Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pumpkin Bread Recipes!!!

As many of you know, I posted on Facebook a request for pumpkin bread recipes!! I had a pie pumpkin I purchased from Anderson's Orchard that I needed to use up! Today was the day I became Betty Crocker!! I first made the pumpkin puree, followed by roasted pumpkin seeds, followed by 4 small loaves of Autumn Spice Pumpkin Bread!!

Here are the recipes for those interested!

Pumpkin Puree (from Erin)
1. Wash exterior of pumpkin and cut in half
2. Scrape our seeds and stringy stuff (if you really want to feel like Betty Crocker, save the seeds for planting or roasting or making pumpkin seed brittle)
3. Remove stem and cut to fit into a microwave bowl with a couple inches of water in it
4. Cover and microwave for 15min on high, repeat in 5 min increments until soft (with my microwave it usually takes 20-30min total)
5. Cool until it's easier to handle then scoop the cooked pumpkin out of the skin
6. Puree the pumpkin using a blender or food processor
7. Use in any pumpkin recipe or freeze for later use.

The Bread Recipe Winner:

Autumn Spice Bread (From Bethany)

3 1/2 cups flour
2 t baking soda
2 t cinnamon (I used 2 tbsp)
1 t salt
1 t nutmeg (I used 1 ½ tsp)
1/2 t ginger
1/2 t cloves
1 cup butter (I used 2/3 cup applesauce, 1/3 cup butter)
2 cups sugar
2 cups canned pumpkin
4 eggs, lightly whipped
1 1/2 cups choc chips
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts (I left these out)

Grease 2 loaf pans. Combine flour, soda, salt, and all spices. Cream butter with sugar and pumpkin, blend in eggs. At low speed add in dry ingredients. Stir in choc chips and 1 cup walnuts. Pour into loaf pans and top with 1/2 cup walnuts. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Top with spice glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t cinnamon
2-3 t milk
1/2 cup walnuts (I leave these out)

Combine dry ingredients, adding in milk sparingly until it becomes the consistency of a glaze. Spread on loaves when removed from pans. Sprinkle with nuts.

All the rest were a close second --- it was so hard to choose just one recipe! I will keep them all on hand for future use!!

A totally “RAD” Pumpkin Bread (from Apryl)
2 C Flour 15 oz can pumpkin
1 t Baking soda 1 C Sugar
1 t Baking powder 1 Stick butter (preferably unsalted) melted and cooled
1 t. Cinnamon 2 Lg. Eggs
1/2 t. Salt 2 t vanilla extract
1/2 t. Nutmeg 1 C chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
1/2 t. gr ginger 1 C dried cranberries (optional)
Preheat oven 350. Generously coat pan w/ cooking spray. Whisk dry ingredients together in lg. bowl.
In separate bowl whisk pumpkin, sugar, melted butter, egg, and vanilla until frothy.
Gently fold pumpkin mixture into dry ingredients w/ rubber spatula until just combined. Batter will be thick. Transfer to loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake 45-55 min or until toothpick comes out w/ just a few crumbs. Cool and Unmold. Can use a thick glaze of maple syrup and powdered sugar for added taste!

Pumpkin Bread (From Sara)

2c canned pumpkin (NOT pie filling)
2c sugar
4 eggs
1c oil
3 1/4c flour
2t baking soda
1 1/2t salt
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1c chopped nuts (I use walnuts)

Mix the first 4 ingredients, then add the dry ingredients. Pour into 2 greased loaf pans and bake at 350* for 1 hour. The top of the bread can still be a little "mushy" in the middle so just keep an eye on it and you may just need to bake it a bit longer or just cut that off when serving it:)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread (From Larissa)

3 1/3 cups flour
3 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup water
2 cups pumpkin pie filling
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the ingredients in the order listed. Bake in 3 ungreased loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour & 15 minutes (although I usually check at about 1 hour) Let stand for 25 minutes. Turn onto cooling rack to cool.

