Kitchen Concoctions

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Pecan Pie Brownies

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Lonestar Eggs. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thanks to sponsors like Lonestar Eggs I am able to continue to bring you all the content I feature here.  

Pecan pie is a Texas favorite! These brownies are a rich, chocolaty twist on that southern classic!

This past weekend was glorious! The weather was cool and crisp and smelled of fall. If you follow me on Instagram you know I was out of town and as I drove on the wide open Texas country road, small Texas towns passing bye, windows down and the cool air bowling through my hair, I was simply in heaven. 

Texas may not have the picturesque fall days that grace our friends to the north, well at least not in October, those brightly colored fall leaves are slow to make it to the south, but fall in Texas is like non other!

I have so many happy and peaceful memories of Texas autumns. From pumpkin picking, to football crazy Thanksgivings and days spent running around my uncle's Texas ranch while spending the cool autumn evenings cuddled around a bonfire.

I absolutely loved trips out to my uncle's ranch. My cousin's and I would run in the pastures, ride horses, play games, roast marshmallows on the bonfire and collect as many pecans we could fit into our pockets. Yes, my uncle's ranch was covered in Texas pecan trees and in true southern fashion, I would sit with my Mother and Grandmother at the kitchen table and help them shell pecans to use in holiday baking.

My Mom's pecan pie is a holiday staple and over the years has become legendary! It is requested by all and I have never had a pecan pie as good as her's. Her secret? Tons of good 'ole Texas pecans, of course hand shelled if time allows! LOL!

I haven't seen any pecans dropping from the trees just yet, but you betcha as soon as I do, I'll be ready! Since this beautiful fall weather has me reminiscing of magical days from my childhood, I was craving a slice of my Mom's pecan pie. Luckily, Thanksgiving is not too far off, but in the meantime, I whipped up some Pecan Pie Brownies to satisfy that need for pecan pie.

These brownies start with my favorite One Bowl Brownies and are topped with that classic pecan pie filling, filled with premium Texas ingredients like Texas pecans and Lonestar Eggs. Once they are baked and cooled, you have a delicious dessert mash up that was a hit with my fellow pecan pie loving family. While it is not “exactly” the same a my Mom's pecan pie, it is a pretty, darn good twist!

What do you love about fall in Texas? Share your favorite memory or tradition in the comments below!

Pecan Pie Brownies
By Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions:
Printable Version
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes Bake Time: 20-25 minutes Makes: 1 (8x8-inch) pan

Rich chocolaty brownies topped with a gooey pecan pie topping. 

¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 extra large Lonestar Eggs

Pecan Pie Topping:
2 tablespoons butter
2 extra large Lonestar Eggs
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup dark corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ¼ cups coarsely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8x8-inch square pan with parchment paper or spray with baking spray. Set aside.

To prepare brownies: In a large bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Whisk in oil, vanilla and eggs; whisking until well combined. Pour prepared brownie batter into prepared 8x8-inch square pan. Set aside. 

To prepare pecan pie topping: Place butter in microwave safe bowl and microwave for 15-20 seconds or until melted. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs. Stir in flour, brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla extract, and melted butter; whisking until well combined. Stir in chopped pecans. Pour pecan pie batter over brownie batter in prepared pan.

Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for 35-40 minutes, or until pecan pie topping is set. Let brownies cool completely, for 4-6 hours or overnight, before cutting.

Are you a die hard Texan like myself and want to try these Lonestar Eggs, “eggs laid by Texans, for Texans”? Check out the special $0.75 off coupon insert, available October 18th, in all newspapers in the Dallas/Ft Worth, Houston and San Antonio areas! And for more information, visit Lonestar Eggs online, follow on Twitter and like them on Facebook.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Best Pumpkin Patches in Austin and Central Texas

Whether you live in central Texas or love making fall road trips, check out some of the best pumpkin patches in Austin, Texas and beyond! 

