Fall Fun Series: Recipe – Cornbread Stuffing

My favorite recipe to make during fall, especially for Thanksgiving, is cornbread stuffing. The recipe that I use came from my mother. She was born and raised in Germany, so she never experienced a Thanksgiving until she met my father while he was stationed in her country with the army. They moved all along the U.S. west coast and ended up in Tucson, Arizona, where she first started learning how to cook “American” food. I made her recipe on Thursday this week, and while it was cooking, I decided to chat with her about it over coffee.

 

Me: How long have you been making this cornbread stuffing for Thanksgiving?
Mom: Since 1975.
Me: How did you discover the recipe?
Mom: Your dad took me to a friend’s house in Tucson for my first Thanksgiving dinner, and his mother served cornbread stuffing like this.
Me: And you asked for the recipe?
Mom: Yes. It originally had apple in it, but I avoided adding that once you and your brothers came along.
Me: Did you ever have “traditional” stuffing on Thanksgiving?
Mom: Yes, your aunts make the regular stuffing, and it’s fine. We ate that if we were with them for the holiday. I just prefer the cornbread kind, so that’s what I serve.
Me: Did you eat anything like this in Germany?
Mom: Well, we obviously didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, and turkey was not a very common food served back then. I ate potato salad, but not mashed potatoes.
Me: Did you like Thanksgiving dinner?
Mom: No, not really. It was weird to me, like most other foods. I only liked cheeseburgers, and this stuffing once I found it.
Me: What about now? Do you like Thanksgiving food?
Mom: It’s great. I love leftover turkey sandwiches.

 

Since I grew up with this recipe, it’s my go-to when I cook my own Thanksgiving dinners now. Cornbread stuffing is pretty common, but I don’t see it a lot here in the Midwest on Thanksgiving. I like that this version of stuffing is a little sweet, because in my opinion, it complements the mashed potatoes and gravy quite nicely. It keeps the meal from being a total salt-bomb, and I find that I miss having it if I am someone else’s guest for the holiday.

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The recipe calls for two boxes of cornbread or corn muffin mix (my mother prefers to use corn muffin mix, so I use it too), about four carrots, about four celery sticks, about four eggs, an onion, a half-stick of butter, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, and a half cup of chicken stock. I use 3-4 tablespoons of the poultry seasoning and salt and pepper it to taste.

The first thing to do is mix the batter (needs an additional egg and 1/3rd cup of milk per box) and bake the cornbread in a large glass dish for 15-20 minutes. Usually, this is done the night before Thanksgiving, so that the turkey can hog the oven. Next, the carrots and eggs are boiled, peeled, and chopped. About half of the onion is chopped and added to the pot with some butter.

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I like to cut the cornbread into cubes and assemble everything together inside of the glass dish while the onion is sauteing in the pot. When the onions are browned, I add all of the remaining ingredients into the pot, add a little more butter and some water, season it well with the poultry seasoning, and let it cook on low for an hour or two.

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The stuffing is nearing completion once everything is well blended and becomes “mush,” as we lovingly call it. The stuffing can be returned to the glass dish and baked for another 30-40 minutes (or as needed) at 375 degrees.

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The end result should feed around 10-12 people. We usually have leftovers, because this is a pretty large batch.

 

 

I took a break from pumpkin scents this week and finally decided to try my Carrot Cake wax melts from Goose Creek. I’d been holding onto this particular melt since spring because I thought it would be best used as a transitional fragrance from summer into fall. I couldn’t be more pleased with this scent! There was nothing weak or artificial about it – I really felt like I was smelling the most decadent carrot cake baking in my oven. It was quite strong, too, although not as powerful as the Pumpkin French Toast experience I had last week.

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The scent lingered for hours after only melting in my warmer for an hour or so. It was incredibly tempting, but I did not break down and go get my own *real* carrot cake for consumption. I would definitely recommend this one to any foodies out there.

Bath & Body Works: Salted Caramel Pumpkin

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I know I have stated several times already that I adore the fall season. Candles, lotions, and hand soaps are no exception to this – I love fall-themed anything. When I heard about Salted Caramel Pumpkin coming out as a body care scent at Bath & Body Works this season, there was no question that I was going to purchase some for myself.

