Sunday, December 30, 2012

Banana Nut Muffins with Oatmeal Streusel

Same old story.

I had 3 very ripe bananas sitting on my counter, calling my name. I had to let them fulfill their banana destiny. And I wanted to make muffins. Let the girl eat her muffins :)

This is a marriage and adaptation between two different recipes, a muffin recipe from Simply Recipes and a streusel recipe from Cooking Light. The muffin recipe called for walnuts, which I didn't have. However, I did have a half bag of chopped macadamia nuts. Nice, little, salty chunks of macadamia nut. Perfect. The streusel recipe was created for a different muffin, but works very well on these muffins, if you ask me.

They were the perfect breakfast for a birthday girl. The birthday girl being me. Yes, it's my birthday. And yes, I'm old. I've officially left my twenties behind, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. I take that back. I do know how I feel, I'm not happy about it. 29 sounds so much younger than 30. Sigh. The hubby is taking me out for margaritas later to ease the pain.

In the meantime, another muffin may drown my sorrows :)


Muffins (makes 12)-
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup flour
1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped

6 tbsp oats
5 tbsp flour
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp butter, cold
1/2 tsp cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with liners. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, mix mashed bananas with melted butter with a large mixing spoon. Add sugar, egg, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Sprinkle baking soda and salt over mixture, stir to mix. Add flour to the bowl, mix until just combined. Fold in macadamia nuts.
3. To make streusel, combine oats through cinnamon into a small bowl. Cut into mixture until it forms a coarse crumb.
4. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 way full, finely sprinkle each muffin with crumb mixture.
5. Bake in the oven 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes, remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes and Cooking Light.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Caprese Soup

So, there's a show on the Food Network called "The Best Thing I Ever Ate". Are you familiar with it? It's a show with Food Network personalities talking about the best things they've ever ate (duh). Each episode has it's own theme, for example an episode might be "The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Desserts".

Well friends, I do believe this should go on the show under "The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Tomato Soups". Or maybe just "Soups". Or maybe just "Cheese".

The fact of that matter is that this soup is one of the best things I've ever ate. And I made it :)

It really is a genius recipe. It is a homemade tomato basil soup, pureed into smooth perfection. It's then topped with toasted baguette slices spread with homemade pesto. Top it all off with mozzarella cheese, and broil in in the oven to browned perfection.


I was in heaven after one bite. In that bite, you get the flavor of that homemade tomato soup (which I might add, by the way, puts Campbell's to shame), softened bread, salty basil-y pesto, and oh yes, melted cheese. It was a hit with the hubby as well. I lamented later that night to him over who would think of such a recipe, and why, oh why, didn't I think of it? Brilliance. Sheer brilliance.

Try it. You'll see.

Tomato Basil Soup-
(2) 28-oz cans of fire-roasted tomatoes
4 tbsp butter
1 large onion, diced
8 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp dried basil
kosher salt to taste (about 2 tsp)

2 large handfuls of basil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan
pinch of kosher salt

Slices of day old baguette
Olive oil
Mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Prepare soup. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. When melted, add onions and garlic to pan. When onions are tender, add tomatoes and chicken broth to pot. Add dried basil and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Once the soup has simmered, take an immersion blender to the pot and blend until very smooth. Turn heat to low and keep soup hot.

3. Prepare toast. Places slices of baguette bread on a lightly sprayed baking sheet. Toast in 400 degree oven 5-7 minutes, or until bread is evenly browned. Remove from oven and set aside. Turn oven to broil.
4. Prepare the pesto. Place basil through parmesan cheese into a food processor, blend until smooth. Salt to taste (I used very little).

5. In an individual oven safe bowl, spoon soup into bowl until about 2/3 full. Spread pesto on 2 slices of baguette, place slices on top of the soup. Sprinkle mozzarella over the top of the baguette. Repeat with individual bowls. Place bowls on a baking sheet and broil in the oven about 5 minutes or until the cheese is browned.