One of my favorite fall traditions, is pumpkin huntin'. Ever since I was a little girl I loved taking the annual trip out to the country to pick the biggest, brightest pumpkin with the perfect, tall brown stem. We have continued this tradition and every year, make the trek to the pumpkin patch. Some years it literally is a trek as we drive 1-2 hours out to a farm and other years, we have limited time and can barely fit pumpkin huntin' and carving into our schedules. During those years, we simply make a pit stop at a local church or school to grab our pumpkin haul.

For years I have wanted to do a round up of our favorite local pumpkin patches, and then when I posted a photo from last year's pumpkin patch adventure on Instagram a few days ago and received several questions and comments and decided now was the time to finally share!

This round up includes several pumpkin patches that we visit frequently and others that come as recommendations. Please note some of these are farms while others are churches or schools that have truck loads of pumpkins shipped in. I have yet to find a true pumpkin patch where the pumpkins are actually grown (if you know of one, let me know!).

Check out the best pumpkin patches in and around central Texas!

Pumpkin Patch, concert and festival. Pumpkins for sale October 13 through October 31st and Concert Under the Oaks October 25th at 4 PM with live music, food and games.

4220 Monterey Oaks BoulevardAustin, Texas
Hours: Monday-Friday: 8:00 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.; Saturday: 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.; Sunday, October 25: 1:30 – 7:00 p.m.

The St. Mark Day Fall Festival will be Saturday, October 17, 2015 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. This event includes a pumpkin patch, live music, food, scarecrow stuffing and more. 

601 W Braker
Austin, TX

Classic pumpkin patch in the heart of Austin, Texas.

2601 Exposition Road
Austin, TX
Hours: Open Monday, September 28th throughout the month of October until the pumpkins run out. Monday – Friday, 2:00 – 7:30pm; Saturdays, 9:00am – 7:30pm; Sundays, Noon – 7:30pm

The Burbs:
As with most church pumpkin patches, this patch is a fundraiser for the youth group. This patch gets pumpkins large and small shipped in and charges based on the size. While there are no activities there are set ups for fall photos.

500 East Pecan Street
Pflugerville, TX
Hours: October 5-31, 2015 are 4:30-7 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. on weekends

Pumpkins can be purchased any time during their operation hours. The Great Pumpkin Festival, a free event, is on Sunday, October 18, 2015 from 2:30-6:30 and includes various family friendly activities.

1420 E. Palm Valley Blvd
Round Rock, TX
Hours: Open all October; weekdays from noon – 8 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon – 8 p.m.

Pumpkin patch and fall festival complete with crafts, carnival rides and games.

204 E Little Elm Trail
Cedar Park, Texas
Hours: Pumpkin Patch runs October 1st – 31st Weekdays (9:30-12 & 4-7:15); Sat (9-4); Sun (12-4)
Fall Festival: October 17, 2015 2:00pm-9:00pm with $8 admission

And Beyond:
Barton Hills Farm:
Barton Hills Farm is a favorite of ours. Not only are there piles of pumpkins there is an awesome corn maze which theme and design changes every year (seriously super fun, read all about it here!). There is also live music, forts, trains and playscapes for the kids. Tickets for the corn maze and general attractions are required, with pumpkins and additional attractions extra.

1115 Farms to Market 969
Bastrop, TX 78602
Open: Weekends September 26 – November 8, 2015
Hours: Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 10 pm. and Sundays, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m
General Admission: $8 for ages 3 – 10 and $11 for 11 and up. 

Sweet Berry Farms was one of the first pumpkin patches we ever visited. Since the farm is located in Marble Falls, the drive this time of year is gorgeous, and you could totally make it a weekend trip. The farm has not only pumpkins in the fall (avoid going Mondays or Tuesdays as the selection is sparse), but hayrides, a train, a corn maze, sand art, horse rides, stuff a scarecrow and face painting.

1801 FM 1980
Open: September 26th through November 8th (closed Wednesdays)
Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., except for Sundays which are 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Admission: No cost to enter farm, but fees for pumpkins and activities.

