slow cooker pumpkin crumble cake

Let’s be real. This is a dump cake.

But what moron invented this term for such an awesome creation?!

It was Sandra Lee, I bet. Damn you, Sandra Lee.

I saw this idea on The Kitchen when I binge watched like 18 episodes on a Saturday, and I knew I had to try it. Token pumpkin recipe of 2015! Don’t worry, I still love these and these and these.

I think this is a smashing (<–get it?) idea for a Thanksgiving dessert. Why? Because everyone on Thanksgiving is thinking “There’s no time!” “There’s no oven space!” “I only have 4 burners on the stove!” “The pretzel jello isn’t setting up!”

That last one is just me, I think.

So what a fabulous solution- a dessert in the slow cooker that takes literally 5 minutes to assemble and requires no maintenance. You can plug it in anywhere! No counter space in the kitchen? Haul it upstairs and plug it in on the floor of the guest room! You’re providing a warm bed to a family member, along with the fresh aromas of pumpkin dump cake. Yankee Candle hasn’t patented that one, yet.


Slow Cooker Pumpkin Crumble Cake

adapted from The Kitchen

2 15 oz cans of pumpkin

1 boxed cake mix*

1 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1 stick unsalted butter

This is idiot-proof. Pour the pumpkin in the bottom, and spread so that it’s relatively smooth.


Pour in the cake mix. I used an additional shortcut here by doing spice cake, because it’s basically white cake mix with pumpkin pie spice added. If you want to use white or yellow cake, I recommend adding a little bit of cinnamon and nutmeg, or pumpkin pie spice.

Toss oatmeal with brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Spread over top of the cake mix.

Cut a cold stick of butter into 10-12 pieces. Spread over the top. I thought about doing just 6 tablespoons instead of a whole stick, but really who’s counting calories on Thanksgiving?

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Set your slow cooker to low and let it go for about 4 hours and you’ll find…


Serve with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or on its own.


If you make this, tell me where you plugged in the slow cooker. Weirdest spot in the house wins!

What do you win? My love and affection.

favorites lately

True life: this is yet another way that I get out of posting a recipe. Eeeeek. I did a cleanse (which was not a success this time, but more on that later), last week I was in West Virginia, and this week I’m in Cleveland! I also did this crazy Les Mills day of exercise on Saturday, and I tried to make protein balls Friday night but those were an epic fail.

Last night I made pasta with broccoli rabe, crispy prosciutto, and crumbled Pecorino-Romano cheese. I was going to blog the recipe, but it’s kind of a cop-out. Because I just gave it to you in one sentence.

It was good though! Even reheated in the airport tonight prior to departing for Cleveland. Because yes I pack dinners for the airport.

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So I’ve been toying with the idea of sharing some of my obsessions with you. There is no rhyme or reason to this list other than it’s stuff I like. Basically I’m Oprah and these are my favorite things, but I’m not footing the bill to give you any of them. Let’s give it a shot.

Broccoli rabe. As mentioned above, I’m loving this veg. Ethan’s family introduced me to it, actually, and I’m hooked. You might find it called “rappi” or “rappini” in the grocery store, so don’t be fooled. It’s by the kale ‘n’ collards. Saute it with some olive oil and a whole bunch of garlic. Like 3 cloves. Trust me.

Sam Smith. I’m sad that I’m too cheap to continue Apple Music when my 3 month trial expires at the end of the month because I’ve been listening to Sam Smith almost exclusively. And Adele’s Hello, obviously. I’m obsessed with him. Especially this one.


Speaking of music, the GS and I saw Jon McLaughlin at The Hamilton in DC last week, and I loooooved it. I saw Jon at the 930 Club in DC like 4 years ago and fell in love. He is a beautiful man and plays the piano like nothing I’ve ever seen. The Hamilton is a really cool venue because you can sit and order dinner and watch a concert.


StitchfixI think I may have mentioned my PTSD-like symptoms surrounding shopping. I think because I was broke in grad school I really tried to avoid spending money on clothes. Now, I’ll go and try a bunch of stuff on and get in the check out line and then freak out and put everything back. And I’m at Old Navy, people, not Neiman Marcus. Stitchfix is a really cool way to A) let someone else style you after your sister tells you that “You dress business casual, like, all the time.” and B) the clothes just show up at your house and then you can send them back if you want! But I didn’t, because my stylist nailed it. I’ve worn everything at least twice already. I also love Fabletics– the stuff is cute and great quality.

