Pumpkin Muffin Recipe

My in-laws were in town over the weekend and we were busy, busy! Dinner out, the circus, my husband and I even snuck out to see the new Steve Jobs movie after we put the kids to bed Saturday night – by Sunday morning we all needed a special sweet breakfast treat. I had this pumpkin muffin recipe bookmarked to try and decided it was the perfect morning to make them. I adjusted a couple measurements in the recipe so I noted them below. The streusel topping really made these muffins extra good and since they seemed to go over well I thought I’d share here.

Baking notes:
– the recipe calls for 1 1/2C pumpkin puree, I added more for a total of 1 3/4C
– the recipe calls for 1C regular sugar and 1C brown sugar. I used the full amount of brown and halved the amount of white sugar.
– the recipe calls for 2/3C oil and 1/2C apple sauce (1 1/6C together). I used about 3/4C apple sauce and the rest in oil to lessen the amount of oil used even more.- for the streusel topping, I mixed the flower, oats, and sugar with cold butter and blended together with my fingers before sprinkling on top of the muffins.
– With all my adjustments cooking time was the same but the muffins stuck to the paper wrappers terribly – I recommend spraying your muffin tins with cooking spray or using parchment paper.

I made a few mini muffins for the kiddos, too. Enjoy!

The Perfect Fall Turkey Sandwich

I had read that Panera had a new sandwich for Fall: turkey, cheddar, and apple and thought it sounded just delicious. On our next trip there (with my little lunch dates) I ordered the fall turkey sandwich and was immediately disappointed, they didn’t use their turkey cold cut on the sandwich, rather, some cold, wet turkey that was apparently supposed to be roasted turkey breast. It was not good. So, inspired by my disappointment and when we ran out of ideas for lunch over the weekend I thought it was the perfect day to try to recreate the idea.

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I used my favorite whole wheat bread and Boar’s Head Ovengold turkey. Then , we shredded 1/4 of an apple per sandwich – make sure to squeeze the apple in a paper towel to get a lot of the water out, you don’t want a soggy sandwich! I sprinkled a few craisins on top and sliced sharp cheddar cheese. My husband added mayonnaise to his sandwich – I don’t do mayo but thought I’d mention because he loved it. You have to try this fall turkey sandwich, the flavors all together are delicious, enjoy!

The Secret to an Extra Delicious Apple Pie

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Happy October! By now you’ve probably gone apple picking, or at least popped into a farm stand for a bag of apples. Yes, we all like to trek to the apple farm for our annual family day out to apple pick, we just did it last weekend ourselves. And yes, the experience is wonderful, idyllic, tasty – a fall right-of-passage, if you will, but why REALLY do we do it every year? Three words: homemade apple pie. There is nothing better. I don’t make my own crust but still make pretty decent pies with fresh apples, except for one problem: sometimes they’re just a little too watery. Yours too? Especially the day after. You have apple for dessert on a Sunday, let’s say, and Monday morning you’re thinking it may be a good idea for a slice for breakfast. You get downstairs and your pie is liquid-y with a terribly soggy bottom crust. No good. I know apples are full of water, I always cut a steam vent hole into my pie crust, I sometimes use a pie bird, I always use the right variety of apple too, but the soggy phenomenon still happened every so often. And when you only make a couple apple pies all year, one soggy pie is a disastrous occasion.

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So when I read this article in a recent issue of Bon Appetit, I was so intrigued (my husband happened to point it out, too). The article mentioned roasting your apples pre-pie with sugar and flour and then chilling them to not only remove the moisture but also create a caramelized flavor. Wow! What a great idea and yet so simple. So Sunday afternoon after our Saturday morning apple picking adventure, we did just that. I followed Bon Appetit’s roasting recipe of 4 lbs apples, 1C sugar, and 1/4C flour. I then used my usual recipe to make our pie (store bought refrigerator crust, we use this one, a bunch of cinnamon, 1/4C brown sugar, egg wash on the crust) and just look at this piece of pie!

