Wednesday, January 29, 2014

dark chocolate cake donuts + blood orange glaze

This is the first post I will write about donuts, but it certainly won't be the last! I'm pretty sure donuts would be in my weekly meal rotation if I wouldn't end up weighing 500 pounds and ruining my health. I try my best to save them for special days when I need a special treat or on the days of the worst emotional eating! Ha!

Believe it or not, these beautiful goodies were used as props in my BFF's Valentine's day mini sessions. She started her own own photography business - Captured Moments Photography - several years ago and I am so proud of her! The business has completely taken off and people are recognizing her talent. She's a small business owner, a momma, a wife, and so many other things and she really excels at it all. I'm lucky to call her my best friend!

These donuts sat out all day long, and smiled pretty for the camera and were still moist and delicious even after all that! The glaze offered a nice crunch that was super nice with the cake-y texture of the donuts, and who can resist a chocolate orange combination? Uh no one that's who! We dug into these after a long day of photographing kids. A perfect ending to a perfect day!

donuts in action - photo by Brooke at Captured Moments Photography

Dark Chocolate Cake Donuts + Blood Orange Glaze

adapted from Heather Christo

For the Donuts
1 1/2 cups flour
½ cup dark cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, and spray a donut pan with nonstick spray.

In a medium size bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients together. 

In a large measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla.

Combine the buttermilk mixture with the dry ingredients. Pour the melted oil over the dough and mix to combine. 

Pipe dough into prepared donut pan and bake for 10 minutes.

Immediately remove donuts from pan and cool on wire rack. Meanwhile, make the glaze.

For the Glaze
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup blood orange juice
heavy cream

Mix all ingredients, except heavy cream, in a large bowl until smooth and creamy. Add heavy cream a splash at a time until you have the consistency you want. I only used a few splashes since I didn't want the glaze to be too loose.

Dip cooled donuts into glaze and set on a cooling rack to allow glaze to set. 

Eat 'em. Share 'em. Love 'em. :)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Tropical Pineapple & Coconut Baked Oatmeal

Who's ready for some weather that doesn't include below-zero-temperatures, and endless piles of snow? I know I am! While I can't do anything about the weather, I can help you create your own little breakfast paradise. Sound good? Good!

I woke up this morning to a complete white-out outside my bedroom window and decided I'm officially over the snow. I reminisced about my trip to the beach in October/November and window-shopped for bathing suits online. To round out my total denial of what season it is, I walked into the kitchen and made baked oatmeal (seasonally appropriate) with pineapple, coconut, and ginger (definitely not seasonally appropriate). It turned out absolutely perfect!

This baked oatmeal turned out almost bread-like in texture and warm and hearty with the addition of cinnamon and ground ginger. The pineapple got really sweet and warm, and the coconut transported me to my morning tropical vacation. I didn't want to leave!

This recipe doesn't include any oil, butter, or white sugar, so while it tastes like an indulgence, it really isn't. 

Tropical Pineapple & Coconut Baked Oatmeal

adapted from Oh She Glows

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup frozen shredded unsweetened coconut, thawed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups milk
1 tablespoon caramel coffee syrup - I used this
1 teaspoon coconut extract
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup fresh pineapple

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 2.5 quart baking dish.

In a medium bowl, combine the oats, flour, coconut, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. 

In a separate bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour over dry ingredients. Mix to combine.

Pour oatmeal into prepared baking dish and top with sprinkle of coconut sugar. ( I got mine at Walmart).

Bake for 1 hour uncovered until the edges are set and the middle is still a little soft. Allow to cool of 10 minutes before serving with a little milk poured over the top.

Welcome to breakfast paradise! 

Friday, January 24, 2014

blood orange curd.

This post could also be titled "The recipe that never should've happened". Why? Because I'm not a huge fan of oranges. Actually, I don't think I've ever bought a case of oranges for myself…ever. When everyone loses their minds at Christmas over tangerines/nectarines/cuties, I just can't get into it. Orange juice? I'd rather have grape. Push pops? Ugh. I do however, love orange tic tacs, but those really don't taste like orange, and I'm pretty sure I only love them because of the texture. 

How did this curd happen? Well, I'll tell you. The color. Yep, I got sucked into these little gorgeous oranges because of their color and convinced myself that they would taste different than a regular orange. They do not. Major bummer. But, this curd makes the taste of these oranges a little more sweet and a lot less bitter! Win! I've eaten this by the spoonful and slathered on toast, but I am dying to dip waffles in it and stuff it into a little powdered sugar donut. What don't I want to put on waffles/donuts? Weird. 

