There's no sense in denying it any longer — fall is officially creeping up on us. Bring on the tailgates, backyard bonfires, and patio dinner parties. Unfortunately, with normal work hours resuming (no more sneaking out early on Fridays) and life kicking back into hyperdrive, we're more crunched for time than we've been in months.
That doesn't have to mean showing up to the party with grocery-store cookies or a bottle of long-forgotten Chardonnay. No, we're proudly more extra than that. Ahead, we're dishing out six surprisingly simple, delightfully seasonal recipes that will wow friends and fam — and are lightyears ahead of the whole
pumpkin-spice-everything shtick, too (okay okay, we included one). From warm, gooey goat cheese to Parmesan-crusted butternut-squash fries with Simply Ranch dip, these sweet and savory snacks will have us going for seconds faster than we can clean our plates.
Spicy Chicken Sliders with Simply Ranch Slaw Serves 16 Want to see a magic trick? Watch these spicy chicken sliders disappear from the plate in minutes. Ingredients Nonstick cooking spray 3/4 cups mayonnaise 1/2 packet Hidden Valley Spicy Ranch Dressing & Seasoning Mix 1 cup panko breadcrumbs Salt and black pepper to taste 1 1/2 lbs chicken tenders (or boneless, skinless chicken breast halves cut into 1 1/2-inch slices) 1 10-oz package coleslaw mix 1/3–1/2 cup Hidden Valley Ranch Simply Ranch Dressing 12–16 small buns (such as Parker House) Instructions 1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and place in oven to warm. 2. In a bowl, combine mayonnaise and seasoning mix until blended. 3. Place breadcrumbs in another bowl, and season with salt and pepper. 4. Dip each chicken strip in the mayonnaise mixture, coating both sides, then press the strips into breadcrumbs until evenly coated. 5. Remove hot baking sheet from oven, and place the coated chicken strips on the sheet. Bake until golden brown and crispy (about 18–20 minutes), turning once to brown both sides. 6. In a large bowl, toss coleslaw and dressing to coat. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes. 7. Place finished tenders on buns with a scoop of coleslaw. And enjoy!
Baked Goat Cheese with Brown-Butter Pears & Nut Crisps Serves 12–16 Creamy baked goat cheese and sweet pears atop crunchy, savory nut crisps? Name a more iconic combo. We'll wait. Ingredients 10 oz goat cheese, broken into chunks 1/2 cup sour cream 1/2 tsp salt 2 tbsp unsalted butter 2 firm-ripe pears, cored and thinly sliced 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves and several thyme sprigs, for garnish Honey 1 package of walnut toasts or nut crisps Instructions 1. Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, lightly mash goat cheese, sour cream, and salt. Scoop mixture into a ceramic baking dish or small cast-iron skillet. Bake for 20 minutes. 2. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once melted, swirl butter in pan and let cook a minute longer, until just slightly golden. 3. Add pears and cook until one side is browned, about 2 minutes. Turn pears and cook until tender and lightly golden. 4. Transfer pears to shallow bowl or serving platter; garnish with thyme leaves. 5. Drizzle warm cheese dish with honey and place on platter with pears. 6. Add walnut toasts to platter and let guests serve themselves.
Cornmeal-Parmesan Butternut-Squash Fries with Simply Ranch Dip Serves 12 Because sweet-potato fries are so last year. Pro tip: Serve these squash fries in a cone with Simply Ranch drizzled on top. Throw on some chives for good measure. Ingredients 1 medium butternut squash 3/4 cup cornmeal or cornflour 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese 2 tsp garlic powder 1 tsp onion powder 1 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp black pepper 3 large eggs 1 cup Classic Simply Ranch Dressing Fresh chives, chopped, for garnish Instructions 1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. 2. Peel, seed, and cut butternut squash into 1/2-inch sticks. 3. Combine cornmeal, Parmesan, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper in one bowl; whisk eggs in separate bowl. 4. Lightly coat the squash sticks in egg wash and cornmeal mixture. 5. Arrange coated sticks on baking sheet, then place it in the oven. Bake until golden and crisp, about 30 minutes, turning halfway through to brown both sides. 6. Pour dressing into serving bowl. Garnish with chives and serve alongside fries.
