October 2017 archive

link love

It’s Friday, Friday, and we are weekend ready! Will has been on fall break for the past few days and I am itching to get in on the relaxing, too. This October weekend should bring beautiful weather, and I’m so looking forward to the cool temperatures and seeing the gorgeous falling leaves. The weather has me looking back on our fall fun list to see what fun things we can do this weekend. I hope your plans include relaxing and enjoying this fall weekend, too!

link love 10.20.2017via

To kick things off, let’s sit down with some fun link love from the week:

This ballet rotoscope video is short, but mesmerising.

Have you seen the ads for magnetic eyelash extensions? Thoughts? Would you try them?
They look a little scary, but easier on the eyelashes than regular eyelash extensions. I am skeptical, terrified, and intrigued all at the same time.

I am a long-time reader and lover of the blog Love Taza, and was so excited this week when she revealed her new living room in conjunction with Anthropologie. It is so beautiful! Those pink velvet chairs with the gallery wall and fireplace all make the room look like a dream!

Are you a morning person or a night owl? What about those afternoon hours after lunch?
Those can sometimes be some of my most productive hours, but at other times can be some of the least productive. I enjoy mornings, but I am always looking for ways to be productive at all times of the day. I love these tips for creating a productive afternoon routine, too.

Lastly, have you heard Taylor Swift’s newest song, “Gorgeous“? Of her releases from her new “Reputation” album, I like this one and the last (“Ready for It”), better than “Look What You Made Me Do,” though that may be the intention. In “Gorgeous,” we get a glimpse of the 1989 version of Taylor’s musical style, combined with the familiar topic of Taylor’s crush, and her new, deep bass and electronic background of the new album’s style.

what is your favorite pick-me-up?

What is your favorite pick me up? | www.passthecookies.com

Some days you just need a little boost, or a small treat to get you over that 3 p.m. hump. Do you have a favorite pick-me-up? What about a regular coffee shop order? I have always wanted to be the type of person with a go-to order, or at least have a place I visit so frequently that the staff recognizes me. I go to a small coffee shop a few times a week during my lunch break, sometimes to grab a drink or snack, sometimes just to do some blog work, and finally feel like the baristas know who I am when I walk up to the counter. The dilemma here is that they don’t ask for names for your order, and I pay with cash to get their “cash card” benefits, so they still don’t know my name, haha! Despite not knowing my name, it does feel nice to know that they recognize me and know me a little bit, even if it is just my schedule, habits, and random caffeine orders :)

While I often switch around my coffee shop order, I definitely have a few snacks I reach for consistently (apples, almonds, tea, coffee, and dark chocolate), which sometimes serve as my go-to pick-me-ups for other people too. Throughout the year I like to ask my friends and coworkers for their favorite coffee-shop order, snacks, or treats. Then when I need an easy way to say happy birthday or want to grab a pick-me-up on a hard day, I already know what to get. To really be prepared for any occasion, you can expand this and ask for a favorite candy, favorite food, favorite flower, etc. I have a huge Google Doc with a group of my college friends with all of our contact information and favorite things – I’m talking columns A-ZZ filled with addresses, birthdays and favorite snacks, drinks, patterns, colors, office supply the list goes on and on. This makes it so easy to know when birthdays are coming up, and exactly how to love them best at any time of the year! It is easy to send a “thinking of you” card or gift they will love (I love me some snail mail), and, when the time comes, makes secret Santa so much easier, too! So, what’s your go-to pick-me-up? What goodies should I add to my list?

Pumpkin Bread with Chai Crumble | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

First photo via Pinterest, second photo from my pumpkin bread with chai crumble.

maple caramel sauce

I love homemade caramel. As evidence of that, you can find apple cider caramel, whiskey caramel, salted caramel, and salted caramel pastry cream here on the blog. Every time I make one I exclaim about how much I love it and wonder why I don’t make it more often. There are so many caramel possibilities, and rather than try just one, I want every type to have their time to shine. Today, that type is maple caramel sauce.

Maple Caramel Sauce | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Maple Caramel Sauce | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Maple Caramel Sauce | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

This maple caramel sauce is a slice of fall heaven. The delicious caramel flavor intermingles with pure maple syrup to bring out an amazing sauce for the season. I seriously was eating it by the spoonful. So. Delicious. This is what I imagine would be served with pancakes and coffee on a crisp New England morning, made with maple syrup straight from the tree. Obviously that isn’t how I experienced it in muggy North Carolina, but nevertheless, that’s where my mind went and I chose to go with it. I mean, can you imagine this on pancakes?! Someone in my fall fantasyland got it right.

Maple Caramel Sauce | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Maple Caramel Sauce | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Maple Caramel Sauce | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

I joke, but maple caramel sauce is so versatile. Pour it over ice cream, mix it with some caramel, layer it in a cake, swirl it in brownies, stir it in your coffee, or, you guessed it, serve it with your pancakes ;) I’m excited to share another fun way to use it soon, but until then, cook it up and pour it on everything!

Maple Caramel Sauce
½ cup pure maple syrup
½ cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter
¼ cup heavy cream
¾ teaspoon sea salt

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the maple syrup and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Stir frequently. This should take 6-10 minutes.

Stir in the butter, one tablespoon at a time, stirring frequently. The butter will bubble as it hits the hot sugar-syrup mixture. Continue to heat for another 2 minutes, stirring a few times.

Pour in the cream and sea salt and cook for another 10-15 minutes, continuing to stir a few times a minute. You can make this as thin or thick as you like, but the caramel is done cooking when it becomes thick and doesn’t slide off of a spoon. If you prefer thinner caramel, reduce the cooking time. I cooked mine for the full 15 minutes and the resulting caramel was deliciously thick.

When the caramel is done, let it cool for a few minutes in the pot before transferring it to a jar. If the sauce thickens too much, reheat it in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time.

link love

You guys, I woke up yesterday morning and legitimately thought it was Friday. It was such a rude awakening when I realized it was only Thursday. Needless to say, this week has felt so long. I feel like I have been going in 10 different directions trying to get ready for huge work events, prepping my own travel plans, preparing for guests, and creating blog content, which has led to little sleep and more coffee than usual. On the other hand, finishing so much work has made me feel so productive! I know it isn’t sustainable, but I also have less on my plate next week, so I’m pushing through until I get there.

link love 10.13.2017

via Yossy Arefi

This morning I’m taking a little time to relax and reboot with some link love from the week (and last week, since we missed that. Whoops!). I hope you have a little time to enjoy it too.

This isn’t a new video, but I just recently discovered it and thought it was so funny, and so well done! Those clever marketing people.

My sister sent this satirical article about TJ Maxx to me last week and I seriously couldn’t stop laughing. I think I read the entire article out loud so Will could hear it and laugh along with me. It is so accurate.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? I am definitely more of an introvert, but what if there are more than two ways to think about this scale? What if personality wasn’t thought of as binary, but instead of as multi-faceted? I love this article about the topic and how it manifests in the workplace.


Will and I are always looking for cheap date ideas to save money while he is in grad school, but I also love brainstorming great ideas for a girl’s night or friend dates. So many of our friends are in similar positions to us, and it is always helpful to remember different budgets when we make plans together, and sometimes is a fun challenge to see what we can do without spending much (or any) money. I’m taking notes from this post and adding the ideas to my ongoing list.

This article about the gender inequality of emotional labor really resonated with me. Will does a great job of helping get things done around the house, especially when he has breaks from school and I still have to work, but I still sometimes feel the emotional labor from the ongoing checklist in my head. No matter how many times I put it on paper, that emotional labor still lingers. As a society, what do about this?

Lastly, one of my favorite links of the week is from Carly about working smarter, not just harder. Often times I think the phrase “work smarter, not harder” can be taken the wrong way, but I love her point that it’s not about the number of hours you put in; it’s the output of work you generate. On top of that, it isn’t just about the amount of work you generate, it is also about the quality. Her tips are great, and I love the idea of working while your computer has battery life, and taking a break when you need to plug it in. So smart, and so doable.

pumpkin cake with fluffy chocolate frosting

Last week I gave you a roundup of pumpkin recipes out from all over the internet. Today you have one more to add to the list: pumpkin cake with chocolate frosting! I hope you’re not tired of my pumpkin shenanigans yet.

Pumpkin Cake with Chocolate Frosting | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Pumpkin Cake with Chocolate Frosting | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Pumpkin Cake with Chocolate Frosting | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Last year I made this amazing pumpkin pie cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting, and as much as I would love to have that cake all the time, it is a bit time consuming. This year, I wanted to make a simpler version of the pumpkin cake, one that is easy enough to put together in an evening. This one fits the bill perfectly. Filled with spices and topped with fluffy chocolate frosting, this pumpkin cake is amazingly moist and so perfect for fall. It is always a crowd pleaser and a great choice for fall parties, but is still modest enough to have with a weeknight dinner. It can be made ahead of time and saves well.

Pumpkin Cake with Chocolate Frosting | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Pumpkin Cake with Chocolate Frosting | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

My family makes pumpkin bread with chocolate chips for brunch year-round, so a pumpkin cake with chocolate frosting seemed like a natural next step, but when I served this up to coworkers and friends I was surprised at how many people didn’t think of pumpkin and chocolate as a typical combination. If you haven’t tried pumpkin and chocolate together before, make this cake asap so you can experience the goodness of the two flavors marrying in a delicious dessert. Pumpkin and chocolate forever!

Pumpkin Cake with Chocolate Frosting | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Pumpkin Cake with Chocolate Frosting | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

The pumpkin puree makes the cake so moist, and the fudgy, fluffy chocolate frosting billows around the cake layers and envelops their fall spices with rich chocolaty sweetness. It is a match made in autumn dessert heaven.

To find the full recipe, head over to Lexi’s blog. The pumpkin cake was based on my pumpkin pie cake with cinnamon cream cheese frosting.

Pumpkin Cake with Chocolate Frosting | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

maple apple pear cider

One of my favorite things to do in the fall is curl up in a sweater with a mug of hot apple cider. Even better is sipping cider while sitting on my parents screened porch in the early morning, wrapped in a blanket to keep warm, but still feeling the crisp air around us. This maple apple pear cider is even more satisfying than the store-bought version and brings the best cozy feeling as it simmers away, emitting it’s delicious spiced scent.

Maple Apple Pear Cider | www.passthecookies.com

Maple Apple Pear Cider | www.passthecookies.com

Maple Apple Pear Cider | www.passthecookies.com

Apple cider brings back so many good fall memories from different stages of my life. Growing up, my dad would wait for my siblings and me at the bus stop with a warm mug of hot apple cider to sip as we walked home from the corner. As a little kid it was always so exciting to hop off the school bus into the chilly weather and have a warm hug and a steaming mug of cider at the ready. It wasn’t a long walk, but had time to we sip cider together, crunch the leaves on the sidewalk, and excitedly talk about our school days. If only that was how we ended each day now ;)

Maple Apple Pear Cider | www.passthecookies.com

Maple Apple Pear Cider | www.passthecookies.com

Maple Apple Pear Cider | www.passthecookies.com

More recently, Will and I have made it a tradition to go apple picking and get apple cider slushies or apple cider doughnuts at the orchard. While the apple cider comes in different forms, it is still the same quintessential flavor that I crave this time of the year. Making this maple apple pear cider brings back those nostalgic memories, but also creates new ones in the life stage we are in right now. I love to throw this together on a Saturday morning or Sunday before church and have the wonderful cider scents greet me when I get home later in the day, and bubbling maple apple cider for me to enjoy throughout the week.

Maple Apple Pear Cider | www.passthecookies.com

Maple Apple Pear Cider | www.passthecookies.com

Whether it brings nostalgia or new memories, I hope this maple apple cider fills your home with spices and makes a fall day even cozier.

Maple Apple Pear Cider
5 apples, halved and quartered
5 pears, halved and quartered
1 orange, quartered
¼ – ½ cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons whole allspice
2 teaspoons whole cloves
4-6 cinnamon sticks

Place all of the fruit and spices in a crockpot with ¼ cup of maple syrup. Fill the crockpot with water, leaving about 2-3 inches of space from the top. Gently stir everything to mix the maple syrup around. Cover with the lid and cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 4-5 hours. After a few hours, crush the fruit with a slotted spoon or potato masher.

If you would rather make this on the stove, follow the same instructions for the ingredients, then put everything in a large stock or soup pot. Boil the cider uncovered for an hour, stirring frequently to prevent the fruit from burning. After the first hour, cover and simmer for 2 to 3 more hours. Crush the fruit with a slotted spoon or potato masher and stir occasionally.

Taste and add more maple syrup or spices to your preference.

Let the cider cool slightly then strain all of the fruit and spices through cheesecloth or fine mesh sieve into a large bowl. Squeeze all of the liquid from the cheesecloth/sieve. Store in the fridge and serve cold or warm!

You will have a lot of cooked fruit leftover. For a bonus recipe, throw the apples and pears in your food processor for some applesauce (or apple/pearsauce)!

pumpkin recipe roundup

I have professed my love for all things pumpkin many times in this space. I try to make at least one new pumpkin recipe a year, and often wind up with so many ideas that I want to try but not enough time to make, photograph, and post all of them. There are so many pumpkin recipes out there on the web that look amazing and since I can’t post every pumpkin recipe, I thought it would be fun to create a pumpkin recipe roundup from around the web. Fellow pumpkin lovers rejoice!

Pass the Cookies Pumpkin Recipe Roundup - Breakfast | www.passthecookies.com

Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts
Pumpkin Bread with Chai Crumble
Pumpkin Chai Doughnut Muffins
Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Cinnamon Streusel
Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal with Maple Roasted Pecans
Pumpkin Pop Tarts with Brown Butter Maple Frosting
Pumpkin Scones with Candied Ginger and Maple Glaze
Pumpkin Spice Granola
Secretly Vegan Pumpkin Bread
Twiced Baked Pumpkin Pie Croissant
Vanilla Doughnuts with Pumpkin Pastry Cream
Whole Wheat Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes


october goals

October is one of my favorite months of the year. I love fall weather and the fun autumn activities that come with it. While the shorter days can sometimes be a downside to the season, the early dark skies make it easier to cozy up in a warm blanket with a mug of hot apple cider on crisp nights. I’m excited for what is to come this season, both in life and on the blog. I recently planned two quick trips, one for work and one for fun, and am really looking forward to both. The process for both was so quick and unexpected that it feels like I’m being spontaneous, even if they are still weeks away :). I’m looking forward to October.

Pumpkin Bread with Chai Crumble | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Get the recipe for this pumpkin bread with chai crumble here!

September goals:
– Create and stick to a better editorial calendar for the blog – I think I did this pretty well! I’m still going with my editorial calendar and am getting into a rhythm with it. I’m a little afraid I may overschedule and burn out, but we’ll see how it goes!
– Spend a weekend with family at my cousin’s wedding – Lots of rain, lots of family time, a really adorable coffee shop, and the best everything bagel I have ever had in my life.
– Continue to exercise regularly as my work schedule ramps up. Specifically, run when I can and do at-home exercises if the weather is bad. - Yes, but was more lenient with myself when I was absolutely exhausted from lots of overtime weeks. I did try a new group fitness class, which I loved!
– Get a mattress for the new bed (DIY coming soon!) in our second bedroom – Yes, after months and months we finally completed this one! You can see the DIY cane headboard tutorial here!
– Go apple picking! – We missed the “u pick” window at the apple orchard nearby, but we went pumpkin picking instead, so I’m crossing this one off. One form of fall produce counts for another, right?

October goals:
– Enjoy a fall treat
– Take advantage of the cooler weather by exercising outside regularly, including a run on the “Pumpkin Loop”
– Make a new soup recipe
– Enjoy relaxing time with family on our siblings’ fall breaks
– Enjoy time with friends on trips for work (NYC) and fun (mountains)
– Use my time efficiently at work and at home – less mindless checking and refreshing Instagram, no Instagram after 10pm
– Drink at least 80 oz of water a day – I am usually good at getting at least 68, but have been lax about this recently and feeling dehydrated because of it.
– Dress up to give candy to trick-or-treaters!
– Make a practice-round dish for Thanksgiving

pumpkin bread with chai crumble

It’s October, which means it’s officially PUMPKIN MONTH!!! If you know me, you know that pumpkin is possibly my favorite flavor ever. Consuming pumpkin treats in the fall is the absolute best way I could experience the season, I just love it so much. I am squirming-in-my-seat excited about all of the fall recipes coming up, but especially about this pumpkin bread with chai crumble. Imagine a loaf of pumpkin bread, a chai latte, and a thick-crumbed coffee cake got together. This amazing pumpkin bread with chai crumble is the outcome.

