Flourless Chocolate Torte #SundaySupper

Flourless Chocolate Torte

Though we live in a rather built up and populated area, we are lucky enough to have a lot of wildlife around.

I mean does it get any better than having Target and Costco practically within walking distance, a major highway just a couple miles away, and birds and bunnies and deer and more frolicking in the yard?  I think not.

The majesty of wildlife is really something.

Flourless Chocolate Torte

We’ve had a raccoon visit us right at the kitchen window, which Mom still finds horrifying and I still love.  Raccoons also had a habit of getting into the hummingbird feeders, which is rather strange to me.

There have been deer, from a mom and her baby to majestic visitors, grazing at the bird feeder.

Ducks.  Lots of ducks, sometimes twenty at a time.  The best is when the trail of babies come from half a neighborhood away, waddling through the street like they own the place.  I never get tired of watching them.


More squirrels and those oh-so-adorable but oh-so-destructive red squirrels than we know what to do with and enough chipmunks to keep us entertained at all times.

Birds and hummingbirds fly and sing and eat and fight with each other.

Flourless Chocolate Torte

There have been groundhogs (with babies!) and opossums and wild turkeys, hawks and butterflies and dragonflies.

Recently the bunnies have come back out, just in time for Easter!

This Flourless Chocolate Torte is also just in time for your Easter dinner.  I used carob, you’ll use chocolate, but either way it is out of this world, crazy delicious.  It has almost this pecan pie without the nuts thing going for it with all the butter, eggs, sugar, and bourbon.   Small slice is rich enough to satisfy, making this impressive, yet deceptively easy to make dessert perfect for a crowd.

Flourless Chocolate Torte

The top is crackly and crunchy and the interior is silky smooth and just a little gooey.  Plus, it’s naturally gluten free.  Whether you are gluten free or not, you need this cake in your life!

Happy Easter!

Flourless Chocolate Torte #SundaySupper

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 60 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 12 servings

Ingredients

18 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
9 ounces carob or dark chocolate chips
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
7 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons bourbon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9 inch cake pan, line it with parchment and butter the parchment.
  2. In a large bowl, place the butter and carob or chocolate chips. Melt in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until the butter and chips are completely melted. Stir until well combined.
  3. Stir in the sugar and allow to cool for a couple minutes.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure to stir in each egg completely before adding another. Stir in the vanilla and bourbon and mix until a glossy, uniform mix is formed.
  5. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30-60 minutes. I know that’s a wide range – the original recipe called for 30 minutes, but mine took about 60. I don’t know if that is just because of the carob, so start checking at 30 minutes, but be prepared to cook it for 60.
  6. The cake is done with the top is crackly but the cake is still rather jiggly, particularly in the center. Serve warm or cool completely in the pan. Cake may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to three months. Thaw at room temperature about 1 hour.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Well Plated

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Don’t forget to check out the other Sunday Supper dishes!  Thanks to Cindy from Cindy’s Recipes and Writings for hosting!

Make Ahead Sunday Supper Brunch Recipes

Breakfast Pastries

Eggs

Sides and Veggies

Sweets

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Lemon Poppy Seed Quick Bread #SundaySupper

Lemon Poppy Seed Quick Bread

I’m very scent oriented. By that I mean I like things that smell good.  Who doesn’t?  Well Dad since he’s having an issue and can’t currently smell much of anything, but other than that we all love closing our eyes, taking a deep breath, and being greeted by something magnificent.

Flowers.  Rain.  Freshly cut grass.  Shampoo and conditioner.

Lemon Poppy Seed Quick Bread

And don’t even get me started on food smells.  They are life.  sometimes a smell is almost as good as eating the real thing.  In the case of coffee, it’s usually better.  Though the Whole30 has taught me that coffee is wonderful, yes, even black.

Smells can alert us to danger, relax us, enhance memories and remind us of old ones.  It’s rather amazing how powerful something so seemingly simple really is.