6. Serve immediately, although I recommend letting the soups cool about 5 minutes after coming out of the oven, lest you burn your tongue :)

Recipe adapted from Heather Christo Cooks.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Butterscotch Toffee Pecan Cookies

Ooh, back to baking!

I was soooo excited to do some baking yesterday. I actually spent all afternoon in the kitchen. The hubby requested his favorite, Cream Cheese Danish, so I had to oblige there. Having made Cream Cheese Danish so many times though, I was eager to try something new. And after 6 months of pinning cookies on Pinterest without being able to try the recipes, I have a long, long list of new recipes I wanted to test out. This recipe incorporates 3 of the hubby's favorite things (oatmeal, toffee, and pecans) so this was first up in my new, professional-grade kitchen.

They did not disappoint.

These are what my brother would goofingly (I know, not a word. It is now!) call a "stoner" cookie. There are so many different flavors packed into one little package. The dough is delightfully buttery. There is sweetness from the butterscotch. Saltiness and crunch from the pecans. Texture from the oatmeal. The hubby attacked the cookie jar with abandon last night.

I would highly recommend these cookies. Not one to be skipped :)

Ingredients: (makes approximately 3 dozen)

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup butterscotch morsels
1/2 cup toffee bits
3/4 cup pecans, chopped


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until well combined. Add egg and vanilla to bowl, mix until smooth.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour through cinnamon. In 3 additions, add flour mixture to butter mixture. Mix until just combined.
4. Fold in oats, butterscotch, toffee, and pecan.
5. Roll dough into about 1 tbsp balls. Bake in oven 7-10 minutes, depending on cookie texture preference. We like ours soft :) Let cool on cookie sheet 5 minutes, remove cookies to cooling rack. Let cookies cool completely before storage.

Recipe adapted from Chef In Training.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Blog Love: Oktoberfest Stew

I missed cooking so, so much. So much that I never not want to be able to cook ever again.

Never, ever, ever again.

Like, ever.

In all seriousness, I've been cooking since Day 3 in the new house. Priority #1 was my kitchen. I always want my kitchen to be done. I'd rather be running into boxes in the bedroom in the middle of the night over not cooking. And while I have been cooking, it has been quick standbys, not new recipes.

This was the first new recipe I tried. And I did not regret it. Ooh child, this was delicious.

I found this recipe somewhere where I spend a majority of my time, Pinterest. I love Pinterest so much, I don't know what I would do without it. Probably be very, very sad. This recipe is from one of my newly beloved blogs, The Cozy Apron. Pinterest led me to this blog, and I'm so happy it did.

I missed Oktoberfest season this year, so maybe I'm just trying to make up for that fact. The hubby and I both had colds when I made this, and it was perfect comfort food. It actually reminds me of a dish my mom used to make, hers with smoked sausage, potatoes, and green beans. At any rate, this dish is full of flavor and would be perfect for a cold, windy night. It's too good to save for once a year :)


1 tbsp olive oil
1 (14 oz) smoked beef sausage, sliced thinly
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 small cabbage, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp pepper
Pinch of salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup beer (German style lager)
2 Russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp flat-leave parsley, chopped

Freshies. Yum!

I had a hard time finding German-style lager at my small-town grocery store, so I went with this.

Homemade chicken stock

1. Heat olive oil in a large pan until heated. Add beef sausage, cook 4-5 minutes or until browned.
2. Add onions to pan. Cook until golden brown and softened. Add cabbage to pan and allow cabbage to soften.
3. Add salt and pepper to pan. Add garlic to pan, cook for 1-2 minutes.
4. Add lager to the pan. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 2-3 minutes or until lager has slightly reduced.
5. Add potatoes and chicken broth to the pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, place lid slightly askew on the pan to allow steam to escape, and simmer gently for 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
6. Turn heat off. Stir in the apple cider vinegar and the parsley. Serve immediately.

Veggies simmering in lager. Smells so amazing!

