Owl I Need

I don’t share a whole lot about my personal life, but I have to brag … I mean, share this story. 😉

Let me begin by explaining that I am about as patient as a kid at Christmas. Pining, peeking, fidgeting, whining, heavy sighs … you get the picture. Once I see something I love, I want it NAO!

Well, at the end of summer, Kroger debuted these adorable clay owl lanterns . So adorable that I didn’t even care they were already promoting Fall merchandise in August! My life would not be complete without an owl lantern!

Clay Owl Lantern

Clay Owl Lantern

My sweet, sweet husband, however, cannot stand that kind of pushy commercialism.

“Just wait a few weeks. It’s still summer!”

“We’ll get them next trip. We don’t have room,” he said a few weeks later.

Two weeks go by. We need groceries again. My excitement level is off the charts! We park the car and walk to the front of the store where the owls had been cutely displayed amidst wood crates and corn husks.

Bum, bum, buuuuum! They are ALL GONE except for two sad owls missing their feet. 😦 I don’t know who felt worse, me for this great disappointment, or my husband for the miserable shopping trip that followed. Even though the manager said they would try to order more, there was not a single owl on the next trip.

The autumn solstice passes. It’s Fall now. Kroger has a brand new batch of pumpkin lanterns. No owls. I’ve pouted my fill by now, and I decide it’s time to get over it.

Fast forward to this weekend. We walk up to Kroger, and a dozen beautiful owl lanterns are waiting for me!!! I pick out the very best one, no scratches or cracks or missing feet. Oh, the joy! I cannot wait to get home and place my owl at the bottom of our front steps.

We pull up into the driveway, and my door is open before the car is even in park! I lift out my owl, squealing with glee, only to realize one of his feet is missing. Somewhere between loading him into the grocery cart and unloading him from the car, his foot has been amputated. 😦

Well, the look on my face must be pretty pitiful because my husband spends the next 15 minutes searching the car for that tiny, clay owl foot. When he comes inside, he looks sadder than I do. I ask him what’s wrong.

“It made you so happy to finally get one. Now it’s broken. And now you’re sad.” My heart melts into a sappy puddle at his feet.

“I’ll take it back on my way to tennis practice and exchange it for a new one that has feet.” And he really did go get a new one! He even wrapped up the owl and put it in the passenger’s side of the car to protect it!

At the end of it all, I’m glad I had to wait to get the owl. And I’m glad that the owl broke. It was all worth it for that little reminder that I have the most amazing husband in the world.

And that is owl I need. 😉

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Zesty Pumpkin Soup with Orange Sour Cream

How is it that just the image of a pumpkin can evoke all the excitement and expectation of the fall season? I really do love pumpkins. I love their interesting shape and bright color. I love picking them out, carving them and decorating with them … and then roasting the seeds! 🙂

I think it’s pretty appropriate that the first soup I serve in my new pumpkin soup tureen is a PUMPKIN soup! This Zesty Pumpkin Soup recipe is one of my all time favorites from the Big Red Cookbook, and it is actually pretty simple.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tblsp butter
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp coriander
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 15 oz solid pack pumpkin
  • 4 oz sour cream
  • 1 tbsp triple sec
  • 3 tbsp orange juice

Directions:

1) Mince the garlic. Chop the onion. Don’t cry.

2) In a large skillet, melt butter and sauté the onion and garlic until soft. Add curry powder, salt, coriander, and red pepper. Cook for 1 minute.

3) In a large soup pot, heat the chicken broth to a boil. Add the spice and onion mixture. Boil gently, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes. Your house will smell sooo good! 🙂

4) Stir in the pumpkin and half & half. Cook for 5 minutes – do not boil.

5) Transfer to a blender or use a hand blender to puree until creamy.

6) In a small bowl, mix sour cream, triple sec, and orange juice. Drizzle the Orange Sour Cream over the soup as desired.

Zesty Pumpkin Soup

Zesty Pumpkin Soup

No lie — this is one of the best soups I’ve ever tasted. It has just the right amount of kick and so much flavor. I could probably eat the entire batch on my own. It’s really good with some nice sourdough bread!

