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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!
https://sadiesnest.com/date-bar-dessert/

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Edith’s Mushroom Chicken

My Great-Aunt Esta is my grandmother’s youngest sister. Growing up, we would see her maybe once or twice a year, on special occasions when she would fly to Michigan from her home in New York. Grandma and her sisters were all blessed with terrific senses of humor. Some of my favorite childhood memories are hearing them all together laughing. Aunt Esta has been wonderfully supportive of my blog, and gives me the the most endearing comments like “Your grandma would be proud of you.” Thank you Aunt Esta, it means so much to me! Recently she sent me my favorite kind of recipe, simple and delicious! Enjoy!

As organic as possible:

6 Boned Chicken breasts

2 Eggs, beaten

2 cups Bread Crumbs (*Aunt Esta mixes in a little Parmesan cheese so I did too)

1/4 cup Grate Parmesan *optional

1 Large can Mushrooms (*I sautéed some in butter & olive oil- about a pint of fresh)

1 – 14.5 oz. can Chicken broth

8 oz. Mozzarella Cheese, shredded

Oil or Margerine for frying

Cut boned chicken into 2 or 3 strips. Soak in beaten eggs 5 hours or overnight.

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Fire up the grill! Or rather preheat the oven to 350°.

Roll Chicken in bread crumbs.

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Brown in oil.

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Put in shallow baking dish. Cover with cheese and mushrooms. Pour broth over all.

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Bake in preheated oven 1/2 hour covered and 1/2 hour uncovered.

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Edith’s Mushroom Chicken

Ingredients

  • 6 Boned Chicken breasts
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups Bread Crumbs (*Aunt Esta mixes in a little Parmesan cheese so I did too)
  • 1/4 cup Grate Parmesan *optional
  • 1 Large can Mushrooms (*I sautéed some in butter & olive oil- about a pint of fresh)
  • 1 - 14.5 oz. can Chicken broth
  • 8 oz. Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
  • Oil or Margerine for frying

Instructions

  1. Cut boned chicken into 2 or 3 strips. Soak in beaten eggs 5 hours or overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°.
  3. Roll Chicken in bread crumbs.
  4. Brown in oil.
  5. Put in shallow baking dish. Cover with cheese and mushrooms. Pour broth over all.
  6. Bake in oven 1/2 hour covered and 1/2 hour uncovered.
https://sadiesnest.com/ediths-mushroom-chicken/

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Loving Lately

Loving Lately: Shinola

Being a mitten girl, I feel a sense of (self influenced) duty to promote my state. I love Michigan, I always have. It’s beautiful! The trees, the wildlife, the trails, a.k.a the stuff dreams are made of! I love fresh water; fishing, swimming, boating, canoeing, kayaking, water gazing… I can’t pretend when I am oceanside that I am not taken aback by the salt. And although we have many thriving cities, the better known Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids (but many more smaller and quaint), we always seem plagued by the negativity that is associated with Detroit. I currently live about 30 minutes outside of the city. I grew up going to Tiger’s games and catching plays at theaters like The Gem and Fisher right downtown. Traveling abroad I never felt ashamed to say I was from Detroit (the closest big city that might be recognized). I remember feeling surprised (and saddened) once while in Portugal when telling a local where I was from that his response was “Is that still a city?”. It’s true there is crime, it has a recent tarnished reputation for political corruption, and automobile manufacturing has taken a big hit. But I am here to tell you, it’s not all bad! In fact, there is a lot of good. We have some great restaurants, the food scene is actually exciting! Most recently Wahlburgers has come to town, but before that we were housing restaurants from the likes of world renown Wolfgang Puck and Iron Chef Michael Symon. Of course, I have to mention local favorites like Slow’s BBQ, Giovanni’s, The Traffic Jam & Snug, Jolly Pumpkin, and the Hudson Cafe. And longtime favorites such as Lafayette Coney Island and it’s neighboring rival, American Coney Island, as well as, Pizza Papalis and The Whitney. Ok, I’ll stop, I could go on about food forever. The Eastern Market has been an incredible local treasure for over 125 years. It is one of the oldest and largest year round outdoor markets, a gathering point for vendors of all sorts; from local fruit, veggie and flower growers, artists and artisans, coffee roasters, to exotic spice merchants- just to name a few, that come to sell their wares. The Detroit Mercantile is a staple retailer where locals and visitors can find all things Detroit, vintage and current. And Shinola my friends is one of the very reasons we enthusiastically use phrases Detroit Proud and Detroit Made.

