Stephenson’s Apple Farm

Every year at this time I patiently wait for Stephenson’s Apple Cider to show up in my local grocery store. There are several other brands that appear weeks before Stephenson’s but I never purchase anything else. For me, Stephenson’s is the thread that runs through my years of fall activities and holidays.

Hot mugs of cider are always present on cold fall evenings in this house and a favorite thing to offer guest throughout the season. It would not be Christmas Eve without a pot of cider warming on the stovetop fortified with orange and apple slices and cinnamon sticks.

When I was growing up we often traveled to Lexington, MO to visit my grandmother and from our house Stephenson’s Apple Farm Restaurant in Independence, MO, was directly on the path traveled. Invariably, my parents would stop on the way either to or from Lexington to enjoy lunch or dinner.

 

Having a working mom, we were no strangers to eating out but there are no other restaurants I can remember with such clarity. From my young eyes Stephenson’s was a “fancy” restaurant that included candle-lit tables with white tablecloths and dim lighting.

http://www.cardcow.com/256193/parlour-at-stephensons-apple-farm-restaurant-kansas-city-missouri/

Due to it’s popularity there was often a wait to be seated at a table. This never proved to be a problem because while waiting you could serve yourself ice cold apple cider in a little white paper cup. No one limited themselves to just one cup.

The food served at Stephenson’s became folklore in my family, the green rice casserole, the melt-in-your-mouth brisket, and even the side salad served with a little horn of cheese garnish. Yet, the best thing on the menu was the hot apple fritters covered with powdered sugar that would be delivered to the tables throughout the meal. As an adult I have attempted to make those fritters on multiple occasions but they never measure up to those I remember.

I continued going to Stephenson’s Restaurant on a regular basis with my own family for years. Each fall we would gather up the kids and go to the apple orchard to pick our own apples bringing home more pounds than we could ever eat. One year the orchard closed permanently for pick-your-own apples but there was still a small farm stand next to the restaurant where you could appease the craving for Stephenson’s apples. Sadly the restaurant closed in 2007 after being in business for sixty years.

It was said that Stephenson’s was President Truman’s favorite hometown restaurant. Another story I love was when Bess Truman brought her bridge club to the restaurant and they ordered punch with their lunch, Bess added, “Let’s have it with a little authority.” The adult drink was soon added to the restaurant menu and called wine punch.

I know some day Stephenson’s apple cider will not show up in my grocery store because each year the volume available becomes less and less. However, until then I will continue to sip this cider and cherish all the special memories each mug brings to mind.

Texas Flag Quilt

My first grandson who just turned seven is a born and bred Texan.  Besides his two bicycles and legos, he loves his cowboy boots, goes to the Rodeo each year and has even participated in a mutton busting event.  Several months ago Levi told me his baby blanket that I made for him was too small and he needed a bigger quilt.  You can see the first quilt I made him here.  He also requested red since that is his favorite color. After thinking about designs for awhile I decided to make him a Texas Flag replica.  As quilts go, this is a pretty easy design, three large blocks of a solid color and a star.

The star is where the challenge came in.  I needed a big star and could not find a pattern that worked well.  I ended up making my own pattern using pieced together wrapping paper.  For my first attempt at the star I  cut out one large piece and machine appliqued it to the navy background.  I was not at all happy with the way it turned out.  There was too much puckering and the points on the star did not come out well.  For the second attempt I tried to piece the star together along with a few sections of navy material to get one large square block.  This was better but I still was not happy with how the star tips turned out.  On my third and final attempt, I just recreated the pieced square block but really worked on getting the points corrected.  It certainly is not perfect but it works.

I did the machine quilting in three sections using one inch masking tape to create sewing lines.  This quilt is large, a little bigger than queen size.  Even quilting in sections was challenging on my home sewing machine since the quilt was so large and bulky.  It sure made me dream of a long arm quilting machine…….maybe someday!

When it came time to bind the quilt I debated if I should use the navy, red or white fabric as binding.  I decided to try and use binding that matched each section of the quilt.  I had never done this before so was not sure how it would work but I really like the results.

 

I already have at least four more quilts lined up to make…….plus I just found out I am having a new grandbaby so make that 5!

 

Air Fryer Attempts: Potato Chips and Donuts

My sister and her husband love their air fryer so much that they upgraded to a bigger model and lent me their original one to try out for myself.  We have made pork chops, onion rings, fish and a few other things.  Most have been pretty good.  The air fryer does a great job on items that should be crispy on the outside, blowing hot air around like a convection oven does.

