Dessert

chunky-butterscotch-chocolate-chip-banana-bread

Have you guys ever tried Rent the Runway? I have lots of friends that use it and love it. I put off using it for years because I just don’t see how you can tell if a dress will look good on you just by looking at it online. And then have no time to rectify the problem if you don’t like it.  I mean, I do all my shopping online, but I order 75 dresses for an event months in advance and I still usually send them all back. But, we have a wedding this weekend and I couldn’t find anything I loved (and didn’t want to spend a fortune), so I tried it! I ordered a beautiful-looking dress from RTR to be delivered today for a wedding we have Saturday (I am writing this post Friday at 3:24pm)! And guess what! It looks terrible! Just as I always suspected, this is very risky business. Particularly if you had twins in the last year (it’s actually more than a year but I’m milking it a while longer), and your body got all different. So now here I am, about 18 hours before we are leaving for this wedding and I have 0 dresses to wear. And I’m blogging instead of shopping. I actually just tried on a few dresses from weddings past and while they generally fit, I got them shortened so short that I don’t think I could even sit down. My pre-baby self was a braver self. Or at least a sluttier-dressed self.

Onto more important things like Banana Bread.

This recipe isn’t all that different from my traditional, yet it definitely tastes different. That’s doesn’t make sense, I know! But the addition of the fresh sliced yellow (not brown) banana, makes a big difference, and so does the butterscotch chips. Butterscotch and banana, it turns out, go perfectly together. And why haven’t we been putting chunks of fresh banana in our bread all along?? IT’S SO GOOD.

Happy Saturday! Look for me on IG later wearing a very beautiful plush robe at the wedding.

Recipe

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • 1 large semi-UNRIPE (yellow, not brown) banana
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Dash salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Beat the butter and sugars with a mixer. Add in the egg and vanilla.  Mash up the 2 ripe bananas, and add them to the mixture along with the milk. Mix in the baking soda and powder, flour, and salt.  Turn off mixer, then stir in chips and fresh banana slices.  Bake in a greased bread pan for about 50-60 minutes.

dinner-party-menu-thanksgiving

I’m a traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving. I like to have all the same good stuff, year after year. It actually takes some of the planning stress out, because I always know what I’m going to make when I host. What IS always stressful, though, is timing everything out. So here is my recommended Thanksgiving menu (of course with all of my favorite things), and an easy outline for when to prepare everything. Also, while I typically recommend buying several items when hosting dinner, I believe in making most stuff for Thanksgiving. The homemade element adds a special touch and the chaos is FUN.

PS the picture above is from the Thanksgiving I thought it would be a good idea to make everyone individual pies. It was a great idea in theory and cuteness, but a terrible idea in manual labor output.

PSS sorry for all the terrible pictures in the links below. Most of them are from when I was in the middle of hosting Thanksgiving, and I was very very busy. And maybe a little tipsy.

Menu:

Appetizer: Trader Joe’s cranberry goat cheese + Ginger snaps

Appetizer: Cranberry Avocado Salsa

Main: Perfect Roasted Turkey + gravy

Side: Herb & Sausage Stuffing

Side: Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes

Side: Brussel Sprout Salad 

 – I would simplify this salad for Thanksgiving purposes: saute the brussels instead of roasting (oven space), buy balsamic glaze instead of boiling down your own, and buy bacon from the salad bar if you can (otherwise make bacon day ahead)

Side: Green bean casserole – using the Campbell’s soup recipe! It’s hard to beat.

Side: Sweet Potato Rolls – gotta have bread!

Dessert: Pumpkin Pie with Cream Cheese Swirl

Dessert: Store bought Apple or Pecan Pie

How to execute:

Up to a week before:

Make the sweet potato rolls. Put them in a freezer storage bag and keep them in the freezer until Thanksgiving day. Take them out morning of.

1 day before:

Make the mashed potatoes. Yes! These are great for make-ahead. When warming them up on Thanksgiving day you can add a little cream or butter if they need more moisture.

Make the pumpkin pie; store in fridge

Brown the sausage for the herb sausage stuffing. Keep in ziploc bag in fridge.

If using a frozen turkey, start thawing.

Day of:

~6-7 hours before – prepare the Turkey and put it in oven (varies depending on turkey size)

Have a sip of wine.

Anytime- prepare green bean casserole in casserole dish, and cover; wait to bake.

Have a sip of wine.

~2 hours before- cook celery, onions, etc and assemble sausage stuffing; wait to bake.

Have 2 sips of wine.

~1 hour before – prepare brussel sprout salad

Have 4 sips of wine.

~45 min before (delegate here!) – remove turkey from oven and let rest. Prepare gravy. Put green bean casserole and stuffing into the oven and bake. Prepare cranberry avo salsa and set out cheeses. Warm up mashed potatoes.

Have 87 sips of wine.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

 

 

pumpkin-pie-with-cream-cheese-swirl-and

Some days just can’t be as successful as others. I’m sick, I feel very tired and lazy, and all I want to do is watch Ellen re-runs all day. I finally left the house to go get a healthy smoothie to boost my immunity, but literally couldn’t get a parking spot so went to Chick-Fil-A instead. You win some, you lose some.

But as I was driving home I realized Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away! And I’ve had this pumpkin pie recipe in my draft section for a whole year, since I made it last year. And I’m blogging it now, because I think you should make it for your Thanksgiving this year. You won’t regret!