Shinola is a manufacturer that chose Detroit as their home to manufacture high quality and hand crafted products; watches, leather goods such as purses, wallets, journals and pet accessories, and bicycles. They saw a need and moved in to create jobs while others were moving out. They are teaching trades and skills to a new generation. Shinola is giving “Imported from Detroit” (Thank you Chrysler) some real validity. They are expanding their industry to include a Shinola Hotel by 2018, creating even more vocational opportunities. I believe wholeheartedly in supporting local businesses that build our community. So, I am loving the new beautiful timepiece my husband got for his birthday!

And thank you Owen for being a good sport and modeling for my blog!

Technically I’m Griping

So I’ve decided to transfer my website to something called “self hosting”. The process seems like it would be copacetic, moving my site within the same parent company, from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. It comes highly recommended from several bloggers I follow. It allows more liberty for things like plugins and widgets, behind the scenes applications for fun little items like printable recipe cards and links to social media sites. It also opens the door for exciting prospects like advertising- if the opportunity were ever to present itself. But what it really means is making almost everything you know obsolete. It equates to actually paying a third party a monthly fee to host your site. It means losing every one of the cherished “likes” I’ve earned up until this new starting point. It consists of not seeing my reader’s comments. (Temporarily I hope and BTW if I haven’t responded to you, it’s because I never received it.) It translates to my WordPress phone app no longer complying. My pictures are uploading weird. Coincidence? I think not! It translates as headache.

Since I really know nothing about computer matters, and don’t have the time (or frankly interest) to learn, I paid to have WordPress do the actual transfer for me. After all, this is what I enjoy to do- my outlet. I don’t buy designer shoes, or expensive jewelry- so I justified the cost. I’m a cook, a mom, a photographer, an aspiring writer, not a computer programmer. It wasn’t like a life changing amount, but not free. I’d consider it to be about the price of an American Girl Doll and shipping. It’s supposed to come with 2 weeks of (ahem) tech support. Lining up time to work with the help of people who know what their doing is difficult… especially since when I was available, they were not. “…Across the country employee meetings.” (Perhaps useful information to be told before I made the decision?) And when I have been able to get a reply to an email, it comes in the form of trouble shooting ideas I can try. Nice. How about this: I am a technical idiot, that’s why I paid for the service! Could you please resolve the issue?

It’s going to be worth it in the end. (Right?)

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The Art of the Cheese Platter

I am a lover of good cheese (it’s in my bio). So a beautiful cheese platter is a treasure to behold. Don’t let me fool you, I haven’t perfected the art of assembly. In fact, I beat my self up for like an hour for cutting my Mango-Ginger Stilton in to square crumbles rather than leaving it in a wedge for my guests to cut themselves. (It’s a bad habit I have. I still get embarrassed that my voice cracked during an 8th grade choir solo. I KNOW! I need to get over it. I have issues.) However, I’ve included some tips I’ve picked up and some ideas from the experts (or at least a couple of people I admire).

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Here is a guide to make The Ultimate Cheese Plate from What’s Gaby Cooking. Her pictures are always stunning.

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Courtesy of What’s Gaby Cooking

I love that cheese board. I almost put out some dried fruit… and I would have loved to place an assortment of nuts on my trays, but my youngest son has a nut allergy. What’s a girl to do? Well, I’ll tell you what I did, I avoided the risk. I appreciate how much she loaded the tray with variety too. My platters aren’t quite that full, mostly because I turned the whole table into a large assortment. But I did take note and try to vary ingredients on each plate; a fruit or olive or pickle, a cheese or two, a choice of cracker or dried bread or pita chip, etc.

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I think when making a cheese plate, it is important to show case several different cheeses, not just in flavor but in texture and style too. Naturally the amount of food is based on the number of guests. But even if you are only having a few people over, if you are having a “cheese board” you probably want to have a variety. Maybe a spreadable cheese, a hard sliced or cubed cheese and possibly a semi-soft cheese like a brie or a crumbled cheese. Of course, my favorite Smoky Cheese Ball makes an appearance at most of our gatherings (pecans included, it’s the one exception). Jessica Merchant from How Sweet Eats describes How to Make a Killer Cheese Plate with a few cheese ball recipes too.

