Caramel Apple Tart

caramel apple tartcaramel apple tartcaramel apple tartcaramel apple tart I’m on the hunt for new twists on Thanksgiving traditions. There’s a strange place between when a family has little ones to instruct in traditions, and when the little ones grow up but haven’t quite begun new traditions. That place is where experiments can happen, and that’s where my family is right now: Trying new recipes, new twists, not changing too much of course because my sentimental heart would splinter into a million pieces if it wasn’t held together by familiarity, but a little change is fun, exciting, sometimes a flop, but always interesting. We’re all old enough to have our traditions firmly planted, loved, and ready to spring back out at a moment’s notice of sentimentality, but we’re also ready to explore new territories and make new stories to say “remember when we tried…” regardless of how that sentence is finished: “oh yeah! Let’s do it again,” or, “oh yeahhh, never, never again.”

I tried this recipe for an apple tart with homemade caramel sauce as an alternative to apple pie. It was lighter than a usual pie, but because the apples were open-faced while they were being cooked instead of under a comforter of dough, the apples dried out a bit. Drizzle it with caramel though and it was pretty delicious. If you’re a fan of apple pie but kinda peel off the crust as you eat, the tart is perfection: thinner crust, more apples, and coated with caramel to finish. There was plenty of caramel left over too for coffee, or rolls, or…

I’m so excited to show you my idea for a Thanksgiving centerpiece, it’s pretty much free and absolutely gorgeous, just wait!

-<3 A. 

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

spiced pumpkin soupingredients

  1. Melt butter in a large pot and then add potatoes, onions, and garlic. Cook for about 8 minutes.
  2. Add chicken broth, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low, cooking until potatoes are tender (about 10 minutes).
  3. Stir in pumpkin and add spices (salt, pepper, nutmeg, coriander, cayenne pepper).
  4. Increase heat to med-high, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat again and cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Add cream and heat through.
  6. Serve hot with croutons on the side so they don’t get soggy!

spiced pumpkin soupspiced pumpkin soup

 Confession: I made this soup back in August. It was 100 degrees and I sat in front of a fan in my shorts and t-shirt to taste-test it for you guys…that’s how much I love all of you! I knew life was about to get crazy-busy this Fall and I didn’t want all my busy-ness to interrupt or downgrade the worthiness of my posts so I got organized towards the end of the summer, outlined a posting-schedule with topics and ideas and went post-crazy: lining up and laying out what I wanted to share for the upcoming months. I know a lot of bloggers talk about creating a calendar for your posts, and they’re right…planning that far ahead is nice…but it’s also a little scary! By mid-August I was beginning to stress at what I had scheduled in November, thinking the three interim months had already zoomed by since I had already brainstormed and wrote out my weekly posts. In some ways I’m glad I did think ahead, you would have seen a whole lot of nothing many weeks if I hadn’t, but I’m thinking I’ll bring a little bit of some last-minute spontaneity back, sometimes planning the future too much makes you forget to live in the present.

Back to that soup though…I loved it in August and I love it even more now that I can enjoy it fan-less! I put in the whole 1/2 tsp. of cayenne pepper and it was a bit spicy so if you cough with a sprinkle of pepper, probably toned the cayenne down to 1/4 tsp. Also, when I made this the first time I used 2 potatoes but the general consensus was that everyone wanted it “chunkier” so I would maybe add three and cut the pieces slightly bigger, but, it’s totally up to you! The pumpkin is subtle, not sweet at all, and with the homemade croutons sprinkled on top it’s perfectionnnnnnn.

– <3 A. 


Chocolate Week

blueberry chocolate shake

It’s chocolate week at VMMV. Somehow, every recipe I was stumbling across and wanting to try to see if it might be a new, often-used addition to my recipe box–chocolate was involved. So I decided why not just make a week of it: I’ve got a (fairly) healthy truffle recipe and lots of tasty things to share with you this week so stay tuned! I had planned this week’s chocolate party to coincide also with my first payment of a painful amount of cash for my grad program—to help ease the ouchies just a bit—and just because I ended up doing the painful deed last week didn’t make it any less horrifying. At some point this will all be worth the nose wrinkle and eye squint when I click “submit payment,” but for the moment, bring on the truffles people…bring all of them.

