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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

pizza and a whistling contest

dear ryan,

last night, you used our creme brulee blowtorch to brown the mozzarella on our pizza.  when i saw this, i knew i married the right man.  then, you indulged me in a whistling contest in our living room.  you won fair and square.  admittedly, your whistling skills are much better than mine.  i love the fact that you could not stop laughing at my whistled rendition of "eye of the tiger."  if our neighbors ever peered in our windows, they would think that we were crazy for sure.  but that's okay, because i pretty much think you are the coolest ever.

love, laurie

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

pumpkin pie

i can't imagine thanksgiving without pumpkin pie.  it's one of those classic desserts that has become synonymous with autumn, and it's something that i look forward to every year.  this year, for thanksgiving, ryan and i made two pumpkin pies (because really, one is never enough).  we love decorating our pumpkin pies with fall-themed cut outs from the extra dough.  the pies turned out great and were a huge success at our thanksgiving dinner.

 {rolling out the dough}

 {perfect pie crust!}

 {filling the pie crusts}

 {ready to go into the oven}

 {cooling down after baking}

{decorated and ready to enjoy!}

 . . .

pumpkin pie
pie filling adapted from libby’s
prep time: 15-20 minutes (plus one hour for chilling the dough)
baking time: 55-60 minutes
yields: 2 single-crust pies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) salted butter (cold)
approximately 4-6 tablespoons of cold water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 large eggs
30 oz. libby’s 100% pure pumpkin puree
24 oz. evaporated milk

preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.  for the crust: place the flour and sugar into the bowl of a food processor.  cut the cold butter into cubes (approximately one inch) and add to the food processor.  pulse the food processor to mix the butter into the flour.  run the food processor, and slowly pour cold water into the mixture.  the mixture will form into a dough ball.  stop the food processor and divide the dough in half.  wrap each half in plastic wrap.  let the dough chill in the refrigerator for about one hour.  after one hour, roll out each half to fit a 9-inch pie plate.  place the dough into the two pie plates.  set aside.  

for the filling: in a stand mixer, combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, and spices.  stir in eggs, pumpkin, and evaporated milk.  pour the mixture into the two pie shells.  bake the pies at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake for 40 minutes, or into a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  cool the pies for at least one hour.  optional: serve with fresh whipped cream.

love, laurie 

Monday, November 28, 2011


on saturday, we celebrated "thanks-christmas" with ryan's family.  since ryan's brother and sister-in-law live in north carolina, they travel to pennsylvania each year for either thanksgiving or christmas.  this year it was their turn to spend thanksgiving in pennsylvania, and since they will not be here for christmas, we celebrated christmas a little bit early with them this weekend.  here are a few pictures from our "thanks-christmas" celebration on saturday.

i hope everyone had a wonderful thanksgiving weekend!
happy monday!

Friday, November 25, 2011

giving thanks

we had a wonderful thanksgiving at our house this year, and we had all of our family over for dinner!  we cooked all day and had a ton of fun.  we enjoyed spending time with our family, and it was especially nice to see ryan's brother and sister-in-law, jeremy and stephanie.  they live in north carolina and we only get to see them once or twice per year if we're lucky.

this weekend, we are looking forward to cleaning up from thanksgiving and spending some more time with jeremy and stephanie while they are here visiting in pennsylvania.

i hope everyone had a lovely thanksgiving!
(and, happy black friday)

{we made a turkey for each place setting following this tutorial}

 {each turkey held a place card}

 {thanksgiving clothes pin banner that we made for our dining room}

  {turkey ready to be cooked}


  {our family}

 {our little table just for two}

Thursday, November 24, 2011

happy thanksgiving!

i hope everyone has an absolutely wonderful thanksgiving today!
i'm looking forward to spending time with my family
and, most likely eating way too much!

happy thanksgiving!
love, laurie

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

happy pre-turkey day!

