Smoked Turkey & A Giveaway!

smokedturkey

Whew! What a busy weekend it was!

It all started with a good 3 miles of running after work on Friday. This half marathon training stuff is crazy. Just crazy. I’m only running 3-4 miles now, and I can’t imagine going 4 times as far!! Then, Saturday, we decided to do a practice holiday meal (since we’re probably hosting Christmas this year…YAY!) and invited the in-laws over…smoked turkey, potatoes, green beans, a twist on cranberry sauce that knocked everyone’s socks off (sharing that Wednesday) and a great dessert that I’m sharing with you guys Friday! It’s going to be a week of Thanksgiving…with a twist…on the blog. I hope you all LOVE it as much as we loved it!

Can I also brag a bit? As far as my side of the family goes…Christmas shopping is ALL DONE! I just have to get something for my husband, and of course, help him out with his family’s gifts. :-) Once I get started on shopping, I am a gift shopping machine. I kind of want to go in the attic and grab our container of gift wrap, but I think my husband would give me a permanent side-eye. Ah well…now to just relax and finish making the gifts that I plan on crafting.

So, that picture may not be the most picture perfect turkey (I think it’s because I didn’t butter the skin well enough and I tore it…womp wah), but OMG…it was SO tasty. And that’s all that matters, right? (especially once it’s carved up) Making the turkey in a smoker is a fun twist on the traditional oven-roasted turkey. It’s full of smoky flavor, and since the turkey is injected with a whole jar of marinade, the turkey is crazy moist.

NOTE: This recipe is intended for an electric smoker (we own a Masterbuilt one).

Smoked Turkey
Source: Dadgum, That’s Good

Ingredients:

  • one whole turkey, thawed
  • 1 bottle buttery creole injection marinade…make sure it comes with an injector or purchase your own (we used Tony Chachere’s)
  • cajun seasoning (we used Tony Chachere’s)
  • apple wood chips, for smoking
  • apple juice
  • water
  • 1 stick unsalted butter

Directions:

  1. Fill the smoker’s water pan 1/3 of the way full with half apple juice and half water (about 3 cups for our particular water pan). Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees F. Rinse out and dry the thawed turkey in the sink (don’t forget to disinfect the sink after this!). Using the injector, inject the turkey (in various areas) with one full jar of the buttery marinade.
  2. Liberally season the skin (and carefully underneath the skin) of the turkey with cajun seasoning, being sure to rub it well into the skin. Cut the butter into small pats, and carefully place them under the skin of the turkey.
  3. Add a small handful of apple wood chips to the smoker (we have a special loader for this). Open the smoker, and place the turkey on a rack high in the smoker (in the center of the rack) and close the door. Every hour or so of the cooking process, add another handful of apple wood chips to your smoker (no more than 5 times for the whole cooking process of the turkey). Smoke the turkey for about 30 minutes per lb., ensuring that the internal temperature of the turkey breast reaches 165 degrees.
  4. Remove the turkey from the smoker and place it on a rimmed baking sheet, covering the entire turkey with foil to allow it to rest. Allow the turkey to rest for about 30 minutes before serving.

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A Bunch of Randoms

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, hasn’t it? I sort of miss doing these on a weekly basis. :-)

1. I’m head over heels in love with this foundation. I got it for Christmas last year, and sparingly used it, because it was so pricey. Whatever…I’m now using this every single day. I love it…I use it with a makeup primer and I hardly have oily skin anymore. It’s awesome!

Randoms

2. The cooler it gets, the more Millie wants to jump on the sofa and cuddle with me. This pose especially melts my heart….she rests her chin on my leg? Ugh…I can’t help but smile and move my laptop over for her.

Randoms

3.  I love our front yard garden right now. Just love it…I’m proud to say I haven’t killed anything yet. Perhaps my thumb is taking on a more green hue?

4. This made me laugh so hard today. I think #26 would go perfectly with those gross Harry Potter earwax-y Jelly Bellys (anyone remember when they came out with those?) for a Halloween party.

