It is officially Fall! The foliage is becoming crisp and turning vibrant shades of red and amber, and of course, we celebrate all things pumpkin and pumpkin spice. The days are now shorter, and the air is much cooler. This is the time of year to spend the mornings curled up under a warm blanket reading a library book while sipping a coffee or a hot chocolate. Or bundling up during the evenings in a thick sweater and cozy scarf while at bonfires and football games.
With the winter season fast approaching, this is the perfect time of year for families to gather together and cook and bake their favorites. Teens and even younger children will benefit by being involved. It is never too early to pass along cherished recipes while teaching them the importance of healthy nutrition and kitchen safety.
In this blog, I will provide four autumn meal inspirations (some are my own photos), with specific recipes for each. I will also provide three autumn and winter craft inspirations so you can decorate your home and make it beautiful and festive for the upcoming season. Lastly, I will provide additional resources for cooking and baking delicious fall recipes, making gorgeous crafts, and creating a perfectly inviting space.
Part I: Autumn Meal Inspirations and Recipes
Below are four autumn meal inspirations (some are my own photos), with specific recipes for each.
October is National Chili Month: This is the ultimate comfort food for cooler weather, and it is also very healthy, containing a lot of protein from the meat and beans. In addition, it is a great source of fiber and iron. Click here to learn more about the history of this observance.
The first recipe is courtesy of celebrity chef Ree Drummond of the Food Network program, The Pioneer Woman. It is a recipe for “Simple, Perfect Chili” (click here for the original recipe).
*Here are my specific modifications:
Pictured is “Veggie Chili”
“Veggie Chili” and “Chili Con Carne” from one “Simple, Perfect Chili” recipe:
NOTE: I cut the recipe in half, and I use 2 pots, one pot for “Veggie Chili” and one pot for “Chili Con Carne.” I use olive oil (cover the bottom of the pot). And I use appx. ½-cup chopped red onions softened in the olive oil for about 5 minutes over medium-low heat in each pot.
I love to add fresh chunks of mozzarella cheese and let them slowly melt into the warm chili (pictured).
“Chili Con Carne:” Brown 1-lb. ground beef in oil and softened onion mixture until beef is cooked and no longer pink. Take (2) 1-cup Pyrex measuring cups, and use 1-can of tomato sauce in each cup, with ⅓ can of water to rinse the cans’ leftovers into each cup.
Add ½ tsp chopped garlic in each cup (I buy chopped garlic in the produce section of the store), along with the seasonings (I use 2-Tablespoons of chili powder to each cup of sauce. Then cut the rest of the recipe seasoning measurements in half, such as ½-teaspoon of Cumin, etc.) Mix, and pour one of the sauce/seasoning mixtures into each pot.
Cover each pot and simmer on the lowest setting for one hour. Place ¼-cup Masa Harina (corn flour) and ½-cup warm water in Ball (canning) jars (make one of these corn flour mixtures for each of the two pots of chili). Cover and shake well until blended. Add the contents of Ball jars to each chili pot. Simmer and stir for 15 minutes.
The following ingredients will be added to each pot (more or less to taste and texture. Leave out whichever frozen veggies you don’t like/want in your chili):
- 1-can of black beans (rinsed and drained)
- 1-can of dark or light red kidney beans (rinsed and drained)
- ½-cup frozen, chopped carrots and peas mix
- ½-cup frozen corn
Heat the chili for about 30 minutes. Serve warm with suggested toppings.
Second is my favorite recipe for homemade “Chicken Pot Pie,” courtesy of the 1978 Betty Crocker cookbook (refer to scanned images below for original ingredients and directions for the filling and homemade pie crust).
*Disregard the notation about Celery Seed Pastry – I always make the homemade Standard Pastry Crust (directions below).
The third is my own recipe (with step-by-step photos) for homemade “Black Bean Peach Mango Avocado Nachos.” You can create whatever nacho sheet pan meals you desire (there are countless flavor combinations). Included in this blog are two very helpful books, which are also linked below in the extensive list of additional resources from our CCPL catalog: Nachos For Dinner: Surprising Sheet Pan Meals the Whole Family Will Love by Dan Whalen and Sheet Pan Suppers Meatless: 100 Surprising Vegetarian Meals Straight From The Oven by Raquel Pelzel.
NOTE: Click here for great tips (and photos) on how to safely cut and peel a ripe avocado.
Step One: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper, and spread out your favorite corn chips over the entire baking sheet on top of the paper. Open the can of black beans or refried beans (if using black beans, I prefer to rinse and drain the beans first). Place a large spoonful of beans onto each corn chip.
Step Two: Open the jar of salsa and once again, place a large spoonful of salsa onto each corn chip, on top of the black beans (or refried beans).
Step Three: If using ripe avocado, wash it first and then carefully slice it open, pit it, score it, and scoop the soft chunks into a bowl, gently mashing them together. You can add whatever you want (I keep it simple and add ground pepper, a pinch of sea salt, and freshly squeezed lemon juice). Place spoonfuls of the mashed avocado onto each corn chip, on top of the beans and salsa. For a quicker option, use your favorite brand of premade guacamole from the store.
Step Four: Sprinkle the Monterey Jack (or CoJack) cheese all over the top of the nachos, thoroughly coating the entire pile. It is up to you how much cheese you would like to use (I prefer very cheesy nachos).
Step Five: Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese is completely melted and bubbling over the nachos. Plate and serve immediately.
Fourth is a recipe courtesy of The Food Network Kitchen. It is for homemade pumpkin bread called “The Best Pumpkin Bread” (click here for the original recipe). I have been baking this particular pumpkin bread for many years and this recipe is truly my favorite, for pumpkin bread. It is the best one I have ever found.
