Monday, August 31, 2015

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Muffins

On my kitchen counter I have a large cake plate with a glass dome over it, and most of the time it's filled with muffins or a quick bread. Last week I wanted to bake something that would still be perfect to add to breakfast, but that wasn't as sweet as the muffins I typically bake. I threw together these cinnamon sugar pull-apart muffins in no time. The dough is biscuit dough, so it's not as sweet, and each piece of dough is rolled in a little bit of cinnamon and sugar. Once baked, the muffins are drizzled with a little bit of frosting - but! I swapped out the cream cheese for Greek yogurt instead! The vanilla in the Greek yogurt really comes through and makes for a delicious frosting. I can't wait to see what else I can make with this frosting hack. You can find other #madewithchobani recipes here.

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Muffins
vanilla blended Chobani Greek yogurt (5.3 oz cup)
1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pillsbury Grands! flaky layers biscuits (16.3 oz tube)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.

To make the frosting, whisk together the Greek yogurt and the powdered sugar, making sure no lumps remain. Place in refrigerator until ready to use.

In a shallow bowl, stir together the granulated sugar and the cinnamon until well combined. Separate dough into eight biscuits; cut into quarters. Toss each piece of dough into the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place 3-4 pieces of coated dough into each cup of the prepared muffin tin. Bake for 14-18 minutes, or until top is golden brown and dough is cooked through. Remove muffins from muffin tin and place on wire rack. Drizzle desired amount of frosting over the warm muffins. Serve immediately. Makes 8-10 muffins.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Apple Picking

Over the weekend we went apple picking! We typically go later in the fall, but we wanted to make sure we got Honeycrisp apples this year (the BEST), so we had to go a little early. We went up on a Sunday morning that was overcast, and there was hardly anyone there! It was a pleasant surprise, since the orchard we go to is typically so crowded you have to wait in line to get a parking spot, let alone the apple cider donuts. We did purchase said donuts before we made our way into the orchard. Madeleine did great in the Solly baby wrap and enjoyed looking all around. We came home with plenty of apples, and now I am excited for fall!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Back to School Supplies

I don't think it matters how many years I've been out of school - I will always think of fall as "back to school" and the beginning of a fresh start! Even though I'm not shopping for school supplies, I couldn't help but do a little browsing imagining what all I would purchase should I be heading back to school. But truthfully, any of these items would be welcome in my office :) 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Summer Pasta with Herb Vinaigrette

Summertime is my favorite for many reasons, but one of them is the food (when is not about the food?!). Summer was made for grilling, for dining al fresco, and for fresh salads. I discovered this recipe in the stack of magazines that has been getting taller and taller even since Madeleine was born. I tweaked the recipe a little bit, substituting for ingredients I had, and this is now one of my new favorite pasta salads. The herb vinaigrette is reminiscent of pesto with the basil and parmesan, and I love the arugula tossed right in with the pasta. Hurry up and make this while you still have summer fresh basil and tomatoes!

Summer Pasta with Herb Vinaigrette
16 oz uncooked cavatappi pasta
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 lbs tomatoes, chopped
4 cups loosely packed arugula
4 oz crumbled feta cheese
15 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper
salt & freshly ground pepper
herb vinaigrette (recipe below)

Prepare pasta according to package directions for al dente. Toss together pasta and olive oil in a large bowl.

Add tomatoes, arugula, basil, and crushed red pepper to pasta; toss gently. Add 6 Tbsp of the herb vinaigrette to the pasta mixture; toss gently. Add salt and pepper to taste. Just before serving, stir in the feta and remaining vinaigrette. Makes 8-10 servings.

