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Archive for the ‘Autumn’ Category

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

~ Anne of Green Gables

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Every year I think to myself that I am not ready for the holiday season to begin.  That I am not ready for pumpkin flavored drinks and breads and desserts.  That I still want to wear shorts and short dresses and flip-flops rather than rain jackets and boots and jeans.  And then it hits me…every year.

I suddenly find myself looking forward to the chill in the air, the gray rainy days, and pulling on a sweatshirt for our morning walk.  I remember the coziness of watching football under a blanket on the sofa.  And, find that the sight of pumpkins and mums puts an immediate smile on my face.  I remember just how much I love fall, particularly October, and this love of the season starts to show itself in my cooking and baking.  Cinnamon and nutmeg start to move toward the front of the spice shelf.  Pumpkins and apples and butternut squash start to find their way into muffins and breads and sauces.

I made these muffins a few weekends ago for Jack’s soccer team snack.  They were practically inhaled by the children.  They are moist and sweet (In fact, I almost think I can cut back on the sugar which I may try to do…an excuse to make them again.) and satisfying by themselves as breakfast or a snack, but even better paired with a scrambled egg or a hunk of good cheddar cheese.  Baking them at a lower temperature for a longer time than a normal muffin will produce a very moist final product which I think you will appreciate.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Makes 18 muffins

Ingredients:

For the muffins:

3 cups flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

1 tbsp. and 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

4 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup olive oil

2 cups sugar

2 cups pumpkin puree

For the filling:

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

For the streusel topping:

½ cup sugar

¼ cup and 1 tsp. flour

4 tbsp. butter, cubed

1 ½ tsp. cinnamon

Preparation:

To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and whip until smooth. Form into a skinny log on parchment paper, making sure that the diameter is small enough to fit into the well of a muffin pan. Wrap the log up tightly and freeze until slightly hardened, 1-2 hours.

To make the muffins, combine the flour, spices, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Mix well and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, vegetable oil, sugar and pumpkin puree. Mix until well combined. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix on low speed until just combined.

To make the streusel topping, combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix together with a pastry blender or two forks until crumbly.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Spray the muffin pan with nonstick spray or lightly grease it with oil or butter.  To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well halfway with batter. Remove the cream cheese log from the freezer and slice into equal slices. Place a slice in each muffin well. Divide the remaining muffin batter evenly among the muffin cups, on top of the cream cheese. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the top of the batter. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before serving.

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Even though its late, they are too good not to share- I got some great pictures of our little vampire, Jack-ula, from our Halloween fun trick-or-treating at West Seattle’s Harvest Festival on the Sunday prior and University Village on Halloween night.

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I hope you enjoyed a festive and fun Halloween week! I’ve decided that next year, I’m going to dress up too!

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It’s difficult to find words to describe the elation and comfort of being surrounded by family. There’s even greater elation and, thus, a greater challenge in describing the feeling, when surrounded by said family whom normally reside over 2400 miles away!

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We felt lucky. I know that much for sure. Spending our weekend in a beautiful cabin rented by Dad in Cle Elum, playing at Suncadia Resort’s Harvest Festival, running through the mountain trails, soaking in the sunshine and the views, and enjoying drinks and good times.

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I love each of these people. So happy that I can call them mine…and, over the moon that they came to visit! Thank you Aunt Diane, Uncle Wayne, Martha, Jessica, Mom, and Dad for a fantastic Autumn weekend!

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Halloween Cheer

I hope you had as much fun as we did on Halloween!
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Happy November…and cheers to a most wonderful holiday season!

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Nashville was fun! Super FUN! My only regret is that the time passed too quickly…our 3 days flew by but I know it’s because we were all having a great time!

It started the second we got off the plane…Remember that film I shared with you a few months ago about the guy with MS and his girlfriend who, after hearing about his symptoms and how scared he was about his unknown future, looked him in the eye and said, “I’m In” to show her unyielding support? In an extremely touching display, my family (including my sister’s girlfriend, Martha) met us at the airport wearing matching “I’m In” shirts that they had made for me! Needless to say, I was beyond touched and felt 100% supported and loved! This meant so much to me!!! How wonderful is my support network??!

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We spent the next three days-
playing with the 100s of Toy Story toys that my sister and Martha borrowed for Jack to play with (he was PSYCHED!)
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eating (a lot of eating!) Gulf shrimp and cheese grits, biscuits with sorghum, chicken and dumplings, fried pickles and BBQ (I had a pulled pork sandwich with pimento cheese and an over easy egg- I took a photo before digging in! And, yes, it was really good!)
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enjoying the pumpkins, scarecrows, trains, and flowers at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Art Museum
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drinking locally brewed beer, celebrating Jack’s birthday with an AMAZING party which will, deservedly, get a post by itself, and cheering on the Gators to victory against Vanderbilt at an all day tailgate and Jack’s first football game!
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A special thanks to Auntie Jessica, Nonna, and Pops for making our trip extra special! Birthday party post coming later this week!

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Off to Nashville

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I apologize that my posting has not been prolific this week…We are off to Nashville and I have been busy preparing for the trip!

I cannot tell you how excited the 3 of us are to visit family and to be back in the South for a few days! My wonderful sister has planned a fun-filled three days of yummy BBQ, a southern breakfast, a birthday party for Jack!!!, a Gator football game, and SEC style tailgating (you know the type that has an elaborately planned menu served on a table-clothed and fully decorated table with games like corn hole and more beverages than is good for you)!

I will be back with photo updates and, of course, recipes next week.
For now, enjoy the pumpkin photos while you savor the Autumn weather!

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If my latest posts on crabbing and apple picking were not enough to convince you that we live in some sort of fairytale land where many different amazing vacations can be found within a two hour radius of our home, let me share with you our latest camping adventure…

We spent the weekend at Deception Pass on Whidbey Island with some of our most favorite friends. Driving through the National Park, we twisted through narrow roads lined with tall, immense evergreens that created a feeling of entering a lush tree cave. The dense forest was surrounded by rocky, dark sanded beaches with amazing views of the surrounding mountains, including snow capped Mt Baker. The temperatures ranged from the 40s to the 60s as either the sun or the moon, which was one day from being full, shined down upon us.

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We played on the beach, made amazingly delicious food in several Dutch ovens including American Chop Suey, Herb Biscuits, Apple Crisp, and Egg and Sausage Breakfast Burritos, kept warm by a roaring campfire, and nearly finished 4 bottles of wine as we talked long after the kiddos were asleep. In the morning, we awoke to really dense fog, yet as we played on the beach it magically lifted to reveal sunshine and clear skies…photos of Jack on the foggy morning beach in a later post this week. They are some of our favorite photos of Jack to date, so in our completely biased eyes they deserve a post by themselves.

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The weekend was immensely fun. A truly perfect way to (reluctantly) wrap up camping for the year. And, we could not have shared it with better company- thank you Amy, Phil, Hanna, and Britta for so much fun! And, thank you, Phil, for some of the amazing photos seen here.

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