November 2015 archive

eggnog pancakes

Are you already decked out for Christmas? We’re not, but we’re getting there! Now that Thanksgiving is over, I am going full force into all things Christmas – including these eggnog pancakes.

Swing in the Christmas season with these easy, fluffy, delicious eggnog pancakes and some nutmeg to top!  www.passthecookies.com

Now I know eggnog can be a divisive drink; some people love it, some people hate it. I’m kind of in middle ground – I like it in very small servings a few times during the season. Too much is overwhelming, but the smallest bit really makes it feel like Christmas time.

Swing in the Christmas season with these easy, fluffy, delicious eggnog pancakes and some nutmeg to top!  www.passthecookies.com

Swing in the Christmas season with these easy, fluffy, delicious eggnog pancakes and some nutmeg to top!  www.passthecookies.com

These eggnog pancakes have the slightest eggnog flavor, enhanced by a bit of nutmeg, just as you would your drink. Replace any milk or water you would usually use with eggnog. If you are an eggnog enthusiast, stay with me. You can use part eggnog and part milk to reduce the eggnog flavor. Sometimes I think nutmeg is really what makes the eggnog flavor stronger, so adjust based on your eggnog preferences.

Swing in the Christmas season with these easy, fluffy, delicious eggnog pancakes and some nutmeg to top!  www.passthecookies.com

Swing in the Christmas season with these easy, fluffy, delicious eggnog pancakes and some nutmeg to top!  www.passthecookies.com

These are easy enough to make on a weekend morning for breakfast by the Christmas tree or for company. They are fluffy and wonderfully spiced.  Serve with maple syrup, an overdose of Christmas music, maybe even a glass of eggnog on the side, and you have yourself a perfect morning.

Swing in the Christmas season with these easy, fluffy, delicious eggnog pancakes and some nutmeg to top!  www.passthecookies.com

The Christmas season is one of my favorite times of the year and decorating for Christmas on a cold Saturday morning with a warm, homemade, holiday breakfast and some hot tea or hot chocolate by my side is one of my favorite things.  I would be perfectly content making Christmas cookies, wrapping Christmas presents and listening to Christmas music for hours on end – and that is exactly what I plan to do some of these December weekends.  These eggnog pancakes are perfect for those days.  I can make a batch, freeze whatever I don’t eat, and pull them out and toast or microwave them for the easiest breakfast the next weekend, and they are still delicious.

Swing in the Christmas season with these easy, fluffy, delicious eggnog pancakes and some nutmeg to top!  www.passthecookies.com

Happy Christmasing! I’m off to decorate some more with these little nutcrackers in tow!

1½ cups flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ – ½ teaspoon teaspoon ground nutmeg (use less for less of a prominent eggnog flavor)
2 eggs, room temperature
1¼ cups eggnog
½ teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons melted butter
maple syrup and powdered sugar for topping (optional)

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. In a separate large bowl beat the eggs. Whisk the milk, vanilla and butter into the eggs. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. There should still be some lumps – that is okay!

Heat up a large nonstick skillet or griddle (medium on the stove or 375 degrees F on an electric griddle) and spray lightly with non-stick baking spray. Pour about ¼ cup of batter onto the skillet. Cook 2-3 minutes, until bubbles form. Flip the pancake and allow to cook for 1-2 more minutes until golden. Repeat this cooking process with your remaining batter. Serve the eggnog pancakes warm with butter, maple syrup and powdered sugar. If you really want to get fancy, mix some ground nutmeg into your powdered sugar before you sprinkle it on the pancakes.

Swing in the Christmas season with these easy, fluffy, delicious eggnog pancakes and some nutmeg to top!  www.passthecookies.com

holiday decorating guide

With Thanksgiving just behind us it is full steam ahead to Christmas!  I love love love Christmas and the holiday decorating that goes with it.  Last year was our first Christmas as a married couple with our own apartment and decorating together was so much fun.  We were able to start our own holiday traditions right off the bat and are excited to do them again this year.  As we decorate, here are some of my favorite looks for the holiday season this year.

 

I love decorating for the holidays, especially with a good mix of red, white and gold.  These are a few of my favorite holiday decorations this season.  www.passthecookies.com

 

I love a good red, white and gold mixture for the holidays.  We just got the red and white gingham sheets and I’m so excited to put them on our bed when we get home!  I love putting a cream knitted blanket at the foot of the bed and a brown faux fur blanket on our white armchair.  The plaid tablecloth and monogrammed napkins would instantly make a festive table and the gold mug with the red and gold plate would be perfect for a cookie and coffee date :)  The felt garland and zebra pillow are so cute and the flocked wreath would be beautiful against a front door or even on an inside window (I’ve linked another cute pillow below too).  And don’t forget the ornaments, stockings and Dasher!  I can’t wait to put up our red, white and gold!

