Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Food

With every season there are a handful of recipes that are on my absolute must-make list. For fall, we’re talking butternut squash, homemade applesauce, cheesy bowtie bratwurst casserole and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

It’s no secret that pumpkin spice is a an all-time favorite for most (#PSL season started two months ago), and this recipe combines the rich, rustic spices of fall with milk chocolate for a winning combination.

As I’ve mentioned before, I also love this recipe for the cookies’ consistency (think dessert AND breakfast) and love how many batches the dough renders.

And while this recipe is super simple, it’s also quite elegant – great for both cookie connoisseurs and beginning bakers alike!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups (12-ounce bag) milk chocolate chips, not semisweet

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray cookie sheets with nonstick spray or line them with parchment paper.
  3. Using a mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Beat in the white and brown sugars, a little at a time, until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then mix in the vanilla and pumpkin puree.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.
  6. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the batter in thirds.
  7. Stir in the chips.
  8. Scoop the cookie dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cookies are browned around the edges.
  9. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let them rest for 2 minutes. Take the cookies off with a spatula and cool them on wire racks or paper bags.
  10. Share with friends and family for a hyggelig time!

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*Original recipe retrieved from FoodNetwork.com
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Fun Fall Sketches

Art

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a creature of the seasons, and with my favorite time of year upon us, I’ve been finding (making) time to break out the colored pencil set!

Between the foliage, harvest vegetables and colorful clothing, fall is a beautiful time of year. And if you’re an artist, it can be especially inspiring. Despite still being  overwhelmingly busy with home renovations, I’ve been making art a priority the last few weeks, and have been taking advantage of even the smallest available windows of “free” time.

While these small chunks of time don’t allow for elaborate pieces, I’ve found that I am quite content completing small sketches, inspired by the season. Completed art doesn’t have to be elaborate for an artist to get their fix.

Using these small windows of time, I’m seeking to capture that which I love most about this time of year before it passes by.

I love natural elements (such as the pumpkin above) but I’m also obsessed with fall fashion. I love the colors that the season brings out in fashion and am always drawn to the idea of cozying up in oversized clothes (see my latest post on hygge).

Then there are the textured sweaters, plaid scarves and (my all-time favorite) boots!

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I’m so incredibly thankful that our home projects have just about come to a close and I’ll soon be able to enjoy this season to its fullest. Whether its through fashion, pumpkin spice lattes or hygge, I hope everyone out there is enjoying nature’s most magical time of year!

Stay tuned for more fall-inspired artwork and new recipes to come!

Calming Your Mind and Environment: Adopting the Hygge Lifestyle

Inspiration

Like all other functioning adults, my life can sometimes be a little bit hectic, a little overwhelming and a little bit stressful. The good news is, the internet is constantly coming up with new ways for us functioning adults to deal with our stress, create zen and find our happy place!

With wedding planning and home renovations preoccupying all of my time, I’ve been finding myself (just a little bit) stressed but also, very much focused on design. This comes from thinking about decor, color and themes in both situations. What do the stress and design-focus have in common? My recent discovery of hygge.

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Hygge is a word you may have heard a time or two within the last year and is a Danish term that encapsulates the Scandinavian concept of coziness and the happiness created from life’s simple pleasures. More simply stated, it is the Danish secret for living a happy life. After watching Scandinavian cultures continually rank as having the happiest citizens in the world, Americans have taken note, and popularized hygge in our culture last year.

Still confused on what hygge is? Think coffee, cake, warm textiles, candles, nature walks and time spent with friends.

I first read about hygge in the New York Times last year, but due to recent stress levels decided to further my research. Just this week I came across this book, which provides tips and advice for living a more hygge life. I loved this charming book and speed-read it in one sitting.

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From all of my research, these have been my key takeaways:

Learn to be at peace when alone and in the company of others. Whether you are spending a restful night at home reading or participating in a family get-together, hygge is about appreciating the simple things and knowing how to be happy no matter your social situation. You’re happy to have time alone and just as happy to have time with friends and family.

scandi-image-3-400x600Keep it fresh. For a stress-free environment, do your best to eliminate clutter from your surroundings. You may not realize it, but a messy space can subconsciously influence your mood in a negative away. Another great way to improve your space is to add plants and greenery.

Spend time outside. A key part of hygge is being active, especially outside and regardless of the weather. Being outside in nature helps put your mind at ease. It’s also important to note that one should be active for the sake of being healthy and happy, and not with the goal of looking good.

Eat, drink and be merry! In the United States we tend to demonize food, especially food that which isn’t kale, quinoa, etc., etc. Adopting hygge means allowing yourself to curl up with a cup of cocoa, mix up a whisky beverage and slice into a chocolate cake.