5. I hate to say it, but I think I finally gave up on Grey’s Anatomy. I’ve been watching that show since the college days, and it was SO great back then. The show is just so boring lately, and I think it’s because Shonda is rocking the something out of Scandal. She can only really write one good show at a time.

Randoms

6. This arrived in our mailbox the other day. Y’all…it’s SO close to the holiday season! Eep!

7. I’m doing a DietBet right now, and I’m so happy to see great results again. 4.4 lbs. down so far, which I’m probably ruining with the Gobstoppers that I’m snacking on. Darn you, Halloween candy!

Randoms

8. Here’s our annual picture of Millie with her “pupcake”. Yes, I’m that puppy mom who drove to a cupcake bakery just to buy a pupcake. Isn’t she just the sweetest? I love that dog.

9. Our local Trader Joe’s opens today. I’m SO excited. While I won’t be going there for at least another week (crowds), it’s exciting that good ol’ Baton Rouge is getting some cool franchises. I also read our first Costco is opening in April! Whee!

Randoms

10. I know it’s not anywhere close to Christmas yet, but I like to mess with my coworkers. I’ve been putting up a new Christmas decoration each week. We, as a team, had a nice tree in past years, but since the coworker who owned that tree retired (and took the tree with her), I thought it would be fitting to put up a pathetic Charlie Brown tree. All it needs is Linus’ blanket. :-)

Hope everyone has a great Halloween!

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

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Could the weather be more perfect lately? I can’t get enough of it. My day job is a standard desk job, and usually I’ll stay inside as much as possible, since it’s so gross and humid outside. However, lately…I take my breaks outdoors and walk or just relax on a bench and take in this perfect weather. It reminds me a lot of when I went to San Diego for a work conference…it was in the middle of July, yet, it felt like fall out there. Amazing!

I made this bread pudding since I took a bread baking class that I won in a local trivia contest on Twitter. After taking the class, I had 3 full baguettes at our house. When life gives you stale bread, you make bread pudding, right? And when life gives you stale bread in the fall, you make PUMPKIN bread pudding. Completely logical.

The most tedious part was cubing all of the bread, but after that, it was simple to throw together. Since I was bringing this to coworkers, I steered clear of the normal rum sauces (even though it’s cooked, I just don’t chance it) and made a pumpkin spice sauce to give the dessert an even bigger boost. This was SO good, and seeing that a double batch of this left the office well before lunch-time hit, I think quite a few people agreed with me. :-)

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Pumpkin Spice Sauce
Source: bread pudding adapted from Smitten Kitchen, sauce adapted from Land O’ Lakes

Ingredients:

For the bread pudding:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 yolk
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 5 cups cubed (1-inch) day-old baguette or crusty bread
  • 3/4 stick unsalted butter

For the sauce:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, milk, sugar, eggs, egg yolk, salt and pumpkin pie spice until well-combined.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. While preheating the oven, add the butter to the bottom of an 8″ square baking dish, and place it in the oven, allowing it to melt.
  3. When the butter has melted, take the dish out of the oven, and carefully toss (using tongs, since of course, the dish & butter will be very hot) the bread cubes in the butter, coating all of the bread well. Spread the bread cubes evenly over the baking dish. Give your bread pudding mixture one last stir, and then pour the mixture evenly over the bread cubes, ensuring that all of the bread pieces are evenly coated. Bake the bread pudding until the custard is set, about 25-30 minutes.
  4. To make the sauce, add the butter, sugar, brown sugar, cream and pumpkin pie spice to a saucepan. Cook the sauce over medium heat for 5-8 minutes, making sure to stir ever so often. The mixture should thicken a bit and come to a full boil. Once that happens, remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Allow the sauce to cool until warm.
  5. To serve, pour warm sauce over warm bread pudding. It’s also great served with fresh whipped cream or ice cream. You can store leftover bread pudding and sauce in the fridge, and microwave until both are warm again.

