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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Tag: Pumpkin

Enter If You Dare: Halloween-Inspired Décor

Marc-Ryan Group

Each year as Halloween approaches I get excited for the start of the Autumnal season of holidays and traditions.  The weather starts to cool off, spiced apple drinks start to flow (I like mine spiked!), and Halloween inaugurates the holiday celebrations with fun and creativity.

There are many directions to go when decorating for Halloween.  From kitsch to all-out ghoulish crypt-keeping, often I am left with piles of decorations in November that immediately need to be stored to make way for Thanksgiving.  This year I decided to take a different approach.  Less pumpkin tchotchke and no conversion to a full cemetery in my living room.  Instead, Halloween this year will be paired down to be sophisticated, chic, and best of all done in minutes!

My inspiration for a sophisticated Halloween theme is to utilize a monochromatic color palate of sumptuous black tones, and then to create focused vignettes in specific areas around the apartment.  This keeps the decoration contained and easier to manage and is visually more dramatic.

I also approached my theme with classic easy-to-find decorations in the seasonal aisle in my grocery store and drug store, but layered them in a more curated way.  As beautiful as many of the high-end Halloween decorations can be, they have to be stored year after year, and may not fit your style or space the next Halloween.  All of my decorations fit in a plastic boot-sized storage container for all holidays (except Christmas, of course).

The simplicity of a monochromatic palate is enhanced with different textures in the same black tones, which adds depth, interest, and a more layered look.  Use this visual All-Hallows-Eve photo series as inspiration for your own SPOOKtacular décor!  Pick and choose the elements that resonate with you, play some Halloween-inspired tunes (Pandora: Halloween Party Radio is my choice!), and just have fun adding some BOOtiful elements to make your space come alive – if you dare!

Happy Halloween!

Cobwebs, Spiders, and Crows - OH MY!

Everyday Items Get a SPOOKtacular Makeover!

A Centerpiece Worthy of Frightful Screams!

Classic Halloween Icons Perfect for Place Cards or Food Markers!

BOOtiful Halloween Details!

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Pumpkin Spice Trifle

Marc J. Sievers

My Pumpkin Spice Trifle is one of my all-time favorite desserts to make during the holidays!  Filled with the most flavorful Spiced Pound Cake and luxurious Pumpkin Orange Pastry Cream, this trifle will be a fabulous addition to your holiday soirée.  While there a few steps for each component, a majority of them like the pound cake and pastry cream can be made up to three days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.  Then, all you need to do is make some Vanilla Whipped Cream, and then assemble the trifle!

You can also assemble this dessert in individual glass bowls or parfait glasses.  Simply follow the same assembly instructions but for each individual dish.  The dessert can sit out for a couple of hours, making it a perfect seasonal dessert for entertaining.  This is one of those desserts that you and your guests will always remember – and ask for year after year!

This recipe is part of “An Autumnal Feast!  A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite”.  Explore the other recipes in this series:

Happy cooking!

Pumpkin Spice Trifle

Ingredients (serves 8)

Pumpkin Orange Pasty Cream

  • Half and Half – 2 cups

  • Egg Yolks – 6 extra-large, at room temperature

  • Butter – 1 tablespoon, unsalted, at room temperature

  • Granulated Sugar – ¼ cup

  • Dark Brown Sugar – ¼ cup, lightly packed

  • Pumpkin Purée – ½ cup (not pie filling)