 

I came across a recipe for Air-Fryer Potato Chips at Taste of Home that looked very easy so I decided to give it a try.  First I made a batch of french onion dip because you simply cannot eat potato chips without it!

The recipe for the potato chips is super simple, slice potatoes very thin, soak in ice water, dry potato slices, then cook them in a single layer in the air fryer.

Next thing you know Dave and I were enjoying Happy Hour!

 

The chips were good and definitely crispy but a little thick for me.  I did use a mandolin slicer but next time will try to adjust it to create thinner slices.  On the other hand, the french onion dip was delightful!!!

When I was telling my girl gang about the potato chips on our twice weekly ZOOM call, Julie mentioned she had seen an Air-Fryer donut recipe I should try.  Loving donuts like I do, and feeling confident from my potato chip experiment I figured I couldn’t lose.  Silly me!

The first issue I had was that the recipe I used from The Kitchn for Easy Air Fryer Donuts called for Pillsbury Grands! Flaky Biscuits.  These are the premium in the canned biscuit world.  I should have known before I made the trip to the store during these days of empty shelves they might be low on these.  What I found was that there was not a Pillsbury baking product left on the shelves.  I had to settle for the store’s brand of biscuits that were small, flat and misshapen right out of the can.  I went ahead with the recipe anyway, cut out the holes and placed them in the Air-Fryer.

 

The recipe calls for cooking them 5-6 minutes and turning half way through.  Once they were done I rolled half in cinnamon sugar and glazed the other half.

The first few I made were not just crispy but hard so I adjusted the cooking time.  I also tried putting two of the biscuits together to get a thicker donut but this just resulted in a chewy donut…..basically a glazed biscuit.  When eating them warm they were ok  but I would hesitate to call them good.  I wonder if using the better quality Pillsbury biscuits or even making homemade biscuit dough would make them better?

I have used the Air-Fryer enough to discover a couple of things with at least the model/brand I am using.  First, setting the temperature is tricky……there is a wheel with temperature numbers on it but no real indicator of what temperature you are selecting.  Additionally, the timer is just another wheel to turn that is not very precise for selecting time.  Since the machine turns off when you pull out the basket, for making these donuts I turned the wheel to the ten minute range but used Alexa to set an actual timer.  Having a digital display of temperature and timer is probably available on upgraded models and what I would look for if I actually buy one myself.

I have not decided if I am going to try and make the donuts again, never say never, but I do know that for a mere $1 each I can always get one of these at Hy_Vee.

Let me know if you have ever made donuts in your Air-Fryer and how they turned out!

The Easiest Bread You Will Ever Make

My mom loved to bake bread.  Every Sunday we would have either a loaf of homemade bread, cloverleaf rolls, cinnamon rolls or my favorite, cinnamon bread.

She never used a recipe, just magically produced those delightful treats off the top of her head.  When I became an adult I made her come to my house and make her basic bread dough while I wrote down each and every step.  The problem was she did not measure anything , she could tell what she needed by how it looked or felt.  I am definitely not that kind of baker.  Over the years I have attempted to make her rolls and cinnamon rolls several times and although we ate most of my creations, it never seemed to measure up to what I remember as a child.

During this quarantine period I have been sewing almost every day of the 19 days we have been sheltering in place.  I have made Easter bunnies for my ETSY shop. (Now sold out)

Most recently have been making masks for family and friends.

Yesterday I decided I needed to step out of my sewing cave and do something else.  Lately I have seen several recipes for NO KNEAD DUTCH OVEN BREAD and decided it was the day to try it.  I looked at several recipes and decided this one from Feast and Farm looked like the easiest.  It only calls for four ingredients and just seemed super simple.  What I liked most about this recipe was that it is mixed up one day and then baked the next.  Seems like most bread recipes you need to mix, let rise, knead, let rise again, then bake and it takes up most of your day.  This recipe could not have been any easier.

In general, you mix the four ingredients together, cover with plastic wrap and then put in a warm place for 18-24 hours.  When you are ready to bake, you gently knead it one time, put it in a large dutch oven to bake covered for thirty minutes and uncovered for ten minutes.  Besides having your house smell wonderful, you are rewarded with an incredible loaf of goodness.

 

The outside is crusty and chewy while the inside is soft and moist.  It is amazing!  Slather a little butter on a warm slice and I am sure you will agree!

