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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bakedapplesIf you could only smell these...wow. It's apple pie without all the fuss. It's comfort food. It's home.

What an easy little recipe that gives so much flavor and taste. The cinnamon-laced juices are just incredible. Heaven on a plate.

Apples also made the top 20 in a USDA list of foods with the highest antioxidant scores. The richest concentration of antioxidants is found in the fruit's skin, how perfect since this recipe calls for unpeeled apples.

Halving the apples before baking them also saves cooking time and lets the fruit soak up all the amazing maple-ness and cinnamony goodness.

You are going to love these.

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SpicedPersimmonBreadI've never really gotten into making bread. I do it occasionally, but it's not my passion. When I want to bake something I usually don't have much patience so quick breads are more my style.

There are lots of great quick breads. Two of my favorites are banana bread and persimmon bread. They each use very ripe or over ripe versions of the fresh fruit. For persimmon bread you want to use the Hachiya variety. The Fuyu is rounder shaped than the Hachiya and is a bit crunchy, good for using in salads, it has a pale orange color.

Fresh Hachiya persimmons are really extreme. Their color is almost shockingly bright orange and the texture is downright slimy. Though they are sweet there is sometimes a very bitter after taste to the raw fruit. They sound just awful, but actually they are quite delicious. And if you can't fathom eating them raw, you should really try them in bread because they are no longer bright orange, slimy or bitter. This recipe comes from a neighbor of my parents and is my favorite style of persimmon bread, rich, dark, spicy and almost like a firm pudding in texture.

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ricestuffedpumpkinsThanksgiving is without a doubt the most American holiday in our history. It is a celebration of beloved foods and traditions bringing to mind happy memories of good times shared with family and friends.

Because this national harvest celebration is so near and dear to the hearts of Americans it is no wonder so many of us spend weeks planning this very special banquet.

I look forward every year to the roster of ingredients so ritualized in our Thanksgiving meals. The anticipation of the usual heirloom dishes of cornbread stuffing, butternut squash and mashed potatoes always induce many enduring holiday memories of years past.

However, even though our families expect many of same dishes prepared from year to year, I always like to add something new and different to the holiday feast. It's also a bonus when this new dish is particularly attractive and noticed almost immediately by your guests.

This year, bring the beauty of Fall indoors and serve these Mini-Stuffed Pumpkins with a Sausage-Rice-Fruit Medley. This dish will elevate your holiday table with its rustic charm, natural beauty and comforting flavors.

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acornmisoAcorn squash has such a unique shape, that is worth showing off in recipes. When I cook with them I always try keep their features intact, so I don't peel them. Stuffed with a meat filling and baked, they resemble open hearts. When they're sliced, as in this recipe, they look like scalloped crescent moons. They are a perfect vegetable to roast because they hold their shape well particularly when the skin is left on. They can be steamed or sautéed, and even mashed like potatoes, making them a very versatile vegetable. But roasting is my favorite cooking method because it concentrates their natural flavor.

Most acorn squash recipes use sweetener to bring out the flavor. The traditional route would be brown sugar, which automatically gives it Thanksgiving flair. Instead I use maple syrup for its rich sweetness. The focus of this recipe is miso paste, the Japanese ingredient made from soybeans that is used in miso soup. The miso paste adds a salty, savory flavor. The combination of sweet and savory elevates the flavor of the squash even more. This recipe makes a very simple side for the holiday that complements a multitude of other sides and the main bird. It's quick and easy enough to put together in minutes. Just sit back and roast.

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