Smashed Sweet Potato Toast with Maple Caramelized Onions

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I have been finding that recipes where I am just “throwing something together” have a huge appeal to my readers.  This autumnal breakfast toast is  my seasonal take on my hugely popular Avocado Toast. A hearty slice of whole wheat sourdough bread is lightly brushed with olive oil and toasted in a toaster oven.  It is then slattered with mashed sweet potato, seasoned with a squeeze of lime and a pinch of ground cumin.   This is topped with maple caramelized red onion and a handful of raw shredded brussel sprouts tossed in a bit of blood orange olive oil and sea salt.  The whole thing is finished with a sprinkle of juicy red pomegranate seeds and a drizzle of flavored balsamic.  OMG! An exciting explosion of flavor.  Move over jam jar.  This is the toast you want!  It would make a great party appetizer cut in smaller pieces too!

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EASY FALL MENU

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“Autumn that year painted the countryside in vivid shades of scarlet, saffron and russet, and the days were clear and crisp under harvest skies.” Sharon Kay Penman

Fall is my favorite time to entertain.  The nesting instinct grows in inverse proportion to the dropping mercury. I love the autumnal flavors of squashes, cranberries, apples and  pomegranate especially when they appear in  comfort foods.  This menu brings them all together and is simple to prepare with much of it make-ahead.

Fall Salad of Arugula with Caramelized Walnuts, Blue Cheese and Pomegranate Seeds

Acorn Squash Rigatoni with Crispy Garlic Sage and Brown Butter Bread Crumb Topping

Individual Cranberry- Apple Crisps with Vanilla Ice Cream or Whipped Cream

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WSJ Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

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On September 19, 2015 The Wall Street Journal declared the oatmeal raisin cookie the unlikely “it” dessert of 2015.  How Had I missed this announcement?  I have been a lover of good oatmeal cookies all my life.  Will choose it over the more popular chocolate chip cookie everytime.  Now I was actually on trend!  The Journal called this recipe “The Best Oatmeal Raisin Cookie We’ve Ever Tried”.  That designation was enough of a challenge for me.  I would have to try it and see for myself!

We all know of the health benefits of oatmeal:  lowering bad cholesterol, stabilizing blood sugar, and helping to fight high blood pressure.  So baking it in an oatmeal cookie seems virtuous, as far as cookies go…. Oatmeal cookie batter can be doctored with a lot of add-ins to jazz them up such as coconut, swapping the raisins for other fruit, adding spices and nuts and even chocolate chips.  But a good classic oatmeal raisin cookie is worth it’s weight in gold and the one I prefer.  This recipe comes from Sadelle’s Bakery and Restaurant in NY City and is modeled after a cookie at Bouchon Bakery, where the chef, Melissa Weller, had previously worked.  The key to this recipe is to age the batter for FOUR days before baking the cookies…WHAT????  The first time I made them, I had not read this detail  and baked them immediately as I was serving them at a book club meeting that night.  Who has time to wait 4 days to bake cookies anyways?  What difference could it possibly make?  Well, the first batch was good but nothing to write about.  We thought they were too salty and tasted of  baking soda too much.  The second batch with the chilling made for sublime cookies:  crisp on the outside and soft on the inside with the flavors pefectly in harmony.  As if they had been magically transformed.  The chilled batch were drier going into to oven  and did not spread while baking.. Try it and let me know if you agree and if this recipe is your new favorite, as it is in our family!

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Crockpot Spicy Turkey Meatballs in Pumpkin-Tomato Sauce

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“I see the turning of a leaf dancing in an autumn sun, and brilliant shades of crimson glowing when the day is done.”

Hazelmarie Mattie Elliott

These low fat turkey meatballs, simmering a whole fall afternoon in their spicy sauce, filled the house with their enticing aroma while I enjoyed a walk to see the turning leaves. I love pumpkin and after reading in Runner’s World magazine that canned pumpkin packs three times as much beta-carotene as fresh pumpkin, I have been sneaking it in all kinds of dishes.  Added to the tomato base of this spicy sauce, it was indiscernible yet added a rich silkiness to the sauce’s texture as well as a ton of fiber.  The sauce is nice and thick and coats the meatballs densely.   The meatballs can be served as an appetizer, in a roll or with pasta.  The sauce is nippy so if you want to lower the heat, reduce the chipotle peppers in half.

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White Bean-Pumpkin Hummus

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“Each year, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere. He’s gotta pick this one. He’s got to. I don’t see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one. You can look around and there’s not a sign of hypocrisy. Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see.”

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

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If you love pumpkin-anything and hummus, then this recipe is for you!  Creamy, colorful, nutritious and nicely spiced, this hummus is sure to be a hit.  Ten minutes start to finish, this is a quick party appetizer perfect for fall entertaining.  The pumpkin flavor is not overpowering and the tahini distinctive enough to still have this dip taste like hummus.  Want to jazz it up?  Sprinkle with crunchy toppings like pepitas or pomegranate seeds and a drizzle of flavored olive oil or pomegranate molasses.  Grab the chips!

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Autumn Fruit Salad

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It’s happened again.  I throw together a fruit salad and someone begs me for the recipe.  Truth is I really just make fruit salads up from whatever is in season at the market.  That is the key:  seasonal produce.  In this salad, I started with a ripe, juicy pear, cored, peel on,  in the bottom of a pretty serving bowl.   On top of that went pieces of a sweet and juicy navel orange to keep the pear from browning. Then a surprise element:  3 ripe Italian prunes, pitted and sliced.  Crunchy black seedless grape halves and pomegranate seeds next.  Gorgeous plump blackberries and raspberries on top.   The magic happens with what comes next:  zest of a lime, splash of orange juice, splash of maple syrup and a chiffonade of  fresh mint leaves.  A quick toss and voilà!  Autumn fruit salad.  Dig in!

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