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Poached Egg and Avocado Toast

We all need to start the day with a healthy breakfast.

I know there are some of you out there, that can’t handle the thought of stuffing food down their gullet until, like ten-ish. I however, am not one of those people. I ‘m a hungry camper in the morning. Sometimes I think it’s the grumbling of my belly, not the alarm clock that wakes me up and forces me out of my nice, cozy bed.

As you may have noticed, I’m partial to sweets. And I do love a flaky, delicious pastry in the morning afternoon and night.  But if I want to downsize my jeans, and by jeans I mean ass, pastry is clearly not the best choice for me. I’m gonna need some protein and healthy fats to keep me full so I’m strong enough to pass up those cursed delish donuts.

Enter this tasty little dish. Hearty, healthy, satiating, delicious, easy and quick. Need I say more?

Poached Egg and Avocado Toast

poached egg avocado toast

Loaded with all the good things the body needs to start the day strong and keep you going all morning. Nutrient-rich avocados, loaded with heart healthy fats, protein and whole grains make for a perfect meal any time of the day.

Just an egg, a slice of whole grain toast, half a ripe avocado, some fresh chives and a few minutes is all you need for a delicious, healthy start to your day.

poached egg avocado toast

If you don’t want to poach the egg, you can always just fry it in a pan with a little cooking spray. And, I don’t mean to be bossy, but poached is definitely the way to go. If you’ve never attempted this technique, it’s super duper easy and quick. Four minutes is all you need. If you’ve never had a poached egg, what the hell is wrong with you. You have been totally missing out on a deliciously creamy, oozy, flavorful experience.

If you think it’s too difficult, don’t be afraid. Check out how to properly poach an egg here and get cracking. See what I did there?

It’s a whole lot easier than you think and well worth it. Trust me.

Happy poaching!

Poached Egg and Avocado Toast
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
A delicious, healthy breakfast to start your day off right and keep you full all morning
Ingredients
  • 1 egg
  • 1 slice whole grain toast
  • ½ ripe avocado, sliced or mashed
  • 1 tsp. fresh chopped chives
  • Fresh ground salt and pepper to taste (I use Himalayan pink salt)
Instructions
  1. Poach the egg and place on top of avocado and toast.
  2. Sprinkle with fresh, chopped chives and season with salt and pepper.

 

 

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Cherry Cheesecake Jars and How to Pack A Picnic

It’s that time of year. The need to be outside has completely kicked in. Especially after an 85 degree Easter Sunday. The windows have been open, letting out all the indoor winter air. The trees are in bloom and the grass is greening up. Of course, allergies are also in full bloom.

You can’t let that stop you from getting outside though. Just pop some Claritin, stuff some tissues in your pocket and get outside. Take a hike, do some fishing, play on a swing set, have a picnic.

no bake cherry cheesecake jar

I am not a big outdoors-y type person, I admit. Last spring Nina and I took a hike and the next morning I woke up unable to move my leg due to a deer tick embedded in my butt. After a diagnosis of Lyme disease and three antibiotic treatments later, I finally felt better and vowed never to go outside again.

But life’s too short for that and I’m sick of being stuck in the house. I have been wanting to do more inexpensive, quality type activities with the kids and having a picnic is at the top of my list. I used to love packing up some sandwiches and snacks and heading out on my bike with my friends. We’d find a spot near a stream or the lake and break out the food. Even if we were just hanging out in the backyard, it always seemed more special with a picnic lunch.

Here are a couple of ideas for packing the perfect picnic lunch.

  • Food safety first! Make sure foods that need to stay cold, do! Freeze half-filled water bottles then fill em up and use them as ice packs. They’ll keep your food chilled and be ready to drink when you get where you’re going.
  • Mason jars are great for building layered salads. Place wetter ingredients on the bottom (i.e. salad dressing) and more delicate ingredients on the top (i.e. salad greens). Shake em up and dig in!
  • Pack heavier items on the bottom and more fragile items on top.
  • Wrap up your individual silverware settings in a cloth napkin and they’re ready to go.
  • Don’t forget the extras! Salad dressing, salt and pepper and condiments will make your meal perfect!
  • Don’t forget a bag for trash!

