Candy Corn Waffles

Here’s a cute little treat you can make your kids for a fun breakfast. It was actually really easy to do, although I would recommend using a squeeze bottle. I just used a spoon and while that was fine, I could see where putting the batter in a squeeze bottle would be much easier.
 

Also, thankfully these cuties don’t taste like candy corn, because that stuff is disgusting. Even if I did like it, it’s hard to imagine what it would taste like in a waffle!

All you need to do is mix up a batch of your preferred waffle mix, whether it’s store bought or homemade. I would suggest not using a whole grain recipe since you need the tip of the waffle to be really pale and whole grain batters tend to be too brown.

Once the batter is mixed up, divide it into three bowls. Leave one plain, add yellow food coloring to one, and yellow and a little red to make orange to the third bowl. I made the batters a bit brighter than I thought I’d need because the color will dull slightly when baked.

 

Set your round waffle iron on a slightly lower setting. You just want to cook these through, not brown them. My first waffle was too dark, so I turned the heat down and it was perfect.

Starting on the outside, do out an outer layer of yellow, then a layer of orange followed by filling in the middle with the plain. Close the waffle iron and cook until just done. It’ll look like a target, but when you separate into triangles they will look like little candy corns!


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Autumn Steak Salad

I know salads for dinner are usually thought of as a summer thing. They are light and refreshing and rarely involve turning on an oven in the heat of the summer.
 

Fall foods are usually considered more hearty and comforting. However, there is nobody saying that you can’t enjoy a good salad in the Fall and still feel warm and full. I was looking for something that would check off all the boxes: healthy, salad, filling, hearty, full of Fall goodness, so I came up with this beauty of a dish. My husband loved it. I loved it. It definitely hit the spot.

I’ve put approximate amounts in the list below. That’s one of the things that’s so great about a salad: you have so much free reign to make it how you like. Don’t want steak? Use chicken. Or no meat at all. Change the apple, add more cranberries.

You do you, boo.

Autumn Steak Salad

1 bag mixed greens (or lettuce/greens of your choice)

1 sweet potato, cubed

Olive oil

Ground cinnamon

1 apple, diced (I used a Fuji)

½ cup dried cranberries (or more if you’d like)

½ cup chopped walnuts (or more if you’d like)

Goat cheese, crumbled

Steak cut of your choice (I used a 15oz rib eye I found at Trader Joe’s)

Maple Dijon Apple vinaigrette

Salt and pepper

Fresh sage, about 1 tablespoon, minced

Place your cubed sweet potato on a baking sheet and coat with some olive oil, salt, and cinnamon, just a sprinkle or so will be fine. Roast in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.

While the potatoes are roasting, season your steak with salt and pepper. Cook in a skillet over medium heat (I used my cast iron) until cooked to your preferred doneness. Remove and let set for about 5-10 minutes. Slice thinly.

Mix together the vinaigrette by combining equal parts olive oil and apple cider vinegar, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, and ½ tablespoon of maple syrup and whisk together.

Assemble the salad: In a big bowl, add the greens, apple, cranberries, walnuts, sage, goat cheese, cooled sweet potatoes, and steak slices. Drizzle with dressing and toss to combine.

Soft Pumpkin Spice Cookies 

Call it basic if you want, but I love the wonderful Fall goodness that comes from the pumpkin spice flavor. Plus, the aroma that fills your house while you are baking anything with cinnamon and nutmeg is hard to beat. 

My mom came over for dinner the other night and I know she’s a fan of pumpkin as well, so I whipped up a batch of these cookies. I pretty much wanted to see what would happen if I added pumpkin and spices to a regular sugar cookie recipe. These turned out so soft and pillowy with a great Fall flavor anyone would love. 

Soft Pumpkin Spice Cookies

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated if possible

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1 cup unsalted butter, softened 

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon caramel extract (optional)

1/2 cup (canned) pumpkin puree
In a large bowl bowl, add flour, baking powder and spices. Stir with whisk to combine.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars until smooth and fluffy.

Add egg, vanilla, caramel (if using), and pumpkin and beat to combine.
Scrap down the sides of your bowl with a spatula.
While the mixer is running on low, add the flour mixture, slowly.
Mix until all of the flour is incorporated, and the mixture begins to ball up and pull away from the sides of the bowl.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

When the dough has chilled, knead the dough on a lightly floured surface into a ball. Pull off about pieces of dough and roll into balls. I used about 2” balls and pressed them with a cookie press. You could do whatever size you want to make your cookies. If you don’t have a press, you can always flatten the dough balls with the bottom of a glass. 

Bake cookies in a pre-heated, 350*F oven, on ungreased baking sheets 9-11 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies.

Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken with Sage and Apples

Fall in SoCal is a finicky thing. It usually takes awhile to actually start feeling the cooler weather. Sometimes that’s October and sometimes that’s December. Usually, it begins as cold in the morning and evening but still hot in the afternoon. It’s annoying.

For me, who is obsessed with the season, Fall begins right after Labor Day. I wait patiently for the weather to cool even just slightly (I’ll take low 70s) so as to tackle my long awaited list of yummy Fall recipes: Chili, soup, roasts… pumpkin spice and everything nice.

Today is the Autumnal Equinox, which marks the first official day of Fall. I thought it would be the perfect time to share a recipe I just came up with last week. I recently started an herb garden which contains, among others, sage. Now, sage is a very Fall flavor, so I’m just looking for ways to incorporate it into my meals before Thanksgiving. Here’s one I came up with and it was super delicious!

Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken with Sage and Apples

2 chicken breasts, halved lengthwise

Fresh Sage leaves (some whole and about 1 tsp finely minced)

Thin sliced prosciutto (enough to wrap around your chicken)

1 apple, diced (whichever kind you like, just not Granny Smith. I used Fuji.)

½ diced yellow onion

½ cup low-sodium chicken stock

¼ cup Dry white wine (optional. Can use more chicken stock if you prefer)

Salt & Pepper to taste

Olive oil

Cut your chicken breasts in half lengthwise. Try to get them as much the same thickness as possible. Sprinkle with a little pepper. I wouldn’t salt them because prosciutto is pretty salty and you don’t want to over do it.

Place fresh sage leaves (the whole ones) on each piece of chicken. I used about two per piece. Wrap each chicken prosciutto. Again, I used about two to three slices per piece.

In skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil. Brown each piece of chicken for about 5 minutes on each side, or until almost cooked.

 

Remove the chicken and add the onion, apple, and minced sage. Saute until just starting to soften. Add the chicken stock and wine (if using). 

 

Bring to a boil for a couple minutes and add the chicken back in. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for about 7-10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the liquid is slightly reduced. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Serve the chicken topped with the apples and some of the cooking liquid.

 

Happy Fall!!!!!!!

Farro Stuffed Acorn Squash

Fall is here you guys!!! I know, it is sort of hard to tell if you live in Southern California right now. We are in the midst of a serious heat wave. I’m talking so hot, they had recess indoors at my son’s school. Ugh. This is not my jam. At all.

Anyway, last weekend I put up my fall decor in anticipation of this heat wave breaking and the season finally making an appearance.

Today, I braved my oven (with the AC on) and made my first “Fall” dish of the season: Stuffed Acorn Squash. It was so easy and delicious and healthy just very… FALL.

You should be able to find farro at any grocery store, but if you can’t, I’m sure you can substitute brown rice. Same with the garlic herb sausage. I got this at Trader Joe’s and I know I’ve seen similar varieties at regular grocery stores too. You could probably substitute just about any flavor you like.

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Serves 2 (1/2 squash each. About 360 calories per serving)

1 medium acorn squash
olive oil
salt and pepper
2 chicken sausage links (see note above), cut into small pieces
1/2 leek, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup COOKED farro
2 teaspoons fresh thyme (you can use dried as well, just cut the amount in half)
1 teaspoon dried sage

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut the squash in half lengthwise (or, if you are deathly afraid of cutting winter squash and are scared you are going to accidentally stab yourself, enlist someone else to do it). Scoop out the seeds in the middle and coat with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.  Roast for about 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of your squash. Just until slightly fork-tender.

While the squash is roasting, make your farro according to package directions.

Make the rest of the stuffing (you can actually make the stuffing ahead of time, a day or two, and just use it when you are ready).  In a skillet, saute in a little olive oil the leeks, garlic, sausage, thyme, and sage.

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I don’t know why this picture is upside down, but I’m pretty sure you get it…

 

Drain the farro and add it to the sausage mixture. Then put half in each half of the squash. Put back in the oven for another 20 minutes.

Funny story… When I was coming up with this recipe, I had planned on adding a diced apple to the stuffing (include it in the saute). I even bought the apple. I completely FORGOT!!  If you make it, try it with the apple and let me know how it goes. Next time I will include the apple! (I was going to use a Fuji, but any should work).

This was really yummy and quite easy. Perfect for a fall dinner. Now, someone send me pictures of changing leaves and sipping apple cider because I’m melting over here!

Chili

I’m sure you were all on the edge of your seat after my previous post, so I thought I would let you know the good, oh-so-important news: I did get my slow cooker. My mother-in-law gave it to me for Christmas (see? I was right about that box I saw!) and it is every bit as glorious as I hoped it would be.