The Elgin Christmas Tree Farm is open all October for fall fun. Specifically their Pumpkin Festival takes place on the second and third weekends in October, which includes mazes, a petting zoo, hay rides and more. Pumpkins, food and crafts are

120 Nature’s Way off Roy Davis Road
Elgin, TX
General October Fun:Weekdays and 1st and 4th weekends
Fall Festival: 2nd and 3rd Weekends of October 
Admission: Fall Festival (more activities): $6 Kids (2 – 12 years of age),  $8 Adults and Older Kids (13 and Older) October Fun: $6 per person (2 years old – senior citizen)

This free pumpkin patch has assorted jack-o-lanterns, pie pumpkins, Indian corn and assorted other squash for purchase plus food and various activities (stuff a scarecrow, bounce houses, etc.) for additional charge, however, all relatively inexpensive.

7617 McGregor Park Rd
Temple, TX 76502
(254) 986-7988
Hours: Open weekends in October from 10:00am-5:00pm

This pumpkin patch and corn maze has been on our bucket list for years (maybe we will finally make it out there this year!)! Not only do they have a huge pumpkin patch, but they have a seven acre corn maze, MatterCorn Mountain Slide and nightly campfires with live music.

911 US Hwy. 90 East
Hondo, Texas 78861
(830) 741-3968
Hours: Open weekends September 19 through November 15 Fridays: 5 – 9pm Saturdays: 10am – 9pm   Sundays: Noon – 5pm
Admission: Adults (3-64): $14.00+tax Seniors (65+): $10.00+tax  Children 2 and under are free!

Note: Check back frequently for updated information and additional pumpkin patch listings. If you have a favorite pumpkin patch in central Texas, please leave a comment and I'll add it to the list! 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Buffalo Chicken Soup

Disclosure: This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group®, Birds Eye®, and Farm Rich® but all my opinions are my own. #ad #pmedia #FullnRichFlavor 

Buffalo chicken is a fan favorite! Whip up this quick and easy dinner and satisfy that tailgating favorite in the comfort of your own home with this hearty twist! 

I have worked in the food and beverage industry in some form or fashion for over 10 years. It is the industry I chose to pursue a career in and it has definitely taught me many things, been very challenging and rewarding all at the same time.

One thing that having a career in food has given me the opportunity, is meeting lots and lots of people. Over the years I have met hundreds of people. From co-workers, to clients, to farmers, to restaurant owners, to brand managers and beverage reps, to fellow food bloggers and recipe developers.

Meeting all these different individuals and personalities has taught me patience (more patience than I ever thought I knew). It has given me the opportunity to work with clients for many years. And has blessed me with life long friends.

Of course, of all the people I have met over the years, I have always loved striking up conversations with fellow chefs. I am always curious about how and why they got into the food industry. Did they go to culinary school or worked their way up from dishwasher? What fancy or exotic restaurant did they work at before? What is their “go to” dish? And do you cook on your time off?

Yup, a common trend among most professional chefs, is that as soon as they walk out of that big, fancy, professional kitchen, they take the chef coat off and don't want to go home and cook again. In fact, I have heard many chefs confess to serving their family burgers on Thanksgiving and getting take out on the way home because they are simply too exhausted, to burnt out and so not in the mood to cook.

This is something for a long time I never understood. Food is a chef's life. How could they get burnt out? How could they settle for take out or burgers on Thanksgiving? I have always jumped at any chance to get in the kitchen. Being in the kitchen and cooking is my zen. To turn up the beat of my favorite tunes, and chop and knead, and mix and believe or not roll up my sleeves and do the dishes... in my eyes- heaven!

However, the past few months have been super busy and extremely stressful. There has been so much going on and I am barely keeping my head above water. At some point, and I don't really know when it actually occurred, but I lost my oomph. Grocery shopping, menu planning, clipping coupons, cleaning and dinner time became dreaded chores and added stress. That is when I finally understood what all my chef mentors where talking about... a sad, sad day.

