Butter, Garlic and Parmesan Roasted Acorn Squash

Welcome to Friendsgiving week! I love using Friendsgiving as an excuse to create some fun, non traditional dishes. I hope you love the recipes this week and it inspires you to try something new, whether a small Thanksgiving gathering or a socially-distanced-outdoor-mask-wearing-be-smart-Friendsgiving.

If you haven’t made acorn squash yet, this recipe is your reason to try it! I always see stuffed acorn quash for a Thanksgiving side, but I cut these into slices and roasted them up in butter, garlic and parmesan. Can I even tell you how amazing the house smelled?!

Lightened Up Stuffed Pepper Soup with Fresh Herbs and Parmesan

I love soup season. Today, it’s rainy and cold – this whole week has been gloomy and it’s the perfect time for a hot bowl of soup for lunch. This lightened up stuffed pepper soup uses ground turkey, veggies, riced cauliflower instead of rice, and fresh herbs. But what really packs the punch is a parmesan cheese rind.

It’s all the classic flavors of stuffed peppers that you love, but it comes together in 20 minutes and makes for amazing left overs!

Pumpkin Spice Chex Mix for a Halloween Treat

I have to say, I’ve never been much into Halloween. Fall – yes. But specifically the “holiday” of Halloween – no. But now that Harper is here, I’m a little more interested in it. Today, I made a batch of pumpkin spice chex mix (complete with candy corn) to drop off to a few of our friends.

There’s nothing much to this – a few kinds of chex, some pretzels, pepitas and pecans all combine with butter, brown sugar, vanilla, pumpkin spice and a dash of salt. Bake it up for about 28 minutes and let them cool – drop in some candy corn and you’re done!

A fun little treat for your neighbors or the kiddos friends! We’re going to drop these off to a few friends for a socially-distanced porch visits over the next few days. Something to look forward to!

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?