Rent the Runway. With all the weddings this summer, I ended up becoming an RTR regular. I really love it. It’s fun to rent stuff, and I didn’t want to buy a bunch of dresses that I wouldn’t wear again. A lot of the rentals are very reasonable, and they have promo codes pretty often. I think this was my favorite dress that I rented. It was only $30 or $35 to rent and it was so cute and comfortable.

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I haven’t been too active with my sewing machine lately, but I made these wine bags for Kelly’s bachelorette favors and they were so quick and easy! I had so much fun picking out the coordinating fabrics at Jo-Ann, and followed this tutorial. These would be cute for the holidays if you’re planning on gifting a lot of wine!


Doing yoga in random cities. This has been my new favorite pastime while traveling. It’s such a cool way to get a feel for a city! Last week I went to this Baptiste-style studio in WV- Power Yoga Morgantown- and I will definitely try to go every time I visit WVU. I also went to my first donation-based studio called Yoga to the People when I was in Tempe, AZ. Milton Yoga in Massachusetts was awesome, too. My instructor was Irish, so you can’t beat listening to that accent for an hour. A lot of studios do new student specials so if your company doesn’t let you expense exercise like mine does (I <3 you, AB), you can still do it on the cheap.

The Affair. I can’t get enough of this show. It’s so good. I’ve also been watching Homeland, but it’s been really confusing this season. Sometimes I watch it and think “Am I too dumb for this show?” I also love How to Get Away with Murder. I despise the title but you should watch it anyway. I binge-watched the first season a couple months ago and got hooked. Viola Davis for the win.

If you need a laugh, I love this Alanis parody, this duet, and any edition of Mean Tweets. Also my new favorite Instagram is Sarah Fortune Gill (@sarafortune, #WatchIris). Her daughter is one of the funniest humans I’ve ever observed. She gives the twins of @bevcooks a run for their money.

Speaking of TV, I also binge-watched episodes of The Kitchen last weekend. I love it. There are a few recipes that I’m planning on trying/adapting soon and I’ll share them with you. There’s one dessert recipe that I’m hoping to make this weekend and share in time for Thanksgiving. Which is next week. WHAT?!

Let’s hope the dessert doesn’t fail or you might be getting another fake post next week.

what’s on my kindle, part 5

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I’m going to be really honest here even though I know this is like a famous milestone book. Not a fan. I kept getting so annoyed that he’s a 15 year old boy who cries all the time and his friends don’t think it’s that weird, and then when I got to the end I felt like a jerk for being judgmental. Personally, I think there are far better books that capture teenage angst. The end.

The Second Sister by Marie Bostwick. No. Corny.  Predictable. Waste of my brain cells. If you want to read a book about sisters, go for The Silent Sister instead. I talked about that one in my last Kindle post.


Rooftop yoga for one year anniversary of M-Power Yoga

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. I looooved this book. It was recommended by my friend Kate and we read it at the same time and discussed via text like virtual book club. I finished it on the plane out to California and had to keep it together so I wouldn’t start crying. It’s technically a YA book, but the plot is so smart and I just can’t say enough good things. I want them to make it into a movie. You know, so that I can see if and then rip it to shreds like every other movie adaptation of a book I love.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. I think I’ve talked about this in every other Kindle post so I went ahead and re-read it. Still obsessed.

How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz. This was a weird book but I really liked it. It sort of reminded me of Commencement in that it’s about 3 girls who meet in college, but it’s definitely darker. Each chapter skips around to a different year so you have to pay attention, kind of like Girl on a Train but even more.


Dirty Chai (new obsession- thanks Syd) at Busboys and Poets in DC

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan. I talked about the prequel to this book, Crazy Rich Asians, in this Kindle post. I really enjoyed the sequel. It was a different experience because I listened to the audiobook of China Rich Girlfriend. I liked listening to the audiobook because there are a ton of footnotes in these books, and the narrator just incorporates them into the chapter. It was a little annoying reading the first book on my Kindle and then trying to page back and remember what the reference was. Sheila said the person who reads Crazy Rich Asians was awesome, I thought the person who did the second book was just okay.

