Wednesday, September 25, 2013

gooey spiced pumpkin cake

Last week, I could feel autumn in the air.

It wasn't quite here yet, but I could feel it.
And I just couldn't wait any longer.

So after work one day, I stopped by the grocery store and picked up two cans of pumpkin, a jug of apple cider, and some champagne.
{This girl doesn't need an excuse for a fall-themed mimosa - the end of a work day is enough.}

If you haven't had an apple cider mimosa yet, drop what you're doing and make one as soon as possible.
You can drink it while you read about my accidental pumpkin cake.

I call it accidental because the original idea was to make a brownie-like bar.
But somewhere in the process of me doubling this recipe and changing a few of the ingredients, it ended up like a spiced cake with a gooey top layer of warm pumpkin.

I'm not complaining.

recipe adapted via
Things you'll need:

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 large eggs
6 tbsp brown sugar
4 tbsp white sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
4 tbsp almond milk
4 tbsp vegetable oil (or coconut oil)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk together dry ingredients to get rid of lumps.
Add wet ingredients, and stir until incorporated.

Lightly grease an 8x8 baking dish with olive oil cooking spray.
Pour mixture into dish and spread evenly.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean.

Let cool for 5-10 minutes, until it can be sliced without falling apart.
Serve with cream cheese icing, a fall flavored ice cream, or just plain!
As long as it's served warm, you can't go wrong.

This turned out incredible.
The perfect way to kick off pumpkin season.
I was in the mood for a chewy bar-type treat, but I definitely got something just as good, if not better.
I'm not going to lie...
If you covered this in cream cheese icing/Cool Whip and shaved a bit of dark chocolate on top {or sprinkled crushed pumpkin spice M&Ms! anyone?}, I wouldn't mind having this as my birthday cake.

And speaking of birthday, mine is coming up quick.
I'm in the process of mentally preparing myself to be 26 when I don't feel like a 26 year old.
Pumpkin birthday cake may be the only thing that will console me.

Monday, September 16, 2013

roasted chicken salad

I've been making chicken salad for years.

It's one of the things I could make before I actually put in some effort and learned how to cook.
I'd boil the chicken, chop it up in my Slap Chop {along with the celery and onion}, add mayo, and serve it up on some crackers.

While the cracker part hasn't changed {it's still my favorite way to eat any chicken salad}, I've finally started jazzing up the salad part.

And when I say "finally," I mean it literally just hit me tonight that there is a better way to do it.
Why on earth would I boil the chicken {for years now, mind you} when it's just as easy to roast it and get ten times more flavor?
It was a lightbulb moment.
A moment I just so happened to have in the middle of the day when I was hours and hours away from dinner.

Part of my brain is always thinking about dinner options.

Another perk of roasting the chicken: you don't have to deal with that gross water left over from the boil.
Am I the only one that hates that stuff?

So, this chicken salad.
It's seriously delicious.
So much so that at one point I put away the crackers and just started eating it by the forkful.

You know, keeping it classy while Joe is out of town and all.

Things you'll need:

3 medium/large chicken cutlets, thinly sliced
3 stalks celery, diced
1/4-1/2 cup sweet relish
1/4-1/2 cup light mayo
red grapes, halved
sea salt
black pepper

*Note: Relish and mayo measurements can be done to taste - I always just eyeball it and taste along the way!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Generously season chicken cutlets {front and back} with sea salt and black pepper.
Don't be shy!
The more you season now, the less you'll have to season later.
{I didn't have to add any salt or pepper to the fully assembled salad!}
Bake chicken for 35-40 minutes, until cooked through.

Using two forks, pull chicken apart.
Make the pieces as chunky or as thin as you like.
Chicken salad is all about personal preference.

Add diced celery.
Now would be a great time to add any other veggie you'd like too.
Diced onion, carrot's the limit.

Add mayo and relish.
I like to do this a little bit at a time.
You want just enough mayo to coat everything.
The relish is totally preference.
I love sweet pickles, so I use a ton {when Joe's not around, that is}.
If you hate pickles, leave them out altogether!

Add halved grapes.
This would also be the time to add some nuts if you wanted.
Chopped almonds, pecans, or walnuts would all be good!

Toss together.
Add more salt and pepper if needed.
Enjoy on buttery crackers or toasted bread with lettuce!

I really don't think dinner can get any easier than a five ingredient chicken salad.
And the best part?
There's always leftovers for lunch the next day.

Call me crazy, but I think dishes like this almost taste better the second day when the flavors have had time to marry.

But that's just me.

How was your Monday?
I'm desperately trying to convince myself that I'm not getting sick.
Even though half my office has gotten sick in the past two weeks, so it definitely makes sense that I'd be next.
Come on immune system, you can do this!

Friday, September 13, 2013

friday things

It's been awhile since I did a 'Friday things" post, and I think it's time to jump back on the train.
No time like the present, right?

Here are some fun things I'm enjoying this week.

1.  Working from home.  Our internet has been down at work, so I got to work from home for the first time ever this week!  Let me just say, I am definitely getting spoiled.  There's nothing like rolling out of bed and working in my pajamas while watching GMA.  I could get used to this!