*You can also use this for muffins. Make one or two loaves and use the rest for muffins.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip bars (from Laura)

2 cups all purpose white flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 package (12oz) semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and sides of a 9 by 13 inch baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda and salt; set aside.

2. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree (mixture may appear curdled). Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

3. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

4. Lift cake from pan (using foil as an aid). Peel off foil, and use a serrated knife to cut into 24 squares.

I imagine each one of them are amazing!!! Happy baking and happy eating!!!

Allyson (aka Betty Crocker)

It's the small things in life ....

... that can bring so much joy and laughter!

Who knew sticking my face in the couch could be so much fun??

A quick video -- I was a little late at getting the camera, so I missed the jumping up and down and cackling!! (Sophia was looking at Aunt Sarah -- and of course she was making her laugh! It is so neat to see the precious relationship that Sarah and Sophia have together!!)

Happy Hump Day (meaning Wednesday of course!) :)


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Happy 9 Month Bday to Me!

"It's my 3/4 birthday, I'll cheese if I want, cheese if I want to ... you would cheese to if it happened to you!!"

Accomplishments and Milestones to Celebrate at 9 months:
- 19 lbs 7 oz
- Feeding self with pincer grasp (gotta love puffs to practice)
- Learning to clap her hands
- Starting to develop a bad case of separation anxiety
- Eating organic chicken (well, when it is pureed with butternut squash and sweet potatoes)
- VERY vocal (hum.... wonder where she gets that one from)
- Rolling around EVERYWHERE

What is the big one you don't see? CRAWLING

Yes, she is still protesting crawling. She is always up on her hands ... can spin herself with her hands 360 degrees ... just doesn't wanna be up on all fours. You would think then she would army-crawl-it ... yeah, um... no. Her being slow to meet this milestone is just killing me... heck, I was on my way to walking at this age ... oh well, I know every baby is different, but really Sophia --- could ya just do it once for mommy to show her you can??? The funny thing is I know it won't matter when she is 2 at what age she started crawling/walking, but it seems like a big deal now!!

Guess I will just be a mama-in-waiting!


Monday, September 28, 2009

Colin's First Birthday Party!

Yesterday we had a great time at Colin McHugh's 1st birthday party! Colin's mom, Katie (Wipperman) and I went to high school together! Thanks to the wonderful world of facebook, we reconnected when Katie was pregnant with Colin. It has been so wonderful to catch up and watch our kids grow up together! If you don't already, you should check out Katie's Blog! She is an amazing writer with a great sense of humor and take some killer pictures!!

Here are a few pictures from the party! (They have a beautiful house near Butler's campus and these pictures were all taken in their "sunroom/living room!" Nate and I were so jealous of this room and would LOVE to have one! The natural light was amazing!)

Sophia and mama!! She didn't get the memo to smile at the camera!!

Family picture in our birthday hats!! (Thanks Apryl!) Sophia didn't mind wearing her birthday hat!! Hopefully she won't in 3 months!!

It's almost my 3/4 year birthday -- so happy almost birthday to me too!!

The birthday boy, Colin, eating his chocolate cupcake with chocolate icing!! By the end, he had chocolate icing ALL over his face! It was priceless!!

We had such a good time at the party! After closely observing Colin play and "happy scream/squeal," Sophia picked up on the "screaming" thing! I think she likes to see how high she can get her voice!! She "happy screamed/squealed" the whole way home!! It was even too much for Olivia, who said, "Mommy, can Sophie-phia get out of the car?" You know it was loud when a 2 1/2 year old couldn't stand it!! (Sorry Apryl about the noise!) The food was amazing and the company was even better! We are looking forward to many kids birthday parties in the future!!! I have a lot to live up to for Sophia's first birthday party now!! :)

Hope everyone had a great weekend!! Enjoy this beautiful FALL day!!!

Don't ya just love this weather??


Monday, September 21, 2009

CELEBRATE good times, come on...

