About Laura

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

Have I mentioned enough times how much I love this little stretch of land that we call home? Sure we love the ocean, and the bay, and the abundance of fresh seafood that comes with both. But you know what I love more than anything? Our community. Good people and great events are always just right on the horizon here on the Eastern Shore!

One event we always look forward to is the suborbital rocket launches out of Wallops Flight Facility. For the past few years our little corner of NASA has been launching resupply missions to the International Space Station, one recent launch (LADEE) even went to the moon! They don’t go that often, a few times a year – but it’s always so exciting for us. We have many friends and family who work at the base, so to say that I’m proud that these folks are launching things into space is kind of an understatement.

Last night we had a catastrophic failure, the rocket exploded about 6 seconds after liftoff. I’ve never seen anything like it, and never hope to again. Thankfully, no one was injured…which, is just a testament to how wonderful our folks at Wallops are.  But, the facility is destroyed. All the work that went into the launch, and the scientific experiments on board – just gone. Wallops will rebuild though, and most certainly relaunch! But please keep our small community in your thoughts and prayers.

So, the cupcakes. I baked these to take to our PTA’s Annual Pumpkin Walk. Families and local buisnesses carve pumpkins to display on one of our nature trails here on the island to create a spooky and fun walk to raise some money for the PTA. They of course have a bake sale as well, so I baked these to donate to the cause. We got to the walk about 30 minutes after it started, and they were already gone – definitely a hit!

I used my favorite vanilla cake recipe, then added some chopped apples, caramel sauce, and fall spices to the batter. Then topped them with a caramel cream cheese frosting. Holy moly, were they good! The spices were not overbearing, allowing the fresh flavor of the apple to really shine through. And I loved having the tender chunks of apples in the cake as well. I’ll most certainly be making this one again and again. I think it would be great as a 9-inch layer cake too! Enjoy!

Caramel Apple Cupcakes

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
16 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature (2 sticks)
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup caramel sauce

For the Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz. block cream cheese, room temperature
12 Tbsp butter, room temperature
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup caramel sauce
pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk together and set aside. Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed for 2 minutes, until light and creamy in color. Add in the sugar, and beat for 2 minutes more. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for one more minute.

For the frosting, cream the butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar until incorporated. 10 seconds, until evenly combined. Frost cupcakes as desired.

Mix in the eggs one at a time until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Combine the buttermilk and the vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated. Add in the apples and caramel sauce and mix until incorporated.

Divide the batter between the prepared paper liners, filling each about 2/3 of the way full (you will likely have batter left over after filling 24 wells.) Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Replace paper liners and bake remaining batter if desired. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

For the frosting, cream the butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar until incorporated. Then add the vanilla, caramel sauce, and a pinch of salt. Mix for 10 seconds, until evenly combined. Frost cupcakes as desired.

Drizzle with additional caramel sauce if desired before serving.

Goulash

I’m always on the lookout for easy recipes that require minimal ingredients. They’re great for those nights on the fly for our family, when what I’ve planned on the menu for that evening hasn’t turned out…for one reason or another. Y’all know what I’m talking about! Dishes like these, where I have all the ingredients I need handy in the pantry, are a lifesaver.

Oddly, I’d never had goulash before. To me, it was very reminiscent of Beefaroni – which reminds me of school lunches and childhood. Ground beef and macaroni are simmered in a rich, lightly spiced tomato sauce until it’s a thick stew. It’s classic lowbrow comfort food, but it’s delicious.

I’d imagine it would be great with all kinds of things thrown in as well… veggies, different proteins, beans, cheese, you name it! Definitely a great base for one of those clean out the fridge nights…

I like the simplicity of the basic version, though. Not to mention that when it’s made with ground sirloin and whole wheat pasta, it’s not terribly bad for you either. Better than the “heart attack in a sack” you might end up with otherwise on those busy nights.

Source: adapted from Feral Kitchen

Baked Vanilla Berry Oatmeal

Nothing is more comforting on a crisp autumn morning that a bowl of warm, homemade oatmeal. Driscoll’s Berries asked me to participate in their Berries & Oats celebration this month, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to share this recipe that has been a favorite in our home for a couple years now!

It’s filling and delicious, not to mention super easy to throw together. The warm flavors of vanilla, brown sugar, and cinnamon are combined with oats, milk and cream to form the base of this breakfast – then the additions are pretty much left to your creativity…

I like to add some nuts for a little crunch, and usually I’ll throw some fresh berries into the mix. I love the burst of freshness and color that they lend. But, other additions like apples or peaches are great too. I think it’s fun to create seasonal twists, and this recipe makes it so easy!

