A Few of My Favorite Things-October

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A Few of My Favorite Things-October

Despite the ever-shortening days, there’s so much to love about October. Cool nights morph into warm days and what I think of as Baby Bear’s kind of weather - not too hot and not too cold! But there’s more: football games, apple picking, candy corn, pumpkin carving, haunted houses and corn mazes. October offers a little something for everyone, and I hope this month’s Favorite Things list does, too! 🎃🕷👻

 

 

So let’s start with a short list of fall holiday favorites…

I hit upon CLEMENTINE JACK-O’-LANTERNS (pictured below) years ago when tasked with bringing a healthy orange snack to a school Halloween party. With the help of a Sharpie, they make an entertaining project, too. (Just start with room temperature fruit so the ink adheres better.)

Clementine Jack-o’-lanterns – These healthy snacks make a fun project for children, whether at home or school parties, and are a welcome lunchbox surprise. There’s a fun story behind them (plus an important tip for making the ink stick), and because every good celebration can benefit from some themed trivia, I’ve included some Halloween fun facts to use as conversation starters at holiday parties and around the dinner table.
SPOOKY SPAGHETTI STUFFED PEPPERS and “SPIDER DOGS” are kid-friendly meals that adults enjoy, too. As a bonus, Spider Dogs are an excellent way to engage kids in the cooking process. And make sure to save the seeds when carving pumpkins, as these ROASTED PUMPIN SEEDS are crispy perfection. And guess what? With this method, there’s no need to remove the goop and the seeds can sit for a few days if you don’t have time to bake right away. (They’re actually better that way!)

In the dessert/snack department, the chocolate “pitchfork” makes NO BAKE BUTTERSCOTCH HAYSTACKS especially fun to fall, while CANDY BAG BROWNIES are a tasty way to use up the last of the Halloween candy, are perfect for bake sales and freeze well.

Lastly, “Donut Monsters” ⇩⇩ may not be the healthiest way to start the day, but they sure are fun! All you need are those silly fake teeth and candy eyes (which could also be blueberries, raisins, M&Ms, etc.). Tip: New plastic teeth can be stiff and tend not to stay closed, so I tie them with dental floss so they don’t pop out or, worse yet, break the donut by springing back open. (That happened!)

Halloween Donuts

And because we can’t exist on clementine jack-o’-lanterns and monster donuts alone, following are a handful of recipes from a variety of categories that I start to think about this time of year:

CIDER BAKED APPLES are a lovely alternative to apple crisp or apple dumplings. I often eat them for breakfast or lunch, although I wouldn’t hesitate to make dinner out of one with a generous dollop of yogurt. (I did grow up eating apple dumplings for dinner, after all! Anyone else do the same?) Dessert is fair game, too, of course. Ice cream optional!

Other delicious apple recipes include APPLE CRUMB CAKE (so good!), EASY SCALLOPED APPLES (great oatmeal topping or applesauce alternative), SLOW COOKER MAPLE APPLESAUCE (no sugar), my original CRUNCHY TOP APPLE CINNAMON BAKED OATMEAL or the APPLE CRISP BAKED OATMEAL version.

Cider Baked Apples

Trying to incorporate more hearty salads into the fall lineup?

ROASTED DELICATA SQUASH & POMEGRANATE SALAD (pictured below) embodies all things fall, and you can use the PUMPKIN MAPLE VINAIGRETTE on any and all fall-inspired salads, whether grain or green-based. Similarly, HARVEST BOWLSLEMON DIJON KALE SALAD WITH SWEET POTATOES & APPLES, SEARED BRUSSELS SPROUTS SALAD are all winners. APPLE PECAN SPRING GREENS WITH MAPLE DIJON VINAIGRETTE is a trusty side salad, and nobody ever seems to tire of FAVORITE BROCCOLI SALAD-and it’s great for potlucks.
For more ideas, I encourage you to scroll through the salad archives because there are lots of deliciously healthy recipes lurking there!
Bonus recipe: If you enjoy pairing a hearty salad with a protein like grilled or baked chicken, you may wish to try the curried spice rub I mentioned on Facebook and Instagram the other day. It’s easy, so full of flavor and it paired unexpectedly well with the fall flavors included in the salads linked above. Simply click on the red links if you wish to see the simple ingredients. (I’m going to use leftovers in a chicken Waldorf salad tomorrow night. I think the hint of curry will be lovely!)
Roasted Delicata Squash & Pomegranate Salad

