Thursday, October 31, 2013

Apple Walnut Pull Apart Bread

Apple Walnut Pull Apart Bread

Whatever happened to all things fall? I mean now it's just pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin. No  squash, no apples, no pears. When did pumpkin become the only flavor available while you enjoy the changing leaves and crisp, cool air? I am not here to say that I do not love pumpkin, I am quite a devoted fan on the contrary. But my taste buds enjoy more than one flavor, especially in a world that is bursting with them. So I simply cannot enjoy fall properly without apples, squash, and pears. And frankly, if you claim to be a lover of the fall, that it is absolutely your favorite season, that you wish it was nearly year round, you can hardly make that claim while only supporting the big, orange gourd. Perhaps now you feel that you have only been half heartedly in love with fall now that you have discovered you've left out the other produce delights it has to offer. But do not despair, there is an entire month of fall left to relish it whole, not just in pumpkin.


24 frozen dinner rolls thawed
2 Granny Smith apples, diced
1 Gala apple, diced
2/3 c. brown sugar
1 c. walnuts finely chopped
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 T. butter, melted


-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt pan with butter

-Mix together the chopped apples, brown sugar, walnuts, and cinnamon until well combined.

-Using a pair of clean kitchen scissors, cut each roll into thirds.

-Place a third of the cut roll pieces in the bottom of the bundt pan. Drizzle about a third of the melted butter on top of the roll pieces. Then top with a third of the apple mixture. Repeat layers two more times, until ingredients are all used up.

-Let rise in a warm place for about an hour (or until rolls have doubled in size).

-Bake for 30-35 minutes, until tops are golden brown and the middle rolls are done (I baked for 35 just to make sure the middle and bottom weren't doughy any longer).

I drizzled some dulce de leche I had left over from my clearance score at Williams Sonoma but you could easily leave this part out, make your own caramel, or make a glaze of powder sugar and milk.

Life is better homemade!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Honey Cinnamon Caramel Corn

       This is one of my most favorite caramel corn recipes I've created. I researched various recipes on the internet and came up with this one all on my own. Looking back at a lot of the recipes on this blog, you can tell that I'm a huge honey fan; for this recipe I've used it again in place of Karo syrup. After the caramel corn has dried/cooled the end result is still slightly sticky because I don't put it in the oven to harden it more, but I (and every one else who I've given this too) seems to like it better this way anyway. Instead of a hard caramel corn it's more like a sticky toffee caramel corn, as far as texture goes. The cinnamon is what makes this recipe great--it provide the warm and loving effect that is perfect for the fall/winter/holiday season. The peanuts, though optional, provide an extra level of texture which I love. In fact, I think I'll make this again to gives as gifts during Christmas!


3 quarts popped popcorn
3/4 cups honey roasted peanuts (optional)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

--Have all your popcorn pre-popped and in an extra large bowl. (I used 1/2 cup of kernels in a whirley-pop.) Mix in about half of the peanuts. Set the other half aside for now. Also lay out a large section of wax paper on your counter/table for when you cool the caramel corn.

--In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter, brown sugar, and honey. Dissolve all ingredients and bring to a low boil, allowing to bubble (not a heavy boil) for about 4 minutes.

--Remove from heat and mix in the cinnamon and baking soda. Pour over the popcorn.

--Scatter in the rest of the peanuts and mix everything together thoroughly, trying to make sure everything is covered.

--Lay the caramel corn in a flat layer on the wax paper sheets and allow to dry/harden. The end result will still be a bit sticky. (If you wanted you could even roll the popcorn into balls before the caramel completely cools.)

Happy Baking!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Honey Oat Bread

       Hi. Me again. Bread again. Love again. I'd been wanting to make this bread for some time and I finally got around to making it this summer with the help of two sets of tiny hands. My nieces had decided they wanted to having a baking day and I decided they needed to learn how to make bread. Fun was had by all. I actually made two loaves that day--one per kid--and the above picture is the one I made with the youngest.
She did everything she could on her own: I measured, she dumped, she stirred, I finished stirring, she kneaded, I finished kneading, etc. It was so much fun and a great memory for me that I'll never forget. I hope my girls (sorry sister, I call them mine too) won't forget that day either!
       The bread itself is deliciously sweet from the honey and nutty from the oats. It's perfect for snacking, toasting, slicing for sandwiches, or whatever you want to do with it. If a 4 and a 7 year old can make this bread on their (mostly) own, then so can you. Why not give it a whirl?