As Andy and I get closer to completing our home renovation projects, I’m determined to adopt these lifestyle habits for a stress-free sale, move and wedding-planning extravaganza. Plus, fall seems to be the perfect time to curl up in a knit blanket with a favorite book and a cup of coffee.

 

 

How to Make Homemade Applesauce

Food

If you’re looking for a fall food favorite that’s simple to make while still encapsulating the essence of the season, then you’re best bet is homemade applesauce. Requiring a mere five ingredients, this recipe is as easy as it is delicious.

What you’ll need:

  • 4-6 apples (I use Cortland apples myself, but any red variety of apple will do.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • A sprinkle of nutmeg

Directions:

  • Peel your apples and cut them into cubes.
  • Mix all ingredients together in a large pot or slow cooker.
  • If using a large pot, cook on medium heat for twenty minutes, or until apples become soft. Mash with a fork if necessary or until desired texture is achieved.
  • If using a crock pot, cook on low heat for 2-6 hours. (Cater the cooking time to your preferred texture of applesauce.)
  • Enjoy immediately OR store is a freezer-safe container and enjoy up to a year later!

The perfect fall addition to your Thanksgiving Day menu!

*This recipe has been adapted by the author, but the original recipe was retrieved from AllRecipes.com.

Our 2nd Annual Oktoberfest

Festivity, Food

Growing up in an Italian household, I never had much exposure to German culture. That changed when I met Andy. Being more than fifty percent German, he possesses a passion for the culture of his heritage, particularly when it comes to food and drink.

Although neither of us have actually been to Germany, visiting Disney World’s Epcot theme park last summer inspired us to participate in Germany’s most famous festival: Oktoberfest.10502479_10153149017179064_3639388602894563004_n

While our ultimate goal is to one day attend Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, we thought, for the time being, it would be fun to have our own little take on the festivities within our own home.

What does this translate to? Well, basically a copious amount of home-cooked German foods and Oktoberfest brews. Last year, we went all out in cooking German cuisine and while most recipes remained on the menu, we decided to try a few new things as well.

OUR 2016 OKTOBERFEST MENU:

Appetizers:

  • Homemade Oktoberfest-style Pretzels
  • Horseradish Cheese Dip

FullSizeR (13).jpgMain Course:

  • Homemade Applesauce
  • Beer Bread
  • Potato Salad
  • Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage and Apples
  • Bratwurst and Sauerkraut

Dessert:

  • Layered Black Forest Cake 

Drinks:

  • Goose Island’s Oktoberfest
  • Sierra Nevada’s Oktoberfest
  • Apple Frost Wine from Fly Creek Cider Mill

The new additions included the Horseradish Cheese Dip (purchased at Fly Creek Cider Mill), Beer Bread, Layered Black Forest Cake, Goose Island’s Oktoberfest and Fly Creek Cider Mill’s Apple Frost Wine.

While we purchased the Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest last year as well, this company has a unique practice of partnering with a different German brewery every fall to create a memorable brew year after year.

The 2016 Oktoberfest rendition, a result of a partnership with Mahrs Brau (established 1670) is especially satisfying and perhaps one of the best Oktoberfest beers that Andy and I have ever tasted.

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That being said, the Goose Island version is pretty tasty as well…FullSizeR (12).jpg

So although neither of us have ever been to Germany, our German spirits are certainly high. Having our own Oktoberfest celebration is our way of saluting the culture and the fabulous cuisine it has to offer.

Stay tuned for recipes!

Inspired by Central New York’s Fall Foliage

Art, Inspiration

As I’ve mentioned before, I love fall. While I have a list of things that I look forward to every autumn, the first that always comes to mind is the foliage.

Living in Central New York, I’m privileged to witness the gorgeous changing of season first hand. An environmental splendor that continues to attract tourists to the Northeast, I’m fortunate that I can enjoy it while spending time in my backyard, during my drive to work and on my runs through town.

With cold weather brewing outside and bright colors bursting in the tree tops, it’s difficult not to feel inspired. Below are some photographs that I snapped around my house:

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Happy Fall: Seasonal To-Do List

Festivity, Inspiration

As my favorite season, I’m so excited (and inspired) that it is now officially fall! To celebrate, I’ve put together a to-do list for this fall season, a compilation of my favorite ways to celebrate the most anticipated time of year.

FALL TO DO LIST:

Decorate the porch with these awesome concrete pumpkin planters.

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Decorate the house with fall foliage, scarecrows and harvest-inspired decór.


Bake pumpkin-flavored goodies even if PSL season did start a month ago.

pumpkin cookies

Plan your own Oktoberfest! Because we all need another reason to eat a ridiculous amount of food and drink beer.

pretzels

Visit a fall-inspired location. Apple orchard, pumpkin patch, cider mill….Take your pick!

