Blondies

I came across yet another fantastic recipe from Cook’s Illustrated a few years ago when I was searching for something sweet but a little different for me to bring to a bridal shower.  I had the All Time Best issue and decided to try their Blondies Recipe. 

You will need…

  • 1cup pecans or walnuts (4 ounces)
  • 1 1/2cups unbleached all-purpose flour (7 1/2 ounces)
  • 1teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2teaspoon table salt
  • 12tablespoons unsalted butter ( 1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2cups packed light brown sugar (10 1/2 ounces)
  • 2 large eggs , lightly beaten
  • 4teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6ounces white chocolate chips (1 cup) or chopped bar, or 3 ounces each white chocolate and semisweet chocolate chips

1.  Pre-Heat your oven to 350 and line a 13×9″ baking dish with two sheets of aluminum foil overlapping one another and hanging over the edges to make for easy transfer from the pan to the cutting board.  Coat aluminum foil with nonstick spray and set aside. 

If your nuts are not already toasted you’ll need to put them on a cookie sheet and pop them into the oven for a few minutes (until they’re fragrant. 

2.  Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside.

3.  Whisk melted butter and brown sugar together in medium bowl until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Use a rubber spatula to fold dry ingredients into egg mixture until just combined making sure to not over mix 

Fold in chocolate and nuts and turn batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with rubber spatula.

4.   Bake until the top is shiny, cracked, and light golden brown about 22 to 25 minutes.  Be careful not to overbake or else your blondies will be dry, and fall apart. 

Cool on wire rack to room temperature. Remove bars from pan by lifting foil overhang and transfer to cutting board. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.

The recipe is relatively easy to follow, and these tasty treats are sure to be a hit wherever you may take them!

Are you a Brownie or a Blondie type of Person?

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The Story of Us

My friend Brittany over at A Healthy Slice of Life had this as the topic of her post yesterday, and I loved it!  It got me thinking and remembering moments in my own relationship so…in honor of Valentine’s day I decided to borrow it from her 🙂   

  1. How long have you and your significant other been together?  7 and a half years and counting!

2.  How’d you meet (What’s your “love” story?)  My best friend and I were trying to decide whether we were going to move  here or to Atlanta after we graduated from College in 2004 and we were in town visiting for a weekend in May.  We went to a friend of a friends house to “pre-game” (they knew each other from OU) and Carly and I were just hanging out talking on the porch when in walked this tall, dark and handsome man (solo may I add) who didn’t even stop to say hello or introduce himself, rather just beelined into the apartment and sat down at a table in the back with his buddy.  I immediately thought he was rude and unfriendly and really didn’t think about him again until we got to the bar and all of a sudden his liquid courage settled in and he offered to buy us shots, and beers, and probably a few more shots 😉  After we had a few drinks he finally came up to me and introduced himself and we hit it off.  We danced at Buckhead and talked and then walked back to our friends apartment together because the cab was full , and had our first kiss at a crosswalk.  We hung out for the remainder of the night and exchanged numbers but he didn’t call….for a while.  Actually he accidently called me (when he meant to call his friend Jim one night several weeks later) apparently our names were next to eachother in his phone book.  He was slightly intoxicated and swore he tried texting me a few times before (but I didn’t have texting on my phone yet so I never knew)  However he called the following day…sober 🙂 and we began our courtship over the phone and internet. Carly and I decided that Charlotte was going to be the place for us and the Friday after I moved (August 20, 2004) Dan and I had a date set up.  He brought me a bottle of wine (which had never happened to me before) and took me to a restaurant uptown called Harry and Jean’s.  We had a very nice dinner and he dropped me off afterwards.  He was to meet up with his friends and Carly and I were headed out as well.  We ended meeting back up later that night and the rest is History!

I remember Carly being so bummed because we were new to the city and hoping to have a while of being single together and lots of time to meet and date different guys but Dan wowed me in every way possible and I was smitten immediately! 

