Nope. Not Christmas… AUTUMN! Okay… technically it’s not until September 22nd, but almost! It’s close enough for me to begin celebrating all things fall!! Living in the Louisiana (the land of few trees and even fewer than change colors) for the past four autumns, I forgot that Mississippi and places in the south can actually have autumn! Some of the trees are starting to change already. Driving down the interstate, a breeze of wind caught the leaves of a cute little yellow tree and they magically fluttered through the air. I actually got tears in my eyes and squealed “fall” in utter bliss with a big smile while driving in my car. So in my world, it is officially time to light the fall candles, put out the fall candy (it’s so cute in a mason jar!), bake all the fall things, and hang my homemade fall wreath!
And so this weekend, the official weekend of the end of summer, I fully welcomed autumn with all the love I could deliver! How you might ask? A party with the kitchen, a few cans of pumpkin, and me! I’m so thankful for this season coming now! After a month of all the chaos that is the beginning of a school year in the higher education world, I’m finally back. Life has been so busy, three weeks of training, and the first hectic week of school and students moving in. I haven’t been able to workout or eat properly at all! The good news, I didn’t gain! The bad news, I didn’t loose anything but my motivation. The coming of the season I love was just what I needed to find my motivation. I literally haven’t cooked or planned a meal in a month (food provided, eating out, lots of cereal, etc.). This week, that all changed. I planned meals for the next three weeks and had a pumpkin/autumn extravaganza!
Pumpkin Spiced Cream Cheese
I took this recipe
directly from my favorite recipe blog skinnytaste.com
. I didn’t have agave nectar, so I added 3 extra tablespoons of brown sugar instead of the 2 tablespoons of agave. She mentioned that agave was sweeter. So, I started with 2. It wasn’t quite sweet enough, so I added 1 more. It’s SOOO good. I’ve been eating it with apples, but I can’t wait to try it on bagel thins as well. The recipe makes a little over a cup. It’s made with 1/3 less fat cream cheese and 1 point per tablespoon. I am fairly certain I will keep this in my fridge until spring reappears!
This recipe also came directly from skinnytaste.com . I didn’t make any changes at all. She suggests 1-2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice, according to your taste. I LOVE pumpkin pie spice, so I used two. She says you can use apple cider or juice, I used juice. 2-3 cinnamon sticks, I used 3. I used Libby’s canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling). Can I just tell you, this is amazing! In the comments on her blog post people asked how long it would last in the fridge, and she says 3 days. It makes A LOT, like 4 cups a lot. I plan on using it past 3 days though. I did some research and most places said you could use apple and pumpkin butters longer, up to 3 weeks. BUT still, there is no way I’d use 4 cups, so I am freezing some in ice cube trays for individual portions to store in a freezer ziplock bag. I do believe I will eat this for breakfast every day this week! It would be fabulous on pancakes, waffles, biscuits… Oh my gosh… MUST MAKE BISCUITS! My mouth is watering thinking about this yummy spread on biscuits. It’s only 3 points for a 1/4 cup! This yummy pumpkin butter is also a the key ingredient in….
Pumpkin Spiced Lattes
straight from my favorite
! Anyone else anticipate the re-release of Starbucks’ pumpkin spiced latte every year? Or the pumpkin spiced coffee creamer that only comes out around the holidays each year. I am ecstatic when this happens every autumn! Gina (Skinny Taste’s author) to the rescue again! I followed the recipe exactly, except… It makes 2 serving and I definitely drank all of it! 3 points a serving (or 6 if you drink both like me). You need this! I also looked up how to make espresso in a coffee pot. 1 tablespoon of coffee per 1/4 cup of needed espresso. So I brewed 2 cups of water + 8 tablespoons of coffee. I’ll save the rest for another batch tomorrow.
And then, with all the yummy sweet pumpkiny things. I had to have an equally yummy fall dinner right? What better way to do that than in the crock pot?! My crock pot, Tyler Duff Crock Pot to be exact, is my favorite cooking tool for autumn and winter. It’s just so warm and cozy! Chicken was on sale at Sam’s, which isn’t a typical crock pot meat, but I worked with what I had and threw some stuff together that came out really yummy!
Fall in a Crock Pot Chicken
For sounding more professional, in the picture I named it Autumn in a Pot. But doesn’t fall in a crock pot sound so funny? Funny image for sure. But really, the ingredients kind of did fall in the crock pot!
-1 large sweet onion
-3 sweet potatoes, cubed
-3 boneless skinless chicken breast
-1 cup dried cranberries
-3 or 4 small Gala apples, sliced
-1 package chicken gravy mix
-McCormick Smokehouse Maple Seasoning
I tossed the onions in first, cut in half, quarters, and then once more. Threw the cubed potatoes on top of that. Sprinkled them with salt, pepper, and the McCormick seasoning. Seasoned the chicken breast on both sides with the same seasonings. Sprinkled the gravy mix over all of that. Tossed the apples and cranberries on top, poured over 1 cup of chicken low sodium, fat free chicken broth. I finished it with a little more of the maple seasoning, some nutmeg, and a cinnamon stick. Put the lid on, cook on high for 4 hours, and don’t touch. It was really yummy! Very much an autumn meal: cozy, warm, and filling.
AND since I’m determined to eat healthy this week, I whipped up some fruity chicken salad to use for lunches. I usually do good with breakfast and dinner but not so good with lunch unless I have leftovers or plan! Breakfast this week will be full of pumpkin goodness! Since canned chicken was also on sale at Sam’s, chicken salad sandwiches will make my lunches happy!
I don’t use any full fat mayonnaise! I use a tad of fat free mayo and for the rest of the “wet” I use fat free sour cream. A big can of chicken, dried chives, ground sage, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder to taste. Red seedless grapes and 1 gala apple chopped. Perfect as a sandwich and yummy on crackers too!
Stay tuned tomorrow for Brownie Batter Dip, Strawberry Fluff, and Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Homemade Caramel Sauce! Also, if you haven’t heard of pinterest.com
, you are missing out! It’s a virtual pin board! You can “pin” things you find on the web and like or things you make yourself (I’ve started pinning all my recipes). BUT the best part is browsing other pins. Everything from food, to DIY projects, to clothes, to crafts, EVERYTHING! You should follow me: pinterest.com/kasialindsay
I hope you can enjoy and celebrate fall too! Or mourn the last official weekend of summer, if you must. (If you are one of *those* people, hehe kidding, I love you even if you don’t love the coming season as much as me!) Happy healthy eating!