Wednesday, October 29, 2014

pumpkin carving and pumpkin-shaped pizzas with the little ones

'Twas the night before Halloween . . .

we carved our Jack O'Lantern
.     .     .     .     .
made mini PUMPKIN-shaped cheese pizza
.     .     .     .     .
& read The Story of the Jack O'Lantern while enjoying pumpkin cookies

pumpkin-shaped PIZZAS
.     .     .     .     .
Trader Joe's whole-wheat pizza dough
pizza sauce
fresh shredded mozarella 
.     .     .     .     .

Let dough rest for 1 hour
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F 
Roll out dough to desired thickness
Using a pumpkin shaped cookie cutter, press out shapes and then place on a cookie sheet
Brush on pizza sauce and sprinkle with cheese
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes


LET'S STAY in touch!

Monday, October 27, 2014

the cutest witch West of Oz

I have a hard time buying pre-made costumes without embellishing and accessorizing them.

So when our oldest daughter, Charley, told me that she wanted to be a witch this year, I couldn't have been more excited. And thankfully, it didn't take too much coaxing to get her on board with assembling a witch costume, rather than buying a pre-packaged one.

It might take more time to 'assemble' a costume(s), but it's so much fun personalizing them to my kids' personalities.

Embellishing a simple witch costume can be as easy as . . .

adding metallic star strands to a simple witch broom (see first photo),
trimming a witch hat with black feathers, spiders, or even a crow,
making your own candy bag,
and accessorizing with spider rings and costume make-up

Charley's costume began with this hat (above). She loved that it was both - spooky and fun.

And from there, we found this sweet purple petti-coat, black-and-white striped stockings (because what's a witch without striped stockings), and this cute printed shirt.

Every good witch has a companion CAT, and because her little sister decided to be a TIGER instead of a black cat this year - that left Charley without a companion CAT.

So . . . while hunting for a shirt for her costume, I came across this one. It's a perfect match . . . and is darling under her black cape.

This is the FIRST year that our little ones want me to paint their faces. I can't wait to transform their sweet little faces into a TIGER, a green WITCH, and a skeleton.
               What will your little ones be this Halloween?

LET'S STAY in touch!

Friday, October 24, 2014

pumpkin scones with pumpkin spice icing

I'm crazy excited to share this amazing recipe with you!

I've been wanting to make pumpkin scones since I found this recipe in one of my cooking magazines last year, but the Fall season kept me so busy that I never got around to it.

Not this year though! I've made these several times since the start of Fall . . . and plan on making them through Thanksgiving!

So what makes these pumpkin scones so darn good?

Well, they're not only tender, light, and moist . . . but they're the prettiest shade of orange, smell like sweet pumpkin, and have an amazing pumpkin spice icing on them! Hello!

                  They're FULL of everything that Fall baking is all about!

I hope that my photos entice you to make some for yourself and your family this weekend. Be ready to fall in LOVE with them, too!

Pumpkin Scones
makes 8 scones
.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp canned pumpkin puree, chilled (don't chill in can)
wet ingredients
3 1/2 Tbsp buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp half and half
.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp half and half, then more as needed
.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .
Pumpkin Spice Icing
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp pumpkin puree
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp half and half

Scone preparation
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a food processor pulse together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, brown sugar and granulated sugar until well blended (if you don't have a food processor you can whisk by hand in a large mixing bowl, then cut in butter with a pastry cutter). 
Add butter and pulse mixture several times to cut butter into mixture (large pieces of butter should no longer be visible). Pour mixture into a large mixing bowl and create a well in center.

In a bowl whisk together chilled pumpkin puree, buttermilk, egg, vanilla extract and honey. 
Pour mixture into well in flour/butter mixture. Stir mixture with a wooden spoon to incorporate, then knead in bowl (or on work surface) by hand several times to bring mixture together. 

Dust a work surface with flour then invert dough onto surface. Pat and shape dough into an even 8-inch round. Using a large knife, slice into 8 equal wedges (dust knife with flour as needed while cutting, it will be fairly sticky).

Transfer scones to a Silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Brush tops with 1 Tbsp half and half then bake in preheated oven 13 - 15 minutes until tops are golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool 10 minutes (no longer) before spreading with glaze.

Glaze preparation
In a mixing bowl whisk together powdered sugar and half and half, adding more half and half as needed to reach desired consistency (it should be fairly thick not runny). 
Spoon and spread mixture scones to evenly coat tops (use all of it). 
Let glaze set at room temperature.

Pumpkin Spice glaze preparation
In another mixing bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and half and half. Transfer mixture to a small Ziploc bag, seal bag, cut a small tip from corner and drizzle mixture over tops of scones. Allow icing to set. Best served day prepared.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

farro & sausage stew . . . a Fall evening with friends

We recently hosted friends for a casual Fall-inspired dinner.

I don't know about you, but my favorite way to entertain in the Fall is by serving big, warm pots of soups, stews, and chilies FAMILY STYLE . . . rustic loaves of fresh breads . . . all in a comfortable, Fall-inspired setting.

For our Fall evening gathering, I served Farro & Sausage Stew and Artisan Rosemary bread FAMILY STYLE on our kitchen island. I stacked white bowls, linen napkins, and spoons on a large wooden board for ease and convenience.

