Sunday, October 31, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Naughty Muffin, Nice Muffin

Oh boy, oh boy are these a treat!!  Saw this recipe on one of my favorite healthy recipe blogs, Baking Serendipity, and had to give it a try that very same day.  I modified only slightly.

The apples in this recipe just dissolve into the muffin "cake" while they cook and give it such a great sweet moistness.  I highly recommend these for breakfast, lunch, snack, after dinner treat...

3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup flaxseed
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup skim milk
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup fat free yogurt
1 egg
2 apples, peeled and grated
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/3 cup dry cranberries

Yield: about 18 muffins

Heat oven to 350.  Combine your flours, oats, flax, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Grate your apples and carrot and set aside.

Add milk, oil, yogurt and egg to the dry ingredients.  Stir until just combined.  Fold in the grated apple and carrot, cinnamon and cranberries.  Spoon into prepared muffin tin.  Cook for about 20 minutes or to desired doneness.
As you can see, I made good use of some leftover caramel on the muffin on the your left.  Oh my gosh, so good!!!  The little guy on the right is pretty darn good too.  The entire batch has magically disappeared and I will be making some more tonight.  Yes, they are THAT good - and not too much to feel guilty about either which is always a great thing.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"Better Than McD's" Fish Sammies

What is it kids just LOVE about McDonald's?  I can't even stand the smell of the place, but every once in a great while I will give in and let the kids have a treat.  On the way upstate for my brother's wedding rehearsal we were running a little late, so a stop at the golden arches it was.  Two chicken nugget kid's meals and a fish sandwich eaten en route.  Pretty sure I can still smell it in my car too.  Yuck!

Anyway, my husband and I had a night alone last weekend and I wanted to make something nice.  I figured a fancy version of the McD's fish sandwich would do - and Whole Foods had halibut on special!

Halibut with Dijonaise Dill Sauce on Toasted Rustic Wheat

2 halibut fillets
olive oil for pan
salt & pepper, to taste
2 thick slices good cheddar cheese
2 tbsp whole grain mustard
2 tbsp olive oil mayo
juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
2 large slices crusty wheat bread
1 clove garlic
2 slices tomato

First, season both sides of your fillets with salt and pepper.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Cook halibut for 3 minutes per side or to desired doneness, placing cheese slices on top after flipping.  Once fish is cooked through, place under broiler to melt the cheese and get it a little brown and bubbly.
Lightly toast your wheat bread and rub the toasted slices with your clove of garlic.

For the sauce, mix the mustard, mayo, lemon juice and dill in a small bowl.  Stir to combine.  Spread sauce on both halves of your toasted wheat bread.  Assemble your sandwiches and enjoy.  These were some seriously thick sandwiches - I'm not good at thinly slicing bread.  But oh so much better than fast food!  Thank goodness I have a big mouth.  :)

Served with a side of veggies and a deliciously sweet white wine.
Are there any fast foods you like to make your own at home?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pumpkin Waffles - finally!!

I know I said I'd make pumpkin waffles with a sweet nutty topping about a month ago in a prior waffle post HERE.  As is typical, they didn't make it to the table until about two weeks ago.  And now they finally make the blog.

Recipe found in Food Network magazine and modified slightly.

1 can pumpkin
1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup fat free yogurt
1 cup skim milk
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pepitas
1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup dried cranberries

To make the topping, combine almonds, sunflower seeds and pepitas in a bowl.  Add maple syrup and dried cranberries.  Stir to combine and set aside.
For the waffle batter, whisk the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl.  Whisk the sugar and eggs in another bowl then whisk in the pumpkin, yogurt and milk.  Add your melted butter and stir to combine.  Pour the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture and fold in until just combined - it will have some lumps.

