Friday, September 26, 2014

Historic Smithton Inn All-Time Favorite Recipes: Apple Muffins

I love giving our inn’s guests a delicious start to their day. And serving these apple muffins does just that! Fresh apples, cinnamon, and a hint of vanilla blend together perfectly in this simple recipe that makes 18 hearty, flavorful muffins…

Apple Muffins

2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
3 cups peeled, cored, diced apples
1/3 raw sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray.
2. Cream together sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla.
3. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon.
4. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and mix until combined. The batter will be very thick.
5. Add the diced apples.
6. Fill muffin tin almost to the top (about 3/4 of the way full).
7. Sprinkle with raw sugar.
8. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-24 minutes.
9. Eat and enjoy!

I hope you’ll try this one at home. They will not disappoint!

By Rebecca Gallagher

Monday, September 22, 2014

Arts and Artisans in Lancaster County

Not only is Lancaster County known for its miles and miles of scenic farmland and its down home
Pennsylvania Dutch food, it's also a hub for artists and artisans. Both Lancaster City and our area small towns offer galleries and events that bring the opportunity to enjoy artistic excellence.

During your stay with us, I hope you’ll reserve some time to explore some of these fine places to see – and become inspired by – the creativity and talent.

Downtown Lancaster
In the heart of the city you’ll find galleries, fine craft stores, museums, and more. In the short term, plan to go to the semi-annual ArtWalk on October 4 & 5, 2014. Take the self-guided tour of over 30 independent galleries and meet the artists, see special exhibitions and live demonstrations, and treat the kids to fun activities.

Of course, you’re not limited to visiting the galleries and stores on ArtWalk weekend alone. Stop by to see them on First Fridays or any other time you set out to discover the artistic treasures of the city.

Downtown Ephrata
Just down the street from the Historic Smithton Inn, you’ll find Sheldon’s Gallery & Frame Shop. They’ve got an extensive collection of prints, frames, gifts, and home décor items.

To experience art in a wholly unique way, visit Art of Recycle where they create whimsical conversation pieces out of recycled materials of all sorts. The craft gallery is 100% volunteer run and primarily focused on fueling the imaginations of children – and of anyone who’s a “child at heart.”

Stoudtburg Village in Adamstown (an easy 20-minute drive north from our B&B) has antiques, collectibles, and artisans’ shops and galleries along its beautifully crafted walkways and amid its picturesque gardens.

Downtown Lititz
Earning the title of America’s Coolest Small Town in 2013, Lititz has some of the coolest arts and fine crafts shops around. Any day’s a good day to pay a visit and check them out, but Second Friday’s are especially fun when the shops stay open late so you can enjoy it all unhurried.

Of course, I’ve shared just the tip of the iceberg! Visit the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention and Visitor’s Bureau website for more art galleries and artisans’ shops to add to your itinerary.

Which galleries are your favorites in Lancaster County? I'd love to hear from you, so comment here!

By Rebecca Gallagher

 Image courtesy of dan at

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tis the Season to Celebrate All Things German: Lancaster County Oktoberfests and Brew Fests

If you’re visiting Lancaster County in the fall and REALLY want to get a taste of our German
Mug of beer
heritage, the local Oktoberfests and brew fests in our area should take priority on your calendar. They offer celebrations of German food, music, and beer.

During your stay, get ready to eat, drink, dance, and be merry at one of these Oktoberfest and brew fest occasions:

Stoudts Oktoberfest
Weekends, September 27 – October 26
2800 North Reading Rd., Adamstown, PA

Celebrate German traditions in Stoudts’ Gemutlichkeit Bier Garden. Fun for the entire family! And it’s all only 20 minutes away from theHistoric Smithton Inn.

See Stoudts' website for ticket information and to find out what’s happening each weekend.

Saturday, September 20, 4 to 8 p.m.
722 South Chiques Road, Manheim, PA

Please your palate with Liederkranz’s famous German food and the opportunity to sample beers from over 30 breweries.

Tickets: $35 in advance or $40 at the gate (includes beer tasting and food)
Tickets are available at the club or on the Fest website

Oktoberfest on the Rails (at Strasburg Railroad)
October 4, 11, 18 (Boarding: 5:30 p.m.Departure: 6 p.m.)
301 Gap Road, Ronks, PA

All aboard! If you’re looking for an ultra-unique way to experience German heritage, check out this event. Ride the rails of the Strasburg Railroad while sampling traditional German food and locally crafted brews.