Shop from the links below!

thanksgiving baking roundup

Have you started your Thanksgiving food prep?  Do you make the same menu every year or do you like to change it up from year to year?  Do you like the traditional Thanksgiving feast or are you adventurous with your sides?  So many Thanksgiving questions, so little time!  If you haven’t already figured out your entire meal yet, here are a few options to remember while you prep.  I have already made a chocolate chip bourbon pecan pie and I know there will be more baking adventures in the days to come :)  I’d love to know if you are making any of these recipes for your Thanksgiving!

While bird is the word for this holiday, we can incorporate some wonderful baked goods and thanksgiving flavors into every part of the day (and the day after).

The perfect fall breakfast and snack, this pumpkin bread is filled with moisture and spices.  You'll never even know it is vegan :)  passthecookies.com

We start out the day-of-eating right with some (secretly) vegan pumpkin bread.  Your dairy-loving friends won’t even bat an eye.  Throw in some chocolate chips and you will have people reaching for seconds faster than you can say pumpkin.  Bonus, you can make this ahead of time and it keeps wonderfully in the freezer or wrapped up in plastic wrap for a few days, which makes for an easy peasy Thanksgiving morning.

Apple cider doughnut muffins are a perfect little easy breakfast treat.

Looking for less pumpkin, more apple?  Bring on these apple cider doughnut muffins.  Try them with cinnamon sugar, maple whiskey glaze, apple cider glaze, or all of the above!  These are best the day they are made but don’t take long to make.  Since you are already up to make the turkey, might as well whip up some breakfast goodies for your guests as well ;)

Fluffy, pillow-soft and slightly sweet, these sweet potato biscuits are the perfect vehicle for your thanksgiving leftovers. www.passthecookies.com

Sweet potato biscuits are the perfect option for snacking while Thanksgiving dinner is in the oven, for the big meal itself, and especially for your leftover sandwiches the next day.  Throw some cheese on there and eat it for lunch, add an egg for an amazing leftover breakfast sandwich.  You can even try making them with leftover sweet potato puree from your sweet potato casserole.

This delicious, soft and slightly sweet Sally Lunn bread with easy honey butter is a great stepping stone to yeasted baked goods.

Sally Lunn bread is an easy substitute for yeast bread, and pairs so well with honey butter and cranberry sauce.  Deliciously soft and slightly sweet, your guests will think you slaved over it.  Just look at that gorgeous golden hue.

This spiked hot apple cider is perfect drink to warm you up on a cool night.

Spiked apple cider is the perfect cocktail to sip on while milling around the kitchen cooking or waiting for food to come out of the oven.  Drink it hot or cold, your preference, and add a fall flair to your Thanksgiving bar.  For another boozy snack, try eating the apple slices that are in the pot – they have been soaking up the bourbon and rum the whole time and are cinnamony and delicious.

Pumpkin Pie Bars with Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Crust-6

One of my new favorite Thanksgiving desserts are these pumpkin pie bars with chocolate chip gingerbread crust.  The chocolate chip gingerbread crust distinguishes them from every other pumpkin pie on the block and in bar form you can easily cut slices however big you want.  Don’t forget the cinnamon whipped cream to really wow your guests!

These chewy ginger cookies with apple cider caramel are a delicious warm, spiced fall treat.

For the non-traditionalist, these chewy ginger cookies with apple cider caramel are the most quintessentially fall cookie and a delicious option if you don’t want to make a pie.  The apple cider caramel is my current favorite sauce and goes so well on any fall dessert.  I could seriously eat it from a spoon.

Chocolate Pound Cake-15

Chocolate pound cake with chocolate glaze is another non-pie option that is fit for a Thanksgiving crowd.  The pound cake is moist and dark and the frosting adds that extra chocolaty oomph that will leave you licking your fork and wishing for more.  To make it even better, it is a family recipe, and isn’t that perfect for Thanksgiving?

These apple hand pies with bourbon sauce are delicious enough to feed a crowd and easy enough to make on Thanksgiving day!  (Don't worry, they can be made ahead of time too)  www.passthecookies.com

Now a dessert for the traditionalists: apple hand pies with bourbon sauce.  Rather than make one large pie, keep the tradition of apple pie but change up the serving method and give each person their own personalized hand pie.  These are the easiest dessert to make ever so if you are low on time or patience, whip out your apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, butter and pie crust and you’ve got yourself a delicious finale.  Top them off with bourbon sauce and your guests will never know you put it together so quickly.

choc pecan pie 1

If you are looking for a full pie, rather than individual servings, this chocolate chip bourbon pecan pie is for you.  It looks like a regular pecan pie, but is far superior.  Taken to the next level with both chocolate and bourbon, it is sure to please all of your Thanksgiving pie-lovers.  I am bringing this one to my family’s Thanksgiving dinner and can’t wait to have my own slice.

