Fall Foodie: Hot Mulled Cider

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

I’m getting ready to run some final errands before I head out to Boston for a couple of days for a mini vacation, but before I do- I wanted to share what is- hands down- the best (and easiest!) recipe for the perfect mulled apple cider for those of you who are attempting to savor these final days of Fall and may be looking for some refreshments for your upcoming Friendsgivings/Thanksgivings.

A handful of ingredients and 20 minutes is all you need to whip this one up- and it’s a crowd pleaser for sure!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 16 cups pure apple juice or fresh apple cider
  • Four 2-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 2 oranges (peels and juice)
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 6 star anise

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Pour into mugs, rest the cinnamon sticks inside the cider- and serve.
  3. Grab the fluffiest, coziest blanket you own, get comfortable and curl up- and enjoy!

I assure you- this is the only cider recipe you’ll ever need to get you through what’s left of Autumn and the early Winter! There’s so much flavor in each mug!

I’m going to be back on Friday with a full recap of my days away- so stay bundled up, stay warm- and enjoy the rest of your week, everybody!

xx

– Ashley –

Fall Foodie: Mini Pecan Tarts

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

I’m writing this from a mini getaway in Boston, where I’m relaxing after last night’s phenomenal Bon Iver show at TD Garden (I’ll have the full recap up a little later on this week!)

Before Troy and I set off to enjoy the city for a little while longer and then eventually head back to the Pioneer Valley- I thought I’d share a quick, easy, delicious and Fall-appropriate dessert recipe I like to whip up this time of year when I have people over to watch football games, carve Jack-O-Lanterns, or just hang out and enjoy a horror movie marathon. If you love pecan pie as much as I do- these mini tarts are for you!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 cup butter/margarine
  • 5 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups packed brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • A pinch of salt

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. To Make Pastry: Cream butter or margarine and cream cheese together. Add flour and mix well.
  2. Roll mixture into balls, and place one ball in each cup of a mini tart pan. Use your fingers or a tart tamper to press into the shape of the crust.
  3. To Make Filling: Break the eggs, but do not beat. Add sugar, melted butter, salt, vanilla and pecans. Mix well.
  4. Fill the tart shells- and bake at 350℉ for about 30 minutes or until delicately browned.
  5. Remove tarts from oven, let cool fully, and serve with your choice of toppings!

I can’t wait to make a big batch of these for Thanksgiving this year! They always go so quickly!

But I’m off to spend some time around the city I love the most! Enjoy your “Hump Day,” everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

Fall Foodie: Sea Salt Pumpkin Butter Cups

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

While today would typically be my half-day/work-from-home day at my office- the schedules have rotated for the Fall/Winter and that day has now been delegated to Thursdays. My “Hump Days” will be spent commuting to and working from my office- but that doesn’t mean my posting schedule has to change!

On the contrary- I thought I’d use the mid-work-week mark as an opportunity to share another Autumn-inspired recipe- and a Halloween appropriate one if you’re up to making a bunch of these to either hand out to trick-or-treaters or bring to your next spooky gathering!

These salted pumpkin & peanut butter cups are the ideal candy- a savory mix of sweet and salty, smooth and crunchy. The true trick is eating one and being able to stop yourself from having another (or four.)

Best of all? There’s no baking required!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 2 cups dark chocolate chunks/baking morsels
  • ⅓ cup crunchy peanut butter (you can use almond butter, too!)
  • 3 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Coarse sea salt, for finishing

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Melt dark chocolate (with a stove top or microwave.) Stir with a spoon or spatula until the melted chocolate is smooth.
  2. Line a series of mini cupcake papers on a baking sheet.
  3. In a bowl, combine the ⅓ cup of peanut butter, pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and honey.
  4. Place ½ tablespoon of chocolate into the bottom of each of the cupcake papers.
  5. Drop in 1 teaspoon of peanut butter/pumpkin mixture onto the top of the melted chocolate within the cupcake papers. Cover with remaining melted chocolate.
  6. Sprinkle the tops of each mold with coarse sea salt.
  7. Place in refrigerator or freezer until the chocolate hardens.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

For something so small- these cups sure were savory- and a big hit with the family and friends I shared them with!

