Friday, October 24, 2014

a few snapshots from this past week . . .

^my dad snapped these pictures of us when we were with my parents on saturday.  i just love how they turned out!  what makes these pictures extra special is that we were at the location where we got married over four years ago.^
^after we visited the alpaca farm on saturday, we came across heckman orchards on our drive home, so we decided to stop to see what they had to offer.  they had rows and rows of bins filled with pumpkins and every type of squash imaginable.  seriously, so much squash!  we bought two types of squash, the largest head of cauliflower that i have ever seen in my life, and a basket of ginormous apples.^
^we absolutely love owning a home that is three quarters of a century old.  old homes have such history and character.  they sure require a lot of love and work, but it is so worth it.  it seems like we always have a home-improvement project going on around our house.  lately, we have been working on restoring our windows (which are original to our house).  it has been a lot of work, and a lot of trips up and down the ladder, but it has been so rewarding to see the transformation.  we only have a few left to go!^

hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!
love, laurie

Thursday, October 23, 2014

vegan curried carrot and apple soup

the weather has been super cold this past week.  it has been so dreary and overcast, and it's been raining constantly.  i feel like i haven't seen the sun in days.  it's down right depressing.  cold weather like this makes me want to curl up in my pajamas.  it's definitely soup weather.

i made a batch of this vegan curried carrot and apple soup recently and we absolutely loved it.  it is loaded with onions, celery, carrots, and apples.  never thought of putting apples in your soup before?  me either . . . but let me tell you, it's a game changer.

the flavors of the veggies and the apples are a great combination.  the curry powder gives this soup a warm spice.  if you're not a fan of spicy foods, you could put less curry powder in, or your could leave it out entirely.

this soup not only tastes great, but it is also super healthy for you and very low in calories!

vegan curried carrot and apple soup
prep time: 10 minutes
cooking time: 30-40 minutes
yields: 4 servings
adapted from kitchen daily

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
2 large apples, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 bay leaf
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste

heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  saute the onion and the celery until softened and the onion is translucent.  (be careful that it does not brown.)  stir in the carrots, apples, and curry powder.  cook for 2 minutes.  add the bay leaf and vegetable broth.  bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.  cover and let simmer until the carrots and apples are tender (about 20 minutes).  remove the bay leaf.  transfer the mixture to a blender and blend until completely smooth.  pour the pureed soup back into the soup pot.  reheat and season with salt and pepper to taste.  serve warm.

love, laurie

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

a trip to the alpaca farm!

when we were with my parents on saturday, we visited pohopoco creek alpaca farm.  we just saw two alpacas a few weeks ago when we were at ritter's cider mill and we thought they were so cute, so we were excited when we heard that pohopoco creek alpaca farm was having an open house (or should i say "open farm") on saturday.

it was really neat to get to see so many alpacas up close.  while we were at the alpaca farm, we learned a lot about alpacas.  i never knew that alpacas come in 22 different colors, and they can produce 5-10 pounds of fleece per year when sheared.  their fleece is as soft as cashmere and it is warmer, lighter, and stronger than wool.

the alpacas were so friendly.  they make a cute little humming noise to communicate with each other.  they came right up to us and let us pet them.  my mom definitely wanted to take one home with her!

love, laurie

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

peanut butter pancakes

i absolutely love peanut butter.  it's one of my weaknesses.  i share my love of peanut butter with my dad who can eat peanut butter by the spoonful right out of the jar.  like father, like daughter.  i'm proud to have inherited his peanut-butter loving gene.

as much as i love peanut butter, i never really thought of putting peanut butter on pancakes.  i learned that trick from ryan when i met him.  that husband of mine loves to spread peanut butter on top of pancakes.  if we can put peanut butter on top of pancakes, why not put it inside?!

peanut butter pancakes are genius.  the peanut butter gives the pancakes a great flavor.  they remind me a bit of peanut butter cookies (but not as sweet).  the addition of the peanut butter to the pancake batter makes the pancakes extra thick.  they sure are a treat!