Double Chocolate Cupcakes

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

I have a random problem. I am a gift card hoarder. I realized when I was switching purses that I have quite a nice stack of gift cards, most of them being from last Christmas. I can spend my own money fairly easily, but for some reason, I want a gift card to end up resulting in a purchase that’s truly a gift. :-) This past weekend, I combined a couple of Macy’s gift cards (from Christmas last year), and purchased myself a big girl food processor. No more making salsa in batches in the small 3-4 cup food processor….no more shredding cheese by hand…this gal is very excited! I think that’s a good gift, no? It’s crazy how excited I am about this new kitchen toy.

I also hoard other random things…usually pretty things, like certain skeins of yarn, fabrics and well, as silly as it sounds, these cupcake liners. I purchased these from Pick Your Plum months ago, and I just thought they were so pretty…I couldn’t just use them on just any cupcake. So, they’ve been sitting in a drawer for months. I decided that I just had to bake with these at some point, and with Halloween around the corner, the orange polka dot ones would be perfect.

I got the idea to make double chocolate cupcakes from a local shopping expo yesterday. A bakery was giving out samples of chocolate-chocolate chip cake, and I thought that would be an excellent cupcake for Halloween. Dark chocolate in orange liners….festive, right? These cupcakes are delightful…I added chocolate chips in there to give it a deeper chocolate flavor, and then topped them with a classic chocolate buttercream that I featured on here before, which is always a winner. :-)

Double Chocolate Cupcakes
Source: cupcakes slightly adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction, frosting from Savory Sweet Life

**makes 24 cupcakes**

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks)  unsalted butter
  • 4 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the buttercream:

Directions:

  1. Prehead the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cupcake pans with cupcake liners and set aside for later.
  2. In a medium microwave safe bowl, melt the butter and chocolate together, microwaving in 30 second increments (stirring after each time). In another medium sized bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt until well-combined. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the eggs, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla together until smooth. With the mixer on low, add in half of the flour/cocoa mixture, then half of the buttermilk. Repeat again until everything is added. Add in the mini chocolate chips, and mix until just combined (being mindful not to overmix).
  4. Add batter to the cupcake liners (1/2-2/3 of the way full). Bake for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes completely before frosting.
  5. Make the frosting according to the directions (linked above) as the cupcakes are cooling. Frost the cupcakes and enjoy!

Cranberry Apple Avocado Salad

cranberryappleavocadosalad

My goodness! Life has been fairly busy lately. Things were a little more relaxing once the house got repaired from the lightning mess, however, the past couple of weeks, the closer we get to the holidays (um, it’s exactly two months until Christmas), the busier things get! I sound like I’m complaining, but it has me so excited. :-)

I know that it’s too soon to talk about holiday stuff for the majority of people, but every year in October, I get the holiday fever. I put the Josh Groban’s “Noel” CD in my car, I start crafting like crazy for holiday gifts & I’ll linger around any aisle in a store with snowflakes and trees. I’m tempted to burn my holiday tree candle, but then I’ll want to put the tree up. I do have my limits…. :-P

When I attended Fresh Summit this past Sunday, I received a bag of this new (to me) variety of lettuce from Coastline Produce called Little Gems. They looked like baby romaine, but they are a hybrid of crispy romaine and sweet butter lettuce. I couldn’t wait to try it, so I went to the store with an idea of combining apple and cranberry in a salad with this lettuce, along with a vinaigrette recipe I’ve had my eyes on since last year. Then, when I got home, I found that I received the amazing prize (from the California Avocado Commission) that I won from Dine & Dish’s Avocado contest (STILL can’t believe I won it!!), and included in that prize was a bag of avocados. I couldn’t help but add this to the salad as well, because avocados are pretty darn awesome in any salad. :-) It was so so good! The crispness of the apple and lettuce, the creaminess of the avocado and the tartness from the cranberry just made this salad delightful! The salad dressing is a bright pink color, which I think makes it so pretty and colorful. In fact, looking at it while I’m in my holiday fever phase makes me think that this recipe would be PERFECT for the holidays. It’s red and green, after all. :-)

Cranberry Apple Avocado Salad
Source: dressing adapted from AllRecipes

Ingredients:

For the salad:

  • 1 head Little Gem lettuce (or lettuce of your choice), washed well and dried
  • 1 large apple (I used gala), cored and sliced thin
  • 1 avocado, pitted and sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup fresh cranberries
  • 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. water

Directions:

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine all of the ingredients, blending until the dressing is very smooth.
  2. In a large bowl, add the lettuce, apple slices, avocado slices & dried cranberries. You can either serve it with the dressing on the side or tossing the salad with the dressing, a little at a time, until the salad is dressed to your preferences. Serve immediately.