 

Let me know if you give it a try.  Stay Safe!

Theresa

On the Menu

I know most of us are cooking more than usual these days during this unprecedented time in our country. Although I have been a menu planner for a long, long time I still am constantly on the outlook for inspiration when it comes to getting dinner on the table.  Some of my favorite blog posts include daily menus so I thought I would share with you what is on our menu for the last half of March in case you are looking for inspiration of your own.

Last week when I realized we would be staying in for a while I did an inventory of our freezer and pantry.  I usually keep both fairly well stocked so these menus were based mostly on what I had available.  I did make a run to the store, like everyone else in America, but mostly bought fruit and dairy supplies.

Since I just cook for Dave and I these days, many of these meals provide leftovers for lunch.

Sunday     Slow Cooker Taco Soup – there are many variations of this soup but the one I made you can find here.  It is simple, thick and so very good. The leftovers were my lunch for several days.

Monday    Breakfast Casserole/Sausage Links– I love breakfast for dinner.  The recipe linked here was the inspiration but I added 1/3 cup each of sauteed green pepper, onion and mushroom, used regular milk instead of evaporated and left out the ham.  Leftovers provided a couple of breakfast also.

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Tuesday         Honey Garlic Chicken Thigh Sheet Pan Dinner – this EatingWell recipe came across my facebook feed.  The recipe can be found here.

Source

Wednesday   Salmon/Long Grain and Wild Rice/Cut-up veggies – Dave is in charge of making salmon (or any fish) in this house.  He found this recipe and uses it all the time.

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Thursday       Homemade Pizza

Friday            Tacos 

Saturday        Taco Salad – using the leftovers from friday night’s dinner.

Sunday           Grilled Cheese/Tomato Soup – We ordered carry-out from our local BBQ restaurant for lunch so went lighter for dinner.

Monday          Breaded Shrimp/ Sauteed Rice/Caprese Salad – going to try the shrimp in the air fryer.  The rice recipe can be found here.  The Caprese Salad is my own version, sliced up grapes tomatoes with grated mozzarella or Parmesan cheese, tossed with Zesty Italian dressing or Olive Oil.  An even better version of this salad can be found here but I do not have any avocados right now.

Tuesday          Pork Tenderloin/Roasted Garlic Parmesan Potatoes and Steamed Broccoli –  Dave will eat the pork leftovers for his lunch this week.

Wednesday   Spaghetti with Meat Sauce/Salad – this pasta sauce I froze a few weeks ago when I made sugu (Italian marinara sauce recipe from a family member).  I always double the recipe when I make this and freeze half for a later date.

Thursday        Hamburgers on the Grill/French Fries – I am going to try the frozen Red Robin fries I found at Wal-mart in the air fryer.

Friday              Beef Lo Mein – I have never tried this before, but it was on sale last time I went to the store so I thought I would give it a try.

Saturday          Chicken Marsala/Mashed Potatoes/Green Beans- Here is a link to the recipe. I have not tried this before but it looks really good.  I will probably substitute the fresh mushrooms with canned and use evaporated milk unless I get to the store before I make it.

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Sunday     Black Bean Soup/Cornbread – this Black Bean soup is so easy and so good.  I usually make it in the crockpot but it could just as easily be made on the stovetop.  Here is the recipe I shared a while back.


Monday     Garlic Steak Bites- this is an EatWell recipe that I have made several times, here are the instructions.  The first time I made it I also made the Lemon Zucchini Noodles and they were good also.  I do not have any zucchini on hand right now so will have to find a different veggie to go with it.

Garlic Butter Steak Bites with Lemon Zucchini Noodles - #recipe by #eatwell101

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Tuesday     Chicken Thighs on the Grill/Pasta Salad

I hope this provides you with some ideas for your dinners each night.  Let me know what you are cooking!  Please stay home and stay safe!!!

Theresa

New Fall Items

Many of you know that I have an Etsy shop, Sweet Pie Studio, where I sell personalized monogrammed items such as burp cloths.  Here are a couple of my best sellers:

 

Although I have a few dish towels in the shop already, this fall I decided to add some seasonal dish towels, or tea towels as my momma would say.  I really like this flower vase and flowers, so may colors and textures going on here.

 

I really love monograms and hope to do more with them in the future but for this fall I decided on a monogram in a fall wreath that can be framed and added to your fall home decor.  It really works best to frame it and leave out the glass so you can see and touch the texture of the embroidery.  It will fit nicely into an 8″x8″ frame.  I think this is my favorite fall item in the shop.

