A month back I thought. Damn. I love Fall. I love Fall so much. I want to marry Fall. And in true form, instead of celebrating nuptials with a season I decided to throw a party for my love of pumpkin, apples, cinnamon and wood burning fires.
That we did. We had a fire going on inside, a bon fire going on outside. A drum circle started in the sunroom and kids with capes and swords were running around the house playing and happy. Some were cozied up on the couch with a warm drink and food. Some were accumulated around the fire outside roasting marshmallows and enjoying a beer. Some were jumping on our trampoline in the dark and some were playing horseshoes with the lanterns we had lit. All was fabulous. Worth the hard work in preparation. A good night.
I decided to throw this party….eco friendly style. All real plates, utensils and cloth napkins.
Although the guest list seem to grow on a daily basis, I thought….it can still be a green party. We can do this. Even if it means washing or running the dishwasher. But alas, I seemed to have accumulated plenty of dishes throughout my years. Thanks to Grandma’s who clean out their kitchens.
To make my life easier as now I am a working person, I decided to make this pot luck style. We’ll supply the desserts and drinks, you come and bring a savory dish. Voila, the party was born. I wanted to start planning. So drinks…
Mulled hot cider, pumpkin spice coffee, a cooler full of Izze’s and water and of course….a keg.
Next I needed to decide on the plethora of desserts. Thanks to Fall themed magazines, this was quite the easy task.
Apple cider doughnuts and mini-spiced cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting.
And because I am crazy, and unable to stop there, I decided to add…
Pumpkin Chocolate Tiramisu and fresh apple slices with a warm caramel dip.
I wanted to kick-off the savory dishes with a pumpkin macaroni and cheese and was excited to watch this table fill up with all kinds of yummy dishes…
Here are my afterthoughts for throwing an eco-friendly party for about 50 people:
- I’ll do it again. Yes, I was nervous people would feel inclined to do dishes so I tried to intercept as much as possible.
- Yes, I was nervous about the small children and glass dishes. But our friends are very involved, responsible parents and I didn’t feel I needed to micro-manage.
- No, the dishes did not pile up, I simply rinsed and loaded my dishwasher.
- In the end, I didn’t have enough utensils, so plastic was succumbed to toward the very end of the night when seconds on the desserts were being consumed.
- Using real plates, utensils and cloth napkins made me feel better about my décor (let alone the minimal waste aspect).
Apple Cider Doughnut Holes
These were great although I doubled the recipe and tried to incorporate high-altitude adjustments. Don’t. They don’t need more flour or less baking powder. I made the batter too thick and needed to add more baking powder at the last-minute because I didn’t add the full amount at the beginning. So my suggestion, make as is. Don’t double, don’t adjust. These were yummos. Thanks Rachael Ray Magazine.
1 cup cider
4 tablespoons butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups vegetable oil, for frying
- In a small saucepan, boil the cider until it reduces to 2/3 cup, about 6-8 minutes. Add the butter and stir until melted; remove from heat and let cool. Whisk in the egg.
- In a large bowl, whisk the flour, 6 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and the salt. Stir in the cider mixture until just blended.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the remaining 10 tablespoons of sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon.
- In a large saucepan, het the oil until a deep-fry thermometer registers 340 degrees. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.
- When the oil is hot, drop 5 -6 tablespoon-sized scoops of dough into the oil. Fry, turning, until browned and cooked through, about 2 minutes per batch. Transfer the doughnuts to the baking sheet and let cool. Toss with the cinnamon sugar.
