A Photo Every Hour: Snow Day!

Here’s what I did on my (wonderful, but hopefully last) snow day…image7AM: Coffee.image_18AM: Multigrain waffles (recipe coming soon!)image_139AM: Before//after. Rearranged our bookshelf.image_1110AM: Before//after. In the organization MODE. Closet: tackled.image_211AM: Stop to smell the flowers.image_412PM: Mediterranean chickpea salad(ish) for lunch.image_61PM: Curl up with a good read.image_52PM: Stop to admire my bunting handiwork. Ponder the fluffiness of our bed. Naptime!image_93PM: Pretend to write a paper for class.image_34PM: Yoga.image_85PM: Flourless peanut butter cookies (also coming soon!)image_76PM: Raiiiiin (ice?) go awaaay.image_127-8PM: Roasted acorn squash and kale chips for dinner//Mike comes home!image_109PM: Brew some sleepytime tea. Set alarm for sooo earlyyyy. Cozy up in bed. Goodnight!

 

Mini Easter Cupcakes

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MINI EASTER BASKET CUPCAKES. Do you see that mini mini mini mini chocolate bun? DO YOU SEE IT??? I’m freaking out. Cute overload.

True life confession: I go into CVS/Walgreens every other day to look at the Easter candy display and I AM NOT ASHAMED. It’s something about the pastels and the 75 different kinds of marshmallow/caramel/coconut eggs and the cute bunnies and alllllllll thaaaat chooooocolate that makes me want to hippity hop for joy.

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So you can bet your bottom dollar that when I saw a bag of teeny chocolate bunnies while waiting in line to check out at Walgreens I literally had to restrain myself from yelling with glee. So teeny-tiny! So itty-bittyl! So perfect for perching atop a mini Easter cupcake!

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I must know: what’s your favorite kind of Easter candy? Are you a jellybean or chocolate kinda person? And what are your thoughts on PEEPS?! (It probably goes without saying but: love, love, love. Especially stale.)DSC_0173

DSC_0193Note: you could really make any kind of cupcakes, since the toppings/decorations are the most important part, but I went with banana + greek yogurt cupcakes since I had an extra-ripe banana lying around!

Mini Banana Greek Yogurt Cupcakes

yield: 24 mini cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 1 large overripe banana, mashed
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a mini muffin tin with 24 paper liners. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the mashed banana, oil, greek yogurt, brown sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and beat on low (or fold with a rubber spatula) until just combined.
  2. Divide the batter evenly among the paper liners. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  3. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack. Top with your favorite buttercream or frosting, then dip in sweetened shredded coconut that has been mixed with green food coloring. Add jellybeans and mini chocolate bunnies (if you can find them!) to the center.

Triple Chocolate Baked Donuts

DSC_0005Yesterday in first grade we talked about using body language to show emotions. We talked about how crossing your arms means you’re probably angry or frustrated (Melanie on a sugar cleanse), head down means you’re probably sad or embarrassed (Melanie when she tries to dognap a puppy and the owner catches her), rolling your eyes means you’re probably annoyed (Melanie when she runs out of sprinkles), and eyes + mouth wide open means you’re probably surprised (Melanie when she discovers a new item at Trader Joe’s).

DSC_0033We also agreed that smiling probably means you’re happy (Melanie when she sees donuts).

Unless you have 75 stages of happiness – beginning with a smile and ending with a happy dance – in which case you’re forced to create a body-language-as-related-to-donuts taxonomy…

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Smiling THIS BIG (Melanie when she sees chocolate donuts).

Smiling THIS BIG while jumping up and down (Melanie when she sees chocolate donuts dipped in chocolate glaze).

Smiling THIS BIG while jumping up and down and flailing your hands in the air (Melanie when she sees chocolate donuts dipped in chocolate glaze stuffed with chocolate chips).

Smiling THIS BIG while jumping up and down and flailing your hands in the air and occasionally fist pumping (Melanie when she sees chocolate donuts dipped in chocolate glaze stuffed with chocolate chips covered in rainbow sprinkles).

Smiling THIS BIG while jumping up and down and flailing your hands in the air and occasionally fist pumping and twirling (Melanie when she sees chocolate donuts dipped in chocolate glaze stuffed with chocolate chips covered in rainbow sprinkles on the first sunny and warm day in 4 months (!!!!!))

#happydance #happydance #happydance

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So…what makes YOU do a happy dance? And is it as *ahem* expressive as mine?

Triple Chocolate Baked Donuts (adapted very slightly from Shutterbean)

yield: about 9

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips or chunks

Note: the original recipe yields 6 donuts, but I ended up with 10, probably due to the addition of chocolate chunks and how I filled my donut pan with batter.

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Coat a donut pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate, smaller bowl, stir to combine the buttermilk, brown sugar, egg, melted butter, and vanilla. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and use a rubber spatula to gently fold the ingredients together. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  2. Transfer the batter to a large (don’t try to use a small bag! Batter explosion!) ziploc bag; snip off a corner and seal shut. Use the bag to pipe the batter into the donut pan, filling each well about 1/2-2/3 full (I err on the side of 1/2 full). Be careful not to overfill as the donuts expand quite a bit. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the donut tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool completely on a wire rack. Top with chocolate glaze (recipe below).

Chocolate Glaze

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

In the microwave or in a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips, butter, corn syrup, and vanilla. Stir until completely melted and smooth. Dip the donuts in and twirl slightly to coat; top with sprinkles if you please!

