12 Fun and Festive Treats for Fall

Every season when fall hits, the basic in me hulks out and takes over. Yes, I’m that person walking around with a pumpkin spice latte oohing and aahing over the “changing of the leaves,” and getting all giddy about “sweater season.” Hell, this year I’m actually planning on going apple picking. Yes, apple picking, in an actual orchard. This excitement is real.

Anyways, with Halloween literally around the corner, I say everyone should embrace the basic within. Just indulge in the most cliché fall activities possible, one of which is getting overly homey and baking till your home smells like a Tollhouse factory. So, to save you some time, I’ve compiled a list of easy to make fall treats that would make the Martha Stewart in all of us proud.

No Bake Peanut Butter Bars, courtesy of the Pioneer Woman

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Caramel apples ala Martha, duh 

10570712503_073a8a1f1e_oImage source flickr: Йоана Петрова

Jaques Torres’ take on Halloween themed chocolate bark via Epicurious

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Photo cred: CHARLES MASTERS, FOOD STYLING BY SUZANNE LENZER

Double Chocolate Chunk cookies from Tollhouse 

 

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Apple crisp from tried and true Betty Crocker

 

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Almost No Bake Pumpkin Pie, because I’m lazy via Joy the Baker

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A White Russian Milkshake from the Brown Eyed Baker 

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Chai Spiced Sugar Cookies, courtesy My Baking Addiction blog

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Thank You Betty Brownies from Bakerella

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Butterscotch Blondies, because everyone needs some butterscotch, from Love, Cake

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Easy Pumpkin Cheese Danish from Sprinkle Bakes

 

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Last but not least Chocolate Pudding Pie by Smitten Kitchen  

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Happy fall my fellow basics!

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Easy Pasta Dinner

Pasta sauce is one of the most forgiving recipes. It’s easy to make corrections if you make any mistakes and it’s something that’s great reheated for later in the week. If you’re like me and sometimes have zero time to cook, all you have to do is throw this in the microwave for a minute with pre-made pasta and you’re good to go.

For my recipe, I suggest using a bucatini for the noodle, but if that’s not your jam it’s cool, just use your favorite pasta instead. I wouldn’t necessarily suggest any stuffed pasta or something too heavy like gnocchi since this sauce is pretty substantial, but it’s up to you.

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Image credit: honestlyyum

Serves: 4-7 people or just yourself…

Pasta

Buccatini (See above, or any other types you want, bucatini is my go-to)

Instructions for the pasta

Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot:

  • 1) Throw pasta into to the pot when you get to step 9 of your pasta sauce steps
  • 2) Follow package cooking directions depending or on how done you like your pasta
  • 3) Drain pasta

Let’s get saucy

Sauce ingredients

  • 1/2 package hot Italian sausage (You can vary this depending on preference: turkey versus pork, sweet versus hot, or you can skip it all together)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove thinly sliced
  • 1/2 large yellow onion chopped (see how to chop an onion video)
  • 1 5.5oz can tomato paste
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomato (make sure it’s not salted)
  • 1.5 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons salt (to start)
  • 1 tablespoon pepper (to start)

1) Heat your skillet or a large deep pan (3- 4 inch sides) over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes.

2) Depending on the type of meat you get, if the sausage is in casing, you want to squeeze the sausage out from the casing into the pan; about 2 ½ links worth. If it’s just packed like ground beef, then just plop half that meat brick into the pan. The rest can be frozen for later.

3) Start breaking up the meat as it browns so that it begins to crumble. Cook over medium-high heat until piece look lightly browned and have zero pink throughout the meat, roughly 4-6 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.

4) In the same pan, add about 3-4 tablespoons olive oil. Since the pan will still be hot, it will only need to heat for about a minute.

5) Throw in the sliced up garlic and let that sauté for about 1-2 minutes until lightly browned. This is infusing the oil in the pan with garlic flavor.

6) Throw in the onion and brown as well for about 3-4 minutes.

