A Taste of Fall

Seasonal changes always inspire What’s on My Plate, and with temperatures dipping and a recent ‘leaf peeping’ road trip to North Georgia, inspiration is abundant. Nothing tastes better on a chilly autumn night than a cup of tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich, so that’s up first.

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds medium tomatoes *shortcut (2 cups roasted tomato sauce) 
  • 1 head of garlic, cut in half
  • olive oil
  • fresh basil
  • 3 large red bell peppers *shortcut (use 2 cups roasted red peppers)
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups whole milk (sub vegetable broth if desired)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F and place the tomatoes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Place the two halves of garlic and the fresh herbs in with the tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Transfer the tomatoes and a few of the roasted garlic cloves squeezed from the shells (I used about 5 pieces) into a blender and blend until smooth. Reserve the remainder of the roasted garlic (keep refrigerated) for other purposes. Pour the tomato sauce into a large sauce pot. Add the half onion and butter, bring to medium heat, and cook for about 20 minutes.
  • Skip the next instruction if using purchased roasted red peppers.
  • Raise the oven temperature to 425°F. Line the baking sheet with foil and place the peppers on the sheet. Bake the peppers for 30 minutes or until puffed and blistered. Set aside until cool enough to handle then peel the skin from the pepper and discard along with the stems and seeds.
  • Add the roasted tomato sauce and a few pieces of onion to the blender along with the roasted red pepper. Blend until smooth. Add the tomato and pepper mixture back to the pot and stir in the milk. Heat until warmed through and season with more salt and pepper to taste. For a thinner soup, add more milk or broth if you have substituted.
  • Top with a sprig of basil.

Yield – four generous servings

Fruit Dishes

Pears, apples, and figs all come to mind when I think about fall fruits. One of my ‘never fail’ appetizers is a toasted crostini, spread with ricotta cheese and topped with a couple of very thin slices of pear, apple, or fig. Drizzle a little honey over the top, and there you have it – perfection! Take it to another level with a sliver of prosciutto wrapped around the fruit slices.

I also like serving fruit as the first course of an elegant dinner party, and my favorite is roasted pears on butter lettuce. I don’t remember where I found this recipe, but I have modified it many times over the years and rarely make it the same. We made this dish most recently for a friend’s birthday celebration. It is easy to do ahead and the pears can be served cold or at room temperature. I used bosc pears because they hold together well when baked and they taste good. Use whatever kind you like, just keep in mind the baking time may need to be adjusted.

For this, our latest variation, I have placed a square of goat cheese rolled in toasted pecans on the side of the plate. Nothing pairs better with fruit than delicious cheese! If you don’t like goat cheese, consider using a good blue cheese, Roquefort, or slice of camembert.

Process:

Halve the pears and remove the seed. Slice quarter-inch notches starting about one inch from the stem. Toss a bunch of thyme on a cookie sheet and place the pears, cut side down onto the thyme sprigs. Press gently to fan out the pears. Drizzle with honey and add a sprinkle of sea salt over each piece. Bake in a 400-degree oven for about 20 minutes. The pears can sit out on the cookie sheet for a couple of hours, or be refrigerated until needed.

Use a fork to mix 1/4 cup of softened goat cheese with 1/4 cup of softened cream cheese. Use a tablespoon to scoop out the mixture and roll it into a small ball. Flatten the ball. Coat the cheese with toasted pecans or walnuts. Variation for a more festive presentation, add chopped dried cranberries and finely chopped green onion tops to the nuts.

Plate the salad:

I used two lettuce leaves on each plate. Place the pear on the plate of lettuce, add the cheese wedge, and drizzle with a mixture of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. I have also used this simple recipe for a champagne vinaigrette that I like equally as well.

Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients

Click here for the complete recipe

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/3 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup LIBBY’S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup water

The Inspiration Behind the Food

Braselton, Georgia is located about nine hours north of our home in South Florida and Chateau Elan is a destination unto itself. We tore ourselves away from all this loveliness for a day trip to Amicalola Falls and Montaluce Winery. The Dahlonega wine trail offers a great guide to this area.

The hike to the falls is labeled strenous, but we were not disuaded by the 175 steep steps to the viewing platform and made it with relative ease. Coming down was a bit tougher on the knees, but we’d do it again to enjoy the view.

leaves, glorious leaves……

Linking with What’s On Your Plate – November. Thank you Donna and Deb for hosting this monthly opportunity to share. If you would like to participate please visit them here and here.

43 thoughts on “A Taste of Fall

    1. Hi Jacqui, I apologize for the late acknowledgment. Your comment was in moderation and I just noticed it. Anyway, thanks for visiting Picture Retirement. Yes, we love making it up as we go; discovering what fits and what doesn’t. Two things we know for certain are that we love to travel and we love to cook. Have a wonderful weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Perfect timing! We have guests coming to visit soon and these are all good ideas. It’s definitely soup time. We had tomato soup and grilled cheese just this week since the temps are dropping. Your trip looked lovely. Good to get in a hike in combination with the tasting.