no bake cherry cheesecake jar

Cherry Cheesecake Jars
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
 
A simple, no-bake, creamy, cheesecake packed in portion perfect mason jars. A delicious ending to a picnic!
Ingredients
  • Crust
  • 2 c. crushed graham crackers (about 12)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tbls. granulated sugar
  • Filling
  • 1 c. heavy cream, chilled
  • 1 (8 oz) block of cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ½ c. sugar
  • Topping
  • 2 (8oz) cans Cherry Pie Filling *Use whatever flavors you want. Mix em up!
Instructions
  1. Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter together until it looks like wet sand and put about 2½ Tablespoons of the mixture in each jar and press down gently, either with the back of a spoon or your fingers wrapped in plastic wrap so the crumbs don't stick, then set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the cold heavy cream until stiff peaks form, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer to another bowl and set aside
  3. In the bowl of the stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese, vanilla and sugar together until creamy, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add half the whipped cream and mix until blended. Then fold the other half in gently to keep it light and airy, not heavy and dense.
  5. Spoon about ⅓ cup cheesecake mixture into each jar and press down gently with a spoon to remove air bubbles. You can even tap them gently on the counter (on a towel so the jar doesn't break). Continue with all the jars until the filling is evenly divided into each jar
  6. If it looks messy, just wipe the inside of the top of the jar with a damp paper towel.
  7. Top with about 2 Tablespoons fruit pie filling and cover each jar and place in the fridge for about an hour to chill and firm up. Jars can keep in the fridge for up to a week.
Notes
You'll need 6 (8oz) half-pint wide mouth mason jars

You can easily double this recipe

 

 

Chocolate Babka

It’s Easter week! That means Babka around here. If you have never tried Babka, I suggest you do. I like to say Babka, it’s a fun little word. And it’s a delicious little bread. A dessert bread actually.

polish chocolate babka

“Dessert bread?” you say.

Yep. It’s a thing. For those of you who may like something not too sweet to enjoy with a steaming cup of coffee after your big Easter meal. This is perfect.

The dough has a hint of cinnamon and swirled with a rich, chocolate filling and studded with toasted walnuts. It’s twisted and topped with a light, sweet streusel.

Polish Chocolate Babka

It’s perfect alone, but even better slathered with a bit of creamy, butter.

I had never made this particular babka before, but decided to follow along with the monthly King Arthur Flour Bakealong. If you haven’t tried one of their challenges, they are really great. They have step by step photo instructions and if you have any questions, there is a hotline number to call. These challenges are great if you are looking to become a better baker or just want to try out a new recipe. And of course you can always show off your delicious masterpiece on Instagram at #Bakealong.

I always hesitate to make breads because of the time they take with all the rising and resting. I’m not usually home for long periods at a time, and I’m not really familiar with breads enough to know what will happen if I say let it rise for an extra couple of hours, I guess I should call the hotline myself. But I was planning on not getting out of my pajamas the other day, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

I found this recipe to be really simple, it really looks harder than it is. It is impressive! You’ll get lots of ooohs and aaaahs if you bring this on Easter Sunday or any day, for that matter.

Let me know if you give it a shot and make sure you come join me for the May Bakealong!

Happy Easter!

Here is the recipe straight from King Arthur Flour!

Chocolate Babka
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Polish
 
An impressive sweet bread, loaded and swirled with chocolate, nuts and cinnamon. Beautifully braided and topped with streusel
Ingredients
  • DOUGH
  • 1 to 1¼ cups lukewarm water (110F)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6¼ cups All-Purpose Flour
  • ⅓ cup Nonfat dry milk
  • 2 tablespoons instant yeast
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2½ teaspoons salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature*
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • *Reduce the salt to 2¼ teaspoons if you use salted butter.
  • FILLING
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup Cocoa powder, Dutch-process or natural
  • ½ teaspoon espresso powder
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped semisweet chocolate or semisweet chocolate chips, mini chips preferred
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted if desired
  • GLAZE
  • 1 large egg beaten with a pinch of salt until well-combined
  • TOPPING
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅔ cup confectioners' sugar
  • ½ cup All-Purpose Flour
Instructions
  1. Combine all of the dough ingredients (starting with the lesser amount of water), mixing until everything is moistened. Add additional water if needed to allow the dough to come together.
  2. Cover the bowl, and let the dough rest for 20 minutes. Then mix/knead until it's soft and smooth.
  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, and cover. Let rise in a warm, draft-free spot for about 1½ to 2 hours, until nice and puffy. *see Notes
  4. Gently deflate the dough by giving it a gentle squeeze and divide it in half. Set the pieces aside, covered, while you make the filling.
  5. To make the filling: Combine the sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, and espresso. Stir in the melted butter. The mixture will look grainy and shiny; perfect.
  6. Shape each half of the dough into a 9" x 18", ¼"-thick rectangle. If the dough "fights back," let it rest for 10 minutes, then stretch it some more. Don't be fussy about size; 19" or 20" is as good as 18".
  7. Smear each piece of the dough with half the filling, coming to within an inch of the edges.
  8. Scatter half the chocolate (make a thin layer), half the nuts, and half the chopped chocolate/chips over each piece.
  9. Starting with a short end, roll each piece gently into a log, pinching to seal the seam and ends. Working with one log at a time, use a sharp knife or bench scraper to cut the log in half lengthwise (not crosswise) to make two pieces of dough about 10" long each; cut carefully, to prevent too much filling from spilling out. With the exposed filling side up, twist the two pieces into a braid (not really a braid, but more of a twist), tucking the ends underneath. Repeat with the other log. Place each log into a lightly greased 9" x 5" loaf pan.
  10. Brush each loaf with the egg glaze. Mix together the topping ingredients until crumbly, and sprinkle half the topping over each loaf.
  11. Tent each pan with plastic wrap, and let the loaves rise until they're very puffy and have crowned a good inch over the rim of the pan, 1½ to 2½ hours.
  12. Preheat your oven to 300°F toward the end of the rise time. (if using oven to proof, take breads out before you preheat!)
  13. Bake the bread for 35 minutes. Tent lightly with foil, and bake for an additional 15 to 25 minutes (for a total of 50 to 60 minutes); the loaves should be a rich-golden brown.
  14. The bread is perfectly baked when it registers at least 190°F on an instant read thermometer.
  15. Remove the loaves from the oven, and immediately loosen the edges with a spatula or table knife. Let the loaves cool for 10 minutes, then turn them out of the pans onto a rack to cool completely.
  16. Slice the babka and serve it at room temperature; or rewarm individual slices briefly in a toaster oven with a little bit of butter, if desired. There won't be any leftovers, but if there are just store, well wrapped, at room temperature. Freeze for longer storage.

