Monday, October 31, 2011

happy halloween!

{that's snow outside my window . . . yes, SNOW!}

when i think of halloween in pennsylvania, the last thing i think about is snow.  yet, this weekend (just two days before halloween) we got several inches of snow!  i'm used to having a white christmas around here, but a white halloween is really pushing it.  since the weather was oh-so-cold, after running a few errands on saturday morning, we decided to stay inside for most of the weekend.  we watched halloween movies on tv and baked pumpkin spice cupcakes with cream cheese frosting to bring to work for halloween!   

tonight i am looking forward to seeing ryan's outdoor lighting design for the trick-or-treaters and handing out candy to the little ghouls and goblins in our neighborhood.  

what are you doing tonight for halloween?    

happy halloween!



pumpkin spice cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
prep time: 15-20 minutes
baking time: 20 minutes
yields: 24 cupcakes

cupcake ingredients:
1/2 cup salted butter (softened)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 room temperature eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

frosting ingredients:
8 ounces cream cheese (softened)
4 tablespoons salted butter (softened)
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

directions:
preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  line 24 muffin cups with paper muffin liners.  beat butter, sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  add the eggs one at a time.  allow each egg to blend into the mixture before adding the next.  add in the milk and pumpkin puree, beat well to combine.  add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice.   beat only until the flour is incorporated.  avoid over mixing the flour.  scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups.  bake the cupcakes in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  cool the cupcakes for at least 10 minutes on a wire rack.  once the cupcakes are cool, frost the cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

to make the cream cheese frosting: beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until smooth.  gradually beat in the powdered sugar alternating with the milk a little at a time, until incorporated.  add the vanilla and beat until fluffy.  optional: you can add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon to the cream cheese frosting if you wish.

enjoy! 
love, laurie 

Friday, October 28, 2011

baking lessons: "cupcakes 101"

i love cooking and baking.  i really, really do.  for as long as i can remember back, i have been helping my mom in the kitchen.  my mom is absolutely amazing when it comes to food, and i have always admired the way that she could whip up a gourmet meal in no time at all without ever breaking a sweat.  my mom says that i started helping her to cook and bake as soon as i could manage to keep myself sitting in an upright position on the kitchen counter.  as a kid, i actually learned basic math and fractions by baking and cutting recipes in half (did i mention that my mom is also a wiz at math?  really . . . she teaches elementary through high school level math.)  my mom seriously has the best patience when it comes to teaching me new things (and i love that she always lets me lick the spatula too!)  now that i'm married and no longer living at home with my parents, i love the occasions when my mom and i can make a meal together.

when i'm not able to cook and bake with my mom, i try to duplicate her recipes as best as possible.  i love being able to cook and bake with ryan now.  he is great in the kitchen too . . . i always said that i would never marry a man who could not cook.  :-)  we have such fun creating recipes together for our family and friend's events.  we always offer to bring dessert whenever someone is having a function!  (at some point, i will post a few pictures of our creations.)

our dear friend kelly is one of our biggest fans.  she is willing to try anything that we make, and is so gracious about it.  so, when kelly said that she wanted to learn how to bake cupcakes, we jumped at the occasion!  last night, kelly came over and we had baking lessons in our kitchen.

kelly's favorite cupcake flavor is red velvet.  typically, i try to avoid red velvet cupcakes like the plague because i am not a fan of the exorbitant amount of red dye that often goes into them.  however, i don't mind making a natural version of red velvet that uses beet juice to dye the batter red instead of food coloring.  i know what you are thinking . . . but the truth is, you don't even taste the beet flavor at all, and it is a really healthy alternative to red food coloring (a trick that i learned from my mom)!

kelly brought cute halloween decorations with her for the cupcakes, and they turned out so good.  when our friend chris found out that we were baking, he stopped by and joined us for a cupcake too!  i had a BLAST teaching kelly how to bake, and she did a great job!  (maybe i should start my own show on the food network, ha ha!)

{getting our ingredients ready}

{kelly looks like a pro at that mixer}

{red velvet cupcake batter}

{cupcakes baking in the oven}

{kelly making cream cheese frosting for the cupcakes}

{cooling the cupcakes and decorating the cupcakes}

{kelly's finished product}

{they turned out great!}

{a great night with a great friend}

. . .

red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
prep time: 15-20 minutes
baking time: 20 minutes
yields: 24 cupcakes

cupcake ingredients:
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup beet juice (for color)
2 teaspoons red food coloring (optional)
1/2 cup softened butter
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 room temperature eggs

frosting ingredients:
8 ounces cream cheese (softened)
4 tablespoons salted butter (softened)
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

directions:
preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  line 24 muffin cups with paper muffin liners.  combine cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and baking soda.  set aside.  combine buttermilk, vanilla, and beet juice (add optional red food coloring if you desire).  set aside.  beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  add the eggs one at a time.  allow each egg to blend into the mixture before adding the next.  add the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients alternately while the mixer is on a low speed.  mix until all ingredients are combined.  avoid over mixing.  scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups.  bake the cupcakes in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  cool the cupcakes for at least 10 minutes on a wire rack.  once the cupcakes are cool, frost the cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

to make the cream cheese frosting: beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until smooth.  gradually beat in the powdered sugar alternating with the milk a little at a time, until incorporated.  add the vanilla and beat until fluffy.

