Monday Mélange: Sweets for Santa

I am the youngest of four children, and seeing as we have all reached our twenties – some of us living our own lives away from home – you’d think some of our traditions would have changed. We would have stopped coming down the stairs in age order to see our presents; stopped having a slumber party the night before; stopped the routine of watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas on Christmas Eve. There’s a certain magic that comes with this time of year, one that I don’t think any of us are ready to give up as we face the “real world” and one that I think we’ll cling to until we start having kids of our own with whom we can share it.

Though it might be silly, we still do a ton of baking this time of year, a plate of which is ceremonially left out for Santa.

Merry Christmas to all; I hope some of these treats can enable the magic to carry on for you, no matter your age.

Raspberry Oat Bars

Raspberry oat bars | netflix & nutella

Homemade Cocoa

Homemade Cocoa | netflix & nutella

Apples to Apples

Apple turnovers | netflix & nutella

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Jam Thumbprint Cookies | netflix & nutella

Candied Cinnamon Sugar Almonds

Candied cinnamon sugar almonds | netflix & nutella

 

For more baking ideas, check out my food page here!

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Apple Caramel Popcorn

I like to bake things for people on my hall, but I don’t like digging deep into my pocket for ingredients that I’ll be sharing with more than 30 other people. Call me cheap – I accept it.

Apple Caramel Popcorn | Netflix & Nutella

I’ve been trying to buy only a limited number of ingredients anyway, so I needed to find a recipe for a fun Halloween-style snack that used limited ingredients.

Apple Caramel Popcorn | Netflix & Nutella

The popcorn was a crowd pleaser. It was really sweet, but it’s Halloween, after all!

Apple Caramel Popcorn

9 cups of unsalted popped popcorn (about 3 bags of microwavable)
3/4 16 oz. container of caramel dip (I used Litehouse Old Fashioned Caramel Dip)
2 bags apple chips
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

{4 ingredient treat}

{4 ingredient treat}

1. Preheat oven to 300. Line two baking sheets with high edges with parchment paper.
2. Pop all of your popcorn. Empty into bowls (I had to use 3 large bowls).
3. Transfer caramel dip into microwavable bowl. Microwave for 15 seconds. Add cinnamon, and stir with rubber spatula until combined.
4. Evenly distribute caramel among popcorn bowls. Mix with rubber spatula until each batch is well-combined.
5. Lay an even layer of the caramel popcorn onto each baking sheet. Crush apple chips, and sprinkle on top. Add another layer of popcorn on top.
6. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until slightly golden. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on pan, and transfer into serving dish or bowl.

Fall Festivites

This weekend was full of delicious food conquests.

Apple picking | Netflix and Nutella

Apple picking is one of those things that will always make me feel like a kid again. There’s nothing like taking a bite out of an apple that you just twisted off its branch. I’ve mentioned my apple obsession and how they’re one of the few fruits I’ll eat cooked. No matter how many I eat – from 1 to 3 in a day – I’ll never grow tired of them.

Apple picking | Netflix and Nutella

My friends and I went to Millstone Creek Orchard this weekend for one of their last weekend pickings. Our only option were the late-ripening Red Fuji, which are deliciously sweet and crisp.

Apple picking | Netflix and Nutella

The next day, we went to the NC Food Rodeo, a collection of food trucks that gather by our school once a month, and I indulged in a shrimp po’ boy.

NC Food Rodeo | Netflix and Nutella

For dessert, my friend and I shared a Cakewich from Chez Moi.
Brownsugar vanilla rum cake + salted caramel ice cream from The Parlour in Durham = heaven.

NC Food Rodeo | Netflix and Nutella

All in all, it was a successful weekend for food and a great excuse to get away from cafeteria food for a while.

 

Autumn Leaves

Currently listening to: Autumn Leaves by Nat King Cole

If you follow me on Twitter/ Instagram, you know that I played hooky this weekend and went to Expo East in Baltimore. I had an amazing time educating people about Deya’s Gluten-Free Flour, understanding the natural food industry a bit more, and – most importantly – tasting delicious things. (Some of my favorites were Deception Salsa and Uncle Dougie’s BBQ sauce.) I was blown away by all of the tastes at the show, but saved some room for the evening: I treated myself to a California roll with fresh Baltimore crab from Whole Foods. Another WF find? Fall apples.

Whole Foods apples

Whole Foods apples

Have I mentioned that fall is my favorite season? From soups to hearty sauces to pumpkin decorations, everything screams comfort and home.

Corn grinder

Corn grinder

I can’t help but wonder about New England this time of year. The 80 degree days of North Carolina start to lose their comfort. I’m desperate for a drive through Long Island to see the changing leaves and smell the freshly lit fireplaces, returning home to feel the warmth of the stove as my mom cooks off what seems to be a whole bag of onions for a vat of tomato sauce that will be replenished every Sunday.

A 2012 fall N.C. day

A 2012 fall N.C. day

There’s a certain renaissance that’s associated with fall.  The leaves the change color and then fall to the ground are accompanied by a change of mentalities.

Boot weather

Boot weather

Recently, I cleared my mind of things that have been plaguing me since I got back from Paris. When I was in Baltimore, I had such a realization of my age. I felt so young as a college student in a pool of eager late-20-somethings trying to launch the project to which they’ve dedicated years. I felt so old in the thought that I am in the same decade of serious relationships, weddings, and first homes.

Pumpkins and squash

Pumpkins and squash

It’s important to switch out your summer dresses for sweaters, your cherry red polishes for “Wicked” and “Lacy Not Racy,” and relieve your mind of the things that have been plaguing you. For me, He’s Just Not That Into You and some Pioneer Woman did just the trick. It’s better for me to clear my mind before carrying heavy burdens into the colder seasons.

Fall 2012 apple picking on Long Island

Fall 2012 apple picking on Long Island