Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Apple Galette

Partly to prove to you that I am still cooking and trying new recipes, I thought I'd post this apple galette recipe that I tried last night.  The sad fact is that our sunshine has been almost non-existent lately.  I'm also finding it difficult to photograph before the sun completely disappears for the night.  Our camera works very well in natural light without a flash - at night and with a flash, not so much. 

So, sadly, this is all that's left of my apple galette. 

A galette is basically a free-form pie.  I found this recipe on epicurious.  This was the first time I've made an all-butter crust and the first time I've utilized my food processor in the making of the crust. 

This was super easy and my audience gave it a 9 out of 10. 

The crust is flaky, crunchy, and pure perfection.  Apricot preserves are spread over the crust before the apples are placed on top.  The apples are simply prepared - sliced and tossed with sugar and lemon peel. 

The result was something even better than a McDonald's apple - it was so good it almost tasted fried. 

I was so glad that I'd managed to snap a few pictures during the four minutes of sunshine we enjoyed today. 

Those are real rays of sunshine, believe it or not.  And, check out that quilt - love it! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dessert Ideas

As in years past, I will be bringing dessert to our annual Thanksgiving dinner.  If you've also been nominated to contribute dessert and you're a procrastinator like me, here are some ideas for you!

These are all family favorites, and while same may not be your "traditional" dessert fare for Thanksgiving, I thought I'd give you some options.  

Simply click on the title of the dessert and you'll automatically be directed to the recipe.  

Lemon Meringue Pie

Pumpkin Pie

Apple Pie

Chocolate Tart

Chocolate Cake with Buttercream Frosting

Buttermilk Cake with Salted Caramel Frosting

Tuesday Craziness

I wish I remembered to compile the list of hilarious news headlines [I read on a weekly basis]. 

There are some really ridiculous stories out there - reminds me of the country song we love, "God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy". 

Here is my favorite [news article] from this past week. 

Police: Fake doc injected cement in woman's rear.(click to go to the link)

How can you not want to read this article?  

Also, my favorite add on craigslist this week. 

I Love To Iron/Need My Floors Vaccuumed (West Manchester/York)

 I have a nice, clean, orderly house just looking for someone to do my floors once a week. In return I will do your ironing - bring to my house. I'm sure we can work something out. You use my vacs and I will use my own iron and board. You don't have to even wash my floors, can do that myself - I just HATE HATE to vacuum. Have pets. I live right behind Target/Sheetz off Brougher at Carlisle. Thank you. 

People are crazy.  

Monday, November 14, 2011

I Wonder.....

1.  Why the kitchen floor remains sticky in the location where juice was spilled [until you have re-scrubbed the entire floor]?

2.  If anyone has ever been unable to remove skinny jeans in a dressing room?

3.  When this annoying skinny-pant phase will be over?

4.  How many times someone has to throw their shoes in the air to make them stay on a power-line wire?

5.  When my kids will become less messy and less expensive?  (Please tell me next week and not "until they move out")

6.  How couples that engage in PDA never notice how uncomfortable the "spectators" are? Especially at a kids sporting event.  I'm pretty sure that if you can't stand on your own without leaning on each other (and furthermore, that those don't need to be held up at all), maybe you should bring a chair - no, make that two so you're not tempted to sit on each others lap.  I am fully convinced that PDA can go from awwww to ewwww in about 3 seconds.  I'm sure these couples are perfectly nice people, they just need someone to tell them. 

7.  If I can convince my kids that Mother's Best Oat and Mallow Cereal will taste just like Lucky Charms

8.  Why people insist on taking their toddler to Target in the afternoon [when they clearly need to be at home napping]?

9. What people eat [who tell me they don't cook]?

10.  Why is it that at the end of the weekend, our cupboards are bare and the house is a wreck?

11.  How can my son be such a horrendous writer? (how do you teach someone to be a better writer?  is it learned?)

12.  How our middle daughter became organized? (she certainly didn't learn it from us)

13.  How our youngest daughter became a fashionista (who likes short skirts, UGG's, and skinny jeans)?  (she certainly didn't learn it from us)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fall Colors.

