We All Scream for Pumpkin

A post I did for the Equator!

The season of the pumpkin is well underway and I would assume by now you have had your fair share of pumpkin spiced lattes, pumpkin bread, and maybe even a pumpkin whoopie pie…or two.

Whatever your vice of choice, our pumpkin flavored cravings are so strong that come October, it almost seems sacrilegious to say you don’t like pumpkin foods and drinks. And, since pumpkins are said to have originated in North America, it makes sense that we feel this way. However while we hold the pumpkin near and dear to our hearts, we can’t call it our own; all around the world, other countries have adopted the pumpkin and given it their own special twist.

The rest of the post…

Kara Whoopie Pie_MG_8581

How to: Throw the Perfect Cocktail and Appetizer Party


I recently had a ladies night which had a fall theme and it was awesome! Over the past couple of years I’ve loved hosting tailgate brunches, St. Patty’s Day dinners or brunch, and Thanksgiving dinner. From all of these I’ve come up with the fool proof way to through the best party. Here is how you do it….

Step 1- Think of theme and menu

Think of a theme so you can decorate and create a meal around it. I picked just general fall so I wouldn’t have to get a lot of decorations but just a few items to jazz up the apartment. I got a few tiny pumpkins for decoration and orange flowers. I also picked fun Halloween straws and brown stripped plates.

When planning the menu always think less is more. After a week of searching different sites I decided to serve bahn mi meatballs, crostinis three different ways, and pumpkin doughnut holes. When picking recipes think about what needs to be cooked in the oven and your time frame. Also think of recipes that you could do most of the prep before hand.

I was originally planning on doing three savory apps and then one sweet but scaled it down to two because I knew people would bring stuff even if I said they didn’t have to. This was a great decision because there was plenty of food and I didn’t kill myself. For the cocktail I picked an apple cider old fashioned. Once again here I almost changed my plan because I found a cool recipe that added ginger beer and I thought it looked cooler with cranberries on toothpicks. In the end I went with what was budget friendly and didn’t make me have to get extra “stuff.” The orange and apple slices I had planned were just “fun” in the drinks.

This was my first party I really tried to focus on this and I will never go back to my old ways. I saved a few extra dollars and nobody else knew about the other cocktail with ginger beer or the other appetizer I was thinking about—they just saw the festive fun stuff in front of them.

Step 2-Prepare with a list

This seems like an easy step but I think it is one that is frequently missed. What I mean by “prepare with a list” is the week prior to your party break down each day and what needs to be done. A grocery store day, a cleaning day, a prep night. If you break it down this way it helps you see how easily you can maintain your normal week like and prep for a party. It helps keep the stress down from the get go. Take a look at my list and you’ll see how I do it.


Step 3- Prep night/morning

The night before the event, once the place is clean, put stuff out how you would for the party. I set up the bar and set up the table with the platters I would be using and the only things missing were food and ice. This way everything is set so you don’t have to worry about grabbing dishes and cleaning them or what to put where.



Step 5- Stay calm and cook/bake on

This is the key point; stay calm. I found it hard because I got out of work a little later than planned so I was behind schedule but when time came for the people to arrive at 7 pm they helped out with the final dishes being cooked. I was frazzled because my goal was to have everything done before people arrived which now that I look back and realize what I was trying to get done in an hour was not realistic. So set realistic goals so you aren’t stressed. It is very normal to be cooking while people are arriving so build that in if need. I also found that it was great to give someone bar duty so that kept people busy while I was finishing things up in the kitchen. I gave this duty to my sister Kara and it was easy for her take on because I printed out the recipe and directions so there were no questions. Also no matter how your dishes turn out remember what Julia Child said, “No Matter what happens in the kitchen never apologize.” So present your dishes proudly and enjoy a drink you deserve it!

The Perfect Fall Party Menu (Serves about 12 if others bring some things like cheese and wine)

Looking to have a party but don’t know what to make? I have you covered. This is the perfect menu for a 20 something’s fall party.

