Archive for October, 2009


Ideas for Hosting a Halloween Party


There are so many options now for Halloween Party drinks I don’t even know where to begin.  Click here to check out an article about it in the Wall Street Journal.

Halloween Coasters

These coasters from Pier 1 make a cute addition when serving drinks.  Another fun serving idea is to cut a pumpkin in half and scrape out the insides.  Fill with ice and chill drinks in the pumpkin.

Pumpkin Chiller


Pumpkin Beer is a great choice at a Halloween Party!  Dogfish Head makes one of my personal favorites.

In the mood for wine instead of beer?  Try a sangria recipe dressed up with interesting things like gummy worms frozen in ice floating in it (click here for more ideas).

The Webtender has lots of drink recipes for Halloween.  Adding black vodka to a drink can make it ready for Halloween.

Black Vodka


Witch Doormat

This doormat from Crate and Barrel makes for a fun entrance for guests!

Spider Candleholders

These spider tealight holders from Pottery Barn add a fun twist to the table.

Pumpkin Paper Lantern

Hang several of these paper lanterns from Pier 1 around the house and outside (weather permitting).

Pumpkin Doghouse

Don’t forget about the pets.  :-)  This pumpkin house from World Market makes a great spot for your dog.

Fun Party Favors

Depending on how generous you want to be you either give the following out as individual items or put several in a gift basket like the one below for your guests.


Gift Basket from Pier 1

Pumpkin Soap Dispenser

Pumpkin Soap Dispenser from Pier 1

Foaming Pumpkin Soap Dispenser

Foaming Pumpkin Soap Dispenser from Bath and Body Works

Ghost Bath Confetti

Ghost Bath Confetti from Pier 1

Bath Gel

Bath Gel from Pier 1

Halloween Loofahs

Halloween Loofahs from Pier 1

Pumpkin Loofah

Pumpkin Loofah from Bath and Body Works

Trick-or-Treating for Unicef

Pier 1 is stocking free trick-or-treating boxes to collect donations for Unicef.  Stop by and pick some up.


Category : Entertaining | Blog

The Celebration of Apples Continues!

Week Two: Apples at Lunch and Dinner

Butternut Squash Soup with Cider Cream

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Yield: Serves 10


5 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 6 cups)
2 cups chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only)
1/2 cup chopped peeled carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 small Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried sage leaves
5 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup whipping cream


Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add squash, leeks, carrot and celery; sauté until slightly softened, about 15 minutes. Mix in apples, thyme and sage. Add stock and 1 cup cider and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until apples are tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Cool slightly.

Working in batches, purée soup in blender. Return soup to pan.

Bring soup to simmer. Mix in whipping cream. Ladle soup into bowls.

Bon Appétit | November 1998

Sage Rubbed Pork Chops and Apples


6 Boneless Pork Chops

Dried crumbled sage

Salt and Pepper

1 Tbs. Butter

3 Tbs. pure maple syrup

3 Tbs. apple cider vinegar

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/2 onion, diced

2 apples, peeled and chopped


Rub pork chops with sage and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Melt butter in skillet and saute pork chops. Meanwhile, cook apples in a little bit of butter until soft.  Add cinnamon and dash of nutmeg and serve on the side. Put a little oil in another pan and saute onions until soft. Add maple syrup, cider vinegar, and mustard to onions and simmer for a minute. Serve pork with sauce and apples.

Apple Sandwiches with Blue Cheese and Fig Preserves

Raisin nut bread

Blue cheese (brought almost to room temperature)

Fig preserves

Apple peeled and sliced very thinly

Saute apples in a little bit of butter until slightly soft. Spread blue cheese on one slice of bread and figs on other slice. Add apples to sandwich and place in a panini maker or cook in frying pan until golden. Serve immediately.

Category : Recipes | Blog

To celebrate fall, the next 4 weeks will have lots of recipes that contain apples!  I would love to hear about your favorite apple recipes too!

Let the Celebration of Apples Begin!

Week One: Apples at Breakfast

Apple Oven Pancake

Apple Oven Pancake


4 Tbs. unsalted butter

4 cups peeled diced Granny Smith Apples

2 Tbs. packed brown sugar

Juice of 1/2 a lemon, strained

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

4 large eggs lightly beaten

1 cup milk

1 cup flour

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/8 tsp. salt

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

In a frying pan over medium-high heat, melt 2 Tbs. of butter.

Sauté the apples for 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle with brown sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon. Stir to combine and remove from heat.

Place a 9×13 pan in the oven to warm for 5 minutes.

Remove and add remaining 2 Tbs. of butter.  Coat sides and bottom with butter.

Spoon sautéed apples over the bottom of the dish.

Whisk eggs, milk, flour, vanilla, and salt together in a bowl.

Pour over hot apples.

Bake until puffed and golden brown about 20-25 minutes.

Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve immediately.

Apple Raisin Muffins

Apple Muffins


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 large egg

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup apples, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup raisins (or sweetened dried cranberries)

2/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted lightly and cooled


Into a bowl sift the flour, the cinnamon, the baking soda, and a pinch of salt.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat together the egg and the brown sugar until the mixture is thick and pale, add the sour cream and the vanilla, and beat the mixture until it is combined well.

Beat in the flour mixture, a little at a time, and beat the batter until it just combined.

Stir in the apples, the raisins, and the walnuts and divide the batter among 16 paper-lined 1/2 cup muffin tins.

