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Pumpkin Spice Banana Bread

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Time to make everything pumpkin spice!

Friends.  We are in it.  The Fall season is the best season in my opinion.  My love for scarves, light (emphasis on the word "light") layers, and pumpkin spice lattes knows no bounds.  In fact, you can add the words "pumpkin spice" to almost anything and I'll be a marketer's dream and purchase it.

Recently I decided to make use of some overripe bananas and make banana bread.  The slight chill in the air put me in the mood to make a fall-inspired bread so of course the only option was to make it a pumpkin spice flavor.  Really, there was no other option.

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Creamy Corn Basil Pasta

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** I actually wrote this post yesterday, but I unfortunately was not able to get a wifi signal which would allow me to upload my photos. Soooo, let's just pretend that I wrote this today.  OK?  Great!**

Fun fact:  I'm writing this as I'm sitting on a train from London to Scotland.  Woohoo!  I just spent a few well-needed vacation days exploring London and sight-seeing.  Now I'm off to experience Scotland for the first time!  Oh.  Yeah.  There will be another post to recap this trip, but more to come on that later.

At this current time, I'm sipping tea and / for castles outside my train window.  Did I mention that I'm eating a virtual TON of food?  Because I am.  Fish and chips, puddings, Indian food, desserts, etc…It’s been one food experience after the next and I’m not mad at it.  The temperature has been sort of temperamental.  The first day was sunny and scorching hot, while the following days exhibited highs of mid-to-low 60’s.  Thankfully I was prepared for both types of weather.  I am definitely missing the last days of summer in the US though!

Before I left home for this UK trip, I whipped up a recipe for Creamy Corn Basil Pasta that is just scrumptious!  I’m going to have to make this more often in order to make it through the dog days of winter.  You know it.  Winter is coming!  Ugh.  At least we can snuggle up at home and continue to experience bites of summertime.

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Crockpot Mojo Pork

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Hey hey hey!

It's time for this month's Secret Recipe Club post!  I was paired up with Terri of Our Good Life this month.  Terri is a retired elementary school principal who started this blog as a creative outlet for her and her husband's cooking.  I love how Terri has incorporated so much of her family into her blog!

A review of Terri's recipes led me to a number of tasty dishes that I wanted to make, including Pasta with Zucchini, Lemon, and Basil, Potatoes with Roasted Citrus Dressing (yum!), and The Ultimate Mac and Cheese (yes!).  The week that I decided to make one of Terri's recipes, it was hottttt here in NY/NJ.  It had started to get a bit cooler because FALL IS COMING!, but that particular week summer decided to make another appearance.  In light of this, I opted to pull out my slow cooker once again so that I didn't melt in the kitchen.  I pulled up Terri's amazing Crockpot Mojo Pork recipe and whipped it up.  Terri, I am pleased to say that this will be a staple in my kitchen from now on!

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Red Wine & Peach Spritzers

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You know I couldn't leave you guys hanging without a summer drink recipe!

 

In case you're wondering, yes, it is still summer.  It's still hot outside, though not as hot and humid as the past few weeks.  Fall is coming but until it's here, we must inhale all the boozy summer fun our hearts can manage.  What could be better?  Nothing.  Nothing is better.

So here what we have is a beautiful marriage between peach soda and a bottle of red red wine.  This is what we want to do with our last 3.5 minutes of summer!  Get on board this train stat.

If you're more patient than I am (I'm fairly sure that you are), then you can pour wine into the peach soda even slower than I do.  And guess what, it forms this neat separation that makes you feel all fancy when you're drinking it through paper straws.  Pinkies up! 

Also, you don't have to use peach soda.  I did because I love peach flavors (though I'm not a fan of peaches themselves -- it's a texture thing).  You can use any type of soda that you love to drink.  I won't put any limits on you.  Salud!

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Miss Lily's 7A Cafe: A Review

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In case you didn't know, I had a little old birthday last week, on August 22nd.  I initially figured I'd gloss over it and go to work, like any other normal day.  Then a few days later I realized I had a few extra vacation days so why not just take some time off.

A few years ago a good friend recommended Miss Lily's to me, but I brushed it off, stating that I wasn't really interested in going to a Caribbean food place outside of the Caribbean.  Well, cut to me trolling the Instagram about a month ago and stumbling across the feed for Miss Lily's chef.  Wow wow wow!  I had to have everything.  So off I went to Miss Lily's with my friend Sandra for a birthday meal.

I went to the East Village location which is called 7A Cafe.  There is another Miss Lily's restaurant in Soho, as well as a Jerk Shack on Houston Street in NYC.  I haven't been to those, but I definitely want to make the rounds!