Zesty Pumpkin Soup with Orange Sour Cream

Zesty Pumpkin Soup with Orange Sour Cream

Fall is for Soup!

Let’s start this post on an adorable note. Look at my new salt and pepper shakers!!!

They were $0.99 each at Cracker Barrel!

They were $0.99 each at Cracker Barrel!

Pumpkins, turning leaves, cooler weather, Halloween, Thanksgiving – there are so many things to love about Fall! And soup is definitely on my Things I Love About Fall list. That being said, I think you can guess how excited I am about this:

My first soup tureen!

My first soup tureen!

My mother just got a new pumpkin soup tureen from Pier1, so I inherited this beauty! Now, I have to make soup. There’s just no way around it. 🙂

  1. Zesty Pumpkin Soup with Orange Sour Cream
  2. Chicken & Gnocchi Soup
  3. Bratwurst & Beer Cheese Soup

There are some trusted favorites, and some brand new recipes I’ve never tried. Stay tuned over the next several weeks as I cook my way through this list!

Chocolate Cashew Caramel Apples

It is the 1st of September. That means I can finally justify cooking and baking with apples and pumpkin and cinnamon and cloves! I don’t care that I live in South Carolina, and the temperatures are still hovering in the 90s. I am ready for Fall, goshdarnit!

Caramel apples are one of my favorite comfort foods. It’s definitely a nostalgic thing for me. I still vividly remember driving out to Randy’s Farm in Sleepy Hollow (when we lived in Illinois) to pick out pumpkins. They always had sliced apples covered with caramel and cashews!

Caramel and cashew is a delicious combination. My mother took that one step further and created her famous Chocolate Cashew Caramel Apples.

Chocolate Cashew Caramel Apples

Chocolate Cashew Caramel Apples

They are delicious and messy — you need a plate, knife, and roll of paper towels to eat them, but no Fall season is complete without them! 🙂 Even when I went away to college, I got a care package every October with my dad’s Caramel Corn and mom’s Chocolate Cashew Caramel Apples!

Chocolate Cashew Caramel Apples:

  • 5 Granny Smith Apples
  • Kraft Caramels, 2 bags
  • Dove Dark Chocolates, 1 bag
  • Lightly salted cashews, chopped
  • Parchment paper
  • Skewers

Directions: 

It is important to do the prep work BEFORE you start melting anything! 

1) Cover a cookie sheet (or two) with parchment paper. Make sure you have fridge and freezer space ready!

2) Chop up the cashews and place in a shallow bowl.

3) Wash and de-stem the apples. Slice in half and insert skewers. I really like cutting the apples in half for two reasons. One, they’re easier to bite. Two, you have a better caramel-apple ratio! 🙂

4) Un-wrap the caramels and put in medium saucepan. Add 4 tablespoons of water. Heat on low until melted, stirring regularly. Use a wooden spoon. Spatulas have a tendency to melt when heating caramel or chocolate. So I’ve heard. From a friend of a friend.

5) When the caramel is melted, spoon over an apple half. Let the caramel drip off the edges — and don’t worry about covering the cut side of the apple. Place on the parchment paper, cut side down, and immediately place in freezer.

REPEAT until all the apples are covered on the skin side.

6) Kept the leftover caramel warm while the apples set, about 2 minutes. Then spoon caramel onto the cut side of the apples. There should now be a chilled edge of caramel to keep the warm caramel from sliding off the flat edge.

7) Take a handful of chopped cashews and cover the warm caramel. Press the cashews into the caramel lightly. Put the apple back on the parchment paper, nut side down. Return apples to freezer for 2 minutes, keeping the remaining caramel warm.

8) Now use the leftover caramel to drizzle over the nut-free sides of the apples. Then sprinkle the remaining cashews over the drizzled caramel. Return to freezer while you prepare the chocolate.

9) Unwrap the Dove Chocolates and warm in a medium saucepan over low heat. When melted, use a spoon to drizzle over the chilled apples. They should look like this:

Chocolate Cashew Caramel Apples

Chocolate Cashew Caramel Apples

Store in the refrigerator. You can wrap them up in wax paper or plastic baggies. That’s if any are left after you finish making them!

Chocolate Cashew Caramel Apples

Absolute HEAVEN!