Blissfully Delicious

oo mashed potatoes 2

Who needs another mashed potatoes recipe? Apparently, we do!! :) As much as I’ve always loved mashed potatoes, there hasn’t been a period in my life than I have made them as frequently as I do today. I even used to just use instant mashed potatoes (gulp!), since I didn’t want to deal with peeling the potatoes, cutting them up, boiling them, and then mashing them up. And after all that work – I still had to find something else to pair it with. Ha, sounds like a total single gal, right? Well that period in my life is over now, and now I’m putting together menu that has pretty demanding customers to please. With a very picky preschooler in the house now, I always try to include mashed potatoes on the menu rotation whenever possible: a plain looking one that is, no speckles of herbs, or anything in sight. My hubby and I sort of hit the rut with our Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes recipe, and I decided to liven up the menu for us adults in the house, without interrupting the daily programming for the family. The olive oil added such a smoothness to the potatoes while garlic and sage brought such beautiful flavors to the mashed potatoes, that we’re now rotating this recipe into our menu.

milky way tart 1
Last week was a pretty stressful week for me. It was actually one of the more stressful weeks that I have had in a while. My daughter was complaining one day that she didn’t want to go to her school because one of the girls in the class was mean to her. Now, for most parents, they might just shrug it off and say that kids tell lies half of the time. Well, not really my daughter, she’s a tough little human, and I have not really had any issues with her refusing to go to school.  I also listen to my daughter, and yes,  while she’s only four years old, I want her know that her words matter, and if anything concerns her, I’m here to support her. The week prior, she cried in the middle of a dance class and told me that her belly hurt so bad that she wanted me to go to see our family doctor. And I was glad that I listened to her because she ended up being sick and needed some medicine. All of these of course were happening when I had to be in the other side of town, which means that my hubby had to step in and conduct all of the conversations that needed to happen at her school.

milky way tart 2 Then this past Friday, she was crying uncontrollably when I picked her up, which was the worst sight that any parents can expect when they pick up their children after being gone all day at work. She told me that she fell, but I was pretty sure that she must have banged her arm pretty bad at the playground or strained it so bad that she cried on and off the entire night following after that, and she’s probably still  a little sore today from the strain. We decided to take it easy for the weekend instead of doing a weekend full of activities. Nobody says that parenting is for the faint of hearts, right? I just had to remind myself that I needed to take it one day at a time, one problem at a time. In the midst of all that craziness last week, my husband had a birthday! I had bought a card from me and another one from the kids, but I forgot to sign mine. Thankfully my daughter played along and she sang a very enthusiastic happy birthday to my husband, followed by some serious clapping.  I had also suggested to make a fancy layered cake for his birthday,  but we ended up making this tart instead to celebrate, which turned out to be probably a good decision after all. It is equally delicious – if not, more decadent than any fancy layered birthday cakes. It does take time to prepare, but the components can be prepared ahead of time. The caramel filling can be made ahead up to one week ahead, and the tart dough can be prepared up to one day ahead. So if you don’t have a long uninterrupted time, it is still feasible to make this, as long as you plan ahead. Another note,  on the steps where the recipe asks that you chill the tools or the materials, please do so. It will make a huge difference in how your filling sets. Here’s to hoping that this week will be a lot smoother for me!

SC Pumpkin Cupcakes 2 Happy Friday everyone. I’m so ready for the weekend, are you? I’m celebrating the weekend by sharing with you my first pumpkin recipe for the season. This is the last week of September, so I think we’re ready for a pumpkin recipe, right? I made my first homemade Salted Caramel Sauce last weekend, and took advantage of it by using it in a frosting to be  paired up  with a new pumpkin cupcake recipe. I made this version of a pumpkin cupcake recipe several years ago and honestly can’t even remember it in detail. I do remember that this brown-butter pumpkin version was pretty fantastic.

SC Pumpkin Cupcakes 3 I have however been eyeing this comparison post here for the past FIVE years, and I had that saved in my mental library to make in the fall. I was pretty excited to finally try the winning cupcake recipe.  With description like: “light, fluffy, not sticky on the top”, I figured that I had to try, after all, those would be descriptions that I would want from my ideal cupcakes. Just like there are two camps of brownies people: “cakey” vs. “fudgy”, I also believe that there are two different cake people: “dense” and “fluffy”. And I’m a “fluffy” kind of cake person all the way. Hands down. No converting me. So don’t even try. This cupcake hit all of the right notes for a perfect fall cupcake: all of the great harvest spices, strong pumpkin flavors, and beautiful tender crumbs from the generous amount of buttermilk. And that frosting… that is an insanely rich and delicious frosting that you just need to try. Have a great weekend everyone!

Salted Caramel Sauce 2 I must be the last person on earth to have made my own homemade salted caramel sauce. What do you think? No? OK. Well maybe the last food blogger then. I love sweet and salty combination – and always have adored that profile flavors together. So my excuse is then: I just haven’t gotten around to making it at home. I made a decision that this was about to change: I had to make this sauce this year, and that finally happened this weekend. Seriously? Wow! Why did it take me so long to make this? It was just a perfection in a jar, and I couldn’t just stop licking off the stirring spoon. The salt really brings all of the caramel flavors and its warm notes to the front.

