Traditional Apple Crumb Pie

It’s fall in Colorado; the trees are changing, the leaves are falling and light coats are needed. Kids are outside, boots have made an appearance and most importantly, ovens are baking.

I dusted off my experienced Southern cookbook and whipped up a family favorite, Apple Crumb Pie. What I admire about The South is its ability to keep food simple. With minimal ingredients, lots of love and family & friends filling the kitchen, you have all you need.

I suggest getting out to your local tree farm and picking apples. What better way to really enjoy your pie than with handpicked apples? (Plus, it doubles as bragging right. “Yeah, I picked these Apples.”) Let’s get to it, I’d of course love your feedback, but trust me on this. Your crowd will be enchanted.

Apple Crumb Pie

Pastry Crust
2 1/4 cups sifted flour
3/4 cups shortening (I LOVE baking with shortening)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water

Sift flour and salt into bowl. Reserve 1/3 cup flour. Cut shortening into remaining flour with pastry mix, mix until small lumps form.

Flour Mix

Mix 1/3 cup flour with water to form a paste. 

Add this to the flour/shortening mixMix thoroughly and lightly until small lumps form and mixture can be formed into a ball.

Place wax paper on smooth surface and place dough ball on top. Cover with another sheet of wax paper. Roll with short, light strokes to 12 inch round and 1/8 inch thickness.

Place lightly in pie plate, easing into angle at base.Trim 1/2 inch beyond outer edge of plate. After filling and upper crust are in place, crimp this edge as desired.

Pie Filling
5-6 apples (I like a mixture of apples – red delicious, granny smith, mcintosh)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
3 tbsp milk
Lay apples sliced very thin into pie pan lined with pastry. My family likes to leave the Apple skin on, if this isn’t your preference, make sure you’ve skinned your apples.
Sprinkle sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon mixture on tops of apples. Reserve some mixture for the top of the pie.

Place brown sugar and flour in a bowl, cut butter into this until crumbly.

Pour this over apples, and on top, pour milk and sprinkle remaining sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon mixture.

Bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until done.

Chinese Dog Treats? No Thanks.

Labrador Retreiver Mix
Dexter, 2-year-old Rescue

Matt & I have the joy of sharing our lives with two
amazing, loving and jubilant animals that we call family. Bo is our 3-year-old, spunky, lab and Dexter is our overly sweet 2-year-old rescue. The two have contrasting personalities that compliment the other and they are a vital part of our everyday chaos.

If you are a dog owner, you know that these creatures enlighten our souls and educate our minds. My Bloodhound, Rosie, taught me how to be vocal. My Weiner dog, Peter, taught me that being small is just a size. My Golden, Sandy, taught me how to relax. My   labs, Lucy & Ethel, taught me about sisterhood. I raised puppies and I laid my older dogs to rest. I’ve laughed and cried, but overall, I’m appreciative and grateful.

Bo, 3-year-old Lab

It was brought to my attention that dog treats I purchase for my furry friends may be harming them. What? I worry about cars, kennel cough and old age… not treats. However, treats produced in China have been linked to over 900 deaths and illnesses in pets in the US. While the FDA issued a cautionary warning for these treats, they never removed them from the shelves, resulting in the many family losses. Consumers are outraged and frightened, worried for their pets health.

In reaction to these events, their’s a company standing up for our canines. Bixbi, a Colorado based agency is taking action. Speaking to families who have been effected by these treats, taking their stories and turning them into a campaign that will raise awareness and money to protect our dogs.

The truth is, these products made in China are executed with little care. These folks are meeting a high demand, thus releasing mediocre products. Bixbi has created a USA sourced, 100% organic, premium dog food & treats. They invite you to take action by sharing your stories with the FDA and signing a petition to ban these products. Checkout their web site, take advantage of their products and show your support because if you don’t, who will?

Bixbi Pets & Made MovementBelow is an emotional video in regards to the families and pets effected by these treats. I ask you to please share stories of your dogs with this post. Tell us the happy and funny things they do, share with us their spunky nature and silly personalities. Let’s show joy in the blissful moments of life while raising awareness to protect these animals.

Company Website: Bixbi Pets

Silent St. Elmo

Matt's 30th Birthday

First and foremost, my husband turned 30 this past week, quite the milestone. Other than approaching the need for a cane and hearing aide, he looks pretty damn good. I love celebrating him, I cherish his comical persona and adore his grandiose personality. I’ve celebrated six birthdays with him, but this one had to be special. As many of you know, we love to travel, we love to see new things and we live in a state that allows us to be adventurous. I decided to kidnap him for a weekend voyage in cosmic Colorado.

