Cooler weather calls for bold, spicy flavours

The golden and crimson leaves are gracefully falling to the ground and as the days grow shorter and the weather cools, we tend to change more than our wardrobes. The kind of food we crave changes from fresh greens and grilling to warm, spicy and baked.

We need to heat things up and use spices to jazz up our food experience. There is nothing like arriving home to warm comfort food and baked fruit desserts.

The aroma alone is enough to melt away the stress of a long day of work.

Spicy Autumn Chili

My family never requests chili over the summer months but as soon as the temperature starts to drop, this dish is put back on the menu.
This is a traditional recipe with a twist of pulse. Serve this chili over hot mashed potatoes and do not forget the fresh whole grain bread or buns for dipping.

  • 1 lb. ground beef 454 g
  • 1 c. chopped onion 250 mL
  • 1/2 c. finely diced peppers 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped celery 125 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic seasoning or minced fresh garlic, optional 2 mL
  • 1/2 c. rinsed uncooked lentils 125 mL
  • 1 can diced tomatoes not drained (19 oz) 540 mL
  • 1 can tomato soup (10 oz) 284 mL
  • 1 can red kidney beans, drained (19 oz) 540 mL
  • 1 can brown beans in tomato sauce (14 oz) 398 mL
  • 2 tbsp. chili powder 30 mL
  • 1 tsp. seasoning salt 5 mL
  • dash of cayenne pepper if desired
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar 15 mL
  • spoonful of your favourite salsa if desired

Brown the beef, onion, pepper and celery in a skillet with or without garlic seasoning. Add remaining ingredients, stir and cook over medium heat approximately 40 minutes, then simmer until ready to serve.
You can also prepare this recipe in a four to five quart (4 to 5 L) slow cooker, simply brown the meat and vegetables as you would above and then add to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for eight to 10 hours or on high for four to five hours.
Garnish with shredded cheese just before serving. Serves eight.

Spiced Pumpkin Muffins

The bright orange colour is a sure sign that the pumpkin is packed with the antioxidant, beta carotene. Enjoy this seasonal sweet treat. Concord grapes and sliced cheese make a great accompaniment to this muffin.

  • 2 c. pumpkin, canned 500 mL
  • 3/4 c. packed brown sugar 175 mL
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 5 mL
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c. oil 60 mL
  • 1 tsp. baking soda 5 mL
  • 1 tsp. baking powder 5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 2 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg 2 mL
  • 1 / 4 tsp. ground cloves 1 mL
  • 1/8 tsp. ground ginger 0.5 mL
  • 1 1/2 c. flour 375 mL
  • 1/2 c. dark chocolate chips, optional 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. pecans or walnuts, optional 125 mL

Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C).
In a large mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin, sugar, vanilla, egg and oil. Add dry ingredients and mix until the batter is smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips and or nuts if desired. Pour into muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes. Glaze with an icing of your choice if desired.
Variation: omit chocolate chips and add Skor bits or fresh or frozen whole cranberries. Stir gently into the batter just before filling muffin tins.

Pumpkin Chip Cookies

  • 1 c. butter or margarine 250 mL
  • 1/2 c. white sugar 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar 125 mL
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. pumpkin/ canned or homemade 250 mL
  • 2 c. flour 500 mL
  • 1 tsp. baking soda 5 mL
  • 1 tsp. baking powder 5 mL
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon 5 mL
  • dash of each nutmeg and cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 1/2 c. dark chocolate chips 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. chopped nuts or raw sunflower seeds, optional 125 mL

Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Beat the butter or margarine together with the sugars until creamed. Add the egg and the vanilla, beat. Add the pumpkin, flour, soda, powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt to the creamed mixture and combine well.
Add the chocolate or nuts/seeds if desired. Drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes.

Adapted from Prairie Pooches and Friends Favourite Recipes Cookbook, www.prairiepoochesrescue.com.

Ginger Crinkles

We bake these each fall to have in lunches or snacks.

  • 1 c. butter 250 mL
  • 1 c. brown sugar 250 mL
  • 1/2 c. white sugar 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. molasses 125 mL
  • 1 egg
  • 3 c. flour 750 mL
  • 2 tsp. baking soda 10 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger 5 mL
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon 10 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves 1 mL
  • dash of nutmeg
  • sugar for coating

Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugars, molasses and egg until well combined.
In a separate bowl, measure the flour, soda, salt and spices into a bowl and blend. Stir into the creamed mixture and shape the dough into one- inch balls (2.5 cm).
Roll the dough in white sugar and place about two inches (5 cm) apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes.
Let stand to partially cool and then remove to counter on waxed or parchment paper to cool completely.
Makes 40 cookies.
Source: adapted from Kids Cook 3 in 1 Cookbook Collection by Jean Pare.

Jodie Mirosovsky is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: team@producer.com.

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