Monday, October 22, 2012

Pumpkin Pie Bars

my pumpkin yard flag
Hello! First of all I would like to thank everyone for all your well wishes. I'm happy to say that I am feeling much better and aside from a lingering (and very annoying) cough, I'm on the road to recovery. No more fevers in our house! We are all back to normal and feeling great! Welcome to cold and flu season. It started out with a bang! : )
view from my living room window...

So what have you all been up to? I went shopping this weekend.  I stepped into a Khols and was shocked to see Christmas trees, lighted garlands hanging from the rafters, and It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas being piped through the store.  Are we rushing this a bit?  There is no doubt I am a huger lover of Christmas, but this might be pushing it a little - even for me.  Can we at least get through Halloween first?  I feel like we get a little more rushed every year.  How can we stop this? How do we stop the rush?

morning light in the kitchen...
OK, I'll admit I did take a little peek.  I browsed the aisle of ornaments and I even admired the Victorian Village houses (I really love those : ).  I hummed a few carols and since I was in that mode I started to mentally prepare a Christmas list.  It will come fast.  But no,  I'm not ready yet.  I haven't had enough of Fall yet. After all, it's only just begun.  I've only made one pumpkin bread so far.  That's not nearly enough to fill a whole season.
tea and pumpkin bread...mmm
So here's what I did.  I left that store and went to the Party Store to get the final touches of my son's Halloween costume (he has a Halloween dance coming up!). I stopped at Starbucks and treated myself to a salted caramel mocha coffee (OMG  Crazy Good!) and then went home and baked these pumpkin pie bars. 
It's beginning to feel a lot like Fall now! Boy do I feel better!

Recipe from Joy the Baker (

1 1/3 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar (divided)
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter
1 cup old-fashioned or quick oats
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
1 can (15oz) pumpkin
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp bourbon (optional)
a handful of butterscotch or chocolate chips for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 13x9 in pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides.  Grease or spray foil with nonstick spray. 

Mix flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and brown sugar in medium bowl.  Cut in butter with pastry blender or fork until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Stir in oats. 

Reserve 1 cup of oat mixture and put to the side.  Press remaining onto bottom of prepared pan.  Bake 15 minutes.

Beat cream cheese, remaining sugar, eggs, vanilla, bourbon, pumpkin, and spice with mixer until well blended. 

Pour over crust.  Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture and a handful of butterscotch or chocolate chips.  (I used butterscotch : )

Bake 25 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes.  Use foil to transfer from pan to wire rack.  Cool completely before cutting.  I suggest refrigerate overnight to set.  It makes them much easier to cut. 

If you don't have pumpkin pie spice, you can easily make your own. 
Simply mix 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, and 1 tsp allspice.  Mix together in a little jar and use as directed  : )

There will be plenty of time to enjoy all the holidays and I'm looking forward to each one! For now let's just count our blessing and enjoy every day - one pumpkin pie bar at a time!

Happy Fall! I hope tonight the smell of burning leaves and pumpkin spice finds you.....: ) 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cranberry Cobbler

Last weekend we packed our car up and took a long drive up to Maine.  Even though it was overcast for most of the weekend we were still able to enjoy the beautiful colors of the trees!

Rangley, ME is a place to enjoy the simple things in life, like walks in the woods, throwing rocks in the lake, and feeding the ducks.  It was nice to get away from it all for a few days.  There is barely cell phone reception and there isn't a Walmart for miles! As long as you stock up on coffee and essentials on your way up, you'll be ok : )

We stayed with my parents in a cabin in the woods (literally!).  The night we arrived my mom made us a roast beef dinner.  It was just what we needed to warm us after the long trip - baked potatoes and gravy!  It felt like home.  It was damp and cold the whole time we were there, and I swear I could smell winter in the air.  Some of the mountain tops has snow on them!  It was a beautiful place to be.  Living in the moment. 

The only downside is that once we got home I got really sick - sore throat, cough, aching bones, ear ache, the real deal.  The kind of sick where you just want to stay in bed all day {but you can't because you're a mom, and mom's don't can't get sick}.  It's been over a week now and I still haven't completely shaken it. 

For two days, when I had completely lost my voice, I lived on this: Italian toast and hot chocolate.  I don't know why toast always makes me feel better when I'm sick, but it does.  Note: I added the whip cream to my hot chocolate to cheer myself up.  I was looking pretty awful! eek!

My sickness has also made it's way around the house.  My hubby had a cold last week, and presently, as I type this post, I have a little boy in bed next to me with a fever : (  

We are in desperate need of some comfort food around here and luckily the new edition of Everyday Food came today.  I have had a craving for something cranberry ever since I was on a hunt for them a few weeks back and was told they weren't "in stock" yet.  what?  This past week when I was grocery shopping I found them!  Yay!  I bought two bags and put them in the freezer until I decided what to do with them.  First up, I had to make this Cranberry Cobbler.  I just got a cast iron skillet from my Dad a few days ago and was dying to use it.  This recipe bakes the cobbler in the skillet.  I was intrigued.  It came out so good!  I'm looking forward to using it a lot more in the future. 