Honey Oat Bread
Recipe barely adapted from Bakingdom
Makes 1 loaf


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup oats 
  • 1/4 oz packet of yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup warm milk 
  • 1/4 cup warm water  
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup honey 
  • 2 tablespoons honey 
  • 2 tablespoons oats

--In a small bowl, pour in your water (about 110 degrees F) add a pinch of sugar (this gives something for the yeast to feed on) and then sprinkle your yeast packet over the water. Let sit until it gets frothy. Then add the warmed milk (110-ish degrees), melted butter, and honey. (The butter should melt in the liquid if you don't melt it beforehand.)

--In a separate large bowl whisk together the flour, oats, and salt. Then pour the contents of the small bowl into the large bowl. Mix together with a wooden spoon until it all comes together, eventually resorting to mixing by hand. Knead the dough for about ten minutes, until it's smooth and elastic. Add more flour or water if necessary.

--Place the dough into a greased bowl, cover the bowl with a towel, and let it rise until doubled (30 min to an hour).

--On a lightly floured surface, flatten the dough into a 9 x 12 rectangle with your hands or rolling pin. Roll the dough into a log (grabbing from the 9 inch size to roll) and tuck/pinch the sides and seams. Place the dough log in a greased/floured 9 x 5 loaf pan, cover with a towel, and let the dough double again (30 min to an hour).

--Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

--After the final doubling, sprinkle the remaining honey and oats over the top of the loaf. Bake 40-50 minutes. (Internal temp is apprx. 190 degrees.)

*You can have water in the oven in a separate pan to ensure your bread doesn't dry out, but I was lazy and didn't do it. The bread still tasted awesome.

Happy Baking!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Beer Battered Fish Tacos

Beer Batter Fish Tacos
Summer is in full swing complete with backyard BBQs, lazy days by the pool, and refreshing adult beverages. If you've ever cooked anything on the grill and never slipped in some of that beverage, let me be the first to call you a liar. Booze cannot only improve the length of you life, but the taste of your food as well. Yeah, yeah, everything in moderation and all that. I'm not talking about putting a half bottle of Jack into your BBQ sauce, that might be a bit excessive, but a splash or two will certianly have your chicken and ribs singing all the way to your plate.
I cannot take credit for these delicious tacos that you see up there, it all goes to my brother who is somewhat of a genius on the grill. Everytime I'm home, he's whipping up something wonderful and manly on the grill. I didnt get to taste his creation in person but he texted me the recipe and suggested maybe if I liked it, it could make the blog. I made some alterations based on his feedback from when he made them, and I must say they are the best, most flavorful fish tacos I've ever had in my life! So here they are complete with chiptole mayo!!
Beer Batter Fish Tacos w/ Chiptole Mayo
courtesy of Kale - brother of the blog
Beer Batter Fish
2 lbs of fish (cod, walleye, etc)
2 cups flour + 1/2 cup for dredging
2 1/4 cups dark beer
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
3 egg yolks, whisked
Chipotle Mayo
1 cup mayo
2 T capers, drained
2 T bread and butter pickles, diced
1 1/2 tsp lime juice
2 chipotle chilis in adobo
1/4 head shredded cabbage
flour or corn tortillas

Heat 2 inches of oil (peanut or canola) in a cast iron skillet on the grill. Mix all of the in beer batter ingredients together in a medium bowl and set aside. Mix all the ingredients for the chipotle mayo in a small bowl and set in the fridge until ready to serve.
Cut the fish into desirable sized pieces, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then coat lightly in 1/2 cup of flour. Immediately drop the coated fish into the batter and let the excess drip off before you drop them into the hot oil. Once browned on the first side, about 5-6 minutes, flip over and brown the second side for a couple of minutes. Once done, remove from oil and allow to drain on newspaper or paper towels.
Heat the tortillas on the grill while you are cooking the fish. Top each tortilla with shredded cabbage, 1-2 pieces of fish and a healthy dose of chipotle mayo. Serve immediately...with an icy beverage of choice!
Thanks again to my brother for his awesome contribution to our little blog and filling the gap between dainty desserts and healthy fare with something a bit more manly!
In the famous words of my brother,
Giddy up!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Rhubarb Custard Bars

