Tag Archives: baking

Peanut Butter Blondies

food 016

Yum, yum, yum! I’m at home and I have a lot of work to do. I’m a teacher. As my friend Cara put it: “yea, your job never ends.”

But I don’t want to do it…so I go to Pinterest to see what I want to cook this coming week so I can make a grocery list. You see, I used to be on Pinterest WAY TOO OFTEN. So now I have tons of stuff pinned! But in the past 6 months or so, I haven’t really pinned much, I mostly just go there to make, do, and use all of the pins I have already! It’s so great. 

So, I ended up on my dessert board somehow, and wanted to bake something all of a sudden. I needed to find something I already had all the ingredients for – and there it was! Peanut Butter Blondies!

They turned out SO GOOD and they were delightfully easy to make, so I wanted to share with y’all! Even the edges are delicious, which is totally key. They are soft in the middle – so perfect!

So, here you go!

To make the peanut butter blondies, you will need:

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Spray 8×8 baking dish cooking spray. Just let that wait, now…
  3. In a large bowl (I used my Kitchen Aid with my scraper bowl attachment), combine the melted butter and light brown sugar. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Add in the egg and vanilla extract.
  5. Mix in the peanut butter and make sure all of the wet ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
  6. Add in the salt and flour.
  7. Spread the batter in the baking dish and spread out evenly with a plastic spatula.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the middle comes out clean. I set my timer for 20 minutes, but it wasn’t quite done. So I set the timer for 5 more minutes…but I was busy when the timer went off, so it was more like 27 minutes. 
  9. Let it cool A LOT before you cut it. It can be a little bit warm, but don’t do it when it’s still so hot or else they will fall apart. 
  10. Enjoy with a glass of milk!

This can maybe show you how thick the batter is….when you put it in, it’s in a big pile and you just have to spread it around.

food 008

I had to spread it smoothly before it went into the oven…

food 010

Because as soon as it comes out, it has the same pattern as when you put it in! Well, I can see it. Pretty cool.

food 011

My first taste was delicious….I love my little pig spatula!

food 012

Delicious! 

food 015

food 014

Leave a comment

Filed under Cooking

No-Bake Peanut Butter Cookies

My mom made these all the time when I was younger, and I still love them!

If you like peanut butter, you will love these. And that is the reason why my best friend Teo would NOT love these…she’s not a peanut butter gal. As for me, I could eat them all!

When I was in high school, I would make 2 batches of them, put them in a big Tupperware, and bring them to school to share with all my friends and teachers. Yep. I was THAT girl. 

IMG_7197

Here’s what you need:
 2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup peanut butter*
3 cups rolled oats

*I prefer to use smooth peanut butter, but I have used crunchy before. Even some of both!

Here’s what you do:
1. Boil sugar, milk, butter, and salt for 1 minute
2. Remove from heat
3. Add vanilla and peanut butter
4. Stir until smooth
5. Add oats
6. Stir
7. Cool until it holds shape
8. Drop onto wax paper
9. Let them cool for about an hour
10. EAT THE AMAZING THINGS

Makes 35-45 cookies, depending on how big you make them.

Store in an airtight container, with wax paper between each layer of cookies. 

Stirring process…

IMG_7193

All out to cool…

IMG_7194

The leftovers…I get a little rubber spatula and eat it all with some milk to drink!

IMG_7195

And then, enjoy!

IMG_7196

2 Comments

Filed under Cooking

Cinnamon Sugar Coffee Cake Muffins

Today I was feeling like baking….obviously I was in the mood for cinnamon, because it was either cinnamon sugar coffee cake muffins or snickerdoodles….and obviously the muffins won. But be on the lookout for snickerdoodles soon! 

bake 029

Ready to bake?

Here’s what you need:

For the muffin:

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk

For the cinnamon sugar topping, you will need:

1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon

Here’s what you do:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

bake 020

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, egg, and milk.

4. Add the flour mixture to the oil mixture, and stir until just combined. It will be a rather thick mixture.

5. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick spray. Or you can use butter. You just don’t want it to stick. I don’t suggest using cupcake liners…save those for some cupcakes!

6. Divide the batter as evenly as you can among the muffin tins…and then lick the bowl and the spoon with the kids like I did!

