Wednesday, August 29, 2012

OMG Skillet Apple Pie

We're on vacation staying in a rental cottage with a nice kitchen.  So before we left, I went through my pinned recipes and pulled out a few that I wanted to try.  One of them was for individual apple pies made in the apple with a lattice crust.  Just one problem - tiny apples.  So I checked around the rental kitchen and spotted a cast iron skillet.  I knew you could bake pies in skillets, so I did a quick search and landed on Heidi's Recipes for Iron Skillet Apple Pie.


Doesn't it look yummy? 


Well, with great anticipation I took my first bite of my version and the first thing I could manage to utter was "OMG"!  It. Was. THAT. Good.  There are bits of caramel and the crust is sooo flaky - I never bother with an egg white wash, but that and the sugar on top made a ready-made crust into something spectacular.


I didn't even bother trying to get the top and bottom crust to meet - I just sort of rolled and pinched it right to the side of the skillet and it worked great. 


Do you notice the little potholder?  Arden made that while on vacation - at three and a half, she's mastered lacing cards so we've moved on to a potholder loom.  She put the warp bands on all by herself, and then wove in the other direction with me pulling up the right one to put it under.  She could do that with one hand - I don't know that I'm that dextrous! 

We have a family tradition of making potholders - I used to make them and my Mom made them and sold them as a little girl.  She charged 12 cents each or two for a quarter.  My Poppy asked her how many "two singles" she sold, but either her customers were suckers for cute little girls or were equally math-challenged!

Here's the recipe if you can get your hands on an iron skillet and want your apple pie world rocked to the core:

OMG Iron Skillet Apple Pie

Filling:
3.5 pounds Granny Smith apples (the recipe called for 2 lbs. each of Granny Smith and Braeburn, but I only had Granny Smith
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup light brown sugar

Crust:
1 package premade pie crust (2 crusts)
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 Tablespoons white sugar
10 inch cast iron skillet
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Peal apples and cut into slices.  Toss apples with 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 cup white sugar.  Set aside.
  3. Melt butter in 10 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Add brown sugar and cook stirring constantly for 2 minutes.  
  4. Removed iron skillet from heat.  Gently place bottom crust into skillet on top of brown sugar and butter mixture.  
  5. Spoon apple mixture into bottom crust.
  6. Add top crust.  Roll and crimp edges onto the skillet rim.  
  7. Brush top crust with egg white and sprinkle with 2 Tablespoons white sugar.   Cut slits in top crust.
  8. Bake pie in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour or until edges are bubbly, top crust is brown, and a knife easily inserts into the center of the pie.
  9. Serve with vanilla ice cream.  (We only had "pink ice cream" aka strawberry frozen yogurt that Arden insisted on at the store.)
I think there's still one piece of pie left - I'm going to go claim it!

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NECTRESSE™ Natural No Calorie Sweetener

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of NECTRESSE™Sweetener for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
One of the things we've begun doing each summer as a family is rent a vacation cottage for a week at the end of the season.  This year, Dave has also begun a major health overhaul so he's tracking foods and has refocused his fitness routine.
NECTRESSE™Sweetener
So when I received the opportunity to try out NECTRESSE™ natural no calorie sweetener, I thought the timing couldn't be better!  My sample arrived the day before we left for vacation, so I gathered up a few dessert recipes I had filed away that I wanted to try and packed my package of NECTRESSE™.
sweetener
I decided to try a recipe from Kojo-Designs as part of their Color My Summer series:  Blueberry Stuffed French Toast.  I made a few changes - the biggest being substituting NECTRESSE™ sweetener for the sugar the recipe called for.