enjoy!
love, laurie

here comes halloween!


happy friday!  

if you know anything about ryan, you know that he LOVES lights.  seriously, his specialty is theatrical lighting design.  he has designed lights for a ton of shows, and i think that he is super talented!   he has a great eye for that kind of thing.  his love of lights carries over to our house too.  we even have a light show in our basement . . . i kid you not.  (it is actually a ton of fun to put clothes into the washer and dryer with a disco ball turning in the corner and multi-colored lights moving in time to music!)

so, when ryan found this video on you tube, i just had to share it.  this family in riverside, california created a ridiculously elaborate light show in their front yard last year for halloween.  it is set to michael jackson's thriller, and it is so impressive!  check it out!

halloween is right around the corner . . . just a few more days.  what are you dressing up as this year for halloween?

have a wonderful weekend!
love, laurie
xoxo

Thursday, October 27, 2011

caramel apples


caramel apples are one of the easiest fall treats to make, yet they are one of the tastiest.  we were craving caramel apples last night but we were tired, so instead of taking the time to make our own caramel, we just melted down the little pre-packaged caramel cubes.  we used gala, fiji, and macintosh (my favorite) apples.  normally we would go crazy decorating the apples, but we decided to just keep it simple and add some crushed peanuts.  on a fall evening, nothing beats the pairing of a tart apple with sweet caramel and salty peanuts.  

these apples may not be picture perfect (by the end we ran out of enough caramel to actually dip the apples in, so we had to sort of drizzle it on) but they sure are tasty! 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

taco night

this weekend we made lasagna with ground turkey (we are trying to be healthy and save a few calories by using ground turkey instead of ground beef in some recipes).  we had some left over ground turkey, so we decided to make tacos last night! tacos are so simple to make, yet they somehow brighten up an evening!


after tacos, we melted into the couch and watched cupcake wars on the food network.  i find that show ridiculously entertaining.  (maybe i have a secret desire to go on the show.)  and . . . i love florian bellanger's comments to the contestants!  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

weekend recap

 {fall themed doughnuts at krispy kreme}

 {road trip}

 {sunday morning coffee with friends}

 {the quickest (and smallest) sam's club run ever}

{making lasagna}

Monday, October 24, 2011

power outage

it is amazing what you take for granted on a daily basis . . . like electricity.  we woke up to a power outage this morning.  (thank goodness the alarm clock has a battery back up!)  so, we had to get ready for work with flashlights.


you know what?  it was actually pretty peaceful sitting and eating cereal at the dining room table by candle light without the distraction of the news and weather on the tv.

have a happy monday!
love, laurie

Friday, October 21, 2011

happy friday!

this week was hectic and exhausting.  it didn't help that the weather was overcast, cool, and dreary all week too.  (i seriously feel like i haven't even seen the sun in the last 7 days.)  

so, today i am thankful that it is friday!  i am hoping that the sun will make an appearance this weekend and decide to leave the rain behind . . . fingers crossed!

{the happy orange mum in our front yard}

have a lovely weekend!
love, laurie
xoxo

Thursday, October 20, 2011

pencil tip carvings


i am absolutely amazed by the fact that dalton ghetti
has the patience to do these pencil tip carvings!

it is ridiculous.
seriously, go check out his website.



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

corning, new york


this weekend, when we were in upsate new york visiting the corning museum of glass, we had dinner at atlas pizzeria in the historic section of corning.  this place has calzones for $4.75 and they make them right in front of you.  (that is a steal compared to the price of a calzone in our area . . . and they were absolutely delicious!)  after dinner, we walked over to soul full cup cafe.  we grabbed coffees to drink as we walked around the quaint market street historic district of corning.  such a cute downtown!

{one of our calzones}

{the cafe's window display - there are coffee beans inside the "o"}

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

happy anniversary, mom and dad!

happy 31st wedding anniversary, mom and dad!
love, laurie
xoxo

Monday, October 17, 2011

corning museum of glass


the weather wasn't great all weekend, but we were still able to cram a lot into the last few days.  since it was rainy and cool outside, we kicked off our weekend after work on friday night by ordering chinese food and watching a movie.  on saturday, we decided to hop in the car and drive to upstate new york to visit the corning museum of glass.  we watched demonstrations about how glass blowers create beautiful bowls from hot molten glass, and we explored rooms and rooms of endless displays of glass from all over the world.  we really enjoyed it, and it was educational too!

{a musical instrument made from glass bowls}

{huge glass pumpkins}

{tons of glass pumpkins for sale}

{our very cute pumpkin, which is now in our living room}

Friday, October 14, 2011

friday five

i wasn't kidding when i said that we have been loving our walks outside lately.  yesterday after work, we took a 3.5 mile walk around lake scranton and my legs are sure feeling that walk this morning!  this week seemed so long because it was super busy and stressful.  i am looking forward to the weekend as a break from this crazy week.  we are not quite sure what are plans are yet for the weekend, but we do know that we will be seeing my parents on sunday evening for dinner!

have a happy weekend!
love, laurie

{the trail around lake scranton}

{serious garlic wings at grande pizza}


{a butterfly taking a rest on the flowers}

{halloween candy in a leaf bowl at work}

{crazy fall weather - raining one minute and sunny the next minute}