I took these pictures yesterday, taking advantage of the gorgeous fall colors and sunlight.

If you're feeling badly because your surroundings aren't this colorful or sunny - rest assured -  as I type this, it's 42 degrees and rainy. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


                                     Yesterday's lunch

simple caesar salad with Newman's Own dressing, parmesan, and homemade croutons

tomato bisque with homemade croutons (click on link for recipe)

                                                  Today's lunch

baked parmesan tomatoes (recipe attached to link)

pickled beets and hardboiled eggs

I just wish this worked to keep me away from the Halloween candy.  Ugh.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Attempt at a Mudroom.

After I was unable to convince my husband that our whole house needed re-organized, I went with plan B.  I really wanted to buy closet organizing kits for all of our closets, but I decided that I would organize our things with what we already owned.  We don't have the space for a main-floor mudroom, so I tried to re-create the concept in our coat closet. 

Our house was built in 1955.  It's roughly 1700 square feet on our main floor, so it's rather small.  One of the many positives, though, is our great amount of storage space.  Our hallway has a cleaning closet and two full-sized closets, one we use for a coat closet (the other cedar-lined closet is mine). 

My lovely husband has many hobbies.  Therefore, we need to store gear for kayaking, skiing, hunting, etc.  Once we factor in all of the seasonal things we need to outfit a family of five for everyday living, it creates a lot of stuff. 

Our coat closet used to look like this.

It wasn't bad - and we did have enough space for what we had, but it was impossible to find anything in that huge bin.  Good luck to anyone trying to find a matching pair of gloves.  Plus, it looked pretty ugly.

So, I utilized some upper cabinets that we had in our garage, and stole some baskets from the bathroom.   Now we can easily find our boots, gloves (Rob has at least fifteen different pairs for various activities), hats, and scarves.  I'm hoping to make this our seasonal area - switching warm weather gear (sunscreen, towels, goggles, etc.) for our cold-weather gear.  It does look mildly better and it was the best I could do with what I already owned! 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ridiculously Delicious Beef Stew.

I love going out to eat.  The only problem I normally have is that I'm usually disappointed by the end of the meal.  It's hard for me to enjoy something that I could have made at home for a fraction of the cost.   But, when I discover something really delicious, I consider the investment will result in a full return.  Plus, having someone else do the dishes is something really special. 

I first tasted Guinness Beef Stew at an "Irish Pub" in downtown York.  The hearty stew was served over mashed potatoes.  It was awesome.  I knew I could recreate it at home.  And I did.  And now you can, too.

The components are flavorful, but ordinary.  

You'll need cubed sweet potatoes, chopped carrots, chopped garlic cloves, and sliced onions.  

Beef - I used a package of discounted sirloin steak from Giant.  I simply cubed the beef.  I think the total cost on the package was $2.74.  

The last ingredients include a dark beer (I used Anchor porter-style), beef broth, and tomato paste.  

You'll also need mashed potatoes.  I used red potatoes and really upped the flavor by using butter, light cream, salt and pepper.  

Beef Stew over Mashed Potatoes

1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 pound chopped beef
3 T butter
1 bottle dark porter-style beer
1 can beef broth
1 small can tomato paste (about 1/2 cup)
2-3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
mashed potatoes (the link is for baked mashed potatoes, but the basic concept is discussed here)

1.  In a large stockpot, saute carrots, sweet potato, onion, and garlic in butter [on medium-high heat] for five minutes. 
2.  Remove vegetables from pot and place into a bowl.  To the same stockpot, add the cubed beef.  Saute for five minutes, allowing the beef to form a crust and the bottom of the pan to build up brown bits.
3.  Sprinkle beef with flour and stir to coat.  Pour beef broth over mixture and stir to combine.  Add reserved veggies, beer, and tomato paste.  Stir to combine.
4.  Cover stew and simmer for at least an hour on low heat.  Before serving, taste for seasoning.  Top prepared mashed potatoes with stew and serve. 

