Al Fresco Dining in Autumn … Easy Caramel Toffee Cream Cheese Dessert Dip by Trenda

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Autumn, sunshine and al fresco dining are, like the song says … “a few of my favorite things!”  Yesterday was a beautiful autumn day with a light breeze that “ruffled” the lake and teasingly tugged at the chimes taunting us for staying inside.  By noon, we happily “gave in” and I made lunch and served it “al fresco” on the deck.

img_6439118184And for lunch …

 

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Caramel & Toffee Cream Cheese Dessert Dip is delicious and takes longer to say, than it does to fix!  You’ll love how easy it is to “assemble” and the autumn flavors are perfect for afternoons snacks or unexpected guests! (:

Caramel & Toffee Cream Cheese Dessert Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 block (8oz) cream cheese
  • Caramel Ice Cream Topping
  • Toffee bits or chocolate covered toffee bits
  • Apples

Instructions:

  1. Unwrap and place entire block of cream cheese onto a plate.
  2. Spoon enough caramel ice cream topping over the cream cheese to cover and  “pool” around the base of the cream cheese.
  3. Sprinkle toffee bits liberally over the caramel topping.
  4. Slice apples, brush sides with lime or lemon juice to prevent browning.
  5. Arrange apples around dessert dip.

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Apples on embossed leaf plates and miniature pumpkins sit atop silver chargers and a reed woven basket.

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 Rugged, textured tabletop with autumn leafed runner and  DIY Autumn Napkin Rings

 

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Tuscan Tomato Soup … another easy and delicious recipe I’ll include in another blog. (:

“All things are ready” … Buon appetito! (:

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“Apples of gold, in pictures of silver … “

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From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda

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Tablescape details:

Green leaf embossed plates – Pier 1 (several years ago)

Sage green napkins – Kirkland’s (available during the Christmas season)

Soup spoons – Oneida, Louisiana pattern

This week I’m joining Marie-Helene with Kingsbury Brook Farm

Chloe Crabtree with Celebrate & Decorate

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn from the back deck … by Trenda

cropped-piccollage177597.pngIt’s been a beautiful week and as I went out on the back deck today, there was a coolness in the air that suddenly made me wish I had my sweater … a few golden leaves were floating, drifting on the lake … and autumn tinges could be seen, peeking from the trees.  The bright, golden sunlight, particular to this time of year, made the blue of the sky and the blue of the lake an intense background against the last green’s of the season. <!–more–>

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Our Beauty Berry Bush (aptly named!) is almost glowing in autumn and can be seen from our upper deck and was given to us, by a dear neighbor.  Our son planted it for me (in just the right spot!) next to our bonfire pit and near the lake, so we all enjoy it’s autumn brilliance while having wiener roasts and toasting marshmallows. It’s looks like a beautiful banquet spread and splayed out for the birds, with berries in a gorgeous shade of purple!  PicCollage.png

Right beneath our upper deck is a bed of hydrangea bushes, which bloom in early summer.  Now, in autumn they are putting on their “second act” and the “mopheads” have dried and the papery blossoms have transformed from all shades of blue, to a muted green; the blossoms are now perfect for clipping and “will be appearing” in autumn arrangements or tucked among fir boughs for their “final act.”

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My husband played in a golf tournament today and as the day slipped by and the outside beckoned, I decided to surprise him with an Autumn Afternoon Tea, on the deck. For our “tea party” I whipped up some Apple Cider Muffins with a Walnut Streusel Topping and brewed some spiced tea. The muffins were as delicious as they sound and I simply opened a ready-mix package of Martha White’s Apple Cider Muffin Mix, added some milk, and made them … “according to directions.”

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However, before putting the muffins in the oven I made a batch of streusel topping … a mixture of butter, flour, brown sugar, and walnuts and generously topped each muffin, instantly transforming my “mix” muffins into gourmet muffins, with very little trouble.  I’ve included the directions to my Brown Sugar and Walnut Streusel below.

Brown Sugar and Walnut Streusel

Ingredients:

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1/3 cup cup flour

1 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup butter (melted)

Combine brown sugar, flour, nuts and melted butter in a mixing bowl.  Top each muffin with a generous spoonful of streusel, keeping the amount added, below the top rim of the muffin pan.

Tip: This recipe makes more streusel than needed for 1 batch of muffins and I always put the remainder in a labeled Ziploc bag and keep it in my freezer … ready to add to any muffins or coffee cakes I make!

Then I had the fun of “decorating” the table outside for our Autumn Tea and began by spreading a dark green tablecloth, covered with pictures of seed packets and produce, over the table.  For the centerpiece, I filled a Marcrest antique pitcher that my mother gave me, with yellow broom weed.  Nestled below the pitcher I placed a little iron urn filled with millet and a wee little bird, who’s having his fill of bird seed!  I put the Apple Cider muffins on an autumn-colored plate decorated with leaves and topped the plate with one of my cloche’s … I love to collect! and to ward off any unwanted guests.  Incidentally, have you ever noticed how everything looks more delectable under a glass dome? (:                         I used a wire basket to hold our napkins and an old log planter that is one of my favorite antique finds that I use here in our cottage lake house … to hold sweeteners.                                                                                                                                                      By the way, my husband loved our Autumn Afternoon Tea and the muffins! (:

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This is the “twilight view” off our deck … same angle as those early morning pictures I took which were “bathed” in golden sunlight and in a background of blue sky and blue lake.  This evening, the setting sun has beautifully tinged the sky in shades of pink … the water, shades of purple.

piccollage “Splendor of ended day, floating and filling me!”  ~ Walt Whitman

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Thank you so much for spending some time with me today!  I’d love to hear from you and I am truly delighted, reading what you have to say.  Please leave a comment, below.

From my cottage to yours ~  Trenda