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It is officially Fall! The foliage is becoming crisp and turning vibrant shades of red and amber, and of course, we celebrate all things pumpkin and pumpkin spice. The days are now shorter, and the air is much cooler. This is the time of year to spend the mornings curled up under a warm blanket reading a library book while sipping a coffee or a hot chocolate. Or bundling up during the evenings in a thick sweater and cozy scarf while at bonfires and football games. 

With the winter season fast approaching, this is the perfect time of year for families to gather together and cook and bake their favorites. Teens and even younger children will benefit by being involved. It is never too early to pass along cherished recipes while teaching them the importance of healthy nutrition and kitchen safety.

In this blog, I will provide four autumn meal inspirations (some are my own photos), with specific recipes for each. I will also provide three autumn and winter craft inspirations so you can decorate your home and make it beautiful and festive for the upcoming season. Lastly, I will provide additional resources for cooking and baking delicious fall recipes, making gorgeous crafts, and creating a perfectly inviting space.

Part I: Autumn Meal Inspirations and Recipes

Below are four autumn meal inspirations (some are my own photos), with specific recipes for each.

October is National Chili Month: This is the ultimate comfort food for cooler weather, and it is also very healthy, containing a lot of protein from the meat and beans. In addition, it is a great source of fiber and iron. Click here to learn more about the history of this observance.

The first recipe is courtesy of celebrity chef Ree Drummond of the Food Network program, The Pioneer Woman. It is a recipe for “Simple, Perfect Chili” (click here for the original recipe). 

*Here are my specific modifications:

Pictured is “Veggie Chili”

“Veggie Chili” and “Chili Con Carne” from one “Simple, Perfect Chili” recipe: 

NOTE: I cut the recipe in half, and I use 2 pots, one pot for “Veggie Chili” and one pot for “Chili Con Carne.” I use olive oil (cover the bottom of the pot). And I use appx. ½-cup chopped red onions softened in the olive oil for about 5 minutes over medium-low heat in each pot. 

 I love to add fresh chunks of mozzarella cheese and let them slowly melt into the warm chili (pictured).

“Chili Con Carne:” Brown 1-lb. ground beef in oil and softened onion mixture until beef is cooked and no longer pink. Take (2) 1-cup Pyrex measuring cups, and use 1-can of tomato sauce in each cup, with ⅓ can of water to rinse the cans’ leftovers into each cup. 

Add ½ tsp chopped garlic in each cup (I buy chopped garlic in the produce section of the store), along with the seasonings (I use 2-Tablespoons of chili powder to each cup of sauce. Then cut the rest of the recipe seasoning measurements in half, such as ½-teaspoon of Cumin, etc.) Mix, and pour one of the sauce/seasoning mixtures into each pot. 

Cover each pot and simmer on the lowest setting for one hour. Place ¼-cup Masa Harina (corn flour) and ½-cup warm water in Ball (canning) jars (make one of these corn flour mixtures for each of the two pots of chili). Cover and shake well until blended. Add the contents of Ball jars to each chili pot. Simmer and stir for 15 minutes. 

The following ingredients will be added to each pot (more or less to taste and texture. Leave out whichever frozen veggies you don’t like/want in your chili):

  • 1-can of black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1-can of dark or light red kidney beans (rinsed and drained)
  • ½-cup frozen, chopped carrots and peas mix
  • ½-cup frozen corn

Heat the chili for about 30 minutes. Serve warm with suggested toppings. 

Second is my favorite recipe for homemade “Chicken Pot Pie,” courtesy of the 1978 Betty Crocker cookbook (refer to scanned images below for original ingredients and directions for the filling and homemade pie crust).

*Disregard the notation about Celery Seed Pastry – I always make the homemade Standard Pastry Crust (directions below).

The third is my own recipe (with step-by-step photos) for homemade “Black Bean Peach Mango Avocado Nachos.” You can create whatever nacho sheet pan meals you desire (there are countless flavor combinations). Included in this blog are two very helpful books, which are also linked below in the extensive list of additional resources from our CCPL catalog: Nachos For Dinner: Surprising Sheet Pan Meals the Whole Family Will Love by Dan Whalen and Sheet Pan Suppers Meatless: 100 Surprising Vegetarian Meals Straight From The Oven by Raquel Pelzel.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 bag corn chips (I use Tostitos Scoops)

  • 1 bag Monterey Jack cheese or CoJack cheese

  • 1 (15.5 oz) can black beans or refried beans such as this brand

  • 1 large ripe avocado (or your favorite premade guacamole such as this brand)

  • 1 jar salsa (I use Desert Pepper Peach Mango Salsa)

  • 1 large baking sheet

  • Parchment paper

NOTE: Click here for great tips (and photos) on how to safely cut and peel a ripe avocado.

