Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Peanut Butter Snickers Cookies

I have this weird thing where I like knowing people's favorites.  Probably because I have a favorite everything (soda, ice cream, pair of jeans, month, cushion on the couch) so I assume others do too.  I learned shortly after Caleb and I started dating that HE HAS NO FAVORITES.  This drives me crazy!  We finally figured out Caleb has one favorite.  Snickers bars are his favorite candy bar.  That is it.  I have one favorite of my husband's to work with.  So when I found this recipe, I just had to make these cookies.  After a couple of rough days at work last week, I wanted to have these coming out of the oven as Caleb got home from work.  Those with a peanut allergy stay away - there's Snickers AND peanut butter!

Peanut Butter Snickers Cookies
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 regular-sized Snickers bars, chopped
3/4 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet or milk)

In medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and the peanut butter together until fluffy.  Add the sugars and beat until smooth.  Add the egg and mix until combined.  Add the milk and the vanilla extract and mix again.  Add the flour mixture and beat until flour disappears.  Stir in the chopped Snickers bars and chocolate chips.

Drop by heaping tablespoons onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Gently flatten each cookie ball with the palm of your hand.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-11 minutes, or until cookies are slightly brown on the edges.

Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5-10 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool completely.  Store in airtight container at room temperature.

source:  recipe from browneyed baker

Monday, May 30, 2011

Caramel Pecan Banana Bread

It's day 3 of our stay at the beach, and we are so relaxed.  Wake up, eat, lay on the beach, take a dip in the pool, eat, lay on the beach, get in the hot tub, eat, read, talk, eat, sleep.  Seriously - this is the life.  Caleb and I have had a couple of hard weeks with work and other things, so it's been great to get away from it all and just enjoy ourselves.  As much as I love cooking, it is nice to have those hours of my day free again!  I had asked my mother-in-law if she wanted me to cook anything ahead of time to bring, and all she wanted was this bread.

caramel & pecan topped banana bread
Caramel Pecan Banana Bread
2 cups flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 ripe large bananas
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup vanilla yogurt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup chopped pecans
half a package (5.5 oz package) Werther's chewy caramels, chopped

In large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In medium bowl, mash the bananas.  Add the eggs, melted butter, yogurt, and vanilla and combine well.  Lightly fold the wet ingredients into the dry mixture until just combined.  Don't overmix.

batter topped with pecans and caramels
Pour batter into greased 9-inch loaf pan.  Sprinkle the chopped caramels and chopped pecans over the top of the batter.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes until bread is golden brown and toothpick comes out clean.

source:  recipe adapted from joy of baking

Friday, May 27, 2011

Shoe Pouf

I recently saw the most brilliant (and necessary) item for shoe lovers like myself:

It looks like an innocent ottoman
via lilly pulitzer, hfi brands

But open it up and you can store shoes inside!
via lilly pulitzer, hfi brands

I love this because it organizes without cluttering, it's functional, and it keeps everyone from seeing the ridiculous number of shoes I have.  I'm pretty sure I need this.  

In July, the "dealer locater" option will be available on Lilly Pulitzer to find where to buy this amazing item. 

In the mean time, how do you store your shoes?

Memorial Day Weekend

Don't you just love a three-day weekend?  Last year for Memorial Day weekend, we went to Boston and got to go whale watching!

on the boat ready to take off

our first glimpse of a whale!

it was incredible to see!

a little windy heading back in

hello Boston!

This year we're going to the beach with Caleb's family.  We're leaving tonight and will see everyone there tomorrow.  It's been raining like crazy here for the past two weeks, so we are ready to enjoy some sunshine!  What are your plans for this weekend?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Browned Butter Fresh Blueberry Muffins

I've realized my go-to activity is baking.  I bake when I'm bored.  I bake when I'm sad.  I bake to avoid doing laundry and cleaning the house.  I bake so I can watch Friends while I'm in the kitchen.  I bake when I want to feel productive.  All of this is good and well except for that it leads to my second go-to activity: eating. And this brings me to a new muffin recipe I'd like to share with you.