IMG_4028

IMG_4029

7. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. They will not look done, because they will not brown at all! Here is how mine looked…

bake 022

 

8. Right away, run a butter knife around the edges to loosen them (super easy to do!)

9. Turn them upside down onto a cooling rack. What I do is I place the cooling rack upside down onto the muffin tin, and then use hot pads to turn the cooling rack and the muffin tin over…then just lift off the muffin tin and there you go! They are all out!

bake 023

10. Then, of course, turn them right-side up. But they are hot!

bake 024

Now, while those cool, let’s make the cinnamon sugar topping! You will need two bowls…use small, shallow bowls. 

11. In one small bowl, melt the butter. I microwaved it on high for 20 seconds. It melted about half of it and softened the rest. Then I stirred it with a fork until it was all melted. 

12. In the other bowl, combine the cinnamon and the sugar. 

bake 027

 

13. Take a muffin. Dip the top into the butter. Then dip it into the cinnamon sugar mixture. Then put it back on the cooling rack to let it harden before you serve ’em up. 

Confused? Six-year-old Lucas was my helper for this part. We created for you a convenient video…too bad it cut off at the end! But, it is still helpful. 

14. Enjoy!

Best when enjoyed with a glass of milk.

Also, the kids were playing hide and seek while I was baking. Twelve-year-old Natalie was hiding in the kitchen….and when the oven started to make the kitchen smell amazing from the baking muffins, I yelled to all the kids “GUYS, IT SMELLS SO GOOD!!!” And Natalie opened the cupboard she was hiding in (where the plastic storage containers are kept) and she whispered “I only smell Tupperware!” I laughed so hard. And took a picture of her. Because I had to share that. Don’t worry, I made sure the other kids weren’t near when I took the picture…they couldn’t find her!

bake 025

 

Now, go enjoy your muffins!

bake 030

 

bake 031

Leave a comment

Filed under Cooking

Living in Romania: Things I’ve Gotten Used To

I have been living in Iaşi, Romania for the past month and a half, which  means I’m about halfway through my internship. So hard to believe!

I have gotten used to a different lifestyle than I am used to. Here is a sampling of some of the things I have gotten used to while living here. This has become my life, and it will be weird to go back to my old ways when I get back to the United States. 

1. Walking everywhere.

I was the girl who had a car, had 3 jobs in 3 different cities (within an hour of each other, don’t worry) and drove everywhere. I am now the girl that is used to walking to get groceries, go to work, go see friends, go have fun, anything. And I love it. 

2. Only buying what I can carry home.

I was the girl who was used to shopping at Costco every other month, and driving to and from the grocery store every other week or so. I am now the girl who that is used to walking to and from the grocery store every time I need something, and carrying it home…or simply going without.

3. Running the water for 5 minutes before I can shower.

I was the girl who was spoiled by the convenience of hot water straight from the tap (okay, sometimes I had to wait, but it was always less than 1 minute). I am now the girl that knows to start the water early when I know I’ll want to shower soon.

4. Paying for drinking water.

I was the girl who was spoiled by the clean water coming through the tap whenever I was thirsty. I was the girl who always ordered water when she ate out, because that is my favorite drink. I am now the girl who is used to buying all her drinking water. I buy it at the restaurant. I buy it from the store to take home. And if I forget to bring my water bottle with me during the day, I have to buy it when I am out and about.

5. Cooking and baking without measurements.

I was the girl who was ever so precise when it came to cooking and baking. I had to measure out everything that went into the food I was making. I am now the girl who is very apprehensive to try to bake, knowing that I am guessing on how full the mug is and if I think it’s the right amount. This is something I totally still struggle with, and I can’t wait to get back to my own kitchen gadgets.  

6. Delicious chocolate.

I was the girl who enjoyed a chocolate bars when I was in the mood. Now I am the girl who is obsessed with Kinder (and Milka) chocolate at any time of day, and am convinced that American chocolate is a joke. As my friend Emily says: “The US probably has some FDA regulation about candy tasting too good.”

7. Lighting the oven and the stove.

I was the girl who was just like most Americans, with the oven and stove that starts right when you want it to. Now I am the girl who is used to making sure we always have matches so we can light the stove and the oven when we need to use them.

8. Hang drying my laundry.

I was the girl who would wait until the last minute to do her laundry, knowing that it would be good to go in less than 3 hours once I finally got around to doing it. I am now the girl who has a tiny washer and no dryer, with a balcony, a clothesline, and clothespins. It takes a few days for the clothes to dry on the balcony. Luckily, we have 7 hangers so we can hang stuff inside, and it only takes overnight to dry…usually. Then we can rotate the outside clothes to the hangers inside. I’ve gotten used to this process.

