Caramel Apple Cupcakes

This is from the Rachel Ray magazine but I’ve adapted the recipe to be gluten free.

In autumn I get my trusty comfort food recipes out of my cookbook binder. Many recipes I have made and baked over the years, mostly by season. In the spring around Easter I make chewy lemon bars and in the summer I bake strawberry angel food cupcakes and chocolate zucchini bundt cake. Come winter it’s time for delicate and sweet Christmas cookies, chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, homemade pizza, and my father- in – law’s beef stew. Now that fall has come I’m immersed in making apple crisp, pumpkin pancakes and brownies, crockpot baked beans and caramel apple cupcakes.

Years ago when the boys were little, we made caramel apples with the popsicle wooden sticks in them. We would roll them in chocolate chips, peanuts or coconut. Most of the time we made them around Halloween. Several years ago I was getting the Rachel Ray magazine, where I found some recipe keepers and good ideas. One day I found this delicious caramel apple cupcake recipe, reminding me of those caramel apples we made years ago. I baked them right away and everyone loved them! Now every October I make them at least once.

A look at my fall kitchen

This recipe I’ve adapted to be gluten free made with gluten free Bob’s all purpose baking flour. It’s appropriate for people who are watching gluten but it doesn’t compromise taste.

You will need:

1 1/4 cup flour ( I use Bob’s Gluten free all purpose flour)

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 c melted coconut oil

2 tsp vanilla ( I use pure )

3 cups chopped apples

For topping:

1 1/2 cup unwrapped caramels

1 Tbl heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease muffin pans or line with cupcake liners. In a large bowl whisk flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. ( I mixed the dry ingredients in my mixer) In a separate bowl mix sugars and eggs until smooth. Stir in coconut oil and vanilla. Gradually combine dry and wet ingredients. Lastly gently add chopped apples. Spoon batter into muffin wells. Bake until golden about 25-30 minutes.

While the cupcakes bake, make the topping. Combine caramels and heavy cream in a small pan on medium heat on the stove. Stir often until melted. Once cupcakes are done and cooled, frost with caramel topping. Store at room temperature or in refrigerator.

 

 

Forgive my blurry photo but trust me, they are so so good!

These are messy but are delicious and okey gooey! In one day a dozen of them turned into 5! Eat them with a tall glass of milk or almond milk!

Happy Fall to y’all! I hope you are baking to your hearts content or doing what you love this season!

All My Best,

Mary 😄

I Wish Grandpas Never Died

Recently one of my Facebook friends mentioned a new Country song by Riley Green called I Wish Grandpas Never Died. I downloaded it right away on Spotify and fell in love with it. It instantly reminded me of my dear Grandpa Gould, who I lost in 1988 when I was in college. He had been sick for many years with a blood disease but it progressively got worse.

My early memories of Grandpa were of westerns and cowboys…it’s as if he was one himself and it ran through his veins. An old cow yoke hung in his living room and he was always watching the infamous Gunsmoke on television. When I stayed overnight that’s what we would watch with a candy bar or a bowl of Jiffy Pop popcorn. One of his favorite actors was John Wayne. I remember my mom rented him a vcr and videos of his best movies when he was sick. I think he truly enjoyed that even if he was not himself.

A photo my mom gave me a few years ago of my grandpa and I. My first birthday.

Grandpa loved to tell corny jokes and even if I didn’t think they were funny, I always laughed out of respect. He served in the United States Army and fought in World War ll in Germany. Grandpa rarely talked of those times, probably it was too painful to visit them in memory and even more so to share them with others. Although this was true, one time he recounted a story of enemy planes overhead. I asked him if I could interview him for a school paper and he obliged. Unfortunately my memory is terrible and I don’t remember any details from this exchange. Sadly it’s lost forever I guess.

This is a grandpa’s love…my grandpa and I . Look at how pudgy I was!

Growing up I was very close to my mother’s parents, Nanny and Grandpa Gould. When Nanny sometimes watched me Grandpa would come along. One time he helped me bake a mini cake in my Easy Bake Oven. Another time I hid from him at his house. My mother was calling for me and I thought it would was funny to hide behind Grandpa’s stuffed chair. I was four at the time and everyone panicked as my grandparents lived near a raging river. My family thought I got swept away or something and searched for several minutes, not finding me. Eventually someone discovered my charade. My grandpa spanked me twice. I’ll never forget it. He was scared. My mom and Nanny were terrified something had happened to me. I earned that spank and never hid from my family again. I respect my grandpa for teaching me right from wrong. This fleeting memory will always stay with me….one of respect and love.

