Bar Desserts

White Chocolate Carrot Cake Blondies with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

I’ve heard people say that children grow up in an instant.

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You’re cradling your baby gently in your arms one moment, and the next, they’re dashing about on their own, a whirlwind of childhood glory.  Before you know it, they’re all grown up and independent and on their own, navigating the world as young adults.

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Or so I hear.  I’m still in the navigation stage myself, and I’m not really ready to drop anchor and tether myself to a human baby who will grow up too fast just yet—my rabbit baby fills the void in my heart for something cute and cuddly, and she makes A LOT less noise (but just a little less mess.)

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Still, it’s hard for me to believe that she’s already 3 years old this month.  I can remember the day, 3 autumns ago, when we were aimlessly cruising through the rabbit exhibit at the Topsfield Fair and realized that some of the bunnies were for sale.  When our eyes settled on this little girl, we knew we wanted to take her home, despite the fact that neither of us had owned a rabbit before.

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A terrible breed standard, but oh so cute to me!!

This month, we celebrate another year with this little (and currently molting) ball of fluff, with yet another carrot-cake inspired dessert.  I think I’m running out of ways to re-interpret carrot cake into different forms, but this manifestation is definitely a winner!

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I had to delay making it a bit since the recipe calls for browned butter and we just got our gas line up and running last week.  I guess I could have made it with plain, melted butter, but to me, that just wouldn’t fly.

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These chewy, white chocolate studded carrot cake blondies are amazing—deeply flavored by nutty brown butter and warm spices, and the cream cheese frosting is to die for.

Izzy even got some on her whiskers…Happy Monday!

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Two Years Ago: Peanut Butter Hummus

One Year Ago: Chinese Tea Eggs

White Chocolate Carrot Cake Blondies with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: Makes 12 servings

Ingredients

  • FOR THE BLONDIES:
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted until browned and cooled slightly
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cup carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • FOR THE CINNAMON CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Spray a 9x9" inch baking pan with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ground ginger cinnamon and salt. (Or dump everything in the bowl and give it a few stiff shakes to incorporate.)
  3. In a large bowl, cream the brown sugar and browned butter until well combined.
  4. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.
  5. Carefully stir in dry ingredients until incorporated, then mix in the carrots and white chocolate chips.
  6. Scrape the batter into your prepared pan, spreading evenly.
  7. Bake for 26-30 minutes, or until the edges are just golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove form oven and set on a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. While the blondies are cooling, make your frosting.
  9. Beat the cream cheese and butter together in a medium bowl until super smooth and no clumps of butter or cream cheese are visible.
  10. Mix in the vanilla and cinnamon, then add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing until smooth after each addition.
  11. Once the bars have cooled completely, spread the frosting evenly over top, then cut and serve. Store extras in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to a week.
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Adapted from Baker By Nature

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Sauces/Spreads

Miso Infused Carrot Hummus

Over the weekend, Luke and I attended a graduation party for my last friend to graduate from college.  I now officially know absolutely no one still in college….that’s the kind of realization to make a girl feel her age.

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My friend has a very large multi-cultural family (of which I am just a pinch jealous) and during the party some Argentine guests were talking soccer, and one of them yells out, “Any Germans in the house?!”

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I immediately called out Luke, whose father was born in Munich, mostly because I know Luke has been following the matches and enjoys watching soccer, even without World Cup fever mixing in.  What ensued was a long (and friendly) conversation about soccer, ranging from the abilities of players, to why Liverpool games are being broadcast more in Boston thanks to John Henry.  Also, congrats to Germany for winning the World Cup!!

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Myself, a mildly interested in World Cup only soccer at best, quickly lost the thread of the conversation and turned to the another great aspect of the party: the food.

My friend’s mother cooked it all herself (impressive!) and it was amazing, especially the pulled pork.  There were also some fabulous dips and nibbles.

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Had it been a potluck-style party, I definitely would have brought along this carrot hummus, which would have been right at home between the assorted mixed nuts and the layered cheesy dip.

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Flavored by carrots poached in a miso-rich broth, the umami factor of this hummus is fantastic, shooting it to the top of my favorite hummus list.  (I don’t say that every time I post a hummus recipe, right?)

Two Years Ago: Five Spice Chicken and Mushroom Noodle Bowl

One Year Ago: Kyoto & Osaka Recap

Miso Infused Carrot Hummus

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 Tbsp red miso (white can also be used)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and skins removed
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp tahini paste
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat the water and bay leaf in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Add the miso and stir until mostly dissolved. Add the carrots and garlic, reduce heat to medium, and cook until very tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from stove and cool slightly.
  2. Combine the carrots, garlic and 1 ½ cups of the cooking liquid with chickpeas in a food processor. Puree until mixture is very smooth. Add olive oil, tahini and lemon juice and pulse until mixture is smooth. Season with salt and pepper and process again for a few more seconds. Scrape into a storage container and place in the refrigerator to let cool before eating for about an hour, and enjoy!
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Adapted from Aida Mollenkamp

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Breakfast

Banana Maple Sugar Cinnamon Rolls

We got the right dishwasher this time!!