Pumpkin Bread with Chai Crumble | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

I loved pumpkin flavored foods before the pumpkin spiced craze ramped up in coffee shops and grocery stores. While fall is the best time to curl up with a warm slice of pumpkin bread in a cozy sweater, we don’t stop making it when the season changes. Pumpkin bread is a year-round brunch staple in our family, which is why I’m surprised I didn’t think to change it up until now!

Pumpkin Bread with Chai Crumble | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Pumpkin Bread with Chai Crumble | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Pumpkin bread with chai crumble has all of the amazing flavors and moist crumb of pumpkin bread, with the added fun of a crisp, spiced crumb topping that is perfect for the season (or past the season, if you’re in my family). It is wonderfully addicting, but also rich enough that you don’t need more than a slice to feel satisfied. The best part of the bread is where the chai crumble meets and settles into the domed top of the pumpkin bread, between the crisp outside layer and the full force of the pumpkin bread. The chai and pumpkin spices join for a fall spice party in your mouth.

Pumpkin Bread with Chai Crumble | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Pumpkin Bread with Chai Crumble | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

The thick, soft slices of pumpkin bread with spicy chai topping pair wonderfully with a cup of hot coffee, or tea – extra points for a chai latte – for breakfast on the go, brunch with friends, or a midday snack in the office. I can’t think of anything that would make my workday better than a slow pumpkin bread snack break. I mention in the instructions to wait until the loaf is completely cool to slice it, but does anyone actually follow that guideline? I’m always so impatient by the time the loaves come out that I can’t wait another minute to try a bite. I know that it slices more easily when it has cooled, but waiting for that has to be the hardest part! I know can’t be the only one in that boat. Where are my fellow warm bread slicers?

Pumpkin Bread with Chai Crumble | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Pumpkin Bread with Chai Crumble | Pass the Cookies | www.passthecookies.com

Pumpkin bread with chai crumble is my favorite fall treat to date! I’m so excited for you to make (and taste) some too!

If you do make this recipe, tag me on Instagram (@hopehwoodhouse) so I can see your wonderful creations!

Pumpkin Bread with Chai Crumble

Pumpkin Bread
3 ¼ cups flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
1 ¾ cups (one 15-ounce can) pumpkin puree
1 cup vegetable oil (or butter)
3 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup water, at room temperature

Chai Crumble
3 cups flour
2 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 ½ cups light brown sugar, packed
1 ½ cups (2 ½ sticks) butter, melted

To make the chai crumble
In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the butter. Pour in the butter and use your hands to bring the ingredients together until all of the dry ingredients are moist and you can form a ball with the mixture. Break the topping into small pieces and set aside.

To make the pumpkin bread
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat two 9×5-inch loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray or butter and dust with flour to coat the entire pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, baking soda, and salt.

In another large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree and oil (or butter) until combined. Add the sugar and mix again to fully incorporate it into the pumpkin. Whisk the eggs and vanilla into the mixture. Add the water and whisk until all of the ingredients are fully combined.
With a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, being careful not to overmix the batter. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans and smooth the tops with a spatula. Sprinkle the chai crumble on top of both breads. It should fully cover the batter, with more to add on top of that first layer.

Bake for 45 minutes, then rotate the pans and bake for another 30 to 45 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean. The topping should be entirely cooked with no soft spots.

Let the breads cool in their pans on a wire rack for about 15 minutes before removing them from their pans. Let the loaves cool completely before slicing and serving (if you have the patience ;)).

If you aren’t serving them right away, or have leftover pumpkin loaf, wrap the loaves in plastic wrap and store them at room temperature. They will last for 3 days, unless you are in our house. These also freeze well and are perfect to make ahead for brunches or hostess gifts. To freeze, wrap the loaves in plastic wrap then again in aluminum foil or wax paper. If you use wax paper you may need to tape the ends down.

Pumpkin bread adapted from my family’s favorite recipe in Baked: New Frontiers in Baking.