Pop tart 9

Brown sugar cinnamon hand pies (or pop tarts) are great for a miniature Thanksgiving dessert, but are also a delicious start to the day on Thanksgiving or the day after!  You can even make a double recipe of crust to use for a traditional pie for dessert, or use leftover crust.  With the easiest filling, throw them in the oven and relax with the family on a cozy evening or a quiet morning.

And that’s a wrap for your Thanksgiving baking roundup!  I’d love to know what recipes you are making for the holiday and if you are branching out from the traditional meal!

sweet potato biscuits and leftover thanksgiving sandwiches

Fun fact: Did you know North Carolina is the largest sweet potato producer in the United States? Yup, the sweet potatoes in your Thanksgiving dish might be from the Great North State :)

Fluffy, pillow-soft and slightly sweet, these sweet potato biscuits are the perfect vehicle for your thanksgiving leftovers. www.passthecookies.com

My junior year of college I studied abroad in the Netherlands.  I was there for the fall semester and really noticed the differences in food and culture around the times we associate with the holidays.  The Dutch obviously don’t celebrate Thanksgiving so they are already decked out for Christmas by the beginning of November.  During my time there I would often go to the local grocery stores to pick up the items I couldn’t get at the market.  One November day I was looking around the produce section, trying to decipher a few of the vegetables I didn’t recognize, when I saw a few individually wrapped sweet potatoes.  Having not seen sweet potatoes for months I grabbed them and examined the wrapping.  “Grown in North Carolina,” was on a big sticker on each sweet potato.  The stickers and the sweet potatoes immediately made me think of the memories I have tied to sweet potatoes – all Thanksgiving related.  Sweet potatoes are my favorite Thanksgiving dish and I always welcome ways to extend their goodness.

Fluffy, pillow-soft and slightly sweet, these sweet potato biscuits are the perfect vehicle for your thanksgiving leftovers. www.passthecookies.com

Fluffy, pillow-soft and slightly sweet, these sweet potato biscuits are the perfect vehicle for your thanksgiving leftovers. www.passthecookies.com

We always have leftovers from every dish after Thanksgiving dinner. Like many Americans, we stick them all in the fridge and pull them out for lunch the next day for some leftover sandwiches. We usually use plain ‘ol sandwich bread, but what if we could incorporate the thanksgiving flavors in a wonderfully fluffy biscuit for a delicious turkey, cranberry, sweet potato combination all the way around? We can, we can! Enter sweet potato biscuits.

Fluffy, pillow-soft and slightly sweet, these sweet potato biscuits are the perfect vehicle for your thanksgiving leftovers. www.passthecookies.com

I’m so excited about these sweet potato biscuits. They are the perfect vehicle for that leftover Thanksgiving sandwich you will inevitably make and so much better than sandwich bread. You can make them ahead of time when you are already mashing potatoes to use for your casserole, freeze the dough and pull them out right before lunch the next day for piping hot, fresh biscuits and no day-of trouble. If you don’t want to wait until the day after (I can’t say I blame you), you can make them as a roll alternative for your big meal on Thanksgiving.

Fluffy, pillow-soft and slightly sweet, these sweet potato biscuits are the perfect vehicle for your thanksgiving leftovers. www.passthecookies.com

They are just slightly sweet, and the optional course sugar topping adds an extra crunch to the otherwise pillow-soft biscuits. Eat them on their own with a pat of butter, or top with turkey, cranberry sauce and some cheese leftover from your appetizer plate for the perfect leftover meal. Melty brie or a sharp white cheddar would both be delicious.

Fluffy, pillow-soft and slightly sweet, these sweet potato biscuits are the perfect vehicle for your thanksgiving leftovers. www.passthecookies.com

Fluffy, pillow-soft and slightly sweet, these sweet potato biscuits are the perfect vehicle for your thanksgiving leftovers. www.passthecookies.com

If you don’t already have cooked sweet potatoes, plan far enough in advance to be able to cook the sweet potatoes and let them cool (this could take a few hours). I haven’t tried making them with leftover sweet potato casserole instead of plain sweet potato puree but if you do it, try decreasing the sugar in this recipe. Let me know how it works!

Happy Thanksgiving prep!

Sweet Potato Biscuits
1 pound sweet potatoes (about 1-2 medium sweet potatoes)
1/3 cup milk (or buttermilk)
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar (you can omit or use 1 tablespoon for less sweet biscuits)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold and cut into small bits

Optional to top
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
coarse sugar

Did you remember to leave a few hours for the sweet potatoes to cook? Great, let’s go! Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a few sweet potatoes on an ungreased baking sheet. Roast about 40-45 minutes, or until soft. Let them cool completely (you can put them in the fridge to speed up this process) and peel them. In a small bowl, mash the sweet potatoes until your puree is smooth. Measure out ¾ cup of sweet potato puree and set it aside. You will have some leftover puree – add it to your sweet potato casserole or eat up!

