Apple cake

“Mom… I just picked and bought 11 pounds of apples, what should I do now?”
“11 pounds, why?”
“I don’t know, they just looked so good I couldn’t stop picking them! Do you have that apple cake recipe you make?”
True conversation between my mother and me, she of course came to my rescue and within the day I got an e-mail from my parents with the recipe. I went to a local orchard prior to that call, and let me tell you I left there with over $30 worth of fruit. There were apples, and peaches and grapes, and they even had slushies too. There is just something about picking your own food that is so much fun! There were apples everywhere just begging to be picked and placed in my bag. This recipe also thankfully calls for cinnamon, for some reason I didn’t store my cinnamon with all the other spices I have. Naturally I didn’t think I had any and went to the store and bought more. At least fall is here so there are many recipes that call for cinnamon, and I will be trying most of them out! This recipe is courtesy of my mom.

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Ingredients:
2 cups sugar
2 eggs slightly beaten
1 ½ cups cooking oil
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
3 cups of peeled chopped apples

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Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350, grease and flour a 13×9 inch pan.
2. In a large bowl blend together (by hand, not electric mixer) sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla. Blend the dry ingredients into the sugar mixture.
3. Stir in chopped apples and spread into the baking pan, use a wooden spoon to blend and mix.

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4. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Use a cake tester after 40 minutes to see if it comes out clean, if not put the cake back in for an additional 5 minutes. (I used a toothpick).

About half way through mixing this I freaked out and called my parents because it just didn’t look right, it was too dry. In a panic I call my dad’s cell phone, my mom never answers hers, and his responded in a calm voice asking, “Did you add all the ingredients?”. From about 600 miles away he knew, yes of course I forgot to add the oil, and just like that the batter looked better! Now that being said, this is a super thick batter, and it’s kind of crumbly.

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So please don’t be like me and freak out, or forget any of the ingredients! It should look like the picture above. Enjoy any apple picking, and let me know what your favorite apple recipe is!

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Dangerous Wonder by Philip Yaconelli

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How refreshing, I’ve been a Christian for a while and I ended up reading this book at exactly the perfect time! This is a book about finding your childlike faith in a world where people grow up way too fast. Where in a grown up world making a mistake or asking for help is too often seen as either a sign of failure or weakness. Michael Yaconelli gives vivid examples of what childlike faith looks like and how we can easily adapt it into our lives. One thing I personally can relate to is when in the book it is talking about the story of Thomas and his questioning. The story of doubting Thomas if you are not familiar with it is this: Now Thomas(also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe. John 20:24-26 I’ve always been a curious person that asks a lot of questions. “Jesus wasn’t offended by Thomas’s curiosity. Shown by the fact that Jesus allowed Thomas to touch the scars on him. Our questions may chase everyone else away, but they attract Jesus” (pg. 41). Questions are a child like characteristic, ask anyone who has spent more than 5 minutes with a 5 year old, there is a long stream of “but why’s?” One of my favorite quotes from this book would be “Prayer is savoring God. Savoring is immersing ourselves in His presence, hearing him with all of our senses” (pg. 88).

Here is what I kept thinking of while I was reading this book:

Have you ever looked at a child playing and thought “Wow, not a care in the world, they are so free” God wants us to be just like that, we do have cares and worries in all of our lives, the bible clearly shows that there will be storms in all of our lives. Instead of wasting my time working about things I have no control over I need to give those things to the one who has control, by praying to God. To enjoy the blessing that God has placed in my life and trust his will, will be done. Any who know me know that I often worry more than I should a lot of the time, this is a continual process of change that I am going through, some months are better than others.

Stuffed Jalapeños so hot your fire alarm will go off!

Ok I may have stretched the title a bit, really if you remove the seeds and meat it not hot at all. Lately though when I’ve been cooking my fire alarm decides to go off. All I think of is that picture of the fire alarm with “Oh you are cooking, let me sing you the song of my people!” written across it. It’s not even like anything is on fire, it’s just being temperamental.

Stuffed Jalapeños

Ingredients:
12 large jalapeños
8 oz cream cheese
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
Dash of salt
1/4 tsp friend cilantro leaves
1 lb bacon

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Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
2. Slice jalapeños in half, the long way, remove the seeds and meat. (if you forget the seeds, you’ll be in for a hot surprise!)
3. Shred the mozzarella cheese in a medium bowl and cilantro and the cream cheese. Mix until well blended
4. Cut the slices of bacon in half
5. Take a jalapeño half and fill with the cheese mixture, wrap the half slice of bacon around the pepper, secure with a toothpick. Place the prepared pepper on a clean cookie sheet, repeat until all of the peppers are filled.
6. Bake for 15 minutes and enjoy!

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I made these the other day and they went so fast! The look on my friends teenage sons face when I cautioned them that some still had toothpicks in them was priceless! Thankfully the ones he had eaten had the toothpicks removed. I got the inspiration for the above recipe from Tammys Recipes I changed several things but the filling came from here.

