Monday, October 31, 2011

Leftover Pumpkin week: Pumpkin Blondies

As you can tell, I took a little hiatus from my normally very health conscious to try some fall recipes that were calling my name.  I stumbled upon Ooey Gooey Caramel Pumpkin Blondies on the Tasty Kitchen blog and knew they had to be tried.  Any dessert with the words carmel, pumpkin, and blondie in it sound like a winner to me!

Be sure to hop over to Tasty Kitchen and see their fabulous step by step photos!

The ingredient list is basic and easy...I had most of them already in my kitchen:

  • FOR THE BLONDIES:
  • ¾ cups Butter, Softened
  • 1 cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoons Nutmeg
  • 1-¾ cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt
  • FOR THE FILLING:
  • ½ cups Chopped Walnuts
  • ¼ cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 14 ounces, weight Caramels, Unwrapped (1 Bag)
  • ¼ cups Heavy Cream

It looks like this before it goes into the oven:

Ta-da!  The finished product paired with none other than Pilgrim Joe's Pumpkin ice cream!

What's your favorite "pumpkin" treat to make?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Love: Cookies

Cookies are my favorite sweet treat--and these are perfect to get you in the mood for fall!


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter (1stick), softened
1 cup of pumpkin puree
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in medium bowl.  Beat the sugar and butter in a larger mixer bowl until well blended.  Then beat in the pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract until smooth.  (I just beat by hand--I was too lazy to get my mixer out!) Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Drop a rounded spoonful onto a lightly greased baking sheet.  Bake for 15 to 18 minutes.


Enjoy with a cool glass of milk or a warm cup of coffee!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pumpkin-Faux Ricotta Stuffed Shells

In the spirit of all things pumpkin, I decided to try a recipe I found in Real Simple and add a healthy twist I found in Kimberly Snyder's book, The Beauty Detox

Instead of using fattening ricotta cheese, I made my own faux-ricotta with pine nuts.

2TBS fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup water
3/4 tsp. Celtic Sea Salt
1 medium garlic clove
2 cups of pine nuts

In a blender, add the lemon juice, water and Bragg Liquid Aminos, then the garlic and pine nuts.  
Blend until creamy.

Without further adieu, here is the full recipe:

24 jumbo pasta shells (opt for gluten-free if you can!)
1 can of pumpkin puree
*The faux-ricotta from above
2 ounces of parmesan cheese
1 large egg white
1 minced garlic cloves
1 cup of fresh basil, chopped
1 TBS finely chopped fresh sage
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 jar of tomato sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

1. Cook the pasta shells and set aside to cool
2. Mix the pine nuts and other ingredients in a blender to make faux ricotta and set aside
3. Stir together the faux ricotta, pumpkin and remaining other ingredients (except the tomato sauce)
4. Spread the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9x13 pan and fill each shell with the faux cheesy mixture.  Arrange the shells in rows.

Cover the pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle the shells with parmesan cheese and bake for 15 more minutes.  

Enjoy with a healthy green salad!

The tomato sauce adds a great flavor to the pumpkin

This dish takes about 20 minutes hands-on time!  

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pumpkin Painting

The past few years I have labored in my pumpkin carving: scooping out the insides, sorting through seeds, almost cutting myself with sharp knives...only to have the squirrels eat my design or the inside to rot and mold within a week.

This year, I wanted to enjoy my pumpkin.  Inspired by a few of my favorite blogs: Perfectly Imperfect by Shaunna and The Lettered Cottage by Layla, I decided to paint my pumpkin.

I was already painting a side table and a lamp (those reveals later) so it was no trouble to slap a few extra coats of chalk paint on my lovely little orange pumpkin.

Layer 1: Chateau Grey, Layer 2: Louie Blue, Layer 3: Old Ochre (basically I just used the cans I already had open and layered the colors)

Is there anything that Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint can't do?!


 I'm not really into scary jack o' lanterns or weird designs.  I don't decorate for Halloween per se, but more for FALL.  So...I decided an owl would be perfect.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pumpkin Week: Fruit or Vegetable?

Is pumpkin a fruit or a vegetable?

I would have guessed vegetable, but I would have been wrong.

The pumpkin is a member of the squash family.  It is often mistaken for a vegetable, but is actually a fruit because it grows on a vine and contains seeds. 

In celebration of fall and to showcase my obsession with this yummy fruit, this week is
PUMPKIN WEEK on Indelible Insight.

Come back tomorrow to see what I did with my pumpkin this year!

I hope you are having a lovely Sunday!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wanted: Autumn Mix

I love all things fall (and Christmas of course) but one of the indications that the season has descended upon is...

AUTUMN MIX!