       There are many things about summer that I love: warmer weather, jet skiing, swimming, being able to do things without a jacket, watermelon . . . But one of the things I really love, yet somehow forget to associate with summer is rhubarb. We only have it in warmer weather, yet because it's not as sweet as strawberries or as refreshing as popsicles,  I think it tends to get overlooked. In that sense I suppose I have a hypocritical love for the rhubarb, saying I overlook it, but I really don't! Overlook it, that is.  I just forget that it technically goes with summer, not fall.
       Anyway, the point is, I love rhubarb. I used to eat it in the back yard raw, dipping the stalk into a cup of sugar. My grandmas made the best rhubarb pies, strawberry-rhubarb jam, and amazing bars. I was too impatient to ask one of my grandmas for her bars recipe (I needed to make something the same day somebody gave me an entire bag full) so I went online to find some that were similar. These Rhubarb Custard Bars were what I came up with, and they were wonderful. Both of my grandmas happened to be in town at the same time and I made them both try them. I would just like to add the very important fact that these bars are double-grandma approved.

Rhubarb Custard Bars
Recipe from The Rhubarb Compendium

For the Crust
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature

For the Filling
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons flour
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
4-5 cups diced rhubarb (I used 5)

--Preheat oven to 350 degrees

For the Crust
--Whisk flour and sugar together, then cut in butter with a pastry blender until all your butter bits are pea-sized.

--Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan, then press the in the dough in an even layer.

--Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned.

For the Filling
--In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and flour, then add the eggs and vanilla. Blend together, then add the rhubarb and stir until everything is thoroughly covered.

--Pour the filling over the partially baked crust, then continue baking for 30-35 minutes.

--Serve it warm, and if you have leftovers enjoy it cold as well!

Happy Baking!


Monday, May 27, 2013

Lemon Blueberry Doughnuts

Lemon Bluberry Doughnuts
Oh, the things that summer brings! Honestly, I find it hard to commit to a favorite season. I know some are fall fanatics, obsessing over all things cinnamon and pumpkin, others welcome winter with woolen mittens wrapped around red Starbucks cups.Then there are those that bask in the warmth of the sun and savor backyard BBQ's and wedges of watermelon or even the bright newness of spring's fresh flavors. But I have to tell you, I love all of the seasons. All of these things! I feel like that meme with the cartoon sceaming "Pin all the things!" I can't help it, I happen to like having my cake and eating it too. Which, has never really made sense to me. If I have cake, why wouldn't I eat it? Is there some rule that I'm unaware of that says if you have cake, you can't eat it? Because that would be a ridiculous rule. Down right stupid actually. Of course you eat the cake. Anyways, that went down a rabbit hole fast, let's get back to the doughnuts and the delicious taste of spring and summer that is poured into them. These little delights are acutally quite healthy for you and not going to ruin your dreams of flaunting that two-piece any time soon, so keep calm and eat the doughnut.

Lemon Blueberry Doughnuts

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup coconut sugar (or granulated)
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice, plus zest of one lemmon
1 1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Extra lemon zest
Granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease doughnut pan. If you don't have one, a muffin tin will work.

Combine all wet ingredients--except the bluberries--into one bowl and all of the dry ingredients into another bowl. Gently stir the wet into dry until just mixed. Fold in the blueberries.

Divide the batter among the doughnut pan or muffin tin and bake for 10 minutes.

Add the lemon zest to the extra sugar and sprinkle on top of the doughnuts right out of the oven. The heat and steam will help it stick to the tops without any extra butter or messy shaking in a bag.

Enjoy 3 of these little beauties for the same caloric damange as one from your local doughnut shop. Yep, you are welcome!

