About Mom Mom's Apron

For years, I have kept my favorite recipes in a binder so that my family could access them just in case I met an untimely end. I have decided to document my tried and true favorites (and maybe some occasional experimentation) on this blog. I always wear aprons, and my favorite is a dish towel apron which belonged to my beloved grandmother, Mom Mom Dee Dee. Mom Mom was not much of a hostess or entertainer, but when I wear her apron, I feel her spirit with me. The apron is not pretty and has seen better days, but it is the one I still reach for the most. I think there is a metaphor somewhere in there.

No Rain, No Rainbows

For quite some time, my life has been moving along in an orderly, harmonious, predictable fashion, a veritable string of sunny days with only the occasional light shower, but recently that has changed. We have been dealing with my father’s latest battle with cancer. Aside from the obvious concerns for my father (pain, treatment plans and, well, mortality), there are the superficial ones: appointments, insurance, bills, logistics of juggling family and work. I am not the only person my age dealing with these challenges, and I am cognizant that others have much greater burdens to manage. As my father is fond of saying, “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” Still, my peaceful, well run, and predictable life which I love and appreciate so much is currently turned on its head, and I selfishly don’t like it one bit.

Hang in there, I tell myself. Just get him through the next round of chemo. Just get through the next platelet transfusion. Just get through the stem-cell transplant. But these things are looming for many months on the horizon. My father is brave and grateful for our help, rarely complaining; a model patient in some ways, a high maintenance patient in other ways. I found myself in the dangerous trap of waiting for this ordeal to be behind us before I could “let” myself be happy and exhale again. This is never a wise strategy.

Happiness is still here, I just need to look a bit harder to find it. It arrives in the most unexpected times and places, but when it arrives, it delights me more than anything would on a normal, peaceful day. It arrives in the form of a casserole from a friend who is the very definition of busy and over-scheduled, yet carved out time to lovingly provide a meal for us. It arrives when I see my father and son watching ESPN together, debating the merits of various players no one else in this family knows. It arrives when I discover that, like me, my father takes his coffee with just milk and prefers angel hair pasta over normal spaghetti and his bacon burnt. It arrives in the form of a foot massage from my husband, who silently rubs my feet while not complaining when Real Housewives of New York is on rather than the highbrow NOVA documentary he would prefer.

My parents have been divorced well over twenty years, but last week my mom prepared a couple of my father’s favorite meals and drove for an hour up here to deliver them. It was my day off, which usually means the day I have to catch up on laundry, shopping, errands, cleaning and various dad-related duties. There is never enough time and lately there has been even less, and while my mom and dad sat in my family room and chatted, I started to finish up some long overdue vacuuming. But then I heard this:

“See Alexis? She had a baby with a mobster, too. Yeah, the one with the dark hair who’s married to the man who has amnesia…”

They were watching General Hospital together, a soap that hasn’t been on my tv since 1984 and which Dad has never watched, but Mom was attempting to fill him in on the last thirty years. Despite their differences, numerous differences, they still care about each other and can usually manage to be civil and supportive, especially when the chips are down. Moments like this fortify me, and I gather them like little pebbles and take them out of my pocket when I need to feel better.

It was another busy day and my last chance to catch up on some gardening for a while, so Dad sat on the front porch while I tended to the pots and flower beds. Then we moved to the deck while I planted my herbs. Finally, we moved down to the patio, where I planted the hot peppers and tomatoes and thinned out the radishes. We chatted the whole time, feeling the warm sun on our faces.

“Today was a good day,” he said. “I liked being outside with you while you planted things.” You’re right, Dad. It was a very good day.

 

New Favorite Pizza Crust

Oh, hello! Long time no cook! Well, that’s not true, exactly. We’ve been cooking, but it’s a lot of the same old standards lately, and I have not really found anything new or worthwhile to share. Until now!

It’s true: I needed another pizza crust recipe like a hole in the head, but the siren song of the NYT Food Section is just too hard to resist sometimes. Don’t do it, my jeans told me. Just walk away and do not look back. Be strong. Pizza is not your friend. But I stupidly bookmarked it, and long story short, I’ve made this now five times. I love, love, love it and now feel compelled to share it with you.

This recipe has definitely earned its place in my archives, and I know if you try it, it will become a favorite. It’s as easy as it is delicious. Let me know what you think!

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Quick Pizza Dough, Recipe by Suzanne Lenzer,
original recipe here

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 ¾ cups/390 grams bread flour
  • 2 ½ teaspoons/7 grams active dry yeast (1 packet)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons medium or coarse cornmeal

Preparation

Make the dough:

  1. Put the flour, yeast and salt in a food processor. With the machine running, pour the oil through the feed tube, then add the water in a slow, steady stream. Continue to process for 2 to 3 minutes (the dough should form a rough ball and ride around in the processor). The finished dough should be soft, slightly sticky and elastic. If too dry, add a bit more water; if too wet, a tablespoon or so more flour.
  2. Lay a 12-inch-long piece of plastic wrap on a clean work surface. Work the dough into a rectangle on the plastic, about 8 inches long and 6 inches wide. Press your fingers into the top of the dough all over, making indentations as though it were a focaccia. Fold the left third of the dough over (as you would a letter) and repeat the indentations. Fold the right third over and make the indentations again. Cover the folded dough with plastic wrap and let rise for 20 minutes.
  3. Cut the dough in half, form each piece into a neat ball, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and transfer to the freezer. The morning before you want to make pizza, transfer the dough to the refrigerator to thaw.

Make the pizza:

  1. Bring the dough to room temperature, 15 to 20 minutes. Put a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 550 degrees. (If you don’t have a stone, oil a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.) Dust a peel or the greased baking sheet generously with cornmeal. Working with the dough in your hands (not flat on a work surface), gently begin to stretch the dough into a circular shape, pressing your fist into the center of the dough and pulling at the edges with your other hand. With both hands, stretch the dough, being careful not to tear it. Working in a circular motion, pull the thicker edges of the dough outward, letting gravity help you. Continue to stretch the dough until it’s relatively even in thickness (the edges will be thicker) and you have the size you want. Carefully lay it on the peel or baking sheet.
  2. Top the pizza as desired and either slide it off the peel and onto your heated stone, or place the baking sheet into the oven. Cook the pizza for 6 to 10 minutes or until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbling.

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Peonies Not Included

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn. ~Hal Borland

Many years ago, we moved into this house in February, perhaps the ugliest and most dismal month in our part of Pennsylvania. At only twenty-five, I was awfully young to move on to this cul-de-sac filled with families of five and couples approaching retirement. I felt like a kid pretending to be a grown-up, and I relished my new role as lady of the manor.

My first order of business was to purchase flowers, but my husband Ed smartly insisted we wait and see what came up first before just diving in. The real estate literature for this house stated “Peonies not included.” These were the days before Google, and my dictionary was still packed away somewhere. I hoped peonies meant those ugly floral valances found in almost every room. Fine, I thought, please keep them.

I have always loved flowers, but being from city folk, I’ve never been much of a naturally skilled gardener. Everything I’ve learned about gardening was learned from my husband. I’ll admit, I was resistant at first. Dirty fingernails and worms and a sore back? No thank you. Can’t I just pick out the flowers and have someone else plant them? Not when you marry for love, you can’t.

Admittedly, it has taken me years to finally enjoy the manual labor called gardening. I used to feel terribly resentful of all the work involved. Part of it, too, was that I had young children to care for, so gardening was just one more needy thing on my list to feed and water. As my children grew and became more self sufficient, I found that I actually enjoyed the nurturing and somewhat fussy nature of gardening. Funny how we’re always seeking balance but rarely realize it until we look back.

Our first spring and summer here was filled with beautiful discoveries. Every week seemed to bring us new and unexpected presents: crocuses, pansies, daffodils, tulips, irises, roses, wisteria, strawberries, azalea, dogwood, rhododendron and eventually these large, beautiful, snowball-like fragrant flowers called peonies. Now that I knew what peonies were, I was very glad some were inadvertently left behind.

Spring has always been my favorite season, probably because I have a May birthday, and from my earliest days I associated spring with presents for me, me, me! Later on in life I associated spring with cute clothes and sandals, school’s final months, and impending summer vacation. Today spring represents the act of reclaiming and beautifying our yard and moving our Inside Life to Outside Life. Whatever stage of life I was in, springtime represented the rebirth of everything good.

I have had a good life, but it has not always been an easy life. Like many humans, I have suffered heartbreak, illness, loss of loved ones, tyrannical bosses, betrayal, loneliness, uncertainty, worries, unfairness, long lines, incorrect cable bills, and sleepless nights. It’s very easy sometimes to believe the current situation will never change, and we’ll be stuck where we are forever.

It’s no wonder that both Passover and Easter occur in springtime; it’s when the magic happens. Life is dark and dismal and slushy and full of despair, and then one day, the birds and flowers appear again. You know intellectually that things are supposed to eventually tweet and bloom again (because nature) but it still seems impossible some days. Like, maybe this year it will be different? Maybe spring will be canceled or skipped? Silly as it sounds, on those darkest days, a person might believe it possible.

Seeing that first patch of green after a long winter is uplifting and miraculous. If this ground once covered with many inches of snow and ice and dead plants is now alive and growing, then there is hope for us all, even a know-it-all twenty-five year old new homeowner who doesn’t know a peony from a curtain rod. Every year the trees grow taller, the flowers bloom again, and I discover something new to love in this old house of mine.

Peony

zinnia

dogwood

Martha’s Sesame Chicken

Martha Stewart and I are in a relationship, and it’s complicated. I first met Martha in 1993, when I received this cookbook shown below as one of my bridal shower gifts. Just look at young Martha with her Dorthy Hamill haircut and Mom Jeans! Still several years away from her world domination, but very confident nonetheless. Martha always seemed to possess a bossy, smug righteousness which I couldn’t help but admire. Back in the day, I wanted to be the Best at Everything, and Martha was just the gal to show me how to get there.

MSQuickCookMenus

But I felt like sometimes she…how can I put this?…made things deliberately complicated for no good reason. She didn’t respect my time. She didn’t respect my budget. Sometimes Martha made me cry. And so I might have turned on her once or twice throughout the years. I may have said some unkind things out of anger or frustration. I’m sorry, Martha. I still do admire you!

When my friend Deana shared this recipe, I admit I was hesitant before I even read it. A Martha version of Chinese food? So do I have to brew my own soy sauce first? But, no, Deana insisted it was really quite easy and delicious. Being lazy pressed for time like me, I trusted her and gave it a try.

The real test, of course, was my kids. They are big fans of transfatty, MSG-laden, sodium soaked Chinese restaurant sesame chicken, and this seemed almost healthy in comparison. I chose to use peanut oil for this, but aside from that, I stuck to the recipe exactly as written. And the kids loved it!

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Lighter Sesame Chicken by Martha Stewart
Original Recipe Here

INGREDIENTS
3/4 cup brown rice
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 garlic clove, finely chopped or crushed with a garlic press
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 2-inch chunks
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds broccoli, cut into large florets, stems peeled and thinly sliced

DIRECTIONS
Place a steamer basket in a large saucepan, and fill with 1 inch water; set aside for broccoli. Cook rice according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, make sauce: In a small bowl, combine honey, sesame seeds, soy sauce, and garlic; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together egg whites and cornstarch. Add chicken; season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add half the chicken; cook, turning occasionally, until golden and opaque throughout, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate; repeat with remaining tablespoon oil and chicken. Return all the chicken to skillet; add reserved sauce and scallions, and toss to coat.
Meanwhile, place saucepan with steamer basket over high heat; bring water to a boil. Add broccoli, and cook until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Serve sesame chicken with broccoli and rice.

sesamechicken

Ina’s Slow-Roasted Spiced Pork

“Can I take a moment to talk to you about pork?”

“No, seriously, you MUST try my pork. But hurry up before I eat it all myself.”

“Umm, hello, I am still waiting for you to try my pork. Your LIFE WILL BE CHANGED!”

These are things I’ve actually said. I love this recipe so much that I have been accosting friends and coworkers with evangelistic zeal. I just believe in this recipe so much, so of course I want people to tell me how wonderful I am for discovering it  to try it, too. It comes from Ina’s newest cookbook, Make It Ahead: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.

I only acquired two cookbooks in 2014, and this was one of them. As I was wrapping my own present mid-December, I quickly peeked in the book (Ed’s present to me) and opened up to this recipe. No lie, I have made it six times already in the last month. My children DEMAND it, and that’s the best endorsement I can give.

This is a link to a video of Ina on The Chew along with this recipe. Please note that Ina strongly suggests making this at least once as written, and I’m all for obeying Ina, so click on the link for full instructions. However, I have also done this with boneless pork loin at 300 degrees in the oven for about four hours, and instead of wine, I used beer with good results. Of course, the Ina way is perfection, but the real magic is the rub/marinade/paste which is listed below. I can see no reason why it wouldn’t be crockpot friendly as well, just so you are sure there is ample liquid to avoid burning.

Ina’s Slow Roasted Spiced Pork Paste, to be rubbed on pork and may be refrigerated up to 24 hours
6 cloves garlic
1 large onion, quartered
1 jalapeno pepper, mostly seeded
1/4 cup fresh chopped oregano leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil

Use a food processor to combine first six ingredients into a paste, then drizzle in vinegar and olive oil and process until smooth. Rub over all sides of pork, and slow cook using method of choice.

Here’s to the Little Things

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things. — Robert Brault

Happy New Year, Readers! I hope 2014 was good and 2015 will be even better. The mere fact that we’re here puts us ahead of the game by a lot!

We had a very quiet, non-traditional New Year’s Eve due to a conflict of schedules, but since my job requires me to operate at 110% during December, it was nice to just chill. I certainly did miss my friends, but we will have many more years of ringing in the New Year together, I am sure.

Today was spent at home, reading, relaxing and looking to the year ahead. We made homemade pizza and Caesar salad for dinner — nothing too fancy, but made with love. As I chopped and sauteed and listened to music with Ed and the three kids around me, dog Teddy at my feet, I realized how much the kitchen is my one of my happiest places, and I have been to some pretty nice places. But having all my people with me, preparing a meal with a glass of wine, I realized that this is it. I am the luckiest person in the world. I am healthy and safe and feeding the people I love the most. We are eating and laughing and just being together, and it’s enough. Everything I need is right here, and I am happy.

I hope 2015 brings me back in the kitchen a bit more. Whether it does or not, I will try my best to update you on matters of food and life. Thank you so much for your support and comments, which I cherish more than you’ll ever realize.

Happy New Year!

xo,
Dawn

Best Ginger Stoudt Cake Ever

I do not think I can adequately express how good this cake is. If you are a fan of gingerbread and are looking for something a little snazzier to serve during the holidays, look no further. Yes, it is a little more work than an ordinary cake to whip up, but it’s worth every bit of extra effort. I have not felt so passionately about a cake in a very long time!

This cake was supposed to accompany us to a Christmas party, but a violent stomach bug had other plans for our family. One by one we fell all week, and finally, on the day of the party, it was Andrew’s turn. I started out the day with my usual optimism and baked the cake, but by the afternoon, it was clear we were going nowhere, quarantined in House of Vomit and Misery. But at least those of us who could eat enjoyed this immensely!

The Marrow’s Ginger Stoudt Cake, original recipe courtesy of New York Times
Ingredients
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at
room temperature
125 grams raw (Demerara) sugar (1/2 cup)
1 cup stout
1 cup molasses
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
340 grams all-purpose flour (2 cups)
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1⁄4 teaspoon allspice
1⁄4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a Bundt pan well with the softened butter. Coat the entire pan with raw sugar so that it sticks to the butter. Turn the pan over to dump out any excess sugar.
2. Add the stout and molasses to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat. Carefully whisk in the baking soda and let cool to room temperature. Be careful as the stout mixture will bubble up.
3. Sift together the flour, ground spices, pepper and salt. Set aside.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the fresh ginger, eggs, vanilla extract, dark brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium speed for five minutes.
5. Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the oil. Mix for another 5 minutes. Slowly add the stout mixture and mix for another 5 minutes.
6. Carefully add the dry ingredients in two parts, mixing well in between each addition.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes and then flip upside down to release while still warm. Let cool completely.

gingercake

Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Bark

Hello, there! Hope you are all enjoying this beautiful holiday season. I might think I look and feel young, but the fact that each December seems to arrive quicker than the last points to my impending old geezerhood. With age comes the wisdom to slow down and enjoy the important things whenever possible. Also with age comes the inclination to spew every cat poster cliche whenever possible, so forgive me. I can’t help it. Now excuse me while I smell the roses.

