Bake15: Persimmon Pear Brandy Pie with Vanilla Bean Crumble (Pie #7)

You guys… we have our first mega-fail pie. MEGA-fail pie. So, so, so, so gross. Even Mike said we should throw it out.

But… It was bound to happen eventually, right? No big deal. Kind of disappointing… throwing away a pie is never easy.

I tried this Persimmon Pear Brandy Pie with Vanilla Bean Crumble. Mainly because I had persimmons and pears to use up. Apparently, not the best idea.

I’m only going to share a few photos since it was a disaster. And you guys… I actually followed the whole recipe on this one. Step by step. Like, really. (That never happens).

Gross point A: Super runny insides. This should have been my first red flag, but sometimes pie insides look runny and then get better after they cook!


Gross point B: WAY too much flour in the topping. It’s like… all flour. You’re thinking: you should have just added something to it before you cooked it if you knew it was going to be so bad. I’m thinking: SWEET I’m actually following the recipe!!!

Gross point C: It just tasted so bad. NOT a good flavor combination.


The pie ratings:

The pie rating scale is a Mike-determined scale from 1 – 10, with a 5 being the “classic, homemade apple pie”, and 10 being the highest rating.

Emily: 1

Mike: 1

Definitely never, ever making this pie again. Not good in any way. Seemed like an interesting flavor combination, but was a major flop!

Bake15: Pumpkin Pie From Scratch (Pie #5) and From Libby Can Recipe (Pie #6)

Yeah, I made two pumpkin pies. We had a pumpkin from our CSA, which Caleb nicely handed to me (“make a pie, mom!”).


The other pie was a result of Mike needing a snack for his PhD candidacy exam. Pies are always great snacks.

But seriously, check this out. I made a pumpkin pie from an actual pumpkin! Remove top, remove seeds.

Turns out, when you make a pumpkin pie really from scratch, you make pumpkin puree first. So the pumpkin is roasted, then pureed until it is extremely smooth.

I used this recipe from the Food Network, and absolutely loved it! I knew I couldn’t go wrong with sweetened condensed milk and molasses.

For the really-from-scratch pie, I went with a typical butter and flour crust.

New methodology: pressing the crust down with a fork, which ends up looking pretty cool. Oh, and then you are supposed to set the pie crust by baking it covered in foil with pie weights or beans to hold the crust in place.

I didn’t have pie weights… or really a lot of beans… but whatever, you do what you can.

For pie #2, I followed the recipe on the Libby Pumpkin Puree can. No sweetened condensed milk or molasses here. I did, though, try the “best pie crust recipe ever” that my co-worker Jeanna sent to me. Instead of using just butter in the crust, I used half butter and half shortening.

Then we had two pumpkin pies and it was the best day ever. Which pie is which?

Yep, the darker one is the really-from-scratch pie.

The pie ratings:

The pie rating scale is a Mike-determined scale from 1 – 10, with a 5 being the “classic, homemade apple pie”, and 10 being the highest rating.

Libby Recipe Straight from the Pumpkin Recipe
Mike 9 9.5
Emily 8.5 9.5

I did totally love the hybrid butter/shortening crust better, which I think made for closer rankings than I expected. It’s fun to make a pie from an actual pumpkin from a local farm and pretty cool to get rid of one dish that is normally from a can on Thanksgiving. Even though it’s more work, I think it’s worth it :)

Bonus: I couldn’t fit all of the filling into the pie pan for the from-scratch pie, so we also got four MINI pumpkin pies. Now that really makes it worth the work.

Toddler Advent Calendar Activities

I know, I know… It’s not even Thanksgiving yet! But let me tell you, mamas, that I am going to make your life a little easier.

Here is an Advent calendar with activities for toddlers… And big to-do items that you want to check off. It’s a win-win situation. Something for each day that your toddler will be thrilled about, and sometimes an activity or two to help you get a few things done during this busy season!

This year, we’re going basic. Drinking hot chocolate, reading Christmas books, dancing to Christmas music.

The past few years (even pre-kiddo), it was easy to go overboard scheduling Christmas activities because, really, there are just tons of fun things to do! But, let’s face it, we all have busy schedules, so sometimes you just have to schedule one day on your Advent calendar to get the Christmas tree, and another to decorate it. Rome wasn’t built in a day. And I assure you that my Christmas decorations won’t be put up in one day, either.

So now you have the rest of November to sit back and relax (ha) knowing that you don’t have to think of Advent calendar activities! Well, unless you want to make some more crafts or add to the calendar ;) But that’s all on you.

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You can download the PDF and click the active links for these activities here: Toddler Advent Calendar

Apple Cranberry Persimmon Bread

Sometimes, you bake bread, head outside with a cup of coffee, and then a leaf lands perfectly next to your mid-morning snack. This is the time when you take a picture.


We have a lot of persimmons at home. Eight of them, actually. I’ve never eaten one before in my life… Sooo I stuck one in a loaf of bread. Now I just need to figure out what to do with the other seven ;)


We also have a lot of apples. About 10 left from last week’s CSA… And about 45 from this week’s CSA. Good thing we like apples. And apple pie. And applesauce.

Needless to say, a baking project was necessary to use up a very, very small amount of this fruit. Bread with persimmon, apple, and cranberries! Woohoo.