Life is always better homemade,

Monday, May 6, 2013

Carrot Cake Granola

Carrot Cake Granola
Ah, granola, the breakfast of choice for many fitness fanatics across the country. But is it healthy for you? A quick look at the ingredients on any sort of store bought granola reveals additives, preservatives  and fillers all of which are completely uncessary. Excess sugars, and in many cases trans fats, leave the helpless granola on my black list quite often. Not to mention the fact that a 11.5 oz bag can cost over $6! Who really has the luxury to pay nearly $2 an ounce for some glorified oats? Not this gal. So for all the aforementioned reasons, I prefer to make my own. Honestly, I'm kinda over everything being packaged and presented to me from someone else like it's supposed to be better just because you stamp a big ol' trademark on it. I mean seriously, nothing is simply homemade anymore. Are we that lazy or that busy that we can't be bothered to combine ingredients, grate cheese, or boil water? Maybe you are that busy...or maybe this blog is not for you. Which is fine, to each their own. But have any of you ever tried to make an entire meal from scratch just to see what it would taste like? I'm telling you, packaged and processed with not find their way into your cart thereafter.
*Geez, get off your soapbox already*
Sorry, sometimes I'm just get swept away in the tides of yesteryear when life was a slower, simpler, and a bit more wholesome. Just do me a favor, make one thing--just one--completely from scratch and tell me you don't see and taste a difference. I'm betting you'll feel a difference too, head held high, shoulders back. Because you made it, not Betty Crocker, whoever that lady is.
Carrot Cake Granola
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (flakes would work too)
3/4 cup finely shredded carrots
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut sugar (or applesauce, brown sugar, agave, etc)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg (less if it's freshly grated)
1/2 raisins or dates
1/2 pecans or walnuts
Combine oats, coconut, and carrots and set aside. In a saucepan, combine the coconut oil, maple syrup, and coconut sugar over medium heat. Once melted, stir in the vanilla and spices. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix until everything is combined.
Spread on a parchment lined backing sheet. Bake at 325 for 30 minutes. Stir and bake another 15 minutes. Be careful to watch for burning.
Once removed from the oven add in the nuts and dried fruit. Store in an airtight container.
That's it. That is what you pay $6 for at the store...
Life is better homemade,

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Orange Dreamsicle Cookies

       Once upon a time I made Lime Sugar Cookies and I suggested substituting other citruses for the lime. These cookies are just that, but also a couple other changes: instead of lime I used orange, I added white chocolate chips, and I didn't roll them in sugar before baking. Thus Orange Dreamsicle Cookies entered my life. See how fun and easy it is to come up with a completely different dessert/snack?
       For me, what really make these cookies awesome are the white chocolate chips, adding a creamy deliciousness only they can. (Actually, I've decided the only reason I like macadamia nut cookies is because of the white chocolate chips. But that's a whole different story. Speaking of different stories, see that pattern under the cooling rack in the picture? That's my new apron my sister gave to me for my birthday!) The orange comes through nicely, too, creating a refreshing cookie. Betchya never thought you'd hear those two words together. If you really wanted to, I suppose you could add orange food coloring for added "orange" effect, but I like them the way they are. 

Orange Dreamsicle Cookies
Adapted from My Baking Addiction

Makes about 3 dozen cookies
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup orange juice (one orange)
  • Zest of one orange (you can use less if you want, but I like it better with most of the zest)
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

--Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

--Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and the salt in a bowl and set aside for later.

--In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat until it's really fluffy.

--Add the egg, vanilla, orange juice, and orange zest. Mix until thoroughly combined.

--Stir in the flour mixture a little bit at a time. Combine thoroughly. Mix in the white chocolate chips.

--Roll cookie dough into 1-in balls and place them on the parchment-lined cookie sheets, about 1 1/2 - 2 inches apart.

--Bake for 8-10 minutes.

--Let cool on the cookie sheet for a couple minutes before moving them to a wire rack.


Happy Baking!


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Banana Cream Pie Rice Krispie Treats

       What can be more simple than Rice Krispie Bars? Melt butter and marshmallows, mix in rice krispies, put in pan, done. Plus, they're delicious. At least I think so. But one day I got to thinkin' that these bars could basically act like monster cookies or kitchen sink cookies in the sense that you can add whatever you like to 'em and voila! A delicious new bar. Well, I got to lookin' at what things I had lying around in the kitchen cupboards and I found some banana cream pie pudding mix, and I thought "hey what a great idea!". So I also found some extra mini marshmallows and I just so happened to have a box of graham crackers and ta-da! I've invented a new bar! Now I'm not so naive to think I'm the only one who has ever come up with these, but I don't care because they make my pride swell and mouth water. 
       These bars taste just like banana cream pie in a convenient "to-go" form. They're chewier than normal Rice Krispie Bars and that's because of the extra marshmallows as well as the added pudding mix. And heck, if you're a fan of key lime pie I'm sure you could even substitute key lime pie pudding mix and have a whole new bar again! I'm partial to the banana, though. ;)

Banana Cream Pie Rice Krispie Treats
recipe by me

3 (1/2) cups rice krispies
1/4 cup butter
1 10oz bag large marshmallows
1/2 of 10oz bag mini marshmallows (about 2 cups)
2 cups large graham cracker chunks
1 3.4oz box banana cream pie pudding mix

--In a large saucepan (I use a wide, 6 inch deep pot) over low heat melt together the butter and large bag of marshmallows. When the marshmallows are almost completely melted, sprinkle over the banana cream pie pudding mix. Stir thoroughly until completely mixed in and the marshmallows are melted.

