Gluten Free Mini Caramel Apple Pies with Cinnamon Streusel Topping

Apple pie is hands down my favorite fall dessert. It’s also one of those things I always make without a recipe and it’s always good. (Can’t tell you how hard it is to get something like that out of your head, on to paper, and get it to taste the same!).

This fall, I’ve been gravitating towards these mini apple pies. They come together so quickly, I can get them in the oven while we are having dinner and then have a warm apple pie to finish off a weeknight meal. I mean, that’s some quarantine weeknight perfection, no?

All of quarantine, I’ve been reaching for things that feel warm and homey, comforting. And I’ve definitely been trying to make weeknight meals more fun – I wouldn’t typically make a dessert if we weren’t having company but it’s been a nice way to make these groundhog days feel a little more special.

Cincinnati Chili-Inspired Meatballs

If you guys have been following for a while, you know I love me a meatball! I made a batch of Cincinnati Chili a few weeks ago – had a random craving, thanks #pregnancy, and then thought, hey maybe this would be a good meatball. I was right. And if this is sacrilegious to you, I’m very sorry.

In my defense, I’m not from Ohio, though I went to college there. Skyline Chili isn’t part of my religion, so these meatballs were super exciting for me. If it makes you mad, look away! ha!

These definitely have the essence of Cincy Chili – in fact, they have all the same spices, cinnamon and cocoa powder included. You spice up the meatballs and the sauce and I gotta tell you, they really hit the spot!

How to Make Caramel Apple Cider

We made it to Friday! I’m ready to celebrate the end of a crazy week, and 100% ready to whip up a batch of these cozy caramel apple ciders and curl up next to the fire. It’s a gloomy day here today – gray skies, misty and foggy out, and the leaves in our backyard are bursting with fall colors. I’m loving it.

These caramel apple ciders were such a hit last weekend, and when hubby said they were amazing (after pouring a shot of bourbon into his), I knew I had to share.

Healthy(ish) Pumpkin Bread with Apple Cider Glaze

Remember that Healthy(ish) Banana Bread we did at the height of all of that quarantine banana bread baking? Well, let’s do it again, but this time make it pumpkin for fall!

This bread is SO easy and so much lighter than a traditional bread because – wait for it – we’re using pancake mix. So basically it’s like a pancake loaf? But it’s good, and satisfying, especially if you have to count calories, carbs, sugar, etc. I’m using the Birch Benders Keto pancake mix here, you could do their Paleo blend or even a protein blend.

Skip the icing if you want to really keep it in check, but it’s so hard to imagine skipping the icing! The warm pumpkin spice flavors are so nicely balanced with the maple apple cider glaze. It’s like legit all the flavors of fall I love so much in one recipe!

Healthy(ish) Pumpkin Bread with Maple Cider Glaze

A delicious combination of fall flavors, all in a lightened up, healthy(ish) twist on pumpkin bread.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 8 slices

Ingredients
  

Pumpkin Bread

  • 1 c pure pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 c pancake mix
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp brown sugar or brown sugar substitute
  • 3/4 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • pecans (or pepitas), for topping

Maple Cider Glaze

  • 1 c powdered sugar or powdered sugar substitute
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 2 tbsp apple cider
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Instructions
 

Pumpkin Bread

  • Preheat oven to 350. Prepare loaf pan with cooking spray, set aside.
  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mix until batter comes together and is mostly smooth.
  • Pour into prepared loaf pan and top with a few pecans (or pepitas!). 
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes, until center is baked and a toothpick comes out clean. If the edges brown too quickly, top with a piece of foil.
  • Allow to cool until the pan can be touched with your bare hand before removing it from the pan. 

Apple Cider Glaze

  • To make optional icing, combine all the ingredients until a thick but drizzly icing forms. 
  • Once the banana bread is cooled, drizzle the icing over the top and enjoy!
  • Skip the icing to keep it healthier!
Keyword healthy, pumpkin bread

Sage Butter Roasted Butternut Squash with Creamy Cheddar Orzo

I love when colder weather starts to set it and everything in the kitchen shifts to warmer spices and cozy dishes. This dish is definitely a new favorite cozy-comfort-go-to! Seriously…it’s vegetarian and even my husband liked it. That’s a *big* win!

First, you’ll melt some butter with fresh sage leaves and smashed garlic cloves. It smells insane and gives the butternut squash a delicious flavor. Then, right as your squash is starting to brown, you’ll start the orzo. The orzo takes 10-15 minutes and is just, wow. Really, really, good.

My husband, who does not like vegetables – I can’t even explain to you how he tries to avoid them – said he loved this dish. He even remarked that the squash was perfect to go with the orzo. I was floored, I tell ya!

Playlist for a Long Fall Drive

One of my favorite things to do on an early Saturday morning, is hop in the car, stop for coffee (and an apple cider donut) and then take a drive upstate. It’s such a treat to go for a drive on a fall weekend and see all of the leaves changing – it’s truly magical!

What a luxury it is to drive with no destination and no itinerary – with absolutely nothing to do. Let yourself get lost in the hills, find a cute spot to grab a bite to eat, get some fresh air, and go home.