Courtesy of How Sweet Eats

Courtesy of How Sweet Eats

I’m a fan of labeling the food for guests, especially when there are many to choose from. I suppose if it were a small gathering and we were all sitting together I might remember the names of all of the sausages, cheeses, crackers and what-have-you. But if there are more than two or three of each, I’d probably be hard pressed to rattle off the titles of all of them. They do manufacture some beautiful note cards, little chalkboards, and the like for such an occasion. A little creativity, i.e, legible penmanship, index cards cut into shapes, toothpicks and tape works too!

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Lastly, I love that Honestly Yum used fresh figs in their post, The Perfect Fall Cheese Platter. Doesn’t it just seem right? And look at that rustic plank cheese board! Swoon.

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Courtesy of Honestly Yum

Above all remember it’s all about good times with good friends! (I keep telling myself that too!)

 

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Pizza Pasta

Who enjoys having fun with their food? I do! Let’s face it, I’m not in the running to win a Michelin star. Although I think I get 4 stars on this! (One from each of my kids). We have growing athletes in this house, so we eat a lot of pasta. And I don’t know one kid who doesn’t like pizza! Let’s just get crazy… As if we needed further proof that easy weeknight meals can be as amusing as they are tasty.

Serves 6-8

As organic as possible:

1 lb Penne pasta or pasta of choice

1 – 14 oz. jar/can or homemade Pizza sauce

1 – 15 oz. jar/can or homemade Tomato sauce

1 tsp Sugar

1 tsp dried Oregano

Salt and Pepper to taste

6 oz. Pepperoni, sliced *reserve 12-15 slices for topping, quarter the remaining

2 cups shredded Mozzarella or Italian cheese blend, divided

1/4 cup (approx) of freshly grated Parmesan

*Optional diced veggie “toppings”such as onion, green pepper, mushrooms, etc.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Cook pasta according to package instructions, less 1-2 minutes. *I like to salt my water when it comes to a boil, before adding dry pasta. Drain and return to pot.

In the meantime, in a sauce pan, combine pizza and tomato sauces, sugar (to balance tomato acidity), oregano,  quartered pepperonis, and any diced/sliced veggies. Stir until combined and warmed through. Taste for further seasoning, i.e. salt & pepper.

*Side note: this could easily be a vegetarian dish by omitting the meat! 😉

Pour the sauce mixture into the pot of noodles and stir. Place half of the saucy noodles in a large baking dish in an even layer. Sprinkle half of the shredded cheese on the first layer of noodles and repeat with remaining noodles and shredded cheese. Strategically place the full slices of pepperoni around the top of the pasta dish, followed by the grated Parmesan, to create your piece of art. Kiss your grouped finger tips and throw your hand in the air while shouting “Bellissimo!”

Place the loaded baking dish into the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the top pepperonis are starting to brown on the edges. Yum!

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*It might also be noted that I reserved some of the saucy noodles, which I placed in a separate small baking dish for my dairy-free son. (Which you may or may not need to do yourself.)

Pizza Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Penne pasta or pasta of choice
  • 1 - 14 oz. jar/can or homemade Pizza sauce
  • 1 - 15 oz. jar/can or homemade Tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp dried Oregano
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 6 oz. Pepperoni, sliced *reserve 12-15 slices for topping, quarter the remaining
  • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella or Italian cheese blend, divided
  • 1/4 cup (approx) of freshly grated Parmesan
  • *Optional diced veggie "toppings"such as onion, green pepper, mushrooms, etc.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Cook pasta according to package instructions, less 1-2 minutes. *I like to salt my water when it comes to a boil, before adding dry pasta. Drain and return to pot.
  3. In the meantime, in a sauce pan, combine pizza and tomato sauces, sugar (to balance tomato acidity), oregano, quartered pepperonis, and any diced/sliced veggies.
  4. Stir until combined and warmed through. Taste for further seasoning, i.e. salt & pepper.
  5. Pour the sauce mixture into the pot of noodles and stir. Place half of the saucy noodles in a large baking dish in an even layer. Sprinkle half of the shredded cheese on the first layer of noodles and repeat with remaining noodles and shredded cheese.
  6. Strategically place the full slices of pepperoni around the top of the pasta dish, followed by the grated Parmesan, to create your piece of art.
  7. Kiss your grouped finger tips and throw your hand in the air while shouting "Bellissimo!"
  8. Place the loaded baking dish into the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the top pepperonis are starting to brown on the edges. Yum!
https://sadiesnest.com/pizza-pasta/

 

Loving Lately

Loving Lately: Learning

Can I just get a shout out for perpetual learners? Students of life… Most of the time I wear this title proudly. I mean, there’s always room to grow and more to know. Especially since things are constantly changing. Kudos to accountants out there keeping up with the tax laws, and lawyers out there keeping up with legislation. I’m baffled by computer people always stepping up their firewalls and encryption games while the hackers consistently rise to the challenge. I won’t even start to get into all of the science and medical data that constantly proves itself wrong with the latest testing. But sometimes wouldn’t it just be nice to know the answers?

