All About Autumn

My favorite season is finally here. Y’all…I’m obsessed. I’m completely head over heels for this season! Just like many of you out there I wanna throw on some boots over skinny jeans, wear cozy autumn-colored tops, and jump for joy in honor of all-things pumpkin. This post isn’t a review…a recipe…or a recommendation. Basically, I just love autumn so much that I can’t contain myself. I have a blog, and I’m not afraid to use it.

I know I’m not alone, my fellow pumpkin-spice-loving friends. I see your pins on Pinterest and I definitely see you instagraming those “PSL” wins too.  You’re just as excited as I am, aren’tcha 😉

I also know that the season isn’t even officially here yet. Silly, Katherine. It’s not “official” until September 23rd (yes, I looked it up weeks ago). But where’s the fun in waiting a few more days?! NO WHERE. We’re close enough, so I’m starting the celebration early. So, here is a list of my favorite things this season:

strolling around Fall Vintage Markets…with a PSL in hand…wearing boots…and a scarf
Breathtaking fall foliage
The perfect chill in the air; a sweet relief from Oklahoma’s Summer heat
The crunch of fallen leaves under my feet
Beer festivals downtown
The distant smell of a campfire
BOOTS!
Picking out your favorite pumpkin…then deciding you need 54 more of them
Jack-o-lantern carving
Amber Ales
Red Wine
toasting Pumpkin seeds with Old Bay
reflecting on what I’m thankful for (3740103842934 things…in case you were wondering)
the roar of Excitement from a football stadium
baking Apple-spice-anything
simply saying the word “Autumn” 
Reuniting with family & friends during Thanksgiving
Slow roasting pork…turkey…veggies…Everything!
The anticipation of your football team’s success
Let’s GOOOOOOOOO Redskins!
Pumpkin Spice Lattes
Baking…and Baking…and Baking
Being crafty
Sitting in The Coffee House on Cherry Street, blogging about how much I love Autumn 🙂

I could go on forever but I have a Washington Redskins game to cheer for, things to bake, and more pumpkins to purchase. Heheee! I just love this season and how it practically smacks ya in the face with excitement for new holiday memories to be made, old recipes to be devoured, and cozy clothes to be worn. It’s like the happiest line up of all things beautiful, just waiting for you to live it. 🙂

What’s on your list?! Are you as obsessed with this glorious season as I am? Add to my list by commenting below and keep the fabulous fall love flowin’!

Happy Autumn 🙂

Chocolate Chip Brownies

These are seriously delicious…made from scratch…chocolate chip-ie…cocoa-ie brownies. Out of this world, y’all!

Earlier today I decided to go for an afternoon run. Silly Katherine. There was a heat advisory today that quickly turned my run into a slow walk underneath the unrelenting Oklahoma sun. After the heat-wrenching work out, I proclaimed to the hubby that I deserved something chocolatey. Something homemade. I really wanted to bake and decided on brownies, but since most homemade recipes yields a lingering bitter taste of cocoa, I decided this recipe deserved a few semi-sweet chocolate chips to amp things up.

DSC04994

Ingredients:

  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (or less) semi-sweet MINI chocolate chips (mini chips are the best!)

STEP 1:

Pre-heat your oven to 350°

STEP 2:

In a medium size bowl, combine your sugar, butter, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and salt.

DSC05009

STEP 3:

Temper the butter/cocoa/sugar mixture over a pot of lightly simmering water. Continuously stir until the mixture turns into a smooth consistency.

STEP 4:

Let the bowl cool for about 5-10 minutes. Then, stir in your vanilla extract, followed by both eggs, then the flour – stirring constantly.

STEP 5:

So…funny story: I had a ton of chocolate chips on stand by, not really knowing how much I’d actually use. I started to pour “just a few” chips in there before, “AaaaAAAAH! Ohhh shoot!” I basically overwhelmed the batter w/ chocolate chips. Trial and error is how the beautiful recipe (above) made just for you (and me…and hubby) became more accurate. I learned as I went along. The batter in the pic below has WAY more chips than I’d recommend adding. Stick to a 1/4 cup…MAX…or less or none at all is totally fine too. Do what feels right! …wwoooooo!

