Pumpkin Chili

I am so impatient. It’s October but it’s still summer weather here. I need Fall! I need seasons!! Well, I can’t wait anymore. Hot weather, be damned! I needed to make some chili!

A couple years ago, some girlfriend and I got together once a month for a Foodie Club. You know? Like a book club with food and recipes. It was a lot of fun and I’ve been thinking about starting it up again. But I digress… 

I came up with this recipe for our chili themed night and it was a big hit. It’s tasty and super healthy. Only about 300 calories per serving (1cup serving) 

It makes a ton too, so lots of leftovers or even freeze it for later!! 

Now, just add this to the pumpkin everything craze!! 

Pumpkin Chili

2 pounds ground turkey (you can use beef if you want, but it will change the end calorie count)

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic minced

1 green bell pepper, diced

1/2 can (15oz) canned pumpkin

2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes

1 can kidney beans, drained

1 (12 oz) bottle of chili sauce (found next to the ketchup)


1 cup beef broth

2 Tablespoons of chili powder

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large stock pot or dutch oven, brown turkey. Just before it’s done, spread the turkey out to the edges and add a teeny bit of olive oil (“teeny” is the technical chefy term, here) if you need it for the pepper, onion, and garlic. 


I used two of my favorite kitchen short cuts here: pre-diced onions and pre-minced garlic. BIG time savers! 


Anyway, once the veggies have started softening, mix them in with the meat and add your seasonings: chili powder, pumpkin pie spice, brown sugar, and cumin. And mix well.


Then, add the rest of your ingredients: pumpkin, tomatoes, beans, chili sauce, broth.


Mix together and bring to a boil for  a minute then let simmer for about an hour. The longer this sits, the better. Just make sure to stir occasionally so it doesn’t burn on the bottom.


This is such low calorie, you can too with a little bit of cheese and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt.

Now serve yourself a bowl and soak up the Fall! 

Apple Pie

So recently, my girl Amber over at What Makes Me Amber made a pumpkin pie. She said she had never made one before and that surprised her. It got me thinking about making something surprising that I hadn’t made before and I realized that I’ve never made an apple pie.

I know, right? Of all things, I’ve never made an apple pie. It seems so basic. Like, baking 101. Well, somehow this one escaped me. Since it’s Fall, I figured now would be the perfect time to try this one out. Let me tell you, it was super easy! Even the lattice crust was easier than I ever thought. And while it was baking… oh the smells wafting through my house were just heavenly! I wish there were someway to share that with you all, but alas, you’ll just have to try it out for yourself.

1 double pie crust recipe. (store bought or homemade. You can use my basic crust recipe here, but add 1 tablespoon of sugar. Also, double it because you need a bottom and a top crust for this)

Filling:

6 apples, peeled and thinly sliced. I used a combo of Fuji and Granny Smith

juice from 1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon all-spice
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

In a big bowl, add all of your filling ingredients and mix well to coat the apples. Set aside and let them sit for a few minutes.


Meanwhile, roll out half of your crust and put it in your pie pan.

Fill your crust with the apple mixture. Don’t forget all the juices that come out from letting them sit! Set aside.

Roll out the other half of your dough and either top your pie and cut out slits or, if you want a lattice crust, cut out strips. You don’t need a scalloped cutter to do this, you can just use a knife if you don’t have one.


To Lattice: Start out with all the strips in one direction, then fold back every other strip. Lay down one strip in the opposite direction. Fold the strips back over and fold back the other strips. Repeat, alternating strips, until the pie is complete.  If those instructions weren’t clear enough, you can watch a YouTube video like this one. (skip to the :35 mark).


Those little leaves are tiny cookie cutters. Totally optional, but adds a nice little touch.


Once the top crust is complete, bake in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. Then turn down the temperature to 350 and bake for another 35-45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the apples are soft.


If you feel like your crust is getting to dark, you can loosely cover with some foil until the baking is complete.


Now, just serve up a slice (or two) and grab some ice cream!

Farro Stuffed Acorn Squash

Fall is here you guys!!! I know, it is sort of hard to tell if you live in Southern California right now. We are in the midst of a serious heat wave. I’m talking so hot, they had recess indoors at my son’s school. Ugh. This is not my jam. At all.

Anyway, last weekend I put up my fall decor in anticipation of this heat wave breaking and the season finally making an appearance.

Today, I braved my oven (with the AC on) and made my first “Fall” dish of the season: Stuffed Acorn Squash. It was so easy and delicious and healthy just very… FALL.

You should be able to find farro at any grocery store, but if you can’t, I’m sure you can substitute brown rice. Same with the garlic herb sausage. I got this at Trader Joe’s and I know I’ve seen similar varieties at regular grocery stores too. You could probably substitute just about any flavor you like.