Afterall, I only want to know how to run a blog! Thankfully there are many people willing to share their information. Take for example the husband and wife team from PinchofYum.com. He handles the technical stuff and she does the recipes; together they’ve been pretty successful and kindly enough they tell us how!

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Click here for info on How To Start a Food Blog from Pinch of Yum

Like my dad says “I could fill a library with the stuff I don’t know.” Isn’t that the truth! However, school is in session: for the kids and their momma.  And I’m trying to cram as much knowledge as I can. If you know me at all, you know I have nothing else to do. 😉

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For 10 Tips of Working From Home Like a Pro by MyDomaine click here

I recently read tips from one of my favorite blogger/instagram-ers, What’s Gaby Cooking about how to make an editorial calendar. She likes to schedule with her photographer and stylist, in the studio, 4-6 weeks out.  (Wow.) I’m not going to hide it, that sounds amazing.

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For the info by Gaby click here.

Another of my faves, she’s local… but she doesn’t know it- was recently doing a shoot, I think for her cookbook coming out next year or the video promotions associated with it? Anyway, Rachel Schultz thank you for keeping it real and showing a little behind the scenes.

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For more about the shoot and Rachel Schultz click here

Needless to say, I have a long way to go.

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Visions of Grandeur – Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Mom

I love my family. I love my children. I love that we, as a family, have the opportunity for me to stay-at-home. I never want to take that for granted. That said, I have more to give! Ok that’s an overstatement, I’m exhausted. Maybe it is more accurate to say I desire to do more.

I don’t want to quit my day job. I don’t want to give up my nights and weekends, sacrificing our only all-member family time, for a part-time job. But I do want a connection to the outside world. As of late, that yearning has lead me down a path of expression through blogging; writing and dabbling in the art of photography- specifically food photography. I’m inspired to write short stories, mostly in the form of plays and dialogues- but first I need to get the kids on the bus. It’s the regular routine of changing the baby’s diaper, making breakfast, packing lunches, cleaning up breakfast, getting the kids dressed (or checking what they have dressed themselves in), inspecting teeth, braiding hair, etc. It’s a sigh of relief when the oldest two out of four are on the bus and on their way fully prepared.

Now would be a great time to enjoy a cup of coffee and jot down that funny thought I had earlier! What was that line again? …But realistically, first I should probably start the dishwasher anyway. That reminds me I have a load of dish towels in the dryer. Crap, the dish towels are still in the washing machine. I need to bring this load of boys clothes upstairs so I can dry the dish towels. “Kids, we’re going upstairs.”

Laundry, my nemesis. They say write about what you know. How can I personify laundry? A dark, looming presence always growing in strength, a force my heroine has to face head on. A little dark maybe, but not untrue. Meanwhile in the real world, what is Noah playing with? It looks like he is in his sister’s jewelry box.

“Oh no, mom, you have to see this!” Elijah yells. Ah! Noah has painted his bangs with nail polish. Oh Noah, I’ve already cleaned up two large spills from you this morning! (Which meant his sister wasn’t on the bus fully prepared, because her baby brother swiped her water bottle -that he poured all over my comfy chair- as if I was going to sit down anyway).

“Noah, No!” I say realizing that at this point it’s not going to make a difference. Let’s get you into the tub. Where is my nail polish remover without acetone… “Stay here.” Okay, I’m back let’s get off that diaper. Plop! Are you kidding me? I just changed a poopy diaper 20 minutes ago!

“Don’t move!” Thankfully it’s in a tub right? (Optimism gets me through the day.) Poop has been transferred to the toilet, now to disinfect. Joys of motherhood. And finally, let’s get to that hair. That is not coming off. I can’t use acetone, this is too close to your eye. What am I going to do? Shave your head? Well, looks like you are going to live with it for a while.

