Fall

PumpkinPastiesMove over apple turnovers. Here comes pumpkin.

Begin with a can of pure pumpkin puree, and it’s amazing how some sugar and spice can make everything nice. Pie crust helps out, too.

Grab-and-Go Sweet Pumpkin Turnovers are a little bit cookie and little bit pie. When refrigerated pie crust is sprinkled with chopped walnuts and cut into rounds, then mounded with a filling that will remind you of pumpkin pie, it’s hard to know what it should be called. Most certainly, it is a turnover.

The use of refrigerated pie crust speeds up the process of creating these turnovers. Pressing chopped walnuts into the dough adds crunchy texture and gives the pastry a homemade flair.

When the turnovers are eaten on the day they are baked, your teeth will crack through a crunchy topping of cinnamon and sugar. Once the turnovers have been stored in an airtight container, that crunchy shell will become melt-in-the-mouth soft. Either way, they are delicious.

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figrisottoOne night last week Jeff came home from work and handed me a bag from his clinic. I thought, "Yes! More free anti-wrinkle cream!" (Having a dermatologist as a husband does have its advantages). When I peeked inside the bag, however, I discovered something even better than antioxidant cream: a dozen plump, brilliant green figs that were beginning to split from ripeness. "Wow! Where did you get the fresh figs?" I asked. "Adel gave them to me from the tree in her yard," he said.

Adel, who works with Jeff, told him, "Last year my tree produced three figs. One for me, one for my husband, and one for the birds." Fortunately she's having a bumper crop this season, and we're two of the lucky beneficiaries.

To celebrate fall's arrival, I'm sharing a recipe for Dessert Risotto with Wine Poached Figs. Arborio rice, which is used to make risotto, makes the most luxurious rice pudding imaginable: it's plump, tender, and creamy. Topping it with perfumed, wine-poached figs adds elegance and sweetness, resulting in a remarkably velvety, rich pudding.

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pumpkincakePumpkin is one of my favorite ingredients, especially during the fall months. This is a great cake for friends with October/November birthdays (like me!)

It’s also a nice alternative to pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving.

Feel free to substitute whole wheat or white wheat flour for the all-purpose.

Pumpkin Cake:

3/4 cup (6 oz.) unsalted butter; more for the pans
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups (9 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pans
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk

Cream Cheese Frosting:

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
16 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch salt

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Creamy-Red-Pepper-Coconut-soup-serve-with-crunchy-breadIt was one of those days, dreary and cold, and it was my turn to make lunch (I’ve told y’all how much I dislike making lunch). Mostly I was dreading it because I knew the fridge was devoid of leftovers I could just heat up and call good. 

I strolled into the kitchen and opened the vegetable drawer. There it was, two red bell peppers, celery that needed a purpose and half an onion from the last soup I had thrown together. Luckily, inspiration hit and within 30 minutes, this soup and lunch was served. It was delicious and is now in the fall/winter soup rotation over here.

The coconut adds the Asian flare I was looking for and the Thai-style sweet chili sauce balances it all out. This soup is so easy to make and the flavor is bold. You will love it.

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applecrispDespite the warm weather we’ve been enjoying in Southern California, a recent trip to my local grocery store reminded me that fall is here – pyramid-like mounds of pumpkins filled the entrance, flanked by bins of apples of every variety.

Although apples are available all year, they are particularly sweet and delicious this time of year. I generally mark apple picking season with a home-baked double crust pie, but some people still find it a daunting task. If you’re one of them, make apple crisp your signature fall dish.

This is one of my favorite recipes because it produces a thicker layer of “crisp” – which frankly is the best part. The chewy, buttery, caramel flavored brown sugar oatmeal laced layer compliments the apples perfectly. Choose a variety of apples from your local growers – and try to choose organic.

The average conventionally grown apple has more pesticide residue on it than any other fruit or vegetable. According to the Environmental Working Group‘s analysis of USDA data, “pesticides showed up on 98 percent of the more than 700 apple samples tested (yes, they were washed).”

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