In an effort to keep my sanity and to at least get something on the table, I turned to quick, easy 30 minute meals and took advantage of a few shortcuts. One pot wonder meals, the slow cooker and frozen chopped veggies became huge life savers. In fact, when I spotted these new pre-seasoned vegetables, from Birds Eye® at my local Walmart, I immediately stocked up! Not only do their Steamfresh® Flavor Full products, like Buffalo Cauliflower and Ranch Broccoli, give me no fuss dinner side dishes, they are perfect for adding to recipes like the one I am sharing below!

I am ecstatic to say, that I am finally finding my way back into the kitchen without it feeling like a compete burden... a happy, happy day! I am not making homemade pasta or pumping out three course meals, but with a few shortcuts and back pocket recipes, I AM getting dinner on the table!

This Buffalo Chicken Soup is so easy. Simply dump and simmer. Since I use Farm Rich® Smokehouse Dry Rub Smoked Chicken, I don't even have to worry about shredding the chicken after it boils in the soup. Yay! Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner! :)

What are your kitchen shortcuts to get dinner on the table? Please share in the comments below! 

Buffalo Chicken Soup 
by Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions:
Printable Version
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes Cook Time: 15-20 minutes Serves: 4

Warm and hearty soup loaded with vegetables and chicken and those classic buffalo flavors. 

For Soup:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil 
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 large carrots, sliced
3 celery stalks, sliced
1 (9.5-ounce) package Birds Eye® Steamfresh® Flavor Full Buffalo Cauliflower
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (32-ounce) carton chicken stock
½- ¾ cup buffalo wing sauce
1 (16-ounce) package Farm Rich® Smokehouse Dry Rub Smoked Chicken
½ teaspoon each kosher salt and black pepper

For serving:
¼ cup blue cheese crumbles
¼ cup chopped green onions
¼ cup blue cheese dressing

Heat butter and oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute for 2-3 minutes, Add carrots, celery and cauliflower, and saute for an additional 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Stir in chicken stock, buffalo sauce, chicken, salt and black pepper. Bring soup to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Taste and adjust seasonings or additional buffalo sauce, if needed. Serve immediately topped with blue cheese crumbles, diced green onion and a drizzle of blue cheese dressing.

Note: Additional stock, buffalo sauce or water maybe needed to add to any refrigerated leftovers.

Looking to not only save time but money in the kitchen? Earn $0.75 on Birds Eye Vegetables or unlock $1.00 off one Farm Rich® Smokehouse product with Ibotta while supplies last. If you haven’t used Ibotta, you have to download the app available on iOs and Android. Before you shop, be sure to unlock the rebates for both Birds Eye Vegetables and Farm Rich® Smokehouse. Then, shop! Buy the products that you’ve unlocked at major retailers. Finally, verify your purchase by scanning your barcodes and submitting a photo of your receipt!

For more deals, recipes and ideas follow Birds Eye® and Farm Rich® online:

Birds Eye®:

Farm Rich®:

Monday, September 28, 2015

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Pumpkin Creme Anglaise

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. AD #DelightfulMoments #CollectiveBias 

Pumpkin is a favorite fall flavor (pumpkin lovers unite)! Add some to your morning coffee and treat yourself to this Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Pumpkin Creme Anglaise, which is LOADED with pumpkin flavor! 

I had such a hard time letting summer go this year. I mean, normally, after the brutally hot Texas summer, I am begging for the cooler days of fall. I love everything about fall and it has always been my favorite season, but this year, because we were so busy, summer went by way too fast.

For weeks after school was back in session, I was longing for more summer BBQs, summer produce, summer nights spent watching movies in the park and cheering on the local minor league baseball team, and days spent lounging by the pool and days spent with my toes in the sand on the beach. 

Then one cool, “official” fall morning, just a few days a good, it hit me, as I sat and enjoyed my morning coffee on the back porch, Fall was HERE (despite still warm 90 degree Texas days)!

