caramel apple turnovers


This treat is reminiscent of the New York State Fair…totally.  In my younger days we went every year (a couple of times each year) so I could compete in dance.  After twirling, leaping, and tapping my heart out there was no bigger delight than walking around the fair.  And there was no other place where I would get away with caramel apples, fried dough, apple dumpling, chocolate milk, maybe a hot dog, all in one day.

Now, I did not intend for this to taste like the state fair.  It really started because I wanted to use up some caramel sauce and a caramel apple turnover sounded great!  After my first attempt I had a yummy, sweet apple treat but not what I wanted.  The caramel was completely lost.  And I couldn’t just let it go.  So off to the store for vanilla caramels and after a short time in the kitchen…ah yes.  There we go.

Caramel-Apple Turnovers

1 sheet frozen puffed pastry, thawed
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 Tbsp flour
5 vanilla caramels, cut into small pieces
1 egg, beaten with a bit of water
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 400°.  Mix diced apple with flour until apples are coated.  Unroll puff pastry sheet onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or onto a baking stone and cut into 4 squares.  Spoon apple mix onto center of each square.  Divide cut up caramels onto the apple mix.  Fold the pastry over the apple caramel mix, forming a triangle.  Pinch the edges with your fingers or seal, gently, with a fork.  Bake in 400°oven for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden.  Dust with powdered sugar.




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mix it up {pumpkin smoothie}


After making a batch of Pioneer Woman’s yummy Pumpkin Muffins with Little Miss last weekend, I decided to use up the remaining pumpkin and evaporated milk in a tasty, sort-of-healthy, pumpkin smoothie.  Why pumpkin?  It’s almost May.  Pumpkin is fall.  Well, when we get pumpkins in the fall, I eventually end up with loads of pumpkin puree in my freezer.  And when it was snowing in mid-April, pumpkin muffins really warmed up the place.


That’s right.  Snowing in mid-April.  Ugh.  Thank goodness we had brighter days this weekend!

Anyhow, for your own sort-of-healthy Pumpkin Smoothie, collect–

2 cups frozen pumpkin puree
1 cup evaporated milk (or whatever milk you have)
1 cup vanilla greek yogurt (or whatever vanilla or plain yogurt you have)
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
dash of pumpkin pie spice

Blend.  Makes about 4 cups.

This smoothie is pretty hearty and a good dose of protein, vitamins, fiber…good things.  Enjoy


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New Planner

Even though it is not a new calendar year necessarily, I am no longer working in a school district, and my kids are not yet in school (although we refer to the daycare program as “school”) I still feel like September is a good time to reorganize and get some fresh habits.

Maybe it is the cool weather coming in and the preparation for winter when I will be locked up in my house in snowy Buffalo.  Maybe it is the end of the care-free days of summer.  Maybe it is my OCD.  Regardless, I have this feeling that it is time to take a look at life and figure out what I can do to make it a little less stressful.

Back at the beginning of the year I started using a number of “planning” and “organizational” tools, all housed in a “Household Management Binder” of sorts.

I had a pre-printed grocery list I used weekly on which I checked off or jotted down the items we needed for the week. I had a pre-printed chore list, broken down by rooms in the house.  At the start of each day I picked one, two, or as many chores I would have liked to get done.  My goal was not for every surface to shine everyday, but for me to have a home I felt comfortable enough to have guests in at any given moment. In the past I found that assigning a chore to a specific day did not work for me…it was too rigid.  I had a daily planner that outlined everything from appointments, to dos, menu, things to absolutely get done, notes, exercise, bla bla bla.  That actually worked well for a while until I missed filling out a day. Then another.  Then another.  You get the idea.  I planned my weekly menu on Google Calendar.  Loved it because I could save the links to my recipes or ideas I would be using right there!  We even sat down and did a weekly budget…Thank you SK2.

Then came the end of pregnancy when I was lucky to get a single task–napping and chasing a two-year-old not included–done.

Then came a baby and I was lucky to get a single task–napping, nursing, changing diapers, rocking an infant, chasing a two-year-old, and potty training not included–done.

A planner?  Yeah right!

Well, now I am ready to be back on track with the intent to use everything as before…except the Daily planner. It is just too much to fill in all that stuff everyday when I am rushing around as soon as my feet hit the floor in the morning.  But weekly?  I can manage that.

So I spent a couple of nap times doing this…
Weekly Planner(function() { var scribd = document.createElement(“script”); scribd.type = “text/javascript”; scribd.async = true; scribd.src = “”; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(“script”)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(scribd, s); })();

I have my To Do (including workouts, work, or activities with Moira & Ronan); To Clean (where I can jot down what chores I will do from my weekly chore sheet); To Go (for appointments and errands); To Eat (dinner…and any other meals that need planning); and To Remember (any extra important stuff that week).  I can fill out the majority at the start of the week and fill in the rest on that day or as it comes up.