Red River Gorge Hiking

Hiking is one of my favorite outdoor activities! So when a friend of mine asked if I wanted to go a couple of Sundays ago, I jumped at the chance. The Red River Gorge isn’t too far from where I live so we hopped in the car early and headed out. We asked a couple of people to see who wanted to go and another person was interested, so there were three of us and an adorable dog that was ready to take on one of my favorite trails. Auxier Ridge Trail is a 5 mile loop, which first takes you to see the top of the ridge and a great panoramic view of the Boone National Forest.

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From the lookout points on this trail you are able to see the Double Arch, which you can hike to from this trail if you’re up for about an 8-10 mile total hike, Courthouse rock, and several other ridges. It’s a great place to sit down, have some lunch and take in the views!

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Our little four legged friend snatched my friends’ peanut butter sandwich right out of her hand! Not to worry we had more, and apples too. The second half of the trail you descend into the forest. As my friend said, “you get the smell of the forest” in that part of the trail. Be prepared for this part of the trail because there are a lot of inclines here, but it is nice and shaded under the trees. Like I’ve mentioned before being out in nature is a great way for me to relax, whether it is yoga in the park, hiking, or going for a walk it’s great to unplug and unwind! I hope that before it gets too cold out that you all have a chance to go and enjoy a day outside.

Cilantro Lime Chicken in Parchment

Oh my! This chicken was not only flavorful, but juicy too! Trying to eat healthy can sometimes be a challenge for me, but I am getting better at finding food that tasty and healthy. I like chicken a lot, but most marinades call for like 2 lbs of chicken at a time, that is a bit much for me to eat within a couple of days. This is a great fix for that and it’s super easy because there is no time that is needed to marinade it. I have made this a couple of times over the last week, and even made it for a friend while she was over. As soon as I saw the idea for Lemon Herb Fish in parchment I knew that I wanted to use that method of cooking for chicken! The possibilities for this are exciting; I am going to try lemon pepper chicken cooked like this next. This recipe is made in individual packets, so if you are making this for a dinner party there can be different types of chicken made at the same time.

Cilantro Lime Chicken in Parchment

Ingredients:
Per packet:
1 lime sliced thinly
1 chicken boneless skinless chicken breast
Cilantro
Pinch of salt
Olive oil

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Make cure to place the ingredients in the middle of the parchment paper. Layer: parchment paper, limes, cilantro, chicken, cilantro, salt, and a bit of olive oil, or olive oil spray.

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3. Then gather two of the sides above the chicken and fold down twice, making sure to crease the paper. Then repeat with the two sides. Cook for 20-30 minutes depending on how thick the chicken is, make sure it’s no longer pink!

To round off the meal I make some brown rice and add the juice of ½ a lime and chop up a little cilantro to mix into the rice.

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More tomatoes?!

For some unknown reason every time I go to the grocery I have this feeling that I’m running low on pasta. I go to the grocery a lot, I have about 12 pounds of pasta in my pantry as I’m writing this. For as much as I think of buying pasta I somehow always over look the pasta sauce! This time of year is when it seems that everyone is overwhelmed with the amount of ripe tomatoes their plants are producing. Since I have what seems like the never ending pasta supply with no sauce I’m very grateful for those extra tomatoes people are trying to get rid of.

Simple Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 small yellow onion finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp of each of the following: rosemary, oregano, basil, and thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2-2lbs fresh tomatoes

Directions:
1. In a sauce pan heat the olive oil, onions, and garlic until fragrant (8-10 minutes).
2. On a large chopping board (I prefer the flexible ones for chopping tomatoes, it makes it easy to not lose any juice when transferring them into the pan) and chop the tomatoes, while trying to keep the juice from escaping!
3. Add the tomatoes and their jive to the pain with the olive oil. Add the herbs and bring the sauce to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and allow sauce to thicken, about 30 minutes.
4. This step is optional, I personally like chunky pasta sauce but after the sauce has been simmering you can let it cool for a few minutes, and transfer it to a blender. Blend until smooth but be careful because it will be hot.

Apple Chips!

As summer is winding down I find myself thing about eating healthy and trying to get into a routine at the local gym. This past weekend was the beginning of September, for me that signifies the start of fall. Never mind that the temperatures are still in the high 80’s low 90’s, fall is here! I can see the leaves changing and am getting ready to go back to the orchard to pick out my pumpkin. I went not long ago and picked some apples. I had heard this idea of apples chips several times and it seemed simple enough but a little time consuming. Saturday mornings are when I have a bible study with a couple of other girls. We allow two hours for our study (the exact time needed for this recipe!), we normally run a little over, we like to talk. So I thought it would be a perfect time to try it out, since we were meeting at my place this past Saturday.