Ingredients
1 loaf italian bread
6 cups blueberries (I used frozen, but I think it would be better with fresh if you can get them!)
8 oz reduced fat cream cheese
1/2 c light sour cream
1/8 c NECTRESSE™
1 t vanilla
6 eggs
3 c milk
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 c powdered sugar
Directions
Cut the loaf of bread in half. Rip one half into little pieces, covering the bottom of a greased 13×9 pan.  Sprinkle the blueberries over the bread.  Heat the cream cheese until softened.  Stir in the sour cream, NECTRESSE™ sweetener, and vanilla.  Spread over the blueberries.  Arrange the remaining bread slices on top.  In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, and cinnamon together.  Pour over the bread and berry layers.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  Bake covered at 350 for 45 minutes, then an additional 15 minutes uncovered.
Nectresse product family.jpg
All I have to say is "yum".  I seriously couldn't tell there was no sugar in the recipe.  Dave, Arden, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and Arden even shared a few of her blueberries with baby Hadley.  I've also been using NECTRESSE™ packets to sweeten my coffee since I'm about oh, a three to four tablespoons full of sugar in my coffee kind of girl.  That really adds up unless you use a no calorie sweetener!
So what's so special about NECTRESSE™?  Well, it's the only 100% natural sweetener made from real fruit - monk fruit extract to be exact.  Lisa Ling has a family history of diabetes and loves it so much that she became the spokesperson for NECTRESSE™.  Check out her testimonial video!

Want to try it for yourself?  Well, go to http://www.nectresse.com/free-sample and sign up to receive your own free sample of NECTRESSE™.  What will you make with it?
FREE sample of NECTRESSE™Sweetener
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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hadley Marie: 10 Months



Well, Hadley is ten months old (or... nearly 11 months - at least I'm consistently late!).  Capturing her picture on the quilt was literally an aerobic activity this month - every time I got her on it and picked up the camera, she'd roll over and crawl off.  Then I'd have to put the camera down so I didn't whack her in the head with it, drag her back and start over.  I called in reinforcements which sort of helped - Dave pretty much laughed at us and then stood far enough to the side that she's not looking at the camera at all.  Oh well, at least she's on the blanket.


This month Hadley has learned to clap and to wave hello/bye-bye.  It's pretty hilarious taking her to the grocery store because she pretty much spends the entire time waving to everybody.  But not just any old wave - the screwing-in-a-lightbulb Her Royal Highness style wave!  She's a super-speedy crawler, and makes her rounds pulling up on everything she can get to and then doing a little bit of cruising.  She's still working on those two top teeth; they're giving her all sorts of fits - poor baby!

I seem to have a bit of an obsession with taking pictures of Hadley while sleeping.  I can't seem to stop, even though I really think she's going to have alien abduction dreams from the flash going off in her face!  The bottom right was taken at our new local spray park, but it's right on the bay and it was really windy so she's all bundled up in towels.


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Thursday, August 23, 2012

#Summerlist: Tie-Dye

We tackled the "tie-dye" item on our summer list at the end of June, so you can see how current I am with posting - ha!  I only used my camera phone to document our activities, so pardon the ho-hum photography.


This isn't a sponsored post, but I have to give some props to the Tulip Tie-Dye Kit - everything I needed in one place with minimal mess.  I bought two kits with three colors each which made five colors to work with.  Yes, I am an accountant and I can add, but there was lime green in both of the kits so that one didn't count!


I tried to have Arden involved as much as possible.  She would point to the area where she wanted a rubber band to go and I tied it on. 


We did two t-shirts, a pair of shorts, and leggings for Arden, a shirt for Hadley, a tank top for me, and later three undershirts for Dave.


I taped plastic bags alongside our driveway and stripped Arden down to just her shorts.  It was a little messy, but not nearly as bad as I feared since the dye was in squirt bottles.  Both Arden and I had purple fingers for a couple of days.


This one we did little sunbursts of purple on a pink background for Arden.


So from left to right there's the sunburst shirt for Arden, blue striped leggings for Arden, a striped shirt for Arden (I liked this one best), the little ball is a spiral for Hadley, the shorts are splatter dyed for Arden, and my tank top with a radiating heart pattern is on the bottom right.


Hadley and Arden practicing their downward-facing dog yoga poses with their tie-dyed shirts in the family room.  Hadley is wearing Arden's - she's so big that the girls can already share clothes.


Later that day on one of our regular trips to JoAnn's for supplies!  It was funny because there was a lady in there looking for tie-dye fabric to recreate the cool maxi skirt she was wearing and I suggested that she make her own fabric since these turned out so cute.  My little crafty models!


Hadley in her spiral shirt - and her first pony tails!


Here you can see the striped one of Arden a little more clearly.  I just like how it looks with every other band left white.  A little bit of blue from the leggings got onto the bottom of it, which makes me think doing an American flag design could be pretty fun to try.


And Hadley enjoying one of her favorite foods while wearing Arden's shirt again - blueberries!

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Famous Footwear

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Famous Footwear for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

With our shoe-wearing family count quickly approaching four as Hadley takes some tentative steps, finding great shoes to fit the needs of everyone in one place is a great idea.  Enter Famous Footwear and their wide selection of styles to appeal to man, woman, and child in one easy trip.  There's a store near where I work, one in the city we head to for date nights and shopping trips, and also one in the outlet mall just a short drive away.  That makes it easy for me to find shoes for me during my lunch hour, or with the family if someone else needs shoes.

FF-BiggestVictory-GIF_300x250(1).jpg

Right now Famous Footwear is running a back-to-school promotion - 15% off PLUS Buy One, Get One Half Off!!  And if you're a Rewards Program member or sign up to be one, that 15% becomes 20%!!  I don't have anybody attending school just yet, but August is when I traditionally get ready to trade in the sandals for some sturdier shoes for fall. 

BOGO + 15% off Famous Footwear Coupon

I sure don't mind making my clothing budget stretch a little further.  If you'd like to get more for your money too, print out the coupon and redeem at your local Famous Footwear between August 2 and 18th.  And if they don't have the shoe you want in your store, you can get it shipped directly to your home, or you can shop online at www.famous.com.  If you're shopping at www.famous.com you can even get free shipping by having it sent to your favorite Famous Footwear store!

And as if the back-to-school deal isn't enough of a deal for you, there's also a free Rewards Program where you earn 1 point for every $ you spend in-store or online which you can accumulate to redeem for certificates up to $100 a year!  There are special discounts just for signing up, and you get inside discounts and other perks.  I think I'll be signing up on my next shoe shopping trip to Famous Footwear!

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Super Super Hero Kit



My nephew Jack turns six tomorrow.  When I asked my sister in law for some gift ideas she said he was into The Avengers and Iron Man.  When I brought up a super hero cape she said he had just asked about one a few days before.  'Nuf said - a super hero cape it would be.


But not just any old super hero cape, cuz super hero's gotta have a utility belt to hold all their stuff, a mask to protect their identity, and power cuffs to ward off villains.


I picked up my supplies - red and yellow knit, silver and red pleather, yellow marine-grade vinyl, and a couple different widths of elastic.


I went out to Picmonkey and created a logo for the cape.  I used the star shapes for the starburst and Luckiest Guy font.


I traced the design in reverse onto some Heat n' Bond and ironed it to the backside of the pleather.  Then I peeled the backing and ironed it onto the knit for the cape using a pressing cloth to protect the pleather. 


Then I stitched along the edges to make sure it stayed in place.


For the mask I used Heat n' Bond again and used some yellow t-shirt material as the liner to keep it soft against his face.


I sandwiched the elastic in between the layers. and edgstitched around the outside and the eye holes.


For the utility belt, I cut two rectangles out of the marine-grade vinyl and marked off 1 1/2" intervals on one piece and 2" on the red elastic.  I secured the ends using a box and x stitch and then lined up the marks and stitched them down.



I found this cool buckle with a reflector on it to use as the clasp for the belt.


On the other piece of vinyl, I used more of the red elastic to attach the two buckle pieces.


Then I sewed the two pieces together, tapering the edges to meet the elastic pieces.



