Happy December, everyone! I know preparing for the holidays can be a source of stress – everywhere you look, it seems like friends and family are ahead of the game with decorations, party planning, sending cards… It’s enough to make anyone want to just take a big long nap until January is here. So this year, at almost eight months pregnant, I’ve made the decision to only take on a little bit this holiday season, and so far it’s been the most wonderfully relaxed and stress-free one I can remember! We’re hosting just one holiday party at our house and it’s going to be a casual potluck. We’re sitting out far away family gatherings because long car rides make me queasy, so there won’t be the usual running around. Scaling back leaves me with the time, energy and sanity to actually enjoy the holidays this year, and for me that means lots of leisurely baking while listening to Christmas music!
This gingerbread cake is my first bake of the season, and everything about it says holidays. It’s loaded with rich molasses and lots of wintry spices for a dose of nostalgic gingerbread flavor, then coated in silky Stash Chai Spice Tea-infused buttercream. Continue Reading
If you’re in the market for an easy to make, crowd pleasing dessert this holiday season I’ve got you covered with these fudgy, maple tea-frosted brownies. They’re perfect for Friendsgiving potlucks when you don’t want to be the fourth person to bring pie, and you can make them a day or two ahead of time; they’ll still be plenty fresh, rich and chocolatey when you serve them. I think brownies should be very dense and chewy, and that’s exactly what these are. Anything else is just chocolate cake in my book! Brownies also mean plenty of decadent chocolate flavor and these won’t disappoint the most avid chocoholics at your table (after all, I made them by melting down a whole bag of chocolate chips).
These also have seasonal flair thanks to a generous layer of Stash Maple Apple Cider tea-infused buttercream. I love flavoring buttercream with tea because the butter readily absorbs the tea’s flavors, so the end result is like a sweet and creamy version of my favorite cup of tea. It’s tastier and much more interesting to serve than your typical vanilla buttercream and can make an everyday dessert something uniquely tasty and worthy of your holiday table. Maple apple cider is one of my favorite Stash teas to drink this time of year; I love it for its naturally sweet maple, cinnamon, apple and caramel flavors so it only makes sense to turn it into dessert. I think my Thanksgiving guests will agree! Continue Reading
A lot of the past week has been spent dealing with a water-leaking-through-the-ceiling-and-subsequent-costly-repair situation. Normal me would be a little stressed but calm and collected. Increasingly pregnant and emotional me, however, has a much lower threshold for meltdowns and seeing our 90% remodeled living room torn down to the studs almost pushed me over the edge. Honestly, when Bisou started meowing like crazy to alert us to the indoor rain my first impulse was to lay on the floor and cry. My second impulse was to distract myself with pie, and that’s the one I acted on. Whew! I filled a buttery crust with a mountain of fresh apples, lots of cinnamon and a hefty drizzle of homemade caramel, then baked it to golden, mouth watering perfection. And it was gooooood. So good, in fact, that we temporarily forgot all about the plumbing disaster and that’s saying something!
You may have seen me post about these pink apples a couple weeks back on instagram; they’re called mountain rose apples and you can find them at a handful of Hood River orchards and Portland-area markets in the fall. They have sweet, bright pink flesh (really, they’re that pink in real life!) and a satisfying, crisp bite. I look forward to them every year and have been dreaming of turning them into pie since last fall (when I used my supply in this baked oatmeal). If you can’t get your hands on pink apples, any sweet-tart, crisp apple will work perfectly for this pie. I mean, what apple wouldn’t go with gooey salted caramel and a buttery, flaky crust? You can’t go wrong.
When we bought our house this spring, one of my first thoughts was, “Yes! A backyard! I’m growing melons and peppers and poppies and carrots and beets and sunflowers, etc. this summer!” If you’ve been through the home buying and renovation process (or watched any HGTV ever) you’ve probably already predicted what happened next: about a hundred huge setbacks that go with the territory of remodeling a century old house in disrepair. Oh, and I got pregnant, leaving tiling, floor sanding and painting to Ponny alone. In the end we didn’t move in until August, much too late to start any produce in the backyard. Maybe next year, but I’m guessing we’ll be awfully busy with a new baby!
Fortunately, we live close to many well-stocked farmers markets and grocery stores, so there’s no shortage of fresh, seasonal produce in our house this fall. It turns out that when you make really tasty fruit and vegetable dishes, they’re no less satisfying because someone else did all the tilling and watering to grow the produce. Especially these days, when mustering the energy the cook at all feels like a huge victory. For me, pregnancy fatigue makes college finals fatigue look like a walk in the park. But it’d been months since I’d baked a cake and I couldn’t let the first weekend of fall slip by without whipping one up! Continue Reading
I’m not a natural breakfast eater. I think it’s because I’m not a morning person, and I’d rather sleep an extra 15 minutes than spend that time eating. So in order for me to actually eat breakfast, my breakfast food has to 1. Be made in advance; and 2. Be tasty enough that it’s worth making time for. I’m happy to say these healthy (vegan and refined sugar-free!) and versatile (fill them with whatever you like!) oatmeal chocolate chip cookie cups tick both those requirements. Before I get to the recipe, though, some life updates!
In case you missed my Insta-announcement, I’m having a baby!!! I’m officially going to be a mama next February, and I’m pretty darn excited. I’m not someone who always knew they wanted to raise kids. I’ve been back and forth and on the fence, and at times I’ve really felt content with a husband and super cool cat. But now that my little one is on the way, having a kiddo feels like it’s absolutely the right choice and four months into my pregnancy, I can’t imagine not doing this right now!
When I found out I was pregnant, I naively thought, “This is great! Ponny and I will have one last summer, just the two of us, before we’re parents.” I imagined happy hours, impromptu trips to the coast and lots of hiking. About five minutes after having that thought, morning sickness hit and is just letting up now. I thought morning sickness was a trivial pregnancy rite of passage that wouldn’t interfere much with daily life and I think that’s because of its cutesy name. After nearly four months of mostly round the clock “morning” sickness all I can say is this: it really needs to be called what it is. All. Day. Nausea. And vomiting! It kept me from leaving the house, from socializing, from eating, let alone blogging about yummy summer foods. That’s why it’s been so quiet here this summer.
But I’m starting to feel a little more like my old self again, and I think it’s time to dust off the blog. Now that I can eat more than saltines, my biggest priority is eating lots of filling, nutrient packed foods, but without compromising on flavor. If the healthy food I’m eating also tastes good, the chances of me breaking down and eating a tub of ice cream are lower, know what I mean?
So in the coming months, expect some tasty, healthy(ish) recipes along with some make-ahead meals. I’ll want to have some of those under my belt in preparation for baby’s arrival! I have some mama- and baby-friendly DIYs I hope to get to soon, too.