looks wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Kristen, you did a lovely job! It will take me all week to visit and savor! :)

Mary Ellen Barrett said...

This is the most beautiful feast! Thank you so much for your hard work in putting it together and your kind words about me.

I can't wait to start cooking.

Suzanne Temple said...

What a fabulous gathering of great food! Terrific job, Kristen!

Meredith said...

It is a culinary delight!! I can't wait for naptime to make copies of all the incredible recipes!! I'll never have to look in another cookbook, at least not this Fall!!! Beautifully done, thank you so much for including me :)

Carmen L. said...

Kristen, I'm trying to savor every little bit of Autumn! It's the best time of the year. Thanks for putting this together. I already have my eye on several recipes here. -Carmen

Heather said...

Wow Kristen, this came together so beautifully - what a treat to have so many new ideas to try out this fall. My family thanks you (and all contributors) in advance! Thanks for including me.

Mrs.E said...

I'm so glad to have stumbled upon your lovely place. I am really enjoying my visit and reading your posts. Can't wait to visit your other blogs.

Beck said...

Oh my goodness, those recipes sound DELICIOUS! I'm going to bookmark this post and spend a long time this evening combing through all of those delicious ideas.

inspired said...

I made Kimberlee's pumpkin spice cake and I wanted to let you know...WONDERFUL! I made it with a blend of millet and soft white wheat. I will give all the details when I post about it soon! Great recipe!