When the cool autumn air begins to set in and the trees begin to turn colour my mind automatically goes to getting my family outside in warm sweaters to enjoy the sights and smells of fall and of course the comfort foods to warm us up when we come inside.
The launch of Halton's first ever Pumpkin Trail gave me an opportunity to do just that!
By launch, I mean an amazing inaugural event called Harvest Halton that offers a true farm to chef experience celebrating amazing local chefs, seasonal local food and some very tasty beverages.
It was the perfect snapshot of what Halton's Pumpkin Trail experience is all about.
The Pumpkin Trail runs until October 31 so if you live in and around Halton (which includes Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton, and Oakville) be sure to pick up a self-guided tour map or visit TheHeartOfOntario.com and enjoy a build-your-own-go-at-your-own-speed-fun-for-all-ages pumpkin experience featuring farmers' markets, restaurants, shopping, accommodations, and local attractions.
So whether you're looking for an afternoon out with the kids or a weekend romantic getaway here's just a snapshot of what you can expect along the Pumpkin Trail.
I knew it was going to be fun and fall-weather-perfect when we were greeted with this sign (I mean who doesn't love an autumn wagon ride!).
Within a few short wagon ride minutes we were enjoying with the smells of something yummy roasting on a huge outdoor spit.
We sampled so many yummy foods but some of our favourites included the Red Canoe Bistro's White Bean and Pumpkin Casoulet that went along with their spit roasted pork and their local Apple Slaw that went with their lamb. The "sides" were so good they stole the show and I plan on reproducing both of them Canned-Soup-Mom-style soon.
For dessert my husband and I may have shared two full portions of Chef Adam Mackay's White Wine and Honey Poached Pears with Maple Mousse and Blue Cheese Short Bread Crumble. I know for a fact he spent days peeling and slicing over 400 local pears for this dish then soaked them in wine and honey but the effort was worth it because the results were amazing. I am contemplating a slow cooker version... stay tuned!
If you enjoy Ontario wine, ciders and beers (including Pumpkin Beer!) then you will not be disappointed with what Halton's Pumpkin Trail has to offer.
Personally, I was happy find a new favourite Pinot Noir thanks to the Bosc Family's new Earth & Sky.
Then there were the farmers. I was introduced and fell in love with Hornby Apiaries Ontario Honey produced by "The Robertson Family Bees" and Marshall's farmers.
I must have sampled all of Marshall's farm fresh veggies and preserves and purchased some amazing items that will help inspire me in the kitchen.
So often I find myself looking online for cooking inspiration, but when I get out to local farmers' markets and events like the Pumpkin Trail I know that what's literally growing in my community can help me create healthy, fancy and still easy kitchen creations.
This October I hope you all have the opportunity to get out and get inspired with food and fall and stay tuned for more recipes from my kitchen inspired by the chefs and farmers I found along the Pumpkin Trail.
Simply saute your butter and garlic.
Add your cream stock.
Add in your flour, mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
Whisk until combined.
Blend your sauce and squash together.
Pour back in the pan and simmer.
Toss in cooked pasta and stir until coated then pour into casserole dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
Top with parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.
Bake and enjoy!
My kids didn't even know it wasn't cheese!
1 cup roasted butternut squash (see "how to" below)
1 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup Campbell's First Stock Cream Stock
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
Sea salt (or other coarse salt) and pepper to taste
1 450g box short pasta (I used rotini)
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
How to roast Butternut Squash: Peel and chop squash (carefully!). Place in large casserole dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Toss with olive oil and sea salt and roast for approx. 40-45 minutes in pre-heated 425F oven. If you don't have time to roast a squash, simply pick up pre-packaged ready for the microwave squash (my grocery store keeps them in the same cooler as the pre-packaged salads and refrigerated salad dressings).
Cook pasta according to package directions.
In saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and saute approximately 1 to 2 minutes.
Add in cream stock and flour and whisk until combined.
Add in mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper, whisk until combined.
Reduce heat to low and simmer for 6 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add squash and cheese sauce (careful it's hot!) to blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
Place sauce back in pan, add cooked and drained pasta and stir until coated (Note: you can stop here and just enjoy as is or you can make the crunchy top as follows).
Pour into casserole dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and top with parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.
Bake in preheated 350F oven for 15-20 minutes until top is brown and sauce is bubbly.
Inspired By Oh She Glows.