Wednesday, October 16, 2013

On the Homefront: White Dish Challenge Autumn Table

A simple floral arrangement of white mums
in a pumpkin orange glass vase.

Every Wednesday I look forward to perusing the posts on Cuisine Kathleen's "Let's Dish" tablescape link party.  About once a month there is a challenge issued based upon a specific theme, and the "white dish challenge" is one that appears on a regular basis.  Tablescapers are asked to create a table based on a seasonal theme using only white dishware, plus one more color for other accessories.  I never actually join in on any link party because I am not especially interested in social networking, and merely blog as a way to store information and ideas.  However, I decided that this month's autumnal challenge would be fun to attempt even without participating since fall is my favorite season.

I chose pumpkin orange as my second color.  I may have cheated a bit, since this hue can range from the glowing orange of a fresh pumpkin, to the mellower tint of canned pumpkin purée, to the almost brown shade of a luscious pumpkin pie.  Nevertheless, they are all pumpkin colors, and all fair game in my humble opinion!  I did stick scrupulously to the rules when it came to the white dishes, though, so here is my version of a white and pumpkin orange table for a white dish challenge:

Pumpkin orange place mat and napkin from Homefest in Fort Collins, CO, many years ago (the color is a bit off and too dark in this photo); white dinner plate and soup bowl (Tivoli by Studio Nova); white flatware from Target many years ago; can't remember where I got the water glass.

A big white candle surrounded by autumn-hued seed balls
(from Pier 1 ages ago) makes an easy centerpiece.

A flat brownish-orange bowl from The Cupboard in Fort Collins, CO,
 lined with a white towel and ready to hold the pumpkin cornbread. 

Since pumpkins are my theme, naturally the menu includes a plethora of pumpkin dishes.  Autumn is chili weather, and I happen to have a great recipe for chili which includes this rotund cucurbit.  Round out the menu with pumpkin cornbread, pumpkin seed tortilla chips with guacamole, and a delicious pumpkin dessert, and you've got a pumpkin-themed meal sure to please almost everyone (add a green salad if you feel the need).  My guacamole is ridiculously easy to make -- I just mash up a couple of ripe avocados!  If I am serving it to guests, I add a little salt and lemon or lime juice, but personally I don't think avocados really need anything more, especially if served with salted store-bought chips.

Pumpkin-Themed Autumn Menu:

Pumpkin Seed Tortilla Chips/Guacamole
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes*

*Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

9 gingersnap cookies
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. pumpkin purée
1 T. sour cream or plain yogurt (optional)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Line nine cups of a muffin tin with foil cupcake liners (do not use just paper).  Place a gingersnap in the bottom of each.  Combine the cream cheese and sugar and beat until smooth (you can use a hand mixer, but I just beat it by hand).  Blend in the next three ingredients until smooth.  Stir in the remaining three ingredients thoroughly.  Divide the filling evenly among the nine lined muffin tin cups.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until the filling has set (i.e., does not jiggle when you shake the pan).  Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pan, about 30 minutes.  Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.  Store in the fridge.  Serves 9.

Note: You can top these little bites with whipped cream and/or caramel sauce if you like, but that would just be gilding the lily as far as I am concerned!

As if Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes weren't enough for dessert,
we also have these Pumpkin Spice Hershey's Kisses on the table!
The pumpkin bowl and gourds table runner are from HomeGoods.

Autumn is my favorite season, and I love almost everything about it, including the weather, the colors, and the flavors.  In fact, the only thing I don't like is football, mostly because of the traffic that comes through our little town every game day.  Oh well, it only happens a few Saturdays every year, so I can put up with it for the sake of my favorite time of year!

Punkin the Dalmatian sits on the credenza
carefully guarding his pumpkin!

It never occurred to me before to combine white with autumnal colors, so thank you, Kathleen, for opening my eyes to a new and beautiful way to set an autumn table!

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