I loooove pumpkin pie. Love it. Only complaint is that sometimes I crave a sweeter crust than the same old pie crust.  And I like to put little spins on things to make them my own.  The solution? Gingersnaps and Biscoff cookies for the crust, of course. Wow. Add a cream cheese swirl and you’ve successfully elevated that same ol’ pumpkin pie.

I use this pumpkin pie recipe, there is no reason to look further. Sally’s is perfect, and I’ve done the research. I make her sugared cranberries too for a little festive flair.

For the cream cheese swirl:

  • 1 package cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • vanilla

For the Gingersnap/Biscoff crust

  • 2 cups gingersnap/biscoff cookie crumbs (I did half and half, or you could just do gingersnap)
  • 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 5-6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Make the crust first by mixing all ingredients. Press into a pie pan, then bake at 300 for 10 minutes. Create the pie filling, then fill about 3/4 of the way up. Not too full or it won’t bake evenly. You will have some leftover – I ate mine with the spatula.  Make the cream cheese filling, then drop in spoonfuls all over the pie (I think I used about 3/4 of it, and again ate the rest with a spatula). Use a toothpick or similar tool, and swirl the cream cheese with the pie filling.  Bake according to Sally’s instructions, about 55 minutes at 375.

Candy Corn Layered Brownies

candy-corn-layered-brownies

I would like to know why Fall weather is being so elusive this year. I know it’s not just picking on Texas, because my dad just went for a swim in our lake in Northern Wisconsin. Like really northern. And I just went for a walk around the block and I’m sweating. I HATE sweating after I’ve already worked out and showered. Anyone else? Showering twice a day is just not something I have the time or patience for. I don’t even need for it to be cool; I just want it to be NOT HOT. Please, Mother Nature. I’m asking you, mother to mother.

So despite the hot weather, Halloween is coming whether we like it or not. And I really like Halloween, in it’s kind of tacky/creepy way. Plus, it’s the only time of year that we get to eat candy corn (why, by the way?). And when I was brainstorming all the ways I could eat candy corn, I decided to melt them and create a very special layer in my very fudgy brownie. AWESOME. And, pretty! Perfect dessert for a Hallow’s Eve party.

Recipe

  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1.5 sticks butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups candy corn

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease an 8×10 (or something similar) pan.  In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips and butter- about 30-60 seconds.  Pour into a standing mixer bowl, and beat in the sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt and soda.  Slowly mix in the cocoa powder and flour.  Pour half of the brownie batter into the pan (you’ll want to do this before melting the candy corn, because otherwise it gets hard to deal with as it hardens).  Melt the candy corn in a bowl for about 45 seconds, stirring to smooth. Using a rubber spatula, spread the candy corn over the brownie batter. Top with remaining brownie batter. Bake for about 25 minutes.

cookies-n-cream-texas-sheet-cake

Another week down (almost), and another week where I’ve come home every day with both kids. Success! Such a good feeling. Each day I’m torn between wanting to take the boys out for fun activities and wanting to keep them corralled in my living room. Usually I opt to take them out, and there’s a solid 45 minutes where I am just running back and forth between the two, sweating, making sure no one runs away or gets kidnapped. They don’t quite follow instructions yet and no play area in Dallas seems to be enclosed. How do we feel about leashes? I’ve decided it’s not beneath me. It’s not.

Sometimes when I get back from a really stressful outing I like to bake something outrageous. Baking is an outlet for me. Actually not so much the act of baking, but the act of eating the batter or dough. It really makes me happy. Last week, I had sheet cake on my mind. I loooooove the Pioneer Woman’s recipe – so I made that but replaced the pecans with Oreos (duh), and the chocolate icing with a creamy vanilla icing. Unnecessarily rich and decadent, but it makes any stressful day a good one.

Recipe

  • Pioneer Woman Sheet Cake , minus the pecans and icing
  • 1.5 sticks butter, melted
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4-6 tablespoons milk
  • ~30 oreos, smashed

Bake the cake as instructed. Melt the butter in a saucepan, then whisk in the powdered sugar, vanilla and milk (it should be a thinner frosting).  When cake comes out of the oven, immediately top with crushed oreos, then drizzle with frosting.

maple-chocolate-chip-cookies-2

I really love pancakes. So much so that I would add “being able to order the kids’ pancakes at brunch” as one of the best things about having kids. And what’s the best thing about pancakes? The syrup, of course.  My best friend, who lives in Wisconsin, has started making her own maple syrup and oh man. There are no words to describe how good it is. She sent me a jar when I was pregnant, and to this day I can’t really tell you what happened to it. Pancakes? Ice Cream? Oatmeal? Spoon? I don’t know. I finished it in about a week and it’s all one big maply blur.  (hint hint, Christa, I’m accepting more maple syrup).

So anyway, these cookies are like pancakes in a cookie. Not made with homemade maple syrup because that would be a waste, but made with pure maple syrup to give it that really delicious sweet amber flavor. I know amber isn’t really a flavor.

Recipe

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • ~1/3 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the egg, then the vanilla, baking soda, corn starch, and salt. Slowly mix in the flour and then the maple syrup. Add the chocolate chips.  Cover cookie dough and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350.  Drop rounded balls onto baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.

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