Sunday, October 30, 2011

My First...

Because our trip to the pumpkin patch left me with far more pumpkin than is required for a pie, we decided to celebrate our pumpkiny day with an attempt at pumpkin soup for dinner! I did a little reconnaissance on my favorite foodie web sites, but all the recipes that came up for 'pumpkin soup' either required too fancy of ingredients for my usual stand-by supplies, or they leaned towards a sweet soup, with apple, cinnamon, etc., and neither direction was one I wanted to take. SO I turned from the computer, donned my apron, and put together my own version... and it was good! And here's the kicker: I actually took notes as I made it, in the hopes that it would be good and we'd want to make it again. Do you know what that means? I can also share it!

My First Pumpkin Soup

1 medium sugar pie pumpkin, halved, seeded, and roasted
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 small potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed
olive oil
broth (either veggie or chicken)
shot of bourbon
approx. 1 cup shredded munster cheese
approx. 1 TBS corn starch
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of paprika
1 tsp(ish) chili powder

black pepper and cayenne pepper for garnish
crusty bread

In a large pot, saute chopped veggies and garlic cloves in olive oil and a pinch of salt until veggies start to soften and caramelize. Deglaze with bourbon, then add broth, enough to cover veggies by about an inch. Simmer on med/hi until veggies are tender enough to smash with the back of a spoon. Add nutmeg, paprika, and chili powder. Toss shredded cheese with corn starch. Scoop roasted pumpkin out of shells and add to veggies and broth. In batches (being very careful, and using a towel as a lid to prevent pressure buildup explosions), puree veggies in batches in a blender until very smooth. Pour puree back in to pot and bring back up to heat, probably on medium. Slowly add cheese by the handful, stirring until completely melted between each addition. Once cheese had been completely incorporated, turn off the heat and serve immediately, garnishing with some freshly ground black pepper and a sprinkle of cayenne, if desired. *this makes a huge batch of soup, but all the ingredients freeze well, so I'm assuming the soup itself will freeze well too, and most of my leftovers are sitting in the freezer as I type this!
**I have since thawed and reheated said leftovers, and the soup did NOT freeze well due to the cheese in the recipe. The dairy broke, making the texture curdled and coarse. After much work, I was able to get the texture back to it's creamy consistency, but would NOT add cheese to the portion being frozen in the future. Leave the cheese out, freeze, then add cheese to soup as you reheat. Problem solved.

This soup turned out to be a great first attempt at a recipe that I'd always wanted to try, but could never find. I hope you try- and enjoy- My First Pumpkin Soup!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Pumpkin Patch

A fast-becoming-favorite seasonal event that enhances our most anticipated time of year is the return of the local pumpkin patch and petting zoo. Our first trip was last year for Audrey's second birthday, and it made enough of an impression that she would randomly bring it up months later. Of course, when That Time rolled around again, we had to pack up and go... though we did cut it close this year, making it on to the grounds of the autumnal fair on the next-to-last day their gates were open! However, the weather was perfect, the kiddos in great spirits, and the animals more than amicable... and this year, our now-three-year-old was much more bold around the furry and the feathered...

We so love this new tradition, perfect for really, fully welcoming the fall... and also perfect for embracing every opportunity for another seasonal favorite... pumpkin pie! Happy weekending!

Thursday, October 27, 2011


In our family, we have a Mimmy, a Pappy, a Nanny, a Granddaddy, a Grammy, and a Gramps. They are all beloved, doting, patient pals for our little people, and they all visit as frequently as they can... and at every visit, they are thoroughly and lovingly soaked up to the fullest. This week, we got to hang out with Gramps on his birthday, and of course, it was all about the kiddos.


We are so blessed to have such amazing mentors, helpers, guiders, and friends who just can't get enough of us, the grandbabies, or the granddog. So blessed.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Moose Muffins

Our most anticipated bedtime tradition around these parts is the reading of a choice bedtime story, chosen by the Little Miss. It is what she looks forward to above bath time, the exciting nights when Mama lets her brush her own teeth, and even the tuck-in stuff. Oh, story time, the best way to end a day.

Recently, we have been reading (over and over and over again) If You Give a Moose a Muffin. It has become somewhat of an expectation once pj's are donned and hair is dry. The result is thoughts of muffins lingering through the night and popping up around breakfast time. When Sister wakes up with "Moose Muffins" on the brain, there is only one thing to do... make 'em.