I have a headache. “Everybody downstairs.” I am not doing laundry right now, someone has to keep an eye on the baby. Drats laundry, you win again.

“Yes, Elijah you can have your snack now.” While we’re in the kitchen I should get started on dinner. Crockpot dinner tonight! We need to eat early because Naomi has gymnastics. 

Still, somehow I know these are the best days of my life. I want to cherish every moment. A couple weeks ago, my then still 3 year old said when it was raining “maybe the clouds are crying” -a theory he discovered all on his own. A couple days later, my 5 year old daughter was not feeling well and misquoted a popular saying by explaining “I’m feeling over the weather.” People always say it goes by so fast, and I know it’s true. In the midst of it, it feels fleeting.

So, I am by choice a stay-at-home mom. Coincidingly, I realize the importance of “mommy time”, the need to preserve my sanity and identity. I still have goals! However for me, right now, it’s a necessity that takes a back seat to the priority of “being mommy”. As for my writing career, my prospective coffee shop, my strategy du jour; I’m still dreaming.

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Juan’s Flan

My husband happens to be my biggest supporter. You may have noticed his regular comments on Sadie’s Nest as Owen. He also promotes my blog amongst his colleagues. How nice is it that they positively respond with kind words and even recipes! I am truly flattered, and at the same time extremely frightened! I don’t want to disappoint you Juan!! My flan did not turn out pretty…  I am secretly referring to it as Frankenflan. Just keeping it real: a day in the life of an experimental home cook. But that’s what it’s about, trying new things! Thank you so much for sharing a family recipe with me, “a traditional Mexican dessert that originated in Spain.” In spite of its (my flan’s) appearance, it was amazingly delicious!

For the syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar

First you have to make the syrup, which is made by melting the sugar in a pan until it turns into a mustard-like color. Then you spread it over the mold carefully because it gets really hot. (And in Sadie’s experience it cools and hardens quickly- so work fast!)

For the custard:

  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 6 whole eggs
  • 1 – 8 oz. bar Cream cheese

 

Mix all of the ingredients in a blender. After mixing, pour the liquid contents in the mold that already has the syrup. (Because I don’t own a cool flan mold, I used a traditional glass pie dish.)

In a preheated oven at 350 degrees, you place the mold inside another larger mold (or as Sadie did, place the pie dish in a larger rectangular baking dish)  and pour room temperature water at the same height as the flan mixture in the mold. Bake for 45 min. 

*Please note: Perhaps because Sadie doesn’t have a traditional flan mold or one to place it in for its water bath, I needed to add another 10-15 minutes of carefully watched time until my flan was set.

Let it cool, then remove it from the mold, and place in a refrigerator for a couple of hours. Serve and cheers to Juan! 😉

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Loving Lately

Loving Lately: Pie Crusts

They are delicious, buttery, flaky, crisp… Pie crusts are the essential avenue to basically all fantastic pie and tart fillings. But as if that weren’t enough, here is what I am loving about them lately: They are works of art! (Featured Image from Luna & Hazel)

I really wish I had talent. Here is “The prettiest apple pie we ever did see” from monicahibbs.com, I can’t disagree.

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Or how about a simple polk-a-dot? I love a classic stripe or polk-a-dot, me and Kate Spade. From Linda_Lomelino via Instagram:

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Of course you could let the fruit do all of the talking- like the Pear Almond Tart from pastryaffair.com, no one could fault you for that.

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But I am just fascinated by these intricate weaves. Thank you hintofvanillablog 🙂

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I love this next one, similar to the plaid woven and braided apple pie pictured above. <3 Although I haven’t been able to track down the original, the link from Pinterest will take you to more amazing pies and crust ideas at feedfeed.com.

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I’ve featured this adorable heart pie before, doesn’t it just shout love from home? It’s the Strawberry Sweetheart Slab Pie from Jillian Harris:

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Look at the creativity from theprettyblog on this Caramel, Pear & Pecan Lattice Pie. It’s so beautiful!

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And this Fall Harvest Apple Pie from BellasBanquet that seems blanketed by leaves. So pretty!

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I’m not going to lie, this crunchy streusel topping over a creamy blueberry pie from The Girl Who Ate Everything looks outstanding even without the intricate fuss.

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Okay, just one last shot of fabulous from TheKitchenMcCabe, and then I’m off to make a pie.

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