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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Bread

Fall is finally here!  To me, fall means cozy cardigans, lots of tea, flannel pajama pants, cooler weather (although Oklahoma seems to need some reminding) and baking with pumpkin.  I love pumpkin. My mom taught me how to bake pumpkin pie when I was young, and to this day it remains at the top of my list of favorite desserts. Two months into our marriage I was gearing up for fall and cooking some pumpkin-cranberry bread, when best friend broke the news to me that he hated pumpkin. After recovering from shock and telling him he should've told me this before proposing, I got over it and ate the whole loaf of bread myself. And you know what? Pumpkin bread is better when you don't have to share it. SO THERE!

This pumpkin chocolate-chip bread is the real deal people! It makes two loaves, so if you are also married to an insane person, maybe you can share it with one of your neighbors. Or not. :)

You will need:
1 (15oz) can of pumpkin puree
3/4 cup of vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups of sugar
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups of flour
3/4 teaspoon of baking soda
3/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon of cloves
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 1/2 or 2 cups of chocolate chips

Mix together pumpkin, oil, sugar, and eggs.  You can use a mixer, but I just used a fork.  Add in the flour, baking soda, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and chocolate chips, mixing well after each addition.  Pour mixture into 2 greased bread pans and cook at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean.

Enjoy your little taste of fall!

*photo by Crystal Mumby :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Brownie Fail x2

I love to bake. I love sharing my baking successes on this blog - but I also want this blog to show the other sides of my life. Here is one of my baking failures.

This is a little story about how my wonderful husband's brownie craving turned into a kitchen disaster twice in the same week.

Garrett was really craving brownies last week. He mentioned wanting some a couple days in a row, so I offered to make him a batch. I remembered that my mom makes some really delicious chocolate caramel brownies, so I decided to look a similar recipe up online. During our hunt for a simple caramel brownie recipe, we found a recipe for Salted Caramel Bacon Brownies and thought we should give them a try. To make the caramel, the recipe had you melt 1/2 a cup of sugar and then add cream and bacon grease to the melted sugar. The recipe specifically said that the mixture should be a nice auburn color. Well it was that color, for about 1 second, and suddenly the mixture was black and my kitchen was filled with smoke.
We opened the back door and two flies found their way inside our house, and 5 days later one of them is still in our kitchen. I decided that even though the mixture was burned, that there would be enough sugar in the brownies to cover up the burned taste. It still tasted mostly like caramel, and just a little bit like it was burned. The brownie batter was DELICIOUS. So I swirled the brownie batter an the slightly burned caramel together in a baking pan an popped it in the oven. Turns out that when you cook something that is already a little bit burned, it becomes even more burned! I don't know why this didn't occur to me before putting the brownies in the oven. Needless to say, the brownies were disgusting.

Try number 2. I decided to make the same brownies, but leave out the bacon. I did not burn the sugar, however I did forget to add cream to the melted sugar (a mistake I didn't realize until writing this post and thinking about why this attempt failed). While I was mixing the brownie batter, the melted sugar solidified and was hard as a rock. So I remelted and swirled together with the brownie batter. While the brownies were in the oven, the melted sugar caramel basically turned into shards of sugar glass. They didn't taste too bad, but you just had to be really careful eating them so that you didn't cut your mouth up. Garrett and Devin both ate one and declared them "good if you know what to expect and don't mind a little crunch." Well, I do mind a little crunch, especially in caramel brownies!!

That said, it looks like I'm going to buy a box mix for attempt #3. Can't screw those up, right?!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fall Bucket List

I know a lot of people make bucket lists in the summer, but that is not for me. I feel like my plans often get thwarted by the oppressive Oklahoma heat. Instead of a summer bucket list, I have made one for fall.

1. Go on lots of walks with Garrett.

Thanks to the cooler weather this past weekend (finally!) we were able to take a few walks this weekend. The best part was that Garrett let me step on all the crunchy leaves -- that's love, people!

2. Plan Halloween costumes.

Yes, I am one of those people who likes to do couple Halloween costumes. Right now I am thinking Black Widow and The Hulk, but Garrett is trying to get me to let him dress like Bruce Banner. Sounds like a cop-out if you ask me ... :)

3. Bake lots of things with pumpkin.

Although, I'm not sure who will eat everything because I married a crazy person that doesn't like pumpkin.

