Apple Pie Chai

It’s not hard to see that I am pretty obsessed with Fall flavors. Pumpkin, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, apples, etc… So of course, following with my love for Autumn treats, here is a quick recipe for Apple Pie Chai. It encapsulates the wonderful cinnamon-y spice apple flavors of apple pie. All you need is apple juice and chai concentrate. My favorites for apple juice are Simply Apple  and of course Tree Top. My favorite for Chai Concetrate is Tazo, mostly due to its availability (you can find it at Starbucks, Safeway, and Target these days).

This can be made hot or iced. But with the warm afternoons we’ve been having, I’ve been sticking to iced.

Apple Pie Chai

3/4 Cup Apple Juice
3 – 4 Tablespoons Chai Concentrate (you may want to add more to your own taste)

Iced Version: Fill a glass with ice. Pour the chai concentrate over the ice, then add the apple juice. Stir to combine. Add a straw because straws make iced drinks more enjoyable.
Hot Version: Steam the apple juice either with a hand steamer, or you can heat it over the stove for a few minutes, until just simmering, or alternatively you can microwave it until it reaches your desired temperature (I would recommend 1 minute 30 seconds). Add the chai. Stir. Sip. Enjoy.

That’s all you need. Pretty simple, but way enjoyable. I would definitely consider making a carafe of this (either hot or cold) for an Autumn Party!

Note: You can also order this at Starbucks – order a chai latte but sub apple juice for milk 🙂 I recently discovered these at Starbucks which is how I came to make them myself at home. Deeeeeelicious.

Happy Almost Friday!

xx

-C

AUTUMN 2013

It’s that time of year again! The time for back to school, falling leaves, awesome patterned tights paired with boots, chilly weather for scarf wearing, sweaters, but most importantly…Halloween movies galore, and PUMPKIN EVERYTHING! Clearly it is time for my favorite time of year.

And why yes, I have had multiple Pumpkin Spice Lattes since they were released a week ago 🙂

1001442_10151821695313076_881963928_nDELICIOUS. Even more delicious because this one was a surprise from one of my 8th graders right before first period. I know it’s silly, but I’m loving the fact that my students actually like me, rather than just tolerate me as the kids did during my student teaching.

ANYWAY…pumpkin! So as most of you probably know, I love everything pumpkin related this time of year, that being said. Here is a roundup of some of my favorite pumpkin recipes, and some I am excited to try! I already picked up one can of pumpkin puree, but I can see I will definitely be needing more!

Pumpkin Bread – totally a classic and a must make for every year.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Roll – definitely a win for special occasions, when you’re trying to impress someone, or just because you feel like eating a fancy roll cake (I find any of these reasons to be valid for making this delicious dessert).

Baked Pumpkin Donut Holes – if I had the time, I would make these fresh every morning and snack on them throughout the day because they are the perfect accompaniment to morning coffee/tea, the perfect small post-lunch dessert, the best afternoon pick-me-up (with coffee of course), and obviously a great dessert for ending the day. Hmm…this makes me wonder, is this worth getting up at 5:00am so I can have some to bring with me to work? Quite possibly yes. And yes, I know, I have a pumpkin problem.

Some other pumpkin recipes from around the blog world that I can’t wait to try…

Pumpkin Oat Loaf – from Young Married Chic. A breakfast bread that sounds like it would be awesome slathered in peanut butter (really, is there any other way to put peanut butter on things?) It sounds like it’s almost baked pumpkin spice oatmeal in loaf form. So basically an awesome on-the-go breakfast.

Pumpkin Gingerbread – also from Young Married Chic (it’s slightly possible that Kris actually loves pumpkin things more than I do!) But yes, this pumpkin gingerbread sounds like an amazing combo of all things autumn/winter so I can’t wait to try it – maybe for Thanksgiving as a transition to winter.

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn (aka Monster Mash) – and one more from Young Married Chic! This caramel corn basically sounds like Halloween in a bag and therefore I think it’s awesome. Definitely will be contemplating bringing bags of this to school for my kiddos during Halloween. Or you know, just making for me to eat every day during the month of October. Don’t judge.