Mt. Princeton Hot Springs

Our trip began in Mt. Princeton where we took pleasure in the natural hot springs. The resort is nestled in the mountains and contained three different pools with temperatures ranging from 90 degrees to 100 degrees. In addition to the pools was the river, this baffled me as I had never experienced a pleasure like this. There were areas sectioned by rocks, acting as individual hot tubs on the bank of the river. We climbed down the rock, nestled our tushes on the bottom of the river and reached our maximum comfort level. Thank you, magma, for calming our evening and gifting us with romantic warmth.

We rose early the following morning and drove out to St. Elmo, a little town rimmed with mountains and painted with history. The mountains showed no coyness in sharing its bright Aspens, open peaks and evergreen lined roads. We rented a 4-wheeler for the day and headed out on the trails, reaching 12,000 feet in elevation. Hancock Pass

Colorado in the FallTrails in Colorado

It was a 60 degree day and the trails were shaded with fall colors. It felt as if father fall kissed our cheeks and welcomed us to the most majestic place in the world. The deep valley’s were wide open, and we stumbled upon a few secret lakes, allowing us to sit in the silence of the mountains and enjoy its stillness.

St. Elmo

Throughout our journey we eyed white-tailed deer and archaic buildings. We were fascinated with the many hoary cabins, mining structures and tiny towns that have disappeared with age. So much life and serenity laid in these hills, for a sport where you wear a helmet and fly down a dirt path at 30 mph, I was very relaxed.

We closed our 4-hour ATV tour with a walking tour of St. Elmo. The only thing left for the weekend was to soak in the antiquity of the preserved community.  St. Elmo, Colorado; an authentic, untouched and historical “ghost town” from the 1800s.

As with many towns in the late 1800s, this was built with miners in mind, with the Mary Murphy Mine being it’s principal. Men were employed there, women were at home and the town ran on hard work and doleful losses.

The town was filled with hotels, restaurants, saloons and brothels; making this the scene for wild nights, strong laughter and hard-workers. This was a main hub for the railroads, thus bringing business in and taking business out. In the mid 1900’s, the town began its decline as miners made their way to better fortune at different mines. According to Legend of America, by 1926 the town was empty, the railroads were gone and only one family remained.

Annabelle and her brother Tony were the last remaining souls in St. Elmo after the death of their parents. They worked to keep the general store alive and attract tourists, neither of which panned out. The loss of family and friends effected them greatly as Annabelle was seen roaming the empty town with a shot gun, protecting her land. They were both taken to a mental institution and released a short year later where Tony met his death. Annabelle passed away a few years later, and to this day they say she still roams the town, offering her services as its main protector.

With a few minor losses in the fire of 2002, a majority of the structures still remain. As you can see below, homes and businesses alike are still standing with the aide of Historical Colorado. We loved experiencing the town and taking in the wonders of the 1800s, and no, we were not haunted by Annabelle Stark.

Ghost Towns in ColoradoGhost Towns Colorado

Our conclusion? Get out there, see your state and have a blast doing so. You may become versed in historical facts, encounter chilling ghosts or find yourself in the opulent surroundings of your own backyard. Big smiles and thumbs up for Mt. Princeton and St. Elmo!

Matt & Jackie (We will forever celebrate our birthdays with weekend excursions).

ATV Trails, ColoradoATV Trails, Colorado

Homemade Made Easy

Matt and I have made significant changes in our household in regards to the food we consume. I’d bare false witness if I said Colorado wasn’t the main influencer. To live in a state that has consistently owned real estate on lists like, “Healthiest State” and “Most Active State”, has been an intimidating, exciting and challenging experience.
I’m surrounded by vegans, vegetarians, cyclists, climbers, marathon pros, extreme skiers and weekend warriors. My peers, paired with the 360 days of sunshine forces me to be an athlete on some level. In conjunction with yoga, running and hiking, I’ve made a conscious decision to influence a difference in my household. The best part, my husband was totally on board!
Not only are these multiple at home concoctions good for your soon-to-be bangin’ body, they save you a lot of money. We were used to buying protein bars and creamer once a week. I put an end to that with learning how to make them myself. Does it not bother you that creamer has a shelf life of a month? Same with protein bars. Do you really know what goes into your protein bars? I was done taking that risk, it only made sense to make them myself. I also make my own applesauce when apples are in their peak season, my husband loves applesauce and it’s a heart healthy snack.
Below are the recipes I use. Skinnytaste, Women’s Health Magazine and Deliciously Organic were my sources for these base recipes. I of course modified them to match our lifestyle. (We also Juice and make Green Smoothies every day, stay tuned for a blog on benefits and recipes).



