nourishing & unapologetic
Hold the phone. Today is National BROWNIE Day! How did we not have this day off work? Call your Congressman!
Naturally, I have to break the all the blogging rules you might have heard, because today calls for TWO posts. Since we're nearing the close of the day, we can file this under "better late than never." If you read my new About page, you know brownies are my jam. I can't diss them. For the sake of all that's holy, let's make some brownies so we don't have to live with the regret of not celebrating this day.
The recipe I have for you is killer.
But we have to get one thing straight. Boxed brownies are not inferior. Actually, #boxedbrownies4lyfe. Uh huh, I'm a blogger who abandons any purist or absolute notions. I like semi-homemade. I like from scratch. I like real. And sometimes, you just need a dang shortcut. There is no shame if you're making and baking for the enjoyment of yourself or others. And when it comes to brownies from the box, we (even the haters) really need to admit they're usually pretty spectacular.
Okay, now we can proceed.
These brownies start with a mix and are then zhuzhed up with buttermilk, chocolate chips, and chocolate frosting. Need I say more?
Classic Frosted Brownies (aka your new favorite)
Brownie Mix (use your favorite family-sized boxed brand)
6 tablespoons melted butter
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
What to do:
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons whole milk
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
What to do:
Now it is time to share with your family. Or hoard them. Either way, it's a win.
This recipe comes to us from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen. But, I halved it and added the chocolate chips. She's the genius behind your enjoyment.
My work here is done.
Until next time,
This is a story. A story of love and carbs, and change.
I do carbs well (like A+ skill). I love love and do it pretty well. And change, that one, whew, not so much... but life it is a funny thing.
We moved to Wichita a little over two years ago for Nick's job. Starting our life here meant I left a job that I really liked. Looking back, I actually loved it. But, we made this move together. I agreed to our move without hesitation and excitement because I love Nick and I love us. And, because he got the offer many others in his field covet.
So, I got a new job in Wichita. We actually started our new jobs the same day. My experience at my new job in Wichita allowed me some great experiences planning big events, helping craft concentrated marketing efforts, connecting with some impressive people, and develop some good relationships. I had a good run in that position. But I started this blog because I wanted to share stories and honest reflections (and great food!). Accordingly, I have to be transparent. In this position, I struggled with my authenticity, the value I provided, my work-life balance, and, frankly, my happiness. Thus, I reached a tipping point and had to make a change. YES, I inserted change, BIG CHANGE, into my own life.
Switching jobs is scary. Leaving one that is stable, poised for possible growth, and reasonably compensated for one that is for lesser pay well that's enough to send a lifelong risk-manager into a tailspin. This is where the love comes in. Throughout my entire job search and interview process, Nick was the paramount cheerleader. He was my champion. He provided me the permission I thought I needed to walk away from something fine for something that could bring me new challenge and more peace. He did give me some tough love and a quasi-mandate to make a decision and not look back, either way no matter what I chose.
It came down to taking the risk. Or facing regret. I would have only stayed in my former position out of fear of the unknown. So I had some lengthy consultation with those I love the most and did some soul-searching. Then I went to sleep. Yes, I slept on it. Then I woke up and charged ahead on decision day resolved to take the leap. I found this quote that describes the feeling I had, "And suddenly you just know it's time to start something new and trust the magic of new beginnings."
In this journey, perhaps amplified by ever nearing end of my twenties, I've come to realize giving my energy and time to something that fulfills you is critical. Adding value to your life and the lives of others is awesome and necessary. Moreover, happiness is important. Happiness with self, work, and life. If something is standing in the way of happiness you have to move it or move you. New beginnings only happen if we make them happen.
I am happy to report that I think I'm going to love my new job. I get the opportunity to tell the stories of our community's school district. I get to showcase what's good about public education and the success of students and teachers. I also get to help foster opportunities for support. Other bonuses about this new job: Practically no more extra hours. Nick and I have about the same schedule. And it frees me up to take another leap, errrr, well perhaps tip toe into the world of real estate (more on this when there's more to report.) It's true that the newness hasn't worn off, but it's safe to say I made the right choice.
All this change makes me hungry. Carbs, shall we? Let's talk donuts. Better yet, pumpkin donuts.
with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing
Original Donut Recipe from King Arthur Flour
Makes 18 donuts
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin (not pie filling)
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 3/4 + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients with hand or stand mixer until well blended.
3. Stir in flour until smooth.
4. Spoon batter into non-stick sprayed standard donut pan. Fill wells about 3/4 full.
5. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Let cool in pan for 2-3 minutes then move donuts out onto cooling rack.
