This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Dairy MAX, your local dairy council. All opinions are 100% mine.
Invite your friends over for a fabulous three-course fall dinner party menu full of delicious recipes all featuring cheese. Each dish tasty on it’s own, but served together, creates one scrumptious menu!
The fall is one of my favorite times to get together with friends to share a yummy meal. I used to be intimidated to host, but I learned after a few parties; if the food is good — everyone is happy. And the food in this Fall Dinner Party lineup is sooooo good!
Since this is a fall dinner party menu, there are two many ingredients in almost every recipe. One is pumpkin and the other is cheese because (as we all know) it always makes every dish delicious. I love to cook with it! So when the lovely people at my local dairy council, Dairy MAX asked if I’d like to talk about my love for all things dairy, I said, ‘Uh….yea! So much yea!’.
Not only do all my favorite dairy items taste so good, they’re also amazingly good for your health. Enjoying delicious servings of milk, cheese or yogurt is such a great way to build stronger bones and healthier bodies with such a powerful package full of nutrients. So let’s take a closer look at each of these three courses and the delicious ways dairy compliments each recipe!
Start With Salad
A crunchy salad goes with almost every menu. I find it’s a great way to get your taste buds ready to eat. This Romaine, Pear and Mozzarella Cheese salad works perfectly with the fall theme as well. The Dijon olive oil dressing gives it just a tiny bit of kick. And the chopped cheese on top compliments the dressing wonderfully.
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dijion mustard
- kosher salt and pepper
- 6 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
- 1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup crumbled mozzarella cheese
- 1 ripe but firm pear, cut into small pieces
In a small bowl or container combine the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, and salt and pepper.
In a large bowl combine the lettuce and half of the onion, mozzarella, and pear. Gently toss to combine. Transfer to a serving platter, and sprinkle over the rest of the onions, mozzarella and pears. Finish with a bit of salt and and pepper and serve immediately.
The Main Course
So let’s talk about the ingredients in this mouth-watering Chicken and Pumpkin Cheese Stuffed Pasta dish. There’s chicken sausage of course, pasta, not one but three different types of cheeses and the surprise ingredient pumpkin.
The dish starts out with a creamy, milk based, sausage and pumpkin sauce that’s meaty fall flavor compliments the pasta so well. The shells are overflowing with fontina and cottage cheese combined with pesto. You know this lady loves her pesto! Then top the whole dish off with a few pieces of chopped mozzarella. Yummy!
Actually, I just realized there are four cheeses in this recipe because of the Parmesan in the pesto. Well, doesn’t that make this dish even more special?! Maybe I need to rename it to the Four Cheese Chicken and Pumpkin Stuffed Pasta. Seems a little long but I think you get the idea that this fall dish is warm comfort food in a pan!
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 pound ground spicy Italian chicken sausage
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 Cup Pumpkin Puree
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 pinch crushed red pepper
- kosher salt and pepper
- 1 pound jumbo shells
- 16 ounces (about 2 cups) of cottage cheese
- 2 cups shredded fontina cheese
- 1 cup basil pesto, homemade or store bought
- 8 ounces mozzeralla, torn or balls
- fresh basil, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish or dish of similar size.
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken sausage and brown all over, about 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the bell pepper, pumpkin, water, milk, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly. Taste and adjust seasonings as you need.
In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil over high heat and boil the pasta until al dente according to package directions.
In a medium bowl, combine the cottage cheese, fontina, and 1/2 cup pesto.
To assemble, spoon 3/4 of the pumpkin sauce into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
Working with one pasta shell at a time, spoon about 1 tablespoon of the cheese mixture into each shell, placing the filled shell into the baking dish as you go. Spoon the remaining pumpkin sauce over top of the shells and then drizzle the remaining 1/2 cup pesto evenly over everything. Top with mozzarella.
Transfer the baking dish to the oven and bake 20-25 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is lightly browned on top. Cool 5 minutes before serving. Serve with fresh basil. Enjoy!
Time For Dessert
Two of my favorite things are mentioned right in the title of this dessert. This Chai Pumpkin Bundt Cake is a real treat to eat and it’s the perfect ending to this meal.
There’s a little surprise when you slice into this cake, a subtly sweet cream cheese filling. Top with it with some sweet candied pecans with a pecan sauce and take this fall cake from good to amazing!
- 1 tablespoon loose chia tea
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 2/3 cups granulated sugar, divided
- 4 large eggs, divided
- 2 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
- Pecan Sauce (recipe follows)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 cup coarsely chopped candied pecans
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Using a blender or spice grinder, place loose tea; blend until ground, about 1 minute. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese at medium speed until creamy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add 2/3 cup sugar and beat until combined. Add 1 egg and 1 tablespoon flour and beat until smooth. Place cream cheese mixture in a large pipping bag. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a large bowl, beat butter, vanilla, and remaining 2 cups sugar with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy about 4-5 minutes. Stop often to scrape sides of bowl. Add remaining 3 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a medium bowl, whisk together ground tea, baking soda, salt, and remaining 2 2/3 cups flour. In another medium bowl, combine pumpkin, milk and zest. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with pumpkin mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition.
Spray a 10-cup Bundt pan with baking spray with flour. Spoon three-fourths of batter into prepared pan. Make a deep well in center of batter with the back of the spoon. Pipe cream cheese mixture into well. Gently spoon remaining batter on top, spreading until smooth.
Bake until a wooden pick inserted near center comes out with a few moist crumbs, about an 1 hour. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto a wire rack, and let cool completely.
In a small saucepan, bring brown sugar and maple syrup to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat; stir in pecans, butter and vanilla. Serve immediately.
Don’t forget to PIN this FALL DINNER PARTY MENU!
What’s your favorite recipe featuring dairy?