Lemon Poppy Seed Quick Bread

Lemons and citrus in general are some of my all-time favorite smells.  Yes, they are food and remind us of all good citrusy foods we love, but they are also a little sweet and fresh and clean and calming.  There is actually scientific proof that lemons are calming and can help remedy a headache.

I am not ashamed to admit, I have now and then cut a lemon open just to smell it all day long.

When zesting lemons for this Lemon Poppy Seed Quick Bread, I could see the oils bursting into the air and inhaling the scent was wonderful.  Though citrus is really a winter thing, the brightness totally reminds me of spring and hope and life.

Lemon Poppy Seed Quick Bread

The smell when this bread was baking wasn’t too shabby either.  Of course, neither is the taste.  In fact, this is one of my favorite things I have made in a long time.  Maybe it’s because it was one of my first real tastes of dessert since the Whole30, but I have a feeling it’s also because it’s awesome.

What’s not to love about a dense, cakey loaf studded with tons of poppy seeds and fragrant with lemon juice and zest.  I don’t typically like the crusty tops of treats like this, but there was something about these corners, all caramelized and crunchy that is beyond addictive.

Finished with a sticky glaze, this bread needs to be the next thing you bake.  Don’t forget to take some time to smell the lemons while you do!

Lemon Poppy Seed Quick Bread

Lemon Poppy Seed Quick Bread

Lemon Poppy Seed Quick Bread #SundaySupper

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

Bread
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
¾ cup milk (I used almond, use what you love)
½ cup olive oil
Zest of 2 lemons
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
Glaze
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Make the bread. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil and flour a loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together sugar, egg, milk, oil, lemon juice and zest, and poppy seeds. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt until mostly combined – a few lumps are okay.
  3. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 55-65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Allow bread to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before loosening it around the edges and inverting it onto a serving plate.
  4. While the bread cools, make the glaze. In a medium microwave safe bowl, stir together sugar and lemon juice. Microwave on high in 15 second increments, stirring in between until the sugar is dissolved. Spoon evenly over cake and allow to sit for at least an hour so the glaze can soak in.
  5. Bread may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw in the microwave for about 1 minute.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

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Don’t forget to check out the other Sunday Supper dishes!  Thanks to Lisa Grant of Jersey Girl Cooks for hosting!

Sunday Supper Citrus Recipes That Will Make You Smile

Breakfast

Main Dishes

Desserts

Beverages

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cookies #SundaySupper

Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cookies

I’m redesigning my room.  Or maybe just designing it for the first time.

It’s something I’ve thought about and been meaning to do and now I’ve finally taken the plunge.  Well, we have; it’s pretty much a team effort.

Dad is painting the room.  It’s purple-y pink and glorious.  It’s really impossible to love two paint colors more than I love these.

Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cookies

Now it’s time to order the furniture and wait for it to be delivered.  After searching in stores and online, I’ve finally settled on some goodies from Restoration Hardware.  And I only visited the store three times and the website oh about fifty.

It feels sooooo good to be doing something, making progress, creating change.  But it is a lot of work.  Like a lot.

Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cookies

Moving things around, measuring, mapping out, cleaning, generally hustling and organizing and trying to find things when they are all over the place and none of those places are their normal positions.

Really, I shouldn’t complain though, because I think painting is a lot harder than Dad remembered.  It’s slow and tiring.  And yet, he’s determined to paint more rooms, which is kind of super jump up and down exciting, even though I still want to move far, far away from here.  Oh yeah, #CaliforniaDreaming.

But I mean, what’s not to love about pink and purple paint and new furniture and soft bed linens and happiness and sunshine and butterflies?

Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cookies

Okay, maybe I got carried away there.  We’re talking about paint and furniture not agents and book deals.  But still, with some sunshine and warmer temperatures, happy dance may be my new permanent position.

Oh, and lots of Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cookies.  You don’t even have to feel that bad about eating these cookies.  They’re loaded with carrots, raisins, dried cherries, coconut, oatmeal, and coconut oil.  They are soft and moist with a subtle spice and taste even better than they smell.

