Category: seasonal

Sad news, pickled asparagus & such.

Before I start getting into recipes, I’m sorry to say it’s been a difficult few days for us- Jay’s grandma Dotty passed away on Saturday. We’re all really torn up, we adored her. She was an amazing cook & an amazing grandma. She wasn’t my grandma by blood but I couldn’t have loved her more if she was. What a beautiful soul, inside & out (as you can see). I’m sorry that I won’t be making her her much-requested apricot or strawberry sugar-free jam this year… she’ll be missed terribly.

My heart hurts.

Grandma Dorothy Liff October 2, 1923 - March 29, 2014.Dorothy Liff ¤ October 2, 1923 – March 29, 2014

 

This recipe was written up last week, ready to go, & Grandma Dotty was big into cooking (which I’ll be writing more about very soon). She’d have wanted to hear more about all my recipes, or what I was making, so here it is. There’s no segue into this… and I feel weird doing so… but away we go.

We’re all patiently waiting for spring, right? I mean it technically IS spring. But we’re all waiting for it to get more spring-y. So spring veggies are a good sign, no? Now, let me just say: I don’t like asparagus. Not one bit. That said, it’s everywhere in the springtime, rearing its weird little pointy kinda flowery little  heads all over the place.

Pickled asparagus recipe!

Meh.

I don’t even like the way it smells.

Makin' some pickled asparagus!

My mother & Jay LOVE asparagus. LOVE it. I don’t have the foggiest clue why really. It’s not attractive in the least. And like I said; the smell? No thanks.

Unlike broccoli… which I plan on pickling soon as well. Broccoli has a nice, fresh smell. And it’s delicious.

Did I get sidetracked?

An easy pickled asparagus recipe!

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Gingerbread cake with marshmallow snow & paper trees.

For some reason, as I was writing the title of this post, I thought of the lyrics from Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds. Odd.

Anyway, gingerbread is one of my favorite holiday treats. I love the cookies, I love it in a spicier form like pfeffernusse and I love gingerbread cake. I don’t make it nearly enough, though, even around the holidays. I have a favorite gingerbread cookie recipe & a favorite Guinness ginger cake recipe, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy trying others. So I thought that this year, I’d make a plain gingerbread cake- no Guinness, no chocolate- and top it with some fluffy white snow.

And trees. Gotta have trees.

Gingerbread cake with a marshmallow "snow" and paper cupcake liner trees. And elves!

For the trees, I got the how-to from The Cake Blog. Pretty self-explanatory, but still. It’s a fun & easy way to make cupcake or cake toppers.

It’s so retro-looking, isn’t it?

Cupcake liner Christmas trees!

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DIY magic: mason jar snow globes.

Oh, December. How I love you. Make no mistake- Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday. Hands down. However, it’s only acceptable for me to play White Christmas over & over again in December. I don’t mind watching it in February or July, but I find other people take issue. Or perhaps they just take issue with me singing all of the songs (particularly this one & this one) out loud at the top of my lungs? Anyway. I wait until at least after turkey day to break out the Bing! Also, December is the Mount Everest of baking/creating: the best crafts, recipes, and decorations are happening  right around now!

Like these…

DIY mason jar snowglobes. Easiest winter project ever!

This tutorial is something you’ve probably seen all over the internet.

No, not probably. Definitely.  I’ve seen this concept more times in the past two weeks than I’ve seen my fiancee, it seems. I’m just repeating it here to show you how stupidly easy it is. And how fun it is. And chances are, you’ve already got the materials- or most of them- laying around the house. It’s a knockoff of a product that Anthropologie made (they made salt shaker ones too), hence the lack of water.

DIY mason jar snowglobes.

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A pie for the ages: bourbon sweet potato pumpkin pie!

I’m publishing this pie today, because I wanted to give you time to make it for Thanksgiving. I purposely didn’t post it too early, and I specifically waited until this date. I wanted to give you enough time to really absorb what you’re seeing. Then get up, go out to the store & get the ingredients you need to make this, then come home & plan to do so on/by Thursday. I felt it had to be done this way. So I’m giving you a few days, and I expect you all to make it. You must. Seriously.

It’s THAT good.

Don’t believe me?

Bourbon sweet potato pumpkin pie, anyone?

It’s the pie to end all pies.

