Bless Your Spoon: October meals a time for comfort food

Published 8:37 am Thursday, October 21, 2021

The list of foods that tastes best in October is lengthy.
Some foods are at end of their peak while others are at peak season. Meal planning around what’s in season is always a good way to enjoy seasonal bounty – while saving money on the grocery bill. This is true no matter what time of year.
Apples are a fall staple – easily going from savory to sweet. Winter squashes are at their peak now – the possibilities limitless. And how could fall be fall without bowls of sweet potatoes on our tables? And those little pie pumpkins – why, they speak to every delicious, fall, pumpkin recipe.
When autumn arrives, food just tastes better– and involves a comfort factor. A comfort factor is a feeling of well-being – that all’s good in our world. Comfort factors make us want to stay home and nest – while cooking warm, seasonally delicious foods.
When nesting in true, southern comfort style – the way we like to – fall has us right where the season wants us, sippin’ on some cider by the fire.

4 cups boiling water
2 tea bags
1-quart apple cider
1 cup brown sugar
1 crush cinnamon stick
1/8th tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8th tsp. ground allspice
2 cups fresh orange juice
1 cup fresh lemon juice
Red and green maraschino cherries
1 unpeeled, sliced orange
1 unpeeled sliced lemon
Pour boiling water over teabags, and steep for 5 minutes. Remove tea bags. Set aside. In a saucepan, combine, cider, sugar, crush cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Add orange juice, lemon juice, and tea. Heat but do not boil. With toothpicks, fasten green cherries to orange cartwheel slices and red cherries to lemon slices. Pour hot punch into large heat-proof punch bowl or individual mugs. Garnish a cherry-orange or lemon slice. Serves 20.

2 large cooking apples
4 large sweet potatoes
1/3 cup honey
2 Tbsp. melted, salted butter
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. cinnamon
In a pot, cook potatoes in water just until tender. Cool completely, peel and slice 1-inch thick. Peel apples and slice 1-inch thick. Alternate layers of potato and apples in a buttered baking dish. In a saucepan, melt butter. Stir in honey, lemon juice, and cinnamon. Mix well. Pour honey mixture over potatoes and apples. Cover and bake in a 375-degree oven for 25 minutes. Remove cover and bake 15 minutes until slightly browned.

8 pork chops
1 sliced onion
2 cups applesauce
¾ cup catsup
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 drops hot sauce
In a skillet, brown chops in hot grease. Place in bottom of two-quart baking dishes. Brown onion in skillet. Place on top of chops. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over chops. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes.

1 ½ lb. cooked, drained yellow squash
1 cup diced pimento
1 cup cream of chicken soup
1 diced onion
3 sliced carrots
8 oz. sour cream
1 stick melted, salted butter
1 pkg. Pepperidge Farm cornbread stuffing
In a mixer bowl, combine all ingredients except stuffing. In a bowl, add ¾ of stuffing with melted butter. Line bottom of a dish with thin layer of stuffing. Pour in squash mixture. Sprinkle remaining stuffing on top. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes.

1 lb. (4) sweet potatoes
1/3 cup salted butter
6 oz. chicken broth
½ cup tomato sauce
8 cups water
2 tbsp. half & half
2 tsp. salt
1/8th tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Dash of red pepper
1 cup cashew halves
In a 375-degree oven, bake sweet potatoes for 45 minutes or until tender. Cool. Peel and place in a bowl. Mash coarsely, leaving some chunks. To a pot, spoon mixture. Add remaining ingredients, and mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 50 minutes or when cashews are soft.

2 beaten eggs
1 ½ cup self-rising cornmeal
½ cup Wesson oil
½ cup buttermilk
1 cup creamed corn
½ chopped green pepper
2 chopped hot peppers
1 chopped onion
1 cup grated, sharp cheddar cheese
In a mixer bowl, combine all ingredients except cheese. Mix well. Pour ½ mixture into pan. Spread grated cheese on top. Pour remaining mixture over cheese. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 35-45 minutes.

2 beaten eggs
1 ½ cup sour cream
2 cups fresh corn kernels
4.5 oz. drained, chopped green chiles
½ cups soft bread crumbs
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ cup sharp shredded cheddar cheese
In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add sour cream and mix well. Stir in corn, chiles, bread crumbs, Monterey Jack cheese, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Bake uncovered in a greased 2-quart baking dish, in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. Add cheddar cheese to top. Bake 5 additional minutes or until cheese is melted.