7) Take the bowl holding the browned meat and dump into the onion and garlic mix.

8) Add in tomato paste. You want to integrate this well with all other ingredients in the pan. This is where the infused oil comes in to play. The oil will help cut the tomato tang out of the sauce. Heat through for about 2 minutes.

9) Add crushed tomatoes, Oregano, and salt and pepper to mixture and stir until everything is well integrated and bubbling.

PS This is where you want to start boiling your pasta

10) Turn down heat to low and let simmer for about 8-9 minutes. This is where you want to start taste-testing the sauce. Don’t be afraid to add salt for flavor. I suggest only two teaspoons to begin, but seasoning is extremely important and based upon personal preference, so feel free to salt and pepper to how you like it. After about ten minutes the flavors should be ready for serving.

11) Take cooked pasta and put in a bowl. Top with sauce and cheese of your preference. Enjoy!

Now that you’ve got the basics down, feel free to change up the ingredients. Different vegetables and meat or lack there of can change the taste and texture. Experimentation is key to finding out your favorite sauce. Personally I like adding roasted bell peppers and zucchini to the mix.

Happy eating!

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Simple and Delicious Challah Bread French Toast

As a brunch staple, French toast is one of those menu items that looks amazing and tastes even better. Who doesn’t love seeing that compote topped, whipped cream laden stack of goodness arrive at their table? My eyes bug out and I get so excited, but then I think to myself, “Hey, I could make the shit out of that French toast and save some money while am at it.” So, from one avid bruncher to another, here’s a recipe that you can make sans the up-charge.

To make 4 thick slices (you can multiply this recipe for as many slices as you desire)…

Ingredients

French toast:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 5 tablespoons milk.
  • 1 loaf of Challah bread (you can find this at most grocery stores)
  • 1-2 table spoon(s) butter
  • Powder sugar for garnish

If you’re feeling fancy…

Blueberry sauce:

  • 1 cup blueberries washed and dried
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Instructions

  •  In a shallow, flat-bottom pan or container, (I use 9X9 glass pie pan but anything with at least 2.5″ sides and at least 5″W by 6″L would work) beat together first 5 ingredients with a fork or whisk until eggs, milk, and vanilla are well combined and you can see the spices dispersed throughout the mixture.
  • Cut four 1.5″ slices out of your challah loaf.
  • Take the challah you just sliced, and place the slice or slices into the pan/container holding the egg mixture.
  • Let the bread rest in the pan for a minute or so on the first side, then flip the slice(s) the other side, repeating the one minute rest.

MEANWHILE: IF you chose the fancy option:

  • Throw all the ingredients into your smallest pot (aka a saucepan for all you newbs).
  • Bring to boil
  • Turn down your burner to the lowest heat level to let the sauce simmer (Simmering is when the water/sauce/liquid emits only tiny rapid little bubbles. It should look more like it’s frothing than boiling)
  • Let the sauce thicken for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Depending on how thick you like your blueberry sauce, a good test is to dip your spoon into the sauce and raise it out of the saucepan. If the spoon comes out with a nice coating and the drips coming off the spoon are slow and heavy, congratulations! You made blueberry sauce. If it’s too runny, then let it simmer a little longer. This will keep reducing the sauce till it’s the thickness you prefer.

BACK TO THE ACTION:

  • Heat a large flat bottom frying pan, or skillet, on medium/high heat for about 2 minutes.
  • Add 1-2 table spoon(s) butter to pan and letting it melt/ heat for about another 2 minutes.
  • When the butter begins to brown, add your first slice/slices. You want them to have at least a half inch separation in the pan so that they cook evenly.
  • Fry on the first side over medium-high heat for only about 2-3 minutes.
  • A good test is to check frying side of the toast: if it’s a golden-brown tone it’s ready to flip.
  • Repeat on other side.

Once all your bread is fried up, plate as desired with or without the blueberry sauce. Top with powder sugar and serve to your mouth!

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