When I first sprayed the fine fragrance mist onto my skin, I immediately noticed that the scent is similar to Beach Nights: Summer Marshmallow, only with caramel in place of the marshmallow. I sprayed more and more, but I couldn’t detect all of the wonderful notes that were listed in its description, which include tangerine, apple, maple, pumpkin, buttercream, orchid, caramel, vanilla cake, pineapple creme brulee, sugared woods, fluffy musk. If I try hard, I can detect something like an apple or maple note, but for me, it is too faint to distinguish.

I cannot say that any one of those scent notes stands out to me except for vanilla cake and bit of caramel. I don’t pick up on any pumpkin, or anything distinctly “fall” in this fragrance. I have the same problem with Salted Caramel Pumpkin’s performance that I described with Beach Nights, which is that I can barely smell it after putting it on and I have to keep reapplying the spray and the body cream throughout the day. I have to work to smell both fragrances even just 30 minutes after application. Both Beach Nights and Salted Caramel Pumpkin are described as sweet and a bit salty, and there is some overlap in the scent notes, such as orchid, vanilla, woods, and musk. This is likely why they are so similar to me, but the weakness of both fragrances doesn’t help. The differences between each scent are harder to pick up on since they are both so weak and do not last.

This is not a bad scent, but for a fall release, I expected it to be stronger and more noticeable. Unlike how forgiving I was about Beach Nights, I am let down by the lack of strength and longevity, as well as scent originality, since this is a brand new fall release. I would even argue that Beach Nights is a little stronger, which to me, is backwards. The Salted Caramel Pumpkin scent description mentions all of these top, mid, and dry notes that make the scent sound very intriguing, and really all I am getting is a little bit of caramel/vanilla and a tiny pinch of salt. Luckily, I do like Beach Nights and always find uses for the weaker scents in my collection. I won’t be returning Salted Caramel Pumpkin, and I’m happy to have it on display since the packaging is lovely. I’m just disappointed that I didn’t get a heavier, unique autumn scent to fall in love with as I have in previous seasons.

I wouldn’t repurchase this. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean I wouldn’t recommend it. You probably don’t need to pick this up if you already own a Beach Nights set, as the fragrance and the performance is quite similar. If you are a fan of light, sweet sprays, and pretty, festive packaging, go ahead and grab Salted Caramel Pumpkin. What I would recommend is not to read too much into its scent description, because that’s where my expectations turned into disappointment.

Fall Favorites Tag: Remixed

I am not a warm weather person. It is uncomfortably humid where I live, so my summers are sticky and suffocating. On the flip-side, my winters are frozen and eternal. The spring and fall months are my reprieves, so I get very excited once they arrive.

To help immerse myself into the first official week of fall, I thought it would be fun to try out the Fall Favorites tag that became popular among beauty gurus on YouTube last fall. Since I am a scent junkie, and not a beauty guru, I decided to tweak the questions a little to suit my interests!

 
Favorite Candle
Bath & Body Works – Leaves

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This is just my perfect autumn fragrance. It’s the first scent that I think of in relation to the fall season, and it’s the only one I cannot go without once the season begins.

 

Favorite Wax Melt
Goose Creek – Campfire Marshmallow

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This scent is very, very similar to a popular pick for the candle question, which is Bath & Body Works – Marshmallow Fireside. However, I prefer Goose Creeks’ version by far. It is stronger, and in my opinion, the scent throw is much better. Highly recommended!

 

Favorite Body Care
Bath & Body Works – Plum Cider Warmth

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These products are from the 2015 fall traditions line. I regret not buying a matching shower gel, or the full-sized bottle of fragrance mist. They seemed to sell out fast.

 

Favorite Perfume
Victoria’s Secret – Forever Sexy

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I have a whole mob of perfumes for cooler weather, but this rollerball has been my favorite transitional warmer-to-cooler weather choice for the past 2 fall seasons.

 

Favorite Lip Color
NYX – Devil’s Food Cake

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I prefer lip glosses to lipsticks, and the Nyx Butter Glosses are pigmented enough to put deep fall shades on my lips, while providing the glossy finish that I like.

 

Favorite Eyeshadow Palette
Too Faced – Chocolate Bon Bons

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I didn’t think of this as a fall-related palette until this past month, and now I can’t stay away from it. The deep browns, the mauve/taupe and gray shades… it’s just so perfect for the season.

 

Favorite Clothing Item
Scarves!