--Remove from heat.

--Combine the rice krispies and graham cracker chunks with the marshmallow. Add the mini marshmallows last so they don't melt so bad.

--Spread it all into a 9x9 pan and let the bars completely cool before cutting in to them.

Happy Baking!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Banana Chocolate Chip Doughnuts

Here they are, the answer to your doughnuts-on-a-diet dilema!

Bananas, whole wheat flour, greek yogurt, and coconut sugar make these little delights easy on your waistline and a joy to your taste buds. Sometimes, for sanity's sake, you need a sinful little snack (or meal) to round out your salads. I hear you, I need it too. But I really don't want to throw away all of my hard work and effort to one (or three) calorie laden doughnut simply because I need a sugar fix, which is why baking them and swapping some of the ingredients makes it possible to have your cake doughnut and eat it too!

For those of you who do not have a doughnut pan-you must get one today. Like now. You might want to get two so you can make all your doughnuts at once and be on your way to eating them even quicker. I only have one and it's mildly annoying to have to wait for the first batch to cool, then wash the pan for the second batch, all the while the six doughnuts you did have are mere crumbs on a platter because 3 sets of hands have snatched them up faster than you could secure your own doughnut delight.  Now you have to wait another 15 minutes to get yours. Definitely get two pans.

Banana Chocolate Chip Doughnuts
adapted from: janieskitchen

  • 2 small very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (or regualr cane sugar if you can't find it)
  • 1/2 cup fat free greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup oat flour (you can use AP flour or any other combination of flours you have)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (1 cup regular)
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1 tblsp cinamon
How to:
Preheat you oven to 325 degrees. Grease your doughnut pan.

With a mixer, whisk the mashed banana, sugar, and greek yogurt until smooth. Add in the butter, eggs, and vanilla and mix. Next add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the batter and mix until just combined. DO NOT OVERMIX.

Using a rubber spatula, mix in the chocolate chips. Scoop the batter into a plastic bag and then cut the corner to make your own little piping bag. You can spoon the batter into the pan but it tends to get everywhere because of the shape, so the baggie is much easier and more efficient. Fill the pan about 3/4 full and sprinkle some of the topping on each doguhnut. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.

Allow to cool in the pan for about a minute and then remove onto a wire rack and sprinkle with more topping. The sooner you do this after you remove them from the pan the better as the steam helps hold the sugar. Otherwise you may need to brush with some extra butter to get the sugar to stick well.

Now simply stack on a plate, pour a cup of joe, and enjoy on your porch or in a sunny window!

Life is always better homemade!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Cake

       Happy Valentine's Day! The day of love and mushy goodness ;) My Valentine bought me one of those really pretty dipped roses from the jewelry store. It has a golden stem and the petals are a blush pink at the tips which fade into a creamy white at the bottom. I love it. He also bought me the entire collection of the James Bond movies on bluray, which translates into having 23 pre-planned dates. So basically, I got extremely spoiled this year! Which is why I have mixed feelings about what I got/made him. See the above picture? That's his present. I know it's the thought that counts, but I still feel a tad guilty not spending more. But that's not the point of Valentine's Day, comparing gift prices. It's about showing how much you care for each other. So when I made this, I was giving him my time, just like he's giving me his time with our future dates. (May I also point out his birthday is in five days and that's where I decided to spend my money this year instead of splitting it between Valentine's and birthday. What's a poor college girl to do?)

*Update* Since I wrote this post I discovered I won a Valentine's Day Writing Contest on campus and received a bit of extra money, yay! So I also bought Up to go with the cake. No more mixed feelings about only having a cake. =)

Valentine's Day Cake
Today I'm sharing more of an idea for a cake than an actual recipe, but that's okay. 

--Using a chocolate cake mix (shhhhh) make two 4" layers of cake. Or use one 8" pan, but you'll have to cut the layers in half later. 

--Buy a tub of buttercream frosting from your local grocery store (you can make it on your own too if you want). Mine was about a pound. Reserve about 1/2 to 3/4 cup to dye red for piping around your cake at the end. 

--While your cake is cooling, crush 2/3 of a box of Oreos in your frosting. I used a food processor to chop up most of them, but I did a few by hand to give the frosting extra chunkiness. It just made it harder to spread later.

