Hello, I love….S’mores Pie

A couple weekends ago, Reggie and I drove down to San Jose to meet up with his aunts and their beautiful baby boy. Since they were making dinner, I offered to make dessert. Then I sort of panicked. I am such a drama queen. See, I have not had any major cravings during this pregnancy. Even more strange, most sweets have even been completely unappealing. Salty foods are far more appealing. So I was a little stumped on what to make because nothing sweet sounded great to me. That was until I stumbled upon this recipe. S’mores Pie! Jessica from How Sweet It Is managed to take what happens to be my favorite pre-pregnancy combination of graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows and turn it into a magnificent pie. I was sold. I followed the recipe exactly and it was truly perfect just the way it is. In the end, dinner was amazing and my dessert was a huge hit. And now I am back to loving sweets so this is some pretty powerful pie.

xo
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the only banana bread recipe you will ever need


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Last night , I was awakened several times by the dreaded pregnancy leg cramps. I was laying there sound asleep and suddenly a deep, shooting pain pierced my calf muscle and I shot straight up out of bed. After flexing my heel a few times, the cramps quickly went away. While that is a great trick to get rid of the cramps when in the moment, I am far more interested in preventing the pain from ever happening. I read in my pregnancy books that often those cramps come from decreased potassium and eating bananas (high in potassium) is a great way to prevent the dreaded cramps.

So in the middle of the night, after waking up for the third time, I vowed to eat a banana for breakfast. However, as much as I love the taste of bananas, the thought of eating a raw banana sounded like the last thing I wanted to eat this morning. So I went with the next best thing: banana bread or in my case banana bread muffins.

Okay, well maybe there is not as much potassium in a banana bread muffin, but we are getting somewhere. Lately, I have been using this recipe from the blog, Not Without Salt. It the best banana bread recipe I have ever tried and I have tried a lot of different recipes in my life. This was probably my fifth time making them this year and I make absolutely no changes. There is simply no need. The recipe is simple and the result is utter perfection.

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I like to make mine into muffins because they make a perfect portable little snack…preferably with a dab of melted butter. Next time you have some ripe bananas sitting around, make this recipe. Now I think I am off to eat another….you know, just to keep those leg cramps away. 😉

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Almost 24 weeks!

xo

M&M Cookies


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I got to thinking the other day about food and memories. I don’t know about you but for me, a photo will help me remember a brief moment but my sense of smell is the one that truly brings me back to those places. The feeling is exciting, strong, and personal.

Many of these food memories are from my childhood in New Hampshire. Now living in California I miss the New England lobster and clams but one of my absolute favorite food memories from my life there will always be M&M cookies from the small bakery in my hometown of Windham, NH. Luckily, Klemm’s Bakery was located next to a small country store that my mother frequented and occasionally she would let me run in and get one of their giant buttery M&M cookies. I distinctly remember the sweet smell of butter and sugar in the air. Klemm’s is now gone from the town so now I am left without my beloved cookies even when I visit. I knew I had to recreate them myself.


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The Best M & M Cookies

(Adapted from All Recipes)

36 Servings

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 (rounded) teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup M & M’s
  1. In a large bowl, mix sugar, eggs, butter, and vanilla thoroughly. Add flour, salt, and baking soda to creamed mixture. Blend well. Add 1/2 cup of M&M candies.
  2. Drop dough by teaspoonful onto cookie sheet. Slightly push a few candies on top of each dough ball with remaining candies.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 9 to 11 minutes, to your liking.


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Sure enough, as soon as I opened the oven door I felt a rush of memories of spending time with my mom, enjoying one of our old favorites. These are slightly chewier and less crispy than the original but they have that same balance of butter and sugar so the smell is exactly the same. Reggie and I could not stop eating them. I will be bringing them for my family to try tomorrow. You should too.


Buffalo Chicken Burgers

Happy Friday!

I am at home today with the little puglet and loving all of the cuddle time! He is pretty much attached to my feet and while this is adorable, every day activities have become more difficult.

Oh and have I mentioned that I am teaching again? After taking the last year off to explore some other opportunities, I am back at Cal State Long Beach teaching Public Speaking and Interpersonal Communication.

As much as I don’t like admitting it, I am one of those “grass is greener” type of people and I really felt like I needed to explore other careers before settling down with my first option after college. I graduated college in 3 years and then went straight to my competitive Master’s program where I started teaching immediately. I was overwhelmed and burnt out. I really think that a year off helped me to realize how lucky I am to have the opportunity to teach and that teaching really is one of the best jobs in the world. But I don’t think I would have ever realized that unless I took that time off.

And this semester, my students are INCREDIBLE! Every day I am amazed by how thoughtful, smart, and mature they are. And we are only 2 weeks into the semester! Needless to say, the transition of teaching again and having a new puppy all in the same two weeks has been a bit stressful. What do I do when I am stressed?


