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!






Saturday, October 18, 2014

pumpkin coffee cake with brown sugar glaze



I've shared this recipe with you several times over the last few years.

It's my go to "company dessert" when my schedule is busy this time of year and I'm wanting a delicious pumpkin dessert.





I love its versatility!

You can make the traditional butter pumpkin version . . . or a scrumptious chocolate version. They're both so delicious! It's one of those kind of cakes that you find yourself going back for seconds and thirds.

It's bright orange hue . . . and moist and tender crumb is a beautiful tribute to pumpkin.

I use a butter cake mix base for added richness. And yes, this recipe, too, has a brown sugar streusel topping . . .  and a glaze that further moistens every nook and cranny.

I just love simple and delicious desserts . . . and this is one of them!




pumpkin coffee cake
⅓ cup water 
⅓ cup vegetable oil
1 15-ounce can pureed pumpkin 
2 x-large eggs
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract 
2 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice 
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 18-ounce box Butter (or Yellow) Cake Mix 

brown sugar streusel
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour 
pinch of salt
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
.     .    .     .     .     .
In a small bowl mix together brown sugar, flour, and butter. 
Use your fingers to sprinkle over the top of the cake. 
.     .    .     .     .     .
brown sugar glaze
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar 
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract 
1/2 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
.     .    .     .     .     .
Combine the 1 cup brown sugar, granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 
and heavy cream in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. 
Remove from heat and stir until all sugar is dissolved.


Preparation
Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large bowl mix together the water, oil, pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice until well combined. 

Add the cake mix and baking soda and mix until just combined.
Grease a 9×13 pan with butter and pour batter into pan.
OR . . . to dress it up, line 2 8-inch rounds with parchment and then grease pans. Using a 1-cup scoop, evenly distribute batter into pans. 
Using your hands, crumble the streusel evenly over the top.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

When cake is finished baking, let cool for 5 minutes and then poke holes in the top with a toothpick. *If you baked the cake in rounds, then gently turn cake over onto your hand, and then back over onto a serving plate, so that the streusel is on top.
Using a spoon, pour glaze over the cake, making sure to cover all holes and surfaces. Serve cake warm or at room temperature.





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 GloriaOne More Time Events, 3 Little Greenwoods







Friday, October 17, 2014

molasses spice cookies . . .



My husband  had a craving for cookies over the weekend, and I wracked my brain trying to think of a cookie that features all the warm flavors of Fall . . . and remembered a recipe for molasses spice cookies that I saw in my Cook's Illustrated Cookbook a few weeks ago.





They're tender, moist, chewy . . . and FULL of the warm flavors of Fall . . . cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, molasses . . . and they're so so so yummy!

We even made a few of them into ice cream sandwiches using vanilla bean ice cream . . . YUM!

As for me, I enjoyed them with a cup of Brown Sugar Cake coffee (I LOVE Gloria Jean's!) . . . again, YUM!

I hope you find time to treat yourself and your family and friends to these amazing little cookies this weekend.



molasses spice cookies
1/2 cup,  plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup light or dark molasses
.     .     .     .     .     .     .

Preparation
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
Place 1/2 cup granulated sugar on a plate or shallow baking dish.
Whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, pepper, and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat butter, brown sugar, and remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium low and add egg yolk and vanilla, beat until incorporated. On medium-low speed add molasses and beat until combined, about 20 seconds scraping down bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture; beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Give the dough a final stir to ensure that no flour pockets remain. Dough will be soft.
Working with 1 Tablespoon of dough at a time, roll into balls. Roll half of dough balls in sugar and toss to coat. 
Place the dough balls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are browned, still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw in between cracks and seem underdone), about 11 minutes. 
Do not overbake.

Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature.



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

a tiger costume for my little girl



I am so excited to share this cute tiger costume with you!

You see, I've never made a costume before, so when this simple project came out as I had envisioned, I could hardly wait to share it!

                          Ok, so all this happened TODAY, before noon . . . 




Lauren, my youngest daughter, and I stopped into our local party store to find costume make-up for my oldest daughter . . . and she saw a tiger ear and tail set . . . "Oh Mom, I want to be a tiger for Halloween! Please! Please! Please, can I be a tiger?"

I was bummed when I couldn't find a costume to coordinate with the ears and tail, which seemed a little boring to me; BUT she was excited about them . . . and that's all that matters, right!?




Well, when she started telling me that we HAD to find a tiger striped suit to go with it . . . I panicked!

                    Where in the world was I going to find a matching suit?

I spent at least 30 minutes trying to persuade her that the ears and tail would look cute with a black skirt and shirt . . . but she wasn't going to have any part of that.

So . . . the wheels started turning, and I hoped (and prayed) that our local fabric store would have tiger striped FABRIC so that I could make her a simple A-line dress to be her 'tiger striped suit' . . .  and they did!! 




I kept this sewing project simple and traced one of her A-line dresses . . . cut . . . and then sewed this cute tiger dress in all of 45 minutes!

And then after picking up her brother from Kindergarten, we headed to our local craft store where I bought a 6-foot brown feather boa to trim the dress, tail, and head band.  

          I know that tigers don't have feathers, but isn't the brown boa trim an adorable addition?




I am so happy with how it turned out! And my little Lauren is so happy! 