Pumpkin Cake Pops – from YumSugar. Pretty sure the title speaks for itself. Pumpkin + Cake Pops. Clearly no additional words are needed.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls – from Smitten Kitchen. I’m not sure why I’ve never made these before. I pinned the recipe a while back and just found it but I can’t wait to make them! I mean come on, pumpkin. cinnamon. rolls. Yeasty, doughy, sweet deliciousness with the magic that is pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. PLUS A CREAM CHEESE GLAZE. Yes, these must be made asap this weekend.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Pancakes – from HealthyFoodforLiving. Pumpkin Spice Latte Pancakes? The question is not why, but rather why not?!

I can’t wait to get started making some of my go-to pumpkin favorites and trying out some of these other recipes!

What are your favorite pumpkin recipes?

Happy Start of Autumn!

xx

-C

 

A Few Things

I’m feeling sickly today, and have been for the last 48 hours. So in light of this, I decided the most appropriate post would not be about food (as it is probably advisable I not prepare food for others lol), but rather Halloween inspiration & other Autumn-y things that make me happy.

Top Row (from l to r): Halloween Porch (Peekaboo Photos via Pinterest); my Halloween Peeps decoration (instructions below!); Autumn Leaves (Pinterest); baby pumpkins on candlesticks (BHG via Pinterest) Crock Pot Hot Spiced Cider (Sugar Pie Farmhouse via Pinterest)

Bottom Row: Sugar Pumpkins wrapped in Ribbon (Pinterest); Vintage Halloween Ad for Baby Ruth & Butterfinger (Tres Sugar via Pinterest); Baby Vampire Pumpkins (Martha Stewart Pinterest); Foreboding Flowers (Martha Stewart Pinterest); Kittens & Pumpkins (Pinterest); Halloween whimsical nails feat. Wet’n’Wild MegaLast Nail Polish Club Havana and On a Trip; Autumn in Paris (Pinterest)

Halloween Peeps Vase

You will need:

A Glass Vase
2 Boxes of Ghost Peeps (or Pumpkins)
3 bags Candy Corn (the 99 cent bags you can find at Rite Aid)
1 bag Mellocreme Pumpkins
Paper Towels
Either fake flowers, or in my case, pumpkin bookmarks, to place at the top (I found the bookmarks at Party America for 99cents)

Start by layering about 3/4 cup candy corn as the bottom layer (you may need more or less depending on the shape of your vase). Take two paper towels (or paper) and scrunch it into a ball. Place on top of the candy corn. Slide the Ghost Peeps or Pumpkin Peeps around the paper towel ball; using the ball to keep the Peeps in place. Place one or two Mellocreme Pumpkins in between each of the Ghost Peeps arms (you’ll sort of balance them in between). Add another layer of candy corn, about 1/2 cup. Make a smaller paper towel ball to place on top of this layer of candy corn. Position the rest of your Ghost or Pumpkin Peeps. Top off with about 1 – 1/2 cups of candy corn. Poke your fake flowers or pumpkin book marks in top & enjoy your cute Halloween decor!

Note: Be sure not to let the Peeps or Candy Corn get wet, otherwise you may end up growing mold. This should last you the entire month of October with no problems – my vase is currently going on three weeks and is still perfectly fine. The only challenge I have is keeping kids from picking at the candy corn!

Hope you’re all enjoying this Halloween season!

xx

-C

PS: I can’t embed video but if you like Hocus Pocus, click here for a laugh 🙂

 

Cookies & Stripes…oh & Orange!

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this or not but I really love October. I know, you had no idea – it’s not like I post about my love for October on here all the time or tweet about it every day :]

Anyway, a few weekends ago I tested out what might be one of the ultimate Autumn cookies. It combines all my favorite Autumn time flavors – pumpkin, chai, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spices, etc. AND it includes candy. So really, how can this not be the ultimate Autumn cookie? I sadly didn’t take any photos, but here’s a photo from the website (Pass the Sushi) where I borrowed the recipe.