3.  If married…How long have you been married?  We celebrated 2 years of marriage this past September 5th

4.  Where did you get married?  Big or small wedding?  We got married in Willoughby Hills, Ohio at Manakiki Country Club on Saturday September 5th 2009.  It was a pretty big wedding with about 235 people and a picture perfect day

5.  Do you have any nicknames for eachother?  He sometimes calls me QT, I call him babe

6.  Name 3 things you love about your honey.  It’s hard to pick only 3 but He is one of the hardest working men I’ve ever met in my life.  He does so much to make sure our family has everything we need and that Garrett and I are taken care of.  He’s extremely intelligent.  So much so that he’s earned the nickname Ernie from several of our friends 🙂 He knows so much about so many things and if he doesn’t know the answer to a question he reads until he figures it out. I learn from him every day.  He’s an AMAZING father.  Honestly before we had Garrett I had never really seen him around babies, so I didn’t know what to expect, although I had no doubt he’d be great.  He’s patient, and caring, and loving and he is as amazed by our little man as I am.  I couldn’t ask for a better husband or father to our son.

7.  Tell us how he proposed.  Dan is anything but cliche so when he proposed to me on Valentines Day 2009 I was completely shocked.  We had been dating for 4.5 years before he popped the question but lived together for 3.5 and I wanted it to happen and thought it would at some point…I just didn’t know when and I was getting a little antsy 😉  One of our favorite things to this day is to cook together and drink a great bottle of wine.  He’s an amazing cook and we had a very nice bottle of wine that we’d had for 3 years but were “saving” for a special occasion.  I didn’t even know he’d taken it from our wine rack on Valentines Day when we both set out to run a few errands.  We said no gifts so when he handed me a box before dinner I was a little perturbed.  He insisted that I open it before we ate so I obliged.  It was a box from Crate and Barrel and inside of it there was a wine decantuer (which we actually needed) so I wasn’t too bothered anymore.  However, next to the decanteur was a bottle wrapped in tissue paper.  It was our “special” bottle.  A 1998 Bottle of Grgich Hills Cabernet Sauvignon and when I turned around he was down on his knee in our dining room and asked me to marry him ❤

 

 

 

8.  Is he a flowers and teddy bear kind of guy for v-day, or strawberries, champagne, and rose petals?  More of a card and nice dinner kind of a guy although he likes to change it up here and there 🙂

9.  Are you a sunset dinner on the beach kind of girl or pop a movie in and relax on the couch?  Definitely have the opportunity to be the pop in a movie and relax on the couch more than a sunset dinner on the beach.  Not to say I don’t enjoy both 🙂

10. Tell us one thing you’d like to do with your significant other one day. If you could do anything? Go anywhere?  So much.  Raise our family and put them through college, and travel as much as possible.  I’d like to take our family to Germany one day

11.  Tell us what you plan on doing for Valentine’s Day.  Cooking dinner, putting our baby to bed, and relaxing with a glass of wine by the fire.

12.  Are you asking for anything this Valentine’s Day?  Nope, I have everything I could possibly wish for!

13. Give us one piece of advice for keeping a relationship strong and full of love.  Don’t forget to put yourselves first, take time to talk and make sure you are on the same page.  Dream together, work as a team and love unconditionally

14.  Show us a picture of what love means to you

Happy Valentine’s Day!

My Top 10 not so common Kitchen Gadgets

I can’t count the number of times when I’ve been at my in-laws and my Mother in-law has whipped out some handy kitchen gadget that I’ve never seen or sometimes even heard of, but that makes so much sense, and I immediately say….I have to have that!  And usually the next time I see her…..she shows up with one for me!

Some of my favorites are staples in probably most kitchens,  however, I do have a few that perhaps you have never heard of but may make a lot of sense to you as well. 

So…here are my top 10 (not so common) kitchen gadgets

1.  Avocado pitter

 This one made my top ten because even though it’s not a “must have” it sure makes the job much easier.  The smaller end is great for scooping the pit out without removing any meat from the avocado, and the wired end makes the perfect avocado slices.  It’s also great because it can be used for tomatoes, cantaloupe, melon, and just about any other fruit or vegetable that has a soft flesh.