Blood Orange Curd

I really think the gorgeous color of this curd comes from reducing it a little bit before making the curd. You can skip that step if you don't care about color. 

3 medium blood oranges
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
pinch of salt

Zest all three oranges and place the zest in a medium bowl.

Juice the oranges and then run through a fine-mesh sieve to make sure all the pulp and any seeds are removed. (I ended up with 3/4 cup after I was done juicing).

Place the juice in a small saucepan over low heat and reduce to 1/2 cup. Remove juice from heat and pour into a separate container to cool down a bit.

In a medium saucepan whisk together  the eggs, sugar, and salt. Add in the butter pieces, and slowly whisk in the orange juice.

Cook the mixture over medium-low heat until it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon (usually about 15-20 minutes).

Strain the curd into the bowl with the zest. Combine the zest and curd until well blended. Place into a jar and refrigerate.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

caramel apple pie floats.

You aren't really a fan of dessert. I will never understand why chocolate cake isn't your favorite thing, or why you don't crave a warm cookie dunked in milk. I asked you once when we were kids what your favorite dessert was just so I could perfect it. You said apple pie. Now apple pie anything brings my mind back to you…not that it was too far away from you anyway. 

Today was cold and snowy. The roads were terrible and the interstate was shut down in places because there were so many accidents. Days like today, when the weather's bad, you're always on my mind. I pray for your safety, that you will stay warm and dry, and that if you're on the road somewhere you stay out of harms way. 

Days like today I think about the possibility of "us", and what it will be like when you're mine. I'd like to make these for you after a cold, hard day at work. They would warm you up from the inside out, and make you happy since it's your favorite flavor. I hope it's not too fancy. 
You'd probably say it is. 

Caramel Apple Pie Floats

These a so very easy. You don't really need a recipe, just use as much or little of each ingredient as you'd like so it tastes good to you!

2 - 3 scoops salted caramel gelato per person
refrigerated pie crust
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon course sugar
a pinch of cinnamon

In a medium size saucepan over medium-low heat, warm cider. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Remove pie crust from package and unroll. Using the edges of a teaspoon, cut pie crust into small circles and place on parchment lined baking sheet.

Brush crusts with egg and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.

Bake according to the package directions and let cool completely.

Scoop gelato into large mug. Pour cider over gelato and top with mini pie crust rounds.

Serve with two straws and enjoy with someone you love. 

Be grateful you have someone to share with. <3

Monday, January 20, 2014

caramel apple cider.

To say that I'm addicted to the caramel apple spice drinks from Starbucks would be an understatement. Those drinks seriously taste like an apple pie in a drink! Who doesn't want something like that!? I think I've convinced everyone in my life to at least try those drinks, and while they aren't obsessed with them like I am, everyone thinks they're delicious too! 

I've been trying to recreate their delicious spicy, creamy, perfection at home for years…that's right people, YEARS! I've tried every kind of caramel sauce I could find (or make myself), and while it tasted ok, it wasn't nearly as good as the drink from Starbucks.

While doing some shopping at Target I saw a caramel coffee syrup and I had a brilliant idea! I knew those syrups would mix easily into a hot cup of cider without getting lumpy or settling into the bottom of my cup; that syrup did not disappoint! These not only taste almost identical to the Starbucks drink, but I can make more for less money….uh, HELLO YES! I recommend using a cider that is more tart with not a lot of extra spices.

Caramel Apple Cider

50.7 fl oz apple cider (I used this kind that I bought from Target)
6 fl oz caramel coffee syrup (I used this kind…also from Target)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine all three ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat on medium until warmed through. Do not boil.

Serve immediately! 

Coming later this week. Caramel Apple Pie Floats! I can't wait to share!

Thursday, January 16, 2014


These first weeks of January have been filled with expectations from the Lord that I have felt were too much and unfair. At the end of last year I found myself at the end of myself, and I've been tempted to just stop where I am and give up. The desire to quit has never looked more appealing. It would be easier to give up on the promises of God than to keep trudging through, what feels like, a dark night that will never end. I'm expected to get up and keep going even though my heart has never been more broken. I have to face things that I begged the Lord to protect my fragile heart from, and I don't know how I'm going to make it through. I'm afraid this will be the one thing that tears all hope from broken spirit. I'm afraid that at this end of this I will be spent. I'm afraid I won't have anything left to give anyone and there is still a long road ahead of me. I am totally dependent on the strength of the Lord because I truly have nothing left. 