Chai Pumpkin Spice Thumbprint Cookies

 

Be sure to test out this recipe – but I warn you, you have to get the timing just right when putting the pumpkin spice kisses on or they end up melting or won’t stick. Also, for the chai concentrate, I just picked up a box of Tazo Chai Concentrate from Target (1/4 cup for the recipe and the rest for me for drinking!) It’s only $3.49 at Target, though you can also probably pick it up at your local Starbucks – I saw the concentrate available at the store near me recently. I recommend getting this at Target though because that’s also your best bet for finding the Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses. I went on an intense search hunt for these and had to go to three different stores before finding them – Target, of course, was the third store I visited and were the ones that had them.

Anyway yes, make these, eat them all, and enjoy the wonderful combination of Autumn flavors.

Note: The consistency of the cookie was much more like Pumpkin Bread, which was kind of bad because I didn’t feel as though I was eating a cookie, which may or may not have resulted in me eating 5 cookies at a time. Don’t judge me!

On a different note…oh look – an outfit of the day post tacked onto the end here. Why? Well why not?

And why yes, that is a bright orange ribbon in my hair. Unfortunately you cannot see the plastic black spider that’s sitting in the middle of the bow. And why yes, I am in fact hiding my face behind my phone. But really it’s only so you can see the adorable Halloween stickers I have on the back of my phone! One is an orange jack-o-lantern cat face and the other is a black cat. I like cats. Have I mentioned I also like Halloween?

Shirt: Aeropostale (see similar)
Pleated Skirt: H&M (see similar)
Flats: Michelle D (see similar)
Watch: Michael Kors (see similar)

Happy October!

xx

-C

 

Pecan Pie Bars

Because I love you. And I love butter [oh Paula Deen]. And I think you should love butter too. I give you, Pecan Pie Bars.

Ok, disclaimer now. There are 3 sticks of butter involved in this recipe. MEANING you should definitely eat them all yourself and not share at all. I’m totally kidding. Sort of.

Anyway, I love pecans and I love caramel, but I’m not a fan of pecan pie. Not sure why. Probably the eggs involved. Ok, yes, it is because of the eggs involved. I have some weird issues with eggs. But let’s not go into that right now. Anyway, this pecan pie bar gives me all the things I love about pecan pie, minus the eggs. And bonus, it’s probably the easiest caramel recipe I’ve ever made. EVER.

I only have pictures of the final product because I was multitasking and making dinner at the same time. So basically you make the crust by mixing up some flour, brown sugar, and butter, then pop that all in the oven to bake. Put ALL the caramel ingredients into a pot, heat, melt, stir. Add pecans. Pour over the shortbread. Bake some more. Don’t worry, real directions are at the bottom. This was just my quick summary to show just how easy this recipe is – it’s foolproof.

Do you see that brown sugar pecan shortbread goodness? Mmm. And yes, I am eating one as I type. Don’t judge.

Ok, enough pictures. Recipe time.

Pecan Pie Bars

From Just a Taste

Shortbread Crust:
2 sticks butter, softened (the original recipe uses unsalted, I went with salted, I’m a fan of salted butter)
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar (I also changed this to dark. I prefer dark brown sugar)
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt

Caramel-Pecan Topping:
1 stick (½ cup) butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 1/2 – 3 cups chopped pecans (I also increased the pecans, you’ll thank me. Everyone that walks by will pick off a candied pecan, trust me, so it’s better to have the extra

Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line a 9×13-inch pan with foil, leaving enough for a 2-inch overhang on all sides.

Shortbread Crust:
Cream together the butter and brown sugar until fluffy in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add in the flour and salt and mix until crumbly. It will look somewhat like crushed graham cracker crumbs, but if you pinch it together it forms a shape.

Press the crust evenly into the foil-lined pan and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

While the crust bakes, prepare the filling by combining the butter, brown sugar, honey and heavy cream in a saucepan and stirring it over medium heat. Simmer the mixture for 1 minute, then stir in the chopped pecans.

Remove the crust from the oven and immediately pour the caramel-pecan filling over the hot crust spreading it to cover the entire surface. Return the pan to the oven and bake an additional 20 minutes.

Remove the pan and allow the bars to fully cool in the pan [about an hour or so]. Resist the temptation to pull off a pecan or slice into it, the caramel will have not yet set and will end up making a mess. Not to mention, the hot sugar will burn you.

Use the foil overhang to lift out the bars and transfer them to a cutting board. Peel off the foil, slice into bars and serve. Share…you know, if you want.

