October 14, 2015

Some Much Needed R & R

The last several months have been rather hectic in our household.  These days the both of us are constantly working with evenings and weekends being consumed by the glow of our laptops.  Throw in the fact that Josh has been gone for the last month and I think it’s safe to say that we both needed a weekend away.  I had this past Monday off, so we decided to do a 3-dayer at the family cabin in northern Minnesota.  The leaves were peaking and we had spectacular weather.  It actually hit 87 degrees on Sunday.  That type of weather is not unheard of this time of year but it doesn’t come around often! 

Friday night after I got home from work, we loaded up the pup and got the heck outta dodge.  Kigen needed this weekend away as well.  Poor guy has been stuck with boring ol’ me for the last month and let’s face it, I just can’t roughhouse with him like his dad does.  At least he knows where to go for endless snuggles!  Since we got up there pretty late, we passed out almost immediately after un-packing which left us refreshed to start the weekend.  There’s just something about waking up at the cabin in the fall after the leaves have changed and drinking a good cup of java while watching the sunrise over the lake with your favorite person.  Pure bliss.

Looking at all of the fall colors left me itchin’ to get out and take some pics of the beautiful landscape we were surrounded by.  The boys were more than willing to be my subjects of our impromptu photo shoot, which I always appreciate.  As the years go on, I feel more and more grateful that we have such a beautiful place to go to that has the ability to put us in a zen state of mind so quickly.  Throw in a glass or 3 of wine and our time up there is practically ethereal. 

Unfortunately, we did still have to get some work done this weekend.  My dad and brother came up for the day on Sunday so we could all help take the boat lift and dock out of the water for the winter.  It was really nice to see them as we don’t spend time together like we used to when we all lived at home.  They were only there for a few hours and after they left it was time to get back to work.  Josh and his buddy Seth Feider put on monthly webinars that go over all aspects of fishing as well as in-depth discussions on using the GPS electronics that come on the majority of boats these days.  I’m the one in charge of putting the presentations together which can be rather time consuming but I also don’t mind so much because it’s time that we get to spend together interacting with one another instead of just watching TV or messing around on our phones next to each other but not actually engaging in conversation.  However, all good things must come to an end.  After enjoying what will most likely be our last morning at the cabin until next spring, we got everything cleaned up and packed up and headed back to reality.  Monday night’s webinar went off without a hitch and I even found time to make lasagna for the whole crew that shows up when we do them!  Perfect end to a perfect weekend.

October 05, 2015

Happy Fall Y'all!

Don’t you just love fall?  Summer is great and all, but there’s just something about the cooler temperatures and the leaves changing that gets me all happy in my innards.  I’m no longer finding excuses why I shouldn’t turn the oven on, but more of why I should!  This past weekend, I had the pleasure of taking my niece and nephew apple picking at one of our local orchards.  We had such a good time getting out in the crisp fall air and enjoying each other’s company.  My nephew is 2 ½ and pretty easily entertained while my niece is 10 going on 25 so I was hoping that she wasn’t too cool for some good ol’ fashioned family time.  Aren’t they adorable? 

These kids were having so much fun and I must admit that we over-picked.  We left with about 3 full pecks of Haralson apples and 1 peck each of Honeycrisp and Fireside.  They know how to hustle their aunt and her wallet so they each picked out a pumpkin as well.  When we got back to their house, my niece and I made a 9x13 and 8x8 pan of apple crisp.  Even after all that it didn’t look like we came close to touching the pile of apples that we still had!

Later that night, my husband finally made it home after a month on the road so he was itchin’ for some home cooking.  On Sunday morning, I put on a pot of bison chili and cornbread for the Vikings game so he could relax and take a much needed day off.  Since my love of sports is more or less non-existent I took this opportunity to figure out what to do with the rest of the apples.  

Apple crisp is always a must for fall in our house but that was only going to cover a portion of what I was working with.  I decided on making some crockpot applesauce and then trying my hand at appleturnovers.  Both of which turned out absolutely amazing.   

Let’s get back to that apple crisp for a sec.  This is a dessert that my mom has made for years and is a family favorite.  I’ve done some tweaking to the recipe to suit my taste buds and this is what I’ve come up with!

Everyone seems to have their own way of how they peel and slice their apples.  Whether it’s using one of those fancy apple peelers that also slices at the same time (which I have found can slice them too thin) or using an apple slicer and cutting them from there (mine broke otherwise I would have gone with this method).  It really doesn’t matter how you do it as long as you get them peeled and sliced.  It is my personal recommendation that you slice them about ½” thick otherwise they can get too mushy during baking.  Since my slicer was busted, I opted for the peel and core method and chop into slices from there.  You’ll want about a ½ peck worth.  Slice a lemon in half and drizzle the juice over the apple slices so they don’t brown.  

Sprinkle the apple with ¾ cup sugar, ¾ Tbls cinnamon, ¼ tsp salt and 3-4 tablespoons of cornstarch.  The cornstarch helps thicken the sauce that will be created during baking.  If you don’t add this, you’ll generally end up with a watery mess at the bottom of your pan as opposed to a nice, thick cinnamon sugar sauce.  It tastes like hopes and dreams and I would hate for you to miss out on it.  From here this all needs to get mixed together.  You can use a big spoon but I’ve found that using your hands is the most effective method.  You should probably sample a slice or 10 to make sure everything tastes legit.  It’s all about quality control people!  Pour all the apple goodness into a 9x13 baking dish. 

Using the same bowl (or a new one, if you want it clean first) combine 2 cups flour, 2 cups brown sugar, 2tsp vanilla (or less, but I love vanilla) and 2 sticks of cold butter.  

Again, mix all this with your hands.  The heat from your hands will help soften the butter therefor assisting in the process of making your “crumble” topping. You just don't get that from a mixing spoon.

Carefully place the crumble topping over the apples being careful to keep it all over the pan.  

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes.  Wait for it to cool and serve with some tasty ice cream.  We went with French Vanilla for this round.  Deee-licous!


Apple Crisp

½ Lemon juice
3/4 C Sugar
3/4 T Cinnamon
¼ tsp Salt
½ - 3/4 Peck Harelson apples
3-4 T Cornstarch

2 C Brown Sugar
2 C Flour  
2 sticks cold Butter

1-2 tsp Vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Peel and cut apples to ½" thickness.  In a large bowl, pour lemon juice over the apples and combine well.  Add remaining ingredients of the apple mixture together and combine with your hands.  Pour into 9x13 pan.  Mix topping ingredients together and mush with your hands.  Sprinkle on top of apple mixture.  Bake 20-30 minutes.  Cool slightly before serving.