Disclaimer: I received the lettuce at no cost to me from Coastline Produce, and the avocado was part of a prize pack from the California Avocado Commission.

 

PMA Fresh Summit Recap

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This past weekend, I had the privilege to attend Fresh Summit, as a part of Team Fresh Summit (which was a group of bloggers brought together by PMA – Produce Marketing Association and Kitchen Play). I had no idea what to expect, but I was excited to learn about the produce industry and possibly be introduced to new brands that I haven’t seen before.

The conference was Friday/Saturday/Sunday, but I only could attend on Sunday. I figured that 7 hours on the expo floor would be plenty. I could meet all of the brands that I wanted to say “hello” to, and have extra time to stop by booths that caught my eye.

Before I braved the expo, there was a general morning session. While it was geared more towards people in marketing careers, I think I could apply quite a few principles from the speech to my blog. I wasn’t expecting much from the general session, but wow, time flew! It was one of the better sessions I’ve sat in for a conference (professionally and blog-wise).

After a meeting with PMA and the other bloggers of Team Fresh Summit, it was time to hit the expo floor. Can I just say…HOLY COW! I thought I knew the convention center’s size, but man…from the inside, it’s a whole different animal! I mean, look at the picture above. That’s a 3D Mardi Gras Mask made of berries. BERRIES. Plenty of booths were this extravagant, and it was quite a site to see!

I learned a couple of lessons during the expo, in case I’m able to attend this again: first off, I’m never bringing my DSLR to a conference/expo again. My iPhone takes great pictures, and weighs barely anything. It was kind of silly on my part to lug around a 15 lb. camera bag when I only took a handful on the DSLR anyway. :-P Also, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! I’m naturally shy, but after speaking to a couple of people, I found that it was easier to approach someone at a booth and introduce myself. I was doing fairly well until somewhere in the 2000s when I lost my prized list of brands that I wanted to meet with. ::sigh::

Needless to say, I didn’t meet every brand I wanted to meet with. I wasn’t bummed about it though…there were 1000 booths there, and the brands I did meet with were wonderful! I’m in shock that quite a few people actually took some time out of their busy day to talk to me…with 20,000 people walking around, that expo was booming! In fact, Fresh Summit can only be held in a handful of cities, because of the size that they require to make this event happen.

Another cool thing about the expo is that most of these booths had displays that were well-stocked like grocery stores. So much food…

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…and I found out from someone that every single bit of food leftover from the event ends up at the local food bank. I read a tweet from the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau that said the food bank received 300,000 pounds of food from Fresh Summit. Isn’t that awesome??!

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I’m a little bummed that I could only attend for one day, but at the same time, it was a wonderful experience! I’m so glad I was able to attend. :-)

At the end of the day, I have to admit my shoulders were on fire haha! The booths were so generous, as you can see below. That shopping bag was full! Also, according to my pedometer, I walked 4 miles that day….my body was aching the next day. At least after all of that sampling, I had a great work-out! :-P

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Thank you so much to PMA, as well as Kitchen Play, for my registration to Fresh Summit. I had a great time! If you ever have the chance to attend Fresh Summit (it’s going to be in Anaheim next year), definitely consider it. It’s so cool to learn about the produce industry, and to actually put a face to a brand that you buy in the grocery store. :-)

Disclosure: I was provided with a free registration to PMA’s Fresh Summit. All opinions are 100% my own.

Quitting Weight Watchers

I quit Weight Watchers.

I know…that was quick, eh? It just wasn’t for me, and I’m gonna explain why.