 

And just for fun I decided to add a couple of pillow covers.  I really debated on selling these with or without the pillow insert and decided for shipping purposes to go without the pillow insert.  If anyone really wants a pillow insert included just let me know and I will supply one.  I have so many ideas for pillow covers so will probably be adding more of these in the future.

If you have not visited my Etsy shop yet, I would love for you to stop by and look around.  Keep in mind that I love custom orders…..if you think of something and do not see it, let me know and maybe we can create it!

Buffalo Check Quilt

I have been a fan of buffalo check for many years, long before it became a popular modern farmhouse staple.  At least two master bedroom decors ago, I had a black and white buffalo check duvet made.  That was long before we took pictures of everything we made, or ate or every place we visited so unfortunately I do not have a picture of that duvet.  Over the years I have re-purposed the fabric from that duvet to create several items including a window seat cushion, upholstery for a rocking chair, a few pillows and I still have some of that fabric left over.

Several months ago I ran across a buffalo quilt picture on Pinterest and I decided right then and there I needed to make one.  I bought black, gray and white fabric and begin the process of measuring, cutting and piecing the quilt.  The quilt top went together quickly and for about a minute I considered quilting it myself.  I have machine quilted several crib size quilts and one full size quilt on my sewing machine.  I immediately remembered how cumbersome quilting the large quilt was on the small sewing machine so I decided to send it out for machine quilting.

I have used Missouri Star Quilt Company to do quilting before and also a local quilter who has since retired.  This time I came across an Etsy vendor Nancy’sQuiltingCoShop who mentioned she had a fast turn around time and was less expensive than other quilters I had used.  I worked with Nancy to pick a quilting pattern, mailed her my quilt top and about a week later I received my quilted top back.  That was FAST!!!  I am very happy with her work and will send quilts to her again in the future!

I love this new quilt and cannot wait for a cool evening so I can snuggle under it while watching tv!

I also recently made a baby quilt for a friend’s new grandchild and embroidered the baby statistics into the quilt.  It turned out really cute.  You can see it on my Instagram profile page @swtpiestudio.

My husband the NASCAR driver….

…..well for about 5 minutes anyway!

I think my husband’s love for all wheeled vehicles started with his matchbox car collection which still holds a valued place in his home office.

When he was growing up he would help his father work on cars any chance he got.  As a teenager he and his friend Andy (the best man at our wedding) spent hours tinkering with Andy’s 1957 Chevy.  I asked if they ever got it to run and he said it ran well, but they would replace the engine or the transmission just because they could.  Cruising to school in the hot rod was a favorite pastime.  Sure wish I had a picture of that.

Eventually Andy and Dave started a yearly tradition of traveling to Indiana for the Memorial Day Indianapolis 500 race.

That lasted for about ten years before kids and family commitments started to get in the way.  Although occasionally he has been to both Indy and NASCAR races since then.

It was about this same time Dave bought a new bicycle and started riding with family and friends.  I am thinking he rode in the annual MS-150 charity bicycle ride for about 10-12 years before all of his bicycle buddies started hitting 50 years old.  Then they all went out and bought Harleys!  You can read about that transition from bicycles to motorcycles by clicking here.

Through all of these other wheeled past-times Dave has never lost his love for cars.  I think he has been a subscriber to Car and Driver Magazine for at least 30 years.  If he is watching TV it is typically some car show……do you know how many different car shows one can find on cable?!?!?

I provided all this history to give you a feel for his life long love affair with vehicles (two or four wheels).  When I was trying to decide what to get him for this birthday this year I happened across the NASCAR Racing Experience at the Kansas Speedway.  It was the perfect present for him!

A week ago it was time for him to cash in his present and I have to admit it was a fun activity even for us spectators.  The staff was wonderful and extremely safety conscience.  Dave started with a 40 minute training session for drivers. He said he had not been nervous at all until the instructor started talking about all the things to remember;  where to drive on the track, where to keep the RPM’s (5000 or less), no burn-outs, make sure the left wheel does not touch the apron or the car may spin out, and many other “rules.”

We upgraded his “experience” to allow him to ride with a professional driver before he drove on his own.  Oh yes, there are many opportunities to upgrade only limited by the amount of money you want to spend!  Dave and the driver did three laps and got up to at least 160 mph.  I am not sure that provided much relief for his concern.