Really, though, that needs to be the finishing touch for my room.  Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cookie Candles.  Someone needs to get on that ASAP!

Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cookies

Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cookies #SundaySupper

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 15 cookies

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
½ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 heaping cup shredded carrots
1 cup old fashioned oats
½ cup raisins
½ cup dried tart cherries
½ cup sweetened coconut flakes or chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. In a large bowl, cream coconut oil with sugars until combined. I did this by hand, and it’s super easy – no need to pull out the mixer! Beat in the egg and vanilla.
  3. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon and stir to combine. Add the carrots, oats, raisins, cherries, and coconut and stir until well distributed.
  4. Take about golf ball sized portions of dough and place them on the baking sheet, spreading them out as much as possible. Bake for about 19 minutes, until mostly set. Serve warm or cool completely on the tray. Cookies may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the freezer, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag, for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature about an hour or in the microwave about 1 minute.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

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Don’t forget to check out the other Sunday Supper recipes! Thanks to Anne from Simple and Savory for hosting!

BREAKFAST

CAKES, PIES, AND SWEETS

COOKIES AND BARS

Main Courses

Pastas

Seafood

Veggies and Sides

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Oatmeal Peppermint Smores Bars

Oatmeal Peppermint Smores Bars

Storytime!

I sometimes shout that when I or Mom or Dad have something to share.  It’s a fun exclamation to express my interest in sharing or hearing, which is almost always high.

I love talking and listening, connecting with people I love by sharing about our days and ourselves.  Plus, life is sometimes isolating and boring sitting at a computer and typing away all day, so storytime is something special.  Something to be savored.

Oatmeal Peppermint Smores Bars

But I can’t take credit for the exclamation.

In my freshman year of high school, we were all required to take health.  The teacher was a down to earth woman who tried to relate to us as equals more than treat us as inferiors.  She was a pretty decent teacher, but the school didn’t appreciate her and let her go after that year, as opposed to some of the other teachers, like the old lady who never moved from her desk and formed coherent sentences only some of the time.  But I digress.

Oatmeal Peppermint Smores Bars

Health wasn’t a super difficult, heavy class like many of the others.  It was a fun, interactive way for us to learn about ourselves and how to make life the best it could be.  So she wanted to make it fun as much of the time as possible.

She would tell the class stories, to which the girls, most of whom were very popular and didn’t much care for me, would exclaim “storytime!”

In the moment, I probably found it annoying and rolled my eyes, just waiting for the day to be over.  But all these years later, more than I care to think about, I like it.  It brings me joy, as it did them then.

Oatmeal Peppermint Smores Bars

Storytime is always a good thing.  So are any desserts with melty marshmallows.  Like these Oatmeal Peppermint Smores Bars.  These take smores to a whole new level with an oatmeal cookie base that is soft and chewy.  In the middle are tons of peppermint marshmallows that add a fun, subtle flavor, though vanilla will work just fine, and carob in my case, or dark chocolate, in your case, chips.

Serve these warm out of the oven or heat them in the microwave for a few seconds to enhance the smores experience.  Gather the family, have smores bars, and storytime.

Oatmeal Peppermint Smores Bars

Oatmeal Peppermint Smores Bars

Oatmeal Peppermint Smores Bars

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 9 large bars

Ingredients

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups quick cooking oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 heaping cups mini peppermint marshmallows
1 ½ cups carob or dark chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper, leaving overhang for easy removal later.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. I did this by hand but a hand or stand mixer will work as well. Beat in the eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla.
  3. Add the flour, oats, baking soda, and salt. Stir until a soft dough is formed. Press about half the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Top with the marshmallows and chips. Spread clumps of the remaining dough on top, covering as much of the filling as possible.
  4. Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown on top and bubbling. Cool in pan at least 30 minutes before serving. Bars may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Reheat or thaw in the microwave 30 – 60 seconds.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars #SundaySupper

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars

You probably know this about me by now, but I like fancy things.  I have since I can remember.

