Apple picking

Today on our way home from camping in the mountains this wonderful first weekend of fall, we stopped by an Apple Orchard to pick some apples. I found this place on my phone, they were one of the few orchards that were on our way home and open on a Sunday, I am so glad we stopped, it was really cute.

You could purchase fresh apples already picked or pick your own. We chose to do both.

There were plenty of apples down low for the little ones to reach we totally did this for a photo op..I think it worked :)

 The  inside was all festive and sweet, the views outside were beautiful, they had a pumpkin patch and a petting zoo. For a second I thought I might want to live there, at the orchard... then I saw how many people were filling the place up to buy apples and look around and stay awhile, and I changed my mind.
  Check back this week to see what I end up doing this all these delicious, beautiful, apples.

Whoopie Pies!

I am going "old school" on ya'll today. I grew up eating whoopie pies, also known as "Gobs" but since that sounds weird and unappetizing to me...lets just stick with whoopie pies for today shall we? The way I would describe them is like two chocolate cupcake tops smooshing together a marshmallowy, slightly sweet, cloudlike cream center. My kids say big, soft, oreo. Now, for a little background on these yummy treats. It is said they were created in Maine or by the Pennsylvania Dutch. The state of Maine actually made the whoopie pie their official state treat. I could not find my family's original recipe so I did some research and decided to try this one. It is from a book called Whoopie Pies by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell. Imagine it? An entire book dedicated to whoopie pies, and all the different flavors you can make. I made the the classic, original chocolate, I am a classic kind of girl.  This recipe was dead on, tasted just just my moms. I hope you will give them a try. I think I am gonna have to try the pumpkin ones next...

Classic Chocolate Whoopie Pies

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 egg 1 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk

Classic Marshmallow Filling

1 1/2 cups marshmallow fluff
1 1/4 cups vegetable shortening
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 tbsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Line baking sheets with parchments paper.
In a bowl sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt
In another bowl, beat butter, shortening, and sugar with the mixer on low speed until just combined. Increase speed to medium and beat about 3 minutes.
Add egg and vanilla and beat for two more minutes.
Add half of the flour mixture and half of the milk  and beat on low until incorporated. Repeat and beat until combined.
Using a tablespoon, drop the batter on baking sheet two inches apart. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the pies spring back when pressed gently.
Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

While cooling completely start making your filling. Beat the marshmallow fluff and shortening together until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes, Reduce mixer speed to low and add confectioners' sugar and vanilla, beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Using a knife or spoon (or offset spatula) spread filling onto the flat side of a cooled cake top with another cake, flat side down. Repeat with remaining cakes.

Moms Pumpkin Bread.

Cloudy, cool days are my favorite time to cook. Today because it was cloudy and cool and I want it to be fall and because it is almost fall I made my moms pumpkin bread. My mom is a fabulous cook, and an excellent baker. My mom is beautiful, and so funny. She doesn't cook so much now that all us kids are grown and moved out but she enjoys coming to my kitchen and helping me cook. I love when she cooks with me or sits and talks to me while I cook. She makes me laugh, or cry from laughing so hard, or sometimes cry just because... we are weird like that. My mom loves reality TV and The Young and The Restless. She thinks her legs are too skinny I tell her she's lucky, most people think their legs are too fat. She encourages me and tells me I'm beautiful and a great mother and that my house is lovely, I am 37 yrs old and I love to hear these things from my mom, it still means so much. Tell the people you love how much they mean to you, when someone is good at something tell them, it makes them feel good, it will make you feel good to make someone else feel good. My mom has made this bread our whole lives, it's really wonderful.  Try it...then give your mom a hug.

Pumpkin Bread
1 1/2 sticks of softened butter
2 2/3 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 15 ounce can of pure pumpkin
2/3 cup water
3 1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cloves
2 heaping tsp cinnamon
*feel free to add some raisins and/or nuts as well, 2 of the things my kids will NOT eat.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Cream sugar and butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in eggs, water, pumpkin and blend well. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cloves, slowly add to wet mixture and mix until just combined. Pour into 2 greased and floured  bread pans. Bake for about an our or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes then turn onto a cooling rack.

When you add the water and pumpkin it will look like this, a little curdled. Don't freak out, I promise it will come together when you add the dry ingredients.

PW's Best Chocolate Sheet Cake Ever.

My husband also had a birthday this month, he told me he wanted The Pioneer Woman's Chocolate Sheet cake.  I was so happy. First because it's yummy.. really yummy, and second, it's EASY, like, I don't need to use my mixer easy. Don't get me wrong I LOVE my KitchenAid, we have a special bond, but there are days when I just don't want to mess with her, you know what I'm saying? So I made it, we loved it. I make it often, it's perfect to take to potlucks, it feeds a lot. If you haven't checked out The Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond) you need too. She is truly an inspiration, her recipes and photos are A M A Z I N G! She has a cookbook and her own cooking show on The Food Network. But if you don't check her out at least make this cake. She calls it The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake. Ever. Well, it's the only sheet cake I've ever made so yes, it's the best one I've ever made :)

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 heaping Tbsp cocoa powder
2 sticks butter
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs beaten
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (I do not put the pecans in the frosting but instead sprinkle them on top)
1 3/4 stick butter
4 heaping Tbsp butter
6 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 pound (minus 1/2 cup) powdered sugar

In mixing bowl combine flour, sugar and salt.