Protein Bars
Homemade Protein Bars

1-cup soy nuts
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
1/4 cup almond milk
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups plain nonfat Greek Yogurt
1 tbsp orange zest
1 cup dried cranberries
1 scoop protein powder (optional)
1/4 cup cacao nibs (I suggest these over any other chocolate, cacao is very healthy for you. A great source of Vitamin C and Omega 6 fatty acids)

You can add whatever you like to these bars to add variety. This past time we added pistachios, almonds and hemp seeds. Add whatever makes you feel good.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 13”x9” baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a food processor, pulse soy nuts and pumpkin seeds until roughly chopped, about 30seconds.

In a large mixing bowl, combine chopped soy nuts and pumpkin seeds, oats, brown sugar,salt and cinnamon.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg, yogurt, milk, vanilla extract and orange zest.

Pour wet mixture into large bowl containing dry ingredients. Add cranberries. Mix well until all ingredients are combined. Pour into prepared baking dish and smooth with knife or spatula until batter is evenly distributed.

Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.  Cut into equal size bars, roughly 3×2.

*We store our bars in the freezer and pull them out 15 minutes before eating. They have greater longevity that way. 

Apple Sauce
Homemade Apple Sauce

8 medium apples (Use a combination of Golden Delicious, Honey Crisp, Fuji, Gala, etc.)
2 peaches
2 pears
1 strips of lemon peel – use a vegetable peeler
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
2qty 3 inch cinnamon stick
5 tsp light brown sugar (unpacked)
1 tbsp Agave

Core and slice the apples & pears. Keep the peels on as they are a great source of vitamins. Place them in the slow cooker and add the cinnamon sticks, lemon juice, lemon peel and brown sugar.

Set crock pot to low and cook for 6 hours. Stir apples occasionally, apples will slowly become a delicious applesauce.  Remove cinnamon stick and use an immersion blender to blend applesauce mixture and peaches until smooth or if you prefer a chunky sauce, leave sauce intact.

Source, Skinnytaste 

Bridesmaid Duties… A lot of baking!

BridesmaidsIt’s an honor to be requested as a bridesmaid, and it’s also a duty. You are someone’s best friend, someone’s sister or someone who has been a staple in the bride’s life. The selection process for a bride isn’t easy, so the fact that you were asked speaks to who you are as a person. This will be the most important and blissful moment of her life and it’s your job to make sure everything is wrinkle free.

My great friend Kristie had an engagement party this past weekend and it was a captivating day in Colorado, sublime for a celebration. The park where the event was held had such a charming appeal. Folks brought their dogs, blankets to sit on and food to share. The father of the bride gave a lovely speech, bridesmaids and groomsmen were all in attendance and everyone rose their glasses to Bob & Kristie.

I came equipped with a fresh peach cake and cupcakes fit with the colors of the wedding. I invite you to take a look below and DO try these at home!

Wedding Color Cupcakes

What You’ll Need:
– Ingredients to make your favorite cake and icing
– Cupcake liners
– Two different colored ribbons
– Glue dots
– Scissors
– Sprinkles (or other decor)

I adore doing this for engagement parties, bridal showers and baby showers. What a special way to say congratulations with beautiful cupcakes! 

Kristie’s wedding colors are navy blue and coral, do you know how difficult it is to find coral ribbon!? I got as close as I could to the wedding colors and created these mini cakes of elegance. 

Doing this is easy, if I’m decorating with specific colors, I always choose a white cake with white icing. It allows the colors to pop more. Once you’ve picked your cake you find the cupcake liners, ribbons, sprinkles and glue dots. After you’ve made your cupcakes, let them cool and tie the ribbons before topping them off with icing. Hold the ribbon steady on the back of the cupcake with a single glue dot and again beneath the bow. 

Once you’ve tied all of your bows (I suggest doing this part while drinking wine and watching lifetime), you are set to ice and decorate the cupcakes and VOILA! You have magic and the bride or happy mommy-to-be will be beyond elated with how these cupcakes add to the decor of the party.

