Sunday, May 22, 2011

Peanut Butter Pancakes

I've been wanting to make pancakes for breakfast for a few weeks now but just never seem to have time. This morning we woke up with nothing pressing on the agenda so it seemed like the perfect day. I was feeling a little creative as well, so I embarked on making peanut butter pancakes. And I must say, I think they turned out pretty delicious!

Here's the recipe! Admittedly, I used pancake mix since we already had some rather than making them completely from scratch.

Peanut Butter Pancakes
2 cups pancake mix
1 1/4 cups of milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp peanut butter

Put all ingredients in a bowl and whisk briskly until well blended.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, pour batter onto heated skillet. Flip pancakes once small air bubbles start forming on top (about 3 or 4 minutes).

Cook another minute or two until golden brown.

Makes about 15 pancakes. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pumpkin Muffins!

I know it's not exactly prime time to be making something with pumpkin, but we've had a can of pumpkin puree in our pantry for about a year now and I was determined to use it up. Plus, I really felt like baking but was out of brown sugar, which was limiting my options. So Saturday night I whipped up a batch of pumpkin muffins (with the help of THIS recipe, of course).

A few notes:
1. I don't like coconut so I substituted oats in the topping instead.
2. We didn't have pecans so I used almonds in the topping as well.
*The oatmeal and almond topping was delicious and if I make these again, I will continue substituting these items.

3. I used nutmeg instead of coriander. Not because I think they are good substitutes, but because I didn't have coriander. I'm sure it would have been fine to just leave it out but I thought nutmeg would go nicely with the pumpkin flavor.

4. When the filling recipe says to beat the cream cheese BEFORE adding the egg and sugar, do it. I was not paying attention, threw the egg and cream cheese in a bowl together, and ended up with a liquefied mess. It still turned out fine but I think the "filling" really just mixed in with the batter during baking rather than acting as a layer of filling.

5. Try using cupcake liners. I baked these right in the pan, but they were a little difficult to get out. Let me know how it goes if you use paper liners.

6. Put the muffin tin on a cookie sheet before baking, especially if the cups are really full. The topping is quite messy and I now have another "to-do" on my list: Clean the Oven.

7. I had to bake these for about 40 minutes, not 20-25 as the recipe suggests.

8. Share these with someone! They turned out delicious and it was really difficult not to devour them in one sitting. Luckily we spent all day Sunday at my in-laws house so we were able to bring some over there for sharing.

Sorry I didn't take any pictures. I will tell you that mine turned out looking pretty similar to the pictures on the link, so I think that is a plus.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A few recent projects

I feel like I've been neglecting my blog for awhile, but sometimes life just takes over. The past 4 weekends have been very busy for me, with family events, Easter, a baby shower in St. Louis, and Mother's Day. On the bright side, our calendar is opening up quite a bit over the next few weekends so we can start enjoying this beautiful weather!

A good friend of mine from college is having a little girl in July. She is an extremely sweet lady and will be one amazing mom, I have no doubt! Oddly enough, even though we went to college together, it was after college that we became good friends. I am so blessed to have been surrounded by so many wonderful ladies in my Undergraduate degree program, and even more blessed that we continue to keep in touch today. Of course when she announced she was pregnant, me and a friend offered to throw her an amazing shower. However, we were too late and another friend had already snagged the hostess role. I still made sure to have the date on my calendar months in advance so I wouldn't miss it, and a few weeks ago made the 4-hour drive to St. Louis to see the lovely mommy-to-be. I bought a bunch of her miscellaneous items and put together a gift basket, which I must say turned out adorable in my opinion. I'm always really excited when a crafty idea in my head actually turns out as good or better than I imagined it (this is usually not the case). Here's a snapshot I was able to get before she opened it.