Browned Butter Fresh Blueberry Muffins
7 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup milk (I used 1%)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 cups fresh blueberries

For the topping:
3 Tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup flour
3 1/2 Tbsp sugar

Put a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line muffin pan with foil or paper liners.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Keep an eye on the butter.  Melt and cook down the butter until little brown bits appear in the pan.  The crackling will subside and the butter will begin to brown fairly quickly after that.  Keep a close eye on it.  Remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk milk, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla until combined.  Add the brown butter and stir to combine.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add milk and butter mixture all at once and stir gently to combine.  Gently fold in the blueberries.

Divide the batter among muffin cups and spread evenly.

To make the topping, combine the flour and sugar in a small bowl.  Add the pieces of cold butter and cut in with a pastry blender until crumbly.  Sprinkle evenly over the batter in the cups.

Bake for 18-20 minutes at 375 degrees, or until golden and crisp and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes.  Then remove muffins from pan and continue cooling on rack.  Makes 12 muffins.

source:  recipe from joy the baker

I linked up at this chick cooks!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


One of the things I love about summer is an excuse to eat lots of ice cream and popsicles!  I think popsicles are so fun - they're bright and colorful and come in so many flavors!  Here is everything you might need for popsicles this summer:

summer pops dishtowel
crate & barrel, $4.95

popsicle recipe book
chronicle books, $16.95

quick pop maker
williams sonoma, $36.95

ice pop mold
uncommon goods, $10

twisted ice pop molds
wrapables, $8.99

and here are some popsicle recipes:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

After a Little TLC

I've given the blog a bit of love and have made some updates.  There are now some tabs on the bar at the top of the page!  The Recipes page has quick links to all of the recipes that have been featured on the blog, for easy access.  For my current read and other books I've recently read and others I'd recommend, see the Books page.  Check out the About and Contact pages for more info on the blog and yours truly.

Hopefully these changes will make the blog a bit easier to navigate!

And just because they're so beautiful, here's a picture of the flowers my parents sent me yesterday.  

Pecan Chocolate Chip Scones

Remember how last week I was all about baking with pecans?  These babies were part of it.  These scones are so moist!  And they almost taste like a big thick pancake you can eat with your hands.  In other words, they're good.

scone topped with powdered sugar

Pecan Chocolate Chip Scones
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold
1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp maple syrup (whatever you have on hand; I used Log Cabin)
1 Tbsp milk for brushing tops
confectioners sugar, for tops

Stack two baking sheets together and line the top baking sheet with parchment paper (to keep the bottom of the scones from burning).

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Cut the butter into small pieces and blend into the flour mixture with a pastry blender.  The mixture should look like coarse crumbs.  Stir in the chopped pecans and chocolate chips.  In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk with the maple syrup and then add to the flour mixture, stirring just until the dough comes together.  Do not overmix.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough gently four or five times and then pat the dough into a circle that is about 7 inches round and 1 1/2 inches thick.  Place on the baking sheet.  Cut the circle into eight wedges.  Brush tops of the scones with milk.

Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown and the center is cooked through.  Remove from oven and turn your broiler on high.  Sift powdered sugar heavily over the tops of the scones and place under the broiler.  Broil for just a few seconds, until most of the sugar is melted and the tops turn golden brown.  Be sure to watch the scones as they're under the broiler - they can burn quickly!  Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Source:  recipe adapted from joy of baking

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Grey Day

You know those days where you wake up and feel down?  Like you just keep thinking about the hard or sad things that have happened?  And then you remind yourself that there are so many things to be thankful for, things to be joyful about, and things to look forward to, which helps some, but part of you is still sad? That's where I am today, just feeling a little grey.  But grey is also my favorite color, so I found these pretty grey things to remind me that sometimes, grey is beautiful.

pebble cushion cover, howkapow

ikat essex bench, west elm

linen apron, terrain

sequin tote, gap

chinchilly, essie

duvet cover, west elm

Friday, May 20, 2011

Chicken Squares

Throughout our marriage I have really tried to make something different for dinner most nights.  For the first four months I stuck to this, but since then I've slipped up and made a few dinners on more than one occasion.  This recipe is one of those ones that I keep going back to.  I've been eating these chicken squares since I was little, and I love them.  The recipe is originally from a family friend, and these are so easy to make!  And they look quite cute all bundled up; for company it makes a much better presentation than just a casserole or something.

