What I’m Into (September 2015)

What’s Been Happening

September was QUITE the month. Fall is now in full force in Nashville, and my farmer’s market findings prove it. :) I love cider and apples and butternut squash… mmm!

I also got to go on an epic trip to North Carolina with a fun group of bloggers to learn about the poultry industry. A wrap up post about #CareToFarm15 is coming soon, so stay tuned!

What a sweet welcome to Greenville! 💗 #CaretoFarm15 #visitNC

A photo posted by Sarah K. // The Pajama Chef (@thepajamachef) on

Ben got to experience his first cross country meet too! I ran cross country in high school and college, but we didn’t know each other back then so he’s never been to a meet. A few Fridays ago I was driving home from work when I spotted the Ohio State team bus. I wondered what they were in town for, and a little internet investigating later–discovered they were in town at a meet hosted by Vanderbilt… just about 10 minutes from our house! So we went. Ben was a little skeptical but he had a BLAST, and I think it’ll be an annual tradition. :)

The start of the race is always so fun to watch! #crosscountry #xc #cc #crosscountryisthebest

A photo posted by Sarah K. // The Pajama Chef (@thepajamachef) on

September was also a sad month… my grandfather passed away after a short illness. We were close so it’s been hard. Growing up, I spent time with him and my grandma while my dad worked and my mom was in grad school or working. We fed the ducks, read books, did puzzles, and all sorts of fun things. He taught me how to eat grapefruit, pistachios, and pumpkin seeds, that bagels are incredible with butter, to appreciate what I have, that $2 bills are fun to receive in the mail, and so much more. I will miss him, but we are thankful that he knew Jesus and is now in heaven. <3

What I’m Reading

This month I read/listened to twelve books–and started quite a few more. You can, as always, find my reviews on Goodreads. :)

What I'm Into (September 2015) on thepajamachef.com

My favorite book was Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life…so intriguing! I also reviewed A Fifty-Year Silence on the blog. A great audiobook was Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase by Louise Walters. I REALLY liked the narrator.

Some great articles I’ve read online this month include:

What I’ve Been Cooking

Multiple batches of pumpkin chocolate chip mini muffins. HELLO, fall. And copious scrambled egg tacos. Yes, they are as simple as they sound. A flour tortilla filled with scrambled eggs, a lil cheese, and sometimes some chopped avocado. Mmmm, I can’t get enough for breakfast OR dinner. This is my new go-to dinner after a tiring day at work. We also are getting back into our fancy Sunday meals… one week it was roasted chicken, another week was homemade chicken noodle soup. I love fall food!

What’s on the Blog

My most popular recipe in September was Cantucci [Almond Biscotti]. Don’t you just want to dunk one right now?!

Cantucci - sweet and nutty almond biscotti on thepajamachef.com #src #recipe #secretrecipeclub

Most popular recipes from the archive included: Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake, Buffalo Pretzels, and Funfetti Cookies, as usual. :)

What were you into in September?

Linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into lately. 


Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Soft, fluffy cinnamon sugar swirl bread made with fall’s favorite flavor–pumpkin! This bread is utterly fabulous!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Bread - soft, fluffy cinnamon swirl bread made with fall's favorite flavor! via thepajamachef.com #pumpkin #recipe #bread #baking

Happy Monday, guys! I have a treat for you. At least, I hope it’s a treat. Do you love homemade bread? I love homemade bread. Especially in the fall. Is there anything better than that yeasty, sweet smell filling the house as bread bakes on a cold day? I can’t think of much else that I love more, except the result: getting to enjoy slice after slice of that fresh, homemade bread. Mmm!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Bread - soft, fluffy cinnamon swirl bread made with fall's favorite flavor! via thepajamachef.com #pumpkin #recipe #bread #baking

Cinnamon swirl bread has long been my favorite treat. When I was a little girl, it was a huge treat to buy a loaf of cinnamon swirl bread at the grocery store. As I got older, I experimented with making it myself. A few years ago I went through a phase of making it twice per month–a loaf a week. Those were the good ole days! BTW I can’t believe I haven’t shared my all-time favorite whole wheat cinnamon swirl bread recipe yet. Ooops! These days I don’t seem to make time for that, but this fall I know I’ll be making time to make batch after batch of this PUMPKIN cinnamon swirl bread! It’s soft and fluffy; the perfect project for a lazy weekend afternoon at home.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Bread - soft, fluffy cinnamon swirl bread made with fall's favorite flavor! via thepajamachef.com #pumpkin #recipe #bread #baking

Ben and I have enjoyed this bread in many different ways–toasted with butter and pumpkin butter for breakfast, with a smear of peanut butter for a snack, and just plain sometimes too. But add butter–any kind–and you are in for a gigantic treat! :) Next time I want to try this for french toast. Now THAT would be fancy. :) I hope you get to try this bread soon. I know you’ll LOVE it as much as we did!

one year ago: Chipotle Mustard Pork Chops
two years ago: Sweet ‘n Spicy Apple BBQ Chicken & Slaw
three years ago: Peach Ginger Pie
four years ago: Honey-Lime Fruit Salad
five years ago: Rebel Banana Bread

Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Bread

  • Servings: 2 loaves
  • Time: 4 hours
  • Print

from Cookie Monster Cooking


  • 1/2 cup warm water – about 110 degrees F
  • 2 tablespoons instant yeast
  • 2/3 cup warm milk – about 110 degrees F
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 4 cups bread flour – 508 grams
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour – 312.5 grams

for swirl

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon


In the bowl of a stand mixer, add water and yeast. Whisk to combine. Stir in milk, eggs, pumpkin, oil, brown sugar, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. With the dough hook on the mixer, add in half of the bread flour and mix on low to combine, then add remaining bread flour. With mixer running, gradually add the all-purpose flour. Mix on low for 5 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Lightly spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Shape dough into a ball and place in bowl. Turn to coat, then cover with a tea towel. Let rise for about one hour, until doubled in size.