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And Monday morning it was still beautiful – not a soggy ounce of crust in sight (yes, Z helped me with the pie and we made our initials out of extra dough for the top of the pie). One note, the apples obviously reduce in size as they roast so definitely use a couple apples more than you think are necessary, apples are the star of this pie show after-all, right? Also, reduce (or increase if you want?) the sugar for roasting, this turned out to be a very sweet pie… Let me know if you try this method, I definitely recommend it.

Taco Tuesday

Taco Tuesday is the best night of the week, right? And I’m talking about old school, ground meat, crunchy tacos and toppings – tacos (not fancy tacos like these pork carnitas tacos). Taco Tuesday is a crowd-pleaser in every family dinner schedule. We had tacos recently so I decided to finally share the recipe we use for our own taco seasoning.

taco-tuesdayA store bought seasoning packet is fine but they are full of SO much sodium, it’s ridiculous. And making your own taco seasoning is so quick, I bet you have most infredients in your spice cabinet/shelf/drawer. Here’s the mix I use, based on this recipe.

1 Tbs chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp garlic salt
pinch crushed red chili flakes
s&p

Mix spices and add to 1 lb cooked ground beef or turkey. Add 1/2C water and let simmer for 5 minutes.

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Serve with your favorite toppings, here are ours! And no, I don’t have any photos of assembled tacos because I ate them too quickly… Now all I need are these taco holders to make taco Tuesday complete. Enjoy!

Summer Send-off

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What a summer! This was one for the books for our little family. Nothing huge happened, just a whole lotta fun – beach days, pool days, dinners out, play dates, adventures with friends, vacations with cousins, sleepovers with cousins, a couple date nights, and ice cream – a decent amount of ice cream. Anyway, we usually send off the summer Labor Day weekend with more of the above, but not this weekend, I was plagued by the flu! The dead-of-winter, sore joints, headache-inducing, appetite suppressing, high fever causing flu. What a bummer. So we didn’t do much but by Sunday I was ok enough to venture out and do some peach picking and by Monday I was ready for a big ‘ol summer send-off dinner, after the kids ran through the sprinkler once last time of course.

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We went for a southern theme of ribs, cole slaw (we used this recipe and added chopped tomatoes), corn….

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and homemade peach cobbler for dessert (I used this recipe and added a cinnamon/sugar sprinkle on top before baking).

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And it was awesome, just like our summer. I felt extra nostalgic this weekend, maybe I was delirious from the fever, but as much as I love LOVE the fall, I sure am sad to this summer end.

How to Cut A Watermelon

As summer comes to a close and we approach Labor Day Weekend, you must be acting like me and savoring every summer moment as you cram tons more summer activities in the next 2 weeks. That includes eating watermelon! I’ve been cutting my watermelon a special way all summer long that I finally snapped a few photos to finally share with you how to cut a watermelon. This is a particularly good way to serve watermelon to kids because it creates a bit of a handle for them AND allows them to eat most of what they’re holding with not much waste. I served watermelon this way at our recent flamingo party to rave reviews.

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Cut your watermelon into rounds and then triangles, as you usually would. Then, make 4 cuts into the rind to create a little stump/handle.

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It ends up resembling a little tree, right?

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Makes for easy watermelon eating at the beach, enjoy this little trick!

A Better Fruit Salad

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I got together with some mom friends last night and when I asked the hostess a couple days before the event what I could bring she mentioned fruit salad. Fruit is so fantastic in the summer that there is nothing better than a fruit salad. BUT! I hate when the juicy fruit makes the other fruit all soggy. And some people love kiwi (for example) and others just don’t. What to do?

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I thought instead of the usual method of tossing a bunch of different kinds of fruit together in a bowl that instead, I’d assemble it by groups of fruit on a nice platter. I love the oval shape platter for this idea – I got the above stainless steel platter at Crate and Barrel years ago, here’s something similar. It would solve most of the soggy issue and then, if you don’t like a certain kind of fruit you don’t have to take it rather than scoop around it if it was in a fruit salad, right?

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Once assembled I thought it was missing something so I sprinkled some lime rind on top for a pop pf color on the mostly red fruit platter.

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Delish – enjoy!