we topped our pancakes with a few honey-roasted peanuts and warm maple syrup.  i bet they would be great topped with banana slices and/or chocolate chips too!

peanut butter pancakes
prep time: 5 minutes
cooking time: 5 minutes
yields: 2 servings
adapted from joy the baker

2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
1 tablespoon salted butter
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

in a microwave safe bowl, melt the peanut butter and the butter.  whisk until smooth.  whisk in the buttermilk, egg, and vanilla.  add the dry ingredients and whisk until combined.  heat a lightly buttered griddle or frying pan on medium heat.  pour 3 tablespoons of batter onto the griddle for medium pancakes.  cook for 3 minutes, until small bubbles begin to form.  flip the pancakes when they start to bubble, then cook for 2-3 minutes, until they are golden brown and cooked throughout.  once cooked, transfer the pancakes to a baking sheet and place in a preheated 200 degree F oven to keep warm while you cook the remaining pancake batter.  serve warm with warm maple syrup.

love, laurie

Monday, October 20, 2014

happy anniversary, mom and dad!

on saturday, my parents celebrated their 34th wedding anniversary!

we got to spend the entire day with my parents on saturday.  in the morning, we got together to attend the funeral of a family member who passed away last week.  after the funeral, we went out to lunch to celebrate my parents' anniversary.  we spent the afternoon doing some fun fall activities and finished the evening by cooking dinner together at my parents' house and sharing some delicious desserts that we picked up at a cafe on the way home.

i snapped this picture of my parents after lunch on saturday and i think it is now one of my new favorite pictures of them.  i am so very blessed to have two parents who are such wonderful role models, and who love me so much.  there is nothing better in this world than the love of family.

happy anniversary, mom and dad!  i love you both so very much!

love, laurie

Friday, October 17, 2014

fall flowers

there is a hydrangea tree in our yard outside our kitchen window that produces the most beautiful white flowers every august.  we always look forward to seeing it bloom at the end of the summer each year.  the weather was so wacky this year that our hydrangea tree bloomed a month late.  the flowers bloomed white as they usually do, however, over the past few weeks they have started to turn a pale pink/purple color.

the other day we were out in the yard doing some work and i just had to stop to admire how pretty the flowers looked on the hydrangea tree with the late afternoon sun hitting them.  it's so nice to see such pretty flowers in our yard . . . especially in mid-october!

have a wonderful weekend!
love, laurie

Thursday, October 16, 2014

baked apple chips

we always seem to have an abundance of apples around our house during this time of year.  i'm certainly not complaining.  we love apples and we eat them in and on just about everything.

over the weekend we used a couple of our apples to make baked apple chips.  these baked apple chips are ridiculously easy to make.  all you have to do is just slice up the apples, sprinkle spices on them, and throw them in the oven.  it's hardly a recipe!

the hardest part is waiting for them to bake.  they take 2 hours to dry out in the oven, but it is worth it because once they are done they are wonderfully sweet and crisp.  they make a great healthy snack!  you can use any type of apples that you like (our favorite types of apples are honey crisp and mcintosh).

a nice added bonus is that your house will smell amazing while these apple chips are baking.  you just can't beat the smell of fresh apples baking with fall spices during this time of the year.

baked apple chips
prep time: 5 minutes
baking time: 2 hours

2 large apples
2-3 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice

preheat your oven to 225 degrees F.  core the apples to remove the seeds.  using a mandolin, slice the apples 1/8 inch thick.  arrange the apple slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (be sure that the slices do not overlap).  dust the apple slices with pumpkin pie spice.  bake for 2 hours, flipping the apple slices every 30 minutes.  once crisp, remove the apples from the oven and allow them to cool before serving.