Less paper…less filling in.  I have even thought about putting this in a frame for a dry-erase calendar.  Not quite there yet.

Feel free to use for yourself.  I am happy to have some organized chaos in my life again!!!


Organize and Decorate Everything  Let Birds Fly

Favorite Fall Foods…and Drink

Busy day today in the Kiernan kitchen. In between hugs from the (today) 10-month-old, playtime, feeding time, and glimpses of a football game, there was lots of cooking going on. Even though I am never a fan of the weather getting colder, snowier, windier, slushier, etc. in the fall, I am in love with the foods of the season. PUMPKIN is my favorite by far, but they are all good. And what comes after all of the ‘Fall’ foods? Oh, the Christmas foods…the spices, and the cookies, and the peppermint, and all of that. For now, I will focus on the Fall foods. I have been wanting to make pumpkin bread, but being on a sort-of healthy eating plan (or trying to be so that I can drop the last of the baby pounds) I did not think it wise to have a loaf (or 2) of hearty, sugary, Pumpkin Bread around the house. So I made the Cooking Light Magazine version, with a couple of changes…soooo good, and you would never be able to tell that it has been “lightened”. This is what I did:

Pecan-Topped Pumpkin Bread

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup egg substitute
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup reduced-fat plain yogurt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup water
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
Cooking spray
1/3 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients (through allspice) in a bowl.
Place sugar, egg substitute, oil, yogurt, and eggs in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until well blended. Add 2/3 cup water and pumpkin, beating at low speed until blended. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Spoon batter into 2 (9 x 5-inch) loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle pecans evenly over batter. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. (Check the loaves at 50 minutes. You may need to cover the loaf with foil so that the top doesn’t burn.) Cool 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.

I also made some mini Applesauce Muffins (for my little muffin). And what would be fall food without some squash? I have been inspired ever since I ate Jen’s Savory Squash Ravioli at last week’s Domestic Diva Gathering…I had to finish off the cooking/baking frenzy with a Butternut Squash Pasta Bake. Another ‘light’ dish, but filling dish, surprisingly.

20 oz package of peeled and cubed butternut squash
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
16 oz package whole wheat Penne pasta
1 1/4 cups fat free or 1% milk
2 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 tsp crushed thyme
1/2 cup reduced-fat or fat free ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375°.
Spread squash in a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Drizzle olive oil over squash. Sprinkle with allspice, salt, and pepper. Roast in oven for 20 to 30 minutes. When complete, transfer squash to a medium bowl and mash into a puree.
While squash is roasting, cook the pasta, following directions on package.
Combine milk, flour, garlic, salt, and pepper in a medium sauce pan using a whisk. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens (about 2 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in mashed squash and 2 tsp crushed thyme. Combine squash puree mix with drained pasta and mix well. Pour into a 2 1/2 quart casserole pan coated with cooking spray.
Top pasta with dollops of ricotta cheese. Sprinkle with Parmesan and walnuts. Bake for 20 minutes, covered. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the top is slightly golden.

Steve and I enjoyed ours with my OTHER favorite Fall ‘food’…delicious Pumpkin brew…Moira enjoyed hers with water :)!

Leaves…Lots and Lots of Leaves

With the cold weather coming and going, and rainy days here and there, I have been inspired to start the fall crafts and homemade Christmas gift frenzy. However, with limited time in my day that can be dedicated to such things, it has been slow going. In the past couple of weeks, I have (almost) finished Moira’s Halloween costume…YAY…and it isn’t even the middle of October yet! And for some fall home decor, I made this wreath from Dollar Tree supplies.
I suppose I could add some ribbon or some other trim to it, but I love the simple, yet chaotic, look of it. This one will stay just as it it…and I will likely make more…This is what I did:

1. Got my supplies from Dollar Tree–one floral wreath form and several bags of artificial leaves. I bought several but you probably only need 2 or 3. You will need a glue gun or craft glue to stick the leaves on. I started with straight pins and finished with a glue gun.

2. Start from the inside bottom of the wreath and pin/glue your leaves around one side. Once at the ‘top’, start back at the bottom and pin/glue your leaves around the other side. Remember to overlap your leaves. Keep doing this, working inside to outside, up each side, unitl the wreath form is covered.

3. Fill in empty or thin spaces with leaves. I liked keeping my leaves all facing in the same direction…down toward the center.

4. Find a fabulous place for your fall wreath…and something to do with the left-over leaves!