That cool morning spent in my backyard, and every cool Fall morning and evening since; has had me eager for all things fall (finally... so long summer!!). From the cool days, to colorful leaves, to Saturdays spent on the farm/ranch, to camping, to FUN! Fall holidays, and yes... of course everything pumpkin... fall is here in all it's glory!!!!

I have always been a pumpkin lover, even doing pumpkin themed weeks here on the blog in the past, but the last few years, dare I say it, but I got a little over pumpkin... choosing to allow my taste buds to relish in other fall flavors, like pears, pomegranates and allowing other fall -squash, spaghetti, acorn and butternut- to steal the show.

But this year, as soon as I felt the fall spirit, I have been back to my old favorite, pumpkin. And not “just” pumpkin, anything and everything I can find that is pumpkin! In fact as soon as I was craving that comforting fall flavor, I immediately ran to Walmart to stock up on as many cans of pumpkin puree I could fit in my cart (you know because of the pumpkin shortage in years past), but everything else pumpkin flavored that I love, like that smooth and creamy International Delight Pumpkin Pie Spice Creamer, that tastes just like pie!

Even though I love drinking my cup of coffee every morning year round, the cool fall and winter months have me looking forward to each morning! Not only is morning serenity and mediation that I seek as I sit on my back porch and let the cool fall breeze blow through my morning bed head, I look forward to adding a few splashes of those special seasonal flavored creamers, like International Delight Frosted Sugar Cookie and Peppermint Mocha, to my morning cup. It makes me giddy and helps me get excited about all the traditions coming in the months ahead.

Inspired by my favorite morning drink and favorite fall flavor, I whipped up a super decadent pumpkin treat! This Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Pumpkin Creme Anglaise, aka Pumpkin Lovers Bread Pudding, is best shared with other die hard pumpkin fans! The bread pudding is not only packed with pumpkin and those warm and delightful pumpkin pie spices, but I decided to top it off with a Pumpkin Creme Anglaise (that I could totally drink from a cup!).

So here's to fall and all things pumpkin! What is your favorite fall flavor? Share in the comments below!

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Pumpkin Creme Anglaise
by Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions:
Printable Version 
Prep Time: 20 minutes Bake Time: 25-30 minutes Serves: 8-10

Decadent bread pudding packed with pumpkin and pecans then finished with a thick pumpkin cream sauce. 

Pumpkin Bread Pudding:
1 cup International Delight Pumpkin Pie Spice Creamer
½ cup whole milk
1 ¼ cups pure pumpkin puree
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup room temperature butter, cubed
1 cup chopped pecans
8-9 cups torn croissants

Pumpkin Creme Anglaise:
2 cups International Delight Pumpkin Pie Spice Creamer
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks
¼ cup pumpkin puree
½ cup brown sugar

For Pumpkin Bread Pudding:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Generously grease an 9x9-inch baking dish with butter or cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together creamer, milk, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, eggs, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla. Set aside.

In a separate large bowl, toss together cubed butter, pecans and torn croissants. Pour custard over bread pieces and stir just until bread is saturated. Add additional milk or creamer, if needed, until the bread is completely saturated.

Pour bread pudding into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees F, for 25-30 minutes, or until set. Allow bread pudding to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Best served warm or at room temperature, topped with Pumpkin Creme Anglaise and additional chopped pecans. Store leftovers for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

For Pumpkin Creme Anglaise:
Bring the pumpkin creamer and vanilla to a simmer in a medium saucepan. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar, until smooth and pale. Slowly whisk in the hot cream. Return the mixture to the pot, and bring to a simmer over medium low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture coats the back of the spoon.

Using a fine mesh strainer, strain cooked cream into a bowl and set in an ice bath to cool. Continue to whisk cream until chilled. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap directly onto the custard and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. After refrigeration, if the custard is too thick, whisk in additional cream. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

In Season: Pears! (Tips, Tricks and Recipes)

Late summer through mid winter is prime for pear picking! Check out some fun facts and fantastic pear recipes below! 

