Autumn is my favorite season of the year with all of its festivities, decorations, and beautiful colors. Let’s not forget about all of the wonderful scents this time of the year brings. There is nothing better than smelling the scents of pumpkin spice, apple pie, and cinnamon in every home, store, or place in town. Bringing the amazing aromas into your own home is a quick and simple task that can be completed by trying these do-it-yourself fragrance recipes. The collection also includes a yummy treat that appeases more than one of your five senses!
Crockpot Cinnamon Spice Air Freshener:
3 cups hot water
6 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tbsp. whole cloves
Combine all of the ingredients into a crockpot and stir. Cover with the lid.
Cook on high for 1 hour, then remove lid. Let simmer on high for several hours.
4-6 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp. vanilla
1 orange rind
2 tbsp. whole cloves
3-5 bay leaves
1 tsp. nutmeg (optional)
Fill a medium-sized pot three-fourths of the way full with water and add in all of the ingredients.
Bring the water to a boil and let boil on high for 3-4 minutes. Then, lower the heat and simmer. Keep on an eye on the water level and refill when needed.
This mixture lasts for several days. Place in a glass jar or bowl in the refrigerator. When ready to use again, re-fill a pot with water, pour in the ingredients, and simmer.
This stovetop potpourri recipe can also be made in a crockpot.
Crockpot or Slow Cooker Baked Apples:
5 medium-sized gala apples
1 ¼ cups granola
3 tbsp. melted butter
5 tsp. maple syrup
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for topping (optional)
Cut the top off the apples with a knife. Using a melon baller or measuring spoon (teaspoon size), remove the core and seeds from each apple. Once complete, each apple should have a hole in the top for the remaining ingredients.
Pack ¼ cup of the granola into each apple and place it in the crockpot or slow cooker.
Pour the melted butter evenly over the apples. Then, add a teaspoon of maple syrup over each apple.
Cover and cook on high for 2 ½ to 3 hours. Apples should be tender, but not falling apart when done.
Remove and serve with ice cream or whipped cream if you choose to do so.
Cinnamon Scented Pinecones:
Clear craft glue
Sealable gallon-sized bag or container
Using the paintbrush, coat the pinecones with a thin layer of glue. If doing all the pinecones at once, work quickly to prevent the glue from drying. It is suggested to complete the pinecones individually.
Sprinkle the entire pinecone evenly with ground cinnamon. Make sure to get all between the crevices.
Place all the pinecones into the sealable bag or container and shake off all the excess cinnamon.
Once the glue has dried, decorate your home with the cinnamon pinecones.
This DIY is great for kids!
Your home will never smell better than it does with these fall fragrances filling the air. Plus, all recipes can easily be used as gifts for housewarming parties, birthdays, and more!
October 11th is known as National Southern Food Heritage Day, and as many people know, southerners have quite a unique palate. Grits, Cheerwine, sweet tea, and hushpuppies are some of the more well-known southern foods and drinks. Yet, on National Southern Food Heritage Day, people throughout the South celebrate the dishes and treats that originated in our area, including the ones below.
King Cake: This special cake is a Mardi Gras tradition and not just in New Orleans. First appearing in 1870 and arriving in New Orleans from France, the king cake is a ring-shaped dessert topped with sugar and icing, in the colors of green, purple, and yellow. It is usually eaten on Fat Tuesday. Hidden inside the cake is a plastic baby doll. The person who finds it is “King for the Day” and is supposed to purchase next year’s cake or host a Fat Tuesday party. In addition, the baby doll symbolizes Jesus being visited by the three wise men on January 6th, which is also known as Holy Day, Epiphany, and the Twelfth Night.
Fried Foods(which can include any type of food): The South is known for fried green tomatoes, fried okra, fried fish, and just about fried anything. These battered delicacies come in a variety of different ways and can be made spicy. Other foods I have seen fried are butter, Oreos, and doughnuts. I would recommend trying these at your own discretion.
Pimento Cheese: According to Serious Eats website, pimento cheese originated in the 1870s with New York farmers. These New Yorkers started creating cream cheese, and Spain began sending canned red peppers or pimentos to the United States. In 1908, the two items appeared together in a Good Housekeeping recipe. Afterwards, the mixture became a hit, especially in the South. As a matter of fact, farmers in Georgia grew red peppers and sent them throughout the United States, adding to the craze. Over time, pimento cheese, which is also known as the “caviar of the South,” became a staple for many people below the Mason Dixon line. It is a mixture of pimentos, cream cheese, grated cheese, mayonnaise, peppers, and more. Pimento cheese is eaten on sandwiches, crackers, chips, or even on cheeseburgers.