The only thing that keeps me pressing forward despite the fear and the pain is the fragment of hope that SOON the Lord will save. SOON He will rescue. SOON He will hear me and answer me. SOON He will fulfill His promise. 

Until then I will put one foot in front of the other no matter how much it hurts…no matter how lonely it gets…no matter how much the shame, embarrassment, and fear try to overwhelm me. My identity is found in Christ alone. I am His and that means I will be OK even if my circumstances never change. 

Jesus, I'm doing my very best to do the right thing even though it's more than I think I care bear. I know I am not alone, but help me not to feel so alone. Help my eyes to see your  salvation and help my heart to feel hope. Please don't give up on me…you're all I have. Please restore all I have lost. Draw me near. Please come soon.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

white cheddar ranch snack mix.

Sometimes when I sit down to write in this little internet space I have so much to say that I don't even know where to begin. Maybe the thoughts should come tumbling out, but they just stay stuck! One day I'll start writing and never stop. 

This snack mix is SERIOUSLY delicious. Cheez-its, popcorn, pretzels, goldfish crackers - it's all in there mixed together with buttery oil and ranch dressing mix. I will warn you though - this recipe makes a lot of snack mix - enough to share with people you like! 

White Cheddar Ranch Snack Mix

Makes at least 10 cups of mix

16 oz bag waffle pretzels
21 oz box Cheez-Its
6.6 oz bag parmesan goldfish crackers
8 oz bag bagel chips
1 oz packet ranch dressing/seasoning mix
16 oz bottle Orville Redenbacher's butter flavored popping oil
6.5 oz bag white cheddar popcorn, halved 

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

In a large baking pan combine pretzels, Cheez-its, goldfish crackers, and bagel chips. 

In a large bowl whisk together popping oil and ranch dressing mix until combined.

Pour ranch mixture over the crackers and pretzels. Mix to ensure everything is evenly coated in the oil.

Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes to make sure everything gets evenly browned.

Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan. Once the mixture is cool pour popcorn over the top and mix gently to distribute. 

Store in an airtight container.

Monday, January 13, 2014

sweet cinnamon banana bread.

Do you remember the first meal you ever cooked? I do. It was scrambled eggs. Yep, scrambled eggs is the meal that got me hooked on cooking. I think I made scrambled eggs every week for months! After I perfected the art of eggs, I moved on to banana nut bread. My mom still has the recipe in her recipe book. I like that about her.

This recipe is not the original, but this one is pretty fantastic! I had leftover bananas browning away after I made smoothies last week and tweaked another recipe to make due with the ingredients I had on hand. This bread turned out dense and really moist with the most delicious sweet cinnamon flavor. I think the use of coconut oil in this recipe is what made it so perfect so, if you have coconut oil use it please! If you're concerned about going out to buy coconut oil for just one recipe I have good news! It can be used for so many things other than cooking. Use it as a deep conditioner in your hair, as an in-shower moisturizer, to soften your cuticles…I could go on and on. Try it out! You'll be hooked for sure. 

Sweet Cinnamon Banana Bread

adapted from this recipe from The Clever Carrot

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 overripe bananas
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 cup coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9x5 loaf pan.

In a large bowl combine flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. 

In a separate bowl mash bananas into a puree. 

Add sugar, egg, vanilla, and oil to the banana puree. Mix well.

Fold the flour into the wet ingredients until just combined. Be careful not to over mix.

Add batter to prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes.

Bread is ready when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Top your banana bread with butter, cream cheese, or my new favorite topping - greek yogurt. The tang of the yogurt pairs perfectly with this bread since it is so sweetly cinnamon. 


Saturday, January 11, 2014

the garden.

I sat down last night to spend some time with Jesus, and this verse just settled into my heart like a seed in the ground. I've been meditating on it ever since. 

I have so many thoughts about this verse that I really don't even know where to begin. If you're a single lady like me and you're reading this I'd like to speak directly to your heart. Do not trade your glory for a worthless idol. Do not allow the enemy to come in and convince you that you are wrong for waiting on the Lord. Do not allow hopelessness, embarrassment, loneliness, despair, or confusion to come in and make you settle for something that isn't God's best for you. Don't trade your promise in for something that will only give you temporary fulfillment. 