Cranberry Cobbler (from Everyday Food Magazine)

6 tbs unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
1 1/4 cups cranberries
3/4 cups, plus 2 tbs sugar
1 cup flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 10 inch cast-iron skillet.

Stir together cranberries and 2 tbs sugar.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 3/4 cup sugar.  In a small bowl, whisk together milk and egg, then whisk in melted butter.  Blend milk mixture to flour mixture until well combined. 

Pour batter into skillet and scatter cranberries on top. 

Bake until center springs back when lightly touched - 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving. 

Everyday Food calls this a cobbler, but I think it's more like a cross between a cobbler and a cake.  I served it warm, scooped out into bowls with vanilla ice cream on top. 

The edges were my favorite part - brown and crunchy!

This desert made all of us feel better : ) 

I hope you are enjoying the flavors and colors of the season!   And hopefully no one is sick, but if you are - try hot chocolate and toast.  It does wonders....xo

Danielle xo

Saturday, October 6, 2012

What to eat on a chilly Fall evening...


I am finally back from an unexpected blogging hiatus.  What happened was my computer crashed!  I got the dreaded "blue screen" and then everything went dark!  I sweated it out for two weeks wondering if everything was lost.  I'm happy to say that all was recovered and I'm back up and running.  It makes me think about how we used to survive without our computers?  Back in the days when my pictures were actually developed and not just saved on a hard drive (not a great idea).  Back when I phoned people instead of emailing them (what?!) and my life before blogging!  My son will never know a life without a computer.  It's a pretty amazing thing, and a little sad at the same time. 

Anyway, while I was gone September happened!  How was your month?  Ours was good.  I never knew the life of a Kindergartner would be so full.  They are doing homework now.  Did you know this?  I guess I was the last to find out.  We are loving every minute of it though.  The other night while doing the dishes, I overheard my 5 year old son explain to my husband what a rectangular prism is.  You should have seen the puzzled look on his face.  My husband....not my son! Priceless.

It's no secret to anyone how happy I am that it is FALL! The temps are dropping and my sweaters are coming out of hibernation.  I've even wearing my cozy jammies now.  Yay! I've fluffed up our warm quilts and blankets.  They are folded neatly on the couch, just waiting for a body to wrap around.  It's not quite cold enough to put the heat on yet, but the nights are chilly enough to reach for my favorite green fleece.  It's great sleeping weather!

A few weeks ago we took a ride out to Stow, MA to spend the day in the country and pick some apples.  Here are a few snaps of our beautiful day....

I have been enjoying decorating for Fall as well.  I packed away all of my summertime decorations and filled the corners of my home with orange candles and wooden bowels filled with apples.  There are sugared pumpkins and black cats where you least expect!

By the way, have I ever showed you Witchy-Poo?  Here she is...

Is she not darling?! I love her hair!  My mom made her for me.  She sold dozens of these at craft fairs over the years (for just $10!).  She's still has a few left over, so if you are interested let me know.  She'll be my kitchen witch right up until Christmas : )

My kitchen is my favorite place right now. No better way to warm up the house than put the oven on.  Last Sunday I made a chicken pot pie for dinner and an apple-raspberry crisp for desert. It was a chilly night and this meal warmed me to the bone.  It was Heaven on a plate.  I have been dying to share the recipes with you and now that I have my computer back I can!  If you want to warm your house, your belly, and your heart, make this meal ~

First the chicken pot pie.  I have tried a couple of different recipes over the years, and this one by far is the easiest!  The recipe is right off the Bisquick box.

1 2/3 cups frozen mixed veggies
2 cups cut up cooked chicken ( I used a cooked rotissery chicken from the grocery store)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup Bisquick mix
1/2 milk
1 egg

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix together veggies, chicken, and soup.  Pour into an ungreased 9 " glass pie plate.

Stir together the Bisquick, egg, and milk with a fork until blended.  Pour on top of chicken mixture. 

Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown.


As for dessert...

it actually happened by accident.  My intention was to make an apple-cranberry crisp, but I could not find any cranberries!  Two different grocery stores told me cranberries were a "seasonal" item and they weren't in stock yet.  I couldn't even find frozen ones!  Looks like I'll have to wait another few weeks : (  For a quick substitution I used raspberries instead.  It was a wise decision!  Simply delicious!

2-3 lbs of apples - cored, peeled, and cut into chunks (doesn't have to be exact, just enough to fill a 9x13 baking dish)
12 oz raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbs flour
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix all ingredients in a greased 9x13 baking dish. 

For topping:

6 tbs butter
2/3 cup oats
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients with a fork until crumbly.  Sprinkle on top of fruit. 

Bake for 60 minutes.  Add a little whip cream and you are done!

So there you have it.  Our first comfort meal of the Fall.  

This weekend we are taking a little leaf-peeping road trip up to Maine.  We are packing the car, loading it with sandwiches, snacks, DVDs, magazines, and lots of hot coffee!  We'll travel the back roads of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and finally Maine.  Hoping to see lots of color and New England charm.  I'll tell you all about it when I get back. 

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!  xo

P.S. I also wanted to say Happy Birthday to my Dad!  I'm thinking of you and I'll see you tomorrow : )   I love you xo