 

 

 

The End of an Era

Hockey

My little boy turned fifteen at the end of March. He isn’t so little anymore. A fact that he reminds me of several times a day, as he is now much taller that I am.

When we were younger, I say we because I know every parent uttered the same words to their children, “Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up. It goes by in the blink of an eye”. Naturally, we didn’t listen. It isn’t something you have a sense of when you’re young. You live in the moment, just as you should as a kid.

In the blink of an eye

Then at some point, you realize they were right and you wonder how it went by so fast. I don’t think the reality of it hit me until my kids were born. Just yesterday they were babies. I still remember how sweet their little heads smelled and how soft their skin was. How innocent and gentle and silly and impressionable they were “just yesterday”.

I remember when Andrew was four. I put him on ice skates for the first time. Honestly thinking he’d hate being so constricted in all the gear, but feeling it was my duty as a New Englander to make sure he knew how to skate. He got out there padded from head to toe, grabbed his little milk crate to help him stay upright and off he went. Right on his butt. He was so awkward. He spent more time sitting on the ice than skating on it, even with the help of the crate. I knew when he came off that would probably be the last time he would want to go the rink. But he got off the ice and let us know how much fun he had and couldn’t wait until the next lesson.

That was the end of any free time we had. From then on it was lessons, practices, tryouts, games. It didn’t matter if he had to wake up at 4:00 in the morning to get out on the ice. He’d sleep in his skates, if we’d have let him. He never complained. He loved the sport.

When he was ten, he developed arthritis. I know, right? Arthritis? It affected several joints, but his ankle was the most painful. It was so swollen that he couldn’t bend it at all. Putting pressure on it was agonizing. But he would wake up even earlier than normal so I could massage his foot enough to get it into the skate boot. Sometimes the pain of just getting on his skates would bring him to tears, but that never stopped him. Sometimes he’d get sick from the pain, but he’d keep going. Clean it up and get back out there. The heart of a hockey player if I ever saw one.

Throughout his illness, he was fortunate to have had amazing coaches. They always encouraged him. They pushed him when they could and knew when to pull back when he’d had enough. His teammates were always there to help him out, make him laugh or give him a hard time like boys will do. They were tight.

Fortunately he healed and, knock on wood, it has not returned. But I will never forget how special our hockey family was. We ate together, laughed together, cried together. We were together early in the morning and late at night. These coaches and teammates and their families became our family.

I can’t imagine our time with them is done. But after a devastating 3-1 loss in the second round of the playoffs, it is. I walked out of the rink without saying goodbye to anyone, it was too hard. I know I’ll see them again soon.

Andrew won’t be playing in that league next year, he’ll play only high school hockey. His coach will not be coaching again and the other boys will be playing elsewhere as well. Everyone is moving on. We say we’ll keep in touch. I hope that’s true, but isn’t that what everyone says? You’ve got to make the effort, like anything. It’s hard to think that it was just a blip in time. That we could just blink and it would be gone and these people would not play any more part in our lives.

Every hockey family knows this feeling. Actually any team that spends this much time together knows it. Most would say they wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m going to agree. Every awful smelling car ride, injury, win and loss was worth the precious time that was spent with these special people in the early morning hours and the super late nights, the Turkey Tournaments and team dinners.

