Pumpkin Mac’N Cheese with Roasted Bacon-Brussel Sprouts

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“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald

What can be better than a bowl of home made Mac’N Cheese on a cool fall day?  A heaping topping of crispy bacon-brussel sprouts with caramelized onion on top of that bad boy is what.  Adding pumpkin to the cheese sauce makes it almost virtuous to have your Mac guilt free. The sauce gets a onctuous velvety texture with no cream, no thickening agents and less cheese.  And pumpkin is so good for us!   This Mac’N Cheese is  easy to make and has fall in every delicious bite.  It can even be served to company, it’s that good.   Use strong flavored cheeses with good melting properties to balance the sweetness of the pumpkin in the sauce.  I used smoked gouda and asiago in mine.  For ease of execution, roast the brussel sprouts while the pasta is cooking so you can serve the Mac’N Cheese as soon as it is ready.  An autumnal twist on a favorite classic.

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Brown Butter Nutella Cookies

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“You can be miserable before eating a cookie.  You can be miserable after eating a cookie.  But you cannot be miserable while eating a cookie.  Ina Garten

These cookies should be outlawed.  As if they weren’t decadent enough with the inclusion of triple chocolate chips,  they are stuffed with Nutella!  Swoon.  My first introduction to them came from my Canadian friend Christine who brought them to a bookclub meeting.  One bite and everyone was moaning with pleasure and asking what was in those cookies.  Christine revealed the secret ingredient, Nutella in the center, making these cookies soft and fudgy.  We made joining the bookclub conditional on Christine sharing the recipe.  Upon making them myself, I noted a second secret ingredient that really elevates these cookies into a stratosphere of their own:  brown butter.  I think melting the butter first until it foams and gets good and brown adds another distinctive layor of flavor.  I think these might be the best cookies on the entire planet.  Guess who the newest member of our bookclub is?

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Sheet Pan Chicken with Delicata Squash and Onions

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“May we draw strength from the intricate dance of falling leaves, the misty lavender skies, the fields of ripened grain, the silhouettes of wings flying south, the abundant fruits of the earth—illuminated in all their glory by the vibrant light of the harvest moon.” Taz Tagore

Who doesn’t love a delicious, nutritious and quick weeknight sheet pan dinner straight from the oven?  This chicken dish boasts seasonal slices of delicata squash, caramelized onions and a fabulous maple-mustard-rosemary finishing glaze.  The deliciata squash is so pretty when sliced and with skin that can be eaten, simple to prepare.  It holds up well to roasting and cooks in the same amount of time as the chicken.  I toasted the squash’s seeds separately and tossed them over the whole dish at the end for added crunch and nuttiness.  I used chicken breasts but you could substitute chicken thighs.  So good with easy clean up to boot!

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Pumpkin Yogurt Parfaits

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“Autumn mornings: sunshine and crisp air, birds and calmness, year’s end and day’s beginnings.”  Terri Guillemets

Come fall, entertaining goes into full gear for me. One of my favorite is hosting my fellow art educators  for a working breakfast where we learn about art we will be teaching to elementary aged children later in the year.  These little yogurt parfaits were so easy to throw together overnight and served up a big dose of autumnal flavor.  The gently spiced creamy yogurt topped with the crunchy granola and pomegranate was a delicious and healthy offering of contrasting textures in individual portions for ease of serving.

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Lemon-Poppy Seed Ricotta Pancakes with Sautéed Apples

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“Ah, September!  You are the doorway to the season that awakens my soul…” Peggy Toney Horton

These thick fluffy pancakes are a delicious way to spice up a fall breakfast and showcase seasonal apples. You could make the sautéed apples up to 3 days in advance.  As easy to make as regular pancakes, they pack a nutritious dose of calcium and protein from the ricotta and extra eggs. With only half a cup of flour and very little sugar, they are satisfying low carb pancakes.  Enjoy on a crisp fall morning.

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Homemade Natural Weed Killer

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“A weed is but an unloved flower.”  Ella Wheeler Wilcox

If I spent every waking hour weeding, I still could not keep up with the weeds on my property.  I eschew any form of chemical weed control and pretty much remove weeds by hand.  There are not enough hours in the day nor is this the way I want to spend my time!  Preventing weeds from growing in the first place would seem to the best plan of attack. Try I did:  I had zero success with corn gluten preemergent treatments.  I didn’t want to use chemical preemergents.  Mulching helps slow down the growth of weeds but is in no way effective as weeds grow right through it or seed themselves via airborne transmission. Continue reading

Peach Caprese Salad

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Simple perfection: a ripe juicy peach.  A peach caprese salad is as fresh and welcomed as a summer breeze.  It showcases the peach in all its glory.  To make it, slice a couple of peaches, add some marinated fresh mozzarella balls, a drizzle of honey, a squeeze of lime and a handful of fresh basil.  Simple perfection.

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