I love baking bread. It’s easy, it makes the house smell awesome, and it makes for great snacks for the rest of the week.

Mix the dry ingredients, then make a well for the mixture of wet ingredients.

And the wet ingredients look super cool because of the vegetable oil.

It’s like a science class in your house! How can you not love baking?

Here’s our “weird fruit” culprit for the day. The persimmon. A tomato look-a-like with a star inside. Aw.

I often add an extra ingredient to only one loaf of bread. Usually, pecans. They have a special place in my heart (or… stomach…?) and Caleb can’t eat them yet, so it works out.


Bread loaf one (boring, sans pecans).


There they are. Look at those beauties. Mmm pecans.

Two loaves in, two loaves out.

Tastes like fall.


Apple Cranberry Persimmon Bread

Based off of this apple, cranberry & pistachio bread recipe from Tutti Dolci.

Makes two loaves


  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup apple, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 3/4 cup persimmon, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans


  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and place a rack in the middle of the oven.
  2. Grease and flour two 9×5″ bread pans and set aside.
  3. Blend the dry ingredients in a large bowl, and then make a well in the center of the bowl.
  4. In a separate medium bowl, mix the wet ingredients together, and then place into the well of the dry ingredient bowl. Stir until just blended together.
  5. Fold in the apples, cranberries, and persimmons.
  6. Place half of the batter into one bread pan and smooth.
  7. Add the pecans to the remaining batter and fold in. Place this half of the batter into the second bread pan and smooth.
  8. Set the two bread pans in the middle rack of the oven and bake for approximately 50 minutes.

Thomas the Tank Engine Meet & Greet

Our local PBS Station had a Thomas Meet & Greet yesterday… And if you know Caleb at all, you know that he loves Thomas the Tank Engine. LOVES.

We figured hey – free event, easy sign up – might as well try it.

They gave out lots of freebies – meaning a million stickers.

And they had a few ways to keep the kiddos busy since it was somewhat of a long line to get in. Although, it would make a lot more sense to have Thomas trains to play with, wouldn’t it?

Here is Mike looking super excited to see Thomas. Oh wait… ;)

This was Caleb’s face pretty much the whole time: “What the heck is going on?” He did smile/laugh a few times, but he was mainly just confounded.

We obviously both thought it was hilarious when Dad put on the conductor hat.

Then we got to actually see Thomas… And he clung onto me sooooo tightly and refused to even touch Thomas hahaha. Ah well, maybe he was a little young for this?!

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Then there were tears. I wouldn’t set him down to go see Thomas again because our turn was over. Toddlers. Sheesh.

In all, it was a great experience that I am glad we got to have! Unfortunately, Caleb was a little too small (and too out of it from not enough sleep the night before) – but maybe Thomas will come back in a few years when Caleb is more ready to see him :)

Caleb the Helpful Toddler

Ah, toddlers. They are just so helpful, right? Or at least they like to think that they are ;)

Lately, Caleb loves helping out.

He is super great at organizing the silverware drawer:

And he also loves to help put the silverware away from the dishwasher.

Which is probably why he needed to help fix the dishwasher… Since he keeps sitting on the open door and pulling it out from the counter!



But it was nice of him to bring his own tools.

He’s basically a Waller through and through. Already loves to help and is great at fixing things :)

Bake15: Chocolate Candy and Apple Pie (Pie #4)

Hello, Halloween candy. Sitting there in the bowl on the counter. Staring at me. All chocolately and delicious.

Let’s make a pie.


A pie based off of the Snickers caramel apple pie going around the Pinterest world right now. But, slightly different because we only went trick or treating at approximately six houses. Eighteen-month-olds don’t need very much candy. Hence stealing it for a pie ;)

First, we mix an 8oz container of whipped cream and 3/4 cups of sweetened condensed milk.

In the meantime, we toast 1/4 cup of pecans, and then chop up 1 cup of chocolate candy bars… Whatever you have on hand. I think more caramel-ey items would be best, but you have to work with what you’ve got (aka what you didn’t scarf down on Halloween).

Peel and chop a large green apple (about 1 1/2 cups) and add everything into the whipped mixture.

Then stick it all in the (totally store bought) pie crust. I know, I know… I didn’t make the pie crust… But I was following the example of the Snickers pie from Pinterest. It’s fine. It’s just one pie. But I totally could have made my own graham cracker crust. Ah well, too late now. Forgiveness is a good thing, friends…


I topped this pie with chocolate syrup and a few broken up candy bars.


The pie ratings:

The pie rating scale is a Mike-determined scale from 1 – 10, with a 5 being the “classic, homemade apple pie”, and 10 being the highest rating.

Mike: 9

Emily: 4

Chocolate Candy and Apple Pie


  • 1 premade graham cracker crust
  • 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 8oz Cool Whip
  • Large green apple, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup toasted pecans
  • 1 cup chopped chocolate candy
  • Chocolate syrup and chopped candy for topping


  1. Blend the Cool Whip and sweetened condensed milk with a hand mixer.
  2. Toast the pecans on the stove (medium high heat for 3-5 minutes).
  3. Fold the chopped candy, apples, and pecans into the whipped mixture.
  4. Place the filling into the pie shell and smooth. Top with chocolate syrup and chopped candy if desired.
  5. Place in refrigerator for four hours before eating. Or freeze, but the apples will be a little more difficult to eat.