Wednesday, November 30

Thanksgiving Salad

I hope you all had an awesome Thanksgiving! We spent it with Shawn's mom, his brother, wife, and their 3-month old baby. It was our first time meeting our nephew- what a curious little dude! He was all smiles and laughter. I'm pretty sure I've stated it here before, I'm not usually a fan of babies... but he captured my heart a little bit - maybe because he's family! I can't wait until he gets a little older though... right now he weighs as much as our cats do. (Okay, I realize we have chubby cats, but still!)

I meant to get this recipe posted before Thanksgiving, but that clearly didn't happen. Oh well, if you still have leftovers in your fridge, give this a try. If you ate them all already, give this a try anyway! It's inspired by a salad I had from Trader Joe's. Their version left a little something to be desired though, so I made my own. I'm a fan of hearty salads - if I'm going to eat a salad, it needs to be filled with all the things... protein, something sweet, something tart, and something crunchy. This salad has all of those things, and it's perfect for this time of year!


Thanksgiving Salad

Makes enough for 4 large salads*
  • 3 small heads romaine lettuce**
  • 3 big handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 pound chicken or turkey breast
  • 3 cups brussels sprouts, chopped into quarters
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled & diced
  • olive oil, to drizzle
  • salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cups sliced toasted almonds
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • lemon vinaigrette***

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lay chicken/turkey breast on a sheet pan- salt and pepper both sides and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Do the same thing with the brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes on a different sheet pan. Bake until chicken/turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165°F and until the veggies start to brown and soften, approximately 30 minutes.
Chop the romaine and baby spinach into bite size pieces and toss into a large mixing bowl. Top with chopped chicken/turkey, roasted brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes, almonds, and dried cranberries. Drizzle with desired amount of lemon vinaigrette. Toss the salad until coated, and enjoy!


* If you're like me and just want to have salad ingredients on hand for yourself for the week... I prep the chicken and veggies ahead of time, and store them all in separate containers. Then I can assemble a salad for lunch as needed. I got 4 lunches out of these ingredients, hence the 4 salad yield.

** You can use any salad greens you like - I usually go for arugula or spring mix, but organic romaine was on super sale the week I made this, so that's what I bought!

*** I usually make my own salad dressing, but I was lazy this time around. Besides, why mess with a good thing?

Saturday, November 19

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies


As a baker, the question I get asked most often is, "What's your favorite thing to bake?". Well, the answer is quite simple, really... my favorite thing to bake is my favorite thing to eat! I'm pretty easy to please when it comes to sweet treats, mostly because I'm really not that into sweet treats. (Yep, I said it.) Don't get me wrong, I like a good breakfast pastry every now and then, but when it comes to desserts and snacky things? I'm satisfied with a handful of fruit, or a few pieces of a chocolate bar. But, I also love a good cookie... they're simple, and quick to make, and I don't feel toooooo bad eating a handful of them. So a simple batter, with some pieces of chocolate scattered throughout - that's my favorite thing to bake!

While I was working on the new blog layout, I realized that my recipe for chocolate chip cookies is kind of outdated! I've tweaked it a bit since that was posted, and since it's a weekly staple in our house, I thought I should do you all a favor and give you the updated recipe. The old one is good too, but I think the new one is better. The major differences are - a higher baking temperature, a little bit more flour, and homemade brown sugar. Yeahhhhhhhh.


I was telling Shawn this morning that I make some kick-ass recipes, but I am not a food photographer. I really just shudder at the thought of staging food for the sake of photography - there's nothing at all wrong with food photography! I'm amazed by the photos other people take for their recipe posts, but the whole set up is just not my idea of a good time. And this has kept me from posting as many recipes as I would like to. I feel like every year I make a grand statement that I'm going to post more recipes, and every year I fall flat because my pictures just aren't good enough. You know what? I have to get over that. So, I'm not going to go out and buy a bunch of plates, napkins, and utensils to make my photos fancier, so what? I feel like there's kind of an appeal to just seeing a big pile of cookies on a plate, or dinner rolls still cooling on the pan they were baked on. My photos may not be anything special, but you can bet your ass the recipes that accompany them are well worth making!

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup homemade* brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Beat the butter and brown sugar together until fluffy and pale yellow in color.
Add the egg and vanilla extract, mix until fully combined.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt, then mix those into the batter until just combined.
Mix in the chocolate chips.
Scoop dough into 2-tablespoon sized balls, flatten them slightly with your palm, and place them in rows about 2 inches apart on your prepared sheet pans. I usually fit 15 on each of my pans.
Bake for 12 minutes - well, that's the magic number with our current oven. Do a test batch, and adjust the time as needed if you want them more or less crispy. I judge by color, so I look for a pale golden brown and then I pull 'em. Let them cool on the sheet pan for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack... or straight into your mouth.

The cookies keep well over night when stored in an airtight container, though honestly, if you have any left over, you're really not living life correctly.


Wanna know a secret? The un-baked dough keeps really well in an airtight container stored in the fridge. When you're ready to bake 'em, just set up your sheet pans and let the dough come to room temperature while your oven preheats, then bake as directed. If you're like us, you'll just have a constant batch of cookie dough on hand for those days when you feel like baking a few off on a whim....