9. Volunteering all day.

I was the girl who was a full-time student, with 2, 3, or 4 part-time jobs (depending on the year), and still found time to volunteer sometimes. I am now the girl who wakes up, volunteers at an orphanage, goes home and eats lunch, volunteers at a hospital (or a Kindergarten, depending on the day), and then goes home and eats dinner. And most nights, I am on my computer becoming best friends with Boardmaker with Speaking Dynamically Pro as I make boards for the 15-year old I work with. Or, you can find me trying to think of ways to adapt games that I love to play, so that he can play them as well. And I love it.

10. Leaving the windows open.

I used to be the girl who would leave my house and not worry about if I’d remembered to leave my windows open or not. I am now the girl that has to remember to crack the windows open before I leave to avoid mold. And I must say, my roommate and I have gotten pretty good at remembering!

However, I realize that when I get back home, most of these things that I’ve gotten used to will no longer be applicable to me in America.
And that’s okay.
It is simply two different lifestyles, and I love them both.

1 Comment

Filed under Travels

Brown Sugar Banana Cupcakes with Avocado Buttercream Icing

074

I know, right?! Sounds disgusting. But hear me out…

I found it online (surprisingly, not from Pinterest this time), and decided to try it…even though I don’t like avocados…

First of all, this was my first time using my new Classic Kitchen Aid!!! (You can read about how I got it here)

My opinion of these? I LOVED the cupcake part, but didn’t love the icing…but that’s probably because I don’t like avocados. It wasn’t horrible, and it wasn’t for me. 

070

Thanks to everyone who was a taste tester for this experiment!

My roommate Carolyn‘s opinion of these? She didn’t like ’em…she liked the cupcake, and she liked the icing, but she didn’t like them together. Weird.

My favorite ASL teacher Judy‘s opinion of them? Very good! And interesting…(after she told me it looked like mold and would make people sick…haha)

Two random guys‘ opinions of them? Very good!

My ASL Club Officer’s and advisor’s opinions (Thanks Seth, Melissa, Diana, Trish, and Brandon)? Very good!

Brandon said you can’t really taste the avocado…it’s very sweet.

So there you have it! 8.5 out of 10 testers loved them! 85% success rate? I say you HAVE to make them now.

Are you ready to try ’em? 

This makes 12-20 cupcakes, depending on how full you fill the liners…I made 16 cupcakes

I recommend refrigerating the cupcakes!

Here’s what you’ll need for the cupcake:
1 egg
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup butter, melted (1 stick)
1 1/3 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
3 large ripe bananas, mashed

Here’s what you do:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2. Line a cupcake tin with liners
3. In a bowl, whisk egg
4. Add brown sugar
5. Mix until smooth
6. Stir in vanilla extract
7. Add sour cream and melted butter
8. Mix
9. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg
10. Mix dry ingredients with wet 
11. Add mashed bananas 
12. Mix until the batter comes together. The batter will be thick.
13. Scoop into liners
14. Bake for 15-18 minutes
15. Make the icing while you let the cupcakes completely cool

Baking is so much faster when you have a Kitchen Aid!!

062

Here’s my cooling cupcakes!

063
Now it’s time for the icing!

Here’s what you need:
2 ripe avocados
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt

Here’s what you do:
1. Cream the avocados and butter together until smooth
*(Confession: This was my first time cutting up an avocado [remember, I don’t like them!], so I was so ridiculous that I Googled it…so if you need to know how to cut and peel an avocado, this is the page I used to learn! I thought it was really easy and fun!)*
2. With the mixer on low speed, add powdered sugar one cup at a time
3. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt
4. Add the vanilla
(More sugar can be added if you’d like the frosting to be thicker)
5. Frost the cupcakes!

The icing is such a beautiful green color!

065

Frosting can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. I recommend refrigerating the cupcakes. And I also recommend sharing them with your friends, and letting me know how yours turned out!

And let me just reiterate…I love my Kitchen Aid! It makes baking so much easier and faster! And considering that I bake cupcakes at least every other week, it’ll definitely be loved forever!

075

2 Comments

Filed under Cupcakes

The Five-Dollar Savings Plan

034 - Copy

It’s very simple. Every time you get a $5 bill, you save it! At the end of the year, you buy yourself something! 