Cook on a preheated waffle iron to desired doneness.  Remove from iron and top with your nutty topping and extra syrup.  They are pictured in the magazine with whipped cream as well.  Mmmmm.  Enjoy!
These were really, really good.  I will make this again.  Best part is that I made the batter and topping the night before and stored in the refrigerator.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

100th Post - A Family Classic

Yay, I actually kept this little blog up to make it to 100 posts.  And I have 40 more followers than I ever thought I'd have.  Thought it'd be just me and my mom reading!  LOL

Anyway, I guess I could've made a huge, lovely, four course, gourmet meal to "celebrate" my three digit post count status or a giant chocolatey dessert, but I'm once again feeling sentimental.  See, my brother just got married a few weeks ago (and is now enjoying the sights of Peru) and there were several portions of the ceremony and reception that got me reminiscing about my grandparents.  I know they would've loved to have been there.  Nan and Pop (a/k/a Betty and Ray - gee, where oh where did I ever get my blogger name from) have been gone for several years now, but I still miss them every day.  There is a hole in my life and heart that cannot be filled since they've been gone.
Therefore, my tribute to my Nan is her wonderful classic beef stew - made with none other than canned soup!  Now I did try to go 100% by her method, but much to my dismay, Campbell's soups contain high fructose corn syrup these days.  Poo!  So I ran to Whole Foods and picked up their 365 brand organic tomato soup.  Thankfully, the results were fantastic (and a little spicy which was awesome).

I think this is a great fill 'em up cool weather recipe.  And it's quick which is right up my alley.  Plus you can throw whatever leftover veggies, etc. you have right in the pot.

So break out that slow cooker and let's get going!  You'll need:

1 1/2 lbs extra lean stew meat
2 tbsp flour
2 cans tomato soup
1 cup beef stock
5 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped into rounds
1 medium onion, cut into 1/8ths
5 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 dashes green jalapeno sauce
1 cup frozen or fresh corn
1 cup frozen or fresh peas
red pepper flakes, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

And don't forget the Bisquick dumplings!

Recipe on the Bisquick box - if it ain't broke, don't fix it:
2 1/4 cups Bisquick baking mix
2/3 cup skim milk

First step is to dredge your meat in flour and brown in a frying pan.  Once you get some nice color, dump it in the slow cooker and turn that puppy on high (or low if you are cooking for more than 8 hours - I cooked mine for about 20).  Add in everything else except for the corn, peas and dumplings.  Go on about your day and enjoy the lovely smells wafting from your cooker.

For the last hour of cooking, add in the corn and peas.  Mix the Bisquick and milk together and drop by heaping spoonfuls into the stew.  I usually go around the circle and drop another in the middle.  Cover and continue to cook for 30 minutes.  Watch those wonderful dumplings take over the top of your stew.  Remove cover and cook until dumplings are cooked through.  Turn off your cooker, serve and enjoy.
Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum.  I enjoyed this very much!  Tasted just like Nan used to make and Pop used to rave about.  In fact, I remember the last time I made this for him.  Sadly, my nan was already gone and he was in a nursing home, but he still loved it.  The nursing home had him on a feeding tube as they said he wouldn't eat, but every time I brought dinner from home, he ate it all and enjoyed every bite.  There is great power in home cooking I say!

This recipe may not be 100% from scratch and contains some ingredients that I've sworn would never enter my home again, but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do!  There's nothing wrong with taking a day and eating whatever makes you feel good.  And remembering the meals I enjoyed with my grandparents made me feel great.

The tall gorgeous brains behind the stew:
A good day for stew!
And to my brother and his new wife, I hope you are enjoying the llamas.  Oh, llamas!  Those of you who have had to sit through Jimmy Neutron with their kiddos will know exactly what comes to mind whenever I hear the word llama.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my sentimental stew story (say that three times fast).  I'd love to hear the stories behind your old family favs!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What Are The Kids Eating?!?

Just a quick PS announcement and a request.

A little background: I have two children.  My son has "issues" at school.  Sometimes at home, but mostly at school.  Strictly for school purposes, we have an ADD diagnosis which gets us a little leniency when it comes to his behavior.  It does not excuse it but, without going into too much personal detail, in order for it to be dealt with effectively, there has to be a medical "reason" on file.  I think it's total crap, but whatever.

