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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

happy halloween!

i can't believe that today is already the last day of october!  tonight after work i am looking forward to handing out candy to the trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood, eating homemade caramel apples, and maybe watching a halloween movie too.

do you have any fun plans for halloween?
love, laurie

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

pumpkin carving and roasted pumpkin seeds

over the weekend we carved our pumpkins and leko was pretty fascinated by the whole process.  he "helped" us to carve the designs and he liked chasing the pumpkin seeds too.

after we carved our pumpkins we cleaned off the pumpkin seeds and roasted them in the oven.  (i swear, i think that is ryan's favorite part of carving pumpkins each year.)  roasted pumpkin seeds sure do make a fun fall snack, and they are so easy to make too!

roasted pumpkin seeds
prep time: 5-10 minutes
baking time: 50-60 minutes

fresh pumpkin seeds
extra virgin olive oil
garlic powder
salt and ground black pepper
paprika (optional)

preheat your oven to 250 degrees F.  remove the seeds from a pumpkin, wash the seeds, and then dry them thoroughly.  line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spreed the seeds out evenly on the foil.  lightly coat the seeds with olive oil.  season with garlic powder, salt, pepper, and paprika to taste.  stir to make sure that all of the seeds are evenly coated.  roast the seeds in the oven until the seeds become golden brown and crispy (about 50-60 minutes) stirring every 20 minutes.  once done, allow the seeds to cool completely before serving.

love, laurie

Monday, October 29, 2012

the phelps mansion

on saturday we decided to take a little drive up to binghamton, new york to visit the binghamton zoo.  we were really excited to see all of the animals at the zoo and to ride the historic carousel at the zoo too.  when we got there, we were shocked to see that the zoo was closed for the day so that they could set up for their halloween festivities!  (i mean really, who closes a zoo on a saturday?)  yes, we did check the website before we left home, and it said nothing about the zoo being closed for the day.  we weren't the only people who were standing at the gate looking confused either.  several other people had driven to the zoo and had also checked the website too.

we decided to find something else to do since we had driven one hour to binghamton.  so, we headed down to the historic district of binghamton, and we took a tour of the phelps mansion.  walking around the mansion was like taking a step back in time.  we learned all about the history of the city of binghamton from our tour guide, and we really enjoyed seeing all of the amazing architecture around the mansion too.

hope your weekend was lovely!
love, laurie

Friday, October 26, 2012

fun links {pumpkin edition}

halloween is right around the corner, and it's that time of the year to decorate with pumpkins galore.  here are a few fun pumpkin links that i found around the internet recently:

drill holes in a pumpkin for a neat lighting effect.

use cookie cutters and a mallet for easy pumpkin carving.

cover a pumpkin in glue and epsom salt for a unique sparkle.

paint pumpkins to look like candy corn.

make a pumpkin candle center piece for a fall dinner table.

keep beverages cool in a pumpkin cooler.

decorate with a festive "mumkin" flower pot.

have a great weekend!
love, laurie

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

baked and bruleed pumpkin spice oatmeal

over the weekend we created a new fall breakfast recipe: baked and bruleed pumpkin spice oatmeal.  normally, we are not huge fans of oatmeal since it tends to be bland and boring.  however, we feel completely different about this oatmeal.

this oatmeal has pumpkin, spices, and brown sugar in it, and it is baked instead of cooked on the stove.  we used our kitchen torch in order to create a bruleed brown sugar topping on this oatmeal that is reminiscent of creme brulee, without being as sweet as its dessert counterpart.

we enjoyed our baked and bruleed pumpkin spice oatmeal straight out of the oven while still in our pajamas.  you could top off this oatmeal with nuts, milk, maple syrup, or whipped cream, but i'm telling you it's not necessary.  it's really perfect just the way it is.

if you want a breakfast dish that will wow your family and friends, this is it.  this is totally not your grandmother's oatmeal recipe.

baked and bruleed pumpkin spice oatmeal
prep time: 5-10 minutes
baking time: 25 minutes
yields: 4 large servings

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup dark brown sugar (divided)
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats

preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  in a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, milk, vanilla, eggs, spices, baking powder, and 1/4 cup of the brown sugar, until all of the ingredients are well combined.  stir in the oats, making sure that the oats are evenly distributed throughout the mixture.  pour the oatmeal mixture into a greased 9x13 inch baking pan, and bake for 25 minutes.

remove from the oven, and sprinkle the reserved 1/4 cup of brown sugar evenly over the top of the oatmeal.  using a kitchen torch, brulee the brown sugar on top of the oatmeal.  (alternately, an oven broiler could be used.)  while bruleeing the brown sugar, watch carefully to make sure that the sugar does not burn.  serve hot.  optional toppings include: nuts, milk, maple syrup, or whipped cream.

love, laurie

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

a trip to the cider mill

on saturday we took a drive to a nearby apple cider mill.  this small family farm makes their own apple cider and apple cider doughnuts.  while we were there, we were actually able to watch both the apple cider and the apple cider doughnuts being made.  we went home with several apples, a container of cider, and two doughnuts for the road.  it was the perfect fall outing for a crisp autumn day.

love, laurie

Monday, October 22, 2012

our (relaxing) weekend.

guess what?  over the weekend we had no plans!  no plans, no scheduled events, no annoying interruptions.  instead, we had unexpected (yet very welcomed) peace and quiet.  this is seriously a big deal since it seems like each and every weekend there is something going on which requires our attention.  we relished the fact that we finally had a weekend to ourselves, and we were able to actually relax for the first time in what seems like a very long time.  it's crazy how busy life can be, so it is especially nice when a weekend rolls around where we can just enjoy ourselves . . . and that is exactly what we did this past weekend.  

among other things, our weekend looked a little bit like this . . . 

lazy mornings in bed with kitten

peaceful drives on back roads to admire the fall foliage

pumpkin picking at a local farm

a saturday lunch date for our favorite wings

an afternoon coffee break

a sunday lunch date at one of our old favorite spots from college

chasing shadows on the dining room wall

a movie marathon curled up on the couch with kitten

. . .

hope everyone had a great weekend too!
love, laurie