Welcome fall!

Piles of pumpkins fill a cherished creme bowl on the coffee table in the den. A hound’s-tooth print scarf does double duty as a fall runner.

by Julianne Milner

When the summer humidity finally gives way to autumn’s cooler temperatures and short days, I delight in the simple pleasures of home. I switch linen fabrics for velvets, cottons for wool, and store the brightly colored items – replacing them with the warm, cozy tones that are abundant this season. 

Those close to me know that I start burning fall candles mid-August. I can’t help myself. There’s nothing I love more than decorating my house for fall. I wanted to share with 501 LIFE readers some simple things you can do to warm up your home this season.

Place a warm, lofty throw across a chair arm or sofa.

Buy a heavier comforter for your bed and place a throw across the foot of the bed.

Burn a fall candle.

Pull out a few of your favorite vessels and add gourds, berries, feathers, etc. to place on your tabletop and mantel.

Put a runner or quilt on your dining table.

Remove your summer floor coverings and replace with a textured or shag rug.

Metallic decor radiates light. Replace a few of your regular pieces with bronze or gold pieces.

Pile up some fiery orange pumpkins and mums by your front door to welcome guests.

Encourage loved ones to gather at your home this fall by doing some of the above ideas to cozy it up! After you have warmed your house up, I encourage you to try some wonderful fall soups, stews and desserts. Being a baker, I enjoy the fall recipes most of all, with their cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. I’m including one of my very favorite fall recipes that I hope you will try!

I came across this Cinnamon Apple Cake recipe many years ago and it has been one of my family’s favorites ever since. The cream cheese in this batter gives the cake lots of moisture.

Because it’s so tender, use a serrated knife for cutting. This cake is wonderful paired with a hot cup of coffee.

Cinnamon Apple Cake 

1 3/4 cups sugar, DIVIDED

1/2 cup butter (room temperature)

1 teaspoons vanilla extract

6 ounces block-style cream cheese (room temperature)

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3 cups (about 2 large) Rome apples, peeled and chopped (Braeburn or Jonathan apples can be substituted if needed)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat 1 1/2 cups sugar, butter, vanilla and cream cheese at medium speed of a mixer until well blended (about 4 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture, beating at a low speed until blended. Combine 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon. Combine 2 tablespoons cinnamon mixture and chopped apples in a bowl and stir apple mixture into batter.  

Pour batter into an 8-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray, and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until cake pulls away from the sides of the pan. Cool the cake completely on a wire rack, and cut using a serrated knife. 

Yield: 12 servings.

Skillet S’mores 

6 (1.55 ounce) individually wrapped Hershey’s chocolate bars, broken into 12 pieces

1 (10 ounce) bag miniature marshmallows

Graham crackers or Graham sticks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In 12 small cast iron skillets, place six chocolate pieces, and top each with a small handful of marshmallows. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes or until chocolate is melted and marshmallows are toasted. Serve on a heatproof tray with graham crackers. Makes 12 servings.

Whether you’re hosting a dinner party of eight, sharing a coffee with your best friend, or serving individual s’mores after the home game, I wish you a rewarding autumn season filled with laughter and love, and a big dash of cinnamon!