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Last weekend I hosted a fall-inspired dinner party for my family. There were twelve of us that got together and the company, menu, and decor was pretty great. While I was the main host of the party, my family is really great in that they always offer to chip in to help. I’ve learned years ago to accept help and just appreciate it, versus trying to do everything myself.

This party was sponsored by Food Should Taste Good, as part of my brand ambassadorship with them over the past couple months. If you recall, I’ve posted a couple really tasty dips to accompany their fantastic chips including this easy greek dip and this blt-inspired queso dip.

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Last weekend we had my family over for a fall-inspired gathering. The party was a part of my partnership with Food Should Taste Good and we had a whole spread including 3 different types of chips and dips, soup, roasted squash tarts, and a lovely dessert table that included these amazing chewy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

I found the cookies on Pinterest via Sally’s Baking Addiction blog. The cookies are easy and seriously one of the best I’ve ever tasted. The pumpkin puree helps them stay super moist and chewy and these cookies are totally egg-free. Which for me really meant that I ate way too much of the cookie batter. Oops.

These are chewy, soft, perfect. I’ve been bribing Juliet with these cookies all week (i.e. if you eat a good dinner you can have a cookie). I’m not proud of the bribing but sometimes it’s what works, you know?

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fave fall things 9.30.14

Like many others, I’ve officially caught the fall frenzy. Today the temps dropped in MN and it feels like crisp, cool fall. The leaves have been turning over the past week or so and everything is gorgeous, as it always is this time of the year.

I wanted to share a few of my favorite fall things (ok so 5 out of the 6 items are food-related). Last fall I was on a huge pumpkin baking kick and baked a different pumpkin recipe each week for about 5-6 weeks. Many of those recipes made this list.

1. Pumpkin Noosa Yoghurt!! Seriously this is amazing. I work at Target Corporate and last week they were handing out samples. I went that very evening to Target and bought a bunch for myself and my sister (I knew she’s love it, too). It’s only sold at Target so be sure to head there and check it out. It pretty much tastes like pumpkin cheesecake, but you can eat it for breakfast, YES!

2. These pumpkin scones with a spice glaze are the perfect pastry to go with your morning cup of coffee. They are not too sweet and are actually pretty moist for a scone, I can’t wait to make these again this season.

3. If you choose one pumpkin recipe to bake all season, it should be these melt-in-your-mouth pumpkin cookies. They are the softest cookies I’ve ever had and when I brought leftovers to work I received hundreds of compliments. Plus, you can make them mini sized so you can have a few without too much guilt.

4. Who says you can’t have ice cream in the cool, fall months? This pumpkin pie shake is so easy, and you likely have all these ingredients in your pantry and freezer. Or am I the only one that always keeps canned pumpkin and vanilla ice cream at all times?

5. This one doesn’t need much description. All I can say is yes, I’m guilty of joining the other millions who are obsessed with pumpkin spiced lattes.

6. This is the one non-food item on my list (perhaps I should have added a cute scarf or boots to hide the fact that most of my favorite things in life are food-related). I’m on a list of bloggers that Santa Margherita wines sends an entertaining package to with each season. For the fall season, they sent a box filled with Santa Margherita Pinot Noir (I had 1/4 of a glass and it was amazing. If I wasn’t pregnant right now I would have finished the entire bottle myself), along with a wood cheese tray, steak knives, truffle salt, a wine decanter and this amazing Pumpkin Enzyme Masque. I used it the other day and I swear the next morning my skin was brighter. Pregnancy skin can be iffy, and this was a huge treat and felt super rejuvenating. It’s an organic mask with no nasty chemicals and includes real pumpkin. Awesome.

I’d love to hear what your fall favorite things are. Is it food-related or perhaps a homemade knit scarf? Please comment and share.

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A couple weekends ago I took Juliet to the apple orchard with my sister Kat and her husband Drew (my sister is kind of an apple snob and knows of all the best orchards around the Twin Cities). It was a gorgeous day and Juliet had a blast walking between the apple trees and picking apples. They were only allowing picking of Cortland apples, which worked out well because they are delicious and perfect for baking (because they aren’t too juicy and are the prefect balance of tart and sweet).

So apple donuts were a natural baking adventure shortly after that orchard trip. We picked about 10 pounds of apples after all. Plus, as of last weekend, I still wasn’t quite ready to dive into all things pumpkin. I mean…technically fall didn’t even start until this week. And it is going to feel like summer this weekend in MN with temps in the 80’s. So pumpkin didn’t feel right yet. But I’m sure the craze will begin soon. Read More »

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Queso dip is a football Sunday staple. Erik is a huge Vikings fan, so once the season rolls around, I start thinking of great appetizers for our many football gatherings. I came up with the idea of a BLT-inspired queso dip with Erik’s help. We were trying to come up with a unique dip recipe and Erik mentioned how great the Rueben dip is that I’ve made a couple times. So I asked him, what is another great sandwich that we could turn into a dip? And Erik immediately blurted out, “a BLT!”. Erik LOVES BLTs, he can literally eat four of them in one sitting.

I thought a BLT-inspired queso dip sounded pretty awesome so I started recipe writing and testing right away. Luckily, I nailed the dip on the first try. Once you have a roux figured out, it’s easy to make queso. Add-ins options are endless.

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As a self-proclaimed foodie….which to me, just means that I have a passion for cooking and food, I can spend endless hours scouring the web looking for inspiration for my next meal (or more recently with pregnancy cravings, my next cookie, cake, donut…any dessert really….just gimme sugar!) 

I’ve recently been excited to discover Yahoo! Food (I’ve already spend way too much time obsessing over what I want to recreate next from their site). The site has a ton of gorgeous photos, great recipes, stories on top food trends, new techniques and my favorite, the cook this tonight section that has inspiring recipes with tons of options for meal ideas (I was perusing this section and that’s where I found this peas and parsley recipe).

Lately I’ve been cooking more and being really deliberate about meal planning for the week. I take about 30 minutes every weekend to sit down with a notebook and my laptop or phone and peruse the web and make a list of about 3 meals for the week. We don’t ever need more than 3 because we love leftovers. Then I make a grocery list and head to the store. I try to go without my toddler in tow because let’s be real, shopping is a bit more enjoyable alone.

Having home-cooked meals and sitting around the dinner table with my family each evening is really important to me, because my mom did the same every day growing up. And each evening when I’ve finished cooking and we sit down together, I silently thank my mom for creating those memories for my siblings and I. And I hope I’m doing the same for Juliet.  Read More »

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