This quarantine is definitely starting to wear on me – it hadn’t been since we had Harper and have been so busy adjusting to life as new parents. We don’t socialize as much, we haven’t been traveling, but these Saturday morning drives have been breathing life into my weekend.

I’ve found that music has been helping a lot to set the tone for us – for our day during the week, for our mood. I’m all about a good playlist for a drive – always changing up the music depending on the season.

Quarantine is weird, isn’t it – you kind of feel like you’re home “doing nothing,” but then you take a step back and realize how busy you are. It’s a constant cycle of cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, cleaning more, cooking more. Meetings and emails. All while being home “doing nothing.” But a slow weekend – not even necessarily a lazy one – a slow weekend is really helping me savor this fall season.

It’s been nice to take a break, slow down and just enjoy. It’s fun to explore when we typically save exploring for traveling. It’s fun to be able to soak up and savor the moments with our little family.

3 New Favorite Fall Nail Polish Colors

All year, I stick to my tried and true neutral manicures, rarely veering off into any significant color on my hands (pedicures, a totally different story!). But come September, October, November and December…it’s a different ball game!

I love the moodiness of fall, and always start gravitating towards a darker color manicure. You can bet I’m asking for Linkin Park After Dark and Wicked for a manicure or a pedicure. But I found 3 new colors this fall I am LOVING.

The first, In Stitches by Essie. It’s a more youthful take on a rosey mauve, and I’m so into it.

Then there’s Essie’s Limited Addiction, which I swear is the shade of red I’ve been searching for. I’ve been gravitating towards this color two or three times already.

Finally, OPI’s Rub-A-Pub, which is a gorgeous charcoal and has been taking Wicked’s place this year.

What are your go-to polish colors for fall?

Pumpkin Spice Waffles with Maple Butter

Are you guys more of a waffle or pancake fan? For some reason, I definitely gravitate towards waffles – I like them so much better than pancakes. But, to be honest, it could be because I’m just not that great at making pancakes! They’re never even, the butter gets all gross and then makes the second and third batch a weird color and I’m just not into it!

But these waffles…these waffles are the most beautiful color. And wow, do they taste like fall! The pumpkin spice really suits my fall theme of being 100% basic.

With these, you can just use any of your go-to waffle/pancake mixes. Because I have gestational diabetes, I’m using the Birch Benders keto mix. For these, I also used a sugar free maple syrup, but just use your favorite! It is what it is – just a few months left of this!

In this recipe, you use the pure pumpkin puree as a replacement for eggs/water. It’s such an easy recipe – I made extra and put them in the freezer once they were cooled just so I could grab and go on weekdays. Sometimes, you just need something more exciting than scrambled eggs, ya know!

Next time I do these, I’m going to cut up some apples and sautee them in a bit of cinnamon. Let all those fall flavors really collide!

Pumpkin Spice Protein Waffles with Maple Butter

Delicious pumpkin spice protein waffles topped with a savory and sweet maple butter.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Course Breakfast, brunch

Equipment

  • Waffle maker

Ingredients
  

  • 1 c waffle mix
  • 1/2 c pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp brown sugar I used Truvia brown sugar replacement
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 3 tbsp softened butter
  • 3 tsp maple syrup
  • pecans, for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Combine waffle mix and pumpkin puree until well combined.
  • Coat waffle iron with cooking spray; pour batter into iron (refer to your iron's instructions for the correct amount).
  • As the waffles are being made, combine softened butter and maple syrup. If using unsalted butter, taste for salt and add a tiny pinch, if needed.
  • Serve waffles with maple butter, maple syrup, pecans, etc.

8 Favorite Fall Wreaths

Fall is by far my favorite season, and I love bringing all the #fallvibes to our house for some simple seasonal touches. The first thing I do, before i even go pumpkin picking, is put out a wreath.

I’m obsessed with this farmhouse style wreath my sisters in law gave me for my birthday from Joi Prints.

I’m not into Halloween decorations (but man is my neighborhood!) – I stick to general fall for Octoer and November, before we shift into holiday decorations. Feels like I get more longevity by sticking to generic fall – which just means lots of pumpkins, mums, and a welcoming fall wreath!

You don’t have to put a wreath just on a door, either. i’ve hung wreaths over the fireplace mantle, small ones on cabinet doors and windows, and even my entry way wall.

How do you decorate for fall?

Cider and Beer Braised Cheddar Bratwurst with Onions, Apples and Mustard

The idea for this recipe has been kicking around in my head for at least two years – I wish I had made it sooner! This one is definitely going to be in our rotation in the fall. The brats are savory and the touch of cheddar was the perfect combination with the nearly-caramelized onions and thinly sliced apples.

This recipe is so straightforward with minimal ingredients – the best kind, right? You start by searing the brats. Then, you’ll add the onions with butter and get them to that just barely caramelized state. Add some apple slices and sautee until they’re soft, then pop the brats back in with a cider and beer and let it all simmer together until the brats are cooked through.

That combination of the onions and apples really helps to ring in the fall season! And it’s such an easy recipe it’s perfect for a quick weeknight meal.