My parents tell me that I was an extreme home body as a child. I lived in the same house until I moved into my college dorm. I was 20 when I got on an airplane for the very first time. ✈️ I just never had any desire to leave the 50 mile radius where I grew up. Then... I fell in love with a guy who dreamed of serving in the military while traveling the world. 🤷🏻♀️
Fast forward 5 years - I married that jet-setter and within a few months, we took off on our travel adventures across the country - compliments of the US Air Force. 🇺🇸Who would have guessed that being forced to move from place to place and from state to state would actually make we want to travel more? 🧳 And just to be clear - I caught the travel bug - NOT the moving bug. There's a BIG difference. 🤣
Exploring far away places around the globe is awesome but short road trips and weekend get-aways are pretty great too. Getting out of the house and out of my routine, even for a couple of days, does wonders for my mood. And being away from my kitchen is always gives me a renewed sense of enthusiasm for cooking and baking when I return. There's no doubt that it was my latest little get away that inspired me to make this charcuterie style lunch for friends this week.
Just to be clear - this cheeseball contains no pumpkin.😅 It's a delicious cheeseball that's shaped like a pumpkin and it's way easier than you might think to make. You can even make this in advance and store it in your freezer until you're ready to eat it.
Pumpkin Cheese Ball
16 ounces cream cheese , softened
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
2 green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Cut the top off of a bell pepper and press into the top of pumpkin shaped cheese ball.
Pro tip: If you want a smaller portion, you can divide the recipe in half or make a full recipe but form it into 2 cheeseballs instead of 1.
I got to spend last weekend with this precious soul.
My weekend with this sweet family of three went by way too fast. We managed to squeeze a lot of activities into a few short days though - I even did a little baking while I was there. I know, I know - noone is surprised by that. 😅
Homemade apple fritters!🍎Amazing! And now, you're probably asking yourself why this blog post isn't about apple fritters. 🤷🏻♀️ The short answer is that I was on vacation and not in the mood to photograph the entire process. I also kind of love that I have a perfectly acceptable excuse to make them again for the blog though. 😂
In an attempt to stick to the Fall apple theme - I'm sharing my recipe for a Fall inspired, apple butter filled pound cake. It's a really simple twist on a classic pound cake recipe and in my humble opinion, it's a perfect Fall dessert. If you want to make homemade apple butter - you can check out my recipe here, or you can just buy a jar at the grocery store.
Apple Butter Pound Cake
1 cup apple butter
¼ cup finely chopped pecans
1 ½ cups butter, softened
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons vanilla
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup butter
3 Tablespoons whole milk
1 cup powdered sugar
½ cup dried apple chips (optional)
Bake cake 80-95 minutes at 325.
Cool 10 minutes in pan and then remove to cool completely.
Spoon over cake.
Sprinkle with apple chips.
I made 2 of these Apple Butter Pound Cakes in 2 days and I was not mad about it. 😅 They make great gifts for neighbors, teachers and friends. These cakes were actually auctioned off at an old fashioned cake walk.🚶🏻♀️ I hope that the winners of my cakes enjoyed them as much as I did.
I'm not really a "New Year's resolution" kind of girl, but this year I've decided that setting more goals for myself is actually one of my goals for 2022. Does that even make sense? 😅 I've never been shy about using the "I'll start in January" excuse to procrastinate the changing of my bad habits but I've never really taken the opportunity of a new year to clearly define achievable goals for myself either professionally or personally. And before you start thinking crazy thoughts - bungee jumping in Nepal is NOT one the goals I'm adding to my list for 2022. 🤣🏔
Dedicating more time to recipe development is one of my goals for early 2022. Like many of the recipes that I post, I found the inspiration for this Apple Blackberry Betty in my Cook's Country magazine and I tweaked it to make it my own. America's Test Kitchen is the creator of that magazine and they are the master of recipe creation and recording about all the trials along their journey to perfection. This year, try and keep in mind that my goal is to work on creating new and unique recipes and not reach expert level food scientist status. 👩🏻🍳 😬
The more time I spend on recipe development - the more appreciation I have for the people that do it well. A really great recipe doesn't just happen by accident which is exactly why I wanted to share this Apple Blackberry Betty recipe with you. It's amazing and you know that it's been created and tested with extreme care because it's come from America's Test Kitchen.
