Fall

Loving Lately 🍰

Loving Lately: Fall Baking – Encore

I’ve been going a little crazy with the baking. We actually can’t eat as fast as I’ve been pulling baked goods out of the oven. We need a dog. Or a hungry neighbor… But look how cute these molds are!

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I love them.

L.O.V.E.

I also bought the new 70th Anniversary Nordic Ware bundt pans.

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Because I needed them. It’s the season! I’m inspired! (Or I’m ridiculous and I can’t help myself.)

But I’m not just limiting myself to shaped cakes and breads. Au contraire.

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We’ve had cinnamon rolls! I’ve been practicing pie crusts!

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I love the smell of my kitchen.

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And the smiles on my kids’ faces.

We’ve actually been baking and not taking pictures… or writing down ingredients.

Just enjoying the fruit cookies of our labor.

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Except this apple crumble, I’m going to share this. Soon.

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Entertaining the Kids: Pumpkin Fun!

It’s pumpkin time! Woohoo! I am not a pumpkin carver. Boo, hiss, say what you will. It is no secret that I’m not a craft lover. Thankfully I have creative people in my life who enhance the creativity in my children. For example my mother, who found this activity on Pinterest. Hurray for grandmas! As it is, I have young children not ready for carving themselves. So this is a perfect option, even for last minute too.

What you need:

plastic/cloth or newspaper

pumpkins

glue stick

crayons

hair dryer

Oh, and that secret ingredient: enthusiasm!

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Place the plastic or cloth on your workspace. This doesn’t have to be fancy. It could be a garbage bag on your kitchen table. Place the pumpkins in go position (on top of your prepared workspace). Tip: Use room temperature pumpkins

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Unwrap and break the crayons in half. My kids liked this part best.

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Use the glue stick around the top of the pumpkin stem to get a sticky surface for the crayons. Place the crayons around in your own artistic color pattern. And hey, if you want to use a pumpkin with a nicer fuller stem than ours, that’s your prerogative.

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When crayons are set, bust out that hairdryer and blow! This could get messy (hence the table cover).

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You’ll naturally find that you need to adjust the hairdryer angle to work the drips, mostly from directly above facing down. We also found that working one section at a time seemed easier than letting the wax harden again as you try to go around.

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Have fun! Then admire your work Picasso!

Loving Lately 🍂

Loving Lately: Fall

Fall loving is in full effect. I love the chill in the air. I’m crazy about the fact that we can control the temperature in our house simply by opening or closing another window. I am over the moon about the scents of fall baking that are overtaking our home. And thank you with-grace-and-guts for capturing a bit of my autumn mood for my featured image.

It’s the sweaters and blankets… (Thank you Country Living.)

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And the bakeware. (Thank you Williams-Sonoma)

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It’s the donuts… (Thank you Half Baked Harvest)

And the landscapes. (Thank you picturecorrect.com.)

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It’s from the earth… (Thank you Whole Foods.)

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And it’s in the air. (Thank you cinderdream.)

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Cheers to Fall! (Thank you Evermine!)

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Loving Lately đŸ”

This week’s Loving Lately is a no-brainer: Soup!

First to give credit where credit is due, the gorgeous featured image is the Legendary French Onion Soup from one of my favorite food photographers and bloggers, Stéphane of MyFrenchHeaven.com. Oh, how I wish I had a bowl of it right now.

Although I do eat soup all year long, my current fondness of the liquid gratification has everything to do with the fact that the temperatures are dropping. There is nothing like a hearty hot bowl of soup to comfort yourself on a blustery evening. It also has a lot to do with this ridiculous cold/flu/whatever-you-are-go-away that has run amuck in our house. Following a late Sunday afternoon nap of fever and chills, I woke up craving the Pioneer Woman’s Sherried Tomato Soup and a grilled cheese. True story.

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The next night my husband came home from work with Chicken Noodle Soup. Be still my beating heart. This Chicken Noodle Soup from Tyler Florence got 5 stars out of 350 reviews… Umm, I’d say it’s worth giving a shot, huh?

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A day later I was well enough to drive the kids and myself through the Panera drive-thru to get a warm cup of broccoli cheddar soup, because nothing else would do. Here’s a copycat recipe from The Recipe Critic that looks pretty darn good if I do say so myself.

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And I’m not tired of it yet, because on the evening I am writing this I could really go for some chili. My goodness how I love a good chili! How Sweet Eat’s posted a Game Day Beer Chili this week that I’d like to try- this very minute.

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Of course I wouldn’t turn down a Yogurt Chicken Chili with spicy bites of tender chicken and Cannelloni beans either. Yum.

