Monday, January 20, 2014

Chocolate Chunk Blondies

Big news this weekend.....I came in second in our Village Chili Cook-off! I know, I am kind of a big deal now, but I promise to not let this new found fame go to my head.

I used B's Bison Chili Recipe found here, and substituted chipotle chili powder for the ancho powder. DELICIOUS!

Today, I have moved on to sweeter endeavors and made these yummy chocolate chunk blondies from Ina Garten's Fool Proof.  You probably have everything to make them in your pantry, so try them tonight.

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 1/4 pounds semisweet chocolate chunks, such as Nestle's


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8 x 12 x 2 inch baking pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on high speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time, and mix well, scraping down the bowl. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt and with the mixer still on low, slowly add flour mixture to the butter mixture. Fold the walnuts and chocolate chunks in with a rubber spatula.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 30 minutes exactly. Don't overbake! A toothpick may not come out clean. Cool completely in the pan and cut into bars.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Manchego-Almond Brussels Sprouts

I am obsessed with everything in this recipe title.

and...MANCHEGO is super fun to say!

We go through a costco bag of brussels sprouts on a weekly basis, but this recipe might bump us up to 2 bags per week!

2 lbs brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise
3 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1 lemon zested, plus 1 Tbs juice
1 oz shaved Manchego

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the sprouts with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange sprouts, cut side down and roast for 10 minutes. Remove baking sheet from the oven and sprinkle sprouts with almonds. Continue to roast until brussels sprouts are crisp-tender and beginning to brown (5-10 minutes). Once they have reached that point, remove from the oven and transfer to a bowl.

Add lemon zest and juice to the bowl. Add 1/2 the cheese and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Top with remaining cheese and serve.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

gold painted vases

I have a mild obsession with all things gold so when it came to my wedding I attempted to incorporate it as much as possible. Since the wedding was in fall I decided to go with ivory, gold and bronze, a classic color palate. I am the third of three sisters to get married, so we already had a million glass vases for the flowers. I wanted to add more color (gold!!!) to the table by having the vases contrast with the ivory linens. So, my mother and I got a little creative (or crazy) with painters tape and gold spray paint. We had fun making them, each one a little different. I LOVE how they turned out with the flowers and looked beautiful on the tables!!

Take you clear glass vases and create your design with painters tape. * Remember the glass surface that is not covered with tape is what will be painted gold.  

I tried to make sure that there was gold at the base of the vase for the contrast

Gently peel off paint tape - I found that some of the paint would peel off, but was hard to prevent (and I didn't mind)

My mom started spray painting pumpkins which were awesome for decor

Photos (on bottom) by: Becca Dilley
Flowers by: Daffodil Parker

Monday, January 6, 2014

whole-wheat carrot & applesauce muffins

I stumbled across the website 100 Days of Real Food on Pinterest last year and I turn to it whenever I feel like I need purge my life of sugar and processed foods.  There are a lot of great (and easy) recipes that are good for the whole family, so you should definitely check it out! 
I made these whole-wheat carrot & applesauce muffins this morning and there are only 3 out of the 12 left. The perfect breakfast, snack or treat, and you can feel good about eating it. 

1½ cups whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter (1 stick), softened (but not melted)
½ cup honey
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup carrot shreds (I used a cheese grater)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with paper, foil, or silicone liners, and set aside.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt.
In a large bowl fitted with an electric whisk (or beaters), mix the butter, honey, egg and vanilla together on medium speed. Turn the speed down and slowly add in the flour mixture until well combined. The batter will be fairly thick at this point.
Using a spatula, carefully fold in the applesauce and carrots. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes or until a toothpick comes and muffins are beginning to turn golden brown on top.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Power Granola

I am trying to reintroduce healthy foods to my body. I need to get all of the rich, holiday junk out of my system and start fueling myself with true, unprocessed, whole foods.

I made a batch of this granola (adapted from a recipe found on and the girls and I have been snacking on it all week. The nuts and flax help keep me satisfied and energized and it tastes delicious.

Cheers to a healthier new year.


2 cups regular oats
1/3 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup chopped slivered almonds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup honey
2 Tbs packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 teaspoon almond extract
Cooking spray
1/3 cup dried fruit (I used cherries, but you can use cranberries, dates, raisins, apricots or whatever dried fruit you prefer!!)

Preheat oven to 300°

Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl.

Combine orange juice, honey, and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat just until sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in oil and almond extract.

Pour honey mixture over oat mixture, stirring to coat. Spread mixture in a thin layer onto a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray (I used a silicone baking mat). Bake at 300° for 10 minutes; stir well. Bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Spoon granola into a bowl; stir in dried fruit. Cool completely.

If you are wanting to try more fabulous granola recipes, click here, here, here and here!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Chocolate Cherry Scones

Happy New Year everyone!
2013 is long gone and 2014 is off to a frigid start.  The forecasted high for Monday is -11. Needless to say we are spending a lot of time indoors, eating to stay warm.

Bridget gave me Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery Cookbook for a hostess gift (thanks B!!) and I made these chocolate/cherry scones for New Years day bunch.  The scones turned out delicious - they were moist and sweet enough to be served as a dessert.  

I love these scones.  I love Thomas Keller. I love wool socks. I love hot coffee and somehow, despite my headaches over the past few weeks, I still love champagne!!

*** This recipe takes some advance prep. Cherries need to be refrigerated over night.    

Chocolate Cherry Scones
(Bouchon Bakery Cookbook)

1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbs + 2 tsp of Kirsch (optional)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup dried tart cherries

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
9 Tbs cold, unsalted butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup chocolate chips

3/4 cup powdered sugar
5 Tbs reserved strained cherry syrup
2 Tbs heavy cream

To make the macerated cherries, combine water, sugar, and Kirsch in a small sauce pan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Stir in the cherries and return to a simmer, then remove from the heat, add vanilla and let cool. Transfer the cherries and their liquid to a covered container and refrigerate overnight.

To make the scones, Set a mesh strainer over a measuring cup and drain the cherries. Reserve 2-3 tablespoons of the liquid for the glaze.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and Kosher salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into tiny pieces and add it to the flour mixture with the paddle attachment until the whole mixture is crumbly and evenly combined. Pour in the cream and mix together with a wooden spoon, or with your hands, if it's easier, as the batter will be thick and heavy.

Next, add the chocolate chips and drained cherries, then transfer the dough to covered container and refrigerate for at least an hour. 

Remove the dough from the fridge and using an ice cream scoop, divide the batter into 12 balls. Set the balls on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and then put the whole cookie sheet in the freezer for at least 2 hours but overnight is preferred.  

Remove cookie sheet from the freezer and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until tops are golden brown. 

While the scones are baking, whisk together the powdered sugar and 2-3 tablespoons of reserved cherry syrup in a small bowl. Slowly add the cream, and add any additional cherry syrup to maintain the consistency of the glaze, or to add more flavor.  When the scones are finished baking, take them out of the oven an immediately brush them with several coats of glaze. Cool completely and enjoy!!!