2.  My darling boyfriend, who knows my hopeless obsession with pumpkin {hope you guys are as ready for an overload of pumpkin recipes!}, got me a sweet surprise on his most recent trip to Starbucks.

Is there anything better than surprises from someone who knows exactly what you like?
It's the little things, people.

3.  And speaking of Starbucks, these pumpkin scones will be making an appearance here shortly, I can guarantee you that.

4.  Season 3 of The Chew started Monday, and I'm loving it! {And how exciting Daphne Oz announced her pregnancy on the premiere!}  Seriously ya'll, if you're not watching, please start.

5.  Recently I finally bit the bullet and decided to get fitted for a good running shoe.  I've always heard it makes a big difference and is worth it.

Well, I'm here to tell you that the rumors are true.
I still have a love/hate relationship with exercise, but these are definitely the most comfortable and supportive shoes I've ever had.
And that includes my cheerleading days {9 whole years!} when you'd think the shoes would be great.
Newsflash: they weren't.

6.  I got my very first Erin Condren life planner! #soinlove

Is it not the cutest thing you've ever seen?
I think I'm officially an adult.

7.  This arugula and prosciutto eggs benedict.  Not only does it make me want to have a brunch party, it makes me want to buy a real camera.  Aren't the photos to die for?

8.   Lastly {and most excitingly}, I finally booked my trip to NASHVILLE!  Kayla and I will be spending a weekend there in October and living out our Nashville dreams.  Suggestions of places to go/eat will be lovingly accepted, please and thank you!

What are you up to this weekend?
Tonight Joe and I are having dinner with friends, and tomorrow we'll be off to Dacula to celebrate an engagement!
A couple of busy bees, we are.

I'm also going to try to sneak in some brunch at some point.

It feels like a great weekend for an apple cider mimosa, don't you think?

{P.S. - This week I reached over 10,000 views, an exciting milestone!  So, from my heart to yours, thank you for continuing to read and give feedback on my little corner of the internet.  I appreciate you all!}

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

cinnamon vanilla doughnuts with chocolate glaze {and sprinkles!}

I am the worst blogger ever these days.

But it's for good a reason, I promise.
Life has kept me very busy since the last time I shared a recipe.
{But that doesn't mean I haven't been cooking up a storm!}

First off, my new job is going awesome.
Seriously, I'm in love with it.
I've always thought human resources would be a good career path for me, and now I know I've finally found something I love doing.

Some exciting things have happened the past couple weekends, too.

Our sweet pup turned two years old.
Seriously, time, slow down!

I discovered the autumn version of summer shandy, just in time for football season!
Don't talk to me about the Dawgs right now.
Just don't.

And the biggest, most exciting news of all...
I bought my very first car!

I haven't named it yet {I name all of my cars...thank you for your years of service, Brenda and Maude}, but I'm so in love.
Who needs a ride somewhere?!

In honor of all of these amazing things going on, tonight I'm sharing a recipe that I can't believe I haven't given you yet.
I came here ready to tell you all about the chicken pot pie I grew up on, but I'm in a celebratory mood {definitely still on my new car high} and a savory recipe just isn't going to cut it.
Chicken pot pie will just have to wait until another day.

recipe adapted via here and here
Things you'll need:

For the doughnuts {makes 6}:

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
6 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
6 tbsp almond milk
1 egg
splash of vanilla extract {1 tbsp-ish}
1 tbsp butter, melted

For the glaze:

3-4 tbsp butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp light corn syrup
1/4 cup almond milk
3 oz. semisweet Baker's chocolate, roughly chopped
1 cup powdered sugar

*Note: This recipe makes way more glaze than doughnut, so feel free to:
A. double {or triple} the doughnut recipe
B. halve the glaze recipe
C. dip other goodies in the leftover chocolate, like strawberries, cookies, pretzels,'s the limit! {This is the option I vote for every time, of course}

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, vanilla extract, butter, and egg.
Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients until combined.
Using two spoons, carefully spoon mixture into lightly greased doughnut pan.
{I've also piped it into the pan using a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off, but the dough is pretty sticky and I find it easiest to just use some spoons.}

Bake at 325 for 10-12 minutes, until you can touch the doughnut and it feels like it's set and spongy like a cake.
If it's not done, you'll know.
The one on the bottom left was my tester, hence the lumpy fingerprint on it.
While doughnuts are baking, in a small saucepan on medium heat, whisk together butter, milk, vanilla extract, and corn syrup.
When butter has melted, reduce heat to low and whisk in chopped chocolate.
Remove from heat, stir until chocolate has completely melted, then mix in powdered sugar until smooth.

Dip the doughnuts in chocolate one by one.
Sometimes I like to give them two or three coats just to take care of business.
If you don't like the dunking method, you can also drizzle the chocolate on top.
Whatever floats your boat.
Sprinkle on your topping of choice {I went with tiny rainbow sprinkles} and enjoy!

It's no secret I love combining cinnamon and vanilla, as seen here and here.
But ya'll.
These doughnuts are the bomb.
You can't go wrong with cinnamon and vanilla covered in chocolate.
It's like having cake for breakfast!

I told that to my dad the first time I made these, and he said "you're not really an adult until you have cake for breakfast."

Words of wisdom for your Wednesday.