I love experimenting with Fall flavors- like pumpkin, cinnamon and caramel- so expect a lot more posts like this as the season progresses and I continue to get creative in the kitchen!

But until then, I’ve got to focus on a rather large stack of paperwork on my desk and a full inbox waiting to be tackled before this morning is done.

Enjoy the rest of your day, y’all!

xx

– Ashley –

Fall Foodie: Sweet Potato Crostini

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

The work-week is halfway over, and before I jump into what few tasks I set aside for my half day at the office this morning and prepare to head on over to The Big E a little later on today- I wanted to share the first of what I’m sure will be many Fall-inspired recipes I recently cooked up (and will no doubt be revisiting again soon since we are pretty much officially in my favorite season right now!)

Sweet potatoes are probably my favorite vegetable because you can do many different things with them in the kitchen and they always taste delicious. Cut into fries? Added into stews? Turned into a traditional but delightful dessert? They’re fantastic- and very much something I love to cook/bake with this time of year.

These crostini, which are essentially a crispier and slightly smaller-sized take on a loaded baked potato- are the perfect pre-dinner or Game Day snack because you can top them with pretty much anything and they’re guaranteed to be a crowd favorite. For this particular batch- I opted for seasonal flavors that I thought would compliment the potato’s sweetness- but feel free to get experimental!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 2 small sweet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Sliced/cubed brie cheese (one piece to top each potato slice.)
  • ½ cup of cooked and crumbled bacon pieces
  • ½ cup of chopped and salted roasted almonds
  • ½ cup of chopped dried cranberries

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cut the ends off the sweet potatoes and then cut the potatoes into ¼-inch-thick slices. Brush both sides of the potato slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Arrange the potato slices on the prepared baking sheet and roast until they are golden brown and crisp, 17 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely.
  4. Top each cooled potato slice with a piece of brie and sprinkles of the toasted almonds, dried cranberries and bacon crumble. You can mix and match here- it’s totally fine!
  5. Serve and enjoy!

I honestly ate so many of these things in one sitting and I’m not ashamed to admit it. They’re so good!

I also read a recipe that topped the potato slices with cream cheese and smoked salmon- which sounded like it might be life-changing- so I may have to incorporate that into the next batch I make, as well!

But before I make another couple dozen of these and before I head off to enjoy my afternoon off- I’ve got some work to do over the next few hours.

As always, I’ll be back on Friday morning- as is tradition!

Enjoy your “Hump Day,” y’all!

xx

– Ashley –

Fall Foodie: Slow Cooker Glazed Carrots

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

It’s a short work-week for me, with Wednesday being a half day, Thursday being Thanksgiving- and then my office remaining closed on Friday so we can all recover from our food comas (thank God)– so today and tomorrow are pretty packed with pre-holiday/long weekend paperwork and preparations.

In the spirit of alleviating any last minute stress and hopefully assisting some of you with a quick, “set it and forget it” recipe- I wanted to share an incredibly easy, packed with flavor vegetable side dish you can make in your crock pot while you tend to other, more important matters on Wednesday night or Thursday morning (like watching the parade- which I’m determined to wake up in time for this year!)

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 2 lbs. carrots peeled and sliced into ½ inch pieces
  • ¼ cup butter melted
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Place the carrots in a slow cooker. In a small bowl, whisk together the butter, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  2. Pour the brown sugar mixture over the carrots and toss to coat.
  3. Cook on HIGH for 3 hours or until carrots are tender. If you’d like to thicken the glaze, remove the cover and cook on HIGH for an additional 15 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

So simple, right? And believe me when I say this ridiculously easy recipe is delicious. It’s the perfect combination of sweet, salty- and the tender texture of the carrot slices is savory- not sloppy. If you’re feeling extra creative (and no nut allergies permitting)– you can even add some sliced almonds to the mix for an extra bit of crunch. I’ve done it before- and it’s awesome!

But I’m off to try and stay ahead of my caseloads today and get another cup of coffee. Here’s wishing you all a wonderful start to your week!

xx

– Ashley –