Thursday, October 30, 2008

The all American Apple Pie

I just got around to making apple pies with the apples we picked a couple of weeks ago. I managed to bake two pies. I even brought out my handy-dandy top crust cutter thing, yes I know a very bad description. Actually now that I think of it, it's like a very large cookie cutter that cuts out apple shapes on the top pie crust. What would call it??? As I was cleaning up my mess I remembered a funny story.

This story goes back about 19 years ago when I was living in an apartment with my big brother Mike. We had gone apple picking apple picking together. I decided to bake an apple pie. So I gathered all the ingredients together for the crust, rolled it out and put the sliced apple mixture into it. Threw it in the oven. I was so proud of myself. This pie was looking like a Mile High Apple Pie. It had a gorgeous color on the crust. So after the appropriate amount of time I took the apple pie out of the oven. I was smirking to myself while patting myself on the back. After it cooled we went to cut into the pie. Let me tell you how fast my happiness to sorrow. The crust was hard like paper mache when dried. Then after sawing through the crust we realized all my apples baked down to applesauce. I was in tears. My brother thought it was hilarious. It is now for me but not back then.

So I hope everyone gets a chuckle out of this as I do, now.

Ghoulishly tasty treat boxes

I just love Halloween and any other holiday that I can make neat things for the boys to take to school. (well Kyle is a little too old to take treat bags to school). I was planning on making a Fry Box, yes like the french fry containers from the fast food places. Then someone on Splitcoast had posted a link to Martha Stewart Coffin Boxes. That got my attention. So I checked it out and changed my mind instantly. They are very easy to make and fun to decorate even though I kept mine simple.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Technique Challenge 192 - Paper Napkin Transfer

Today's Split Coast Technique challenge was Paper Napkin Transfer.

Directions from Split Coast Stampers - Today's technique will show you another way to make your own background papers from some of those left over napkins we all seem to have. I'm referring to the decorative themed napkins left over from birthday parties, Halloween parties, Thanksgiving dinner, and of course Christmas. All you will need for the basis of this technique are:Decorative NapkinFreezer Paper (the white stuff with a waxy coating on the backside)IronA piece of scratch or copy paperOther cardstock and supplies you would like to complete your project.

First start by unfolding your napkin and if it is a multi-ply napkin, carefully pull the layers apart so that you only have the top decorative layer for your project.

Cut a piece of freezer paper a little larger than your napkin (about 1/2 to 3/4")

Heat your iron while you first lay your freezer paper, shiny side up, on your ironing board. Next, lay your decorative napkin (pretty side up) onto your freezer paper, then lay your copy paper on top of your napkin.

Heat with your iron (set on medium - no steam) for about 15 to 30 seconds, moving your iron over the copy paper, applying gentle pressure until your napkin is adhered to your freezer paper.

Now just apply your pretty napkin to your cardstock, (just like you would if you were using patterned paper) and complete your project as desired.This is not only a way to create some beautiful background paper, but a fun and creative way to use up those left over napkins that are just too pretty to toss away. I can't wait to see all the fun creations from this technique.

I was hoarding some pretty napkins a while back and decided to throw them away when we moved 2 years ago. Why Oh Why!!! So today I had a couple of errands to run and found some cute ones (well at least to me they were cute).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Virtual Stamping Night on Split Coast Stampers

Last night was a mini VSN. I managed to complete one of the challenges this morning. The first challenge was to "Frame Your Star." The first photo I thought of was this year's school picture of Kyle. I love the pose, what he was wearing and the background. I love all my photos of my boys but this one has to be up there near the top. Kyle's undershirt is from Aeropostale. It's a cool looking shirt, kinda like a weathered grunge style. Since both boys like this style of print I knew I had to make something similar. I found a stamp set by Inkadinkadoo called Rock Star and had to buy it. So the challenge was posted for "Frame Your Star" I put two and two (Kyle's photo and the stamp set) together and came up with this frame.

