Gingerbread Cookie Granola

A list of foods I wasn't so fond of until becoming old: 

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Egg nog
Nuts
Dates
Beer (heh)
Coffee (pretended to like in in college while working as a barista)

AND

Molasses,

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Molasses is weird and gingerbread cookies and cake to me as a kid were a waste of time because where is the chocolate? It kind of LOOKS like chocolate but SURPRISE it tastes like mineraly spicy sweetness.

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For a while growing up, my parents had two cows. I remember being fairly terrified of them on account of their massive size but also curious about them for the same reason. The curiosity part led me to lick their mineral block which is flavored with molasses...possibly furthering my distaste for the stuff. I still sort of associate it with livestock, but I also wierdly love it.

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But old me is reaaaally into molasses. I can remember the first time I ate it and thought "dang, this isn't just cow good, this is people good too". I was strolling through a farmers market in L.A. while visiting my bother (a farmer's market that was so totally different than the farmer's market I'm used to in the parking lot of Rural King on Saturdays) I casually squeezed this tube of brown stuff that I assumed was chocolate into my iced cold brew with cream (this was pre actually liking coffee times). Well it wasn't chocolate, it was molasses. And it turned out to be super delicious paired with the really strong brew and delightfulness of the cream. That was the moment my taste buds shifted from toddler to refined old person.

I added a little bit of steel cut oats on a whim because I like weird textures in my granola but you can totally replace with more rolled oats. I have used both pecans and walnuts with great results. AND if you aren't THAT into molasses, you can use some honey or agave instead of the full dose of the brown stuff.

I'm writing this next to a sleeping baby boy while Austin hangs out with Ruthie. I've gotta end it here because I can hear him snoring THEREBY failing at his fatherly duties this evening.

Gingerbread Cookie Granola

Sweet Potato Breakfast Crisp

This is not just a variation of sweet potato casserole. 

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Ok this is pretty much a variation of sweet potato casserole, but it's for breakfast! Or any time. But I am always looking for new breakfast ideas so IT'S FOR BREAKFAST. 

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Whyyy is breakfast such a struggle?

I used to just eat cereal. my mom bought all of the good kinds (PB crunch, Rice Krispie Treats, Cocoa Pebbles, Honey Bunches of Oats, ECETERA) and we always had like 7 different boxes open at once. MAN, remember Rice Krispie Treats? They still make them in case you're curious. Rice Krispie treats cereal carried me through two babies worth of morning sickness. 

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Breakfast used to be easy. Cereal ALWAYS sounded good. And I thought I was doing myself a favor and eating something incredibly wholesome 🙏🏻. 

Since leaving college, breakfast all of a sudden is this big ole hassle. I quickly realized that cereal is usually pretty devoid of good for you stuff, and it somehow makes me bottomless-pit hungry by 10 AM. So I ditched that habit and found out that NOTHING else sounded good. 

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The only thing I feel like eating is a nice lil chubby donut or a stocky lil friendly muffin. Having kids has changed things a bit in that I now make a substantial breakfast for them every morning (oatmeal, cheesy eggs, egg sandwiches, pancakes, French toast) but I still pretty much have to make myself eat at the unearthly hour of their waking. 

SO since I'm stressed out abut breakfast enough to write 5 paragraphs, I decided I needed to make some sort of bakery dessert-healthy veggie packed breakfast FUSION and call it breakfast crisp. 

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This could easily be made with butternut squash or pumpkin. I wanted to pack in the protein by adding greek yog and I also wanted it to have as many oats as a bowl of oatmeal. It's basically like a crisp with massive amounts of crumb topping. Austin refused to believe it was breakfast and ate pretty much the whole thing after dinner all three times that I made it.

This could totally be used as a non-marshmallow containing version of sweet potatoes casserole for your thanksgiving spread but I LOVE the marshmallow version so I'll be having this one for breakfast instead. 

Breakfast Sweet Potato Crisp

Cranberry Orange Butternut Squash Bread

Christmas is coming. 