Chocolate Pumpkin Tiramisu
A few things, I tripled this recipe because of the size of the crowd. Now I am known for making way too much. Well, that was way too much. Also, I had made this without the bourbon, but alas, I am sure the bourbon would have added much more flavor. Use the liquor. Also, up on this insane mountain top there was not to be found any Italian ladyfingers so I had to succumb to the bakery ladyfingers that are basically sponge cake. Lesson learned. Don’t do that. If you are unable to find Italian ladyfingers, the hard cookie, use a shortbread cookie. The sponge cake just mushed in with the ricotta filling. No fun. You want that element of crunch and you want to soak the cookies in that delectable mixture this recipe calls for. Thanks again Rachael Ray Mag…
1 bar (3.5 oz) dark chocolate (50-60% cacao)
3/4 cup hot coffee (I used pumpkin spice coffee)
5 tablespoons bourbon
1 1/2 cups mascaropone
1 cup confectioners sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 package (7oz) Italian ladyfingers (about 24 cookies)
- On a cutting board, coarsely chop half the chocolate. Transfer to a large bowl, add the coffee and whisk until the chocolate melts. Whisk in 2 tablespoons bourbon.
- In a another bowl, combine the mascarpone, confectioners sugar, heavy cream, vanilla, cinnamon and the remaining 3 tablespoons bourbon. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat until fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add the pumpkin; mix on medium-low until blended and creamy.
- Working with about 1/3 of the ladyfingers, dip and roll the cookies, one at a time, in the chocolate mixture until soaked but not soggy, 3-4 seconds. Arrange in single layers in the bottoms of six 8-oz glasses, breaking the cookies if needed. Divide 1/3 of the pumpkin mixture along the glasses, spooning it on top of the cookies and spreading evenly. Grate about 1/3 of the remaining chocolate evenly over the pumpkin mixture.
- Repeat the layers twice more with the remaining cookies, pumpkin mixture and chocolate. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 2 days. Serve cold.
At first I was going to do full on caramel apples. I got the large pack of granny smith from Costco and several bags of the caramel squares. So then the numbers grew and I knew that 9 large caramel apples will leave some kids wondering why they didn’t get one. So I decided on a caramel dip. I scoured Pinterest and put a few recipes together to come up with this one…
1/2 cup salted butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk, stirring to combine. Stir constantly until mixture comes to a light bubbly boil. Remove from heat right away and add the vanilla. Stir to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature with apple slices and pretzels or drizzle over ice cream.
Mini-Spice Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
This was a last-minute decision. I wanted something else. I know right, like I needed to add a dessert. But I did. I couldn’t help myself. I’ve been wanting to make mini-cupcakes! And I do love piping… I searched Pinterest yet again and kind of came up with my idea of a spice cupcake. High altitude adjustment: increase flour to 2 1/2 cups, decrease baking powder to 1 1/2 teaspoons.
2 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons molasses
¾ cup buttermilk
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a mixing bowl, sifted together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, allspice, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
3. Using a hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
4. With the mixer running, add one egg at a time followed by the molasses and buttermilk and mix until just combined.
5. Whisk the dry mixture into the wet mixture and stir until no lumps remain.
6. Line a mini muffin tin with mini cupcake liners and fill each liner 2/3 way up with batter.
7. Bake the cupcakes for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when removed from the center. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
Frosting: Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, cream together the cream cheese and butter. Add the powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time until fully incorporated. Scraped down the sides of the bowl and stir in the vanilla.
Pipe frosting and I sprinkled with some ground cinnamon.
Macaroni and Cheese
I made this up as I went, utilizing ingredients I had in the fridge such as buttermilk and gouda in the freezer. This was fantastic. Rich, but so warm and gooey. Add cooked chicken and/or broccoli for a perfectly warm wholesome meal.
1 lb small elbo pasta
2 cups canned pumpkin
2 cups buttermilk
8 oz cream cheese
3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup grated gouda cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
- Cook macaroni in salted water and drain.
- In a saucepan over medium heat blend cream cheese, pumpkin and buttermilk until smooth.
- Mix together grated cheeses in a bowl and reserve 1 cup. Add remaining cheeses and seasonings to saucepan. Stir until well blended.
- Remove saucepan from heat and stir in macaroni.
- Pour into a greased 9×13 pan and top with the reserved cheeses.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
I hope you find time to celebrate the changing of the seasons. Even if it’s just taking a stroll with a loved one, hand in hand…