Sunday, October 27, 2013

52 weeks of baking: 43 - pumpkin swirl brownies


Pumpkin month continues with pumpkin brownies! My mom sent me a pumpkin brownie recipe not to long ago, and I totally was planning on making it, but I couldn't find it for the life of me! So Martha it was. This was one of those recipes that was meant to be. I had everything already, and that's rare. I had exactly enough pumpkin, and exactly enough baking chocolate. It was a great recipe to use up some of my baking stash!

My swirling technique clearly needs a little work. These are good. A little more cakey than I like my brownies, but yummy. I would definitely lower the pumpkin to chocolate ratio next time. For me, brownies are about fudgey chocolate, and with half pumpkin it just isn't enough chocolate action for me. I'd do about one third pumpkin, two thirds chocolate. And for some reason pumpkin bakes very cakey, which is totally cool if you're making a cake. I think because it acts similarly to eggs, and this batter already had quite a few well beaten eggs in it. Brownies should be dense and chewy, these are a little on the fluffy side. Definitely yummy, just not my ideal brownie consistency. Next time, as well as changing the ratio, I'd make the pumpkin and chocolate batters separately instead of splitting the same batter and adding chocolate and pumpkin, that way eggs could be left out of the pumpkin batter. But don't get me wrong! These are very good! Great for breakfast actually. And they're pretty!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

On being vegetarian

As I've been a full vegetarian for a few months now, and a mostly vegetation for over half a year, I thought I'd discuss this and how it's affected me. Because goodness, has it ever.

But first, a little background info. I have had problems with stomach pain for most of my life. Really awful, life altering problems. I have been to multiple doctors, had what feels like hundreds of tests done (some rather invasive and not at all fun), and spent SO MUCH MONEY trying to fix this or at least find out why it was happening. And this is going to sound so "Forks Over Knives", but you know what? Being vegetarian fixed it. I have been pain free since cutting meat completely out of my diet. You have no idea how amazing that is. I mean, we are talking about daily pain. A lot of it. There aren't words for how bad it was sometimes. It hung over my head like a rain cloud. Everything I wanted to do was clouded with "well, I'll feel like crap so..." Pain. Every single day. And it is GONE. Completely gone. I am normal! (HA, pain-wise anyway!) I have been hoping and wishing and searching for ways to be normal for so many years and cutting meat out did it. Brendon the science wiz thinks it's because my body doesn't like animal fat. And that makes sense! I had tried cutting out dairy, I had been tested for gluten intolerance, but it had never been suggested that I try cutting out meat. Which is really odd to me because it was such a simple solution! I almost want to go to all my doctors and shout at them that meat was the problem! Meat was the answer! Why didn't you try this!? WHY?! So many years of my life you guys... but that's okay because now it is so. Much. Better.

Needless to say, I am a happy vegetarian. Becoming vegetarian was nothing less than life changing and I have no plans of ever going back. It's really not an option. Yes I miss meat. I crave brisket and pulled pork like no ones business, but never ever enough to want to be in pain. It was the simplest solution that I completely stumbled upon and I am so thankful. And healthier. And happier. Thank you vegetables for being my new favorite, and thank you meat for being the answer to such an awful problem. Life is full of plants and so good.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

52 weeks of baking: 42 - pumpkin coffee cake


Sick of pumpkin yet? We aren't! This pumpkin themed month is a lot of fun. There are just so many options! What I've learned so far is that pumpkin is an excellent replacement for eggs. So if you substitute a milk and butter alternative in many pumpkin recipes, you've got yourself a vegan baked goodie! This week we venture into the land of coffee cake. I went ahead and used another of Sally's Baking Addiction recipes and yet again I was not let down.

Out of all my Pyrex, the mixing bowls get used the most. It's a good thing I have a gazillion of them in a gazillion sizes because we use them for EVERYTHING. Like my dishwasher always has at least three in it and there's usually some more in the sink. They are so tough. And pretty. I love them! End of Pyrex gushing.

Don't hate on my drizzle game. It's harder than it looks. Maybe using something other than a dinner spoon would help, but whatever, I was in a rush to eat this cake! And yes, this cake is good. Oh my gosh is it good. The crumble on top gives it the perfect crunch and I love me some dark brown sugar, especially when mixed with butter and cinnamon. The cake is so moist and fluffy and delicious. And the simple icing is the... icing on the cake. I couldn't help myself there, I'm sorry. But really, the icing is the perfect addition of sweetness and texture, even if it looks like a terrible Jackson Pollock knockoff. This recipe is a keeper. We'll be making it again. I have a feeling this wont last long at our house this week.

Only TEN more weeks in the year you guys! How insane is that??

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Spooky home and eye balls

Spooky skeleton and spooky mice hanging out on top of my favorite bad painting of mine. This painting is not that great. I painted it when I was first getting a hold of how to paint back in like... 2008? But I love it because I'm super narcissistic and enjoy having large pictures of myself around. BUT REALLY, I love it because that's me eating batter or icing or something yummy off of a beater at like age five. Nothing has changed. That's still me, I do that ALL THE TIME. I think my mom still has that mixer? Or maybe my sister broke it recently... regardless. This painting is in our dining room and is the only painting of mine I've ever hung in our home.

This spooky cat was a gift from Brendon when we lived in Denton, because I am that weirdo that loves holiday decorations as gifts. As a surprise he just left it on my desk for me to find and I basically peed my pants in fright when I saw it. Which makes zero sense because it is clearly quite awkward and not scary. But I love it and every year I set it out I laugh about how foolish I am.