Saturday we celebrated Rhoda's 40th birthday! (Rhoda is Nate's middle sister) It was a later party, so my parents graciously offered to watch Sophia (after my sister double booked herself! HEHE JK sis!) That way we could stay later and enjoy ourselves. Sophia had a blast with my parents and enjoyed her trip to the Mayberry Cafe in Danville!! She is always such an angel for grammie and grampie K (or at least that is what they tell me!)

As you can tell by the pictures below, Rhoda had a great time! There were about 20 people there to celebrate! Nate's parents did a wonderful job with the party! Lots to do, lots to eat, lots of laughs!! After dinner, we all enjoyed some karaoke!! Nate sang Elvis' song, "Can't help falling in love" to me in his best Elvis voice! It was priceless!! I have it on video, but I doubt he would appreciate it on the web!!

Rhoda and T-man (Tyler)

Rhoda had a hard time getting both candles out in one breath -- can't say I blame her b/c they were so far apart!! Wonder if that wish will come true! Hope so!!

Rhoda's biggest surprise for the night was the guest appearance by Uncle Chuck and Aunt Sandy (Iowa). They were traveling through the state in their BEAUTIFUL RV and decided to "crash" the party!! It was great to see them, as we haven't since our wedding!! They are such wonderful, sincere, and genuine people!! Just love 'em!!

Since they were staying for a few days, we all were able to go out to lunch on Sunday afternoon! It was great to hear the family talking about "the good 'ole days." I learn lots about Nate's extended family during those type of interactions!! Wish we lived closer to them all!

Here is a picture of Aunt Sandy and Uncle Chuck in their RV on Sunday afternoon. Chuck is in the "captain's chair." It was so comfortable I don't know how he stays awake driving!!

Grandma and Grandpa Long had a chance to see Sophia on Sunday since Sophia didn't come to the party on Saturday night. They were glad to see her as it had been almost two months! (Yes, she has no pants on -- they were a wet mess after a big leak ... so she is sporting a cute shirt, diaper, and socks to her knees!!)

Rhoda, Delores, and Whitney

Hope everyone had a great weekend!! We are thrilled to be getting some good rainfall!! Bring it on!!! The grass looks deader than a doornail!

Until we type again....


Friday, September 18, 2009

I wanna bang on the drums all day....

Happy Friday!!

Here is a cute little video of Sophia and Nate "banging on the (body) drums!" Sophia is trying really hard to mimic Nate's "drum" playing! She gets so excited to play with her daddy!!

Have a great weekend!!

Allyson and Sophia

Thursday, September 17, 2009

How to eat a puff ... let me count the ways!

Puffs = Pure Utter Fun For Sophia

She has a blast eating puffs!! I took a step by step pictures of her eating one ... (missed her picking it up which is always funny!)

Step 1: Pick it up -- I usually try to put it towards her left-hand, but she usually picks it up with her right hand. So much for having a leftie like me for a child!

Step 2: Try to put it in my mouth with my right hand ... although, the left hand is quickly coming up to help out ...

Step 3: Have to use my left hand to push my right hand further into my mouth and then I try to suck it out of my hand (if it sticks!)

Step 4: Finish by sucking my right hand -- mmmm... those fingers are yummy!

Step 5: Grand Finale: A BIG SMILE!!

I am just a ham bone!!

Allyson and Sophia

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What do you do? What do you say?

For the past few days, this blog post has been piecing itself together in my noggin ... just trying to figure out how to put my thoughts on paper (or a screen)! Please forgive me b/c I don't have the "perfect" words ... but I am going to give it my best shot to give you a glimpse of what is going on inside!

What is suffering? What is pain? Webster defines suffering: "to submit to or be forced to endure, to labor under, experience, to put up with as inevitable or unavoidable, to endure pain, to sustain loss, to be subject to disability." After some long, hard conversations with Nate, I have decided that I have yet to truly experience real suffering or pain. (Well, except childbirth -- but that is fleeting) Those experiences I thought were painful or hard pale in comparison to what others have gone through or are currently going through. Some would call me fortunate, some would call me unfortunate.... not sure what I would call myself yet -- I am still processing everything.

