pumpkinsoup.jpgPumpkins are as much a part of fall as apples, cider, turning leaves, and chilly weather. The months of October and November call out for pumpkins—just think Jack-o'-lanterns and pumpkin pie! Like their brethren squash, pumpkins work well in countless recipes—and not just sweet desserts but savory dishes too.

Soup is one of my favorite ways to enjoy pumpkin. I make it every October. When I cook pumpkin soup, it officially feels like fall. Flavored with a little nutmeg for warmth and then garnished with pumpkin seeds, it's perfectly comforting. (Don't throw away the pumpkin's seeds, use them in this soup.) A hot bowl of soup always warms me right up.

I start this recipe by roasting the pumpkin. But with the shortage in pumpkins, you could also substitute butternut squash or acorn squash. The base of the soup is a vegetable stock, making it vegetarian-friendly. I like to use my own homemade stock because I can flavor it the way I want. 

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cranberries.jpgWhen I was a kid and my parents took us out for breakfast, I always ordered a glass of cranberry juice. I loved the way it sparkled like rubies in a glass. But most of all, I loved its mouth-puckering tartness that sent shivers down my jaws when I drank it. (Even typing that sentence caused the same reaction.)

Now that I'm all grown up, I no longer drink cranberry juice. Maybe my taste preferences have changed, or maybe I've just become a wimp.

Fresh cranberries, however, I adore. And since cranberry season peaks between October and December, now is the perfect time to buy them.

In the fall, cranberries are used most commonly for cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving Day, yet they have so much more potential. They balance the sweetness of baked goods such as pumpkin muffins and banana bread. They add a jolt of flavor to homemade sweet apple sauce. And they perk up fall vegetables, such as butternut squash and sweet potatoes.

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carrotmarmaldeIt dawned on me today - that if carrots were money, we'd be rich. Three long rows of yellow carrots that are nearly ready to burst out of the ground, wait just outside my kitchen window - and while I've been patient with these seeds-turned - gems, they now rest so patiently for me to make something with them.

I gathered the first large bundle of carrots last night, alongside my new favorite pals (three baby rabbits). While I rinsed them of the dark earthy soil, I began to plan a meal in my head. Roasting them came to mind...then quickly I second guessed myself.

"Is that special enough for these carrots? There must be something more I can do with these precious carrots. After all, this will be the kickoff recipe to our abundant harvest!"

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ImageWith all the beautiful apples available for picking and baking, it's hard to not indulge in some seasonal sweet treats.  I have to admit, the Fall season is my favorite for many reasons, but mostly because it includes the produce I love most.  The list is very long and continues to grow every year.

At one time I also had "phyllo-fear", I'm not really sure why.  It turns out it is so easy to work with and rarely if ever gives a problem.  I think the most important thing to remember is to defrost it overnight in the refrigerator, it will unroll perfectly.  Don't be afraid like I was for so long.

The layering of pecans between the sheets of the phyllo also adds a crunchy addition to the tart's flaky foundation.  It is incredibly good.  I could go on and on about the flavor here, not to mention the wafting smell of cinnamon and sugar coming from the kitchen while it is baking.  A true winner and must try this apple season.

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veggiesoupIn the blink of an eye, summer disappeared. It seems like the 4th of July was just yesterday when we wore short sleeve shirts and shorts, had a picnic in the park, and watched fireworks explode overhead.

Now we're trying to keep warm and dry as dark clouds matte out the sky and cold winds push thick rain drops against our bodies. At a time like this, happiness is a good parka and thick socks!

Wrapping up in a thick blanket or cozying up to a well-stoked fireplace fortifies body and soul against the chill. For internal weatherproofing, though, nothing beats the cold better than homemade soup.

Simple is often best and that is doubly true in soups. When I'm cold, I want my soup hot, fresh tasting, and flavorful.

Vegetable soup is easy-to-make and nourishing. Perfect any time of the day, but when the weather's cold and rainy, I like soup in the morning. It's better than a cup of coffee or tea to get me out the door.

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