I was going to make pumpkin muffins, but all the recipes I was finding were frosted and super sweet and not quite what I was looking for (confession: I made muffins, they were disgusting). Then I thought about this recipe that my aunt gave me and my sister for Christmas a few years back (it was really lovely – she gave us a cute little mini loaf with the recipe card attached – great idea if you’re into DIY-ing gifts). I was going to not post this recipe because I feel like I’m betraying some kind of family secret, but after going back and forth, being kind and sharing won out and so here it is… It’s moist, it’s not TOO pumpkin-y, it’s just sweet enough, and I insist you try it!
INGREDIENTS (makes 2 pumpkin loaves)
_ 3 1/2 cups of flour
_ 2 teaspoons baking soda
_ 1/2 teaspoon salt
_ 1 teaspoon nutmeg
_ 2 teaspoons cinnamon
_ 3 cups of sugar
_ 1 cup vegetable oil
_ 4 eggs
_ 2/3 cup of water
_ 2 cups of canned pumpkin
Preheat oven to 350. Mix oil and sugar. Beat eggs into oil and sugar. Mix dry ingredients together and add alternately with water. Add pumpkin. Mix well. Grease and flour loaf pans. Bake for 60-70 minutes. Impress all your friends.
Starting around Thanksgiving and going up until Christmas, my mom always has the most delicious mulling spices simmering on the stove and the whole house smells amazing! She buys these from Williams Sonoma, but I thought I’d try my hand at making my own blend from scratch. And, you guys, it was a huge success! This is SO GOOD and so easy!! You probably have most of these ingredients already. In fact, my husband came home and the first thing he said was “It smells like Christmas in New Jersey in here!” (my parents live in New Jersey). Also, the Vons delivery guy just came with my groceries (side note: any moms out there reading this, if there is a grocery store near you that will let you order online and then they deliver – sign up immediately!!) and he walked in and said “It smells great in here! It smells like Fall!” So, there you have it folks.
_ cinnamon sticks
_ bay leaves
_ orange slices
_ whole cloves
_ dried rosemary
_ a few drops of vanilla extract
– apple cider
Combine dry ingredients – this “recipe” is really loose – you can adjust however you feel, but I probably used about 10 bay leaves, an entire little jar of cinnamon sticks, 1/3 of a jar of cloves, 3 orange slices, and maybe 2 tablespoons of rosemary. Then you put it all in a pot, cover the dry ingredients with cider – I filled the pot a little less than halfway. Add a few drops of vanilla extract. Bring it to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and enjoy. The liquid will evaporate over time and you can just keep adding more cider, or what I’ve been doing is adding water since there’s already some cider left, and that seems to work just as well.
Every once in awhile, I love me a good mocktail. If you’re pregnant, or hosting someone’s baby shower, or just want something light and refreshing without the alcohol, these non-alcoholic blackberry mojitos are pretty amazing! Also, since they’re made exactly like regular mojitos, all you need is to add a little rum for your non-preggo friends.
_ 1/2 cup of club soda (or whatever it takes to fill the glass)
(optional: 1 1/2 oz of white rum to take it from faux to mo)
** useful tool = muddler – otherwise, the wrong end of a wooden spoon would work great!
Add mint leaves, lime, sugar, and blackberries to glass and muddle until everything’s all blended up and squished to release the mint oils, as well as blackberry and lime juices. Fill the glass with ice and then to the top with club soda. If you’re fancy and have a bar shaker, pour into that and give a good shake – otherwise pouring back and forth a couple times into a slightly larger glass than the one you made your mojito in will do – you just want to get everything mixed together evenly so your good stuff isn’t all trapped under your ice. Taste. Add more sugar if necessary. Garnish with lime wedge or extra mint leaves. Enjoy!