  • Cinnamon – ½ teaspoon

  • Orange Zest – 1½ tablespoons, finely grated

  • Vanilla – 1½ teaspoons, pure extract

  • Honey – 1½ tablespoon

  • Fine Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Cornstarch – ¼ cup

Spiced Pound Cake

  • Butter – 2 sticks, unsalted, room temperature, plus more for preparing pans

  • Eggs – 4 extra-large, room temperature

  • Flour – 3 cups, all-purpose, plus 2 tablespoons

  • Baking Powder – ½ teaspoon

  • Baking Soda – ½ teaspoon

  • Kosher Salt – ¾ teaspoon

  • Buttermilk – 1 cup, at room temperature

  • Vanilla – 1½ teaspoons, pure extract

  • Honey – ¼ cup

  • Sugar – 2 cups, granulated

  • Golden Raisins – 1 cup

  • Cinnamon – 1 teaspoon

  • Cloves – ½ teaspoon

  • Allspice – ½ teaspoon

  • Nutmeg – ½ teaspoon, freshly grated

  • Ginger – ½ teaspoon, dried

Vanilla Whipped Cream

  • Heavy Cream – 2 cups, very cold

  • Granulated Sugar – 2 tablespoons

  • Vanilla Extract – 1 tablespoon, pure extract


  • Fleur de Sel Caramel – 5 tablespoons, store-bought

  • Gingersnap Cookies – 9 ounces, lightly crushed


Pumpkin Orange Pastry Cream

  1. In a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, both sugars, pumpkin purée, cinnamon, orange zest, salt, and cornstarch until smooth. Set aside.

  2. Next, in a medium-sized sauce pan set over medium heat add the milk and heat until just under the simmering point.

  3. Remove from the heat and, very slowly, add the hot milk to the pumpkin mixture in small amounts while whisking constantly.

  4. Return the mixture back to the sauce pan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly for 7 to 9 minutes, until very thick. Do not be alarmed when the mixture turns lumpy.

  5. Remove from the heat and add the butter and vanilla. Whisk vigorously until smooth, about 2 minutes.

  6. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the custard. Refrigerate until completely cool, or until ready to use - up to 3 days.

Spiced Pound Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter and flour (2) 9x5-inch loaf pans and set aside. Toss the raisins with 2 tablespoons of flour and set aside.

  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

  3. With the mixer turned to low speed, add the vanilla, honey, and eggs one at a time, allowing each to fully incorporate. Turn the mixer off.

  4. Next, in a large bowl sift together the remaining flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.

  5. With the mixer running on low speed, add the flour and buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour. Then, scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl and fold in the raisins.

  6. Transfer the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Tap the pans on a flat surface to release as many air bubbles as possible.

  7. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

  8. Once you have removed the loaves from the oven, allow them to cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Then, turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Vanilla Whipped Cream

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add the cold cream and whisk on low.

  2. Gradually raise the speed of the mixer from low to high, making sure the cream does not splatter out of the bowl.

  3. Once the cream begins to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla. Whisk until it forms stiff peaks, or about 1 to 2 minutes.


  1. Cut the pound cake into ½-inch thick slices.

  2. Place a layer of cake in the bottom of a 2½ to 3-quart glass serving bowl, cutting the pieces to fit as necessary. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of caramel. Top with a layer of the pastry cream, then a layer of whipped cream, then sprinkle with crushed gingersnap cookies.

  3. Repeat the same process 3 more times. The completed trifle will have 4 glorious layers.

A Helpful Preparation Timeline

  1. First, bake the Spiced Pound Cake - up to 3 days in advance.

  2. Then make the Pumpkin Orange Pastry Cream - up to 3 days in advance.

  3. When you are ready to assemble, find your favorite trifle dish, have your store-bought components ready, and then make the Vanilla Whipped Cream.

  4. Assemble the Pumpkin Spiced Trifle and serve!

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Curried Pumpkin Soup

Marc J. Sievers

I love taking a classic flavor, like pumpkin, and giving it a flavor-makeover!  My Curried Pumpkin Soup is a new classic in my home this time of year.  The flavors are still very traditional, but the addition of dried yellow curry powder make it a feel a little bit more special and, dare I say, exotic!  This is a perfect soup for a chilly autumn or winter day!  This soup can be prepared up to three days in advance of serving and stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.  You can also freeze large containers of soup to be enjoyed at a later time.  Gently re-heat in a large pot over medium-low heat – soup anytime!

This recipe is part of “An Autumnal Feast!  A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite”.  Explore the other recipes in this series:

Happy cooking!