* You don't have to use homemade brown sugar... but it's so easy to make, so why wouldn't you?!
Here's how you do it: Combine 1 cup of white sugar with 2 tablespoons of molasses, and let your mixer/hand beaters/whatever beat the two together until next thing you know, you're looking at beautiful fluffy brown sugar. If you want darker brown sugar, add a touch more molasses. Lighter brown sugar? Well, you'll have to start over for that one ;) And that's it! You can even make a larger batch ahead of time; just store it in an airtight container and give it a shake before you use it. I don't buy brown sugar anymore unless I'm in a pinch, or need a ton of it!



Friday, November 18

This just in!

If you're reading from a blog reader, you should really hop on over and check out the blog. I've been working on a new layout for a while, and it just went live! I'm pretty freakin' proud of this one. I kept trying to keep this space minimalist, because that's what I'm attracted to when I look at other blogs... but I finally came to the realization that that's just not me. I'm quirky and colorful, and I finally made a layout that reflects that. (Well, replace colorful with textured, and we're golden.) Also, my love of stationary and assorted paper goods prevails with this one, and I think that's pretty rad. I love all the layers, and I really hope you do too! And I finally figured out this whole google fonts business too so, woohoo!


Not tooooo much has changed aside from the overall aesthetic. Social media links are both up at the top menu and in the sidebar. Popular (or what I deem to be popular) categories are the clickable polaroids in the sidebar. Side note: check out the travel and recipe pages - I went polaroid crazy! I plan on posting some old photos from trips I took before this blog was even born, to fill up the travel page a bit more. And there should also be more recipes coming your way! (Keep your eyes open for one of my favorites tomorrow!)

Oh, and I decided to do away with Disqus for the comments. So, none of the comments from the past 2+ years show up any more :/ Disqus stopped syncing with Blogger a few years ago, and it has been frustrating trying to make it work with my past two layouts. I got tired of no longer getting notifications when someone would comment - I try to respond to all your comments, but I kept missing some because I would have to physically check each post to see if there were any!


The most daunting part of this overhaul was the recipe page, honestly. I've been unhappy with the look of it for a very long time now, and the whole polaroid idea gave me a chance to spiff up the page a little. But I have 28 recipes! That's way more than I realized, considering I rarely post any. So that was 28 "polaroids" I had to make and upload... and then 28 polaroids I had to edit and re-upload once I noticed something I didn't like about them. And now I have to spend an hour or two reformatting all the older recipe posts so that everything looks uniform... I would have done that before going live with the new layout, but fuck it, I couldn't wait any longer!

The sidebar photo of me is courtesy of my friend Rebecca. I had her snap a few photos of me the other day because I needed one to go alongside a mini biography for my yoga teacher page on my studio's website. (I don't graduate until February, but we have to teach our first class before then- I'm teaching mine mid-December!) She snapped some really great ones, so I thought it would be neat to use them in this space too. I really don't have many (decent or recent) photos of myself... I'm always behind the camera, and being in front of it was so awkward.

Anywho, I hope you guys are as stoked about the new layout as I am! I seriously can't stop looking at it! I'm all about embracing me lately, and this is one more step in that direction.

Friday, November 4

Fun Finds Friday #132


I've been coveting comfy pajamas and slippers this week, so let's take a look at a few:
  • My kind of pajamas. All I want is something soft, loose, and comfy!
  • These slippers look so cozy- our hardwood floors make my feet so cold!
  • I can totally see myself lounging around the apartment in this.
  • I love this set too!

Also....
  • Our world is host to some pretty amazing systems.
  • There's a difference between east coast and west coast butter?!
  • I wish I had a need for this awesome doorstop!
  • Bunch of smart asses.
  • Cats are still/will always be the best thing on the internet.

Thursday, November 3

Snapshots











Lately...
  • Hm, cats and food... food and cats. Those are pretty much the only things I've been taking photos of for the past month and a half. So, sorry if these photos seem repetitive. Actually, I'm not sorry. What? They're just so gosh darn cute!
  • My family all pitched in and gifted me a brand new mixer for my birthday! So YES, OMG YES, to making cookies again. I mean... I could make cookies without a mixer, and just mix it all by hand, but who on Earth wants to do that?! So thankfully, there will be more lazy cookies and bread in my future.
  • I fell in love with a jumpsuit. Not on me (never on me- these damn hips just get in the way)... but do you see that ridiculous pattern? Does it make you want to get up and dance? Does it remind you of all the terrible clothing from the late 80's/early 90's? I think it's amazing. And I plan on turning it into pants and a crop top. And I really can't promise I won't wear them both at the same time...
  • A friend of mine hosted a succulent terrarium making party, and it was awesome. One of these days, I'm going to steal that idea and host my own. One of these days.
  • I wake up at 3:30am for work... (yes, I know, that's crazy-sauce, but I live the life of a baker) so on my days off, I'm happy if I sleep in until 6:30am. The upside to waking up that early on my days off though? I've been able to watch the sunrise. Nothing beats those pink and blue hues! Also, did you spot the face?
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