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Thursday, January 31, 2013

a winter walk along the river

today is the last day of january.  i can hardly believe that this month went by so fast!  so, what better way to say goodbye to this chilly month than with a ton of photos of . . . snow!

over the weekend it was bitterly cold.  on sunday, we hibernated inside with cozy pajamas and warm blankets for most of the day, but we did manage to get ourselves bundled up and out of the house for a little bit in order to take a walk along the river.

we absolutely love the river that runs behind our house because it is so peaceful and serene.  we enjoy walking along the river in the spring to see buds on the trees, in the summer to see wildlife along the river banks, and in the fall to see leaves changing colors.  during the past few winters we haven't spent much time walking along the river since it tends to be gray and depressing.  (it also tends to get muddy as the snow melts, and it's not fun to slip and slide down a muddy river bank.)  however, our walk along the river on sunday opened our eyes to the beauty of the river in the winter.

the sun was shining (which has been rare lately) and it was reflecting off the water so beautifully.  there was snow along the banks of the river, ice melting, and geese swimming.  we felt as if we had taken a step out of the cold and dreary winter which we have been experiencing so far, and into a winter wonderland scene right out of a storybook.

sometimes we like to pretend that the river is all ours . . . and for a little while on sunday it seemed like it was.  we are so grateful to have this beautiful slice of nature just steps away from our backdoor.

love, laurie

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

cinnamon swirl pancakes with coffee maple syrup

weekend mornings are made for fun breakfasts.  this past weekend, we lounged around the house on saturday morning in our pajamas and made these cinnamon swirl pancakes for breakfast.

you just can't go wrong with fluffy pancakes that are swirled with cinnamon and sugar.  as they cook, the cinnamon and sugar mixture melts and creates a swirled crater which is perfect for holding the warm coffee maple syrup.  these pancakes are reminiscent of cinnamon rolls, and they are a great way to kick off a weekend morning!

cinnamon swirl pancakes with coffee maple syrup
prep time: 5-10 minutes
cooking time: 10 minutes
yields: 10 pancakes
adapted from no. 2 pencil

pancake ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs

swirl ingredients:
2 tablespoons salted butter, melted
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

syrup ingredients:
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon decaffeinated instant coffee
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
2-4 teaspoons water

to make the pancakes: sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda into a large bowl.  add the sugar, milk, vanilla, and eggs.  whisk all of the ingredients together until combined.  heat a lightly buttered griddle on medium heat.  pour approximately 3 tablespoons of batter onto the griddle for each pancake.  allow the pancakes to set up on the griddle for 2-3 minutes.

to make the cinnamon swirl: stir together the melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  pour the cinnamon mixture into a plastic sandwich baggie, seal the baggie, then use a scissors to make a small snip in the bottom corner of the baggie.  push the tip of the baggie into the batter, and gently swirl the cinnamon mixture into the pancake batter.  use a spatula to flip the pancakes over and cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until the pancakes are cooked throughout.  

to make the syrup: in a microwave-save bowl, stir together the powdered sugar, instant coffee, heavy cream, and maple syrup.  add a few teaspoons of water as needed to loosen the mixture.  microwave the mixture for about 15-20 seconds in order to melt the instant coffee granules.  serve warm.

love, laurie

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

bowling date night

it was super cold on saturday night, so we decided to find an inside activity for a little date night.  neither of us had been bowling in years, so we thought it would be fun to go on a bowling date.

i was surprised to see how good ryan was at bowling (he must have inherited it from his dad who is on a bowling team).  ryan got several strikes throughout the night, and he won all three games! as for me, i was thrilled with the one strike that i got.  we had such a good time bowling, and we can't wait to go again!

love, laurie 

Monday, January 28, 2013

weekends are for . . .

