Posts tagged ‘fall’

It’s Fall Y’all: Foliage

No fall series would be complete without some pictures of the beautiful New England foliage I am lucky enough to enjoy! Whether it is on my drive or bike ride to work, on a day hike near Boston, or just a walk around my neighborhood, seeing this beautiful display of color reminds me of how lucky I am to get to enjoy such a great city! Hope you are enjoying the leaves (if you have any left!) and some great fall treats!





Question: What other fall foods do you enjoy this time of year? Feel free to share some favorite recipes!

Missed the series? Check out the recipe collections below!






November 10, 2012 at 7:00 am Leave a comment

It’s Fall Y’all: Apple

Recently gone apple picking and have a sudden abundance of apples and no idea what to do with them? Or did the bargain bags at the grocery store simply look too good to pass up, but now you can’t stomach one more apple with your lunch? Yeah… me too! The hallmark of fall in New England to me is the apple craze that covers the region. Such an abundance of great, local fruit is too good to pass up! Even friends who never bake suddenly come running for ideas of what to do with their bounty. I haven’t had the chance to go apple picking this year, and am probably a bit late in the season. I gave up on the idea when a friend posted this on Instagram at the beginning of the week!

Screen shot 2012-10-13 at 6.38.25 PM

“Apple Death Valley”

I have started getting more great local apples in my Boston Organics box, though! My most recent apple obsession is homemade apple chips. I have loved the store-bought variety for years, but they are so expensive and laden with hidden sugars if you aren’t careful. When I saw this idea, I could hardly wait for apple season! It is simple: take a mandoline to thinly slice your apples, coat them in cinnamon, and then bake them at 225F for 2-2 1/2 hours. The result is a naturally sweet, crispy fall snack that livens up your standard after lunch snack!




Trail mix with homemade apple chips, pumpkin pie roasted almonds and almond butter granola!

In case that isn’t enough for you, here are some apple recipes I tried out last year…

Apple Pie Oatmeal

Cran-Apple Oats

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Sugar-Free Apple Crisp

…and some recipes I have my eye on!

Apple Braid

Apple and Cinnamon Cake

Question: What is your favorite apple recipe?

October 13, 2012 at 4:00 pm 5 comments

Fridge Problems

My fridge is having problems. The side is all rusted out. The door is missing shelves, which have been creatively replaced by fridge tape, which isn’t exactly the most functional solution. The door handle is falling off, which is again held together by fridge tape. The back and top of the fridge freeze things, and the front door occasionally pops open, so nothing towards the front is safe. Yet, somehow, we manage to avoid food borne illness and maintain a mostly fresh fruits and veggies diet on a daily basis. We talked to our landlord, and he said “Not my job.” #rentersproblems. And so, the Craigslist hunt begins as we are looking into a new (to us) fridge, but there is a lot of coordinating of trucks and strong friends and free time that needs to happen first!


The other fridge problem I am having: an overload of root veggies! Between some turnips I didn’t use from my last box, some sweet potatoes I took from my mom, and some potatoes and rutabagas I received in my last Boston Organics shipment, my veggie drawer is stocked with roots. With friends coming over for dinner, I knew exactly the way to use them up over the weekend… calzones! Now wait, don’t calzones usually feature tomatoes and cheese? Not necessarily! You just have to think outside of the crust box, and realize that a simple dough can be stuffed with a multitude of veggies and herbs to create a new spin on a calzone. This fall calzone is based on one I saw at Rufus’ Guide, which I adapted to make a vegetarian version. I also subbed the creamy cheese for pumpkin, simply to use ingredients I had on hand. This came out amazing! The dough is light and fluffy, and the inside filling is hearty and flavorful. I halved the recipe (written with my adaptations below) to make 3 very large calzones, but this could easily serve 4 with a veggie side. Try my veggie only version, or check out the original if you are a meat lover. Either way, this is a fun way to use up whatever fall veggies you have left hanging around!

Question: What is your fridge stocked with this week?


