I know everyone has their favorite seasons. We could all argue about it endlessly, but for me, it’s always the transitional seasons and Fall first and foremost. I love everything about it, from the leaves shifting through their myriad of colors to the subtle smell of fires being lit around the city. All of these smells and feelings evoke such a sense of nostalgia for me. This was the time of year, in our household, where mom would be at her most spectacular in the kitchen. Anyone who knows her knows that she is a whiz. From cakes and pies to cookies and tartes, my mother covered everything. The spices were heartier and the foods were richer. It is truly everything I love about cooking. This is where I follow in my mother’s footsteps and excel. There’s so much love that goes into comfort foods during the winter. The meals are made with patience and meant to ward off a fall or winter chill. As you read, you’ll find some of my all time favorite practices during the fall/winter months. This time of year is magical and brings out the best in food and decoration, as far as I’m concerned.
I am participating in many fall rituals this year. The other night I shoved some cloves into a few oranges. I know that sounds so grandiose, but there really isn’t any way to dress up what I was doing. The whole point is to let the orange dry out, while the scent of the cloves intermingle with the oils in the orange peel. I’ve done this in years past, and not only is it fragrant, it’s nice to look at as well. If you aren’t into the aesthetics of it all, I suppose you can get really creative with the designs, too.
Another favorite thing to do is make stove top potpourri. Nothing says instant pick me up for your home like throwing one of these on the stove. Best part is, they’re long lasting, so you just have to add more water as you go. The recipes are very basic, but my favorite to use is definitely cinnamon sticks, clove, sliced oranges and apples and a touch of vanilla extract (roughly a tablespoon). Allow these beauties to sit on the stove, at a low simmer, and within no time your home will smell amazing. This will definitely put even the most sour of moods on the right track. It’s such a homey and inviting fragrance, embodying fall perfectly, and is a must in my house this time of year. And, if you’re like me and have a ton of furry friends around the house, this masks any odors you may have lingering (like that blasted litter box). I would only use this for, at most, two days. As you can imagine, leaving fruit in water for extended periods of time will make everything start to mush up. Once this begins to happen, it’s time to toss and begin again! Create your own fragrances!
Another handy tip is to place one tablespoon of vanilla extract in an oven friendly cup on low heat. Your house will quickly smell like a giant sugar cookie in no time. I learned this from a real estate agent a long time ago and it’s guaranteed to work. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thrown that in when the house needs a fragrant boost.
As far as decorating goes, my house is full of gourds and pumpkins. This is definitely something I got from my mother. We always had copious amounts of indian corn and random gourds strewn about the house growing up. It seems I’ve followed in her footsteps (not that I’m too upset about that).
My mantle is covered in a variety of pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. I have a lovely basket I’ve filled with field flowers and indian corn, just to add to the already oppressive autumn theme going on in this house. Hey, my pumpkin still sits on the front porch, smiling at every passersby. Once it’s time, I plan on composting it. I follow a blog out of Charleston by the name of Compost and Cava. Word has it she will have a post dedicated to responsibly composting your gourds and pumpkins this holiday season. You should give her a look, especially if you are concerned with conscious living. She currently is on a mission to live plastic-free, an idea I wasn’t familiar with until she mentioned it. Outside of her great blog, she has the cutest dogs. So, if having a positive impact on the environment and leaving a smaller carbon footprint on the earth isn’t your thing, then check it out for the cute pups alone.
Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds
I saved the seeds from the pumpkin I carved with the sole intention of roasting some up. I had originally planned to simply roast them with some sea salt but I soon went a little overboard. I say that like it’s a bad thing, which it really isn’t.
What you’ll need:
- pumpkin seeds, washed, boiled (in sea salt) and drained
- 2 tsp butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp orange juice
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
The whole point of boiling your seeds beforehand in salt water is to imbue the actual kernel within the shell with flavor. It actually worked, I was slightly skeptical at first but found it to be a solid component in making this fall treat. In a small pan, melt the butter and brown sugar, making sure to mix in the salt and cayenne as you go. You can adjust your ratios as you like. I prefer a lot of heat to go with the sweet aspect of this snack, but you may prefer more citrus notes. Who knows and who cares. As long as you enjoy them, this is a complete win. Once everything is melted and stirred together, add your pumpkin seeds and mix well.