. . . fun breakfasts on saturday morning (cinnamon swirl pancakes)

. . . spending quality time cuddling with kitten

. . . a saturday night bowling date

. . . sloppy joe sandwiches for dinner

. . . homemade potato chips

. . . a chilly sunday afternoon walk along the river

it sure was cold this weekend, and that was the perfect excuse to spend most of the weekend indoors in our pajamas watching old episodes of cake boss.  we did manage to leave the house for a little bit on saturday to go grocery shopping and then to go bowling for a little date night.  on sunday afternoon, after lounging around the house all day, we forced ourselves to get dressed and to get out of the house for a walk along the river.  i'm so glad we did, because the river was so beautiful.  we had such a great weekend spending time at home and being able to just relax.  

today it is snowing and sleeting, and work has been cancelled.  that means we get to extend our weekend and spend a little more time at home.  we sure are looking forward to staying warm inside and cuddling with kitten again!  for anyone who is traveling today, please stay safe!

happy monday!
love, laurie

Friday, January 25, 2013

have a great weekend and stay warm!

this week has been cold.  not just cold, but stupid cold.  the kind of cold where your teeth ache if you walk outside and open your mouth for just a second.  the kind of cold where you can see your breath even when you are sitting inside the car.  the kind of cold where you just want to wrap yourself up like a human burrito . . . come on winter, cut me a break.

a girl i know from college recently moved to alsaka, and she said that the temperatures were warmer in alaska this past week than they were in pennsylvania.  i'm no meteorologist, but something is very very wrong with that.  the weather forecast is predicting that it will "warm up" to a high of 26 degrees this weekend . . . "warm up" ha!

needless to say, we will be focusing on staying warm this weekend with warm meals, hot chocolate, fuzzy socks, cozy blankets, a cuddly kitten, and lots of old episodes of cake boss on the dvr.

have a great weekend and stay warm!
love, laurie

Thursday, January 24, 2013

german apple puffed pancake

for as long as i can remember, my mom has been making this german apple puffed pancake recipe.  growing up, it was always one of my favorite things for breakfast, and i would request it for breakfast each year on my birthday.  over the years, it became a tradition, and i always looked forward to having my mom's german apple puffed pancake for breakfast on the morning of my birthday.  my mom would wake up early and sneak down to the kitchen to start slicing and sauteing the apples.  i would then wake up to the amazing aroma of apples, cinnamon, and brown sugar wafting out of the kitchen.

recently, over the last few years, ryan and i have been making this breakfast for special occasions.  of course it is never as good as my mom's version because of all of the love that she put into hers in our family kitchen, but it comes pretty darn close.

this pancake isn't a typical pancake at all.  it is baked in the oven to become fluffy and light.  the delicate fluffy dough supports the slices of apples, while the cinnamon and sugar work together to balance the tartness of the apples.  once the pancake has baked and become all golden brown, the top is dusted with powdered sugar, and it is perfect just like that.

(ryan likes to pour maple syrup on his slice, but i always stick to the traditional version with just the powdered sugar dusted on top.)

this breakfast dish holds such a special place in my heart.  every time i eat it, i am flooded with such fond memories of my childhood.  each bite is like getting a great big warm hug from my mom.  it's a comfort food for me, and it's the perfect way to start off a special morning.

ps: today i am guest posting over on carrie's blog "frugal foodie mama" and sharing this german apple puffed pancake recipe.  there is also a giveaway there too.  so, be sure to check out my guest post and the giveawahere.

slice the granny smith apples 

place the apple slices into a large pan with melted butter

add cinnamon and brown sugar

saute the apple slices until they are tender and evenly coated

whisk together the ingredients for the batter

allow butter to melt in a large baking pan while the oven preheats

place the apples in the warm buttery pan and pour the batter over the top

bake the pancake in the oven until it becomes puffed and golden brown

remove the pancake from the oven and dust the top with powdered sugar

german apple puffed pancake
prep time: 10-15 minutes
cooking time: 5-10 minutes
baking time: 30-40 minutes
yields: 4-6 servings

4 large granny smith apples
2 tablespoons salted butter (divided)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup milk
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
powdered sugar (for dusting)

peel, core, and slice the apples into medium size slices.  in a large non-stick pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat.  place the apple slices in the pan, and sprinkle the cinnamon and brown sugar over the apple slices.  saute the apple slices until they are tender, making sure that all of the apple slices are evenly coated.  meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.  while the oven is preheating, place 1 tablespoon of butter in a 9x13 inch glass baking pan.  put the baking pan in the oven, just until the butter melts, then remove the pan from the oven and evenly spread the butter around the pan.  once the apple slices are tender, pour them into the prepared glass baking pan.  whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, milk, eggs, and vanilla.  pour the batter evenly over the apple slices.  bake the pancake for 30-40 minutes or until it is puffed and golden brown, and an knife inserted in the center of the pancake comes out clean.  dust the top of the pancake with powdered sugar, and serve warm.

love, laurie