While cooling, make icing, if desired.
1. Beat 5 tablespoons cream cheese, 3/4 cup powered sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, and 1 1/2 teaspoons light brown sugar with hand mixer. Adjust powdered sugar and use about 2-4 tablespoons of milk to create desired consistency. We like it a little more cream cheesy, a little less sweet, and a teeny bit thick but that's the beauty of it all, customize to your liking.
Note: I made the donuts the day before icing them. They were a bit sticky the next day. So I popped the donuts back into the oven at 350 for about 2-3 minutes and then dipped these babies into icing.
This treat. These are incredibly easy. And the pumpkin spice is like whoa. Enjoy them this fall (more than once if you can handle it.)
Before I sign off, I have to give a shout out to by husband and those who took this leap with me. THANK YOU for helping me pursue my own path and loving me through my crazy antics, my over analyzation, and my dreams.
If you're headed towards a crossroads or faced with any difficult decisions, trust your tribe, trust yourself, and take the risk. Read the quotes below as they were pulled from my Instagram feed and GO FOR IT!
Until next time.
Fall is my favorite season. Except for summer because it's my favorite too. They each offer their own distinct temperatures, festivities, and food... I guess we'll call it a draw between the two. But the one thing fall has over summer is that Nick and I officially met in the fall--October 1st to be exact. Our first months of dating fell during the magical time of the year. And we chose to get married in September so maybe I ought to reconsider their rankings... in the meantime, let's talk about how this header picture came to be.
I'd already decorated our home accordingly and I felt like there was more fall fun to be had. I wanted to go apple picking as I'd never been (and neither had Nick). So, during our Anniversary month, I hopefully sought out a local apple orchard. How lucky was it to actually find one?! We tooled on over near Newton, KS (just about 35 minutes from our westside neighborhood) and visited Entz Orchard.
Talk about a gem! Elaine, the owner and grower, and her family have been growing apples at Entz for about 20 years. The orchard is as easy-going as Elaine. It's a peaceful and fun activity for a couple, family, or group of friends. You can pick at your own pace, sample as you go, and soak up the sun that peaks in through the tree rows. You pay by the weight and prices are good. Entz grows many popular varieties and some relatively unknown too. My new favorite, the Criterion apple, a green to gold apple that's fleshy and sweet, and, from what we've heard, pretty versatile. Nick was partial to the Braeburns which was surprising as he's usually a Pink Lady or Honeycrisp guy.
We picked til our bags were full and walked away with about $30 of apples plus a brand new memory and tradition. (I should have posted this sooner so those in our area could make their way to the orchard for fun of their own. I think there might be a week or so left for picking based on what Elaine said is the usual season. It's worth the quick drive and loads of fun.)
I thought I'd immediately bake apple crisp or a pie, but the apples were sooooo good to eat my hurry dissipated. Now almost a month later, we still have good apples and company coming. So, I seized the opportunity to bake with some of the Entz apples.
Enter Caramel Apple Monkey Bread. This is now a new fall favorite, or as Nick says a "menu item" when he really likes something. It's an excellent combination of carbs, caramel, cinnamon, and of course, apples. This original recipe comes from Mom on Timeout and I didn't tweak it other than the apple type used.
Caramel Apple Monkey Bread
Original Recipe created by Mom on Timeout
Semi-homemade Monkey Bread (Step 1)
2 cans homestyle refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (I used Pillsbury Grands)
2 cups apples, chopped into small pieces (~1/2" cubes)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Simple Caramel Sauce (Step 2)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup salted butter
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Sugar Coating (Step 3)
4-5 tablespoons salted butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
Semi-homemade Monkey Bread
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray bundt pan with non-stick spray.
2. Open biscuits and divide each biscuit into quarters (16 biscuits, 64 quarters total)
3. Mix brown sugar, sugar, and cinnamon in a medium to large bowl. Toss the apples in mixture.
4. Separate out 1/2 cup of apples.
5. Smoosh/flatten a biscuit quarter and fold around a piece of apple. Be sure to seal the edges. Repeat until all biscuit quarters have been used. (I had apples left so I used them within the layers, more on that later.)
