If you’re craving the comforts of fall for every course, then this Apple Themed Menu is for you!
To celebrate the ripe old age of six, my sisters threw me a 101 Dalmatians party that friends still talk about (or, at least, I still talk about). There was definitely a snowman theme at some point (I’m a January baby), a beach “getaway,” an innocent sock hop when most parties included spin-the-bottle, and an Amélie themed shindig well into adulthood. Do you see the common thread? I LOVE ME A THEME PARTY, and dinner parties are no exception.
Shortly after I met Ashley, a fellow Pittsburgh food blogger, I met her yard, and all the design gears in my brain started to spin. The ivy, the dappled light, the wooden deck… all of it begged for a dinner party. We hatched the idea for a Pittsburgh food blogger potluck, and because I was involved, we hatched the idea for a themed Pittsburgh food blogger potluck, more specifically an Apple Themed Menu.
So on a sunny Sunday, I styled some of my favorite plaids, baskets and gourds. Then, eight of us gathered, told our two truths and lies, shared lessons learned, demystified instant pots, and combined all of our culinary creativity into one apple themed menu, from sips to sweets. It made bidding farewell to summer a little bit easier, a little more ceremonious.
If a fall gathering is on your horizon, consider challenging your guests to a themed potluck of your own, or if you’re feeling like a super host, take a stab at recreating this blogger-tested apple themed menu. Or, if you’re feeling like a reasonable human being with realistic goals, give these recipes a whirl over the course of the season. (full menu below)
From The Orchard:
An Apple Themed Menu
Fall as a kid is bittersweet, but fall as an adult is cozy, comforting and full of choices- should I drink spiked hot apple cider and watch Netflix, or should I drink red wine and watch Amazon Prime (#LiveItUp)? Celebrate fall with this Gluten Free Zucchini Spice Cake with Apple Butter Buttercream, Apple Cider Reduction & Spiced Apple Rosettes.
A letter to my niece, Remi June, to be opened on her 18th birthday:
Dear Remi June,
They say “you can’t choose your family,” but I was lucky in that I chose yours. I fell for a handsome Urban Farmer with a big heart, deep convictions and one of the best laughs I have ever heard. (I think it comes from your Pappy!) Lucky for me, he was the complete package because he came with a family I adored- your family.
I entered the Pattison story shortly after your big brother did, but I was there for your entire journey. From the moment you were announced, the love and pride beamed in everyone’s eyes. You Remi June, were well loved before the start.
From the beginning, your parents shaped their entire lives around your health and well being, but they’re also the type to look out for the health and well being of complete strangers. They’re good people. Don’t forget that. As you venture into the world on your own, to forge your own path, you have a support system with the strength of the steel that built this rusty city.
Above all Remi June, I would encourage you to make your own mistakes.
Many will try to spare you from failures and heartbreaks, and though these lows will hurt, the ability to scoop ourselves up tests who we really are and in the end, usually provides us with a path better than we ever could have imagined. Nonetheless, what kind of “adult” would I be if I didn’t offer you a few of the lessons I learned the hard way?
Don’t be afraid to quit. Change directions.
Too much of life is spent in pursuit of pleasing some elusive panel of judges. Life is full of “shoulds” and justifications for choices that don’t please our hearts, whether they be the job that looks good on paper or finishing a degree we don’t really want, or committing to a partner who isn’t the best fit. Never stop asking your heart what it wants, and don’t be ashamed to follow it. You only have one wild ride on this life coaster.
Past paths are not wasted. We glean from the journey.
When your heart tells you to redirect, do not fret about the miles behind you. Life has a funny way of collecting valuable souvenirs from all our routes, tokens that become so useful when we find ourselves following our internal compasses.
You are every bit as capable as a man.
Right now, women are angry and stepping into the light. We thought your very first president would be a female, a beacon of a narrowing gap, but we were wrong. In this misstep, we realized that we owe more to our foremothers who fought so hard to bridge so many gaps, and we owe more to the future generations who deserve better.
From the start, I watched people treat you like a girl. Pink appeared. Tones changed when speaking to you, and there was a gentler approach to you, but you, little tiny you, displayed a quickness, a curious spirit, an early grasp of words. You exhibited an innate strength, a resoluteness, a voice. Don’t forget that these qualities are in you. You deserve the education, career and life you want.
See the good. Fight for the good.
As I am writing this, we are entering a very uncertain time- a new president who has enabled a resurgence of hate and fear. It’s all too easy to retreat, to feel buried in the mire, but I look to people like your father and your uncle, people who cling to what is right, fight for it and work every single day to make the world a better place for your generation and beyond. I am learning to stand stronger because of their influence and to take more responsibility.
The big, loud protests are noble and good, but adding positivity to the everyday is just as admirable. Be kind. Be grateful, and be of service. You were born into a healthy, loving home. Never forget the advantages you were given, but stand against the disadvantages. The road is yours Remi June, and I can’t wait to watch where you drive!
I hope you’re reading this after a big ol’ slice of birthday cake (and I hope I made it!) because above all, your 18th year is cause for celebration. It was my honor and pleasure to make your very first birthday cake and watch you seize the day.
P.S: Take your vitamins. I’m pretty sure your dad would want me to say that. And thank your mom because this was a pretty special idea. She’s a giver, and she has a way of making everyone feel special!
