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Friday, September 28, 2012

fun links

do you have any exciting plans this weekend?  if you do, i'm jealous because i'm about to spend my entire weekend at a research conference which i have to attend for work . . . yuck.  on the bright side, here are a few fun links that i found around the internet recently:

a portable hot tub that inflates in just minutes.

eat your favorite instagram photos.

the coolest bike accessory.

make s'mores indoors.  (this looks like it could get messy!)

kitten massage therapy.  need i say more?

a simple way to dress up your baked goods.

101 fun things to do this fall.

have a great weekend!
love, laurie

Thursday, September 27, 2012

classic apple pie

over at our house we are still working on using up the insane amount of apples that we brought home from our apple picking trip last weekend.  so far, we have made an apple cake and apple pancake rings.  we have also been taking apples to work and eating them with our lunches for the past week.  (luckily we aren't sick of apples quite yet.)  so, in an effort to use up a few more apples, we decided to make an apple pie.

i swear there must be thousands of apple pie recipes in existence.  single crust, double crust, with caramel, without caramel, crumb topping . . . the variations are endless.  for this apple pie we decided to keep it plain and simple.  thus, i present to you classic apple pie.

this recipe really lets the apples shine through without overpowered them with too many crazy toppings or sauces.  the spices work their magic in the oven as the apples bake to create a heavenly aroma in your kitchen.  the crust is flaky and perfectly golden brown.

serve a slice of this pie with or without vanilla ice cream.  it's classic, just like apple pie should be.

classic apple pie
prep time: 15-20 minutes (plus 1 hour for chilling the dough)
baking time: 50-60 minutes
yields: one 9-inch round double-crust pie

crust ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
16 tablespoons salted butter (cold)
4-6 tablespoons cold water

filling ingredients:
2 1/2 lbs. apples (assorted varieties peeled, cored, and sliced)
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 egg white

to make the pie crust: cut the cold butter into one-inch cubes.  in a food processor, pulse the flour and butter cubes together until the butter is incorporated into the flour.  while running the food processor, slowly pour the cold water into the flour and butter mixture.  as soon as the mixture forms into a dough ball, stop the food processor.  divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap.  let the dough balls chill in the refrigerator for one hour.  after one hour, roll out one of the dough balls to fit a 9-inch pie plate.  place the dough into the pie plate.  roll out the second dough ball to fit the top of the pie plate.  set aside.

preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  to make the pie filling: combine the sliced apples, sugars, spices, flour, cornstarch, and lemon juice in a large bowl.  evenly distribute the apple mixture, along with it's juices, in the prepared pie crust.  place the second rolled-out dough over the top of the pie.  pinch the edges of the top layer of dough together with the bottom layer of dough.  cut 2 or 3 small slits in the top center of the dough with a knife.

beat the egg white and gently brush it over the dough.  bake the pie for 50-60 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.  (halfway through the baking, be sure to cover the edges of the dough with tin foil so that the crust does not burn.)  once baked, allow the pie to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to cool before slicing.

love, laurie

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

roba family farms

every fall we look forward to going to roba family farms.  it has been a tradition to go each year to see the farm animals, pick out a pumpkin, and get lost in the elaborate cornfield maze.

this year the weather was absolutely perfect.  what's even more exciting is that it was teacher appreciation day on the day we went, so we got in free!  (we were pretty excited about that!)

love, laurie

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

we'll love you forever, nade-kitten.

sometimes life is made up of heartbreaking moments.  last night was filled with those very moments as we said goodbye to our beloved family kitty, marshmallow.  for the past 18 1/2 years, marshmallow (better known to my family members as nade) was our "mini polar bear" and was always such a sweet and gentle kitty.  i know that 18 1/2 years is certainly a long time in kitty years, but no amount of time ever feels like long enough.  our hearts are broken, and we are sad to see him leave us for kitty heaven.

i have heard it said that you never really own cats because cats are the true owners since they own your heart.  boy is that true.  nade stole our hearts from the very first day that we brought him home, and we will fondly remember all of the joy that he brought to our family for so many years.

at times like these, i am grateful to have such a loving and supportive family.  we look forward to reuniting again with our precious bundle of fur one day.  until then, we will miss him dearly.

love, laurie

Monday, September 24, 2012

bits of happiness {fall edition}

since it is now officially fall, here are . . . 
ten things that make me happy at this time of the year:

