Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Chocolate Pecan Pie

I'm sharing two recipes back-to-back because, Thanksgiving. If you need a dessert for tomorrow that's a cinch to throw together, this is your pie. Pecan pie has to be one of the easiest pies to make, so please take an extra 5 minutes and make your own pie crust, too. This chocolate pecan pie has a fudgy chocolate bottom with all of the pecans resting on top. It's a nice twist on a classic without straying too far from the pecan pie everyone is expecting for Thanksgiving dessert.

Chocolate Pecan Pie
4 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 pie crust, rolled and fit into a 9-inch pie plate (I used this recipe)
1 cup pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in lowest position. In a heatproof bowl set over (not in) saucepan of simmering water, melt chocolate, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 2-3 minutes (r melt chocolate in microwave). Set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together (do not whisk) eggs, corn syrup, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Stirring constantly, gradually add melted chocolate. Pour filling into prepared crust; place pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange pecans in one even layer over filling.

Bake just until set (filling should jiggle slightly when pie plate is tapped), 50-60 minutes, rotating halfway through. Let cool completely on a wire rack, at least 4 hours (or up to overnight) before serving.

source: recipe from Martha Stewart

Monday, November 23, 2015

Morning Glory Muffins

This time of year is one of my favorites: the temperatures have finally dropped, making for chilly mornings where I allow myself to cuddle up with a cup of coffee while I read my Bible. Since we typically have muffins or some kind of baked treat in the house, I also grab one of those for a little mid-morning pick-me-up while Madeleine takes her nap. Last week I tried this recipe for Morning Glory muffins, and Caleb and I both loved how packed full they were of different flavors. This recipe was perfect because I had an extra Granny Smith apple on hand and also a bunch of carrots that I needed to use up. This makes a lot of muffins if you're hosting a crowd for Thanksgiving this week, but I also halved the recipe and they turned out great.

Morning Glory Muffins
4 cups flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 tsp baking soda
4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp salt
12 carrots, peeled, coarsely grated in food processor (4 cups)
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped pecans (4 ounces)
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely grated with box grater
6 eggs
2 cups vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract

Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter 30 muffin cups.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in carrots, raisins, pecans, coconut, and apples. Whisk together eggs, oil, and vanilla in another bowl, then add to flour mixture and stir until just combined.

Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling them to the top. Bake muffins, in batches if necessary, until springy to the touch, about 30 minutes per batch. Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm or room temperature. Makes about 30 muffins.

source: recipe from The Gourmet Cookbook

Thursday, November 19, 2015

An Announcement: We opened an Etsy shop!

Last week Caleb and I opened an Etsy shop! Several months ago Caleb made Madeleine a baby gym, and everyone kept telling us we should sell them. So, we decided to go for it!

Having a baby means that baby gear is inevitable. This was the one aspect of becoming parents that Caleb and I were not super excited about; we both like things to look nice, and we are both very organized. This does not leave a lot of room for a house full of baby toys, specifically ugly, plastic, clunky baby toys. We realize that babies do need certain toys and paraphernalia, but we are picky about what we bring into our house for Madeleine.

One thing that we put our foot down on was the plastic play mat/baby gym. We did not want a brightly colored, huge piece of plastic sitting in our family room. Thankfully I have a husband who is extremely talented, so Caleb made this sleek, wooden baby gym instead. I love the clean lines and modern look, and it doesn't bother me at all to have it in our living room! These are the two slightly different wooden baby gyms that we have listed in our Etsy shop:

Wooden Baby Gym
Wooden Baby Gym

I love that we can pick out our own toys (or you could make them, if you're crafty like that) to hang from the baby gym. Caleb also made the gym to come apart easily, so we've even traveled with it.

Right now all we are selling in our Etsy shop is the wooden baby gyms. We anticipate that as Madeleine gets bigger, we will find new things that we want to make for her. If they are a success, we will add them to our shop. It's fun to have something that will grow with Madeleine! 

To celebrate the opening of our little shop and the start of the holiday season, we are offering my blog readers 10% off all orders now through December 15 with the code HAPPYHOLIDAYS2015. Spread the word to all those with babies in your life! And add one of these wooden gyms to your baby's Christmas wish list and pass the coupon code to the grandparents :)

Our Etsy shop is called Frog + Flamingo, and you can find it here

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Best Brownies

I have always been a box mix brownie kind of girl. The box mixes are BOGO almost every week, they take all of 2 minutes to throw together, and I actually find them more delicious than homemade brownies. UNTIL NOW. Earlier this week I needed to make a bunch of brownies to take to a church event, so I decided to make several different kinds and for once and for all decide which brownie was the best. I tried a new recipe for a batch of homemade brownies, and I also made a Hershey's box mix and (my favorite) Ghirardelli box mix. I took a mixture of all three to the church event, and saved some of each for Caleb and I to do a blind taste test. 

