everyday food made simple

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So while I’m sitting here at my local coffee shop writing today’s post, I contemplated about telling you guys the horrifying experience I had at this very same coffee shop just a few days ago, which involved two small birds flying into the glass window with a loud “thud!” right next to where I was sitting and landing on the sidewalk. And a phone call to a local emergency veterinary clinic regarding said collision that left me angry and frustrated. I started writing and then proceeded to deleted the two paragraphs I have written, because I figured this story is probably pretty dang unappetizing for a food blog, and the last thing I want to do is to turn you guys off.

So let’s start over…. despite the numerous pumpkin recipes I have posted here on SEF, would you believe me if I told you there once was a time where I hated pumpkin-flavored anything? I still don’t care for pumpkin pie to this day, but I do like some things that are pumpkin-spice-flavored. I have been seeing a lot of seasonal pumpkin flavor-related items on my Instagram feed lately and a lot of people stocking up on all things pumpkin (apparently Trader Joe’s have transformed itself into America’s pumpkin headquarters), but other than these pumpkin spice Oreo cookies, I have yet to stock up my pantry with any of these seasonal items.

I have to admit, these Oreos are pretty dang amazing. I had to hoard a stack of these babies and tuck them away in my cupboard for this recipe, just in case I didn’t have the self control to stop eating them.

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These cookies are soft, puffy, and filled with pumpkin deliciousness! You may remember these ooey gooey pumpkin chocolate chip cookies I made last year. This time, I switched out the milk chocolate chips for white chocolate chips instead, and I think I actually like these better!

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The white chocolate chips are a perfect complement to the golden Oreo cookies. All the flavors shine through and the ingredients don’t overpower one another. They are slightly crunchy on the outside, but so soft and chewy on the inside. And when you get a bite with the chopped Oreo cookies, it’s like a little bite of heaven.. so good!

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soft and chewy pumpkin spice oreo cookies
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  2. 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  4. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  5. 1/4 pumpkin puree
  6. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  7. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  8. 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  9. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  10. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  11. 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  12. 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  13. 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  14. 1/3 cup white chocolate chips
  15. 1/2 cup pumpkin spice oreos, coarsely chopped
Instructions
  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. Set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together the melted butter and both sugars. Add in the vanilla extract and pumpkin puree. Mix over medium speed until combined. Gently stir in the white chocolate chips and chopped Oreos.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  4. Using a medium cookie scoop (about 1.5 tablespoons), drop dough balls approximately 1" apart on the baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway to ensure even baking. Remove from oven and gently press the tops with the back of a spoon if the cookies are too puffy for your liking (I did, because I love my cookies with slight cracks but yet still slightly puffy). Let cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes before transferring them to a wired cooling rack to cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
  5. Makes 2 dozen cookies
Adapted from The Domestic Rebel
SIMPLE EVERYDAY FOOD http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
Recipe adapted from The Domestic Rebel

© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

Disclaimer: this post is super lengthy and it has nothing to do with food. The Whiting Clinic LASIK + Eye Care did not endorse me to write this review. This entry was written solely based on the purpose that I wanted to document my LASIK journey and serve as a review of my experience with the Whiting Clinic. All opinions are 100% my own.

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As long as I can remember, my eyesight has been bad. I like to blame it on genetics – both my parents are nearsighted, and everyone in our family has worse vision in their right eye than their left. My sister, that lucky duck, is the only one who still has perfect vision up to this day.

My first memory of having to wear corrective lenses goes way back to fourth grade. My dad took me to an optometrist, where I picked out a plastic, thick framed, ombre pink/transparent pair of glasses which I absolutely hated. Throughout the years, I’ve had multiple pairs of glasses varying in prescription, and they slowly became a part of me in which I’ve relied dependently to make the world a clearer place to see.

Over the years, I ended up with astigmatism along with my nearsightedness. I decided to get contacts when I was in high school after I joined the lacrosse team, and ever since then, putting in contacts became part of my daily routine.