Although we won’t miss the actual chore of carting these kids around, the time spent in the car with the kids will certainly be missed. When you have a captive audience, there are many opportunities for serious conversations and you never know what you might learn. There were some pretty great moments that took place en route to all those practices and games that may never have if we hadn’t been forced into the car with each other so often.

We may not have hockey anymore, but we have those memories and friendships that we were fortunate to have built during many frozen hours.

Enjoy every moment.

Karpatka-Polish Carpathian Mountain Cream Cake

Happy Spring! I keep saying that in hopes that it will get above 30 degrees here in New Hampshire. Someday. Then I’ll be complaining it’s too hot. Don’t judge me.

First, thanks for joining me and some of my blogging besties for the second week of our “Spring Thyme Blog Hop“. If you are stopping by from Linda G Loving Home, welcome! I love that girl’s style. Those Southern gals really class it up I tell ya! I don’t even have pictures on my walls.

Or curtains.

I just think of it as a few less things I have to pack if I ever move. I’m always thinking y’all. Alway thinking!

Karpatka Polish Carpathian Mountain Cream Cake

Ok sorry, back to business. This week I’m sharing another favorite Polish recipe that’s is great for Easter called Karpatka or Polish Carpathian Mountain Cream Cake.  It is a peasant version of a cake called kremówka papieska (kreh-MOOF-kah pah-PYESS-kah) or Polish Papal Cream Cake because Pope John Paul II loved it.

Polish Cream Puff Cake, perfect for Easter

This cake is named because it looks like cragged mountains covered in snow. This cake is really just a giant, delicious, light and airy, cream puff. It is made with a pâte à choux pastry, which is the dough used in cream puffs and eclairs. Cream puffs are one of my favorite desserts. My grandmother would send my grandfather to the bakery for a box of cream puffs at Easter and he always came home with a face covered in powdered sugar claiming he had no idea what happened to them. It always cost him a good yelling and sometimes another trip to the bakery depending on how many treats he swiped on the ride home. I don’t think he minded too much. It just meant more sweets. It drove my grandmother NUTS! I’m pretty sure that was half the fun for him. I know it made all us grandkids chuckle.

If you love cream puffs like my family does, you really should give this recipe a try. It will not disappoint.

Happy Spring and Happy Easter from my family to yours!

Next, hop on over to VivaLaVintage-For Your Home and check out what awesomeness she is sharing today. Don’t forget to tell her I say “Hey! Then bunny hop your way over to the rest of the herd (that’s what they call a bunch of bunnies ya know). Have fun!

Spring Thyme blog hopSwirls of Flavor

Confetti Style

M Jones Style

Positively Southern

Plum Doodles

Life At Lydias House

Linda G Loving Home

5.0 from 1 reviews
Karpatka-Polish Carpathian Mountain Cream Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Polish
 
A Polish light and airy cream puff cake filled with a vanilla pastry cream topped with powdered sugar resembling ragged mountain tops
Ingredients
  • Dough:
  • 1 cup water
  • 10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 large eggs
  • Pastry Cream:
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1¼ cups (2½ sticks) unsalted softened butter
  • Confectioners' sugar to garnish
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper (overhanging sides to be ale to lift out of pan later)
  2. Dough: In a medium saucepan, bring water, butter and salt to a boil. When butter is completely melted, remove from heat and, using a wooden spoon, add all the flour at once. Return to stove and stir over low heat for approximately 3 minutes or until dough comes off sides of the pan cleanly and forms a ball.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, either by hand or with an electric mixer. The batter will be smooth and shiny and stick to the spoon.
  4. Pour dough into prepared pan. Spread it into the pan but Do NOT smooth it out. You want it to look all craggy.Bake 30 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and poke with a skewer all over the top and bake another 10 minutes or until top is golden brown and looks dry.
  6. Remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack before filling.
  7. To make the filling: In a medium saucepan, bring milk, sugar, cornstarch and flour to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and continue to stir and cook until thick like pudding, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in vanilla.
  8. Pour filling mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl, pressing gently with a rubber spatula to remove any chunks for a silky filling. Place bowl in an ice water bath to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Make sure the filling is completely cooled before beating in the softened butter.
  9. To assemble: Split the cooled dough in half horizontally with a sharp, serrated knife. I found this part a bit tricky because of the uneven top. Be patient. Place the bottom half back in the clean baking pan and the filling evenly. Top with the other half of dough and refrigerate until cold.
  10. Cut into desired size pieces and dust heavily with powdered sugar.

 

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Spring Thyme Blog Hop

cheese babka

It’s finally Spring! It doesn’t really feel like spring here in New Hampshire, but it is. Even though it is still pretty chilly out, I know the nicer weather is right around the corner. We’ve turned the clocks ahead screwed up my sleep habits for weeks and the days are longer. So, it’s only a matter of time before the weather follows suit.

