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A crisp afternoon, family and friends gathered around, great food and drink, plenty of fun — what's not to celebrate about autumn's arrival?

Fall is a great time of year for a party (you can plan for outdoors but have an indoor back-up plan). 

You can set up additional tables and seating on the deck, patio or in the backyard — a blanket and some big pillows on the lawn will work for kids.  

String strands of outdoor lights on the trees, fences and on the  underside of table umbrellas. Set lanterns on tables. Citronella candles or torches will help ward off maurading mosquitoes. 

Opt for seasonal decorations that are readily available —  pots of mums, bundles of dried corn stalks, pumpkins and gourds; you get the idea. 

Mix-and-match dishware is a great look, but you can save clean up by using good-quality paper plates, clear, heavy plasticware in place of silverware and inexpensive plastic beverage cups.  Yes, paper napkins are fine. 

Use trays to arrange dish and serving ware, beverages, appetizers, desserts.  

Galvanized metal tubs are great for ice, soft drinks and other beverages. 

If you have one, light the fire pit. 

Choose your entertainment — outdoor games, music, showing a movie outdoors, etc. 

For the menu, we've gathered some delicious and satisfying recipes that will have your guests lining up for seconds.  


Braised Brisket Street Tacos

  • 1 beef brisket flat half (3 to 3-1/2 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bottle (12 ounces) beer
  • 1-1/4 cup tomatillo salsa, divided
  • 16 to 20 small corn tortillas (about 6-inch diameter), warmed
  • Toppings: Chopped fresh tomatoes, chopped onion, chopped fresh cilantro or prepared pico de gallo (optional)

Heat oil in stockpot over medium heat until hot. Place beef Brisket in stockpot; brown evenly. Remove Brisket; season with salt and black pepper.

Add onion and garlic to stockpot; cook and stir 4 to 5 minutes or until onion is crisp-tender. Return Brisket, fat-side up, to stockpot. Add beer and 1 cup salsa; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover tightly and simmer 2-1/2 to 3 hours or until Brisket is fork-tender.

Remove brisket; keep warm. Skim fat from cooking liquid; bring to a boil. Cook 18 to 20 minutes or until reduced by half. Stir in remaining 1/4 cup salsa. Meanwhile, trim fat from brisket. Carve diagonally across the grain into thin slices. Return beef to cooking liquid and heat through.

Serve beef in tortillas. Garnish with toppings, as desired. Serves 10. 

Source: Beef It's What's For Dinner 


Easy Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork 

  • 4 to 5 pound pork butt
  • 1 can root beer
  • 1 bottle favorite barbecue sauce
  • Buns 

Place pork butt in slow cooker and pour 1 can of root beer over top. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours  on LOW.  When cooked through, remove the pork and drain off the root beer from the slow cooker. Let meat cool slightly before shredding it with forks and returning it to the slow cooker. Add the barbecue sauce and combine. Keep warm until serving.  Serves 8-10. 


 Grilled Mexican Street Corn 

  • 6 ears sweet corn, husks and silk removed
  • 1/4 cup butter 
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Cotija cheese
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Lime slices, if desired

Spread each cob of corn with about 2 teaspoons butter.

Heat gas grill on medium or charcoal grill until coals are ash white.

Combine all butter mixture ingredients in large bowl; mix well.

Place buttered corn onto grill. Grill, turning often, 10-12 minutes or until all sides are charred and corn is tender.

Cut kernels off corn cob; add to bowl of butter mixture. Stir until combined. Serve at room temperature. Serves 10. 

Source: Land o'Lakes 


Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Bars 

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups (11.5-ounce package) semi-sweet chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Combine flour and baking soda in small bowl. Beat brown sugar, peanut butter, butter and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chunks. Press into ungreased 13 x 9-inch baking pan, distributing chunks evenly.

Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until center is set. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. Makes about 3 dozen bars. 

Source: Nestle Very Best Baking 


Chocolate-Caramel Apple Slices

  • 4-5 large Honeycrisp or Granny Smith apples (or eating apple of choice), chilled
  • 1 package (11 ounces) caramels, unwrapped 
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Wooden pop sticks or skewers
  • White chocolate, melted
  • Milk chocolate, melted
  • Toppings: Cookie crumbs, chopped nuts, mini chocolate chips
 
Wash and dry apples. Place in fridge for several hours or overnight to chill. Slice apples into thick rounds. Insert stick or skewer in stem side for dipping.  
Melt caramels with 2 tablespoons milk or water in saucepan over low heat, stirring to completely melt. Or microwave caramels and milk in microwave-safe bowl on HIGH 2 to 2 1/2 minutes or until caramels are completely melted and mixture is well blended when stirred. Next, melt white chocolate and milk chocolate in bowls for dipping
Set out toppings in bowls. 
Dip each apple round halfway into caramel, one at a time, turning to coat. Let excess caramel drip back into bowl.  Let stand a minute or two, then dip in white or milk chocolate; let excess drip back into bowl. Then roll in toppings of choice. 
We used drinking glasses to keep the apples upright in the fridge to firm. You might have a better way to do this.  
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Arts/Special Sections Editor

Special Sections Editor for the Courier

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