Get the recipe for this shake here. It’s an interesting mix of maple syrup, blueberries, chocolate, nutmeg, vanilla, and cinnamon. I used nonfat milk but it was a bit thin so I would go with something not quite as non-fatty and thicker. Sometimes healthy just isn’t worth it.

blueberry chocolate shakevmmv recipe boxvintage muse modern viewsI dipped a few blueberries in chocolate for garnish and wowzers, I think I might just keep a pan-full of those always handy in the freezer for the next few months as I trek through my first quarter. They’re just the little boost of pleasure I need to face the word “homework” rearing its ugly head again on my daily planner. *sigh* Those months I thought I was graduated sure were nice.

– <3 A. 

When Things Start Slipping

watermelon cake

watermelon dessertThere is a point between control and out of control when things just start slipping. Nothing too terrible has really happened, or isn’t likely to happen, but you have that uneasy feeling that life has slipped a bit. When your head is so full of dates and deadlines, of people and problems, of mundane to-do’s and big wishful thoughts that everything begins a slow-mo slide down from the control tower of your brain.

This “cake”? It became a metaphor for that emotion: I tried to make that beautiful and brilliant watermelon cake for Father’s Day, have you seen it on Pinterest? It looked so refreshing and so easy and I was super excited to give it a go for Dad’s day. But about ten seconds into icing the watermelon with my cool whip frosting, I realized this was not going to be a very merry dessert. Nothing sticks to watermelon, did you know that? I really want to know how other people do it because from the moment I began frosting to the moment I realized I was NOT going to serve this guy, my icing did a slow, sad, soggy slide down the sides of my melon and concluded in creating a watermelon-juice-soggy-moat at the bottom of the fruit dome. MMmmmm, now doesn’t that sound delightful? I did try to regain control, in fact, all things considered it was a fairly heroic attempt: I added the raspberries I was going to decorate the top with to try and give the icing a bit of a grip, but this only succeeded in quickening its descent downward. Then I thought, well, why waste the sugar-coated walnuts? That might add some much-needed crunch to the mess so I threw those on as well, and, because the walnuts I guess wanted to add to the whole effect of the fail, they decided to be rancid and that at last concluded my attempts of cake-salvation.

I guess if metaphors give us morals then the moral of this one is, if things are slipping, something’s gotta give because if you don’t choose to throw something out, trust me, it will slip all by itself, despite your best struggles to save.

 – <3 A. 

Other VMMV Recipes (that worked!) 

header  DSC_0701-002  lemon cheesecake cocktail

    Coffee Squared               Lemon Raspberry Cake       Lemon Cheesecake

Cream Puffs

lime-coconut cream puffscream puffs

cream puff recipe

cream puffsI used a tablespoon to spoon the dough balls onto the baking sheet and it seemed to be the perfect size. With these ingredients the recipe said I would get 12 puffs but I ended up getting about 15. For the filling, I used cream cheese and lime pie filling mixed to taste. I didn’t want it too sweet so the cream cheese helped out but it’s definitely not necessary if you want it sweeter. After that, add a layer of shredded coconut, put the top of the puff back on, top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings to look super fancy and you’re done!

lime coconut cream puff

lime coconut cream puff

lime coconut cream puffsDepending on what kind of filling you put in these guys, they’re really a pretty healthy treat and who knew cream puffs were so easy? It probably took me about 15 minutes to make (not counting the cooking time) and they turned out so beautifully!

recipe via better homes and gardens magazine 2005 issue

 – <3 A.

Other VMMV Recipes: 

DSC_0255-001DSC_0057-001   DSC_1012

      Lemon Scones                Avocado/Cucumber Salad              Icebox Cake

Something about Six

vmmv top postsvmmv top posts

Beauty / style secrets / modern views / vintage muses / DIY / the clutch

It’s officially the 6th month-aversary of VMMV. I don’t quite know how that happened. I remember before launching the blog spending an embarrassingly long time just trying to figure out a title I wanted to give this little piece of internet-space and now 6 months later here we are. I have to say it’s been a more frustrating 6 months than I anticipated. There are many things I wish I could do with this space that I simply cannot do because of my lack of knowledge about necessary, blog-techy things that are too boring to write about. But, let’s just say, if I had the cash to drop on a brilliant, 19 year-old CSS-coder I wouldn’t think about it for more than 2 seconds, I would so drop that cash in an instant.