Over the past few years, several people close to me have experienced real pain and suffering -- five women that I currently have in mind. All have two things in common - a loss and faith. Loss -- a loss of self, a loss of a marriage and life companion, a loss of the ability to move and carry on like years before, the loss of a child, the loss of their world as they knew it. When I look at these women, I see incredible strength, perseverance, growth, and maturity. However, I can not help but to feel pain for them. I can't imagine myself in their shoes. How would I manage? How would I deal? How did they/are they making it? What lessons can I learn to prepare myself for the future?

When we have people in our lives that are suffering, we each deal with their situation in different ways. For some it is trying to find the solution to their problem and for others it is pure avoidance. I have come to the conclusion avoidance is not the answer. However, I find myself thinking, "What on earth could I possibly say to make them feel better? What right do I have to give them advice b/c I can't imagine /understand what they are going through? What are the 'perfect' words? Will it be awkward?"

Recently I learned I don't need "perfect" words ... I just need to be there ... in whatever way they need me and it is my responsibility to try to figure that way out. Whether it is a shoulder to cry on; a person to pray for them and with them; offering of advice or listening to their heart? Whatever it is -- connecting at a "soul" level is what is most important! They just need me to be "real" and not to put forth the front of "everything is going to be ok." Their pain is real and it is my job to respect that even though I may not be able to fully understand.

Even though these 5 women have suffered in such different ways, they are ALL women of faith and have used/are using their faith in Christ Jesus to help them get through their situation. One day at a time ... hour by hour ... even minute by minute. They have all become much stronger. I admire them in incredible ways! When I talk with each of them, I find myself leaving the conversation the one encouraged and blessed.

I don't know why they have to suffer? I don't understand it one bit, but I do know good has come out of each situation and I cling to that truth. One of the girls said something that struck me, "I am trying not to ask why, but ask what can I learn from it? How can I grow?" Wow -- isn't that amazing!! What a mature statement!! I can only hope that I would respond in such a way.

I always have to cling to the verse in James 1:2-4 -- "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter suffering and trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

I hope I communicated what has been going on in my heart ... I hope you will be blessed by this post or could bless another...


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Disney's Christmas Carol Train Tour

Yesterday, Sophia and I headed down to Greenwood to pick up my parents and we drove 10 min south to Bargersville (aka Barger-tucky!) for the Disney Christmas Carol Train Tour. For those of you that don't know about it ... Disney is doing a 30 city train tour to promote A Christmas Carol to be released in theatre's Nov 6th. It is going to be very similar to Polar Express and will be in 3D! The tour started in LA and will end in NY at Grand Central Station. The train stopped in downtown Bargersville and was there from 9am to 7pm. We arrived shortly after 9:30am, and the wait to get on the train was already 1 hour. When we finally made it up to the first train car in the tour, Channel 13 news snuck in right behind us! They followed the boy in front of us along to capture a kid's perspective and journey through the cars! Of course Sophia and I made sure to be behind him at each stop!! :) Hehehe!! We were on the Channel 13 news at least 3 different times during the 5 o'clock hour last night but only one clip during the 6 o'clock hour!!! Arrow over on the video selection and choose Disney Train 5pm..... You will see us quite a few times! :)

Each train car had different items from the movie, pictures, portraits, wax sculptures they used to create the computer images, costumes, original artifacts from the Dicken's exhibit in London, miniature replicas of Big Ben and the set houses, and much more. They showed clips of how the movie was made in one of the cars! The last car you got to morph your face into a 3D image of one of the characters. They are going to email the pictures, so be looking for them as I will post it on the blog!! Pretty funny stuff!

After the train tour, you got in another line to watch a 3D - 10 minute clip from the movie. The clip left you wanting to see the whole movie. It is going to be worth going to the theatre's to see it!!! The technology is just amazing!!