I realize that some of you may disagree and argue that these adorable little candy corn pieces with pumpkins are nothing but sugar coated wax...and to that I say: "Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion."  Despite my normally very health conscious eating habits, I always make room for a little splurge, and Autumn mix is one of them. 

To me, Autumn mix is one part childhood, one part delicious, one part festive and one part rot your teeth.

In short, I can't get enough!

What is your favorite fall candy "splurge?"

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Babalu! "I Love Lucy"

One of my favorite television shows growing up was "I Love Lucy."  We had several episodes on VHS (remember those?) and I would watch them over and over and over....

My two favorite episodes were when Lucy and Ethel worked in the chocolate factory (oh how I wanted to eat chocolate!) and the episode where Lucy makes (or attempts to make) wine from stomping grapes in a huge vat.  That looked like so much fun!

So you can imagine my delight when the Library of Congress opened up a special exhibit: "I Love Lucy: An American Legend" in honor of the 60th anniversary of the show's debut.

The idea for "I Love Lucy" originated when CBS considered transferring its successful radio program, "My Favorite Husband," starring Ball , to the then-new medium of television. Ball’s real-life husband, Arnaz, became her costar.  Ball and Arnaz were apart much of the time because Arnaz was touring with his band and Ball was acting.  She saw the show as the opportunity for them to do something together and salvage their marriage.

I stopped by the exhibit on Friday before Kern and I went to a special concert honoring Arnaz's Cuban music in the Coolidge Auditorium at the Library on Saturday evening.


I was mesmerized by her beauty!


This is a manuscript drum part for "Babalu" from the 1940s!
Ball and Arnaz did not have children for almost 10 years after their marriage.  They had been married in City Hall, so Ball insisted they re-marry in a church.  They did, and Lucie and Desi Jr. were born in the years following!
They were the "First Family"

Sheet music: "I love Lucy and she loves me...we're as happy as two can be!"

Their son and daughter were part of the evening's music. Singer Lucie Arnaz headlined the evening which paid homage to orchestrations of the Desi Arnaz Orchestra.  She told hilarious stories and reminisced about her childhood.  

I wish I had taken more photos but I was too busy dancing in my seat to the Cuban music!  There was a full 16 person orchestra.  It was a wonderful evening!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Chalk Paint Class

For months I have been wanting to take a class on Chalk Painting.  I have taught myself several techniques, but I was eager to get some guidance from a professional in attempts to hone my skill and improve.

Celeste, who owns Catfish Creative Furnishings in Rockville, Maryland is the stockist I have used to purchase all of my Annie Sloan paint and supplies.  She has been trained by Annie and does amazingly beautiful work.  Read the story of why she is nicknamed "Catfish" here.

There were 6 students in the class, including me.  The class was held in the studio portion of On a Whim in Lucketts, Virginia.

Celeste advising the group and giving tips
I had my own table to work on and get messy!

In the morning portion of the class, we worked with sample boards and practiced different techniques and finishes

Celeste teaching us how to make colored wax

In the afternoon portion, we got to select a piece of furniture from the warehouse at On a Whim to paint! I chose a side table. 
I was drawn to the legs and the medallion.
I decided to do the "Two Color Technique" on my piece.  This means that I will layer two colors, then distress the piece when I wax it for a layered finish.  I promise to devote an entire blog to this piece so stay tuned!
Layer 1: Duck Egg Blue


Celeste was a great teacher and I had the BEST time.  I was literally grinning from 10am to 4pm.  I hope to take the advanced class when it is offered in the spring.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Boston: Spectacle Island

On Columbus Day, we set out without an exact agenda, and ended up down by the wharf.  What better way to celebrate the discovery of the new world than by going on a ferry ride?

Since we had walked a majority of the city the past two days, we decided to venture to one of the Boston Harbor Islands: Spectacle Island.

Boston Harbor Islands national park area has 34 islands that make up 1,600 acres and 35 miles of coastline--all within 10 miles of downtown.  We chose to visit Spectacle Island because it has the best view of the city from the peak point.

Leaving the busy inner harbor area

This is not the view the settlers saw when they landed in the 1600's!

We made it!  It was almost 90 degrees...hot!

There were people swimming along the shore, but we hiked up to the top of the island and just relaxed by watching the busy harbor and admiring the city from afar.

Karate!


Wish Kitty got to ride her first boat!  She had a great time.
All too soon, it was time to leave!  Bye!
I bought Wish Kitty in Japan (ok in Disney World) and she jumped in my suitcase to Boston.
We hiked back down the path and returned to Boston for a quick early dinner and caught a late flight back to DC!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Boston: Mike's Pastry, Cambridge, Boston Commons

On Saturday night, we hung out in the North End.  I waited in line for almost 30 minutes at Mike's Pastry.  Mike's is famous for it's homemade cannoli--they have tons of flavor options.

