Diet-to-Go Blog
  1. 4 Dinner and Dessert Pairings That Taste Like Autumn

    Autumn Fall Recipes

    The air is crisper, the leaves are changing color and there may even be a snowfall every once in awhile.

    That means one thing — autumn is in full swing, and those fall flavors of pumpkin, butternut squash, pear, cranberry and apple are fresh and ready for you to turn into delicious dishes.

    We rounded up 4 dinner and dessert pairings (8 recipes total) that literally taste like autumn on a plate.

    1. For dinner: Butternut Squash Orzo Salad

    Taste of Autumn - Butternut Squash OrzoKeep it simple with this low-calorie, light fall-themed salad featuring butternut squash, fresh spinach and orzo pasta, topped with dried cranberries and gorgonzola cheese.

    Prep time: 15 minutes
    Cook time: 30 minutes
    Yield: 4-6 servings
    Calories: About 315


    2 ½ cups diced butternut squash (about 1/4")
    1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
    1 cup orzo pasta (uncooked)
    2 cups diced fresh spinach
    ½ cup dried cranberries
    2 ozs. crumbled gorgonzola cheese
    ¼ cup real maple syrup
    2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    1 teaspoon dijon mustard
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    ¼ teaspoon pepper
    ¼ cup olive oil


    Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

    Mix diced squash and olive oil then spread onto a rimmed cookie sheet.

    Bake until squash is soft and starts to turn brown (between 20-30 minutes).

    Remove and set aside.

    Meanwhile cook pasta according to directions. When done, drain and rinse well with cold water.

    Combine squash, drained orzo, spinach, dried cranberries and gorgonzola in a large bowl and toss with maple vinaigrette.

    To make vinaigrette, place syrup, vinegar, mustard, S&P in a small food processor, turn on blade and drizzle in olive oil until combined well.

    Recipe courtesy Cooking on the Front Burners


    For dessert: Chocolate-Almond Tassies
    Taste of Autumn - Chocolate Tassies

    When you eat a salad for dinner, following it up with a bite-sized chocolate treat is just the thing. These chocolate-almond tassies have a hint of coconut flavor to segue you from summer into fall.

    Prep time: 25 minutes
    Cook time: 1 hour
    Yield: 24 servings
    Calories: 140


    Olive oil or coconut cooking spray
    1 ⅓ cups finely shredded unsweetened coconut
    2 large egg whites, at room temperature
    ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. coconut palm sugar

    8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
    ½ cup almond butter
    24 roasted salted almonds


    Step 1:

    Make shells: Position a rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Coat 24 mini muffin cups with cooking spray.
    Stir coconut, egg whites and sugar in a bowl until mixture forms a smooth, cohesive mass.

    Place 1 scant tablespoon in each muffin cup. With lightly moistened fingers, press mixture evenly into bottom and sides of each cup.

    Bake until bottoms are golden and edges are brown, 11 to 13 minutes. (The surface should feel dry.)

    Let cool in cups on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then carefully slide a small offset spatula or knife between each shell and cup to pop shells out.

    Let cool completely on rack.

    Step 2:

    Just before serving, make filling: Melt chocolate and almond butter in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring until smooth (don’t let bottom of bowl touch water).

    Remove from heat and stir occasionally until cooled to room temperature.

    Divide filling among shells, about 2 teaspoons each, to almost reach rim.

    When chocolate has firmed a bit, gently press an almond on top of each tassie.

    Let stand until chocolate sets.

    Recipe courtesy


    2. For Dinner: Baked Mac-and-Cheese

    Taste of Autumn - Bakes Mac and CheeseWho says mac-and-cheese can’t be healthy. This lighter version of the classic Southern comfort food is something the whole family can get behind.

    Prep time: 25 minutes
    Cook time: 55 minutes
    Yield: 4 servings
    Calories: 580


    3 tablespoons plain dry breadcrumbs, (see Tip)
    1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
    ¼ teaspoon paprika
    1 16-ounce or 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed
    1¾ cups low-fat milk, divided
    3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    2 cups shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
    1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
    ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
    ¼ teaspoon salt
    Freshly ground pepper, to taste
    8 ounces (2 cups) whole-wheat elbow macaroni, or penne


    Put a large pot of water on to boil. Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat an 8-inch-square (2-quart) baking dish with cooking spray.