Those at work all know I’m an extreme eye-wuss. Or as we call it, I’m one of those that “don’t do eyeballs”. Any sort of patient who comes in with any sort of eye problem automatically grosses me out. Whether it’s a bulging eyeball, a busted eyeball, a bloody eyeball, cherry eyes – you name it, I hate it. If there’s something wrong with the eye, you’ll see me running out the door. There has been times where I had to give eyedrops to patients with eye issues, and I had to ask other people to come do treatments for me because I just can’t do it. Nooooo thank you.

Some people ask me how I can put in and take out contacts if I have such a phobia to eyes – I tell them that I was lucky enough to have gotten contacts at a younger age, before I developed this weird eye phobia. Because there’s one thing I know for sure – If I had this eye phobia back then, I sure wouldn’t be able to bear the idea of my finger coming at my eyeball to put in contacts every morning, or the thought of picking at my eyeball to take my contacts out at the end of the day.

I’ve actually thought about getting LASIK for years but simply didn’t have to guts to bring myself to it. My reasoning? I only have one pair of eyes. What if something goes wrong during the procedure and I go blind forever?

I have since learned that going blind during a LASIK procedure is basically impossible, and that you’re more likely to get an infection from your contacts than LASIK. However, prior to gaining all this knowledge, reading all about how the procedure is done and the possible side effects and complications sure didn’t ease any of my skepticism. Plus, there are so many LASIK providers out there – who do I trust with my eyes????

A former coworker of mine, who also can’t stand all-things-eyeball-related, went to Dr. Whiting for her LASIK procedure a few years back… and she survived. A few other coworkers, including herself, kept telling me, “if Erika can do it, you can do it too.” She raved on how great of an experience she had – from the entire staff to the actual procedure itself, she had no complaints whatsoever. A few other friends also went to Dr. Whiting for their procedure and every single one of them recommended the place to me.

Upon further research that I conducted myself, I discovered that Dr. Whiting has done 100,000+ LASIK procedures and is considered one of the nation’s top LASIK surgeons. He’s the official LASIK provider for the Minnesota Wild hockey team, has done LASIK for many sports radio personalities (which is what sold Brian in the end), and other local “celebrities” as well. I figured if so many professionals trust him with their eyes, I should to able to, too.

So, I scheduled my free LASIK consultation, and by the end of the 90-minute appointment, I was sold.

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Well, my heart was sold. But my analytical brain insisted that having a blade come towards your eyeball and cut a flap on your cornea was not a good idea at all. It was just a consultation, but I was nervous. They say the appointment on procedure day would last about 90 minutes, but only takes about 30 seconds per eye. I remember asking, “so what happens during the rest of the 89 minutes of the appointment?!” I think Dr. Loomis sensed my anxiety because at one point he asked me why I was so nervous considering that it was only a consult exam… I remember I kept asking him if it was an actual blade that was going to cut my cornea open. Instead of trying to explain to me (apparently my brain was refusing to comprehend what he was saying), he went into the procedure room and took a blade off the machine that was just used on another patient.

You guys, it was an actual blade. Like a scalpel blade with an extremely sharp edge to it. I’m pretty sure I felt a slight wave of nausea. Apparently he’s never had to show the actual blade to anyone, but he decided he would for me just because I was so “curious”. I then was very tempted to ask him if there was any way I could keep the blade used on my eyes for my scrapbook, but decided that probably would’ve been a little too weird..

The days leading up to the procedure was nerve wracking. I’m not going to lie – I freaked out and had major anxiety the entire two weeks leading up to my procedure date. Every time I thought about it, I wanted to puke. The morning of the procedure definitely wasn’t any better either. They offered me either Benadryl or Valium to ease my anxiety… I would’ve taken the entire bottle of Valium if they would’ve let me. It relaxed me a little, but didn’t quite give me the sedative effect I was hoping for. I was not groggy and it definitely did not mess with my memory at all – it relaxed my muscles, but I was well aware of what was going on the entire time.