Anyway, as most parents of children with these problems, I am always, always looking for a reason.  There HAS to be a reason why some days are hell and some days are not.  Well, I think we have finally had a break through and it's one of my greatest passions.  Food!!  Children prone to ADD, ADHD, ODD, OCD, etc. can have hyper sensitivities to certain ingredients in their favorite foods and treats.  Mostly the artificial additives and chemically altered foods.  Huge shocker, right.  LOL

After conducting my own little experiments, we have eliminated any and all high fructose corn syrup and red dye 40 from his diet and monitor his salt intake.  Now this is not easy as both of these ingredients are showing up in so many of the kid's favorite things and all those super attractive convenience foods are loaded with sodium.  I have had to go through every single thing in our home, right down to the nestle syrup I use to make hot chocolate every now and again, and yes, that had to go - full bottle right in the trash.  The last thing to go were the Triaminic dissolving cough medicine strips.  Never thought to look at those ingredients and the three evenings that I gave them to my son were followed by three of the worst ever days he had at school.  What is the second ingredient in those strips you ask?  That'd be red dye 40.  This has what to do with suppressing a cough?

Is all this a coincidence?  I'm not so sure.  I won't post links to all the various websites I have viewed to support my theory, but a quick google search will bring up TONS of info if you are interested.  To go into detail on everything I've gone through at home to support this claim, well that would make this one seriously long blog post and I won't bore you with more words than I usually spew.  You're welcome.  :-)

So my request is, please look into the ingredients in the foods you feed your family.  With the introduction of all these chemically altered ingredients, food additives and convenience foods, we have a growing epidemic of childhood obesity, psychological problems and recurrent illness in children, reliance on medications for school age children, etc.  Conduct your own experiments, introduce your kids to new, healthier foods and treats - they do exist.  They will stop complaining and just eat it eventually, I promise.

I cannot tell you the difference eliminating these items from my son's diet have had on his behavior and entire emotional state.  It is immeasurable!  We are not looking forward to sorting out all the "bad" stuff on Halloween, but I am planning to have plenty of approved treats on hand to trade with him.  It does take a bit of extra work and planning, but look at the end result.  So well worth it if you ask me.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Insanity - Week 8 Round Up

This week we missed not one, not two, but THREE workouts in a row and then our last one of the week when my husband's alarm didn't go off this morning.  I can blame work (several weeks of 10-14 hour days, weekends included) and being tired for the first three, but to be honest, I just really wanted a break.  I was getting a little overwhelmed with life and my limited free time lately and if felt good to just lounge in bed with my husband and the dog for that extra hour.

But, we eventually got back into it on Thursday by skipping the "recovery" day and doing what I consider to be the most beneficial workout, Max Cardio and Cardio Abs.  Read that as no annoying interval repetition and some hard core ab-focused work.  I'll try to get two more workouts in this week - we'll see.

As for results - yeah, whatever was done has been undone.  A very stressful, let's see, month?  Two months?  Year?  And my recent moment of clarity about some unhappiness in my life which I have apparently been trying to quell with cookies, cakes, carbs, you name it, have all just taken over.  I won't say I'm suddenly unfit, but I've really fallen pretty hard off the wagon and that belly bagel has made a reappearance.  I'm trying to find the energy and conviction to continue on and finish up Month 2 of Insanity but am not 100% sure that's going to happen.  Do I feel guilty about it?  Not really.  As mentioned before, I just don't really "dig" Month 2.  I'm anxious to move on to something different.  I need my weight training back again.

So, perhaps next week we will have my last week round up post or perhaps not.  I will, however, write up my review of Insanity either way.

For now, I will wallow in my dark mood, try not to purchase every ingredient for all the delicious dessert recipes I've recently printed out, and work out whatever I have to work out in my mind and life.  After that, I'll get back to the kind of working out I prefer - weight training AND varied cardio!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Hot saucy shrimp and pasta.  What could be better?  Slapping 'em both together and calling it a meal, that's what!

