As soon as the calendar turns to September and the temperature dips below 70F degrees, I know fall is just around the corner and my excitement is palpable. While each of the four seasons has its own merits, fall is my favorite. The cool winds shaking colorful leaves down from the trees provide a breath of fresh air, making me feel like a fresh start is just ahead. While I love decorating my house to welcome in the season, I also think we can use the kitchen to usher in the glorious fall with our taste buds and delightful cinnamon scents.
Here are five simple and kid-friendly treats to welcome fall into your home, tried and true in my kitchen:
1. Spiced Tea
For as long as I can remember, if you went to my Mamaw’s house and the weather was cool, there would be a pot simmering on the back of the stove full of an orange-brown tea so sweet it would make your lips pucker. Affectionately named “Spiced Tea,” this is something I love to have on hand for cool nights or when guests come over. It takes minimal effort and the whole house smells like cider. Side note: even though the recipe doesn’t call for any plum, Mamaw calls this “Plum Tea” — I think Mom Brain is to blame somehow.
Instructions: Bring two quarts of water to a boil, add three large tea bags (Lipton decaf family size is what I use) and boil for 10 minutes. Remove tea bags and add one cinnamon stick, two cups of orange juice, one cup of sugar, and ½ cup of lemon juice. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Simmer for 10 more minutes to blend the flavors, then serve, though it will simmer well on your stove for hours.
2. Grain Free Pumpkin Muffins
Muffins are not only a treat, but also super practical to have on hand for easy breakfast and snack options. I’ll often make a double batch and keep half in the freezer, then pop them in the microwave for a minute to enjoy a warm and fresh muffin. Preheat oven to 350F degrees and in a mixing bowl combine: ¾ cups of coconut flour, ½ cup of pureed pumpkin, ¾ cups of milk, six large eggs, ¾ cups of sugar or sweetener like Stevia, one teaspoon of cinnamon, one teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, ½ teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (you can substitute lemon juice). Mix and pour into muffin tin (makes 12 muffins). I recommend topping each muffin with white chocolate chips for extra goodness. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
3. Turkey, Apple and Swiss Quesadilla
For an easy lunch, fill a tortilla or wrap with sliced green apple, turkey slices, Swiss cheese, and a small spread of cranberry or raspberry jelly. Fold in half, cook over medium heat in a skillet until tortilla is brown and crisped (about two minutes per side).
4. Cinnamon Glazed Popcorn
This popcorn is ready in 20 minutes and perfect for munching on while curled up with your kiddos for a movie night! Preheat oven to 325F degrees. Pop two bags of microwave popcorn or prepare 1/4 cup of unpopped kernels. On the stove, melt 3 tablespoons of butter, 2 tablespoons of honey, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger. Once nicely mixed and melted, coat cashews in 1/2 of this mixture, then spread it onto a parchment-covered baking sheet and toast for five minutes. Mix popcorn with remaining melted goodness. Add popcorn to baking sheet with nuts and bake together for 5-10 minutes, stirring and making sure it doesn’t burn. Remove from oven and enjoy! As a side note, if you are a nut free home or don’t have cashews on hand, you can make this without the nuts and it is still delicious!
Source: Cinnamon Glazed Cashew Popcorn
5. 20-Minute Taco Soup
When my daughter was born, sweet friends brought us supper for a few weeks, and as soon as my husband and I tried this soup, I knew I needed the recipe. Ready in about 20 minutes, it is everything good and right for a weeknight meal.
1 pound ground beef or turkey
1 yellow or white onion, diced
1 can corn
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1 can chopped green chilies (do not drain juice from the cans)
1 packet of taco seasoning
1 packet of original Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning
Directions: Brown meat and onions in bottom of soup pot. Add remaining ingredients plus 1 cup of water; simmer 15 minutes until hot. To serve, top with cheese, tortilla chips, sour cream, or anything your heart desires.