Herb Vinaigrette
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
4 small garlic cloves
1/2 cup vegetable oil
12 fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
salt & freshly ground pepper

Process red wine vinegar, lemon juice, and garlic in a food processor until smooth. With processor running, pour vegetable oil in a slow, steady steam, processing until blended. Add basil leaves and process until smooth. Add Parmesan cheese; pulse to combine. Stir in salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container up to 5 days.

source: recipe adapted from Southern Living, July 2015

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Reading, Lately

If you've not read any Elin Hilderbrand books yet, get yourself to the nearest Barnes & Noble (or let's be real, just click over to Amazon) and buy a couple! I have read all 15 of her novels in the past six weeks(!!), if that tells you anything. I started with Silver Girl and loved it so much I worked my way through the rest of her books. I would classify these as easy beach reads, but not in the traditional sense. I typically steer clear of beach reads because the plots are too predictable and the writing is usually sub-par. These books, however, are enjoyable and don't require any thinking, but the writing is spot-on and the story lines are involved. Each of the books tells the story from several of the characters' point of view, and I believe in most of the books at least one of the characters is remembering/reliving the past; both of these things add depth and layers into the story, which I love. All of the stories take place on Nantucket, a spot that is now on my to-visit-before-I-die list.

If you're looking for a book to take on your last summer hurrah or just need something new to read, Silver Girl, The Matchmaker, The Rumor, and The Castaways were my favorites.

What have you been reading this summer?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Strawberry Lattice Crust Pie

As I shared earlier this month, it's been a kitchen goal of mine to make a lattice crust pie, so a couple of weeks ago I set out to do just that. I didn't have a whole lot of time during Madeleine's nap, so I opted for strawberry pie, which was really easy to throw together. My trick in making pies is that I make the pie crust dough ahead of time. In this case, I had made the dough before Madeleine was even born and had it wrapped well and sitting in the freezer. After thawing the dough in the fridge until it was ready to roll out, this pie came together in no time. And to my surprise, making the lattice crust was very easy following the tips I've linked below! Strawberries are still on sale at my grocery store, so snatch some up and make this pie to celebrate the last few weeks of summer!

Strawberry Lattice Crust Pie
pie crust dough for 2 9-inch pie crusts (I doubled this recipe)
5-6 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
large pinch of salt
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 egg, beaten

In a medium bowl toss together strawberries, sugars, cornstarch, salt, and lemon juice. Toss until all of the cornstarch has disappeared into the strawberries and let rest for 10 minutes. The strawberries will begin to produce juice.

To assemble the pie, on a well-floured surface, roll the bottom crust 1/8" thick and about 12" in diameter. Transfer it to a pie pan. Trim the edge almost even with the edge of the pan. Spoon filling into piecrust.

Roll out the top crust in the same manner. Use a pastry cutter (or pizza slicer) to slice the dough into 1-inch wide strips and weave the crust strips on top of the pie. Use this guide to help you.

To finish, place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Brush the egg wash over pie crust, then sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Place pie on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake the pie for 30 minutes more, or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before serving.

source: pie recipe from joy the baker

Sunday, August 16, 2015

SweetLeaf Water Drops

I have been drinking a TON of water the past year. I was thirsty like crazy all throughout my pregnancy, and now that I have a baby and am nursing, I am drinking water all of the time to stay hydrated. I admit sometimes I get bored of water; I would much rather be drinking lemonade or sweet tea or something with flavor! Enter these water drops: they're naturally sugar-free and gluten-free, and they have no calories, no carbs, and no artificial sweeteners! That last part is key for me: I really hate artificial sweeteners, so this is a great alternative if you're in the same boat as me. If you're looking to add a little natural flavor to your water, try these water drops! You can buy SweetLeaf Water Drops in the four flavors pictured above, and you can buy them here. The Raspberry Lemonade was my personal favorite :) 

Disclaimer: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of this product.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Find Color Collections // Turquoise

Last week I noticed that I had several things on my bathroom counter that were all a similar shade of turquoise. The hue caught my eye, and I began wandering around our house noticing other objects a similar shade. I decided to gather them up and start a new blog + instagram series: Find Color Collections. This grouping brightens my day and makes me smile! If you want to join in, round up a collection of items similarly colored, snap a picture, and tag it #findcolorcollections on instagram. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Peach Coffee Cake with Streusel Topping

Caleb's parents came to visit us last month to spend time with Madeleine. Right before they left, they bought a bunch of fresh peaches and left some of them with us. As the peaches were ripening on our counter, I brainstormed what I should bake with them. I hadn't baked anything since Madeleine was born, and I was missing it. I finally settled on a new coffee cake recipe with peaches and streusel as the topping. The cake was moist, the peaches were perfectly ripe, and the streusel topping was the perfect finish. 