The above photo shows how each brownie turned out. The Hershey's looks like it's going to be the richest as it's the darkest in color, the Ghirardelli looks like your standard brownie, and the homemade brownie is totally dominating the scene at twice as large as the box brownies. Here's how the taste test went down:

#1: Ghirardelli // we liked the chocolate chips, it was super chocolately, and pretty moist
#2: Hershey's // sticky, gooey, more milk chocolately, not as intense flavor, not as good as Ghirardelli, would not eat again
#3: homemade // richer, liked the chocolate chips, more of a brownie texture, moist, most intense flavor, hands down our favorite

We were both surprised that the homemade brownie was our favorite! We have declared this brownie recipe the best brownies we've ever eaten - they are that good. The winning recipe is originally from Taste of Home magazine, and the recipe is below, with my minor adjustments included.

Ultimate Fudgy Brownies
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup butter, cubed
1/4 cup water
20 oz bittersweet chocolate chips, divided (I used Ghirardelli)
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, letting ends extend up and over sides.

In a large saucepan, combine sugars, butter, and water; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add a generous 1 3/4 cups chocolate chips (this was a little more than a 10 oz bag). Stir until melted. Cool slightly.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk eggs until foamy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla extract; gradually whisk in the chocolate mixture. In another bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining chocolate chips.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake on a lower oven rack 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs (do not overbake). Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

Lifting with parchment paper, remove brownies from pan. Cut into 16 squares.

source: recipe adapted from Taste of Home, September/October 2015

Monday, November 9, 2015

Perfect tote for baby gear

I've always been one to have quite a collection of totes + purses, but becoming a mother has taken that to an entirely new level. There is just so much stuff!!! Even with us trying to be as minimalist as possible, the amount of gear that comes with a baby is ridiculous. I have my eye on this tote from Brim Papery. It'd be perfect for schlepping diapers, wipes, and other baby necessities during all of our travels this holiday season, don't you think?

Friday, November 6, 2015

Links for your weekend

Drooling over this cake

Loved this post about random turn-ons. What are yours?

This post on stocking up for soup night essentials was so helpful! I'm adding some of these to my grocery list this week.

It's been two weeks, but I'm still listening to this on repeat. Anyone else with me?? 

Are you going to see this movie that just came out? I think it looks so good! I just got the book so I'm going to read that first.

I found the most perfect dish towel. And then it sold out this morning while I was in the process of checking out.

(image via)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Do your kids take vitamins?

I've been reading French Kids Eat Everything, trying to learn the secrets of not having a picky eater. Even if you do have perfect little French children who happily eat all of their veggies, a multivitamin never hurts!

Rainbow Light's Power Sours Multivitamin Gummies are perfect for your kids ages 4+, promoting healthy bones, brain, and eyes! These gummies are 100% natural: no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, additives or preservatives! And they're gummies, which means you can pass them off as candy to your kids :)

You can shop for these gummies plus vitamins for the whole family here. Do you take vitamins? What vitamins do you give to your kids?

Disclosure: I received this product for from 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, November 2, 2015

Cinnamon Crumble Apple Pie

I have a little tradition of making an apple pie each time my parents come to visit us in the fall. I'm not one for repeating recipes, so I've made a different apple pie each time for the past several years. (You can see all the apple pies I've made so far here). I have to say that this is my favorite one so far. The filling is not overly sweet, and I prefer this crumble topping to a double crust pie. We found that this pie tasted even better the second day, so don't worry about needing to finish it all right away. This would be the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving pies, since it's very simple to throw together. Happy Monday!

Cinnamon Crumble Apple Pie
one homemade pie crust dough, refrigerated for 30 minutes (I use this recipe)

for the filling
3 1/4 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced 1/4-inch thick
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

for the topping
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer to a 9-inch-diameter pie dish. Trim overhang to 1/2-inch; turn edge under and crimp decoratively. Refrigerate while preparing filling and topping.

for the filling: Mix all ingredients in large bowl to coat apples.

for the topping: Stir together first 5 ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Cut in chilled butter cubes with a pastry cutter, cutting in until mixture resembles wet sand.

Toss filling to redistribute juices; transfer to crust, mounding in center. Pack topping over and around apples. Bake pie on baking sheet until topping is golden, about 40 minutes (cover top with foil if browning too quickly). Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake until apples in center are tender when pierced and filling is bubbling thickly at edges, about 45 minutes. Cool until warm, about 1 hour. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

source: recipe barely adapted from Bon App├ętit