I saw this idea on Pinterest last year, and decided to try it…it was so fun!

Here’s some more details…

Every time you get a $5 bill, you save it. I kept mine in a clip for a long time, until I finally found a shadow box at a thrift store! Then I stored it in the shadow box, simply up on my wall. I used a dry-erase marker to change the amount every time I added a $5.

037

At the end of 2012, I still didn’t have enough money for what I wanted…a Kitchen Aid. If you know me at all, you know that it’s one of my dreams – to own my own Kitchen Aid! So I continued to save, and this weekend I finally got enough!

Here’s a rule (at least for me): YOU CANNOT ACTIVELY SEEK $5 BILLS. What I mean by that is…you can’t ask for your change in $5’s…and you can’t just go withdraw money from the bank and get it in $5’s….that’s cheating!

My first time using my $5 savings plan: Kitchen Aid

So I went to the store and bought it! (You can get the full story here)

It basically felt like I was getting it for free…because the amount in my bank account stayed the same…it was all from the shadow box on my wall! That’s the beauty of The Five-Dollar Savings Plan. I can spend money on myself once a year without feeling bad about it!

050

I WAS SO HAPPY!!! I celebrated by making cupcakes 🙂

060

Here’s the cupcakes I made with my NEW KITCHEN AID!!!

074Want to know what kind of cupcakes those are? Well….you might want to sit down…it’s pretty weird. Ok, ready?

Brown Sugar Banana Cupcakes with Avocado Buttercream Icing

Curious? Go here to learn more…

And if that totally grosses you out, click here to check out my other cupcakes! None of my other cupcakes have avocado, I promise!

My second time using my $5 savings plan: Harry Potter Wizard’s Collection

Click here to read the full story about this one!

photo (1)

My third time using my $5 savings plan: A sitting apparatus…well, 2

chairs 003

Click here to learn more about those!

My fourth time using my $5 savings plan: A porch glider and a table!

IMG_0817

Click here to learn more about that!

Now, go forth and save up those $5 bills!

If you’re looking for some money-saving apps, click here for the best ones!

 


On a different note, if you’re still trying to figure out what to make for dinner tonight, here’s some ideas!

Chicken and Cheese Lasagna Roll-ups

Sheridan’s Speedy Rolls

Creamy Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese

88 Comments

Filed under Happenings

Crock Pot Cinnamon Almonds

These turned out SO GOOD! Don’t let the word Crock Pot fool you, though…you can’t just let these sit all day. They need a good stir every 20 minutes. BUT SO WORTH IT. I made them on a Sunday afternoon. My church meets from 8:30-11:30, so I am home by noon and still have half the day ahead of me! So I usually end up baking…and this was today’s creation (I found this recipe on Pinterest, here‘s the link to the original recipe)

You will need:
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 Tbsp cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg white
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups almonds
1/3 cup water

Here’s what you do…
1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together sugars, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. It will look like it’s WAY too much, but trust me, it works. I thought the same thing.
2. In another medium-sized bowl, whisk the egg white and vanilla together until it’s a little frothy.
3. Add almonds. Make sure almonds are thoroughly coated in the egg white mixture.
4. Add cinnamon mixture to the almonds.
5. Toss until coated
6. Thoroughly spray (with Pam) the stoneware of your crock pot (mine is 4 quarts and it was perfect).
7. Add the divine mixture of almonds and sugars to the crock pot and turn it to low.
8. Cook (with the lid on) for 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes. A picture below will show you how I kept track of when to stir.
9. Add the 1/3 cup water and stir well. This ensures a crunchy, yummy coating.
10. Continue to cook for another hour, stirring every 20 minutes. You have to stir REALLY WELL, especially as it gets later in the cooking process.
11. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
12. Spread the almonds flat to cool. The almonds will be sticky at this point, so make sure you separate them a little and have no large mounds.
13. Enjoy your beautiful, crunchy, sugary, dark brown coated almonds!

Store in an airtight container, or, like me, snack-size Ziplock baggies so I can give some away, and do a little portion control!

Here’s how I kept track of when to stir, when to add water, and when it was done…sorry it’s sideways, but I’m using my roommate’s computer to write this post and don’t know how to work her photo editing program!

These make your whole house smell so cozy, inviting, and delicious. Also, they are great for gifts! Who wouldn’t love a bag of these, that’s what I’d like to know!

Leave a comment

Filed under Cooking