Peach Coffee Cake with Streusel Topping
for the topping:
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon

for the cake:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups sliced fresh firm, ripe peaches (about 3 large peaches)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan. (A shiny or light-colored pan will give the best results. If you have a dark pan, wrap the outside of the pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil to get a similar result.) 

To prepare streusel topping, beat butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth and creamy. Gradually add sugar and brown sugar, beating well. Add flour and cinnamon; beat just until blended. Chill.

To prepare cake, beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth and creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating only until the yellow yolk disappears after each addition.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; add to butter mixture in thirds, alternating with half of milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

Pour batter into prepared tin. Top with sliced peaches. Drop 1-inch pieces of streusel topping over fruit. Bake at 350 for 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes, or until center of cake is set (a wooden pick inserted in center will be covered in moist crumbs, but not wet batter). Cool completely on a wire rack, about 1 1/2 hours. Makes 8 servings.

source: recipe slightly adapted from Southern Living Community Cookbook

Thursday, August 6, 2015

How to get rid of fruit flies

Do you have a problem with fruit flies in your kitchen during the summer? Of course it is during the summertime that we have more produce sitting out: tomatoes ripening on the windowsill, cantaloupes or pineapples on the counter waiting to be cut, etc., but I cannot stand the pesky little fruit flies! 

Thankfully I've found a solution: fill a glass jar two-thirds of the way full with apple cider vinegar. Secure plastic wrap over the mouth of the jar, and poke several holes in the plastic wrap. Leave it sitting out on the counter, and watch how many fruit flies you will collect! The apple cider vinegar attracts them, but then they get stuck swimming in it. I could not believe how many fruit flies filled the jar in just a day. It is a definite summer lifesaver for me. Let me know if you try it out!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

What I Learned // July 2015

For the first time I'm participating in Emily's roundup of "What We Learned" this month. My sister has been writing these posts each month, and I really enjoy reading them, so I thought I would join in. I've been a little slack on blogging lately, what with a new baby and all, so this will help recap what we've been up to in July.

1. Making a lattice pie crust is not as hard as it looks. This has been one of my kitchen goals for a while now and just the other week I tried it out. I followed these tips, and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was! The pie was tasty too, so I'll be sharing the recipe soon.

2. I am a schedule person. I already knew this, but having a baby has taken it to a whole new level. Just in the past couple of weeks Madeleine and I have gotten to a really good place with a daily routine. She is napping and eating on a good schedule, and it makes our days so much better! She has been a happier and more content baby, and I have been a much happier mommy! Some people find schedules restricting, but I find them freeing!

3. My makeup bag has gotten out of control. The other week I pulled 8 mascaras out of my makeup bag! I have a bunch of extra makeup and tools that I never even use in my bag, and I've decided I've had enough of fumbling through an overstuffed makeup bag when I get ready each day. I got a new makeup bag and have only transferred what I really use. I'm also in the process of searching out some new brands and new beauty products that I really truly like, instead of just falling back on what I'm comfortable with.

4. I have musophobia, or a fear of mice. We discovered evidence of the dreaded house mouse this past month, and I freaked out much more than I had thought I would. I could not step foot in the kitchen, so for two days you could find Madeleine and me as pictured above: camped out on the couch in the front living room. I am happy to say that the little mouse has been taken care of: Caleb killed him with a BB gun :)

5. Flowers are my love language. Between flowers given to me by friends and bouquets that I have picked and arranged from the yard, I realized just how much I love flowers. They are just so beautiful and brighten my day! Caleb got me three different bouquets for my birthday last week, and now that those have died I've replaced them with three new bouquets from the yard. I'm already trying to figure out what bulbs I need to plant to ensure that I have pretty flowers in my yard for as much of the year as possible.

I can't believe we're already into August! This summer has been a bit of a blur as we've adjusted to life with a new little one, so I'm thankful we have another month of summer to enjoy! What did you learn in July?