Enjoy!

xx

-C

First Pumpkin Bread of the Season

Second week of September? Autumn has begun you say? Then I say it’s time for some homemade pumpkin bread! I was actually at the grocery store to get things to make dinner but there was this giant display of Libby’s Pure Pumpkin cans, how could I possibly resist? This can made it a whole 24 hours in my house before I cracked it open to make some delicious pumpkin bread. The recipe I use is essentially Libby’s but with some tweaks from my great grandmother. There’s a wooden plaque that hangs in my house with my great grandmother’s recipe on it (with some lovely pumpkin artwork from my grandmother).

Pumpkin, flour, egg, and other stuff. Or Pumpkin Goop as I call it.

In the oven, ready to turn into delicious treats! On the top left, jack-o-lantern moulds [which unfortunately doesn’t seem to be available any more – see here] & on the top right mini loaf pans [also not available any more, what the heck…oh well, see here], and on the bottom, a larger stoneware loaf pan [I think this is the same one – also works wonderfully for other breads, like the beer-cheddar-mustard pull-apart bread or for meatloaf].

Complete! (except the large loaf, that took like an hour and fifteen to finish)

Jack-o-lantern shaped pumpkin bread?

And the final product, out of their baking containers. Sadly the jack-o-lanterns didn’t hold their shape well. You can kind of see the face, but not too well. See top right corner for the best one. I think next time I shall put raisins in for the face. Or something like that.

Anyway… the recipe!

Pumpkin Bread

Courtesy of Libby’s/my great-grandmother

3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 c. each granulated white sugar and packed brown sugar
1 c. oil
1lb can Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin (NOT THE PUMPKIN PIE FILLING!)
4 eggs
1 c. each raisins and nuts (optional – I put raisins in all the loaves and left the jack-o-lanterns plain…I like both. As a person with weird nut allergies I tend to skip nuts. But pecans are good.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix the oil and pumpkin (the whole can!). Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices, and add to the pumpkin-oil mixture. Stir together well. Add eggs, one at a time, blending thoroughly. Pour into 2 greased and floured 9×5-inch loaf pans. (Or do like me and put it into any container you feel like! My great grandmother’s choice was always coffee cans, but as my coffee always comes in bags these days, it’s difficult to get my hands on those. Don’t over fill whatever container you do end up using though as the loafs will puff up quite a bit. I would recommend 2/3 full as a general rule. Depending on what type of container you use, you will also need to adjust the cooking time. For example, with the jack-o-lanterns and mini loaf pans, these were done after 25 – 30 minutes. Whereas the large loaf pan took closer to 1 hour 15 minutes. If you want case by case advice, feel free to leave a comment and I can give you my best estimate for cooking time.)

If you do use the 9×5-inch loaf pans, bake for approximately 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out relatively clean. Cool for 5 minutes. Remove from pans. Place on wire rack to cool.

Eat with cream cheese! And if it’s no longer warm, microwave it for 20 seconds – I like it warm if I’m going to eat it with cream cheese.

Best Autumn breakfast/snack!

Enjoy!

xx

-C

Back to School

Back to School
As Autumn quickly approaches, so does the back to school season. I, too, will be going back to school in a few weeks (only eight more months of grad school! woohoo!) which means time to prepare some quick go-to outfits. Much as I love skirts and textured/patterned tights, there are definitely those days when I need to be able to just grab a pair of jeans and go.
Enter my Autumn go-to outfit: skinny jeans, plain black flats, and either a neutral colored tank layered with a brightly colored cardigan (in the best Autumn colors, of course – orange or burgundy) or a knit sweater.
Quick, simple, cute, & Autumn-weather friendly. Add in some jewelry and a lovely nail polish color and I’m set to go.
Oh, and let’s not forget my two current favorite nail polishes to make the transition from summer to autumn – Wet’n’Wild’s Megalast in “Club Havana” and “On a Trip”
“Club Havana” is on my nails right now and it feels perfectly end of summer/start of Autumn to me :]
One more hour till I get to go enjoy this warm yet breezy transitioning season outside at Farmer’s Market with J :]
Happy Thursday!
xx
-C