Thursday, October 27, 2011

Favorite Things

I am going to share a few of my favorite things today.....but first I need to tell you why I chose this topic.

My day started with a bang!!!  Brandon came in this morning at 4:30 am, wanting to get up. I told him he had to go back to bed it was still night time.  He left my room yelling that he wasn't tired.  Oh boy, it's starting already.  Then at 5:30 am he came in again, I told him "Back to bed!!!".  Honestly at that point I wondered why it was so light for 5:30.  Well, at 7:00 am, Adam came in asking to go down stairs, I said sure, I was getting up anyway.  I stroll downstairs, make my coffee, give the kids their breakfast, and gave them their Halloween cards to open from their grandparents.  I am enjoying my freshly brewed Dunkin Donuts French Vanilla (from my Keurig), when my lovely husband comes out of the bathroom and states, "Do you know it's 8:00 am."   WHAT?!?!?!!?

I leave the house everyday at precisely 8:07 am to walk Adam to school.  I jumped out of my chair, told Adam he had to go upstairs and get dressed, and like a lunatic run into the kitchen to make his lunch.  I am yelling up to Adam what clothes to put on while slapping a PB&J together, pouring milk into his thermos, and figuring out a healthy snack for him.  I am also barking out to Jay, that he needs to take Adam to school today. There is no way I can get Adam, Brandon and myself ready in the next 5 1/2 minutes.  Adam emerges from his room, in a somewhat matching outfit, packed his backpack, and I send him on his way to school with Jay.  OH SHOOT!!!!! Adam has a walking field trip to the library today, it's raining, and I forgot to give him his umbrella.

In my frenzy, I managed to ask my husband, if he thought it was odd, I wasn't downstairs getting ready before 8:00 am??? He responded, "I thought you were sleeping in."  Really??? On a school day??

Now I have a few minutes to breathe and gather my thoughts before I have to take Brandon to preschool.  I run up to the shower, get Brandon dressed, and manage to finish my coffee. 

So what happened, why was I so late??  Well, I have an alarm clock that automatically resets itself if the power goes out.  A few years ago, when the powers at be changed daylight savings time, my alarm clock didn't.  It was still on the old schedule.  Last night, my alarm clock, fell back (on the old schedule).  So when Brandon came in at 4:30 am, it was really 5:30 am, and at 5:30 it was really 6:30, our normal wake up time.

I have been suffering from a nasty head cold and I welcomed the extra sleep, but not the chaos.  All is well as of this moment.  I took Brandon to school, swung by Adam's school and dropped off his umbrella, and ran a few errands.  I was supposed to get my haircut today, but I will leave that for another day.   Oh did I mention, yesterday I locked myself and Brandon out of the house! I know I am not alone, my neighbor had a similar few days a couple of weeks ago. Read about her frenzy on her fabulous blog here: Project Anthologies.

So with all of the ups and downs today, I decided to think of things that make me happy. I will share a few of my favorite things.

I love my new Vera Bradley grand traveler bag in Rhythm and Blues.

WEN cleansing conditioner in pumpkin ginger and pomegranate. I love this one so much I have the gallon size of pomegranate, offered every May from QVC.

Philosophy shower gels.  I have a ton of these, but right now I am hooked on candy cane.

Finally, I love my Keurig and it's variety of K-Cups.

Happy Thursday, I'll be back soon :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Baked Apples

I am so homesick right now.  When I feel this way, I try to find comfort in old memories.  The weather has taken on a chill, and when I was little my mom always made baked apples in the fall.  The house would smell of cinnamon and brown sugar, and it was difficult to wait the hour for them to be done.  However, when they finally emerged from the oven it was worth it.

This is very simple and can be done in the microwave, but I chose to make them just like mom.  Of course you can doll them up with nuts or poach them in cider or little liqueur.  I kept it simple, just apples, cinnamon, brown sugar and butter.  I put them in the oven right after dinner, and an hour later the apples were perfect.  My mouth was watering, and I was back in my mom's kitchen. 

What memories do you have that you find comfort in???

The measurements here are approximate, it all depends on the size of your apple.

  1. Core your apple.  Firmer apples work better. Place in an oven safe dish.
  2. Fill the cavity with brown sugar, about 1 to 2 tablespoons.
  3. Sprinkle with cinnamon, about 1/4 teaspoon.
  4. Dot with a pat of butter.
  5. Bake in a 350 degree for approximately 1 hour.
The apples are done when a knife inserts easily.  Allow to cool, and spoon syrup in the bottom of dish over apples.  Enjoy.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bake Sale Sugar Cookies

It's fall.  Schools and churches are having bake sales.  This cookie is a perfect addition to any bake sale table.  The cookie takes longer to bake then it does to prepare.  This sugar cookie is simple in flavor and just as easy to make. 

You can make two dozen average size cookies or one dozen "giant" cookies.  The giant cookies are the size you will find in a bakery, fetching a price of $1.50 each and up.