My sister Barbie, my grandpa, my brother Del, me and my brother David celebrating Grandpa’s birthday.

I wish grandpas never died, that mine lived longer than he did. I wish he could’ve met my husband Tom and see us dance at our wedding. I wish he could’ve met my two sons and held them on his lap with pride. Mostly I long to talk to him and to Nanny about my life now. How I’m truly happy, much happier than I’ve ever been and that this life has been wonderful. I’ve made it that way!

I know Tom wishes his grandpa could’ve lived longer, he lost him when he was around 11. I know my sons’ wish Tom’s dad, their Papa Blowey could’ve lived to see them grow and thrive. He was the kind of grandpa that wrestled on the floor and played fun tricks to get the boys to laugh. One day when he had us over for dinner he placed a Billy Bass fish that sung on a platter. Around it there were french fries, making it look like real food. Once our family sat down to eat, he pushed the button and the fish started singing. The boys’ eyes popped out of their head with sheer amazement! He was a great grandpa to them and they remember that. How proud he would be, I’m sure he’s looking down with pride and knows how they turned out.

Tom’s dad

No one wants to say goodbye to their grandpa, the man who jokes, laughs and slips a treat here and there. But it’s all part of this life. We have to let go and move on. Thankfully we have our memories to keep dear to us. It’s amazing we had those moments, ones that we can keep forever, close to our hearts.

In memory

Stuart Gould, my grandfather

Thomas Blowey, Tom’s grandfather

Robert Blowey, Tom’s Dad, my sons’ grandfather

William Doyle, my paternal grandfather

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💕

Being Gutsy…

My nephew Lucas and my dad, who everyone calls Top Shelf

Being gutsy is staying true to your beliefs and values

even when someone challenges you

Being gutsy is staying strong in any situation

easy or difficult, either way being on top is the

positive outlook ( a few years ago my dad lay in a hospital bed

sick but told the nurse he was on the “ top shelf”)

Being gutsy is fighting cancer everyday but laughing

anyway and finding the joys in every day( my niece is doing this, fighting

but mostly importantly LIVING)

Being gutsy is working hard day in and day out

having a strong work ethic and taking pride in every action

( my husband Tom practices this and it’s one of the many reasons

that I love him and I’m proud of him)

I know many souls that are gutsy

they’re living with extreme strength

and faith

with a quiet and steadfast perseverance

Rest In Peace Mrs. Geneen

Maybe you live gutsy

Plowing forward through your troubles

Making the best of it

Praying to God

and having eternal faith that all will be well.

Here’s to all the gutsy people in my life,

they have taught me strength

Persistence, confidence, and faith.

My cousins and I. Carmen in the middle

Anita, Sherrie, Dad, Tom, Laura ( Rest In Peace), Mrs. Geneen for your strength and example ( Rest In Peace) ,Theo for her strength through her trials, my cousin Carmen who has battled back from a horrific attack and tours now to teach others , my stepfather Gary and many more.

Theo on the right front, a woman who smiles no matter what
My niece Ella and my stepfather Gary who has had recent health challenges but still on top

All My Best,

Mary 💜🌈

Gluten Free Apple Crisp

Years ago my co-worker Judy gave me her apple crisp recipe that has become one of my family’s favorite desserts. Every fall I make it several times and then again on Thanksgiving for Dylan. It always comes out bubbly and delicious and usually my family eats it all the same day! Now that I need to bake differently, (if I’m going to have any) I’m adjusting my recipes to be gluten free. Here’s my adapted recipe that worked for me. Ignore the salt…haha…I didn’t use any but had a brain cramp that I needed it. 😂

You will need:

  • 5 cups sliced apples ( peeled)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar ( I use 3/4 and it’s just as sweet)
  • 3/4 cup King Arthur Gluten Free flour
  • 3/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oats
  • 2 tsp. Cinnamon, sometimes I add more
  • 1/2 cup butter, cold

Begin by peeling and slicing the apples. Place in a buttered 13x 9 pan or a 9 inch square pan. Combine flour, oats, cinnamon and brown sugar. Press mixture on apples. Bake in a preheated 350 F oven for about 45 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. It’s great with almond ice cream or whipped cream or simply alone. Enjoy warm or cold.

