Morgan and Jenny were living one perfectly happy life... and then one day they decided to spice it up with some crunching, chewing, barking, little fun. So get comfy, make yourself at home, and enjoy our little blog of chips and dip (o)..

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

All Things Pumpkin

I love the fall.

I love squash.

I love dressing up for Halloween.

I love that there is a new season of Glee.

I LOVE eating chocolate and candy from Halloween.

I love hot apple cider.

I love the smell of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg.

I love pumpkin EVERYTHING.

So let me introduce you to my past three pumpkin days.

Monday: The World's Most Incredible Pumpkin Banana Bread


1 cup brown sugar packed1/2 cup white sugar, don't worry too much about heaping scoops - more is always a good thing
1/2 cup vegetable oil
0.5 (8 ounce) can of pumpkin (I used the stuff from Costco, just plain 100% pumpkin)
1 large mashed banana (make sure it is overly ripe with lots and lots of black spots)
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
Sprinkles of Sanding sugar (you can buy this at William Sonoma... and to be honest I can't seem to find it anywhere else)

Preheat oven to 350°F
Mix together sugars (not including the sanding sugar), oil and eggs
Add mashed banana, pumpkin, and milk
In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients together
Slowly add to wet ingredients, mixing as you go
Gently mix in nuts
Pour into a loaf pan greased with crisco or butter, leaving about an inch of room at the top. I used a regular loaf pan, and it was pretty gooey in the middle; using smaller loaf pans, or even creating muffins would be DELICIOUS.
Sprinkle abundantly with the sanding sugar
Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean
If you can tell it is not cooking well in the center, but it getting pretty dark on the top, decrease heat to 325 after 50 minutes and bake another 20 minutes or so. Hopefully this shouldn't happen, as long as your baking powder and soda are fresh, and your liquid to powder ratio was correct.
Cool on a wire rack
If on the event you discover you have a gooey center as you slice into your perfect loaf, embrace it. Oh man gooey quick breads are sooooooo good.

Tuesday: Pumpkin Carving

Morgan, of course, as a devoted Husky fan created this very sleek pumpkin:

Me? Well, I love Glee, the TV show, quite a bit. Once a cheerleader and "glee club" performer myself, I can relate all too well. However, due to its relatively new nature, there were very few glee pumpkin carving patterns on the web. In sort of a bummed out, obsessive, and overly dedicated kind of way, I decided to make my own pumpkin carving pattern for the first time. Boy, was that tough. HOWEVER, after a long and arduous process, I succeeded in both shaving and carving my pumpkin down to resemble the lovely GLEE logo.

Wednesday: Pumpkin Pie Yogurt

My dear friends and family, I must now advise you to run, don't walk to the nearest Safeway to purchase Lucerne's Pumpkin Pie Low-Fat Yogurt. It is heavenly, and unlike anything you have experienced. Go now, read no more, and invest in the best breakfast of your life - ESPECIALLY if eaten with a slice of the pumpkin banana bread mentioned above.

Camping the Great Indoors

We registered at REI - may I recommend that everybody registers at REI, it is amazing. For wedding gifts we got a brand new tent, all sorts of camping cookware and a bunch of other fun useful things. So naturally, even though we got back from all the wedding stuff (and by that I mean honeymoon and reception number two) mid-October, we had to go camping.

Morgan agreed to go with me to Leavenworth; the fact that it is a German town and they were celebrating 'Oktoberfest' that weekend definitely contributed to his agreeability, and so I began planning in total excitement. Then, of course, I was knocked out flat with some stupid version of the flu, which began to affect Morgan. So as Friday approached, I begged for the strength of my immune system. Friday morning, the weather changed. Morgan had left work believing we would be camping that night, but as the temperature dropped to a shockingly low value of 20 degrees in Leavenworth, I realized that meant at least close to zero up in the mountains and that was not exactly conducive with unhealthy campers.