{dethawing our 22 pound turkey}

we will be hosting thanksgiving dinner at our house this year!  
so, tonight ryan and i will be busy preparing for tomorrow's dinner.

every year i look forward to traditional thanksgiving foods.  
i love my mom's tried-and-true thanksgiving recipes, 
and i can't wait to smell all of those wonderful aromas 
in our kitchen over the next two days.  

what's on your thanksgiving dinner menu this year?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

everything cookies

whenever one of my co-workers has a birthday, i love to bake something special and bring it into work to celebrate.  it gives everyone a good excuse to stand up from their desks and convene around the coffee pot for a few moments to enjoy something sweet and to say "happy birthday."

for my co-worker's birthday this week, i decided to bake cookies (because ryan reminded me that i have been baking a ton of cupcakes lately for different occasions).  i call these "everything cookies" because they have oats, pecans, raisins, and chocolate chips in them.  these cookies are so forgiving, because you can add anything to them that you want.  they turned out great and were a huge hit at work.  

everything cookies
adapted from smitten kitchen
prep time: 10-15 minutes
baking time: 10-12 minutes
yields: 3 dozen cookies

8 tablespoons room temperature butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 room temperature eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup raisins
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest

preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.  using an electric mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy.  add both sugars and vanilla, and beat until well mixed, about three minutes.  beat in the eggs, one at a time.  sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and all spice in a separate bowl.  add half of the flour mixture to the butter with the mixer on low speed.  once the flour has been incorporated, add the rest.  stir in the oats, pecans, raisins, chocolate chips, and lime zest.  scoop the cookie dough, by the tablespoon, onto the cookie sheet.  bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden.

love, laurie 

Monday, November 21, 2011

mansour's market

until recently, we had never been to mansour's market . . . and we didn't know what we were missing!  this has to be one of the cutest places to have breakfast in our area.  this corner cafe is up in the hill section of scranton, and it is simply charming.  they have great food, and the ambiance is so quaint (i'm slightly in love with their tin ceilings too).

you have to love a place that has an atmosphere like this.  we can't wait to go back!

{omelet with locally made sausage and cooper cheese}

{granana: banana covered in peanut butter, rolled in granola,
and drizzled with honey}

Friday, November 18, 2011

cream of asparagus soup

asparagus is one of my favorite veggies, and i love when i can find fresh asparagus on sale at the grocery store.  since it has been cold lately, i thought that cream of asparagus soup would be a perfect way to use the asparagus and onion sitting in our refrigerator.  the recipe i used was an adaptation of my mom's cream of broccoli soup recipe, and it turned out absolutely delicious!

{sauteing the chopped onions in butter}

{pureeing the cooked asparagus, onions, and chicken broth in the blender}

{adding cream to the soup}

{thickening the soup with flour}

{fresh ground pepper and nutmeg for a bit of added flavor}

{bon appetite!}

. . .

cream of asparagus soup
prep time: 10 minutes
cooking time: 20-25 minutes
yields: 4 servings

1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus, chopped
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 onion, chopped
3/4 cup half and half
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
ground black pepper to taste

in a stock pot, bring broth to a boil.  add asparagus and simmer for approximately 10 minutes, until asparagus is tender.  in a separate pan, sauté onions in butter, until onions are tender.  add onions to the broth and simmer.  pour the soup into a blender, and puree until smooth.  pour the soup back into the stock pot.  add cream and stir.  in a small bowl, whisk together flour and water.  slowly add the flour mixture to the soup and stir until thick.  season with nutmeg and pepper.

love, laurie

Thursday, November 17, 2011

dear cupcake, you know how to put a smile on my face!

one of my all-time favorite cupcake recipes would have to be chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting, topped with coconut.  there is just something about the combination of chocolate and coconut that can't be beat.  ever since we bought a bag of coconut at the grocery store for my dad's german chocolate birthday cake, i have been eyeing up the coconut to put on top of cupcakes.

the other day, while ryan was ever so nice to go out and clean the garage, i whipped up a batch of these cupcakes.  i thought it would be nice to surprise him with a cupcake when he came back in (and, it sounded like a really good excuse to bake).  i'd say that's a win-win situation: a clean garage and fresh cupcakes!

chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting topped with coconut
prep time: 10-15 minutes
baking time: 30-35 minutes
yields: 24 cupcakes

cupcake ingredients:
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup hot coffee

frosting ingredients:
1/2 cup salted butter (softened)
2-3 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  line 24 muffin cups with paper muffin liners.  beat all cupcake ingredients (except the coffee) together with an electric mixer.  stir in the hot coffee.  the batter will be very thin.  pour the batter into the prepared muffin cups.  bake the cupcakes in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  cool the cupcakes for at least 10 minutes on a wire rack.

to make the vanilla buttercream frosting: beat the butter with an electric mixer until smooth.  beat in the powdered sugar and milk gradually, until incorporated.  add the vanilla extract, and beat until fluffy.  frost the cupcakes and top with coconut.