Once the movie got out, we decided to head home since Sophia had been up WAY too long!!! She missed her AM nap, but proceeded to take a 3 hour afternoon nap!! Yeah!!

Overall, we are glad that we went and were able to experience the Train Tour -- HOWEVER -- we wouldn't want to have waited for more than 1 hour. By the time we were leaving, the wait was at 4+ hours. A big NO THANK YOU for me -- it was neat, but not neat enough for 4 hours of my time!! They achieved their goal -- we all want to see the movie now!!

Here are a few pictures of our experience!

Dad, Mom, and Sophia on the tractor tram -- had a 5 min ride to actually get to the train.

The train when we arrived!! Isn't that so cool?

Up close view of the train car!

Christmas Carolers to get you in the Christmas mood!! I bet they were blazin' hot!!!

The last train car ... Sophia was starving and checking out all the "fake" food!! Yum Yum!!


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Good food, good laughs, good times: Labor Day 09

We are so sad to see the summer gone, the weekend over, and daddy back to work!! We had a great and memorable weekend!! We are both very grateful for the chance to celebrate Labor Day!

Friday Sophia and I had a great day, didn't do anything out of the ordinary, but enjoyed each other!! She also got to have egg yolks for the first time!! She loved them! We have been working with her to teach her how to feed herself. She gets the food in her mouth 50% of the time!!

Saturday morning, Nate and I got up and took Sophia for an early morning run. (Had to prepare for Monday's race!) It was beautiful weather and we had a great time. Saturday evening, our friends Kristin and Dave came down for a cookout. We had a great time with them! Dave makes some killer guacamole and salsa -- those that know Nate know that he was in heaven!! Dave and Kristin are expecting their first child in 3 short weeks!! We are thrilled for them and for this little blessing to come! They have an amazing testimony of God's provision!!

Sunday was the usual, church, Sunday School, and then a nap!! My dad came out around 4. We made a homemade Italian Pesto Pizza, watched a movie, and all hit the sack!!

Monday morning, we all got up and headed out to North Salem! Nate and I were participating in the Old Fashion Days 10K run! Nate did this run last year, but Sophia was in tow and I was really PREGO!!! :) Nate and I had a really nice time running, and I did much better than I ever expected. Ran the full 6.2 miles without stopping!! We did it in a little over an hour. Pretty good for minimal training!! Dad and Sophia walked around the tiny town of North Salem and people watched!! (One of Sophia favorite things to do -- STARE!) After the run, we all had breakfast in the church basement and it was very yummy!! The best part about it was the homemade doughnuts!! (Right dad??) I never eat doughnuts b/c they are so bad for you -- but after running 10K, I couldn't pass them up -- especially since they were homemade!! Yum Yum!!

Once we got home, all 4 of us took naps!! We were all really tired!!!

Later yesterday afternoon, my mom drove up, Sarah and Brandon came over and we had a nice little cookout! My dad, the grill master, did a FABULOUS job on the meat while the ladies prepared the rest!! Good food, good laughs, good times!! My sister even made a killer Baked Alaska!! Yum Yum!!!

Here are a few pictures from the weekend....

Right before the race .... nice little family picture!

Lucky number 88 and 89!!

Gotta love on my sweet baby girl before the race starts!! :)

We finally made it!!! The crazy thing was we ran the whole time with a 67 year old man! He ran so fast!!! Couldn't believe it! A 71 year old man kicked most people's butt this year and ran the 10K in 45 minutes!! Can you believe it? He also won his age group in this year's Mini-Marathon!

Ahhhh.... my sweet baby girl!

Sarah and Brandon decided it would be cute to put some shades on Sophia!! As you can see from her facial expression, she was not impressed AT ALL!! :)

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend!! We have a very buys 4 day week ahead!!


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Top Chef Thursday

We were running low on sweet potatoes, so it was time to make another batch!! When I make SP, it is the only thing I can make b/c the batch is so big, but lasts a long time!