I have two memories from preschool: being sent home for chicken pox, which I did not have at the time, and wanting a dress similar to one a girl named Allison was wearing.

I wore Mom’s clothes, bought high heels before any other girl my age, wouldn’t leave the house without lipstick at age five, and hated playing and getting dirty at recess.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars

An early obsession with home shopping channels led to ordering a gaudy giant cubic zirconia ring when I was about six.  I wore it for years and it was set in real gold.  Now I’ve graduated to other real stones, though my parents probably wish I would have stayed in the home shopping phase.

It’s just in my blood, you know, to wear makeup and hair spray my hair until it doesn’t move and wear dresses and heels and jewelry.  I can’t explain it, it’s there, in m DNA.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars

This attraction to fancy things extends into other realms like food.  Definitely food.  Like when I have fish shipped in from Seattle (shout out to my friends at Pike’s Place Fish!) or order truffles whenever a restaurant happens to have them (okay this has only happened once, but I’m ready for a sequel).

And these Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars.  I know you’re like nothing is fancy about a PBJ anything, but you are oh so wrong.

First combining anything with cheesecake automatically takes it up a notch, but the real fancifying ingredients are the red currant jelly and peanut brittle.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars

Sure, you could use plain old grape jelly to top off this decadent treat (just make sure you use jelly whatever flavor you choose), but when I saw red currant in the store I knew I had to buy it.  The bright, slightly tangy flavor is perfect and something different without being weird.

I know you are thinking the peanut brittle is just a garnish, but it’s not.  At all.  It adds crunch and a buttery peanutty flavor that brings the whole thing together.

Get fancy and make these bars!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake Bars #SundaySupper

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 24 bars

Ingredients

Crust
4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, melted
½ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Filling and topping
32 ounces cream cheese
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
1 ½ cups red currant jelly
½ cup peanut brittle, coarsely chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 13 inch baking pan.
  2. Make the crust. In a medium bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar, and salt until combined and the crust holds together when pressed. Pour into the prepared pan and press firmly into the bottom and ¾ the way up the sides of the pan. Bake for about 12 minutes until light golden brown. Cool while you make the filling.
  3. Reduce oven to 325 degrees F.
  4. Make the filling. In a large bowl cream the cream cheese and peanut butter using a hand or stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add in the sugar slowly while the mixer is running. Add in the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. Beat in the vanilla bean paste and mix until light fluffy and well combined. Pour into the baked crust. Bake for 40-45 minutes until golden brown on top and the filling wiggles in the center. Cool for about 2 hours.
  5. Once the cheesecake has cooled for awhile, heat the jam in a medium microwave safe bowl in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until melted without too many lumps. Pour evenly over the cheesecake and tilt it to cover the surface completely. Refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to overnight until set completely.
  6. Once chilled, cut into bars, sprinkle with peanut brittle, and serve. Bars may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen individually wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature about 1 hour.

Notes

Filling adapted from Martha Stewart

Additional chilling time is necessary

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Don’t forget to check out the other Sunday Supper dishes.  Thanks to Wendy from Wholistic Woman for hosting!

Finger Foods

Hors d’oeuvres

Seafood

Sweets

Veggies

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Caramel Nut Shortbread Bars

Caramel Nut Shortbread Bars

You guys, there’s this bright light in the sky and I don’t know what it is.

Oh, that’s the sun???!!!

You’ll have to forgive me for not recognizing it.  I can’t remember the last time the sun was out.  This winter hasn’t been that bad as far as winters go.  We recently had a ten day stretch during which even low temperatures did not dip below freezing.

Caramel Nut Shortbread Bars

But it has been so dark and grey and lifeless and downright depressing I can’t even.

Winter has me down.  This happens every year, but this year it’s stronger than ever.  Maybe it’s because I was making the same wishes last birthday as I did a little over a week ago on this one and because year after year things build and build and build until they come to a head.

I want to frolic outside in the sun and take walks and eat outside and be happy and not have to slather lotion and oil and all things moisturizing on my skin.  Please tell me I’m not alone.

Caramel Nut Shortbread Bars

Caramel Nut Shortbread Bars

I won’t be alone in loving these Caramel Nut Shortbread Bars.  I made these years ago, before the blog and loved the filling but not the crust.  Then I made them again recently with a different crust that tasted great but totally fell apart.

Enter test three.  These are the winner.  The filling is as gooey and rich as ever with tons of crunchy nuts.  The base is a vanilla bean olive oil shortbread.  I know olive oil in shortbread sounds weird, but trust me, it is heaven.  It provides a fruity, light note against the rich filling.

Winter is no match for these bars.  Well, really it is, but we can pretend it’s not while we make them.

Caramel Nut Shortbread Bars

 

Caramel Nut Shortbread Bars

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 18 bars

Ingredients

Crust
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ stick unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoons vanilla bean paste
Filling
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
1 ¼ cups packed light brown sugar
½ cup honey
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream
4 cups untoasted nuts, I used half pecans and half walnuts

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. generously butter a 9 by 13-inch pan.
  2. Make the crust. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, salt, butter, oil, and vanilla bean paste until a thick dough forms that holds when squeezed together. If it falls apart, add a bit more oil until it holds. Press into the prepared pan, bringing some of the dough up the sides. Bake for about 15 minutes until just barely golden brown.
  3. While the crust bakes, make the filling. In a medium saucepot, stir together butter, brown sugar, honey, and salt over medium heat. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes until the mixture is slightly thickened and foamy.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream. Be careful! It will bubble up. Place pan back over the heat and cook until a candy thermometer reaches 240 degrees or about 10 more minutes. I actually did this without a candy thermometer. It’s rather forgiving and you can always test for soft ball stage in a bit of cold water.
  5. Add the nuts and cook an additional 2 minutes. Pour filling over the hot crust, spreading into an even layer. Bake for about 15 minutes, until bubbling and the crust is golden brown. Cool completely in the pan before cutting and serving. Bars may be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag. Thaw at room temperature about 1 hour.

Notes

Filling recipe adapted from Food and Wine

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Blueberry Sticky Buns + 27 Wishes

Blueberry Sticky Buns

So it’s my 27th birthday today.  26 was in so many ways my best year EVER, but professionally is was seriously disappointing.  Before we get to sticky buns, and you’ll want to stick around for those, here are my 27 wishes for my 27th birthday.

And before you get all if you share wishes they don’t come true, it hasn’t really worked keeping them to myself, so there.

Blueberry Sticky Buns

27.  Not to get sick. Seriously no colds.  Cancer, MS, whatever they’ve been talking about on Grey’s Anatomy that I now can’t stop thinking about, you stay away too, and everything in between.

26.  Ditto for Mom and Dad.

25.  Early spring … or summer, I’m not picky.

24.  Even some sunshine would do. There aren’t enough vitamin D supplements in the world to combat these clouds, people.

23.  The Good Place to be renewed. NBC, don’t mess this one up.

Blueberry Sticky Buns

22.  Lady Gaga to make a tour stop in Detroit this year. If you haven’t heard Million Reasons, go.  Now.  Listen.

21.  Can’t miss OneRepublic either. Again if you haven’t listened to Choke, I’ll wait.

20.  A really cool new orange nail polish. Why is this such a hard color to perfect?

19.  My skin to not be so terribly dry. It’s kind of a problem when your hands are literally squeaky clean.

18.  To pass a skill level of 1100 on Wii Sports Resort swordplay duels. Yes, I still play that.

17.  For no more appliances to die. Dishwasher, I’m watching you.

16.  It would be nice if the electronics stayed around too. Heeeeeyyy cell phones.

15.  A friend. A really good, legit friend who actually texts me back.

14.  People emailing back promptly so I can stop wondering if something is wrong with my email. There never is something wrong.

