Autumn Bucket List · Party

Oktoberfest Party

Over the weekend we had an Oktoberfest Party at our house, and it was full of amazing food, good beer, and lots of laughter. It was a smaller sized party, but I loved how relaxed it was. We were even able to hang out outside by a fire in our new fire pit!

IMG_1267IMG_1264As always, I had a lot of fun decorating for the party. I bought the glass jars above from the dollar store, filled them with raffia, and then used glue dots to attach the ribbon and bottle caps. Then, I used the completed jars for utensils.

IMG_1269For good measure, I also tied a ribbon around my mums. Amanda came through with a few pretty pumpkins and some gold beads to add some charm, too.

IMG_1274The most memorable part of the evening was the food. Let me tell you, I could. not. stop. eating. Above you can see some homemade bread, a veggie platter, and a German Stir Fry that my coworker Jake made.

IMG_1270Next up: yummy guacamole made by Chad’s mom, potato salad made by the lovely Ariel, some chex mix, sour kraut and other condiments, and the best brats I have ever had in my life.

IMG_1273I couldn’t get enough of this Oktoberfest Stew Amanda made either!

IMG_1266For dessert I made these fun Beer Mug Pretzels (I’ll have a brief and simple tutorial on how to make them soon!).

IMG_20141011_203453_169Chad’s mom also made this yummy Black Forest Cake for dessert. (I almost forgot to take a picture, and by the time I remembered I may or may not have had a couple of beers, so I apologize for the poor photo.)

IMG_20141011_204555_682Michael was a classic photo bomber.

IMG_20141011_204538_920Amanda was good at it too… 😉

IMG_20141011_204402_579IMG_20141011_202600_493Jake, Amanda and I toward the end of the party

I had a lot of fun preparing for and attending our Oktoberfest Party. I found out that the following day (Sunday, October 12th) was actually the anniversary of the very first ever Oktoberfest. We had great timing!

xx Caitlyn

Autumn Bucket List · Food & Cooking

Autumn Bucket List: Apple Roll Cake

I am so excited to share a new recipe with you: Apple Roll Cake! To make this uh-mazing cake, you will need to use this cake recipe, apple butter (I used the apple butter I made and it was fantastic, if I do say so myself!), and whipped frosting (recipe follows).

IMG_1217To start, you’re going to beat eggs with an electric mixer for about 5 minutes until nice and frothy and lemon-colored. Then you beat in sugar before turning the mixer on low and gradually adding water, vanilla, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, all spice, ground cloves, salt and powdered sugar. IMG_1224Once you’ve got your batter ready, pour it into a pan lined with parchment paper and spread into the corners. I carefully dropped the pan a few times on the counter to get out some of the air bubbles, too.IMG_1227Bake the cake for 12-15 minutes, preparing a powdered sugar-dusted towel in the meantime. IMG_1228Invert the cake onto the prepared towel and carefully peel off the parchment paper…

IMG_1229…then slowly roll up the cake and let it rest for 30 minutes before topping.

IMG_1233After the resting period, it’s time to add your yummy apple butter. I used about a cup and a half (nearly a pint jar full).

IMG_1234Because of the strong spices in the cake and the apple butter, I decided to compliment the flavors already present with a nice fluffy frosting.

IMG_1226To make the frosting, I whipped together the following ingredients in a small bowl over another bowl filled with ice water:

1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c. heavy whipping cream

IMG_1235After spreading a layer of the whipped frosting over the apple butter layer, it is time to roll up the cake.IMG_1238I frosted the outside of the cake and dusted a little cinnamon along the top to make it look pretty.IMG_1244Finally, your cake will be done! Make sure to store your cake in the refrigerator–it tastes even better cold and served with a complimentary coffee.  IMG_1241I brought some of the cake to work and we paired it with Starbuck’s Anniversary Blend. The cake was really good; one of my coworkers described it as an apple version of pumpkin pie. Once you try it, you’ll understand: the apple roll cake has lovely fall flavors, and the texture is moist yet light. Let me know if you try this recipe, and what your favorite cake recipe is in the comments below! Also, don’t forget to check out my Maple Roll Cake recipe if you’re looking to have more roll cakes in your future 🙂