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Unfortunately in our backwards kitchen, the old dishwasher could be plugged into an outlet (the new one needs to be hard wired) and the old cooktop was hardwired (the new one needs an outlet).  *Sigh* The saga continues.  I’m hoping all this will be wrapped up by next week.

Anyway, I know I should be posting recipes bursting with blueberries and peaches and other seasonal goodies, but I’ve been too busy stuffing my face with them.  Sorry about that.  Meanwhile, I have amassed a remarkable collection of overripe frozen bananas that stems from when we were living with Luke’s parents.

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I noticed that my mother-in-law would buy a bunch of bananas, and if they got too ripe, she would simply throw them away.  Disguising the look of shock on my face as I watched this, I immediately insinuated that it might be better for her to put those distasteful bananas in the freezer.  Then I could use them for banana bread later on.

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I probably made like 8 loaves of banana bread in the few weeks that we lived there.

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We were at their house again a little while ago for my brother-in-law’s birthday, when I received a present of my own.  Out of the freezer came a big plastic bag containing 14 frozen bananas.

Well, I didn’t think it was possible, but I was sick of banana bread (for a little while at least) and wanted to try something new.  I also happened to have a jar of maple sugar that we got in Vermont, and when I saw this recipe on Bakeaholic Mama, I thought I’d give it a try.

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The maple flavor is not too strong, which is good, since maple and bananas aren’t the first combination I’d think of, but I like the subtle way the deep maple flavor melds with the sweet bananas.  It’s definitely the break from banana bread I needed to recharge, since I still have so many bananas to use up (I got another half dozen today)!

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Have a great weekend, reader!

Two Years Ago:  Carrot Cake Truffles

One Year Ago: Taipei Recap

Banana Maple Cinnamon Rolls

Prep Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes

Yield: Makes about 1 dozen rolls

Ingredients

  • FOR THE DOUGH:
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 2/3 cup warm milk
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for kneading and rolling)
  • FOR THE FILLING:
  • 4 Tbsp (half a stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup maple sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • FOR THE MAPLE GLAZE:
  • 1-2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. First, make the dough. In a small bowl or glass liquid measuring cup, stir together the warm water and yeast and let sit until it starts to bubble and froth, about 8-10 mins.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, banana, oil, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and maple syrup. Mix in yeast mixture, then switch to a wooden spoon and slowly mix in flour 1 cup at a time until the dough starts to come together. Once the dough becomes cohesive, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 mins. If the at any point the dough is too moist you can knead more flour, a little at a time.
  3. Grease a large bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and set in a warm spot to rise until dough has doubled, about 1- 1 ½ hours.
  4. Once dough has risen, turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and roll out with a rolling pin roll until the dough is a 8x16” rectangle (an estimation, don’t worry if yours doesn’t match that perfectly) about a 1/2-3/4” thick.
  5. Spread the softened butter over the dough, leaving about ½” around the borders, then sprinkle evenly with maple sugar and spices. Working lengthwise, roll the dough into a log.
  6. Give the log a slight press, and slice into 2” thick slices. Place onto a lined or greased 9x13” pan and let rise again until they have doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  7. Meanwhile preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  8. Once rolls have doubled, bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool while you prepare the glaze. To make the glaze, combine the maple syrup and powdered sugar in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled buns and enjoy!
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Adapted from Bakeaholic Mama

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Soup

Creamy Sweet Pea Soup with Za’atar

Does anyone else get frustrated by appliance deliveries?

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Here’s a nightmare for you—Sears has been to our house 3 times already.  The first time, they delivered our wall oven, fridge and gas cooktop, but only set up the fridge.  We had to have someone else come and install the others.  (The cooktop still needs electrical work and a gas line, so it’s just sitting pretty at the moment. The thought of not being able to stir fry or brown butter is very disturbing, so I try not to think about it.)

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The second time they delivered our washer and dryer, and they were supposed to deliver our dishwasher, but it was “damaged,” which they didn’t bother telling us until they arrived.  With no dishwasher.  Then, they finally delivered the dishwasher, and lo and behold, they delivered the wrong one!  The box had a label slapped on it that indicated the right model was the inside, but it was, in fact, completely different.

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Fail.  So now they are coming again today and I am making them take the dang thing out of the box to make sure we have the right one.

