Sunday, September 30, 2018

Weekend Round-Up Part One

Pumpkin Round-Up Part One
Several years ago my fall prize was this pumpkin that went full term. I nurtured it along checking several times a day making sure it wasn't a feast for the deer. When the time came to trim it I was definitely attached to this baby and quite reluctant to give up my mommy duties. But in the end it was repurposed for Halloween decor.
Now that three deer have taken up permanent residence in our yard, sadly it becomes impossible to be this lucky again. But on the bright side there's always canned pumpkin available for a variety of autumn treats. 

Pumpkin Applesauce Muffins with Maple Cream Glaze is a sure winner for anytime of the day. These muffins are easy, moist, no mixer needed and absolutely delicious. They are hearty and healthy enough for breakfast, snack or really anytime of the day. Consider the option of making healthier choices like leaving off the glaze or replacing some of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour.  Though I need to go on record this maple cream glaze is intensely delicious and pairs perfectly with the spiced pumpkin flavored muffins. The glaze would be great topping for a spice apple walnut cake too.
The following reci
pe makes 18 regular sized muffins and was adapted from  
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin puree not pie filling 
  • 1/2 cup neutral flavored oil (like canola, vegetable, avocado)
  • 1/2 cup no-sugar added applesauce
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2- 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1-3/4 cups white flour and 3/4 cup whole wheat flour) 
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice 
  • 2 tsp.Saigon cinnamon 
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Optional add ins chopped walnuts and /or raisins

Glaze :
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) powdered sugar
  • 2-4 TB. heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp. maple extract or 1 TB. maple syrup
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two standard muffin tins with paper liners and set aside..
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin, oil, applesauce and sugar.
  • In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined (don’t over mix or the muffins may be dense and kind of heavy).
  • Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin tins, filling the cups about 3/4 of the way full.
  • Bake for 15-16 minutes until the top of the muffins spring back to the touch and/or a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs attached.
  • Remove from the muffin tin to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • For the glaze, whisk together the glaze ingredients, starting with the lesser amount of cream and adding more as needed to make a pourable, but still thick, glaze.
  • Drizzle the glaze over the cooled muffins with a spoon or fork and ENJOY!
Cranberry Pumpkin Nut Bread

Friday, September 28, 2018

Roasted Butternut Squash Sauce with Sausage and Spinach

Nothing like a predicted
to send us into a tail spin with a reality check of what's ahead. Lucky I was able to get some fall photos in before the leaves are all down. This year's color palette was mostly yellows and golds.

With a chill in the air it's a perfect time to enjoy a plate of savory and delicious Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash Sauce Sausage and Spinach. warm dish that captures fall flavors topped with shaved Parmesan cheese.  
Recipe serves four and is an Ever Ready Special. 
  • 1 lb. (about 4 cups) butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 2-1/2 TB. olive oil, divided
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • A sprinkle each of Saigon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice mix and paprika
  • 1 TB. olive oil 
  • 1 LB. ground Italian sausage or chicken sausage 
  • 3/4 cup sweet onions, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 /4 tsp. ground sage
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 cups dry tortellini 
  • 1-1/2 cups hot low sodium chicken broth or reserved pasta water
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves, torn 
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone pad or parchment paper. 
  • In a bowl toss the butternut squash in 1-1/2 TB. olive oil along with salt and pepper. Spread out evenly on a baking sheet and sprinkle squash with cinnamon and paprika. Roast for 20 minutes or until fork tender.  
  • Cook tortellini until al dente drain. If using pasta water set aside 1-1/2 cups. If using chicken broth microwave until hot.   
  • Cook the sausage in a large sauce pan with 1 TB. olive oil, onions, garlic, sage and pepper flakes if using, Push crumbled meat mixture to the side and wipe pan clean. 
  • Puree the roasted butternut squash along with hot broth or hot pasta water in a food processor. Return the puree mixture to the fry pan and mix well with cooked tortellini and meat mixture on a medium low heat.  Add cream,  cheese and torn spinach leaves, cook until the cheese has melted and spinach has wilted. 
Other options include:

  • Replace the butternut squash with pumpkin, kabocha or other wither squash. 
  • Replace the tortellini with your favourite pasta shape. 
  • Replace the asiago cheese with parmigiano reggiano (parmesan) 
  • Replace the baby spinach with sliced kale, swiss chard, or etc. 
  • Serve topped with crispy fried sage and browned butter drizzle 
  • Omit sausage for vegetarian.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Autumn M & M Cookies

It's never too early to think ahead for Halloween treats. Who doesn't love a M & M cookie recipe so I began with PLAN A.