13.  Lots of fun nights out with Mom checking out new spots in Ferndale. Girls’ night!

12.  Okay, fun nights with Dad too. Father-daughter bonding!

Blueberry Sticky Buns

11.  An agent.

10.  A good one. One who likes my writing and me and gets me and can help me get my work out there.  I’m really tired of “you’re a good writer, but …”

9.  My contacts to come through. I have three good ones.  Like really good ones.  But when you’re making movies, it’s easy to forget about little old Laura in Michigan.

8.  To finally move to California. No more #californiadreaming.

7.  An 8 on The Blacklist. Guys, really, I’m trying.  You could give a little too.

6.  Something to celebrate so I can go to Townhouse, not count calories, and order that flight of Pappy van Winkle.

5.  To be able to stand up after consuming said flight. Hey, I’m not a big drinker.

4.  To be myself. Not regret.  Not question.  To be happy as I am and accept myself, even if others don’t.

3.  To be inspired by life.

2.  To inspire someone else.

1.  Make awesome shit happen.

Blueberry Sticky Buns

That’s a lot of lofty wishes, so I hope 2017 and my 27th year are up to it, because I am.

I’m also up for these Blueberry Sticky Buns everyday all day and you should be too.  Mom was skeptical when I said I was making these, but I totally changed her mind with one bite.

You have an awesome cinnamon roll base that is tender with so much cinnamon flavor.  And then there’s the ooey gooey sticky top that celebrates everything blueberry with a pop of lemon to keep things from getting too sweet.  The toasted pecans add that much needed crunch.

While my 26th year might not have been perfect, these really are.  They’re one of the best things I’ve ever made and I really encourage you to have some fun in the kitchen and whip up a batch of these.

Blueberry Sticky Buns

Blueberry Sticky Buns + 27 Wishes

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 12 buns

Ingredients

Dough
½ cup warm water
1 packet active dry yeast
½ cup granulated sugar, divided
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
½ cup milk (I used almond, use what you love)
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more if necessary
Zest of 1 lemon
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
Blueberry Goo
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup pure maple syrup
2 heaping cups blueberries
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Zest of 1 lemon
Assembly
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, very soft
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 ½ cups toasted pecans

Instructions

  1. Make the dough. In a large bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Allow to proof for about 5 minutes until foamy. If this mixture does not get foamy, the yeast is dead. Start over with fresh yeast.
  2. Add the remaining sugar, butter, milk, baking powder, flour, lemon zest, salt, and vanilla. Stir until the dough starts to come together and then knead with your hands for about 5 minutes until a soft, not too sticky ball forms. You may need to add up to ½ cup more flour.
  3. Form dough into a ball, oil it and the bowl lightly, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm spot for 1 -2 hours until at least doubled in size.
  4. Make the blueberry goo. In a medium pot, combine the butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup. Cook over medium heat, bringing to a boil and simmering for 2 minutes. Add the blueberries and simmer for 3 more minutes, mashing some of them with the back of your spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and vanilla. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  5. Assemble the rolls. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon.
  6. Butter a 9 by 13 inch pan liberally. Pour a generous half of the goo into the pan, top with the toasted pecans and a generous sprinkle of the cinnamon sugar.
  7. Once the dough has proofed and the goo cooled, roll the dough out into a large rectangle about ¼ inch thick. Spread with the 4 tablespoons of butter and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar. Top with the remaining blueberry goo.
  8. Carefully and tightly roll the dough up, trying to keep as much of the goo inside as possible. Cut into 12 roughly equal pieces and place into the pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap.
  9. At this time you may either set in a warm place to rise while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees F or you may place the rolls in the refrigerator overnight and in the morning, remove them from the refrigerator to rise in a warm spot for about 1 ½ hours. Then preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  10. Bake for 30 minutes, then raise the oven temperature to 375 degrees F for 15-25 minutes more until the buns are golden brown on top and fully cooked.
  11. Allow to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes before inverting onto a serving tray. Serve warm or store buns in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Buns may also be frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to three months. Thaw in the microwave about 1 minute.

