Happy Columbus Day!

While the boys are out “sailing the ocean blue”

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Mama’s home enjoying a day off!  Which means I got to actually think before making breakfast.  What did I choose?  Why pumpkin maple pancakes of course!

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Pancakes made with 2 Tbsp of pure pumpkin and some pumpkin pie spice thrown in.  I topped them with a drizzle of maple syrup, a sprinkle of brown sugar and some PECANS!  Yum!  Honestly, I could eat pancakes every morning! 

Wasn’t this weekend beautiful?!  We actually got to relax and enjoy ourselves…no crazy schedules or plans!  We spent a lot of time outside! 

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I’m showered, well fed and I’ve got some birthday money burning a hole in my pocket.  Whatever shall I get myself into?! 

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Sweet Day, Sweet Millet

Today was beautiful!  After a crappy night (one of our little pups had the stomach flu and was up ALL night) we needed it!  Sam headed to soccer practice.  Here is his first official soccer photo.  Handsome!

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This afternoon we relaxed outside.  The weather was perfect.  I had just gotten back from a run and the boys woke up from their naps, so everyone was in a good mood. 

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The gator always makes a weekend appearance.  The boys LOVE that thing!  Thanks Mum Mum and Pop!  It’s still going strong after more than 2 years!  The little pup is getting the hang of driving…

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Ooops….lost one. 

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I could actually sit on the patio and enjoy a nice evening snack.

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I love these Back to Nature crackers.  So do the boys!!!! 

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Then we sat down to a great dinner.  Prime rib cooked on the grill, squash sautéed in olive oil and rosemary, and my sweet millet concoction.  Plus a few leftover sweet potato fries. 

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Everything was great, but this millet was the highlight!  I had some leftover millet from a while back and I wanted to use some up.  So, I cooked it and then mixed in some agave nectar, maple syrup, pecans, craisins, cinnamon and a sprinkle of brown sugar. 

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So good!  Everyone liked it.  Even Daddy!

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I will definitely make this again.  In fact, I’m planning to heat up the leftovers for breakfast tomorrow.  Yes, it was THAT good! 

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“D” is for…

Damn good dinner on a week night (if I do say so myself).  Okay, I promise, that’s the last of the alphabet.  I’m brain washed by a preschooler…somebody help me! 

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Okay, back to that dinner.  The temperature is supposed to get down into the 30’s tonight in western MD.  So, I decided a nice, warm comfort dish it was….shepherds pie…made with deer meat of course! 

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I was out of peas and carrots so I substituted and used some frozen corn.  Still good!

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Topped with mashed potatoes and grated cheddar cheese.  It was delicious.  Here’s the recipe:

Shepherd’s Pie

12 ounces ground lean beef

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 cup sliced baby carrots adn frozen baby peas

1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth

2 cups mashed potatoes

cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Brown meat in a skillet.  Add onion; cook, stirring constantly until onion is softened.  Add carrots and peas (or corn).  Continue to cook and stir until vegetable are tender.  Add broth; bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat to low; let simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed (about 10 mins).  Transfer mixture to casserole dish or pie pan.  Top mixture with mashed potatoes and grated cheese (if desired).  Bake until heated through, 15-20 minutes. 

There you have it…the ultimate comfort food.  And because I had two rotting bananas on the counter, I decided to make banana bread…with a twist. 

Banana Bread (with chocolate chips)

1/3 c applesauce (I used my homemade applesauce)

1/2 c sugar

2 egg whites

1 3/4 c flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1-2 mashed bananas

3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream together applesauce and sugar.  Add egg whites and mix well.  Add salt, baking powder, baking soda, and flour.  Add bananas one at a time and mash with a potato masher until smooth.  Add chocolate chips and combine. 

Bake in a greased loaf pan for 45 minutes. 

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Oh my pups!  This is great.  I’m eating a slice right now spread with peanut butter!  Please…try this ASAP.  You won’t be disappointed.  It’s super moist.  I think it has to do with using the applesauce. 

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“C” Is For Crabs!!!!

What kind of Marylander would I be if I didn’t have a deep rooted love for crabs?  And love crabs we do!  Andy is on the boat on the Chesapeake Bay most weekends from April through September crabbing his heart out. 

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Yes….I said September.  Crabs seem to be even more plentiful in the early fall.  And this weekend we got to enjoy some of the last crabs of the season. 

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For any crab rookies out there, blue crabs are cooked alive.  The best way is to steam them in a large pot with beer and apple cider vinegar.  The seasoning is a mixture of Old Bay and salt. 

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Even as a little girl, I picked my fair share of crabs during the summers.  We’d sit out on our porch around the newspaper filled picnic table and pick them until we were either full or just sick of it!  Crabs are delicious, but if you’re hungry, make sure you have something else to snack on in between.  Our favorites are french fries or corn on the cob. 

I know crab season is virtually over, but I thought I’d give a little tutorial on how to pick a crab.  Something to book mark for next summer!

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Start by pulling off each leg one by one.  Try to snap the legs as close to the base or knuckles of the crab as possible.  If you get lucky, you’ll score a huge hunk of meat at the end. 

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Once all of the legs are removed, flip the crab over on it’s back and pull down the “apron” or the tab.  It’s kind of like opening a can of beer…kind of….which reminds me…true Eastern shore people MUST have a nice frosty beer with their crabs.  Coors Lite is preferred by this family! 

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As you pull down the apron you can pull the top shell of the crab off to open it up.