I hope everyone has a great weekend. After our trip to the mountains last weekend, I’ve got some work in the kitchen with apples on my agenda for the weekend. Boiled cider and apple cider caramels are on the to-do list.

It’s also Homecoming in our small town tonight, our football team is undefeated this year! So, we’re walking down the street to the parade, then heading to the game tonight to cheer the team on. I think the boys will really enjoy themselves. Go Chincoteague Ponies! We’re so lucky to call this little island home. 

Source: adapted from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson via Annie’s Eats

pantry1

Living on a remote island that lies on the also remote Eastern Shore, a well stocked pantry is essential to me. Sadly, it’s usually in a state of utter chaos and dissaray. And that’s a super bad thing, because half the time I forget what I have in there in the first place – and by the time I find it again, it’s gone and expired.

So, when the good folks at OXO and The Container Store asked me to be a part of their POPtober Campaign, I couldn’t say no. Since moving to the island, I’ve had a really hard time keeping things fresh. I’ll open a bag of tortilla chips, and by the next day they’ll be stale (pretty sure that it has something to do with all the moisture we have in the air here), and I knew that OXO’s air-tight seals would be an answered prayer! And as I’d mentioned above, my pantry was in desperate need of a makeover to begin with.

oxo

They were kind enough to send me a 10-Piece POP Container Set, as well as several sizes of their POP Cereal Dispensers. The square and rectangular shapes fit together so snugly and are so pleasing to the eye. They’re stackable as well, which makes them super space efficient. I also love that they’re able to be opened with one hand, something that I have to do so often these days with baby boy #3 in tow!

I couldn’t believe how many bunched up little baggies I was able to toss out, and instead have the contents up front and visible. Where they can be seen, and used – instead of forgotten about. It’s been a week since the revamp, and I’ve not had any issues with cereals or crackers that have been opened being stale – they’re just as fresh as the day that I opened them. So of course I’ve added quite a few more of the OXO items to my wishlist on Pinterest. Are you paying attention, Santa?

Follow Laura (Tide and Thyme)’s board POPtober on Pinterest.

I thought I’d also give you guys a run-down of what I think are essential pantry items. With cold and inclement weather sneaking up on us – it’s good to have basics like these safely stashed away. With all these items on hand, you could whip out a delicious meal in no time at all!

Basics:
Kosher salt
Fine salt
Black peppercorns
Oils (olive, vegetable, extra-virgin olive)
Vinegar (apple cider, red and white wine, balsamic, and rice vinegar)
Coffee
Tea
Long-grain white rice
Brown rice
Quinoa
Couscous
Dried pasta (standard, whole grain, rice noodles)
Grits or polenta
Panko
Oats (Old-fashioned rolled, and instant)
Dried beans (black, pinto, chickpeas, navy)
Tortillas (corn and flour)
Country ham (a post on this is coming soon!)

Baking:
Flour (all-purpose, whole wheat, and cake flour)
Baking soda
Baking powder
Cream of tartar
Cocoa powder (unsweetened)
Bittersweet chocolate: chips and bars
Evaporated milk
Sweetened Condensed Milk
Vanilla extract
Granulated sugar
Confectioners’ sugar
Brown sugar
Maple syrup
Honey
Agave syrup

Snacks:
Crackers
Tortillas
Pretzels
Marshmallows
Popcorn kernels
Dried fruit (raisins, apricots, cranberries, cherries)
Peanut butter or almond butter
Applesauce
Granola

Canned Goods:
Broths (chicken, beef, and vegetable – I like the powdered varieties found in the Hispanic aisle)
Beans (cannellini, navy, chickpeas, pinto, and black)
Vegetables (artichoke hearts, corn, green beans)
Olives (black, green, Kalamata)
Chiles (chipotles in adobo, pickled jalapenos, pepperocinis, sliced banana peppers)
Salsa
Tomatoes (whole, diced, crushed, fire-roasted)
Tomato paste
Roasted red peppers
Tuna
Anchovy fillets or paste

Now,  are you ready to go and tackle the organization monster in your pantry? OXO wants to help!

Starting today, OXO is hosting a Facebook Giveaway that runs through Friday, October 31st! Enter to win a prize pack worth $500, including your choice of OXO Storage & Organization tools (up to $250), as well as a $250 elfa gift card. Make sure you scoot on over today for your chance to enter!

Disclaimer: I received a set of canisters from OXO for review. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Posted in DIY