Caramel Apple Dipping Bar

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Perfect for parties or a fun dessert idea to try with kids, building a caramel apple dipping bar is a light dessert that lets guests create the dessert they want.

I did this as the dessert option on Halloween, when it was my turn to host my a small dinner party for friends as part of our weekly “Lovely Ladies Supper Club” meals. They said it was refreshing change from the over-sugary fare they’d been eating all week. (Check out the Curried Pumpkin Soup I made for that if you’re interested in how it works and why we get together.)

The hardest part of this dessert idea is picking the best caramel. I searched high and low for one that didn’t have hydrogenated oils, but of course it was still pretty sugary. I found my caramel melting bits at Target, and I believe they were called just Caramel Bits, but ask me about that if you want to know, and I’ll check. My friends later told me that a can of sweetened condensed milk can be made into caramel very easily, so that’s another recipe to try for another day…20131106-142911.jpg

Ingredients

1 bag of caramel bits for melting

2 bags of pre-sliced apples (or slice your own and splash with sprite or lemon-lime juice to prevent browning)

small serving dishes for toppings

skewers for dipping

Topping Ideas

mini chocolate chips, or chopped dark chocolate

chopped nuts

sprinkles

shaved coconut

small candies

the list can go on…

Directions

-Prep all the toppings and apples first. The caramel needs to be made directly before serving, so focus first on dividing the toppings into bowls, laying out the skewers and finding a cute matching dish for the apples.

-When it’s time to serve, melt your caramel bits according to package directions (they’ll all be different).

-Bring the caramel over to guests on a serving tray with small serving plates and the topping bowls, and let them have fun creating their own desserts.

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Pecan Pie Tarts

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The thing about pecan pie…20131028-214954.jpg

Everybody likes that sweetness, but you can only take so many bites of it before you overwhelm your palette. That’s why when I saw Hungry Girl‘s recipe for mini Pecan Pies, I thought “Of course!” Bite-sized is better for this dessert.

I’ve done quite a few mini pies though, and for this one I wanted to try more of a tart/ pinafore bite. So I chose a different phyllo dough, and I’m glad that I did.

Ingredients20131028-214906.jpg

1 package phyllo dough pies (or crust if you want to shape your own)

1/3 cup pecans, chopped

2 T brown sugar

1.5 T coconut oil

1/2 packet stevia

1/2 t vanilla extract

dash of salt20131028-214918.jpg

dash of cinnamon

Directions

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prep your dough as you like, i.e. if you bought the mini pie crusts, assemble those. Place in preheated oven until slightly golden brown (about 5 minutes).

-In a pan, drop in nuts and oil, making sure the nuts are coated well. Then add the remaining ingredients. Turn over until nice, sweet and crunchy sugar layer forms.20131028-214942.jpg

-Assemble the tarts by spooning your nut mixture into the centers of the tarts, filling to the top. Return to oven and bake another 5-8 minutes or until toasted and golden brown. Serve warm if you can, with whipped cream or mint garnish, if you like.

Other Fall Food Recipes from CC:
Yam’O’Lanterns

Pumpkin Chili

Mini Pumpkin Pies for One

 

Curried Pumpkin Soup

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Fall is all about pumpkin. Last year I was trying every pumpkin dessert recipe I came across. This year, being busier with my doctoral work, I’ve slowed down a bit and tried my hand at savory pumpkin recipes this season.

On Halloween, I had a small dinner party with close friends as part of our weekly supper club. We call it “Lovely Ladies Supper Club,” and it’s a blast. Every Thursday we visit a different friends apartment or home, get to see how they live, who they live with, what fuzzy family members they live with, and how they like to cook.20131106-142939.jpg

I love soup–and you already know I love pumpkin–so my Harvest Pumpkin Chili seemed perfect. The problem is I have this not so awful habit of always wanting something new. I hate trying the same restaurant twice, and the same goes for recipes.

