Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Apple Treats and Baby Bumps

Happy Tuesday!

Today I am blogging over at CafeMom about sharing the big [baby] news with our family as well as my quest to find the perfect maternity clothesGo check it out!

In other news:

A little over two weeks ago - the sweet little baby growing inside my tummy was approximately the size of an apple.  In true cheesy fashion - Carl, Henry and I celebrated this occasion by going on our annual apple picking adventure! SO smahhhht I tell you!  It was, of course, the perfect opportunity for me to get my first bump shot for our little one's baby book.

The weather was gorgeous and we really had a wonderful time.  I made sure that I ate an extra apple cider doughnut for myself and the little one... I didn't want them to feel left out of our family tradition this year!  I also thought I was not going to be able to have my cup of fresh cider until I walked in the door and saw a huge sign saying that all of their cider was pasteurized.  I almost cried tears of joy.  After indulging in our treats, purchasing a few pumpkins and colorful mums - we lugged our half bushel of Macintosh and Cortlands home and got to making some of our favorite apple treats.

I just HAD to share my favorite apple recipe of all with my favorite people of all - YOU! yes you! If I can give you any advice about the recipe below it would be to stop whatever you are doing and get making this recipe RIGHT. NOW.  You (and your tummy) will be glad you did!

Apple Pie Coffee Cake
[Recipe modified from Taste of Home]

Serves 16-20

Apple Filling:
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
4 cups cored, peeled and sliced
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cold butter (2 sticks, unsalted)
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup brown sugar
2/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cold butter (unsalted)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (add more to taste)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray 9x13 glass pan with non-stick cooking spray - set aside.

In a saucepan - combine granulated sugar, cornstarch, apples and lemon juice.  Bring to a boil on Medium High heat and cook until mixture starts to thicken and apples start to soften - approximately 5-8 minutes (use judgement).  Stir constantly to avoid mixture from burning.  Remove from heat and add cinnamon.  Let mixture cool while combining the cake and topping.

In a large bowl - combine the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and baking soda.  Chop cold butter into small portions and add to dry mixture.  Cut butter into mixture using a pastry blender. In another bowl - beat the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla; stir into butter crumb mixture just until moistened.  Spoon two-thirds of the batter into greased pan.  Top with apple mixture and remaining batter.

For topping - combine brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.  Sprinkle topping over batter.  Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  The base of the cake should be golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Enjoy!

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.
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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Soup for You

The cooler weather has definitely started to creep it's way into our weekly forecast and I have to admit, I really don't mind! I LIVEEEE for this time of year - my absolute favorite favorite favorite season.  Carl and I have started a variety of fall traditions and they are some of the things that I look forward to year round.

What I also love about this time of year is the return of heartier meals and COMFORT FOOD - oh how I love you!  Apples, Pumpkins, Mac+Cheese, Squash, Beef Stew, Chicken and Dumplings, Pot Pie, Baked Chicken, Pot Roast, Grandma Hoffmeister's Famous Brisket, Soup galore - ahhhh the list goes on and on (and on)!

A few weeks ago, I got to thinking about this delicious beef and barley soup that our friends Ty and Mandy had made for us a few years ago.  She rendered the beef in some duck fat to start and it was absolutely divine.  So scrumptious that I am still thinking about it over 2 years later!

I love soup with barley in it but for some reason I have always been a little scared of attempting it myself.  I happen to see it on sale last week and decided to give it a go.  Here is the delicious result that I am sharing with you today and will be adding to our stockpile of go-to soups from now on.  I took a bit of a lighter approach and used some leftover chicken but I'm sure beef (or beef rendered in duck fat) would be just as tasty.


Portobello Mushroom Soup with Barley and Chicken

Makes 6-8 servings

1/2 cup pearl barley
4 cups water
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
16oz sliced portobello mushrooms
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth/stock
1 tsp chicken base or 1 chicken bouillon cube
1 cup chopped chicken
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 heaping tsp fresh thyme (removed from stem)
2 tbsp lemon juice
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine barley and water in a large saucepan (soup pot) and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 40 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

In a large skillet, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, celery, garlic, carrots and portobello mushrooms.  Saute for 10-12 minutes until translucent and soft.

Add chicken broth/stock, chicken base/bouillon, parsley, thyme and lemon juice to the large saucepan with barley.  Add the cooked vegetables and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add chopped chicken and simmer for another 10 minutes.  Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.


PS:  Billie Hester - I am still waiting to hear from you regarding your winning prize from this post.  If I don't hear back from you in the next few days I will be picking a new winner!
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Monday, September 10, 2012

BIG News!

As I have previously mentioned, my waistline has certainly started to grow since the start of this blog.  Now, it is expanding for other reasons!

Carl and I are expecting a sweet little bundle of joy in very early March and we are beyond excited.

Expanding our family has been something we have dreamed about for many years and we are just so happy that the time has finally come! Of course we are a little anxious and overwhelmed but I think that comes along with the territory!

And as for our other little "baby" - Henry is going to be a fantastic big-brother - we just know it! 
I mean - come on - just look at this face!

Stay tuned for updates on the "baking" of this little baby bun as the weeks go on.  It sure is the sweetest recipe I know I'll ever create and I'm so excited to share it with all of you.

Now that food sounds appealing to me again and my stomach has decided to temporarily let it stay - I'll be back to sharing new recipes in the weeks to come!

Have some baby advice?  Know some fantastic products that are a MUST? I'd love to hear them!  We are all ears on this end!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!
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