If your oven is off, preheat it to 400 degrees F again. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Mix the ¾ cup of reserved sweet potato puree with the milk (or buttermilk). Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and salt. Add the well-chopped, cold butter and cut it into the flour mixture with a knife. Work it into the flour until the flour-butter mixture resembles a coarse meal. You want small bits of butter to be visible – those will make your biscuits flaky. If the butter has warmed up, chill the mixture for a few minutes until it is cold again.

Add the sweet potato-milk mixture to the flour-butter mixture and stir the dough until you have large, soft dough clumps. Carefully mix the dough with your hands to incorporate all of the flour. Do this in as few movements as possible so the dough doesn’t warm up from your hands or get overmixed (which will create tough, not fluffy biscuits).

Prepare a floured surface and pat the biscuit dough into a 1-inch thick round (the shape does not have to be perfect). Use a floured round cookie cutter (mine was about 1 ½ inches in diameter, which gave us snack-sized biscuits but you can alter the size depending on how big you want the biscuits) and cut the dough. The less you twist the cutter the more rise your biscuit will have. Place the biscuit dough on your prepared pan. If you are making the optional egg wash, mix the egg and milk together and brush the tops of each biscuit with the wash before baking. Sprinkle with course sugar for an extra crunch and a look that will impress your guests. Bake for 12-15 minutes (longer if your cookie cutter was much bigger), or until golden. You should be able to press the tops and feel that they are hard and aren’t pressing into the middle of the biscuit.

These are best the same day they are made but if you need to serve them on a later date, you can freeze the cut biscuit dough and cook the same instructions from frozen. You can also wait for the cooked biscuits to cool completely, put them in a plastic zippered bag and freeze them until you want to serve them. Heat them up in a 300 degree F oven for a few minutes, until they are warm enough.

Slightly adapted from here.

link love

Welcome to the weekend weekend!  This week was crazy crazy busy and I am so looking forward to the break that comes with Thanksgiving.  Can you believe it is almost Thanksgiving already!?!?  Where did November go?!

link love 11.21.2015

via

Isn’t that turkey so pretty?  Your links to love for the week!:

First, Adele.  Adele released her newest album yesterday and also announced that the album wouldn’t be streaming on any site.  Excuse me?  Adele, how am I supposed to listen to your awesome music?  You want us to actually purchase it?  Novel.  For today’s music culture, that is.

Speaking of Adele, before her album released she disguised herself and went to an Adele impersonator competition.  She changed her accent, put on a fake chin (seriously!) and pretended she was one of the impersonators as she waited behind stage with the rest of her biggest fans.  Watch them figure out it is actually her!  It is great!  You go, Adele, you go.

Moving on to another celeb, this girl had her hair and makeup done like Kim Kardashian every day for a week.  She gauged reactions, both good and bad and learned about herself and Kim by the end of the week.  It is an interesting way to study a celeb and also expose how judgemental people can be.

As we approach Thanksgiving and Black Friday, many of us will inevitably stand in lines.  Lines in airports, lines in stores, lines for bathrooms, lines, lines, lines.  When you stand in these orderly (or hectic, on Black Friday) lines, do you ever wonder where the single-file line originated?  No longer shall you wonder.  Find out from this article while you wait in all of those lines.

My family has a lot of holiday traditions, including some for Thanksgiving and the days following.  We eat a traditional Thanksgiving meal, relax together, wash dishes while singing Christmas carols and stay away from the malls at all cost.  This is a great survey of what the traditions Americans love to include in their Thanksgiving holiday.

Happy weekending and happy Thanksgiving prep!

smith mountain lake

When we went up to Blacksburg a few weeks ago to visit my sister and go to Virginia Tech’s homecoming game we stayed at some friend’s lake house on Smith Mountain Lake.

Tucked into the woods of the Virginia mountains, Smith Mountain Lake is a beautiful, peaceful place to spend time, no matter the season.

I had never been to SML and we drove up in the dark so it was difficult to know where we were or what our surroundings looked like. When we woke up the next morning though, the views were beautiful. Our room had huge windows across the entire outside wall so we had the incredible view across the lake.

Tucked into the woods of the Virginia mountains, Smith Mountain Lake is a beautiful, peaceful place to spend time, no matter the season.

Tucked into the woods of the Virginia mountains, Smith Mountain Lake is a beautiful, peaceful place to spend time, no matter the season.