To round out the October recipe suggestions, you may wish to try MORNING GLORY BAKED OATMEAL, PUMPKIN BRAN MUFFINS, SAUSAGE & CABBAGE STEW (pictured below), UNSTUFFED CABBAGE ROLL SKILLET and this easy HOMEMADE PUMPKIN PIE SPICE MIX for all your fall baking needs.

Sausage and Cabbage Stew

Favorite book of the month: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Soon to be a Hulu limited series starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington, Little Fires Everywhere takes place in idyllic Shaker Heights, Ohio and explores the weight of secrets, complicated family dynamics, race and social divisions and the pull of motherhood. Although I gravitate towards historical fiction, nonfiction and memoirs, this fictional story is equal parts fun and thought-provoking and well worth the read. It was easy to get lost in the book, as the characters and setting were so beautifully brought to life. You may struggle as to who you’d side with in the several topical plot issues-issues that make this read a great book club pick.

Quotes of the month:

“Never let your wants outweigh someone else’s needs.” -Lisa Thomas McMillan

Backstory: This quote comes from an article, sent to me by my friend Jenny, about McMillan who along with her husband Freddie, opened a restaurant called Drexell & Honeybee’s in Brewton, Alabama, which charges nothing for the meals they serve. You can read the inspiring article here.

“The best thing you can do for someone is provide them a humble, hot plate of food.” -Chef José Andres

Backstory: I heard the second quote in person recently (photo follows), when my good friend Pia (of STAT Chicken Noodle Soup fame) organized an evening with Chef José Andres that did not disappoint. Andres, who was in town for a dinner and speaking engagement, immigrated to the United States from Spain, and is largely credited for bringing the “small plate” concept to our country. A James Beard Award winning chef, Andres is perhaps best known for his World Central Kitchen, the non-profit/non-governmental organization he founded in 2010. The organization is devoted to providing meals in the wake of natural disasters, notably serving hundreds of thousands of hot meals in the aftermath of Haiti’s devastating earthquake and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Chef Andres was engaging, funny and his energy was enviable - and exceeded only by his love for all people and his passion to serve. I asked him what his favorite food is, and after thinking for a brief moment, he replied “eggs…over-easy, fried until the edges are crispy but the yolk is still velvety.”  Sounds perfect to me!

With Chef José Andres

Word of the month: Copacetic

(koh-pə-se-tik) Adjective meaning fine or satisfactory; slang for “all is well”

Example: Instead of telling someone that all is well, you can perk up some ears by saying that “Everything is copacetic!”

 

Kitchen of the month:

Reader favorite kitchen

Though a few commenters found the tile floor in this galley kitchen a tad busy for their tastes, most thought the unique floor added something special to the space. Readers also gravitated towards the calming shade of blue, the natural light and overall functionality. One person summed up her assessment by saying that “The only thing I would change is to have it in my house!”

If you’d like to weigh in on the weekly kitchen features, check in via my Facebook page every Friday!

 

Graphic of the month:

And finally, favorite photos for the month (with a throwback or two!):

Saturday morning at Lemon Street

John’s last morning before heading to LA for the semester. We’re heading into Lemon Street Market for fresh produce and a post-workout smoothie.

Pride Night

Christian (blond in the front row) at “Pride Night” with his cross country teammates

Pumpkins

Picking pumpkins a few years back…and the serious business of carving them, below.

Pumpkin Carving
Halloween 2018

How would you like these witches to knock on your door? My sister-in-law, Melissa, mastered the classic witch costume and green face makeup last year. I adore this photo of my nieces, Evie and Grace.

Halloween 2007

This is a throwback to 2007, when Christian wasn’t so keen on wearing costumes and John was over the moon to be dressing up like Harry Potter. (They were his glasses and worked rather well!)

Halloween costume shopping

Happily, my husband Jack occasionally gets in the spirit of things, too! 😂

 

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