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Ruthie whispers to me from time to time. I posted something to my stories about how Ruthie likes to say this and a teacher friend told me she and her fellow teachers whisper "Christmas is coming" to each other on rough days.

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My parents watched our kiddos overnight last weekend and Ruthie stayed up until 2 AM. TWO AM. How is it possible to function on such little sleep? Bobby was the star grandchild because he went to sleep and 10 and then woke up every two hours all night long. 

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I do most of my blogging after bedtime and it is a struggle almost every single time not to just do the dishes instead. I love blogging so far and I hate dishes, but the thought of using this time to make the kitchen sparkle has strong appeal. What a thrilling life I lead. (BUT I LOVE IT).

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On some blog writing nights, I put Bobby to sleep and then sneak into the kitchen while Austin gets Ruthie ready for bed. Their conversations are hilarious "Dad, can you go upstairs and leave me alone with Sammy? He's a nice guy, and he's happy about me" (Sam is our cat). "Can I have a big brown ice cream cone?" "Where is my long, white gown?" (Ruthie is very into the use of many adjectives and wearing my clothes) "Will you fluff bunny's big pink nose?" And then in a matter of seconds...snoring (Austin, not Ruthie). 

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This is my very first Christmas tasting recipe. Orange + cranberry = Christmas, all the science books say so. I kind of surprised myself with how delicious this turned out. I always eat a pretty good chunk of whatever I'm photographing, but I ate a SERIOUS chunk of this guy. It made the house smell like heaven and made me wanna snuggle a cup of coffee like Buddy does in the mailroom on elf. 

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The following links are affiliate links to awesome products that can be hard to find in stores (check your local Aldi for the unsweetened coconut!). That means, I receive a small chunk of anything purchased through the link.

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The Crispiest Sweet Potato Fries You've Ever Had + Kalamata Ailoi

Raise your hand if you have sweet potato fries at least once a week.

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Raise your hand if they kind of make you angry because they're always floppy unless you forget about them for 3 hours and burn them into cinders.

If a restaurant has sweet potato fries, they're mine. (side note: I don't think I have ever spelled restaurant correctly in my life. If there were no spell check, I would be arrested for trying to have a blog because of how often restaurant was spelled wrong). Do you ever wish you had a deep fryer? I don't think I'm supposed to say that out loud. But my all time fave food is french fries of the sweet or regular variety.

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Making them at home is generally pretty disappointing. First, you have to wash and chop and season and oil and get a sheet pan REALLY dirty and then let the sheet pan sit on the counter or hide it in the oven for days. Second, they are crispy on one side at best. Turns out, there are like 10 steps you need to complete before getting really deliciously crispy fries and it is WORTH IT. I copied and tweaked this adorable sweet potato fry infographic.

Nordstrom Cafe has french fries that keep me awake at night. Everyone lays (lies?) awake and thinks of food until they become so ravenous they're driven downstairs to eat cereal, right? The fries are SO crispy and thin but still sort of rustic, ya get a chunk of skin now and then. And they're covered with fresh parsley and maybe some parmesan too? THEN they are served with kalamata olive aioli. I remember my first tango with this ailoi like it was yesterday: started off unsure, ended up with my tongue in the tiny little serving dish when my grandma wasn't looking.

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Follow this method whenever you have sweet potato fries on the menu. I have made them this way about 5 times now and they still turn out a little differently each time, but they're always crispier than they have been before. If you don't have time to soak, just using the corn starch made a small improvement on its own. Make sure to let me know how they turn out!

The Crispiest Sweet Potato Fries

 

 

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Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream with Candied Pepitas

I am late to the the banana ice cream game, I know this.  

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But I didn't believe that it really was as good as people were claiming. I mean, frozen overripe bananas? I just assumed whoever said that it was delicious meant it was delicious for not being real ice cream. But it is even delicious COMPARED to real ice cream. 

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Something magic happens when you whip frozen bananas into a fluffy, creamy cloud of soft serve consistency. I crave it like everyday. And I am a person who honors my cravings. If I want chocolate I don't eat chocolate flavored yogurt. I eat chocolate. When I want ice cream...I eat ice cream. Like, the good stuff. So when I say I crave this ice cream...you can know I mean business. My fave addition has been peanut butter, vanilla, chocolate chips, and a little flaked sea salt.

