Autumn Harvest Punch || Autumnal Equinox Dinner || Beverage

This was the main beverage for the A.E. Dinner. We started serving it during course #2. I LOVED this punch. It is so yummy.

Ingredients:

3 cups apple cider (or apple juice) -I got to use my mothers homemade apple juice, which tastes just like really good cider
1 can frozen orange juice (6 oz.)
2 cups cranberry juice
2 cups club soda
1/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp. cinnamon (or 1 cinnamon stick broken into pieces)
1-2 tsp. whole cloves
Orange slices (for garnish)
Cranberries (for garnish) (these were nowhere to be found in our corner of SW NM and SE AZ)

Directions:

In a large saucepan, combine all ingredients except club soda, orange slices and cranberries. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, strain and discard spices. Allow to cool. Pour into large punchbowl or pitcher. Add chilled club soda just before serving and stir. Garnish punch with orange slices and fresh cranberries (float them on top). Serve over crushed ice.

Double Decker Pumpkin Pie || Autumnal Equinox Dinner || Course 7

This was the dessert and final course of the A.E. Dinner. It was amazing. I absolutely love this recipe. There was not pumpkin pie filling to be found in Silver City, so I ended up making this completely from scratch. I got the recipe to make the pumpkin pie filling from scratch here. It made GREAT pie filling and it was fun to say that I made this starting with the pumpkin itself.
I know this pie is not pretty, but it sure tastes good!

Ingredients for crust:
2 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
2/3 c. white sugar
2/3 c. butter/margarine

Ingredients for Pie Filling:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon milk or half and half
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups whipped cream topping
1 graham cracker crust
1 cup cold milk or half and half
2 small vanilla flavored instant pudding packages
1 can pumpkin pie filling (16 oz) (I used 16 oz -which is 2 cups- of my homemade pie filling)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves

(If you make your own pie filling from scratch, you don't need the last 4 ingredients...it's in the pie filling!)

Method:

1. To make the crust, melt the butter and then add 2/3 c. sugar and the graham cracker crumbs. Press into a pie pan (preferably one of the large glass ones, not the little tin ones which aren't quite big enough).

2.To make the pie:
Beat cream cheese, 1 tablespoon of milk, and sugar with wire whisk until smooth. Gently stir in the whipped cream topping. Spread on bottom of graham cracker crust. Pour 1 cup milk into bowl, add pudding mix. Beat with wire whisk for one to two minutes--mixture will be thick. Stir in pumpkin and spices with wire whisk. Mix well. Spread over cream cheese layer. Refrigerate four hours, or until set.

Tuscan Style Pork Ribs with Balsamic Glaze || Autumnal Equinox Dinner || Course 6

This was course #6, and the main entrée, for my A.E. Dinner. I know it looks like I burned it, but I didn't. The spice rub and the glaze are very dark and you broil it at the end to make it the outer layer crispy. We served this with boiled red potatoes from my brother's garden (my mom brought the potatoes already boiled, we didn't prepare them).

Tuscan-Style Pork Ribs with Balsamic Glaze

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Standing (or Chilling) Time: 2-8 hours
Baking Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes


Serves about 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1-1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1-1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds, or 1-1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
2 teaspoons pepper
2 teaspoons fresh chopped sage, or 1 teaspoon dried sage
2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional, depending on how much heat you like
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
6 pounds pork ribs
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, rosemary, salt, fennel seeds, pepper, sage, thyme, paprika, red pepper, coriander, and allspice.

2. Rub spice paste all over ribs and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours, or refrigerate overnight (we refrigerated overnight).


3. Preheat oven to 325 F.

4. Arrange ribs on a large, rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan, meaty side up.

5. Roast ribs uncovered for 2 hours or until tender.


6. Preheat broiler. Brush meaty side of ribs with balsamic vinegar and broil 6 inches from heat until browned, about 2 minutes.


7. Let stand for 5 minutes, then cut between ribs, or serve in slabs.

Tip: You can use this glaze on pork chops, lamb chops, and cuts of chicken.