love, laurie

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

touring grey towers

over the weekend, we took a trip to the town of milford to tour grey towers.  i have been to grey towers several times when i was younger, but it has been years since i was there last.  ryan has been wanting to see it, so we took trip up there with my mom on saturday.

grey towers was the home of gifford pinchot who was america's first forester, founder of the usda forest service, and served as governor of pennsylvania.  it was built in 1886 by gifford's parents as a summer retreat.  the 20,000 square foot L-shaped mansion has 3 floors, 19 bedrooms, and 23 fireplaces.  it cost $44,000 to build in the mid 1880s, and it sits on just over 100 acres of land.  the estate is now a national historic site.

we toured the mansion and the grounds.  everything was beautifully decorated for fall.  even though it was a cool overcast fall day, we had a nice time visiting grey towers.

^the widest front door i have ever seen^

^looking out a window to the yard below.  such a beautiful view!^

^the pinchot family had an outdoor dining table that was filled with water which they referred to as the finger bowl.  there was a rule that no one was allowed to pass food to each other side-to-side.  instead, they floated the food in wooden bowls across the water to each other.  during one meal, a twenty-five pound turkey sunk to the bottom because it was too heavy for the bowl it was in . . . the water is five feet deep!^

love, laurie

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

roasted acorn squash seeds

yesterday i shared my recipe for vegan creamy acorn squash soup.  when cooking with acorn squash, there's no need to throw away the seeds.  you can roast them just like pumpkin seeds!

acorn squash seeds look just like small pumpkin seeds, and when roasted they are just as good if not better.  we roasted our acorn squash seeds with a little bit of olive oil and seasoned them with salt and pepper.  they make a great fall snack!

roasted acorn squash seeds
prep time: 5 minutes
baking time: 10 minutes

seeds from one large acorn squash
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  remove the seeds from an acorn squash.  rinse then pat dry with a paper towel.  place the seeds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  lightly drizzle olive oil over the top and season with salt and pepper.  toss with your hands and evenly spread the seeds out on the baking sheet.  bake for 10 minutes, until dried out and golden brown.  allow to cool before serving.

love, laurie

Monday, October 13, 2014

vegan creamy roasted acorn squash soup

it was a bit chilly this weekend.  to combat the damp cold weather, i made a big pot of soup.

soup is such a great comfort food when the weather is cold outside.  it's like a liquid blanket that warms you from the inside out.

we bought a lovely looking acorn squash at a farm stand recently, so i was excited to put it to good use in a pot of soup!

i roasted the acorn squash with pumpkin pie spices and then pureed it with sauteed onions, garlic, vegetable broth, and coconut milk.

the acorn squash is sweet and delicious, and the pumpkin pie spices give it great fall flavor.  the coconut milk makes this soup so wonderfully creamy, you would never know there isn't any dairy in there.

this soup is so very easy to make.  you just need a little bit of patience while the acorn squash is roasting in the oven.  (which, by the way, will make your whole house smell absolutely amazing!)

this soup is packed with great flavor and it is super nutritious too!  it's healthy comfort food at it's finest.

vegan creamy roasted acorn squash soup
prep time: 10 minutes
baking time: 45 minutes
cooking time: 20 minutes
yields: 6 servings
adapted from oh my veggies

1 large acorn squash
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  chop the tip and the tail off the acorn squash, then cut it in half length-wise.  scoop out the seeds (you can discard them or you can save them and roast them like pumpkin seeds).  drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the squash and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice and salt.  place both squash halves (cut side up) on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.  roast the squash for 45-50 minutes, or until the flesh is very soft.  once baked, use a spoon to remove the squash flesh from the skin.  discard the skin.

heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  saute the chopped onion until translucent.  add the garlic and saute for an additional 2 minutes.  add in the coconut milk and the vegetable broth.  add the mixture to a blender along with the roasted squash.  blend until completely smooth.  return pureed soup to the soup pot and warm over low heat.  season with salt and pepper to taste.  serve warm.

love, laurie