Adult (age 12 and over): $52
Children (age 3-11): $30
Toddlers (age 0-3): $10

To order tickets, call their office or order online.

And if none of these events fits your schedule, you can at least get a taste of locally brewed Oktoberfest-inspired craft beer at local craft beer breweries like Ephrata’s own St. Boniface Craft Brewing Company. As they would say in Germany, "Wunderbar!"

By Rebecca Gallagher

Image courtesy of Pixomar at

By Rebecca Gallagher

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Historic Smithton Inn All-Time Favorite Recipes: Crock Pot Spiced Apple Butter

When you make this apple butter recipe, prepare to be in awe of the heavenly aroma cascading

throughout your home. The scent of it is almost as amazing as its taste. ALMOST!

Our guests at the Historic Smithton love this apple butter, and I'm sure you will, too.

Make a batch for yourself and don’t forget to put some in pretty jars with ribbon as gifts for your friends and neighbors.

Crock Pot Spiced Apple Butter Recipe

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 dozen medium apples*, peeled, cored, and quartered
  • 1½ cups white sugar. (Reduce by ½ cup if your apples are super-sweet.)
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp nutmeg 
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1½ T vanilla 
  • 1 cup apple cider (or flavored brandy if you’re feeling adventurous!)

How to Make It:

1. Combine all the ingredients in your crockpot and cook on high for 8 hours.

2. Use a hand blender to puree the mixture in the crockpot.

3. Turn the crockpot to low and cook another 8 hours.

Voila, you’ve got apple butter!

You can freeze it or can it after you make it, or put it in a jar in the fridge so you can use it right away. (It will stay fresh for up to 2 weeks when refrigerated.)

Most importantly, enjoy it. Try it on cottage cheese, crackers, toasted bread, French toast, pancakes, and whatever else sounds delicious to you.

About the Apples
The key ingredient in this recipe is APPLES! Fall in Lancaster County brings with it a mouth-watering variety of apples. I recommend buying them at one of our area farmers markets or local Amish roadside stands.

Better yet, pick your own! Cherry Hill Orchards (only 40 minutes from our inn) has autumn “Pick Your Own Fruit” hours Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Trust me, your entire family will love the experience. Be sure to bring your camera as you start a new family tradition.

By Rebecca Gallagher

Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at

Monday, September 1, 2014

Lancaster County Fall Fairs Bring on the Fun

School’s back in session, the days are still summer-time warm while the nights are getting cooler, and from the front porch of the Historic Smithton Inn, I can sometimes hear the roar of the crowd on Friday nights as Ephrata High School scores a touchdown at War Memorial Stadium.
Ferris Wheel at Night

You know what that means?

Fall fair season is here in Lancaster County!

Nothing embodies fun more than fairs with their bustling midways, fabulous food, games, rides, agriculture and art exhibits, entertainment, parades, and endless, delightfully unexpected encounters with old friends and neighbors between visits to the French fries and funnel cake stands.

Don’t miss the excitement! Mark these 2014 local area fair dates on your calendar.

September 5 – 14: York Fair 

September 9 – 13: Denver Fair 

September 17 – 19: Solanco Fair 

September 23 – 27: Ephrata Fair  (The largest street fair in PA -- and my personal favorite of course! Bring the entire family, especially to the pig chase on Tuesday, September 23 and the parade on Wednesday, September 24.)

September 24 – 26: West Lampeter Community Fair 

October 1 – 4: New Holland Farmers Fair

Lancaster County fairs bring an opportunity to connect with the community and create family memories that last a lifetime. Whether you’re young or young at heart, I hope you’ll kick off the beginning of the fall season with a visit to one or more of these much-loved, multi-faceted celebrations.

And remember, if you’ll be visiting our area or have someone coming to town, we’ve got comfy guest rooms and a hot, home-cooked breakfast awaiting you. Schedule your stay, and when you arrive I can tell you more about our fabulous fairs!

By Rebecca Gallagher

Image courtesy of Photography by BJWOK at

Monday, August 25, 2014

Long Live Your Experience at the 34th Annual Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire

From August 2 through October 26, 2014, step back in time to the year 1525 at this year’s Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. Throughout the 35-acre shire at Mount Hope Estate, you’ll find jousting knights, a human chess match, swashbuckling pirates, jugglers, minstrels, and royal performers among the many acts and attractions.

Every year, the PA Renaissance Faire offers a progressive plot that traverses the grounds as the day unfolds. And what a story they have in store for guests this year! The Faire also features themed weekends that deliver a fresh and fun experience for repeat guests.