I didn't take any in-progress pictures for the power cuffs because I worked on them late and night and in little bursts when my girls were occupied.  I used part of the same starburst pattern from the logo and cut four pieces of the vinyl.  I tried sewing this on the machine, but it was too difficult to keep the points aligned and Heat n' Bond wasn't working to hold it in place.  So, I sat down and hand-stitched the edges, which gave it a really nice look, I think.  I did a pseudo French seam to attach it to a rectangle of the pleather which will allow it to stand out nicely when the cuff is on his wrist.  I ended up using a pretty convoluted method to fasten them - elastic and velcro, but I think it worked out fine and will allow it to fit for much longer.


I used more of the pleather, t-shirt material, and Heat n' Bond to make the collar and more velcro to fasten it.


Jack has a brother, Alex.  Think there might be an Amazing Alex for his fourth birthday in December?  It felt good to flex my creative sewing skills again and make a special gift for a special little man in my life.  Now, back to Etsy sewing!

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Meals By The Week

One of the coolest things that blogging has brought me is the opportunity to review products and services and let all of you in on some really great stuff.  Recently, I was approached by Meals By The Week to review their website.


Let me start off by saying that I don't consider myself a chef, nor do I know anything about photographing food.  But the plan is intended for regular families like mine and yours, so that covers cooks of varying skill and the fact that the meals look almost as good in pictues as they tasted speaks well for how easy they were to prepare.  I'd also like to point out that three out of the five meals I made were dashed off in the scant moments I had between getting home from work and picking the girls up from daycare and dinner time.

First off, the coolest thing about the site is that you can customize your meal plan in so many ways.  My husband is vegetarian so I used that menu, but there are also plans for 400 calorie dinners, and a wide variety matching to your local supermarket so you're not searching the aisles looking for an ingredient that isn't carried at your store.  I can't tell you how many times my Mom has shared a fabulous recipe with me and then I can't find the specific vegetable blend it calls for because it's only at her local market.

So I said my husband is vegetarian.  I'm not.  I also have Arden who's three and Hadley who's 10 months old to feed.  So here are a few of our meals:


Caprese Salad with breadsticks and peaches.  Yum!  Who doesn't like fresh mozzarella and ripe tomatoes?  Arden helped make the breadsticks, and she ate those and some of the mozzarella and peaches.  Hadley even got in on the action and gummed part of the breadstick and had some pieces of peach.


Baked Tortellini, Walnut Broccoli, Tossed Salad.  The tortellini was made with a quick Mornay sauce and I used frozen tortellini.  Pretty easy!  I've been avoiding broccoli since I'm still breastfeeding, but Dave said it was very good.  Arden liked the tortellini and had a few broccoli "trees".


Refiried Black Bean Tostada, Spanish Rice.  This was a different meal for us - I've made mexican meals without meat, but the crisp tortillas and homemade Spanish rice went together quickly.  Arden mostly ate the olives off the tostada I made for her.


Creamy Avocado & White Bean Wrap, Kale Chips, Cantaloupe.  I've never tried kale chips before and I have to say they're pretty tasty, and quick to put together.  Arden helped me to tear the leaves off the stem, but wouldn't try the chips.  She did eat one of the wraps very well, but without the "purple stuff" which was a purple cabbage slaw with a light vinegar dressing.  Dave really liked it and it was very easy to prepare.  If you could find shredded purple cabbage it would be even faster.

My take on the website is that it is definitely something you should check out.  Plans begin at $1.25/week for the longer subscriptions, or you can go week by week for $5.00.  Once you've purchased your menu, you can choose which meals you want to keep - say you're having dinner with friends one day and won't be making a meal at home on Friday - just uncheck that meal and it won't be included in the shopping list.  You also get to decide how many people you're feeding when you print the recipes and the shopping list.  I wasn't sure for each of the meals if I wanted to try to feed Arden, so I printed for two people and for four and just prepared each meal accordingly.

I received a free trial subscription to Meals By The Week to give my opinion and feedback.  This review is my honest opinion of the service offered.

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