Happy Thanksgiving

I can hardly believe that it is almost December. This year has flown by quicker than any before and I am told by those older and wiser than thou that it only gets worse. I know they are right, the past ten years have been a blur. Does time fly so fast for you as well?

As I am writing this we are busy preparing our menu and home to host Thanksgiving dinner. We are really looking forward to our dinner. It is such an important time to come together and bring things back down to earth. Good food, good company, good memories. We have planned a full menu of seasonal favorites and hope our family enjoys eating it just as much as we have enjoyed preparing it.

Some of our recipes are becoming tradition. Take the Sweet Potato Biscuits for example. I started baking these tasty treats for Thanksgiving in 1998. I was 18 at the time and baking in my aunt’s kitchen in Tennessee for a gathering with my father’s side of the family. (Goodness that seems like a lifetime ago.) The recipe came from a restaurant located on the Outer Banks of NC called Kelly’s, which was a favorite of mine at the time. They serve them up hot with butter at the beginning of your meal. One bite and I was hooked. If you are visiting the Outer Banks anytime in the future, go go go!

A newer addition to our menu, but quickly becoming a favorite are the Maple + Hazelnut Roasted Brussel Sprouts. This recipe is also considered vegetarian and vegan. We started making this one two years ago and it will be returning for a third time this year. The brussel sprouts are roasted in the oven with a coating of maple syrup so that they caramelize a bit, then tossed with chopped hazelnuts and served immediately. It is a quick recipe to prepare and makes a big impact if you have fans of the vegetable in your party. None of our family had ever tasted anything quite like it and were pleasantly surprised.

Lastly we would like to introduce you to Browned Butter Butternut Squash. This is another recipe we started making two years ago that is also returning for a third time this year. Anything in browned butter is usually good. Squash sautéd in browned butter turns a non-eater of squash into a happy squash eater. Myself included. This recipe is also quick and easy, especially if you dice the squash ahead of time, like the day before, and store the cubes in the fridge for quick prep.

Jason and I would like to wish everyone a Happy, Safe and Enjoyable Thanksgiving. We will see you on the flip-side, stuffed and suffering the effects of our turkey tryptophan to our hearts content :)

 

Featured on Navy & Lavender

We would like to thank the lovely team of Michal & Michelle at Navy & Lavender for featuring us on their blog this week! We are so thrilled that you enjoyed our Autumn Harvest Thanksgiving table just as much as we did! If you don't know who Navy & Lavender are, here is a little bit about them:

"Navy & Lavender is a gifting company formed by two imaginative girls who met while working at Vera Wang and instantly fell in love with all things bridal. After carefully planning their own weddings, Michal and Michelle wanted to branch out and help others find unique ways to make their events more memorable too. And not just for weddings, but for all life’s important occasions from baby showers and birthdays to anniversaries and corporate milestones.

In addition to creating stylish gifts and favors, Michal and Michelle developed N&L Notes, a blog that allows them to make note of the personalized touches and special details that go into thoughtful gifting and distinctive events. The “notes” are comprised of their own ideas, latest finds and trends, sources for inspiration, and real weddings and events that simply take the cake. All of which point to their motto, “Love is in the details.”

Each idea is given the N&L Notes wax seal of approval – not only the symbol of the blog, but also a reminder to readers to make their own mark on all that they do!"

Thanks again gals!

Autumn Harvest Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes

Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Marshmallow

Howdy Folks!
We promised to return with all the food and recipe details on our Autumn Harvest Dessert Table, and here they are! It has been a super busy couple of weeks around here with Halloween preparations and execution so we apologize for the delay in posting.
If you are starting to plan your Thanksgiving menu and family gatherings then this post will really be helpful for those of you looking to do something different than pumpkin pie. We chose all savory spiced foods for our table. Selections that really represent the flavors of the season and provide a nice buffet of choices for your guests. Of course you can always add a pumpkin pie to the table too, nothing against those. 
First off we have the store bought items that require no baking. Did you hear that? I said NO BAKING, makes us smile when we see that. We used the following, all of which was purchased very inexpensively at our local Super Wal-mart.

 

Glazed Gingerbread, Cinnamon Sugar Spice and Acorn Cookies Pictured

Glazed Gingerbread Cookies - Henry Lambertz  and Cinnamon Sugar Spice Cookies - LU

Sold at Wal-Mart, store bought and proud of it!

Mulled Apple Cider

Sold at Wal-Mart - One jug of apple cider + one packet of mulling spices. Stew it on the stove-top for 30 minutes and you have fall in a jiffy! Just add cinnamon sticks for the complete experience!

Harvest Apples and Sugared Pears

Red Delicious Apples

Yep just plain ‘ole Red Apples, but they are so beautiful, tasty and classically fall.