Simple Caramel Sauce
1. Melt butter, brown sugar, and heavy whipping cream in small sauce pan.
2. Bring to boil.
3. Cook about 3 minutes, stirring often.
4. Pour about 1/3 of the caramel into the greased bundt pan.
Making the Bread
1. Sprinkle half of the reserved apples on the caramel.
2. Roll each biscuit round in melted butter and brown sugar.
3. Put about 20 biscuit rounds in the bundt pan on top of the caramel and apples.
4. Pour another 1/3 of the caramel sauce on the rounds. Sprinkle the remaining apples on this layer.
5. Place remaining biscuit rounds in pan.
6. Pour remaining caramel sauce over rounds.
1. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes. (feel free to put some foil on the rack below your pan to prevent a mess!)
Make sure that the top of your bread doesn't brown too much; tent with foil if needed.
2. Let cool in bundt pan for at least 30 minutes before turning out to a plate. (I let mine sit probably 45 minutes to an hour).
3. Enjoy! *We had ours warm for breakfast with quiche but this totally dessert worthy too.
(Forgive my lack of photos. I got absorbed in the process.)
Okay, I am making a concentrated effort to blog more. So you'll be hearing from me soon. Happy fall to y'all! Until next time.
We like things pretty hot around here. Conveniently, Nick's garden is producing plenty of peppers, jalapenos, specifically. Recently, the Pioneer Woman showcased a recipe for jalapeño cheddar scones. Yes, thank sweet serendipity. It brought you these babies.
When we got back from our great vacay, all I wanted to do was cook/bake. I really missed being on the kitchen. I realize vacation is meant to take you away from what you do routinely, but man, 7 days with little to zero cooking, made me a little bonkers. Upon arrival back in Wichita, I was relieved to find the buttermilk I'd forgotten to freeze hadn't expired quite yet and the garden was chock full of bright, corked peppers. (*Corking is apparently the optimal stage for a hot pepper. We don't see corked peppers in the store because honestly they're a bit ugly.) I'd pinned PW's recipe earlier that day. Her recipe doesn't call for buttermilk but if you read my last post, you know I am proponent of this dairy product, plus I had peppers and cheese and I know how to substitute.
I couldn't not make them. And, you shouldn't deny yourself either. If you're not a heat lover, you can dial it down. But trust me, you don't want to miss this buttery, cheesy, spicy pastry.
Jalapeno Buttermilk Scones
Recipe Slightly Adapted of the Pioneer Woman
3-1/2 cups all-purpose Flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
12 tablespoons cold butter, cut Into small cubes (PW calls for unsalted butter, but use what you have on hand)
1/2 to 3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (PW used 1/3 pound sharp cheddar cheese, cut Into small cubes but I didn't have that on hand)
1/2 cup fresh jalapeño slices (more or less based on preference; PW used jarred jalapenos))
1 cup buttermilk (PW used 1/2 cup heavy cream and 1/2 cup milk, but I had neither of these)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon jalapeño juice (from the jar), optional
And there you have it: easy peasy, savory scone.
Nick was unsure but was pleasantly surprised by the scone. He thought they'd be a great appetizer or side of sorts. I agree though I ate my fair share for breakfast. They are great alone with just the butter that was brushed on top of them. To take them to the next level, I suggest topping one with a spoonful of strawberry jam. No, really, it's the perfect complement. Kind of like a nod to hot pepper jelly.
Hope these bring a little heat to your kitchen! Talk to you soon.
PS take some time to stumble over to The Pioneer Woman's website or peruse one of her cookbooks. She's fascinating and oh so talented.
Breakfast for many is eggs, bacon, biscuits...and while I totally like those items, I tend to crave something sweet to start my day. A tender fruity or chocolately muffin fits that bill. When I was in college, I figured out the secret ingredient to making the best, most tender muffins...BUTTERMILK! I know it is a rather old school ingredient to have in a college refrigerator but I am a kind of an old person at heart who adores Southern food, so buttermilk in my fridge makes total sense.
Muffins aren't my everyday fuel; generally pastries for breakfast are reserved for weekends or traveling days. Though, when there's buttermilk on hand and it's a weekend or holiday, I'll probably break out the muffin tins. In preparation for the 4th of July, I made a batch of blueberry muffins to take for our visit with the I Family in Lee's Summit. Nick is always a skeptic when there's something sweet for breakfast. But, he definitely ate two muffins when they came out of the oven (quality control work, I'm sure).
Make these before summer escapes us. The bright blueberry flavor is a burst of the season, for sure.
Summer Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins
(Makes 12-16 regular size muffins)
Recipe adapted from Joy of Baking
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon (or less if preferred)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest of one lemon (orange is great too!)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 to 2 cups of blueberries (fresh preferred)
These are very quick and easy but don't let that fool you, they're quality. Wishing you muffin merriment soon! Talk to you soon.