Saturday, October 30, 2010

Chocolate whoopie pies: Take 2!

I made another attempt at chocolate whoopie pies today, to redeem myself for that salty, flavorless debacle of a few weeks ago.  I'm planning to take them to the Millers' house tomorrow for Halloween, so I made then a little theme-y, too, with orange buttercream filling.

The chocolate cake part still tasted funny to me before I added the filling, but I think it's because I'm just not a fan of chocolate cake.  The unsweetened cocoa taste/flavor really stands out to me for some reason.  Dave said they're good, but he's legally obligated to love everything I make, so I'm not sure...once they were complete, with filling, I liked them better.

The buttercream is more peach than Halloween orange, but I didn't want to add any more food coloring to them.

Looking forward to tomorrow!  Some of it's a surprise to the Millers so I can't give it away but we'll have fun times, as always :)

Get off the couch and go make this - like, now!

The other night, I wrote about having too many apples and not enough recipe ideas.  I found a pumpkin apple dessert pizza recipe that reminded me of Pampered Chef's taffy apple pizza, and today I tried it with great results!

It's a really easy recipe, starting with refrigerated sugar cookie dough.  I'm sure you could make your own batch and chill it, but I chose the easy route.  Roll out the dough on a pizza stone or any round pan and bake for 22-25 minutes at 325 degrees.  Learn from my mistake and allow at least 2 inches all along the edge of the pan for expansion of the dough.  While the dough/crust is cooling on a rack or trivet, use a fork to poke some holes in it.
 I guess I'll be cleaning my oven later this afternoon - there's burnt dough that fell off the edges as the dough cooked.

Also while the crust is cooling, mix up your pumpkin spread.  It's just 1 cup Libby's canned pumpkin, 3 oz. cream cheese, 2 tbsp. sugar, and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. 

...then peel, core, and slice your apples - I used 2 medium apples, but the recipe only calls for 1 cup.  Toss in 1 tbsp. sugar and a tsp. of cinnamon and mix it all up to coat the apple slices.

Once the crust is fully cooled, spread the pumpkin/cream cheese mixture on top, leaving about an inch along the edge.  


Layer your apple slices on top in any pattern you choose...

...and sprinkle with walnuts.  I forgot to take a picture of this step, but you can see them in the after pictures below.  Once all your toppings are on the pizza, put it back in the oven for 8-10 more minutes.  When it's done, drizzle it with as much or as little caramel as you please.  

Slice it like a pizza and serve warm (preferably with a glass of milk).  

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Harvest Bread

My pumpkin apple harvest bread is baking and is smells so good!

Here are the ingredients:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 15-oz can pumpkin puree 
  • 4 large eggs (I substituted 1/4 cup applesauce for each egg since we're out) 
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup apple juice or water (I used water)
  • 1 large baking apple, peeled,cored and diced   

Preparation instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in large bowl
  • Combine sugar, pumpkin, eggs, vegetable oil and apple juice in large mixer bowl; beat until just blended
  • Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moistened
  • Fold in apples
  • Spoon batter into 2 greased 8x4 loaf pans 

You can use 9x5 or 5x3 pans too, but the baking times vary.  For the 8x4 loaf pan, I'm baking the bread for 65 minutes - we'll see if it's done then.

While it's baking, I thought I'd share 2 recipes I found today that will help me use up my apples before they expire.  First, have you ever had Pampered Chef's taffy apple pizza?  This pumpkin apple dessert pizza recipe sounds just like that, only with pumpkin instead of peanut butter.

Taffle apple pizza:

Pumpkin apple dessert pizza:

They could be twins, no?  I'll be trying that tomorrow night.

The other is an apple crisp recipe that doesn't contain oats.  I don't like how soggy or rubbery oats get on a crisp.  Perhaps they've been soggy or rubbery because I made it wrong, but I like a brown sugar/butter/flour mixture better - it's crunchy and sweet and marvelous.  Not sure when I'll make this one - I guess it depends on how long the pumpkin bread and pumpkin apple dessert pizza last in the house.  

Ding!  Bread is done - brb.

Looks great - hoping it tastes great too! :)

Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who asked why

What to do with all these apples?  Hmmm....

I've already made apple cobbler cupcakes.  I was going to make an apple pie, but I got frustrated by the fact that I don't have an apple corer/peeler/slicer and had a temper tantrum instead.  I want to make an apple crisp but don't have any oats. 

Bonnie and I are planning on canning apple pie filling in November, but I'm not sure these apples will last until then.  Guess I'm off to Google some awesome apple recipes!  Preferably one that includes a can of pumpkin, so the can on my counter will stop staring at me with those sad, sad eyes.

Wow, what a problem to have.  I think tonight after school I'll make some pumpkin apple bread - and I'm sure it won't last long once it's cooked.

Printer press chest of drawers!

Does anyone have $4,350 lying around collecting dust?  I'll be happy to take it off your hands and put it to good use.  I'll even send you pictures to show you where your hard-earned money went.  Here's a preview of what the pictures will look like, only my sage walls will be behind it in the after photos, and some kitty hair may be on top along with dust.

Thanks in advance!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Apple cobbler cupcakes

 Happy Fall!

Thursday was our fourth quarter team fun event - we went to Carter Mountain Orchard to pick apples.  I was the fat kid who couldn't climb the mountain without taking 30 breaks, but I got to the top!  Er, I got to the sign that said 'No picking past this point - Keep Out.'

