Twenty Eight years ago, two people - with very different personalities - decided to join their lives forever. ❤ Anytime you merge two lives together, there's no guarantee that these two individuals are going to able to live together harmoniously. But at that age of 22, we chose to believe that our love was bigger than our differences so we took that leap of faith and tied the knot on a beautiful September afternoon in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. 🥰
We celebrated our 28th anniversary with a mid week get away to St. Simons Island a couple of weeks ago. It wasn't far into our marriage that we discovered that we had very different definitions of the word "vacation." One of us likes to use the time to relax, disengage, rest and destress. The other one, likes to spend every moment exploring the sights, sounds and flavors of her new surroundings to the point of blissful exhaustion. 😅It took some time but I'm happy to report that we've finally figured out how to vacation together so that we're meeting both of our needs. We spent our time on this tiny Georgia island relaxing on the beach, indulging in way too much seafood and playing golf on one of the most beautiful golf courses that I've ever seen.
The combining of two lives is a gamble. Obviously, there's less at stake when you're working with food and combining ingredients instead of personalities but, it still involves and element of risk. Sometimes my experimental food combinations are a complete disaster and I think to myself, there's a reason that no one eats hash brown potatoes on salad. (Yes, I did try that - once. 😅) But then other times - I wonder who the first creative genius was to made the brave choice to combine dark chocolate and sea salt. 🍫 It seems like a weird combination but it makes my life so much more delicious.
When I first started to flirt with this recipe for Pumpkin Cake Cheesecake I had very mixed feelings. The thought that this could be a total failure was running through my brain but I still couldn't dismiss the nagging feeling that this just might be a match made in heaven. There was really no way to predict which way this unusual mash up was going to go but I couldn't live with myself if I didn't at least give it a try. What if this pairing is the next great dark chocolate/sea salt combination?
Turns out - the merger of a warm, spiced pumpkin cake and a cool, creamy vanilla cheesecake is a beautiful thing! There's really no other way to describe it. It's not a cake. It's not a cheesecake. This creation really is its own dessert category. A cake/cheesecake mash up that is as delicious as it is indescribable.
Pumpkin Cake Cheesecake
16 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon flour
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup canola oil
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and 1/3 cups pumpkin puree
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cream Cheese Frosting
4 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 Tablespoons (16g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1–2 Tablespoons milk
Decorate with pecan halves.
Cut into 16 slices.
Happy Anniversary to the one who makes me a better me.
Have you ever felt completely overlooked? I stand a staggering 5 feet off the ground so I can say that pretty much everyone looks over me. 🤷🏻♀️ #shortgirlproblems 🤣I was standing in the lobby of our tiny post office today - a space limited to a total of 3 customers - when a 4th person entered the lobby - looking downright shocked to see me. 😳 Realizing her mistake almost immediately, she turned around to step back out of the lobby but not before loudly announced to the rest of the customers and postal workers: "There was 'little one' in the lobby that I never saw." 😅 I was holding a stack of boxes at the time but I wasn't trying to be covert. 💁🏻♀️
These apple cider caramel bars are almost as unassuming as I am. Don't be deceived though. These plain Jane looking treats pack a powerful punch. The secret is the super concentrated apple cider that makes the homemade caramel extra special. Pairing that cider infused caramel with a buttery shortbread cookie is extraordinary. And a little sprinkle of sea salt on the top balances this heavenly treat just perfectly.
If you're mouth is watering and you're suddenly craving apples and caramel - I've done my job. 🍎😅 I do hope that you will give these a try this Fall. They do require an investment in time but they are sooooo worth it.
Apple Cider Caramel Bars
2 1/2 cups apple cider
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons cold butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk
1 2/3 cups flour
Sprinkle with sea salt.
Cut with a sharp knife into squares.
I packed up these bars and took them across town a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, they had been out of the frig for a few hours by the time we were ready for dessert and by that time, all of the caramel had slid off of the shortbread. 😭 There's no way that I was going to let them go to waste though - I scraped the caramel back on top and devoured my caramel apple bar with a fork. 🍴So take a lesson from me - keep these refrigerated until you're ready to serve them - especially on hot, humid afternoons. Even though they're just as scrumptious when they're melted 0 just not quite as neat or pretty. 🤣
The race is on. The race to demo day - that is. 🏃🏽♀️ For reasons that I cannot explain, our upcoming kitchen remodel has launched me into a baking mode like I've never experienced. This week I've already made Cinnamon Crunch Bread, Crumb Topped Chocolate Chip Cake, Cinnamon Coffee Cake, White Chocolate Coconut Biscotti, Brownies, Blackberry Cobbler and Apple Raspberry Pies. 😅Stocking up my freezer with all of these goodies makes it seem like I'm preparing for a zombie apocalypse. Nope - just getting ready for kitchen demo day. 😂
I can't explain why I've started feverishly working to create a stockpile of baked treats but for whatever reason, it's my way of mentally preparing for the demo to start. It makes me feel more prepared to know that I have extra blackberry cobbler in my freezer just in case we get a last minute dinner invite over the next few weeks. 🤷🏻♀️I mean - in the world of me - there's nothing worse than showing up to a friends house for dinner - empty handed. 🤣
Today, I kept going over the list in my head of all the possible engagements that I might need to have a dessert for, over the next 8 or 9 weeks. (I know, I know. I have a problem.) 😅 There will be Bible study pot lucks to plan for, foster parents that rely on my monthly support, new neighbors to welcome with sweets and dinner parties with friends. It would be impossible to be prepared for every foody event over the next two months but my small arsenal of desserts has me feeling empowered as we approach this new season of kitchenlessness. (Pretty sure, I just made that word up.)