The Rumor by Elin Hilderbrand. Her latest- it came out this summer. I listened to the audiobook one day when I spent about 12 hours in the car driving to and from Virginia Beach for work. Not my favorite of hers- it was just okay.


Stone Tower Winery in Leesburg, VA

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll. I don’t know what to say about this book. I couldn’t put it down, but I’m not sure I liked it?! It’s weird. I thought it was going to go into this crazy twisted Gone Girl-esq direction, but then it didn’t. And the ending was so dumb. But you should still read it? I don’t know.

Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica. I was really excited about this one because I loved her first book The Good Girl which I talked about in this Kindle post. I didn’t like this one as much, I can accurately describe it as “depressing downward spiral”, but somehow it was still really good. And I also had that same feeling afterward, like I needed to re-read it to see it in a whole new way.


Local NJ brew in Hoboken

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. This book was like when you’re a kid and you know there’s a toy at the bottom of the cereal box. You eat a bowl of cereal each day patiently waiting for that toy to spill out into your bowl. You don’t even really like the cereal anymore by Wednesday, but you’ll be damned if you don’t get that toy. And then all of a sudden after all your perseverance, your Cinnamon Toast Crunch is gone and it turns out there’s no toy in the box. General Mills screwed up. And you just think “Well, I should have spent my time eating Cap’n’Crunch instead.”

I’ll just leave you with that metaphor.

kale salad with roasted acorn squash

How did I make it through Halloween without eating a single fun-size (or large, which is the true definition of “fun” size) candy bar?! I feel ashamed.

In spite of eating zero candy, I’ve been away the last four weekends and feel like my food equilibrium is completely off. This is the problem from eating in such a ritualized way- when you go off it and eat a few late lunches or dinners out in a row, you feel like junk.

That was the inspiration for this salad last week! It was wonderful and I’m excited to post it, but it didn’t quite do the trick so I’m cleansing again this week. I’m doing this cleanse, but more similarly to this time. The first time I did it I felt absolutely awful on Day 6. Like the worst hangover of your life. I think it was from eating so much red meat on Day 5 when I eat red meat almost never.

None of my cleanse posts are medical recommendations for you to do this cleanse. I am a doctor ONLY of ears- I know little to nothing about anything else. Just reporting on my experience. I like the “fresh start” I get from doing fruits and veggies exclusively for a few days. Although this salad comes pretty close.


Kale Salad with Roasted Acorn Squash

1 bunch kale

1 acorn squash

1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled

1 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted

1 lb spicy turkey sausage, browned

for the dressing

2 tbs Dijon mustard

1 medium shallot, chopped

1 tsp white vinegar

1-2 tbs olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

Kale salad! We’re doing it! This kale salad was one of my favorite recipes of 2014. It was definitely on the summery side, though. With the lemon and all. This is a fall edition.

It’s a little more high maintenance, too. With the other one I just dumped the dressing on it and let it sit for years and years until those leaves were broken down. In this version we’re going to talk about massaging the kale. Like I said- high maintenance.

First we rip the leaves right off the ribs. No knife required, just yank the leaves off and throw them in a strainer. We rinse with water. This is the before shot:

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Looks like something a cow could chew on all day, right?

So we squeeze and tear the leaves apart. Like an angry toddler playing with Play-Doh. (Maybe not?) The end result:

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We’ve decreased the volume by about a third (<—making this math up) and now they’re all in bite-sized pieces that are easier to digest.

It’s still wise to let it break down further in some dressing. Which brings us to the Dijon-shallot vinaigrette (<—just spelled this right on my first try for the first time EVER).

Saute the shallot in a little olive oil with S&P until translucent. Whisk it with about 2 tablespoons of Dijon, 1 tsp of white vinegar (or any light vinegar) and about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. It’s going to look like a comically small amount of dressing for all dat kale.

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I like to put the kale in a big bowl with a secure lid. That way you can dump the dressing in and shake it like a Polaroid picture until the dressing has dispersed and is just barely covering the kale. You don’t need a lot at all.

I let mine sit for about 3 hours. It can stay in the fridge or at room temperature.

Acorn squash! I cut it vertically (like cut the stem in half), scooped out the seeds, and then kept halving the pieces until I had about 1-2 inch wedges. It looks like cantaloupe!

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Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast at 375 for about 30-40 minutes or until golden.

