Sunday, September 23, 2012

Welcome to Fall

I am feeling especially wonderful about the change of seasons. Blame it on all the changes that have taken place in my life as of late, but I am loving this fall thus far! Gone are the days of dreading the start of the cold weather and getting back into a routine.

What else am I loving about the returning of fall? Excellent question! 
1. It is now socially acceptable to flavor everything with pumpkin, like I do the rest of the year.
2. I can layer! My favorite piece of clothing is the cardigan (more evidence to prove that I am really a grandma at heart) and I have an extensive collection.
3. I can open up the windows at night and snuggle under the covers.
4. Quick bread is now my breakfast of choice, accompanied by a cup of tea and eaten on the porch (when I have time.)
5. Orchards will be in full bloom and brimming with fresh crispy apples.
6. I can throw fall themed house warming parties, like the one I have planned for next weekend!
7. The holiday season is right around the corner, which I am also incredibly excited for this year.

I could go on and on, but the overarching idea is that I am loving fall this year. What better way to celebrate the coming of fall but with a feast to celebrate?!

Here is what was on the menu:

Roasted Beet and Granny Apple Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

Italian Pot Roast served over Creamy Parmesan Polenta

And for dessert, Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Vanilla Buttermilk Sauce

Sound scrumptious right?! Oh, trust me. It was. I am so completely thrilled to have leftovers in my refrigerator right now for later on this week... or later on tonight. The beets on the salad was my absolute favorite element of the meal though. Admittedly, this was the first time I had ever worked with beets personally, but I found some really gorgeous ones at the grocery this week and I couldn't resist. A low and slow roast in the oven with a sprinkling of salt and olive oil and I was in beet heaven.

Roasted Beet and Granny Smith Apple Salad with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

assorted salad greens (spinach, frisse, ridiccio, rocket, etc.)
sliced Granny Smith apples
diced roasted beets (recipe to follow)
toasted chopped pecans
crumbled feta cheese
maple balsamic vinaigrette (recipe to follow)
salt and pepper

Dress you salad greens as desired, and season with salt and pepper to taste (yes, this is how you do it.) Arrange the rest of the ingredients on top of your greens and toss lightly.

Roasted Beets

2-4 beets, of assorted colors and varieties
olive oil

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Wash beets and then pat dry with a paper towel. make a pocket for the beets with aluminum foil, leaving a window in the top to season. Pour enough oil into the pocket to come up the side of the beets one third of the way. Sprinkle generously with salt. Close the foil pocket to fully encompass the beets and roast until tender, about one hour, depending on how large your beets are. Remove beets and allow to cool to room temperature. Peel and reserve the roasting oil.

Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

oil from roasting the beets (about 3/4 of a cup)
maple balsamic vinegar*
salt and pepper

Whisk vinegar into the oil to create a temporary emulsion. Season with salt and pepper to taste and dress greens immediately.
* feel free to substitute maple syrup and balsamic vinegar for the maple flavored balsamic vinegar. Just warm the syrup in the microwave first, to help the emulsion process.

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