Root Vegetable Calzones

adapted from Rufus’ Food and Spirit’s Guide


2 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp yeast dissolved in 1 cup warm water

2 tbsp olive oil


1 sweet potato, cubed

2 turnips, thinly sliced

1 clove minced garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup apple sauce

½ cup pumpkin

1/8 cup Parmesan cheese

1 tbsp sage, minced

½ small onion, caramelized

Add yeast to the warm water and let sit until bubbles form, about 5 minutes. Mix four and salt together, and then form a well in the center of the bowl. Add the olive oil, and then slowly begin to add the water/yeast, mixing until a sticky dough forms. When well combined, remove from bowl and knead by hand for 10 minutes. Adjust the consistency of the dough by adding 1 tbsp flour or water as needed. When done the dough should be very smooth and not sticky at all. Place in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let rise for two hours.

Saute garlic in olive oil in a medium-sized frying pan for 1-2 minutes. Add sliced turnips and diced sweet potato. Add water and apple sauce; stir to combine. Cover with a lid and let simmer for 20 minutes, or until vegetables are fork tender. Stir in caramelized onions, pumpkin, grated cheese, and fresh sage. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Roll out dough on a floured surface into a large rectangle. Cut into three or four pieces, depending on desired number of servings. Fill the left side of the dough with the root vegetables, and then fold the dough over to cover. Pinch the edges closed and transfer carefully to a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until the dough is slightly crisped. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving – the insides will be very hot!

December 4, 2011 at 10:32 pm 6 comments

The Best Thing I Have Ever Made

My roommate and I invited a few friends over for dinner the other night, with the alluring promise of “the best dinner Jen has ever cooked.” That is a lot to live up to, my friends! But she wasn’t lying, this homemade pasta with brown butter, sage and butternut squash sauce was just as good as we remembered. I made it to celebrate finishing my anatomy course last year, and Marie and I were speechless at how absolutely decadent and flavorful this was. It is funny that we decided to make it again almost exactly a year to date later! To make it completely from scratch will take some time (I pulled the pasta, sauce and a salad together in just under an hour and a half) but there are some simple substitutions if you wanted to make this for a faster weeknight meal! Simply use prepped butternut squash (they sell peeled halves in the grocery store, or frozen cubes might work) and boxed pasta to simplify your prep time. Dinner will still take an hour, but most of that will be from roasting and not from active prep time. No matter which direction you take this recipe, be sure to give it a try. It lived up to my friends high expectations, and Marie and I still agree this is the best thing I have ever cooked! The recipe is not my own, however, so head on over to These Peas are Hollow to check it out. I followed the recipe exactly, but used fresh linguine (just narrower noodles than tagliatelle) and light instead of heavy cream, since it is what we had on hand. (I also left off the gorgonzola and parsley garnish.)


We even broke out the fancy plates to match the fancy food ;)

With a good dinner and good friends comes lots of laughter, music, good conversation, but few pictures. Not wanting to detract too much from our time together, I only snapped one picture of our meal! However, I did use the opportunity to learn a few things from my photographer friend. I really want to start working on improving my photography skills, which requires a little bit of equipment. My friend showed me how to use a napkin to diffuse some of the spotlight (aka a desk lamp creatively angled by my accommodating roommate) when taking pictures at night in my dining room. Lighting is as, if not more, important than the quality of your camera, and poor lighting has ruined many of my best meals. A project for Christmas break is to build my own light box, using this tutorial from (never)Homemaker. I am going to simplify the construction a bit, but really think that this is the most important (and inexpensive) first step I can take! The next problem is my camera. I am currently using a 6-year-old Cannon point and shoot, which has held up pretty well. It takes good pictures in sunlight, but is starting to fail if a flash can’t be used. I am slowly starting to research new cameras, but on a student income (read: <$0), this is a huge investment to make. My friend was telling me a little bit about micro 4/3 cameras, which sound like an interesting option. They aren’t named 4/3 because they are smaller (yes, my friends, 4/3 is greater than 1… oops), but because of the patented lens system. (Thanks, Wikipedia!) They are kind of a stepping stone between point and shoot and larger DSLR cameras. I need to continue to do some research, but there are so many options to consider! This is where your advice could come in handy!

Questions: What kind of camera do you currently use? Are there any brands/technologies/cameras that you would recommend? Do you think the micro 4/3 camera is a worthwhile investment, or would it be smarter to pay more up front for something of better quality that might last longer? Any advice from blogger/photographer/hobbyist friends would be greatly appreciated!

