Fall Flavors

Samantha Schwalm   BY SAMANTHA SCHWALM


As the leaves start to change, so should our cooking.


The crisp apples of autumn.

The crisp apples of autumn.

While many think fall brings football, cooks look forward to a variety of root vegetables and Michigan-grown apples and pears. The time for cold salads and grilled meats has passed. Let’s save those summer foods for next year and serve up comfort foods that bring wonderful smells to the kitchen; meals that warm the body and soul as the weather starts to cool.


Fall vegetables at the farmers market.

Fall vegetables at the farmers market.

One of the easiest ways to do this, and still stay healthy, is with soups. One of my favorite fall recipes is a roasted root vegetable soup, which features carrots, parsnips, and butternut squash. I love to serve it out of mini pumpkins. While rich with seasonal flavors, it is relatively low in calories.


A sumptuous selection of squash.

A sumptuous selection of squash.

Another wonderful autumnal meal is pork chops stuffed with cranberries, apples, and stuffing. Serve with steamed green beans and some fresh applesauce and you have a completely hearty meal. The leftover vegetables may be turned into a one-pan chicken dish. Simply place chicken breasts into a baking dish with diced butternut squash, green beans, and apples tossed with a little balsamic vinegar. Add a side salad, and you have another full and filling meal.


Autumn colors.

Autumn colors.

And what would October be without pumpkin? Pumpkin risotto with butternut squash is great fall dish—exploring the pumpkin’s savory side is always a crowd pleaser. A great family friend of mine growing up always made the best pumpkin squares with cream cheese frosting, and I think of her and the smells of her kitchen every time I make her recipe.


The quintessential October pumpkin.

The quintessential October pumpkin.

No matter which flavors of fall you love, remember that your food can warm you up just as much as the sweater you’re reaching for in your closet!


Samantha in the kitchen.

Samantha in the kitchen.

Root vegetable soup

3 T coconut oil

1 butternut squash

4 carrots

1 onion

1 garlic clove, diced

4 parsnips

2 bay leaves

1 clove of garlic

8 cups vegetable or chicken stock

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

1 tsp salt

1 tsp white pepper


Dice up all of the vegetables.

In a Dutch oven, place coconut oil, then add onion, garlic, carrots, parsnips, and squash; sauté until tender.

Add chicken/vegetable stock and bay leaves.

Simmer for 25 minutes.

Blend soup with a hand blender or ladle into food processor.

Place back into the Dutch oven and add nutmeg, ginger, salt, and white pepper.


Stuffed pork chops

4 boneless pork chops, sliced 3/4 of the way in the middle

1 apple, diced

1 cup cranberries

2 cups diced bread

1 T poultry seasoning

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup diced carrots

1/2 cup diced celery

1/2 cup diced onion

1T butter


Preheat oven to 375.

In a sauté pan, sauté add butter, carrots, onion, and celery until tender.

Fold in diced bread.

Add poultry seasoning, pepper, salt, cranberries, and apples.

On a greased baking pan, place the four pork chops.

Stuff each of the pork chops equally with the filling.

Bake for 30 minutes.