So, in a desperate attempt to make our first camping trip memorable and healthy, I began plotting. I pushed back the couch, set up our tent, sprinkled pine cones around, even set up our miniature Christmas tree, and began preparing our camp food so that it was all ready to cook campfire style when Morgan got home. I lit a pine-smelling candle that surprisingly, and beneficially, let a ton of smoke throughout the house creating that smoky campfire experience. I opened all the windows, put out the lantern, the flashlights, and all our camp cooking stuff. When Morgan got home he was greeted to our campsite with the beautiful view of "Planet Earth - temperate forests" playing.

It was definitely not the best campsite ever - but it was pretty awesome. That night we roasted marshmallows under the broiler with our little marshmallow skewers. So here is a delicious thing to try:

Caramel Apple S'mores

-Cut thin slices of apples, so that one apple basically creates 4 big flat apple-looking slices. (Should have taken a picture... next time)
-Soak them if you are going camping or won't be using immediately in lemon juice cinnamon and sugar - naturally use an abundance of the sweet stuff
-Place the apples flat on a foil-lined cookie sheet and place two pieces of a chewy caramel on top of whichever apple slice you decide to be your bottom of the s'more.
-As you roast marshmallows, let the apples sit on a lower rack in the oven. This actually doubles as a cleaning and safety mechanism in the event that your marshmallow drops or drips or such
- Once your marshmallow is golden brown and just how you like it, and the caramel is all melted over the apple, remove the cookie sheet, place the marshmallow between a caramelly apple slice and a regular apple slice, squish together and enjoy perfection.


And, for the record, I am a serious chocolate addict, so a s'more without chocolate seems like a sin - but this my friends, was a new level of Nirvana. Feast and enjoy.

We woke up that night still FREEZING - you should not be able to see your breath in your own house. However all in all it was a wonderful trip.

In the morning we did in fact take a "day hike" to Leavenworth, to eat some brats, admire the beauty of colorful leaves, and watch dead salmon floating down the river. It was a beautiful day.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Where do I start???

OK - So I have clearly been slacking in the blog department, but in my defense it has been one seriously insane month and a half. I couldn't decide... well I guess I actually can't decide if I should tell you all the incredibly sappy wonderful things Morgan does for me, explain the beauty of life as a Dipo, or describe the details ofthe past few weeks, the parties, the wedding ceremony and the reception, Costa Rica and beyond.
I guess I'll just write, let it flow, and hopefully you can piece together what I feel like has been an utterly perfect past few months.

I think for now I'll start with that moment that the wedding drew to an end. For those of you who have been married, you may have experienced what we did. Basically, someone may pronounce you husband and wife but you aren't officially married until the pictures are done, hugs are exchanged, food is consumed, bouquets are tossed, and the clock signals it is time to go. It's not until all that passes when you finally realize that the mantle of marriage is now upon you, and life as you know it will never be the same.

After running through a tunnel of bubbles, cheers, and our dearest friends and family, we got in the car finally being able to relax in peace and listen to our own thoughts. Within 5 minutes of being in the car, the miraculously sunny day's forecasted clouds filled the sky and rain began to spit on the window. Morgan in his excitement began re-living some of his favorite moments in the wedding, and as he explained how much love he felt as we danced with our friends, and as we were cheered goodbye, tears overcame us as we realized just how loved we are and how beautiful life will be as the newest Dipo family.

It was our perfect wedding. We had been watching the forecasts for weeks and never once did we see anything but rain for the week before and the week after. Even the day before and the
morning of forecasted pouring rain on September 18th. Once I got to Newcastle I remember looking out the window and seeing a glimmer of blue sky and announcing that at least I could say we had blue skies on our wedding. Actually, that was quite the understatement and by the time we went out to take pictures, nothing but blue skies illuminated the seattle skyline and the sun beat down on the bright green grass and our beautiful wedding continuously.

Family and friends came in from out of town, and our biggest regret from that day was not spending more time with all of them. But, people keep telling me it is what's expected from a wedding, so I guess, we can just be incredibly grateful for their love and support. It really was a perfect day.