Tag Archives: Fall

Favorite Fall Weather Soups!

23 Oct

It’s October and it’s crazy chilly!  We’re talking I’m in California, fall is barely under-way,  and I’m already freezing my butt off chilly!  Don’t talk to me about the East Coast or somewhere that’s actually considered cold, please, or I’ll literally have to park myself in front of a blow dryer or my car heater to thaw out for the better part of the season!  I may end up doing that anyway.

I have to admit, one of my favorite ways to warm up AND eat something delicious at the same time is to make soup!  There are just so many variations, and so many possibilities!  Here are my two very favorite soups at the moment – warm, hearty, and immune-boosting sweet potato & coriander, and garden vegetable! Don’t even try to tell me you don’t see people getting sick left and right already!  I refuse to let that be me!  Don’t let it be you!  Just click on the links below for the full recipes, and whip up some soup to watch movies and cuddle up on the couch with!

Sweet Potato and Coriander Soup

Garden Vegetable Soup

Happy snuggly soup-making!

Stay warm, be healthy.

PS: I can’t wait for Halloween!

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie + Why Pumpkin is Super Good for You!

14 Oct

Pumpkin, Please!

Can we talk for a minute about pumpkin?  Everyone’s talking about it this time of year, right?!  But, I don’t mean in the pumpkin spice latte-crazed (although those are yummy!), fall-obsessed, pumpkin “flavored” everything kind of way – I mean in the context of REAL pumpkin and it’s low calorie, high nutrient density profile!  Pumpkin has a lot to offer, and obviously it’s tasty, so it’s understandable why everyone wants a piece of it ( I swear, no pie puns intended! 😉 this time of year.

Beta-Carotene

Pumpkins have beta-carotene to thank for their characteristic, bright orange hue.  Beta-carotene is converted to Vitamin A in the body, which then plays a major functional role in keeping our vision crisp and clear, our immune system fortified, and the repair and health of all the body’s cells  healthy (meaning it’s super important for keeping our skin pretty, too!).

Protein & Fiber

Fiber you may have guessed since most plants contain lots of it, but yes, pumpkins contain protein, too!  Good for digestion, good for pumping up those muscles.

Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, & Potassium

Calcium helps keep your bones and teeth healthy, strong, and fracture free.  Iron promotes the building of blood cells that keep oxygen flowing to your cells for energy and optimal functioning.  Muscle and nerve function, as well as over 300 other biochemical reactions in the human body are dependent upon magnesium.  Energy metabolism, bone strength, and bolstering the immune system are just a few others that rely on this mineral.  Potassium isn’t just a banana thing!  Potassium is also found in pumpkins, and keeps the heart healthy, and is especially important in the diet of athletes and active people since it’s lost through perspiration (sweating!).

Vitamin C & E

It hasn’t been proven, but Vitamin C is suspected to be useful in helping to pull through illness more quickly; it’s also essential for wound healing and collagen synthesis.  Vitamin E is also important to help protect the skin from UV damage and free radicals.  Additionally, there is some evidence to suggest it may help prevent prostate and bladder cancer and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

How to Use Pumpkin:

Fresh pumpkin is perfect cubed and thrown into stir fries, casseroles, or soups.  My favorite super simple, tasty way to enjoy it is to cube it, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with your seasoning of choice, then roast it on a sheet pan in the oven!

Stir pumpkin puree it in to oatmeal with a dash of pumpkin pie spice and a splash of cold milk, mix it into quick bread and pancake batters, soups, obviously put it in a pie crust, or blend it up into this pumpkin pie-esque smoothie!  Any way you can add the real stuff (not the flavored syrup!) into your meals, you know you’re doing yourself a favor.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie {Gluten-free, Vegan}

(The awesome thing about smoothies is, you really can’t make a mistake!  Here, you have the option to add in any kind of milk you like, protein powder for a boost (or not, if you’re not feeling it!), and chia seeds, or ground flax for extra nutrition.  I love my smoothies not too sweet, but if you want more sweetness, just up the amount of maple syrup you add a little, or throw in another half banana.  Not exactlyyyyy like pumpkin pie, but you’ll get your fill of the real thing this season, so enjoy the lightened up flavor of pumpkin with this smoothie for awhile!)