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Meanwhile it’s 90 degrees and 80% humidity and we have one AC unit in the whole house.  And here I am eating soup.

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But it’s pea soup, which is probably one of my all-time favorites, just behind this gem.  Za’taar is such a delightful seasoning (which I discovered recently) and I love the way it pairs with the peas.

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It seemed the perfect way to use up a bag of peas, and to create a light, simple weeknight dinner that I can enjoy for a few days.  Even if the weather doesn’t necessarily agree.

Two Years Ago: Beef Bolognese

Creamy Sweet Pea Soup with Za’atar

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: Makes about 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp za’atar seasoning, plus extra for topping
  • 10 oz thawed frozen peas
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • ½ cup milk (I used 2%)

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5-6 minutes, or until the onions begin to turn golden brown. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, and za’tar and sauté for another minute, stirring often. Finally, add the peas and stir to combine. Continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add the stock and bay leaves and bring the mixture to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the soup from heat and stir in milk. Top with extra za’atar if desired. Serve immediately or store for up to 4 days, covered, in the refrigerator.
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Cookies

Blueberry Almond White Chocolate Chip Cookies

I think it’s safe to say that at this point, we are more or less settled in at the new house.

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There have been some things to get used to, like not having a working cooktop or dishwasher, finding ants and mosquitoes in really random places and listening to the goats who live down the street yell at each other.

All in all, it’s still better than what we had to deal with at the last place: cleaning up the trash that got blown into our yard and listening to the sirens and neighbors yelling expletives at each other.

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Luckily, we did get our new double wall oven installed, and it is a beaut.  I have been doing pretty much all of our cooking with it; even if it heats up the whole house.  Did I mention we don’t have air conditioning?

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Anyway, I’ll be running through different parts of the house to share over time, so you can get a better feel for the place.  It really is a great house; I didn’t mean to start out with such negativity.

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I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend.  My mom and stepdad came up to visit and see the house for the first time.  It rained all day on Friday, but Luke and my stepdad managed to grill some burgers and corn by maneuvering the grill as close to the house as possible and using some carefully placed umbrellas.

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I didn’t serve these cookies for dessert (as I made them when we were still living in the old house) but I think they would have been a welcome addition.

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These chewy white chocolate chip cookies are studded with dried blueberries and sliced almonds; definitely a tasty summertime treat!

Two Years Ago: Boston Creme Pie Cupcakes

One Year Ago: Tokyo Recap

Blueberry Almond White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup dried blueberries
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and almond extract and continue to beat until smooth and combined.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and mix until a soft dough forms. Add the dried blueberries, sliced almonds and white chocolate chips and mix again until just incorporated.
  4. Scoop out about 2 Tbsp of dough per cookie and spoon them onto your prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1” between them.
  5. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then carefully transfer to a wire rack. Enjoy!
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Adapted from Eat, Live, Run

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Uncategorized

Dah House

Hey darlings.

Don’t worry, I’m still alive.  Moving out to the countryside has not led to us being devoured by wolves or ravenous deer; at least not yet.

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It’s been peaceful out here, that’s for sure.  We’ve got a friendly bluebird who begs for food, some pretty awesome neigh-bors and a wonderful view to drive by on our new commutes to the highway.

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We also finally got Internet earlier this week (which was a total fiasco, and we have no idea if we’ll ever get cable).  Delivered today were a new fridge, gas cooktop (no gas installed yet…) and double electric wall oven.  Still sitting in boxes in our kitchen are said cooktop and wall oven because the contractor has yet to show up.  *Le sigh*  We’re getting there.

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At least this one is adjusting well.

Still to come next week is a washer and dryer, and new dishwasher.  All of the original appliances are just that, original to the house, which was built in 1985.  It’s time for an update methinks.  Once everything is installed, polished and in working order, I’ll post some more pics.  In the meantime, here are some my dad took when he came to visit last weekend.

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Also, I hope to be back to recipe-posting next week.  Settling in here has been harder than I thought (I am thrown wayyyyyy out of wack without an operational kitchen, so I appreciate your understanding and patience during this crazy time.

 

 

Breakfast Pancakes

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes for Father’s Day

Hey, Dad.

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Thanks for your support and love all these years. And for being a great pillow.

Thanks for all the corny jokes, groan-inducing puns and embarrassing stories.  I’m sure my friends are super jealous that their Dad isn’t as witty as you.

Thanks for teaching me how to hit a softball, drive a car, turn leftovers into a completely new meals and compare grocery store circulars to make sure I’m getting the best deal on my favorite brand of granola bars.

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I can’t remember how many times you made me banana pancakes through the years, so now I’m making some for you.  I know you’re a fan of Bisquick, but these babies are 100% from scratch.

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Even the chocolate peanut butter.