xx Caitlyn

Autumn Bucket List

Autumn 2014 Bucket List

I can’t believe fall is already here. Time is passing so quickly that I’ve already gotten a start on my autumn bucket list. I am really looking forward to sharing some of the items I’ve been ticking off the list with you, but first: the list!
Autumn Bucket List1. Go apple picking
2. Make monte cristos
3. Go to Crane’s in the City for lunch
4. Make amazing apple pie
5. Make apple rose tartlets
6. Make sweet potato bread
7. Make apple butter
8. Make an apple roll cake
9. Make acorn crafts
10. Carve pumpkins
11. Have a ramen party
12. Have a wine & cheese night
13. Have a chocolate tasting party
14. Eat caramel apples
15. Make homemade ice cream
16. Have an Oktoberfest party
17. Go to the Detroit Beer Festival
18. Go to Traverse City & Sleeping Bear Dunes
19. Make name silhouette art
20. Thirty Days of Zentangle
21. Writing challenges 1/week
22. Restart book club
23. Try Ethiopian food
24. Catch up on art journaling
25. Get officially certified as a coffee master
26. Make Jack-O-Lantern tartlets
27. Hobo Stew Party
28. Dandelion blowing
30. Make a fairy garden
31. Go mushroom hunting
What’s on your bucket list for the fall?
Uncategorized

Monte Cristo’s!

Well, I’ve had a bit of a rough couple of weeks. But I’m trying to get back into the swing of things, so here I am with my first post in a while. Will perhaps go into some of the not-so-fun parts of my last couple weeks eventually, but right now I’d like to focus on something fabulous: I finally got around to making homemade Monte Cristo’s! (Sorry in advance for the HORRIBLE photos, but sometimes you can’t be a perfect iPhone photographer when delicious sandwiches are in your near future.)

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I decided to use my panini press for the Monte Cristo’s, but I think grilling them would be a delicious option as well. To start, I set out my ingredients: homemade apple butter, homemade honey mustard dressing, an apple, homemade bread swirled with apple butter, turkey, and provolone cheese.

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I cut thin slices of the apple and put them on the bottom half of the sandwich…

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…added turkey slices on top of that…

20131113-153842.jpg…and provolone cheese on top of that.

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Then I added honey mustard dressing on top of the cheese, and apple butter on the top slice of bread. If I made these again, I think I would also add apple butter on the bottom slice before adding any toppings.

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Then, all I did was grill my delicious little sandwiches. I worried at first that the apple slices would be too crunchy, but they were perfect! I was really happy with how the sandwiches turned out, and have been having fun looking at other Monte Cristo variations online. Have you ever made any good ones, or are there any you’d like to try?

20131113-153908.jpgAlso, I know it’s a little late, but I can’t help but post a picture of our cute pumpkins and our front porch on Halloween. I was able to scratch off making pumpkin seeds from my bucket list using this recipe, too!

Hope you’re doing well as we make our way into the colder, darker months, and that you can stay positive with warmth and light.

Around Town · Tried

Detroit Beer Festival in Pictures

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Equipped with maps, sampling cups and tokens, there was no stopping us as we ventured through the Detroit Beer Festival. (Well, except when we’d definitely reached our limit. Then we stopped.)

20131030-211557.jpgWe had a lot of fun trying all of the different beers, and just being together. My favorite beer? A Kombucha Ginger beer from Unity Vibration in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Kombucha beer is not something I think I would ordinarily try, but 1) a beer festival is a place to expand your horizons, and 2) after several other samples I was feeling adventurous.

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Several samples and unintentionally stolen sandwiches later, we were still standing.

Our evening consisted of playing Cards Against Humanity, lots of laughter, and too much amazing food prepared by our friends (one of whom is the fellow pretending to be angry in the picture above). I’ve been told there will be a Winter Beer Festival in Grand Rapids, so I’m excited to potentially try more interesting flavors. I tend to be an IPA girl myself–what kind of beer do you like?

Projects

Pretty Fall Wreath Project

I’ve been thinking about ways to make our new house a home, and I thought one good way to do it would be to have a nice Autumn wreath. I was pretty surprised to see how expensive seasonal wreaths are at most stores, and how making your own can end up being a pricey endeavor, too. Luckily, I found a few ways to cut the price down and still end up with beautiful results, all the while enjoying myself as I put it together.