Tucked into the woods of the Virginia mountains, Smith Mountain Lake is a beautiful, peaceful place to spend time, no matter the season.

Tucked into the woods of the Virginia mountains, Smith Mountain Lake is a beautiful, peaceful place to spend time, no matter the season.

The time we spent at the lake house was so relaxing. To get to the lake, you drive for miles on hilly roads with no gas station or town in sight before you arrive at the secluded neighborhood streets. Since we were visiting in a non-peak time of year the lake was so quiet and tranquil; we didn’t see anyone on the lake the entire time we were there. The leaves were just turning on some trees but already falling off of others, so there was a great mix of colors on the trees and on the ground.  The weather was crisp and clear the first morning we were there, but sprinkled the second day, which set the perfect mood to read on the screened in porch under a blanket with a slice of pumpkin crumb cake nearby. Needless to say, I think I’ll be back :)

Tucked into the woods of the Virginia mountains, Smith Mountain Lake is a beautiful, peaceful place to spend time, no matter the season.

apple hand pies with bourbon sauce

I am not a huge fan of apple pie. You are probably wondering where this is going.

These apple hand pies with bourbon sauce are delicious enough to feed a crowd and easy enough to make on Thanksgiving day!  (Don't worry, they can be made ahead of time too)  www.passthecookies.com

We usually have a few different dessert options after our Thanksgiving meal. Pumpkin pie and pecan pie are the usual winners for me. Sometimes we have apple pie, but our apple dessert is usually reserved for the apple cake we always have for my mom’s birthday in the days following Thanksgiving.

These apple hand pies with bourbon sauce are delicious enough to feed a crowd and easy enough to make on Thanksgiving day!  (Don't worry, they can be made ahead of time too)  www.passthecookies.com

When Will and I were dating, and since we have been married, we have switched off where we spend the November holiday. The first time I spent Thanksgiving with his family, his mom taught me how to make apple dumplings. They look time-intensive, but they are SO easy. I was shocked at how delicious they were for the amount of (or lack of) work we put into them. They were such an improvement over apple pie, and way easier to make. When I was thinking about desserts to make for Thanksgiving, those delicious dumplings came to mind.

These apple hand pies with bourbon sauce are delicious enough to feed a crowd and easy enough to make on Thanksgiving day!  (Don't worry, they can be made ahead of time too)  www.passthecookies.com

These apple hand pies with bourbon sauce are delicious enough to feed a crowd and easy enough to make on Thanksgiving day!  (Don't worry, they can be made ahead of time too)  www.passthecookies.com

Typically each person gets a dumpling, which is an entire apple, but sometimes you want less after a big dinner, or you want more because they are so delicious. Enter apple hand pies with bourbon sauce.

These apple hand pies with bourbon sauce are delicious enough to feed a crowd and easy enough to make on Thanksgiving day!  (Don't worry, they can be made ahead of time too)  www.passthecookies.com

These hand pies are the perfect miniature dessert for the holidays. You can cut the dough however large or small you want, fill with half the filling and fold in half if you want a smaller version, or eat more than one if you are still riding the dessert train after trying one. You can present them for a fancy dinner with a drizzle of sauce, a china dessert plate and a fork, or serve them casually with a gravy boat of self-serve sauce and the option to take their title of “hand pie” seriously.

These apple hand pies with bourbon sauce are delicious enough to feed a crowd and easy enough to make on Thanksgiving day!  (Don't worry, they can be made ahead of time too)  www.passthecookies.com

The best part about them is how quickly and easily you can make them. They can be made in advance from ingredients you probably have lying around, but they are also easy enough to make the day of the big meal. You can give the recipe and ingredients to that relative lingering in the kitchen to keep them busy; they won’t be able to mess them up. If you have time to make homemade pie crust, great! If not, join the rest of America in our Thanksgiving haste and pull out that premade crust in the freezer that you keep around for just these occasions and cut away (that is normal, right?).  Don’t have a round cookie cutter? No worries; cut the dough with the rim of a glass. You got this – bring it on, Thanksgiving.

These apple hand pies with bourbon sauce are delicious enough to feed a crowd and easy enough to make on Thanksgiving day!  (Don't worry, they can be made ahead of time too)  www.passthecookies.com

The crisp, tart Granny Smith apples transform to soft, sweet apple filling when the butter and spices melt into them in the oven. Surrounded by flakey, buttery pie crust, they melt in your mouth. The bourbon sauce is optional, but your guests will thank you. Add some vanilla ice cream and/or the cinnamon whipped cream that we talked about last week for good measure. A drizzle and a scoop and you’re in business. Easiest Thanksgiving dessert ever.

