In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. ~ Proverbs 3:6

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fish and Corn Chowder and Cod and Shrimp Stoup

Rachel Ray has some really easy and exceptional recipes to offer.  Here are two of my favorite one-pot-dishes she's created that I love to make this time of year.

Matt loves this fish and corn chowder.  It is creamy and full of flavor with lots of fresh ingredients.  You can get the recipe here.

This cod and shrimp stoup with salt and vinegar mashed potatoes is also a huge hit with the hubs.  You can get the recipe here.

Conner Prairie's Headless Horseman

        Indianapolis has so many fun things for kids to do all year long, but especially this time of year.  This fall, I’ve taken the girls that I nanny for to the apple orchard, the pumpkin patch, The Children Museum’s Haunted House, Indianapolis Zoo Boo and last night Matt and I took the girls to Conner Prairie’s Headless Horseman.  The girls had a lot of fun doing all sorts of evening fall activities at Conner Prairie such as fall crafts, s’mores, pumpkin’ chunkin’ and of course the headless horseman hayride.  This was the last weekend for this particular event, but if you live in the Indianapolis area, I recommend heading to Conner Prairie for some family-friendly Halloween fun next year.  Admission is $15 per person, but if you are a member it’s free:)

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pumkin Carving and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

          Matt and I carved our pumpkins from the pumpkin patch last night.  We're not very artistic.  It always looks like five year olds carved our pumpkins, but I think that's what makes it so fun!  There’s something about carving pumpkins that makes me feel like a kid again.  I’m not exactly sure why it makes feel that way, since I don’t actually remember carving pumpkins when I was little.  I’m pretty sure that we never experienced pumpkin carving, because my mom was a clean freak and that kind of project would have been way too messy for her.  Not carving pumpkins as a child must have left some sort of subconscious void in my life, because I have felt the need to carve pumpkins every year since I’ve been adult….both a single adult and a married adult. 
            As an adult, I’ve sort of started this tradition where I make grilled cheese and tomato soup, carve pumpkins and then watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown while eating freshly popped kettle corn.  I think it’s a fabulous tradition, and that’s why I was so bummed out when Matt and I had our first Halloween together and I discovered his hatred for pumpkins!  Can you believe it?  The guy hates all things pumpkin: pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin roll, pumpkin coffee and especially pumpkin carving!  I’m a girl who loves all things fall, but I especially love ALL things pumpkin in the fall!  It was such a sad thing when I discovered that my husband couldn’t share with me my love for pumpkins.   And do you want to know the reason for this pumpkin hatred of his….wait for it….they’re too messy!  Yep, apparently, I married my mother!
            Even though my husband hates pumpkins, he loves me.J  He’s learned that I have a weird sentimental thing with festive traditions….including pumpkin carving.  After he unknowingly hurt my feeling the first year we were married by refusing to partake in my pumpkin carving and taking a nap while I carved both of our pumpkin, he now reluctantly carves them with me as long as I take out all of the pumpkin goop, clean up the mess for him and reward him with grilled cheese, tomato soup and kettle corn.   One thing is for sure.  No matter how much my husband dislikes pumpkin carving,  I’ll always enjoy our little tradition, and he’ll always enjoy watching me enjoy it. J

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sausage and Cream Cheese Crescent Rolls

           I am a big cream cheese fan and tend to be drawn to recipes that have cream cheese as one of the main ingredients.  These sausage and cream cheese crescent rolls are one of my favorite cream cheese recipes.  My husband loves to eat them during a football game, but I’ve made them for all sorts of casual gatherings.  They always go over well, and they are a super-easy three-ingredient recipe.  They'd also be a really good breakfast or brunch dish.  I first had these bite-size snacks at a gathering my grandma had a few years ago.  I’m pretty sure I ate most of the ones on the plate that day.  I asked for the recipe, and I’ve been making them ever since.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. J

2 cans of 8 crescent rolls
1 8oz. package of cream cheese
1 lb. of ground sausage

* I use two packs of cream cheese and three cans of crescent rolls to make the mixture, because I like mine creamier on the inside.

