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Vanilla-Spiced Poached Pears
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I’m still mourning the end of summer fruit.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m in love with apples of all varieties but I desperately miss fresh cherries, Georgia peaches and juicy black plums.  So as we’re squarely in fall now and moving towards winter and as I try to get over my summer fruit grief, I’m trying to broaden our scope passed apples, bananas, and clementines (squee!!).

Pears are the perfect solution for this.  I’ve baked with them a couple of times in the past and I occasionally eat them fresh as a snack but we’ve got one not so little problem in our house with fresh pears: Kyle is allergic to them.  Actually, he’s allergic to quite a few uncooked fruits and vegetables (we think it has to do with pollen contamination on the food) so…Cooked = yay!  Uncooked = get the Epi pen ready.  And since he used to love eating pears pre-allergy onset, I decided to find a healthy way for him to be able to eat them now.

And really, these poached pears aren’t really any different than what you would buy canned at the store but hello!  They’re homemade!  Add whatever spices you’d like (an option you’ll never get in a can), cut out all of the preservatives, and say goodbye to the heavy syrup.  This recipe takes less than a half hour to make and it makes enough for both Kyle and I to snack on during the week.  We pack them up in re-useable containers for our lunches but I’m definitely sure that they would be stellar served warm over ice cream, perhaps with a caramel drizzle.  In case you want to go the sugar route with them…

Pizza Bites
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What a better way to start the new year than with some Pizza Bites?  When there’s bread and cheese involved, diets be damned! Actually, I made sure I made these bites before the annual resolution kicked in today so as to avoid any guilt.  And boy were they worth every bit of anticipation I had about them since Annie posted about them almost a year ago.  Seriously, they were amazing – so good that I’m ashamed to admit that Kyle and I polished off the whole batch by ourselves on NYE.  You could fill them with practically anything but the process is simple: cut pizza dough into 20-24 pieces, press some mozzarella cheese and pepperoni (or turkey pepperoni, or cooked ground sausage, etc.) into the dough, and wrap the dough around the filling.  You’ll bake them for 20 minutes and then watch them get devoured.  I can’t see these lasting very long at any party so go ahead and double the recipe – your friends will thank you.

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Sea Salt Caramel Corn
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Do you crave salty snacks or do you crave sweet snacks? Me? It’s usually salty and one of my all-time favorite snack foods is popcorn.  As a kid I made it in an air popper (what a great Christmas present that was!), in a microwavable popcorn popping bowl that my mom recently reminded me about, in the microwave in pre-packaged bags, and in the pre-microwave days, on the stove in a big pot.  Well life has come full-circle because last year, I started popping my popcorn on the stove again.  And it’s thanks to this recipe for encouraging me to do so.

If you love caramel corn as much as I do, you can’t go wrong with this recipe.  And if you’re a novice at making caramel like I certainly was last year when I first made this recipe, you’ll have no trouble making it here – it’s so easy!  You’ll make your popcorn, whip up some caramel, pour it over the popcorn, toss to coat, and put the popcorn in the oven on a low temperature for almost an hour.  The most difficult part about the whole process is waiting for it to cool!  This year, I made a double batch and packaged it all up yesterday for Christmas treat packages…and frankly, it’s better that I don’t have any left in the house for myself because I can’t keep my hands off of it!

Make sure you come back tomorrow for a special Christmas post!