    Mix breadcrumbs, oil and paprika in a small bowl. Place spinach in a fine-mesh strainer and press out excess moisture.

    Heat 1½ cups milk in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until steaming. Whisk remaining ¼ cup milk and flour in a small bowl until smooth; add to the hot milk and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce simmers and thickens, 2 to 3 minutes.

    Remove from heat and stir in Cheddar until melted. Stir in cottage cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

    Cook pasta for 4 minutes, or until not quite tender. (It will continue to cook during baking.) Drain and add to the cheese sauce; mix well. Spread half the pasta mixture in the prepared baking dish.

    Spoon the spinach on top. Top with the remaining pasta; sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture.

    Bake the casserole until bubbly and golden, 25 to 30 minutes.

    Recipe courtesy Eating Well


    For Dessert: Cinnamon & Brown Custards

    Follow up your mac-and-cheese with another favorite comfort classic: custard. Only this particular version uses lower-calorie ingredients to keep you in-line without gimping on flavor.

    Prep time: 20 minutes
    Cook time: 20 minutes
    Yield: 4 servings
    Calories: 130


    1 ½ cups diced carrots
    2eggs, lightly beaten
    1/3 - ½ cup packed brown sugar
    ¼ cup fat-free milk
    ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
    Whipped cream (optional)


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease four 6- to 8-ounce ramekins or custard cups; place in a 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Set aside.

    Meanwhile, place diced carrots in a medium saucepan; cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 20 to 25 minutes or until very tender. Drain; rinse with cold water and drain again.

    Place carrots in a food processor. Cover and process about 20 seconds or until smooth. Add eggs, brown sugar, milk, and cinnamon; cover and process until smooth.

    Divide carrot mixture evenly among prepared ramekins. Place baking pan on oven rack. Pour enough hot water into the baking pan to reach halfway up sides of ramekins. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a knife inserted off-center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. If desired, serve with whipped cream. Chill within 2 hours.

    Recipe courtesy Better Homes & Garden


    3. For Dinner: Skillet Chicken with Plum-Balsamic Sauce

    Speedy, simple and delicious, this skillet chicken takes almost no time to cook and has a rich flavor profile that goes perfectly with chicken breasts.

    Time: 20 minutes
    Yield: 4 servings
    Calories: About 350


    4 medium skinless, boneless chicken-breast halves
    salt and pepper
    1 tbsp. olive oil
    ½ medium red onion
    3 small plums
    ½ cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
    2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
    1 tbsp. honey


    Place chicken-breast halves between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. With meat mallet or rolling pin, pound breasts to an even 1/2-inch thickness; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper.

    In nonstick 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add breasts and cook 6 to 7 minutes or until browned on both sides and chicken loses its pink color throughout, turning over once. Transfer breasts to platter; cover with foil to keep warm.
    To skillet, add red onion and cook over medium heat 3 minutes or until softened, stirring frequently. Add plums and cook 3 minutes or until lightly browned, turning occasionally.

    Increase heat to medium-high; stir in chicken broth, vinegar, honey, 1/4 tsp. salt, and any juices from chicken on platter. Cook 2 to 3 minutes to reduce sauce slightly, stirring occasionally.

    Recipe courtesy Good Housekeeping


    For Dessert: Sugar Plums
    Taste of Autumn - Sugar Plums

    After a slightly sweet chicken dinner, these candied treats are just the thing. They’re not quite as sweet as normal sugar plums, which makes them the perfect thing for dessert. Plus, they’re inspired from the classic tale The Nutcracker (think the Sugar Plum Fairy), perfect for getting in the holiday season mood.