This recipe has been making its way through my Facebook feed in various incarnations. Admittedly, the culinary snob in me has a lot of reservations about any popular Facebook recipe. Favorite Facebook recipe ingredients usually include Cool Whip, Pillsbury Crescent Roll Dough and some variety of canned creamed soup. Notthattheresanythingwrongwiththat — usually just not my cup of fancy overpriced fair trade organic tea. However, when I notice more than a couple friends sharing something, I start to take notice. And I’m glad that I did! This one is a winner, for sure. Sometimes things don’t have to be impossibly challenging in order to be very good. Yet another lesson I am learning in my advanced years.

I have tweaked this, as I’m prone to do, and I’m quite pleased with the results. I am sure you can find a million other versions online, too. But I can personally vouch for this one, so why don’t you try it?

Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Bark

Ingredients
1/2 bag thin pretzels. I prefer the square ones pictured below, but use whatever’s on hand/on sale!
2 sticks butter (I think salted butter works best, but suit yourself)
1 cup brown sugar
1 bag (about 2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips
THAT’S ALL, CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper. Don’t have parchment paper? Well, buy some! I’ll wait. Don’t skip this part. Now arrange the pretzels on the sheet as close together as possible. See below.

Melt the butter and sugar in a saucepan and stir until melted, thickened and caramel color and consistency. It should be smooth, easy to pour, and thick but not TOO thick.

Carefully pour caramel over the pretzels as evenly as possible. Use a rubber spatula to help even out, but don’t despair if not perfect. Now pop it in the oven for five minutes. Wash your spatula. You will need it soon!

Remove from oven, sprinkle all the chocolate chips evenly over the caramel. Gently spread with rubber spatula until chips are melted. Keep on counter for about ten minutes, then freeze for about an hour. Cut into pieces, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Remember, it’s fun to share! “Just two little pieces” quickly turns into “just ten pieces,” and before you know it, you’ve eaten the teacher’s gift. You’ve been warned!

Pretzel

Bark

An Update: These Are the Days of Miracle and Wonder

As to me I know of nothing else but miracles. — Walt Whitman, Miracles

It is Sunday morning, and I am listening to the Paul Simon station on Pandora, always my go-to favorite. The Boy in the Bubble was just on (inspiring my title) and now a live version of Van Morrison’s Into the Mystic is playing. The boys and Ed are at church, and I just finished concocting a spice rub for tonight’s dinner. Dog Teddy is at my feet, waiting for bacon to magically fall from the sky, as sometimes it does. Logan is happily away at school, most likely still asleep at 10 am. I am wearing Mom Mom’s apron, because I always do when I’m making a mess in the kitchen. We’re all in our places with sunshiney faces, and for the first time in many, many weeks, I am feeling myself again.

It has been a difficult fall for our family. We attended two funerals for two wonderful men lost way too soon; one from a tragic car accident, and one from ALS. Two wives left without beloved husbands, five children left without a father. So much unexplainable sadness shakes one’s faith in the universe sometimes, and it has surely shaken mine in ways seen and unseen. I rather enjoyed my easy breezy life-is-a-bowl-of-cherries world view, and it’s unsettling to have that disrupted.

When you’re in a Slump
You’re not in for much fun
Un-slumping yourself
Is not easily done. — Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go

I have been earnestly reaching for people and things to bring me back from the slow hole I’ve been retreating into. My family, good friends, good books, good music, good food — thanks to all of you who, knowingly or unknowingly, have lifted me back up into the light. One thing I have learned is I need to tell all of the important people in my life just how important they are. I have not always been successful at this, but I’ll continue to try. Thank you for the small or large role you have played in enriching my world.

Aside from many exceptional people, here are a few things which have been making me happy.

