Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pumpkin Donuts


Ohhhhh how good these were! This is one of my new favorite recipes and I have to say it was so simple and easy :)

I took a recipe for Pumpkin Yeast Bread from King Arthur Flour and instead of shaping it into 2 loaves of bread I cut out donuts! I can see why they say this bread is delicious to use as sandwich bread for turkey sandwiches, it is so moist, flavorful and delicious. You better bet that I'll be making some more of this in time for Thanksgiving leftovers. Yum, yum.

Some of these I just made as donuts and donut holes.....and the other ones I made and filled with bavarian cream. Those were OMGoodness unbelievably divine  but you don't have to take my word for it. You can make these yourself and in just under 3 hours be eating hot, fresh pumpkin donuts. Heaven help me.

Pumpkin Yeast Bread
recipe adapted only for the shaping of dough from King Arthur Flour, as linked above

1/2 cup warm water
2 Tablespoons yeast (2 packages)
2/3 cup warm milk
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
6 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom ( I omitted this, we just aren't fans)

In the bowl of a stand mixer, pour the yeast over the warm water to proof. When it's proven that the yeast is still in fact alive, add in the milk, eggs, pumpkin, oil, 4 cups of the flour, sugar, salt, ginger and cardamom (if using). Beat for 2 minutes. Change over to the dough hook and incorporate enough flour to make a nice ball. Turn it out onto a well floured counter and knead until smooth and elastic.

Place the dough into a greased bowl and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Let raise for 1 hour, or until double.

Roll it out to a little over 1/4 inch thick and cut your donuts. I use a wide mouth canning jar and the cap off of my bottle of homemade vanilla (so, the cap of of a half gallon of vodka :)). The ones I was going to fill with cream, I just cut with a widemouth jar and didn't cut the hole out of the center. Place the cut out donuts onto a greased cookie sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let raise for 45 minutes, or until almost double.

Heat oil in a large, heavy pot. I use the bottom of a 12 inch, cast iron dutch oven to fry my donuts. Heat oil to 325 degrees and fry until donuts are golden brown on the outside and completely cooked through on the middle. For me, this means medium heat on my electric stove. It's going to be a little different for everyone though.

Let drain on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet and roll in cinnamon/sugar while still warm. For the regular donuts, that's it. You're done. For the donuts with filling, we have one more step.

Fit a pastry bag with a medium sized round tip. Fill the bag with bavarian cream (I can buy it at the grocery store I shop at. I can also buy all the fruit fillings that you can use in cakes and pastries there. Ask at your bakery counter if you don't see it. Often they will sell it to you :)) and poke the tip through the end of one donut. Gently squeeze the bag and fill the donut with cream. Not too much, or it will explode! After just a couple you;ll know how much to pipe in.

And that is it folks. Now, you're going to make some soon right??!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Fall Rush


Since it's officially Fall, I thought I would offer some pictures that you can download and make your screen savers if you want. From me to you :)

Fall is the time of year that is possibly busier than any other time of year. Preserving is still in full swing, and if it's possible, has hit an even more frantic pace. The instinct to put food by die hard in this human, that's for sure!

Then there is the firewood cutting, the fall butchering of animals (we have a steer to put in the freezer this year), battening down the hatches of the house. Making sure the yard is cleaned up from a summer's abuse of mud pies and swimming pools. Cleaning off the decks so there aren't any nasty surprises to step on when it snows. Tilling the garden under. Hatching a financial plan to get us through the last of the birthdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

A Fall cleaning of the house. Getting rid of the clutter before we're all stuck inside all day. Making new routines that have creative inside play scheduled in so the little ones (and mom) don't go stir crazy. New rain boots, coats, socks and mittens.

My big yarn projects come back out. The sewing machine makes an appearance so I can whip up gifts, decorations and other fun stuff. Cozy blankets make their way to the backs of the couches, extra quilts go on the beds.


Can you tell Fall is one of my most favorite times of year? My cupboards are stocked with Chai, Pumpkin Spice and Apple Cinnamon teas. A big batch of hot cocoa mix has been made, marshmallows have been stocked up and apple cider is ready to be put in the crockpot to cook all day while we're out.

Most of all, the changing of seasons changes the way I look at things. Another year has come to an end. Did I do enough? Did I work hard enough? What can I do to make my family more comfortable? It's a time to not only clean your physical house, but your spiritual one as well. A new season is a new start, as well as an end.

It's easy to be melancholy and think about how my kids will never be this small again, because even tomorrow they will be bigger than they were today. Instead of falling into that trap, I choose to spend every day reminding myself that time can never be gotten back. Today needs to count because there aren't any do-overs.