This past weekend Chase and I spent much of Saturday doing yard work. Last year I planted a garden, which really means I threw random seeds in the ground around mid-June after all my starter plants had died inside, in hopes that something would grow. And it did! We had one extremely large stalk of basil (does basil grow in stalks?), 2 HUGE zucchini plants (which really only rendered about 6 or 7 zucchini since we didn't know we needed to help pollinate the flowers ourselves), a cucumber plant (which rendered exactly 1 cucumber), and a TON of cilantro. It turns out that we don't really like cilantro that much and saw no reason to grow it this year.

This year I had big plans! I mean, it's been on my to-do list for about 4 months now to plan my garden. I have the Square Foot Gardening book and have skimmed through it; I was completely ready to create the ultimate SFG. Sadly, time got away and I felt overwhelmed trying to start my garden without some help, so we're winging it again this year! We figured our soil is decent since everything grew so well last year, so we bought some compost to mix in, as well as throwing in what was left of some potting soil we had from another project, and mixed it all in. This year I tried to methodically space my seeds appropriate distances, and we even bought a hose so the garden will actually get watered! (My garden from last year is sounding more impressive now that you know we didn't even have a hose, isn't it?) We did buy 2starter plants, a tomato plant and a bell pepper plant. They look impressive right now, but I figure it's only a matter of time before they are sad and pathetic. Oh, we also planted zucchini, cucumber, arugula, and basil. We figured we would stick with the staples for this year, but next year, I'll have a lush SFG, I promise!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Planning frenzy

The past week has been a whirlwind of internet research in our house. One week ago today, we were convinced we absolutely could not and would not be going to France. Everything was just too expensive and we didn't feel like we could justify that expense when there are so many other things around the house we should spend our money on. However, ultimately our desire to travel and my desire to see my friends won over and by Thursday evening we were actually seriously talking about going. By Friday evening, we had booked flights. Sometimes it feels completely irresponsible and irrational to plan a trip to France on a whim like this, but it's also been very exciting. And I really needed some good planning projects. I've been going through planning withdrawl since the wedding ended.

On the bright side, we have found a hotel to stay at in Paris the first few days of our trip. It's actually a B&B of sorts. We're excited for the opportunity to stay with some locals and be able to interact with them a bit, as well as saving some money over booking a traditional hotel. Yesterday I sent out my passport to have it updated with my married name! Now if we could just get the rest of our trip planned I could spend my time planning my wardrobe instead of researching various transportation and lodging options!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Parlez-vous anglais?

*Image from

It is official. Chase and I have decided to go to France this summer. We have been toying with this decision for many months now, and had even decided without a doubt we were not going. But…then we had doubts! I have some friends going that I really wanted to see and flight prices decreased slightly, so we bit the bullet this weekend and bought plane tickets. That’s all we have done so far though. It seems there are a million things to do over the next few weeks as we prepare for the trip so my life (and purse, and phone, and kitchen table…) will be full of lists!

1. Update passport with my married name
2. Buy outlet converters
3. Determine our trip plan, i.e. what cities we want to visit
4. Book hotels
5. Shoe shopping-obviously I need some cute, yet very comfortable shoes for walking the streets of Paris.
6. Learn French. We don’t anticipate becoming fluent by summer, but we do feel like we should know a few basic phrases and words. I’m sure my favorite phrase will be “Crêpe au fromage s'il vous plait”.
7. Plan outfits for each day of the trip and how to best pack everything!
8. Eat French food (We think we should prepare our pallets a little before going with experiencing some French cuisine from the local hot spots.)
9. Save money (How will I shoe shop and eat French food if I’m trying to save money? Hmm…)

I'm sure this list will grow immensly as the weeks go on, but I'm trying to remember how fun it will be rather than stressing about all the details. I bought the Frommer's Guide to France last night and can't wait to dig into it more this week! I spent a semester studying abroad in Germany and made a trip to Paris while over there; however, Chase has never been to Europe at all, so I'm really excited to experience this with him.

Have you been to France? Do you have any favorite places or recommendations?