DSC05059

STEP 6:

DSC05061I had only a 9 x 9 ” pan available, but 8 x 8 ” is even better to make these thicker if you have it. Line it up with parchment paper. It’s my new favorite thing! Among…like…4308591 other things of course. It makes clean up easy without needing to soak/wash/scrub your pan after all is done.

STEP 7:

Into the oven it goes! Keep it in there for about 20 minutes, but watch it. Originally I first tried this at 325° for 25 minutes but it was still pretty gooey in the center. 350° at 25 -30 min or so will do the trick, but be sure to watch it and check the center w/ a toothpick starting around 20 minutes or so. Every oven is slightly different, which is why I sound like a paranoid babysitter of baked goods 😉

DSC05065

STEP 8:

ENJOY!!! We sure did. Better grab a glass of milk to go with it, or wine. It’s unbelievably delish. The richness of the cocoa, the sweetness of the semi-sweet chips, the subtlety of the cinnamon and vanilla altogether make these brownies stand out. I can’t wait to make them again. If you try out this recipe, let me know your thoughts!

DSC05073

Happy baking 🙂

Thirty One

It’s my 31st birthday today! I’m spending the day with my hubby. He’s my favorite person 🙂 We’re exploring Austin, TX all weekend and are having the time of our lives!

A weekend getaway to a new place often heightens my senses to the world around me. The air, sights, and sounds all stand out a bit stronger because it’s new and different. That got me thinking – I hope I take enough time to appreciate the little things that I adore in life. I used to be better at that.

Throughout high school and college I’d escape for a few minutes (or hours) and add to a list of what I loved. Totally random things…like…how people tilt their head when they eat a taco, or a much needed outburst of laughter after something has gone horribly wrong and that poor moment needs some comedic relief. Before I knew it, my list had exceeded 1,400 things. The sad truth is that I have no idea where that book is now. But the idea of doing that, of writing down the little things that I love about life, well I think today’s a brilliant day to bring it back.

So, in honor of my 31st, here are 31 little random things that I love:

  1. Snuggling with my yellow lab, Stella.
  2. Stovetop popcorn.
  3. The entire experience of walking around an Anthropologie store.
  4. Slowly sipping red wine on a cold night.
  5. The 1st cup of coffee in the morning.
  6. Finishing a long run.
  7. Writing.
  8. Star gazing.
  9. Small town America.
  10. Getting positive results from using little pockets of time wisely.
  11. Country music.
  12. Cowgirl boots.
  13. An unforgettable culinary experience.
  14. Dark chocolate.
  15. Laughter from my favorite people.
  16. The distant smell of a campfire.
  17. Swivel chairs.
  18. HGTV & The Food Network.
  19. Needed hugs.
  20. A new dress.
  21. Baking.
  22. Stained glass windows.
  23. Coffee shops.
  24. Windows open, kinda weather.
  25. Sushi.
  26. Getting asked to take strangers’ group photos.
  27. When a baby smiles or yawns.
  28. Zumba. 
  29. Hearing perfectly beautiful harmony sung a cappella.
  30. People who don’t complain, appreciate life, and embrace each day.
  31. Choosing happiness.

More than any of these, more than anything in the world in fact, I love and adore my family and friends over all. I’m a very lucky lady to have such joy surrounding me all the time. Not quite sure how I got so lucky, but I thank God everyday for y’all.

So…what’s on your list?!

Happy day, friends!

Oat Choc-Chip Banana Bread

That right there’s a long title, but a scrumptiously simple recipe. I’m sending a virtual high five to the lady who submitted this recipe. I found it from Taste of Home. Check it out! I made a few changes though, so below is my own adaptation of it.

Changes:

  • I didn’t have the mini-chocolate chips that she calls for, so I used 1/2 cup of regular chips instead.
  • I substituted shortening for good ‘ol butter.
  • She recommends using instant oats but I love the look, texture, and durability of Old Fashioned Oats – so I used those instead as well. They held up beautifully in the baking process!

