Saturday, November 19, 2011

Scrumptious Saturday: Apple-Molasses Spice Cake

(image via Real Simple)
I saw this recipe in November's issue of Real Simple magazine, and I knew this was something I had to try.  While I was planning on giving it a go for the first time for my husband's family's Thanksgiving festivities, I ended up trying it a little sooner when we needed to bring a dessert to a gathering with friends last weekend.  (It doesn't have any dairy products in it, so it was perfect for the occasion since our friend is highly lactose intolerant.  Hi, Tim!)

It was relatively easy to make and even though I made it a day ahead of time, it was insanely moist when we ate it.  I thought I'd better post this now just in case y'all needed ideas of what to bring over the holidays.  Hope you enjoy it!

Apple-Molasses Spice Cake
(from Real Simple magazine)

1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus more for the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for the pan
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt  (we used regular salt and it tasted just fine)
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger  (we used 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon dried ground ginger instead - and add to the dried ingredients)
2 Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces  (we used Jonathans and it was great)
Confectioners' sugar, for serving

Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Oil a 9-inch round cake pan, line the bottom with a parchment circle, oil again, and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.  (You cannot oil this too much; you want the cake to slide out easily.)  Start some water boiling; you'll need a 1/2 cup in the next step.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, molasses, brown sugar, egg, ginger, and 1/2 cup boiling water.  Add to the flour mixture and whisk until just combined (do not overmix).  Fold in the apples.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.  Cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.  Before serving, dust with the confectioners' sugar.

To make ahead:  The cake can be made up to 1 day in advance; keep at room temperature, tightly wrapped. Dust with the confectioners' sugar just before serving.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Random Photos from Recent Times

I know I haven't been good about blogging lately, and it seems I have slacked off a bit on taking pictures regularly as well.  So, without further ado, here are some random photos I have taken recently that do not necessarily go together.

My mom bought the kids a foam floor mat/puzzle at Costco recently, and I discovered you can make them into fun cubes.  And Baylor discovered he can fit into them.

Mollie has decided that she is old enough to determine what she wants to eat, when she wants to eat it, and will retrieve it from my mom's pantry when she so chooses.

My sister made eclairs recently.  Like homemade, honest-to-goodness eclairs.  I didn't like eclairs before but said I would try them anyway ... I ate two.

Aunt Christine and the kiddos flexed their muscles.

And smiled with the little man.

I turned thirty on November 7th.  This is one of two pictures of me on my birthday; I thought Baylor had gotten jelly on my sweater.

Baylor has taken to pouring over all the toy catalogs my parents have been getting in the mail lately and has fallen in love with a parking ramp race track from Toys to Grow On in the process.  Oh boy!

The kids had me build a restaurant for them out of foam blocks and pillows the other day.  It was quite adorable.

Baylor got to watch A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving for the first time ever, and he quickly fell in love with Snoopy and Woodstock's antics.  His screeching laughter was quite infectious.

My mom, always a fan of the Christmas season, busted out How the Grinch Stole Christmas the other day, and Baylor got to snuggle with Aunt Christine while she read it.

Baylor's love for ice cream has taken hold of our little family and now, more than ever, we've been enjoying dessert after dinner.  Here I am, all done with my ice cream.

There's Baylor, halfway through a bowl of "green" (mint chocolate chip) ice cream.

And there's Mollie, hamming it up for the camera while eating her ice cream finger-lick by finger-lick.

The kids also got to watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas on DVD this week (three times, so far, to be exact) and they are both in love with Max, the Grinch's adorable, lovable dog/reindeer.

So there you have it.  A weird little mash-up of some of the things we've been up to lately.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Halloween 2011: The Full View

So here is the full pictorial of what we did this Halloween.  I hope you enjoy it!

The day before, we decided it was high time to carve the pumpkins that had been sitting on our front porch for weeks.  The kids did their part by inspecting all the votive candles.

And arranging them just so.  (Now that I look at the picture below, it kind of looks like Mollie's dolls o.d.'d on giant marshmallows.  Too cute!)