With Easter on its way, I start thinking about what I’m going to be baking. Polish Easter is always a big deal. Święconka is the blessing of the Easter baskets on Holy Saturday.  It is when you bring a sampling of your easter meal to the church to be blessed. Food is placed in a beautifully prepared basket and tradition says it is not to be touched until Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning until either Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning. We always did this when I was young. It’s hard to find a church that continues this tradition these days.

In Poland, bread is symbolic of Jesus. And there is always lots of breads at the Polish Easter table. This Cheese Babka is one my favorites. It is a fairly dense bread swirled with a sweetened cheese filling and topped with streusel. I love that it isn’t overly sweet. There are always enough super sweet desserts to be found.

This is always at our Easter table. Even if you aren’t Polish, it is a deliciously different springtime recipe I know you’ll love.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Spring Thyme Blog Hop
 
Ingredients
  • Bread
  • •1/2 teaspoon + ½ cup sugar
  • •1/4 cup 110-degree water
  • •1 cup milk
  • •4 ounces (1 stick) softened butter
  • •1 teaspoon salt
  • •3 large beaten egg yolks + 1 large beaten egg white (for coating breads later)
  • •5 cups all-purpose flour
  • Filling:
  • •36 ounces softened cream cheese
  • •3 large egg yolks
  • •1½ cups sugar
  • Crumb Topping:
  • •6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • •8 tablespoons sugar
  • •4 tablespoons cold butter
Instructions
  1. Stir yeast and ½ teaspoon sugar into warm water. Set aside until frothy. Grease three (9-by-5-inch) loaf pans. (I only had 2 9×5 pans, so I used those plus 2 mini loaf pans and it worked out great, plus I get a tester. Win.Win)
  2. Scald the milk and place in a large mixing bowl or stand mixer. Add butter and stir to melt. Add ½ cup sugar, salt, yeast mixture, and 3 beaten egg yolks.
  3. Add flour and knead until shiny and elastic. Place in a greased bowl, turning to coat both sides, cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled. This may take as long as 2 hours.
  4. Prepare the crumb topping by mixing the flour and sugar and cutting in the butter as for pie dough.
  5. Prepare cheese filling by combining all filling ingredients until smooth, either in a mixer or by hand.
  6. Punch down dough and divide into three parts. Working with one part at a time and covering the rest, roll into a large rectangle ⅛-inch thick.
  7. Spread dough with ⅓ of the cheese filling. Fold in the sides of dough and roll up tightly as for a jellyroll. Place in prepared pan. Brush with beaten egg white and sprinkle with ⅓ the crumb topping. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until above the rim of the pan.
  8. Place rack in center of oven and heat to 350 degrees. Bake babkas for 40-50 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 190 degrees. Let cool in pan 5 minutes. Using a knife, loosen babka from sides of pan. Cool completely in the loaf pan. Then turn out onto a rack.

Looking for some springtime decorating or recipe ideas? Today, a bunch of my favorite ladies are also sharing recipes and springtime home decorating ideas. I hope you have some time to “hop” on over to each of their sites and see what they’ve got “springing” up. See what I did there?

Next on the hop is my good friend Heather at Totally Tailgates. Her site is always filled with great recipes and good advice for your college bound kiddos, who I assume will be heading home for the holiday.

We’ll be hopping around next week too and sharing some more great ideas for spring. I can’t wait to share some more of my Polish Easter traditions with you.

Wesołego Alleluja! Happy Easter!

Spring Thyme blog hop

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Beauty and the Beast and the Grey Stuff

gray stuffIt’s finally here! I am beyond excited. I think I am more excited than Nina, and she’s reeeaaalllyyy excited. But yeah, I’m more excited. It’s like Christmas! But better!

Every time a Beauty and the Beast trailer comes on, we stop to watch. I grab her arm excitedly and squeal like a giddy toddler. “Ooooooooooo! TWO MORE DAYS! ONE MORE DAY!  NO MORE DAYS!!!!”

I love everything about the original movie and from what I have seen from the ads, the live action film is not going to disappoint.

We watched the original animated film the other day (several times actually) and I had almost forgotten how much I love the music. Especially Be Our Guest. What a great song!

Try the grey stuff,it’s delicious!
Don’t believe us? Ask the dishes
!”

Did you know there was such thing as “the grey stuff”? It’s real, and it’s good. It’s. Real.Good.

The first time we had the grey stuff, it was sunny and 85 degrees, but the snow fell quietly outside the ballroom’s immense windows. It’s always twilight at the castle and the snow gently blows with small changing gusts of wind.

It isn’t just frosting!