Recipe adapted from The Cozy Apron

Monday, December 24, 2012

Settling In

Well, it's been quite some time since I last posted. But with good reason! The hubby and I moved into our house! The past week and a half have flown by in a flurry of activity, mostly me unpacking and the hubby recuperating from a nasty cold. I've gotten some major unpacking done, including washing all the clothes and all the dishes. A feat in itself, if anyone has ever taken upon themselves to wash everything they own. I'm pleased to say that the house is coming along nicely. We are about 90% unpacked at this point, and the place mostly looks like somewhere where someone just moved in i.e. no decorations or anything on the walls. I'm looking forward to getting to do a little bit more of personalizing the house after the holidays :) In the meantime, I've got pictures of the progress (of course!):

Guest Bath

Linen Closet

Guest bedroom

Closet in the master bathroom

Master bathroom

Another of the master bathroom

Master bedroom

Master bedroom again

Living room


My fabulous birthday present from my brother and his wife, a brand new butcher block!

Front of the house

Back of the house

It's hard to believe that our journey is finally over! It seemed to take so long, it's crazy that we are finally moved in. It's also hard to believe that a year ago this wasn't even a thought in our heads.

I must say though, I'm sooooo glad this ordeal is over. This way I can go back to blogging about important things, like food :)

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Finished Product

Oh lord.

This journey is almost over. The house was finished on Friday. We spent the whole weekend wandering around our house, staring at how beautiful it is. The hubby is like a kid at Christmas who absolutely cannot wait until Christmas to open his present. He wanted to start moving things in on Friday, until I gently reminded him we have to sign all of our paperwork first, lest we lose our warranty. He's still trying to get me to budge on that one, but budge I will not. I've waited so long,  I'll wait a little bit longer for my warranty.

We are doing the final walk-thru today, the painter is coming to fix any last spots, the bank is sending their inspector out today and wiring Schumacher the final payment. Early tomorrow morning, we are signing off on the project with Schumacher and we'll be moving in around noon tomorrow!

We have a U-Haul reserved and our "helpers" (the brother and sister-in-law) have lined up a babysitter. It's really, really happening! I must admit, until we are actually moving our furniture into the house, I'm still in a state of disbelief.

The hubby and I have noted that a lesser couple would probably be in the midst of divorce right now, after being unable to withstand the sheer volume of absolute crap we've been through. We made it still intact, and we're pretty proud of that :)

Some final pictures:

Finished kitchen. 
Finished dining nook.
Finished entryway. 
Finished living room.
Finished master bedroom.
Finished master bathroom.
Finished guest room.
Finished main bath.
Finished linen closet.
Crossing my fingers that nothing goes wrong today!!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Feeling Optimistic

Yesterday was a good day. Our appliances were delivered, and they are freakin' beautiful! B-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l. It was love at first sight. The hubby was working, so I was at the house to intercept these wonderful machines.

Our project manager appeared at the house with his best woeful act while I was there, giving me an opportunity to talk to this weasel. And weasel-y he was. He fed me the same garbage he always feeds my husband. I didn't believe him for a second. He called the trim people, as well as the plumber to confirm their appointments. Laughable, this dude. He's like the boy who cried wolf. Anyhoo, he says (and we all know how I feel about what he says) the plumber and the wood people should be there today, and then carpet on Friday. I have confirmed that the wood people were at the house this morning, and I'm still holding out hope the plumber was there today.

If the plumber was there today, and the carpet is actually installed on Friday, like they say, we'll be moving in next week. Now, don't worry, I'm not getting my hopes up. But man, it would be so nice to have a light at the end of this horrendous tunnel.

The hubby and I are heading out to the property when he gets home from work tonight, and I'm really anxious to get over there. Sitting around on pins and needles is what it feels like. The next two and a half hours are going to be torturous.

I love this fridge :)
The hubby just had to install the microwave as soon as he saw it.
So many things will be cooked on this stove and baked in this oven.
There are no words.
I actually don't know if this is the washer or the dryer...
That big box is the dishwasher, which I will run DAILY. After I've cooked EVERY DAY. The kitchen never closes at the Jarrell's house.