Sugared Pears

The easiest, most elegant way to serve up a pear. Wash and dry Anjou pears (they are sweet and tender). Brush on a light coating of corn syrup on the bottom half of each pear, then roll them in coarse decorating sugar. You’re done. Pat yourself on the back, you know, for quick and easy awesomeness.

 

Next up are our recipes. Some of them require a little more effort than others but none of them are extremely complex or difficult. 

 

 Caramel Corn Stalks, Pumpkin Bread, Mulled Cider and Candied Pecans

Caramel Corn Stalks 

These are the brainchild of Jason. Inspired by a few popcorn balls on sticks and developed into popcorn “corn stalks” complete with husks, they were our favorite feature on the table! Here’s how to do it:

Popcorn Ingredients:
1-1/2 C unpopped popcorn
salt
1/2 C butter (1 stick) + more for non-stick shaping
2 C brown sugar
1/2 C corn syrup
1 15 oz sweetened condensed milk
DIY Ingredients:
wooden skewers
corn husks
hot glue gun + glue
Directions:
1.  Pop your popcorn in whichever method you prefer. You can use microwave popcorn if it is easier.
We used brown lunch bags and popped ½ cup at a time in the microwave.   
2. Put your popcorn into to large bowls, sprinkle the popcorn with a bit of salt.
3. In a medium sized sauce pan melt the butter. Add the brown sugar, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk Stir it all around until well blended.
4. Heat the mixture to boiling. Boil while stirring till it reaches 300 degrees.
5. Remove from the heat and pour caramel over the top of the popcorn. Stir it up with a large wooden spoon until all of the popcorn is covered.
6. Allow the popcorn to cool enough to handle comfortably with your hands.
You will need to butter your hands generously in order to shape the popcorn without having a huge sticking issue.
7. To make the corn shapes, take a handful of popcorn and shape it until it looks like corn growing on the stalk, then insert a skewer in from one end to the other.
Be careful not to make your corns too heavy, we made this mistake and gravity worked against us, sliding our corn off the skewers.
8. Once you have made them all, place them on a wax paper lined baking sheet and set in the fridge until they are firm. The freezer works too if you are in a hurry.
9. Before serving attach several corn husks to your skewers using a hot glue gun to complete the look.
10. Place your skewers into a hay bail (or Styrofoam block) to serve on your table.

 

Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Marshmallow

Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow Topping - adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

These are deliciously moist and sticky just like the holiday casserole!

Ingredients for the cupcakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups sugar
3 large eggs
17 oz. sweet potato puree
½ tsp. vanilla extract
For the frosting:
8 large egg whites
2 cups sugar
½ tsp. cream of tartar
2 tsp. vanilla extract


Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; stir together with a fork and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.  Mix in the sweet potatoes and vanilla extract, beating just until combined.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake liners.  Bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting, combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in the top of a double boiler. (Note: I just set my clean, dry mixer bowl over simmering water, to avoid dirtying two bowls.) Heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until it reaches 160° F with an instant-read thermometer. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk starting at low speed and gradually increasing to medium-high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form. Mix in the vanilla until combined. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired. Brown with a kitchen torch and garnish with a sprinkle of brown sugar, if desired.

Candied Spiced Nuts
Candied Spiced Nuts - Better Homes and Gardens Red/White Cookbook

This classic recipe happens to have a bit of sentimental value to me as it was something my grandmother made for our Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday get-together. Miss you Grandma!

Ingredients:
1 egg white beaten
1 tbsp water
½ cup white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
16oz. nuts (pecans, walnuts or almonds work best)
parchment paper

Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees. In a medium size bowl beat the egg white and water until frothy, toss the nuts in with the mixture and coat thoroughly. In a separate bowl mix the sugar and spices together. Add them to the nut mixture and toss until everything is coated. Spread the mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet and cook for 15-20 minutes until the sugar has caramelized slightly. Remove from the oven and let cool completely, then break apart and serve. These can be made and stored for up to a week ahead of time.

Acorn Cookies

Acorn Cookies

Super simple, super cute and de-lish! It will blow your mind how easy this one is.

Ingredients:
Mini Nilla Wafers
Chocolate Kisses
Peanut Butter Chips
plastic baggie

Directions:
Remove your chocolate kisses from the wrappers, you will need one per acorn. Heat a small amount of peanut butter chips in the microwave until melted, about 30 seconds - 1 minute. Place the melted peanut butter into a plastic baggie and squeeze it down to the corner. Snip off the corner of the baggie. You will use this as your glue. Attach the flat side of one kiss to the flat side of one mini-nilla wafer using the peanut butter glue. A small dot will suffice. Use the glue once more to attach the flat side of a peanut butter chip onto the center of the rounded side of the nilla wafer. Voila, you have an acorn! Continue until you have made as many acorns as desired.