But I was forced to execute PLAN B cookie recipe when I found out these very cool neon colors pictured above were no longer available in stores.  But PLAN B  M & M Halloween Candies for 2018 (pictured below) did not work as I could not find them at 5 different stores.  Now I was on a mission.
So I had to implement PLAN C and use autumn candy colors added to the cookie batter. 
Chocolate Lovers Rejoice-the recipe calls for a lot of cocoa powder which gives them their color, not to mention their deep chocolate flavor. These cookies are rich tasting and chocolaty, with a hint of fudginess that comes from their chewy texture.  It's a cookie sure to please anyone regardless of the candy color. They were DELICIOUS!  
Autumn M&M Chocolate Cookies
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature (2 sticks)
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups M & M candies
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone pad..
  • In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. Beat in cocoa mixture into the butter mixture, blending until everything comes together into a smooth dough. Add in candies.
  • Chill dough 45 minutes for easier handling. Flour hands to roll dough into 2 inch balls 
  • Press a few candies into dough on top and sides.  
  • Bake for 10 minutes for a crispy cookie. The cookies will appear to be just set. Do not over bake. Allow to cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Bake at 350 for 11-12 minutes for a softer cookie.  
Recipe makes about 30 cookies. 
Cookie Bonus
A DIY homemade gift packaging idea with M & M's and a printable poem.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Early Morning

The moon on the one hand, the dawn on the other:
The moon is my sister, the dawn is my brother.
The moon on my left hand and the dawn on my right.
My brother, good morning: my sister, good night.
by Hillaire Belloc 

Autumn Feast Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Cook's Notes: Comfort food at its best with tender bits of beef and chock full of veggies in a thick beefy sauce cooked to perfection in a slow cooker. Pair the meal with a mixed green salad and warm breadsticks. 
Be creative adding in your favorite seasonal veggies. 
Thanks Mary Beth for a delicious meal. 
  • 1 lb. beef stew meat 
  • 4 TB. seasoned flour (recipe below)
  • 1 tsp. Worchestire sauce
  • 2 cups carrots, sliced
  • 1 cup onions, diced
  • 2-3 cups red potatoes, cut in chunks 
  • 2 cups celery,diced
  • 2 cups white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, oregano
  • 1 packet of McCormick Hearty Beef Stew Seasoning 

  •  Optional 1/4 cup dry red wine 
Seasoned Flour
Mix 1 cup flour, 1 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper and 1 tsp. paprika

  • In a plastic zip loc bag add beef chunks and seasoned flour. Mix well to coat beef. 
  • Following directions on back of McCormick packet substitute beef broth for half of the required water in a glass measuring cup and mix well. 
  • To the slow cooker, add flour drenched beef cubes, veggies, Worchestire sauce, seasoning packet with water, broth and diced tomatoes. Mix well,  cover and cook on high 4 hours or low 6-8 hours. Last hour add in wine and extra water if needed for sauce. Cook until  fork tender.   

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Fallish Thoughts

Educated, a memoir by Tara Westover, has certainly piqued my interest. It reads in the vein of Glass Castle  This is the true story about how one girl was born and raised in Idaho by parents who didn't believe in any sort of formal education and how she rose above. It’s about being motivated, being a self-starter, realizing the bigger picture and not letting family, fears, or other outside influences determine who you are and who you will always be. 

Tara Westover is an American author living in the UK. Born in Idaho to a father opposed to public education, she never attended school. She spent her days working in her father's junkyard or stewing herbs for her mother, a self-taught herbalist and midwife. She was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom, and after that first taste, she pursued learning for the next decade. She received a BA from Brigham Young University in 2008 and was subsequently awarded a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. She earned an MPhil from Trinity College, Cambridge in 2009, and in 2010 was a visiting fellow at Harvard University. She returned to Cambridge, where she was awarded a PhD in history in 2014.