Friday, October 24, 2008

It's Halloween Time

Well like I said a couple weeks ago I was getting ready to make Kyle's Halloween costume. He decided to be a gladitor. So I bought the pattern and the fabric and have been working on it for two weeks (well off and on). I just have a one button to sew on, the boa for the top of the helmet and velcro to hold his leg coverings closed.

I can not tell you how many times I have poked my fingers. They are sore from all the hand stitching, but I absolutely LOVE making the boys their Halloween costumes.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What's on the menu for tonight??

I'm glad you asked.. hehehe... Tonight's meal was Mushroom & Spinach ravioli. A couple of months ago I was chatting with my friend Melissa about making homemade pasta/ravioli. So we both ended up making it that same weekend. I made the basic ricotta filled ones. She on the other hand made mushroom ravioli.. So this morning when I was thinking of what to make for dinner, I will be honest I had something totally different out for dinner and realized I didn't have all the ingredients, I thought of ravioli. As I was mixing the ricotta I remembered I what Melissa had done. So out came the mushrooms from the fridge. While the mushrooms were "sweating" I remembered I had frozen spinach. After a little thawing in the microwave, I chopped a handful of the spinach. I then placed the spinach, mushrooms and half the ricotta in a small food processor to mix it together.

With everything set aside I set out to roll the ravioli. Boy, is this some work. After about 1 hr from start of the roll to the complete fill I threw the ravioli into the freezer until dinner.

Every pasta dish has to have a sauce. I ended up making a Garlic Alfredo Sauce. Supper easy and delish, if I must say so..
Garlic Alfredo Sauce:
3 tablespoons butter
8 fluid ounces heavy whipping cream
salt to taste
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Melt butter or margarine in a saucepan over medium heat. Add heavy cream, stirring constantly. Stir in salt, nutmeg, grated Parmesan cheese, and grated Romano cheese. Stir constantly until melted, then mix in egg yolk. Simmer over medium low heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Garnish with additional grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fall Tradition

Like I have said before I love fall. Every year Steve and I take the boys apple picking. We found a beautiful orchard in Amesbury MA called Cider Hill. We have been going to Cider Hill for the past 4 or so years and every year it is packed. There is usually a Hay Maze, Corn Maze, hayride up the hill to the larger orchard, a beautiful barn style store and the best of the best cider donuts. If you are lucky and time it right you can get the warm ones that just came out of the oil. But there is a downside to these donuts, the waiting line.

This year we picked Gala, Brauburn, Fortune and Mutsu. This year the apples are very large. Nick was holding one that is as big as his hand.

After we were done the boys wanted to check out the chicken and the goats. They had 5 goats and the largest one had his head stuff in the fence. Well I guess I shouldn't say stuck, but his horns were not long for the fence so he would have to twist his head the right way to get it out.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

WHOOPIE!!!! pies that is.

I made these Pumpkin Whoopie Pies this morning. They are very soft and spongy, not cakey like the ones you get at the store. I made a cream cheese filling. Here is the recipe:

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies


2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups solid pack pumpkin puree
2 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 tablespoon ground cloves
1 egg white
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup shortening


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease baking sheets.
Combine the oil and brown sugar. Mix in the pumpkin and eggs, beating well. Add the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, 1 teaspoon vanilla, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Mix well.

Drop dough by heaping teaspoons onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 10 to 12 minutes. Let cookies cool then make sandwiches from two cookies filled with Whoopie Pie Filling.

To Make Whoopie Pie Filling: Beat egg white and mix with the milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 cup of the confectioners' sugar. Mix well then beat in the shortening and the remaining cup of confectioners' sugar. Beat until light and fluffy.

** Again I used a cream cheese filling:
For the filling:
6 tablespoons soft butter
4 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups confectioners' sugar

Fill the cookies: Put the butter, cream cheese and vanilla in the large bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-low speed for about 1 minute, until the mixture is smooth and thoroughly combined. Decrease the speed to low and add the confectioners sugar in 2 additions. Beat until it is incorporated and the frosting is smooth, about 1 minute.