Notes

Additional rising time is necessary

Recipe adapted from Half Baked Harvest

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Grape and Olive Oil Polenta Cake

Grape and Olive Oil Polenta Cake

It’s sale season and I’m doing some hard-core shopping, mostly from the comfort of my own home of course.

But it’s hard work.  Harder than writing.  Harder than finding an agent.  Well, maybe it’s not that hard but still it’s not easy.

Grape and Olive Oil Polenta Cake

Grape and Olive Oil Polenta Cake

I scour websites for designer finds I love in my size.  That’s the complicated part.  There are so many things, pretty things, things I would love to have, sometimes hundreds of them.  But almost none of them are my size.  You know, there’s that awesome pair of velvet pumps that I’ve been searching for all season in a random 10.5.

Right now the sales are all entering final sale phase.  What are your thoughts on final sale items?  I get it.  I totally get it.  These sites and stores have had this merchandise for what feels to them an eternity.  It’s marked down at least 70% and they never ever want to see it again.

Grape and Olive Oil Polenta Cake

If I’m in a store and I try something on and love it, I’ll probably buy it.  Though I have had those moments when I try something on at home again and wonder if I was looking into a magical mirror or had lost my mind temporarily.  Still, I’ll take my chances.

Sitting at home, though, how am I supposed to have faith that gorgeous Dolce and Gabbana dress I have been lusting after for a year will fit.  It’s not worth the risk.  Not at all.  My fashion loving, anxiety ridden mind is overwhelmed by the possibilities.

Grape and Olive Oil Polenta Cake

And so I make cake … and eat it for breakfast because Grape and Olive Oil Polenta Cake is pretty much made for breakfast with a cup of tea or coffee.

Grapes are an underutilized fruit in baking.  When baked (or roasted with vegetables for a savory application) they become jammy and super sweet, practically melting in your mouth.  They pair so well with the fruitiness of a great olive oil and the slight texture from polenta aka cornmeal.

You could definitely serve this for an afternoon snack or dessert with some whipped cream or ice cream, but it really belongs at breakfast.  The perfect fuel for a day of shopping, decision making, and risk taking.

Grape and Olive Oil Polenta Cake

Grape and Olive Oil Polenta Cake

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup fine cornmeal
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
½ cup olive oil
1/3 cup milk (I used almond, use what you love)
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
2 cups seedless red grapes

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a 9-inch cake pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together eggs, sugar, and oil until very well combined and lightened slightly in color. Alternately add the milk and flour mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stir in the lemon and orange zest and vanilla bean paste. Stir in the grapes and pour into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm or cool completely in the pan. Cake may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature about 1 hour or in the microwave about 1 minute.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking

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Coconut Oatmeal Chip Cookies

Coconut Oatmeal Chip Cookies

You can tell what day of the week it is by looking in our refrigerator.

We stock up on food one day of the week, typically Saturday or Sunday, unless we’re feeling wild and crazy and head to the grocery store on Tuesday or Wednesday.  I know, we’re major risk takers.

After that grocery store trip, okay, sometimes multiple grocery stores, the refrigerator is basically overflowing.  I try to organize it, but that’s hard when there is so much stuff.

Coconut Oatmeal Chip Cookies

There are the basics: water, milk, almond milk, cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese, sliced cheese, eggs, egg beaters, butter, coffee drinks.  From there we move to coconut, chia seeds, and almond meal and onto washed fruit and vegetables.

Then there is the mess of produce bags with too much air because my dad and I haven’t learned the skills of tying the bags without adding enough air to fill five balloons.  The bags are stuffed into the crispers, the shelves, and even the doors when necessary.  Add to this maze of puffy bags the meat and fish and giant containers of lettuce and spinach, and immediately following the grocery store trips, the refrigerator is a take your life in your own hands adventure of finding that one thing you are looking for that inevitably is lurking in the very back, buried under and behind bag after bag after bag.