Pumpkin Cake

Pumpkin Cake - recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma

This one never disappoints, in fact my family looks forward to this recipe every fall.

Ingredients for the cake:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 tsp. salt
2 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
10 Tbs. (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter room temp.
1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs, room temp.
2/3 cup milk, room temp.
1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree

For the frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese, room temp.
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp.
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Food coloring as desired

Directions:
Have all the ingredients at room temperature.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 325°F. Generously grease and flour the wells of two bundt cake pans; tap out excess flour. This step is important if you do not want your cake to stick and break while removing.
To make the cake, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the both sugars and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour. Add the pumpkin puree and beat until incorporated.
Divide the batter between the wells of the prepared pans and spread it evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted near the center of a cake half comes out clean.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake halves cool upright in the pans for 15 minutes.
Gently tap the pans on a work surface to loosen the cake halves. Invert the pans onto the rack and lift off the pan. Let the cake halves cool completely before decorating.

Meanwhile, make the frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the butter and beat until combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the confectioners sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

Using a bread knife, cut 1/4 inch off the flat side of each cake half. Place one cake half, flat side up, on a cake stand or plate and spread the pumpkin frosting on top. Place the other cake half, flat side down, on top. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Add food coloring as desired to the remaining frosting (green for leaves and tendrils, orange for a jack-o’-lantern). To create leaves and tendrils, using a rubber spatula, transfer the green frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a leaf or medium plain tip. Pipe leaves and tendrils on the top of the cake. To create a jack-o-lantern, using a rubber spatula, transfer the orange frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a medium plain tip. Pipe an outline of the face on the cake, then fill in the design. Serves 12.

 

We hope you enjoyed our summary of recipes and dessert ideas for fall.

As always we invite you to join us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and share your ideas with us!

Happy Thanksgiving planning!

 

 

Autumn Harvest Thanksgiving Decor Printables Giveaway

WOOHOO! We hit 200 fans on Facebook!

In honor of that we would like to giveaway a free set of our Printable Autumn Harvest collection for use at your Thanksgiving celebration.

THE PRIZE: A complete set of printable Autumn Harvest Party Decor from Hello My Sweet

HOW TO ENTER: Pin one of our Autumn Harvest photos from this post to your Pinterest account, then come back and comment on this post and let us know what you are Thankful for! (If you do not have a Pinterest account, that's ok! Visit our Facebook Page, click "Like" and then share our Autumn Harvest on your Facebook page.)

CONTEST ENDS: Monday, November 7th at 9pm EST

NUMBER OF WINNERS: One

PRIZE DISTRIBUTION: via Email

RULES: One entry per e-mail address is permitted. The winner will be selected using random.org and announced as an update to this post. So come on back here on Tuesday morning, November 8th, for the announcement of the winner. Happy commenting!

You will receive: one PDF file via email in which you may print the included pages as many times as needed in order to have the desired quantity of decorations. This prize will take about 4-5 days to customize and distribute to you!

Autumn Harvest Thanksgiving

It just so happens that Heather and I love the fall season.  It’s one of those happy little details that we learned about each other whilst dating.  There is just something about this time of year.  Maybe it has something to do with summer finally passing, with its mix of both oppressively humid and hot weather.  When fall arrives, it is literally ushered in with a breath of crisp fresh air.  It might have something to do with the trees turning all different hues of red, yellow, orange and brown.  Or maybe it’s just the pumpkin pie. Or in Heather’s case, pumpkin anything, because she is truly a fan of any pumpkin dessert one could conjure.


Speaking of those earthy tones, Heather and I borrowed heavily from a color palette eerily reminiscent of a Bob Ross oil painting.  Yellow ochre, burn sienna, some van dyke brown and a splash of crimson red. Okay maybe a lot of brown and maybe I’m stretching that a tiny bit.  I just really wanted to work in a Bob Ross reference to go with this awesome picture I found…

<3 Bob Ross

We wanted our Autumn Harvest table to convey a little something to everyone that feels the same way we do.  And even to the people that don’t like this time of year, we hope we made it nice enough that it might appeal to them as well.  Traditional colors, familiar textures, and comforting foods and sweets.  One of the other things we wanted to accomplish was to see how inexpensively we could put together a dessert table, without it looking all “jacked up” as my stepfather is known to say.  It’s amazing how many of the most iconic images of fall are available to anyone free of charge from that thing outside of your computer office called Mother Nature.  Pine cones, acorns, chestnuts and every color of fall foliage are all just sitting around waiting to be raked up.  (Pro tip:  Make sure that if it does come from the great outdoors that 1. It doesn’t touch any of the edibles.  2.  Make sure you check for AND remove any little creepy crawlies.  And by creepy crawlies, we mean spiders.)

