CARTHAGE, Mo. —
The cooler temperatures and warmer colors of fall are gently easing us into the stark, gray cold of winter.
Take advantage of the last warm days of fall by getting outside. Head to one of the many fall festivals in the area, tailgate before a football game or simply have a fall picnic in the crunchy leaves.
Enjoy the beauty of fall however you choose, but be sure to be prepared with event-appropriate snacks. Nachos or a pickle on a stick from a food stand are great in a pinch, but your friends and family will think you are the bee's knees if you show up with homemade goodies. Bringing a thermos of soup or something hot to drink will earn you bonus points, for sure.
You just need to prepare a few things the day before your event in order to breeze out the door with a blanket and a picnic basket stuffed with treats. Make a few batches of popcorn and dump it in a paper bag. It won't be hot and crispy, but it will still be a salty treat that's better than chips. Keep sides simple by bringing grapes, bananas, apples and mixed nuts. Make a big sandwich on a baguette, wrap it in plastic wrap, and don't forget the knife and the napkins. Keep the fillings interesting; it doesn't have to be ordinary just because it's a sandwich.
Create a caramel apple sundae bar. Chop up several apples, sprinkle them with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown, and store them in a big zip-close bag. Make a batch of homemade caramel sauce, let it cool, and pour it in a jar. Serve your drizzled caramel apples in bowls or cups; just be sure to bring forks. Complement your caramel apples with a sundae bar by packing a muffin pan. Fill each muffin cup with a different sprinkle for the caramel apples, such as chopped nuts, toasted coconut, crushed ginger snaps, and dried fruit and sunflower seeds.
With a spread like this on your picnic blanket or tailgate, you'll need to be prepared to turn away the masses. Try these recipes to help you and yours enjoy the final warm days of fall.
Turkey and roast beef muffuletta
1 jar (4.75 ounces) pimiento-stuffed olives, drained and chopped
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 rib celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 large round crusty Italian bread (about 11/4 pounds)
1/4 pound deli roast beef, sliced
1/4 pound Swiss cheese, sliced
1 jar (12 ounces) roasted red peppers, drained
1/4 pound deli turkey, sliced
In a small bowl, combine olives, tomato, olive oil, celery, garlic, red wine vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper. Cut bread in half crosswise. Spread bottom of cut side with half of olive mixture. Layer on roast beef, cheese, red peppers and turkey. Spread remaining olive mixture over cheese and top with other half of bread. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and weigh down with a heavy pot filled with canned goods for at least 1 hour. Slice into 10 wedges and serve.
Adapted from Family Circle magazine
Easy slow-cooked minestrone
1 1/2 to 2 cups shredded cabbage (about 1 small head), cored
1/4 pound salt pork, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 sprigs parsley, chopped
1/2 cup small white beans, soaked overnight, drained
2 medium potatoes, cubed
2 medium carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, sliced
3 small zucchinis, thinly sliced
1 can (14.5 ounces) tomatoes, diced
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup brown rice, cooked until just tender
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon chopped basil
Steam or simmer cabbage until just tender; refrigerate until soup is nearly done. Saute the salt pork, garlic, onion and parsley in a skillet. Combine with parsley, beans, potatoes, carrots, celery, zucchini, and 2 quarts water in slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours, then on low 8 hours. Add tomatoes, the reserved cooked cabbage, peas and cooked rice; cook on high for 30 minutes. Add salt, pepper and basil, and serve.
Adapted from southernfood.about.com
1 1/2 cups apple juice
1 1/2 cups pecan halves (or any nut)
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon apple pie spice
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour apple juice over pecan halves in a small bowl. Let stand 15 minutes; drain. Stir together honey, apple pie spice, table salt and, if desired, ground red pepper in a medium bowl; add pecans, tossing to coat. Spread in a single layer in a lightly greased, aluminum foil-lined 15-by-10-inch pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring once. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes; separate pecans with a fork.
Adapted from Southern Living
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