More than anything Fall is the gateway to the slow down. The family time that comes with the Holidays, the games and fun that happens when it's wet and no one wants to go outside to do anything. The movies to snuggle up and watch, the big dinners to cook and enjoy. The family to love and the friends to cherish. Road trips, crackling fires and warm drinks. The colors of the leaves, the smell of wood smoke in the air and the crisp air.....

I love Fall!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pumpkin Cream Dessert









This is really nothing more than a shameless adaptation of Better Than Robert Redford made to be more fall-like. I have been thinking about making a pumpkin version for a couple of years now but I just got around to it. I'm kicking myself now because it is insanely delicious!

There are a few steps, but none of them are very labor intensive and other than making a quick crust this is a no-bake dessert. Simple ingredients combine to make a rich, velvety and rich dessert. Yum.

Mix the flour, pecans (or walnuts) and butter in a small bowl. When it's thoroughly combined, press the mixture into the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan that has been sprayed with non stick spray.


Bake for 15 minutes and let cool completely.

When the crust is totally cool, mix together the cream cheese and powdered sugar. Fold in 1 cup of whipped topping. Spread onto cooled crust.


Mix the vanilla instant pudding mix with cold milk and set it in the fridge for 5 minutes to firm up.

Take it out and add in the pumpkin, folding it in completely. Spread over the top of the cream cheese/whipped topping layer.


Spread on the rest of the whipped topping and maybe sprinkle on a little cinnamon :)


How pretty is that? OMGosh, this is just the most delicious dessert I can think of for fall. So easy too!

Pumpkin Cream Dessert

~Crust~
1 cup flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans (or walnuts)
1/2 cup melted butter

~Cream Filling~
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup whipped topping

~Pumpkin Filling~
1 (5.1 oz) package instant vanilla pudding
2 cups milk
1 cup 100% pumpkin puree (don't use pumpkin pie filling)

~Topping~
1 cup whipped topping

Mix the flour, nuts and butter together in a small bowl. Press into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes; cool completely. When the crust is cool, mix together the cream cheese and powdered sugar. Fold in whipped topping and spread over the cooled crust. In another small bowl, mix together the pudding and milk. Let sit in the fridge for 5 minutes to firm up. Fold in the pumpkin puree and spread over cream cheese/whipped topping layer. Spread the remaining whipped topping over the pumpkin layer. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (it gets better the longer it sits, so good the next day!).

I have linked this recipe up to Little House Living's Old Fashioned Recipe Exchange

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sprucing Up The Fridge

I have little kids, as most of you know, so my fridge tends to take a beating. Spills, messes and random sandwiches shoved in there for "later" all take a toll on the cleanliness of Mr. Refrigerator. So, I got the brilliant idea to protect my delicate glass shelving AND make it easier to clean out. 

The (mostly) empty fridge before:


The door:


I thoroughly cleaned it out and scrubbed every surface. Then I got out my trusty cutting mat, a razor knife and a roll of shelf lining. This stuff comes in so many colors and patterns you could make your fridge look like anything you want on the inside! I chose this plain cause I thought it was cheerful and cute.


I just cut the shelf liner to size for each piece of glass and laid it on top. It has non-slip grip on the back so it isn't going to go anywhere and clean up will be so much easier to do now. Just wipe it off and you're good to go. I have found that with the glass shelves, some things don't come off very easily, like jam, and I haven't had a problem yet with the shelf paper. Plus, it's cute :)
\
Fridge after:




I couldn't be happier with the way this turned out and how nice it looks. Not too shabby for a cheap, quick fix!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Crockpot Applesauce


Isn't it lovely? This came off of my very own, front yard apple tree. We didn't have many apples on our little tree this year, but the ones that were there were HUGE! I didn't want to let any of it go to waste, so I made 2 big batches of applesauce out of them.

Oh, and I did it in my crockpot while I was busy with other things. I'll probably never make applesauce on the stovetop again. Ever.


Can you tell how huge these apples are?! The smaller one on the left is a normal size apple, the ones on the right are monster apples. Yum.

Here's the lowdown on making applesauce in the crockpot. Peel, core and slice your apples. Put them in the crockpot and add 1/4 cup water. Put the lid on and cook on low for 8 hours (or on high for 3-4 hours). About halfway through take the lid off and mash the apples until they are as smooth or chunky as you want. You can add sugar, cinnamon or anything else you want at this point but I chose to leave mine just the way it is. When all the apples are tender and cooked down, you can leave the lid off the crockpot and cook down the sauce until it's as thick as you'd like. Mine was fine without any extra cooking, but it's going to depend on how much liquid your apples give off.


This is what I ended up with. No added sugar, no added anything. Just pure lovely applesauce.

I canned this, but you could just put it in a container and eat it fresh. It's apple season, go get some and let your house smell amazing while you make some applesauce to put by for the winter. Is anything better than the smell of cooking apples? Yum!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

And Yet Again....

I have another post on the Grain Mill Wagon....this time it's for breakfast.