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Next on my “to try” list is this Cauliflower & Za’atar Soup by Dishing Up the Dirt. I ❀ crispy kale!

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Get your spoons my little macaroons, because soup season has begun!

Date Bar Dessert

When Owen and I got married, I was excited about learning to cook. Finally, I had my own kitchen! At my wedding shower, a longtime family friend gave me the instructions for her favorite brownies written on a recipe card (along with her gift) and on the day of our wedding, one of my sister’s high school friends gave us The Best of Country Cooking 2001 by Taste of Home. She had glued on the front page “A Recipe for a Happy Marriage” and a hand written note. That was where it all began. I love that cookbook, it’s full of memories and sentiment. It also contains the recipe for Date Bar Dessert, one of the first desserts I brought as a newlywed to our Thanksgiving family gathering. Of course, it’s always exciting when people enjoy what you’ve made! (It’s hard to go wrong with oats, butter, brown sugar and sticky sweet dried fruit.) Owen and I recently celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary, so I happily share this gift with you! In time for the holidays I might add, although on any given day it really makes for a delicious breakfast with a cup of coffee. Just sayin’.

As organic as possible:

1 3/4 cups old-fashioned Oats

1 1/2 cups all-purpose Flour

1 cup packed Brown Sugar

1 tsp Baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup cold Butter

2 1/2 cups chopped Dates

3/4 cup Sugar

3/4 cup Water

1/2 cup chopped Walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large bowl, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. *I prefer the old school two knives instead of a pastry cutter for this large amount, but do as you please.

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Press into a greased 13″ x 9″ x 2″ baking pan.

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In a saucepan, combine dates, sugar and water.

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Cook for 10 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently. Stir in walnuts. Spread over crust.

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Bake for 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares or bars.

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*It is recommended to serve with whip topping, but I have to tell you I like it without. You choose!

Date Bar Dessert

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups old-fashioned Oats
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose Flour
  • 1 cup packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cold Butter
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped Dates
  • 3/4 cup Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup chopped Walnuts

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. In a large bowl, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. *I prefer the old school two knives instead of a pastry cutter for this large amount, but do as you please.
  3. Press into a greased 13" x 9" x 2" baking pan.
  4. In a saucepan, combine dates, sugar and water. Cook for 10 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently. Stir in walnuts. Spread over crust.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares or bars.
  6. *It is recommended to serve with whip topping, but I have to tell you I like it without. You choose!
http://sadiesnest.com/date-bar-dessert/

Loving Lately ❀

Loving Lately #1: Seasonal Parties – Harvest Celebration

Admittedly, I am not crafty. But I know people who are! My mother for example has an artistic flare that passed me right by. She gets inspired by her six grandchildren and makes every season come alive in fun and innovative ways. And although I may not come up with these ideas, I certainly appreciate them! How adorable are these little pumpkins? And better yet, they are delicious, because they are Rice Krispies Treats! I know what you are thinking. Do they have organic food coloring? Well I like India Tree’s natural food dyes. (But I’m not saying that’s what my mom did.)

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Our gathering took place at the family cabin, and at night for a little ambiance we lit a pumpkin style lantern. Originally made to light the way outside, the lanterns were made from repurposed hanging flower pots. The hollowed and carved pumpkins are set on a bed of colorful leaves and filled with a candle. Creatively my mother used paper bags and coffee filters for the bow! (People need to get creative in the woods.)

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For entertainment we the kids played rounds of tic-tac-toe. Who needs pencils and paper when you have pumpkins and sticks?

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Not really true to character she also made some pumpkin cake pops, covered in white chocolate and sprinkles. -That is to say carrying out a theme is all her style, but molded bakeware is more of my thing… So I’m pretty sure I’m rubbing off on her.

The party included good eats, and fun drinks too… which I’ll be sharing with you in the future. But for now I’ll leave you with this:

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Because even though they’re not organic, they are a Michigan company. And you know I have to make a plug for my Michigan companies. 😉

Sidenote: I’d like to give credit to the sites my mom uses for ideas which are partially hers and some variations of things she saw on the world wide web, so I will in-part simply credit the internet.

Loving Lately ❀

Loving Lately: Road Trips

I love road trips. Some of my best memories growing up are from visiting new places with my family. Trying new foods from roadside restaurants and diners, taking in new scenery, and people watching (I can’t help it, I’m a studier of human nature). I still get excited about it today. I love taking my kids to see new places, getting to try new dishes and meeting new people.

View from our hotel room of the Grand Traverse Bay

View from our hotel room of the Grand Traverse Bay

It’s also no secret that I’m a huge fan of the state of Michigan. The vibrant seasonal changes, the great lakes and the produce, it’s all so good. This time my family and I headed up to the northwest shore of Michigan’s lower peninsula, one of my favorite places in the world.

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The Leelanau Peninsula, the world renown tunnel of trees, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, and even a foodie destination gaining national recognition in Traverse City and Suttons Bay were a few of our stops. I’ve been here many times, but never in the fall at its peak color. Beautiful.

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Some of my favorite things included when it finally sunk in to the kids, that the journey was the destination. “Where are we going?”, they would ask. “This is it, look out your window at the trees.”

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We drove and took in the natural wonders until we needed to stretch our legs, or eat, or check out attractions too intriguing to pass by; such as road side stands and quaint general stores.

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Good Hart General Store

Have I mentioned my appreciation of a good cup of coffee? Thank you Traverse City for your selection of cafes, with even organic ingredients, and food trucks with home bases so I can get Korean tacos while your trucks aren’t out.

Organic Pumpkin Spice Latte

Organic Pumpkin Spice Latte

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And although there is no place like home… sometimes I feel the need to hit the open road and see what I can see.

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Loving Lately ❀

Loving Lately #1: Fall Decorations

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I love this time of year. I love all year round really. But there is something invigorating about the cool air, the bright hints of color starting to flare out from the trees and the heart warming aromas coming out of my kitchen. They inspire me to decorate my nest! Every season I try to put out seasonal touches, I think it’s good for the kids…

Loving Lately #2: Naomi’s Outfits

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Every day my daughter picks out her outfits, usually accentuated by a head band and possible bracelets; occasionally a necklace and hand bag. Honestly, I am always so surprised at her creativity, a fashionista in the making. She doesn’t forget anything, and can give thought out reasons for her selected options. I don’t know where she gets it, not from me. I’m a copy the mannequin type; but I can appreciate it when I see it.

Cranberry-Pecan Pumpkin Bread

I make this bread every Thanksgiving. It’s like edible baked Autumn.  It’s got texture, body and flavor. It’s sweet enough to serve with dessert but so pretty served with dinner. Besides, can you have too many dishes on the table for a holiday? But don’t limit yourself to just one day! I make this bread other times too. It’s great with coffee for breakfast, it goes fantastic served with salad, and I serve it as a sweet bread side dish with all of our regular staple dishes (soups, stews, even pasta…) to give them a Fall feel. No one is disappointed to see this bread being served.

As organic as possible:

1 cup Brown sugar

1/2 cup Sugar

1 cup cooked or canned Pumpkin

1/2 cup Walnut oil

2 Eggs, beaten

2 cups Flour

1 tsp Baking soda

1/2 tsp Salt

1/4 tsp Nutmeg

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground Ginger

3/4 cup dried Cranberries

3/4 cup chopped Pecans

1/4 cup Water

Preheat the oven to 350Âș. Grease a loaf pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix sugars, pumpkin, oil and eggs. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger. In a small bowl toss cranberries and pecans with a couple tablespoons of the flour and spice mixture. Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture and combine. Add the cranberries and pecans and stir until incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake 65-75 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool 10-15 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack*.

*If using a molded loaf pan: The bread does rise. I have used a thin string to slice the loaf and give it a flat bottom to invert onto a plate. However, I have found that the best method (and prettiest on a plate) is to use a serrated knife and cut the loaf about 1/2″ over the loaf pan. That is also the best part about using the loaf pan, because you get to eat some of it without cutting into the presentable part! (And you’re going to want to taste it right away.)

Cool completely before slicing.

Cranberry-Pecan Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup cooked or canned Pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup Walnut oil
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground Ginger
  • 3/4 cup dried Cranberries
  • 3/4 cup chopped Pecans
  • 1/4 cup Water

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350Âș. Grease a loaf pan and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix sugars, pumpkin, oil and eggs.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger. In a small bowl toss cranberries and pecans with a couple tablespoons of the flour and spice mixture.
  4. Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture and combine. Add the cranberries and pecans and stir until incorporated.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake 65-75 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool 10-15 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack*.
  6. *If using a molded loaf pan: The bread does rise. I have used a thin string to slice the loaf and give it a flat bottom to invert onto a plate. However, I have found that the best method (and prettiest on a plate) is to use a serrated knife and cut the loaf about 1/2" over the loaf pan. That is also the best part about using the loaf pan, because you get to eat some of it without cutting into the presentable part! (And you're going to want to taste it right away.)
  7. Cool completely before slicing.
http://sadiesnest.com/cranberry-pecan-pumpkin-bread/