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UNTIL I added pumpkin. There was something suddenly caramely after adding pumpkin and almond butter. Top it with the pepitas if you're feeling fancy but it's just as good without and takes about 5 minutes to make. I pretty much buy bananas to freeze them now. I like to peel and slice or break them up, freeze on a baking sheet for a few hours, and then toss into a zip-loc bag.

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You guys, I'm watching Gilmore girls again. I literally just wrote a post on how watching TV makes me feel unproductive and here I am glasses askew, hair a mess, somehow in the middle of season 3. Also, after hearing Suki mention fried marshmallow pie in an ep, I stumbled upon a blog that recreates food inspired by TV shows. Take a moment here to picture me at my desk at work, searching the internet with the intention of finding the address of my next appointment and coming up for air 3 hours later after reading a 15,700 word article on the complete life story of Casey Affleck.

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I'm planning a re-do trip to the pumpkin patch soon and will be making my own pumpkin puree. Stick around for over zealous pumpkin insanity the rest of the month!

Candied Pepitas recipe from Martha Stewart (duh).

Pumpkin Ice Cream with Candied Pepitas

 

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Crispy Roasted Chickpea Bark

 Chickpeas are a funny thing.

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They're sort of gross, let's be honest. Ever crack open a can of chickpeas and eat one? Probably not because they smell about as good as they look. 

But the weird thing about them is they're so good in so many different ways. Hummus? Amazing! Chickpea cookies? Surprisingly good. Roasted until crispy crunchy? My favorite way to eat 'em.  

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I figured they could only get better covered in chocolate, right?  

I am on a total 100% only interested in autumn things kick. I'm pinning fall things, reading fall things, listening to fall things (I listen to the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack regularly), and definitely DEFINITELY cooking fall things. So I spiced these generously with some autumnal seasonings.

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HEY. Why is loving fall things considered basic? Like I get it, PSL scarf boots yadda yadda but all of those things are such wonderful things. And having seasons, like distinct, fleeting changes to our surroundings, are some of the best things about life on THIS EARTH omg I'm going to deep.  

But I still think we're too hard on ourselves sometimes. Just because you like pumpkin beer and boot socks doesn't mean you have to hashtag basic or no one will ever like you again (I'm talking to myself here). 

Treat yo self to an apple cider donut (or an autumn spiced pear donut) and Instagram the hell out of it cause you love fall and are soooo not basic. 

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I like to roast the chickpeas until they are just a whisper away from burnt to a crisp. I can't handle a slightly chewy chickpea. You may be more sane in your texture preferences so roast accordingly! The end result is reminiscent of a butterfinger and I am thrilled with that. And you HAVE to put flaked sea salt on top of this and in every other recipe you ever make again.

Maldon Sea Salt Flakes, 8.5 ounce Box
$4.95
Belgravia Imports
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Autumn Spiced Pear Donuts

We have a pear problem.

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There is a giant tree on our property and it is LOADED. The problem is, 70% of the pears are out of reach. Most of the time we pick them up of the floor.

"It's called the ground when it's outside, son".  -Ron Swanson

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Did you know that you have to pick the floor pears up or else when the grass is mowed the chopped up pears will lure 4 billion sweat bees into your yard? Our old tree pears are also rock hard, like break a toof biting into one, so they have to be cooked. The best problems are the ones with solutions that I am aware of. That's an original quote by me in case you were wondering. The solution to this particular firm pear problem is to make this pear carrot sauce along with pear donuts once a week.

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Yesterday was the first day of fall coinciding with one of the most major cases of upper lip sweat this entire year thus far (it was 97 degrees). AND I decided yesterday was a good day to go to Aldi. HEAT + ALDI on a friday = terrible idea. But I'm home now and everyone is napping and we have enough food to survive the weekend, so all-in-all a good idea was made.