Pumpkin-Spice Snickerdoodles with Cookie-Butter Filling Serves 18 This isn't your average pumpkin-spice treat. No, this snickerdoodle-pumpkin-spice hybrid joins forces with cookie butter to create the perfect sweet and snackable sammie. Ingredients 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided 1/2 cup brown sugar 1/2 cup (4 oz) pumpkin puree 2 tsp vanilla extract 3 cups all-purpose flour 3 tsp pumpkin-pie spice, divided 2 tsp ground cinnamon, divided 1 tsp salt 1 tsp cream of tartar 1 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp baking powder 1 jar of cookie butter Instructions 1. Melt butter in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Stir in 1 cup sugar and the brown sugar until dissolved. Whisk in pumpkin puree and vanilla extract until blended. 2. Using a rubber spatula, fold in flour, 2 tsp pumpkin-pie spice, 1 tsp cinnamon, salt, cream of tartar, baking soda, and baking powder until fully blended. 3. Cover and refrigerate batter at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days). Just let sit at room temperature at least 5 minutes before baking. 4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. 5. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp pumpkin-pie spice, and 1 tsp cinnamon. 6. Scoop a generously rounded tablespoon of dough and roll into a golf-ball-sized ball. 7. Roll in spiced sugar mixture and place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing balls about 2 inches apart. Lightly press down on cookies to slightly flatten. 8. Bake cookies until puffy and just beginning to turn golden around the edges, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. 9. Once completely cool, spread cookie butter between 2 cookies to create a sandwich.
Slow-Roasted Tomato & Pesto Flatbreads Serves 12 To us, flatbread is like pizza's sophisticated older sibling. Both are delicious — but we'd like to sit down with this slow-roasted pesto pie and a glass of fine wine to chat about life. Ingredients 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise Olive-oil cooking spray Salt 6 pieces naan bread 1/2 cup (about 4 oz) prepared pesto 12 oz fresh mozzarella pearls (or mozzarella balls, quartered) 1/2 cup sliced fresh basil leaves Balsamic reduction, for drizzling Instructions 1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Cover 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. 2. Arrange tomatoes cut side up in a single layer on prepared sheets. Coat with oil spray and season with salt. 3. Bake tomatoes until shriveled, slightly browned around the edges, and dry to the touch, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven, but keep oven at 300°F. 4. Place naan bread on a baking sheet. Spread pesto on each piece and top evenly with cheese and tomatoes. 5. Bake flatbreads until cheese is melted and bread is slightly crisp, about 10 minutes. 6. Remove to cutting board and cut each one into six pieces. Garnish with basil and drizzle with balsamic reduction. Serve flatbreads warm or at room temperature.
Caramel-Apple Granola Bites Serves 16 Our childhood favorite candy-apple treat with a practical, easy-to-nosh twist. Anyone else want to snack on these for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Ingredients 3 cups old-fashioned oatmeal 1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped unsalted cashews or almonds 1 1/4 cups shredded sweetened or unsweetened coconut 3/4 cup sesame seeds 1/2 cup almond flour 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 cup honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, or agave 1/3 cup brown sugar 1/4 cup water 1 tsp vanilla extract 1/3 cup coconut oil or olive oil 1 egg white, whisked 1 tbsp butter 1 large apple, peeled and thinly sliced (about 18 slices) 1 tbsp granulated sugar Instructions 1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. 2. In a large bowl, toss together oatmeal, nuts, coconut, sesame seeds, flour, and salt until combined. 3. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, bring honey, brown sugar, and water to a simmer, stirring a few times. Stir in vanilla. 4. Let sit 5 minutes, then whisk in oil and egg white. Fold oil mixture into dry ingredients until combined and uniformly coated. 5. Dump mixture onto prepared baking sheet. Using the bottom of a pot or another sheet of parchment, press down firmly on mixture to spread evenly. Mixture will spread to cover the entire sheet. 6. Bake until golden brown and dry to the touch, about 35–40 minutes. Rotate baking sheet a couple of times during baking. The edges will be darker brown. 7. Remove granola bark to a wire rack and let cool completely. Break into 2-inch pieces. 8. For the topping, melt butter in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add apple slices and sugar, stirring constantly until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Turn slices and cook 2 minutes longer, until tender and caramelized on both sides. 9. Arrange bark pieces on a platter, and top with caramelized apples.