Coconut Oatmeal Chip Cookies

As the week wears on, the contents dwindle.  Since we eat the vast majority of our meals at home, food goes rather quickly.  By the end of the week, a slam of the refrigerator door reverberates a hollow noise as I know it is time to stock up once again.

Though I try to run a tight ship in the refrigerator, sometimes things get away from me.  I realized my bag of coconut was about to expire and I couldn’t live with that, so I made cookies.  Obviously.

Coconut Oatmeal Chip Cookies

These Coconut Oatmeal Chip Cookies are sooooo easy to make and have such a great texture.  All the oatmeal and big coconut flakes make these cookies super interesting.  But then there are the melty chips and gooey undercooked center that add that decadence we all love about cookies.

The coconut oil may be my favorite thing about these cookies.  It’s not something I bake with a lot, but I should totally start.  The cookies aren’t super coconutty but have a rich flavor and texture that I don’t think butter brings to cookies.

My freezer is stocked up with of goodies like these cookies, and yours should be too!

Coconut Oatmeal Chip Cookies

Coconut Oatmeal Chip Cookies

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 12 cookies

Ingredients

1 ¼ cup quick oats
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup melted coconut oil (be sure to measure it once it is melted – it’s about 1 cup solid)
¾ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
1 cup carob or dark chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together oil, sugar, egg, and vanilla until well combined. Add oats, flour, baking soda, and salt, mixing until just combined.
  3. Mix in the coconut and chips until well distributed. You may need to us your hands as the dough is very thick.
  4. Divide the dough into golf ball sized portions. Roll into balls and place on the baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden brown and beginning to set. Serve warm or cool completely on the tray. Cookies may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag. Thaw at room temperature about 1 hour or in the microwave about 1 minute.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

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Favorite Recipes of 2016

It’s been another delicious year and here are some standout recipes you may have missed – perfect for holiday baking!

Coca-Cola Cupcakes with RITZ Crust

Coca-Cola Cupcakes with RITZ Crust

I couldn’t get enough of these sweet and salty totally over the top treats!

Peach Slab Pie with Crumb Topping

Peach Slab Pie

You all know I am peach obsessed and a slab pie just means there is even more to love!

Peach Fritters with Maple Bourbon Glaze

Peach Fritters

Another peach recipe!  This was my first foray into doughnuts, but it will not be my last.

Lemon Poppy Seed Zucchini Muffins

Lemon Poppy Seed Zucchini Muffins

I didn’t think the classic zucchini muffin could be improved, but these are my favorite flavorful breakfast.

Rice Krispies Treat Birthday Cake

Rice Krispies Treat Birthday Cake

Rice Krispies Treats will always be a nostalgic favorite.  This dessert looks like a cake on the outside, but is a surprise of gooey marshmallow goodness inside.

Yeasted Waffles with Peach Syrup

Yeasted Waffles with Peach Syrup

I don’t make waffles enough and this recipe proves that.  The syrup is to die for!

Animal Cracker Ice Cream Cake

Animal Cookie Ice Cream Cake

Move over store bought ice cream cakes, there is new competition in town!

Carrot Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Carrot Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Another favorite breakfast, this is everything we love about carrot cake with added crumb topping.

Mom's Individual Meatloaves

Mom’s Individual Meatloaves

So the bullies on Reddit may say this is the ugliest food photo ever, but I make these all the time and they never disappoint.

Gluten Free Monster Cookie Bars

Gluten Free Monster Cookie Bars

One of those recipes when I could not stop grabbing a taste.  It is pure peanut butter goodness!

And one of my favorite fashion posts of the year: Summer Sundress.  I can’t wait to break out all my summer clothes and enjoy going outside again.

Summer Sundress #FashionFriday

Here’s to an awesome 2017!

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