Apple Chips

Ingredients:
Apples
Cinnamon

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Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees
2. Thinly slice the apples, if you have a mandolin it would be great to use it
3. Once the apples are cut, remove the core from the pieces. I used a small cookie cutter for mine.
4. Place parchment paper over a cookie sheet and place a single layer of the apples down and then sprinkle with cinnamon to taste.
5. Place in over for 1 ½ – 2 ½ hours depending on how thick the apple slice are

The gym, first time in a long time

My family and I are going to go to Disney in October so I wanted to try and get a little bit more in shape, plus it’s no long 100+ degrees everyday so I feel like I can do more than just sit in my house eating ice chips trying not to melt. It is also preseason for training! Training for what you ask…. ½ marathon training, so far I have run two. Well really 1 ½ I bailed on the second one about 11 miles in, but there were other things going on with that one. A friend of mine Kelsey mentioned that she wanted to run a ½ and to run it under 2 hours… that is about 9:20 minute miles. The good news about that is that the race is in March or April of next year, the bad news is I am nowhere near my ‘target race weight’ I may not ever hit that target, and I’m alright with that, but from experience I know that even 5 pounds lighter will make a difference. I tend to try and stay active during the winter and then relax during the summer. It’s just that during the summer there is so much going on and it’s so hot out that I don’t want to work out.

So I got up the morning to go to the gym, which let’s be real, I haven’t worked out in about a year and a half. I knew that it was going to be tough, I just didn’t realize how out of shape I really was. I went in there thinking, “Oh yeah, I’ll be good! Nothing to it.” Wrong! I had to leave the class twice because I thought I was going to pass out. The first time I left I tried to play it off as I just had to go to the bathroom, but as soon as I went back to the class and started working out again, I had to leave. The second time there was some chairs that were outside of the class that I sat in for a couple of minutes to cool down. Not exactly what I had envisioned my work out being, the friend that I went with was understanding which was a plus! I was able to go back in during the abs section of the class; it was a 45 minute class with 15 minutes of each of the following: cardio, weights, and abs. I was doing alright with the cardio, but when we were doing the triceps workout it was just too much, as soon as I put my arms up over my head I got a little dizzy. Rather than just trying to power through it I decided I would relax, and that is when I realize that not only have I not worked out in what seems like forever, I also forgot to really eat anything this morning. Fail on me, this will not get me down however I will be signing up on Thursday and will be giving myself a challenge of going three times a week for the next three weeks! I will not be defeated by this! Oh and did I mention that it was a 5:45 am class?! That alone is something that I am proud of; if I can keep up that I will be a happy camper. However it is now 10 am and I am so hungry because I’ve been up for 5 hours and I ate a banana and an apple already. I think I may just make heat up my lunch! Well give me a little bit and I’ll update you on my progress of my self-appointed challenge and my abilities to stay for an entire class!

Museum of Science and Industry Part 2

Like I mentioned in the first post about the Museum of Science and Industry my friend Natalie was keeping us on track and making sure that we made it to all the exhibits. There was one place that we weren’t allowed to go, and that was The Idea Factory. Apparently that was only for children, and trust me we almost snagged some kids walking by to try and get in but didn’t.

The Science Storm continued
I realized after I had posted the first part that I had forgotten some parts of this section! There was a ripple tank, I’m not sure how to explain them, so please look at the picture below. This is a picture from the second floor looking down. There was also this giant cube, that from the outside it looked like it was randomly changing colors, but in reality people were controlling it from the inside.

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We were able to see Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle, which was a huge dollhouse, huge!! And it absolutely amazed me the amount of detail that went into it, there was actual running water in the bath tubs. She had collected a bible that had writing in it, I believe it was one of the smallest bibles there is, can you imagine trying to write that? The china that was in the kitchen was one of two sets ever made

Genetics and Baby Chicken Hatchery
From growing up near Chicago I knew what to expect with this exhibit, that most of the space would have a few people but one section of it would be PACKED with people. There is just something about seeing baby chickens hatching that draws city people like nothing else, I mean it was 3-4 people deep around the incubator. Kyle, who lives on farm, was excited to see what everybody else just had to see. His response: “Baby chickens?!?! I have chickens at home!”. Needless to say he was also kind of amazed that there was a farm exhibit at the museum as well.

20120831-124618.jpg On the other hand I was acting like a little kid in the farm exhibit.

Transportation Gallery:

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Planes, trains and automobiles!!! There was a plain that we could sit it, we were all going to take a picture like this picture and send it to people and say that we decided to jump on a plane and go to Hawaii for the weekend.

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The Whispering Gallery
This was something I remembered from when my grade school took a field trip here. I just absolutely love this exhibit and think it’s the coolest thing! This was one of the last things we saw, and we were all pretty tired near the end. It was hard to even stand on the escalator.

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In my own personal opinion no trip to the Chicagoland area would be complete without getting some deep dish pizza. Both Natalie and Kyle had never had Chicago style pizza, so we when to Giordanos to have lunch the final day of our stay. This is them seeing it for the first time :)

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