See it’s so good that it’s almost gone! I just made this!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend. I’ve had a few days off due to staff development ( I opted out of it as I’m taking a 12 hour course the next few months) and tomorrow off to observe Columbus Day. I plan to bake cookies for work, rake my back lawn and do my Pilates dvd that I love.

All My Best,

Mary

A Glimpse of Fall

Beautiful serene Lake Willoughby in Westmore, Vermont

It’s a warm pleasant morning in the 50’s with the sun coming up to gift us a new day. October is well under way bringing a crinkled up mosaic of leaves in ambers, yellows, pinks and deep reds. Everywhere you venture in this land you see a patchwork of colors, immersing you in a new world other than rich greens. There’s no place I’d rather be than here in my home state in October!

My back yard showing the season.

Every October Tom and I indulge in a foliage ride in either New Hampshire or beautiful neighboring Vermont. Last year we ventured down the infamous Kangamangus highway through Lincoln into Waterville Valley, NH. Cars and people were everywhere, an indication of all the mystical beauty surrounding us. This year Tom mapped our journey ahead, planning to go through Dalton NH across the covered bridge into Vermont. We went through Lunenburg VT up north and stumbled upon lovely Lake Willoughby in Westmore, Vermont.

During our Sunday ride, the warm sun beat on us through the windshield. All we saw where idyllic farm lands, cows grazing in pastures, country dirt roads, as seasonal turned leaves lit the way as we rode. We didn’t pass many stores, gas stations nor restaurants. This ride held lost north country lands and homes that host quiet rural living. It was the perfect foliage ride of peace and exploration!

Upon entering Westmore, Vermont we were greeted by massive cliffs with surreal views. A sprawling Lake Willoughby was on our left as we explored the winding road parallel to it. We came upon a small beach where a few families eagerly snapped photos, as we did. A lone canoe and a small kayak were parked on the beach, beckoning one to venture out on the lake. Across the road a quaint country store stood with a small campground beyond. Hiking trails wound through the woods, appealing to nature enthusiasts.

Tom and I decided that we would visit Lake Willoughby again in the future and trek up one of the trails. It’s peaceful and tranquil gorgeousness spoke to our souls. It’s not often that we find such peace, one that can’t be described in mere words. Silence does it justice for this level of tranquility needs no words, just paying homage to it’s beauty.

Coming home we were fortunate to be able to see fall colors in our own yard, solidifying our love for our land. Going on a foliage road trip is exciting, especially when you explore a new place you’ve never seen before. The only perfect ending to that scenario is returning to the subtle serenity of the place where you belong, home.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 🍁❤️

Do What You LOVE

My first blog photo from January 2016.

One thing that I’ve learned in this crazy life and hold dear to my heart is to do what you love. I’ve learned by trial and error how to follow my passion and steamroll forward without any worry about anything or what others think. It’s my journey and mine alone and others may not understand it…for it’s not theirs to own.

My loves of gardening and writing complete me and are sacred to me during this phase of my life.With that said, my life has been hurried the last month or so and I haven’t been doing what I love continuously. We had Florida and Massachusetts family visit for a few weeks and with that came nice sessions on our new deck and delicious meals made by my mother- in-law and sister- in- law. School started and with it came changes within the staff, forcing me to adjust to a new teacher working with me. It’s been fine, more than fine and I’m happy how things are going now. But somehow I disconnected from this blog and all of you, who I consider good friends. Because of this I’ve been empty a bit and the longer I went not writing this, the harder it’s been to comeback. Does that make sense?

 One special thing we did when my mother-in- law Theo was here was going out to eat with Butson’s friends. Years ago we all worked together in the supermarket, some in bakery, deli or produce departments. It was great to catch up and connect and especially to laugh!

I hope to catch up with you, post photos of my garden and what I’ve been doing the last six weeks. I know I’m back now…pursuing what I love and sharing it all with you. I have missed you all and hope your lives have room for what you love!

All My Best,

Mary ❤️🥰

Oh, Green Beans!

While I was on hands and knees a few days ago, suddenly I spotted a green bean swaying ever so gently in the breeze. It’s always like unwrapping a present and a surprise reveals itself. I know I’m meant to garden and dig in the soil, for I never tire of nature’s gifts. I’d rather spend my summer kneeling in the patch rather than being anywhere else.

When I think of green beans, one vivid memory comes to mind. Years ago, when my son Dylan was a little boy, he discovered snapping off beans and eating them right away! He frequented the plot with one main intention…to pick green beans. Picture a young boy with no shirt, barefoot strolling through the patch in the blazing heat of the day.