It was so packed I couldn't even see into the cases until it was time for me to order!

Victory is mine!  I got my Mike's box.
After a delicious dinner of Italian tapas, we made our way to a park to dig into the cannoli.
I got espresso (for Kern), chocolate creme and florentine (nutty/cinnamony cream)
Tired but happy: I have left over Mike's and a Boston Christmas ornament (see paper bag on top)

On Sunday morning, we took the T to Cambridge to see my cousin, Amanda, who is a 2L at Harvard.  We had brunch and Amanda showed us around campus.
Amanda, her friend Jess, and me

Sunday afternoon was spent doing a little shopping (ok I had to see the Boston Kate Spade store) and then walking around Boston Commons.

I loved watching the ducks!

Can you see me?

Every city I visit, I purchase a Christmas ornament for my tree.  The ornament I got from Boston showed the scene behind us: The George Washington statue in Boston Commons.

Make way for Ducklings!
Don't I fit in?
On the walk back to our hotel, we stumbled upon "Occupy Boston."  From what we could see, we were just glad we weren't a part of it: a women juggling fire, kids running around, people yelling...and people sleeping in tents.

Nevertheless, it was an experience.  Especially when we were asked if we wanted to join the group...we politely declined! 

Tune in tomorrow for the last segment of our Bostonian adventure!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Boston: The Freedom Trail

Kern and I arrived in Boston on Saturday morning, dropped our bags at the hotel and immediately headed into the center of the city.  My first mission was clear: Walk the historical Freedom Trail!

The last time I was in Boston, I was 9.  My main memories from that trip include reenacting the Boston tea party and throwing fake tea into the harbor and feeding the pigeons outside of Faneuil Hall--both activities that a 9 year old would relish.

We got off the T at Park Street and walked to the Massachusetts State House.  The State House was designed by Charles Bullfinch and completed in 1798.  The ornate gold dome makes it one of Boston's most distinct buildings.

Self timed photo in front of the Massachusetts State House
Our next stop involved more shade, which was a welcome change considering it was in the upper 80's and we dressed like it was in the 60's!  Park Street Church was built in 1809 and has been a staple in Boston ever since.
Park Street Church fun fact: The church hosted the debut of My Country, 'Tis of Thee, also known as America, by Samuel Francis Smith on July 4, 1831.

The interior is beautiful! Did you know that Billy Graham's first transcontinental mid-century crusade started here in 1949?
The seating is made up of booths--very comfortable!
Next door is the Old Granary Burying Ground.  The tombstones date back to the 1700's--many are very worn but you can tell how ornate they were at one point.  Samuel Adams (Yes, the beer) is buried here!
I noticed a lot of people were named William.
King's Chapel was right around the corner.  It was founded in 1686 by King James II as an outpost of the Anglican Church.  I have a riddle for you: What do King James II and Ruth Fertel (who started Ruth's Chris Steakhouse) have in common?
Answer: they both have "stake" in King's Chapel!  There is now a Ruth's Chris in the basement of the building.
Onward to the Old South Meeting House.  This is where many of the debates on free speech and taxation took place that led to the Boston Tea Party.
Note the great produce stand!

The gilded decor on many of the buildings really distinguishes them from  other cities. 
By this point in the day I was hungry and ready for Quincy Market. We went inside and walked the entire crowded length peering into each stall before we decided what to get.  We settled for clam chowder and a bagel sandwich--delicious!

We sat down inside Faneuil Hall and listened to a Park Ranger discuss the history of the building and how Samuel Adams used it as a place to rally support against the British Government.
Webster's Reply to Hayne by George Peter Alexander

I met up with some Colonial locals--they didn't look a day over 298.
We walked through Paul Revere's house, then down the street to his statue.
I do remember having my photo taken here as a child...with my mom reciting the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem the whole time we were there...
The Old North Church was where Paul Revere ordered Robert Newman to hang lanterns in the belfry (one if by land, and two if by sea) to indicate which way the British were approaching--by land or the Charles River.

The final stop on our walking tour was...another graveyard!  Copp's Hill Burying Ground has thousands of tombstones that date back to the 17th century.  There is a great view of the harbor from here.  So good, in fact, that the British used this space to fire on the people in Charlestown during the war.

We finally made our way to a pub back in the city to The Bell in Hand, a pub that has been in Boston since 1795!  They have these crazy-good coconut battered chicken tenders and an amazing pumpkin beer that was brewed in Maine.  We watched some SEC football and recharged our tired legs in preparation for the evening's adventures.

Come back tomorrow to see more of our trip!