3 cups diced, cooked chicken
1 cup premium mayonnaise
½ cup toasted almonds
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. grated onion
2 cups chopped celery
2 chopped hard-boiled eggs
½ tsp. salt
1 can sliced water chestnuts
2 oz. pimento
1 can chow mein noodles
In a mixer bowl, combine all ingredients, except noodles. Pour into a buttered casserole dish. Top with chow mein noodles. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Garnish with chopped, fresh parsley.

1 lb. ziti or penne pasta
1 lb. peeled, seeded, shredded acorn/butternut squash
½ cup pine nuts
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 minced cloves garlic
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan/Romano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook pasta according to pkg. directions. 5 minutes before squash is finished cooking, add squash and stir. When finished cooking, drain pasta and squash. Toast pine nuts in microwave for 4 minutes on full power. In a bowl, toss pasta with olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, salt, and pepper. You can add diced, grilled chicken for a heartier meal.

2 beaten eggs
¾ cup sugar
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1 stick melted butter
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 large can sweet potatoes
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup all-purpose four
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup chopped pecans
In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add sugar, milk, butter, vanilla, and cooked, sweet potatoes. Mix well. Pour into a butter greased baking dish. For the topping, in a bowl, combine sugar, flour, melted butter, and pecans. Spread evenly over top of mixture. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 35 minutes or until set.

5 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 chopped onion
1 chopped yellow pepper
1 chopped red pepper
1 Tbsp. cumin seeds
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
4 tsp. minced, canned chipotle chiles in adobe sauce
3 (15 oz.) cans rinsed, drained black beans
3 (14 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
8 cloves roasted garlic
2 cups beef broth
1 lb. ground sirloin
1 lb ground pork
Salt and pepper to taste
Bunch of chopped cilantro
Toppings: fresh cilantro, grated cheese, sour cream,
In a skillet, brown beef and pork together. Drain off grease. Set aside. Saute, bell peppers, onion, and cumin seeds in hot oil while stirring for 10 minutes or until onion is translucent. Stir in chipotle chiles. Add drained beans, tomatoes with juice, broth, ground cumin, and salt. Add chopped roasted garlic. Add chopped cilantro but reserve enough for later garnish. Simmer, uncovered on medium for 30 minutes. Take 2 cups of the chili and process in food processor until a blended coarse paste. Stir it back into pot to thicken sauce. Add meats. Simmer until ready to serve. Sprinkle bowls of chili with grated cheese, fresh cilantro, and sour cream. Serve with tortilla chips.

1 stick salted butter
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 ½ cups chopped Granny Smith apples
¼ tsp. cinnamon
In a mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add flour and eggs, one at a time. Cream well. Fold in apples and cinnamon. Pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake in a 400-degree oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 325-degrees and bake for 40 minutes.

2 halved, seeded, large butternut squash
4 Tbsp. olive oil
2 lbs. peeled, chopped carrots
3 peeled, cored, chopped Granny Smith apples
1 ½ chopped yellow onions
3 minced shallots
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
8 cups water
2 cups heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste chopped chives
In a 350-degree oven, bake the halved, seeded squash, skin side down, for 30 minutes or until tender. Scoop flesh from skin to a bowl, and set aside. In a large pot, heat olive oil. Add carrots, apples, onions, shallots, and garlic, and cook for 3 minutes. Add squash and water, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 45 minutes. In a food processor, puree soup in small batches. Pour pureed soup back to pot. Add cream and season to taste. Garnish bowls of soup with chives.

4 beaten eggs
3 cups sugar
2 cups cooked pumpkin
2/3 cup water
1 cup Wesson oil
3 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. soda
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon & allspice
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup raisins
In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add sugar and mix well. Add pumpkin and water. Mix well. Alternate oil with flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and spices. Mix well. Fold in nuts and raisins until thoroughly combined. Grease two 8 x 4 loaf pans. Fill pans one-half full with mixture. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30-50 minutes or until tests done.

20 oz. can pineapple chunks
½ cup sugar
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. pineapple juice
3 Tbsp. melted, salted butter
1 cup grated mild cheddar cheese
18 crushed Ritz crackers
In a mixer bowl, combine all ingredients. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes.