Friday, October 31, 2014

Fashion Friday: Halloween Edition


(The neighborhood cat was kind enough to join me for the photo shoot.

I have always been a fan of Halloween, any holiday that allows you to become whomever/whatever you want to be AND on top of that people give you free candy?! What's not to love? I remember when I was little I used to dress up with my friends and we all went to "Boo at The Zoo" then we would proceed to trick-or-treat around my neighborhood until late into the evening (and by late I mean 11pm). But the best part was when I got home, I would run and jump on my parent's bed and dump out my glorious haul of edible treasures and we would proceed to feast. It hurts me to say that Halloween isn't nearly as fun when you grow up (sorry kids) even though I am spending this hallows eve at work, even the man couldn't keep me from flaunting my festive spirit.

Outfit Details:
Dress - Forever21 (old)
Headband - Charlotte Russe (old)
Tights - Target
Boots - Charming Charlies (old)
Pumpkin - stolen from parents

What are some of your fondest memories of Halloween?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Film Flashback: Cumberland Island

Continuing with my Film Flashback series, today I thought I would keep to the Halloween spirit and choose the Cumberland Island mansion. This island (located near St. Marys GA) was given to Revolutionary War hero General Nathanael Greene in 1785 as a repayment for his war contributions. He then began the construction of the four-story tabby Dungeness to serve as a hunting lodge. when Nathanael dies his wife Catherine was left to tend to the mansion, the pool house, and the untamed lands of the island. When she passed away years later, the mansion was deserted and eventually burned by robbers. As the 19th century faded, the 20th century rose as The Gilded Age, an explosion of wealth and excess. Pittsburgh’s Thomas (brother to steel magnate Andrew) and Lucy Carnegie decided on Cumberland Island as their winter home. Built in an even grander style than the original structure a century earlier, the 59-room, turreted Scottish castle, also called Dungeness, was completed with 40 additional buildings that included a staff of 200. Although Thomas died in 1886 and didn’t live to see its completion, Lucy and her nine children made Dungeness their permanent residence. When Lucy died in 1913 and, in 1959, a fire destroyed the deserted castle, some say by poachers hell-bent on destroying “this forbidden land” flourishing with game and modern conveniences. Seen from as far away as St. Marys, Dungeness burned for three days.

If you are interested in visiting this island, click HERE for more information.

Dungeness 1958
Pool House
Classic model cars left on the property

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Salted Caramel Apple Spice Cake

If there's one fruit I have ALWAYS loved in desserts, it's apples.


Think about it, 9 times out of 10 whenever you smell a delicious dessert baking in the oven, it usually involves apples.
I didn't really know what to call this "cake." It's moist like a cake but it also has a bread-like texture. I love the little bites of apple and the texture of the toasted pecans, it is reminiscent of an apple pie but in delicious cake form. I also had a chance to use some leftover salted caramel sauce which at first I thought would make this cake too sweet but it paired perfectly and created those coveted little pockets of soft gooeyness on top.

Salted Caramel Apple Spice Cake

recipe adapted from Paula Deen

3 cups diced and peeled Granny Smith apples, about 2 apples
1 cup lightly toasted chopped walnuts OR pecans
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 TBS ground cinnamon
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 and 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil OR melted butter
3 eggs

For the caramel sauce, click HERE

Directions:

1.Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease a Bundt pan, tube pan, or loaf pan.

2.In a bowl, mix together the apples, nuts, vanilla, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

3.Using an electric mixer beat the sugar, oil (or butter), and eggs in a large bowl. Add in the dry ingredients and beat until completely combined. Fold in the apple mixture (batter will be thick).

4.Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until a tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to fully cool in the pan, about 1 hour, and then turn it out onto a plate. Drizzle the apple cake with some of the glaze, serve and enjoy!

The cake can be wrapped tightly and stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fashion Friday: These boots were made for walkin'


It's finally the time for scarves, tights, jackets and boots! The weather is finally starting to cool down and the air is even starting to smell like fall (yes, you know that smell - dried leaves, pine trees, and happiness). I always have to buy a pair of boots every year, and these ones from JCPenneys I am particularly fond of. I like the deep brown color and the fact that they have a substantial heel, plus they're super comfy! Currently JCP is having $10 off $25 so these boots would be a bargain if you're in need of this winter staple.

Outfit Details
Dress (old), scarf (old), and bow tights - Forever21
Earrings (old) - Icing
Boots - JCPenneys

Next Fashion Friday will be Halloween! I will be working but that's not gonna stop me from dressing up! What do you plan on wearing next Friday?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Curry Butternut Squash and Pear Soup (Vegan Option)

Don't you love it when "happy accidents" happen in the kitchen.


The plan was to make butternut squash apple soup - I was in the kitchen, apron on, tunage playing, getting into the zone when I reached my hand in the fruit bowl only to find that I unkowingly devoured the last apple days before. Crap. With not enough squash to make a plain squash soup and no car to go to the store I was stuck - the only fruit in our house were three under ripe Barlett pears (which I had been saving to make a tart). And then, it hit me...apples are sweet and... pears are sweet so what's the big deal? Time to sacrifice that tart in the name of soup!


I have previously confessed my love of curry so you shouldn't be surprised at the savory - sweet combo. This soup blew my expectations! The sweetness of the roasted squash and pears meld perfectly with the savory back heat of the curry. you can easily adjust this recipe to fit a vegan diet too, just note the parentheses in the recipe!


Curry Butternut Squash and Pear Soup

serves 4-5

1 (2 pound) butternut squash
2 firm Bartlett pears, peeled and diced
1 TBS coconut oil
1 small onion, diced fine
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1 TBS yellow curry powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground thyme
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1/2 cup half and half (or soy milk)
salt and pepper to taste
sour cream and thyme to garnish (no sour cream for vegans obviously)

Directions:

1.Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cut squash in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membrane. Rub squash down with a little vegetable oil, salt, and pepper. Place squash halves, cut sides down, on the prepared baking sheet. Roast in preheated oven until very soft, about 45 minutes. Scoop the pulp from the peel, and reserve.

2.Melt coconut oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion, cook and stir until the onion is soft, about 10 minutes. Add spices and toast until fragrant, about 2 min. Pour the chicken broth into the pot, and bring to a boil. Stir in the pears and the reserved squash, and simmer until the pears are very soft, about 30 minutes.

3.Pour the soup into a blender, filling the pitcher no more than halfway full. Hold down the lid of the blender with a folded kitchen towel, and carefully start the blender. Puree in batches until smooth (or you can use an immersion blender which is 1000 times more convenient). Return the soup to the pot, stir in the half and half (or soy milk), and reheat. Add salt and pepper to desired tastes.
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