It was brought to our table by none other than the Beast himself to honor the special “It’s my Birthday!” button Nina had pinned to her shirt. I think she was a bit intimidated by his size initially, but when she saw the mound of “grey stuff” piled onto her special plate, she relaxed a bit and shook his hand. Paw? Hoof? Whatever.

I thought the grey stuff was just frosting, but it isn’t. It is pretty much Oreo cookie mousse. And it is sooooooooo good. SO. GOOD.

If you have a chance to eat at the Beast’s Castle in Disney World, make sure you try some. If you can’t get there, or can’t get a reservation (again, watch for my WDW tips coming soon) here is the recipe.

Bon Apetit!

 

 

Grey Stuff
Recipe type: Dessert
 
Bring the magic home from the Beast's Castle with this simple, homemade grey stuff recipe from Beauty and the Beast
Ingredients
  • 1 small package instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1½ c milk
  • 15 oreos
  • 1 small tub Cool Whip (8 oz)
  • 2 Tbls instant chocolate pudding mix
  • Edible pearls and/or sprinkles
Instructions
  1. Whisk the instant vanilla pudding mix and milk and chill for 10 minutes or so
  2. Pulse Oreos in the food processor until they turn to crumbs
  3. Mix the Oreo crumbs with the pudding and fold in Cool Whip and chocolate pudding and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving
  4. Place in a piping bag and swirl onto a plate and top with pearls and sprinkles

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Pi Day Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

chocolate chip cookie pie3.14

Happy Pi Day! One of my favorite foodie holidays. Just like it’s never-ending number namesake, pie varieties are limitless! And I’m not going to limit myself to one piece of this giant chocolate chip cookie in a crust, I’ll tell you that!

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie for Pi Day!

I am teaching Nina to bake, so this year I let her choose what type of pie she wanted to make. She spent quite a while flipping through all my cookbooks until she came across one that caught her eye. And what other type of pie would a 10 year old choose, but a chocolate chip cookie pie, of course!

She found this simple, delicious pie in one of my favorite cookbooks Quick-Shop-&-Prep 5 Ingredient Baking by my good friend Jennifer at Bake or Break. I love this book. Everything in it is so easy. Even the title says so. It has quickly become Nina’s favorite too. Check out another delish dish from Jen here.

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

Serve this yummy, chocolate chip cookie pie topped with vanilla ice cream and maybe even a little hot fudge or caramel and whipped cream and of course, a lovely little cherry on top. You gotta have a cherry on top of this beauty.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie
Recipe type: Dessert
 
Enjoy an easy, delicious, chocolate chip cookie pie with a rich, nutty flavor of browned butter. Delish!
Ingredients
  • CRUST
  • 1¼ (150g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp (4 g) granulated sugar
  • ½ c (113 g) cold, unsalted butter cut into cubes
  • 3-4 Tbls (45-60 ml) cold water
  • FILLING
  • 10 Tbls (141 g) unsalted butter, sliced
  • ½ c (100 g) granulated sugar
  • ½ c (100 g) packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
  • ½ c (60 g) all-purpose flout
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 c (170 g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 c (120 g) walnuts or pecans, optional
Instructions
  1. Combine the flour, granulated sugar and salt in a large bowl and add the butter cubes. Mix with a pastry blender or fork until the butter pieces are about the size of large peas. Add the water, a tablespoon at a time and mi until a dough forms.
  2. Place dough on a sheet of plastic wrap and form into a ball and flatten into a disk approximately an inch thick. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  3. Place chilled dough on a lightly floured surface and roll into a circle about ⅛ inch thick. Transfer to a 9 inch pie plate and crimp the edges and place in the refrigerator to chill while preparing the filling
  4. Preheat oven to 350F
  5. Place butter in a medium saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until butter melts and gets foamy. Continue cooking and whisking occasionally just until brown specs form on the bottom of the pan and the butter has a nutty aroma. This only takes 2-3 minutes. Remove pan from the heat and whisk for 30 seconds. Transfer the butter to a large mixing bowl and let cool slightly.
  6. Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla to the butter and stir well. Add the flour and salt and stir just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts, if using.
  7. Pour filling into chilled crust and spread evenly. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the crust is golden and the center is set. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.

Check out Jennifer at Bake or Break for more awesome recipes

*This post contains affiliate links which means I receive a small payment if you make a purchase through this link. Thank you for supporting my coffee habit.

 

 

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SkinnyPop + Wine + TV = Perfection

I’m going to totally honest with you. I live a pretty dull life. I don’t mean that in a bad way. By dull, what I really mean is uneventful and free from the melodrama that so many get consumed by.  The older I get, the more I tend to distance myself from the daily nonsense of those around me. I find it tiresome and unproductive. I have better things to do. Don’t you?