In a saucepan, melt butter. Add cocoa. Stir together.
Add boiling water, allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then turn off heat. Pour over flour mixture, and stir lightly to cool.
In a measuring cup, pour the buttermilk and add beaten eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir buttermilk mixture into butter/chocolate mixture. Pour into sheet cake pan and bake at 350-degrees for 20 minutes.
While cake is baking, make the icing. Chop pecans finely. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add cocoa, stir to combine, then turn off heat. Add the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Stir together. Add the pecans, stir together, and pour over warm cake.

um, yes I felt it very necessary to show you three pictures of chocolate being poured onto cake. It's a beautiful sight isn't it?

Burlap and some mice.

I have been wanting to recover and paint my dining rooms chairs for a while now. So when I was in Hobby Lobby AKA "Home away from Home" I saw they had their burlap on sale for 2.99 a yard. It was totally in my budget, and I love the textured look it would add to the chairs. So I got to painting and recovering, then I decided to stencil a G on the chairs to add a personal touch, so hubby printed one off the computer and laminated it and cut it out. I had so much burlap left over I decided to make some runners for the tables. I found some stencils at Hobby Lobby for cheap and went to it, I love how they turned out. And I REALLY love how the whole project cost me 30 bucks!

It's weird how the silliest things get in your head and you obsess over them. Last year for Halloween I saw Sarah the Thrifty Decor Chick decorate her hardwood stairs with these mice silhouettes from Martha Stewart Crafts, it was so cute! At the time I had a carpeted stairway so it was out of the question. BUT this past winter we got new hardwood floors throughout (BEST.DECISION.EVER) so I could not WAIT for the fall season so I could go out and get those mice. (I told you, it's weird...I know) Yes it's early to decorate for Halloween, but I've waited a whole year people! The kids love it. Check it out.


This week Jake, our oldest turned 12. I used to get so irritated with strangers who would come up to me and tell  me to cherish these moments with my kids, (as they are having toddler meltdowns in the Target isle.) Now he's 12 and he doesn't need me as much. He's interested in girls and hanging out with his friends. Time really does fly by. Take a moment to enjoy them, hug and kiss them, tell them how proud of them you are, how handsome or beautiful they are. How much they mean to you.... cherish these moments.

I bought the trick candles that keep lighting after you blow them out. It was a hoot to watch.
 He got brother involved. It was getting really funny. Check out those dimples!

Back to Jake. I think he's got it now.

Oh, now it's Eme's turn.

 Will it ever end?

Chocolate-Glazed Gingerbread Cakes

This is a Martha Stewart Recipe. Don't be a Martha hater. You really should try these, the flavors are magnificent, AND your guests will be impressed. I promise!

5 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup boiling water
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
2/3 cup unsulfured molasses
1 1/2 tsp finely grated peeled fresh ginger
2 pieces crystallized ginger, thinly sliced lengthwise, for garnish
Chocolate Ganache (recipe to follow)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter and flour a standard 12 cup muffin pan, tapping out extra flour; set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the baking soda and boiling water; set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until combined. Add molasses and fresh ginger, and reserved baking soda mixture; beat until combined. (The batter will look curdled but will come together once the flour is added.) Add the flour mixture and beat until combined.

Divide the batter evenly among prepared muffin cups, filling each about halfway. Bake rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack to cool completely.

Set rack over parchment lined rimmed baking sheet. Spoon about 1 Tbsp of Chocolate Ganache over each cake, letting some drip down the sides. Garnish with a couple strips of crystallized ginger. Once glazed, cakes can be refrigerated, in airtight containers, for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Chocolate Ganache
(Makes about 3 cups)

2 cups heavy cream
1 pound semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat bring cream to a full boil; turn off heat. Add chocolate, and swirl pan to completely cover it with cream. Let stand about 5 minutes. Slowly whisk mixture until smooth. Let cool, stirring frequently.

*When you buy fresh ginger (in the produce section of your grocery store) store in a ziploc bag in your freezer, it will keep for months. A microplane is best when grating ginger. I highly recommend getting one, they are one of my favorite kitchen tools.

Missing Martha

No, not Martha Stewart... well, kind of. After many months of me begging and pleading, my husband cracked and let me get some chickens. Like 2 day old little tiny babies and raise them up as pets and use their eggs. Our local hardware store makes you buy 3 so we picked out the prettiest ones we could find and named them. Martha (after Martha Stewart of course) Matilda and Myrtle. Martha was an Americauna, I picked her out because her eggs would be a beautiful tealish blue. The other two are Rhode Island Reds, they lay brown eggs. Raising chickens has been quite an adventure. My husband and I have fallen in love with them all, they are truly part of our family! Martha was scared of just about everything, but once you caught her she would sit in your lap for hours. She stood out from the other two, she was "different", in looks and personality. She was definitely a follower, not so much the leading type. Unfortunately she followed her sister right into the death trap of our neighbors yard, they have BIG dogs, and I won't go into details but it was devastating. Although she was only on this earth a short time I feel like we gave her a wonderful life, we miss her terribly. We have since purchased 3 more babies that are growing so fast and should be laying eggs within the next month or so. They have a lovely coop that they live in and get to free range once a day for a few hours. We have learned that we must be outside or at close range while they are roaming free to keep watch from all the predators. The eggs we get from them are amazing! And the yolks are so much brighter and more vibrant than what you get from the grocery store. For anyone thinking about raising chickens I say go for it, they will change your life.
We will always have a special place in our hearts for Martha, I am so glad I have these photos to look back at.