Chicken Squares
2 cups cubed chicken, already cooked
3 oz cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp melted butter
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp chopped pimiento (found in the canned vegetable aisle)
8 oz tube of crescent rolls

Blend cream cheese and margarine.  Add salt, pepper, milk, and pimiento; mix well.  Add chicken and stir to combine.  Separate crescent rolls into four rectangles onto ungreased baking sheet.  Pinch the seams together.  Spoon 1/4 of the mixture onto the center of each rectangle.  Pull the four corners of each rectangle to the center and seal with your fingers, creating a little bundle with the chicken mixture inside.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until crescents are golden brown.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

This Week I'm Loving

fresh flowers on my table

the new coconut mocha frappuccino

essie's ballet slippers

baking with pecans

my vanilla lime candle

What little things have brightened up your week?

Giveaway Winners

The winners of the Cascade Complete All-in-1 ActionPac samples are:

Dana V.

And the winner of the giftcard and a sample is


Thanks for entering!  And thank you to all the new followers!

*random.org was used to determine the winners

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New Favorite Cookies

Do you know Joy the baker?  If you don't you should.  Her recipes are scrumptious and her blog makes me laugh.  Which automatically puts her on my to-be-friends-with list.  Anyway, I made a cookie recipe of hers last night.  They were amazing.  Definitely my new favorite cookies.  They are Oatmeal Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Caleb said it sounded like a lot going on in one cookie.  It is.  It's like a party in your mouth.

Oatmeal Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups uncooked oats (I used old-fashioned)
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans

Beat the sugar, brown sugar, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment.  Beat until creamy, about 3-4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.  Add the vanilla extract and beat until blended.

Whisk together the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add to the butter and egg mixture slowly beating on low speed until just incorporated.  Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans last.

Using either an ice cream scoop or your clean hands, drop balls of dough onto an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until they've reached your desired doneness.  Allow to cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  Makes about 4 dozen medium-sized cookies.

Source:  recipe adapted from joy the baker

today is the last day to enter to win a walmart gift card!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Ultimate (fake) Wedding

Have you heard of the Not Wedding?  It is a super fun alternative to a bridal show!  It's a one-night event with a ceremony, a sit-down dinner, and a reception complete with dancing.  If you are a bride-to-be, it is an awesome way to see the vendors in action:  hear the DJ's music, taste the food, see pretty invitations, etc.  It's happening on July 21 in Atlanta, so go check out the website and buy your tickets here!  All future-brides, or anyone who just loves weddings as much as I do, as well as wedding vendors, this is the event for you!  

Also, if you are planning a wedding, the Not Wedding also has a project coming in the next few weeks called Snag the Swag.  Sign up to hear about great deals on all wedding-related stuff!

I hope to see you there!

link up at communal global

Monday, May 16, 2011

Strawberry Jam

When I was a little girl, I thought it would be so fun to grow up and spend all day in the kitchen, canning things and kneading bread and making pies from scratch.  I wanted to go down into my little cellar and see my all my shelves of canned things.  (Maybe I read too many Amish stories.)  Well here I am, grown up with my own kitchen and without a cellar.  I have never canned anything, I've only made bread twice, and I don't really like making pies.  I usually spend my time in the kitchen making dinner or baking something simple, but I still do like the idea of making something to line the shelves of my imaginary cellar.  So on Friday I decided to make jam!  I used this recipe, and it was so easy!  It really is delicious, and I might make another batch so that we have enough to give away and to last us a while.

jars on counter

washed strawberries

the finished product

enjoying the jam on a biscuit

don't forget to enter to win a walmart gift card!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Home From the Beach

the ocean was gorgeous

the sand was soft

the view was beautiful from our deck

the house was great

we had such a fun & relaxing time

*don't forget to enter the gift card giveaway!*

Friday, May 13, 2011

Walmart Gift Card GIVEAWAY!