Directions:

Step One: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper, and spread out your favorite corn chips over the entire baking sheet on top of the paper. Open the can of black beans or refried beans (if using black beans, I prefer to rinse and drain the beans first). Place a large spoonful of beans onto each corn chip.

Step Two: Open the jar of salsa and once again, place a large spoonful of salsa onto each corn chip, on top of the black beans (or refried beans).

Step Three: If using ripe avocado, wash it first and then carefully slice it open, pit it, score it, and scoop the soft chunks into a bowl, gently mashing them together. You can add whatever you want (I keep it simple and add ground pepper, a pinch of sea salt, and freshly squeezed lemon juice). Place spoonfuls of the mashed avocado onto each corn chip, on top of the beans and salsa. For a quicker option, use your favorite brand of premade guacamole from the store.

Step Four: Sprinkle the Monterey Jack (or CoJack) cheese all over the top of the nachos, thoroughly coating the entire pile. It is up to you how much cheese you would like to use (I prefer very cheesy nachos).

Step Five: Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese is completely melted and bubbling over the nachos. Plate and serve immediately.

Fourth is a recipe courtesy of The Food Network Kitchen. It is for homemade pumpkin bread called “The Best Pumpkin Bread” (click here for the original recipe). I have been baking this particular pumpkin bread for many years and this recipe is truly my favorite, for pumpkin bread. It is the best one I have ever found.

NOTE: I also add 1 tsp Vanilla extract and 1 cup chopped walnuts (this is optional).

Part II: Autumn and Winter Craft Inspirations

Below are three autumn and winter craft inspirations so you can decorate your home and make it beautiful for the upcoming season. The first craft inspiration is from the Internet, but the second and third autumn and winter crafts are my very own blog posts courtesy of our CCPL @ HOME BLOG. Please click on the title to read a preview of the blog, and then click on the photo to access the blog post in its entirety.

(Courtesy of A Cultivated Nest.com)

Pumpkin spice candles that you can DIY! If you’re like me, then you love to stop to smell the candles in stores like Target or Bath and Body Works. However, while I like to smell candles, I don’t always like the candles’ prices (some larger candles cost $25 or more!). And also, I don’t like that some candles contain toxins that get released when you burn them. So how do I get around all of that? By making my own candles!”

(October 2021)

“As the weather turns cooler, and summer planting season comes to an end, why not bring the garden fun indoors with a fall-themed garden craft? You can keep these painted clay pots for yourself, decorate your kitchen and dining room table, or give them as a gift.”

(December 2021)

“Winter is here, and what better way to mark the season than by making these beautiful, festive crafts! You can keep these scrap fabric decorations for yourself or give them as a gift. 

Let yourself get creative…if you don’t have scrap fabric, there are alternatives. Here, I will teach you how to make two adorable crafts that are perfect for the season.”

Part III: Additional Resources

If you would like even more ideas for creating beautiful autumn crafts, below is a link containing fun projects. Also highlighted is our newest free crafting database, Creativebug, as well as a myriad of wonderful resources for cooking and baking the perfect fall meals and creating festive crafts from our CCPL catalog.


50+ Fancy DIY Fall Craft Ideas to Bring Autumn to Your Home


For more inspiring crafting ideas, please visit CCPL’s newest free crafting database, Creativebug. Creativebug has thousands of award-winning art & craft video classes taught by recognized design experts and artists. It brings the latest in art and craft education to its members, and they work with renowned artists to do just that. It is the number one inspirational resource for DIY, crafters, and makers, with thousands of award-winning art & craft video classes available for FREE with your CCPL library card.


You may also check out our CCPL catalog for more information on recipes for delicious, hearty autumn meals, beautiful craft projects and tips for creating a warm and inviting home such as:


Image credits:

Unless otherwise noted and/or linked, all images were shot during the making of this blog.