Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fall Foods

I love the fall. It is a wonderful time of year. I have many wonderful memories of fall - bonfires and hayrides, trick or treating, hot apple cider and candy corn, pumpkins, apples, collecting fallen leaves and so much more.

One particular memory that has stuck with me from many years ago was one fall day when my best friend and I headed out to a Church youth group event. We were supposed to be going on a hayride and having a bonfire. We had brought along apple cider and candy corn to share with the group. When we got there, we wound up being the only two that came. So, the event was cancelled. We weren't ready to call it a day, so we decided to go for a walk at a park called Charleston Falls and enjoy the colors of fall. We didn't have cups (someone else was supposed to bring those), so we decided to go through the drive through at Lee's Famous Recipe (a chicken place, not sure if they are still around today) and ordered two small ice waters. When we got to the park, we dumped the water (saving some of the ice) and refilled the cup with cider. We carried our cups of cider and the bag of candy corn as we walked around the trails and enjoyed the fall scenery. It was fun and just one of many memories we share.

Now that I am older, I think that my teeth would hurt if I enjoyed that combo! Each is still a taste of fall that I love, I just enjoy them separately. In addition to apple cider and candy corn, I most associate apples and pumpkins with fall. I love to eat both.

When it comes to apples, I love to just eat them as they are. We also will chop them up and serve them with caramel and/or peanut butter. Another way that I enjoy apples is sliced with sliced sharp white cheddar. Apples are tasty, satisfying and a great snack. I also enjoy making apple desserts - apple pie, apple crisp, and apple dumplings. Last summer, I attended a Iron Chef Dinner party and apples were one of the ingredients that we used. I made an apple chicken quesadilla and a fruit salsa with apples. They were both very delicious dishes and another great way to incorporate apples into a meal.

Apple Chicken Quesadilla
1 Apple, sliced thin
1 small Plum tomato, finely diced
1 small onion, finely diced
1 can Hormel Chunk Breast of Chicken
1 cup shredded Sharp White Cheddar
4 tortilla shells

Place tortilla in skillet, sprinkle cheese over the tortilla, layer with some apple slices, diced tomato, diced onion and chicken. Fold in half. Use spatula to press down on quesadilla to seal. Flip and brown on the other side. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

When we get pumpkins, we love to scoop out the seeds and roast them and then use the pumpkin to make pumpkin pudding, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin cake, pumpkin cheese cake, pumpkin pie. This year, we tried for the first time, Harvest Pumpkin pasta sauce - it was delicious paired with simple cheese ravioli. The kids have so much fun cooking with the pumpkin (of course, we get some for carving too!) that they probably don't even realize that it's good for them too! (You can find links to some our favorite pumpkin recipes here.)

In addition to the tastes of the fall harvest, fall also represents to me a return to so many comfort foods and of course, football and associated snacks too! The first time we make chili or a roast, it makes the house seem so cozy. The warmth of the smell of the foods cooking in the kitchen seems to warm the house. Sometimes, you can even combine the two - the flavors of fall harvest with comfort foods. One recipe that I like that does that is Apple Dijon Pork Roast.

Even though it signals that winter is soon approaching, I always welcome the arrival of fall - a return to so many flavors that I associate with fall.

What are some of your favorite tastes of fall?

No compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are mine or those of my family. I am completing this post as a participant in the Hormel Foods Extended Family Blogger program.