"Moose Muffins"
adapted from a recipe from Grandma Greiner

1 C unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 C whole-wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1/4 C honey
1 C fat free milk
1/4 C canola or vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a muffin tin with a 12-muffin capacity. Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl, and wet in a larger bowl, then add dry to wet and mix until just combined (if cooking with a toddler who loves to stir, this may be a challenge...). At this point, we'll also stir in any add-ins we desire... today we added the zest of one lemon, and about 1/2 C frozen blueberries... yum!

Scoop into muffin tins, filling about 3/4 full, and bake for about 20 mins, or until edges are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. These will be so moist you won't even need butter, but they are great with plain butter, honey butter, honey cinnamon butter, or blackberry jam if you're being true to the story :)

There is no better way to start a day than cooking with your kiddo while discussing books. And eating fresh muffins, of course. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Right Now

Right now, I'm loving...

My brave, caped strep-positive toddler

Morning fog
"Just Because" flowers from the hubs
 Celebrations for a fellow chocoholic
In beginning this last full week of October, may you find something to celebrate, too. Happy Monday!

Monday, October 17, 2011

I Have a Three-Year-Old.

Holy cow, I have a three-year-old. I woke up to that fact this morning. In fact, I woke up to that fact this morning at almost the exact time three years ago that the ball was set rolling. It would be easy for me to wallow in nostalgia today, revisiting posts like this and this, but instead, let's just focus on the wonder that was a Birthday Weekend and a Birthday Proper, shall we? This Mama needs no more wallowing over how fast time flies!

We celebrated Audrey's birthday Saturday, October 15th, for the sake of traveling and working family. We had a late afternoon celebration, which commenced right after nap time. Audrey got to get up, put on her birthday crown, and come down the stairs to the magical appearance of balloons, presents, and family!

We cut straight to the best part- opening up all those beautiful, colorful packages. She's still a novice when it comes to ripping off that paper, but what a fun skill to practice! By Christmas, this chick will be a pro.


Once all was revealed, it was hard to peel her away from her treasures to eat dinner... OK, if I'm being honest, it was impossible to peel her away. In fact, I was quite unsuccessful. What I'm trying to say is... well, this birthday girl didn't eat dinner. Unless you consider 3 slices of cake dinner. (and the Mother-of-the-Year award goes to....... ME!)


Aaah well. Once a year can't hurt much, right?


By bath time Saturday night, this birthday girl (and her little brother) needed a bath, stat! To the tub she went, with some fantastic new bath toys, and she splashed away the last few hours of her Party Day.

Sunday morning, she woke up and said, "My birthday party is over." Aww. Though I can't feel too sorry for her... she got to spend the whole day with Daddy, unpacking and playing with some really cool stuff. Thank you to everyone whose love and generosity made the party and the day after as magical and special as it was.

On Audrey's actual birthday, she kicked it off with a bang, and slept in past 9:30am. Go girl! We then put on some of her favorite tunes (right now she likes the soulful sounds of Gillian Welch's new album, The Harrow and the Harvest, particularly because of the banjo and harmonica), and got a special breakfast ready to go...

We then got dressed (she picked the pillowcase dress I made for her, aww), and we spent the day playing with- and finding places for- all her new toys.

Around lunch time, we received a surprise in the mail- a perfectly timed gift from Grandma Bette and Grandpa Ross...

...and Henry particularly enjoyed the card. We had a special lunch of black beans and rice, Cheeze-Its, and pumpkin pie with whipped cream (her requests). Then it was off to a nap, and a few errands after that.


After nap time, Audrey helped make her birthday cupcakes... OK, I know that sounds cruel, but she wanted to! She has always loved helping in the kitchen, and on this, the day of my daughter's birthday, I could not refuse.


The result? Lemon cupcakes with black raspberry preserve filling and white chocolate cream cheese frosting... and sprinkles. Yellow cake, yellow sprinkles. Very important.

The afternoon found us outside, walking around the surviving fall garden, peeking at the tantalizing possibilities, and enjoying the breeze.


After Daddy got home and dinner was served, it was time to open the Mama and Daddy gifts, saved for her real birthday...

A Mama-knit scarf, just her size

A doctors' kit, complete with sound-emitting beeper, cell phone, and stethoscope


We served the cupcakes, sang happy birthday, and whisked Little Brother off to the bath tub. Just before the Birthday Girl herself landed in the tub, she logged some quality Daddy time, playing Doctor Audrey with her new gear.

 Happy birthday, Audrey Grace. We are so much better for having you.