Kelly the Culinarian: Cooking with Kelly: Fall favorites

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cooking with Kelly: Fall favorites

I'm a big fan of fall food, and really, what's not to love? Pumpkin pie, roasted squash, turkey in every form, hearty soups and even pumpkin ice cream, if you travel out to Morton, Ill., for Pumpkin Fest.

Anyhoo, a few of my friends that I've known for the better part of a decade got together for a fall kick-off party that included mull spiked cider and pumpkin carving. If you'd like to celebrate the changing of the seasons like we did, here's a great drink that will make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, courtesy of the lovely host of our shin dig:

Spiked Cider:

4 cups apple cider (not apple juice!)
1/2 cup orange juice
3 whole cinnamon sticks
1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
1/4 cup brandy
Wrap the cloves in a coffee filter and tie off with unflavored dental floss to create a pouch. Combine all ingredients, minus the optional alcohol, and bring to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes, adding the alcohol at the end. Serves 3 to 4. Place in clear coffee mugs such as those used for Irish coffee and adorn with a cinnamon stick as a stirrer. Remove spice packet and discard before serving.

Another favorite is pumpkin seeds. We seasoned ours and watched them while we decorated pumpkins. Mine had a ghost, tombstone and tree, but the tree was a little deformed when all was said and done.

Remove the seeds from the pumpkins you carved and try to discard as much of the goo as possible. Using a colander, rinse thoroughly. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Season the seeds now while they're still damp as the flavor will stick. I used seasoning salt and a bit of garlic powder before placing them all on a single layer in a greased baking sheet. Allow to bake for five minutes or until most of the moisture is removed, then turn heat down to 250 and shake to turn. Bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown. Tasty!

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