Hummingbird Cake: This is another cake that is a tradition for many events. Ingredients include pineapple, banana, spices, pecans, and a cream cheese frosting. As for the hummingbird cake name, its history actually comes from Jamaica. Also known as the Doctor Bird Cake, this dessert is named after Jamaica’s national bird. It came to the United States in 1978 when it was printed in Southern Living with the recipe being written by L.H. Wiggins. Later that year, the cake won the Favorite Cake Award at the Kentucky State Fair. In 1990, Southern Living named the hummingbird cake its favorite recipe and the most requested recipe in the magazine’s history.
Boiled Peanuts: Remember the buckets of peanuts at Sagebrush Steakhouse or Texas Roadhouse? One can guess that these peanuts were boiled. Mainly popular in Georgia, boiled peanuts are a classic snack at baseball games, roadside stands, and restaurants. Historians believe this treat started in the Civil War after Union General William T. Sherman’s troops marched through Georgia. After the march, the South was depleted of resources and supplies for their troops. Peanuts became a main source of food, and when boiled over a fire with salt, soldiers discovered that the boiled peanuts would last up to seven days in their packs. Once the war ended, the love for boiled peanuts remained and continues to grow to this day.
Cheese Straws: Similar to breadsticks, cheese straws are the perfect southern appetizer and snack. Mainly consisting of flour, cheese, butter, and cayenne pepper, no one quite knows how cheese straws came to be, but some say it was created by a cook who mixed leftover biscuit dough and cheese together. Let’s just say no matter how this snack was invented, southerners are glad it was.
Charm Cakes: A Victorian-era tradition quickly grabbed the hearts of southerners and found its way into Southern weddings. Within charm cakes, little charms with significant meanings are attached to ribbon and hidden inside the cake. During a bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, or the actual wedding, each bridesmaid pulls out a charm. For example, the ring means you are the next to marry, seashell stands for eternal beauty, and a moon stands for opportunity.
Food is part of the South’s history and every family’s heritage. These timeless dishes are ones that most people in the South truly love and will continue to share with future generations.
Book clubs have been around for decades and have introduced the love of reading to many people. However, there is a new type of book club that is gaining in popularity – a cookbook book club. Basically, it is a book club where attendees bring food. The premise behind this type of club is attendees choose a recipe from a cookbook, prepare the dish, and bring the dish and the cookbook to the meeting.
Steps to Beginning
The first step to starting a cookbook book club is deciding on the logistics of the club. Think about who will join, family and friends, where you’ll meet, and when you’ll meet. Will the club meet at the same place at the same time or will it rotate between members’ houses and dates? Also, organize how you’ll pick the cookbooks. For example, is each attendee going to be making recipes from the same cookbook or different ones? Try to get at least 5-10 members, so you’ll have enough attendees to showcase a wide variety of dishes. Be careful your club isn’t too small or too big – remember you are going to be eating, so there will be some cost involved in preparing the meals. Lastly, all members don’t have to be culinary geniuses. This is a time to share dishes, as well as cooking tips and tricks with others.
Next, plan your inaugural meeting. Remember to set your date and location. Then, choose your cookbook, if you decide to use one cookbook for all members. Your next step is to send out invitations, printed or digitally. You could even create a group on social media for members to communicate. If you decide on members choosing their own books, this is a great avenue for attendees to say which cookbook they are using for that meeting.
Associate meetings with themes. For example, host a meeting that is family favorite recipes from tried and true cookbooks or only dessert recipes. You could also assign a meeting to honor a famous chef. Maybe it will be the Barefoot Contessa night and attendees will choose one of her cookbooks and prepare a dish.
One of the benefits of having a social media group of attendees is that it allows for better organization of the group. There is generally more cost involved with this type of book club, compared to your traditional one; create a list on the group or in a google doc for members to list what they are bringing, in regard to recipes, plates, cups, napkins, and silverware. All responsibilities shouldn’t fall on the meeting’s host, unless otherwise decided upon in the club. Also, members can discuss recent recipes and cookbooks within the club when a meeting time isn’t near.
Don’t forget about the drinks. It can be as simple as having bottles of water for everyone. It can also be as extravagant as bringing new drink recipes to share. This element should also be discussed with your club’s online group.
Think about ways to make the meetings interactive and fun. Of course, food makes everything more fun, but also include possible games and conversation starters. Try going around and having members share why they chose a particular cookbook, or recipe, and their process for making the dish. You can take it a step further and focus on a single dish per meeting. For example, each member could host the event and choose the dish. Then, at the meeting, attendees will prepare the dish together and receive copies of the recipe.
Speaking of recipe copies, always have them for members to take home. This is especially important if the recipes come from different books. However, if you chose to use one cookbook per meeting, share the book between members. That way, every member won’t feel as if they have to purchase the various cookbooks for each meeting.
There is nothing better that brings people together than food and a cookbook book club does just that. Ease your members into this new concept by letting them prepare dishes from a cookbook they have at home and then let your creativity run wild. There is no rhyme or reason, rules or laws to what a cookbook book club should entail.