Skinny pop wine popcorn pairing

When I was younger, I was quite the social butterfly. There was rarely a party I didn’t attend and if there wasn’t a party going on somewhere, I hosted one. I’ve always been a problem solver that way.

Fast forward twenty-five years (give or take) and I’m the girl (girl…haha I made myself giggle a little there) who shows up late and leaves early. It isn’t because I don’t love my friends. I do! Sometimes I just love my flannel pajamas and my couch a bit more. Sorry. I told you I was being honest.

These days, a perfect evening is snuggling up with the family under a blanket on the couch with a fire blazing, a hot cup of tea and a good sitcom.

That’s only until 9:00 p.m. Then it’s time to give the kids the boot. I will have taken only so much Sponge Bob at that point. And now it’s time for some grown up tv.

Skinny pop wine popcorn pairing

For the total experience, I need my snack (and wine). What’s tv without popcorn (and wine)? Yes, wine with popcorn! Don’t knock it till you try it. And since we’re being all honest and all, wine goes with everything. Don’t pretend you don’t agree.

If you want a little help pairing your perfectly planned tv evening weekend with your wine and popcorn, the people at SkinnyPop have done all the work for you. Look at all these options! You might even be able to try all of them before you reach the end of the first season of Breaking Bad. You gotta have goals people!

Skinny pop wine popcorn pairing

I love cheese popcorn, so naturally I went with the white cheddar which paired well with Malbec, my favorite. There are a ton of cheese popcorn products out there, but SkinnyPop is my all-time favorite. It’s healthy, made from all natural ingredients, low in calories (which I will make up for with wine) and it isn’t too salty.

I’ll be hitting the Naturally Sweet next, if you care to know.

Skinny pop wine popcorn pairing

I am very selective of what I watch on tv.

Smartly written sitcoms, romantic comedies, feel good family dramas, a little bit of sci-fi, some crime dramas and good old simple comedies are pretty much it for me. I’m not into epic high-fantasy, superheroes or horror.

I will also watch the same show or movie over and over and over again. I’ve watched the new Ghostbusters movie at least ten times since it came on one of our premium channels a few weeks ago. It drives my husband nuts.

Here are some of my favorite shows to binge-watch, re-watch and watch-watch.

  • Big Little Lies-I’m hooked after the first 2 episodes. “PUH-LEASE tell me who’s dead already! I can’t take it!”
  • Married at First Sight-I’m a sucker for a love story
  • Life in Pieces-Smart and funny. I love the family dynamic
  • Modern Family-Another smartly written sitcom family
  • Masterchef-Both junior and adult
  • Speechless-I LOVE this crazy family
  • Breaking Bad-“Wow” that’s all I can say
  • Better Call Saul-A prequel to Breaking Bad with the same amazing team of writers, so again “Wow”
  • Outlander-This entire series is drool-worthy. From the cast to the scenery to the costumes. Ok, mostly the cast. Ok, mostly Jamie

There are a few more new series out there that I want to add to my binge-watch list, but I haven’t quite gotten to them yet. Has anyone watched these?

  • Stranger Things
  • The OA
  • The Missing
  • Haters Back Off
  • The Ranch

So now that I gave you a few ideas for what to watch, what pairings are you going to try? You know that now you have to find out who’s dead in Big Little Lies and also if wine and popcorn really is a match made in heaven. I can tell you that it is, but where’s the fun in that?

I’d love to hear what pairings you put together. You can find out all about the awesomeness of SkinnyPop here.

And please give a shout out with some of your favorite shows. I’m always up for suggestions.

Enjoy!

SkinnyPop popcorn wine pairing

 

 

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Classic Wild Blueberry Muffins

Classic Wild Blueberry Muffins

Yay it’s time to celebrate! It’s Presidents’ Day! Woot! Woot! My favorite holiday.

What it’s not yours? Ok, not to be judgy or anything, but dude, why not?

Maybe it’s because you don’t have the day off from work, or maybe you’re at home with the kids during school vacation. If that’s the case, then I totally see why it’s not your fave. For me, it’s a day off with the kids at school. Don’t get me wrong, I love hanging with the kids, but sometimes you just need one of these days. If you don’t ever have a day like this. Make one! You’ll thank me. You can do anything you want. ANYTHING!

Classic Wild Blueberry Muffins

“Normal” but not average Classic Wild Blueberry Muffins

This morning I’m choosing to hang at Starbucks for a bit to do some writing and people watching. They are playing some music that is making me feel like I should be at Woodstock. Not feeling it. I am feeling muffin crumbs in my sports bra though.

Phew, Ed Sheeran.

