Uncategorized

Monte Cristo’s!

Well, I’ve had a bit of a rough couple of weeks. But I’m trying to get back into the swing of things, so here I am with my first post in a while. Will perhaps go into some of the not-so-fun parts of my last couple weeks eventually, but right now I’d like to focus on something fabulous: I finally got around to making homemade Monte Cristo’s! (Sorry in advance for the HORRIBLE photos, but sometimes you can’t be a perfect iPhone photographer when delicious sandwiches are in your near future.)

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I decided to use my panini press for the Monte Cristo’s, but I think grilling them would be a delicious option as well. To start, I set out my ingredients: homemade apple butter, homemade honey mustard dressing, an apple, homemade bread swirled with apple butter, turkey, and provolone cheese.

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I cut thin slices of the apple and put them on the bottom half of the sandwich…

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…added turkey slices on top of that…

20131113-153842.jpg…and provolone cheese on top of that.

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Then I added honey mustard dressing on top of the cheese, and apple butter on the top slice of bread. If I made these again, I think I would also add apple butter on the bottom slice before adding any toppings.

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Then, all I did was grill my delicious little sandwiches. I worried at first that the apple slices would be too crunchy, but they were perfect! I was really happy with how the sandwiches turned out, and have been having fun looking at other Monte Cristo variations online. Have you ever made any good ones, or are there any you’d like to try?

20131113-153908.jpgAlso, I know it’s a little late, but I can’t help but post a picture of our cute pumpkins and our front porch on Halloween. I was able to scratch off making pumpkin seeds from my bucket list using this recipe, too!

Hope you’re doing well as we make our way into the colder, darker months, and that you can stay positive with warmth and light.

Around Town · Tried

Detroit Beer Festival in Pictures

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Equipped with maps, sampling cups and tokens, there was no stopping us as we ventured through the Detroit Beer Festival. (Well, except when we’d definitely reached our limit. Then we stopped.)

20131030-211557.jpgWe had a lot of fun trying all of the different beers, and just being together. My favorite beer? A Kombucha Ginger beer from Unity Vibration in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Kombucha beer is not something I think I would ordinarily try, but 1) a beer festival is a place to expand your horizons, and 2) after several other samples I was feeling adventurous.

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Several samples and unintentionally stolen sandwiches later, we were still standing.

Our evening consisted of playing Cards Against Humanity, lots of laughter, and too much amazing food prepared by our friends (one of whom is the fellow pretending to be angry in the picture above). I’ve been told there will be a Winter Beer Festival in Grand Rapids, so I’m excited to potentially try more interesting flavors. I tend to be an IPA girl myself–what kind of beer do you like?

Projects

Pretty Fall Wreath Project

I’ve been thinking about ways to make our new house a home, and I thought one good way to do it would be to have a nice Autumn wreath. I was pretty surprised to see how expensive seasonal wreaths are at most stores, and how making your own can end up being a pricey endeavor, too. Luckily, I found a few ways to cut the price down and still end up with beautiful results, all the while enjoying myself as I put it together.

Firstly, I used a 50% off coupon at Hobby Lobby for the wreath form. Hobby Lobby has an app that will always give you a coupon code to use for a discount. I got lucky and managed to hit Hobby Lobby when they were having a 50% off all ribbons sale, too, so I went ahead and bought a color I thought went well with my Autumn theme.  I was shocked to see that at most craft stores a single bunch of artificial flowers will often cost $5.00 or more, so I ended up purchasing my bunches from the dollar store, cutting down on the overall cost of the project dramatically.

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The first step was laying out the flowers in clusters I thought looked nice.

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After wrapping the ribbon around the wreath form, it was time to add flowers.

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After adding a bunch of flowers, I asked Chad for feedback, and he said he thought it would look even better with more leaves. I had to run to the dollar store and get some more (as well as more hot glue gun sticks!), and though I forgot to take a picture of this step, you can sort of see the nearly finished wreath behind my husband and his mother’s spoiled dog Simon 🙂

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I think he knows he’s spoiled!

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After adding the leaves and ensuring there were no strands of hot glue residue, I was finished with my wreath. I think it turned out really well, and am happy to cross the project off my Autumn Bucket List. You’d never guess that the entire project cost less than $20.00! Have you ever tried making a wreath? Do you have any tips?

Food & Cooking · Tried

Easy-to-make apple butter

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After being somewhat settled into our new house (meaning we live here now, but that many boxes are still left unpacked and the walls are pretty much bare!), we were finally able to go apple picking! We went to Crane’s Orchard, and you better believe I was dreaming of those delicious Monte Cristos from Crane’s in the City I wrote about before. (Will be attempting to make my own version ASAP!)