2.  Potato Masher

This one made my top because it too is a multi-tasker and does a great job not only mashing potatoes (to your desired consistency) but aslo avocados for guacamole 🙂

3.  Cookie Scoops

The cookies scoops are great because who doesn’t love something that will give you perfectly shaped and sized cookies with every drop, but I also love the larger one for cupcakes.  It forces me to make sure I don’t overfill my cupcake tin which brings me to my next one

4.  Cupcake Transporter

I LOVE my cupcake carrier.  It’s kind of an all in one gadget that gives you your nonstick cupcake tin, a stand to carry them on, and a container that not only snaps on and keeps them from shifting when you’re taking them to a friends, but also keeps the frosting soft and creamy for days after you make them!

5.  Cheese Slicer

I’m not sure if you can tell from the picture but the silver thing is the handle that holds a taught piece of wire.  You lift the handle and put the cheese on your board and your slicer will create perfect slices every time!

6.  Panini Press

Yes this is great for actual paninis or just plain old grilled cheese sandwiches, but we like to use it to cook sausage links.  Each groove is the perfect size for a sausage link and because you press the top down the heat is distributed evenly and the cooking time is cut in half!

7.  Spaetzle Maker

 If you’ve never had or heard of spaetzle, I highly recommend you try it (maybe I’ll do a post on it sometime) It’s a German side dish that’s part noodle part dumpling and all deliciousness!  Not exactly healthy but sooooo good.  The metal grate looking thing sits on top of a boiling pot of water and you pour your dough on it (spaetzle dough is thick) you use the small spatula looking thing to smooth it over the holes so it drops into the water to cook.

8.  Instant Read Thermometer

Simply put it takes the wait and the guessing out of a regular thermometer.

9.  A Good Set of Sharp Knives

 So probably not that uncommon in the sense that most people know how important they are, not only because they make the job easier, but also safer.  A dull knife makes for a longer chopping process and a much more dangerous one as well.  Spend the money….you won’t regret it

1o.  Garlic Press

 I don’t know about you but my least favorite thing about cooking with garlic is the way my fingernails seem to hold on to the smell no matter how many times I wash my hands.  With my garlic press I don’t have to chop and I can spare my hands the smell

I could probably go on and on about my favorite appliances, but that would make my post even longer than it already is and I won’t put you through that 😉

What is your favorite kitchen gadget?

Can it be used as a multi-tasker?

 

 

 

30 Years Young!

Yep! You read it right, yesterday marked my last day in my 20’s, therefore today marks the first day in my 30’s! Hopefully the title of my post relays to you that this is not a sad day for me…by any means…rather it’s an exciting day, a day when I get to start living the next thirty years of my life and making them even better than the first.

Now, I’d be lying if I told you that I haven’t been listening to Garth Brooks’ song “My Next 30 Years” for the past 3 days…

…or if I said that I’m not racking my brain in an attempt to create my bucket list;

but again, I’m not telling you these things so you will feel sorry for me, not even for a second. In fact, I hope you’re ahead of me and have started your bucket list as well!

I have been incredibly blessed throughout my life, and I will be the first to admit that. I have an AMAZING family with parents that worked their butts off to make sure that my 3 brother’s and I had every experience we wanted as we grew up and continue to stand by us through thick and thin…And who love us unconditionally, and with no reservations in regards to who and what we love 🙂

Oldie but a Goodie!

I have an extended family that many would kill for, a relationship with my inlaws that people could be jealous of,

and the Very Best husband to ever walk the face of this Earth. Not to mention our incredibly adorable son! What’s not to be thankful for??

So yeah….I had to retake the sign and vision portion of the driver’s test in order to renew my license and Iwill be bumped up to the 30 year old age group when I compete in my Triathlon in April, but I’m fine with it! In fact…..I welcome it (hopefully it will give me a leg up on the women who are in the later part of their 30’s 😉

I have lived a lot, and loved til my heart swelled, and lost a few who will forever remain dear to my heart. But thankfully I’ve had more to smile about than cry about in my last 30 years, and I am looking forward to seeing what my next 30 have in store for me!

Bring it 30…I’m ready for you!

Do you have a bucket list??

If so, what is one thing you have on it?