Monday, September 29, 2014

Chocolate Orange Coffee Cake

I recently came across a great recipe for coffee cake. It's one of Food Network's mix-and-match recipes, so you can easily customize it according to what you might have on hand. Below is the version I made, mixing in oats and orange zest in the topping and filling the middle with chocolate chips. It reminded me ever so slightly of orange & chocolate buttermilk scones (I'm a sucker for any breakfast treat with citrus zest!). I served this for breakfast the weekend that Caleb's parents came to visit last month, and I found that Caleb and his dad were sneaking pieces all weekend long, breakfast time or not.

Chocolate Orange Coffee Cake
for the topping:
3/4 cup flour
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces

for the batter:
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup sour cream
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch-square baking dish with foil, leaving an overhang; butter the foil.

Make the topping: Whisk together flour, brown sugar, oats, orange zest, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Cut the butter in with a pastry blender until incorporated. Set aside. (Can store in the fridge, covered, for one day.)

Make the batter: Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate large bowl, beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and at the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. The batter will be thick.

Spread half of the batter in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top in an even layer. Spoon the remaining batter over the chocolate chips and spread evenly. Sprinkle with the prepared topping. Bake until the topping is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 55 minutes to 1 hour 5 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes in the baking dish, then lift out the cake using the foil and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

source: recipe from food network

Monday, September 22, 2014

Pound Cake & Macerated Peaches

We're in a sort of strange weather phase right now. Tomorrow is the first day of autumn, and I'm ready for it. We planted our mums by the mailbox, I'm craving all kinds of soups and pumpkin breads, and I'm definitely ready for some cooler weather. But we live in South Carolina, and it is still pretty hot here. Yesterday I laid out for a while but then it got even too hot for that. Caleb also harvested our first watermelon from our garden yesterday. As much as I'm ready for fall, it's more like a not-so-oppressively-hot summer.

I hosted a ladies' night for our small group the other week, and I made this pound cake and macerated peaches to top it with. Both were a hit, and I'm pleased to have an easy pound cake recipe. We still have peaches on sale here, but if you don't, I'd tuck this recipe away for next year.

Perfect Pound Cake
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
5 eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter and flour a 4 1/2-by-8 1/2-inch loaf pain. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high until very light and fluffy, 7 minutes. Scrape down bowl and beat 1 minute more. Add vanilla, then gradually add eggs, beating well and scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, add salt, then gradually add flour, beating well to combine and scraping down bowl as needed.

Transfer batter to pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 65 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack, 1 hour. Remove cake from pan and let cool completely on rack before slicing.

Macerated Peaches with Cinnamon Sugar
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp honey
pinch of salt
2 tsp lime zest
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 pounds fresh peaches, quartered

Stir together first 8 ingredients in a large bowl. Add peaches; toss gently to coat. Cover and chill 1 hour.

source: pound cake recipe from Everyday Food, May 2011; macerated peaches recipe slightly adapted from Southern Living, June 2014

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Do you cook together?

Do you cook with your significant other? I typically do all of the cooking (Caleb graciously does the dishes), but earlier this week we cooked dinner together. I love the idea of us both relaxing in the kitchen after work, talking and preparing dinner together. But of course it didn't exactly go down like that. We were both starving so the talking was kept to a minimum, and I was a hot mess having just finished working out. Caleb hates reading recipes so every time he needed a new job I had to stop what I was doing to look at where we were in the recipe to give him a new task. I put too much pasta in too small of a pot and the water kept bubbling over and burning on the stove top, so eventually we had to turn on the oven fan because of the smoke. And then you know there was no talking because that thing is so DANG LOUD. 

Anyway, despite all of the above, we had dinner on the table in just 30 minutes, which I absolutely love. We made the below Italian dish, a recipe from Publix's Flavor Excursion sale. Lots of the ingredients are on sale now through September 24 at Publix, if you're interested. You can find more recipes and coupons here.