These apple hand pies with bourbon sauce are delicious enough to feed a crowd and easy enough to make on Thanksgiving day!  (Don't worry, they can be made ahead of time too)  www.passthecookies.com

Take the stress out of the day and make these easy, delicious apple hand pies with bourbon sauce to go with your Thanksgiving meal this year.  A little extra bourbon sauce never hurt ;)

Apple Hand Pies with Bourbon Sauce

Apple Hand Pies
2 pie crusts (homemade from this recipe, or store bought)
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
a pinch of sea salt
a few tablespoons of butter
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon cream
Flour, for dusting the cutting board

Bourbon Sauce
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup bourbon

Apple Hand Pies
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cut the apples in thin slices or rings and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and sea salt.

In another small bowl, beat the egg and cream together and set aside.

On a floured surface, roll out the pie crust and use a cookie cutter to cut as many circles out of the dough as you can. You can use the dough scraps to cut out leaves to decorate the top of the pies. Place apple slices on top of half of the dough circles. Top the apples with about a teaspoon of the sugar-spice mixture and a small pat of butter. Brush the edges of the apple-topped dough circles with the egg wash. Stretch the rest of the dough circles a bit (so they are able to cover the filling), place them on top of the apple, spice and butter-topped dough, and press the edges into the egg-washed edges of the bottom dough circles. Press a fork around the edges of the dough. Brush the tops of the pies with the remaining egg wash and place pie dough leave on top (if you have them). Cut a few small slits in the tops of the pies, to allow steam to escape.

Place the unbaked hand pies in the fridge for 10 minutes if the dough has warmed up during assembly. You want the dough to be chilled when the pies go in the oven.

Cook the hand pies for about 15-20 minutes (depending how big your pies are), or until golden. Allow the pies to cool on the tray for about 10 minutes.

While the apple hand pies are cooking, make the bourbon sauce.

Bourbon Sauce
In the bottom of a double boiler or in a small pot, bring water to a simmer. Place the butter, egg yolks, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and bourbon in the top of a double boiler or a heatproof bowl. Heat the mixture, whisking constantly for about 7 minutes.

Serve right away, pouring bourbon sauce over the hand pies just before serving. If you plan to serve them later, let the pies fully cool and refrigerate. You can heat them back up in the microwave or in a warm oven before you serve them. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or some cinnamon whipped cream from last week.

Bourbon sauce slightly adapted from Martha Stewart.

link love

Welcome to the weekend, friends.

link love 11.13.2015

We have made it through another week.  Let’s celebrate with some hot chocolate and some link love from the week.

It is getting closer and closer to the most wonderful time of the year! :)  These hand-painted cards are a great way to admire the upcoming Christmas season without feeling like you are getting too far ahead of Thanksgiving.  Cards have to be addressed early, right? ;)

Seattle is taking down the gum wall that has become steeped in tradition (and germs).  It makes me wonder why other cities are taking this act of public hygiene.

“The appeal of a running regimen is how the miles not only condition the body, but free up a space for the creative mind.”  I absolutely relate to this quote from an article on why writers run.  While I dispute that all writers run, I do believe that running and the creative mind impact more than just writing.  Running affects all creativity – written and otherwise -, stress, and the jumble of thoughts that are constantly running through my head.  Sometimes a run is the best way for me to come up with new ideas, expand on thoughts I already have, or just release built up stress.  Here’s to creative runs!

My good friend Avery is famous!  She was quoted in this New York Times article!  Go Avery, go!  Let cuffing season begin ;)

I have been to lots of big cities and on many subways, metros, underground and aboveground trains.  Almost all of them have an estimated time until the train arrives posted somewhere near the tracks.  On our trip to New York, my friends and I stood at the subway stops wondering if the train was going to arrive in 1 minute, or 20 minutes; would we have to sprint down the stairs to squeeze through the closing doors, or would we be waiting on the tracks forever?  We now have an answer to why NY subways don’t have countdown clocks.  Who knew?

Lastly, I am so saddened by the horrible attacks in Paris tonight.  Paris is one of my favorite cities and my heart, thoughts and prayers go out to all who are there and all who were affected.

blacksburg, va

A few weekends ago, my family met up in Blacksburg, Virginia to visit my sister and go to Virginia Tech’s homecoming game against Duke.  Virginia Tech in the fall is beautiful.  The leaves on the trees join the football fans in donning their maroon and orange, and the grey gothic architecture combined with the chilly air makes you feel like you are spending a day at Hogwarts.  I went to college at a basketball school, not a football school, so going to football games at Virginia Tech alway seem so huge.  The fan base goes all out in full on maroon and orange – you have to embrace it and tell yourself that it is in fact a good combination, because everyone else around you sure is.  They wear t-shirts, sweatshirts, and anything with a VT on it.  It is serious business, you certainly won’t see any of those sundresses or cute school colored scarves that I wore to football games at my non-football focused school.  While we were on campus, my sister, an industrial design major took us on a tour of her studio and some of the workshops she uses to make her projects (metal shop, wood shop, plastics, etc).  It was such a different world from the regular academic classrooms and textbooks I was used to seeing in college.  She and her classmate showed us some of the projects they have been working on and it made me want to go back and change my major.  Please?