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Pre-op.. not sure if that’s a nervous smile or if it’s the Valium talking…

Like I expected, the actual procedure only took less than a minute per eye – it was over before I knew it. I can go into detail of everything I remember, but I think I’ll spare you guys the play-by-plays. During my consult exam, they did mention that I would only feel “pressure” during the procedure. I’ll admit that I was a little skeptical when they used that word. Coming from the medical field (I used to work in a human ER), I knew doctors would sometimes substitute the word “pain” with “pressure”. Patients are generally more receptive to something if they’re told “you’ll feel a little pressure” as opposed to “oh yeah this will probably be a little painful”.

I was glad that I indeed only felt pressure on my eye during the procedure. They numbed both my eyes up very well so the entire procedure was not painful at all. The whole time I felt like I was in a hypnotic-like state. I followed the technicians and Dr. Whiting’s instructions like my body just moved on command without my brain actually processing the information and telling my body what to do. From walking into the procedure room and laying underneath the cool, space-ship like laser machine, to seeing Dr. Whiting put on his sterile gloves (along with the “smack!” that goes with putting sterile gloves on) and throughout the entire procedure, I was under the magic spell of Valium and I felt like things were just happening around me before my brain even had a chance to process everything.

I got to go home that day with some fashionable shades that I wore around the house that weekend as well as to bed for the next week.

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Having a snuggle buddy always helps.

Lubricating eye drops will be my best friend for the next three months and the hardest part for me so far is remembering that I shouldn’t be rubbing my eyes. But it sure is nice not having to wear glasses or contacts! Some days I still have to remind myself that the reason things are crystal clear is because I got LASIK, not because I have contacts in.

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Since I have worked in the medical field for the past 6 years, I had high expectations of my entire LASIK experience (especially since so many of my friends recommended their facility to me). I’m pleased the say that my overall experience at the Whiting Clinic has exceeded all my expectations and then some.

Their entire staff are well-trained, polite, caring, and professional. We probably encountered close to 10 different people during our consult exam, on procedure day, and during my 1-day post-op check-up appointment, and every single one of them were fantastic. Everyone there is so friendly and does their best to put you at ease. Dr. Whiting has exceptional bedside manners and also has a very calming demeanor (which helped immensely to ease my anxiety). The facility is modern, clean, spacious, well-lit, with plenty of refreshments provided for both patients and family members (coffee and chocolate never hurts). They truly make it a customized experience for each and every patient – you get to choose the music you want in the background during your procedure and the mood lighting in the procedure room to help you relax. You also get to choose whether or not you want the curtain open for others to view your procedure from the huge glass window. From start to finish, every single little detail is tailored to each patient – I was impressed and extremely happy with both how I was treated and my results of my LASIK thus far.

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After my experience at the Whiting Clinic and knowing how a LASIK procedure actually is done, my current self would absolutely tell the Amy from two years ago that it’s definitely not as bad as I thought it was. And if (for some unfortunate reason) I had to do it again, I totally would in a heartbeat. It’s only been a little under a month since my procedure, but I have no regrets about my decision and I would absolutely put my trust in the fantastic staff at the Whiting Clinic to take care of my eyes from here on forward.

 ↓  I can guarantee you that this will never be me. Bye-bye glasses, forever and ever. I will never miss you.

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As much as I complain about how much I hate seeing summer go, a little part of me secretly loves the anticipation and the arrival of fall.

Watching the trees gradually change from a lively, healthy green color to a vibrant, flaming red/orange color in a span of a week, the sound of crunching leaves beneath my shoes, watching store shelves stock up on caramel apple/pumpkin spice everything, being able to lounge all day in sweatpants and a hoodie (even though it seems like that’s all I wear 9 months out of the year anyway), are just some of the reasons why I’m a big fan of fall.

Oh, and boots. All the boots. Don’t even get me started on shopping for the perfect pair of boots.

And the fact that fall also means that no one will ever know if you don’t shave your legs for the next 7-8 months. And that you will also be forgiven if you don’t bother on getting pedicures from now on, since it’ll be too cold for flip-flops and sandals outside anyway.

Last weekend it was 90 some degrees here in Minnesota, so Brian and I decided it’d be the perfect weekend to go hunt for some pretty fall foliage, since according to every single news channel and multiple websites, fall leaves were at their peak north of the metro.

