What to serve at book club ...

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What's better than a good book, good company and even better food?

Food is an important part of any book club gathering and the time of day a meeting takes place should dictate what to serve.

These apple pecan bars are perfect with a cup of coffee in the morning or a warm cup of tea in the afternoon on a chilly fall day.

Apple Pecan Bars

Ingredients:

cup butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

1 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

teaspoon salt

cup heavy whipping cream

3 cups peeled, finely chopped apples

1 cup finely chopped pecans

cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

cup butter, melted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 . Grease a 9" x 13" baking pan.

In a large bowl, combine butter and granulated sugar. Beat at medium speed with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla extract.

In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups flour, baking powder, apple-pie spice, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, alternately with cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Add apples, stirring to combine. Spread batter into prepared pan.

In a small bowl, combine pecans, remaining cup flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Add melted butter, stirring to combine. Sprinkle pecan mixture over batter in pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. When cool, cut in squares to serve.

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An evening meeting calls for a casual spread of tasty tidbits. A basket of toasted French bread along side a selection of toppings is the perfect prologue. Here are some ideas for an autumn inspired bruschetta buffet.

Begin with French bread sliced diagonally into 1/2" slices. Brush both sides with olive oil, spread out onto a baking sheet and toast in a preheated 425 degree oven until lightly brown, about 10 minutes.

Bruschetta is classically topped with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella and should be a part of the buffet.

Ingredients:

1 pint cherry tomatoes cut in halve

4 oz fresh mozzarella cut into small cubes

1/4 cup sliced fresh basil

1 clove of garlic, minced

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Toss ingredients together. Nice with a little drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Perfect for fall, a topping of roasted butternut squash and sage.

Ingredients:

4 cups butternut squash cut into 1-inch dice

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons minced fresh sage or 2 teaspoons dried

3 tablespoons honey

1/2 cup Shaved Pecorino Romano Cheese

1/4 cup toasted chopped walnuts     

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Toss the diced squash with olive oil. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Bake 10 minutes, stir, then bake for another 10 minutes or until fork tender.

Place the squash in a bowl and use a fork to coarsely mash in the nutmeg, 1 tablespoon honey and sage. Spoon into an oven safe serving dish and keep warm. Just before serving, sprinkle with cheese and walnuts. Finish with remaining honey drizzled over the top.

Add a little heat to the menu with a spicy corn spread.

Ingredients:

2-8oz packages cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup sour cream

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons hot sauce

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese

2-15 oz cans corn, drained

1 jalapeno pepper,minced

1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions:

Combine ingredients and spoon into an oven safe serving dish. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until bubbly.

So easy and delicious ... slices of warm, garlicky kielbasa, cheddar cheese and apple butter on the side to spoon on top.

Have I inspired you? Good. Now, back to the books!


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