As he was preparing for his solo experience I realized I would never even be able to ride in one of these vehicles.  Do you know they do not have doors?   You have to crawl in and out through the window!  Even if I could do that, there is a claustrophobia factor there.

Since NASCAR is synonymous with loud, here is a short video with the pit crew signaling that he is buckled in and ready to go.

 

He finally got to drive all by himself, although there was a spotter watching and talking to him through a speaker in his helmet the entire time.  The control tower even has a remote control where they can turn off your car if you are not following the rules.  Overall, he said it was harder than he thought it would be but he loved every minute of it!  He was a little disappointed because he only got his speed up to 146 mph!!! That seems pretty darn fast to me….

My guess is that this was just enough to whet his appetite!

 

 

 

An Obsession and a New Adventure!

Last fall when I was facing surgery and knew I would be laying low for about 12 weeks to recover, I decided to purchase a new sewing/embroidery machine.  Since I already own two sewing machines I really purchased it more for the embroidery capabilities than anything else……..except for that self-threading needle!!!!  Pretty sure I decided to buy it the minute the sales clerk showed me that feature.

Isn’t she beautiful!?!?!?

To say I have been sewing frequently is a bit of an understatement.  If I am not helping with those adorable grandbabies of mine, I am at my sewing machine trying a new design or making a gift for someone.  I have sewn/embroidered bath towels, flannel scarves, scarves for furry friends;

baby blankets and kitchen towels;

napkins and baby bibs;

doll diapers and doll carriers,

and I even embroidered on a jeans jacket.

About five years ago when my first grandchild was born, my nephew’s wife embroidered a few cloth diapers to use as a burp cloth and gave them to my daughter as a gift.  I have been a little obsessed by them ever since and currently they are my favorite thing to make.  They are definitely a practical baby gift since all new mother’s can use a few extra burp cloths,  but they are also adorable, especially with the baby’s name embroidered on them.  The design possibilities are endless and can be tailored to the family who is receiving it.  Here is the latest set I made for a family friend’s new baby.

I love these burp cloths so much that I have decided to open an Etsy store and make them available to anyone else who needs a baby shower, welcome home baby gift or just something for your favorite baby!!

I have several examples of items in the shop but since they are made to order, I can probably accommodate any design you have in mind.  I love trying new designs!  In addition to the burp cloths I have added a few kitchen towels to the shop.  I am just getting started so will be adding new items frequently.

Please come stop by the shop and if you know anyone who is looking for a unique personalized gift please pass this information along!

Here is where you can find me https://www.etsy.com/shop/SweetPieStudio.

Quilts for the Triplets

As many of you know I have been blessed to be a grandmother to six adorable children, three of which are seventeen-month old triplets.

christmas-2018

They are so darn cute and so fun now that they are toddling around but I might be a little biased.  I have made all my grandchildren handmade quilts when they were born and I finally finished the quilts for these three in time to give them for Christmas.

I started with Nora’s quilt and selected pink and gray fabrics.

nora2

I really like the floral fabric that I used on the back and to bind the quilt. If you look in the lower left corner you can see that I added her name to the quilt.  As I was finishing this quilt I bought a new sewing/embroidery machine and was just learning to use it.  I was actually at the point where I was getting ready to start the quilting so I only pulled apart this little square to get her name on it.

nora3

nora1

The fabric for the boy’s quilts is from Missouri Star Quilt company in Hamilton, Missouri, my favorite place to shop for quilt fabric.  They have the best selection of fabric of any quilt store I have visited in person.  Actually the company is made up of twelve different store fronts on Main street with each having their own fabric theme.  I bought the fabric for the boy’s quilts in the kids shop and I sure had a hard time making a selection, so many cute choices.

asher1  asher2

asher3

As you can see, I had become a little more knowledgeable on my embroidery machine by the time I was making this quilt so was able to add a name block along with the year it was made to both Asher and Bentley’s quilts.

bentley1

bentley2

In the past I have always hand-quilted or had my quilts machine quilted by someone else.  Since I had a new sewing machine I thought I would try my hand at machine quilting these quilts for the boys.  It was easier than I thought it would be and it went very quickly since I only used straight line quilting for my first attempt.  Not sure I would be brave enough to do it on a full size quilt yet but it worked great for these crib size quilts.

bentley3

I have been thinking about what my next quilt will be and am thinking about making one for Dave and I, it has been a long time since I have done that.  Now to pick a pattern and maybe make another trip to Missouri Start Quilt Company  (yea!!!!).