Salted Caramel Sauce
If you have never made this before – please read all instructions before you proceed, get all of your ingredients ready to go and make sure that you’re not distracted while doing this. Follow all of the steps per the instruction. Making caramel is one of those things that it can go from perfection to a disaster in a matter of few seconds. Once you figure out the hang of making this, it will go pretty quickly, and you’ll want this on everything, like ice-cream, French toast, apple pie, cupcakes, etc. With the way this week has been going, I think the entire batch may be gone by this weekend. Stay tuned for another recipe that I would be sharing later on this week using this new delicious sauce.

Are you ready for a season of flannel shirts, boots, crisp autumn air, gorgeous leaves,  pumpkins, apples, and lots of yummy homemade goods? I totally am! Summer was really great, but I have a soft spot for fall.  To celebrate the first day of fall tomorrow, I thought that I’d start off this week by sharing some of the my past favorite fall recipes that I’m looking forward to make this season!!

Apple Fritters – there is nothing more perfect than these crispy and pillowy treats, full of apple chunks and cinnamon dough cover in sweet glaze. Make sure that you take advantage of this apple season by making these special treats for your family.

bread stuffing

Herbed Bread Stuffing – it’s crazy to think of how easy and yummy this stuffing is, but I only make this once a year. I mean, there is nothing stopping me to make this all-year long. But I don’t usually think about making this stuffing until September hits; and this one is so worth waiting for!

Roast Chicken with Sage and Garlic – while we love roast chickens, I just don’t seem to get my act together to put this together. Not only that it’s such a beautiful and delicious dish, it usually gets me a few meals. I’m looking forward for fall and winter Sundays where I’d get to hopefully make this dish for our Sunday dinner.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup (Slow Cooker) - Fall means that we’re in the brink of winter. Long winter nights mean that we need something hearty slow-cooking like soup. Not only that it warms my soul to smell something like this cooking slowly all day, but it also will warm my tummy. Perfect soup to dip my crusty bread in.

Patty Melt - Mmm…. colder months mean HOT melty sandwiches. Hooray! This one is a favorite one that always shows up on our menu when we want something relatively quick, but still hearty and feel a little special.

And if you’re looking for some pumpkin inspirations, come check out my last year’s pumpkin round up. The Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread above has became my go-to recipe for a quick bread in the autumn. It’s so delicious with the added flavors from olive oil.

And finally, I reached out to some of my fellow Iowa food bloggers, and here are some of their fall favorites that they’re looking forward to make. Go check them out and say hello.

Caramel Apple Crisp  – Stephanie, over at Been There and Baked That, is looking forward to enjoy apples as dessert (ahem, and breakfast!). This is such a perfect and simple recipe to highlight apples.

Apple Butter (Slow-cooker) – Stephanie is a guru when it comes to kitchen time-saving tips, including using slow-cooker. As a fellow busy mom, I always appreciate a good slow-cooker recipe. It comes so handy when you want to use up those apples that you just pick.

Garden Chowder – Jenny, who blogs at In the Kitchen with Jenny, is sharing her favorite veggie soup. Fall is definitely a soup weather, and this chowder uses sweet potatoes, mmm! Doesn’t this look delish?

Homemade Apple Cider  – Jenny is also sharing this fall’s favorite drink. Serve it warm or cold – it will be enjoyed by everyone.

Pumpkin Buttermilk Waffles – Mmm…. there isn’t a better way to start your fall mornings with a stack of these pumpkin waffles. Thank you Jenny!

French Bread Pepperoni Pizza Bites – Kim, over at Two and a Coupon, shares a few of her favorite recipes that she loves to make with her family of four. Fall is a season of lots of family and friends gatherings; these pizza bites will disappear in no times. The next two are also her recipes.

Easy Chili – Do you want to find ways to include your kids in the kitchen? This easy chili recipe is a great place to start, and it’s hearty as well.

Easy Cornbread Cake  – you obviously can’t have chili without corn-bread. Make this one too to go along with your chili, and you’ll have your complete meal.

Chicken Calvados and Apple, Wini from the Bonne Femme Cookbook, is excited to be sharing her fancy French-inspired chicken dish. This impressive dish also only takes 30-minutes to make. What else are you waiting for??

Baked Apple Cream – Jeni, who blogs over at Jeni’s Eats,  is looking forward to make this dish, that looks pretty interesting to me – and reminds me of clafoutis (probably similar concept?). Either way, any recipe with “cream” on the title definitely makes me swoon for an extra spoon.

 Perfect Lard Pastry and Pear Pie – Cristen, whose family raise hogs and blogs at Food and Swine, is looking forward to make this lard-based pie crust fill with pears, another favorite fruit that’s sometimes forgotten in the heaps of apples and pumpkins.

Caramel Apples, mmm… I’m drooling as I am pulling up this recipe. Seriously, anyone who doesn’t eat ONE caramel apple in the fall is totally missing out. What’s the best way to guarantee that you eat more than one? Make them yourself at home! Thanks Cristen for sharing another recipe.