On a large baking sheet, spread out your coated pumpkin seeds so there is one layer flat across, to allow for even cooking. You’ll want to make sure you’re turning them often, to avoid burning, but the entirety of cooking time is roughly 15 minutes or so. Obviously cooking times vary by oven, but this was my experience. The goal is to achieve a nice golden brown color on the shells.
I ate more of these seeds than I planned while cooking. They were just that good and you don’t necessarily have to take them out of the shell. I ate them whole, but only after making sure it was ok. The possibilities for these things are endless. You can add them to salads (which I plan on doing), trail mixes or just eat them on their own. They’ll be sure to add a nice pop of flavor to anything you can think of.
Honeyed Apple Galette with a Bourbon Caramel
To top of my fall festivities, I made a Honeyed Apple Galette with bourbon caramel. Oh man, this is so good. I have admitted, in the past, to not enjoying baked fruit desserts. This was my first attempt at making an apple version of my popular tartes. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed and neither was my best friend. Apples and baking spices are synonymous with fall, you cannot have one without the other. The bourbon caramel is the icing on the cake, so to speak. I overdid it a touch with the bourbon, but it had a huge payoff flavor-wise. While at the store this afternoon, I specifically bought some Häagen Dazs vanilla ice cream. That has been my favorite brand of ice cream since I was a child and makes me crave simpler times in my life. The combination of all of these ingredients just screamed fall. I actually scraped my plate when I was through. How’s that for a rave review?
What you’ll need:
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 2 eggs, one lightly beaten
- 1 stick of butter, frozen and grated (or cubed)
- cold water (added 1 tbsp at a time, as needed)
- 2 apples, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- pinch of ground cinnamon (heavy pinch)
- pinch of ground allspice
- pinch of ground cloves
- 2 tbsp honey
Preheat oven to 400ºF
The dough follows my recipe for Strawberry and Peach Galette, with the exception of two things: the amount of cold water added and the fact that you add a slightly beaten egg to the dough AFTER you add the butter. So, as you’re mixing everything with your hands (the flour, salt and butter), you incorporate the egg as an additional step. I found I only needed to add one tablespoon of cold water as the egg hydrated the dough just fine. That being the sole reason to add any water to this recipe, whereas my previous recipe had you incorporate the water as an actual step. I was pleased with how dense, yet light, it turned out. You can follow either recipe and you’ll end up completely happy. When you’re finished combining your dough, place on a lightly floured surface and shape into a flat circular disk. Cover in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to set for at least one hour before use.
While you’re waiting on your dough, take a large bowl and combine your vanilla extract, apples, lemon juice and baking spices. I wish I could say that I actually measured them all, but I did not. I used Honeycrisp apples for this galette and they were so fragrant already that I didn’t want to mask their natural flavors too much, as clove and the like can be a little overpowering. I let everything mingle for a few while I prepared the dough and rolled everything out.
Once everything is ready and your dough is rolled out to roughly an eighth of an inch thick, drizzle your dough with honey, leaving a one inch border dry around the edge. I tinkered with the idea of adding some sort of cheese to this galette. I have a lovely brie in my fridge, but ultimately I chose to allow the apples to be the star of the dish. Next time, I think I’ll be adding some Stilton. I came across a recipe for a butternut, onion and apple tarte made with Stilton that I am currently DYING to try. (I’ll let you all know how that goes.) I arranged my apple slices in a nice swirl pattern, but whatever you choose to do is fine. this was pleasing to the eye for me. If I had been able to knock out some apple roses, I would have been all over that. Maybe next time. Pop that baby in the oven for at least one hour. After that, make sure to check it every 5 minutes or so to avoid burning.
The recipe for the bourbon caramel can be found here. I recommend saving the leftovers in your fridge because that stuff goes great on everything. You’ll thank me later, I promise. Once that bad boy comes out of the oven, throw some of that fine caramel on top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you are golden. I love how customizable galettes are. I mean, this is number four or five that I’ve concocted at this point and I’m still coming up with more. I foresee a pear and blue cheese galette in our future. Our future, well, because you’re going to want to get in on that recipe, too.
Thanks for taking your time to read yet another post. This one was probably the lengthiest to date, but it’s crammed full of so many good ideas. If you have any favorites you’d like to share, I’m all ears!! Feel free to shoot me an email or find me on Instagram (@_tiny_foodie_ or @slipintosavor) to clue me in. I’m always looking for new all natural decorating tips or recipes and my home can never be too full of holiday cheer.
From my heart to your kitchen, thank you. ♥