Curried Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Carrots – 2 large, peeled, ½-inch diced

  • Leeks – 2 large, ½-inch sliced (white and light green parts only)

  • Yellow Onion – 1 large, ½-inch diced

  • Honeycrisp Apples – 2 medium, peeled, cored, ½-inch diced

  • Garlic – 5 cloves, finely minced

  • Pumpkin Purée – 2 cans (15 ounces each), plus ½ cup (not pumpkin pie filling)

  • Vegetable Broth – 8 cups (preferably low sodium)

  • Thyme – 2 tablespoons, finely minced, fresh

  • Sea Salt – 2 teaspoons

  • White Pepper – 1 teaspoon

  • Yellow Curry Powder (mild) – 3½ teaspoons, divided

  • Half and Half – 1 cup, at room temperature

  • Butter – 6 tablespoons

  • Olive Oil – 6 tablespoons


  1. In a large, heavy-bottomed pan, set over medium heat, add the olive oil and butter. Once hot, add the onions, leeks, apples, carrots, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and 3 teaspoons of curry powder. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  2. Add the vegetable stock and 30 ounces of the pumpkin puree. Continue cooking uncovered for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Carefully transfer the hot contents of the pot into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Purée for 2 minutes until mostly smooth. The soup should still have a slight texture. Note that you may have to do this in smaller batches if you are working with a smaller processor or blender.

  4. Pour the soup back into the pot and add the half and half, the remaining ½ teaspoon of curry powder, and the remaining ½ cup of pumpkin purée. Whisk until completely incorporated.

  5. At this point you can gently reheated, and serve.

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Pumpkin & Apple Spread

Marc J. Sievers

I love filling my refrigerator with lots of fabulous preserves, tapenades, and spreads so I can be ready for a last-minute aperitif and nibble with a friend, neighbor, or even Ryan when I least expect it!  In this case, the newest addition to my refrigerator line-up is my Pumpkin & Apple Spread—an absolutely divine combination of savory and sweet flavors. 

Instead of going through the hassle of using fresh pumpkin, I used canned pumpkin purée instead.  Baking it for a few minutes helps to draw out some of the moisture, leaving you with a thick, luxurious, and spreadable base.  Once the warm purée is mixed with apples that have been sautéed in butter, brown sugar, and other autumn-inspired ingredients, the spread can then be used in so many ways.

My Pumpkin & Apple Spread is perfect for serving alongside cheeses or just piled high onto a cracker with some crème fraîche and fresh thyme leaves.  This brightly-colored spread is also wonderful in the morning on toasted brioche with butter, as a topping for pancakes, or stirred into a hot bowl of oatmeal (trust me, every one of those combinations is fabulous!).  Oh, and don’t forget to warm it up and serve it over your favorite ice cream!

Pumpkin & Apple Spread

Ingredients (makes 2 cups)

  • Pumpkin Purée – 1 can, 15 ounces (not pie filling)

  • Gala Apple – 1 medium, peeled, ½-inch diced

  • Golden Raisins – 1/3 cup

  • Butter – 2 tablespoons, unsalted

  • Light Brown Sugar – 2 tablespoons

  • Cinnamon – ¼ teaspoon

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • White Pepper – ¼ teaspoon

  • Nutmeg – ⅛ teaspoon

  • Pure Maple Syrup – 1 tablespoon

  • Honey – 1 tablespoon

  • Vanilla – ½ teaspoon, pure extract

  • Black Pepper Water Crackers

  • Crème Fraîche – for garnish

  • Thyme Leaves – fresh, for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

  2. Spread the pumpkin purée in an even layer (about 9 x 13) onto the parchment-lined sheet pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Set aside.

  3. Meanwhile, in a 12-inch sauté pan set over medium heat, add the butter. Once hot add the apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, white pepper, and salt. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  4. Transfer the apple mixture into a heat-proof bowl and add the cooked pumpkin, raisins, maple syrup, honey, and vanilla. Stir to combine.

  5. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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"Orange" You Glad It's Fall!