Lemon-Lime Sorbet || Autumnal Equinox Dinner || Course 5

Course #5 and the palate cleanser in the A.E. Dinner. The only sorbet I could find in Silver City was in a tiny case and it was expensive (and it would have been even more expensive to buy enough for everyone). So, I found a recipe and made it myself. This one was probably the most time consuming of the courses, but it was fairly easy. This serving looks tiny, but this stuff is intense. Don't take a big bite, this one is for nibbling on.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup freshly squeezed juice from lemons/limes (I could only find medium sized lemons and slightly smaller than medium limes, so it took me about 6 lemons and 7 limes to do a double recipe. You can use the bottled juice and just get a few lemons for the zest and bowls)
2 teaspoons fine lemon zest

METHOD


1. If you are not juicing your own fruit, skip this step and go to step 2.
Cut the lemons/limes in half. If you are using the lemon peel as a bowl, you will need to cut it in half lengthwise, otherwise the fruit juices easier if it is cut in half width-wise (how do you say not lengthwise?). Juice the fruit.

2. In a small saucepan on medium high heat, make a simple syrup by heating sugar and water until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool. Mix in the lemon juice and zest. Chill, either in the refrigerator, or by placing in a metal bowl over an ice bath.

3. Once the mixture has thoroughly chilled, freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. If you do not have an ice cream maker (we didn't), you may freeze it in a tall canister. Freeze for 1 1/2 hours. Remove and stir with a whisk. Return to the freezer and stir about once every hour for about 4 hours. The more times you stir, the more air will be incorporated, resulting in a lighter finished product. After 4 hours of stirring every 1/2 hour, put the sorbet in the blender and blend it on high until smooth (not too long or you will melt all your hard work).

4. Place sorbet in an airtight container and freeze until ready to serve.

5. In the mean time, between stirrings or whenever, scoop out the insides of the lemon halves and put in the freezer. When it is time to serve the sorbet (or an hour or two before serving time), scoop out the sorbet and fill the lemon half. You will have to mold the sorbet either with your hands or the spoon. I put on rubber gloves to do this so my hands wouldn't be as cold or as sticky.


Cream of Carrot-Cheddar Soup with Bread Bowls || Autumnal Equinox Dinner || Course 4

Course #4 in the A.E. Dinner. This was my hot soup for the meal. Again, it sounds weird, I know, but it is good too. It tastes a lot like a potato soup, so don't shy away from this one either (and it's super easy too). I made little bread bowls to go with the soup. They obviously aren't big enough for an actual serving, but it adds to the soup and the presentation.
Ingredients for Soup:

2 tbsp. butter
1/2 c. finely chopped onion
1 lb. carrots (8-10), shredded
1 lb. potatoes (3-5), shredded
6 c. broth, vegetables or chicken
1/2 tsp. thyme
1 bay leaf
Salt & pepper to taste
1 1/2 c. milk (may use part cream)
1-2 c. cheddar cheese, shredded

Preparation:

Saute onion in butter in large soup pot. Add all but milk and cheese and simmer until vegetables are tender. Add milk and cheese, stirring until cheese is melted. Discard bay leaf. Serve hot with parsley sprinkled over. (I served mine by pouring a spoonful of soup in the bottom of the bowl, then putting the bread bowl in the middle and filling the bread bowl with soup).

How to make the Bread Bowls:

You'll need:

Bread -I used $0.88 wheat bread for this (I'm cheap, I know). You can use whatever bread you want.
Olive Oil
Favorite spices (I used garlic salt, rosemary, and oregano)

Method:

Cut the crusts off the bread, then roll it out nice and flat and thin with a rolling pin.
Combine oil and spice in a bowl, then brush one side of the bread with the oil (you just need a light coating).
Pinch the bread slice in by the four corners and place in a muffin pan.
Flatten the bread against the pan, pushing the folds in at the walls.
Glaze the inside of the bread bowl with the oil/spice mixture.
Back at 350 until brownish and dry.


Autumn Salad With Maple-Cider Vinaigrette || Autumnal Equinox Dinner || Course 3

Course 3 of the A.E. Dinner was this crisp salad. The dressing is quite strong, but I loved it. It was different than anything I've tasted before.

Ingredients For the Salad:

1 (10-ouce) bag baby spinach (we just used regular spinach)

1 ripe Bartlett pear, cored and thinly sliced

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 (4-ounce) pkg crumbled blue cheese

Sugared Curried Walnuts (we didn't even buy these. I was going to put pecans in the salad, but I forgot)

Maple-Cider Vinaigrette (scroll down for recipe)


Preparation

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle with Maple-Cider Vinaigrette, gently tossing to coat


Maple-Cider Vinaigrette

Ingredients

1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2/3 cup olive oil

Preparation

Whisk together first 5 ingredients. Gradually whisk in oil until completely blended. Cover and refrigerate up to 3 days.