And this has nothing to do with Halloween, but guess what? I got contacts!

Or a contact I should say. The vision in my right eye is almost perfect, my left eye is the janky one. So I'm just wearing one contact. It's a little awkward but I'll take it! It's nice to not be a four eyes all the time.  Brendon said to me the other day, "I forgot how pretty your eyes were", and boom, that is why I got contacts. I love my glasses, but I feel like that's all people see when they look at my face. Which is awesome when I'm extra sleepy and don't want people looking at my face, but sometimes I'd like to just be me, sans specs. And, hello eye make up? I haven't worn you in like a year. You are so fun.

This post was extra rambly and I apologize and I'm going to just end it right here. I just woke up from a nap. Whatever.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

52 weeks of baking: 41 - pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

Continuing with the pumpkin theme this month, I give you pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Because that just sounds amazing. As I am currently enamored by Sally's Baking Addiction and her easy and incredibly delicious recipes, I found this recipe and knew I had to get my bake on. And yet again, she delivers. These babies are good. Is there anything chocolate doesn't go well with?

They are chewy and soft and spicy and chocolatey and reeeeeally good. And interestingly, this recipe does not make a whole lot of cookies. It makes just what you see up there, a dozen, which in our case is perfect. We often end up tossing out cookies because recipes tend to make like... 1,000 cookies. There are just the two of us, so a dozen is perfect. Although we do love sharing our 1,000 cookies with coworkers and friends. So if you're making these for a large group, double it up. Or triple it! Brendon and I will probably knock these twelve out in the next day or so. They're good and we love dessert.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Halloween bunting

Halloween bunting, because why not? A couple weeks ago I got wild and bought Halloween fabric because it was on sale and because October marks the beginning of the sewing season for me and I needed something to get my feet wet after not touching my sewing machine for a good half year. After sewing on fancy machines for months my little guy took some getting used to. I'm still reaching for things that don't exist, but I'm back in business!

There are more detailed instructions on how to throw together some bunting here, I only varied from that slightly this go around. I added the words "BOO" of course, and instead of just sewing it together triangle to triangle, I sewed a black ribbon across the top. It adds a bit more stability and it's cute!

For my letters I just printed out an outline of big letters via Microsoft Word and then used them as stencils. I also had grand plans of including a bat, but I gave up on that fairly quickly. Cutting it out was such a huge pain, I couldn't wrap my mind around sewing it.

So typical. Sophie is exciting that sewing season has arrived. Fur on all the fabric.

So my letters wouldn't unravel, I zigzag stitched around the edges. I also created a pattern with my colors this time around. Because Halloween is organized like that.

I ran out of ribbon like five triangles before being done and had to go out and grab some more. That right there is the story of my life.

I think it's real fun! I love the colors! The orange and green were "Halloween" fabrics but the purple and black are just the cheapest of the cheap broadcloth. You could totally do it all in broadcloth, and in fact I recommend it. It almost works better, the orange and green are prints so they are only usable on one side. A fully colored fabric is probably your best bet. I'm just a sucker for fun prints.

And isn't this guy the sweetest? While unloading the Halloween decor, I found him. I think he's from Target, and I guess we got him last year. It's always so fun getting all the decorations out, especially when you have a terrible memory like me and forget what decorations you have. It's like Christmas... but Halloween! Busting out the Halloween gear was the first thing I did yesterday morning, I was just a TAD excited about it finally being October and it finally being acceptable to get spooky!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Thank you October

A post with no pictures. I'm sorry. I just need to say that I am GLAD that October is here. I disliked September a little bit. If you haven't heard me moan about it already, I'd been running two stores instead of one for the past few weeks. Two stores that were very far apart. This was a good thing, because in the end I moved to a store much MUCH closer to home, but before I could just be at my new store I had to do both for a bit. Not the end of the world, but not easy. I had three days off in September. I worked a lot. And a fact of life was reinforced. No one cares. No one cares that you've got a gazillion and one things going on. No one cares that you're tired and frazzled and your body hurts a little. They have other things to worry about. Life doesn't care. Life doesn't stop because you're busy or tired. Life goes on as normal. And that is okay. Life is tough and everyone their own problems to deal with. It gave just me a little perspective. And perspective is always good.

I worked hard and I made it and I am glad. I'm glad for the opportunity and so glad to be working closer to home. I was very ready for October. Today was a day off and it was wonderful, although odd. When I work a lot, I tend to start feeling guilty for having days off. I get addicted to work and I feel like I'm doing something wrong by not being there. I'm insane, I know. You NEED time off. I know this now more than ever.

So there's that. That is why there was basically only required baking posts all month. I look forward to branching out again. Thank you for arriving October. You are my favorite.

52 weeks of baking: 40 - pumpkin bread

Welcome October! I have been saving up pumpkin recipes just for you. I think I've got a full month planned out. Pumpkinfest 2013. We start the month-o-pumpkin out with a good ol' pumpkin bread. This recipe is from the October issue of Real Simple. It's a baked doughnut recipe, but I opted for the loaf option.

My loaf pan is a bit wider than the recipe called for, so I've got kind of a short loaf. But it's good! It's simple and so yummy, not overly spiced which I often find pumpkin flavored things can be. It's soft and fluffy and that icing? That icing is FANTASTIC. Bookmark this icing for later you guys, it's so easy and so good. Sour cream, powdered sugar, and lemon. That's it! It's a winner. I look forward to munching on this for breakfast. And snack time. And dessert.