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Inside you’ll find lots of yellow mustard and gills and sometimes stringy/squiggly intestines.  Don’t be grossed out.  These things are merely there to filter the toxins/pollutants/etc that the crab runs across.  Cut them out.  I normally use my knife to clear off the gills and then gather all of the mustard.  This is referred to as “cleaning the crab”.   Here’s a picture of the finished product. 

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It’s okay if a little mustard is left.  I promise it won’t hurt you and some people like the taste.  Once you’ve gotten to this point, you’re almost done.  You’ll notice two hemispheres of the crab.  Put your thumb in the center and break open each hemisphere to the outside. 

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Look at all of the wonderful crab meat!  Now is the fun part.  Pick out the meat and enjoy.  The back portion of the crab is where the lump meat comes from.  Most of the time, this can be dug out in nice big chunks.  The rest you have to pick through avoiding cartilage. 

Once we pick the meat, we love to dip them in some apple cider vinegar and then more Old Bay. 

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This may seem hard, but honestly even a 4 year old can do it!

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Then again, he’s got it in his blood! 

We’re very thankful for Andy for providing the family with crabs all summer long.  We love you Daddy!!!!!

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A is for Apple; BS is for……

Butternut Squash.  YUM….I have found a new love.  I roasted my first butternut squash this evening and I couldn’t believe how good it was. 

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Roasted at 400 degrees for 30 minutes (flipping halfway through).  I only seasoned it with salt, pepper, and a bit of olive oil and white pepper.  I decided to turn it into Jenna’s Curried Butternut Squash soup, however I ate a few chunks right out of the oven…that’s when I started making ooohing and aghhhing noises and the boys came running to see what I drooling over.  I actually cut back on the curry in the soup because I wanted the boys to eat it.

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They loved it and so did I.  I have leftovers and I’m having some for lunch tomorrow.  I think this would be so charming served in a hallowed out mini pumpkin for a harvest party. 

We ate it with mini Halloween shaped sandwiches…ghosts and pumpkins.  The boys had peanut butter and jelly.

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I had a new favorite – cream cheese and sliced cucumbers.  I left my crust on because I was quite hungry. 

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We had some happy plates….

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Now for the apple part.  It’s a tradition for us to go apple picking.  We’ve done it since Sam was little.

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We hope to still go this year, but our schedule is super tight with soccer practice and church.  However, Sam and I went to a local farm stand and bought a bushel of apples to make apple sauce.

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Aren’t they beautiful?

I peeled and cored 8 apples and cut them into small pieces. 

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I added them to a pot with 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup of apple cider, and 1 cinnamon stick.  I simmered for 15 minutes covered.  I then uncovered and continued to simmer for 5 more minutes.  This makes the house smell so good! 

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Once it’s finished, take a potato masher and mash until you get it to the consistency that you like.  I always make a few batches of this.  I keep some in the refrigerator and I freeze some for later.  My boys are huge apple sauce eaters!  They decided to try out this first batch warm from the stove with a bit of cinnamon sprinkled on top.  It helped to warm them up on a chilly evening while they played in their playhouse.

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I see some lip licking!!!!!  That’s good enough for me! 

Check out Chelsey’s awesome give away today!

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Marie Claire…don’t you dare!

I have to admit, that I’ve spent most of the day today thinking about the November article in Marie Claire that discusses food bloggers and how they supposedly are portraying an unhealthy image.  I wasn’t going to give it any attention, but it hurt some bloggers that I really respect and have learned a lot from.  Most of those bloggers have posted rebuttals on their blogs today and I can’t say that I blame them.  As a loyal reader of those blogs and new food blogger myself I wanted to expose this article for what it is…..a load of crap! 

And the reason that I think this is because I’ve learned many things from these ladies…..many HEALTHY things.  Here are just a few lessons from the bloggers I follow most. 

From Jenna I’ve learned that it’s okay to indulge in delicious desserts and savor a glass (or two) of fabulous wine.  She definitely puts the joy of eating back into food.  Italian buttercream anyone? 

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From Kath I’ve learned that being healthy is a balance of eating well, exercising, educating yourself, and having fun. 

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From Caitlin I’ve learned that physical beauty is only skin deep and true beauty lies in the quality of the person.  I’ve learned to accept myself…..red hair, stretch marks and all!

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From Meghann I’ve learned that even busy 9-5’ers can still fit in exercise and make healthy choices.

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And so to Heather, Tina, Kath, JennaMeghann, and Caitlin and all the other fabulous health food bloggers, keep doing what you’re doing and keep inspiring others to make healthy choices.  You’ve definitely inspired this blogger!

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Pumpkin Maple Pancakes

Burrrr….we woke up to a chilly Saturday morning.  I’m not sure how cold it actually got, but it’s still only 47 degrees out.  I love it!  I woke up early for a few moments of peace and quiet before our busy day. 

I lit my favorite candle.

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Then I made a hot cup of coffee and looked through some cookbooks in my warm robe. 

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When the pups got up, I wanted to make them a yummy breakfast with a taste of the season.  Pumpkin maple pancakes it was.  Don’t let the name fool you.  Super easy!

I just added a few tablespoons of canned pure pumpkin to my boxed pancake mix and a lot of pumpkin pie spice.

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To the steaming, golden orange pancakes, I added a few toppings.  Cool whip for the pups, extra cinnamon, a sprinkle of brown sugar and a drizzle of pure maple syrup.

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I left off the cool whip for mine.  The verdict….

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YUM!  The pups asked for seconds…and so did I! 

We have a busy day today….soccer practice, organizing a closet (or two), getting some apples and making applesauce, and running various errands for church tomorrow  Whew!  I’d be tired already if I didn’t have those yummy pumpkin pancakes and coffee to get me going.  Have a great weekend!

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