Sunday, October 30, 2011

What's the word on the street?


For those of you who don't watch Sesame Street daily, "What's the word on the street" is what Murray says to find the word of the day...and his voice saying it is often in my head throughout the day, hence the title.

Anywho, Leo is definitely going through a clingy phase. I can hardly do anything without him crawling over to me and sitting on my feet while he tries to pull himself up to my legs and whine until I pick him up. And leaving the room he is in??? Forget about it!!!

My mom's theory is that he is going through a clingy phase anyway and then because we have been out of sorts for the last week and a half (vacation...i.e. unfamiliar surroundings and not sleeping at home, etc.) it has been exacerbated. Whatever the reasoning, the boy is seriously clingy right now. In fact he won't even sleep alone! He has been cuddling up with me for way too many nights now. It's not that it isn't cute or that I don't like sleeping next to is awfully cute to hear him breathe and such...but at some point he has to sleep by himself again. Not to mention the fact that I am exhausted. Seriously.

So tonight was the night. We are finally back at home for more than one night (we have a whole 2 weeks before our next night away) and so tonight he was going to sleep in his bed no matter what. During our 9 month well-check last week (more on that to come) our pediatrician told us that it is okay to just let him cry it, surely he has never been a parent, right? Actually he has 2 little boys but any parent knows that it is super hard to listen to your child cry- especially since I have total control over it.

He only cried 40 minutes tonight; it was hard core screaming though the whole time and Nick even got teary after going in once. He is however currently asleep in the fetal position. Ugh- parenting sucks!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Happy Anniversary to us!

Three years ago today Nicholas and I were married and sealed for eternity in the Salt Lake City temple. As cliche as it sounds, it has been the best three years of life yet :)

Now if you would have told me five years ago that by now I would be married and have a baby, I would have said you were crazy. I was going places...changing the world and looking good doing it. Now my post-baby body lives in an old apartment in College Station, TX where my world revolves around nap times and what to make for dinner...and while that sounds a bit depressing, I couldn't be happier! I know I made the right choice in marrying Nicholas and, more importantly, I am just glad I finally convinced him to marry me. :)

As my sister Tara texted me this morning "3 down, eternity to go!" Happy Anniversary to us!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Apple Week - The Desserts

Of course the desserts of Apple Week were my favorite; I am pretty sure I will always favor the dessert more than the entree and I'm alright with that...carpe diem and all that. Anywho, there was really only one dessert- caramel apples. However the entree of Saturday morning- Apple Puffed Pancake- is considered a dessert in my book. Yum!

Nick made the Apple Puffed Pancake for us, so while I can't give you any great insights to making it, here is the recipe.

Apple Puffed Pancake

6 eggs
1 1/2 c milk
1 c flour
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 lb (or 1 stick/8 Tbsp) butter
2 apples, peeled and sliced (thinly)
2-3 Tbsp brown sugar

Heat oven to 425*.

Melt butter in a 9x13 pan.

Add apples and return to oven until butter sizzles.

Mix all other ingredients, except brown sugar, in a blender for a few minutes.
Pour over sizzling butter.

Sprinkle with brown sugar.

Bake for 20 minutes.

We served our pieces with whipped cream and maple syrup...absolutely delightful! It was especially great because 1) I did not have to cook it and 2) because I didn't cook it I didn't fret over how much butter, etc. went in to it, thus I thoroughly enjoyed eating every single bite! I apologize for the pictures...I forgot to snap one until after we had already cut it.

Next up, caramel apples...or as I will refer to them, Gourmet Caramel Apples. As I mentioned previously, my sister Amy had gone to an activity where they gave some tips on how to make them and I was anxious to try them out. Many of these tips are from her.

Gourmet Caramel Apples

First you must remove the wax the grocery stores put on the apples that make them shiny...this will help the caramel to stick. Either scrub them with baking soda water or dip them quickly in boiling water. I dipped mine in boiling water just for a second and then wiped the wax off with a cloth. It is wonder how you will know if you got the wax off but you can really just tell. The wax turned whitish when I dipped mine in boiling water so I knew exactly what to wipe off. Afterwards your apples will be obviously more dull than before.

Remove the stems and push your sticks in all the way to the bottom.
I used bamboo skewers (I cut them down a little) that I had on hand instead of
traditional popsicle sticks and they worked fine.

Then you have to get the apples very cold. Refrigerate for a while...I took the wax off during one of Leo's naps and then caramel-fied them when he was in bed,
so mine chilled for many hours.

Melt caramels on low heat in a saucepan with 1 Tbsp of milk for every 7 oz. of caramels
(most "regular" sized bags of caramels are 7 oz.)

