October leaves are awash in purple, red, and gold hues, and the air is fresh and cool. School is in full swing, the excitement of postseason baseball collides with our all-American love of football, and you can finally wear your favorite cozy sweater before breaking out the heavy coats for winter’s looming bluster. Plus, it’s the season to celebrate the glory of fall pumpkins (or anything pumpkin spice!) and farmers market seasonal vegetables, such as peppers, squash, beets, and root veggies.

For these reasons and more (it’s also my birthday!), October is my favorite month of the year.

October is high time to get crackin’ on weeknight soups, slow cooker stews, and chili for heartwarming, comforting dinners. It’s also when we get in on the feel-good vibes of just-picked crispy, juicy apples and enjoy sweet blackberries in their prime. But wait, here’s an October dark horse: While often thought to be a treasure of November and Thanksgiving, cranberries, in all their sweet-tart wonder, are exquisite this month. Of course, with Halloween also in October, we’ve loaded this month’s list of recipes with lots of culinary tricks and treats.

What do you say? Time to get October’s recipe party startled? Read on boo-low.

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Theresa Gambacorta is a food writer and 25-year veteran of New York City's restaurant industry. Her writing has appeared in such titles as La Cucina Italiana, Men's Fitness, Muscle and Fitness, and Centennial's special interest publications. She is the co-author of chef Joey Campanaro's Big Love Cooking (Chronicle) and is currently working on a cookbook about Persian cuisine to be published by Knopf.

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