September marks the beginning of a solid three-month pumpkin onslaught, and I’m one of those who are thrilled about it.

The revered Starbuck’s pumpkin spice latte reappears, and it's the time of year when we break out our cozy, cool-weather clothes and spend more time in the kitchen, cooking the hearty stews and slow-roasted meats that we’ve relinquished since March.

There is nothing better on an autumn morning than a perfect cup of tea and a decadent breakfast, so here are a few ideas to get you up and moving:

Hot Chocolate Smoothie Bowl

1 C almond or cashew milk (unsweetened), 1/2 C rolled oats, 1 T maple syrup, 2 T cocoa powder (unsweetened), 1/2 frozen banana, 1 T nut butter or chocolate chips, 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract.

The night before, add all ingredients into your blender (except chocolate chips) and mix. Cover and refrigerate overnight. When ready to eat, blend on high until oats are broken down, smooth and creamy. Transfer to a saucepan set on medium heat (add chocolate chips) and bring to a simmer, adding extra milk if the consistency is too rich. Add toppings such as berries, more banana, nut butters and nuts. Recipe courtesy of Running with Spoons.

Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal

3 C quick cooking oats, 1/4 to 1/2 C brown sugar, 1 C milk, 2 T melted butter, 2 eggs, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tsp vanilla, 1/2 C peanut butter.

Preheat oven to 350, mix all ingredients, grease a 9- by 13-inch pan, spread mixture into pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve with warm milk over the top. Recipe courtesy of Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

1 medium ripe (but not brown) banana, 1 C milk, 1 C ice, 3/4 C pumpkin puree, 1/2 C oatmeal, 1/2 C vanilla Greek yogurt, 3 T maple syrup, 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, pinch of nutmeg.

Place ingredients into blender and run on high until smooth. Recipe courtesy of Saving Room for Dessert.

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Ham & Brie Hand Pies

2 single pie crusts, 8 slices deli ham cut into small pieces, 3 ounces brie, 2 T fig preserves, 2 T stone-ground mustard, pinch salt and pepper, 1 egg, 1 T water.

Preheat oven to 400 and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll out 1 pie crust on a floured surface, then cut out four 4-inch circles and place on parchment paper. Gather up remaining dough and repeat cutting circles.

Combine preserves, mustard, salt and pepper, then place little heaping teaspoons of the mixture in the center of the dough in a half-dollar size. Take the brie and make a circle (using your hands) slightly smaller than the half dollar and place on top of the preserve mixture. Place ham on top of the mixture (about 2-3 T) and leave a 1/4-inch edge around the crust. Beat the egg with 1 T water, brush egg wash around 1/4 edge of dough bottom and place another circle on top. Use your fingers to pinch the eggs together, then use a fork to seal the edges. Cut a small X in the dough, brush themes with the egg wash and bake for about 25 minutes, turning the cookie sheets 180 degrees halfway through the cooking. Remove from oven to a cooling rack and let cool slightly before eating.

Recipe courtesy of Cooking on the Front Burner.


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