Now you are ready to caramel your apples...but you only get to do it one at a time.
The caramel sets quickly and so if you want to put any toppings on your apple...nuts, marshmallows, M&Ms, cookie crumbs, etc...have them ready!

As soon as your caramel is all melted, take it off the heat (but don't turn the heat off). Grab one apple from the fridge and coat with caramel. Hurry and coat with any additional toppings if you want to and then return to the fridge on parchment or wax paper.

Put your caramel back on the heat and stir for a minute until it is perfectly melted again. Then remove from heat again and continue "carameling" apples one by one.
Let them set in the fridge until hard before drizzling with chocolate, if you choose.
*If your caramel sets too quickly and you don't get your whole apple covered with toppings, use the melted caramel in the saucepan as "glue" and place your toppings where you want. That is how I got my marshmallows so even in the last picture!*

To drizzle with chocolate, melt bark or chips in microwave
(30 seconds, stir, 30 seconds, stir, and on and on until it is nice and smooth).
After the chocolate is nice and smooth, add just a little vegetable oil...until the chocolate falls off your spoon in a thin ribbon. Grab your apple from the fridge, hold over wax paper, and drizzle with the chocolate to your liking. This is also a great time to add any toppings, like nuts, that didn't stick to your caramel apple originally...
the chocolate takes a little longer to set than the caramel does.

Mostly have fun! Making Gourmet Caramel Apples totally made it feel like Fall to me...even if it was still hot and humid outside.

So there you have it...all of my apple endeavors. I love apples- Granny Smiths with salt or Galas are my favorites- and trying new recipes or tricks was fun. I really love almost any "seasonal" flavors...maybe I will have to do a Pumpkin Week next?!?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Apple Week - The Entrees

So last week was an unofficial Apple Week here at the Vernon household. It all started when my October edition of Parents magazine arrived; they had a whole little section about apples, including recipes. I picked out a couple that I really wanted to try...afterall, apples were way on sale at HEB at the time. Then my sister Amy went to an activity about how to make perfect caramel apples and I wanted to try that too!

So first up was Harvest Soup. Unfortunately I forgot to snap a picture of this one, but it was a beautiful pumpkin color and was really quite tasty. Best of all, it was super easy- a bunch of chopping but then the soup did its thing while Leo and I played.

Harvest Soup

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 c chopped carrot
1/2 c chopped celery
1/3 c chopped onion
1 1/2 lbs butternut squash, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 medium apples, cored and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
(I used Gala...supposedly they are easier to puree along with
Golden Delicious and Northern Spy because of their thin skin)
4 c low-sodium chicken broth
ground pepper to taste

In a big pot, heat oil on medium. Add carrots, celery, and onion.
Cook, stiring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes or until tender and starting to brown.

Add squash, apples, and broth. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes or until squash is tender. Cool slightly.

Puree soup, in multiple batches if necessary, in a blender or food processor.
(I just did mine in the pot with a hand blender!)

Add pepper and croutons to serve.

Super delicious and fed us for a few nights! My next apple entree was Savory Sausage Stuffed Apples...what a mouthful, huh? These were a bit more work and while they were yummy, they may have been more work than they were worth to me. Don't get me wrong, they were good- the sweet apple compliments the little zing/spice/whatever of the sausage- they were just more work than I normally do for a random Wednesday night.

Savory Sausage Stuffed Apples

4 large apples
6 oz sweet pork or turkey sausage
1/3 c chopped onion
1/2 c cooked brown rice
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary (I used dried)
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme (I used dried)
1 Tbsp olive oil
dash of black pepper
3/4 c apple juice

Preheat oven to 375*.

Slice the tops off apples and a thin slice from the bottom to allow them to sit flat. Core apples, starting from the stem end going to but not through the bottom of the apple.
(I used a grapefruit spoon but you could use a small spoon or melon baller.)
Continue scraping leaving a 1/4 inch apple shell. Save the apple flesh. (But not the core part!)

Cook sausage and onion, drain.
Combine in bowl with rice, rosemary, thyme, oil, pepper, and 1/2 c of apple flesh.

Place apples in a square baking dish and fill with mixture. Pour apple juice into baking dish.

Bake uncovered for 30 - 40 minutes.

Serve warm, drizzled with the cooking liquid.

So there you have it! Two very yummy apple recipes for you to try. They both tasted like fall and got me very excited for my favorite time of year. And it was good for me to try new recipes...I so often get burnt out on making dinner and it was a nice way to be excited by the chore. And stay next post will be about the desserts of Apple Week- yum!