1/2 c. butter, room temperature
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. powder sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
granulated sugar for sprinkling

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars.  Add oil, egg, and vanilla; mix well.  Slowly add flour, salt, and baking soda.  Put the bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Scoop cookies onto a well sprayed cookie sheet.  Flatten the dough with palm to 1/4 inch thickness and sprinkle with a little granulated sugar.  Bake standard cookies (using average cookie scoop) for 10 to 13 minutes; bake "giant" cookies (using an ice cream scoop) for 18 to 20 minutes.  Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 5 to 7 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.  Store in an airtight container.

giant palm size cookies

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Apple Butter

What can you make with all those apples you picked???  Apple butter always comes to mind.  I haven't made this in a long time. I think it has been about six years since I tackled apple butter.  Honestly I don't know why because the slow cooker does all the work.

Apple butter does take time, so plan ahead.  It doesn't require a lot of work, just time to breakdown and reduce.  I started mine in the evening and by the next morning it was done.  Now if you don't feel comfortable about leaving a slow cooker go all night, then start it in the early morning, and it will be done by evening.  You need about 12 to 14 hours for the butter to be complete.

I also decided to can my apple butter, which will be holiday gifts this season.  Now you don't have to can it, just simply store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and it will last several weeks.


4 to5 lbs of apples; peeled, cored and diced
2 3/4 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 tbsp. cinnamon

Place the apples in a slow cooker.  Mix together sugar and spices and sprinkle over apples.  Start the slow cooker on high for three hours.  Stir the apples once an hour.  After three hours, turn the cooker down to low for 10 hours.  Stir every few hours.  Once the apples start to break down, whisk the mixture to break down lumps; do this every few hours.  The apple butter will thicken and become smooth.  For the last hour remove the lid to the cooker, and allow the mositure to evaporate, stirring with the whisk.

At this point you can store in a container in your refrigerator.  I chose to process in a water canner for 15 minutes.  My apples broke down a lot and I got 6 half pint jars.

Enjoy your apple butter on toast or a topping on pancakes.  Heat it up and pour it over ice cream or pound cake for a quick dessert.  You can also mix 1/2 c. apple butter with 8 oz cream cheese, for a dessert dip with fruit or pretzels.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Apple Picking

Yesterday I took the kids apple picking.  This was a first for Brandon and myself.  Adam went last year on a school field trip and was a pro.  We pulled up to the orchard right at 9 am, the first cutomers of the day.  The farmer gave us our bags, explained what varieties he had, and sent us on our way.

After a short 20 minutes, the boys had picked 21 pounds of apples.  I was impressed and a bit tired, seeing I was the one carrying the apples.  So we took it back to the stand, paid our $14.00 (good deal for all those apples), and headed for home.

Now I have a delicious mix of honey crisps, Fuji, Macintosh, Jonathan gold, and red delicious.  I have so many recipes floating around for apples.  On today's agenda, just a simple apple pie, my mom's apple pie to be exact.  I posted this recipe last November, but here it is again.  It's simple, delicious, and a crowd pleaser.

Mom's Apple Pie

Monday, October 10, 2011

Light and Fluffy Restaurant Pancakes

We enjoy pancakes in our home, especially on a day we don't have to rush out for school.  I sometimes cheat and use a baking mix to prepare them.  I also have a low sugar whole wheat version, but sometimes I just crave the  kind you get at a diner.  I fiddled a bit with a recipe and came up with this version of a light and fluffy pancake.

The recipe is simple, but has just one little trick.  I cook one at a time over a low heat and use a spatula to thin out the batter.  This allows the inside of the pancake to cook through without the outside getting too over done.  Make this one for your family and enjoy!!!


3/4 c. milk
2 tbsp. white vinegar
1 c. flour
2 tbsp. white sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
2 tbsp. butter, melted
cooking spray

Mix all the ingredients with a whisk until smooth.  Preheat a griddle over a low heat; spray pan with cooking spray.  Pour about 1/3 c. batter in the middle of pan.  Using a rubber spatula, spread the batter out gently to thin the pancake.  Cook about 2 minutes on each side.  Yields 4 to 6 large pancakes.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

October Cookie Corner (Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Raisin)

I promised an oatmeal cookie for fall.  Here it is.  It's my grandmother's recipe, so I didn't substitute a thing.  Well except for the chocolate chips ;)  My grandmother used walnuts in her recipe, I substituted those for chocolate, can't go wrong, right?

This cookie has a soft texture, not thin and crispy.  If you prefer your oatmeal cookie to be flat and crisp, do not make this one.  I used golden raisins as well, but you can use regular raisins or even cran-raisins. This also yields about 4 dozen.  I baked half of the batch, and then scooped and froze the rest.  Now I can have cookies in a pinch.  Just add a few more minutes when baking from frozen.


2/3 c. shortening
2 1/2 c. flour
2 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. milk
2 c. oats
1 c. raisins
1 c. chocolate chips or 1/2 c. chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine all ingredients with a mixer.  Drop by teaspoon or standard cookie scoop onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Slightly flatten tops (these don't really spread).  Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown.  Allow to cool on sheet for one minute then transfer to wire rack.

This cookie is also delicious without the raisins, as a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie.  That's how my boys prefer it :)