To this day Dylan will take a sandwich bag of snappy green beans to munch on. Last year I gave him and his wife Lexi a bag for their dinner and he ate them all on the way home! Today once again he asked kindly for his green beans and I obliged with love. I love my son and the fact that he loves green beans! Here are some ways I use my fresh green beans:

Toss them in a salad

Sauté with olive oil and slivered almonds  

Serve with sausage and potatoes

Have green beans with cooked ham and mashed potatoes

Goes great in a stir-fry

It doesn’t matter how you use them for these versatile veggies are wholesome , healthy and delicious straight from the garden!

Do you grow green beans and are they ready now?

Yesterdays bounty, green lettuce, cucumbers, basil, thyme, green beans, zucchini

All My Best,

Heart and Soul❤️

Good Morning! 🌞😃

This photo was taken by accident but it spoke to me and fit with this post!

Good Morning world!

As I open my door a burst of birdsongs delight me

The sun’s glow tickles my skin

Off goes my shoes in one swoop

The grass feels cool and refreshing

and dew squishes between my toes

No car traffic exists this early

A hushed stillness speaks to me

It’s calming to just be here

To relish in the wee hours

of a brand new day

God’s gift with many possibilities

How precious this morning is

and I’m extremely grateful to be able to

Witness the miracles of a new day!

Thank you God for all the blessings of a new day and for my health, for my family and my happiness. Amen🙏

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️

Several Generations of Gardeners

This years garden in July 2019

I have sat down three different times to write this post and each time I was almost done and it got erased! It’s frustrating because I was satisfied with it yet now I begin again once more. Hopefully the last time. Has that ever happened to you?

 

 

As a young child I didn’t give a hoot about gardens. I remember being around the age of 10 and my dad proudly tried to show me his garden at our Haverhill, NH house. The plot sat in the back of our yard bordering blackberry bushes. Dad tried to put on a tour of all his vegetables and coldly and uninterested I ran away to play. Oh how I regret that with my every being! If I could turn back time I’d listen to soak in the moments as he went through his garden. But I can’t and that’s that.

Now as a mature adult, I’m a gardener like my dad. I guess it all came full circle! It took me half a lifetime to appreciate a gardens peaceful presence and it’s magical qualities. It all started with my paternal grandfather ( actually my maternal grandparents gardened too), progressed to my father and now I continue the tradition. My sister has a vegetable garden too.

Years ago Tom tilled and tended a huge garden for his employer, Mrs. Geneen. He didn’t enjoy it though, for it was his job. I didn’t have anything to do with it until one day I was strolling through the rows of growing green plants. Suddenly an interest sparked within me and from that day on I have tended our gardens. We maintained a garden at the farm for about twenty years and about five here, on our land.

The enormous garden at the farm

It’s more than a hobby, but as a profound passion  of connecting with the earth and growing and nursing vegetables for our family. Digging in the soil of the plot makes me feel alive! It’s calming as I stoop and pull weeds, check the leaves for growth or hoe the narrow rows of dirt. It’s my therapy in life, a special sanctuary to be still or to move among the plants. Sometimes I twist and turn, other times I rest and weed. Whatever I do in the garden, it’s sacred.

Tom and I at our own garden one of the first years

 As I wrap up this post, I wish to thank my dad for all his gardening advice and for our phone conversations that are focused on gardening. It’s these moments that mean very much to me, times of connections that have strengthened our relationship. Maybe he’ll see this and maybe he won’t and that doesn’t matter to me. What matters is that this hobby has brought us a little closer. I’m grateful for that.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️

You’ve Always Been Beautiful!

My sister and I many years ago. ❤️

We are born beautiful

Swaddled in pure innocence

With God’s love

As we grow and face the

world

sometimes

little girls aren’t taught

to love themselves

that they are enough

that they are precious

in every way

Now as a grown adult

I’m learning that I am

beautiful and maybe I don’t

need to always hear it from a

person other than myself

That’s the hardest lesson

when all your life you depended on

those heavy words, “ I love you”

“ You are beautiful”

“ You are enough”

The ultimate goal is to achieve this

from loving yourself

For believing in yourself

and your beauty

inside and out.

I hope that all you women out there love yourself and believe in all that you can be! Once you truly feel this, an aura of confidence surrounds you. Then it’s possible to love another.

All My Best,

Mary 😘