I wouldn't mid eating one of these fro breakfast! Go through the link to get the recipe :)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Crafting A Fall Wreath


Have you entered to win the Rustic Cupcake Stand? Contest is open until 10/26!



Last night my husband treated me to dinner out and afterwards we had to stop at a "big store" to buy some trash bags. While we were walking down an isle, I saw this really pretty bunch of silf flowers that had grasses, pinecones and cattails in it. Immediately, thoughts of crafting a fall wreath based off of some I had seen on Pinterest popped into my head.

I tied brown tulle all over my wreath form and then picked apart my floral arrangement so I had individual pieces. I then hot glued the longest, largest things down where I thought they looked nice. I just filled in here and there with leaves, flowers, and tiny tufts of tulle wherever I needed a little "something".

I LOVE how this turned out, and I already have a really cute idea in mind for a Christmas wreath. This was a super cheap craft, less than $5.00 total. I had the wreath and tulle already, so that would make it a little more but still very cheap. Plus, it should last forever if you pack it up and keep it somewhere safe.

Here are some close up pictures to help you see the pretty bits a little better.


 Leaves, pinecones, feathers, grasses, flowers and cattails make up this portion...



Just leaves, grass and a cattail here.



Take an hour and craft a lovely wreath for your home soon. It was so much fun and look at how nice it turned out!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Monster Cookies


The thing I have a problem with when I make cookies is that they are always one kind- peanut butter, chocolate chip, oatmeal, etc. I'm the kind of gal that likes to make her own ice cream so that I can put EVERYTHING in it and top it with more goodies. It makes sense that Monster Cookies would appeal to me because they are chock full of delicious things, and you get to choose what you add. Win!

So I'm in my kitchen, happily mixing up my usual Monster Cookie recipe and I reach for the peanut butter jar. It feels light....and it's making a tinkling sound? What the heck? The spoons inside explained what had happened without anyone saying a word. My peanut butter had been robbed. Now I had to hit the internets and find a recipe that didn't include peanut butter. Can I just tell you how hard that was? Virtually every. single. recipe. you can find has peanut butter in it.

And then....

I found this recipe and I made it. I liked it so much that it's going to replace my older monster cookie recipe. It's so good!!



Monster Cookies
adapted from this recipe

1 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups oats
4 cups total of the following ingredients:

  • M&M's
  • Reese's Pieces
  • Chocolate Chips
  • White Chocolate Chips
  • Peanut Butter Chips
  • Butterscotch Chips
  • Peanuts
  • Almonds
  • Pecans
  • Walnuts
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Coconut
  • Pretzels

Mix the butter, sugar and eggs until well combined and fluffy. Add in vanilla; stir well. Add in dry ingredients and mix. Beat in your 4 cups of extra goodness and stir to combine. Drop by heaping tablespoon onto a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. *Important* Take these out before they look totally done. If you end up freezing any, they will be just as soft and good as they were fresh. Makes approx. 4 dozen



A word of warning though- apparently the name "Monster Cookies" is misleading to small children. I told my girls that I was making Monster Cookies and they were VERY disappointed that they didn't actually LOOK like monsters. After tasting the cookies, they decided that is was ok not to look like monster because they taste so good! :)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Menu Plan {9/10-9/16}

I thought we'd try to get back into the swing of things by sharing our meal plans again. Not only does this help keep me on track, I like to think that by me sharing meals and by you sharing them as well, we might find a few new ideas for dinner! That's never a bad thing :)

Breakfast

Scrambled eggs, toast, homemade applesauce
Pumpkin muffins, bacon, fruit
Overnight cinnamon rolls, smoothies
Whole grain pancakes, eggs
Biscuits and Gravy
Apple pie oatmeal
Sausage breakfast sandwiches

Lunch

Egg salad, carrots
Chicken salad, apple slices
Leftovers (2 times)
Sandwiches (tuna, pb&j, or lunch meat) x3, fruit and/or veggies

Dinner

Stretch patties (recipe coming!), roasted oven fries, peas
Wings, rings (oven onion rings) and fresh veg
Taco Pizza
Lasagna (recipe coming!)
Egg rolls and fried rice
Breakfast (haven't decided what kind yet)
Steak, twice baked potatoes, creamed spinach

Snacks

Pumpkin muffins
Cookies (I have tons of different kinds frozen, ready to bake)
Popcorn
Crackers and Cheese
Celery with peanut butter
Carrot sticks and dip
Anything else that strikes my fancy ;)

Share you meal plan with me, what are you having this week?



Thursday, September 6, 2012

I'm Back!

And I'm just so excited to be blogging again! I'm going to share something with you really quick this morning, and then I'll have a longer post later today, ok? Ok! 

Look at what is growing in my garden!







The Brussels sprouts are brusseling! Woohoo!!!