I think I could eat shrimp seven days a week and not get bored.  There are so many ways to use it.  One of my current favs is shrimp in a red sauce, any red sauce, over pasta.  When I found this easy spicy sauce recipe, I knew I had to try it.

Recipe posted on I'll Have What She's Having and modified slightly to amp up the heat factor.

1 lb. shrimp, deveined
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 red chili pepper, finely diced
1/4 cup pancetta, diced
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups marinara sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
1 lb whole wheat spaghetti

In a bowl, toss your shrimp with 2 tbsp olive oil, pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  Let marinate for 20 minutes.

Prepare your spaghetti according to package directions, drain and set aside after stirring in a bit of your olive oil.

Get a large skillet very hot and add shrimp cooking until nearly done.  Remove shrimp from pan and set aside.  Add remaining olive oil to pan and saute the onions, garlic, pancetta and red chili pepper until slightly browned.  Return shrimp to the pan and add marinara.  Simmer until shrimp are cooked through.

Toss with your pasta.  So delicious!  Oh, and don't forget the rustic bread to sop up any extra sauce.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Last of the College Treats - Banana Coco-Chip Swirly Scones

Sadly, by the time this arrived in Fredonia, it was nothing but crumbs.  I guess scones don't travel well via UPS.  Sigh...  But it was reported that the crumbs were thoroughly enjoyed.  I suggested using them to top yogurt or oatmeal!

Admittedly, these did not start out as scones.  I found a "healthy" cake recipe and wanted to give it a try.  Plus I thought all those co-eds could use a little lesson in healthy desserts could still be tasty.  I'm not sure if I overcooked it a bit or more likely, I screwed up the measurement conversions, but this came out a bit on the dry side.  The perfect texture to be cut up into scones though!  And I'm sure with a smidge of butter or jam, they would've been perfect.

Recipe courtesy of Nasi Lemak Lover.  My recipe is my attempt at converting the measurements to US standard.

2/3 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
2 mashed bananas
2 tbsp cocoa powder
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350.  Sift cake flour and baking powder into a bowl.  In another bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.  Fold flour mixture into wet ingredients.  Fold in the banana and chocolate chips until well blended.
Divide the cake mixture into two portions.  Add cocoa powder to one portion and stir to combine.  Combine both mixtures in cake pan and stir to swirl two colored batters together into a marble effect.  Cook for about 20-40 minutes or to desired doneness.  I did 30 minutes and it appeared to be too long.

Cut into slices or scones and dust with a little powdered sugar.

This was a little dry but extremely tasty.  I will try this again shortening my cooking time and re-checking the measurements.  Although if it's dry again, this is still a great stir in for yogurt and oatmeal and won't go to waste in this house.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Insanity - Week 7 Round Up

Sleep. Eat (pancakes, waffles, cake, pie, pizza, chocolate). Work. Nap. Work. Eat more. Work. Sleep. Work. This is my life right now. Hate the change of seasons!  My body thinks it's time to hibernate.  All you have to do is look at the recipes I've been posting lately to see that I've kind of put the whole healthy living/good things in moderation thing on hold.  And work?  Ooof, don't even get me started on that.  The last time I had a day off (from work that is, because as we know, moms don't get a day off) was for my brother's wedding weeks ago.

Ok, back to Insanity.  Are we done yet??  PMS and another week of dragging my sorry butt through these workouts giving them very little effort.  I just can't get into the swing of things lately.  I'm so exhausted, I'm working my butt off (for work, not my workouts), and all I want to do is sleep and eat!  And my husband and I agree, the Month 2 workouts don't seem to flow as nicely as Month 1 and there is much greater opportunity for injury.  Or maybe we're just over the whole thing, who knows!

I missed my first workout this week too.  Opted to stay in bed.  Perhaps I'll make it up after the final week, perhaps not, I'm really not sweating it.  But hopefully I won't miss any more.  Only 2 more weeks to go!

