Monday, July 14, 2014

Camping!

 Over the weekend, a group of friends [+ a few chaps] headed out Friday evening for camping and an outdoor drama. Chillicothe, OH is home to an amphitheater performance that tells the life story of the great Shawnee Chief, Tecumseh. Tecumseh plays a big role in the nation's history, as well as our local history when he signed The Treaty of Greenville. Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed to be taken during the performance, which is probably for the best considering all the loincloths. o_0 We camped at Hocking Hills state park and then spent a few hours hiking before heading home.










Monday, July 7, 2014

4th O' July Weekend + Apple Caramel Brownies

 When it comes to holiday's Christmas is my very favorite, closely followed by the 4th of July as a second. I absolutely love fireworks and it seems my sweet niece does too. She sat mesmerized, talking up a storm as she watched. I'm so thankful for the men and women that have and will serve our country and give up their lives, comfort/needs, family, etc.

I started my 4 day weekend [oh yeah!] off with a 5K and walked in a parade with our church's float. A few hours relaxing by the pool with my favorite bride to be and then dinner at Morgan & Caleb's and fireworks with them. Saturday, I got to make my FIRST ever trip to Ikea on our way home from picking up Cassidy's wedding gown. Definitely a fun girl outing and back home to whip up the amazing Apple Caramel Brownies below. Last night contained more fireworks....because the 4th of July can never have too many fireworks!


Apple Caramel Brownies: 
These babies are so easy and delish! They kinda remind us of zucchini bread or an apple coffee cake. 

Apple Caramel Brownies

Ingredients
 
2 stick salted butter, melted and cooled.
2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cup white sugar 
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large egg
1 cup chopped pecans, plus 1/2 cup for the very top
4 large firm-sweet apples (about 1 pound) peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes, about 2 3/4 cups
35-ish caramel candies


Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9 X 13 pan with either cooking spray, butter, or parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In another bowl beat together butter, sugar and egg with a hand mixer until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add chopped pecans and apples, and stir by hand until combined. Add flour mixture, and stir until combined.
  3. Spread batter in pan. Place caramel candies in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds,at a time, stirring until completely melted. Drizzle caramel over batter, remaining 1/2 cup pecans and bake until golden, about 40-45 minutes. Cool before cutting. 
You can drizzle more caramel on top after they've cooled if your heart desires to...but I like them as is. 

Adapted from Foodie Crush






Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Food Love

THIS is it. I have finally discovered the most amazing granola recipe. Chocolate and peanut butter forge together to make this masterpiece of clean eating [read: real food but still high in calories]. It's drool worthy and so simple.


Ingredients: 
6 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 1/4 cup nuts or seeds [totally optional...I left them out]
6 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup peanut butter of your choosing [go with a natural version that just contains peanuts and salt....no sugar!]
2/3 cup honey [could try substituting for pure maple syrup, molasses, or sorghum]
1/2 cup coconut oil [melted]
1 tsp. vanilla

Directions: 
Preheat oven to 325 and line two baking sheets with foil or parchment paper.

Mix oats, nuts/seeds, and cocoa powder. In a separate bowl, melt coconut oil. Then, add in peanut butter, honey, and vanilla and whisk together. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until everything is moist. Divide between your two baking sheets and spread it out evenly. Bake for 30 minutes stirring every 10 minutes [I also rotate my cooking sheets when I stir it so that one pan doesn't get too done on the bottom or the top]. Let it cool for 30 minutes before storing it in an air tight container or zip lock bag. Letting it cool will help make it more crunchy!

Feel free to get creative with this adding in dry fruit, cinnamon, nuts and seeds, whatever else your little heart desires! Eat it by itself, on top of yogurt, or drowned in milk.

