It’s that time of the year.  The bright warm mornings of summer have been replaced almost instantly with cool crispness in the morning air.  Summer produce has given way to pumpkins and apples.  And green leafy trees are showing vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow.  I love the change in seasons.  As much as I have enjoyed this spectacular, eventful, and beautiful summer, and I have thoroughly, I am excited to welcome the fall.

We went to Goodwill last week and tried on Halloween costumes. It was a fun way to pass the morning, and it kept the shoppers chuckling.

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It was also cheap!  We scored the Tigger and Monkey costumes for $5 each.  She hasn’t worn the monkey costume yet, because she would live as Tigger if we let her.  She wore it home, all that day and the next, and she wore it yesterday and some of today.  I’m going to have to break down and wash it soon.

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We picked up a pumpkin at the grocery store the other day. That’s unusual for us because it’s early, and because I like to get them from a farm if at all possible.  But the feeling was in the air, so I picked out a good one and promised Zoe we’d go home and decorate for fall.

Zoe was so excited with that idea she kept repeating ‘I really want to go home and decorate the house right now’. I was a little worried about disappointing her – my stash of fall decor is teeny-tiny, but she is two and has no concept of decorating!  It didn’t phase her that all ‘decorating’ entailed was spreading a handful of fake fall leaves on our mantlepiece, putting two metal jack o’lanterns in our front room window, and propping our four year old scarecrows up behind our porch chairs.

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Small touches, but they made us both smile.  Welcome fall!

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This is also a great time of year for cooking comfort foods, and in a pique of efficiency, I decided to kill almost all of the meal demands for the weekend in one kitchen session.  After a mediocre chicken pot pie at a restaurant a few weeks ago, and with the grey weather we had on Friday, I googled ‘chicken pot pie soup’.  I selected this recipe from atasteofsanity.com and started prepping it late yesterday afternoon.   It used whole foods, it was easy and fairly quick, and most important: we loved the result! We’ll add it to our rotation, and next time I’ll opt for only 3 tbsp of the Montreal Steak Seasoning.  With the full 4 tbsp added, our soup was almost too seasoned for Zoe but she ate a large helping for dinner, and another one for lunch today.

But back to my kitchen efficiency!  As the chicken pot pie soup simmered on the stove Friday night, I prepped this pumpkin lasagna for Saturday night and Sunday leftovers.  I subbed cottage cheese for the ricotta since we had a big Costco tub in the fridge, and I chopped two large handfuls of spinach and mixed it in with the cheese.  I assembled the lasagna then stuck it in the fridge overnight.  We put it in the oven for 45 minutes tonight and had dinner with no prep! (Yes, if you are wondering, those are canned green beans. Sorry foodies, we have a toddler!)IMG_6582

This recipe called for one cup of pumpkin puree and I had two 28 oz cans on hand.  Since I was already on a roll in the kitchen, we took some of the extra pumpkin puree and made some pretty tasty chocolate chip pumpkin cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction – my FAVORITE cookie blog.   Zoe and I broke the cookie dough rules and baked them up directly after mixing. Sally recommends chilling cookie dough before baking, and that normally gives us great results.  But we started the cookie project at 7pm, and if you’ve ever baked with a toddler, you know it can take longer, require more patience, and be a bit messier than anticipated.

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So we cooked together, broke the rules and baked freshly mixed cookies, and enjoyed a little piece of Autumnal heaven tucked into a pumpkin chocolate chip cookie.

IMG_6570 What you can’t see from this top down view is how cakey this cookie is – and how Sally’s blog describes all of the steps taken in creating a recipe for CHEWY pumpkin cookies – this is where the chilling rule comes in! Yes, they were a bit cakey-er than we planned, but they were still tasty!  We rolled the rest of the dough into cookie balls and popped them into the freezer, then had more cookies for snack tonight (wow, I’m absolutely indulgent – cookies for snack, two nights in a row?)  Tonight’s cookies were the chewy treats I’d hoped they’d be.  Rats! I didn’t take a picuture to show the difference!

But even after the lasagna and the cookies, I have over a cup of puree left, so pumpkin pancakes are on the menu tomorrow morning!  So Friday night I cooked enough food for about six meals.  I think I’ll try to do more of this type of meal planning in the future, if I can remember to rinse and reuse measuring cups and pans, it will even cut down on the number of dishes we need to do!

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It’s  been a great weekend of welcoming the fall to our house.  Zoe is so much more involved this year than last, and it will be like this for the next few years, I’m sure.  I’m looking forward to all of the other activities the fall will bring: Visiting a pumpkin patch, trekking through a corn maze, carving or painting a pumpkin with Zoe, and getting the backyard wrapped up for winter.

What are you doing to welcome fall to your house?

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