Favorite Fall Foods...and Drink

Busy day today in the Kiernan kitchen. In between hugs from the (today) 10-month-old, playtime, feeding time, and glimpses of a football game, there was lots of cooking going on. Even though I am never a fan of the weather getting colder, snowier, windier, slushier, etc. in the fall, I am in love with the foods of the season. PUMPKIN is my favorite by far, but they are all good. And what comes after all of the 'Fall' foods? Oh, the Christmas foods...the spices, and the cookies, and the peppermint, and all of that. For now, I will focus on the Fall foods. I have been wanting to make pumpkin bread, but being on a sort-of healthy eating plan (or trying to be so that I can drop the last of the baby pounds) I did not think it wise to have a loaf (or 2) of hearty, sugary, Pumpkin Bread around the house. So I made the Cooking Light Magazine version, with a couple of changes...soooo good, and you would never be able to tell that it has been "lightened". This is what I did:

Pecan-Topped Pumpkin Bread

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup egg substitute
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup reduced-fat plain yogurt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup water
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
Cooking spray
1/3 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients (through allspice) in a bowl.
Place sugar, egg substitute, oil, yogurt, and eggs in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until well blended. Add 2/3 cup water and pumpkin, beating at low speed until blended. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Spoon batter into 2 (9 x 5-inch) loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle pecans evenly over batter. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. (Check the loaves at 50 minutes. You may need to cover the loaf with foil so that the top doesn't burn.) Cool 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.

I also made some mini Applesauce Muffins (for my little muffin). And what would be fall food without some squash? I have been inspired ever since I ate Jen's Savory Squash Ravioli at last week's Domestic Diva Gathering...I had to finish off the cooking/baking frenzy with a Butternut Squash Pasta Bake. Another 'light' dish, but filling dish, surprisingly.

20 oz package of peeled and cubed butternut squash
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
16 oz package whole wheat Penne pasta
1 1/4 cups fat free or 1% milk
2 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 tsp crushed thyme
1/2 cup reduced-fat or fat free ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375°.
Spread squash in a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Drizzle olive oil over squash. Sprinkle with allspice, salt, and pepper. Roast in oven for 20 to 30 minutes. When complete, transfer squash to a medium bowl and mash into a puree.
While squash is roasting, cook the pasta, following directions on package.
Combine milk, flour, garlic, salt, and pepper in a medium sauce pan using a whisk. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in mashed squash and 2 tsp crushed thyme. Combine squash puree mix with drained pasta and mix well. Pour into a 2 1/2 quart casserole pan coated with cooking spray.
Top pasta with dollops of ricotta cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan and walnuts. Bake for 20 minutes, covered. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the top is slightly golden.

Steve and I enjoyed ours with my OTHER favorite Fall 'food'...delicious Pumpkin brew...Moira enjoyed hers with water :)!

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