Educated would be a great book club selection for discussion. 

So many of Mary Oliver’s poems are about her observations of and interaction with the natural world. I thought this poem was appropriate considering the leaves are starting to change. I liked this poem because of the sense of anticipation, of fall coming to full bloom. 

Song for Autumn
by Mary Oliver

In the deep fall
don’t you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
warm caves, begin to think

of the birds that will come — six, a dozen — to sleep
inside their bodies? And don’t you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
vanishes, and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its
bellows. And at evening especially,
the piled firewood shifts a little, 
longing to be on its way.

Autumn M & M Cookies
Pasta with Butternut Squash Sauce, Sausage and Spinach
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries and Balsamic Reduction

Monday, September 24, 2018

Caramel Apple Slab Pie

This was the piece de resistance at a recent dinner party  
a homemade apple slab pie with caramel sauce. It was absolutely delicious and a perfect dessert to usher in a new season. Here's a link to the recipe 

Two shortcuts to consider when recreating this recipe are substituting a homemade crust with Pillsbury refrigerated box piecrust (you will need both crusts to cover a baking sheet and and a jar of caramel sauce( ice cream topping). 

Thanks  to Shirley and her daughter Sue for sharing such a splendid dessert.  

Looking for more fall like desserts Ever Ready has got you covered. 
Apple and Cranberry Crisp with Ginger Pecan Topping
Apple Pear Galette
Triple Berry Crumble Pie
Cranberry Orange Pound Cake
Cranberry Apple Pear Crumble

and last but not the least of Ever Ready fall desserts.
Apple Pie and Maple Nut Ice Cream

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Weekend Round-Up

Bachman's House
Looking for fall home decor inspiration? A visit to Bachman's Florist and Greenhouse in Minneapolis, MN  is just the place to be. Three times a year the public is invited to their Idea House located at their Lyndale store right near the parking lot. 

Each season, the designers transform this 1920's bungalow, by repainting, refurnishing, and redecorating the house with their signature mix of new trend items, repurposed pieces and a touch of vintage. This fall season the theme is Watercolor Harvest to greet autumn and discover a fresh crop of home decorating trends and fall inspiration. Warm whites blend with a rainbow of fall colors. Special décor ideas are in every room!

20% of Ideas House admission proceeds benefit Second Harvest Heartland - one of the nation’s largest, most efficient and most innovative hunger relief organizations, who work to end hunger through community partnerships. 

As always a visit there does not disappoint brimming with creativity and imagination. Not only do they decorate inside of the house but an adjoining shed and garden tool shed.
Love the fun stools that go with this rustic table decor. I'm thinking mushrooms!
 An inviting porch with a Halloween theme greets guests as they enter the main house.  

Artfully displayed tableware and kitchenware.
And you  would no doubt swoon over the baby's room. 

Each of the 4 bedrooms were uniquely decorated. 

Idea House Watercolor Harvest-Sept. 13- Oct. 7
A fall meal to celebrate a warm autumn day in Minnesota.
Dijon Apple Cider Pork Chops with Apples
 Cook's Notes: Pair the meal with rice and Apple Grape Mixed Greens Salad with Maple Vinaigrette.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 (1/2- to 1-inch thick) boneless pork chops
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. each dried parsley, thyme and rosemary 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups apple cider
  • 1 TB. brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tart red apples, cored, and sliced (I used a crisp Jazz variety) 
  • Salt and pepper pork chops. Melt oil in 10-inch deep skillet until sizzling; add pork chops, onions, garlic and spices. Cook over medium-high heat, turning once, 3-4 minutes a side and browned. 
  • Reduce heat to low; add apple cider, and brown sugar.  Cover; cook, on low turning chops once, 25-30 minutes or until pork reaches at least 145°F and is tender. Stir in mustard to mix well in apple cider. Place pork chops onto serving platter and tent with foil to cover and keep warm.
  • Add apple slices to sauce in pan. Cover; cook over medium heat 4-6 minutes or until apples are tender. Pour apples and sauce over pork chops.

Cinnamon Apple Muffins

GET TO KNOW YOUR APPLES Pink Lady , great balance of sweet and tart. Granny Smith , maybe the most popular baking apple. A little more tart ...