My Mother-in-Law is blessed with a pear tree. It isn't the prettiest tree, as several of the neighborhood kids have climbed it breaking branches, and for years we didn't even know it was a pear tree, because it stood barren. But finally the last four years or so, after some much needed rain, this ugly little tree has produced a pear bounty! Not just a bounty, but a boat load of some of the juiciest, sweetest pears I have ever had! Such a treat!

Since my MIL can't eat them all, she is kind enough to share, and as soon as the late August heat wave rolls around and those plump little pears start falling from the tree, she calls me over to pick as many as I can reach. Needless to say, because we are blessed with so many pears, I am always looking for some new recipes to use them up. Today, I am sharing an “In Season” post (it's been awhile!) and highlighting some tips, tricks and recipes using this fresh seasonal fruit!

In Season: Pear season begins in late summer (August/September) with Bartlett pears and continues through the cold winter months (January) when Anjou pears hit their peak.

Nutrition: Pears are a nutrient dense food. They are an excellent source of fiber and vitamins A and C. Pears are low in calories, and are a sodium free, fat free, and cholesterol free food.

Purchasing: Pears, like most fruit, are usually picked when slightly under-ripe and improve flavor and texture after picking. When purchasing pears, look for pears that are bright in color, free of dark spots or blemishes and firm to the touch. Firmer pears are best for cooking, while riper pears are more tender and juicy and best for snacking.

Storing: Storing firmer pears at room temperature will cause the pears to ripen more quickly. For quicker ripening, store pears at room temperature in a bowl with bananas. Softer pears should be refrigerated and enjoyed within 2-3 days.

Pear Varieties: There are approximately 10 varieties of pears grown in the US. Check out the most common below:
  • Bartlett: This is the most common variety of pears and comes with both in a yellow/greenish and/or red coloring (depending on the ripening stage). Bartlett pears have that classic pear shape and flavor and are crisp and tart (when dark green) or juicy and sweet when ripe (yellowish green). These pears are commonly used for canning but are also great for snacking or adding to salads and cheese platters. 
  • Anjou: Are actually the most abundant variety of pear, because they can grow year round. They are larger and have more of an egg shape. While they can come in darker green and red colors, the Anjou pears do not change colors when ripened. To check for ripeness, gently press the top of the pear. If the pear “gives” slightly, it is ready to enjoy. Anjou pears tend to be more firm yet juicy, making them the ideal pear for cooking and snacking. 
  • Bosc: This long and skinny pear a dull brownish color, has a firmer more dense skin. Due to this and their strong honey like flavor, Bosc pears are ideal for use in baking, broiling or poaching and are great when pared with strong spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom. 
  • Starkrimson: Are commonly referred to as red pears due to their deep crimson color. They are extremely soft and juicy. They have a light, almost floral taste and scent and are great in salads and paired with cheese or wine. Due to their soft texture these pears should be used immediately. 
  • Seckels: Are tiny and chubby. They tend to be more bland in taste and have a more gritty texture. They are best used in cooking. 
Looking for some fresh, seasonal pear recipes? Check out the collection below with more than 20 recipes from Kitchen Concoctions and around the web!

Pear Recipes From Kitchen Concoctions: 

Pear Recipes From Around the Web: 
Poached Pear Salad with Blue Cheese, Spiced Caramel Walnuts and Blackberry Jam Vinaigrette (Culinary Concoctions by Peabody)
Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Caramel Pear Butter Center (The Kitchen Prep Blog)
Pear Pie Bars (Bluebonnets and Brownies)
Pear Spiked Applesauce (Kitchen Concoctions) 
Korean BBQ Chicken Tacos with Asian Pear and Jicama Slaw (Taste and Tell)
Brie, Fig and Pear Panini (MJ and Hungry Man) 
Tea Poached Pears with Soba Noodles (Stetted)
Challah Pear Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce (Austin Gastronomist)
Pomegranate, Pear and Gorgonzola Salad (What Jew Wanna Eat)
Lovely Delicious Pear Vanilla Jam (Food in Jars) 
Crepes with Asian Pears Compote (La casa sin tiempo)
Brown Sugar Clafoutis with Pears (Orangette) 
Pear Bread (Lick the Bowl Good)

Friday, September 25, 2015

DIY Caramel Apple Gift Baskets

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. AD #EatASNICKERS #CollectiveBias

Fall is officially here! Celebrate it's arrival by creating DIY Caramel Apple Gift Baskets, filled with apples, caramel sauce and popular caramel apple toppings like nuts and SNICKERS® candy bars, to gift friends and family.