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    1. Tracey, in addition to a few little hikes, we also rode bikes on the property where we were staying. We are not used to hills, so it was a bit of a challenge, but fun. I’ll admit to having to walk the bike a few times uphill – downhill was a blast!

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  2. I love when the weather turns to soup weather! I am definitely going to make that tomato soup… it looks yummy! I have a question, though. Since tomatoes tend to taste rather bland this time of year, is it best to go with your shortcut and use roasted tomato sauce, and, if so, does that come in a can?

    I’m also anxious to try your pear and crostini appetizer the next time we have someone over. Oh, what the heck, no need to wait for guests, right?

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    1. Hi Janis, yes, you can get roasted tomatoes in a can. I think Hunts makes them. I added the ‘cutting corners’ options to mimic Donna and Deb’s posts, but I am sure it will be just as good or better with canned tomatoes. Let me know how it turns out.

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  3. Suzanne, I love the Georgia mountains in the fall! You captured them beautifully! It’s been many years since we made the hike to Amicalola Falls. I remember it was tough even when we were young. Congratulations on making it to the top! Your recipes look delicious. Happy fall!

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  4. Hi Suzanne I love experiencing Fall vicariously as where I live our Fall isn’t quite as pronounced and I would have to travel far for the Fall colours. Your recipes are definitely going onto my list. They sound delicious especially the Roasted Pear on butter lettuce which sounds quite different. Your photos of where you stayed are stunning and well done with the hike. Take care and enjoy life! xx

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    1. Sue, I especially like the roasted pear salad because it is easy to make, looks impressive on the plate, and tastes great, especially when you pair it with good cheese and a nice glass of wine. Where we live is green all the time, and the temperature doesn’t vary much from summer to winter, so we drove 9 hours to see those beautiful colors. It’s a long trip, but worth it.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Donna, thanks for the pumpkin, tomato soup recipe. That is a unique combination that I will have to try. I had fun putting this post together for What’s On Your Plate and I enjoyed reading a lot of the other posts. Thanks for the inspiration.

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    1. Hi Deb, thanks for the inspiration. You gals are a hoot. I loved the ‘shortcut’ theme of both your posts and even incorporated a couple in the soup recipe. Malcolm makes everything from scratch, but I prefer to cut corners when possible. If you arrive at virtually the same place, why not?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Suzanne – I loved the back story to the food. I’m not a foodie, so don’t really “get” recipe sharing etc, but I always enjoy hearing why someone chose a particular meal to share. Your photos were great and it looks like it was a fabulous time for the two of you.

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    1. Hi Leanne, I get it. Food is sustenance for some people and art for others. I fall somewhere in between. I love plating pretty food that tastes good, but I also love having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on a paper plate. Thanks for complimenting the photos. I had more to share but didn’t want to overdo it.

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  6. Your recipes are exactly what we [in the northern hemisphere] need this time of year. I especially like your never fail appetizer. I’ve heard of Braselton, Georgia. It looks like my kind of vacation destination.

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    1. Hi Ally, Braselton was an interesting place. It seems to be a suburb of Atlanta, but it also has a lot of industry. I had pictured it to be quaint, and I think it wants to be, but it falls short. A luxury hotel seems a bit out of place in the environment, but we enjoyed it all the same.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Suzanne,
    Thanks for sharing the pictures of Amicalola Falls. That’s only three hours south of us, and we haven’t spent much time in N. Georgia, so we need a new destination to explore (and camp). Your Pumpkin Bread looks divine. Have a great weekend. Joe

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    1. Hi Joe, we have been going to north Georgia for a few years now and tend to try a new place each time. Braselton was interesting, and we liked the amenities of the hotel, but it felt like a ‘conference hotel’ if you know what I mean – a bit sterile and cold. I prefer places that have warmth and charm.

      We love Dahlonega, which is a little further north of where we were this time. The downtown area has an old-time feel, there are apple orchards and lots and lots of vineyards to visit. Brasstown Bald is another great location and has the highest mountain peak in GA. Lots of waterfalls and hiking trails in both places. I’m sure there must be camping sites throughout the area. Thanks for stopping by. I hope all is well with you guys.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I love fall! Your roasted pear salad looks delicious. I’ve made a similar salad, but you’ve inspired me to serve it like you did next time. I like food that is delicious and also pretty. :-)) And what a fun getaway you had to see some fall color! Cute photo of you two.

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  9. Hi Laurel, the pear salad is like a little black dress – you can dress it up or down, depending on your mood. The fall getaway was a blessing and the timing was perfect for the area. I took both a before and after picture of the hike to the waterfall – too vain to show the latter. 🙂

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  10. There’s nothing better than tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches!! I’ve never been a pumpkin lover, but strangely, I now seem to enjoy things like pumpkin bread. Go figure!! Sounds like a great fall trip.

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  11. Great recipes and photos to go along with them, Suzanne. Homemade soup is always extra special comfort food. I can (almost) smell the pumpkin bread. 😊You are right on how coming down is tougher on the knees. Thank you for sharing the gorgeous photos! The colours this Autumn appear to be extra vibrant and beautiful. You and your husband look great, glowing in health. 💕

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