December 1, 2011 at 4:00 pm 3 comments

Cranberry Quinoa

“Aren’t seasons amazing?! Nature just knows what flavors work together.” Said so eloquently by a friend and running buddy, and that thought has really stuck with me! What goes really well with tomatoes? Cucumbers, basil, lemon, so its a good thing those all go together! What goes well with roasted squash? Dark, leafy greens and cranberries! I recently posted what I received in my Boston Organics box, and have already fallen off from my original plan. First problem: I realized the kale was in fact swiss chard, which is a little too rough for my liking to be used raw. Instead, I decided to use the swiss chard in a recreation of my side dish from the half marathon. I roasted some delicata squash rings, as per Ms. Smart’s comment, cooked some quinoa, and boiled some cranberries. Fresh cranberries are actually really bitter and unpleasant, and therefore are most often loaded up with sugar to make a sauce. To try and take some of the unpleasant bitterness without too much sugar, I boiled the cranberries in green tea and honey. This gave them just enough sweetness and softness to complement the flavors of the squash and greens really well. This meal is full of fall warmth, nutrients, and goodness. Let the seasons speak to you through your produce that week and see what you come up with, or give this fun combo a try!

Question: Do you try to eat by the seasons? What is your current favorite vegetable?


Cranberry Quinoa

serves 4-6

1 cup dry quinoa (can increase this to stretch how many people this can feed!)

1/2 small onion

1 cup fresh cranberries

1 bag green tea

1/8 cup honey

2 cups water

2 small delicata squash

1 bunch swiss chard

thyme, salt and pepper to taste

Slice the delicata squash into rings and pull out the seeds. Arrange on a cookie sheet coated with cooking spray, and season lightly with thyme and salt. Roast at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes; flip, season the other side, and roast for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place cranberries, honey, and green tea bag in 2 cups cold water in a small pot. Slowly bring to a boil, and then turn heat off and allow cranberries to soak as squash roasts. Cook quinoa according to package instructions. In a large saute pan, heat the minced onion in a bit of the cooking liquid from the cranberries (or olive oil). Remove the stems from the washed greens and tear into small pieces into the pan. When the greens have wilted, add the cooked quinoa and drained cranberries. Add the squash rings from the oven and mix together. Adjust salt and pepper to taste and serve warm.

October 24, 2011 at 7:00 am 3 comments

Urban Camping and NH Hiking Adventure

New England fall – beautiful leaves, crisp air, and unpredictable weather. You learn quickly never to trust the weatherman up here, but it always a disappointment when the weather refuses to cooperate with your plans. What do you do when the camping adventure you had been planning for weeks gets rained out? You make the best of what you can!

We had planned to visit Wompatuck State Park for an overnight camping and day hike adventure. We were so excited for ‘smores (which my phone can’t spell and caused a few giggles at “snores”) and campfires, stars and fall foliage. If it rains after you have set up, it is manageable. But if it is raining continuously for the afternoon evening, with high chances of thunderstorms, it is no fun. We decided to change our plans, and “camped” in my apartment instead! We cooked dinner together, planned our hiking adventure for the next day, made ‘smores over the gas burner of my stove, and watched the beginning of my favorite 80’s adventure movie, The Goonies. No campfire, no stars, but just as much fun.


We got up early the next morning for the long drive. Since we couldn’t camp, we decided to go somewhere a little more exotic, like New Hampshire! Some of the best hiking in New England is in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, and the drive was totally worth it. The fall foliage was at a peak, and the scenery even along the interstate was breathtaking. We literally stopped mid-conversation at times to verbally appreciate the beauty of the majestic surroundings. The parking lot for our trail was 7 miles off the interstate along a winding, bumpy park road. We left our car and were surprised at how much cooler it was just a few hours north of the city. We hoped we would stay warm enough hiking!