Last week I received a sample of the Cascade Complete All-in-1 ActionPacs, provided by P&G through MyBlogSpark.  I have always been skeptical of dishwasher detergents that claim to work without pre-rinsing or pre-soaking.  To really test how well this one worked, I made baked spaghetti in a white Corningware dish and served it on white Fiestaware plates.  I then let those dishes, along with our utensils and salad bowls, sit for 24 hours without rinsing them.  All of the dishes had spaghetti sauce and food caked onto them, but I used a Cascade Complete All-in-1 ActionPac, and all of the dishes (the ones placed on the bottom rack of the dishwasher) came completely clean!  I was so pleasantly surprised.  For trying their product, P&G also provided a giveaway for you all.

Prize:  One (1) $15 Walmart gift card and five (5) 
Cascade Complete All-in-1 ActionPac samples

How to Enter:  Leave a comment on this post letting me know
what meal you hate cleaning up after

Extra chance to win:  If you are a public follower of this blog using
Google Friend connect, you may leave a 2nd comment letting me
know so.  If you become a public follower of this blog using
Google Friend connect, you may also leave a 2nd comment
letting me know so.

Rules:  Only two (2) comments per person please.  Limited
to those with a U.S. mailing address. 

Deadline to enter is Wednesday, May 18 at 9 PM (EST)

Winners will be randomly selected and announced on Thursday.
One (1) winner will receive the $15 WalMart gift card and
a sample of the Cascade Complete All-in-1 ActionPacs.
Four (4) additional winners will receive a sample of the
Cascade Complete All-in-1 ActionPacs.

Legal Disclaimer  This product review was based on using complimentary Cascade product provided by P&G.  Bloggers also received a Walmart gift card to share with their readers.  P&G does not represent or warrant the accuracy of any statements or product claims made here, nor does it endorse any opinions expressed within this blog site.

*I apologize to those who already had entered this giveaway; with Blogger's shutdown the post was erased and I'm not sure if it will ever be restored so I had to repost*

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Read: Committed

My first beach read of the week was Committed.  I read Eat, Pray, Love when it first came out and loved Elizabeth Gilbert's style of writing.  I was looking forward to reading another one of her books, but was a little nervous it was going to be a book bashing marriage.  As somewhat of a newlywed, I didn't really want to read a book telling me I had made a terrible mistake by getting married.  But that's not how I felt reading this.  I just enjoyed reading a book about marriage (something I obviously am a huge proponent of) written from a very different perspective than my own.  I think it's good to read books that you can't entirely embrace and agree with.  I think it's good to stretch out of your comfort zone and question what you believe and think about something.

Have you read Committed?  What are your thoughts on marriage?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

In My Beach Bag

We are having a wonderful time at the beach!  The weather is amazing, so I want to hurry up and get back out there!  There are a couple of products that I love to use when I'm at the beach.  Here they are:

This is my favorite lip product.  It goes on really
smooth and keeps them moist for a long time.
Yes To Carrots Pomegranate Lip Butter
with SPF 15 (here)

This sunblock is only 30 SPF, but 
really protects my skin from getting burned.
It also smells really good and doesn't feel sticky.
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer 30 SPF (here)

Because the first day I failed to put the sunscreen on 
my back, I got burned.  This lotion cools my skin and 
makes it feel so good!
Jergens Soothing Aloe Relief Lotion (here)

What do you like to keep handy in your beach bag?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Rice Krispies Treats

I saw the cutest idea for Rice Krispies treats a couple of months ago here.  I had to make them.  My nieces love Rice Krispies treats so I made them last week to bring down here with us.  I used the original recipe (here) and spread them into a greased pan, but I reserved a little of the mixture to make these cute treats!

Roll the mixture into little balls and place on parchment paper.

Dip the top of each ball into melted chocolate and 
allow excess chocolate to drip off.

Dip or sprinkle the sprinkles or topping of your choice.

I used mini chocolate chips.

And fun sprinkles.

Such a colorful treat!