--Using a serrated knife, level out your cake layers. I then took out an 8" cake board, put a little glob of frosting in its middle, then placed the first layer of cake in the center of the board. 

--Spread frosting over the top of the first layer, not doing the sides yet. Then place the second layer on top of the frosted first. Frost the whole thing.

--Dye the frosting you reserved earlier red and put it in a piping bag, using whatever size tip you want, and pipe the frosting around the top and bottom edges of the cake.

--Using crafting wire, poke in the little wires with sparkly hearts taped to them on the top of the cake for decoration.

--Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Baking!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Cinnamon S'more Party Mix

I heart snickerdoodle cookies. I love how they are so unpretentious and simple but so satisfying with just the right amount of sweetness. I also fancy a perfectly toasted brown, gooey marshmallow smashed between a hunk of chocolate and crunchy graham crackers. I am not a fan of the caloric havoc these treats bring about, so how do I get those flavors without the fat?

You know the cereal nearly everyone passes up because it’s boring and bland. But look at that picture up there; does it look boring and bland to you? Absolutely not! That’s because Chex happens to be the perfect little vessel to carry whatever flavor you desire, transforming into a new delicious mix each time you add a different topping.
I know you’re sitting there, one eyebrow cocked up in suspicion, wondering how in the world some rice cereal could possibly taste like a snickerdoodle and a s’more. Well, ok, obviously it doesn’t taste EXACTLY like either one, but it tastes remarkably similar and equally delicious. A handful will not be enough I’m telling you.
Go ahead, whip up a batch and try to prove me wrong. I’ll wait.
Cinnamon S'more Party Mix
Adapted from Chex
1/4 c melted butter
2 c chcolate Chex
2 c cinnamon Chex
4 c popcorn
1/4 sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c chocolate chips
1/2 c mini marshmallows
Mix the Chex and popcorn together in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a microwave safe dish for about 30-40 seconds. Pour the butter over the mix and stir together until evenly coated. Microwave the mix for 2 minutes, stiring after 1 minute.
Mix the cinnamon and sugar together and spinkle half over the mix and stir. Sprinkle the rest over the mix and stir again. Microwave for another minute. Remove from the microwave and add the chocolate chips and marshmallows and stir.
Pour the mix onto wax paper or paper towels to cool. Store in an air tight container if you are not going to eat it right away.
Enjoy life homemade!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

White Sandwich Bread

     I've officially explored another area of bread! I've made bread like Honey Challah before, and other "bready" things, but never a loaf  of bread like I'd buy at the grocery store. It's so exciting, and really not all that hard, just time consuming. I think in all this takes about 3 hours from start to finish, but it's well worth it. I found the recipe at The Curvy Carrot (probably while Pinteresting but I don't quite remember) and  from the look of her pictures I knew I had to try it out. I'm so glad I did and you knead to too! Hehe, I'm so funny. But seriously, the bread is soft, great for sandwiches, toasts wonderfully, and is absolutely worth making again and again. The recipe as written provides two large loaves and both are definitely needed--one of mine was gone overnight. My mom had a couple warm pieces, my boyfriend had a 3-inch thick chunk (or more) and my brother made himself a grilled cheese sandwich for supper, something I will be doing soon as well. Even if you don't think you'll go through two loaves that quickly, you should freeze the second one for later! Without a doubt, this is a recipe I'm actually writing down on a recipe card and sticking in my recipe book.

White Sandwich Bread
Recipe from The Curvy Carrot


  • 2 (1/4 ounce) packets active dry yeast 
  • 3/4 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature  
  • 2 and 2/3 cup additional warm water
  • 9-10 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (for brushing the tops of the loaves)

--In a large bowl (you'll be stirring the dough in it) pour in the 3/4 cup warm water and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Let the yeast activate for a while until it gets frothy.

--After about 5 minutes, add the sugar, salt, butter, and the rest of the warm water. Mix until all combined. (The warm water should melt the room-temp butter for the most part. You can help the butter along by smashing it against the side of the bowl with your spoon. It's okay if there's some small chunks still floating around.)

--Gradually stir in the flour. Don't add it in all at once--you may not need it all. I stopped at 8 cups.

--Once you can't stir anymore, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in more flour if your dough is still super sticky--you want it tacky but not sticking to your fingers. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, around 10 minutes.

--Clean the bowl that you used for stirring, then spray it with cooking spray. Plop your kneaded dough in the greased bowl and then flip it over so the (new) top is greased and won't dry out while rising. Cover the dough and let it rise in a warm place until doubled, about and hour.