Apple Cider Old-Fashioned Cocktail

Banh Mi Bites

Crostini’s A la carte

For the crostini’s I cut two french baguettes into a two inch slices. I drizzled olive oil on each side and baked at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or golden brown. I topped each with a dollop of ricotta before adding the toppings below:

  1. Butternut squash and sage- I peeled and chopped butternut squash into cubes and coated with olive oil and salt and pepper. I roasted that for about 30 minutes or soft to a fork and then let cool. I did this the night before so the corseting was served at room temperature. I topped each with chopped sage.
  2. Roasted tomatoes- I drizzled olive oil and salt and pepper on cherry sized heirloom tomatoes and roasted them at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.
  3. Pear, prosciutto and honey- I sliced pear and added pieces of prosciutto then topped with a drizzle of honey.

Pumpkin Doughnut Holes

Cream cheese dipping sauce


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This past August we made the long journey, seven hours, from Denver to Telluride; impressively enough we made it starting at 5:30 pm and arriving at 2 am, thanks to John’s mad driving skills. We set up camp in the dark and awoke to a beautiful area. We were camping at Alta Lakes and it was an incredible spot—though a very scary drive to the actual lakes and camp site. You drive up a road that on one side is a major cliff. You can not do this with a low clearance vehicle.

(Alta Lakes)


Telluride is incredible. The town is located in a box canyon that was originally founded as a mining camp. At the head of the canyon you will find Bridal Falls which I’m sure you can figure out how it got that name. You are able to drive up a road then do a really easy hike to the top of the falls. We had lunch up there.


For dinner we made a pretty luxurious camp fire dinner if I do say so myself—lunchables as an app and hot dogs and cheeseburgers for dinner!


The next day we did the most amazing hike to Hope Lake. The wild flowers were in full bloom and I must say it is one of the top five best hikes I have ever done.


We spent the afternoon in the town of Telluride and were lucky enough to stumble upon the Mushroom Festival that was happening. We drank beers and margaritas and got take out pizza from Brown Dog Pizza and went back to the camp site to watch the sunset and hammock.




This town is so charming and inviting. When you are there all your worries and daily concerns leave you and you are just present. Leaving the next morning was very, very, hard—but Henry didn’t hate the ride home.


Prost to Oktoberfest!


Oktoberfest is in full swing right now! It is currently day 14 of Oktoberfest in Munich and there are two days left. In Colorado there have been multiple celebrations from Denver’s Oktoberfest on Larimer that was the last two weekends in September, South Pearl Street’s Oktoberfest, to ones in the mountains like Breckenridge’s Oktoberfest; which is the one I attended! It was a day filled with drinking of Hefeweizen and Märzen that spilled over into the night. With two more days till the taps run dry in Munich make sure to join in on the celebration to get yourself a stein, brat, and pretzel to close out the celebration!





Notes Your Average Cookie

IMG_3807 Another one of my college roommates had a bachelorette party! And though I was not able to make it I was able to be there in spirit or in cookie. My friend Melissa is an amazing singer so I knew besides my inappropriate cookies I would go with musical notes for her! I themed them off of her color palette.

Cap Cake


When I wasn’t pretending to be 21 while visiting my little sister for her graduation, I was baking. One night I made cheesecake with strawberry sauce. I made an America’s Test Kitchen recipe and it was great. It almost had a soufflé consistency to it. As you can see in the pictures though the sides got a little burnt, luckily it didn’t change the flavor but it did make it not so pretty. As I continue to bake and test recipes I am learning an oven thermometor would come in handy and is starting to become necessary; the oven was clearly too hot. On graduation night I made a cake and it had to be graduation themed. With that thought I decided to make an upside down cap. I carried the cakes on the plane, standard, and then froze them. This made it easy to frost the the next day and kept the cakes fresh. The cake was a recipe I’ve done in the past, lemon poppy seed.




21 Again!

This past weekend I went back to one of my favorite places…East Lansing, Michigan for Michigan State University’s graduation. I went to watch my litter sister graduate and of course act like I was in college again. The first day I was there I went to Burgerama which might just be my heaven. It is day drinking beer only out of pitchers, burgers, and awesome music. What more could you ask for?

