Fall Foodie: Hot Mulled Cider

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 –

November 2018: In a Nutshell

Good Morning, Happy Friday- and Hello (Almost) December, everyone!

Christmas and New Year’s Eve are practically here- and there’s still so much to be done before we deck the halls and prepare to ring in 2019! Yes, it’s officially the busiest and one of the most beautiful times of year again- and I’m both excited and anxious (mostly excited, though!) It feels like I can’t sit still!

Before I tumble into December with my Christmas decorations, various gingerbread recipes and gift shopping lists in tow- I wanted to take a look back on November and all the late-Autumn fun that came with it. In a year filled with months that seemed to come and go in the blink of an eye- November actually felt much longer than usual- which had it’s ups and downs, of course.

November started off with a celebratory bang- with one of my dearest long-time friends getting married in a beautiful ceremony (with an equally gorgeous reception) a few days after the month had kicked off. This was followed-up by a different kind of celebration as one of my other friends celebrated their 35th birthday and then yet another friend announced her engagement! It was a solid 72 hours filled with laughter, ecstatic squealing- and cake…

… So much cake, you guys.

With Daylight Savings Time and the first significant snowfall of the season taking place this month and pretty much sending the message that Winter was well on it’s way- November became less about pumpkin spice and crunchy leaves and more about hot chocolate and bundling up. By the end of last week- temperatures had dropped significantly enough to where I needed a hat, a scarf, and an ice scraper for my windshield.

Only in New England, I suppose- but I love living here- and have to take the bad with the good.

Of course, as November began to wind down- it was all about the food. Multiple Friendsgivings and the actual Thanksgiving meal itself left me stuffed and overly lazy these past few days- but the quality time spent with family and friends was worth having to practically crawl to my couch by the time dessert was done.

Admittedly, November had it’s not-so-great parts, too. With the holiday(s) came stress, and with the decreased sunlight came that first wave of Vitamin D deficiency (and seasonal depression.) Late last week and then earlier this week I had a bit of a falling out with a guy friend of mine I’d been spending a lot of time with for most of the year and leading up to now. He’s overwhelmed. I’m overworked and exhausted- and now our future heading into December is a bit uncertain.

It’s not a great feeling, especially with things like Christmas approaching- but I’m trying to stay busy and optimistic. Whatever is meant to happen will happen on it’s own and in due time. The silver lining is that the experience gave me some much-needed perspective and now, as I prepare to draft my resolutions for the New Year- I’ll have some tangible goals to put into motion.

All that being said, what do I have planned for December? A *ton* of holiday stuff, obviously! That includes recipes, festive OOTDs, plenty of parties, travel to some of New England’s most beautiful and picturesque Christmas-y locations and attractions- a few retrospectives and recaps on the more memorable moments of 2018- and a lot of shopping and preparations!

I’m determined to make December one of the most fun months ever- and to see 2018 off properly! And I’ll be blogging as I do it, of course.

But for now- it’s time to get to work before I head off for the weekend!

Enjoy your Friday and the coming days ahead, everyone! See you all again on Monday!

xx

– Ashley –

Friendsgiving 2018!

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

I hope you’re all having a wonderful week so far! Today is a half day at my office before I head out for a pre-Thanksgiving cocktail hour with my co-workers and then start off for home for a long weekend spent with my family. I’m excited to see everyone, excited to be lazy- and excited to eat a feast- which will be my third one since this past weekend!

Saturday night marked our annual Friendsgiving- this year spent in Somerville at my friend’s new apartment. 32+ of us arrived, bringing an array of dishes and desserts in a potluck fashion- and spent an evening dining, drinking, occasionally dancing, playing Jenga and ‘Catchphrase’- and winding down with a Bob Ross marathon on Netflix as our numbers started to dwindle down after midnight.

It was so much fun seeing familiar faces, meeting new ones, and eating a ton of good food- and on Sunday, after dragging my sleepy self out of bed- the second Friendsgiving in Western Massachusetts took place with just as many incredible people and recipes!

I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to eat anymore this week, but my mom’s cooking tomorrow will definitely change my mind.

This year, like every year- I’m thankful for my friends, my family, my career, my health and the fact that I have shelter, food, and clothes on my back. It hasn’t always been easy- and sometimes things looked downright bleak- but I’ve been fortunate to keep my head above the water and keep pushing forward. I’m very, very grateful- for everyone and everything.

Here’s wishing you all who are celebrating a fun, lovely, and safe Thanksgiving spent with people you love and who love you right back!

I’ll have a post up on Friday after I awaken from my food coma (there’s no way I’m going Black Friday shopping. Nope.) before it’s off for a weekend in my hometown!

See you all then!

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 –