I'm originally from Washington, DC where we have REAL seasons. Around this time of year every year, I get serious Fall FOMO. I hate the actual season of fall with the cold weather, allergies and what have you, but I absolutely live for pumpkin-flavored everything.

Food is a magical thing and has the ability to transport me right back home to chunky sweaters and PSL's. If you want to mentally cuddle up by a fire, here are the flavors to really put you in the mood:

Maple Glazed Chicken with Sweet Potatoes

  • Prep Time:12 mins
  • Cook Time:15 mins
  • Total Time:27 mins
  • Servings:4
  • Easy

    Ingredients

  • 1 8-ounce package refrigerated mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1 pound chicken breast tenderloins about 8 strips
  • 2 teaspoons steak grilling seasoning blend I use Montreal
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup sliced Red onion about half a medium sized onion
Photo by Reed Erickson
Photo by Reed Erickson

Step 1

Prepare sweet potatoes in microwave oven according to package directions.

Step 2

Meanwhile, lightly coat chicken with steak seasoning.
Photo by Reed Erickson
Photo by Reed Erickson

Step 3

Heat butter in large skillet over medium-high heat; add chicken.

Step 4

Cook 5 to 6 minutes until no longer pink (170° F), turning once halfway through cooking. Remove from skillet; cover and keep warm.

Step 5

Add the onions and deglaze the pan (about 5 minutes)
Photo by Reed Erickson
Photo by Reed Erickson

Step 6

Add the maple syrup and cook until reduced (about 3 more minutes) stirring constantly

If you are looking for an excuse to throw a fall party (who isn't,) this dip is reason enough. Sweet, salty, and healthy (you eat it with apples—that's as healthy as I get), this stuff is as fall as you can get.

Salted Caramel Pumpkin Dip

  • Prep Time:10 mins
  • Cook Time:15 mins
  • Total Time:25 mins
  • Servings:15
  • Easy

    Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 can sweet condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
Photo by Reed Erickson
Photo by Reed Erickson

Step 1

In a medium saucepan on medium heat, melt the stick of butter.
Photo by Reed Erickson
Photo by Reed Erickson

Step 2

Add in the brown sugar and whisk to combine. You’ll get this beautiful chocolate-brown color.

Step 3

Stir in the sweetened condensed milk.

Step 4

Bring the caramel to a boil then reduce heat to simmer on low for about 5 minutes.

Step 5

Add in the vanilla and ½ teaspoon sea salt.

Step 6

In a bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg and the rest of the sea salt. Mix with a large spoon.
Photo by Reed Erickson
Photo by Reed Erickson

Step 7

Pour in half of the caramel mixture and stir.

Step 8

You can serve it gooey and warm as is or place in the refrigerator for about an hour. Serve with apples, crackers or dig right in with a spoon!
Photo by Reed Erickson
Photo by Reed Erickson

If you want to make friends with your neighbors or hall mates, make these bars. Mine got wind that I had some laying around and came running (or should I say, falling). These are also super doable in a dorm room because all you need is a microwave and some ingredients that you can probably swipe from your dining hall.

Butterscotch Pumpkin Cheerio Treat Bars

  • Prep Time:10 mins
  • Cook Time:5 mins
  • Total Time:15 mins
  • Servings:18
  • Easy

    Ingredients

  • 11 oz bag 1 1/2 cups butterscotch chips
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 6 cups a little less than one box Apple or Pumpkin Spice Cheerios
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon to garnish
Photo by Reed Erickson
Photo by Reed Erickson

Step 1

Lightly spray a 9x9" baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
Photo by Reed Erickson
Photo by Reed Erickson

Step 2

In a large microwave-safe bowl, microwave butterscotch chips, light corn syrup, butter, and mini marshmallows on high for 2-3 minutes or until smooth. Stir after each minute.
#SpoonTip: Lightly spray your measuring cup with cooking spray before measuring out to corn syrup so that it all comes out.
Photo by Reed Erickson
Photo by Reed Erickson

Step 3

Stir in the pumpkin pie spice until evenly mixed.
Photo by Reed Erickson
Photo by Reed Erickson

Step 4

Add the Cheerios and quickly mix them in until they are evenly coated.
Photo by Reed Erickson
Photo by Reed Erickson

Step 5

Press the Cheerio mixture into your prepared pan. Press with a spoon (or your hands) that have been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Let set at room temperature, in the refrigerator or, if you're impatient like me, in the freezer.

Step 6

In a small bowl, melt the white chocolate chips in the microwave. Heat at 30-second intervals, stirring in between. Heat until smooth; then stir in the cinnamon.

Step 7

Spread the chocolate evenly over the bars by waving a spoon over like Jackson Pollock. (OR, add the melted white chocolate to a plastic baggie and then snip off one corner of the baggie in order to drizzle the chocolate over the bars.)
Photo by Reed Erickson
Photo by Reed Erickson

Step 8

Let the bars set again and then cut into squares.
Photo by Reed Erickson
Photo by Reed Erickson

The caramel sauce to end all caramel sauces. It doesn't matter how you say it—KARR-uh-mel, KARR-uh-muhl, KAR-muhl—the stuff is downright delicious.

I stood in my kitchen for about 15 minutes eating it with a spoon and there is NO shame in that. Enjoy it on graham crackers, coffee, strawberries, over ice cream, or with your gosh-darn hands. Like I said, no shame. This stuff is what fall dreams are made of.

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Sauce

  • Prep Time:1 day
  • Cook Time:25 mins
  • Total Time:1 day 25 mins
  • Servings:
  • Easy

    Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 cups granulated sugar I use raw sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
Photo by Reed Erickson
Photo by Reed Erickson

Step 1

Combine first four ingredients in a large heavy bottomed pot. Go bigger than you think you need. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. It's super important to scrape off all the sugar from the sides of the pot.
#SpoonTip: Wet a cooking brush with water and run around the edges of the pot to prevent sugar from sticking.

Step 2

Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking WITHOUT stirring until it reaches 200°F. This can take anywhere for 20 minutes to an hour, just be patient. (Make sure you check the accuracy of your candy thermometer beforehand.)

Step 3

Remove from heat and stir in salt and pumpkin pie spice.

Step 4

Pour mixture into a baking dish or mason jar. Serve cold, at room temperature or pop in the microwave and serve hot. It can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks
Photo by Reed Erickson
Photo by Reed Erickson

Sure, here in SD apple picking becomes picking apples up from Trader Joe's but that does not lessen the amount of 'em we stock up on. No better way to use up those apples, pears and wine you have sitting in your fridge than a good ol' sangria. This drink is every fall-aholics fantasy: minimal effort with maximum flavor.

Caramel Apple Sangria

  • Prep Time:15 mins
  • Cook Time:0
  • Total Time:15 mins
  • Servings:12
  • Easy

    Ingredients

  • 1 liter bottle white wine the more dry the better
  • 8 cups fresh apple cider
  • 1 cup unflavored or caramel vodka optional
  • 4-5 apples chopped
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3-4 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 1/4 cup caramel syrup bonus points for using homemade Pumpkin Spice Caramel Syrup
Photo by Reed Erickson
Photo by Reed Erickson

Step 1

Put all of the ingredients into a pitcher and let sit for at least 4 hours in the fridge before serving (overnight if you can). Then enjoy!

Now that fall is officially upon us, here's your excuse to whip up some killer seasonal recipes and do fall the right way!