fall

Pumpkin Picks

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It may still be warm in Texas, but it’s still pumpkin season. With Halloween tomorrow, I thought I’d share some of my favorite pumpkin treats I’ve found at Trader Joe’s this year.

I’ve been starting my mornings with the Pumpkin Spice coffee, which is seriously delicious. Lots and lots of flavor and I don’t have to add my own spices. I typically add cardamon, cinnamon and nutmeg to most coffees, but this one is so good as is. I drop in some of the organic half and half from Trader Joe’s as well.

I was not so sure about the honey roasted pumpkin ravioli, but—wow—was it delicious. I thought it would pair well with a nice brown butter sage sauce, but since I didn’t have sage on hand and I did have some tomato sauce and veggie Italian sausage I needed to use up, I decided to go against my better judgment and use a red sauce. Luckily, it turned out so good. I also added a few basil leaves from my indoor plant and some burrata cheese (like mozzarella, but scrumptious, creamy goodness inside.) for good measure. I really truly loved every bite.

And then there’s the Pumpkin O’s. These are more subtle if the full-on pumpkin flavors are not for you. They remind me of Apple Jacks a little bit, with more of a fall taste. Very simple and tasty for a quick breakfast.

If you have any pumpkin favorites of your own, please pass them along.

Happy Halloween!

Feels like a Falliday

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By Tiffany Young

Usually people talk about new beginnings in the spring, but here in Texas, it’s always the fall that feels like a fresh start to me. Probably because our summers are so long and hot that we’re not sure we’re going to make it, and then the temperature drops 30 degrees and we feel like we can breathe again.

When I feel like starting over, I start going through my things to see what I can get rid of and start buying things that seem to fit me better. Often I’ll start cooking again and trying new things. It’s like a fresh outlook.

The past few weeks I’ve been editing my closet (things in colors I never where or seem to hang funny on me) and seeing what I might be missing (shoes, turtlenecks).

I’ve also been trying fall recipes, even though it’s not that cold.

Today,  I tried a Pumpkin French Toast recipe, adapted from Minimalist Baker: http://minimalistbaker.com/pumpkin-french-toast-bake/. It was good, but not as good as the carrot cake recipe I made from Flourish (or from King Arthur’s Flour). But really I changed up so many things in my carrot cake recipe it’s something totally different (but amazing) by now. Here’s the recipe: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2010/03/07/warning-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink-carrot-cake-is-not-for-purists/. If you happen to run out of carrots, add some pumpkin puree to make up the amount—it’s terrific.

Anyway, like I’ve said, fall is for starting over and maybe life is like the carrot cake (sorry pumpkin French toast, but you’ve been trumped). You add all kinds of things to the cake and when you run out of something, you just throw something else into the mix and you’re not sure it’ll turn out, but it does. And it’s delicious. So, here’s to just throwing all sorts of new things into your life and seeing how it works out. And if you get halfway through making cream cheese frosting before realizing you’re out of powdered sugar, so be it. Life is sweet enough!

 

Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

Thanksgiving is about a week away and everyone is likely thinking about what sorts of delicious delicacies they might share with friends and family. In case you’re at a loss for what to bring as your contribution, here are a few links to recipes that are sure to please a crowd:

If you’re not already following Joy the Baker, you should be! Not only does she provide wonderful recipes with easy instructions, but also fantastic photos of all the goodies she makes. Here is a recipe for creamy pumpkin pie bars.

Another one to follow are sisters who write A Beautiful Mess. Their blog is on fashion, design and food. Here is a recipe for mustard Brussels sprouts that looks amazing.

I’m not too familiar with Smitten Kitchen, but I love the blog name and this recipe looked yummy and healthy. If you’re looking for something a little different, try the butternut squash salad.

And I’d be amiss not to link to my Pinterest board, where I am keeping a list of all things pumpkin spice: Jump Little Cake, Jump! in honor of the children’s book some friends and I are publishing by the same name about a pumpkin spice cupcake. There are cupcake recipes, pumpkin smoothie recipes as well as photos of some of our favorite characters from the book. If you’re looking to entertain children this holiday, make sure to download a free song at bandcamp or pre-order a book for Christmas.

I’d love to hear what recipes you are trying out this Thanksgiving, so please include links in the comments section!

 

 

This Weather

So, about the time I started getting excited about soups, stews and hearty meals, the weather in Central Texas did it again—it turned to high temperatures, leaving me confused about what I should be eating. I want to be eating pumpkin soup, roasted veggies and veggie chili, but it just doesn’t seem right drinking pumpkin spice lattes while wearing a tank top and flip flops.

The dilemma reminds me of some of our Christmas holidays in Texarkana growing up. Usually it is really cold come Dec. 25, but every once in a while, there’s a small hiccup in the weather order and Santa brings tropical weather along with his sleigh instead of snow.

Our family tradition was to light a fire and read the Christmas story on Christmas Eve, followed by playing the Chipmunks Christmas record and opening our annual present of pjs and a board game to play that night. I can recall a few Christmas Eve’s when my parents said to Hell with saving on utilities and cranked the air conditioner up so we could carry on our annual fireplace traditions.

I’m not quite to that point yet, but I do feel like I’m having to postpone my fall loves—warm sweaters, leather boots and hearty meals—for the time being.

You can ask my family—I love holding on to traditions. But as things change—going to El Paso for Thanksgiving—and don’t change—the summer that would never end—I guess I’m just going to have to go with the flow. Another few months of summer salads certainly won’t hurt my fitness plan and at least the weather has been warm enough for my workouts.

What are some of your favorite fall traditions and have you been able to enjoy them this year?