So the mister and I decided on the St. Croix State Park, which 50-75% of the leaves have turned colors, according to the state park website. We packed up my camera, stocked the car full of snacks, and made the hour-long drive up north, excited to take some gorgeous photos. (← #signsthatyouregettingold)

After much disappointment and getting attacked by swarms of mosquitoes, I came home with a few satisfactory photos. The state park was sort of a let down, as we drove around a lot and the location the website recommended for “perfect fall photos” didn’t have a single red leaf on its trees.

Not to mention my mosquito bites swelled up within hours and turned into huge welts all over my arms that left me itchy for daaaaaaays.

Ironically, most of the best foliage photos were taken by me sticking my camera out the car window while passing various small town neighborhoods.

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After we got home, I was exhausted, hot, sweaty, and itchy, and proceeded to pour myself a large cold glass of this sparkling apple cider I made the day before.

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If where you’re at is still too hot for hot apple cider, this is definitely for you! However, if you’re not a fan of spiced apple cider, feel free to substitute the amount of spiced cider in this recipe for plain cider, although I do think the addition of orange slices and subtle notes of cinnamon and cloves does elevate the original to a whole new level!

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sparkling spiced apple cider
Print
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups apple cider
  2. 1/2 orange, sliced (leave the peel on)
  3. 2 cinnamon sticks
  4. 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  5. 2 cups club soda
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the apple cider, orange, cinnamon sticks, and cloves. Bring to a boil, them reduce and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Discard all the solids.
  2. Fill 4 tall glasses with ice. Fill each glass with 1/2 cup of the cooled spiced cider and 1/2 cup of club soda. Serve immediately.
  3. Makes 4 cups (4 servings)
SIMPLE EVERYDAY FOOD http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
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© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

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It’s been about a week since the new iPhone 6 launch – did you upgrade to the new phone? Did you decide on a 6 or 6 Plus? Or are you one of those silly Android lovers that are super anti-Apple?

I myself, being a huge Apple fanatic, just had to get the new iPhone. And of course I had to have it on launch day. I just couldn’t bear the idea of seeing everyone else posting pictures of their new phone and reading all about how awesome the new phone is without having one in my hand.

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So first thing in the morning on September 12th, we waited for almost an hour and pre-ordered our iPhone 6s at the AT&T store. Needless to say, I was beyond ecstatic when I heard the FedEx truck pull up to our door last Friday, delivering a little brown box with our brand new phones carefully tucked in it. Other than the fact that my phone now doesn’t fit in my scrub pants pocket or my wallet, I’m in love with everything else about it – the screen is larger, but not too large to where it doesn’t fit in my hand. It’s slim, sleek, and lightweight all at the same time. The camera is amazing and the retina display is incredible.

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Don’t worry, even if you are an Android user, we can still be friends… I promise.

However, if you’re not into snickerdoodles, I’m not sure if we can be friends anymore.

Okay, I’m totally kidding. We can still be friends, and I will totally force these snickerdoodle cupcakes on you, which I’m sure you’ll totally change your mind about snickerdoodles in general.

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These cupcakes are a cinnamon lover’s dream – there’s so much cinnamon put into it! There’s cinnamon added into the batter, then a generous layer of cinnamon sugar sprinkled in between the batter, and two whole tablespoons of it in the frosting! Yep, you read that right: two tablespoons of cinnamon. Or if you’re like me, my two tablespoons sort of turned into two heaping tablespoons of it…

Because: “it’s too cinnamon-y”, said no one ever.

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And to make these cupcakes even more adorable, I made them into “minis” – because everything is cuter when they’re minis, right?

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Disclaimer: this food blog will not be responsible for how many cupcakes you end up eating in one sitting.

And because the batter yielded 40+ mini cupcakes, I brought some to work to share, and EVERYONE loooooooved it. Loved it, as in “these may be the best cupcakes you’ve brought so far”.

Must be rough being a food blogger’s coworker..