Below are some pictures from the fun family and football-filled fall weekend.  While the game was close and Virginia Tech was pulling through until the end, it wasn’t the outcome we would have liked (well, except Will).  We still made it a great trip that I can’t wait to do again :)

I love spending time in the mountains in the fall and this trip to Virginia Tech with my family was nothing short of wonderful!

I love spending time in the mountains in the fall and this trip to Virginia Tech with my family was nothing short of wonderful!

I love spending time in the mountains in the fall and this trip to Virginia Tech with my family was nothing short of wonderful!

These are the students’ desks in my sister’s studio – empty before the football game.  It looks like complete chaos from above, but it is so cool to see the projects they are working on and how they shape the materials they use.  In the picture below one of my sister’s friends was in the studio working on a project.  She explained to us how she was designing an improved guiding stick for visually impaired people that has a more comfortable handle (she had a box of testers where she marked pain points) and will combine with technology to create a less obvious guidance system.  It was so intriguing!

I love spending time in the mountains in the fall and this trip to Virginia Tech with my family was nothing short of wonderful!

I love spending time in the mountains in the fall and this trip to Virginia Tech with my family was nothing short of wonderful!

I love spending time in the mountains in the fall and this trip to Virginia Tech with my family was nothing short of wonderful!

I love spending time in the mountains in the fall and this trip to Virginia Tech with my family was nothing short of wonderful!

I love spending time in the mountains in the fall and this trip to Virginia Tech with my family was nothing short of wonderful!

I just love Virginia Tech’s campus.  The Hokie Stone, the Drill Field, Burrus and the Pylons, and all of the Hogwarts corners are great :)

I love spending time in the mountains in the fall and this trip to Virginia Tech with my family was nothing short of wonderful!

I love spending time in the mountains in the fall and this trip to Virginia Tech with my family was nothing short of wonderful!

I love spending time in the mountains in the fall and this trip to Virginia Tech with my family was nothing short of wonderful!

In these two black and whites you can make out the school’s motto, “UT PROSIM,” etched into the stone below the seal.  In English it means “That I may serve.”  The motto appears in many places on campus and students rally around it.  It is such a good motto, one that we should all keep in mind in our every day lives.

I love spending time in the mountains in the fall and this trip to Virginia Tech with my family was nothing short of wonderful!

I love spending time in the mountains in the fall and this trip to Virginia Tech with my family was nothing short of wonderful!

I love spending time in the mountains in the fall and this trip to Virginia Tech with my family was nothing short of wonderful!

Hokie hokie hokie hi!  Tech tech VPI!  Woo hoo for spirit sisters :)  Below is Lane’s awesome reaction to a VT touchdown!  Gooooo HOKIES!

I love spending time in the mountains in the fall and this trip to Virginia Tech with my family was nothing short of wonderful!

The game was a “Maroon Effect,” or a maroon out for those of us who don’t speak the lingo.  The whole stadium (which is much larger than I am used to) was covered in maroon.  Only at Virginia Tech.

I love spending time in the mountains in the fall and this trip to Virginia Tech with my family was nothing short of wonderful!

The excited fans, colors of the trees, Hokie Stone buildings and the mountains provided such a great view during the game :)  See you soon, Blacksburg!  Go Hokies!

I love spending time in the mountains in the fall and this trip to Virginia Tech with my family was nothing short of wonderful!

pumpkin pie bars with chocolate chip gingerbread crust and cinnamon whipped cream

Are you gearing up for Thanksgiving yet?  I was at the mall this weekend and saw Christmas decorations in stores, both for sale and for festivity.

With the perfect flavors of fall, these pumpkin pie bars with chocolate chip gingerbread crust and cinnamon whipped cream are the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table.  www.passthecookies.com

I’m halfway excited because I LOVE LOVE LOVE Christmas, but I also think Thanksgiving should have it’s time to shine.  My family has so many traditions associated with both Thanksgiving and Christmas, and since Will and I have been married, we have made a few traditions of our own and begun to incorporate some of his family traditions into our holidays.  One of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving is that we get to see family, no matter whose side we visit that particular year.  We love catching up with relatives, helping out in the kitchen, talking over a big dinner, singing Christmas carols while we wash the dishes and relaxing by a fire and maybe watching a football game or parade as we enjoy each other’s company.