Apple Blackberry Betty
7 slices hearty white sandwich bread
1/2 cup + 1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 pounds Golden Delicious apples, peeled and sliced into 1/2" slices
1 pound Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced into 1/2" slices
2 Tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup blackberries, cut in half
Cover with foil. Place pan on baking sheet and bake 60-70 minutes at 375. Remove foil and bake 15 more minutes.
Serve with ice cream.
If you're an experienced goal setter - I'd love to hear your tips and strategies. I would love to hear what's worked for you and what your own goals are for 2022. 😌
I feel like I've fallen behind on my Fall baking. If you've been following along on the blog - you already know the reason for the delay. In a word - disarray. We just wrapped up week 6 of our kitchen remodeling project and I feel like I'm existing in a constant state of tospy-turveyness. 🙃 I wouldn't necessarily call it untidy or sloppy - it's more like everything in the house has been temporarily relocated to other areas of the house. I've actually gotten accustomed to the sight of cutting boards in my bedroom and canisters of flour and rice stacked on living room chairs. 😅
As you might imagine, baking this month has proven to be somewhat of a challenge. I find myself looking for recipes with ingredients that are easy to find. 😂I definitely didn't think that I'd be making anything with oats anytime soon because it's buried beneath a LOT of other baking supplies. At this point it would be easier to go out and buy more instead of trying to uncover them and risk upsetting the delicate tower of food that lies above them. 🤣
There's no question that apple pie is a family favorite but let's face it - creating a homemade apple pie is a labor of love. 🥧Preparing, chilling, rolling, fitting, crimping, brushing and decorating. Making a pie crust is VERY time consuming.
So when I crave that warm, cinnamony apple flavor but I don't want to deal with a fussy pie, (or if my kitchen is under construction) I go to the store and buy more oats and then I swap the crust for a crunchy oaty topping and make apple cobbler. 😂It takes far less time to prepare and you don't even have to wait for it to cool completely. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to the top of a warm bowl of apple crisp and its pretty much Fall dessert perfection. 🍏
6 apples, peeled and sliced
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon, divided
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, diced into small cubes
pinch of kosher salt
Shoutout to my sweet DIL for letting me take over her kitchen and use all of her cute Fall decorations for my apple crisp photo shoot. She's got the cutest pumpkins and Fall signs. 😂
I have to admit, I’m a little sad to see summer go, but I can't help but be excited about the all of the possibilities that autumn has to offer. 🍂A season of fresh starts, new routines, activities and adventures. Sure, I'll miss my more laid back summer schedule and nights when the sun didn't set until after 9:00 but I'm excited about this new season that we're entering into. 🍁
I'm ready to trade in my bathing suit for some soft, cozy sweaters and my fresh strawberry shortcake and corn on the cob for all things warm, delicious and pumpkiny. 🎃There's something about the crisp Fall air that makes me want to escape to my kitchen and start putting together hearty casseroles, make comforting soups and bake soul warming desserts. 🍎
Sadly, my kitchen still isn't quite ready for me to use - still waiting on water and countertops - so my Fall cooking might not happen until late November this year. Rest assured that even if it's delayed - it WILL happen. I can hardly wait to start to start baking in my new dream kitchen. Just imagine the Thanksgiving extravaganza that I can create this year with double the oven capacity. 🦃 😅
We eat a fair amount of take out these days and grain bowls have become my new go-to meal. I've have some really awesome grain bowl creations from local restaurants so putting together a homemade bowl filled with roasted sweet potatoes, fresh apples, walnuts and dried cranberries just seemed to make sense. I actually made this Autumn Harvest Grain Bowl just before kitchen demolition began in September. It was super satisfying and SUPER delicious.
Autumn Harvest Bowl
2 cups mixed greens
1/2 cup quinoa cooked
1 small sweet potato
1 apple, sliced thin
1/4 cup chickpeas, rinsed
2 Tbsp dried cranberries
1 Tablespoon chopped walnuts
2 Tablespoons cheese
for the dressing:
2 Tablespoon dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
Grain bowls are growing in popularity and you might remember the other grain bowl recipes that I've shared on the blog. My family loves mediterranean bowls with olives, cucumbers, tomatoes with a tahini sauce. Mexican bowls are another favorite in this house. Brown rice, cilantro, black beans and cheddar cheese take center stage when I serve those. These Fall themed grain bowls are a great way to enjoy the deliciousness of this autumn season. Pair it with a steaming cup of butternut squash soup - and you've got yourself a perfect Fall combination.
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