Marc J. Sievers

Simple & Chic Decorating Ideas for Fall

There is a slight chill in in the air, pumpkin lattes are in full swing, and the leaves are starting to change.  That can only mean one thing - its time to decorate for Fall!  This year, instead of covering every single surface I have with mountains of mini pumpkins, I chose to keep things simple, chic, understated, and best of all budget friendly.  Like many of you, when I think of Fall, I instantly think of rich colors like rust, burgundy, and deep yellow, orange.  There seems to be something about this time of year that makes me want to make my home feel very welcoming with the addition of earthy textures, the smells of musk and sandalwood, and the bright contrast of the color orange.  

As I looked around my small (but mighty!) space, I found many components that I already owned that I could re-purpose, re-merchandise, and re-arrange.  Not only did this breathe new life into my home, but it was free (hence the budget-friendly part!).  Use my photos below as a guide for inspiration, then begin your own transformation.  Click on each photo to enlarge and read a simple tip or idea to help you get started.  

Happy decorating!

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Cheers! Pumpkin Pie on the Rocks!

Marc J. Sievers

It’s cocktail time!  Every now and again I love to create what I would call a “kitschy” drink, and my Pumpkin Pie on the Rocks fits the bill perfectly.  Things like Pumpkin Cream Liqueur, whipped cream vodka, and buttershots are certainly not everyday ingredients but they really do make this cocktail one of my new favorites.  I especially love the toasted mini marshmallows on a “stick”, I mean that is just too cute!

I plan on serving this as my signature drink on Thanksgiving Day.  Regardless of how many people join in the festivities I can expand the recipe as needed and fill a large glass pitcher and leave it in the fridge.  Then when a guest wants a “cockatoonie” (that’s what my godmother calls a cocktail!) all they have to do is fill a glass with ice and pour.  The toasted marshmallow skewers can be pre-done the morning of and set to the side with cocktail napkins and with a small salt shaker filled with cinnamon for garnishing.  It’s easy as “pie”!

Pumpkin Pie on the Rocks

Ingredients (makes 1 cocktail)

  • Pumpkin Pie Cream Liqueur – ⅓ cup, Fulton’s Harvest brand recommended

  • Whipped Cream Vodka – 2 tablespoons, Pinnacle brand recommended

  • Buttershots Butterscotch Schnapps – 1 tablespoon, Dekuyper brand recommended

  • Mini Marshmallows – for garnish

  • Cinnamon – for garnish

  • Wooden Skewer


  1. Start by filling a double old fashioned glass with ice.

  2. Place the marshmallows onto the top end of the wood skewer.

  3. Using a kitchen torch or candle flame, gradually toast the marshmallows until desired color is achieved.

  4. Pour in all three liqueurs and gently mix with a spoon.

  5. Garnish with a light sprinkle of cinnamon and toasted marshmallow skewer.

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Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Marc J. Sievers

With Fall in full swing, you simply must add my Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting to the top of your scrumptious recipe list for savvy holiday baking!  I created this recipe to bring out some of my favorite autumn flavors with well-rounded simplicity.  The batter has a delicate pumpkin flavor with those distinctive autumnal spices like cloves, allspice, and cinnamon.

These little cakes of spiced goodness are not too overwhelming on your taste buds and balanced with the creamy luxuriousness of the cream cheese frosting.  They are rich with a slight hint of vanilla—classic and sure to be a party favorite.

I decorated these cupcakes with whimsical candy corn for Halloween and store-bought marzipan leaves for a more elegant feel when I make them again in November.  (Multipurpose recipes never hurt anyone!)  Best of all you probably already have the ingredients in your pantry!  Get bakin’ my little cupcakes!

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients (makes 12)


  • Flour – 1 cup, all-purpose

  • Baking Soda – ½ teaspoon

  • Baking Powder – ½ teaspoon

  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon

  • Cinnamon – ½ teaspoon

  • Ginger – ½ teaspoon,

  • Nutmeg – ½ teaspoon

  • Allspice – ½ teaspoon

  • White Pepper – ¼ teaspoon

  • Light Brown Sugar – 1 cup, packed

  • Butter – 1 stick, unsalted, melted and cooled

  • Eggs – 2, extra-large, at room temperature

  • Honey – 2 tablespoons

  • Vanilla – 1 teaspoon, pure extract

  • Pumpkin – 1 cup, canned puree, NOT pie filling


  • Butter – 1 stick, unsalted, at room temperature

  • Cream Cheese – 8 ounces, at room temperature

  • Heavy Cream – 3 tablespoons

  • Vanilla – 1 ½ teaspoons

  • Powdered Sugar – 1 ½ cups, sifted



  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners.