We have a long running joke in our house.... that I better make sure I eat every few hours because if I don't the “hangry monster” comes out! Yes, I am confessing this here for all to see... Hi. My name is Heather and I get “hangry.”

I confess that if I don't eat regularly, I can get a tad bit moody. I confess that I have lost my temper, had a melt down or had my feelings hurt, purely because I was hungry and not thinking straight or being rational.

In fact, for a long time Eric thought I was just over exaggerating things and being super dramatic when I was hungry, until he read an article that people's moods and concentration really are affected when they are hungry! And while we joke that my sudden mood changes are brought on when I am hungry, I am happy to know that I am not alone.

Recently when checking out at Walmart, I saw a display of SNICKERS® candy bars, and was instantly reminded of the hilarious SNICKERS® commercials and tag line: “You're not you when you're hungry!” Since, like I said, this really is the story of my life; super irritable (totally NOT me) one moment and then as soon as I take a bite of food, back to my to my normal carefree, angelic self (Smile!), I was reminded I should eat a small snack (ASAP!!), you know to combat that “hangry monster!”

One of my favorite fall treats is caramel apples. Since I know I must not be the only one that gets a little grumpy when they are “hangry,” I was inspired by my favorite fall treat and those SNICKERS® bars (you know the candy bar everyone loves because of the gooey caramel, creamy nougat, crunchy peanuts and rich milk chocolate), to create custom DIY Caramel Apple Kits to gift to my friends and family this fall. 

I love seeing the smile on my friends', family members' and neighbors' faces when I surprise them with a special treat. Not only is this DIY kit the most adorable way to celebrate fall and let your friends know you are thinking about them; but it will help combat hunger and will let your friends know that you “still love them to the core even when their hangry”! :)

Depending on your gift budget and/or time, you could create a large DIY Caramel Apple Gift Basket, or smaller, more individualized kits. I am providing general directions for both below, but feel free to change up the caramel apple toppings and gift tag sayings to fit your needs. Since SNICKERS® is my topping of choice when I get caramel apples at those fancy candy shops, I had to include some in my goodie bags! Other favorite topping ideas include coconut, nuts, sprinkles... basically pretty much whatever you want!

DIY Caramel Apple Gift Baskets
by Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions:

Celebrate fall by gifting a DIY caramel apple kit to friends and family!

Gift Basket Supplies:
Basket or metal bucket
Straw, shredded paper or tissue paper
Gift tags
Small jars, cellophane gift bags or plastic food storage containers
Fabric or cellophane, optional

Caramel Apple Supplies:
Caramel sauce (store bought or homemade)
Assorted toppings:
SNICKERS® candy bars
Chopped nuts

  1. Fill bucket or basket with straw, shredded paper or tissue paper. Set aside.
  2. Divide caramel and toppings evenly between glass or plastic containers. Seal containers.
  3. Arrange apples, SNICKERS® candy bars and jars of caramel sauce and toppings in prepared basket.
  4. Tie a decorative ribbon and gift tag around the bucket or handle of the bucket. Can gift as is, or wrap basket in cellophane or fabric and tie off with the ribbon.

Individual kits:
For a twist, make single serve caramel apple kits. Place caramel sauce in jar. Place jar in cellophane bag. Place apple on top and add SNICKERS® candy bars around sides of apples and jar of caramel sauce. Use ribbon to tie off bag and add gift tag.

Who are you when you are hangry? Take the quiz to find out (I was princess... lol!) and check out these other great SNICKERS® ideas!

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