Comfort foods are great for fall gatherings, football, and fieldwork meals. Start with my Mild Chicken Curry Soup. It’s not too spicy, but has superb flavor. The vegetables, creamy broth and shredded chicken blend together and will be your soup must-have at your next chilly day meal.

If you are a carrot cake lover the Carrot Cake Cookies are a way to have a portable slice of cake in a cookie form. The carrots, spiced and nuts have all the ingredients for an excellent cookie. Add the cream cheese frosting and you will rate these cookies the best. They are addictive!

Harvest Pies are great for on-the-go events or as gifts. Make them no-stress with purchased pie dough and fillings. They are quick, easy and would be a great party activity. Easier than the homemade crust and filling pie parties that I have hosted in the past. Kids and persons with minimal baking skills would find these treats tasty and fun to make.

Apple cider is a favorite of mine. I got hooked on the fruity drink while working at an apple orchard outside of Fort Dodge, Iowa over 35 years ago. My Apple Cider Sundae combines ice cream, cold apple cider, whipped cream and caramel topping. It’s a dreamy concoction that definitely will compete with hot apple cider.

With many unknowns in our future and isolation becoming our new normal, bringing family and close friends together for comfort food is gratifying and increases one’s endorphins.

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Harvest Pies

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4 mini pies, 8 servings; 1/2 pie per person

3 14.1oz. Refrigerated Pie Crust (3 boxes of 2 crusts per box)
4 C Canned Pie Filling, approximately 1/2 can. (Apple, Cherry, Peach, etc.)
1  Egg Yolk
1 T Water
2 tsp Sugar
Aluminum or Ceramic Pie Plates (I used 5 1/2" aluminum pie tins)
  1. Make two paper templates for the crusts.  Trace a 71/2” circle and 6” circle on paper and cut out.
  2. Allow crust pouches to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Unroll and cut one  7/12 circle out of one crust and two 6” circles out of the other crust. Repeat this process with crusts until you have (4) 7/12” circles and (4) 6” circles.
  3. Place the larger circle of crust into the pie tin, adjusting to fit.
  4. Pour pie filling into the bottom crust.  Place smaller circle on top and trim edges with a knife or scissors. Press top and bottom crust together. Press with the tine end of a fork to make a design.
  5. Beat egg yolk and water. Brush on top of pies. Sprinkle with sugar.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 25-35 minutes.

Harvest pies are a great addition to a Labor Day celebration, tail gating, or apple picking party.  Super easy to make with pre-made crusts and fillings. It’s a great project to involve the entire family. If desired you could substitute homemade crust and fillings. 

Have fun with the presentation of the pies. I took scraps of flannel and cotton fabric and  tied it around the top of the pie and attach a wooden fork. You could also add a tag that includes the name of the pie or the recipient.

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Apple Cider Sundaes

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Serves: 2

 

3 C Cold Apple Cider
4 C Vanilla Ice Cream
2 Cinnamon Sticks
3 T Caramel Ice Cream Topping, Aerosol Whipped Topping
  1. Divide four cups of ice cream between two clear cups or clear sundae glasses. Pour in 1 1/2 cups of apple cider into each cup or glass.
  2. Generously squirt whipped cream on top of the drink.  Drizzle each drink with 1 1/2 tablespoons of caramel. Garnish with cinnamon stick.

I made these on a night in August when the temperatures were in the lower seventies. After all the hot days of July, it really did seem like fall was soon approaching.  The tangy apple cider combined with the sweet ice cream and finished with creamy topping and caramel are sure to be a staple at bonfires this fall.

“Taste of Home” magazine notes that the difference between apple cider and apple juice is very simple. It starts as soon as the apples are picked! In most cases, apple cider is raw pressed apple juice that has not been filtered to remove pulp or sediment. It’s a fresh product that you’re most likely to see at local apple orchards or farmers markets. But apple juice is always filtered to remove the apple solids and then pasteurized so it stays fresh at a supermarket.

The result is two apple beverages with a very different look and flavor: Apple Juice: generally sweeter, with a clear and light color. Apple Cider: more tart and balanced, which is perfect for baking, with a dark and cloudy look.

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Carrot Cake Cookies

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 2 Dozen Cookies

Cookies:

3/4 C Melted Butter
1/2 C White Sugar
1 C Brown Sugar
1 Egg
1 Egg Yolk
1 t Vanilla
2 t Cinnamon
1/2 t Ginger
1 t Baking Soda
1/2 t Salt
2 1/2 C Flour
1 C Chopped English Walnuts
8 oz Shredded Carrots

Frosting:

1/2 C Butter
8 oz Cream Cheese
2 T Sour Cream
1 t Clear Vanilla
3-5 C Powdered Sugar
  1. Combine melted butter with sugars, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda and salt. Stir with a spoon while slowly adding in flour.  Do not over mix.
  2. Add carrots and chopped nuts into dough.
  3. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper then spray with cooking spray. Using a small ice cream scoop drop heaping spoonfuls onto cookie sheet.
  4. Bake for approximately 11-13 minutes at 375 degrees. Cool 1 minute then transfer to cooling rack.
  5. Frosting: blend softened cream cheese and butter till creamy. Add sour cream and vanilla. Sift powdered sugared and add slowly until desired consistency is achieved. Frost cookies.

These are my new favorite cookies. I thought they would turn out just okay but I even surprised myself. The frosting is unbelievable and ramps the cookies up to FABULOUS, but I still love them plain. The cookies are like little slices of the most decadent carrot cake every invented. You have to try them. Just don’t over-bake them.

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Mild Chicken Curry Soup

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 6

2 Medium Sweet Potatoes, Large Diced Pieces
2 Medium Carrots, 3/4" Slices
1 Purple Onion Large Diced Pieces
1 T Olive Oil
2 T Curry Paste
2 t Sriracha Sauce
1/2 t Ground Ginger
1/2 t Turmeric
15 oz Full Fat Coconut Milk
3/4 C Uncooked Quinoa
6 C Chicken Broth
1 lb Boneless, Skinless Chicken
1 Medium Green Pepper, Halved and Sliced
1 Lime, Juiced
Fresh Basil
  1. Sauté sweet potatoes, carrots and onions in olive oil for 10 minutes. Add curry paste, sriracha sauce, ginger, turmeric, coconut milk, quinoa and chicken broth. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove chicken and shred. Return chicken to the broth and add green peppers, lime juice and basil. Read to serve.

Throw everything in one pot or Dutch oven and this easy dish will turn into something extra special. I kept the spices simple and mild to allow everyone in the family the ability to enjoy the curry. While I was sautéing the vegetables, it reminded me of the stews of the region of Provence in France. As I continued to add the ingredients I realized that I was building a simple, hearty and delicious meal that wasn’t too heavy but full of layered flavors. Something that the French do very well.

I could almost smell the lavender, picture the many markets that I have gone to on my travels there and of course tasting the wine, pastries etc. Recently, a group of my friends that traveled together to France started reading books about France. We have went on several trips together and started discussing the books via Zoom. It’s not the same as meeting face-to face but is a way to still connect with friends during the pandemic.

I still love Okoboji, but France and other beaches around the world come in second.