Cinnamon Crunch Bread
1/2 cup buttermilk, warm
1/3 cup warm water
2 and 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1/4 cup sugar
5 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups bread flour
3 Tablespoons butter, extra soft
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
Cinnamon Crunch Topping
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons flour
Cool 10 minutes in pan before removing.
Just so you know - we're currently, and unashamedly, accepting dinner invitations for next month while our kitchen is rendered unusable.😉 Mostly because I invested so much time into loading up my freezer with desserts that there was no time left for meal prep.😬 But, this amazing cinnamon crunch bread is in my freezer so if you invite us for dinner - I just might show up with it my hand. 🤣
Well hello, long lost blog friends. It's been 8 days since I posted on the blog and even though most of you probably never even noticed my absence, I feel compelled to explain. 🤣 You're going to have to stick with me here because even though my explanation may take a minute - I WILL (eventually) get to the reason for my blog hiatus.
We are officially T-minus 10 days until our kitchen remodel begins!! As excited as I am about a new, more efficient space to work and create, I have to admit that I'm a little nervous about the process. The thought of not having a kitchen sink is a little unnerving, to say the least. 😬
In anticipation of my upcoming, "forced" cooking sabbatical, I've been loading my September calendar with catering orders. I'm not sure if it's the need to validate my "shut down" during kitchen construction next month but I've been stepping out of my catering comfort zone more than ever. 🤷🏻♀️
This weekend I tackled a charcuterie style brunch for 90! NINETY!! 😳 It was a huge undertaking which ended up as 16 amazing feet of morning deliciousness. I made eggs, bacon, cheese, fruit, muffins, bagels, croissants, biscuits, tarts, biscotti, yogurt - all the typical "brunchy" foods. 🥐🍳🥓 It was a lot of fun but preparing this epic brunch buffet occupied so much of my time this week that there was just no time left for blogging. (Told you I would get there eventually.)
Not one, but two apple cider donut cakes had staring roles on my charcuterie brunch table. Soaking the fruit in apple cider really gives this cake a rich, deep apple flavor. 🍎 This cake has earned a spot as a Fall staple at our house.
Apple Cider Donut Cake
1 large honey crisp apple, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 cups apple cider
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
8 Tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
3 large eggs
6 Tablespoons butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
Let cool in pan 15 minutes then remove from pan and cool completely.
Brush cake with browned butter and then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.
It's apple season in Georgia and I think I found the most delicious way to enjoy this delicious fruit. 🍎😉
Get ready friends - It's finally September and I'm about to unleash the dozens of apple and pumpkin recipes that I've been holding in my que for months. 🤣🍎🎃 I'll do my best not to overwhelm you, but honestly, I'm downright giddy over here just thinking about all the Fall treats that I have ready to share with you.
For those of you who might be new to my food blog, I want to be completely transparent. I don't hide the fact that I make most of my blogged recipes well in advance of when I actually post them. Because of the time that it takes to write out step by step directions, prepare and photograph each recipe - it's almost impossible for me to post recipes on the same day or even the same week that I make them. ⏰
Now that you know that, you'll understand why I've been making apple and pumpkin recipes for my family for months. We endured hearty Fall soups in the middle of July and Autumn Harvest Bowls in August. You don't know what you're missing until you've experienced Spicy Lentil Curry on a 100 degree day. 😅 Before you start to feel bad for us though - just remember that we also start eating Christmas cookies in October. 🍪🤣
This summer I made Apple Butter Cinnamon Rolls, Fall Harvest Granola Bars, Pumpkin Muffins, Cinnamon Crunch Bread and Slow Cooker Apple Butter. The food blogging gig does have its perks. 🤣 All pumpkin muffins taste good in October but the true test of a great pumpkin muffin is how it tastes in June. The same is true for apple butter. 🍎We absolutely gobbled this apple butter up in the middle of the summer so you KNOW it was good - and I'm guessing that it's even better now that we're entering apple season in Georgia.
Slow Cooker Apple Butter
5 pounds mixed apples, peeled and cored
3 cups granulated sugar, divided
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
Cut apples into 1-inch cubes; place apple cubes and 1 ½ cups of the sugar in a 6-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 6 hours.
Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and remaining 1 ½ cups sugar. Cover; cook on LOW until apples are very soft, 4 hours.
Use and infusion blender to process until smooth.
Spoon into containers and store in refrigerator for up to 1 month.
I don't know who came up with the idea to make apple butter in the slow cooker - but I've gotta say -- genius. I mean, wit just makes sense. It's the perfect way to slow cook apples to their most tender, buttery state.
This recipe does make a lot of apple butter but you'll be surprised at how fast it gets eaten. And if you happen to end up with extra - check out these amazing Apple Butter Cinnamon Rolls! They're amazing and you will want to eat these every weekend this Fall.
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