As soon as the first frost hits—and let’s face it, often weeks before—our fickle food cravings begin their seasonal migration as well. Seemingly overnight, we find it easier to resist the balmy weather temptations of margaritas, potato salad, ribs and ice cream, instead seeking out comforting, hearty autumn flavors that evoke crackling fires, falling leaves and holiday fellowship.

For your fall festivities, try out these tantalizing recipes that each feature one or more of the classic flavor trio of apples, cranberries and pumpkin. Your guests will add the nostalgic—yet elegant—meal to their “Things I’m Thankful For” list.

WARM-UP

Apple cider is an autumn go-to beverage, and the recently opened Aftermath Cidery & Winery in Valparaiso offers a variety of “hard cider” options for tasting. Instead of wine, consider serving your guests seasonal flavors such as Aftermath’s “Hurricane” (cranberry-infused cider) or "Squall" (pumpkin-infused cider). Or, create this easy cider cocktail that offers a burst of caramel, cinnamon and apple.

Caramel Apple Mimosas

Ingredients

Caramel dip

Cinnamon sugar

Caramel vodka

Sweet hard cider (such as “Twister” from Aftermath Cidery & Winery), or nonalcoholic apple cider

Champagne or prosecco

Apple slices for garnish

Directions

Spread a layer of caramel dip on a small plate, and pour cinnamon sugar on another small plate. Dip the top of a champagne flute first in the caramel, and then in the cinnamon sugar to coat the rim.

Add a splash of caramel vodka to the flute, then fill to the halfway point with cider. Fill to the top with sparkling wine, and garnish with an apple slice.

Recipe adapted from Delish.com

THE MAIN EVENT

Roasted turkey has a divine aroma and flavor that is second to none, but brining the turkey in an apple cider mixture takes this classic entrée over the top. Nicole Bissonnette, co-owner/chef of Bartlett’s Gourmet Grill & Tavern in Beverly Shores, shares her recipe for making this memorable masterpiece.

Apple Cider Brined Turkey

Ingredients

8 cups local apple cider

2/3 cup kosher salt

2/3 cup brown sugar

4 bay leaves

6 whole cloves

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

6 whole garlic cloves

4 branches thyme

6 cups ice-cold water

Butter

Turkey

Directions

Bring first nine ingredients to a boil on stove; chill. Soak turkey in mixture overnight and up to 48 hours. Drain and pat dry with towel. Put turkey breast on greased baking pan. Push softened butter under skin and roast.

GREAT GRAINS

Thanksgiving isn’t typically a time when the word “salad” comes to mind, but this hearty side dish, featuring apple, cranberries and walnuts, is both colorful and rich with the texture of wheat grain.

Apple Grain Salad

Ingredients

1 cup farro

1-1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1-1/2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 green onions, thinly sliced

1 large apple, chopped

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts

Directions

Prepare farro according to package directions. Meanwhile, in large bowl, whisk together vinegar, honey, mustard, salt and pepper. While whisking, slowly drizzle in olive oil until all oil is incorporated.

Add onions, apple, cheese, cranberries, walnuts and prepared farro to bowl; toss until well combined. Serve immediately, or refrigerate up to 4 hours before serving.

Recipe from MichiganApples.com

ON THE SIDE

Squash is a traditional favorite side dish with a Thanksgiving meal, but this recipe incorporates three more teammates in the fall flavor spectrum: apple, cranberry and maple.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Ingredients

4 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms

2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock

6 acorn squash, halved lengthwise and seeded

5 tablespoons butter, divided

½ cup maple syrup

1 large red onion, diced

Salt, to taste

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1 celery root, peeled and diced

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon thyme leaves

1 cup whole wheat bread croutons, same size as diced vegetables

2 tart apples, peeled, cored, and diced

½ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

¼ cup dried cranberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the mushrooms and vegetable stock in a saucepot over medium-high heat and simmer until the liquid has been reduced by half. Remove from heat. Strain out the mushrooms and chop roughly. Reserve the stock.

Cut off a small part of the back of each acorn squash half so it sits flat on a parchment-lined baking sheet, with the hollow interior facing up. Heat 3 tablespoons butter and maple syrup together in a small pot just until butter melts. Stir and brush over the flesh of the squash.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté the onions in the butter for 2 minutes, seasoning with salt. Add the carrots and celery root and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and add the thyme leaves.

Pour the vegetable mixture into a large bowl and toss with croutons, apples, walnuts, and cranberries. Add the mushrooms and stock, stirring to ensure liquid is absorbed by the croutons.

Divide the mixture among the hollows of the acorn squash halves, mounding but not overflowing. Cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes, remove foil, and continue to cook for 15 minutes, or until the squash is fork-tender. Serve warm.

CTW Features, recipe courtesy of “The Chew: A Year of Celebrations: Festive and Delicious Recipes for Every Occasion” (Kingswell, 2014)

EDITOR'S CHALLENGE

There are certain desserts that just seem to scream, “Professional baker! State-of-the-art kitchen! Don’t try this at home!” The ultra-seasonal pumpkin roll—equally beautiful and delicious—is one of those intimidating recipes. (After all, how is it even possible to roll up cake?) But our decidedly non-professional “Magic of the Season” team decided to give it a try, and we couldn’t have been more pleased with the results. Just follow the directions carefully, and wow your guests with this perennial crowd-pleaser.

Pumpkin Roll

Ingredients

¼-1/2 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel)

3/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup pure pumpkin puree

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

6 tablespoons butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 15 x 10-inch jellyroll pan with non-stick cooking spray, line with parchment paper, and spray parchment paper with cooking spray. Sprinkle powdered sugar generously on a clean cotton kitchen towel. Set pan and towel aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt. In a large bowl, beat eggs, vanilla and sugar well with an electric mixer until thick. Add pumpkin and mix to combine. Stir in flour mixture.

Spread batter evenly into prepared pan, and bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. Immediately loosen and carefully invert cake onto prepared towel. Peel off parchment paper. Starting with the short end, roll up cake and towel together. Cool on wire rack for one hour until completely cool.

In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract until smooth. Carefully unroll cake, removing towel as it unrolls. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake, leaving a 1-inch border at the sides to avoid filling leakage. Reroll cake, wrap in plastic film, and refrigerate at least one hour.

Slice chilled, sprinkling with powdered sugar before serving.

Keep in refrigerator for up to 5 days, or wrap tightly in plastic wrap and foil and store in freezer for up to one month. Thaw to room temperature one hour before serving.

Recipe adapted from MyBakingAddiction.com.

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