Cook sausage and drain excess grease.  While sausage is warm, mix in cream cheese (mixing with hands works best).  Spoon the mixture onto the individual crescents.  Roll each crescent roll trying to completely cover the mixture while rolling.  Bake according to crescent roll directions on package.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Zoo Boo!

            I love Indianapolis in the fall!  There are so many kid-friendly things to take the girls to this time of year.  Matt and I took the girls to The Indianapolis Zoo for the annual Zoo Boo over the weekend.  The zoo is decorated in Halloween fun for this yearly event, and there are all sorts of fun activities for the kidos to do.  The girls had a blast trick-or-treating throughout the zoo!  Here are a few pics from our weekend.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pumpkin Pancakes

Happy Sunday everyone!  Nothin’ like pumpkin pancakes, topped with whip cream and sprinkled with pumpkin pie spice on a beautiful fall Sunday morning!   I got this recipe from a blog that I follow called Chef in Training.  You can get the recipe here.  Give these a try, and I Hope you enjoy them......I know I did. J

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pumpkin Roll

           Pumpkin Roll is my absolute favorite fall dessert.  I’ve been using this recipe since I was fourteen.  I got it out of a recipe book that my childhood church put together, and I’ve been using it ever since.   Last week I shared with you in this post, that I made this recipe using fat-free cream cheese in the icing, because that’s what I had on hand.   That was a BAD idea, and I do NOT recommend it!!!  The icing was runny and didn't taste very good.  I ended up throwing the whole thing out.  Bottom line, if you’re gonna make a dessert, you might as well go all out and use the fattening stuff.  After last weekend’s failed attempt, I bought regular cream cheese this weekend and indulged in my pumpkin roll cravings. One word....YUMMO!  It's even better when served with a cup of my pumpkin spice coffee I told you about in this post.  I certainly didn't disappoint myself this time ;)  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.

Beat 3 eggs on high for 3-5 minutes.  Mix in 1 c. sugar and 2/3 c. pumpkin.   Blend in ¾ c. flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, 2 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. ginger, 1 tsp. nutmeg, ½ tsp. salt.  Mix ingredients well and pour into a greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 375 degrees for 14 minutes.

Mix 1 c. powdered sugar, 8 oz. package of cream cheese,4 tbsp. butter and 1 tsp. vanilla.  Spread icing on the pumpkin sheet-cake once cooled.  Roll up, slice, serve and enjoy. J

Friday, October 21, 2011

Haunted House - The Children's Museum

            Indianapolis is home to the world’s largest children’s museum.  I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve been to this museum since I’ve been a nanny.  Let’s just say we really get our money’s worth with our yearly pass;)  The girls always have a lot of fun at the museum, but last Saturday Matt and I took the girls to the museum’s annual kid-friendly haunted house.  The girls always look forward to visiting the haunted house every October.  I will warn you that the haunted house is separate admission from regular museum admission, and you probably won’t spend more than twenty minutes going through the haunted house.   Having said that, dressing up in fun costumes and visiting the haunted house has become an annual tradition for us.  So if you’re ever in my area in October and are looking for some kid-friendly Halloween fun, then try  visiting The Children's Museum of Indianapolis.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Vintage Charm

            I told you that I would keep you posted on any crafty creations that were inspired from a recent craft fair that I attended and wrote about in this post.  Well, here it is.  Here is my first attempt at jewelry making. 

            I don’t know that I would really call it jewelry making, because all that I did was attach some charms to a chain.  And considering that fact that I made it in the car…at night….while I was waiting on Matt to pick up his Chinese take-out from Happy Cuisine.... well, I’m just sayin’ that I’m  not sure most people would call that jewelry making, but you got to start somewhere I guess. 

            Anyway, the following supplies cost me around $12 with the weekly sales at my local craft store, and I was able to make two necklaces with enough chain left over for another long necklace:  chain, clasp, one large charm, package of three small charms.  I had the ribbon at home, so I didn’t need to buy that. 