Fresh Two-Layer Peach Cake

Peach Cake 

What You’ll Need:
– 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
– 1 1/2 cups sugar
– Two extra large eggs, at room temperature
– 1 cup greek yogurt, at room temperature
– 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
– Two cups all-purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
– 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
– 4 large ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
– 1/2 cup chopped pecans

The inspiration for this cake was no other than the Palisade, CO fresh peaches. I’m a Georgia girl so these are only the 2nd best peaches in the world, but they make a damn good cake! This is best served at room temperature or slightly warm with vanilla ice cream, yum!

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch-square baking pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1 cup of the sugar for 3 to 5 minutes on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, then the Greek Yogurt and vanilla, and mix until the batter is smooth.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix just until combined. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon. 

Spread half of the batter evenly in the pan. Top with half of the peaches, then sprinkle with two-thirds of the sugar mixture. Spread the remaining batter on top, arrange the remaining peaches on top and sprinkle with the remaining sugar mixture and the pecans.  

Bake the cake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

 

50 Shades of Really Boring Stuff

Fifty Shades of GreyE.L. James introduces us to an array of characters that make up this highly carnal and raw novel. Christian Grey, the protagonist, is portrayed to the readers as a forceful commander with his amenable lady friend, Anastasia Steele, praising his every move. Grey and Steele create quite the steamy romance, they sure know how to make love, fight and write emails. The later being their greatest talent of all, more on that in a moment.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” has been said to be the modern day porn for the lonely housewives. You don’t say? I don’t blink; I buy the book, I bury myself in this book and I bore myself just as quickly. I was under the impression that my body would clench, that my palms would grow sweaty and my mouth would fill with watery goodness. Calm down boys & girls, none of that happened, and here’s why.

James did a superb job of introducing the characters and setting the scene. The first couple pages of the book baited me, I was fascinated and excited to become versed in the individuals. There were aspects of Grey and traits of Steele that I saw in myself and in my friends. That’s what makes a book great, the ability to relate. It wasn’t until the 5th chapter that I realized the story was flat, lifeless and stale. The repetition of lines showed a lack of creativity on James’s part.

Grey’s obsession of Anastasia’s lip biting habit, Steele’s inner goddess roaring (in every other paragraph), her face flushing a shade of crimson. These are all fantastic lines… when used once. Hey James, if you use it correctly, the thesaurus could be your best friend.

Moving on now to the contract. Oh boy, where to begin. The fact that they took this contract seriously is beyond me. Let me paint a picture for you (this is assuming Anastasia signs the damn thing). Christian and Anastasia are both naked in the red room, Anastasia biting her lip, her inner goddess ringing with delight. Christian pulls out a long black whip, an object that makes his member sing. But wait, Anastasia says no, she panics and realizes that this is all wrong. According to the contract, Grey can take Steele to court. Now you tell me? How could a contract like this really hold up in court. Maybe I’m being too literal.

That brings me to the emails and the indecisive nature of these two sexual creatures. These crazy kids, if you will. This will be quick, it goes like this: She thinks he is a bad idea, they see each other, she bites her lip, he seduces her, they have 2 pages worth of sex, she goes home and on her computer is an email from him, activate the 10 emails back and forth. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

All things aside, this book deserves a 3. I skimmed the majority of it and did a countdown to the end of the book. I’m sure there are folks who disagree with me and that’s fine, you’re entitled to your own sexual arousing techniques. Now, if there’s a movie and the star is Ryan Gosling, I will likely be a supporter. But for now, I rest my case.

For now, enjoy these highly hysterical celebs giving the book justice.

 

Charleston

ImageMy husband and I are starting a vacation tradition. We are utilizing our precious vacation weeks to see America. It’s hard to turn down trips like Mexico and The Bahamas, but there’s just so much to see here in The States. I don’t want to look past my own backyard. There are so many people to meet, so many places to experience and so much food to eat!

Image

This year we spent time in Beverly Hills/Santa Monica and Charleston, Charleston being our most recent. What a great city, what a historical city, Wow! The experience we had there will be one we carry with us forever. For those of you looking to do new things with your spouse, this is it! Go to a new city and get lost together, hold hands on cobblestone roads and run through the rain to get back to your hotel. So cheesy but so enchanting.

