Musselman's Apple Butter Pancakes

With the return of cool mornings I find myself craving a big stack of pancakes.  Not blueberry pancakes anymore, but fluffy fall-like pancakes loaded with Musselman's Apple Butter.  I like them piled high with a little dab of butter and a big splash of real maple syrup, preferably from Ohio.

Pancakes are really my all time favorite breakfast.  I like to pack them with seasonal ingredients and take awhile to sit and enjoy them.  While most breakfasts these days are consumed on the run and with a lukewarm cup of coffee, these pancakes cause me to sit and enjoy.  Anderson loves them as well so he happily sits with me devouring each bite.

our love story. chapter one.

Awhile back I was encouraged to share the story of how Benny and I met.  It all started because I shared with a reader the news that we had met online.  It's true.   Clearly this was a story worth telling, right?

Truth is sometimes (often times) I brush off the whole online-dating thing by saying that Benjamin was my first 'match" and really I wasn't a part of that system anyways.  Obviously I was and because one of you asked for it, I'm going to share our story here, in this space where I record recipes and memories and now, our love story.

Chapter One: 
Let's start by saying where we both were in life.  I was living in Santa Barbara, planning to be super successful from a little start-up company that would surely go far and planned on staying in California forever.  I would have beach babies, a big garden, and ride my beach cruiser to the farmers market most Saturdays.

Benjamin was in the Air Force in Montana, planning on not being there forever, but planning on driving his truck, riding his motorcycle, going skiing, fishing, hunting, and riding his bike all within 10 minutes of his home for the rest of his life.

a thank you prayer for one year of motherhood

Dear Lord,

Thank you for allowing me to be a Mother.  Thank you for a Mom who was such a good one to me and who has helped me be a good one to Anderson.

Thank you for letting me hold him tight, knowing he's not really mine after all, but Yours.

Thank you for the joy he brings me when he smiles or laughs.  When he feeds me a blueberry or holds up a book asking me to read it to him.  Thank you for the way he bounces when he's happy, when he's saying yes, or when he hears music.

In the past year I've grown so much.  I've become more of the woman I believe you created me to be.  I've laughed more, loved more, and it truly has been the best year of my life.

In this next year I pray for continued wisdom as we parent Anderson.  Discernment for what he needs, knowledge to guide him in a way that would bring his little heart closer to knowing You, and more love than I can imagine for our sweet boy.  I pray that he would stay sweet and for those times that he isn't, that you would help me discipline him.

Thank you overall for fulfilling the desires of my heart.  For my son, and for the gift of motherhood.


warm shrimp salad with wheat berries + tarragon

Frozen shrimp is a staple in this house.  It's a good thing to have on hand I'd say as you can really cook up multiple items with shrimp in no time.  Roasted Buffalo Shrimp, Sweet and Sour Shrimp, and of course Curried Peanut Shrimp are some of our favorites.

The other day we made a new favorite- warm shrimp salad with wheat berries and tarragon.  I got the inspiration from this recipe and modified it a bit omitting the red chile, using wheat berries over kamut, and using more tarragon than the original recipe recommends.

pw's cowgirl quiche

The other week I decided I should sign up to bring a new mom and a mom-to-be whose on modified bed rest a meal.  It sounded like a great idea in theory that I could whip up just double of whatever I was going to make and keep things simple.  Truth is for as often as I cook there seem to be almost just about as many moments that I'm wondering what we'll have for dinner.

I looked back to when meals were provided for us after Anderson and remembered a friend bringing over a quiche.  It was perfect with salad for lunch or dinner and easily consumed as breakfast with black coffee.  Quiche it would be, but which one?

so trendy. so timely. canning.

Yesterday a few friends and I eagerly stood around the beautiful kitchen of a wise woman and learned a thing or two about canning.  Our friend Allison is the mom of five and has been canning for awhile now- salsa, soups, and applesauce are some of her favorite things to make.  More than just the results, she loves the process. I do too.

With more than a few bushels of apples in our possession we took to learning about making and canning applesauce. For Allison the art of canning is a form of worship.  Taking something the Lord made, preserving it, and enjoying it months later as if you had just picked the apples from the tree or the tomatoes from the vine.

celebrating ONE

It's said that a one year birthday party is really for the parents, it's not for the kid.  It's mostly true.

When I was pregnant I would have been the first to tell you we'd just be having a dinner with family when Anderson turned one and that big parties when they were so little was a silly waste of money.  Well, we will be having dinner on Sunday, his actual birthday, as a family but as for the party?  Nothing was silly or wasteful there.

Thing is, once you've gone through the first year with your babe you want to celebrate.  Not just because you "made it through!' but because it was the most overwhelming, exhausting, rewarding, stressful, and JOYful year of your life to date.  I speak for myself of course.

50 + 51 Weeks

Oh dear.  This whole week 52 thing is sneaking up on us and I'm getting just a touch sentimental.  I've been looking back at when Anderson was oh-so-tiny in old pictures! It really is amazing what happens in a year.

This weekend we'll celebrate him with some friends and I may just get choked up a bit thinking about my baby not being a baby anymore!  I may just be snuggling with him a bit more than usual, holding him longer after he nurses before I put him down, and laughing more than I should when he does something a bit clever that should perhaps get a strong "no" instead.

apple picking

There's no denying it, fall is upon us!  It seems as though we've forgotten about sunscreen and bathing suits and are racing towards pumpkin latte's.  I'm joining in the fun.  Had my first pumpkin spice latte this week after Anderson cried for an hour in the nursery- poor baby and something I didn't realize was happening since I told them to get me if he was upset for more than 10 minutes!- and we went apple picking this week with some friends!