So, I’m sending you a virtual plate of these guys, as well as my love and gratitude for all that you have done and continue to do for me.  Have a wonderful Father’s Day.

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Love, your little girl.

Two Years Ago: Mom’s Banana Bread

One Year Ago: Banana Bread Cinnamon Rolls

(Looks like I have a thing for bananas in June….)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pancakes for Father’s Day

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: Makes about 1 dozen pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk (I used 2%)
  • ½ cup chocolate peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium ripe banana, mashed

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, peanut butter, vegetable oil and mashed banana. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.
  2. Heat your griddle/skillet over medium-low heat and grease with cooking spray, oil or butter.
  3. When the pan is ready, pour about ¼ cup of batter for each pancake. Don’t overcrowd the pancakes because they will spread a bit as they cook. Cook for about 3 or 4 minutes per side, until golden. They won’t bubble like normal pancakes because of the thickness of the peanut butter. Remove to a separate plate and enjoy with your favorite pancake toppings.
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Adapted from my peanut butter pancakes

Uncategorized

Rememberance

I was planning on posting a recipe today, but when I was looking at my calendar last night, a thought hit me.  Today would have been my Nana’s 87th birthday.

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I went to the contact list in my phone to make sure I had deleted her number so I wouldn’t call by accident, and texted my Dad to say I missed her.  Then I dissolved into tears.  It’s hard not to let my emotions get the best of me as I type this, sitting in an empty office at 7:50am.

I know my Nana would have wanted me to post a recipe today (and if I posted it for her, she would have considered it her present), to be cheerful, to move on and not dwell or make a fuss over her.  That’s the kind of person she was; always doing for others, thinking of others first.

And now I’m thinking of her first as this day comes and passes, bringing to the surface memories and emotions both good and bittersweet.

I will always love and miss you Nana.  Thank you for always supporting and encouraging my dreams and never letting me forget for an instance how much you loved me.

Sauces/Spreads

Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter

Every time I go to China there are always things I miss from home.

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Continual access to a western style toilet, stable Internet connectivity, a skyline that’s visible for more than 100 feet, and quality dairy products are the things that come to mind most readily, though there’s also one gaping lack in Chinese culture that I feel a compulsion to mention as well.

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There’s no dessert.  The vast majority of Chinese homes do not contain an oven, and so baking is just not part of the culture.  Dessert is usually offered by way of fresh fruit, which is nice, but doesn’t quite satiate my enormous sweet tooth.

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Unfortunately, Chinese chocolate is also quite disappointing, so if you’re ever looking for something to really hit the spot, go for the imported stuff.

There is also no good bread in China (except for steamed buns, which are in a category of their own in my opinion), so you can probably see why this is one of the first things I had to have upon my arrival in the States.

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Peanut butter + chocolate, all over soft and chewy cinnamon raisin bread or crispy English muffins. What’s not to love about chocolate peanut butter?!?

It’s so easy to make, really.  This is my second homemade batch (the first batch was a mega success) and there really is no going back to the store bought stuff.

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It’s like a Reese’s cup turned into a spread….

Two Years Ago: Homemade Chicken Fajitas

 

One Year Ago: Strawberry Shortcake Cream Puffs

Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (2 cups) roasted peanuts
  • 1/3-1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips, depending on how chocolatey you like it
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil, if desired

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, process the peanuts until they turn into a paste. They will be chopped at first, then a thick paste, but this paste will eventually break down and turn into a smooth butter consistency. Once you reach that point, add in the chocolate chips and continue to process until smooth. You can also add in the oil if desired to keep the peanut butter from getting pasty.
  2. Transfer to a glass jar or Tupperware and store in the fridge. The peanut butter will keep for up to 3 weeks.
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Travel

Life Lately

Hi all, sorry for how quiet it’s been around here since I left for China.  I was definitely worked harder this trip as the only member of the US represented in the group!

I will be back later this week with a new recipe, but I thought you might enjoy a glimpse of my trip via a nice photo dump.  Enjoy!  (I should also note that these are about half the images I want to share, but the other half won’t upload….thanks, Chinese Internet…..)

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City Square, Jinan, Shandong.





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Daming Lake, Jinan, Shandong.

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View of Xiamen City, Fujian.

 

 

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Terracotta Warrior Museum, Xi’An, Shaanxi.

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Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Xi’An, Shaanxi.

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The ancient city wall, Xi’An, Shaanxi.

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Bike Riding on the city wall (photo taken while riding)

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All the creepy dudes want to take a photo with the pretty foreign girl…..

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Fancy final meal in Beijing.

 

Once I’m state-side, I’ll post a in a little more detail about the trip, as well as upload the photos that didn’t make it past Chinese firewalls.

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