It’s a pie for the ages!

Bourbon. Sweet potato. Pumpkin. With toasted meringue. Toasted bourbon meringue, that is.

Sweet potato pumpkin pie with bourbon! And more bourbon in the meringue.

Say word.

A motherflippin’ bourbon sweet potato pumpkin pie with toasted bourbon meringue! 

When I told Jay of my plans to make it, his jaw dropped open. And he doesn’t even really like pumpkin anything! I knew I was on to something. Although, in hindsight, it might have just been the mention of bourbon. Either way, I combined a few different recipes for a few different pies & came up with this: the holy grail of autumn piedom.

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A turkey-themed Friday Fifteen.

Whoa, you guys. All of a sudden both Halloween & Dia de Los Muertos are over and its time to get ready for… Thanksgiving? (Or Christmas, if you believe the stores. Put the stockings away, people. It’s NOT time for that yet! It’s time for TURKEY!)

WOW. Where did the time go? Tomatoes & peaches turned into gourds & pumpkins before I had time to even realize it. And now Halloween is over!

Doesn't everyone match their pumpkins to their walls?

It’s still time for pumpkins though; no matter what the retail establishments say. I don’t know, call me crazy, but I kinda like having Thanksgiving be Thanksgiving. No Christmas lights yet, no trees. Just a lot of food! And I also kinda like the coordinated pumpkin thing going on in that picture there. First time I’ve ever bought a pumpkin that matched my walls… but it works! I likey. Oh, and pardon my 20-year-old busted up Converse there. It is a hallway/foyer/entryway, after all. I already showed you the front door/chalkboard last month.

Okay so, suffice it to say this Friday Fifteen isn’t really all about turkey, per se. But it is about Turkey Day, or Thanksgiving. Close enough. Enjoy!

 

A turkey-themed Friday Fifteen!

  1. This story isn’t really funny… but yet it kinda is in a twisted way. More so it’s one of those “I can’t believe it” kind of stories, and since it involved a turkey I felt the need to share it. A few months back, a wild turkey crashed into a woman’s house in New Jersey, causing over $7,000 in damages. You can read about it on CNN. I bet that family needed a couple of bottles of Wild Turkey after hearing that their insurance wasn’t paying to fix anything.
  2. Cranberries are a must this time of year. And cranberry sauce is a staple for Thanksgiving. I’ve got three different varieties on the blog: amaretto cranberry sauce, Chinese apple-sauce (pomegranate sauce with whole cranberries) and New England cranberry compote with walnuts & orange peel. All of which are stellar accompaniments for ANY turkey day meal- be it vegetarian, vegan or otherwise.
  3. If you prefer your cranberries in baked goods, how about a lemon-cranberry shortbread crumble? Cranberry-orange scones? Or cranberry orange pound cake with orange butter rum sauce? Or… crustless cranberry pie?
  4. And if you prefer your cranberries in something sweeter to spread on toast… then what about these apple-cranberry preserves with a smidgen of ginger?
  5. Okay… so you aren’t a cranberry person. That’s cool. How about pumpkin bread? Do you like that? Ugh, you’re so difficult to please.
  6. Well if none of that does anything for you… maybe cornbread? How about this Boston Market cornbread rip-off recipe from A Pretty Cool Life?
  7. Move over Paul Simon. Here’s twenty-five ways to cook a turkey, via Saveur.
  8. And (maybe more importantly) 10 tips to avoid Thanksgiving stress.
  9. Being that I painted my living room a dark gray & my great-grandfathers nickname was “The Duke”, I am obsessed with this Duke armchair from Joss & Main.
  10. Speaking of paint: I’ve been painting A LOT lately. 3 large rooms, a ceiling and a hallway as of this minute. And the best paint I ever used in my entire life is Martha Stewart’s paint (from Glidden at Home Depot). Paint + primer, excellent colors, amazing coverage. If you’re thinking about painting, try it. You will not be sorry!
  11. It’s most definitely still pie season. And if you’re not a baker, or you’ve never made a pie before, you might be a bit unsure about tackling that pumpkin pie. So you might want to take a peek at this link… 15 best tips for making pies. Read it, keep it in mind, and come back in here in a week or so to check out the MIND-BLOWING pie I have planned for you!
  12. The holidays can be a rough time for a lot of people. Reach out to elderly neighbors or neighbors who live alone. Or, who just lost someone that was crucial to their happiness in this season of love & family. You never know who has no one, and who’ll appreciate a jar of preserves, a freshly baked pie, an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner or even just a simple “how are you?”
  13. If you want something new & different to serve at Thanksgiving dinner this year, how about pumpkin applesauce? The recipe is right here.
  14. Roast pumpkin with honey, feta, balsamic & sesame seeds from Not Quite Nigella. That should probably be on your Thanksgiving menu. Or if not Thanksgiving, then sometime soon.
  15. My name is Marilla, & I’m a mug-o-holic. It can be bad. I have a literal box full in the closet of older mugs that are “out of rotation” since I’ve acquired newer ones. I don’t discriminate- I love ALL mugs. Big, small, tall, short. Souvenir mugs, etc. Recently, I had a discussion on Facebook & came to a conclusion: I am not alone in my mug obsession. Inspired, and perhaps a bit prompted by Joel (& Dana!) of Well Preserved & this post, I decided to show off my favorite:

