Pumpkins & Polka Dots and Festive Fall Fare: Part I

On a crisp and cool autumn night last week, the girls gathered for monthly Ladies Night at my house. With pumpkins and polka dots strewn throughout my home, guests feasted on a festive fall menu. This simple and affordable get-together makes for a great Halloween party, but has the legs to last through Thanksgiving.

As guests entered the house, they walked along a pathway of pumpkin lumineria, purchased from the dollar bin at Target. Mums, pumpkins dotted with acrylic glitter paint and my new fall favorite – a gray pumpkin – framed the doorway.

The ladies were treated to a buffet of festive fall fare including apple cider punch, party mix, pumpkin dip, fall spinach salad, butternut squash soup with pumpernickel croutons and caramel apple cupcakes, complete with sticks. Each of these items were pretty simple to make and created a fun fall menu.

Butternut squash soup is quickly becoming our family fall favorite recipe, especially with the new addition of an immersion blender to my kitchen tool repertoire. The simple to make pumpernickel croutons add that extra bit of crunch to the soup to leave you wanting more.

Butternut Squash Soup:

3 TBSP unsalted butter
3 TBSP all-purpose flour
4 C low sodium chicken stock
one butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
1 tsp curry powder
1 C heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

To begin this soup, you need to make a blonde roux. In a large pot, melt butter until it begins to bubble. Slowly whisk in flour until a thick mixture forms. Slowly whisk in room temperature chicken stock. Bring to boil. Add butternut squash and curry. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until squash is tender.

If you do not have an immersion blender, transfer contents of pot to a blender or food processor (this will likely be done in two steps). Puree until mostly smooth (I like to leave a few small chunks in for texture). Transfer back to pot and slowly whisk in cream over medium heat. Add salt and pepper. (If you use an immersion blender, just place into pot and puree until you reach the desired texture.) Top with pumpernickel croutons and serve.

Pumpernickel Croutons:

2 C pumpernickel bread, cubed
1 TBSP olive oil
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp oregano

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Spread on cookie sheet and toast for 15 minutes, flipping croutons halfway through.

The fall spinach salad included spinach, roasted and salted pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas), dried cranberries, four-pepper goat cheese and sliced Cortland apples, dressed in a creamy balsamic dressing. Pumpkin seeds are a great alternative to croutons or almonds for creating a fall salad.

Every good ladies night needs a good drink. While a good glass of wine will usually do, I decided to put together an apple cider punch for the occasion.

Apple Cider Punch:

6 C apple cider
2 C orange juice
juice of one lemon
1 bottle chilled champagne

Mix and serve over ice.

Join me tomorrow for the pumpkin dip and caramel apple cupcake recipes!

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2 Comments

Filed under Cook, Decorate, Drinks, Entertain, Main Dish, Sides

2 responses to “Pumpkins & Polka Dots and Festive Fall Fare: Part I

  1. This is so adorable. I can’t wait to try the pumpernickel croutons!

  2. Pingback: Homemade Apple Cider | HomeGrown Organics: Gainesville

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