10. freshly picked apples
9. crisp autumn air
8. fall colors
7. warm desserts
6. cozy sweaters 
5. cornfield mazes
4. autumn decorations
3. dark nail polish
2. falling leaves
1. pumpkin everything

. . . 

what is currently making you happy?
love, laurie

Friday, September 21, 2012

five snapshots from this week

{an entire field filled with pea plants}

{rows and rows of beautiful mums starting to bloom}

{a pile of pumpkins in every shade of green}

{gourds galore waiting to be used as fall decorations}

{a rustic wooden bin holding a countless number of apples}

. . .

tomorrow is officially the first day of autumn and
everywhere i turn it is definitely starting to look like fall.
have a great weekend!
love, laurie

Thursday, September 20, 2012

apple pancake rings

2 people + 16 pounds of apples = countless new apple recipes over at our house this week.

we're getting creative with our apple recipes in order to use up the insane amount of apples that we brought home from our apple picking trip this past weekend.  so . . . apples for breakfast!

apple fritters are a favorite of ours for sure, but deep frying those little apple treats is just not good for our waist lines.  thus, we decided to alter the traditional apple fritter into a slightly more figure friendly version of its former self.  the result?  apple pancake rings.  these apple pancake rings are so very simple to make and they are so delicious.  you can never go wrong when you pair apples with all of the amazing spices that make your kitchen smell like an autumn-scented candle.  each bite tastes like a little bit of fall exploding in your mouth.

if you're pressed for time, you could always dunk these apple rings into bisquick (or any other pancake batter recipe that you might have).  the key is to keep the batter a tad bit on the thicker side so that it doesn't slide right off the apple rings.

apple pancake rings
prep time: 5-10 minutes
cooking time: 10-15 minutes
yields: approximately 16 pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup milk
1 egg 
2 large apples

whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, spices, milk, and egg until well combined.  the batter will be very thick.  set aside.  peel and core the apples, then slice them into rings.  heat a lightly buttered griddle or frying pan on medium heat.  dip the apple rings into the batter, making sure that both sides are coated evenly, and place them on the hot griddle or frying pan.  flip as needed and cook until each side is golden brown.  serve hot with maple syrup.

love, laurie

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

apple cake

since we had an abundance of apples from our apple picking adventure on saturday, we decided to make an apple cake for leko's birthday party this past weekend.  the perfect dessert for fall.

this cake is chock full of apples.  you could use just one type of apple for this recipe, but i recommend using several different types.  it will lead to some amazing flavors.

something magical happens when this cake bakes.  if there are any apples that are touching the outer edges of the bundt pan, the sugars in the apples caramelize as the apples bake.  the result is absolute deliciousness.

the glaze that is drizzled over the top of this cake adds just the right amount of sweetness too.  if you're not into the fall spirit yet, this cake is sure to put you in the mood for cozy sweaters, falling leaves, and crisp autumn air!

apple cake
adapted from ladies' home journal
prep time: 15-20 minutes
baking time: 1 hour 10 minutes
yields: one 10-inch bundt cake (approximately 12 servings)

cake ingredients:
1 cup salted butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 lbs. apples

glaze ingredients:
1 cup powdered sugar
5 teaspoons milk

preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan, then set aside.  in the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, oil, sugars, and vanilla together until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes).  add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  add half of the flour to the batter and beat until combined.  add in the remainder of the flour along with the cinnamon and baking soda, beat until incorporated.

peel and core the apples, then dice them into small cubes.  gently fold the apples into the batter.  evenly distribute the batter in the bundt pan and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  once done, allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes.  remove the cake from the pan and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack.

to make the glaze, whisk together the powdered sugar and milk in a small bowl.  when the cake has completely cooled, drizzle the glaze over the cake.

love, laurie

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

apple picking

on saturday, we took a little road trip to go apple picking.  the weather was absolutely beautiful, and the farm that we went to was so peaceful and serene.   we were amazed at how many different varieties of apples were available.  in total, we picked six types of apples: buckeye gala, ruby macintosh, honey crisp, daybreak fuji, crimson crisp, and royal courtland.

we had a blast picking as many apples as we could carry.  we left the farm with somewhere around 16 pounds of apples and a whole bunch of ideas as to what we can do with our stash of apples too.  it was the perfect way to kick off the fall season!

love, laurie