Ingredients:

* 1 large banana, frozen

* 1/2 cup pumpkin puree

* 1/4-1/2 cup milk of choice (I used almond)

* 1 Tbsp chia seeds

* 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup

* 1-2 Tbsp vanilla rice protein powder (optional)

* 1-2 Tbsp almond butter

* 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg)

* 3-4 cubes of ice (maybe a few more if your banana wasn’t frozen)

Directions:

Throw everything but the ice in a blender and blend on high until smooth.  Add in ice cubes one at a time until blended – unless you have a fancy Vitamix blender (I’m jealous, if you do!), and then you can probably just throw everything in at once and blend, blend, blend!

LooooooooooooooooVvveee!

Salted Caramel Apple Bread & Apple Hill, CA

9 Oct

Man oh man, I’ve been busy lately!  Not only am I slowly working through molecular formulas and hours worth of organic chemistry labs, I’ve also got my share of to-the-grind work hours and a new internship that I’m super in love with taking lots of my time and energy!  A lot has changed for me in the past several weeks, and while I won’t delve into it that much, I can definitively say it’s really not much of a “loss” to “lose” someone who is unappreciative of who you are and not supportive of life ambitions and endeavors.  It’s so tough to be your true self with someone like that, and life is too short not to be your own, genuine, self with someone who really deserves it.  I believe that you can’t lose the ones who are worth the fight, because they’re the ones who never want to be lost.  Surround yourself with GOOD people, and the others will just sort of filter themselves right on out.  Done and done! 🙂

Now on to what’s REALLY important!  It’s THAT time!…it’s THAT season!…APPLE SEASON!!  I wait patiently for this all year long.  Be still my heart, apple season *flutter, flutter* <3

I know you can pretty much get an apple any time of year these days, but you have to admit, you can’t really GET an apple.  Maybe a mealy, lac-luster, whatever kind of apple, but not a good one.  Good apples can only be found this time of year, kissed gently by just enough cool air as it graces leaf-dusted hillsides.  Lucky for me, I happen to live just a hop, skip, and a jump away from just such a hillside-studded place – a veritable apple mecca…a town actually named after the delicious, crisp, refreshing apple; a charmingly sweet town that’s ready and willing to let everyone know just what time of year it is by offering up warm apple cider, hand-crafted pies, and of course, fresh apples.  It’s unmistakable.  Unapologetic.  Amazing.

Apple Hill is this wondrous, wondrous, magical place (especially if you’re into popcorn or kettle corn, but don’t even get me started on that!) in Northern California where fall has officially taken root.  It’s the town you read about in books because places like it are all but extinct.  If any place in the world could actually give you a hug and grab you by your sensibilities at the same time, it’d be Apple Hill!  Boxes, and crates, and bins of apples, as far as the eye can see, every size, every color, about a million different varieties and names I’d never even heard of!  An apple for every personality, every mood, every thought…every baking endeavor, and then some. (more…)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

24 Oct

Despite the fact that it’s still hovering around the 80 degree mark during the day and staying fairly warm into the evening around these parts, I decided to open my first can of pumpkin of the year at the beginning of the month. I think I did a pretty good job of holding off until the season really hit, even while being tempted by food blog recipes featuring fall ingredients back in September and even August (!!!) I try not to burn myself out on seasonal foods toooooo early on (apples are a different story altogether – I’m looking at you, yet-to-be-posted apple galette!).

I did the usual pumpkin oats first and foremost, but really wanted to get myself knee-deep in pumpkin with these cookies! I couldn’t find a recipe online that I really liked the looks of, so obviously I improvised. These are my basic recipe with a few tweaks here and there, and for my first try, I think they came out pretty well. Not overpoweringly pumpkin-y…to be honest, I think they SMELL more pumpkin-spicey-fall-ish than anything! They’re a bit cakey, but I wouldn’t call them a cakey cookie; as far as I’m concerned, no one wants a cakey cookie. If I wanted a cakey cookie I’d probably just make cake. Or a cupcake. Or something else bready, duh.  It’s all about the chewy!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

* 1 cup bread flour
* 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
* 1/4 cup cornstarch
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 1 tsp salt
* 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
* 3/4 cup margarine or butter flavored shortening
* 1 cup packed brown sugar
* 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
* 1/4 cup canned pumpkin (not the pie filling)
* 2 eggs
* 1 tsp vanilla extract
* 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350* F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

Cream together the margarine or shortening and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add in eggs one at a time, mixing between. Add the vanilla extract and canned pumpkin, and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.

Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture slowly, mixing between additions until well incorporated.

Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.

Drop golfball sized dough onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake about 11-12 minutes until just golden brown on top.

Still to do this month: World-record-holding corn maze! Maybe pumpkin carving.
Bring on the fall! =) What’s everyone doing for Halloween?

Strawberry Nectarine Oat Squares

26 Aug

There are so manya fewone or two…ok, there’s one good thing about the quarter system, and that’s the fact that while all the other kiddies are wrapping up their endless days of summer and getting ready to ship off back to school, there’s still another month before our fall quarter starts.

HOWEVER,…and that’s a big-time HOWEVER, I love the “back to school” fever that seems to infect students and moms alike, spurring sales on school supplies & shelves stocked with fall clothes, and by the time I’m actually supposed to be doing my “back to schooling,” the hype is all hyped out, the sales are done salesing, and all the good fall clothes are all tapped out.

I think the fact that I haven’t actually had a summer break and have been attending classes basically non-stop since Christmas break of 2010 is completely irrelevant in this situation, too, so let’s not bring that up. Just because I haven’t gotten my fix of bright, summery fun, carefree, class free summer days filled with the beach, boys, and iced coffee doesn’t mean I can’t lament the fact that summer will soon be coming to an end, and then self medicate that loss with a hefty dose of hope that back to school is truly more about good times with friends at football games and frat parties rather than hours of mind-numbing, soul crushing classwork. That’s what all the magazines and ads say, anyway.

So anyway, the moral of this babbling is, I want the “back to school” time of year to last longer. Ya, maybe stretch those sales out til say, the end of September? I wanna get on that band wagon when that time actually comes for us quarter system kiddies (not to mention us Californians, who dread the thought of cool weather clothing well into October), and not a moment sooner…because obviously, I don’t want summer to end at all, EVER! But, if it has to, it should end in crisp, cool weather, new school supplies, fluffy sweaters, pumpkin spice lattes, tailgate parties, and all the hype that everyone else gets to embrace when the summer gravy train departs until next year.

The other moral of the story is, make these yummy strawberry nectarine oat-y bars for busy, get the kids or yourself out the door mornings! They’re like strawberry topped oatmeal on the go =)

Strawberry Nectarine Oat Squares
Adapted from Oh She Glows

Ingredients:

Base:
* 1 1/2 Cups Oats
* 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour (I needed to add about 1/2 cup more to get a thick enough “dough”)
* 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
* 1/2 tsp Salt
* 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
* 1 Egg
* 1/2 Cup + 2 Tbsp Margarine, melted
* 1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
* 2 Tbsp Almond Milk
* 1 Tbsp Sesame Seeds to sprinkle on top

Strawberry Nectarine Jam:
* 2 1/4 Cups Chopped Strawberry & Nectarine (Any ratio is fine- I used 1 nectarine and the rest strawberry)
* 3-4 Tbsp Sugar
* 1 Tbsp Cornstarch

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease or line an 8 x 8″ pan.

For the oat base, combine the oats, flour, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar in a mixing bowl.

Combine the melted margarine, maple syrup, almond milk, and egg in a separate bowl.

Add the wet mixture to the dry oat mixture, and stir to combine. You should get a pretty thick “dough”…if it seems too wet, add in a little extra flour, or more oats, or both until you get the right consistency.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the oat dough and set it aside. Press the dough evenly into the bottom of your pan.

Add your strawberry and nectarine mixture into a saucepan and heat on low for about 5 minutes. Add the sugar slowly, to taste. Heat for another 5 minutes until the mixture is juicy- use a spoon to pull out a few teaspoons of the juice in a mug or small bowl. Stir in the cornstarch. Add the juice and cornstarch mixture to the saucepan and simmer on low for about 10 more minutes, or until the jam thickens up. Take off heat and let cool for about 10 minutes.

Pour the jam on top of the oat base and spread evenly. Crumble the 1/2 cup of oat dough you reserved on top of the jam. Sprinkle with Sesame seeds.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, depending on how hot your oven gets. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before slicing.

For now, I think I’ll call these “back to summer school bars.” The calm before the fall!