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Serves 2 (1/2 squash each. About 360 calories per serving)

1 medium acorn squash
olive oil
salt and pepper
2 chicken sausage links (see note above), cut into small pieces
1/2 leek, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup COOKED farro
2 teaspoons fresh thyme (you can use dried as well, just cut the amount in half)
1 teaspoon dried sage

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut the squash in half lengthwise (or, if you are deathly afraid of cutting winter squash and are scared you are going to accidentally stab yourself, enlist someone else to do it). Scoop out the seeds in the middle and coat with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.  Roast for about 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of your squash. Just until slightly fork-tender.

While the squash is roasting, make your farro according to package directions.

Make the rest of the stuffing (you can actually make the stuffing ahead of time, a day or two, and just use it when you are ready).  In a skillet, saute in a little olive oil the leeks, garlic, sausage, thyme, and sage.

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I don’t know why this picture is upside down, but I’m pretty sure you get it…

 

Drain the farro and add it to the sausage mixture. Then put half in each half of the squash. Put back in the oven for another 20 minutes.

Funny story… When I was coming up with this recipe, I had planned on adding a diced apple to the stuffing (include it in the saute). I even bought the apple. I completely FORGOT!!  If you make it, try it with the apple and let me know how it goes. Next time I will include the apple! (I was going to use a Fuji, but any should work).

This was really yummy and quite easy. Perfect for a fall dinner. Now, someone send me pictures of changing leaves and sipping apple cider because I’m melting over here!

Spooky Pancakes

I’ve never been a huge Halloween person. Sure, dressing up is fun and all, but to me it’s more of a stepping stone to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Having kids, though, does make the holiday more fun. They love dressing up and trick or treating. We watch “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and this year I introduced my oldest to “Hocus Pocus”

When Halloween falls on a weekend, we also like to have a fun breakfast. That’s where these pancakes come in.

All you do is mix up your favorite pancake mix. Separate out a little bit into a small bowl (just a few tablespoons is fine) and add food coloring.
  

Using a toothpick or a skewer, dip into the colored batter and add where you want it. I just used cookie cutters for shape, but you can use pancake molds or just freehand if you want.
  

After the colored batter is in place, add the regular batter over the top in the shape you want.

  

Flip the pancake over when it’s ready.   

Remove the pancake from the mold and eat up. You’ll need as much energy as you can get to keep up with little trick or treaters! 

 

Caramel Apple Cider Cookies 

My son started kindergarten this year. It’s only been a couple months and it has already been quite a whirlwind for us! Our already-crazy life got even crazier.  I love his elementary school. It is a really great school and he has such a wonderful teacher. I can tell he is going to do very well there.

Today his school had their annual Fall Festival. The school I went to had a Harvest Festival every year that I have fond memories of, so I was very excited about this. It was every bit as fun as I thought it would be. And my son had so much fun playing all the games and winning little prizes.

Since I work during the day and don’t really have the opportunities to take the time off to volunteer in the classroom or at lunchtime (which some parents do often), I took the Fall Festival as my volunteer opportunity. I helped set up the class game booth and I made cookies for the bake sale.

I made these cookies and, oh my gosh, they were so good. I have no way of knowing how they sold at the festival (even though I really would kind of like to know what other people thought of them!), but I tried one and it made me wish I’d doubled the batch and kept some home!  They were soft and pillowy, full of wonderful fall flavors.

This is my first time making up a cookie recipe and we all know how finicky baking recipes can be, so if you make these (and you should), let me know if anything didn’t work. I wrote it down as I put stuff in the bowl, so it should be spot on. And so yummy!

Caramel Apple Cider Cookies

1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1 egg
1 apple, shredded (Fuji or Honeycrisp)
1/2 cup apple juice or apple cider (not sparkling)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 t salt
1 t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1/4 ground cloves
1-1/2 t ground cinnamon
1 bag caramel bites

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and egg. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Using the large side of a grater, grate the apple, skin on.

Mix in the grated apple and juice. Tip: I grated the apple on a paper towel and then squeezed that juice out into the bowl as well.

In a separate bowl, mix together your dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon.

Add 1/2 the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the other 1/2. Mix until well incorporated, but don’t overmix or tou will have tough cookies.

Add in your bag of caramel bits.
    Scoop by spoonful onto a lines baking sheet and bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes. The dough was a bit stickier than I am used to for cookie dough, but it still baked up really nicely, so I’m not worried about it.

These turned out so yummy and soft and full of fall, cidery goodness.


Quick tip: the caramel pieces will get all gooey while baking, which is good. But they will also ooze out and you’ll get these little crispy pieces. Take them off. I found them to be hard and burnt tasting. They come right off with no effort.