Monday, October 20, 2014

Butternut Squash-Apple Coffee Cake

You guys, I did something the other day that I almost never do...

I baked a cake.  

Really.  

I'm definitely not a baker. The forgiving nature of cooking - where I can follow a recipe but not actually measure anything, instead throwing in approximate amounts and tasting along the way - has always kept me far away from being a baking enthusiast. When you bake, everything has to be precise, measured out exactly, or you'll end up with a hard brick instead of a fluffy cake. I'm not so good with precise. But every once in awhile, usually for birthdays, I give it a try. In this case, I had signed up to bring a dessert to our new small group that we joined through the church we've been attending. And having just found this recipe in "Prevention Magazine" of all places, I thought I'd give a try.  I'm glad I made the effort.  One of the girls in our group declared it, "Fall in your mouth." I'd say that's a pretty good description.

As I was chopping up the squash I thought to myself, "What was I thinking! I don't bake! I better run out and get some back-up cookies after this thing comes out of the oven!"




This is the part - right here - where I started being glad that I decided to make this cake.  The smell of the batter is amazing. I knew at this point that there was no way the cake could be bad...unless I managed to botch the measuring of course...which was entirely possible.  

Success!

How did I get that dark gray background for this photo, you ask?  Well.  I took the photo on my dark gray couch just before I ate that delicious cake while watching the Virginia Tech/Pitt game on Thursday night after small group. It's too bad the game didn't even come close to being as good as the cake.  


Butternut Squash-Apple Coffee Cake
From Prevention Magazine

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Peel, seed, and dice 1 butternut squash (2lb) and place in an even layer on a greased baking sheet. Roast until soft, 20-25 minutes. Reserve 1 cup. Place remaining squash in food processor and puree until smooth. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees. Coat 9x9 inch baking dish with cooking spray.  Sift 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2tsp cinnamon, 1tsp baking soda, 1tsp baking powder, and 1/4 tsp salt in a medium bowl. Beat 1/3 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup unsalted butter (room temp) in large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in 1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt, 2 large eggs, and pureed squash until smooth. Stir in dry ingredients until combined. Fold in 1 cup peeled and diced Granny Smith apple and reserved diced squash. Pour into pan. Stir together 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans, 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour, 2 Tbsp unsalted butter (room temp), and 1/2 tsp cinnamon until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter. Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool and dust with confectioners sugar, if desired.

Notes:  I know that seems like a long ingredient list, but I found that with the exception of the squash and the confectioners sugar, I had the rest of the ingredients already in my refrigerator and pantry. You probably do, too.  (And if your name happens to be Carrie Krohn, or if you have a fierce love of the butternut squash like aforementioned sister, you probably only have to buy the confectioners sugar.) I roasted the squash on an oiled piece of parchment paper for easy clean up. Don't forget to reserve 1 cup of squash to stir in later...I almost forgot that part. I ended up having to bake the cake for about 10 extra minutes for it to be completely done in the middle. My bad...I forgot the confectioners sugar when I sent the cake off to small group. 

Yes, you read that last sentence right. I didn't even try this thing before I sent Will off to our group with it. Annabel was sick (I wiped everything down, washed my hands a million times before and during baking and made it during her nap so she wasn't around - I was sanitary) so I had to stay home.  Which means I broke my number one rule of cooking which automatically extends to baking:  never serve to guests that which you have never tried yourself (aka - don't make a completely new-to-you recipe for guests). But it had to be good! It just HAD to be! And it was. Whew!  Also, it's great with coffee for a quick fall breakfast. 

Wishing you a lovely start to your week!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Photo Friday!

The last few days have been rainy, dreary and exceptionally warm.  We broke free from the house today and found the tiny and beautiful leaves that have already fallen.  Autumn perfection.
Hope you enjoy this weekend!
xo Dana

 Annabel's been so sick since Monday and still isn't back to her normal self. Hoping to take it easy and rest up this weekend after a loooong sleepless week. I just love this photo of Tommy reading to his sick little sister one day after school. Thanks for reading this week!  Have a good one.
-chelsey

Last weekend Robert and I went to OktoberFest and he impressed everyone (and I mean everyone) by throwing baseballs to break three beer bottles and winning the grand prize of his choice! It was a lot of fun, and I'm looking forward to another fun weekend with my guy.
Have a great weekend everyone! xoCarrie

Thursday, October 16, 2014

One of my favorites

A few reasons why I love October...

Lots of yummy pumpkin eats...
 I hit up Trader Joe's this week because they have a large selection of delicious specialty pumpkin stuff.

The beautiful fall leaves.  I feel so lucky to live in a place where we get to experience the seasons.
 There is definitely beauty to be found in each season but it is so apparent in autumn.

Pumpkins, leaf piles, amazing skies, and mums.  It's just all so lovely. 
 "The heavens declare the glory of God; The skies proclaim the work of his hands."
Psalm 19:1
 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

a fall date

A few months ago Robert and I were laying around watching TV, and a movie preview came on that had me totally and completely transfixed. And while I'd love to say it was something slightly more, er- age appropriate, it was actually the trailer for The Boxtrolls, an animated film about an orphaned boy (referred to as Eggs) being raised by supposedly-vicious trolls who wear boxes and sneak out at night to collect trinkets from human garbage. I have always been a fan of small, cute, slightly strange creatures (just ask my mom about my past obsession with teeny trolls), so this movie seemed right up my alley.