Don't let the enemy lie to you about your identity. The waiting, the pain, the discouragement, the insensitive words, the singleness is not your identity. Your identity is the glory of what God has been building in you as you wait on Him to fulfill His promise. Your identity is strength - not weakness. Your identity is beauty - not desperation. Your identity is glory - not singleness. 

Every trial. Every tear. Every time you've picked yourself up after another disappointed hope created more beauty and more strength in you. Every time you submitted yourself to the Lord and His plan while denying your own desires created a precious quality in you. While the landscape of your life may look dead and empty on the surface there is life under the soil. Each time you submitted there was a seed planted. Each time you obeyed another seed was planted. Each tear you cried out of loneliness the Lord used to water the seeds of your faithfulness. Look around you Dear Sister in Christ, you are standing on the soil of a well watered and cared for garden. Look to the left and to the right! Can you see where your garden ends? No! The years of toiling and planting and watering and working seemed to bear no fruit, but now look. Your years of toiling are over. While others planted small gardens and their fruit came quickly you were destined for more. Your inheritance is as vast and lush as the Garden of Eden. Your blessings will be many and you will see the fruits of your labor in all seasons. Your Garden will be a place where you will meet with your Creator in abundant peace. Your Garden will be a place of provision since the Lord knows your life from beginning to end. He gave you seeds to plant of blessing, but also for resources for your future life. Do you need patience and kindness to train up your children? Your tree is already full grown and mature - just walk to it hand-in-hand with your God and pluck the fruit from the tree. Do you need wisdom? It's tree is also mature and ready to be used. 

Daughter of the Most High God. Look up. Watch your garden bloom. Toil no longer. Enjoy the fruit of your labor. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

brown butter chocolate chip cookies.

Hi everyone! Today I'm sharing cookies! And not just any cookies. These cookies are from the joy the baker cookbook. Her blog is one of the first that I ever started reading. She's so real in her writing that I feel like we're best friends in real life. When I received her book as a gift several years ago I bookmarked almost all the recipes and have been dying to make everything and we're starting with these cookies. 

These are actually going to work with me tomorrow. I work in higher education, and this is the week before our spring semester begins. There is no more chaos at a workplace than the week before college students come back to school. Everyone waits until the very last minute to get things done and it creates a lot of pressure and anxiety on all the staff. One thing I can say though, is that we always seem to pull together and work as a team. Each semester brings familiar problems and new disasters, but I have some great co-workers that I can rely on that make the issues much easier to solve. I'm thankful for that!

It's become a tradition to have a building-wide "junk food day" on the Friday before courses begin, and these are what I'm bringing to the party. How did I decide on these? Two reasons. 

1. chocolate
2. brown. butter.

Do you really need any other reasons? You sure don't!

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

recipe from the joy the baker cookbook

1 cup (2 sticks) plus 1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon molasses
1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (i used ghiradelli chips because they're HUGE)

Brown 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon of butter (directions for browning butter can be found here). Once the butter is browned immediately pour it into another container to cool slightly.

In the bowl of your mixer, cream together the remaining butter and white sugar until creamy. 

Add in the vanilla extract and molasses, and beat until incorporated. Once the browned butter has cooled slightly, pour into the creamed butter mixture along with the brown sugar. Cream until well incorporated. Add in the egg and egg yolk, and beat for 1 more minute.

In another medium bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda.

Add in the flour to the butter and sugar mixture all at once and beat on low speed until the flour is just incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold the chopped walnuts and chocolate chips.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Remove your dough and roll tablespoons into balls and space 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. I used a small ice-cream scoop for this and my cookies came out perfect!

Bake cookies for 12 - 14 minutes until the edges are browned but the centers are still soft. 

Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack after about 5 minutes.

Also, as an additional note, a friend pointed out that my cookie 'C' in the top photo was facing the wrong direction. This is a perfect example to demonstrate how fried my brain is after work since I didn't even notice and then argued with him when he pointed it out. I was really impressed with my cute and creative idea so the photo remains in all its backwards-glory. Just go with it!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

pomegranate smoothies

Today i'm sharing these pomegranate smoothies. They are so, so creamy with a little kick from the pomegranate and filling since they blended with Greek yogurt. These are great for breakfast, after a workout, or when you get home from work and need something to hold you over until dinner. 

Blend together 1/2 cup of ice with 1/4 cup of pomegranate juice, 1 sliced banana, a splash of vanilla extract, and a squeeze or two of honey. That's it! 

PS - thanks for being gentle with these photos. They were shot at night using a new halogen light and I'm still trying to figure out how to work with lighting that isn't the sun. :)