Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mmmmm....Pumpkin Cookies!

It is that time of year again. Time for some baked pumpkin goodies! I always make the obligatory pumpkin pie, as it is Josh's favorite. I have never been a fan of pumpkin pie mysef (yes, probably the only pie I won't eat), so last year I decided to try a new recipe (courtesy for pumpkin cookies. I thought they would be easier (read: less messy) for Ethan to snack on and they looked pretty tasty in the picture, so I thought, why not?

They ended up being super tasty (yep, even I liked them) and a huge hit with Ethan, so I decided to make them again this year, for Halloween. My family was visiting for the weekend, so I had a special helper, my nephew, Jacob, help me make them this time!

We gathered all of our ingredients....

9 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups (1 can) canned pumpkin puree
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Then we started following the directions...

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until smooth. Add the pumpkin, vanilla, and egg and beat until combined.
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt in a medium bowl. Slowly add the flour mixture to the sugar and butter and beat on medium-low speed until fully incorporated.
  4. Spoon heaping tablespoons of the mixture 2 inches apart onto parchment- or foil-lined baking sheets. Bake until puffed and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.

Jacob was such a good helper! I measured the ingredients for him, then he added everything to the mixer for me. :)

As you can see, the finished product was excellent!

Jacob was very proud of how well he did and he really, really liked the cookies too! :)

To complete our pumpkin weekend, I made the kids some orange, Jack-o-lantern pancakes on Halloween morning. Yum, yum!! :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lions, Tigers and Bears....Oh My!!

I feel like it has been ages since the last time I posted! Granted it has only been a couple weeks, so much has happened in that time to blog about that it is a bit daunting to get back on here again. But, it must be done, so I will start with one of the adventures we took last month.

On the 24th we visited the Wild Animal Safari in Pine Mountain, GA with the Richards family. Hard to believe, but this place is practically in our backyard! Who would have thought we could drive just 25 minutes southwest and find this wonderful, exciting adventure?!?

It was a hot Sunday for the end of October (and the Bengals were in town playing the Falcons!), but we made our way to the park to see some wild animals. As recommended to us by Josh's co-workers, we rented one of the park's vans to drive through the park.

It didn't take long to see why this was suggested. Unless you really like animal drool all over the inside of your car doors and the fact that the animals can fit their entire heads into your car when there aren't bars on your windows, then I would also suggest renting one of those sweet zebra minivans! ;) I think Josh was pretty excited about this deer coming right at his head, but I can't tell in this pic. haha!

Ethan, however, was quite concerned about the animals that quickly swarmed the vehicle.

Note the bars over the windows in the background. Yep, we really liked those bars! I guess that was why there were signs posted all through the park stating that you should throw the food away from the vehicle to keep the animals away from you. But what fun would that be? We preferred to let them just eat it right out of our hands. Fortunately, only Josh managed to get nipped by a zebra, while the rest of us escaped unscathed.

It was amazing how well Ethan did at sitting still on my lap for the hour-long drive through the park. Apparently the thought of being gobbled up by one of those guys was all he needed to convince him that Mommy's lap was a safe place! :)

Ethan's favorite was the giraffes. They managed to bend their necks down and stick their heads on in the van so that we could get a feel of their weird tongues. Very cool.

We saw all kinds of animals while driving through the park - zebras, donkeys, giraffes, deer, camels, ostriches, pigs, goats, lions, tigers, rhinos, water buffalo, bison, yaks, cows, and probably more that I am forgetting. Finally by the end, Ethan was brave enough to feed the animals, as seen in the video below. :)

Once we turned the van back in we proceeded to the walkabout, where you could go around and view animals in cages, just like you would at the zoo. Here they had even more different animals and Ethan had a blast checking them all out! We stopped for a few cute photo ops. ;)

After visiting all of the animals, we went to the cafe for a late lunch. What a great trip with my two favorite guys!!