My team didn't listen that well.  When I finally reached the top I shouted for them but didn't get a response, so I went into the trees that were on the non-forbidden side of the sign.  Unfortch all the apples this shorty could reach were either already picked or rotten.  I found 1 baby apple and then I heard my team coming back down the hill with bags and bags full of apples.  Of course disobeying the sign is cool since it's for the food bank, but really guys?

I think we got over $100 worth of apples for the food bank - plus some for ourselves.  We took a break on the back deck overlooking Charlottesville, and did some shopping in the country store before heading back down the mountain.

I picked up some Jonagold apples - Nate's mom is always looking for Jonathan apples since they're her favorite, but they're hard to find.  Bonnie and I looked at Graves Mountain last weekend but they said the Jonathan's were ready early this year and they didn't have any left.   So I got 4 for her and 4 for me :)

After an awesome anniversary party for Bonnie and Nate last night I am exhausted today, so after some typical Sunday errands and a trip to Islamorada for gator tail, I got back in my jammies and spent some quality time with my kitchen.  I used my Jonagolds to make some apple cobbler cupcakes (from the Cupcake Project blog) - but since I chose to substitute a cinnamon-sugar sprinkle for the frosting, they're more like apple cobbler muffins.  Dave didn't think the pumpkin-pie-filling-as-cupcake-frosting idea was a very good one, so we left them naked.

They are sweet on top, cakey in the middle, and the apple bits are still a bit crunchy!  Perfect!

I was going to make an apple pie too, but....nah.

Monday, October 18, 2010

If I were an apple hanging on a tree, I'd give myself to the first green worm, and together we would be.

Yesterday Bonnie and I drove up to Graves Mountain for the Apple Harvest Festival.  It's become a tradition for us, and we can pretty much predict everything we're going to see before we get there.  Certain vendors, including the smelly pork rind guy, are always in the same spot on the property.  It's like going to Walmart - everything's always in the same place, no matter how long it's been since you were there last.

We managed to walk around the whole vendor area without buying a wooden dog bowl, tie-dye hoodie, olive oil soap, or whatever random stuff they sell.  We got some lunch (I had awesome pulled pork sammich platter) and went to pick out our apples.  I normally don't pay attention to what kind I'm getting, but I get 1 apple from a bunch of different bins.  The only problem with that method is that when I get home I have no idea what kind I like better...

Bonnie and I each got a bag full of apples for $4.50 and then we visited some more vendors in a new area.  Anyone in the market for a watercolor of a golden retriever that doesn't belong to you?  Well, you would have been in luck.  A dream-catcher made of yarn and twigs?  Yep, they had that.   It was almost like looking through an ABC catalog.

On the way out, we stopped by a roadside stand also owned by Graves and took some pictures...we asked a few workers if they had Jonathan apples so Bonnie could take some home to her MIL, but no luck.  So we headed home.

We detoured through the town of Madison and Pratts so we could go to Yoder's, but they were closed.  I'm not sure what I was thinking - it's Mennonite-owned, so of course they stay home on Sundays for church and visiting.  But it was still a nice country drive home...

Oh yeah, God was there too.  I have proof:

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Ashley has blogged about Penzey's in Carytown a couple of times and it sounded cool, so Dave and I went to check it out today.  She was right - it is awesome!

It smells so good in there - just like when you walk into Yankee and the combination of every scent combined smacks you in the face, but in a good way?  Yeah, it's like that.  They have a great selection of spices, from baking to grilling, Asian, Indian, French, anything you could ever need!  The prices for most of the spices beats Kroger - sure, there are some specialty ones that are more expensive, but I'll pay $3.59 rather than >$5 anytime!

Also, they have tear-off recipes on display throughout the store.  I picked up ones for sweet potato muffins and turkey black bean chili - yum! 

I tried to restrain myself because I wanted to buy one of everything, and managed to get out with only 3 items:  mulling spices, chili 3000, and a grilling set (only $7.95!) that includes a BBQ rub, cajun seasoning, smoky seasoning salt, and a chicken and rib rub.  I've never used mulling spices in a recipe, but at Christmas time I add some to simmering water on the stove, along with some lemon or orange slices, and it smells like heaven!  If you've ever been to Colonial Williamsburg, downtown Fredericksburg, or the Biltmore during the Christmas season, I'm sure you've smelled this scent...

Dave was disciplined and didn't buy any spices because he didn't have his Bobby Flay cookbook or any recipes in mind.  But he did find the section of the store where they have empty jars that you can fill with your own spices and label them yourself.  He has a rib eye rub leftover from one of his grilling projects that will fit in these jars perfectly :)

My only disappointment is that I just realized from their website that this is a chain store.  That takes a little of the charm away, but just a little...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

All I want is to be your sunflower

On the way home from Grandma's Pumpkins last week, we noticed a field of sunflowers on her neighbor's property.  I, of course, yelled "COOOOL!!!" and Dave rolled his eyes.  It was dusk so we didn't stop, but I made a mental note to go back when I had the chance and pick some sunflowers!

When I was telling Bonnie about it, she reminded me that I'm terrified of sunflowers and corn fields.  Horror movies have ruined a lot of things for me, but sunflower fields and corn fields are the worst.  Good thing these sunflowers are only knee-high.  So there was no crying, no anxiety, and no running upstairs to get away from the psycho killer chasing me because I had sex and did drugs.

It's honor system, so I dropped my $2 in the moneybox, snapped some pics, and picked 6 sunflowers :)

A lot of the flowers were wilted because it's been so dry since the spring (except the recent 2-days-straight rainstorm), but there were plenty of good ones to choose from.

Here are my 6:

I brought them home, cleaned them up a little, and put them in one of my Mason jars.  I think I also got some bugs included in my $2 sunflowers, but they can hang out too.