My Weekend {Home for the Holidays}

You can’t beat going home for Thanksgiving, especially when you’re from the East Coast. I love the West Coast, but there’s something about home that exudes the holiday season. I was amongst the millions of other Americans traveling to be with their families to enjoy the best holiday comfort food, watching or playing football and celebrating the beginning of the greatest season. It was a small and quiet holiday, but an endearing one for sure.I had so many great comments with my cranberry apple crisp pie that I decided to make a twist for my family, replacing the apples with pears. I spread some caramel sauce on the bottom of the pie crust and layered cranberry compote between two generous layers of pears. Finger licking success, even with my uncle who shys away from anything sweet. I enjoyed my apple brownies {recipe below} warmed with a scoop of ice cream the best, especially since I made them healthier.Apple Brownies Apple BrowniesWhen chestnuts are in season, there isn’t a family gathering that doesn’t end with us surrounding the table cracking open these toasted treats. Usually paired with a Portuguese brandy, I decided to enjoy mine with a Pumpkin Ale as I watched the Patriots play some good ole Thanksgiving Football. I’ve always felt the best day, is the one following Thanksgiving. No, not because of Black Friday but I get to play endless Christmas music, light a pine scented candle and dress the house in holiday spirit. My mother and I decided to forego the craziness of shopping, and fared to support our local businesses in Montclair. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day to walk around, watching wreaths go up on light posts and finding unique pieces to bring into our home. With my little pup watching as I hung my stocking I made when I was in preschool, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic. Not for a particular reason, but for the carefree lifestyle we have as children that we overlook. But as I hummed my way through relaxation and trimming the tree, I couldn’t help but become overwhelmed with happiness and hope to do some real good this season to help those less fortunate. There is so much one person can do in our daily lives that we overlook, like giving away a perfectly good sushi dinner to a homeless person because I refused to let it be tossed at a restaurant}

Earlier this month I signed up for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, raising money for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, and just got my rubber spatula thanking me for my donation. Four dollars for a great cause in exchange for making a new cookie and interacting with new food bloggers, it almost seems too little a donation. My ideas are under wraps until we all exchange cookies, so keep a look out! Plus it’s not Christmas without cookies!

 This season I have hope that it will be a magical one, a start to a great year, and many acts of kindness that brighten someone’s day.

Apple Brownies

Ingredients {Makes 14}

1/3 stick – Unsalted Butter {Melted and cooled}

1/3 cup – Pumpkin Puree

1 cup – Gluten Free Flour

1 teaspoon – Ground Cinnamon

Dash- Ground Nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon – Baking Powder

1/2 teaspoon – Salt

1/4 teaspoon – Baking Soda

1 cup – Granulated Sugar

1 large – Egg

1 cup – Chopped Walnuts {plus more for top}

1/4 cup – Organic Dark Chocolate {chopped}

2 large – Apple {about 1 pound, peel, cored and cut into 1/2″ pieces


Preheat oven to 350*F and spray an 8X11 baking dish. Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. With paddle attachment beat the butter, pumpkin, sugar and egg until paler in color {about 2 to 3 minutes}

Stir in the walnuts, chocolate and apples until combined, and add the flour mixture until just combined. Spread batter evenly into pan, sprinkle with walnuts and bake until golden brown {knife should come out clean about 40 minutes} Cool completely before cutting into bars.

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