--Punch down the dough and separate it into parts. Take your rolling pin and roll out two rectangles, having the "shorter" side being an inch or two longer than your loaf pan. I used 9" pans.

--Take the "longer" side of each rectangle and roll it up tightly, like you would a sleeping bag. Seal the edges and tuck the ends under so their seams are on the bottom of the roll and so that the roll will fit nicely in your loaf pan.

--Place the dough into greased loaf pans, cover them with a towel, and set them in a warm place to rise for another hour.

--Place your oven racks on the lowest positions and preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

--Bake the loaves for 30 minutes, placing a "tent" of tinfoil over each loaf halfway through baking so the tops don't burn.

--After removing the bread from the oven, brush the tops with the melted butter.

--Let cool for a couple minutes before flipping the loaves out of their pans.

--Slice with a sharp knife and enjoy!

Happy Baking!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Game Day Sliders

I don't know about you but I'm a little burned out on football. My husband has lived and breathed it for the past uh, far too many months, but the end is near! Even though I don't particularly like to sit and watch a whole game, I do like to watch the big one-the Super Bowl! And whether it's the big game or just another Sunday match up, neither would be complete without game food. At our house that means chips or nachos, pizza bites, homemade fries, chicken wings, and these sliders. Not all at once, because we're not pigs, but that is the regular rotation. You might be thinking, this isn't really a significant recipe to blog about but let me tell you, all sliders (or game food for that matter) are not equal. The must haves of superior sliders: water buns, 85% lean ground beef, and a cast iron skillet. Oh, and you absolutely must take the burger right from the skillet to the cut buns and let all the moisture (aka grease) seep into the buns. This is nonnegotiable. Yeah it's grease, get over it. One bite of these little devils and you will applaud me for that grease!
Game Day Sliders 

For the burgers:
  • 1 lb 85% lean ground beef
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1/4 cayenne pepper (doesn't make them hot, just great flavor)
  • 1/4 garlic powder (not garlic salt) 
For the sliders:
  • Water buns (found in your local bakery; looks like they spritzed them with water before baking; extremely light and airy)
  • Tomato
  • Avocado
  • Cheese
  • Condiments (ketchup, mustard, miracle whip, hot sauce, bbq sauce, etc.) 
Heat your cast iron skillet over medium heat. Combine all of the spices into the ground beef and mix well with your hands. Hands are always superior to spoons when mixing ground meat. Form into 8 small, thin patties. Drop your patties into the skillet and don't touch them at all for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip them over and again don't touch them for about 3 minutes. This is to give them a nice browning and a ton of flavor.

Do not overcook your sliders! Nobody, not even people who detest bloody meat, like a dried up, hockey puck excuse of a burger.

Put your burgers directly onto your buns and let them rest a few. Then go ahead and top them however you see fit and chow down. Since they're small, feel free to have 2 or 3, there is no judgement among friends. 

As always, life is better homemade!


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Peanut Butter Granola

       Almost four and half years ago (what?!) I went to France. I went with a program through my high school after I graduated and considered it a "hooray for me!" sort of trip. It was a blast and I hope one day I can travel to other places and explore the world some more. After I returned, I was asked by my teacher to write a column for our local newspaper. Here is what my eighteen-year-old-self wrote:

When a person goes to another country he never knows what to fully expect. Of course stories are heard like "the people there are hairy" or "the entire place just holds an awful stench to it" but that still doesn't cover everything. Even if it did, that was another person's experience, not your own. You have to make your own decisions and observations. Here are some of the things that I observed:
There are no water fountains anywhere in France. When you find one, drink up and fill your water bottles because you probably won't find one for the rest of the day. If you get thirsty and you're out of water, guess what? You have to pay basically a million dollars (about two Euros) for even a small water bottle. Either that or you mooch off of your friends, but you can't do that all the time. It's not very polite.
Public bathrooms that you don't have to pay for are virtually impossible to find, though they are more common than water fountains. When I was staying with my host family in Grenoble, Laura, the daughter, and I decided to go shopping. A few hours into our little escapade I realized that after drinking a liter of water I needed a bathroom. If Laura hadn't been with me I don't know what I would have done because she led me to the only public bathroom in the shopping district: top floor, far back corner, of the Galeries Lafayette.
Peanut butter doesn't exist in France. OK, so you may find one jar of peanut butter in the foreign section of a supermarket, but that's it. Needless to say, if you can't find peanut butter in a grocery store, you can't find it in their candy bars either. I was quite disappointed.
These are just a few examples of the traits about France that one wouldn't expect, or at least I wouldn't. The small things about a country are what make it unique. If you look at the world from a large scale, everywhere seems the same. Politics, money (or lack there of), the desire for power, etc. ... However, when you look deeper, on a smaller scale, you see the things that make a country special, whether you like those things or not (like the lack of peanut butter and water fountains).
This trip is something I will never forget. The people I traveled with, the teachers who put up with us and made it all happen, and the country itself have left an impact on my life that I wouldn't change for the world.

