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Category Archives: Eat Seasonal

#write31days ~ day 7: our favorite autumn activities {7QT}

1. baking
It probably comes as no surprise that my favorite autumn activity is baking. In my food blogging days, I think my greatest collection of recipes was during the fall months. The spices used, the warm foods with the onset of cooler weather, the delight of turning the oven on when the house isn’t already a toasty 85 degrees.

rolling out dough

Here is a collection of some of my favorite autumn baking recipes:

pumpkin pecan scones
chai spiced granola
pumpkin gingerbread cookies
soft ginger cookies
mendicino pumpkin muffins
pumpkin chocolate chip cookies 
pumpkin crunch granola
coconut chai coffee cake
pumpkin protein bars
apple cider donuts
pumpkin spice donuts

2. Apple Hill
If you are not in close proximity to Apple Hill {or a place like it}, I’m sorry. There is nothing quite like this location of all-things-apple that affords you the ability to go apple picking, munch apple donuts dunked in a cup of warm, fresh cider, pull apart a gooey apple cinnamon roll or fritter, or sip a glass of cool, crisp cider {of the alcoholic variety}.

apple hill treats

It is an annual tradition we’ve been doing since I was a tot with my grandparents and are now passing on to the next generation.

{I’ve got a great collection of apple recipes for you here if you like that kind of thing. ;)}

apple picking

3. breaking out the warm drinks : alcoholic and non-alcoholic alike

I drink tea year-round, but the delight factor is turned up a notch of that first cup in the morning when you wake up to the chill of an autumn morning. The chai comes out more often too.

cloves

oranges and cloves

My husband has a knack for making some wonderful libations in the fall/winter months as well. He’s especially good with glühwein {mulled wine}, which we like to fill our thermos with and take on a walk through the golden, rouge leaves falling. 

In preparation for the holidays, we begin testing out our eggnog making skills. We can never get enough of this smooth drink.

4. pumpkin picking at a farm {or enjoying our homegrown ones!}
Of course, the fall wouldn’t be complete without a trip to a pumpkin patch or two! We like to visit Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm in our area. There are so many great activities for the kids, including a trampoline covered in hay, a petting zoo, and a train that takes you on a tour around the farm. The hay ride out to the patch and back for your pumpkins is a huge highlight of the day.

pumpkin picking

This year, we grew some of our own pumpkins too which we are very excited to finally display {they’ve been chilling in the linen cupboard since early August due to mama’s too-early plantings}. We just took them out yesterday to add to the fall decor on our porch. It’s so much fun for the girls to see the pumpkins they grew from seed. They are very proud!

5. decorating
On a related vein, I can’t wait for the opportunity to pull out all the warm colored decor to sprinkle all over the house. Our resident porch scarecrow is a favorite, and we enjoy picking out various squash, gourds, and Indian corn for a natural display at home.

porch scarecrow with pumpkins

6. hiking
We are fortunate to live in an area with hiking trails aplenty. Fall is my favorite time of the year to go meandering through the hills, observing the changes of the season.

hiking on the trail

taking a walk

7. watching fall sports : futbol and football

Both Steve and I were soccer players growing and intend to introduce our daughters to league play when they are old enough. {If they decide to take it to the next level will be determined by their interest.} The family enjoys going out to watch other family members play. This year our nephew is playing and being coached by his dad and uncle. We watched his first game a few weeks ago.

We are fortunate to have FC that started her a few years ago, the Sacramento Republic FC. Steve went with a few of my brothers to watch one of their first games, and we’re hoping to go together soon on a date night.

College football viewing runs deep on both sides of the family, with the biggest rooting happening behind USC, Stanford, and Notre Dame. It makes for some exciting Saturdays during these fall months.

playing in the leaves

 

What are some of your favorite autumn activities? 

{Linking up with Kelly this week over at This Ain’t the Lyceum. Go there for more of 7QT!}

Our Spring/Summer Garden 2016

spring garden 2016

spring garden 2016

The garden is growing in leaps and strides {as is this little cutie}. California finally received some rainfall this year and I’m noticing a HUGE difference in how well the plants are doing. The plethora of bugs–good and bad–gave an indication of this when I was ripping out weeds. Now, some thriving plants!

I have eight tomato plants–a few heirlooms, a tomatillo, some smaller varieties like pears and cherries, a San Marzano for tomato sauce.

spring garden 2016

spring garden 2016

spring garden 2016

This is a Rapunzel. It will have a cherry tomatoes that are bunched in double clusters, resembling ‘long hair’ I suppose. Evey is very excited about this one. She picked it out herself. It got a special red cage for that is her favorite color.

spring garden 2016

strawberry picking

The strawberries we’ve been struggling with this year because of all the rain. There is a lot of rot and molding underneath the leaves that is ruining all the strawberries that sprout down there. I’m quite sad about this as I was anticipating making jars and jars of jam.

spring garden 2016

Please notice the random radish that someone pulled and tossed next to the sunflower. {It did get eaten.} Both of these are volunteers from last year’s seeds that spilled onto the ground. Some of the sunflowers I’m letting stay, but others are in odd spots that make navigating the garden difficult. We keep finding radishes in the strangest places and they have no trouble growing in less than ideal conditions.

spring garden 2016

spring garden 2016

The green beans are taking off but I’m having to do some major coaxing to convince them to go up the netting instead of across the rest of the vegetables in the bed.

spring garden 2016

A plethora of chard is growing. We have green and rainbow. I haven’t done much cooking with chard in the past so please send your favorite recipes my way!

spring garden 2016

Lots o’ lettuce. The Romaine is giving off dozens of leaves daily. It is kind of hogging the lettuce space. Pictured here are spinach and butter leaf, I believe. They managed to escape the shade of the Romaine.

spring garden 2016

My marigolds are doing fantastic in this spot. I’ve never had much luck with them flowering, despite dead-heading the old ones. Perhaps this soil is just right for their picky taste. A grouping of nasturtiums to right. Still waiting on the flowers.

spring garden 2016

A few potted things outside the main garden. I have rosemary and thyme in and I’m hoping to add basil, chives, and cilantro to the mix.

spring garden 2016

spring garden 2016

A few rows of corn! I’m not sure how this going to go as their pollination process is better served with a few more rows {I found this out just the other day, so a little late to the game}, but we can always help the process along by hand.

spring garden 2016

spring garden 2016

The peppers are on the hill. They were seriously attacked by the earwigs so aren’t the prettiest looking of plants. I do hope they recover as Steve makes some amazing hot sauces with fresh ones.

spring garden 2016

spring garden 2016

spring garden 2016

spring garden 2016

Funny story about these cornflower/bachelor’s buttons: I didn’t know that’s what they were the first time they appeared in the bed a couple years ago. They were hiding amongst a bunch of weeds and I was so terrible about pulling those out that these managed to flower without being yanked. Even after they flowered, I thought they were just a weed flower. Turns out, not. And I’m happy to have them grace our garden this year unscathed. Minus the little girls who love to bring me bouquets of them frequently.

spring garden 2016

There is beauty even in the midst of decay.

This rambling rose has only produced maybe five tops in the three years we’ve been here. There are dozen this year! I’m still learning how to tame it and help it along but I hope that it continues to throw out buds abundantly for years to come.

 

Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter‘s {Pretty, Funny, Happy, Real} this week.

Apple Galette ~ {Eat Seasonal}

apple galette

We made our inaugural trip to Apple Hill for the season this past weekend. The smoke was thick here in our hometown so we got online and looked for places within driving distance that were experiencing a little more relief from the several fires burning in the northern part of California. Camino {where Apple Hill is located} was in the green so we went in search of relief. Unfortunately, we found that it followed us a bit, but it was nowhere near as bad.

We indulged in apple treats — donuts, fritters, caramel apples — and even brought a bushel home. You just can’t resist stocking up when you visit.

I’m dreaming of my own creations now with these beloved orbs of juicy juice. These apple galettes are a wonderful, sweet treat for an autumn afternoon. Very simple to compose, even the kids can help.

Apple Galette

3-4 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced
3 T. brown sugar (or more, if you like)
1 t. cinnamon
half a lemon
 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Mix apples with brown sugar, cinnamon, and juice of the half lemon. Let it sit and mingle while you prepare your crust.
 
For crust:
1 1/2 c. flour (I used all-purpose, but whole wheat would be great too.)
1 T. sugar
1/4 t. salt
8 T. cold, unsalted butter
1/2 c. or so of ice cold water
 
Place all dry ingredients into a bowl and mix together. Cut butter into dough and mix together with your fingers until chunks are about pea size. Mix water in by the tablespoon, until there is just enough to hold dough together. Try not to overmix. 
 
Place some flour on your work surface, and roll your dough out to about 12 inches in diameter. Place dough onto a baking sheet by rolling it carefully onto your pin and unrolling it onto the sheet.
 
Arrange apple mixture onto the middle of the dough, allowing about one inch around the perimeter of the dough for folding. Once you’ve artistically arranged your apples ;), fold and pinch the dough around the apples. 
 
Cook in the oven for about 45 minutes, until crust is a golden brown. (Check after 30 minutes and place foil on top if apples are beginning to brown.)
Recipe originally appeared at Chewy Morsels.

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes ~ {Eat Seasonal}

pumpkin-spice-pancakes

We had a teaser of autumn last week so Evey and I instructed Steve to bring home cans of pumpkin so we could make pumpkin pancakes for dinner. We loved it so much we repeated the process a few days later.

If you are a #psl {code for: pumpkin spice latte} fan, you’re gonna love these too. Probably won’t get as bad of a sugar and caffeine high as well. They are rather hearty and last you until lunch if you eat them for breakfast. We eat them for just about every meal…and times in between.

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

2 c. buttermilk
2 eggs
3 T butter, melted
1 c. pumpkin
2 t. vanilla
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. sugar
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. ginger
1/8 t. cloves

Mix buttermilk, eggs, butter, pumpkin and vanilla together with a wire whisk until combined. 

In a separate bowl, mix together flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Add into wet mixture, stirring well with the wire whisk. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat with a bit of butter. Place 1/2 c. of batter into spots on pan and cook on both sides.

Enjoy with warm maple syrup.

Feta and Tomato Stuffed Chicken Breasts ~ {Eat Seasonal}

feta-tomato-stuffed-chicken-breasts

Our tomato plants have not had the best year. I don’t know if it is the drought, the soil they are in, or what but they have grown so slow and hardly produced a single tomato. The weather is already changing to autumn so we’ll be lucky to see the green ones turn red, as they like hot weather for maturing.

Despite our dearth of tomatoes, we’re still making seasonal recipes at home. I got my tomatoes from a can, but you can easily replace with fresh ones instead if you’re garden has been more cooperative this year. {And please tell me all about it so I can live vicariously through you!}

 

Feta and Tomato Stuffed Chicken Breasts

3 large chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
1 can of diced tomatoes, 14 oz. -or- 2 c. of fresh diced tomatoes
1/2 t. oregano
1/2 t. basil
1/8 t. garlic powder
3/4 c. crumbled feta

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Slice chicken breasts lengthwise so there is a horizontal slit down the middle of the breast. Place them in a baking dish.

Mix tomatoes with the seasonings. Spoon some into the slit you’ve made in each chicken breast. If you have more leftover, drizzle it on top, especially the juices. Crumble the feta inside and on top as well.

Cook for 45 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink inside.

Easily doubled!! {or tripled}

Stuffed Bell Peppers ~ {Eat Seasonal}

stuffed-bell-peppers

Our first crop of the season are these beautiful green bells. Last year when we grew them, they were small and misshapen but somehow the soil, fertilizer, water, and sunshine worked better in our favor this year.

For a long time I was using a recipe that incorporated cinnamon into the mix, much to the chagrin of my siblings and, somewhat, of my husband, I found out when I made these.

These stick with simple ingredients–nothing extravagant or pairing better with breakfast treats –and a bit of yummy cheese on top. Both of my girls gobbled these right up.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

6 bell peppers of any color
1 1/2 c. cooked rice
1 lb. ground beef
2 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
can of diced tomatoes, 14 oz.
1 t. oregano
1/2 t. Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper
shredded Mexican cheese blend for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the tops off of the bell peppers and remove seeds and membrane.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Add onions. Cook for 5 minutes, until translucent. Add in garlic and cook together for about a minute.

In a large bowl, place cooked onions and garlic, rice, and ground beef. Mix together. Add in tomatoes, reserving about 1/2 cup to pour on top later. Season with oregano, Worcestershire, salt and pepper, mixing in well.

Fill peppers with meat mixture. Pour a little of the reserved tomatoes and sauce on top of each pepper. Sprinkle with a little shredded cheese.

Cook for 45 minutes.

Serve and sprinkle with more cheese!

Moments ~ {Vol. 11}

girls-digging-in-dirt

Dirt, dirt, and lots of dirt. Most mornings are spent outside digging. Pre-lunch time is spent bathing.

little-diggers

Digging with spoons because we’re fancy like that.

evey-scootering

Evey’s becoming a scootering pro.

evey-finger-painting

Never one to paint her body before, Lucie’s encouragement pushed Evey outside her comfort zone.
evey-finger-painting

First finger painting for both girls.
lucie-finger-painting

Doesn’t mind getting messy one bit.

lucie-finger-painting

Who says paint is for paper?

dancing-with-daddy

Daddy-daughter dance to “Let it Go”.

frozen-with-daddy

Saturday morning Frozen viewing with Daddy.

sunday-morning-with-daddy

Sunday morning snuggles with Daddy. Sweetest.
Evey's-cow-drawing

Evey’s cow. 🙂

Evey's-cow-drawing

He got more legs and accessories than he bargained for.

dinner-under-the-lights

End-of-summer party at my parents’ complete with appropriate ambience lighting.

dinner-under-the-lights

Magical.