I don’t usually have a muffin at Starbucks. I’m a spinach and feta wrap at the drive-thru kinda girl, but it is National Muffin Day, so even though I made these amazing muffins, it’s kinda rude to sneak your own into Starbucks, so I strayed from the norm and ordered theirs. It’s pretty good. Mine’s good too. It’s amazing to me that every blueberry muffin is always so different. I love things like that.

“Normal”, but not average

This muffin is a, dare I say, “normal” blueberry muffin. It has a nice, moist crumb and the wild Maine blueberries are sweet, tiny and delicious. I am not a huge fan of big, plump blueberries from the grocery store. Those are too tart for me. I buy Wyman’s frozen wild Maine blueberries, when I can’t get them fresh, and I can’t imagine making muffins without them. Feel free to use big berries if you prefer, I won’t criticize…much.

I also have to make my muffins in these silicone muffin cups. If you have to have them, like I did, you can find them here

This recipe is a great base for switching it up. Add different berries. Or maybe lemon zest and poppy seeds. Apples and cinnamon. Whatever. Experiment and enjoy!

Happy #NationalMuffinDay

Oh, and thanks for stopping by and visiting Shayna! You made my day! It isn’t often people tell me I look organized.

Classic Wild Blueberry Muffins
Serves: 20 muffins
 
These simple, classic blueberry muffins are perfectly sweet, cakey and delicious.
Ingredients
  • 3½ c. all-purpose flour
  • 1½ c. granulated sugar
  • 4½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 c. buttermilk, shaken
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups blueberries (I use frozen, wild Maine blueberries)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl and whisk together.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the buttermilk, butter, and eggs. Make a hole in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix just until blended. Don't over mix.
  4. Fold the blueberries into the batter. With an ice-cream scoop or large spoon, fill the muffin cups with batter until almost full.
  5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Recipe slightly adapted from Ina Garten

*This post contains affiliate links which means I receive a small payment if you make a purchase through this link. Thank you for supporting my coffee habit.

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Thankful

 

It has pretty much been snowing since Thursday. Like we were a toy snowglobe being shook up by some giant child.

Andrew had been looking forward to snowmobiling with his grandfather for years. Literally, years. Last year there was no snow. The year before, we didn’t think he was ready. He did his safety certification course, got a new helmet and some gear and his grandfather gave him his old sled. This was the year. This was the weekend.

Nina and I had gone to figure skating and hit the grocery store for the next snowstorm headed our way. When we got home and finally had our things put away, I distinctly remember a feeling of calm and I said to myself “There is something about being hunkered up at home on a snow day that makes me happy”.

Then the phone rang.

skidoo

 

“He’s okay” my husband said and I took a breath and felt my stomach sink to my toes and a wave of panic go through my body like bolt of lightning. We didn’t know the extent of his injuries and until I could see him with my own eyes, that nausea would not go away.

Andrew had gotten into a snowmobile accident. His visor had iced up and snowdust from his grandfather’s sled ahead of him had caused him to lose visual of the trail. And trees don’t move. He hit the tree head on.

When my father in law saw he was no longer following behind, he turned around. He said he thought he saw Andrew walking in the woods and thought for some odd reason he was playing a trick on him. Then he saw him lying on the ground behind the sled and he ran to him. A man was there with him covering Andrew with a large, warm, wool blanket.  He had somehow heard the crash and rushed to help.

A few minutes later three other riders pulled up. When they took off their helmets they realized they knew my father in law from a local Harley-Davidson group. They were a police officer, an EMT and a nurse.

It took paramedics a little over half an hour to reach him and then get him out of the woods safely.

The hospital they took him to was  about an hour from me and it was snowy and icy. I couldn’t drive any faster than 40 m.p.h. It was one of the longest rides I’ve ever taken in my life.

Dan was there when I arrived and Andrew was lying in a bed, eyes closed, writhing around in obvious discomfort.

“How’s his head?” I asked.

“Well, he’s no dumber than he was this morning.” Dan, always the smart-ass.

Andrew opened his eyes and said “Hi Mom”. It was the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard come from his mouth.

He actually looked ok. The bridge of his nose was swollen and his mouth had a bit of dried blood in the corner. The physician thought he had possibly fractured his shoulder, knee, maybe broken ribs and a concussion. When he started complaining his stomach hurt, he was given an IV and taken in for a CT scan to ensure no internal injuries, like a ruptured spleen.

Once he was behind closed doors getting scans and x-rays, I allowed myself a slight meltdown and moment to thank God for keeping him safe from serious injury. Then I wiped my eyes and put on my brave Mom face so he couldn’t see how scared I was when he came out.

The doctor came in about twenty minutes later and said “I don’t know how, but he has no broken bones, no internal injuries, and I can’t even say for sure he has a concussion. I can tell you that his helmet saved his life. That is one lucky kid”.

Exhale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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