Progress:  Going to toot my own horn here, but wow, my legs look great.  I've very happy with the results there.  They are tight and toned, woohoo.  So I've got tight, lean legs and a firm butt, all topped off with a pudgy midsection.  Sexy!  :)

Last week I mentioned a little "2 pack" beginning, but the aforementioned diet has sent them running and I can't find them.  LOL  Anyway, pictures in 2 weeks - hoping I have something to show for all this torture!

Hope everybody else is still doing well and resisting the urge to hibernate and "fatten up" for the winter.  Maybe I was a bear in a past life cuz if I continue to be too lazy to even shave my legs, this could be me.

Friday, October 15, 2010

More B-day Treats - Pumpkin Chip Walnut Loaf

More of the college care package sent to my sister.  This one was the crown jewel of the whole box.  Super moist, super yummy, and it's got chocolate!

A small confession here.  I don't like to send things like this out without tasting it first.  What if it doesn't taste good?  What if I forgot some key ingredient?  And who wants to wrap and send out a loaf cake with a giant chunk torn off?!  Since this had to ship, I decided to pre-slice it so I could layer it in a sturdy tupperware.  And whoopsie, one slice wouldn't fit.  What a shame.  :)

Recipe found in Bon Appetit (2000) and modified just a tad.

1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup skim milk
3/4 cup chocolate chunks
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350.  Butter and flour your loaf pan.  Sift the first 5 ingredients into a medium bowl.  In a separate large bowl, beat butter with hand mixer until smooth.  Beat in sugar and eggs then pumpkin and vanilla.   Now combine the dry ingredients into the wet and beat with mixer.  Add milk.  Beat again.  Toss in your chocolate and nuts and mix together.
Bake loaf until tester comes out clean, about 45 to 60 minutes (I like mine just slightly underdone so took it out at the 50 minute mark).  Cool on rack for about 15 minutes and turn out.  Let cool on rack completely.
Slice and serve with a light dusting of powdered sugar.  This is some seriously yummy cake.  A bit of a belly bomb (probably because I don't cook it as well as I should), but totally worth it!
Oh, and my sister decided to start a little blog of her own.  She is a jounalism major and lover of all things horse related.  If you are into great story-telling and poetry, you can check her out HERE.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies & A B-day

There is just nothing like home baked cookies!  My family asks for these in particular fairly often.  And I love to make them because there is no rolling, cutting or thick dough to deal with.  Easy peasy.

This batch was made to send off to my sister in college for her birthday so I did not sub out any ingredients for healthier versions.  BUT, I did my usual undercooking and knew if I tried to send them they'd be a sticky mess.  So, they didn't make the cut for the goodie box but I did so enjoy eating them (all of them)!  You MUST try these cookies.  I did send her two other baked goodies though and will post those recipes shortly.  Apparently her care package was a big hit at the dorm.  Nearly 20 years later and I'm finally popular in school!  haha

1 cup pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp milk
1 tbsp vanilla
2 cups chocolate chips (or more!)

Heat oven to 350.  Combine the pumpkin, sugar, oil and egg.  In a separate bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Dissolve the baking soda in the milk and stir in.  Add flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and mix well.

Add vanilla and chocolate chips.  Stir to combine.

Drop onto baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes or to desired doneness.

Cool (or not) and enjoy!  These are chewy and gooey and super easy to make.  So good.
Happy belated 20th to my little baby sister!
Who made an awesome best "man" at our brother's wedding.
It seems like only yesterday the four of us were horsing around at mom's kitchen table trying to get you to smash those marshmallow peeps to a pulp.  You were the only one with good hair!
It's always been a blast hanging out with you. 
Although I don't think I ever got that shirt back.  :)
Even my puppy wuvs you.
 Cheers chica!  We love you!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Japanese Tuna Noodle Casserole?