Punch down dough and transfer to a floured countertop. Divide dough in half, then roll in a 9×11 inch rectangle. Butter each rectangle with softened butter, leaving a 1/2 inch border on all sides. In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar and cinnamon, then sprinkle over butter. Roll up each rectangle into a log, starting with the short end. Pinch the long seam and the ends to seal the dough.

Grease two 9×5 inch loaf pans with cooking spray, then place dough in pans. Cover pans with tea towels, then set aside and let rise for 30-45 minutes, until dough has topped the edge of the pans.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. When dough has risen, bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown on top. If you insert a thermometer in the middle, temperature should read 190 degrees F. When tapped, dough should sound hollow. Cool completely before slicing. Enjoy!

SRC: Cantucci (Almond Biscotti)

Sweet, nutty, crisp almond biscotti is a wonderful fall treat. Biscotti always looks so fancy, but only requires a handful of ingredients and comes together in a snap! A great fall treat.

Cantucci - sweet and nutty almond biscotti on thepajamachef.com #src #recipe #secretrecipeclub

This month for Secret Recipe Club I was assigned to a lovely, exotic blog filled with recipes from across the globe! Choosing a recipe from Manu’s Menu was a tough assignment! Manu, an Italian-native lives in Australia with her Indian husband and their adorable children. Did you catch all those countries and all that cuisine? Italy, Australia, India… Manu’s recipes comes from literally ALL over the world–from her homeland(s) and her travels. So fun. Her photography is gorgeous and every recipe seems authentic, delicious, and do-able for any home cook. I’m not sure how she manages this but I’m so impressed. I thought about making tons of recipes, like her Artichoke Frittata, these cute Kitten Chocolate Cookies, Tahini Honey Roasted Cashews, or this refreshing Moroccan Mint Tea. Ultimately [as I usually do when stressed out about making a SRC recipe choice], I consulted Ben and he thought biscotti sounded like a good choice. So biscotti it is… :)

Cantucci - sweet and nutty almond biscotti on thepajamachef.com #src #recipe #secretrecipeclub

I think biscotti was a great choice from Manu’s blog. What’s more Italian than crunchy cookies to dip in coffee? But while reading Manu’s blog post with her recipe for biscotti, I learned some interesting facts that I just had to share with you! First of all, what we think of as biscotti is actually called cantucci to signify that they are twice baked. All cookies in Italy are called biscotti [plural, singular is biscotto]. Confusing, right? And traditionally, cantucci are dipped not in coffee but in sweet wine! Huh. I mentioned this to Ben and he was like, hmmm, a new sort of communion? Haha! I hope that’s not too sacrilegious to say online but it was just too funny not to share. :) I can’t attest to how these taste dipped in wine, but in coffee… let me just say they are FABULOUS!

Cantucci - sweet and nutty almond biscotti on thepajamachef.com #src #recipe #secretrecipeclub

These almond biscotti, err--cantucci–are sweet, crunchy, and a lovely treat to make even a weekday morning more special. I love it whenever we have biscotti on hand, since they last for a couple weeks on the counter and also freeze well. #treatsfordays Thanks, Manu, for a great recipe! Enjoy!

Cantucci - sweet and nutty almond biscotti on thepajamachef.com #src #recipe #secretrecipeclub

one year ago: Baked Blueberry Pork Egg Rolls
two years ago: Autumnal Muffins
three years ago: Iced Tea with Ginger-Mint Simple Syrup
four years ago: Honey Fig Scones
five years ago: Citrus Tilapia

Cantucci (Almond Biscotti)

  • Servings: 48
  • Time: 90 minutes
  • Print

from Manu’s Menu


  • 10.5 ounces whole almonds – or a generous 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 3 eggs
  • 10.5 ounces sugar
  • 5.25 ounces butter, melted
  • 2 cups/500 grams flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract [or vanilla]
  • egg and milk, for brushing – optional


Toast almonds in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 3-4 minutes, or on the stovetop. Or you can take the easy way out and buy toasted and sliced almonds like me. :) Set aside, and leave oven on. Line a large baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.

Then, place eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat with whisk attachment until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Stir in melted butter, then slowly beat in flour and baking powder with paddle attachment on low speed. Fold in almond extract and toasted almonds.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and gently knead dough to form a ball. Dough will be sticky, so flour your hands too. Divide dough into two equal parts, then roll each ball into a long log and place on prepared baking sheet. Brush with an egg/milk mixture, if desired. I forgot to do this!

Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes or until the top is just getting golden brown. Remove from oven and cool for about 20 minutes, then slice into thin strips and place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Reduce oven temperature to 340 degrees F, then bake for 20 minutes or until crisp on each side, flipping halfway through.

Cool completely, then eat by dipping in beverage of choice–coffee, milk, tea, or cocoa. Mmm!

For more great Secret Recipe Club recipes, check out the link below!

Menu Plan

Menu Plan | thepajamachef.com

Week of September 21

Monday: greek chicken burgers
Tuesday: crock pot santa fe chicken
Wednesday: I’ll be on a blogging trip to North Carolina[!!!! – can’t wait to tell you more later] so Ben gets leftovers tonight.
Thursday: Ben says he’s making some awesome Hamburger Helper tonight.
Friday: I’ll just be getting back so I bet we’ll go out to dinner together.
Saturday: taco salad
Sunday: frittata with bacon and fruit on the side