Lemon Lavender Coconut Cake for a Baby’s First Birthday
(Refined Sugar Free & Gluten Free)
yield: 9 x 13 pan
About this Recipe:Sweetened with pure maple syrup and made from coconut flour, this light, spongy cake is easy for young tummies to digest and won’t send them on a sugar crash. For whipping the egg whites, be sure your mixing bowl is clean, the egg whites are at room temperature and avoid any yolk spilling into the mixture. The recipe yields a 9 x 13 cake, but I used a 5-inch biscuit cutter to create the round layers for this layered version (and snacked on the rest). The frosting was colored with India Tree natural dyes.
I hung my head in disgust and shame despite the fresh baked smell of chocolate and peppermint. Every attempt to salvage the ugliness before me had failed. The expensive, pink artisanal marshmallows looked like melted mozzarella- good on a pizza, bad on a brownie, and the chocolate drizzle was more like a chocolate drench, muddying the already mystifying marshmallows.
The last feeble attempt- all natural sprinkles, as green as the many dollars needed to buy them, merely sank into the chocolate puddles. So alas, I left the warm brownies on the table, wrapped a bottle of wine and off we went to the Christmas Eve festivities. Failure has a way of kicking its boots around the kitchen every now and then.
This cake, however, was the redemption- a recipe seemingly designed to fail! How many times have I returned to the cooling rack in despair to see a sunken cake intended for layered glory. This chocolate cake recipe replies, “well, if there’s a chance it’s going to fall, why not just let it fall in the first place?” In general, this attitude might be a tad defeatist, but if you need an upswing, this might be the glass-half-full cake.
So nestle into those p.j.’s, ignore the cake on the cooling rack, and let those rich, chocolate layers just sink into crackly goodness. This was my sweet, chocolate redemption that turned Christmas Eve failure into Christmas Day success. The many happy mouths, with chocolate and jam still sticking to their lips, said this was my best cake to date!
Go out and fail!
Flourless Fallen Chocolate Peppermint Cake with Whipped Neufchâtel Topping Adapted from Bon Appetit
About this Recipe:Cake can be made 1 day ahead. Cover in pan and store airtight at room temperature. The original recipe calls for a 9-inch springform pan. To make the layered version, I used a 6 and 7-inch pan. The 6-inch cake will require less baking time (~25-30 minutes), so keep an eye on it as it bakes.
The truck inched around the tight bend of the parking garage. It seemed to have swallowed several other trucks in the process, making each maneuver hinge on the impossible. Valets attempted to corral drivers who wouldn’t be able to handle parking lots on a slow day.
Once inside the grocery store, darting from one aisle to the other felt like a video game with constant obstacles- a rogue cart, an unaware shopper, an oblivious person fixated on a recipe printout while the employees did their best to maintain.
‘Tis the season!
Yet within that chaos, a man in a Santa hat played “Away in A Manger” on his violin. He wasn’t a member of the city’s symphony or a student from the local university’s esteemed music program. It was simple and heartfelt. The song could be heard throughout the jams of people, carts and kids grabbing at everything while their parents did their best to survive. A few shoppers took the time to sit in the cafe and really listen, tucking tips into the simple plastic cup on the table.
Up a level on the parking garage and on to the wine store, where human bodies nearly outnumbered the inventory. A dreaded sound emerged- that of falling, clanking glass. The cashier froze in anticipation of an even worse sound- shattering glass, but miraculously, the bottles survived fully intact. Her fellow coworkers burst into a round of applause, shouting, “It’s a Christmas Miracle!” Customers joined in the celebratory cheers.
All this is to say, maybe the Christmas spirit really does exist? In any case, here’s to finding the joys among the stresses, and may that sentiment continue into the New Year.
Merry Christmas Eve!
Whole Grain Apple Cider Layer Cake (Gluten Free)
adapted from Brooklyn Homemaker
Servings: 12 to 20
About this Recipe: Classic holiday spices combine and a hint of whiskey combine in a moist apple cake with a dark chocolate frosting. It’s gluten free to please a holiday crowd. This cake was part of my “Wrap Party” story, so I went really festive on the garnishes, but the cake stands on its own if you’re not feeling so ornate.
I made this cake for two sweethearts, their love and youth as effortlessly balanced as her hand in his. Her champagne colored dress, a rare standout in the sea of white, sparkled and shined in contrast to his stately navy. They circled and swayed as the record player spun with just the right crackles and scratches. “Hold me close and hold me fast, the magic spell you cast. This is la vie en rose.”
The piano keys flickered with the candlelight, the brassy trumpet and raspy voice slowed time, and I felt purely at ease, for a moment, the high we makers chase was firmly in my grasp. Romance has that effect on me.
Inspired by young love, by their song, this is the Cake en Rose, or Le Gâteau en Rose, if you will.
“When you press me to your heart I’m in a world apart A world where roses bloom And when you speak, angels sing from above Everyday words seem to turn into love songs Give your heart and soul to me And life will always be la vie en rose.”
To all you hopeless romantics out there!
p.s: Eventually, you’ll be able to see all the wedding details I created for Les and Brittni on my portfolio site, so stay tuned.
Rose Water Chocolate Chunk Layer Cake with Rose Water Frosting & Rose Macarons
About this Recipe:Because I wanted a smaller layer cake, I baked a 9×13 pan and used a 5” biscuit cutter to create the round layers. Alternately, you could use 3 6×2-inch round springform pans. Split them in halves horizontally if you want even more layers. The cake layers are separated by thin spreads of red currant jam. Overall, the cake is light, floral, and fruity with bites of dark chocolate and a hint of fall flavors.(more…)