Spiced Pumpkin S'more Cupcakes

Since fall is officially been infused into everything around me I wanted to bake up something with some pumpkin in it. I don't like pumpkin pies and I don't like cream cheese frosting so I combined a few things to make Spiced Pumpkin S'more Cupcakes. The pumpkin cupcake had the best texture and held together well so when you bit into it all the layers stayed held together. Also, any reason to use the torch and I'm in.

Pumpkin Cupcake:
from here
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1 cup brown sugar; packed
 1 cup sugar
2 cups butter; melted and cooled
4 eggs
1 can/15 oz pumpkin puree
1   preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line cupcake tin with liners
2   mix together flour, baking soda and powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice in a bowl.
3   in another bowl mix together brown sugar, sugar, melted butter and eggs. Once mixed slowly add in the flour mixture and stir until smooth
4   mix in pumpkin puree
5    pour batter into cupcake liners until about 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean

Chocolate ganache:

9 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream

1   put cream in a pan and just bring to a boil
2   once boiling turn down heat a little and add chocolate chips
3   whisk them into the cream until they have all melted
4   once the mixture has cooled for about 5 minutes put the ganache into a piping bag with a tip on it. push the tip into the cupcake and fill until overflowing then add more ganache around the top of each cupcake

Marshmallow Frosting:
8 egg whites
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp white wine vinegar OR 1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla
1     put egg whites, sugar, and white wine vinegar in metal bowl
2     put water in a saucepan and bring to simmering
3     place egg white bowl in saucepan
4     constantly whisk the mixture, until the sugar is dissolved and egg whites are
       warm to the touch (don't cook the egg)
5     beat with a whisk, or whisk attachement until stiff peaks form
6     whisk in vanilla
7     use immediately, and pipe dollops onto the top of each cupcake
8     using a torch, toast the frosting until it starts to brown


Apple Orchard Digging

The troopers sucked it up and got wet helping me get apple to make my yearly batch of apple butter. The Skipley Farm we ended up at was run by the most passionate, knowledgeable apple man ever. Sadly though the apple harvest was pretty early this year and we were late. He said there were still a bunch of good apples they were just already on the ground. So we went digging for apples in the tall grass and came away with 40 lbs of great perfectly ripe apples in tons of varieties. We called it an apple scavenger hunt. Sometimes you picked one up and it had a bit out of it, a spider in it, or maggot holes but when you found one with no punctures and not rotting it was quite exciting.

Also they had baby goats, better yet baby goats that wanted to be pet. They had managed to break their way into a pumpkin and the girl was into smearing her pumpkin face into you. We had a lovely, mostly rain free, jaunt through the orchard. It was really nice to get outside into the open air and be free of groups of people for an afternoon.

Lil Sis Visits

My little sister Erika was here last weekend for a visit, we also had pouring down rain due to a typhoon. Of course the coincided, so while our backpacking plans were ousted we still had a very lovely time. She showed up at my office and we matched, many of my coworkers were like what is happening and why do you two match & look alike.

 We hopped around to bars, played quite a bit of pool, brunch and ate out at some of our favorite places. A lot of our friends were around too so we got to show her off to them all.

Satruday we found a putt putt place for a bit of indoor fun, hit up a taco truck, then headed to an arcade. We jumped around to a lot of different places, took the buses, and ignored the rain by all wearing hats all weekend. Wish I had a photo of us all in hats, we were adorable.

That night we headed to dinner and brought along some Rummikub. Meandered over to a bar to meet up with some friends. To note - Erika is awful! at pool. But that game that night she sunk over half her teams balls and actually hit the 8 ball where she meant to!

Not to be underestimated were the slow lazy mornings with huckleberry strudels and coffee she kindly brought us from Lousiville, KY. We did manage to sneak in some outdoor time at an apple orchard, up next.


4 Days 3 Nights Pt. 2

The third day we woke up (first two days here), the clouds were flittering in and out around us as we packed up. We passed some hills erupting with huckleberries and after about a mile the clouds swallowed us. The cloud and us were one. One with the rain, the mist, the 10-15 ft visibility for 8 long miles.
The photo above was actually when we still had decent visibility. It was a bummer but luckily we'd actually hiked this part of the PCT last year so we felt a little better. At one point we started walking up to Blue Lake high, where we were going to camp for the night, and it turned into what felt like a goat path of torture. It was a very tight trail with slippery rocks going up at least 25% for over a mile and you could only see a few feet in front of  you. Feeling like if you slip you will fall forever into a white cloud abyss was not our favorite part. We weren't our happiest selves at this point. But we finally made it to Blue Lake and scored an amazing site, commiserated with other hikers as they made it down about the torture we'd all endured and then the rain cleared up and the clouds snuck away.
We had a great night picking berries, watching the sun set, had another fire and saw a bunch of stars. Our spirits were restored! The next morning the whole place was sunny and absolutely beautiful. We packed up and walked about 1 mile to Johnson Mountain, dropped our packs, and headed to the top for 360 degree views of mountains and the blue lake. Having made it through the day before and then to be rewarded with this was the best feeling!

We hung out at the top for awhile and then started back on our 9 mile hike out. We snacked on huckleberries along the way and went down 200ft and then went back up 200ft (mean mean evil neverending up and down trail) By the time we made it to the final switchbacks down our knees and feet didn't love us but started powerwalking and finally made it out. And we of course rewarded ourselves with bacon hamburgers and curly fries in Darrington. When we finally made it home we spent the rest of the afternoon on the couch, not moving.


4 Days 3 Nights Pt. 1

Last weekend we finally had a chance to redo our Pilot Ridge 30 mile loop. We took Friday and Monday off work so we could take time to explore on some side trips and work in 3 nights out in the woods, which we haven't done before. Friday morning we lounged around and at huckleberry strudels and eventually hit the trail around 3pm. We planned on going 8 miles in but it got dark pretty fast because of the cloud cover so we ended up finding a small patch of dirt off next to the trail exactly the size of our tent. We don't love sleeping next to huckleberry fields on trails alone (bears) so we played podcasts and audiobooks all night to soothe ourselves. Up early the next morning to eat some oatmeal with huckleberries and then finished our hike to White Pass.

We set up our tent with a few other groups at White pass and then went on a side hike, Foam Creek Trail. No one else was on the trail with us so we saw a TON of marmots, they were gutsy. The clouds were ebbing in and out of all our views but when we got to the pass they started breaking up and peaking fun views of Glacier until it was finally all visible.

We found enough dry wood to have a fire that night and watched the sun set over some mountains behind us. Of course we also read Harry Potter. Joshua is to cheap to go buy a paperback version so we're still hauling around Book 7!!! in our packs, mostly worth it.