Use a thin metal spatula to spread a slightly rounded tablespoon of cream cheese filling over the flat bottoms of half the cooled cookies. Press the flat bottoms of the remaining cookies on the cream cheese frosting. Refrigerate until the frosting is firm, about 30 minutes.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Chef in Training

When Nicholas saw my finished apron he wanted one too. So I remembered I had some Spongebob material somewhere in the box of fabric. I bought a kids pattern for the apron and sewed it up. He tried it on and said it looked like a dress. I told him I would send it off to my friend Donna's boys. Nicholas decided he liked it enough to keep. So night he wanted to help with dinner, so he went and put on his apron...

Dinner.... hmmm..

We are having a dish I saw Rachel Ray make on her 30 Minute Meals show. It is delish!!! I omitted the kale since the kids won't eat it.

Chicken and Chorizo Romesco with Spanish Potatoes

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 pounds baby Yukon gold potatoes, halved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup shredded manchego or monteray jack
1 to 3 slices stale bread, toasted, cut 1/2-inch dice
1 cup pequillo peppers or roasted red peppers
1 (15-ounce) can fire roasted tomatoes, drained, about 1 1/3 cups
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 cup marcona almonds (Spanish toasted almonds), substitute toasted sliced or peeled almonds if unavailable
4 pieces boneless skinless chicken breast or thigh meat
2 teaspoons orange zest or lemon zest
1 teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika
A handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
3/4 pound Spanish chorizo, casings removed, cut into 8 pieces on the bias


Heat about 1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and slowly cook until crisp and golden brown.

Place potatoes in a pot and cover with water, bring to a boil, season with salt and cook 15 minutes or until tender, drain and return to hot pot. While the potatoes cook, simmer kale in salted water 10 minutes then drain. When you are ready to serve, mash potatoes with stock and cheese, fold in kale, adjust salt and pepper.

While potatoes come to a boil, move forward with the meal. Add to a food processor: toasted garlic (reserve the oil), some of the toasted bread in pieces, the peppers, tomatoes, sherry vinegar, almonds, and salt and pepper. Turn processor on and stream in reserved "garlic-oil" and add the rest of the toasted bread in pieces until you get a pesto-like consistency. Transfer sauce back to the skillet and keep warm over low heat.

Cut each piece of chicken into 3 chunks and season with citrus zest, smoked sweet paprika, salt, pepper and parsley. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chorizo and render it 1 minute. Remove the chorizo to a plate and then add chicken and cook 10 to 12 minutes, turning occasionally.

Pour a pool of sauce onto each dinner plate and top with a mound of potatoes and kale and chunks of chicken and chorizo. OLE!

Friday, October 10, 2008

What's This????

For those of you who know me will know what all this means.

Yes, it is that time of year. What time??? Halloween and costume making for me. Nick has opted for a store bought one this year, again... Actually I need to order it soon. Kyle is studying Ancient Greece in school and came home one day and said he wanted to be a Spartan. He was showing me clips from Google Video of the movie 300 and I drew the line of my son going out trick or treating in just a cape. So we looked at patterns on line and found one that we both agreed on. I am ready to start the laying the pattern down and cutting the pieces out. I will be updating the blog as I go. Wish me luck on this one.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the colors of the leaves as they change. One of my favorite smells is wood burning during the falls months. The cool refreshing nights ahead. I could probably go on.
This weeks Technique Challenge was to make a mini pizza box. You can click the following link for the information At first I could not come up with anything for this challenge. I went ahead and grabbed some pumpkin paper and made the box, but now what. So it wasn't until Tuesday when I saw the Color Combo challenge that I had to come up with something. Later that morning I was driving home from the grocery store and saw the sign for the local confection store saying "Pumpkin Fudge." That is it. I came home and made a batch of pumpkin fudge. It was pretty simple but time consuming. Here is the recipe from RecipeZaar:

2 cups sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 1/2-2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 (12 ounce) package white chocolate chips
1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow creme
1 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


1 In a heavy saucepan, combine the first 6 ingredients; heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves, stirring frequently.