As it is, I don’t have that luxury and at the moment I’m going to patiently let this place evolve instead of pushing the limits of my anti-savy-ness before I’m ready because I’ve read enough articles to foresee a huge blog-crash-and-burn if I were to take that leap of faith. In cases such as these, I think it might be safer to lack a little faith.

In the meantime, it’s always kind of surprising the posts you all enjoy. I have to say I’m rather crestfallen sometimes when a particular, personal fave isn’t very popular. *sigh* its the ever-present writer-ego that is constantly battered and bruised. So to console myself, I’m posting the top six posts with the highest readership, and my own top picks…just because. As always, THANK-YOU for reading, commenting, and re-posting!

vmmv top 6 picks

Beauty / Recipes / modern views / vintage muses / diy / linen closet

– <3 A. 

Quinoa-Cucumber Cups with Lemon Vinaigrette

quinoa cucumber cups with lemon vinaigrette

I’m so ready for a new month, aren’t you? Even cooking is impossible in January. There’s only so many soups, pasta, and bread you can eat before longing for some summer fruit and something fresh for a change. While I was pondering my fresh fruit problem and my, I-want-something-different problem, I came up with these Quinoa-cucumber cups with a lemon vinaigrette. Lemons don’t shy away from the winter months like other fruits do, so it’s a perfect, fresh flavor to add to an otherwise seasonally-sad time for fruit. Quinoa is quite the wonder-grain. It’s a spanish seed actually but cooks, tastes, and has the nutritional equivalent to most grains. I discovered it last year and since then have been unabashedly obsessed with the stuff. I think these cups would make the perfect appetizer: they’re simple, tasty, and can be eaten in one bite without a fork.
Untitled-10quinoa recipe

pillsbury pie crust recipeThe crust turned out slightly thicker than I wanted so I would recommend rolling it out a bit more so its thinner. Another option would be to use phyllo dough if you want a super thin, crunchy crust. These mini-silicone cups are also my new fav. They don’t stick to anything, don’t need cooking spray, cook evenly, and are the perfect proportion for an appetizer. I got these at World Market for only a few dollars and they come in a set of 12.

lemon vinaigrette recipe via giada de laurentiis

lemon vinaigrette recipe via giada de laurentiisThis vinaigrette recipe is from Giada De Laurentiis and the only thing I altered was exchanging basil for the parsley. I didn’t have parsley and I think the basil adds a better flavor anyway.

quinoa cucumber cups with lemon vinaigretteI used red pepper and basil flavored Quinoa for this recipe, but you could pretty much use any flavor you like and there’s so many different flavors, you have plenty of choices. Another option, if you aren’t a cucumber fan, fresh zucchini, broccoli, or even bell peppers would taste great with it.

quinoa cucumber cups with lemon vinaigrette

easy appetizers

quinoa cucumber appetizer with lemon vinaigretteThe silicon cups are so cute you could even serve the appetizer in it–with or without though, I think they’re adorable. Hope this perks up your winter-recipe list, there’s nothing like lemons to cut through the winter-food-blues.

-<3 A. 

Posts Like This:

lemon cheesecake cocktail  mini-pies thanksgiving recipes Earl Grey Tea Cupcakes

   Cheesecake Cocktail           Two-ingredient mini pie          Earl Grey Tea Cupcakes

Tea and Cupcakes

I have been looking forward to today’s post because it was inspired by and requested from a reader/friend! During my Jane Austen seminar class in college, one of our “tasks” (which was really more like the best assignment I could possibly imagine) was to view film adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels. The purpose was to see how modern audiences interpreted Austen’s novels. Some of the interpretations were pretty hilarious, including, a Bollywood version of Pride and Prejudice, “Bride and Prejudice.” The film is absolutely terrible but I would actually recommend it if only to get a good laugh at the Bollywood interpretation of Mr. Collins–he is, in any culture, completely ridiculous.

To get us through some of the more pathetic interpretations of Jane’s work, one group meeting I made Earl Grey Tea Cupcakes. I had actually forgotten about them so when Jordan mentioned I should post about the treats I jumped at the chance!