And to create a fun and festive setting, I stacked a few of beautiful Cinderella pumpkins, and then tucked kale between them . . . for a sort of kale collar (say that 5 times!).  I had extra fresh thyme and rosemary, so I placed a few bunches here and there around our food, and it smelled heavenly.

Here's a peak at our evening . . . and a recipe for a delicious Fall and Winter soup!

These chocolate short-bread cookies are so good. They taste a lot like French Chocolate Sables . . . yum! We enjoyed them with pumpkin ice cream after dinner. I hope to share the recipe soon!

our menu
.     .     .     .     .     .
farro & sausage stew
artisan roasted garlic and rosemary bread
.     .     .     .     .     .
.     .     .     .     .     .
pumpkin shaped chocolate short-bread cookies with pumpkin ice cream

I've shared a few of my favorite soups and chili recipes on this blog, like here, here, and here . . . and I have a new one to share with you today . . . farro & sausage stew!

Whole-grain FARRO is the star of this hearty soup. Have you ever tried it?

It's a wheat berry that's high in fiber, protein, and nutrients. It's nutty and full-flavored, with an appealing chewy texture. FARRO certainly gives soups and stews a 'hearty' factor.

Fine Cooking shared great nutritional information on this ancient variety of wheat, here.

Since it can be somewhat hard to find, I want to share two sources that might help you find this WHOLE-GRAIN wonder . . . .

Bob's Red Mill is a brand commonly seen in most markets now, and sells packaged FARRO for approximately $5.49/bag, OR . . .

                you can also find WHOLE-GRAIN farro in the bulk buy bins section in your market. I prefer to buy it this way, since I don't cook with it very often.  Buying from bulk bins also allows you to buy smaller quantities, which is great . . . and costs less, too. I can buy 3 cups of FARRO for approximately $2.25.

Please note that this recipe calls for WHOLE-GRAIN farro, not pearled. I chose to use whole-grain because it's more nutritious, but with that extra nutrition comes a LONGER cooking time.  

So let's talk about this soup  . . . stew . . .

Besides that it's full of healthy ingredients, it's also a delicious, clean-tasting, and hearty.

The spicy Italian sausage adds a little punch of heat . . . the kale and fresh thyme gives freshness . . . and the FARRO - a yummy, chewy nuttiness.  The combination yields a delicious and healthy soup.

Another thing that made this soup/stew extra special was that I used home-made broth. You can see my recipe for it here.

Oh my heavens, and adding ribbons of shaved fresh pecorino-romano takes it to a whole new level of creamy yumminess! A must when you make this soup!

farro & sausage stew
serves 4
.     .     .     .     .     .     .
1 cup WHOLE-GRAIN (not pearled) farro
good olive oil
8 ounces hot Italian sausage (about 2 links), casings removed
4 cloves garlic, sliced
5 cups chicken stock (*home-made, if possible)
1 bunch kale, stems removed, leaves roughly chopped (about 4 cups)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper
SHAVED pecorino-romano for garnish!!
.     .     .     .     .     .     .

In a large, heavy saucepan, cover the farro with a couple inches of water. 
Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, salt the water and simmer gently until the farro is tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. 
Cook the sausage, breaking it up, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Cook the garlic until golden, 2 minutes. Add the stock; bring to a simmer. Stir in the farro and kale and simmer until the kale is tender, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fall leaves from the mountains . . .

We ventured to the mountains last weekend to enjoy Fall foliage at its peak.

After a little research, I learned that mid-October is the perfect time to witness the glorious hues of Fall.

We traveled 1.5 hours North to our local mountains . . . and I couldn't believe how beautiful the forest floor and trees were . . . golds and bright reds speckled the mountain sides. Beautiful, simply beautiful.

The temperature was also quite pleasant . . . low 60s during the day . . . and low 30s at night. That's heaven for us! 

While hiking, I couldn't resist snipping colorful branches from so many of the trees that graced our paths. I brought home enough to make a few bouquets . . . as well as send some to school with our kindergartner and first grader to share with their teachers and classmates.

Our home is filled with the vibrant hues of Fall this year . . . and I love it!

For isn't Fall about the celebration of these vibrant colors? So let's find Fall's beauty and bring it indoors!

LET'S STAY in touch!

Sharing with . . . .

Stephanie Lynn, It's Overflowing, Twelve O Eight, Carrie This Home, Baking in Pajamas, Huckleberry Love, Dwellings, Smart Party Planning,  The Dedicated HouseMod Vintage LifeLori's Culinary Creations, Home Stories, StoneGableAn Extraordinary Day, I'm Not a Trophy Wife, Between Naps on the Front Porch, Rustic Refined,  Tumbleweed ContessaA Stroll Thru Life,Life With GarnishElizabeth & Co,  My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Savvy Southern StyleThe Recipe CriticJanine HuldieCarolyn's Homework,  Fluster Buster   Designs by Miss Mandee,  Craftie Allie,  Wednesday morning The Blissful Bee,  The Newlywed Pilgrimage Chic California, Lamberts LatelyLive Laugh RoweSweet Bella Roos, The Charm of Home, From My Front Porch to ours, Delightsome Life.Posed PerfectionKatherine's CornerNancherrowThe Freshman Cook,  Jann OlsonHome  Maid Simple,  Rooted in ThymeEveryday Enchanted Home, Pure Grace Farms A Dish of Daily Life, Bacon Time, Sunflower Supper Club, Tater Tots and Jello,  Cooking with CurlsMade from PinterestSimply Gloria


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