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Friday Flashback – What’s so great about the Fall?

standard October 31, 2009 3 responses
Friday Flashback is all about bringing to light some of my favorite posts from my archives to breathe new life into them. I’m reposting this because last night we had to add a blanket to our bed; a sure sign that Fall has arrived! This was originally published in September 08.

What’s so great about the Fall?

As I tossed and turned last night in bed trying to get warm I grumbled about the start of Fall. Then this morning I read this at The Inspired Room, and well, I got inspired. Odd how that works. So instead of ranting, I’m going to go all Pollyanna on you and give you 20 things I treasure about Fall.

1) It’s cool enough to cuddle at night. Which is great because I seem to be popular these days. M, C, and Little L keep fighting for who gets to sleep in my arms.
2) Pretty leaves changing colors. In CA we don’t get a lot of this, but every so often we turn a corner and spot a gorgeous tree aflame with colors and it leaves us breathless.
3) I can drink a late night cup of tea without needing to take a cool shower after. ‘Nuf said.
4) Flannel jammies. I know it’s not sexy, but they’re oh so cozy and I’ve missed them.
5) Orange and Black. I love watching Halloween decorations pop up right and left.
6) School supplies. I know, it’s odd, but nothing soothes my frazzled brain like row after row of neatly organized school supplies. If that makes me a dork, so be it.
7) Slow cooker meals. Something about Fall makes me long for slow cooked stews and other yumminess.
8) Pie. Warm. With heavy cream ladled on top.
9) Art and wine festivals. Sure it’s always the same stuff, but I still love going.
10) The beach in the cold. I love taking a walk on the sand when it’s cold and the wind is blowing.
11) Fluffy slipper socks. Especially when you slip them on before getting on the couch.
12) Huddling under a blanket with a loved one to read books or watch a movie. Goodnight Moon is oh, so much better under a fleece blanket.
13) Soup! Butternut squash. Carrot ginger. Cream of mushroom. Yum.
14) Putting the kids to bed when it’s already dark. What? That totally counts.
15) Car seat warmers. Toasty tushies.
16) Apples! Apple pie, apple crumble, apple sauce, apple chicken, apples and honey, apples, apples, apples!
17) The smell of chimney fires.
18) Sweaters. Wool or cotton? Thick or thin? Doesn’t matter as long as they are cozy.
19) Scarves. Stylish or functional. Love ’em all.
And last, but not least
20) The feel of cold little noses when you get hugs and kisses from little ones coming in from the cold.

Happy Halloween everyone, and happy Fall!

Apples and honey for a sweet new year

standard September 21, 2009 5 responses

The waitress brought the desert menu and we glanced at the lavish offerings. She came back a few minutes later to take our order, expecting us to order a chocolate mousse, an apple pie, or any of the other sweets that we had enjoyed on the first few nights of our honeymoon cruise.

“We really just want a couple of apples and some honey, please. We know it’s not on the menu, but maybe you could pull a few strings for us?” I beamed up at her.
“Apples? And honey?” She gestured towards the menu. “Really? Nothing else? Was it not good last night?”
“No! No! It was wonderful! Delicious! That pie… that mousse… mmm. But it’s Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year. Apples and honey are a traditional part of it. We eat them to symbolize the sweetness of the year to come.”
“Oh!” Relief crossed her face. “That’s just lovely! I like that! I’ll bring some out. And for you newlyweds I’ll also bring some pie and some chocolate mouse. For some extra sweetness.” She winked.
This time relief crossed M’s face and I laughed. She smiled at us brightly and bustled off towards the kitchen.

True to her word she brought our apples, honey, and a few extra deserts. As she put everything on the table she told us that she and the rest of the staff were also going to have some apples and honey that night, so they could all have some sweetness in their year.

We dipped our slices of apples in the honey and toasted what lay ahead: a sweet new year and a sweet new life together.

Happy New Year to all who are celebrating the new year this weekend. May your year be sweet and wonderful. And to everyone else, may your year be equally sweet and wonderful. No reason we can’t all have some of that.

Tis the season… for apples! And eating!

standard September 29, 2008 2 responses

The other day I posted about my favorite fall things and I sparked a request for my Apple Chicken recipe. Secretly it’s not my Apple Chicken recipe, it’s Weight Watcher’s Chicken with Apples and Cider, from my all time favorite cookbook Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook. I’m not on WW any more, but I still use that book more than any other. The recipes are tasty and healthy, a perfect combo in my book. Don’t be too quick to poo-poo it if you aren’t on a diet. I promise it doesn’t taste healthy!

Anyway, without further adieu, here’s the infamous recipe. (If apples aren’t your bag, scroll down for my favorite biscuit recipe.)

Chicken with Apples and Cider
4 servings

3 tbs reduced-cal margarine (I’m partial to Brummel and Brown)
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and sliced
1 tbs packed dark brown sugar
4 4-oz skinless boneless chicken breasts
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 medium onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
1/2 cup apple cider (or apple juice)
1/4 cup cider vinegar

1. In a large nonstick skillet, melt half of the margarine. Saute the apple until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the brown sugar; cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 3-5 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate.

2. On a sheet of wax paper, sprinkle the chicken with the cinnamon, salt, and pepper. In the skillet, melt the remaining margarine. Saute the chicken until browned, 4-5 minutes on each side. Transfer to another plate.

3. In the skillet, cook the onion, covered, until tender, 6-8 minutes; stir in the cider and vinegar. Reduce the heat and simmer 2 minutes. Return the chicken to the skillet; simmer, spooning the sauce over the chicken, until the chicken is cooked through and the liquid is reduced by half, 4-5 minutes.

4. Return the apples to the skillet; cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Spoon the apples and juices over the chicken after serving.

(If you are counting points, each serving is 4pts.)

Humongo Biscuits – perfect for Biscuit Paninis.
(This recipe is adapted from Sara Moulton’s biscuit recipe printed in Sara’s Secrets for weeknight meals.)
Makes 4 big biscuits

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp table salt
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 to 1/2 cup low fat buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 425F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
2. Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
3. Pour in the heavy cream and mix.
4. Add enough buttermilk to turn the mixture into a dough.
5. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough gently several times.
6. Divide into four equal balls. Pat each ball into a flat 3-inch round on the cookie sheet.
7. Bake for about 20 minutes or until pale golden.
8. Transfer to rack and let cook slightly. Or if you’re me, burn yourself as you grab a biscuit right off the sheet and dig in.

I’m very partial to cutting a hot biscuit in half, filling it with cheddar cheese and thinly sliced turkey and smushing it on our gas grill under my panini press until the cheese is melted and the biscuit is slightly toasted. Heaven, I tell you. Heaven. Then for desert I take a second biscuit, still warm from the cookie sheet, because I was in too much of a hurry to transfer them to a cooling rack, and frankly I don’t own a cooling rack, but that’s neither here nor there, and I slather it in strawberry jam. And then I go run around the block. A lot. Or I sit on the couch in a food coma for a long while.

Happy eating my friends. Happy fall to all. And happy new year those who celebrate Rosh Hashanah.