  2. In a medium bowl sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and white pepper. Set aside.

  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment mix the cooled butter, sugar, honey, and eggs until smooth, about 5 minutes.

  4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated.

  5. Then add the pumpkin puree. Mix until well incorporated.

  6. Divide the batter evenly into the well, filling each one about half way.

  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

  8. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.


  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment set to low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and heavy cream.

  2. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth.

  3. Frost each cupcake using a flat knife or piping bag fitted with a round tip. Garnish with candy corn, chocolate shavings, and other fall-inspired decoration.

Tip: Use a rasp to shave milk or dark chocolate directly over the cupcakes before placing them onto a serving platter!

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Baked Pumpkin Spiced Donuts with Maple Glaze

Marc J. Sievers

A few weeks ago I posted on my Facebook page that I finally caved in and bought a donut pan and that I wanted your feedback on what recipe to create for the ultimate donut.  Well, you guys were certainly creative!  I had requests ranging from simple vanilla bean all the way through tequila-lime, but the MOST requested was pumpkin.

Well, I couldn’t just create any old pumpkin donut, I wanted to create the most delicious, moist, and flavorful donut I could dream up.  Since Autumn is one of my favorite seasons, I created Baked Pumpkin Spiced Donuts with Maple Glaze!  These little rings are loaded with classic spices, canned pumpkin, and are glazed with maple syrup and vanilla bean seeds.  Get ready, cause “It’s Time to Make the Donuts”!  Happy baking!

Baked Pumpkin Spiced Donuts with Maple Glaze

Ingredients (makes 2 dozen)

Donut Batter

  • Flour – 2 cups, all-purpose

  • Baking Powder – 1 ½ teaspoons

  • Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon

  • Cinnamon – 1 teaspoon

  • Nutmeg – ¼ teaspoon

  • Ground Ginger – ¼ teaspoon

  • Cloves – ¼ teaspoon

  • Honey – 2 tablespoons

  • Light Brown Sugar – 1 ½ cups

  • Vanilla – 2 teaspoons, pure extract

  • Pumpkin Puree – 1 ½ cups, canned pumpkin, not pie filling

  • Eggs – 3, extra-large, at room temperature

  • Vegetable Oil – ½ cup

Maple Glaze

  • Maple Syrup – 8 tablespoons, pure, Grade A

  • Heavy Cream – 3 tablespoons

  • Confectioners’ Sugar – 2 cups, sifter

  • Vanilla Bean Seeds – 2 pods

  • Sea Salt – 1/4 teaspoon


Donut Batter

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment set to medium speed mix the pumpkin, honey, eggs, vanilla, sugar, and vegetable oil until completely mixed, about 5 minutes.

  3. In the meantime sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger.

  4. Reduce the mixer to low speed and gradually add the dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated.

  5. Spray the wells of a standard sized donut pan with Baker’s Joy.

  6. Using a small spoon fill each well about ¾ full of batter.

  7. Bake for 17-18 minutes, or until a lightly golden brown.

  8. Line a sheet pan with plastic wrap or a piece of parchment paperand place a wire cooling rack on top.

  9. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the donuts from the pan and place on the wire rack to cool for 5 minutes.

  10. Wipe out the donut pan, spray with Baker’s Joy and repeat the process until all the batter has been used.

  11. While the donuts are slightly warm, drizzle the tops of each one with maple glaze. Allow the donuts and glaze to cool completely before serving.

These are best served the same day.

Maple Glaze

  1. Place the confectioners’ sugar, seeds of both vanilla beans, heavy cream, salt, and maple syrup in a small bowl.

  2. Stir until completely mixed and smooth.

Idea: Lining your sheet pan with plastic wrap or parchment paper with make cleaning up the excess glaze that dripped off the donuts a cinch!

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