With Halloween jumping out at us tomorrow, and Thanksgiving waiting around the corner, the season is sporting its brightest colors. The trees are rubicund with turning leaves; the farmers’ market ruddy with apples and pumpkins; the impulse rack in the supermarket checkout line ablaze with beckoning bags of candy corn. What better match for this resplendent palette than the melty orange Cheddar bubbling on top of reader favorite Southern macaroni and cheese?
Millie Peartree’s recipe, adapted by Kiera Wright-Ruiz, features a clever custard of eggs, melted butter and milk (in lieu of a roux), a luxuriously silky texture, and a gentle flavor from the combination of Cheddar and Colby Jack cheeses. Serve it as a cozy weeknight dinner, rounded out with a salad. Or bookmark it for upcoming festive gatherings: If your family likes mac and cheese along with their Thanksgiving turkey, this is the one.
Just as rosy hued and cool-weather cozy is Ali Slagle’s tomato-Parmesan soup, simmered from a couple of cans of plum tomatoes and some Parmesan rinds to give it depth. She suggests serving bowlfuls with Parmesan toasts for grilled cheese sandwich vibes. But I might go for a slab of my leftover mac and cheese, heated until glistening in the toaster oven.
On the ocher side of the fall mood board, Zainab Shah’s sheet-pan fish tikka with spinach is tinted golden with turmeric and red chile powder, and seasoned with garlic, fresh ginger root and garam masala. It’s ready in 20 minutes, so you can whip it up before carving that jack-o’-lantern you might be planning for tomorrow.
Just as speedy is Sue Li’s black pepper beef and cabbage stir-fry, which calls for an entire tablespoon of crushed black peppercorns. It may seem like a lot, but fear not. That fiery kick is perfectly balanced by brown sugar and a little cornstarch, which also helps thicken the sauce.
If you’re looking for something easy to feed your little witches and ghosts before sending them off trick-or-treating, you can’t go wrong with a batch of crunchy air-fryer chicken tenders as a base layer before the sugary onslaught. (For more air-fryer ideas, we’ve got you covered here.)
Then, when you surreptitiously pilfer your share of their Halloween stash, save some to make Erin Gardner’s kitchen sink cookies. They make use of pretty much any candy bits you’ve got, mixed with potato chips and pretzels for a savory, salty pop.
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The Great Pumpkin Seeds
If you are jack-o’-lanterning, be sure to save the seeds for roasting. You certainly can wash the pulp off the seeds first, as many recipes suggest, but I never do. I simply spread the pumpkin guts, seeds and all, on a parchment-lined sheet pan, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt, and bake at 325 degrees until the pulp dehydrates and the seeds turn golden brown (20 to 40 minutes). Let that cool completely, then season with a little more salt and ground cumin if you like. I adore nibbling on the crisp bits of pumpkin pulp nearly as much as I like crunching the seeds, which is a lot.