To assemble the salad, place a couple of squash wedges on a bed of kale, sprinkle with blue cheese, toasted walnuts, and spicy turkey sausage. Yes, we’re sprinkling sausage these days.

You could totally leave out the sausage here, or sub it for grilled chicken or some other protein. I didn’t think it needed any extra dressing, either, but you’re welcome to add some. If you get a bite of each “topping” with the lightly mustard-y kale, I think it works.

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I wish I had thought to buy Craisins or pom seeds for this salad for a pop of color and sweetness.  Kelly’s suggestion? “We have Skittles! You can throw some red ones on there for color.”

Sorry folks, am I living with Buddy the Elf?

Totally making this again next week. With Skittles for dessert. Halloween candy will be so cheap!

whole wheat chocolate pomegranate bread

Here it is, the quintessential “basic” photo of fall:

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A few weeks ago when I made this forbidden rice with pomegranate seeds, I had some leftover seeds. At first I thought, “Salad!” and then I thought “Chocolate!”

Chocolate always wins.

After ruining my shirt with the last pomegranate, I figured there has to be a better way to get those pesky delicious seeds out. Naturally, Martha has a way. You’re welcome.

Guys, did you watch the Republican debate last night?!

My mom is reading this like “Erin, you watched the Republican debate last night?…”

TBH (‘to be honest’, Kevin tells me this is the hippest middle school slang this days) I had no interest in this. The only reason(s) I watched it is because the GS wanted to, we were all caught up on Homeland, and he plied me with Thai food.

It was bananas! Those moderators were absurd. Shame on you, CNBC. I was glad when the candidates started getting mouthy with them. Chris Christie like “Are you SERIOUSLY asking me about fantasy football right now?!” I loved it. It was so entertaining. But I still can’t get over Donald Trump’s hair. Is that really the best he can afford?

Also Ben Carson was the commencement speaker when I graduated from Loyola! #humblebrag.

I’m all over the place today. I made this bread like 3 weeks ago. I don’t know why I didn’t share it.

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I basically followed this recipe exactly, except I used whole wheat flour. And I really only did that because I was out of white flour. You could do a 50/50 split.

This is fantastic right out of the oven. Maybe with some vanilla ice cream? The pom seeds are a must- they add some tart flavor to the sweetness of the chocolate and powered sugar. Not as good the next day but it would be a really nice fancy dessert to polish off with some dinner guests.

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I shouldn’t have linked to her page because hers was so much prettier than mine. I’ll get over it.

It’s on the list right behind Trump’s bleached locks.


spaghetti with butternut and sage

Allow me to introduce you to the greatest road trip game of all time.

The GS and I did a LOT of driving over the last 2 weeks, between heading to Syracuse for my grandma’s 90th birthday party (#AllHaleTheQueen) and then to Long Island for a wedding this weekend, we clocked in close to 20 hours.

Given that I didn’t think he would want to listen to my Elin Hilderbrand audiobook, we stuck with music. I have the free trial of Apple Music on my phone, and we happily/accidentally discovered that they have playlists of the top 25 songs from each year. Basically the NOW! (That’s what I call music!) CDs.Hence, our game.

We started with 2002. I could picture myself sitting in our basement on AIM, jamming out to “Complicated” by Avril Lavigne, set to repeat on Kazaa. Trying desperately to be an angst-y teenager.

Rules of the game: set the playlist to shuffle, and the first person to correctly name the artist of each song gets a point. Naturally I got anything by Avril, N*SYNC, or Britney within the first 3 seconds. I also did alarmingly well with anything by American Idol winners (Fantasia Barrino was a one-hit wonder).

The GS was much more successful than I was with any hip hop/rap/R&B jams. If you could see a photo of him as a middle-schooler you would also find it hilarious that he can rap along with Eminem and Dr. Dre.

We ended up doing this for 1998-2005. Hours of entertainment. Highly recommend playing if you’re driving with someone who is around your age. I can imagine that if you have more than two people in the car it could get aggressively competitive, but maybe that’s just my personality.IMG_0237

I actually just sat here and stared at the wall for several minutes trying to think of a clever way to segue from our musical adventure into this recipe, but I’ve got nothing. Other than both the game and this recipe are worth sharing.

