“The table is a meeting place, a gathering ground, the source of sustenance and nourishment, festivity, safety, and satisfaction. A person cooking is a person giving: Even the simplest food is a gift.”
It’s nearing the most wonderful time of year, and I love the art of gathering. Gathering with friends, family, and loved ones while making memories — both giving and sharing in gifts — taking it all in. Slowing down even just for a little while to enjoy the company of another. We cheers to the season’s meaning and to all the good tidings. We gather.
If you read my summer recipe edition, you remember I am all about recipes that are easy! I try to remind myself there truly is an element of beauty in the gathering itself. So I want to cherish every bit of this time of year. I often get my little girl involved in the baking and cooking as we carry on the traditions we make.
Here is a list of some of my gathering favorites!
Sweets to Gather
Mini Apple Pies
1 box refrigerated pie crust
2 14.5 oz cans of fried apples, any brand
1/3 c caramel, any brand in a jar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 c light brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
Mix all the ingredients except pie crust in a skillet and simmer on medium, stirring constantly to melt the brown sugar and butter. The canned apples are already tender so you’re just marinating the flavors for about 8-10 minutes. Turn off the skillet.
Now let’s cut pie crust! Roll your already-made crust out onto your countertop and cut your pie base. Use a sandwich maker cutter, a bowl, a Dash Pie Maker, or simply get creative to cut mini pie crusts.
Fill the mini pies with your caramel apple filling. Usually, 2/3 cup is enough filling per pie. To shape the “pie” you can use large muffin tins, or fold over the crust and make a little hand pie. The possibilities are endless and there is no certain way to do it.
Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Follow the oven temp based on your premade pie crust. Adjust your oven temperature if needed to allow them to rise. I often cover the edges slightly with foil to keep the crust from burning. It allows the center of the pies to bake.
It pairs perfectly with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream!
Cream Cheese Pumpkin Loaf
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups all purpose flour total
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin spice
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup oil or applesauce (healthier option)
You will need a greased loaf pan and three separate mixing bowls. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
Cream Cheese Mixture: Add cream cheese, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 tbsp of the flour, and 1 egg to a bowl, and mix until smooth. Set aside.
Pumpkin Mixture: Whisk together pumpkin puree, oil or applesauce, 2 eggs, and 1 1/2 cup sugar in a new large bowl. Set aside.
Sift the remaining flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin spice in a separate bowl. Then add the sifted dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and fold until combined. Pour this mixture into the bottom of a greased loaf pan. Pour the cream cheese mixture on top.
Bake for approximately 45 minutes to an hour based on your oven settings. You’ll want to make sure both the pumpkin and cream cheese mixture is the consistency of a bread loaf.
Cut a slice and sip on your favorite coffee.
1 box of yellow cake mix
1/2 cup oil or applesauce (healthier option)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
Combine the dry cake mix, eggs, and oil (or applesauce). Chill the dough for about an hour. Once the dough is cold and firm, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Shape your dough into about two dozen 1-inch balls, and then roll them around in the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Bake. These cook easily so adjust your temps accordingly to your oven.
Perfect for those cookie exchanges!
Peanut Butter Buckeyes: Ode to my Ohio Roots…O-H-I-O
1 cup peanut butter smooth
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate
2 tablespoons coconut oil (optional)
Combine butter, peanut butter, and vanilla until smooth. Then mix in your powdered sugar. Pinch off tablespoon-sized pieces, roll into balls, and place on baking sheet. Chill until firm (20-30 minutes).
If using coconut oil, mix in with the chocolate and temper the chocolate and oil on low heat. An easy way to temper chocolate and keep it from burning is using the boiled water method.
Once the chocolate is melted, dip peanut butter balls into it to form a buckeye (GO Buckeyes). Chill again. Once chilled, you can put these in a little candy tin and give as gifts. Great for teachers, secret Santas, and neighbors.
Side Dishes to Complement
This is my husband’s favorite! So simple to make and complements your holiday turkey or ham.
1 lb of diced carrots
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ginger
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup water
In a skillet, bring all ingredients except carrots to a medium heat. This begins your glaze!
Once your glaze starts to get a syrup consistency add your cut carrots. Coat carrots in the glaze and cook until the carrots become tender. It usually takes 10-15 minutes for your carrots to get tender. Reduce heat to low and heat for an additional 3-5 minutes to thicken your glaze.
Serve immediately with your holiday dish.
Let’s chat cranberry relish (sauce). There is either a love for it or a strong dislike. You can have it homemade or canned.
I was never one to love it growing up and passed it by when momma put it on the holiday dinner table. Meanwhile, my grandma slathered her plate in that jelly, canned sauce. I remember it still jiggling as she piled it on her plate.
But then I had the version from Kroger Grocery. When I got engaged and started making my own holiday meals for my soon-to-be husband, Kroger came out with their version and I fell in love with it at first bite.
When you marinate pineapple, walnuts, and whole cranberries you get a beautiful sauce you can add to your cooked turkey, hen, and turkey brunch sandwiches. Delish!
Make this copycat recipe from Oh My Sugar High and I promise you’ll love it too!
Sips by the Fireside
1 c milk or milk alternative
1 c ice
3/4 c pumpkin puree
1/2 c vanilla yogurt
2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice
2 T honey
Blend together in a blender. Garnish with more pie spice or cinnamon. A sweet pumpkin kiss.
Andes Mint Hot Cocoa
6 c milk
2 c half & half
40 Andes mints chocolate candies; essentially one bag
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
Add 3 c of milk and 2 c of half and half to a slow cooker.
Separately, in a blender, blend the remaining cups of milk, Andes mints, cocoa powder, and sugar. Blend on high until mints and cocoa are well blended.
Pour the blended mixture into the slow cooker. Stir to combine into the whole slow cooker.
Place the lid on and slow cook for 3-4 hours, stirring every hour to prevent the cocoa from burning. Garnish with chopped Andes mints and whipped cream.
In the slowing and the gathering, my hope is that you will share inspiration too. We will cheers in the hustle and bustle together, and smile as we pass on recipes and traditions. Make memories, one recipe at a time.
I look forward to continuing to share recipes with you seasonally and hopefully gaining a new recipe or two from your kitchen along the way. From my recipe book to yours!