I was more than happy to do the dirty work of scooping out the pumpkin innards, but all of a sudden I noticed that the insides didn't look quite right.  As it turns out, one of the pumpkins was starting to rot on the bottom.  The smell was awful and I politely asked/demanded that my husband take over for me.  He obliged but soon understood why I had to bow out.

The kids looked on, unimpressed.

Bless his heart, that stuff was disgusting!

Baylor and Mollie apparently couldn't smell it (or didn't mind the stench) and had fun goofing around at the bar.

We finally got the whole of it scraped out ... yuck.  Luckily the second pumpkin was just fine, and both ended up looking really nice all lit up.  (Of course, do you think I got a picture of that?  *sigh*)

The next day, the kids were in a bit of a funk so I introduced them to Garfield's Halloween Adventure and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

After naps, my parents and sister came over to help hand out candy and enjoy the festivities, a real help to me since it was Bryson's class night.  Baylor was quite confused as to why we were going to give other kids any of this giant bowl of candy we had.

Then we had my mom play a game.  She closed her eyes and we put two kinds of candy in her hands to see if she could guess what they were.  She was surprisingly good at it.

Baylor actually did get a little upset about the candy having to go, but he calmed down soon enough.

Before the trick or treaters started arriving we scarfed down some pizza.

Then the kids got dressed, though neither wanted to.  Mollie was Olivia the pig, from the television show.

And Baylor was a cowboy just like he was last year.  Seriously, same costume!  It actually fit much better this year, so that was a welcome surprise.

Unfortunately, we had to bribe the little man to even get him dressed.

But he ended up really enjoying his first Sour Patch Kids straw, so I guess that was a plus.

Okay, it is kind of a weird holiday, getting your kids dressed up in bizarre clothes so they can go essentially beg for candy at strangers' doors.

But we did it anyway!  My dad came with us to help out, while Mom and Christine stayed back to hand out candy and stay warm.  We first went to my in-laws' house, then their neighbors' place, then our neighbors' place, and all the while Baylor was begging to go home.  I knew these people wanted to at least say hi to him, though, so I kind of forced him to trick or treat against his will.  But then, without any cause, he started LOVING it and wanted to go everywhere!  So that was awesome.  And, as usual, Mollie was game for whatever her brother had in mind.

They even let me snap a cute picture of them with Grandpa E!

When Mollie saw Baylor carrying his own bucket, she insisted she carry her bag all on her own, even though it was probably way too big for her to realistically handle.

She got a little distracted when she noticed that the moon was out, but she really did a great job keeping the bag from dragging on the ground.  (Which was important to me, since that was the bag I used to carry when I was a little girl.)

We hit every lit house on the sidewalked area of our neighborhood, then headed back home to warm up.  Oma and Aunt Christine were shocked and concerned at how cold Mollie was when we returned, and they promptly bundled her up in a blanket.

Of course, she didn't mind being cold and soon wanted to get down and inspect her candy like her brother was doing.

Sometimes you need to get really close to it to understand what you've got, you know?

Unfortunately, she didn't quite understand that you need to take the wrapper off before you try to consume the candy.

Baylor's favorite treat this year was a mini bag of microwave popcorn one house was handing out, and he was pretty excited to eat it once we got home.

Upset that she didn't get to partake in the popcorn (she's still just a little too young), Mollie decided to suck on Olivia's snout instead.

Once he'd finished his popcorn, Baylor actually helped hand out candy!

He was very precise about it all, counting out each piece for the trick or treaters.

Unfortunately, a group of high school boys dressed as skeletons and monsters scared him, so he ran back to the living room to join the rest of the group.  And, of course, to tell stories as animated as he possibly could be.

All in all it was a really fun night!  Hopefully the kids will enjoy it even more next year!

The Photo I Chose ...

Based on all the feedback I got on here and on facebook, I went and ordered a picture!

I hung it over the fireplace, with the kids' help of course.

It is a little small for the location, but it looks fantastic otherwise.  

Baylor loved it so much he actually jumped for joy!

Thank you all so much for all your help!  You guys have impeccable taste!