This, my friends is to.die.for.  The richness of the stew is perfectly balanced by the starchy and creamy mashed potatoes.  Comfort food at it's very best.  So sorry to my Australian friends for suggesting a winter-type meal.  Promise me you'll try this is 9 months!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Favourite Thing Friday

Today I'm linking with Shay over at Quilting in my Pyjamas.  She so nicely encourages all of her fellow bloggers to share their favourite things.  It's a great way to realize all of our blessings!

Which brings me to my favourite today.  Our son, Joshua.  We think he's pretty special.

Sure, he's a little forgetful - like when he told me last week at 6:46am that he needed a quiche for school that day (he leaves for the bus at 7:05am).  And, he might tease his sisters a good bit.  But he is charming.  Truly.

I like to tell the story about his spanish class from last year to describe him in succinct fashion.  Last year he selected the Spanish 1A class for his foreign language requirement.  The students must achieve an 85% average to qualify for Spanish 1B in eighth grade.  He received an 83%.  But, his teacher told him, "I should just pass you because you're such a nice kid".  And he did.  I'd been calling him our little redundant Spaniard all summer only to find out he'd been "promoted".  My point is this:  he might not ever have the best grades, but I have no doubt that he'll be successful, just because he has many other gifts.

Rob was really impressed with him a few years ago when they attended an NRA banquet together.  Josh was tasked with selling raffle tickets to attendees.  The kid is a born salesman.  The tickets were 10 chances for $10 or 20 chances for $20, with an additional chance for a special gun.  He upsold to every single person except one.

Fast forward to this past summer.  He signed up to play football.  He's been playing soccer since he was five and he's honestly a pretty good player.  He's been wanting to play football and we allowed him to try both sports plus maintaining his grades.  I don't think he realized it, but football is hard.  And, since his stats read 5'6" and 95 pounds, he's not really built for football.  He suffered through it.  We literally were counting down the days until the season was over.  He rode the bench constantly.

And then.  And then two nights ago, at the last practice, the kicker was injured.  The coach asked a few kids to kick and Josh very bravely asked if he could try.  The coach muttered something like, "sure I'll let you try a few then".  So he kicked.  Turns out the kid can kick.  Like pretty well.  The coach asked him, "why didn't you tell me before the last practice that you could kick"?

So, last night, after riding the bench for months, for the last game, he started.

that's him with the red shoes, #87

And, every chance he got, he scored a field goal (four in all).  Each kick straighter than the next.  The coach again asked him where he'd been all season!  The coolest thing was that his friends and their parents were so proud of him.  He said that on the bus back to the school, one of the kids yelled out, "let's give a hand for our kicker, Josh"!  As parents, it was so exciting to see him feel so validated.

We love our son.  He's not perfect. But, he's a great kid.  And, we're proud of him. 

I can't help but think of a family in Virginia that tragically lost their beloved son just a short time ago.  I can't imagine the heartache - because as much as our hearts swell with love for our son, theirs are breaking every day.

One last little note:  yesterday I had the chance to help serve the boys on the football team with a hot meal.  It was about the coolest thing to watch them all hold hands and pray before their meal, thanking the Lord for the food, the moms, and safety on the field - in a public school.  Pretty awesome.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Weird Things That I Love....

1.  fruit roll-ups.  I could eat a whole box.

2.  "Wild Russia" on planet green.

3.  Large text print on library books.

4.  Sleeping.

5.  Pinterest.

6.  twisting my hair.

7.  Grocery shopping.

8.  Nerds. (the candy)

9.  Christmas shopping.

10. "Good luck Charlie" on the Disney channel.

How about you?  What weird things do you love?