One of my all-time favorite seasonings for fall is chai spice – similar to the flavorings used in apple or pumpkin pie, it is a rich mix of cinnamon, cloves, and ginger, with the added zing of allspice and cardamom. A spiced chai latte or iced chai with milk are perfect companions to a crisp fall day spent amongst the colorful leaves.
This weekend, however, I decided to use some chai spice in a more creative way: to jazz up my typical Sunday morning french toast! This recipe also makes use of all those fall apples you might have lying around, and will fill your kitchen with a phenomenal combination of autumn aromas.
Apple Chai-Spiced French Toast
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tbs Chai Spice
- 1/2 tsp + a pinch ground cinnamon
- 6 thick slices French bread
- 1 tablespoon butter, plus more for serving
- 3 apples, peeled and sliced
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- whipped cream and powdered sugar for topping
Whisk the eggs, milk, vanilla, chai spice and a pinch of ground cinnamon in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Add the bread in a single layer, turning until all the egg is absorbed.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter, and add apples and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, stirring to coat until starting to caramelize. Add the water, cooking until water has evaporated and apples are tender, about 4 minutes. Pour in the maple syrup; simmer for a minute to combine.
In a large, heated nonstick skillet or griddle (I like to spray mine with cooking spray to further prevent sticking), saute the soaked bread until golden brown on each side, about 4 minutes. Place French toast on a plate and top with apple-maple mixture, plus whipped cream and/or powdered sugar if you’d like!
I realize, of course, that this is embarrassingly after-the-fact (for which I am very sorry and hope you forgive me, readers), but I wanted to share with you the recipe for some awesome Cinnamon-Vanilla Spiced Almonds that I made as gifts for friends and family over the holiday season. Because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good spiced almond any ol’ time of year??
I, for one, think that “fancied up” nuts should be enjoyed year-round. Not only are they a great healthy snack that, when consumed wisely, help prevent obesity; additionally, nuts including almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts and pistachios have been proven to help protect your body against the damaging physical effects of stress, maintain cholesterol levels, and improve heart and brain health. Now that is one powerful fruit!
For these reasons (and also because they simply are delicious!), I usually keep some sort of nuts around for snacking, and I decided to use these crunchy little buddies when it came time to make my holiday gifts. Because they contain a lot of (heart-healthy) monosaturated fats and natural flavor, raw nuts are really easy to dress up with some simple spices and seasonings (besides the counterproductive yucky salt) to make extra delicious. Plus, I got to use my crock pot!! Talk about a win-win situation 🙂
(Crock Pot) Cinnamon-Vanilla Spiced Almonds
adapted from Polka Dotted Elephants
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 6 Tbsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 4 tsp vanilla
- 2 egg white
- 6 cups raw almonds
- 1/2 cup water
In a large bowl mix together sugar, brown sugar and cinnamon. In another large bowl beat egg white and vanilla by hand or with an electric mixer until mixture is frothy. Add the almonds and coat thoroughly. Once your almonds are thoroughly coated with the egg mixture, pour the sugar mixture over the almonds and stir to coat.
Prepare crock pot by spaying it with cooking spray. Turn the crock pot on to low and add almonds to pot. Cook for 4-5 hours, stirring every 20 minutes to prevent burning.
In the last hour, add 1/4 cup water to the almonds and stir. Continue to stir every 20 minutes until done. Spread the almonds out onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Once they begin to cool the cinnamon sugar glaze will harden. Wait several hours before packaging.
Since you guys seemed to really enjoy my last post of my favorite pumpkin chocolate chip cookies (made even healthier!), I thought I’d continue the baking trend and share with you this unbelievably tasty cupcake recipe, again made with applesauce instead of oil.
This past week was the last in the most recent term of my Master’s degree program, and thus it was my final week of student teaching. I had an awesome experience in my classroom of 14 super cool fourth graders, and I wanted to give the lead teacher a gift for putting up with all of my annoying questions about lesson planning, classroom management and organization. I like to believe that baked goods add a really personal touch to any gift, so of course I settled on this pumpkin-inspired fall dessert. Another of my great Pinterest finds, I can honestly say I was a bit glad that I had to give away half of these bad boys, otherwise I would have eaten them all in one sitting! The cupcakes themselves are incredibly moist but dense at the same time, and the frosting is truly decadent. I have yet to get a review from her, but I give these two thumbs up!
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Dolce Delicious
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 cup homemade applesauce
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup fat free milk
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 (8 oz.) package reduced fat cream cheese
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 2 cups confectioners sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, add butter, applesauce, sugars, and eggs and beat over medium speed until combined. Add in pumpkin and continuing beating until thoroughly incorporated. In a liquid measuring cup, combine milk and lemon juice and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine remaining dry ingredients. Slowly, over medium speed, add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, alternating with the milk mixture, beating well after each addition. Line cupcakes trays with paper liners. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full and bake for 24 minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
To make frosting, combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and beat over medium speed until ingredients begin to combine, slowly increase speed and continue beating until a frosting is formed. Once cupcakes cool completely, frost as desired and enjoy!
One of my (many) favorite things about fall, besides the apples, of course, is pumpkins! Pumpkin patches, pumpkin pie; I am beyond excited when Starbucks rolls out their pumpkin-flavored menu on October 1st.
I also love pumpkin carving. I didn’t partake in the activity often as a child, but I have a few fond memories from my elementary school days of carving out silly/spooky faces and displaying them proudly while modeling my Halloween costume (I’m pretty sure I was a witch for 10 straight years). This year, on our apple-picking adventure, I came across the perfect pumpkin and decided to bring back a little piece of my childhood. Of course, my pattern of choice was sports-related: a Denver Bronco! I had a great time scooping out the pumpkin goop, poking a pattern into the thick pumpkin rind and chiseling out the design (although, as it turned out, it was quite intricate for my minimal level of expertise).
Once I had an awesome pumpkin to decorate my apartment, I decided I was going to resurrect another fall tradition and roast the leftover pumpkin seeds! From what I can remember, my mom used to spread the seeds out on a baking sheet, season them with a savory blend, and throw them in the oven to bake. This year, however, I decided I wanted my pumpkin seeds sweet; so I picked out this recipe for caramelized pumpkin seeds that you can cook up fast right on the stove! They were a delicious fall treat, just like candy; I’ll definitely be adding these bad boys to the fall favorite repertoire!
Caramelized Pumpkin Seeds
Adapted from Cooking with My Kid
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh pumpkin seeds (cleaned and patted dry)
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch of kosher salt
- cooking spray
Place pumpkin seeds in a dry non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Toast them in the pan, constantly stirring so that they roast evenly and don’t stick to the pan. When they start to pop and peel, take one out and taste it (make sure it’s cool enough first). If it’s crunchy it’s done. Turn the heat down to low and spray the seeds with cooking spray. Spoon sugar into pan and stir seeds as the sugar melts and sticks to them. Add the cinnamon and continue to stir until all seeds are coated. Turn heat off and sprinkle with salt. Let cool and serve!
As I mentioned in my last post, I have gone slightly apple-crazy lately. After going apple-picking in Wisconsin, my friends and I came back with tons (I’m talking like 20 pounds) of delicious fresh apples, and I’ve been desperately trying to find recipes to use them all. I came across this one from Southern Bite and couldn’t wait to try it. One of my favorite parts of apple-picking are the fresh apple cider doughnuts, and I figured this could be my own spin on the delicious fried treat.
They turned out amazing! With the soft, sweet dough, large chunks of apple throughout, and a nice crunch to the outside, the consistency was mind-blowingly delicious. Plus, the honey cinnamon cream cheese added an additional layer of flavor that shouldn’t be skipped. This recipe gets 5 stars!
Apple Fritters with Honey Cinnamon Cream Cheese
- 2 cups self-rising flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon all spice
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 apples, finely chopped (about 2 cups chopped)
- vegetable oil for frying
- powdered sugar
For the Honey Cinnamon Cream Cheese
- 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Make the Honey Cinnamon Cream Cheese by stirring the honey and cinnamon into the softened cream cheese; set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, all spice, and brown sugar. Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla and stir well. Stir in the apples.
In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat about 1 to 1 1/2 inches of vegetable oil to about 350 degrees F. Once the oil is hot, drop the fritter batter by heaping tablespoonsful into the hot oil. Cook about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes then carefully flip the fritters over and cook another minute or so – or until golden brown.
Drain the fritters on paper towels. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with the Honey Cinnamon Cream Cheese.