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mini snickerdoodle cupcakes with cinnamon frosting
Print
For the cupcakes
  1. 1 and 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  3. 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  5. 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  6. 1 and 1/3 cups granulated sugar, divided
  7. 1 large egg, at room temperature
  8. 1/4 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
  9. 3/4 cup skim milk
  10. 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  11. 2 rounded teaspoons ground cinnamon
For the frosting
  1. 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  2. 3 cups powdered sugar
  3. 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  4. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  5. A pinch of salt
  6. 1.5-2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line mini muffin tins with cupcake liners and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Whisk in 1 cup of granulated sugar into the melted butter, then stir in the egg, yogurt, milk, and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined. Add in the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir until there are no more lumps in the batter.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the ground cinnamon and the remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar. Set aside.
  5. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the batter into the bottom of each of the cupcake liner, just enough to cover the bottom. Top with about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Top with more batter, filling each well about 3/4 full, then top each mini cupcake with a generous sprinkle of the cinnamon sugar mixture.
  6. Bake the cupcakes for about 13 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing the cupcakes onto a wired cooling rack to cool completely.
  7. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting: using an electric stand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, heavy whipping cream, and vanilla extract. Gradually increase the speed to "high" and beat for 3-4 minutes. Add more powdered sugar/cream until you reach the desired consistency. Add in the ground cinnamon and beat until combined. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes with your favorite piping tip. Dust the tops with the the remaining cinnamon sugar mixture if desired. Cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  8. Makes 40-42 mini cupcakes
Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction
SIMPLE EVERYDAY FOOD http://www.simpleeverydayfood.com/
Recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.

Lets be real here: no one is sadder about summer ending than I am. But as we welcome the cooler weather, the arrival of pumpkin spice lattes, apple season, delicious-smelling candles and soaps from Bath and Body Works, I feel like I should give summer the proper send-off by reflecting all the fun we had the past few months..

There was a lot of iced coffee involved…

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When I wasn’t working or baking/cooking and overdosing myself on caffeine, I was inseparable with my Kindle. I felt like was a nerd, and I was okay with it. I don’t think I’ve read so many books in so little time in my life. Here’s a glimpse of what I read this summer – out of all the ones I read, I think Dark Places and Labor Day were my favorite.

I read The Fault In Our Stars just to see what the fuss was about, and I thought it was just okay. I didn’t cry like a lot of people did… does that make me insensitive? I thought it was sad, but not sad enough to cry (books don’t make me cry much in general).

I’m currently reading The Book Thief and I’m liking it so far. I have Brain On Fire and Abducted next on my list, along with 43 other books on my Amazon wish list…

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I feel like there’s always a “theme” to my summers. Last year was the Summer of Homemade Drinks. This year was the Summer of Homemade Frozen Treats. Ice cream, custard, popsicles were my summer anthems.

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We also made s’mores. Lots and lots of s’mores. Especially peanut butter s’mores. Amazeballs, I tell ya (I’m a little ashamed I just actually typed that word).

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And grilled. A lot. Brian also bought a smoker, which he loved using.. and I loved eating everything that came off of it.

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We took a little road trip up to Brainerd one weekend for a biking trip (the Paul Bunyan Trail it totally worth checking out). It was a pretty successful trip, if you don’t count the fact that I ended up wrecking my bike by falling on it. I didn’t fall while riding on my bike… I literally fell onto my bike while walking it back to the hotel. My knees were cut up and bruised in the shape of the spokes and my wheel was totally bent from my entire body landing on top of it. It was quite embarrassing, but I was more sad about breaking my bike and having to spend money to fix it.

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Nothing a little bit of good food, chocolate, and ice cream can’t fix though.

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And of course, you can’t forget the Minnesota State Fair that officially marks the end of summer.

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As much as I love digging out those fall boots and hoodies from the closet, a little piece of me cried inside when I had to wear a long sleeve shirt underneath my scrubs the other day.. and I already caved and bought my first pumpkin drink of the season (I suck at resisting peer pressure).

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© Simple Everyday Food. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use any of my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or kindly link back to this post for the recipe.