     Sometimes I think it'd be fun to go back in time and talk to my younger self--not necessarily to lecture or anything but just to simply talk. I think I'd make myself laugh. Anyway, I thought of this article for a very specific reason: my mini peanut butter rant. It is so American, and I love it! Basically, if anybody ever criticizes you (and you're American) for an excessive love of peanut butter, just tell them that you're embracing your patriotism, haha.

Peanut Butter Granola
Recipe from


  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

--Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

--Spray cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray or use a silpat. Set aside.

--Stir together the peanut butter and honey in a tiny sauce pan over low heat until the peanut butter is melted into the honey. (You can use a microwave if you really want to, but it zaps out the great qualities of the honey.)

 --Remove from heat and mix in the cinnamon and vanilla, then add the oats and stir it all together until the oats are completely covered with the peanut butter blend.

--Spread the covered oats onto the prepared cookie sheet and bake for 7-9 minutes until the granola is slightly browned. If you kept your granola in larger chunks you may need to go longer, but watch out for burning.

---Let the granola cool until it's crunchy, just a few minutes is all. It won't be as rock solid as store bought granola, but it'll still have a nice bite to it =)

Happy Baking!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Fudgy Ganache Brownies


Ahhhh the New Year is here with new hopes, dreams, and the ever loved/hated resolutions! Do you make resolutions? I don’t. But maybe you are among the 1/3 of Americans who make weight loss related resolutions and you're looking at these brownies wondering why on earth you made a resolution that says you can't have anything of the sort. Well here are my two cents on resolutions; they are doomed to fail from the beginning. You wait all year to finally start a weight loss plan or go back to school or learn to crochet, and then that first day of the New Year arrives and you plunge into your resolution with gusto. You commit with 150% when 100% or even 85% would do. You do too much; you deprive yourself and over extend yourself. Then 42 days later you give up and swear you will do better next year. Why not just commit to start whatever day you have the grand idea of improvement? Why do we think we must wait for a special day to make ourselves better? I say improvement, whether it is health, education, your job, or your home, is a never ending process. I think it comes down to a lifelong commitment and lifestyle change rather than rules and deprivation; especially with food. So that being said, I think that these brownies do have space in your life, just not every day. I think they are a nice treat to celebrate an anniversary, a birthday, earning your degree, or paying off your credit card. And what better way to enjoy a special occasion than with moist, dense, ganache covered brownies? You're right, there isn't one. :)

Fudgy Brownies
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens special Chocolate edition

9 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 c butter
1/3 c water
4 tsp instant espresso crystals (or instant coffee crystals)
1 c granulated sugar
1 c packed brown sugar
5 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c ground almonds
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

Bittersweet Ganache

1 c whipping cream
12 oz chopped bittersweet chocolate

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a 13x9 pan with foil, extending it over the edges, grease the foil and set aside. In a large bowl, combine chocolate, butter, water and espresso crystals. Microwave uncovered for 2-4 minutes or until butter is melted, stirring twice. Remove bowl from microwave and stir until chocolate is melted.

Beat in the granulated sugar and the brown sugar with an electric mixer on low to medium until combined. Then add eggs and vanilla; beat on medium for 2 minutes. Next, beat in flour, almonds, cinnamon, and salt until combined.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes or until top appears set and dry. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Use foil to lift brownies out of pan. (Trust me you will thank me for this step!) You could certainly cut and eat them just like this, but why not slather them with the ganache and really hit that home run?

And just because I know you are concerned and perhaps even worried how much these bad boys are going to set you back in terms of caloric sabotage, I have included the nutritional info. If you cut them into 24 equal squares each brownie is 302 calories, 17 g fat. Now you can make a completely informed and intentional decision when you savor every crumb of these brownies!

To new beginnings, resolutions, and enjoying life homemade!