My version of this recipe: 

  • 1/2 cup unsalted softened Butter
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 3 very ripe Bananas
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 3/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned Oats
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet Chocolate Chips

Here’s what happened:

STEP 1

In a bowl or mixer (low to medium speed) combine the sugar, softened butter, and eggs all until smooth.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

STEP 2

Peel and add the 3 over-ripe bananas to the sugar/butter mixture.6O9C2517

STEP 3

Add in the baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 6O9C2522

STEP 4

Gradually add in the flour, then the oats, then finally the chocolate chips. 6O9C2524

STEP 5

Pour the mixture into a greased bread pan, and place in a pre-heated oven. 6O9C2528

STEP 6

Your timer should  be set to 40 minutes, then check on it for 10-15 minutes. 50-55 minutes total should do the trick, but as ovens vary – just check on it starting around 40 minutes.

STEP 7

Check the center to make sure it’s fully cooked. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes.

6O9C2533

 

ENJOY! Hubby and I sure did. It should last the week if it’s just you and a spouse/roomie…but if you have a large household or lots of housemates, it’ll be gone by the end of the day.

Happy banana baking!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

It’s a recipe for fall, y’all! It’s been a while since I’ve posted…anything. I started two other special posts which have both been patiently waiting to be finished and published, but work kinda took over while I was traveling so I’ll get ’em up this week. Promise!

What’s up next? So glad you asked! Two new “TOP 5” posts: one is on my top five travel tips, while the other is on my top five tips for those of you considering blogging. Stay tuned!

Snow!I’m really excited to share both of those, but just for today I had to start with this bad boy of a post in honor of a perfecly snowy Sunday here in Oklahoma! We only got a little snow…but of the little we got – it was enough to inspire the crazy wannabe baker in me to get started. I felt compelled to bake something pumpkin-like with the cans of pumpkin puree lining the aisles at the local grocery store, the fire in our fireplace, and the simple fact that I’m home. Home home home.

I love being home.

I found a recipe that deliveres a perfect little dose of pumpkin as my favorite season of autumn comes to a close: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins. High fives for this post goes out to Marg from food.com – thanks for the recipe!

Now, I’ll have you know that before I left for my last two week stretch of work-travel back East, I put on my fancy pants and actually made pumpkin puree from scratch. Like, from an actual pumpkin…not a can. Totally did! I was so proud of myself. I followed the instructions from my favorite Oklahoma homecook, Ree Drummond. Check out how to make it from scratch here: Homemade Pumpkin Puree.

I made it, froze it, and when I came back from my trip it was gone. Gone. I was devistated. No wonder Justin Timberlake wrote a song about it. Gone. It’s heartbreaking to make something from scratch and then have to start over when you’re toooootally not in the mood. It wasn’t Sean’s fault, btw. Just for the record – there was an issue with our new fridge/freezer’s power while I was gone and the poor guy had to throw everything out and buy new stuff. Sooooo those cans of pumpkin puree were lookin’ pretty good today.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients

2 Eggs (the picture above looks like 3, but 1 was a double yolk…so I just went with it!)

1 cup – Sugar

1/2 can (8 oz) – Pumpkin Purree

1 & 1/4 cups – Canola or Veg Oil

1/2 tsp – Vanilla Extract

1 tsp – Ground Cinnamon

1 tsp – Baking Powder

1 tsp – Baking Soda

1/2 tsp – Salt

6-8 oz – Semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

*Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

STEP 1:

Mix the eggs, pumpkin puree, vanilla, and oil into a bowl until it’s nice and smoooooooth lookin’.

STEP 2:

Then add the cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

STEP 3:

Easy, right? Then the flour…in stages. Dumping it in all at once means that you will be wearing most of the flour. Ain’t no time for that. So add it in slowly, but steadily. It’ll look like this: Steps 1 and 2

STEP 4:

Then, remove the whisk/paddle/whatever if you’re using an electric mixer, and make sure you fold in the chocolate chips with a spoon/spatula.

STEP 5:

I’m a HUGE fan of these parchment paper wrappers. They’re so easy. Now, this recipe calls for about 15 muffins but I wasn’t about to use two different trays, so I just made all 12 a little larger and it worked out beautifully. So, either spray or greeze the pan or fill the paper cups about half way. IMG_7821

STEP 6:

Into the oven they go for about 20 minutes or less! 20 minutes was great for these rockstars since I filled ’em pretty well.

STEP 7:

Let them cool for about 5 minutes and enjoy!!! IMG_7846

Boom. Delicious muffins prepared, baked, and enjoyed in under an hour.

Happy baking!

 

A Tale of Two Muffins

This morning I woke up, made myself a cup of coffee, and watched the 8:30 a.m. episode of The Pioneer Woman – pretty standard Saturday morning so far. Ree made her precious family  some cinnamon sugar muffins to kick off some hard work on their beautiful Oklahoma farm. And then it happened. My eyes widened…my caffeine-induced energy spiked…and I wanted to bake. There was no stopping me. I turned to Sean…

Me: So I wanna bake something. I think muffins.

Sean: Chocolate chip and banana.

Me: No bananas.

Sean: Chocolate chip and cinnamon.

Me: Hmmmm….I was thinking about apple cinnamon. I’m pretty sure I want apple cinnamon.

Sean: Chocolate chip…and….chocolate chip…….chocolate…….chip.

Hehe. He’s pretty cute. But oohhh it was ON! Who was gonna win this battle? Luckily – brilliance stepped in.

I researched a few simple apple cinnamon recipes scattered online and decided to adjust the basics to my own variation for the batter and then split it into two separate bowls right before adding the final key ingredient. Problem solved! One dozen muffins – 6 apple cinnamon, 6 cinnamon chocolate chip.

As Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, says, “Here’s the cast of characters:

Flour – 1 1/2 cups

White Sugar – 1/2 cup

Light Brown Sugar – 1/4 cup

Baking Powder – 1 1/2 teaspoons

Ground Cinnamon – 1 teaspoon

Ground Nutmeg – 1/8 teaspoon (or…just 3-5 sprinkles if it has a filter)

Milk – 1/2 cup

Unsalted Butter (melted) – 1/2 cup

Salt – 1/4 teaspoon

1 Egg (slightly beaten)

1 Apple (pealed, cored, and diced up into little cubes)

1/2 cup of Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

Penzeys Spices

I’ve gotta add a little shout out here to my girl Jeanne for her contribution to this recipe. For my 30th birthday back in February she and her husband, Travis, gave me some AMAZING Penzeys spices. You better believe I packed these bad boys up carefully when we moved from MD to OK last month. It was time to break out the Penzeys nutmeg and cinnamon for today’s little tale. Jeanne’s fellow blogger who loves to try new recipes, so be sure to check out her delicious recipes here: Jeanne’s Kitchen!

And there you have it! The entire “cast of characters” needed for my own little adjusted recipe for 6 apple cinnamon muffins and 6 cinnamon chocolate chip muffins. Be sure to PRE-HEAT your oven to 375 degrees. Now, here’s how “the tale of two muffins” unfolded:

STEP 1

Combine the flour, white sugar, light brown sugar, baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon and nutmeg together in a bowl/mixer.

STEP 2

Add in the milk, melted butter, and slightly beaten egg to the dry ingredients. Stir slowly, or have the mixer on low. Combine until it looks all fabulous…like this:

6O9C1944

STEP 3

Are you on the edge of your seat!?! Here’s where the magic happens. Separate the batter evenly into two bowls. In one bowl add as much chocolate chips as you’d like. In the other, yes – very good, add the diced up cubes of apple. I didn’t use the whole apple by the way. I only really used like, half of it. You can use as much as you’d like…but be mindful of how the apple will create way more moisture in the muffins depending on how much you add.

STEP 4

Grease or spray a 12-cup muffin pan. Fill 6 with the apple cinnamon batter and the other 6 with the chocolate cinnamon batter. Then, into the oven it goes for 18 minutes.

6O9C1974STEP 5

Check on them periodically, but 18 minutes at 375 degrees should definitely do the trick. Take them out and let them sit for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, melt a tablespoon of butter and brush it over ONLY the six apple cinnamon muffins. Then…sprinkle over a little sugar! Tehe!

STEP 6

Woooohoooo! Enjoy. We sure did. We each thought our original preference was the best. Sean loved the Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Muffins, while I loved the Apple Cinnamon Muffins.

6O9C1990

6O9C1991

6O9C1995

The beauty of this recipe is that you can add anything to it. There are so many possible variations to the key ingredient that you could play around with, like…blueberries with a little lemon or orange zest thrown in there? Heck yeah! Or maybe go a little crazy during the holidays and make some white chocolate chip and cranberry muffins with this batter. Ooohhhh the possibilities 🙂

Happy baking, friends!

 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

There are a lot of cookie recipes out there competing for our love, praise, and affection. I actually thought about that last night as I watched the dramatic season finale of The Bachelorette (part 1) unfold. Yes, I watch The Bachelorette. NO JUDGING! I don’t even care how staged and scripted it is….it’s just so addicting! I never really watched any of the previous seasons before, but now I’m hooked. Ben was creepy. James was fake. Anyone else think Des would’ve been great with Zak? Drew’s weird. Chris is okay, and he’s from my favorite city (Seattle!). And what the heck, Brooks?! So many thoughts.

Mid-commercial, I just had to get up and get a cookie.

Cookie recipes and The Bachelorette kinda have a lot in common if you think about it. I’m serious! You know that most, but not all, of the recipes out there are going to give you a delicious chocolate chip cookie when you’re done. But which recipe is going to melt your heart….huh? Which recipe is going to “MARRY” (…hehe) those flavors in harmony? Is there enough…chemistry….(I’m on a roll!) with the ingredients? Okay I’ll stop.

Ingredients!

So what’s a girl to dooo!?

How do I choose among all of these mouthwatering recipes? Well, I got a little crazy – I made my own recipe. I love to research a ton of recipes out there to get a sense of ratios (I’m still learning) and then I have a little fun. This is what I came up with, and it TOTALLY worked! Sean (NOT a Bachelorette fan, by the way) really loved them and went back for more. WIN!!!

Here’s the recipe:

*Pre-heat your oven for 350 degrees

1 & 1/2 cups – Light Brown Sugar, packed
1/2 cup (1 stick) – Butter, softened (please ignore how the photo has 2 sticks…not sure how that other guy got in there!)
1 & 1/4 teaspoon – Vanilla Extract
1 – Large Egg
1 teaspoon – Salt
1/8 teaspoon – Nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon – Cinnamon
1 teaspoon – Baking Soda
1 & 1/2 cups – Unbleached Flour
2 cups – Instant Oats
1 & 1/2 cups (less than1 bag) – Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

Step 1:

Mix the brown sugar and butter together.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Step 2:

Keep the mixer on low, and add in the vanilla extract, egg, nutmeg, cinnamon, and baking soda.

Vanilla Extract

Step 3:

Replace the whisk with a more durable stir…er…(is there a better title for that?). Then, add the flour…stir slowly….then the oats….stir slowly….then stop.

Unbleached Flour

Instant Oats

Step 3:

Add the BEST part of this recipe!!!!!!! But stir it in by hand with a wooden spoon, otherwise the mixer will begin taking on a life of its own.

Hmmmmm

Best part!!!

6O9C9278

Step 4:

Roll each piece to the size of a golf ball, and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet. Then into the oven they go! About only 10 minutes should do the trick. Sorry…I don’t have photos of this part because Sean’s camera ran out of battery. You get the idea!

They were out of this world. If you want to see how delicious they looked, check it out and follow me on Instagram! Any favorite cookie recipes of your own? Comment and let me know!

Happy baking.

Office Space

Ladies and Gentlemen….my commute is over!!!

Last Friday was my final day working for George Mason University. It was hard to leave Mason…I just adore that university as well as the talented staff that I was fortunate enough to work with for nearly 3 years. But I was also ready to have my time and life back. No more commuting, and particularly no more stressful attempts to balance those very few hours at home before sleeping and then sitting in traffic again the next morning. (Out of the loop?! Check out my last post for an update on what I’m doing next: Newlie News: The “CIA”.)

I’m so excited (and we all know that my usual level of excitement is abnormally high) to start working with the CIA (www.ciachef.edu) in less than one week! In the meantime, I get to soak up this week of my own little “stay-cation” at home, allowing time to reflect on what’s about to happen.

Transitioning from one job to the next is usually both daunting and refreshing. Am I right? But having this week to set up my home office and enjoy a little bit of the easy life is such a treat! This was my day yesterday:

Woke up – made coffee & breakfast (egg whites, scrambled with sautéed mushrooms, topped with feta cheese) – snuggled with Stella while watching Good Morning America (TOTALLY my pick over the Today Show by the way…major new fan of “GMA”) – did laundry – ran 4 miles with Stella – made lunch (power salad! arugula, avocado, tomatoes, broccoli, and sprinkled with chunks of cheddar cheese) when Sean came home – went to Target – came home and cleaned up a bit – made a delicious dinner with Sean (spaghetti with sausage, and a side of garlic bread), watched T.V. … but got restless … so I made chocolate chip cookies from scratch (yep…same recipe from this post: cookie baking time lapse), finished the night laughing hysterically at our new favorite show, “Duck Dynasty.” End scene. 

Today I set up my new “office space” here at home. Now, this bad boy seen below is no ordinary desk – it’s my great-Grandfather’s desk. His name was William McKay, and he was from St. Paul, North Carolina. When my parents recently moved out of their home in Pennsylvania for their retirement in the North Carolina mountains, I was thrilled to inherit this beautiful roll-top antique desk. I’ve jazzed it up a bit to be a little more “Katherine” and girly…but I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am to get to work here.

Great Grandfather's Desk

I especially love thinking about how happy great-Grandaddy McKay would be if he knew that his desk would be home to three generations: his daughter’s family, and then her daughter’s family, and then even further to HER daughter’s new family (our little Mason home!). This desk has already brought me so much joy.

Here are a few goodies that I decided to decorate it with:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I can’t even begin to tell you all how lucky I feel to have this new sense of career independence, such an exciting company to work for, the life I’ve been dreaming about for years, and a chance to celebrate our sweet family throughout our home. I can’t wait for all that’s in store for this life-changing switch.

And on that note…it’s time to get ready for my first ever mid-day Zumba class!!!

Happy living.

Fire Making & Cookie Baking

Well hello, you.

How was your weekend?! Mine was relaxing. I really needed that break from the long week. I just adore being home.

Today we were pretty productive: Sean worked on photography stuff, I went for an hour long run with Stella, I baked homemade bread for the first time (SO yummy. Super time consuming. Worth it. But more on that in another post), and then…Sean thought of how cool it would be to time lapse a few things around the house. Like, one or two perfect representations of a Sunday at home. We decided to highlight him making a fire in our fire place, and me baking chocolate chip cookies. Two of my obsessions this winter: fires in the fireplace, and baking. I’m so proud of Sean’s photography skills (have you “liked” his Facebook page yet?!). He continues to pick up this stuff at lightening speed, and loving every minute of it. He put his time lapse into a video…wanna see? You know you dooo! Here it is:

I hope you enjoyed 🙂

As for the classic chocolate chip cookie recipe, this was straight from Betty Crocker. My good friend Sarah Baker (hey girrrl!) gave me the Betty Crocker cookbook as a wedding/bridal gift back in November. I ADORE this book, and especially the classic recipes that it provides. The simple chocolate chip cookie recipe is in there. Go get it 😉

Happy Sunday.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

Happy Snow Day! Well, it started off happy…then yours truly got a little bored. I’m human, it happens. There’s only so much Pinterest-ing, TV-watching, and talking to my dog that I can handle. Luckily, inspiration struck me like the massive storm hit greater D.C. today. Watch what happend:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And there we have it. Time to bake! But what? THIS….

http://www.recipesnobs.com/2012/03/peanut-butter-chocolate-chip-cupcakes.html

Yup. Peanut butter chocolate chip cupcakes. They DO exist. Virtual high five going out to the blogger who put those beautiful photos together of the creation! Mine are okay. Here’s the progression:

IngredientsI had almost everything that the recipe called for, but not quite. So here’s what I could find:

  • whole milk…sorry girl…only had 2%. Good enough for me! 
  • flour
  • white sugar
  • brown sugar…nope. Didn’t have this one so I just doubled the white sugar about to even out the taste. If you have it, it’s definitely better though.
  • vanilla extract
  • baking powder
  • chocolate chips…I kinda had enough, but the recipe calls for 2 cups and I definitely didn’t have enough to match that request. Really though…the more the merrier.
  • butter
  • salt
  • creamy peanut butter…negative. We have extra crunchy cause we’re cool like that. I can see why creamy peanut butter would seem better, but the crunchy peanut butter actually gave the cupcakes a delicious authentically peanut taste. Big fan!
  • frosting…I still had some vanilla frosting stored away, so I just got that bad boy out of the cabinet and threw in some cocoa powder to make it a bit more chocolatey. It was so good!!! Now, the recipe I found will inspire you to make your own frosting, but I didn’t have any powdered sugar so I defaulted to the pre-made/Newlie-adjusted frosting instead.

Got it? No? Then just read the recipe I found and it’ll go over the steps even better. Perfect? K good. Now here’s the pretty progression from ingredients to marvelous mouthwatering cupcakes:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

They’re delicious!!!! I plan on bringing some into work tomorrow. George Mason University’s Office of Admissions – “You’re welcome!” No seriously though, I hope you all enjoy making and eating these. It brightened up my snow day as I was tucked away inside. Brightened up Sean’s day too as soon as he came home from work. I hear him walking up the stairs as I’m typing this post, and this is what I see:

IMG_0080Happy baking.

Day Off (Part I)

Ever need a day to yourself when the rest of the world is working? One that frees you from work, an agenda, and permits your heart and soul to truly define the day?

Today is my day.

That’s right! I have the day off. “HOLLERRRR!” What to dooo!? Well, last weekend was spent in both Westchester County and Long Island, NY for work, so I intend to smush a weekend full of my wish list adventures into today. Special shout out to my AMAZING team (Andrew Bunting, Daniel Zimmet, and Mark Mansdoerfer) who I traveled with. Our mission was to host two admitted student receptions in those areas over the weekend. It was a TOTAL success!

Today’s post will come in two parts:

1) Part I: What I want to do with my day.

2) Part II: What I actually accomplished (both productive, and delightfully unproductive). I’ll deliver Part II after New Girl tonight, so stay tuned. Both for that show (9 p.m. on Fox) and for my little day off report that is 😉 And just because I’m excited…let’s take a little looksie at a preview of tonight’s show:

A day off is typically a day to sleep in and do nothing if your schedule allows for it, am I right? Well, not today. I have a wish list of all-things-delightful to accomplish, and I intend to takle it head-on. Not an agenda…just a wish list:

  • My day-off breakfast. Tales of this deliciousness coming soon.
  • Target time! I’m convinced that shopping at Target is one of the greatest things in life. I have things to buy, Starbucks coffee to enjoy, discounts to get excited over, and new decoration ideas to be inspired by.
  • A clean house. I adore coming home to a clean home…and call me old fashioned, but seeing the smile on Sean’s face when he comes home from work and the entire house is clean (this only happens when I’ve had the day off – don’t be fooled), is priceless.
  • Running with Stella. Remember when I was a rockstar last weekend? If not, read my last post! I need to keep up the athleticism, and today just so happens to be beautiful again. SO beautiful, in fact, that the sunshine just smacks a smile right on your face the moment you step outside. It’s time to exercise.
  • Wedding Wishes. 9 months from our wedding day may seem like an eternity, but the list of things to both plan, and RE-plan is growing by the minute. News on that later.
  • Pinterest. I mean let’s be honest, we all know it’s going to happen. Might as well add it to the list so that I can feel especially productive later!
  • Cupcakes! I love to bake. Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, anyone? I think it’s gonna happen. Work friends at Mason’s Office of Admissions – if you cheer me on in this task… you’ll be “sweetly” rewarded when I return tomorrow!
  • New recipe. I’m loving the ideas in one of my new recipe cookbooks. Tales of this deliciousness coming soon as well.
  • Cute new dress. I LOVE dresses, and would love a new one. Let’s see if I can fit this task in as well.

Oh my…it’s already 10:43 a.m….time to go. Who’s excited!? THIS GIRL!

Stay tuned.

Welcome to “Newlie!”

There’s always a new opportunity to learn more each day, so why not look at each moment as wide-eyed as possible? Typically I’m not the best at sticking to that philosophy. I might think I am, but let’s be honest – I go through my work day, maybe exercise…maybe not, cook, watch t.v., go on Facebook and Pinterest, sleep, and repeat! So, my blog “Newlie” is an archive of me devoting more positive attention to the time I can call my own:

my new adventures in cooking:

my new travel escapes:

being newly engaged:

living in a new house and neighborhood … with a boy : )

…and more newness to come!

I want to share the refreshing little day trip escapes that I normally would’ve never thought to visit. The heart warming restaurant service that made my day. The cooking experience gone horribly wrong, and the unbelievably tasty meal that came from learning my first mistake. The special deal on a kayaking adventure. The genius Pinterest inspiration that turned into a dinner party sensation. Life is too short not share it with each other…am I right?

Happy reading : )