Hearty dishes you’ll fall for

Akron Beacon JournalOctober 17, 2012 

Welcome autumn, bring your cheer. Bring on your colors, your crispness, and your leaves crunching beneath our feet.

Bring on your football games and tailgate parties and Halloween costumes. Shower us with your acorns and gourds and pumpkins of all shapes and colors. Bring on your sunshine and rain, your shorter days, and your cold weather.

We are finally ready to embrace for you.

Here are cool-weather recipes in celebration of the season.

Beef and Bean Chili 2 cans (15 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed

2 cans (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1-1/2 pounds 85 percent lean ground beef

1 onion, chopped fine

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons sugar

Salt and pepper

1 cup beef broth

1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

Process 1-1/2 cups beans and half of the tomatoes in a food processor until it forms a coarse paste, about 10 seconds, and set aside.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add beef and onion and cook, breaking up any large pieces of meat with a wooden spoon, until meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, chili powder, cumin, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Stir in beef broth, processed bean mixture, remaining beans and remaining tomatoes and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 20 minutes. Stir in cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Note: For spicier chili, add 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper with the spices in step 2. Serve with lime wedges, diced avocado, shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese and/or sour cream. Pumpkin-Acorn Squash Soup 1 pie pumpkin (3-1/2 pounds)

1 medium acorn squash, about 2 pounds

4 tablespoons butter, divided

2 tablespoons honey, divided

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

1 sweet onion, chopped

4 teaspoons chopped thyme

4-1/2 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup half-and-half

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Fresh thyme sprigs and roasted pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut pumpkin and squash in half lengthwise, cutting through stem and bottom end. Reserve seeds for another use. Place pumpkin and squash halves, cut sides up, in a foil-lined shallow pan.

Microwave 2 tablespoons butter in a microwave-safe bowl on high for 25 seconds or until melted; stir in 1 tablespoon honey and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Brush cut sides of pumpkin and squash with butter mixture.

Bake pumpkin and squash at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, then cool completely. Scoop out pulp, discarding shells.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and saute 5 minutes. Add thyme, saute 1 minute. Stir in broth and pumpkin and squash pulp. Increase heat to medium-high; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool 10 minutes. Process soup, in batches, in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return soup to Dutch oven. Stir in half-and-half, next four ingredients, and remaining 1 tablespoon honey and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, over low heat, stirring often, 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Garnish with thyme sprigs and pumpkin seeds. Serve.

Makes 4-6 servings Source: Adapted from “The America’s Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook” Makes 6-8 servings Source: Southern Living Home Cooking Basics.

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