On the whole, Rob and I are pretty good about sharing in each others interests, but for this particular occasion (small, cute & slightly strange), the activity was a bit better suited for Brig. Since I've moved out of our house, and we obviously see a little bit less of each other, we decided to round the evening out with a fall dinner at Panera. I think I'll be calling her Lord Portly Rind for the next few months. Below are a few photos of our evening, if you'd like to see!

[autumn squash soup, multi-grain roll & pumpkin cookie from Panera]

[seriously, this soup is so-so-so good. if you haven't tried it and you're a fan of butternut squash, you really need to find the nearest Panera, stat.]

[and I think this guy speaks for himself]

[all smiles]

[all smiles]

[pure troll]

[pure troll]

Check the movie out if you have a chance! And read more about it here. :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Lately

 One night as we were trying to get our little girl (who hates to go to bed) to go to bed, we decided maybe writing out a list for her would help get through her routine.  Well, it sorta helped and now every day before nap and evening before bed we must write out a list before anything else can happen.
 
 My little fashionista picked this outfit out of the dryer last week and declared it her outfit for the next day.  She ended up changing shirts and adding leggings while we folded the rest of her clothes.  She has been loving the opportunity to pick out her outfits each night since!

 When we were growing up, we would always make these little Kleenex ghosts around Halloween.  They are so fun and easy to make and we enjoy hanging these happy little guys around the apartment.

 Last Tuesday was a gorgeous fall day so Sommer and I went to the pumpkin patch with a friend of mine from work, Amy!  We had a wonderful morning looking at animals, picking pumpkins, and playing.  We have found that there are a bunch of pumpkin patches and apple orchards close by to check out this October!

 We enjoyed our first cup of hot chocolate last week when the days were a little chilly.  

 What I thought was going to be a somewhat easy project has turned into a lengthy process.  Hoping I can finish up Sommer's Elsa costume in time for trunk or treat in a couple weeks!

These two crazies have so much fun together.  I love watching them play and joke and run around.  Those smiles make me so happy. 
<3

Monday, October 13, 2014

October at the beach

















Every October, my parents and my Grama head down to the Outer Banks for a long weekend.  Now that Will's weekends are free, we decided to join them for a couple days of relaxing by the ocean.  There was time in the hot tub, splashing in the pool, baseball practice and basketball with Pa, cars and princesses with Mimi, cards with GG, dominos, good food, and the best company.  Will and I even got to go out to lunch on Saturday where he enjoyed the "Krabby Patty" - a burger with a crabcake on top.  Special thanks and the "BEST EVER" award go to my parents and Grama for always being willing to play!  

Being the good beach-lovers that we are, no matter the weather, we always make it down to the water to sit on the sand and enjoy the view for at least a little while.  Normally we're in sweatshirts and jeans or sometimes even jackets and hoods.  But this year, we spent a few hours by the water on Saturday afternoon...in our bathing suits.  For real.  It was completely beautiful and warm as could be.  The kids dug in the sand, helped Pa build one of his famous obstacle courses, and jumped in the water as the waves broke on the shore.  Perfect.  Around 4 we got chased back to the house by an impending thunderstorm that made the temperature plummet about 20 degrees, but the cool breeze coming in through the windows was a welcome change to such a warm afternoon.  Sunday turned out to be windy and much cooler, but we still spent time by the water, soaking up that view that never grows old.  

One night while we were there, we were fortunate enough to witness baby loggerhead turtles crawl out of their sandy nest and make their way to the ocean!  It was probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I'm so glad we were there to see it happen.  The kids loved watching the tiny turtles head down to the waves.  Just before we left the beach that night, we watched as the huge orange moon rose right up out of the ocean.  Amazing. 

Also notable for the weekend:  Annabel got to go on her very first trip to Wee Winks with Tommy and Pa.  My dad and uncles used to take all the cousins (when we were deemed old enough) to Wee Winks in the mornings so they could buy the paper and we could buy Bonkers and Big League Chew and, as my dad would call them, "trinkets." (Trinkets usually consisted of super balls, squirt guns, and any other small toy that would get lost or broken pretty much immediately upon arrival back at the beach house.  Also falling into the trinket category according to my dad:  anything found in the store section that they make you walk through to get to the actual restaurant section at Cracker Barrel.) We loved it and looked forward to it every year as not only was the actual buying-of-the-stuff a great time, but the car ride there was completely hysterical.  My dad would serenade us with crazy songs like "Dead Skunk In the Middle of The Road" and "Everybody Loves the Clown" and, for sentimental effect, "Edelweiss," and all of us would laugh our heads off.  Happy memories.  I'm feeling so fortunate that my children get to carry on this fun tradition with their Grandpa. 

I'm so glad we were able to join my family for a couple days of sand and sun at the beach.  I'm definitely getting used to this new schedule that we're able to keep and glad that we can make these memories together.  Wishing you a lovely week!