            I saw similar necklaces at the craft fair selling for $20-$25.  I fell in love with the vintage charm when I saw them.  My necklaces averaged $6 to make myself.  I’m happy with that price, and I really like the results:)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Little Bit of Pumpkin Spice

A tall non-fat, with whip, pumpkin spice latte is my Starbucks drink of choice this time of year.  However, I've recently tried to cut sugar out of my diet.   I've only allowed myself to have one of these oh-so-delicious drinks this year, because there isn't a sugar-free version of this yummy fall treat.  Even if there was a sugar-free version of the pumpkin spice latte, I choose not to indulge in Starbucks on a daily basis for sake of my wallet and my waistline.  In search of a simpler way to get a little pumpkin spice in my morning coffee cup, I've discovered a few ways to add a taste of fall to each day.

My typical morning coffee includes one light roast breakfast blend Keurig cup, a few drops of fat-free half and half and one teaspoon of stevia.

But here's where the pumpkin spice comes in.   During the fall season, I add a couple teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice to give me a nice warm pumpkin-spice-like flavor.
When I discovered pumpkin spice Keurig cups for my Keurig coffee maker, I was even more excited.  This is a light roast that leaves a warm pumpkin flavor at the back of the pallet.  However, I still add the pumpkin pie spice for additional fall flavor.
My homemade morning coffee may not be as tasty as the fall treat that a barista makes at the coffee house, but my coffee is a lot less than $4 a cup.  Not to mention it's fat-free and sugar-free.  Now I'm not saying that my pumpkin spice coffee taste just like a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks, but it definitely has the pumpkin spice flavor that I'm looking for in my morning cup of joe. 
If you're not trying to avoid sugar, International Delight has a pumpkin pie spice coffee creamer.  I personally don't care for this product.  I think it has a distinct aftertaste that completely takes away from the taste of coffee.  But several people that I know like this product, so I thought I'd put it in this post.  I guess you'll just have to decide for yourself.

There are also all sorts of recipes on the internet for pumpkin spice lattes, but most of them require an espresso machine.

As for me, well I'll just stick to my pumpkin spice coffee with a little bit of half and half, stevia and pumpkin pie spice.  Yep, that's my morning coffee this time of year.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Brown County Day Trip

Exploring the Beauty of Fall

Every year, Matt and I drive an hour and a half south to Brown County Sate Park during the autumn season.

Brown County attracts tourist all year long, but when the leaves begin to change colors, the park is a magnet for people looking to take advantage of the park's beautiful autumn views.

I look forward to this day all year long.  I've been tracking the park's website "leaf cam" since the beginning of October in attempt to pick the perfect day to make our annual trip. 

This can sometimes be difficult, because there is only a small window of time for the leaves to change color before they fall.  Trying to work around work schedules and the ever changing weather patterns of the Midwest can make this small window even smaller.

This past Friday was our last chance to visit the park for the rest of the month due to work schedules, so we made the visit even though the leaves were not quite at peak color and the weather wasn't ideal due to winds gust. 

The park was still a little too green for me, but it didn't make the day any less enjoyable. 

I'm so glad we made time to go this year, because we had a blast admiring God's beauty while spending the entire day together.  And since park admission is only $5 per car, it was an inexpensive way to spend our Friday afternoon.

A Fall Picnic with a Great View
After exploring the park, we stopped at one of the many picnic areas for a light lunch.

A cheese and cracker platter with cheese spreads and sparkling apple juice hit the spot.

Hot chocolate and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies were a sweet treat on such a chilly fall day.

I got the recipe for the cookies from a blog I follow called Chef in Training.   They were really yummy.  You can get the recipe here.

And of course, there's the view.  The numerous views that the park has to offer are the main reason for our visit every year.

Fall Shopping and Some Small Town Charm

After our picnic, we drove into town for some fall shopping.

Nashville, Indiana, is a small town in Brown County that has quaint shops and is a popular destination any time of year.

During the autumn season, the experience is heightened due to all of the festive fall decorations displayed throughout the town.

Yep, shopping with the hubs was the perfect way to end our fun-filled fall day:)