 

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No-Churn Cookie Ice Cream

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I don't think I've ever had this problem before.  I'm talking about the problem where I don't eat ALL the Girl Scout cookies 3.5 days after receiving them.  It's truly unheard of.  However, that's what has happened and I'm not proud of it.

Since cookies do have an expiration date, I decided that I needed to use these up somehow.  Coincidentally, I was also knee-deep in sweetened condensed milk.  And by knee-deep, I mean I had two cans in the pantry.  Seeing as I hardly ever use this type of milk, I consider this to be a complete horde at my fingertips.  This calls for no-churn ice cream!

We are in the final throes of summer so we better make all the ice cream that we can get.  Fall is my favorite season of life, but I do want to savor the heat for another few minutes, thank you very much.  As mentioned above, I used Girl Scout cookies in my ice cream (Tagalongs, what!) but obviously you can use whatever you have available.  Do the happy ice cream dance!

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Cous Cous Salad with Feta & Mint

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Alright.  I'm going to state the obvious now.  It's hot.  Yup, it's hot and humid and I think my eyeballs are even sweating.  Nothing can escape it!  I am trying to just roll with it.  I'm thinking back to the days when I was bundled in my winter coat and scarf and hat.  I'm recalling when I could see my breath on the air and when the air hurt my face.  I need to appreciate the humid sweltering mess that we're living in right now.  The only recipe I could think to create during this time was a nice cool salad.  (I mean, I COULD have made ice cream, but I haven't decided the flavor that I want to go with yet.  Hopefully I'll have a new ice cream recipe posted on this blog for you soon!)


So....salad!  I wanted to go with a meatless salad option since I'm impatient when I'm hot, which means that I don't want to wait for any meat to cook through.  Don't get me wrong.  I realize that I'm impatient all the time, but it's magnified even more when I'm hot and uncomfortable. #hotandhangryI decided throwing cous cous and vegetables and cheese into one bowl, along with a lemon-flavored dressing would be a marvelous idea.  It would allow me to eat something healthy but filling and tasty.  And guess what!  I was right!

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Gnocchi, Sausage & Kale Bake

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Oh my gosh, this could be one of my most favorite Secret Recipe Club recipes ever!  This lovely recipe comes courtesy of Nicola from the Lemon and Cheese blog.  First of all, let's chat about this name.  I love it!  I'm really into lemon and as you all know, I'm about that cheese life.  Well, it turns out that Nicola is also down to hang out with lemon and cheese, which is why she used them in her blog name!  That's one smart lady (aka - I wish I had thought of that!).  Nicola is also a librarian in London (where I'm going next month on vacation! Woohoo!) and I find it super interesting to see what people in other parts of the world are eating!

I perused several recipes on Nicola's site and was really keen on making the Salsa Verde Quinoa Bake, Squash Sausage and Chard Pasta, and the Crab Macaroni and Cheese (Let me tell you that this one was STRONG contender and I would have made it as well if this past month wasn't so busy!).  However, I finally settled on the Squash Gnocchi, Sausage and Kale Bake.   I've been trying to incorporate more vegetables into my food recently.  I also haven't made anything with gnocchi in a while and I thought that now would be an excellent time to revisit this tasty treat.

Though I have made homemade gnocchi before, this time I went the store-bought route to save me a little time.  I figured that was acceptable since we are basically making a CHEESE SAUCE -- yes, that needs to be said in capital letters -- to pour on top of the gnocchi and the other ingredients.  This sauce was everything!  I definitely recommend making it an drizzling it over everything within reach.  It's truly that good.  Whip everything together, top with even more cheese, and bake until you have the most perfect lunch or dinner combination.  Nicola, you have outdone yourself!

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Chicken Pesto Pizza

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Remember how I was growing my own basil and how well it was going?  Well, friends, I'm sorry to say that my basil is definitely not looking its best.  In fact, some may say that it's mostly dead.  I'm holding out hope that it'll spring back.  I think it's been struggling due to the intense humidity we've faced for the past few weeks.  I also may have been over-watering it a tad.  I've cut back on my heavy-handedness with the H2O and the weather has been cooling down a bit so I'm seeing some promising signs that the basil may spring back to life.  Crossing my fingers and praying to the basil gods that the fight isn't over yet!

I wish I could have used my own home-grown basil to whip up a batch of pesto for this recipe, but it wasn't meant to be.  All the same, I have to say that this is one of my favorite pizzas ever.  I know that's a strong statement, but this combination of chicken, pesto, and corn, topped with an abundance of mozzarella cheese will not be ignored!  Can I eat this pizza for the rest of my life?  I dare you to not enjoy this!

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