So I came across this Curried Pumpkin Soup from Better Homes and Gardens online. They said it would only take 30 minutes, and they were right. Very fast, very tasty. No complaints from me (and I might even try this one again!).

Make it. Save the leftovers for your lunches. That’s what I did, of course, because life moves fast. Packing lunch is my least favorite thing to do in the morning. So fresh, homemade soup that’s ready to heat and serve is perfect for my busy lifestyle.

Ingredients

1 – 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree20131106-142952.jpg

2 qt. chicken stock

2 t ginger

2 t cumin

2 t curry powder

dash of onion powder and hot sauce, if you want to give it a kick

3/4 cup roasted corn or softened lentils

1/2 sweet onion, chopped

1 red pepper, sliced into small strips

1 T olive oil

Directions

-In a large sauce pan, heat your oil and add in the veggies to sauté them. Add in seasonings and continue to cook for another 2 minutes until softened up.

-In the same pan, add in half of the chicken stock. Set the soup to boil, and then add in all of pumpkin, mixing well. Add in remaining stock + 1/2 cup water if you want a thinner soup. Mix well.

-Let boil just a few minutes and then return to a simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes if you have the time for fullest flavor. If you don’t, grab a slice of cornbread and dig in.

Burlap Wreath Saves Ugly Front Door!

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A front door says a lot. Mine is the ugliest. Really, really, U-G-L-Y because it has no alibi ugly. Worn dingy green paint job finds door with no structural character, topped with a silver number plate that makes it look more like a motel front than a home.

So I wanted something to jazz it up. A wreath I could make, and the pinecones I found while hiking the Lincoln National Forest Trails in New Mexico in October inspired me to move on this endeavor. 20131028-215028.jpg

I went to pinning. I found plenty of ideas, most of which featured wire bases with burlap wrapped around the outside. But it takes a lot of burlap to build a big, full wreath as well as a lot of patience–once you find out that burlap falls apart quickly and leaves little strings everywhere. When I went to Hobby Lobby, I found an alternative I liked much better.

Here’s the easiest little wreath you can make and one you can accessorize every season. Come Thanksgiving I’ll be adding some red, orange, and yellow ribbons. Christmas might be more green and red by removing the ribbons and pinning on ornaments, but who knows. Go where the wreath takes you, right?

Materials

1 wreath base (bunched twigs)

1 yard white burlap20131028-215020.jpg

2-3 pipecleaners

string from burlap or clear fishing line

Baubles and ornaments you want to decorate with

Note: I chose pine cones, a wooden J, and a faux white branch, but you can play around with this as much as you like, as noted above.

Directions

Start with your burlap. Cut the burlap into 2.5 inch-wide strips that all link together by alternating the sides you cut down. So you don’t want your burlap to look like one large tasseled end. Instead, cut down the first strip, stopping about 2 inches from the end of the first row. Flip sides and cut from the other end; continue to alternate until you have a longer, connected fabric that almost snakes or zigzags. 20131028-215039.jpg

Wrap the burlap onto the base. To secure the first part, use one of the pipe cleaners, sliding it through the twigs on the backside of the wreath to secure the fabric. Continue wrapping upwards to cover the entire wreath, but you might leave out a few twigs or gaps to show the twigs, if you like. Secure the final end with another pipe cleaner.

Next, I attached by white sprig branch by wrapping the wire stem around one lower part of the base. That wrap around stem I used to attach my other baubles. So I used the extra burlap strings to tie the pinecones onto the sprig branch’s wire, and did the same with the J.

Depending on what you use, yours could be very different, but as it stands, this might be the easiest wreath you could put together, and I think it’s lovely. I’m glad to have a chic, country touch on my ugly motel-esque front door. My only piece of parting advice might be this: In picking your baubles or even burlap color, consider the color of your front door and the colors around it. White works well to distract from mine without clashing, but if you’ve got a white door, you might want something different.

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