As soon as the leaves begin to swathe my lawn in red, gold, and orange, I find myself turning toward the stove. The crisp, autumn air is like a siren call to my inner chef (one that has been happily sleeping all summer in favor of my husband’s grilling skills, favorite restaurants, and no-cook salads). But now, just as I am every year, I’m digging out my apron and baking pans. So, what’s cooking? Here’s a list of my favorite dishes to welcome fall:
10. Pumpkin soup. This amazing soup is a fairly new addition to my fall line-up. If you’ve never tried pumpkin soup, it is autumn in a bowl – the color, the scent, the flavor … put on your favorite football sweatshirt, light the fireplace, and enjoy.
9. Caramel apples. Resist the urge to buy the pre-formed caramel “wraps.” The old-fashioned way is the only way to go (part of the fun is unwrapping all of those caramels!). I double (okay, sometimes even triple) dip my apples to make the caramel extra thick.
8. Baked apples. Of course, apple pie, apple crisp, and apple bread are all great. There’s something about a warm, gooey apple fresh from the oven that makes baked apples one of my top fall favorites. Pair it with a little vanilla ice cream on the side or enjoy it all by itself. Baked apples are easy and fast to make but are always a huge hit.
7. Sweet potato cupcakes. Sweet potatoes. Cupcakes. Cream cheese frosting. What else is there to say?
6. Chili! There is absolutely nothing better than a bowl of spicy chili, a football game, and my favorite blanket. Fall comfort food? Oh, yeah!
5. Cornbread. To go with the chili, of course! Chili isn’t complete without a nice piece of good, old-fashioned, Southern corn bread. Chili isn’t chili without it!
4. Cranberry relish. I used to watch my mom hand-grind the cranberries for her relish. For me, cranberry relish is about tradition and family. It’s a Thanksgiving staple but don’t wait until then – this is too good to only have once a year.
3. Pecan pie. If you’ve never made one from scratch, give it a try! Even if you’ve never made a pie before, pecan pie is a simple recipe and it is guaranteed to wow friends and family. (If you are afraid to make your own crust, the frozen kind works just fine.)
2. Baked acorn squash. Maple syrup, brown sugar … and the wonderful flavor of this autumn staple – and kids will not only eat it, they’ll ask for more!
1. Chicken and dumplings. If you want to start a tradition, do it with this dish. The dumplings are the star of this show and are surprisingly easy. This is the dish I want on a chilly night – and it is a surefire way to soothe a fall cold.
It doesn’t matter if you are in Orlando or Portland, Chicago or Flagstaff – the change of seasons (however slight) is a great reason to try something new. Call your friends and family and invite them over for an autumn celebration, with your favorite fall dish as the star of the show.