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A scarf paired with a sweater is likely how one would see me dressed between October and March, whether I’m inside or outside.

 

Favorite Drink
Pumpkin Spice Latte

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I like both homemade and Starbucks PSLs. If it’s one of those times when I’m trying to lay off of the caffeine, then my go-to fall drink is a decaf vanilla chai tea latte… but I’ll still be craving a PSL.

 

Favorite Dessert
Tie-dye Cupcakes

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I love making these spooky, colorful treats for Halloween gatherings. They are especially great because it’s a surprise whenever someone bites into them!

 

Favorite Thanksgiving Food
Pumpkin Pie

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The truth is, I LOVE Thanksgiving dinner. All of it. I like to cook each dish, I like to eat each dish, I like the days of leftovers that follow. I couldn’t pick just one, so I decided to go for the dessert – pumpkin pie. The reason why is that I can have Thanksgiving dishes year-round, but I pretty much only have pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. It’s a little more special.

 

Favorite Fall Movie
Rob Zombie Movies

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This guy just does creepy really well, but what I appreciate the most are the bits of humor that sneak by in his films. The Halloween remake was festive and entertaining.

 

Favorite Fall TV Show
American Horror Story

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I watch AHS every fall, as well as The Walking Dead, but I’m not a superfan of either show. I’m a Game of Thrones girl. However, I have enjoyed watching each season of American Horror Story so far. Season 2: Asylum was my favorite, and one I may have to re-watch.

 

Favorite Halloween Costume

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Simple, easy, and obvious is the way I go for Halloween – or I should say, this is the stage that I’ve graduated to now. I killed it on costumes as a kid. I did cool face paint looks as a teen. I did “sexy” costumes as a young adult. Since age 24, I may have drinks with friends or take my nieces out trick or treating for Halloween, but I’ll typically stay home, eat candy, and watch horror movies with my boyfriend. (Picture: We dressed as Handsome Devils.)

 

I tag everyone to do the Fall Favorites tag, whether it is my remixed version, or the original by Jaclyn Hill!

Fall Fun Series: Favorite Fall Item

I’m jumping in a little late here, but am excited to participate in the Fall Fun Series; a series of fall-related posts on Mondays and Fridays, until after Thanksgiving, along with a group of other bloggers that I look forward to getting to know! I was searching for fall tags that I could post about on the first official day of fall when I came across the Fall Fun Series, and it seemed right up my alley.

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There were a number of things that came to mind when I thought about my favorite fall item, but what really stood out to me were my solar dancing woodland creatures. These are placed on a window sill, or in any other bright, sunny area, and will “dance” while they are in the sun. They’re small and adorable, and are my favorite little way of bringing fall inside with me.

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My sister-in-law and I hosted Thanksgiving dinner two years ago and some family friends that joined us gifted us the solar dancing turkey. We’re an easily amused bunch, so whenever the turkey started flapping its wings, one of us was sure to point it out and we’d celebrate what little sunlight we receive here in the Midwest when it gets cold. Since then, I just don’t want to cook on Thanksgiving day without this little guy present.

I was able to find this particular turkey on Amazon for about $10, should any of you be interested in purchasing one of his cousins. You can purchase the solar dancing turkey here along with all kinds of other dancing, sunlight-activated critters.

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A solar dancing owl recently moved into my window sill and has been flapping in the sun since September 1st. The turkey will join him after Halloween.

 

To celebrate the first official day of fall this Thursday, I decided to give my Pumpkin French Toast candle from Bath & Body Works a shot. Holy cow, is this one strong. This is as far as the wax had pooled out before the entire bedroom and hallway were scented:

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It is late into the evening the following day and I am still catching whiffs of maple syrup. It smells like all I’ve cooked for myself in the last 24 hours is french toast! I LOVE strong fall scented candles, but since this one packs such a punch of breakfast-y goodness, I may have to be selective about when I decide to burn this 3-wick candle (and around whom).

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Bath & Body Works: Toasted Graham Latte

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Toasted Graham Latte is a 14.5 ounce, 3-wick candle from Bath & Body Works that retails for $22.50, but can often be purchased during a sale and with a coupon. I paid around $10 for mine and bought it during a $12.50 3-wick candle sale, using a 20% off coupon code that is typically always available.