With the perfect flavors of fall, these pumpkin pie bars with chocolate chip gingerbread crust and cinnamon whipped cream are the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table.  www.passthecookies.com

In addition to traditions throughout the visits, we typically have the traditional Thanksgiving feast that is familiar to most Americans. Two of my favorite items at the Thanksgiving table are the sweet potatoes (team pecan topping, all the way) and the pumpkin pie. These pumpkin pie bars with chocolate chip gingerbread crust are the perfect dessert for Thanksgiving, or just to get you in the Thanksgiving mood. The gingerbread adds an extra spice and a twist on the typical pumpkin pie recipes.

With the perfect flavors of fall, these pumpkin pie bars with chocolate chip gingerbread crust and cinnamon whipped cream are the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table.  www.passthecookies.com

The bars absolutely have the flavors of fall but, just like the mall decorations, the gingerbread crust is just enough on the edge of the seasons for you to remember that Christmas gingerbread cookies are also on their way. You might be thinking you want to skip the chocolate in the gingerbread crust. Don’t. It sounds strange, but chocolate (especially dark) goes really well with gingerbread, and is always a great pair with pumpkin.

With the perfect flavors of fall, these pumpkin pie bars with chocolate chip gingerbread crust and cinnamon whipped cream are the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table.  www.passthecookies.com

The gingerbread and the pumpkin play off of each other in both flavor and texture. The sweetness from the filling and spice from the crust pair magically. The soft, smooth custardy texture of the pumpkin pie filling gives way to a shortbread-textured, chocolate chunk studded crust. Top it all off with some fluffy homemade cinnamon whipped cream and you’re in Thanksgiving dessert heaven.

With the perfect flavors of fall, these pumpkin pie bars with chocolate chip gingerbread crust and cinnamon whipped cream are the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table.  www.passthecookies.com

With the perfect flavors of fall, these pumpkin pie bars with chocolate chip gingerbread crust and cinnamon whipped cream are the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table.  www.passthecookies.com

The chocolate chip gingerbread crust can be made weeks in advance and kept in the freezer or refrigerator. Pull it out and let it thaw (if frozen) enough to press into the pan and you’re good to go for a less stressful dessert on the big day! The bars themselves can be made a few days before they are served, but if you make them too early the filling begins to make the crust softer. They are still good if this happens, it just isn’t preferable.

Note: you won’t use all of the gingerbread dough for the crust. You can use the extra dough to make pretty cut outs for the top of the bars. To do this, roll extra dough into a thin sheet and cut your desired shapes. Place them on the top of the bars about 5 minutes before the bars finish baking. If you have leftover dough after that or don’t want to use as many cutouts, freeze or refrigerate the rest and you can make cookies with it later!

Pumpkin Pie Bars with Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Crust and Cinnamon Whipped Cream

Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Crust
30 tablespoons (3.75 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar (can be replaced with light brown sugar)
4 tablespoons molasses
4 cups flour
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons allspice
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
½ teaspoon salt
1 heaping cup chopped dark or bittersweet chocolate

Pumpkin Pie Filling
1 ¾ cups pumpkin puree (should be all or most of a 15-ounce can)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
a pinch of ground nutmeg
1 1/3 cups cold heavy cream
3 large eggs

Cinnamon Whipped Cream
1 cup cold whipping cream or heavy cream
½ to 1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 to 2 tablespoons sugar or powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

To make the Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Crust:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Beat in the molasses until it is incorporated and the color is uniform. Add the flour, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, ground pepper and salt to the bowl and mix until fully incorporated. Add the chopped chocolate and mix until it is evenly distributed throughout the dough.

Press the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for about 1 hour, or until firm. The dough can be made days, or weeks, and stored in the fridge (or freezer for longer amounts of time).

Place a piece of parchment paper in an 8×8 square pan, or a casserole dish if you like thinner bars. Once the dough is chilled, press the dough into the bottom of the pan until you it is about ½-inch thick. Chill the rest for future use or make cutouts for the top, as described in the note above.

To make the Pumpkin Pie Filling:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a medium saucepan, combine pumpkin puree, sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg over medium heat. Allow the mixture to sputter (or simmer) and continue to cook for about 5-8 minutes. Stir regularly. Add the pumpkin puree and combine with heated ingredients. Whisk in cold cream until the mixture is smooth. Whisk in eggs, one at a time.

Pour the filling on top of the gingersnap crust. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 and bake for another 35-40 minutes, until the center of the bars just barely wiggles and a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean.

Let the bars cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

To make the Cinnamon Whipped Cream:
In the (clean) bowl of an electric mixer, whip the cream until it holds a soft peak. Add the sugar and cinnamon (both to your taste) and vanilla, if using, and continue to whip until the whipped cream holds a stiff peak.

Cut the bars, add a dollop of whipped cream, and enjoy!

Pumpkin pie filling slightly adapted from here.

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