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Just kidding! But this really is an incredible beer. I nearly jumped up and down when I saw that it was back. Probably the best pumpkin beer ever!

What I really do when I am stressed, of course, is cook! And wow, do I have a great meal to share with you. Jessica from How Sweet It Is is one of my favorite bloggers. She has great recipes and shares my affinity for bacon. I have already made her Red Velvet Pancakes, which are the stuff dreams are made of. Her recipe for Buffalo Chicken Burgers is equally amazing!


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Naturally, I made a couple changes to the original recipe based upon ingredients that I had on hand. First, I decided to fry up a little bit of Niman Ranch bacon. If I am going to buy or eat meat, I really make an effort to make sure the animals are raised in a humane, sustainable environment free of harmful antibiotics or hormones. Thankfully, that is Niman Ranch’s mission as well.


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I added a bit less hot sauce than recommended due to the fact that the one I had on hand was a bit…strong, to say the least. This is a great hot sauce that will have you breathing fire so pace yourself with this one my friends.


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I also reserved some of the bacon grease to pan fry the burgers. Oh yea, I went there. 😉


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Putting the burgers together was a breeze and after about 8-10 minutes, you have perfectly cooked Buffalo Chicken Burgers. I topped mine with a slice of cheddar cheese, a strip of bacon and Annie’s Organic Cowgirl Ranch Dressing. This was my first time trying this particular dressing and I was not disappointed. I am always turned off by really thick, bland ranch dressing and this one gave that great creamy, herby taste without all of the weight.

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On the side I served freshly steamed corn on the cob. Some people might like all those fancy corn on the cob toppings but I am an old-fashioned type of girl. Give me some creamy butter and salt and I am a happy girl.

This was the perfect comfort meal after a week of lots of life changes. What is your favorite comfort meal?

My Favorite Season

Fall, is by far my favorite season. I love the leaves changing color, the return of chunky sweaters and BOOTS, pumpkin spice lattes, Halloween, apple picking, and cooking my favorite soups. Once the weather begins to cool down and the fall weather begins to kick in a bit (this is Southern California after all), all I can think about is making soup. Not just any soup–broccoli and cheese soup. See, I was a particularly picky child (Sorry Mom!) and I rarely ate anything that was not a chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese, or drowned in blue cheese dressing. I hated vegetables. That was until I tried my first bite of broccoli and cheese soup. I loved the cheesy creaminess and, to my surprise, I loved the taste of broccoli and it was not poison after all. 😉

Years later, I am a much more focused on eating a more balanced diet and I can actually say that I like vegetables. Now when I get the craving for this beloved meal, I turn to this recipe . Not only is this version incredibly easy and quick but the best part is that you get all that delicious creamy cheesy flavor with much less calories than your standard version. In fact, I am going to go heat up a bowl of it now.


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Have a beautiful Labor Day weekend friends!


xo,


Jenna

Summer Memories & Cupcakes


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When I think of summer desserts, my mind is always drawn to a cake my family used to purchase every summer growing up in New Hampshire. So simple but so addicting–just layers of white cake with fresh whipped cream and berries. Every year I looked forward to enjoying that cake and every year I ate my body weight in it. 😉

Since I am no longer living in New Hampshire, I could not have this specific treat but I wanted to recreate something that would satisfy the craving. Luckily, Giada de Laurentiis’s recipe for Raspberry Cream Cupcakes did all of the work for me. And it may have been the easiest dessert I have ever made. You get to cheat by using boxed cake mix with some little extras like vanilla and almond (!!) extract. Then you whip some fresh cream and fold in some smashed fresh raspberries. So simple and incredibly delicious.


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What is your favorite summer dessert?


xo,


Jenna

Feels like Fall

It is official. June Gloom has become July Gloom.

Okay, I know I live in a place where the weather is, generally, really sunny and beautiful. But the last few days have felt a lot more like Fall, which is fine by me. 🙂


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I love the warm, comforting foods of the Fall and the Winter so I took this little June Gloom extension as an opportunity to make one of my favorites–Chicken Pot Pie. Well, sort of. Let’s not get crazy here. As much as I would like to, I was not making my own pie crust from scratch. I did use a filling, though, that I really love and then took a shortcut on the “crust.” I will get to that in a bit.

For the filling, I used this recipe from Cooking Light as a guide but diverted a bit. I did not have any Tarragon on hand so I made a quick substitution…


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Perfect!


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I also substituted some beautiful green beans for zucchini because that is what I had on hand. While the filling was simmering, I contemplated crispy topping.

For once, I am happy I went grocery shopping on an empty stomach because I came home with these…



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Biscuits! From Trader Joe’s! Ahh I love Trader Joe’s but when I go in there before I have had a snack, I always manage to buy everything in the store!


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Buttery, doughy…just great! Try this next time you need some simple, veggie filled comfort food.


xo,


Jenna