I was drawn to this candle by its name alone. It sounded like a perfect transitional scent, from summer home fragrances into fall scents. I’m a sucker for any marshmallow related scent, and this candle just made me think of s’mores. I had to have it, but I admit I was put off by its smell the first time I sniffed it at Bath & Body Works in July. As many have noticed, it can have an off-putting odor at first, but that smell is not present at all while the wax is melting. It’s a delicious scented candle – not sickeningly sweet, but definitely a good one for foodie fans out there.

About 10 minutes after lighting this candle, I was suddenly hit in the face (okay… lightly tapped) with the smell of a freshly fire-roasted s’more. Actually, it really reminded me of when a s’mores-flavored Poptart just finishes heating up in a toaster. The graham cracker note is very dominant, followed by the vanilla. What I don’t seem to be getting is any espresso or latte note, or the toffee that was mentioned on the website when I ordered this candle and read its description.

I think I will refer to Toasted Graham Latte as my “s’mores candle.” It is nothing like Marshmallow Fireside, but it’s possible that burning the two candles together could evoke memories of sitting around a campfire while toasting marshmallows for s’mores. I think I will try out this combination after the holidays, when I am missing the warmer weather and am unable to spend time outdoors.

This isn’t an incredibly strong candle, but it does fill the small room I burn my candles in most of the time, and leaks out a bit into the hallway. It was perfect for waking up Sunday morning and burning it while drinking my coffee, as it was a pleasant background scent that didn’t kick me out of the room with its strength, but didn’t bother me by not being noticeable either. It actually helped motivate me to make something tasty for breakfast, so that’s a bonus. I would repurchase Toasted Graham Latte if it came out again, and I would burn it any time of year, not just during the fall months.

A Dismal Fall Wax Haul

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I shouldn’t complain about this mini-haul because I really do love the scents I picked up. However, thanks to the Facebook groups I am in, the YouTube reviews I’ve watched, and all of the blogs I’ve checked out, I had an idea of the lovely scents from Better Homes & Gardens and ScentSationals that I wanted to make *mine* when I ventured out to Walmart last Friday.

I’m sure plenty of people saw the meme stating that when the clock strikes midnight on September 1st, everything turns to pumpkin spice… That is really what it was like in my house this year. I was quick to switch out soaps, candles, coffees, and lotions. I made my first pumpkin spice latte of the season at 4 in the morning. I showered with my 2014 set of Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin gel, layered with its body lotion and fine fragrance mist, and I washed up with my 2015 Pumpkin Cupcake foaming hand soap, all from Bath & Body Works. It’s only gotten worse since then, and I really don’t think I can handle another Pumpkin Spice Oreo.

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What I couldn’t do this year was run out to my favorite stores and grab all of the new fall stuff, because I was too busy laid up on the couch recovering from the two sprained ankles and broken foot I gave myself in early August. Boo. How fitting that I ended the summer by falling… *groan*

Anyway, feeling strong enough to walk around the store (no, I did not use a motorized chair, but my sister-in-law did, because she broke her foot a week after I did… yes, it’s ridiculous) I’d hoped to get everything on my list and not have to make it back out any time soon. It’s safe to say that this particular Walmart isn’t as fall-obsessed as I am, because quite a few things that I wanted to try out were not on the shelves.

ScentSational’s Illusion is a really sexy, manly cologne scent – one of those scents that is difficult to describe beyond those words, just masculine and cologne-y. 719 Walnut Avenue’s Walk in the Woods candle is a nice dupe of Bath & Body Works’ Leaves, which I can only describe as apple trees and spice. I was pleased to see this, because I couldn’t find one at Walmart last year.

The other two pumpkin wax melts from ScentSationals were sort of an error on my part. I’d started to ache from standing and staring at the wax, but I didn’t want to leave without anything, so those were the two I landed on – Pumpkin S’mores and Pumpkin Marshmallow Cream. What I failed to notice until I got home was that Pumpkin S’mores is a duo of one-half Pumpkin Spice, and the other half Pumpkin Marshmallow Cream. Oh well, I guess it proves I really did like P.M.C., and it was certainly on my list of scents to check out. Now I just have some extra.

I’ll be honest with myself: I have enough leftover wax melts and candles from last year to keep me happy through fall, but since I’m able to order online from my other favorite companies, I’ll have plenty of other new fall goodies too. Happy September!