mt osceola


We followed the trail to Mt. Osceola, one of 48 four thousand footer’s in NH. The beginning of the path was treacherous, and we even questioned if it was the path. One of our friends fell immediately because of the wet leaves and rocks. She assured us that she was fine and wanted to keep going, so we forged ahead. We questioned the wisdom of continuing once again when we quickly reached a waterfall that we had to cross. A little more of a challenge than we had bargained for, but we were determined to have our hiking adventure! There were more stumbles and slips, streams to cross and boulders to climb as we made our way slowly up the mountain, but we persevered. A little less than 3 hours later, we made it to the top. It was worth the hike! The views of the surrounding White Mountains were breathtaking, especially with the fog rolling through the distance and the sunshine making feeble attempts to pull through. We were freezing (literally, it was probably only 30 degrees at the summit), but we explored the overlook for as long as we could stand it. We found a little bit of rock face that was more protected from the wind so we could enjoy our PB&J, and only headed back for the trail when we couldn’t feel our fingers, faces and toes. Note to self: next time, bring a hat!




Our original plan included the second summit, East Osceola, but our later start, cold fingers, and poor terrain told us to turn around. We descended the mountain much more quickly, but still had to be careful of the slippery rocks. It began to hail almost immediately after we left the summit, so we were really happy with our decision to cut our loop short. The hail stopped and the sun came out for a few more brief periods, allowing us to enjoy the full beauty of the colorful carpeting that seemed thicker around us than we we began the climb. There truly is nothing like New England fall.

Safely back at the car, we stretched our hurting knees (we’re too young to feel old!) and refueled on some snacks. The trail mix combo for this trip was a hit! Cinnamon Puffins, cocoa roasted almonds, peanuts, raisins, and honey roasted soy nuts. Even after this tasty snack, we were still hungry less than halfway through our drive home! We had covered quite a few miles that day (6.4 to be exact!) and a lot of elevation! We rewarded ourselves with a stop at a Manchester legend, the Red Arrow Diner. This place was tiny, and it was hopping! We had to wait for a bit for a table, but once again the patience was worth it. We all feasted on breakfast for dinner. The guys had the King’s breakfast, which took up two plates each! The girls were more modest in portion sizes, but still enjoyed homestyle eggs, hashbrowns and toast. No night drive would be complete without a little car karaoke on the way home, and a few stars viewed from the sun moon roof!

red arrow diner

Lesson learned from this weekend: you can plan all you want, but you can never fully be in control. So learn to go with the flow and enjoy the time in the company of great friends!

October 17, 2011 at 7:00 am 2 comments

Fall Favorites: Sugar Free Apple Crisp

There is nothing better in the fall than apples, especially in New England. They are incredibly cheap at the local grocery store, crisp, fresh, and so much sweeter than their available year-round cousins. I am hoping to go apple picking soon, but the 6-lb bag I purchased for $6 the other day should hold me over until then! Anyone who follows my blog regularly may be confused to see a dessert recipe up here. Why is that? Oh yeah, my crazy roommate and I decided to give up sugar for three weeks, and we are smack-dab in the middle of it! Neither of us have huge sweet tooths, but there are just some days when you want dessert. My roommate, sick with what might be my cold (sorry!), had a rough day and was really in the mood for a baked treat. I told her to forget the sugar fast and take a day off, but she is stronger willed than I! I admire her determination and fierce commitment, and so I told her I would experiment with a sugar-free apple crisp.


The results surprised even me. Maybe our tastes are changing, or maybe fall apples really are that sweet, or maybe this recipe is really that decadent without an ounce of added sugar! There are two versions – the original, and then our second recreation during our roommate dinner. Both are excellent, the full-fat version being slightly more decadent and the applesauce version just a little sweeter. Try one or both and let me know what you think!

Question: What is your favorite recipe for fall apples?

Sugar Free Single Apple Crisp

serves 1

For apple:

1 apple, chopped

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp lemon juice

For crumble:

1 tbsp butter (melted) OR 1 1/2 tbsp applesauce

1 tsp butter (chopped into small squares)

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 tbsp whole wheat flour

1 tbsp chopped almonds

4-5 tbsp oats

In a large ramekin or small loaf pan coated with cooking spray, combine chopped apple, cinnamon, and lemon juice. In a separate bowl, mix melted butter or applesauce and the rest of the ingredients. Pour over the apple mixture. Dot with the butter squares. Cook in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35 minutes until fragrant and slightly crisped.

October 7, 2011 at 7:00 am 18 comments

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