Bake the muffins in the middle of a 350°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean, turn them onto a rack, and let them cool.

Category : Recipes | Blog

The House is Officially Vacant!


We found out today that the people living in the house have officially moved out.  We also found out that they found another place to live.  Now we just have to wait for our closing date and keep packing.

Category : House Hunting | Blog

Tick Tock…


The countdown to closing has begun!  I think I can finally officially get excited.  It feels real this time!  In 3 weeks we will be homeowners.  And tomorrow the house should be empty.  Soon we will get to see it completely empty and really start picturing ourselves in it.


Our home.

Sounds good.

Category : House Hunting | Blog

I adapted this recipe slightly from another recipe in Real Simple Magazine.  The combination of flavors and textures with the spice from the chorizo makes for a very exciting soup!

Barley Soup with Chorizo


1 tablespoon olive oil

8 ounces Spanish chorizo (cured sausage) or kielbasa, sliced

2  carrots, chopped

1  onion, chopped

kosher salt and pepper

1 tablespoon tomato paste

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup barley

1 15-ounce can chickpeas

1 bunch  Swiss chard or other greens, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped


1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

2. Add the carrots, onion, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to the pot. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until it is slightly darkened, 1 to 2 minutes.

3. Add the broth, barley, and 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the barley is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas, chard, chorizo, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Simmer until the chard is tender, 3 to 5 minutes.

Category : Recipes | Blog

OK, so after several more ups and downs, we think that our final final final official closing date is November 4th 2009!  The people living in the house have said that they will officially be moved out October 14th.  We will do a walkthrough on the 15th or 16th to make sure everything still looks good.  Now you may be asking if everything will be good by then, why did they change their closing from October 16th to November 4th?  Good question.  We found out last week that the title to the house is not in the bank’s name yet.  All we are waiting for now is that final step.  Fingers crossed!

Category : House Hunting | Blog

Fall without apple picking isn’t fall at all.

Apple Basket

Central New York

Growing up in Central New York, apple picking was a much anticipated activity every fall.    Memories of cool crisp mornings, dew on the grass, and the smell of apples in the air.  We would start out the day by journeying to the local orchard.  When we arrived, we would climb the old apple trees to get to the apples and pick loads and loads of them.  We would sip hot apple cider and eat doughnuts.  It was a little piece of heaven.

When we got home the house would fill with the smell of fresh apples, which would soon be replaced with the smell of apple crisp and apple pie baking in the oven , and applesauce simmering on the stove.  The peeling and chopping began and the cinnamon and nutmeg came out of the spice rack.  We cooked all day every apple dish imaginable.

When we moved to Tennessee, fall apple picking came to an end.  Every fall I would long for cool crisp mornings and hot apple cider and climbing apple trees.

Apple Tree


When I moved to Indiana to go to college it took me three more years of fall apple nostalgia before I realized that an apple orchard existed just outside the town.  I was going to bring back the tradition!  I got some friends together and my sister came over from her college in Ohio and off we went.  We arrived to a familiar scene of bales of hay, a corn maze, hot apple cider, pumpkins, and rows and rows of apple trees.  Everything that epitomizes fall in my mind was here.  Happiness set in.  The only difference was the size of the trees.  These weren’t the old trees that I would climb when I was little.  They were a newer variety that stays much shorter (makes picking much easier).

We all went to work picking and soon had more apples than we knew what to do with.  We ventured back home and began the peeling, chopping, baking, and boiling.  It was so wonderful to finally reclaim this tradition that was so important to me.

The next year I had graduated from college and began teaching 3-5 year olds in Indiana.  Fall came and I decided to attempt my first field trip with my class to the orchard.  We had so much fun!  Climbing the bales of hay, picking apples, and picking out two pumpkins to carve for Halloween.



When I moved from Indiana to Maryland I set out to find every orchard in the area.  There are some great orchards around this area, but I felt that while the varieties of apples were amazing, the price and actual apples still could not compare to New York.  I continued my tradition in Maryland for three more years and then something wonderful happened…


Full Circle

My dad moved back to Central New York!  For the past two years, my husband and I have journeyed up to see my dad and his wife and pick the most wonderful apples.  I have finally regained my little piece of heaven.  This past weekend we made our second annual trip to pick apples and had a wonderful time.  Not only are the apples amazing, but the scenery is too.  Just take a look…

Farmer’s Stands


This part of New York is wine country.  There are more than 60 vineyards along the Finger Lakes and plenty of grapes to be purchased at roadside stands.

Brussel Sprouts


Early Morning Fog

Early Morning Fog Tree

Early Morning Fog

Rolling Hills

Rolling Hills Small

Rolling Hills

Category : Miscellaneous | Blog

I love making this recipe as a side dish.  Skip the skewers and broil or sauté instead of grilling to make it easier and faster.

grilled asparagus

16 thick asparagus spears (about 1 pound)

1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon dark sesame oil

1 garlic clove, minced

2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Dash of salt

Prepare grill to high heat.

Snap off tough ends of asparagus. Arrange 4 asparagus spears on a flat surface. Thread 2 (3-inch) skewers or toothpicks horizontally through spears 1 inch from each end to form a raft. Repeat procedure with remaining asparagus spears.

Combine soy sauce, oil, and garlic; brush evenly over asparagus rafts. Grill 3 minutes on each side or until crisp-tender. Sprinkle evenly with sesame seeds, pepper, and salt.

Cooking Light, AUGUST 2003

Category : Recipes | Blog