The best part is that the whole costume took me less than 1 hour to sew and assemble.  

       Paint a little black nose and whiskers on her face . . . and, of course, add a pair of black sparkle shoes . . . and I'm done.

                            One costume down, 2 more to go . . . and 16 days 'til Halloween!







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 GloriaOne More Time Events, 3 Little Greenwoods



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

pumpkin quesadillas with black bean & sweet potato salsa



Let's talk pumpkin puree.

Most people don't think of adding savory spices to pumpkin puree . . . and let me tell you  . . . you're missing out if you don't try the savory side of pumpkin! 

If you've ever tasted the puree on its own, then you'd agree that it's very mild (kind of flavorless) with a thick texture . . . It's not really anything to write home about.




It's not until you add sugar, or savory spices, to it that it takes on whatever flavor you're trying to impart on it. 

After baking and cooking with it for several years now, I've come to the conclusion that pumpkin puree should be regarded more for the texture that it adds to baked goods and savory dishes. It adds a sort of body and texture that is quite delightful to the palate.

Have you ever added it to chili? It's quite delicious. It's adds another dimension of body and texture . . . as well as color. I'm making a big pot of pumpkin chili next weekend, so please stay tuned to the recipe in a few weeks. I hope you give it a try.




Ok, so on to THIS recipe . . . pumpkin quesadillas with black bean & sweet potato salsa!

It's so fast . . . so easy . . . unique . . . and delicious.

It begins with flavoring pumpkin puree with warm spices like cumin and chili powder. The mixture smells quite heavenly! And wait until you try it slathered on a tortilla and then heated on a skillet with cheese. My kids prefer sharp white cheddar, but if you're entertaining adult friends, then be sure and try the more sophisticated flavor of goat cheese (paired with roasted walnuts) . . . YUM!

The black bean and sweet potato salsa adds more dimension to this dish . . . the creamy black beans, sweet sweet potatoes, punch of garlicand zing from the lime zest sends your mouth into an "Ahhhhh, yum! What flavor it that? And that?"  

It's a seasonal dish that's fun to share with friends and family.

I hope you give it a try and check out the savory side of pumpkin!





pumpkin quesadilla
.     .     .     .     .     .
2 cups canned pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
8 8-inch white flour or whole wheat tortillas
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled OR 4 ounces sharp white cheddar, shredded
½ cup walnuts, toasted *optional
¼ cup vegetable oil
fresh cilantro, chopped
.     .     .     .     .     .


Preparation
In bowl, stir pumpkin, cumin, and chili powder; season. Spread over 4 tortillas.
Sprinkle with cheese and nuts.
Top with remaining tortillas.
In a large skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon oil over medium-low.
Cook quesadillas 1 at a time, turning once and adding more oil in between batches, until browned, 3 minutes.
Cut into wedges. Enjoy!


black bean and sweet potato salsa
.     .     .     .     .     .
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup finely diced onion
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 large clove garlic, mashed to a paste
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
2 1/2 Tablespoon fresh lime zest
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation
Heat 2 Tablespoons of oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat.
Add the sweet potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost tender, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook for 1 minute.
Uncover and cook, stirring until the onion and sweet potatoes are tender and the water is evaporated, about 3 to 5 minutes. Keep warm.

In a medium bowl, combine the garlic, lime zest, juice and 2 Tablespoons of canola oil.
Add the sweet potatoes and onions, black beans, and cilantro and toss gently to combine.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve atop the pumpkin quesadillas.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

raven sugar cookies . . . a Halloween treat



I wanted to create a unique sugar cookie for the Halloween season, and had the idea to make a flock of black ravens.

There's something about these little black birds that remind me of harvest, pumpkins, and Halloween.




So I went on the hunt for a raven cookie cutter, and found one online.

I used my trusty sugar cookie recipe (below), a simple glaze, and a whole bottle of black sanding sugar to make this haunting flock of birds.




I nestled them among a few bare branches and freckled pumpkins for a finishing touch.

                 Be sure and pair them with pumpkin ice cream or shakes for a little festive fun!





raven sugar cookies
.     .     .     .     .     .
Ingredients
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
12 Tablespoons (1 ½  sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 egg, room temperature
 powder sugar (instead of flour) for rolling out dough
black sanding sugar, for decorating
.     .     .     .     .     .

Preparation
To make the cookies, in a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt . . . set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and egg. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Mix until just combined.

Form the dough into a flattened ball, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or as long as overnight.

Preheat an oven to 350°F.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. 

On a lightly floured powder sugar surface, roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes. Transfer to the prepared baking sheets, spacing cookies about 2 inches apart, and bake until just golden around the edges, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let cool for 5 minutes, then remove the cookies from the pans and let cool completely.

Makes 10 to 20 cookies, depending on cutter size.



Sugar Cookie GLAZE
2 ¼  cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1 Tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

Combine ingredients and mix until smooth
Using a small paint brush (or the tip of your finger), spread on top of cookies
Sprinkle sanding sugar on top of GLAZE when it's wet

The secret to a 'clean' sugar edge is not letting the glaze drip down the sides of the cookie.
A thick glaze is also key.
After the glaze has been mixed, add 1 Tablespoon of confectioners' sugar at a time, 
until you get the desired consistency.
Have fun!








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 GloriaOne More Time Events, 3 Little Greenwoods





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