We’ll start from the beginning. Our hotel was The Mills House Hotel, a hotel that was originally opened in 1853, and a historical gem in the middle of Charleston. It’s rumored that this was Robert E. Lee’s most visited hotel when in the city. Let get serious, Matt and I were scared to death of this hotel, there was a major lack of sleep due to the fear of ghosts watching over us.

Moving past the intriguing hotel is the actual city. There are a few well-known roads; Queens, Market, King and East Bay. All represent the cities best shops and restaurants. Some are cobblestone, some are lined with thousand-year-old oaks and some have a lovely view of the water. There’s an amazing wine and cheese shop on Meeting Street, a great cigar shop on East Bay, upscale shopping on Kings and flea market shopping on, wait for it, Market. Should you be traveling to Charleston anytime soon, hit me up and I’ll give you more details on these quaint dwellings.

ImageThe food, the food, the food. We had some picture perfect and tummy pleasing dishes. Now it’s The South, so none of it’s healthy. We abandoned our diet of smoothies and fresh juices for a week to bathe in fried chicken and po boy sandwiches. Some of the best dishes can be found at Toast of Charleston, Blossom and Pearlz Oyster Bar, but none of them could beat Jestine’s Kitchen. Jestine’s is a whimsical diner with a gladdening menu of southern comfort food. As seen on your left, this is the fried chicken with green beans and mac & cheese. I topped it off with a slice of Coca-Cola cake… then I took a nap.

We spent time at Fort Sumter and Boone Hall. Both historical in their own exceptional ways, both beautiful in unique aspects. Fort Sumter opened our eyes to the courage, fear and tragedy that took place during The Civil War. Although three stories are missing from the Fort, its condition was impeccable. Boone Hall Plantation is the story of The South. The great thing about this plantation is that it’s still a working plantation, that’s rare, the care-takers and owners have outdone themselves on keeping the history alive. It’s such a beautiful thing to see.

One of the most joyous days of the vacation was my birthday. I had the honor of celebrating my 28th year in a dazzling city with not only my husband, but also my family. They drove up to Charleston for two days to spend some quality time with us; it always warms my heart to be among the people I love the most. We spent the day eating, drinking, chatting, laughing, exploring battery park and rainbow row and when the heat became unbearable, we relocated to a winery and quenched our thirst with some exquisite white wine.

Image

All in all – this trip was electrifying. I touched on maybe 5% of the things we did. I didn’t mention The Ghost Tour, The Spa, The Historical Carriage Ride and The Hunley. Should you be interested in learning more about our trip, please schedule some back porch wine time with me and I’ll tell you all of our dirty little secrets!

Much Love – Our next trip, Newport RI! 

Zucchini Cake Cupcakes with Honey Cinnamon Frosting

Zucchini Cake Cupcakes w/ Honey Cinnamon Frosting

When you guys bake do you turn on music? Open the windows? Wear your favorite apron? My most beloved time to bake is on a Sunday afternoon. The ingredients create a charming aroma that occupies space throughout your entire home.

Last Sunday I made these delightful cupcakes. My neighbor grows zucchini and if you’ve never grown zucchini, watch out, those things take over. It’s great for me, I get fresh ingredients to bake and cook with.

The item on the menu: Zucchini Cake Cupcakes with Honey Cinnamon Frosting. I took my aunts carrot cake recipe, replaced the carrots with zucchini and the pecans with walnuts (I find that walnuts compliment the zucchini better than any other nut). I was running low on ingredients in my house, as I had just returned from vacation, which forced me to get creative with the icing. Lucky for me, and my husband, and my neighbors, and my co-workers; this icing kicked some serious arse. And of course, thank you to Martha for helping me put these sparse ingredients together!  

I suggest making these this fall; your house will forever smell like cinnamon and honey. It’s been two days and my home still carries that lovely fragrance.

Zucchini Cake Cupcakes
2 cups all purpose flour
4 eggs, slightly beaten
2 teaspoons salt
1 ½ cups oil
2 cups sugar
3 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons soda

Preheat oven to 375.  Line 2 cupcakes pans with your favorite holders.  Sift together flour, salt, sugar, cinnamon, and soda.  Add eggs, oil, zucchini, and walnuts.  Bake for 15-20 mins.

Honey Cinnamon Frosting
I suggest doubling the frosting recipe if you are using piping bags
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt (to cut down on the sweetness)
1 teaspoon almond milk

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat confectioners’ sugar, unsalted butter, honey, and ground cinnamon until smooth, 4 to 5 minutes.