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In preparation for the future Monte Cristos in my life, I got straight to making Apple Butter. I found a really simple Slow Cooker recipe and adapted it slightly for a very delicious, healthy yield.

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First you prepare around 12 peeled, cored and sliced apples. I used an apple peeler/corer combo, and also had the help of my hunk of a husband. (Hunky husbands are optional when making this recipe, though I’ve heard food made with love always turns out better!)

20131013-200158.jpgThen you mix up your spices, which are pretty typical spices for apple-based dishes: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ground cloves, and salt.

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Time to mix everything together in your crock pot before adding 1/4 cup of unrefined sweetener, such as honey or palm sugar. I chose to use Agave, and though the bottle said Agave tends to be sweeter than most sweetening options, I still used a 1/4 of a cup and ended up with just a hint of sweetness. I also added about a teaspoon of vanilla, and then set the slow cooker on low for about 9 hours.

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When I woke up in the morning and saw the above, I was worried that somehow the apples didn’t cook down enough, but after whisking the apple mixture with my blender, it immediately transformed into a lovely texture. The recipe made a little over four 1/2 pint jars, and tasted delicious!

20131013-200227.jpgThings I love about this recipe: It is incredibly easy, the lack of adding water creates a really nice consistency, and the unrefined sugar holds it together well while adding a healthy, subtle sweetness. (Oh yeah, and did I mention I love eating it? It’s actually really good on peanut butter toast!)

Slow-Cooker Apple Butter

(Adapted from Skinny Ms.)

Ingredients

  • 12 medium apples (4 each of Granny Smith, Gala, Honeycrisp) peeled, cored, cut into 1″ cubes. *The recipe suggests mixing the apples with tart Granny Smith & sweet apples like Gala & Honeycrisp, or other sweet apples like Golden Delicious, Pink Lady, Red Delicious, Fuji, Ambrosia and Spartan. I used Jonagold, Jonathan and Northern Spy because I read that those apples are good for both Apple Butter and for pies).
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • Pinch kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 cup unrefined sweetener, more or less to taste (sucanat or coconut palm sugar or honey) *I used Agave.
  • Optional: 1 tsp vanilla

Directions

Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add apples to the slow-cooker, pour dry ingredients over and toss to coat. Also, pour in sweetener and vanilla and stir, if using. Cover, cook on low 8 – 10 hours until tender and brown. If you prefer chunky apple butter, leave as is. For a creamier, less chunky, butter, whisk until smooth.

Allow to cool to room temperature, and add to 1/2 pint or pint jelly jars, leaving about 1″ head space at the top to allow for expanding. Cover with lid and freeze or refrigerate.

I enjoyed crossing off Apple Picking and making Apple Butter from my Autumn Bucket List. Have you done any fun fall things yet this year?

Seen · Seen/Heard/Tried · Tried

A busy Saturday & changes in October

Over the weekend I had a very full Saturday! The day started with waking up around 6 and heading with Chad to Grandville for the Race for the Cure. There were over 5,000 people walking or running to promote breast cancer awareness!

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With such a large crowd, I would never want to run this 5K for speed, but to be honest, I didn’t care about speed that day anyway. What I did care about was doing something that means a great deal to me, as Breast Cancer runs in my family (my mother is a survivor). For the past couple of years I did a 10K Pink Ribbon walk in Kobe, and while I wish I could be there this year, too, I was happy that I was able to raise over $200.00 through the Race for the Cure last weekend with generous donations from friends and family.

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Panera Bread gave out delicious ribbon shaped raisin bread after the run!

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Chad and I after the run.

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My numbers.

After the race, we went to my Grandma’s and had lunch with her before heading to the Oktoberfest in Grand Rapids in the late afternoon to meet my brother and sister-in-law.

This video shows Chad doing the Keg Toss at the event:

And here’s my brother, who was clearly waiting for some kind of signal to start and then finally just went for it:

And here’s both of them doing a one-handed keg roll. They would’ve won if it hadn’t been for two beef cakes who entered the very last minute, but the important thing, as my brother mentioned, was that “no one was really as in sync as [Justin] and Chad.”

After keg-rolling glory was taken right out of the hands of my husband and brother, we headed downtown for Art Prize. It was pretty crowded, but it was fun to look around. I kept hoping for the exhibits to be like the tents in The Night Circus, but unfortunately that dream was not fulfilled.

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My favorite exhibit out of what we saw that day was this work of Buddha. 

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It was a gorgeous day for walking around downtown.

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I got a Jones Soda while we were walking around downtown, and the bottle cap said, “The coming month shall bring winds of change in your life.” I can’t give anything away just yet because I don’t want to jinx anything, but I have a feeling the prediction was on to something! Do you foresee any big changes in your life this month?

***My busy Saturday was really fun, and allowed me to cross three things off my fall bucket list in one day!