Anthropologie M mug.

This is probably my absolute favorite of all my mugs. It’s THE mug. MY mug. My main mug. Chances are, if I’m drinking hot cocoa or tea or coffee I’m doing it out of this mug. It’s MASSIVE- I can use the 12 ounce option on my Keurig & still have plenty of room for milk. Its from Anthropologie. I got it about 7 years ago; they still have the monogram mugs, but they’re a bit smaller & the letters are a tad different. I adore this mug so much that it’s even got a chip in the bottom from being used & carried everywhere- even outside to do gardening. Ginnifer Goodwin’s character Mary Margaret/Snow White on Once Upon a Time has the same mug. Same letter, too.

What’s YOUR favorite mug?

I didn’t know what to call these, so how about ‘peppery orange ginger muffins’?

After a while, coming up with names for things gets old. And tiresome. And when I’m doing 600 million other things (like for example: painting 5 rooms, 1 ceiling & a hallway, refinishing hardwoods, installing new light fixtures, getting new appliances, redoing my bathroom- there’s literally NO walls just studs & insulation, and of course on top of all that figuring out what’s going on for Thanksgiving) I can’t really focus well enough to come up with a name thats either a) clever or b) makes sense.

See, there’s been a lot of work going on at the house. There are a lot of people working very hard- myself included. I need to have snacks & goodies on hand to feed the troops… or else they might revolt. And the revolt might include not finishing my house! So I try to throw together things that are unique and not just your average snack repeated over & over. Being that it’s been so chilly & windy, I thought a warm, spicy, gingery muffin would work. Then I’d post the recipe if they came out good. Which they definitely did.

Peppery orange ginger muffins. Or spiced orange ginger muffins with black pepper. Whatever they are, they're amazing!

So I just gave up.

Peppery orange ginger muffins it is!

They’re like gingerbread cake, but with orange to sweeten it up a little more. There are so many flavors going on in these, you’d think they’d be “messy” tasting, but they’re not. They’re right on target.

Side note: they came out so delicate & perfectly rounded. Not big or obnoxious or overflowing out of the pans. I don’t know why that is, but they’re good. And I guess it really doesn’t matter. So I eat two instead of one. Big deal.

Ginger muffins with orange zest, candied ginger & black pepper.

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Haulin’ oats.

Use steel-cut oats to make an easy 'overnight oats' recipe flavored with maple pumpkin butter.

Bad pun. Sorry. For those of you born after the early 90′s, I was making a pun referring to Hall & Oates, a 1970′s/1980′s duo who’s songs “Maneater”, “Kiss On My List” & “Private Eyes” are insanely well-known. But yeah. It was a bad pun.

On the plus side? This is a great idea.

I first saw it on This Homemade Life & I thought it was genius. Problem is, I don’t like oatmeal. I like oatmeal cookies… but not oatmeal. But I still wanted to try it anyway. Jay loves oatmeal, my parents love oatmeal, the whole world loves oatmeal. I was starting to feel like a leper. Truth be told, I’m not a breakfast person. If I’m away on vacation, I can maybe get in the mood for a breakfast or two. Especially on the road at an awesome Mom & Pop style diner. Otherwise, nope. I mean, I love breakfast foods. I’ve been known to have a bowl of cereal or two, & I do enjoy a good breakfast-for-dinner now & then. But I don’t want oatmeal when I’m having it- I want a big ol’ stack of buttermilk pancakes or waffles with butter & maple syrup. And don’t forget: lots of crispy bacon.