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The next night things got real young when my sister, brother-in-law, and I went to my little sister’s house party. We tried to fit and…

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We also made sure to visit out most fav late night eats places, below is Conrads! Though the menu has changed my love for them has not.


Guac Off!

Yesterday for Cinco de Mayo we had a “Guac Off” at work! I entered mine as the Green Guac-ess and won! My secret ingredient is cucumber!

The two winners!


NSFW Cookies


I made cookies and cupcakes for the bachelorette party and some had to be inappropriate which means so were boobs, butts, and penises. I had to get creative with the heart cookie cutter for the boobs and butts because I couldn’t find one anywhere. I cut a can and shaped it into a heart; which actually worked out pretty well. I borrowed the penis cookie cutters from one of my friends—that would have been a little bit more difficult to make out of a can. I also made golf themed cupcakes because the bride-t0-be is marrying a pro golfer and is also a big golf fan! I used a special tip for the frosting, got edible pearls from the grocery store, and made the flags with toothpicks and paper. I carried the cupcakes, unfrosted, on the plane along with the fully done cookies. I checked my bag with the frosting and it was easy to put together once I was in Nashville.

If you don’t have inappropriate desserts and dance on the kitchen counter then it really isn’t a bachelorette party now is it?




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Tastin and Cookin


When I was doing research for Hoi An going to a cooking class was something a lot of people and sites suggested. I decided on Morning Glory Advance Masterclass. The class started at 8:30 am and you get to go through the local market then to the school where you cook three different dishes for $39; sold. This was one of the things I was most excited about. I was the cheer leader for the cooking class and to say Phil was skeptical was definitely an understatement. It could have something to do with the fact that I dragged him/or group on the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, which I still say is amazing and a must do, but Phil would say differently. I scheduled the class for Friday morning. I didn’t realize that would be a problem, but it was. When the alarm went off at 7:30 am the day after our Thanksgiving cruise/party evening it was the worst sound ever. I pressed snooze and wished that nine minutes would feel like three more hours. When the alarm went off again I yelled to Becky that we need to get up and both of us mumbled about how we couldn’t. Me the cheerleader then turned off the alarm and went back to be. Fail. I was so disappointed when I woke up later. I immediately emailed the school and asked if we could come in the next day and lucky enough for us they had room!!! Thank goodness because it was amazing. Even Phil will vouch for this outing. We had a cooking school student lead us around the market; showing us the different vegetables, tools they use, meats, fish, etc.




Then they took us to the school and took us around to the different stations such as fried treats, rice meals, daily workers food, sweet treats, and the one that caught most people’s eye weird and wonderful. At the weird and wonderful station I tried silk worm salad, baby clams, spicy snails, duck egg embryo, spicy frog legs, jelly fish salad, and steamed pig brain. It was intense, the worm was chalky and grainy, the duck embryo tasted basically like a hard boiled egg but with more of a dense texture and the pig brain I actually can’t really remember so it must have been good? We made the rounds. I even tried making cao lau noodle which is a local staple from Hoi An. The recipe is only known by a few and almost impossible to get. The noodles are distinguishable by their thickness. Another item from Hoi An is the white rose dumpling, which are dumplings with a rose like shape (see picture below) and filled with either shrimp or pork. I also helped in making rice noodles patties and I was pretty good at it. That could be a potential carrier move.

Cau lao noodles


Next we moved on to the hands on section. Becky and I were teammates and shared a work station. First we made cabbage leaf parcels with shrimp mousse in broth, bang xeo (Vietnamese pancake), and finally barbecue chicken and mango salad. We used an Vietnamese knife to cut the papya and as a parting gift we got one to take home with us! You can see it below; it is an interesting shape and unique tool. It made slicing mango very easy.



In the end we had a private tour of the market, a full meal, hour of trying food, and a knife to take home all for $39. You can’t beat that. Also it worked out well that we didn’t go the day we were hungover; I would not suggest trying pig brain or walking through a raw meat market hungover, but who am I to stop you. Follow me @Pilots_Daughter.