Firstly, I used a 50% off coupon at Hobby Lobby for the wreath form. Hobby Lobby has an app that will always give you a coupon code to use for a discount. I got lucky and managed to hit Hobby Lobby when they were having a 50% off all ribbons sale, too, so I went ahead and bought a color I thought went well with my Autumn theme.  I was shocked to see that at most craft stores a single bunch of artificial flowers will often cost $5.00 or more, so I ended up purchasing my bunches from the dollar store, cutting down on the overall cost of the project dramatically.

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The first step was laying out the flowers in clusters I thought looked nice.

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After wrapping the ribbon around the wreath form, it was time to add flowers.

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After adding a bunch of flowers, I asked Chad for feedback, and he said he thought it would look even better with more leaves. I had to run to the dollar store and get some more (as well as more hot glue gun sticks!), and though I forgot to take a picture of this step, you can sort of see the nearly finished wreath behind my husband and his mother’s spoiled dog Simon 🙂

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I think he knows he’s spoiled!

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After adding the leaves and ensuring there were no strands of hot glue residue, I was finished with my wreath. I think it turned out really well, and am happy to cross the project off my Autumn Bucket List. You’d never guess that the entire project cost less than $20.00! Have you ever tried making a wreath? Do you have any tips?

Food & Cooking · Tried

Easy-to-make apple butter

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After being somewhat settled into our new house (meaning we live here now, but that many boxes are still left unpacked and the walls are pretty much bare!), we were finally able to go apple picking! We went to Crane’s Orchard, and you better believe I was dreaming of those delicious Monte Cristos from Crane’s in the City I wrote about before. (Will be attempting to make my own version ASAP!)

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In preparation for the future Monte Cristos in my life, I got straight to making Apple Butter. I found a really simple Slow Cooker recipe and adapted it slightly for a very delicious, healthy yield.

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First you prepare around 12 peeled, cored and sliced apples. I used an apple peeler/corer combo, and also had the help of my hunk of a husband. (Hunky husbands are optional when making this recipe, though I’ve heard food made with love always turns out better!)

20131013-200158.jpgThen you mix up your spices, which are pretty typical spices for apple-based dishes: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ground cloves, and salt.

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Time to mix everything together in your crock pot before adding 1/4 cup of unrefined sweetener, such as honey or palm sugar. I chose to use Agave, and though the bottle said Agave tends to be sweeter than most sweetening options, I still used a 1/4 of a cup and ended up with just a hint of sweetness. I also added about a teaspoon of vanilla, and then set the slow cooker on low for about 9 hours.

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When I woke up in the morning and saw the above, I was worried that somehow the apples didn’t cook down enough, but after whisking the apple mixture with my blender, it immediately transformed into a lovely texture. The recipe made a little over four 1/2 pint jars, and tasted delicious!

20131013-200227.jpgThings I love about this recipe: It is incredibly easy, the lack of adding water creates a really nice consistency, and the unrefined sugar holds it together well while adding a healthy, subtle sweetness. (Oh yeah, and did I mention I love eating it? It’s actually really good on peanut butter toast!)

Slow-Cooker Apple Butter

(Adapted from Skinny Ms.)

Ingredients

  • 12 medium apples (4 each of Granny Smith, Gala, Honeycrisp) peeled, cored, cut into 1″ cubes. *The recipe suggests mixing the apples with tart Granny Smith & sweet apples like Gala & Honeycrisp, or other sweet apples like Golden Delicious, Pink Lady, Red Delicious, Fuji, Ambrosia and Spartan. I used Jonagold, Jonathan and Northern Spy because I read that those apples are good for both Apple Butter and for pies).
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • Pinch kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 cup unrefined sweetener, more or less to taste (sucanat or coconut palm sugar or honey) *I used Agave.
  • Optional: 1 tsp vanilla

Directions

Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add apples to the slow-cooker, pour dry ingredients over and toss to coat. Also, pour in sweetener and vanilla and stir, if using. Cover, cook on low 8 – 10 hours until tender and brown. If you prefer chunky apple butter, leave as is. For a creamier, less chunky, butter, whisk until smooth.

Allow to cool to room temperature, and add to 1/2 pint or pint jelly jars, leaving about 1″ head space at the top to allow for expanding. Cover with lid and freeze or refrigerate.

I enjoyed crossing off Apple Picking and making Apple Butter from my Autumn Bucket List. Have you done any fun fall things yet this year?