love, laurie 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

little letters

dear ryan,
i'm sorry that i always seem to forget to take my vitamins when you lay them out for me . . . and that you later find them scattered around the house.  i love you!

dear tivo,
you are probably one of the top-ten best inventions ever.  thanks for holding onto all of my shows for me until i get around to watching them.

dear kelly,
i have been enjoying our cooking and baking lessons together.  come over again sometime soon!

dear flannel sheets,
you are a blessing on cold mornings.  you also make it very hard to get up and go to work.

dear thanksgiving,
you are creeping up very quickly.  i hope i am ready for you and the multitude of hungry dinner guests you bring next week.

dear discover credit card company,
thanks for having the most user-friendly website ever.  you make paying the credit card bills so simple.

dear pansies in the backyard,
do you know it is november?  my dad said that you were supposed to stop blooming back in june.  maybe you are confused, but i'm enjoying your flowers.

dear pinterest,
you are dangerously addictive.  i am embarrassed by how much time i am able to spend perusing pictures on your website.  i might have to start timing myself.

dear ryan,
see?!  i told you pinterest was addicting!  it looks like you're hooked on it too :-)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

chicken pot pie

it has been getting cold around here lately.  fall is starting to feel a bit more like winter, and with that temperature change, comes my cravings for warm comfort food.  chicken pot pie is one of those foods that just makes you feel all warm and cozy inside.  plus, it is a great way to use up all different types of vegetables that you have around the house.  the other night, i made a big batch of chicken pot pie so that we would have left overs for a few days.  it was delicious!

chicken pot pie
adapted from taste of home recipe
prep time: 30-45 minutes
baking time: 35 minutes
yields: one large pot pie (9 inches by 13 inches)

crust ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup cold butter, cubed
1 to 2 tablespoons cold water

filling ingredients:
1 cup diced and peeled potatoes
2 cups mixed vegetables
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons all-purpose four
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1/4 teaspoon pepper

for crust: In a food processor, combine flour and cheese.  pulse until fine crumbs form.  add butter and pulse until coarse crumbs form.  while processing, add water until a ball of dough forms.  wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

for filling: in a large saucepan, sauté the potatoes, onion, and garlic in butter.  add the vegetables and chicken broth and cook for approximately 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender.  in a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and milk until smooth, and add to the vegetable mixture.  bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 2-3 minutes, until thickened.  add the chicken and pepper to the vegetable mixture, and simmer for 3 minutes.  pour the mixture into a 9 inch by 13 inch baking dish, set aside.

roll out the dough to fit the top of the baking dish.  place the dough on top of the baking dish and cut 2 slits in the top of the dough.  bake for 35 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

love, laurie 

Monday, November 14, 2011

is it really monday already?

overall, our weekend was jam packed, and i can't believe that it is really monday already.  on friday night, ryan scored us free tickets to see the tour of in the heights at the scranton cultural center.  the show was awesome, and we had great seats.  saturday was spent running a ton of very necessary errands in an effort to prepare for thanksgiving dinner at our house.  it sure seems like thanksgiving is creeping up quickly.  sunday morning we found an awesome sunday brunch buffet, bought our whopping 22 pound turkey for thanksgiving, and did a whole list of chores around the house, including re-calking the bathtub.  i'd say that we were pretty darn productive this weekend.  happy monday!

{friday night coffee before the show at northern light

{saturday morning pancakes at home in our pjs} 

{sunday morning brunch buffet at kay's}

Friday, November 11, 2011

happy friday!

have you seen this video yet?  it has been making its rounds on the internet for the last few months now, but i had to share it with you anyway (just in case you missed it).  this video is actually a commercial to promote the grand opening of a shopping center in london, england.  talk about the coolest marketing campaign ever!  it features a dancing duo time traveling their way through 100 years of costume changes in 100 seconds.  i know that the video is supposed to show a century worth of fashion, but i love the dancing along the way!  having a theatre background, i really appreciate the effort that went into making this.  (maybe i'm guilty of watching it more than just a few times too!)

have a wonderful weekend!
love, laurie

Thursday, November 10, 2011

a little date...

...because sometimes you just need a cheeseburger.

ryan, thanks for taking me out last night to get a cheeseburger.
you turned my frown upside down! :-)

i love you!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011