Disclosure: I received the prize pack and information from General Mills through Platefull Co-Op. All opinions are 100% my own. As you know, I love Publix :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

How to Hang a Gallery Wall

One of my favorite parts of my newly completed craft room is the gallery wall. I had a lot of fun looking through shops on Etsy to find prints of things or words I loved. The part that I was not so looking forward to, though, was the actual hanging of the prints. With different sized prints and different orientations, I really wanted the frames scattered around in a somewhat random clump rather trying to arrange them perfectly (which would totally be my OCD tendency).

I debated several methods of arranging and hanging them, but I ended up using the steps below. I'm sure there are lots of gallery wall hanging tutorials out there, but what I ended up doing was truly foolproof. I made no extra holes in the wall, and I managed to arrange and hang all of the frames all by myself! Having never even used a hammer before hanging this gallery wall, I was pretty proud of myself:) Here's how to hang a gallery wall the easy way:

1. Using kraft or butcher paper, trace and cut out templates for each frame. 

2. Place the template on the backside of the frame and line up the edges.

3. Carefully lift up part of the template to find the hanger or wall mount.

4. Holding the place of the hanger/wall mount with your finger, use a nail to make a hole in the template where it would go as if hanging on the wall. 

5. Place frames on the floor or on a table in the arrangement you would like them on the wall.

6. Using the arrangement of the frames you previously made, tape the templates to the wall using painter's tape. Once you are pleased with the arrangement, hammer nails into the holes made in the templates in step #4.

6. Remove templates and hang the frames.

sources: frames: Michaels & Bed Bath & Beyond | Paris print: Laura Amiss | flamingo print: Wren's Roost | grass is greener print: Brim Papery | work hard print: Maiedae | donut print: Ann Shen | umbrella print & stamps print: Kate Spade

Monday, September 15, 2014

Chili Recipe Roundup

One of my favorite things to cook in the fall is chili. There's something so cozy about having a big pot of chili simmering on the stove for dinner on a cool fall day. The other thing I love is that there are SO many different varieties of chili! These are some of my favorites:

I also have my eye on these chili recipes that I want to try out this fall:

If you're not into cooking or if you want a bowl of chili without taking the time to throw it all together, you can check out the two new varieties of chili from Progresso. They are tasty and just take a few minutes to heat up on the stove.

Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided by General Mills through Platefull Co-op. All opinions are 100% my own.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Gulf Coast Vacation

We returned home Saturday from a week at the Gulf Coast with my whole family. We had such a great vacation laying in the sun, playing with the kids, and mostly just being together. All seven of my nieces and nephews love playing in the sand and/or water, so it was really fun to be in the sand or out in the water with them! The three oldest girls are also learning to swim, so it was so cute to watch them get a little braver each day. One night the girls went shopping and another night the guys went fishing, and we also spent a cloudy morning at the Naval Aviation Museum. Other than that and a few donut runs, you could find us playing on the beach or in the pool or hanging out in the condo after the kids went to bed. A real vacation for me is bathing suits all day and no makeup or having to fix my hair! We are so thankful for the time we had together, especially since as the years go by we seem to geographically spread further and further apart! Here's a few pictures of our week, if you'd like to see.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home (and a giveaway!)

Do you read the blog A Beautiful Mess? If not, you should! Elsie + Emma and their team have a great blog that combines so many of my favorite things: food, home decorating, DIY projects, excellent photography, and mostly just a colorful and happy lifestyle. I've been following their blog for years and could not wait for their new book A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home to come out! It just came out the end of August, and I got my copy as part of a late birthday present:) I have loved flipping through the pages, seeing how they decorated their homes and finding inspiration for my own home. If you're looking for some ideas or tips on making your house a home with colorful, fun projects, this is the book for you!

I had the chance to receive an extra copy of the book to review, so I thought I would do a giveaway with this copy since I already have my own! Head over to my instagram (@sherrilynnpuz) to play along!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the Blogging for Books program. It is a book that I already own and love. All opinions are 100% my own.