Other recent foods I've fallen in love with:
 Spinach with strawberries, slivered almonds, and raspberry vinaigrette dressing. I've been try to eat more dark leafy greens lately, including putting them in breakfast smoothies. 
Avocado. One of thee best sources for healthy, plant based fat. Ohio doesn't always get the greatest avocados, so I rejoice every time I slice one open and find it perfectly ripe.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Lynni Comes To Town

If you've been reading my blog for a few years now, you've seen our beloved red head, Lynni, pop up a few times. We met WAY back in the day (think 7+ years ago) via our family blog when she was the first person to leave a comment. The first time we met was three years ago this weekend when she came down to go on my college Bible studies groups three day long camping trip. Girl showed up in yoga pants, hot pink shirt, hoop earrings, and curled hair...and we were headed to a "no shower, port-a-potty" zone. I braced myself for potentially the longest weekend of my life as it seemed I was going camping with Barbie! Turns out she could rough it and look good at the same time. ;) This past weekend she came to spend the day with us and brought her sweet baby Claire for us to meet for the first time!



 Father's day weekend 2011 after we got back from camping.
 Three years later we look nearly the same....

...but life has changed a bit!

 Fourth of July weekend 2011...Morgan and Cal were dating then....and she was convinced Morgan needed to get rid of him, I didn't agree and told her she could just go home.
 Three years later!

 Obviously, Caleb stayed...and Lynni and Morgan...and the rest of our family are pretty happy he did. He got to pretend they had twins for about 2 minutes while mom took the picture. 
 Sweet Claire Bear
1 month apart. Both 16 lbs. Matching dresses. 
Friends for life.

Lynni is also the owner of Ranchess Collections, a darling boutique she opened Fall 2013. I've only bought a few things so far....but I am in LOVE with what I purchased!


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Oh, Hey Blog I Forgot About// Life [Edition III]




 P/C: Deborah Griffieth
 
P/C: Deborah Griffieth  
One can never see too many pictures of a kid as cute as my niece right?! She was decked out for our local Strawberry Festival where her momma and daddy won first place in the talent contest!
Their closing song for their evening performance.

 Summery sunset on the way to a bonfire. Perfection!

 We got asked 13 times if we planned to match....which we did not...
Our small town has what we call First Friday's where all the shops downtown stay open late the first Friday of each month and also have a theme for each one. This past Friday was live music, so we spent the evening listening to friends play at one of the coffee houses.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Lemon Blueberry Cake [Recipe]

  UPDATE: To those of you who voted for my sister and brother-in-law in our local Strawberry Festival talent contest...THANKS so much. They made it to the top 10 and will be in the parade and will sing at the festival, in front of a panel of judges, who will hopefully decide they totally deserve the prize money. :)

Several weeks ago I stumbled upon this sunny looking lemon blueberry layer cake on Pinterest and I finally got the chance to make it. I did make mine in a 9x13 pan instead of as a layer cake because it was easier to serve for where I was taking it to.

Recipe found HERE.

Sally's Baking Addiction blog has many more helpful hints and tips for this cake. So make sure to go visit her as well. :)
Ingredients:

Cake

  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 1/4 cups (250g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature*
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour, careful not to overmeasure*
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk*
  • zest + juice of 3 medium lemons*
  • 1 and 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh (258g) or non-thawed frozen (275g)
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces (224g) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 and 1/2 cups (420g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 - 2 Tablespoons (15-30ml) heavy cream*
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 9x13 with nonstick spray. Set aside.

Make the cake. Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high until creamy - about 1 minute. Add granulated and brown sugars and beat on medium-high speed until creamed, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until everything is combined, about 2 full minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Set aside.
In a large sized bowl, toss together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Beat on low speed for 5 seconds, then add the milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Remove from the mixer and stir lightly until everything is just combined. Toss the blueberries in 1 Tablespoon of flour and fold into the batter. Batter is extremely thick. Do not overmix at any point. Overmixing will lend a tough, dense textured crumb.
Spoon batter evenly into 3 prepared cake pans. Bake for about 21-26 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Mine took 21 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Make the frosting. Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until no lumps remain, about 3 full minutes. Add confectioners' sugar, 1 Tablespoon cream, vanilla extract, and salt with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Add 1 more Tablespoon of cream to thin out, if desired.

Top with frosting and blueberries or lemon garnish if desired. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before cutting or else the cake may fall apart as you cut.
Make 1 day in advance if you'd like. Extras keep well in the refrigerator for up to 3days.