Tag Archives: fall recipes

Pumpkins & Polka Dots and Festive Fall Fare: Part II

Yesterday I shared the recipes for the main course from my pumpkins and polka dots party, but let’s get onto the good stuff. Today..it’s dessert!

The pumpkin centerpiece is a harvest vase from Crate and Barrel filled with silver dollars. I swooned over these at Sendik’s and had to ask what exactly they were called. They are very delicate and the best part is, they don’t die.

What says fall more than a caramel apple? With a twist on the original, I created these cupcakes, complete with a caramel apple stick, to resemble a taffy apple in both look and taste. The cupcake is apple spice with a sea salt caramel frosting, topped with crushed peanuts.

Apple Spice Cupcakes (based off Martha Stewart’s Applesauce-Spice Cupcakes)

2 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 C unsalted butter, softened
1 C sugar
1/2 C brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 C natural applesauce (I use Mott’s)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tin with paper liners. Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cream butter, sugar and brown sugar using an electric mixer on medium-high. Add eggs one at a time. Reduce speed to low. Add applesauce and flour mixture, beating until combined.

Fill cups with batter – almost to the top. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Transfer cupcakes to wire rack to cool before frosting. Yields 12-18 cupcakes.

Sea Salt Caramel Frosting

1/4 C sugar
2 TBSP water
1/4 C heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp sea salt
1 C powdered sugar

Briefly stir together granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue cooking, without stirring, until mixture turns dark amber in color, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla, stirring with a wooden spoon until completely smooth. Set aside until cool to the touch, about 15 minutes.

Combine butter and salt and beat with electric mixer until fluffy. Reduce speed to low, add powdered sugar, and mix. Turn off mixer and add caramel. Beat frosting on medium-high speed until airy and thoroughly mixed, about 2 minutes. Refrigerate until stiff before using, about 30 minutes.

I doubled this recipe for these cupcakes because I like a lot of frosting. One and a half would probably work too or just one if you like more cupcake than frosting. I frosted the cupcakes using a frosting gun, topped with crushed peanuts and stuck a candy stick in the middle to resemble a caramel apple.

And last but certainly not least, an old fall favorite, pumpkin dip. This can be treated as an appetizer or dessert, or both! I served it with gingersnaps, crackers and apples.

Pumpkin Dip

One package 1/3 less fat cream cheese
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 can pumpkin puree
1 TBSP maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Beat cream cheese, sugar and pumpkin in a bowl on medium-high until well blended. Add following ingredients and mix throughly. Chill until ready to serve.

Wishing everyone a festive fall!



Filed under Appetizers, Cook, Decorate, Entertain, Treats

Pumpkins & Polka Dots and Festive Fall Fare: Part I

On a crisp and cool autumn night last week, the girls gathered for monthly Ladies Night at my house. With pumpkins and polka dots strewn throughout my home, guests feasted on a festive fall menu. This simple and affordable get-together makes for a great Halloween party, but has the legs to last through Thanksgiving.

As guests entered the house, they walked along a pathway of pumpkin lumineria, purchased from the dollar bin at Target. Mums, pumpkins dotted with acrylic glitter paint and my new fall favorite – a gray pumpkin – framed the doorway.

The ladies were treated to a buffet of festive fall fare including apple cider punch, party mix, pumpkin dip, fall spinach salad, butternut squash soup with pumpernickel croutons and caramel apple cupcakes, complete with sticks. Each of these items were pretty simple to make and created a fun fall menu.

Butternut squash soup is quickly becoming our family fall favorite recipe, especially with the new addition of an immersion blender to my kitchen tool repertoire. The simple to make pumpernickel croutons add that extra bit of crunch to the soup to leave you wanting more.

Butternut Squash Soup:

3 TBSP unsalted butter
3 TBSP all-purpose flour
4 C low sodium chicken stock
one butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
1 tsp curry powder
1 C heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

To begin this soup, you need to make a blonde roux. In a large pot, melt butter until it begins to bubble. Slowly whisk in flour until a thick mixture forms. Slowly whisk in room temperature chicken stock. Bring to boil. Add butternut squash and curry. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until squash is tender.

If you do not have an immersion blender, transfer contents of pot to a blender or food processor (this will likely be done in two steps). Puree until mostly smooth (I like to leave a few small chunks in for texture). Transfer back to pot and slowly whisk in cream over medium heat. Add salt and pepper. (If you use an immersion blender, just place into pot and puree until you reach the desired texture.) Top with pumpernickel croutons and serve.

Pumpernickel Croutons:

2 C pumpernickel bread, cubed
1 TBSP olive oil
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp oregano

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Spread on cookie sheet and toast for 15 minutes, flipping croutons halfway through.

The fall spinach salad included spinach, roasted and salted pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas), dried cranberries, four-pepper goat cheese and sliced Cortland apples, dressed in a creamy balsamic dressing. Pumpkin seeds are a great alternative to croutons or almonds for creating a fall salad.

Every good ladies night needs a good drink. While a good glass of wine will usually do, I decided to put together an apple cider punch for the occasion.

Apple Cider Punch:

6 C apple cider
2 C orange juice
juice of one lemon
1 bottle chilled champagne

Mix and serve over ice.

Join me tomorrow for the pumpkin dip and caramel apple cupcake recipes!


Filed under Cook, Decorate, Drinks, Entertain, Main Dish, Sides

Slow Cooker Beef Brisket over Garlic Parmesan Mash

We may be in the midst of an indian summer, but my hankering for hearty fall meals has not subsided. And when fall meals enter my brain, I think of two special words: slow cooker. The slow cooker is one of my favorite inventions. It is career-friendly, mom-friendly, leftover-friendly and most important, tummy-friendly. So with the best rated slow cooker, I created a beef brisket cooked in one of my other favorite inventions, beer!

Beef Brisket Ingredients:

2 TBSP vegetable oil
1 3-4 lb. beef brisket
2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 12 oz bottle red lager (I used Leinie’s Red)
4 stalks celery, cut into large pieces
2/3 C. brown sugar
1 can tomato paste
1/2 C. apple cider vinegar
1/4 C. brown mustard
1/3 C. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. paprika
dash of coarse ground black pepper

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet. Brown brisket on all sides, about 8-10 minutes. Add garlic half way through. Transfer meat to slow cooker. Pour beer in skillet, scraping up brown bits. Simmer for one minute. Add to slow cooker. Nestle celery around beef.

In a medium bowl, add remaining ingredients and whisk. Pour over beef. Cook on low for 8 hours. Remove from cooker and allow to sit about 10 minutes before cutting.

Garlic Parmesan Mash ingredients:

5-6 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 C. milk
2 TBSP butter or margarine
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 C. shredded parmesan cheese

In a large pot, cover potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Boil approximately 20 minutes. Drain water. Add remaining ingredients and whip with hand mixer.

I plated the brisket over the potatoes, drizzled a little extra sauce from the slow cooker and topped with French’s crispy onions. Little fuss for a fabulous meal! And with the leftovers, we reheated the brisket and put it on a sandwich with a little Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce. Delish!


Filed under Cook, Main Dish