3 lbs of organic sweet potatoes = $3.99 which made 67 cubes @ $0.06/cube!
3 overfull cubes = ~1 - 4 oz baby food jar = $0.18/jar compared to the standard $0.79/jar organic baby food!

I love saving green while making orange!!

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), a very good source of vitamin C and manganese, and a good source of copper, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, potassium and iron! Plus they have antioxidant properties to fight those free-radicals in the body! They have anti-inflammatory properties as well!!

See you can't go wrong with a sweet potato year round! Don't save them for just Thanksgiving!!


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Super Baby Food: Beans and Carrots

As many of you know, I am making Sophia's baby food and having a blast!! Fruits and veggies are a cinch --- making and introducing proteins can be a bit tricky as I found out last night!! My favorite reference for Sophia's nutrition is a book called "Super Baby Food" by Ruth Yaron. It was one of the best gifts I was given at my shower (Thanks Deborah W.!) I think I refer to that book at least 2-3x/week.

Last night we tried carrots for the first time. I thought for sure she would love them b/c (to me) they tasted very similar to her sweet potatoes! The first 4 bites went down like candy ... then she slowed down ... and eventually would just hold them on her tongue and leave her mouth open! Hum... what to do? I added some cinnamon and she really enjoyed them! So glad I can finally introduce spices!!!

At 8 months, it is recommended to start proteins and they suggest beans. They suggested waiting till 8 months so the child has more digestive enzymes available to digest the proteins! I was talking with a fellow baby food makin' mama and she also started with beans. I purchased the Bob's Red Mill 13 Bean Soup bag of dried beans. Let me preface the rest of this post with the fact -- I don't usually buy dried beans b/c they take FOREVER to prepare! Why would I think it would be any different for Sophia's beans?

During Sophia's after nap yesterday, I was on a baby food makin' kick! I made Butternut Squash/Zucchini cubes, carrots, and just plain squash. When it came time for the beans, I read the back of the package...."Step 1: Soak overnight." I thought, "You have got to be kidding me ... I don't have time for an overnight soak." So I turned to the trusty internet and found a quick soak method (put beans in a stockpot, bring to boil for 3 minutes, take off burner, cover, and let sit for 1 hour). So here I am, boiling beans, making squash, making dinner, and thank heavens Aunt Sarah was playing with Sophia. The next thing I know is that my beans are boiling over on the stove -- YIKES! What a mess!

After the beans were finally done "soaking," I boiled/simmered them for another 45 minutes. I stuck 2 cups of them into the Beaba and pureed! The result: GRAY PASTE! (Did I think it would look any better, maybe I was too hopeful!) Ok, so what on earth am I going to do with this?? It tastes gritty and very bland! A light bulb went on ... hum ... a typical combination for other cultures is rice and beans. I cooked up a 1 cup of Bob's Red Mill brown rice and added 1/2 of my bean puree. Taste test: still very bland. Hum... what next? Add cinnamon. Taste test: better -- but not quite there. Add two and a half brown bananas (b/c they are all sugar when they are brown and easier to digest). Taste test: Actually, pretty darn tasty! I was happy with the results and poured them into the Fresh Baby Food Trays. It made 36 cubes! I was proud of my little creation, but was quickly brought down from my cloud when I looked at the stock pot -- still full of cooked beans I have yet to use!! Ahhhhhhhhh!!! I guess I didn't realize how many beans 2 cups of dried beans would make!! I put the rest of the beans in tupperware and stored it in the freezer for my next bean making adventure (at least the hard part is done)! What next: clean up my horrific mess of a kitchen!!!

Of note: This morning Sophia had 1 cube of oats, 1 cube of rice/beans/cinn/banana, 2 cubes of mango mixed together and she loved it!! Full of flavor, full of nutrients, full of protein!! (PS> For those of you that think I am cruel -- I actually tasted it and it tasted really yummy!)

Hope you enjoyed that adventure!!