Baguette with Peach Brie || Autumnal Equinox Dinner || Course 2

This was course #2 in my A.E. Dinner. Some liked it, others thought it was weird. I liked it. Each person got about 4-5 (some picked more, some picked less) slices, I just forgot to take pictures during the dinner, and this was all the Brie and baguette that was left at my house (I sent the Brie and baguette leftovers home with my brother).

Ingredients:
1 baguette
1 pkg spreadable brie
1/4 c jelly (I used Cameron's peach freezer jam that he made)

Method:
1. Mix the brie and the jelly until you get the flavor combination you like.
2. Slice the baguette.
3. Spread brie on baguette.
4. Eat.

Chilled Raspberry Soup || Autumnal Equinox Dinner || Course 1

For the first course in my A.E. Dinner, I served a Chilled Raspberry Soup. I know, it sounds weird, but it is scrumptious. Give it a try before ruling it out. And...if you are ever craving soup on a hot day, here's a soup you can make without heating your house up! It could even be used as a dessert if you wanted.

Ingredients:
4 cups raspberries (I used fresh ones because I found a great sale, but you can use frozen one too)
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. cranberry juice (it calls for red wine, but says cranberry juice will work too)
1 c. sour cream

Method:
1. Place raspberries, sugar, and juice in a blender. Cover and blend on high speed until smooth.
2. Pour mixture into a bowl; stir in sour cream. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours or until cold. Serve topped with dollops of additional sour cream and raspberries if desired.

Autumnal Equinox Dinner

So, Cameron has been telling me about his family's solstice dinner for a while. As they had tamales and posole for Christmas, they would have a traditional Christmas meal (ham, potatoes, etc.) on the solstice so they could have the best of both worlds and meals. The dinner was also used as a time to teach etiquette.

Cameron and I thought it would be fun to do this, but we figure for the next couple of years we will be at someone else's house during that time and it would be a little difficult, so we decided to do an Autumnal Equinox dinner instead. This year we held it a day early and had the dinner on September 21 (instead of the 22nd...which is this year's equinox date) because the 21st is my little sister's birthday. So we combined the equinox dinner with her birthday dinner and had a ball.

I also had been wanting to try to make and serve a 7 course meal to a small group, so I used this as the opportunity to do so. I got much of what I did from a meal that my cousin Rhett and his wife Missy put on for me and my friends when I lived with them in Hershey, PA. The next 7 or so posts will be the different foods/courses that we had. This post is just explaining it all, giving the menu, and showing the set up.

First off, here's the menu:

Course 6: Tuscan Style Pork Ribs with Balsamic Glaze, served with a side of boiled Red Potatoes

Now here's the set up:
Luckily, all the stuff I have been given over the years matched! I ended up buying new dishes for this with birthday money, but I wanted nice new dishes anyway. The baby indian corn and the gourds I got at Albertsons.
I've had these glasses for a few years. I bought them at the Dollar Tree for a buck each when I did a 5 course meal for some friends for a date. I think they're so pretty.

Because Nina was the guest of honor (for her birthday) and Heber eats with his left hand, I wanted people to sit in specific spots to make everything flow better. I thought of doing name cards, but then I switched ideas. I got the gourd idea from watching the show Reba. Cameron thought it was a little funny, but I think they added an autumny touch and the family all really liked them. To put their initial on I just used poster paint pens and permanent markers.




Prickly Pear Slush

Here's what you need:

3-5 Ripe Prickly Pear Fruit (more if the fruit are small)
Ice
Water
1/3 c. sugar

Here's what you do:

1. Remove the spikes. We did this by burning them off using our gas stove. You can use a candle too.
2. Cut the ends off the fruit and then cut it in half.
3. Scoop out the inside of the fruit, seeds and all, or peel the skin off with a knife.
Your peeled/scooped fruit will look like this.
4. Fill the blender 1/2 full of ice. Add the sugar, the fruit, and about 1/2 c. of water to start (more may be needed).
5. Blend until the ice is crushed to the right consistency/size. You may need to add more water to make it more drinkable.
6. Pour into a glass and enjoy! Don't you just love the color?!
7. This would also be good as a smoothie. We haven't tried it, but I think it would be good with some orange or peach sherbet mixed in with it. Maybe some orange juice.