Well, ok, the only thing Japanese about this casserole are the curly noodles and panko, but Japanese tuna casserole sounds much more interesting.  Honestly, today I just didn't feel like hitting the store and I have changed my grocery shopping habits because I was buying and we were throwing away too much food - oh the horror - and want to concentrate on clearing out my cabinets!  Therefore, I don't have lots of extra this and that to throw together.  Today I found two partially used bags of egg noodles and an open package of curly noodles, as well as my last two cans of Tuna Guys tuna and half a bag of frozen peas.  What's a girl to do?  Casserole time!

And OMG, and have you ever tried Tuna Guys tuna??  It's way too good, pricey but worth it.  You can check 'em out here:Tuna Guys.  100% dolphin safe too!

 Here's what we threw together.

4 tbsp butter
12 oz egg noodles
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour
2 cups skim milk
2 cans tuna, drained and flaked
1 cup frozen peas
cheddar cheese, shredded
whole wheat breadcrumbs, to top
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 350.  Boil your noodles according to package(s) directions, drain and set aside.  In a large skillet, melt your butter.  Add garlic and onion to the melted butter and saute until translucent.  Whisk in your flour, milk, tuna and peas.  Cook for about 3-5 minutes.  Add to your pre-cooked noodles, salt and pepper and slap all that goodness into a casserole dish.  Top with breadcrumbs and cheese.  Bake until top begins to bubble.
It was yummy!  Next time I'll throw a little hot sauce and some more spices in there since I always have those items around, but this was a nice comfort meal and we have enough left over for about 3 or 4 lunches during the week.

Kid review - Do I have to eat the peas?  Ah well, they did eat the rest.

Just FYI, my Tuna Guys plug is totally uncompensated.  I just like their tuna.  :)  More casseroles to come.  It's fall baby!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

It's Gonna Be a Sweet Week!

Oh yea baby, all this week it's sweet eats.  Well, sweets and a noodle casserole - a girl cannot live on sweets alone now.  Or can she?  Hmmmm....

Coming up:

Japanese Tuna Noodle Casserole
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Banana Coconut Scones
Pumpkin Chip Walnut Loaf

Me thinks it may be fall in New Jersey.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Goin' Loco for Local. Apples!

I do not enjoy the passing of summer.  The thought of the impending snow, ice and cold weather is just no fun.  But there are some things I really love about fall.  Casseroles, baking, holiday time and apple picking!! 

This year we chose a most perfect day for apple picking.  The weather was just perfect with a teeny touch of fall mixed in.  I loaded the kids in the car all decked out in their jeans and "Timbs" and headed 40 minutes north to Masker's Orchard in Warwick, NY.  Thankfully we went a littler earlier in the season this year as last year we went in mid-October and had a hard time finding apples.  This year though, the trees were bursting!  We ended up with a very full 1/2 bushel, a dozen cider donuts and a gallon of ice cold cider (which was free for AAA members).  Planned thus far is homemade applesauce (my husband's specialty), caramel apple cake and some yummy apple strudel muffins.

The view from the top o' the orchard:
My son LOVES to climb the trees.  He insists that the best apples are at the top where the sun can get them.
The princess and I wait at the bottom to bag those prime finds.
You cannot be a true princess without pink Timbs.
 Strike a pose.
 Got anything good up there?
 Free snacks!
After Masker's, we met up with my mother at Bellvale Farms.  They have a cool (and somewhat dusty) tractor ride to the pumpkin patch which is an actual pumpkin patch, not just a bunch of pumpkins sprawled on the ground.  We actually get to cut our pumpkins off the plant and preserve some of that neat curly stem.  And we know all great jack-o-lanterns need a curly stem!
 I loved the variety of pumpkins and squash available.
True to form, my son was very methodical.  He chose several large pumpkins and rolled them all to the edge of the patch.  After reaching the end, he strolled back up the path and compared the pumpkins so he could be sure he got the largest one available.  Here he is rolling his 30 lb. find back to the tractor pick up area along with Grandma.
The kids' finds. 
We are now dusty, hungry and tired!  Bellvale's homemade ice cream and apple cider donuts for all!