Step up to Autumn: Food

autumn-food-morgue-webEven though we’re still dealing with summer temperatures here in Arizona, autumn has arrived and it’s worth your time to remind your family that the season is changing. One great way to do that is by taking advantage of the bounty of fall foods available. Here are a few ideas.

Apples: They are coming off the tree right now which makes them extra fresh and well-priced. How about buying three or four varieties and holding an apple tasting? You can have baked apples or dip them in hot caramel for dessert.

Winter squash: The grocery stores are filled with a variety of fresh winter squash, providing a healthful and tasty side dish for almost any meal. Try cutting a butternut or other winter squash into half to one inch squares and roast to bring out the sweetness. Simply place the squash in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, butter, or a combination and add salt and pepper. For some extra sweetness add several tablespoons of maple syrup. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 20-40 minutes at 350 degrees, stirring every 15-20 minutes and pulling out when the squash is soft and starting to brown. You may find that even your picky eaters will enjoy the rich caramel flavor.

Pumpkin bread: Recipes abound for pumpkin baked goods, and pumpkin bread is one of the best. Experiment with adding additional pumpkin for more flavor and richness, double the cinnamon and consider grating your own nutmeg to get the freshest flavor. Some people like to add raisins, nuts or even chopped dates before baking to add personality.

Pumpkin and pecan pies: Fall is the perfect time to introduce some special hot desserts. Both these pies require some baking skill, but one cook’s secret is to explore some store-bought options. One warehouse store in particular makes a pumpkin pie every year that can put even county fair winners to shame.

What other fall options are your favorites? How about baked apples or cider donuts? Maybe you have a frosted pumpkin bar recipe that you haven’t made since last autumn. Well, it’s time to pull out your favorites and bring the taste of fall into your home.