Much like how we took summer by storm, I have every good intention to enjoy this fall season and get this boy on a tractor with some pumpkins around him sooner than later.

pw's chicken fried steak

Most of the time I'm the one taking out recipes and getting my super helpful husband to be my sous chef.  He likes chopping things thanks to a couple good knifes and finds it fun that we can enjoy doing a hobby together.  I agree.

Mainly he likes when our meals are focused around meat or bacon.  That's when he can really start dreaming up how we should season something, what we should pair it with, and how long it should cook for.

Over Labor Day weekend we found ourselves at my parents house while they were out of town.  It gave us some more room to stretch our arms out and more crawling space for Anderson.  I like to think he gets more worn out there and less bored and we feel more relaxed so overall it's a good decision to go there and get out of our tiny apartment once in awhile.

On this particular occasion my Mom left some steaks in the fridge which I figured we would go ahead and grill up.  Not this time.  Benjamin suggested we do chicken fried steak.

greek pita wraps

I really like when I find a recipe and it turns out I have nearly all the ingredients between my fridge, pantry, and freezer.  I get even more excited (these days) when that recipe says it will come together in 27 minutes.  That sounds like a challenge.

This recipe is perfect for weeknights, weekends, or just about any time you want to cook but only for about 15 minutes.  I will be making these again and think you should go ahead, get out your pen and paper, and start writing down the recipe now...

grilled okra with paprika-shallot dip

I've never been a fan of okra.  I associate it with being extremely soggy and served up in the dining commons at college.  I never quite understood by the staff thought a bunch of California kids would enjoy soggy okra.  Seemed to me like they mine as well have thrown money down the drain.

Since moving to Virginia I've heard of people having it fried with Old Bay.  Clearly this has the potential to be good.  I'm not into frying everything though so when I saw this recipe in Fine Cooking it seemed worth trying.  It also seemed like yet another fun addition to the menu for Benjamin's birthday.  We ended up cooking these up as an appetizer and they quickly got devoured.  The sauce was then later used as a spread on the burgers which made them all the more amazing.

quick garlicky chicken penne pasta with arugula

The other week we got a much welcomed and overdue visit from my friend Kate.  I'm sure I've talked about Kate before.  We've been friends since the third grade, kept in touch through college, and she was in my wedding.  She's the type of friend I text when I see that the Backstreet Boys are on Good Morning America because clearly we liked them and may have also gone to see 98 degrees and Jessica Simpson back in the day.

To compensate for those concerts we did also see Dave Matthews quite a bit and just said the boy bands were "for fun."

Since she's such an old friend I didn't feel like I had to impress too much with cooking an elaborate meal.  Then again, it's always fun when a friend comes into town.  I can make something more exciting for lunch and dinner and try some new recipes out knowing she won't judge me if they don't turn out.

No stress friends are a good thing.

bacon burgers with bacon-balsamic-onion jam

When I saw this recipe about a week before Benjamin's 30th I knew it had to be cooked up for his birthday.  I figured it would be over the top, too bacon-y, and overall man food that wouldn't satisfy the ladies of the bunch.  I was wrong.  It was delicious, smokey, and an absolute special occasion burger.

Turns out that when you cut bacon into your ground beef it makes the burgers so delicious you'll be putting a price tag on them, wondering how much you'd pay if you were out.  In DC? Close to $15.  Do you do this too?  I love putting a price tag on a meal or a baked good when it seems that good.  When it's something that is restaurant worthy.

good work laboring

To be honest the only kind of labor I've been thinking about today is that which results in a baby.  Several of my friends have had babies in the past week so while some people are resting, they are not.  Sure babies sleep a lot but looking back at the first 2 weeks of Anderson's life I can only imagine how tired they are today.

I'm not nearly as tired as they are I'm sure but I do feel more exhausted than usual.  Probably in part to only getting one break time during the day and also in part because Anderson seems so non-stop that I find myself wondering if this is all normal.  I'm sure it all is, as are the yawns I'm experiencing.

dear 49 weeks (11 months!)

Dear Anderson,

You're 11 months now and I'm going to hold onto this last month as hard as I can.  I hear when you turn 1 you're becoming a toddler and so I think I'll just erase that thought from my mind and try to think of you as a baby for as long as I can.

This week you've decided to stand on your own- when you're not thinking about it for about a second- and have been more into taking steps with us when we try and help you.  You have decided you can try to get out of your high chair and are becoming much more adamant about what you want.  Which is sometimes everything and nothing all at the same time.  When you try to do something and you can't you get very frustrated with yourself.  I think this is part developmental and part something you get from me.

The biggest change this week is that I think you're dropping your morning nap.  I admit that I was really enjoying the morning time I had to shower, pick up the house, and get some things done, but seeing as we're kissing baby-hood goodbye I suppose with that comes saying goodbye to the nap.  All in all it'll make things easier this fall when our Bible studies start back up.  It may even mean we'll get to church more often now that you're awake in the morning.

delicious three bean salad

The house is quiet right now.  Anderson is out with Benjamin having breakfast and running some errands for me and I'm sitting here hoping to b.l.o.g.  It's been a busy few weeks of cooking so thankfully I've got a lot of treats to share with you, one of which is this three bean salad.

I first had this at a birthday party for Anderson's little friend Eleanor.  Her Mom Beth has become a sweet neighborhood friend here and as I'm learning shares the same love for cooking tasty food.  She served this at a picnic along side pulled pork sandwiches and it was perfect.

I served it up for Benjamin's birthday along side bacon burgers (recipe coming soon) and it was yet again, a hit.  Beth made some variations to the recipe she found online then I did as well.