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I fully intend to drop spoonfuls of this batter into oil to make some real donuts someday. But that requires constant attention and probably doesn't allow for a naked two year old on a stool to help out. For now, fake baked dones (or muffins) will do. Seriously try these, they are foolproof! Check out my super easy pear-carrot sauce (parrot sauce?) while you're at it. HAPPY FALL, BABAY!

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Recipe adapted from my mom's apple cake.

Warm Autumn Spiced Pear Donuts

 

 

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{Vegan} Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Sauce

If you're gonna DIY one thing in your life, DIY this chocolate syrup. 

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OK sometimes food needs to be storebought. Like have you ever had homemade ketchup? Not happening. And homemade potato chips are no where near as good as lays #imo. But chocolate syrup is definitely a food that is way better homemade. 

I feel like my college experience involved involved a lot of ice cream socials. Is that weird? I think it had something to do with being in a sorority. But I always expected there to be hot fudge because I put a lot of faith in something that has a picture of an ice cream cone on the flyer. i would have 100% pledged whatever sorority served hot fudge at an ice cream social. But none of them did, it was allllll Hershey's syrup 😭. 

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this recipe is super similar to hot fudge in texture, but is vegan and couldn't be simpler to whip up. I keep it in the fridge to make mochas on the weekend and to add to Ruthie's milk every now and then.

I like using agave nectar because it is super sweet so you can use a lot less than sugar. Honey or maple syrup would work too and give it that special honey or maple flava, I haven't tinkered around with using actual sugar but try it and let me know!

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To make a mocha, shake 1 cup of milk in a jar with a tight fitting lid until frothy. Any type of milk will work, but the lower the fat content, the more foam you'll get. I was really surprised to find out how well this method works for getting foamy lattes without a milk frother. Microwave the milk after shaking to warm while keeping the foam. Stir a big ole spoonful of syrup into hot, strong coffee (or espresso if you've got it, you lucky bastard) and top with milk + foam.

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Everyday Veggie Sheet Pan Nachos with Spicy Yogurt Sauce

This is basically my version of a salad.

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Are you a salad person? I love salads from restaurants. Like the Emerald Coast Salad from Crushed Red. Or basically any Caesar salad (Sunset 44's Caesar dressing is AMAZING for any St. Louisans).

But I seriously dislike making them myself. All the rinsing of the veggies and the chopping things into bite sized pieces. Whenever I brought a salad to work I would procrastinate eating it by scavenging for food in the office fridge, ultimately ending up eating something random like a sleeve of questionably fresh saltines.

We've had a ton of kale this summer so naturally that resulted in a lot of salads. The morning after that first bowl of kale, my jaw literally hurt from chewing. Sometimes I pretend I'm one of those giant aged turtles eating lettuce on a beach somewhere and that sort of helps, most of the time I just don't make salads. I don't like how you can seemingly eat for hours without even making a dent in it. I KNOW I'M OVERTHINKING THIS.

Salad recipes I would be willing to try at home:
-This one with lavender dressing?!? Amazing.
-This caprese salad with HOT BACON DRESSING (PS I am always down with caprese, this isn't included in my salad rant).
-This breakfast panzanella salad - a salad made up mostly of bread is my dream.

 

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This is a recipe I make to use up veggies, when I can't think of anything else to make, when I'm thinking about salad and my stomach says "meh". It happens about once a week. Tortilla chips are one of my must-have grocery purchases mainly for sheet pan nachos but also for the occasional chilaquiles.

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If I'm making and shooting a recipe for the blog, dinner for that evening is totally taken care of by like 3 PM. If I'm NOT shooting a recipe for the blog, dinner is typically an insane reaction to me noticing that I'm pretty hungry and it's already 5 PM. For those days, its nice to have go-to recipes that come together really freakin' quickly and don't require much prep at all.

LEFTOVERS: Bring a cup or two (depending on how many leftovers you're workin' with) of crushed tomatoes, salsa, or tomato sauce to a simmer. Toss in leftover nachos and stir to coat. Simmer for a few minutes until softened and top with a sprinkling of cheddar. Look forward to lunch tomorrow.

Everyday Veggie Sheetpan Nachos

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