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We are already into the second week of autumn and the weather has been beautiful! Here are some delicious recipes that will keep you warm when the fall chill is in the air. A few of these recipes may be a little time-consuming, but they are well worth the effort. I know your family and friends will be pleased. Enjoy!

Italian Spinach Soup with Meatballs

3 quarts, chicken broth

2 stalks celery, cut in 1/2-in pieces

2 carrots, scraped and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 large onion, quartered

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 pound lean ground beef

3/4 cup soft breadcrumbs

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1 (14-1/2-ounce) can Italian-style tomatoes, undrained and chopped

1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

4 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese (additional)

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons dried basil

Combine first five ingredients in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes. Remove vegetables with a slotted spoon, and discard; set broth aside. Combine ground beef and next six ingredients in a large bowl; stir well. Shape meat mixture into 1-inch meatballs. Brown meatballs in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Drain, discarding drippings.

Bring broth to a boil; add meatballs. Reduce heat, simmer uncovered, 10 minutes or until done. Add tomatoes and remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered, 10 additional minutes. Yield: 13-1/2 cups.

Note: You will need about 1-1/2 slices of bread to make the 3/4 cup soft breadcrumbs for these meatballs.

Pork Chops with Scalloped Potatoes

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 (14-1/2-ounce) can chicken broth

6 rib pork chops (3/4-inch)

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 cups thinly sliced peeled potatoes

1 medium onion, sliced

Paprika and chopped fresh parsley (optional)

In a saucepan melt butter, stir in flour, salt and pepper. Add chicken broth, cook and stir until mixture boils. Cook for 1 minute; set aside. Brown pork chops in oil; season to taste. In a lightly greased 13x9x2-inch baking dish, layer potatoes and onion. Pour the broth mixture over. Place pork chops on top, cover and bake at 350° for 1 hour. Uncover and bake 30 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender. Yield: 6 servings.

Ginger-Mushroom Chicken

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 chicken breasts, split and skinned

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 green pepper, finely chopped

1/4 cup pimiento, finely diced

3/4 cup fresh mushrooms, cut in quarters

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1 cup canned chicken broth

1/4 cup orange juice

1/2 orange, unpeeled and sliced thin

Mix together flour, salt, half the pepper. Lightly coat chicken with flour mixture. Cook chicken in butter until golden, using a tightly covered pan. Turn breasts meat side down; add remaining ingredients; cover. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 30 minutes. Yield: 4 servings.

Savory Tomatoes

(Delicious served as a side with fish, beef, or chicken)

4 large tomatoes

1 cup Italian salad dressing

1 (6-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and sliced

1-1/3 cups crushed round buttery crackers

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter

Dip tomatoes into boiling water 20 seconds, remove with slotted spoon and plunge into ice water. Slip skins off, using a paring knife. Cut tomatoes in half; arrange tomato halves, cut side up, in an ungreased 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Pour Italian dressing evenly over tomato halves; cover and chill at least 8 hours. Spoon sliced artichoke hearts evenly over tomato halves. Combine cracker crumbs and 1 stick melted butter; stir well. Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over tomato halves. Sprinkle evenly with cheese and basil; dot with 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons butter. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 20 minutes or until golden. Serve immediately with a slotted spoon. Yield: 8 servings.

Honey-Pecan Brownies

1/3 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup honey

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 large eggs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup cocoa

1 cup pecans, chopped

Honey-chocolate frosting (recipe below)

Beat butter at medium speed of an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add honey and vanilla, beating well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Combine flour, salt and cocoa; add to butter mixture, beating well. Stir in pecans. Spoon batter into a greased 8-inch square pan. Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on wire rack Spread Honey-Chocolate Frosting on top of brownies. Cut into squares. Yield: 3 dozen brownies.

To make honey-chocolate frosting:

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 cup sifted powdered sugar

3 tablespoons cocoa

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon milk

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Beat butter at medium speed of an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar and remaining ingredients, beating until blended. Yield: 1/2 cup.

Cinnamon-Frosted Apple Cookies

3-1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

2 sticks butter, softened

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups shredded unpeeled apples, (Jonathon, McIntosh, Rome or Golden Delicious)

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Frosting (recipe follows)

Grease cookie sheet. Sift together flour, salt, baking soda and cream of tartar; set aside. In a large mixer bowl combine butter, sugar and eggs, beat until mixture is smooth and thoroughly combined. Beat in milk and vanilla. Add dry ingredients; mix well. Stir in apples and chocolate morsels. Drop by tablespoon onto baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake at 375° for about 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool completely before frosting. Yield: 6 dozen cookies.

To make frosting:

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/3 cup butter, softened

3 tablespoons milk

Combine confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon, butter and milk, mixing until smooth. Frost cookies.

Kitchen Tip:

You can reduce the fat content of sauces made with cream and still maintain the velvety, creamy texture by substituting reconstituted instant nonfat dry milk powder made extra strength. Use 1/2 cup of milk powder to make 1 cup of milk.

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