This Saturday my husband and I went to check out Applefest in Greene, NY. Sponsored by the United Methodist Church, this even is held every fall and features apple and rhubarb pies, apple sauce, apple butter, apple barbecue sauce, apple salsa, fresh apples sold by the pound, and sharp white cheddar cheese made specially for the festival and by hard-working volunteers. There’s also dozens of crafters with all kinds of great products like rustic home decor, hand-knitted dog sweaters, handmade jewelry, and food products.

What better way to make apple butter than in a gigantic cauldron?

How cute are those candy corns?

Cozy up your home with crows, country stars and pot pourri.

Rustic signs, even for NY Giants fans.

This vendor certainly had a love for owls. Her bags and children’s clothing were colorful, fun, and made with cozy knitted sweater pieces.

T-shirts with colorful sleeves made of knitted sweaters.

Most of her shirts were in children’s sizes…but not this one!

I lucked out, this was the only owl shirt left in my size!

I took this photo because of the “Hawaiian Shave Ice,” but only now I saw the sign for “Deep Fried Candy Bars”—dang!

This cute little guy was waiting in line with his dad to get some apple salsa…or apple butter, or apple salad dressing, or applesauce…

Despite the tempting smells of apple dumplings, pulled pork sandwiches and elephant ears that surrounded me with every step, I already knew what I wanted to come home with: barbecue sauce!

An all around good, sweet barbecue sauce!

I haven’t sampled enough barbecue sauces to make a good comparison from one product to the next, but I really do enjoy this Apple Butter Barbecue Sauce made especially for sale at the Applefest. It’s sweet and very slightly tangy. No big smoky flavor, no hot spice, just a good, all-around barbecue sauce. Dinner on Saturday and Sunday was a barbecue chicken pizza using this sauce:

Saturday: we could hardly wait to eat this pizza, had to keep on peeking in the oven!

Sunday dinner: chicken barbecue pizza with spinach, eggplant, mushrooms, onion, and grapes.

A little heavy handed with the cheese, but the apple barbecue sauce was perfect.

I like to prebake my crust to get it nice and crisp then add the toppings in this order:

1. sauce
2. half the cheese (1 part parmesan/asiago to 1 1/2  parts mozzerella)
3. flat stuff: spinach, eggplant, pepperoni, onions
4. lumpy stuff: mushrooms, barbecue chicken, ground meat (note: meats are pre-cooked)
5. rest of the cheese (to hold everything together)
6. decorative stuff (grapes, figs, cherry tomato halves)

It’s not something I follow to the letter, but it does help to know flat stuff comes first then lumpy stuff next. :)

Are there any fall festivities going on in your neighborhood? Did you celebrate Moon Festival? Oktoberfest is just around the corner, too!

I have been blogging for almost three months now and am very grateful to all you readers and fellow bloggers who take the time to come by and visit. I always enjoy your comments and suggestions, and especially love hearing your feedback on any of my recipes that you’ve tried out! I also just started a Facebook page (my mother-in-law made a good suggestion that I get one!) so come on over and “like” me to keep up-to-date on the latest cooking adventures, Flavor of the Week, and of course, the Peas and Crayons-sponsored What I Ate Wednesdays!

Today I didn’t exactly go along with this month’s theme of Sensible Snacking because last week was barely over and I was already anxious to post today’s featured recipe, which is something special I made for my second wedding anniversary! My husband and I met 4 1/2 years ago, under which any other circumstances I would never have met him, and not a day goes by that I am not happier for having him in my life. :)

In celebrating our special day, we decided to have lunch at our favorite restaurant. I was excited about going because we tend to eat in most of the time (my fault, I’m the extremely picky one!) and because of the anticipation, I didn’t have much of an appetite in the morning. Breakfast was just a cup of coffee blended with a tablespoon of coconut oil. This great suggestion is from Gabby at Veggie Nook, and I was blown away at the delicious creaminess, even though I’m a ‘black with sugar’ kind of person. Gabby presents some very interesting information on the benefits of coconut oil, so check out her post for some (coco)nutty facts!

