I think we are all in agreement here that somewhere in between Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Apple Cider Donuts, fall has officially taken the place of Christmas as “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”
Cookies, egg nog and the infamous Christmas ham are fun and all, but really, no season packs in the delicious flavors like fall. There is a reason that we rejoice in the September release of the Pumpkin Spice Latte…it signifies that fall and all of its glorious flavors are coming! Thank you Starbucks for giving us permission to indulge in fall flavors before fall actually starts.
Yesterday was the first day of October and though it did hit 80 degrees late in the afternoon, most of the day was full of that cool, crisp fall air that we know and love. The fact that the season was officially in full swing inspired me, and I decided to try to incorporate my favorite fall flavors as much as possible. So, today’s “What I Ate Wednesday” is a celebration of the NEW most wonderful time of the year! (according to me and potentially only me)
NASM studying has been at the forefront of my mind nearly every day, and since I didn’t fit much studying into Monday, I woke up bright and early yesterday morning to take advantage of the quiet time and engross myself in the muscular system.
Coffee was a must, and per usual, I poured in an extra large amount of pumpkin spice creamer. After about an hour of studying, I took a break to make breakfast with one of fall’s brightest stars: butternut squash.
To make this breakfast, I simply boiled half of a butternut squash (cubed) and then mashed it up with brown sugar, honey and cinnamon. I then diced up some apples (still have some left from apple picking weeks ago!) and plopped on a healthy portion of peanut butter.
It was an explosion of fall flavors in my mouth. The apple brought the extra crunch that I needed and the peanut butter helped fill me up. Since winter squash is a vegetable, people sometimes overlook it in the breakfast category, but its tendency to mesh with sweet flavors actually makes it the perfect vessel for a sweet n’ savory breakfast dish. I’m thinking Butternut Squash Breakfast Muffins are my next adventure…
I ate the squash while attempting to master the muscular system, understand which muscles correspond with which exercises and memorize the minuscule details of a muscle fiber. I’m finding that my memory skills are sharp as ever, but the whole comprehension thing is a bit tougher with such dense information. I think I’m going to make the BF stand still for 6 hours while I try to point out each muscle in his body and how they work. He will not be allowed to move unless I move him in order for me to fully understand the ranges of motion.
Sounds like fun for him.
Once my brain was officially too full of information, I decided to head to the gym for a breather. BodyCombat was just what the doctor ordered, although I felt myself actually wondering which muscles were moving with each and every punch.
The morning flew by with minimal snacks, and by 1:00 I was ready for lunch.
Pumpkin soup, topped with cheddar cheese and…yes, Goldfish “croutons.” I added a side of cottage cheese to up the protein factor. I mentioned canned pumpkin in Monday’s post on kitchen staples. It’s such a versatile food, and to make this soup, I simply combined 2 cups of chicken broth with 1 can of pumpkin, heated on the stove and seasoned with salt, pepper, cinnamon and cumin. This would be very easy to make it work, my city friends. All ya need is a microwave!
I spent the afternoon working at my new favorite coffee shop, 2 Alices Coffee Lounge. I mentioned this place last week. They had me at “homemade Pop-Tart,” and now I’m officially a customer for life. I soaked up the fall air as I worked and snacked on a Cinnamon Roll Muffin and a Pumpkin Spice Latte.
Oh, and when I say CINNAMON ROLL Muffin, I mean it.
Thes brilliant people here have married two of my favorite things: muffins and cinnamon rolls. I must meet the pastry chef for this joint, because he or she is a genius.
The afternoon passed pleasantly as I baked in a Cinnamon Roll Muffin nirvana.
I had to stop by Target to get some ingredients for dinner (another dish from Kirsten), and once again, I forgot how completely overwhelmed I feel at Target during my first visit before any large holiday.
It is sensory overload for the a “grocery shopping addicted” girl like myself. This is just a small snapshot of the tempting Halloween fare at Target.
Candy Corn Coated Pretzels, Caramel Apple Frosting, Pumpkin Spice M&M’s OH MY! PS, if you live in the Hudson Valley area and know where I can find some Pumpkin Spice M&M’s I would be eternally grateful. Apparently, they are quite popular, because I’ve seen a sign for them at 3 stores so far and an empty shelf immediately behind the sign. Sigh.
Once again I entered Target with a list and once again I stayed 20 minutes longer and spent 20 dollars more than I intended. There must be some sort of name for this Target Shopping Syndrome, because I feel like many people have the same issue.
When I got home, I proudly showed the BF my merchandise and bragged at the restraint I showed only buying a few things.
He wasn’t that impressed.
In fairness, the Clif Kid Z Bars are a snack for the girls at Girls on the Run practice today, and the other purchases were practically a necessity. It is essential to have Halloween-themed chocolate chips and marshmallows at one’s house during all of October. (Sidenote: Word on the street from Michelle was that these Candy Corn Starburst weren’t very good. In true Sometimes Healthy fashion, I had to see for myself. At first, I thought they tasted fruity and delicious. Then, I realized they tasted very similar to lip gloss.)
Before dinner, we took the pup out for a quick walk to burn some energy, because he greeted me with literally three toys in his mouth at once. The view screamed fall.
While I had originally planned on making a pumpkin based chili for dinner, Kristen’s Chipotle Chili Turkey With Apples caught my eye during my morning blog peruse, and I just couldn’t resist.
I don’t know where she dreams up these ideas, but this recipe was just on-point. I had to make a couple of substitutions, because Target didn’t have the adobe chiles that the recipe called for. Instead, I used an adobe salsa and canned green chiles. The flavors meshed together so well. The sweetness of the apples perfectly balanced out the kick of the adobe chile and spices. We ate the chili while watching The Voice and were completely stuffed by the time we finished.
But, that didn’t stop us from indulging in a little dessert: Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Pumpkin Glaze
Here’s a shot with the sinfully sweet pumpkin glaze.
I become a little obsessed with my pumpkin shaped muffin pan during Halloween. Sorry for partying.
This dessert came together in a flash. Simply combine Betty Crocker Spice Cake Mix (or any brand) with 1 can of pure pumpkin. Mix away and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes. You’ll come out with about 12 mean-looking pumpkin cupcakes (or just plain ol’ cupcakes will do). I’ll share the recipe for the glaze later this week!
Since this blog is about embracing the imperfections, I must be honest and tell you that I completely forgot to grease the pan for my first batch of muffins. This left me with six broken muffins.
But, as I always say in the Sometimes Healthy Kitchen: There are no mistakes in baking. Just Detours.
Out of my broken cupcakes came this unbelievably rich, fall-flavor packed cupcake in a jar.
This jar contains layers of pumpkin spice cupcake, alternating with caramel apple frosting, pumpkin cream cheese and some chocolate chips. Oh, and I topped with the pumpkin glaze to seal the deal. Let me know if you want me to mail the jar. First come, first serve, ya’ll.
I can’t think of a better way to conclude this Fall Flavor celebration post than with a Pumpkin Spice Cupcake in a Jar.
With that, I’m off to eat my Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes (or muffins) for breakfast ;-).
Fall v. Christmas – Which one is the most wonderful time of the year?
Favorite fall flavors and recipes? Please feel free to share links in this post!