Weight Watchers didn’t feel normal to me. Given that I was calorie counting for well over a year, I thought a change would do me some good. It was the exact opposite. I had to relearn what foods were Points wise vs. calories wise. Sure, a new diet is an adjustment, but I guess I didn’t think it’d be that bad.

I also realized the system treated foods much differently than calorie counting. Some foods were 0 points, which to me, made NO sense since they had calories. How is it zero points? I also compared my Weight Watchers journal to MyFitnessPal ever so often (I have trust issues) to see if the calorie values for the points I consumed were about the same for what MyFitnessPal recommended. Every time, I was consuming more calories with Weight Watchers. No wonder why my weight loss wasn’t going as well!

I’ll admit, I gained some weight (again) once I quit. I just couldn’t get motivated by Weight Watchers, knowing that I was eating more than I should be. I also just couldn’t get motivated by my leader….I know they say just switch, but um, our center had one leader (for the meetings I could attend).

So, before the holidays, I decided that I REALLY need to get back to it, and I’m falling back on an old friend: Diet Bet. I’m embarrassed by the fact that I was 225 (almost 75 lbs. down) back in APRIL…and I’ve gained some weight since then. I guess it’s the nature of being human (nobody’s perfect, and this is, after all, a journey), but I’m still disappointed in myself.

I think it’s best to just get back into losing the weight before the holidays hit, because for me, once it becomes a routine for me again, I go into LOSE ALL THE POUNDS mode and do fairly well (at least in past experience, it’s gone this way). I especially need a routine again, since half marathon training starts next week (OMG Y’ALL)!

So, here I am…back to calorie counting! I’m “niftyfoodie” on MyFitnessPal, if you’d like to follow along! :-)

Are any of y’all trying to get back on track before the holidays? What plan are you following?

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

pumpkinsnickerdoodle

Hey, did you guys know that it’s 68 days til Christmas? Yeah…I know, right? I found myself in a bit of a panic when I realized that I really haven’t started shopping yet, and that’s SO not like me. I usually have a closet full of gifts to wrap before Halloween even gets here. It’s just how I am. I’m the type of person who prefers to have a tree full of presents when the tree is ready to go up. I’m sure that makes me weird or something, considering most of my family is the exact opposite. I don’t know how my mom does it, but on Christmas Eve, she usually has a gift-wrapping fest and gets it all done. Me? I’m wrapping the evening of Thanksgiving. :-)

I tend to really get into the holidays. For me, I go for the “Merry, Not Scary” side of Halloween, thus the reason for the Halloween Pacman inflatable. No headless horseman/creepy skeletal/fiery inflatables here…I usually tend to veer towards pumpkins. I should clarify to say happy pumpkins….and Casper. I also get into the Halloween snacks. Is it just me or are Halloween Oreos for some reason 10x more addictive than regular oreos? Now, since the scientists have said that oreos are as addictive as cocaine. I guess that makes sense…I totally can’t have just 1 serving of oreos lol! Honestly, I probably could seriously sit down and eat half of a bag. :-P

Another cookie that’s pretty addictive are these pumpkin snickerdoodles. I seriously ate 3-4 of these right out of the oven. They’re slightly crunchy on the outside (from the coating) and perfectly chewy on the inside. The flavor is wonderful…even my pumpkin hating husband loved these!

By the way, this weekend I’ll make the quick drive to New Orleans for PMA Fresh Summit! I’ll be tweeting and Instagramming like crazy, so feel free to follow me on Twitter & on Instagram :-).

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
Source: Annie’s Eats

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the coating:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • dash of ground allspice

Directions:

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, add the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Whisk to combine. In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and sugars, and beat them on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl down with a spatula, and then mix in the pumpkin puree. Mix in the egg and vanilla extract until incorporated into the batter. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula again, and then with the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients and mix until just mixed. Cover the bowl and chill the dough for at least an hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare baking sheets by lining them with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. In a small bowl, add sugar and spices for the cookie coating and mix well. Scoop the dough with a cookie scoop and roll it into a ball. Place the ball in the coating mixture, and roll to completely coat the dough. Place on the cookie sheet and repeat with the cookie dough, leaving 2-3 inches space between each cookie dough ball. Gently press the cookies down with your hands to flatten the dough slightly.
  3. Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are just set and baked all the way through. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, and then transfer them to a wire cooling rack to finish cooling. Repeat with the rest of the dough, until all of the cookies are done. Enjoy!