Blending the coconut oil with coffee makes it creamy without being ‘watered down’.

Lunch was at the Lost Dog Cafe in Binghamton, where I enjoyed a French press pot o’ coffee and indulged in their Voodoo Ahi Sandwich with sweet potato fries (and extra sweet-hot sauce & mustard on the side for fry-dipping!) I couldn’t handle dessert, this was more than enough for me, and I was snacking on leftovers when we got home…so I guess my lunch leftovers fit this month’s theme of “Sensible Snacking” after all!

Their sweet potato fries taste like there’s a teeny bit of Parmesan cheese…delicious!

Dinner was a specially planned home-cooked meal to celebrate our second anniversary last Thursday. I saved two bison steaks from last Christmas for a special occasion, and this was it! I wasn’t sure of what exactly I wanted to season it with, but definitely knew I wanted something different, something I never tried before. I liked the idea of using a coffee rub, but wanted to jazz it up with something a little exotic,  like a warm, fragrant spice that would evoke memories of a sumptuous meal fit for a king…and his queen!

Putting all these ideas together I decided to use the vanilla my parents sent me, some instant espresso powder, and…(get ready for it)…Chinese Five Spice! The espresso powder and vanilla mellowed out the intense and slightly bitter clove and anise of this aromatic blend. The spices left over in the pan after cooking the bison steaks were enough to season the red wine reduction, and a few dried cherries gave it a nice punch of sweet-tart flavor.

After his first bite my king husband said, “You know what this taste reminds me of? Pepernoten!” Haha, maybe next year I’ll make pepernoten-crusted chicken. :)

Bison Steak with a Spiced Vanilla Rub and Cherry-Shiraz Reduction

Bison Steaks with a Spiced Vanilla Rub and Cherry-Shiraz Reduction  (serves 2)
This seasoning will be perfect on your Father’s Day Steaks, and can also be grilled…hint, hint!


1/2 teaspoon Spice Islands Chinese Five Spice (decrease to 1/4 teaspoon if you prefer it less prominent)
1 teaspoon Medaglia D’ Oro  instant espresso powder
4″ vanilla pod, split and scraped
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 buffalo steaks (or beef steaks,) 3 ounces each
1/2 cup shiraz
10 dried cherries
2 teaspoons natural sweetener of your choice


Combine spices and rub on buffalo steaks. Store in a sealed container in refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight.

Soak the cherries in the wine, set aside. In a large frying pan, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium-low to medium heat. Cook steaks until edges look done, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to dish and keep warm while you make reduction.

In the same pan, add wine and cherries, drizzle in natural sweetener and stir with a wooden spoon. Cook over medium-high heat until sauce is reduced by about half and is maple syrup consistency, about 5 minutes.

Put a steak on each plate, drizzled with half the reduction, and serve with your favorite side dishes. Enjoy immediately!

This tasted great with my favorite wine, a sparkling Shiraz.

I really enjoyed the blend of seasonings, so I also did the same thing to a venison loin:

Venison Loin with Spiced Vanilla Rub and Cherry-Red Wine Reduction

The entire venison loin was too much for just me and my husband, so I cooked only half and saved the other half for…

Pizza Margherita with Venison Rosettes and Mushrooms

This is a lot of meat for me to have within a week’s time, and I usually am pretty happy with mostly veggies on my plate.  But I do enjoy certain types of meats like venison and buffalo, and usually have them in small quantities…except on special occasions (like my anniversary!) Father’s Day is coming up soon, so keep these recipe ideas in mind for that special man in your life!

So how do you celebrate a special occasion? Are there any tried and true recipes you make  for birthdays or anniversaries? How about the meal you had on a special first date? :D

What kind of “leftover meal” snacks do you think are the best? (I like anything take-out!)