fall family get-together.

Posted by dani handrian
Hi everyone!

Sorry to be a bit MIA this week! Halloween, and some major back issues, have kept me away. But no time for that silly back stuff, as today I get to have my whole family over to celebrate a visit from my brother and sis-in-law, who live in Portland. Since we're still so close to Halloween, I've kept up the decorations and kept to that theme for the kiddos, with a more fall focus for the adults. In the mix are vegan, vegetarian and meat-lovers alike, so I had to expand my offerings a bit, and it was a lot of fun to try out some new things. I thought I'd share what's on my menu. I'll let you know if I have any favorites and/or failures! :)

We always must begin with drinks! Martha's shrunken heads in cider (source) made me laugh. Spiced cider is the best. The apple heads are just an awesome bonus. The reviews from the source were mixed, so I'll let you know how it works out.

Sparkling Spiced Apple Cider...vodka, sparkling cider, orange juice, cinnamon. Well that sounds delicious.

Leinenkugels Autumn Sampler beers with Oktoberfest, Honey Weiss, Orange Shandy and Hoppin' Helles. We only have one box of these left, because we forgot to load up and they had switched over to Winter Sampler yesterday. So we added one of those. I don't think the beer drinkers will be too upset. :)

A wine drinker myself, I had to set up a load of some of the fun seasonal wines our local store had on tap.

Tossed some silly labels on the soda:

Some appetizers to kick things off. I like this pretty veggie tray of yellow and orange peppers, carrots, cauliflower and some tasty dip. Easy peasy and made ahead.

Deviled spider eggs. So cute!

Appley Kielbasa -- We have some Polish heritage, and so we like our kielbasa. I always associate it with Easter, but I thought this looked like a tasty appetizer.

Spiced and roasted chickpeas. I tested these out earlier, and found I needed to roast mine for quite a bit longer than the original recipe I found noted, using a glass dish, in order to crisp them up enough. I can't seem to find that original recipe though! I added a number of spices, like curry, cumin and nutmeg. They taste delicious on their own, but would be great on top of the salad.

Fun kiddo offerings: clementine "pumpkins" and boo bananas for the kiddos. (Pics unsourced on Pinterest)

We'll start with an autumn arugula salad with caramelized squash + pomegranate ginger vinaigrette (source) -- Could this look any more gorgeous and autumnal? As I know we have some different tastes, I've left off assembling, and will let those add what they will to their own dishes. We do buffet style here. I plan to have both acorn squash and sweet potatoes, which they can add to the salad or just use as a side.

Pumpkin-shaped dinner rolls (source) -- I tested these out first, and they're super easy, especially if you buy the Rhodes dinner rolls from the freezer section! Little tip, spray your sharp knife before cutting. Or, just use kitchen shears. You can use a walnut or a pretzel nugget for your stem. Yum, I love a warm roll with butter, and these are adorable.

The main item on the menu is chili, meat and vegan). I have my own thrown-together meat version, and tried a new recipe for the vegan option, which is delicious! I like my chili spiiiicy, but toned it down a bit for the family and will offer some hot sauce/chili flakes on the side, along with all the toppings. When you have a big group for a casual dinner, I think chili is always welcome and delicious and easy, which is lovely for the hostess. You can make it ahead, then put them both in the crockpot earlier and ta-da, you're done.

As for dessert, my sister is bringing apple pies from a local bakery, The Elegant Farmer (they ship, and are delicious!), and my aunt is bringing cookies.

It was still fun to peruse all the fun fall offerings on Pinterest, so I'll share what I had initially planned to make with with you, Caramel Apple Cupcakes. Here is the lovely recipe for actual apple cupcakes with cream cheese filling (and source for photo). If this is too fussy, you can just make a spice cake and add some caramel sauce on top, topped by the popsicle stick. Perhaps offer some chopped peanuts to sprinkle on top.

So there you have my menu. I'm looking forward to gobbling it all up and hope it all turns out ok.

I still have my Halloween decor up for this weekend:

(my son's "Dancing Leafman" artwork from 4k -- love!)

I'm so happy to have been able to host something this fall, as I tend to always host holiday parties. Have you been hosting this fall? Will you host Thanksgiving? Any favorite fall comfort foods you love to cook?

Have a wonderful weekend!

p.s. Did you see J.Crew's new promo this morning? 30% off fall with code LOVEFALL, and 40% off for cardholders with code CARMEMBER. Will you be taking advantage or are you on to holiday gift shopping like me?

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