    Time: 1 hour
    Yield: 10-12 servings
    Calories: 90


    ½ cup gently packed prunes
    ⅓ cup dried apricots
    ¼ cup dried cranberries
    ⅔ cup walnuts
    1 teaspoon orange zest
    ⅓ cup agave or raw honey
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    ½ teaspoon cinnamon
    ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
    ¼ teaspoon coriander
    ¼ teaspoon pink sea salt
    ¼ cup Xylitol or Erythritol for rolling
    ½ teaspoon flour or cornstarch


    In a food processor, combine the dried prunes and apricots until fruits are chopped and mixed.

    Add the walnuts, cranberries, orange zest and honey. Mix until incorporated and mixture begins to come together.

    Add the vanilla and spices and mix until almost smooth. Mixture will be sticky.

    Refrigerate for 30 minutes before assembling.

    Pour xylitol or erythritol in a shallow bowl with flour and mix.

    Scoop out about 1 tablespoon amount of mixture and roll into smooth spheres, roll in xylitol or erythritol.

    Repeat until all sugar plums are rolled.

    Serve right away or store covered in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

    Recipe courtesy Natural Sweet Recipes


    4. For Dinner: Harvest Bowls
    Taste of Autumn -  Harvest Bowls

    All the fall favorites blended together in one bowl and topped with a bit of honey mustard makes for one heck of a dinner.

    Prep time: 20 minutes
    Cook time: 1 hour
    Yield: 4 servings
    Calories: About 500


    For dressing:
    ¼ cup apple cider
    ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
    ⅔ cup olive oil
    ½ shallot, minced
    1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
    1 tsp. honey
    Kosher salt
    Freshly ground black pepper

    For the bowls:
    1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
    1 red onion, sliced
    2 sweet potatoes, cut into small cubes
    2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
    1 tsp. dried thyme
    kosher salt
    Freshly ground black pepper
    3 cup sliced grilled chicken
    2 cup finely sliced kale
    ½ cup dried cranberries
    ½ cup sliced almonds
    ¼ cup shaved Parmesan
    3 cups cooked brown rice


    Preheat oven to 425. On a large, parchment lined baking sheet, mix Brussels sprouts, sweet potato and red onion with 1 tbsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and thyme. Bake until vegetables are tender, 25-30 minutes.

    Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. In a large bowl, whisk cider, vinegar, olive oil, shallot, mustard and honey until smooth and combined. Season with salt and pepper.

    In a medium bowl, mix kale with cranberries and almonds. Add 1/3 c prepared dressing to the salad and toss.

    Assemble bowls: top 1 cup rice with 1 cup roasted vegetables, 1/2 cup salad, and 1 cup chicken. Top with a drizzle of dressing and serve.

    Recipe courtesy


    For Dessert: Crustless Apple Pie

    Taste of Autumn -  Crustless Apple PieApple wasn’t the star of dinner, but it was part of it, which translates seamlessly into that always-autumn apple pie flavor we all know and love. This particular dessert leaves out the crust, but that makes it no less amazing.

    Prep time: 15 minutes
    Cook time: 50 minutes
    Yield: 6 servings
    Calories: 85


    6 large baking apples, halved vertically and cored
    12 tbsp. butter, melted
    1/3 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
    2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
    2/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
    Vanilla ice cream, for serving
    Warm caramel, for drizzling


    Preheat oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place each apple half flat side down and use a paring knife to create thin slices all the way across, making sure to stop slicing right before the bottom of the apple (so it stays together as one piece). Transfer apple halves to prepared baking sheet.

    Lightly brush apple tops with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.

    Bake until apples are soft and caramelized, 23 to 25 minutes.
    Remove from oven. In a small bowl, combine remaining melted butter, sugar, cinnamon, and oats. Once cool enough to handle, spoon mixture inside apple slits.

    Return to oven and bake 10 minutes more.

    Top each with a scoop of ice cream, then drizzle with caramel and serve.

    Recipe courtesy Delish

    What’s your favorite fall recipe? Share a link in the comments below!


    Author: Caitlin H
    Diet-to-Go Community Manager

    Caitlin is the Diet-to-Go community manager and an avid runner. She is passionate about engaging with others online and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. She believes moderation is key, and people will have the most weight loss success if they engage in common-sense healthy eating and fitness.


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