Start making Halloween plans (if you haven’t already). Between goodies, costumes and jack-o-lantern designs, you have your work cut out for you!

carving

Break out the sweaters, it’s officially #sweaterweather!

The weather is getting colder! #falliscoming #sweaterweather 😍🍁🍂

A post shared by Emilee Smith (@emileejaysmith) on

Drink fall beer. Between Oktoberfest and Pumpkin Spice varieties, fall time is beer prime time.

saranac darktoberfest

Make a fall craft, such as these lovely table textiles.

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Get ready for football season.

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Whether its following this list, or your own traditions, I hope you are as excited about this fall as I am. A fleeting time of year, let’s enjoy it while we can!

 

CNY’s Ultimate Fall Destination 

Review, Travel

Undoubtedly, the best time to visit Central New York is in the fall. Our region is known for its picturesque orange and red foliage, pumpkin patches and various apple orchards. One of the best known fall destinations is the Fly Creek Cider Mill in Fly Creek, NY.img_0269

Dating back to the 1800s, the owners have kept up tradition, continuing to make cider (both regular and hard) the old-fashioned way. Having gained an immense amount of popularity in the area, the tourist attraction offers much more than just cider and donuts:img_0254

Food Samples: Recently remodeled, the inside of the Mill is the main attraction, with the store offering a plethora of different jams, sauces, pastry mixes, dips and more. While there is plenty to buy, the best part is getting to taste much of what the store has to offer!img_0255

Wine Tasting: the store offers its own miniature winery, allowing customers to sample all of the different apple wines and apple ciders they make on site. While their classic apple cider is delicious and festive, splurge a little on the Apple Frost wine if you are looking to treat yourself.

Snack Shack: If you’re not full from your round of tasting, feel free to stop by the Mill’s snack shop where you can purchase fall-themed delights such as mac-n-cheese, sausage and sauerkraut, rich soups in bread bowls or one of their famous apple cider slushies.

Visit the Upstairs Museum: The renovation didn’t just bring better lighting to the store, it also brought a charming miniature museum to the second story. Read more about the evolution of apple parers and the cider-making process.

img_0251Gift Shop: Accompanying the mini-museum on the second floor is the Mill’s gift shop, a quaint country-style selection of seasonal décor. The store offers décor for most holidays, including St. Patrick’s Day and Halloween, and offers the most in regard to Christmas.

img_0246Feed the Fowl: Grab a handful of feed out of the dispenser for a meager .25 cents and enjoy feeding a diverse grouping of ducks, geese and chickens.

Tips:

  • Arrive early: The mill is very busy, especially during the Fall season. Arrive in the morning to avoid traffic and having to wait in line outside.
    • Side note: Consider attending during the off-season.
  • Set up a rewards card: Unlike other stores that charge you for membership or act as a credit card, the Fly Creek card does nothing but reward you for your purchases. You earn points for your purchases (which never expire by the way) and after having spent a designated amount, you will receive a $25.00 gift card in the mail!
  • Bring a Cooler: This way, if you purchase dips, cheeses or other refrigerated items, you won’t feel rushed to get home.
  • Don’t forget your free tote: If you spend $50.00 or more (which frankly, isn’t difficult to do) you receive a free tote with your purchase. Make sure you grab one on your way out, located by the registers.

Happy Turkey Day!

Crafts, Decorating, DIY, Festivity, Holiday

Posting once a week every Friday means that my weekly post will be falling after Thanksgiving on (duh-duh-duuuuh) Black Friday! A day when everyone will be out madly shopping as the Christmas season officially commences.

That being said, I thought I would throw an extra post out there this week to give you some ideas on how to have a creative holiday! While we all have Thanksgiving traditions that we live and die by, it is always fun to try new, creative ideas to spice up already established traditions.

Here are a few creative ideas you can add to your food-filled day:

  1. Homemade placemats. If you read my post from last week you know that homemade placemats can make great holiday gifts. They can also personalize your Thanksgiving dinner and table. Check out my post from last week to learn how to recycle textiles into these woven settings.

woven placemat

  1. Homemade place cards.
    Whether you simply stencil letters onto card stock or use different colored paper and ribbons for embellishment, place cards can add a fun and sophisticated look to your Thanksgiving table.
  2. Try a new recipe! This year I will be making something I have never eaten or made: Frozen Pumpkin Pie! Here is a recipe for one version if you also want to give it a go!

 

So no matter how traditional or trendy your Thanksgiving is, I hope that it’s a good one!

(Cover photo found via Google Images)