So to avoid the stigma of being the only person alive who doesn’t like oatmeal, I thought I’d do my own, more seasonal spin on the “overnight oats” in a jar: maple pumpkin oats.

An easy way to make maple pumpkin overnight oats using maple pumpkin butter.

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Maple apple walnut crisp, celebrating fall.

Autumn in NY: fall leaves

The word “crisp” always reminds me of fall. In all of it’s meanings, it applies to autumn: the weather is (usually) crisp, apples are crisp when you bite into them, the leaves are crisp- they crunch under your feet, and of course, you can bake things like crisps without your face melting off.

It’s nice to be able to put the oven on & have the windows open… instead of cranking the A/C higher to compensate.

Beautiful, shiny fall apples... just waiting to be baked!

Well, here in New York, anyway.

And it’s about time. I shouldn’t really complain: we didn’t have ONE day over 90° in August this year, and September was relatively pleasant. A bit humid & muggy at times, but all in all it was mostly very cool, sunny days & nice breezes (and some positively cold evenings). October started off HORRIBLE with 86° weather & humidity like crazy, but it evened out into nicer “fall like” temperatures. And lately it’s been really nice… not too cold, sunny, and… wait for it… crisp. I have to say it always dismays me when the weather skips past fall & goes right from sweltering to freezing. Ya gotta give me a little crisp fall weather, Mama Nature!

I say that knowing tonight it’s supposed to dip down to 37 degrees.

A delicious maple apple walnut crisp recipe!

Anyway, can we talk about “crisps”? No, not the U.K. version of a crisp. The baked, dessert-y, fruity, sugary cobbler-like version.

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Spinning a web of sweetness.

BOO!

 

Not sure what your day is going to consist of come the 31st, but mine? Candy, candy, and more candy. Maybe candy corn vodka. Maybe trick-or-treat Halloween candy cupcakes. Maybe none of the above- maybe just handfuls upon handfuls of chocolates & bubble gum & sugar. These cupcakes here are just an early treat!

Oh and pizza. There will most likely be pizza.

See, I’m determined to enjoy this Halloween. Being that it’s my favorite holiday, I am DETERMINED to not let anything ruin it this year. So determined, I made these JUST to snack on in anticipation! Last year my Halloween was ruined when that bitch Sandy blew in here & wrecked everything- knocking out my power for a week. So this year I am sitting on my ass, eating junk with my TV playing all the horror movies I want… but anyway, let me get back to the cakes.

Easy spiderweb cupcakes for Halloween!I know, the cake stand rocks…

 

These cupcakes are just vanilla cakes with vanilla frosting, topped with black “spiderwebs” I made from Wilton Candy Melts. See? You don’t have to go crazy or over the top to make cute Halloween cupcakes!

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The wicked witch of the cupcake.

Vintage postcard: flying witches.

Yeah. That’s right. Today we’re talking about witches. Because in case you’ve been living under a rock, it’s October, and that means one thing to me: Halloween.

Ohh, Halloween. My favorite time of year. The leaves changing (hopefully) & crunching beneath my boots, the air getting brisker, the wind kicking up. The costumes & makeup start appearing in stores earlier & earlier nowadays, but I reserve my Halloween excitement for the first week in October. I refuse to do ANYTHING Halloween-related before October 1st. Yes, it’s my favorite holiday & yes, I’m excited. But it’s like buying Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving; it’s just wrong to me. I’ll wait until October to celebrate Halloween… & I’ll wait until December 1st for Christmas, thanks.

That being said, I was super psyched to post this little cupcake topper how-to. I couldn’t wait any longer! I didn’t come up with this idea myself (unfortunately) but I did somewhat modify it from the original directions. I did that because I didn’t have matching mini cupcake liners & regular liners. I don’t do many mini cupcakes, so I never buy the liners. I adapted the directions to suit me & my materials, and with just a little bit more work put in I think they look just as cute. Ladies & germs, I give you…

Cupcake…

liner…

witches’

hats!

Easy DIY witch hat cupcake toppers made from cupcake liners!

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