2 Continue heating until mixture begins to boil, stirring constantly.

3 Continue boiling until candy thermometer reaches soft-ball stage (234-243 degrees).

4 Remove pan from heat; stir in chocolate chips until melted.

5 Add in remaining ingredients; stir to mix well.

6 Pour into a buttered 13x9 inch baking pan; cool to room temperature.

7 Cut into squares; stor in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.

Thanks for looking and enjoy.

WT187 - Ways to Use It Challenge - Monograms

Most of my family and friends know I like to scrapbook and make cards. I am a fan club member of this great website called There are so many talented ladies on this site. Each day there is a different challenge, ie Thursday being the Ways to Use It challenge. There are rules/guidelines to follow.

So today's challenge was to create something using your monogram. I think I got a little carried away and manged to do three simple ones. I think they all represent me in different ways. Thanks for looking and have a great day.

Look Who Turned "10"

On October 5th we celebrated Nicholas turning the big 10. He wanted to have his party at a bowling alley. There were 9 kids in total and they all behaved quite well. Nicholas wanted to have a skateboard cake. So I looked around the internet for some ideas and this is what I came up with. The flame on the cake was inspired by a rubber stamp I have from Inque Boutique. I enlarged the image at Staples and cut it out of the paper. Then I layed the template onto the cake and traced it with a toothpick. I mixed some frosting with orange and yellow dye and viola this is how it came out. I'm pretty happy with it. This cake reminds me of the cakes my mom use to make for us kids when we were younger. I specifically remember a cat cake for one of my birthdays.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Flag Hill Grape Harvest

There are two movies I love - Under A Tuscan Sun and A Walk in the Clouds. Both these movies take place at vineyards. I have always been in awe with photos of vineyard landscapes.

Here in New England we have several "small" wineries. Back in June my husband and I visited two of the lcoal ones. One of them, Flag Hill, has a grape harvest every year. If you are signed up on their email list you get a chance to be invited to help with the harvest. This year I got picked. I was able to bring other people. So my husband, sister in law, brother in law and myself attened out first grape harvest festival. It was a chilly New England morning. My husband and I went for breakfast before heading to the vineyard. We met up with my husband's sister Kathy and her husband Bob. I could not believe how many people were there, 200 in total. The owner of the vineyard went through what was expected of the day and then sent us on our merry way. We were sent down to the Cayuga grape section first. These grapes were plump "white" grapes witha sweet taste. Yes, I took one off the vine to taste it and I wasn't the only one. Next we were sent onto the Vignoles grapes. These grapes were a "white" grape but with a bitter taste. The Vignoles also were a lot smaller in size than the Cayuga and they seem to rot faster. I'm not sure why. After we were done harvesting the grapes we went upto the white tent area (like the type for wedding receptions). Lunch wasn't ready, since we got done with harvesting the grapes so quickly, so the winery opened up the "bar". You could order chilled bottles of wine, draft beer and soda. We also got a commorative wine glass for the harvest. They had a couple of activities that we could do. The first one was the stomping of the grapes. You could do your best Lucille Ball inpersonation. I tried and almost fell. The second activity was to paint the bottom of your feet and "stamp" then on the festival shirt (if you bought one). The last activity was a relay race. I didn't understand completely what you needed to do so I skipped it. Lunch was finally ready. They served grilled chicken and roast beef with pasta salad and cole slaw. My husband asked how many pounds of beef and was told 60-65 between the two pieces. Boy, was this food worth waiting for. For dessert they brought out pumpkin cheesecake, raspberry cheesecake and apple crisp. I went straight for the pumpkin cheesecake, man that was delicious. I can not wait til next year and hope that I get picked again.

I have taken the plunge and started blogging.

I have decided this would be a great way to share my daily life with my family and friends. My blog will be a constant work in progress and always changing. You will mostly find me talking about family experiences, food/wine and crafting. I hope you enjoy it.