Earl Grey Tea CupcakesI’m actually not the biggest tea fan. I like the occasional cup but my main squeeze in the caffeine category is definitely coffee. I absolutely adore these little cakes though so regardless of whether you give a nose-crinkle at the mention of Earl Grey, give these a try!

Earl Grey Tea Cupcakes

cupcake Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup 2% milk at room temp.
  • 4 Earl Grey teabags
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temp.
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbls granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbls self-rising flour
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour


  • 16 oz. heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

There are two ways to approach a tea-infused batter. One way, is to actually pour the ground tea straight into the batter. The other way is to steep the tea-bags in some hot-milk and then add the liquid to the batter. I’ve tried both ways and the liquid gave me a stronger flavor but nothing overpowering. If you want something quicker though, just tossing in the tea works as well.

Earl Grey Tea Cupcake RecipeTea InfusedIf you want to try steeping the tea, heat 1/2 cup milk until just boiling and then turn off the heat and add the teabags. The recipe said to leave them in for about 30 minutes. I only let them sit for about 15 minutes though and the batter was still very flavorful.

  • Cream the butter and sugar together for about 3-5 min. on an electric mixer. Add the eggs one at a time and mix after each addition:

Vintage Mixer

  • Sift the two flours together and then alternate between pouring the flour mixture and the infused milk into the sugar, butter, and egg mixture. (confession: I like seeing the little tea-bits in the batter so even though I used infused milk, I also added about half a tea-bag of the actual ground tea)

Earl Grey Tea Cupcakes

tea infused batter

  • Spoon the batter into a lined muffin pan and fill each cup about two-thirds full. Bake at 350° for anywhere from 22-25 minutes until golden brown and you’re done!

Earl Grey Tea CupcakesEarl Grey Tea Cupcakes

For the icing, the recipe called for a vanilla buttercream but I chose just to do a simpler, homemade whip-cream topping. Just pour the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla together and put the electric mixer on high until it gets stiff. I added a little blue and red food coloring to get a lavender color. If you don’t like whip-cream, you could do a cream cheese frosting too and it would be delicious. Of course, when I was all finished I had to make a cup of tea to go with them:

Earl Grey Tea

Earl Grey Tea Cupcakes

Earl Grey Tea Cupcakes

Earl Grey Tea Cupcakes I got my recipe from Martha Swift and Lisa Thomas’s book Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery. I tweaked a few things like the icing, throwing in the ground tea, and leaving out some almond extract. I thoroughly enjoyed my version. It’s a very unusual flavor I’m sure you’ll love even if you aren’t a tea-lover. Jordan loved it and remembered it over a year later! I’m so happy I made them last night because today is a cloudy Thursday and has the perfect conditions for a little tea in the cupcake form.

– <3 A. 

The Linen Closet

Last week, during all the party festivities, I was stirring enchilada sauce and mixing pumpkin-spice-latte cupcakes and I discovered I was very, very good at splattering. Apparently, when the enchilada directions said “simmer the sauce for ten minutes uncovered,” I read, “vigorously boil the enchilada sauce for ten minutes uncovered.” If you’ve never done it, a vigorous boil and a simmer are two very different things. If I had simmered, I’m pretty sure more of the sauce would have stayed in the pot instead of ending up vigorously boiling out onto the stove, my sweater…the wall? (wow), and the floor.

Needless to say, a half-apron for that meal just didn’t cut it. So, I began to think of how I could add a little splatter-safety onto my apron:

After a few shredded patterns, some misplaced darts, too wide of straps, and buttons that weren’t cooperating, I finally got it. My Etsy shop, Vintage Muses, is now offering convertible aprons.
The bottom half hasn’t changed except for a few nifty snaps that the top can simply snap into for some vigorous boiling episodes, and unsnap again if you just feel like wearing the half:

Pretty nifty, yes? My favorite part is that you can have multiple different tops to snap and unsnap and each one can give you an entirely different look.

The top has two darts sewn in and a sweetheart neckline so the typical oversized, straight-across apron-top is a bit more feminine.

The bottom  and top can be purchased separately or, of course, the two together. I’m really looking forward to this new option, and, also looking forward to using some of my custom fabrics I’m creating. There is definitely more to come!

If you’re thinking of doing some vigorous boiling soon for Thanksgiving, don’t do it until you’ve stopped by Vintage Muses first!

Hope you enjoy the new idea,

– <3 A.