orange-sunflower

Our first sunflower of the season!

tomato-braised-chicken-and-red-wine

Enjoying a wonderful red from a friend’s family winery in Oregon alongside a delicious Sunday dinner.

anchor-steam-porter-tasting

#muffbrews continues. We’ve been on a porter and stout kick lately.

kitchen-flowers

Beautiful flowers from a #bissisterhood friend. Makes my kitchen so pretty.

post-water-snack

Snacktime post-splash pad fun. They enjoyed themselves. Really.

star-cookie-treat

Grocery day treat. Bribery or reward? You decide. 

free-ice-cream

Free ice cream at the library? Yes, please. {Although, every time we go to the library now she wants to know where the ice cream van is.}

evey-purple-popsicle

Matchy-matchy.

lucie-ice-cream-cone

She knew right what to do with that cone.
sticker-feet

Creative sticker sticking. {She likes to place them over her eyes too. Whatever floats your boat, Ev.}

Pumpkin Pecan Scones ~ {Eat Seasonal}

pumpkin-pecan-scones-mini-pumpkin

Are you thinking of autumnal flavors like I am?

Pumpkins. Apples. Pears. Warm Chai Lattes.

Don’t lie. I know you are.

With that hint of coolness I’ve been noticing in the air, perhaps it is safe to take that premature foray into Fall foods.  It might help to get some practice in, right?

Luckily, pumpkin comes conveniently pulverized in those small tin cans so, really, you could enjoy these all year round if you wanted.

Pumpkin Pecan Scones

This recipe originally appeared on Chewy Morsels
2 c. flour {I do a combo of all-purpose and whole wheat}
 1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 t. ginger
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. allspice
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 c. butter
1/3 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. pumpkin puree
1 t. vanilla
1/3 c. candied pecans {or plain}, finely chopped
 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
 
Place flour, sugar, spices, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Cut butter into small pieces and mix with dry ingredients until butter is the size of small peas. 
 
Mix buttermilk, pumpkin and vanilla in a separate cup or bowl. Add to large bowl and mix together by hand just until it comes together. Carefully, mix in pecan pieces.
Flour a clean surface. Pat ball of dough into a round about 1/2 in. thick. Cut into 8 triangles. Place on greased baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes, until browned at edges.

Tortellini Salad with Avocado and Broccoli ~ {Eat Seasonal}

tortellini-salad

I love cooking from scratch. But sometimes ‘from scratch’ just isn’t going to happen.

Little cheating tools, like pre-made pastas, make it seem like it’s from scratch. But they help me keep my sanity during the evening witching hour that often preys upon us precisely when dinner is to be made.

This pasta dish is an easy way to get lots of veggies in your family. It is extremely versatile too. Feel free to use whatever fresh veggies you have on hand.

 

Tortellini Salad with Avocado and Broccoli

2 packages of pre-made tortellini
2 c. broccoli crowns {you can add the stumps in too if you’re feeling it}
juice of two lemons
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 c. sliced almonds
2 avocados, diced
{opt for extra protein: package of pre-cooked sausage, sliced — Trader Joe’s sun-dried tomato ones are great!}

Heat a large pot of boiling water. Cook tortellini according the package instructions. Add broccoli one minute before the pasta is finished to blanch it. Drain pasta and broccoli.

Place in a large bowl and mix in lemon juice and olive oil. Toss in avocados and meat, if you’re using it. Sprinkle the top with almonds and serve. 

Double to recipe for leftovers the next day. It makes a great cold pasta salad too!

Blueberry Banana Bread Muffins ~ {Eat Seasonal}

blueberry-banana-bread-muffins

We try to up our breakfast game on the weekend. That usually involves a breakfast meat, eggs of some variety, and a sweet breakfast treat. I don’t have much time to get something in the oven before the hungry wolves enter the kitchen, so I try to keep my baking time to a minimum — half hour or less is ideal.

These guys fit the bill and they are easy enough you just might feel inspired to create them for a special treat during the week too.

Blueberry Banana Bread Muffins

3 ripened bananas
juice of a lemon
1/2 c. butter, melted
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1 c. blueberries {fresh or frozen}

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a muffin tin with muffin cups.

Smash the ripened bananas in a large bowl. Squeeze in lemon juice and pour in melted butter. Mix well. Add in brown sugar.

Mix together flours, salt, baking soda and baking powder in a separate bowl. Pour into banana mixture and begin mixing until just starting to incorporate. Add in blueberries. The flour will prevent them from breaking as you continue to mix. Mix slowly until well-incorporated. Mixture will be more firm than watery {but if its really dry, add a few tablespoons of water}.

Bake for 20 minutes, until inserted toothpick comes out clean. 

Makes one dozen.

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