1.) Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. Oh, the profound beauty and wisdom of this book! It brilliantly paints all of the darkness and all of the light of an ordinary life. I had my reservations about HBO turning it into a miniseries, but it was truly one of the best adaptations of great literature I’ve ever seen. Frances McDormand is the perfect Olive. Check out the trailer here, then do yourself a favor and watch this if you haven’t.

And then as the little plane climbed higher and Olive saw spread out below them fields of bright and tender green in this morning sun, farther out the coastline, the ocean shiny and almost flat, tiny white wakes behind a few lobster boats–then Olive felt something she had not expected to feel again: a sudden surging greediness for life. She leaned forward, peering out the window: sweet pale clouds, the sky as blue as your hat, the new green of the fields, the broad expanse of water–seen from up here it all appeared wondrous, amazing. She remembered what hope was, and this was it. That inner churning that moves you forward, plows you through life the way the boats below plowed the shiny water, the way the plane was plowing forward to a place new, and where she was needed. –Elizabeth Strout, Olive Kitteridge

2.) Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan. I am a huge fan of former local girl Kelly Corrigan, and her latest memoir about mothers and daughters did not disappoint. It is a beautiful tribute to her mother, who once described her family by saying, “Your father’s the glitter but I’m the glue.” I grew up with a similar dynamic, and now that I’m a mother, I truly appreciate the not-always-glamorous job of the glue. This is a quick and easy read with surprising sweetness and depth.

3.) Annual limoncello making. This welcome holiday tradition takes a lot of vodka, a lot of sugar, a lot of lemons, and a lot of planning, but it’s always worth it. Yesterday I bottled our 2014 batch, and I can confirm it’s the best year ever. Like everything else, this production is always better with the help of a friend. Thanks, friend!

Finally, a recipe. Sorry, this is not much of a recipe, but I can vouch for its awesomeness.

Limoncello Martini
1 ounce vodka
1 ounce high quality limoncello
Shake with ice and pour into martini glass
Garnish with a twist

As always, thanks for reading. Slowly but surely, I will be back.

 

Favorite Fall Cocktail

Ah, autumn! A season where otherwise sane Americans stick pumpkin in every blessed thing <insert Forest Gump voice>:

Pumpkin coffee, pumpkin tea, pumpkin beer, pumpkin vodka, pumpkin Oreos, pumpkin Pop Tarts, pumpkin cereal, pumpkin waffles, pumpkin bagels, pumpkin cream cheese, pumpkin M & Ms, pumpkin gum, pumpkin peanut butter, pumpkin hummus, pumpkin nuts, pumpkin chips, pumpkin yogurt, pumpkin ice cream…Of course, pumpkin should usually be written as “pumpkin,” since frequently it’s pumpkin flavor and not real pumpkin being used.

Are you suffering from pumpkin fatigue? Has it become just a little too much of a good thing? If so, prepare for a delicious fall cocktail with not one single ounce of pumpkin or “pumpkin” in it. This is my favorite fall cocktail in the world, and I am resurrecting it from my archives to provide you with a delicious non-pumpkin alternative.

This drink was created by my incredibly fabulous friend Beth, cocktail genius and CEO of organic beverage company SIPP. I highly suggest you use SIPP Ginger Blossom soda if you are lucky enough to get your hands on some. It’s worth the effort and price, please believe me. However, you can also use a premium brand ginger ale with good results, too.

It has been almost twenty-one years since I’ve been a blushing bride, long before the days of wedding websites, Pinterest, and signature cocktails. I can only imagine how much fun I would have planning a wedding with all of today’s options available! The good people at Lover.ly approached me recently about sharing a favorite fall cocktail, and I was very happy to oblige. If you are looking for a wonderful wedding planning resource, I hope you will check them out.

Holiday Helper  (curious about the name? You can find the history of it here!)

1 oz. Vanilla Vodka

2 oz. Apple Cider

Dash of cinnamon

Dash of nutmeg

1/2 oz. of SIPP Ginger Blossom or other premium ginger ale

Combine vodka and apple cider in a cocktail shaker. Pour in glass. Top with sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg, then splash of ginger ale. Garnish with apple, if desired. Cheers, friends!