Granola Bars vs White Bean Blondies: Not much of a battle

Homemade Cherry Almond Granola Bars

Homemade Cherry Almond Granola Bars

There’s a definite line between good healthy food and bad healthy food. I’ve been on a kick recently to try to make things healthier (yeah, yeah, New Year’s resolutions) and it’s had some interesting moments. Good things have come of it — I’ve discovered that I really love flax seeds, that baking with whole wheat flour isn’t scary and that coconut oil is possibly the best thing ever.

But bad decisions have also been made.

Have you ever cooked something so singly terrifying that you instantly feel ashamed of yourself? I recently traumatized my co-workers with a batch of (oh god Sean — please don’t judge me for this!) white bean blondies. Yes. I said it, white. bean. blondies. As in I took something that should have been filled with butter, sugar and eggs and used a can of pureed white beans instead.

I even used a well-tested recipe filled with comments like “no one ever guessed there were beans in here” and “these taste better than the real thing.” Those people are liars. They tasted exactly like beans — trust me, they weren’t fooling anyone. And even though I placed a disclaimer by the offering noting that it was both “vegan and gluten-free” (which really should have been enough of a warning), I was still a little worried I was going to get lynched.

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Homemade English Muffins: Rising to the Challenge

Homemade English Muffins

Homemade English Muffins

I have always had a lingering fear of working with yeast. I can’t recall a specific failure that could have caused this reaction, it’s more of a preemptive thing. And so I rarely bother to attempt any baking that calls for kneading or letting things rise. But last weekend, I had a serious craving for English muffins and a few spare hours to kill so I convinced myself to face my phobia.

I got words of encouragement via Facebook from my blogging buddy Liz who told me once I tasted homemade English muffins, I would never go back to buying them again. And so with my lofty dreams and high hopes defeating my fear of disaster, I gave it a shot. I found a few recipes I wanted to try but settled on this one from Brown-Eyed Baker, which is taken from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. The only adaption I made was switching out some whole wheat flour for part of the regular flour.

It was an easy task from start to finish, but it was a long process — mainly because you have to let the dough rise twice which took about three hours in total. But it was the perfect project for a lazy Saturday evening, as I spent the “rising” time watching Twin Peaks on Netflix. I don’t know how I’ve missed seeing the cult hit until now, but I’m happily making up for lost time — it’s seriously addictive and super bizarre.

Actually speaking of Twin Peaks, I have an embarrassing confession for you: I have seen drinks called “The Laura Palmer” on bar menus for years and always assumed it had something to do with Arnold Palmer (as in, his wife perhaps?). Yeah. So that was eye-opening.

Anyways, on to the muffins!

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Homemade Marshmallows & the Making of a Mug Topper

Mega MarshmallowI love marshmallows. Not so much on their own but I grew up eating a lot of s’mores and drinking a ton of hot cocoa, so every winter I start to crave their sticky, sugary sweetness. As an adult, I really appreciate a toasty mug of hot chocolate, spiked generously with Rumple Minze, topped with melty marshmallows. Last year, when this blog was just a baby, I decided to try making my own marshmallows with (shockingly) great success.

I was so impressed with myself that this year I thought I’d take it one step further.

Inspiration hit when I discovered these giant two-pound marshmallows online. (As an aside: I love Plush Puffs, their flavors are fun and — big bonus! — they actually taste good too. Not at all rubbery, just soft squishy marshmallow goodness.) Then, on the same site, I saw another item the company offers — mug toppers. They are slices of marshmallow that perfectly fit a cup of cocoa. Seriously brilliant!

I became a bit obsessed…

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Additions to the Rumtopf: Perfect Pears

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Sugared Pears for the Rumtopf

It’s been a while since I’ve added anything to my boozy experiment, but don’t worry — I haven’t forgotten it! I’ve got some plums that are almost ready but in the meantime, I just added some perfectly ripe pears. It’s looking quite delightful — can’t wait to get to drink it! (Rumtopf is traditionally eaten around Christmas, so thankfully I don’t have much longer to go.)

Look at that beautiful color!

DIY: Spooking Up the Neighborhood

I have been on a crafting kick lately. It must be the nip in the air — finally it doesn’t seem wasteful to be inside!

So even though I’m sure it would have been just as cheap cheaper to have bought a cute Halloween door hanger from Target, I decided to make my own. I was inspired by this blog post, discovered through Pinterest (full tutorial at the link). It seemed like an easy enough craft and it was! I started last Monday and it was done by Tuesday — the hardest part is waiting for the coats of Modpodge to dry.

I hit up Joann’s and bought the wooden letters, some cute scrapbook paper, a bottle of Modpodge and a few fun stickers. Then it was on to the crafting!

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Candy Corn in the Wild

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My husband brought me home a pumpkin last weekend. It’s too early in the season for carving (even though I really wanted to roast some seeds!), so I decided to paint it instead. Taken straight from Pinterest, I present to you my crafty results.

I pretty much love it! It was super easy and it looks great in the front yard with my succulents keeping it company.