Monday, September 22, 2014

hair cut

it's been six months since the last time i got my hair cut, and it was looking pretty sad and neglected.  summer sun, chlorine, and salt water really do a number on my hair.  so, on friday i got my hair cut!  since i have a tendency to only get my hair cut about twice per year, i opted to get it a little bit shorter this time.  (you can see how long it got in this post.)  it's a nice change.  it feels so light and healthy!  tomorrow is the first official day of fall, so getting my hair cut was a nice way to say goodbye to summer and to welcome autumn.

happy monday!
love, laurie

Friday, September 19, 2014

three years old!

we sure love our sweet kitten.  this month leko turns three years old!  it's really hard to believe that he is three already.  i love looking back at old pictures of our little furry baby.  he sure has grown so much since we first brought him home.  we are so grateful to have him in our lives.  he keeps us entertained, and he is such a lover.  we will definitely be celebrating his birthday with lots and lots of tuna fish!

have a great weekend!
love, laurie

ps: when leko turned one and when leko turned two

Thursday, September 18, 2014

a little date

after work on friday night, we had dinner at stroudsmoor.  ryan's parents had given us a gift certificate last year for our anniversary, but we were so busy this past year that we never had a chance to use it.  ryan found out that there was an italian/seafood buffet on friday, so we thought it would be a great chance to use our gift certificate.

as always, there were so many wonderful things to eat there.  we totally stuffed ourselves full of great food, and then found out that there was pumpkin cheesecake for dessert!  luckily we were able to take the pumpkin cheesecake home in a doggy bag to enjoy the next day.

i didn't bring my camera with me, but ryan managed to grab a few photos on his phone while we were there.  it was so special to have dinner together at the same place where we were married four years ago.  (the last time we were there was two years ago for our anniversary.)  we had a great time and it was such a nice little date!

love, laurie

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

baked pumpkin doughnuts with brown butter and apple cider glaze topped with pecans

the seasons have officially transitioned from summer to fall here in our neck of the woods.  however, the temperatures have been so cool lately that it has felt way too cold to be autumn.  where is my nice fall weather hiding?

as we transition seasons we transition our food too.  we're setting aside the strawberries and peaches of summer and picking up autumn apples and pumpkins.

to welcome fall, we made a batch of baked pumpkin doughnuts this weekend.  i just love baked doughnuts.  they are so easy to make (maybe a little too easy) and they don't have all of the heaviness and grease of fried doughnuts.

these doughnuts are wonderfully cakey.  the spices really stand out and complement the pumpkin so well.  after we baked the doughnuts we dunked them in a brown butter and apple cider glaze.  before the glaze set, we topped the doughnuts off with toasted pecans.  wow!

we shared them with my parents after we went apple picking and to roba's farm on sunday.  they were a great fall treat!

ps: if you're looking for another great fall doughnut recipe, try our baked apple cider doughnuts too!

baked pumpkin doughnuts with brown butter and apple cider glaze topped with pecans
prep time: 15 minutes
baking time: 13 minutes
yields: 12 doughnuts
adapted from shutterbean

doughnut ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

topping ingredients:
2 tablespoons salted butter, browned
1 cup powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons apple cider
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped

preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.  sift the flour, baking powder, spices, and salt together into a large bowl.  in the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the pumpkin, sugar, egg, oil, and vanilla.  gradually add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk until combined.  spoon the batter into a piping bag and cut off the tip of the bag.  squeeze the batter into the molds of a greased doughnut pan.  fill about 1/2 way full.  bake for 13 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the doughnuts comes out clean.  once baked, allow the doughnuts to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then carefully remove them from the pan and allow them to cool completely on a wire cooling rack.

to make the glaze: melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat until browned.  pour the browned butter into a bowl with powdered sugar, apple cider, and vanilla.  stir until it reaches a smooth glaze consistency.  dip the cooled doughnuts into the glaze.  place the doughnuts on a wire rack with either aluminum foil or waxed paper under the rack in order to catch the dripping glaze.  top with chopped pecans.

love, laurie

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

roba family farms

after we went apple picking on sunday, we made our annual trip to roba family farms.  it's one of our favorite traditions to go every year.  we love walking around the farm, seeing the animals, getting lost in their cornfield maze, and picking out pumpkins.  it was a great fall day at the farm.

love,  laurie

. . .

