Image The slight chill in the air, longer nights, and gray skies are all telltale signs that fall is finally here. As soon as the season turns, I put on my sweater and slippers, and gather my recipes for comfort food. Dishes that warm me up and make me feel right at home are on the menu now. One of my favorites around this time of year is a bowl of fluffy meatballs. Seared first and simmered in sauce, then served atop spaghetti, it's the classic Italian-American comfort dish. But there's always room for a twist on tradition.

This is my modern—but no less comforting—take on spaghetti and meatballs. My recipe removes almost all the carbohydrates by replacing the pasta with spaghetti squash. Simply roasting the winter squash results in tender flesh that can easily be removed with the help of a fork to form thin pasta-like strands. The slightly sweet flavor and tender bite of the squash "pasta" makes it a wonderful base for this chicken meatballs recipe. Plus you can have dinner ready in 45 minutes, the time it takes to roast the squash, make the meatballs, and the quick marinara sauce.

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BUNDTS spotato2I always look forward to Thanksgiving. Sharing the holday with my family, extended family, and a handful of friends. Each year, my sister-in-law and I alternate with hosting it. I do like having it my house because it makes me organize my clutter, clean where I wouldn’t normally clean, and repair whatever seems to be broken at the moment.

This year I will be a guest. Yet, I am not off the hook with contributing to the meal. Volunteering to make Rustic Herb Stuffing, Cranberry-Raspberry Relish, Pecan Pie, and a delicious Sweet Potato Casserole with a Pecan Crumble.  YUM!  The rest of the meal was equally delicious; roast turkey, roasted brussel sprouts, butternut squash soup, carmelized string beans with hazelnuts, and the list goes on.

For the Sweet Potato Casserole, I had roasted way too many sweet potatoes and after peeling and ricing them I realized I had gone a bit overboard. With left overs on hand, I was inspired to create something new. In the past, I have made muffins, waffles, and pancakes, but today I chose to make a pound cake.

Using pantry staples, I whipped up the batter in minutes and made 6 mini bundts and 2 small loaves. This cake is so light and airy and down right delicious. To date, this is one of my favorites.

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porkapplefennelApples are officially in season and I'm excited to get cooking and baking with them. Fall is one of the best seasons for food, just because there's finally an opportunity to make hearty meals that all appeal to our comfort zone. Apples, more than any other fruit, best represent the season. They're combination of sweet and tart flavors, contradictory as well as complementary traits, seem to fit the unpredictability of autumn just perfectly.

Apples also have the trait of being able to go well in sweet and savory recipes. The pairing of apples and pork were almost made to go together. (Just think of how many times as a kid you've had pork chops with apple sauce.) So for a recipe that's perfect for fall, here's a dish of roasted pork tenderloin with sweet apples and aromatic fennel. This recipe is quick for dinner any night and it's even elegant enough for a dinner party.

The secret to a good roast loin is getting it seared as brown as you can get it—the darker, the better it looks and tastes. So to help that along, I spread the loin with an herb butter, which serves two purposes: First, it helps brown the meat and second, it imparts wonderful flavor. Just make sure not to overcook the pork—a bit of blushing pink while cutting in is just what you're looking for.

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odeappleWho can imagine fall without apples? I can't. Apples are probably this season's most popular and favorite fruit. Just before the leaves start turning apples come into season. Though some varieties can even be harvested in mid-summer, the most popular ones, especially those for baking and cooking, are available in fall. As far back as I can remember, apples have always played a part in my childhood. Every fall my family would go apple picking and cider tasting. We still do. I still buy a jug of apple cider and a bushel of apples every single time. Each year always seems to bring better and better apples, farm apples being the best. They are worlds apart from supermarket apples, which are picked months in advance. Nothing beats biting into a freshly picked apple.

My favorite apple varieties are the ones that balance tart and sweet, such as Jonathan, which has beautiful striated red and green coloring. I try to follow the maxim: "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." It's actually quite true, apples contain many antioxidants, which may prevent the onset of cancer and other diseases. Besides eating them out of hand, everyone knows and loves the all-American dessert, apple pie. No holiday in the fall and winter can possibly go on without it. I bake quite a few every autumn. I'm always looking to perfect my pie-making skills and find that right combination of apples to produce the optimal texture. Baking a homemade apple pie is worth the effort; it's just one of those essential American pastimes.

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leavessidewalk.jpgYears ago, when “Color Me Beautiful” was all the rage, I “had my colors done.” I turned out to be an “Autumn,” which didn’t surprise me in the least - in every possible way, from my reddish hair to the deepest reaches of my soul, I am a fall girl. This morning as I walked the dogs I felt that first snap of cold in the air, and saw leaves on the sidewalk, rendered terrestrial by two days of heavy rains. They were an indescribable scarlet, surrendering their lives in a blaze of color that jumped up from the dull, gray concrete and made me smile. It’s coming.

I know that there are people who adore summer, and who bitterly mourn the end of heat, light, blooming flowers and lazy days by the pool. I try to understand that, but my own yearning is for the end of that indolence and warmth. As the air grows cooler, the days shorten, and the leaves turn from endless green to an assortment of reds and golds, I feel a surge of energy and possibility. School starts, sweaters come out of storage, and there is a pencil-scented air of fresh starts. I will no longer feel vaguely sticky and frizzy all the time, and I can put away the light, bright clothes that seemed so fresh at the end of May, and now seem limp and exhausted. It is time for cashmere and long sleeves, flannel and layers in the richest browns, deepest greens and bravest shots of orange.

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