Huzzah to the Cast of Characters!

I can tell you there’s no such thing as a dull moment at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. Prepare to indulge your eyes, ears, and funny bone in a variety of entertainment choices. The shire is well-supplied with merrymakers, magicians, musicians, stunt performers, and more who put on nearly 90 shows daily.

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry.
Prepare to give your taste buds a treat as you explore the plethora of Renaissance-inspired food vendors throughout your day. Smoked turkey leg, anyone? How about a Scotch egg? And there’s lots more, including dishes of a more familiar nature for those less adventurous.

While at the Faire, you might also partake in Mount Hope Estate’s own wines and ales. What better way to toast the queen?

Lasting Reminders
Before you leave the shire, I recommend you make some time to browse the merchant’s wares for the perfect souvenir. You’ll be amazed at the array of jewelry, crafts, décor, and clothes made by exceptional artisans.

Never been to the Faire?
The Historic Smithton is an easy half-hour drive from Mount Hope Estate. With years of suggesting the Faire to our guests, we’ll be happy to share more about it when you stay with us. You can also visit the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire website for dates, times, ticket information, map, 2014 program, and other details.

I hope you’ll get thee out for some frolicking at this year’s Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire!

By Rebecca Gallagher

All images used in this post belong to and are used with permission from the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Exceptional Theater in the Spotlight this Fall in Lancaster County

As summer winds down and autumn is no longer a distant reality, why not start planning your Lancaster County theatre “must see” list? Our favorite performance venues have a diverse and delectable line up of shows on deck.

Here are some highlights of what’s happening this 2014 Lancaster County Fall Theatre Season:

Ephrata Performing Arts Center / Sharadin Bigler Theatre – Not only does EPAC put on exceptional productions, it’s also ultra-convenient from the Historic Smithton Inn. Literally, it’s just down the street from us! EPAC is a critically-acclaimed community theater, offering everything from classics to avant garde shows. I think you'll enjoy the more intimate stage arrangement, as well.

Death of a Salesman 
Arthur Miller’s classic American tale
September 4 - 20

The captivating Broadway musical brought to life right here in Ephrata
October 16 – November 1

The Fulton Theatre with its stunning architecture and history delivers an unforgettable theater experience. The Fulton is located in downtown Lancaster and is just a half hour drive from our inn. You’ll find an array of productions from favorite Broadway shows to fun musicals for the whole family.

Lend me a Tenor 
Hilarity at its best in this beloved musical
October 7 - 26

Sight & Sound Theatre presents breathtaking productions that bring the stories of the Bible to life. The theater is easily accessible to our guests; it’s just 20 miles from our inn. Sight & Sound has become a favorite destination for people of all religious backgrounds. Nearly all of their shows feature live animals, so children stay engaged and entertained! For an extra special experience, check out the "Behind the Scenes Tour" to discover how the Sight & Sound crews create their magic.

The greatest epic tale from the Old Testament on stage
March 8, 2014 – February 7, 2015

Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre – Theater, food, and fun all rolled into one, Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre serves up entertaining musicals accompanied by a delightful meal. Who doesn’t love dinner and a show? Or you can opt to attend only the theater performance.

Tony Award winning musical set in the era of change that was the 1950’s.
August 14 – September 20

Crazy For You 
An extravagant high-energy musical with some of Gershwin’s classics
September 26 – November 8

Rainbow Dinner Theatre – Offering still more theater, food and fun, Rainbow Dinner Theater is known for "all comedy...all the time" - and their delicious dinners of course.

Drinking Habits (a nun’s story)
August 16 - October 25

Hershey Theatre - Just 40 miles west on Rte. 322, you’ll find the Hershey Theatre. This gorgeous venue offers a wide variety of entertainment including Broadway performances, concerts, and even classic films.

To see their full list of events, visit their website.

American Music Theatre – A plethora of live musical performances awaits you at AMT! And it’s all just 20 minutes from the Historic Smithton Inn. AMT’s season also offers comedy and specialty performances. Love music? They’ve got it all: Rock, Country, Classical, Big Band, and more. You’ll be impressed by their lineup of featured stars on tour. Be sure to check out their own original shows, too.

Here’s a sampling of what’s on their schedule this fall:

Music of the Night: The Songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber (an AMT original)
Through October 11

Bill Cosby 
September 7

September 19

Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo 
October 6

Engelbert Humperdinck
October 10

And there’s a lot more where that came from! For more shows at AMT, see their website.

By Rebecca Gallagher

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /