Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Bars

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When we were invited to a pumpkin-carving party in anticipation of Halloween, I knew three things– 1) I was going to carve a fabulous pumpkin; 2) I was going to bring dessert; and 3) that dessert would also have to include pumpkin.

Last year for this event I made cupcakes– these cupcakes, to be exact— but while they were delicious and well-received, they were kind of a pain to transport in my two-tier cupcake carrier, while carrying a pumpkin. Also, cupcakes aren’t the ideal serving size for parties where there’s a buffet’s worth of food options– too big for people who want to sample multiple desserts. So this year I decided to solve both problems and make pumpkin bars.

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Butternut Squash with Gouda

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Okay, so “Butternut Squash with Gouda” isn’t exactly the most exciting name for this dish, but I couldn’t think of anything better so there it is. Besides, while the name may be boring, the recipe is anything but– it takes a few simple ingredients and combines them into a rich, flavorful, autumn-centric (new word!) dish. You get tender chunks of butternut squash, mixed with sweet and savory caramelized onions, a hint of sage, a creamy strata of gouda cheese, and it’s all topped with a crunchy layer of toasted panko. It would make a fabulous side dish for this year’s Thanksgiving.

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Secret Ingredient Apple Pie

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It’s fall in New England, and that means apple-picking! Our family recently took advantage of a gorgeous fall day to head out to an orchard and participate in that most quintessential of fall activities, and came home tired, happy, and weighed down with a full nineteen pounds of apples. While my daughter has been doing her part to consume them (at least insofar as “taking two bites out of an apple and declaring it ‘all done'” can be considered consumption), that’s still a mountain of apples. So I thought I’d try my hand at another quintessential favorite– the apple pie, but with the added twist of a secret ingredient. What is it, you ask? Read on…

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Velvet Pumpkins

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This is one of the projects that my husband will roll his eyes about. Truth be told, I roll my eyes at myself, too, because it was just such a useless project in the end (and I spent way too much on supplies). Here’s how it went:

Every fall, the artsy boutiques start putting up displays including these velvet pumpkins. They look amazing all piled up, with all the different colors and sizes, and they’re oh-so-touchable and soft. And so easy to make! It was a classic “I want these! I could make these! Let’s buy ALL THE SUPPLIES!” thing for me.

While these really were genuinely easy to make, a few problems arose. The first, of course, is that you need to make a big circle of velvet to gather up into a pumpkin, so you can’t just buy a regular quarter-yard of velvet– it’s too narrow (a fat quarter would work, though). You need to buy at least a half-yard. And the dinky brick-and-mortar fabric stores near me didn’t stock stretch velvet (regular velvet was too expensive and only came in three colors there), so I had to buy online, which basically meant that any orders under $20 weren’t worth paying shipping for, so I bought more. And it’s kind of weird to just make one pumpkin, you have to have at least three or four to make a nice display, and they can’t all be the same color, and the colors have to go together but not be too matchy-matchy… and before I knew it I had 16 different colors of stretch velvet in my fabric stash. Continue reading