 

Pumpkin Pie Spice

pumpkinpiespice

I have a slight problem when it comes to baking with pumpkin. I seriously cannot stop. It’s something about the smell of spices baking in the house, combined with the warm comfort of something pumpkin-y. I just can’t…sorry Libby’s…I can’t quit you. So, to go with my mad pumpkin addiction, every fall, I make some version of pumpkin pie spice, and it’s crazy how quickly I go through a batch. So, this year, lesson learned… I made a double batch of the recipe below. :-)

I do have to admit that this is an adaptation of the original recipe. I played around with this recipe last year, and finally found a mix that works well for me. Personally, cloves are just very strong to me, and it also reminds me of my wisdom tooth surgery a few years ago. Memories of percocet, dissolving stitches and some sort of medicine that tasted like cloves just don’t bring on those warm, fall-y feelings (hmm, I wonder why…haha). So for me, I found that I preferred to cut back on cloves and allspice in this mix, and then added in more nutmeg instead.

Pumpkin Pie Spice
Source: adapted from My Baking Addiction

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake well until combined.

Pumpkin Apple Cranberry Baked Oatmeal

Pumpkin, Apple, Cranberry Baked Oatmeal

Life is such a roller coaster. A couple of months ago, lightning hit our house and turned so much of our lives upside down. Then, we had some really terrible news in our family that just made me question how much worse things can get. (Don’t do that, by the way.) It was tough not to cry at random times, which was so embarrassing when it happened at work (especially since I work with guys, which was probably super uncomfortable for them…ahh, tech field). I tried to use the allergy excuse, but they knew what was going on. Things were just broken….our house, our hearts…I really had no idea when good things would happen again, but that was the only thing that kept me going. Good things had to come for us. Soon.

Now, we’re painting new sheet rock in our house. The house that we could have completely lost, but we didn’t. As tedious as painting is, I appreciate that we have walls to paint. We pulled out Halloween decorations, which were right next to where the fire started. I can’t look at the attic the same way again, but taking out these goofy decorations make me realize that we’re very lucky right now. We’re doing normal things again, like planting fall flowers, cutting grass that is still growing like a weed and loading dishes in the dishwasher. While those tasks aren’t really super fun, I take a step back and think that I didn’t have to replace those plates that I’m rinsing out, I didn’t have to walk through a house full of water/smoke/fire damage and just think about everything we lost. I’ve had those nightmares lately….multiple times, and waking up in my bed makes me smile and count my blessings.

We’re so lucky. I’m so lucky that I can blog about this baked oatmeal. I’m sitting in our living room, blogging, staring at my sofa full of clean clothes that I’ve yet to fold, and watching my dog attempt to steal a sock from the pile to rip to shreds. I’m so lucky.

Now, this baked oatmeal is simply fall. When it was baking in our kitchen, it just smelled amazing. Pumpkin, apples, cranberry, cinnamon….it’s a perfect fall breakfast. This is one of those dishes that make you want to curl up in a blanket, sip on a cup of coffee and just embrace the season.

Pumpkin Apple Cranberry Baked Oatmeal
Source: adapted from My Kitchen Addiction

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted & cooled
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 medium apple, cored and cubed

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper or spray the inside with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, add the oatmeal, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and dried cranberries, and stir everything until combined. In another bowl, add the milk, pumpkin, melted butter, egg and vanilla, and whisk the mixture well.
  3. Add the wet mixture, as well as the chopped apples, to the dry mixture and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture into the baking pan, and spread the mixture evenly in the pan. Bake the oatmeal for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is golden and the liquid is absorbed.