You can use the insert on the stove top to cook anything that may need to be precooked beforehand (like ground beef or searing meat), it has a timer you can set so you really can set it and forget it. No more “Wait, what time did I start that again?” Also, once the time is up, it automatically switches over to the “warm” setting so it stops cooking! It’s pretty magical and I highly recommend it to any and every one.

Of course, I had to use my new toy as soon as possible, so we had some friends over for game night and I made a big pot of chili. It was perfect for the cold El Nino weather we’ve been having.

There seems to be at least 7,000 recipes for chili out there. Everyone has their own special twist to it and most are really good. I don’t think even I make it the same every time, but this one is a pretty basic recipe that was warm, comforting, and delicious.

Here is my basic chili recipe. It makes a lot, so be prepared for leftovers, which is perfectly alright with me! It also freezes really well.

1 green bell pepper, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds ground beef
2 ½ tablespoons ground cumin
4 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes
2 15 oz cans kidney beans, drained
2 15 oz cans water

In a skillet (or the insert of your crockpot, if you can), heat up the olive oil and add the pepper, onions, and garlic until almost soft. Then add the ground beef and cook until brown. Drain off rendered fat. (Fun fact: I forgot to do this step, so after it was all cooked, I had the fun task of skimming it all off the top. It worked out, but man that was tedious!)

Put the meat and veggies in your slow cooker, and add cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, tomatoes, and beans. Mix together. Then fill up one of your 15 oz cans with water twice and add it to the mix.

Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 6.

Top with some shredded cheese or your favorite chili toppings and make your favorite cornbread recipe (here is mine).

I don’t have a “final” picture because right as game night was getting started our power went out! We ate chili and played Cards Against Humanity by candlelight. You’ll have to trust me that food looked and tasted quite delicious!!

Baked Pumpkin Stuffed French Toast (Christmas Movie Series)

Over my years of watching holiday tv movies, I’ve noticed that there are pretty much two different career paths that our plucky protagonists follow in Christmas movies:

Food (this is mostly baking, but any sort of food job qualifies):

  • Recipe for a Perfect Christmas (chef and a food critic; two-for-one)
  • Christmas in Connecticut (food columnist)
  • The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (chef)
  • Matchmaker Santa (baker)
  • A Cookie Cutter Christmas (OK, she’s a teacher, but the whole thing revolves around a cookie baking competition and her love interest prides himself on his cooking abilities)
  • Let it Snow (it may be a stretch, but the woman who runs the ski lodge is always cooking something. Food does play a big role here)
  • Ice Sculpture Christmas (chef)

PR (this includes marketing and advertising as well)

  • Christmas Cupid (PR)
  • Love at the Thanksgiving Day Parade (PR)
  • 12 Wishes of Christmas (PR)
  • Fir Crazy (Marketing)
  • Window Wonderland (Marketing)
  • Let it Snow (Marketing)
  • Northpole (reporter; I only count this because when I went to journalism school, I had to take PR classes, so they are pretty intertwined)
  • Hitched for the Holidays (advertising)
  • The Santa Clause (marketing)
  • 12 Gifts of Christmas (advertising)

Sometimes, you’ll come across the ones who are working one job but dream of making it big doing something else (Holiday in Handcuffs: waitress/wanna be artist meets architect who wants his own firm; Christmas Under Wraps: doctor must work in small town, but really wants a big city job)

People who work for Corporate or in Finance are usually the scrooges: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (she gets better though), Fir Crazy, The Best Christmas Party Ever, Charming Christmas 

For this recipe, I decided to revamp a dish I created a long time ago (way before this blog). It may sound complicated, but it is so easy and really delicious!

1 8oz brick of cream cheese, softened
1/2 can pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
2 tubes of refrigerated crescent rolls
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a bowl, mix together the cream cheese, pumpkin, vanilla extract, and pumpkin pie spice.

Open the crescent tubes and roll out the triangles.

Spoon a generous amount of the filling onto the triangle and roll it up.  

Place the filled rolls into a baking dish. I used a 7×11.
In another bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour over the top of the rolls. Like I said, I used a 7×11 dish. If you use a bigger one, you may want to increase the egg by 1 and the milk by about 1/2 a cup, maybe a little less.  

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. Again, if you use a bigger dish, you may want to cook it a bit less because the egg will be more spread out. Just keep your eye on it.   This was so delicious! My house was filled with smells of cinnamon and baked rolls the whole time they were in the oven. The top is nice a crusty but the inside is really soft and creamy with the filling.

Such a great holiday breakfast! Or anytime of year!