Hush puppies – one of my favorite Southern foods! Now, you can make them yourself using this simple recipe!
3/4 cup self rising flour
1 cup self rising corn meal (not mix)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 small onion, finely minced
1 pinch garlic powder
1 pinch onion powder
1 pinch old bay seasoning
1 Tbsp sugar
3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk
Canola oil for frying
1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour and cornmeal. Add egg, onion and spices. Add buttermilk and stir with fork just until blended. Mixture should be farily stiff. Add a little bit more buttermilk, if necessary.
2. Heat oil in deep fryer to 375 degrees. Drop dough by teaspoons into hot oil and fry until hush puppies rise to the top and are golden brown. Remove from fryer and drain on paper towels.
The weekend is one of my favorite times to bake and of course, eat! However, there are sometimes I only want a taste of something sweet. A great recipe for just that is cherry pie bites. They are perfect for a few people or a large crowd. You’ll be sorry if you don’t make them soon. 🙂
2 cans crescent roll dough
21 oz. can cherry pie filling
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp. milk
Preheat oven to 375. Grease a muffin pan with butter or cooking spray.
Unroll and separate the crescent dough. Place one triangle into each cup.
Fill all the cups with a tablespoon of pie filling.
Fold the 2 shorter ends of the dough together at the top 2. Then, pull the longer end over the shorter ones.
Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.
While the bites are cooling, whisk together the powdered sugar and milk.
While the weather may be cooling down, I’m still thinking about cold foods, like ice cream! This past weekend, I made this delicious hot fudge sauce for my friends and family. Everyone loved it, so I thought I would share the recipe with you! The yummy hot fudge sauce makes a great topping that’s not just for ice cream and is a great present (hint, hint)!
1 pinch Salt
1 (6 oz.) bag Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips
1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 Tbsp. Butter
1/2 cup Half & Half
Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat until ingredients are melted and hot.
I LOVE, LOVE a good cup of hot chocolate any time of the year, but sometimes I don’t want it hot, especially during the summer. I want it….well, cold or more like frozen. Try this recipe the next time you want this chocolatey drink.
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp hot cocoa mix
2 tbsp butter
1/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
12 ounces evaporated milk
4 1/2 cups ice
Combine sugar, cocoa mix, and butter in the top of a double boiler. Stir until melted.
Stir in semi-sweet chocolate chips. Mix until mixture is smooth.
Slowly add in 1/2 cup of the evaporated milk and stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature.
Combine chocolate mixture with the remaining evaporated milk and ice in a blender. Blend until smooth.
Pour into frosty glasses and top with whipped cream, marshmallows and chocolate chips, if desired.
This past weekend, I was craving anything chocolate but didn’t want to put forth much effort into making a yummy treat. So, I made these easy, breezy chocolate truffles. And trust me, they are very easy to make.
12 0z. bag milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup sour cream
2 Tbs. almond flavoring
Powdered sugar or cocoa
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips on medium for 3-4 minutes, stirring halfway through.
Once done melting, stir until completely smooth.
Mix in the sour cream and almond flavoring and blend well.
Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.
Roll into 3/4 inch. balls and then roll into powdered sugar or cocoa.
If you haven’t already noticed, I have a big sweet tooth. The Key Lime Strawberry Cheesecake recipe is perfect for fulfilling my sugar cravings and is a refreshing summer dessert. After all, it is a refreshing dessert for the whole year!
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
3 – 8oz. packages of cream cheese softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 – 8oz. container sour cream
1 1/2 tsp grated lime rind (lime zest)
1/2 cup Key Lime Juice (recommend Kermit’s Key Lime Shoppe juice; order online only)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Stir together first three ingredients and firmly press on the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a greased 9-inch springform pan.
Bake crust at 350 degrees for 8 minutes; cool completely. Reduce oven to 325 degrees.
Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add 1 1/4 cups of sugar, beating till blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in sour cream, rind, and juice. Pour batter into cooled crust.
Place in 325 degrees oven and bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes; turn the oven off. Partially open the oven door; let stand in oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately run a knife around the edge of the pan, releasing the sides.
Cool completely in pan on a wire rack; cover and chill 8 hours. Garnish with strawberry slices, blueberries, and lime rind.
1 1/4 cups fresh strawberries
1/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp lime rind
1 tsp lemon juice (or more to taste)
Process all ingredients in a food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides.
*Sauce should be a bit tangy, but not overwhelmingly so.
Drizzle over the top slices of the cheesecake when serving.
Raspberry Sauce (alternate)
1/2 jar seedless raspberry jam
1/2 cup fresh raspberries, halved
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Cook all ingredients over medium heat, stirring constantly so the sauce cooks but doesn’t stick. Once the jam turns into a liquid, remove from heat and cool, then refrigerate. Drizzle over slices of cheesecake when served.