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Spaghetti with Butternut Squash and Sage

slightly adapted from The Kitchen

1 large butternut squash, chopped and roasted

1 lb whole wheat spaghetti

1 large shallot, chopped

8-10 fresh sage leaves, chopped

1 stick unsalted butter

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts

Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Chop up the squash into bite-sized pieces. Roast at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides.

Cook your spaghetti according to directions. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the shallot and cook until translucent. Lower the heat slightly, and add the sage and garlic. It should smell heavenly. At the very end, add the chopped hazelnuts.

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Add the spaghetti to the pan with your “sauce”- this way you don’t miss out on a single drop of butter by pouring it into another dish- and toss with the roasted squash. I also added a little bit of the pasta water- about 1/3 cup.

Top with Parmesan cheese for serving. I also made a roast chicken to go with this!

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So many fall flavors! It’s easy (and inexpensive) enough to make for a weeknight dinner, but could definitely be served if you’re entertaining guests.

Speaking of entertaining- I would recommend the Pop Jams of 2000. Samantha Mumba and The Thong Song are in that list.

wedding gift ideas!

Aren’t you thrilled that I’m giving you ideas now that wedding season is basically over? File this one for next year.

I can’t lie, I loathe shopping on wedding registries. Maybe this means that engaged couples hate me because I don’t like to buy what they’re asking for. I just can’t bring myself to do it the majority of the time.

These are a few wedding gifts I’ve done in the past that people have told me they really liked, so I’ll share with you in case you want to think outside of the registry box!

Date Box: My friend Stephanie and her husband Chris were moving to Charleston right after their wedding (he’s in the Navy). Marshall’s always has great decorative boxes, so I found a cute one there, and got them this great gift card that could be used at four different restaurants in Charleston. All are supposed to be awesome, and one of them is Husk which I can personally attest to. I also included two bottles of wine and two wine glasses. Steph and Chris both told me they loved it because it gave them a pre-planned outing in an unfamiliar (but amazing) city.

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my lunch at husk, one year ago this week! take me back.

Netflix/Movie Night In: For my friend Sarah’s wedding in December, I did a date-night-in box. I made them this quilt, gave them a cute popcorn bowl stuffed with popcorn, and a Netflix gift card. Sarah said it was her favorite gift!

Kevin "The Blanket Thief" McDermott trying to steal one of my quilts.

Year of Dates: I did this for Kelly and Aaron. It’s probably only good for a couple that you know really well, and preferably a couple who lives in a city you know really well. Twelve envelopes, each with an idea for a date. Some of them were just the idea, like going to DC for a night or throwing a Sunday football party (where I offered to make all the snacks). Others included gift certificates, one to my favorite Baltimore restaurant for their one year anniversary, and another to our favorite deli where I instructed them to grab sandwiches and have a picnic in Fed Hill park.

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Cookbook with a Kitchen Tool: For my cousin Katherine, I ordered this cookbook which has gotten rave reviews from some of my favorite bloggers (Jessica from How Sweet It Is, and Bev from BevCooks). With it, I got them this cool kitchen gadget which doubles as a Dutch oven and a cast iron skillet, both of which are essentials for recipes in Date Night In. I think I ordered it from Chefs, and got it for them in a pretty blue color. Also, make sure you use Ebates any time you’re ordering stuff online! Free money, people.

Something from their registry, and something that isn’t: For my friend Lauren’s wedding, I ordered them the steak knife set that they had registered for, plus an Omaha Steaks package. I thought it seemed more personal to add a little something else, plus who doesn’t love filet mignon wrapped in bacon?!

A fun event for a couple: For Andy and Monique, friends of ours from college, the GS and I got them a gift certificate to take a class together at Culinaerie in DC. We had so much fun when we went, and it’s super easy to get to DC from Baltimore for a night. They were very excited about this.

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Groom’s Gift: The GS was in the wedding we went to over Labor Day weekend, and wanted to go in on a “groom’s gift” with a few other friends. I suggested the coolest cooler because I personally think it’s incredible and really want one, but it was determined that we wouldn’t get it in time. Instead, they ended up ordering a Yeti cooler and filling it with beer for the day of the wedding. The groom loved it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure couples love getting the stuff they’re asking for, or just straight up cash. I just think that sometimes it’s fun to do something a little more memorable!

I promise you a recipe next week. I’ve been traveling all over Virginia and West Virginia this week for work, and this weekend I have… wait for it…

…another wedding.

Kitchen next week. Pinky swear.