4. Go camping at the Wichita Mountains.

Camping is something that I enjoyed as a kid and hated as a teenager. Too much family togetherness. However, I really think I would like to hike and camp with Garrett.

5. Clean the house.

I do not believe in spring cleaning. It's already too hot to go upstairs in the spring. We might be moving soon, so I need to clean some stuff out anyways.

We also have some exciting things already planned for fall!

We are going to see the Broadway play Lion King in a couple weekends. It is playing in Wichita which is only a couple hours away from our house. This will be our anniversary present to ourselves. I am SO EXCITED.

My brothers are also coming to stay with us for a weekend. I haven't lived at home since they were 10 and 8, and now they are 17 and 15. It's hard to believe how much they change every time I see them. I was able to see them over the summer, and they are both taller than me and attempting to grow facial hair. So weird!

What exciting things do you and your families have planned for the fall?

Monday, September 10, 2012

DIY Menu Board

Recently we have had a big problem with throwing away food. We are really, really bad about eating leftovers.
A couple weeks ago, I made this menu board, hoping that if I actually wrote down the meals we were having, and what day we would eat them, that maybe we would throw away less food.

You will need:
- A collage style photo frame
- Scrapbook paper
- A dry erase marker
- Stickers (optional)

All you have to do is cut the scrapbook paper to fit the sections of the frame; mine were 4"X6".
On each paper I put a letter sticker with the first letter or abbreviation of the day of the week, and since I had one frame left over, I made that one "list" so we could write down when we use the last of a certain thing.
Simply put the paper in the frame the same way you would a picture.
You can write what you are having for dinner that week on the glass with a dry erase marker.

So far, we have actually done pretty well eating all the food that we buy! We schedule 2 days a week for leftovers, which helps as well.

Even if you don't have problems eating your food, this could still be a cute addition to your kitchen!

How We Are Happy

Recently Garrett was talking to a co-worker about being married and how we do everything together. His co-worker responded with, "Oh, that will change in a couple years!" thinking that we must have only been married for a few weeks. He was shocked to find out that Garrett and I have been married almost the exact amount of time as him and his wife. I often have friends tell us that we are "too cute for our own good" and have had a few people mention that they have marriages as happy as ours. I take both of these as HUGE compliments. I hope that we always give people the impression that we are newlyweds!

Obviously we have only been married 2 years and still have many things to learn about being married, but here are 5 things that I think have made the last 2 years so great!

1. Garrett is the first person I tell anything, big or small. I try to make sure he doesn't find things out about me from someone else. I haven't always been great about this. I am slightly addicted to Facebook and he is ...not. He started having Facebook send him emails whenever I would post something. That was a huge eye-opener for me...tell your spouse before you tell Facebook!! Even if it's something small, like something funny a kid at work said or did, I'll usually text it to him so he can laugh about it before sharing it with everyone else.

2. We go to bed angry sometimes.
I think the advice "never go to bed angry" is complete crap. If its 2am, and you can't even remember why you are arguing in the first place, it's probably time to just go to sleep. Usually we wake up and aren't mad anymore.

3. We go to bed at the same time.
Occasionally, Garrett won't be tired when I am, so he will stay up later watching tv, but he still lays in bed until I go to sleep. Personally, I don't understand how one person can go to bed at 10 and their spouse not come to bed until 4. That's 6 hours you could be spending together! Who cares of you're asleep?! Sleeping is the best thing ever! Why not share it with your favorite person?!

4. We hold hands excessively. If we are standing or sitting next to each other, we are holding hands. To go along with that, we tend to not separate in big groups. Unless of course he is talking to a bunch of guys about some computer thing. If we are playing a board game with friends, we sit next to each other. If there is only one spot on the couch when a big group of us are watching a movie, we both sit on the floor. We just stay together a lot of the time.

5. We try things that the other person likes. Garrett likes really obscure nerdy board games that not many have heard of. I try to play each one at least once. If I don't like it, then I won't play again, but I have been surprised at how fun some of the games have been! He watches chik-flicks with me, usually without complaining. :) If we never tried something we wouldn't normally be drawn to, there wouldn't be very many things for us to do together.