previous trips to roba family farms: 2012 and 2013

Monday, September 15, 2014

apple picking

yesterday we kicked off the fall season by going apple picking at a local apple orchard with my parents.  it was a bit cool outside, but the sun was shining and the sky was clear.  it was beautiful fall weather.

we had so much fun walking up and down the rows of apple trees picking all different varieties of apples.  we came home with a ton of apples, and we can't wait to make so many delicious recipes with them!

love, laurie

. . .

previous apple picking adventures: 2012 and 2013

Friday, September 12, 2014

apple and pumpkin recipes for fall

fall  is such a wonderful season.  there are so many great colors and smells, and there is just something extra special about crisp fall air.  of course, along with fall comes a ton of great food too!  we absolutely love apple and pumpkin recipes in the fall.  if you're looking for some inspiration in the kitchen this season, here are some of our favorite apple and pumpkin recipes that we have made over the last few years.

apple recipes:
apple pancake rings
german apple puffed pancake
apple cake
classic apple pie
deep dish apple pie with streusel topping

apple cider recipes:
apple cider doughnut pancakes
baked apple cider doughnuts

pumpkin recipes:
baked and bruleed pumpkin spice oatmeal
pumpkin spice pancakes
pumpkin spice waffles
pumpkin spice biscotti
pumpkin spice cookies with cinnamon glaze
pumpkin snickerdoodle cookies
pumpkin spice bundt cake with cinnamon glaze
pumpkin spice cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
pumpkin pie
pumpkin frozen yogurt

ps: here's how to make your own pumpkin pie spice.  and of course, fall just wouldn't be complete without roasted pumpkin seeds too!

love, laurie

Thursday, September 11, 2014

patriot day

we had the opportunity to visit ground zero last september, just days after the 12th anniversary of 9/11.  it was such a moving experience.  the waterfalls and reflecting pools that sit within the footprints of where the twin towers once stood are such a lovely tribute to the victims, and the new freedom tower that stands tall above the memorial is quite a site to behold.  our thoughts and prayers go out to anyone who lost a loved one on this day 13 years ago.

love, laurie

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

water baby

leko has a bunch of funny habits, but one of the funniest has to be his love of water.  most cats hate water, but not leko.  he jumps into the bath tub several times each day and looks at the faucet until we turn on the water for him.  we let just a trickle of water run, and he loves to put his whole body under the stream of water to take a bath and drink it.  he ends up getting soaking wet, and he seems to absolutely love it.  it's a daily occurrence at our house, and we get such a kick out of watching leko play in the water.  it never gets old.  i swear, our kitten must be part fish!

love, laurie

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

cherry almond coconut chocolate ginger granola

i know that title is a mouthful, but wait until you get a mouthful of this granola!

i am totally obsessed with granola.  i love to eat it plain as a snack, mixed in with yogurt, on top of ice cream . . .  really, any way i can.  most types of store-bought granola aren't too bad (i love trader joe's granola) but nothing beats homemade granola.  i have made many different types of homemade granola (hello, peanut butter granola!) but by far this recipe has got to be my favorite so far.

i've made this recipe twice, and it is so incredibly good.  the combination of flavors in this granola is out of this world.  

it is chock full of so many delicious ingredients: old-fashioned oats, dried cherries, sliced almonds, coconut flakes, 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips, crystallized ginger, and cinnamon.  all of those yummy dry ingredients are held together with honey, almond butter, and coconut oil.

this granola is down right dangerous to have around the house.  i just can't get enough of it.  every time i walk by the refrigerator, i grab a handful.  needless to say, a batch of this granola doesn't last very long in our house!

if you are a granola fan, you have to try this recipe.  you are going to love it!

cherry almond coconut chocolate ginger granola
prep time: 5 minutes
cooking time: 5 minutes
yields: approximately 5 cups of granola
adapted from the year in food

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup dried cherries, chopped
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup toasted coconut flakes
1/4 cup 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons almond butter
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

in a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, chopped cherries, sliced almonds, coconut flakes, chocolate chips, and chopped crystallized ginger.  set aside.

in a medium sauce pot over medium-low heat, combine the honey, almond butter, coconut oil, sea salt, and cinnamon.  stir constantly until the mixture is hot and all of the ingredients have evenly combined.  remove from the heat and let cool for several minutes.

pour the sauce into the dry mixture.  stir thoroughly until all of the dry ingredients are evenly coated.  press the granola into an even layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  refrigerate for 1-2 hours.  break apart into large pieces.  store in the refrigerator.

love, laurie