NOTE: I also add 1 tsp Vanilla extract and 1 cup chopped walnuts (this is optional).
Part II: Autumn and Winter Craft Inspirations
Below are three autumn and winter craft inspirations so you can decorate your home and make it beautiful for the upcoming season. The first craft inspiration is from the Internet, but the second and third autumn and winter crafts are my very own blog posts courtesy of our CCPL @ HOME BLOG. Please click on the title to read a preview of the blog, and then click on the photo to access the blog post in its entirety.
(Courtesy of A Cultivated Nest.com)
Pumpkin spice candles that you can DIY! If you’re like me, then you love to stop to smell the candles in stores like Target or Bath and Body Works. However, while I like to smell candles, I don’t always like the candles’ prices (some larger candles cost $25 or more!). And also, I don’t like that some candles contain toxins that get released when you burn them. So how do I get around all of that? By making my own candles!”
“As the weather turns cooler, and summer planting season comes to an end, why not bring the garden fun indoors with a fall-themed garden craft? You can keep these painted clay pots for yourself, decorate your kitchen and dining room table, or give them as a gift.”
“Winter is here, and what better way to mark the season than by making these beautiful, festive crafts! You can keep these scrap fabric decorations for yourself or give them as a gift.
Let yourself get creative…if you don’t have scrap fabric, there are alternatives. Here, I will teach you how to make two adorable crafts that are perfect for the season.”
Part III: Additional Resources
If you would like even more ideas for creating beautiful autumn crafts, below is a link containing fun projects. Also highlighted is our newest free crafting database, Creativebug, as well as a myriad of wonderful resources for cooking and baking the perfect fall meals and creating festive crafts from our CCPL catalog.
50+ Fancy DIY Fall Craft Ideas to Bring Autumn to Your Home
For more inspiring crafting ideas, please visit CCPL’s newest free crafting database, Creativebug. Creativebug has thousands of award-winning art & craft video classes taught by recognized design experts and artists. It brings the latest in art and craft education to its members, and they work with renowned artists to do just that. It is the number one inspirational resource for DIY, crafters, and makers, with thousands of award-winning art & craft video classes available for FREE with your CCPL library card.
You may also check out our CCPL catalog for more information on recipes for delicious, hearty autumn meals, beautiful craft projects and tips for creating a warm and inviting home such as:
- The Complete Autumn and Winter Cookbook: 500+ Recipes for Warming Dinners, Holiday Roasts, Seasonal Desserts, Breads, Food Gifts and More by America’s Test Kitchen
- Half Baked Harvest Every Day: Recipes for Balanced, Flexible, Feel-Good Meals by Tieghan Gerard
- From Harvest to Home: Seasonal Activities, Inspired Decor and Cozy Recipes for Fall by Alicia Tenise Chew
- The Complete Guide to Pressure Canning: Everything You Need to Know to Can Meats, Vegetables, Meals in a Jar and More by Diane Devereaux
- Ripe Figs: Recipes and Stories from Turkey, Greece and Cyprus by Yasmin Khan
- Wonder Pot: One-Dish Meals from Slow Cookers, Dutch Ovens, Skillets, Pressure Cookers and Casseroles by Better Homes & Gardens
- The Great Big Pumpkin Cookbook: A Quick and Easy Guide to Making Pancakes, Soups, Breads, Pastas, Cakes, Cookies and More by Maggie Michalczyk
- Nachos For Dinner: Surprising Sheet Pan Meals the Whole Family Will Love by Dan Whalen
- Korean American: Food That Tastes Like Home by Eric Kim
- Baking for the Holidays: 50+ Treats for a Festive Season by Sarah Kieffer
- The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Super Easy!: 120 Shortcut Recipes for Dinners, Desserts and More by Ree Drummond
- The Mighty Bean: 100 Easy Recipes That Are Good for Your Health, the World and Your Budget by Judith Choate
- Apple Kitchen: From Tree to Table – Over 70 Inspiring Recipes by Madeleine and Florian Ankner
- Baking with Dorie: Sweet, Salty & Simple by Dorie Greenspan
- Sheet Pan Suppers Meatless: 100 Surprising Vegetarian Meals Straight From The Oven by Raquel Pelzel
- Fruit Desserts: 100+ Delicious Ways to Savor the Best of Every Season by Martha Stewart
- Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking: 101 Entirely Plant-Based, Mostly Gluten-Free, Easy and Delicious Recipes by Dana Shultz
- Pumpkin Chic: Decorating with Pumpkins and Gourds by Mary Caldwell
- Easy Homemade Pottery: Make Your Own Stylish Decor Using Polymer and Air-Dry Clay by Francesca Stone
- Cupcakes and Cashmere at Home by Emily Schuman
- The Block Collection: 150 Inspiring Stash-Busting Shapes to Knit and Crochet by Heather Lodinsky
- The New Bohemians: Cool & Collected Homes by Justina Blakeney
- Simple Farmhouse Life: DIY Projects for the All-Natural Handmade Home by Lisa Bass
- The Art of the Host: Recipes and Rules for Flawless Entertaining by Alex Hitz
- The Gift of Gathering: Beautiful Tablescapes to Welcome and Celebrate Your Friends and Family by Bre Douchette
- Christmas at Home: Holiday Decorating, Crafts, Recipes by Country Living Magazine
- Beeswax Alchemy: How to Make Your Own Candles, Soap, Balms, Salves and Home Décor from the Hive by Petra Ahnert
- Elements of Family Style: Elegant Spaces for Everyday Life by Erin Gates
Unless otherwise noted and/or linked, all images were shot during the making of this blog.