If you do happen to live somewhere that these natural elements are not ready for the picking and totally F-R-E-E, you can always buy them at most craft stores like Michale’s, AC Moore or our new favorite online store Save on Crafts! Another element we incorporated that is inexpensive and easy on the eyes are dried beans. They come in huge bags at the grocery store and cost next to nothing. We used them as filler in our platter and on our plates to add a bit more color and texture.


Our secondary task was to re-use several props from previous tables we have done, again keeping costs low.  Items like our home made heirloom white cake stands from Heather’s gorgeous Southern Heirloom table. Those particular cake stands just matched perfectly with a ROMANTISK platter/serving tray we picked up from IKEA, $9.99.  Also from IKEA were the SOCKER galvanized milk jug and co-ordinating planter pot that doubled as our Candied Nut dish, $4.99 and $1.99.  And even more IKEA, the white KALASA Plant pot which we filled with our apples, at $5.99 (since discontinued in that size) and the BJURON Plant Pot which we used for height and decor at $4.99. All of these items are neutral enough to use again and again so we considered them a good investment.

We also frequent our local Jo-Ann Fabric quite a bit for inspiration and deals. Our tablecloth and backdrop were both steals on the clearance table there. We spent approximatly $30 total for several yards of each of those fabrics, and another $6 on the burlap fabric you see as our table runner. The galvanized props and the inclusion of the small hay bale that held our Caramel Corn Stalks and the vase of wheat (borrowed from the mom-in-law, and originally purchase at Wal-Mart), added a touch of country farm charm without it looking like something out of Hee-Haw.  No offense Hee-Haw. (Update: I’ve just learned that Heather used to watch Hee-Haw with her great-grandfather when she was little.) For anyone keeping track that is awesome 80’s reference number 2. - Jason out!

 

OK enough with all that decor jazz, let’s talk FOOD! All of our desserts and edibles were really simple and easy to create without sacrificing on taste. Seriously, just a few hours in the kitchen and you too can have a veritable fall feast! Please look for our follow up post in a couple of days with the how-to’s on all the recipes and where-to’s on the things we bought ready made! For now though here is a quickie overview:

  • Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow Topping, recipe linked from Annie Eats. These are deliciously moist and sticky!
  • Gingerbread Spice Cookies - Store bought but still super yummy. We picked up several varieties from Wal-Mart that were perfect.
  • Red Delicious Apples - Yep just plain ole Red Apples, but they are so beautiful, tasty and classically fall.
  • Caramel Corn Stalks - Please see our future blog post about how to make these cute harvest desserts!
  • Mulled Apple Cider - One jug of apple cider + one packet of mulling spices stewed on the stovetop = fall in a jiffy! Just add cinnamon sticks for the complete experience!
  • Candied Pecans - This is a classic recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Red/White Cookbook. It also happens to have a bit of sentimental value to me as it was something my grandmother made for our Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday get-together. Miss you Grandma!
  • Acorn Cookies - Super simple, super cute and delish!
  • Pumpkin Cake - Tried and true recipe from Williams-Sonoma, it never disappoints.
  • Sugared Pears - The easiest, most elegant way to serve up a pear.

We hope you enjoyed this Autumn / Fall theme as much as we enjoyed putting it all together. It is a perfect design for Thanksgiving or any family gathering you may be planning this autumn. 

Our Autumn Harvest Printables set includes everything listed below in as many quantities as you need!

 

  • 5x7” Invitation
  • Straw Flags
  • Pie Bunting
  • 5” (Large) Food Tags
  • 3” (Small) Food Tags
  • 4 Decorative Patterned Cupcake Wrapper Designs
  • Wine Bottle Labels
  • 2” Party Circles
  • Napkin Rings / Bottle Wraps
  • 5x7” Banner Cards

 

How are we doing? Any comments or questions about our Dessert Tables are always welcomed and answered as quickly as possible, so feel free to chat us up!

Want to know what we are really diggin’ this week? Join us on Pinterest for daily inspirations!

 

Autumn Harvest Sneak Peek

Whew! Two tables in two weeks we are cranking them out! Here's a little sneak peek at our Autumn Harvest Dessert Table. You are going to want to check back on this one because we plan to show you how to re-create this exact table for less than $200. You wouldn't believe where you can find the best decor!

 

View all of the images for this party here in our gallery!

Spicy Mayan Chocolate Cupcakes

Our new Spicy Mayan Chocolate cupcake is now ready for mass consumption and is part of our new offerings for the Fall Season. This cupcake combines a rich moist chocolate cake with a spicy pepper seasoning, plus cinnamon, and is topped with a creamy dark chocolate ganache and finished with a dusting of cayenne pepper. Our inspiration stems from the Mayan tradition of mixing cocoa with spices and chilies to create a variety of unique flavors, which they consumed in drink form. This cupcake aims to keep you a little toastier during the cooler fall months and is available on our menu from September through November.