Fall Inspired Meal

Caterer and Cookbook Author Susan Ritts prepares a fall-inspired meal.

Stuffed Pumpkins
Serves 4

This is another delicious way to serve pumpkins in the fall. They really are made for more than just carving – they are delicious and such a stunning presentation.

4 small orange pumpkins, cleaned, shelled and lids saved
1 stale French baguette, ripped into bite sized pieces one day prior to serving
1/2 pound Gruyère cheese (or your favorite hard cheese), cut into cubes
1 large yellow or white onion, chopped
1 tablespoon thyme
1/2 cup (plus extra to top) skim milk
2 cups mushrooms, button or portabella
6 strips cooked bacon or prosciutto, chopped (optional)
1/2 pound ground beef, browned (optional)
2 cups small yellow potatoes, chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 teaspoon chopped garlic
Salt & pepper

NOTE: brown and chop vegetarian hamburger meat if preferred. Or add extra mushrooms & potatoes if not using any meat or meat substitute.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a large bowl, mix bread, onion, bacon and ground beef (if using), mushrooms, cheese, potatoes, garlic and spices. Toss until mixed. Add 1/2 cup skim milk and toss to combine. Place pumpkins on covered cookie sheets and pack each with bread mixture. Once packed, pour extra skim milk over each. About 1/4 cup. Pierce the skin of each pumpkin with a fork or knife in 4 or 5 places. Put the tops back on each pumpkin and bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes. Check pumpkins. If the flesh cannot be pierced easily, continue baking. It may take another half hour or so. Once flesh can be pierced and the inside is nice and bubbling hot, pumpkins are about done. Now remove lids and bake another 5 minutes or so to “crust” the tops. Remove from oven and plate each pumpkin with the lid slightly off-center to expose the beautiful feast inside. A small salad prior to this main course is all you need to make this a stunning and memorable meal. Remind your guest to “dig into” the pumpkin flesh while eating. The pumpkin meat along with the stuffing, makes for an amazing food “party” in your mouth!

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies With Sea Salt
Makes 3 dozen

These are the very best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever tasted. Using cake flour makes a big difference, so be sure to follow the ingredients. NOTE: Dough needs to be refrigerated for 24 hours and up to 72 hours.

2 cups cake flour, minus 2 tablespoons
1 cup bread flour
1-1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1-1/4 light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1-1/4 pounds chocolate chips (or discs) with 60% or more cacao content
Sea Salt (high quality)

Cream butter and sugars together with electric mixer until light – about 5 minutes. Add eggs and mix well. Stir in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients and mix until combined – then STOP. Add chips/discs and mix gently until combined. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate 24-72 hours. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take dough out of refrigerator for about an hour before baking cookies. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Place 1 to 1-1/2 inch dough balls on parchment paper and flatten slightly with hand or spatula. Sprinkle high quality sea salt on top of each cookie. Bake until golden brown, about 18-20 minutes. Cool about 15 minutes and place on wire rack to cool completely. ENJOY!

 

Appletini – Serves 2

3oz Vodka
3oz Apple Liqueur (or Sour Apple Schapps)
2oz Fresh Apple Juice (unfiltered is best)
1oz fresh lemon juice
1 green apple (or other apple of choice), thinly sliced for garnish

Add ice to a Martini shaker. Add all cocktail ingredients. Secure the lid and shake vigorously until well combined. Strain into cocktail glasses of choice and garnish with green apple slices. Enjoy!!!

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