Five Things You Might Not Know About Me

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On Sunday, Anna posted this list of five things about herself. I always love to read five (or more!) random things about people’s lives; I feel like it gives me a little peek behind-the-scenes. So, saddle up, grab a cookie, and enjoy five things you might not know about me:

1. I take a nap almost every day. Call me an infant, but for as long as I can remember (okay, since around the time one is supposed to outgrow daily naps), I’ve continued to nap most afternoons. My teaching schedule means I usually get home before 4PM, which leaves plenty of time for a nap+workout+blogging/paper writing+dinner. I’m one of those babies people that needs 9+ hours of sleep to wake up feeling totally rested, which rarely happens at nighttime (hello pre-6AM alarm!), so I nap like a child. E’ry dang day.

2. I’m scared of the dark. My BIGGEST fear is public speaking, but even writing about that makes me want to vom with anxiety, so I’ll stick to writing about the dark. I think it’s because I don’t like what I can’t see, or maybe it stems from some deep-seated fear of the unknown which I should probably discuss with a professional. I’ve mentioned the girl from the Sixth Sense who lives under my bed,  but I also can’t look in any mirrors if I get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night because THERE COULD BE A GHOST LOOKING BACK AT ME (Bloody Mary? Is that the one?) And if I happen to wake up in the night from a nightmare? Forget it. Lights on, all of ‘em.

3. This time last year, Mike and I were in Paris. First of all, I can’t believe an entire year has gone by since we took that magical, wonderous, deliciously glorious trip, but also I can’t believe we even went in the first place. It was one of those perfect once-in-a-lifetime “we are young and wild and free (and gallivanting all over Paris without a care in the world!)” moments. Ahhh, oui. Zee life.

4. One of my favorite [totally random] things to think about is how my life has changed since _______ date. I like to think about it when I’m scheduling my next yearly appointment (what will have changed the next time I walk into this office?), but I also like to think about it in terms of on _______, I had no idea that _______ was going to happen in the coming days/months/years. For example…when I was 17, I had no idea that I was going to be living in Boston as a grown-up, or when I was starting my sophomore year of college, I had no idea I was about to meet the cutest (and most terrific) ginger in all the land! It’s a good reminder to myself that all the daily small things eventually add up to big things (deciding to move to a new apartment, researching a new job, etc.)

5. My parents called me Melly when I was little, and it continues to be one of my most favorite nicknames. Very few people have figured it out, which is why I think it feels so special!

Hey ClairEmily, Mackenzie & Amanda, I’m tagging you!

Homemade Cayenne-Cheddar Bread

DSC_0045Remember when Mike and I went on a Cambridge eating tour adventure and I haven’t been able to stop talking about it? Well, heeere we go again.

On our last stop at The Friendly Toast (and any/every time I go there), I ordered a side of their homemade Cayenne-Cheddar bread. They grill it up with some butter and HOLY COW IT IS SO GOOD. Just enough cayenne spice to give it a good kick, with little pockets of melty cheese* throughout. After ordering it at least 14 times, I decided it’s finally time to try and create it myself!

DSC_0017Listen up, friends..

This bread is the BOMB DIGGITY.

DSC_0006PerHAPS the most delicious bread I’ve ever baked. It is soooo so (so so so so so so so SO so so) good, almost as good as the professionals make it. It’s the kind of bread that is so delicious that you don’t even need anything on top, though butter makes everything better ;)

And, just a thought…using this to make grilled cheese? WHOAAAAAAA. Mike and I gobbled up the whole loaf too quickly to do so, but I bet it would be the most wonderful grilled cheese in all the land.

*I realized I only had about half the amount of cheese I needed when baking this bread, which is why the bread doesn’t seem cheesy in the pictures – though still totally delicious. Adding the full amount will give you those ooooozy melty cheesy pockets of happiness I mentioned above.

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Cayenne-Cheddar Bread (adapted from Williams-Sonoma‘s Whole Wheat Bread recipe, idea from The Friendly Toast)

yield: one loaf

Ingredients

  • 2 cups* white or whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/8 teaspoons quick-rise yeast (about half a package)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese

*The original recipe calls for 2 1/4 cups white/whole-wheat flour, but I only ended up using about 1 3/4 cups. You should add as much flour as you need to make the dough hold together until it stops being sticky.

Directions

  1. In a bowl, whisk together the white or whole-wheat flour and 1 1/4 cups bread flour. In a separate bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 1 cup of flour mixture, salt, yeast, and cayenne pepper. In a saucepan, combine 1/2 cup water, milk, honey, and butter. Heat on low until lukewarm (110 degrees F). Stir the water/milk mixture into the yeast mixture and beat on medium-high until smooth. Add the cheese, then stir in more of the flour mixture until the dough comes together and stops sticking to the sides of the bowl. If you add a bit too much flour, you can always add a teaspoon of water to bring the dough back together.
  2. At this point, you can either kneed the dough by hand or use the dough hook attachment. Need until smooth and elastic, either 10 minutes by hand or 6-7 minutes with the dough hook. Form the dough into a ball and place in a clean, greased bowl (I greased mine with olive oil), turning the dough to coat on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Coat a 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pan with butter or cooking spray. Turn the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and press flat; use a rolling pin to roll into a roughly 12-by-7-inch rectangle. Starting on a short side, roll the dough up tightly and pinch the bottom and side seams to seal. Place the dough into the prepared pan, seam side down. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45-60 minutes. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  4. Bake the loaf for about 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

*one final note: the original recipe says to brush the loaf with an egg wash (1 egg yolk + 1 teaspoon water), but I was out of eggs so I skipped that step. It doesn’t change the flavor much, but does make the loaf look prettier!

NYC!

image11This past weekend Mike and I headed to NYC to hang with some of our favorite college peeps, and as always, it was a whirlwind weekend of food, friends, and FUN! We spent all day Saturday boppin’ around the city looking for the most delicious eats with my bestie Alix – we went to Doughnut Plant (finally!), Balthazar Bakery (felt JUST like Paris), Rice to Riches (graham cracker rice pudding FTW), and Momofuku Milk Bar (All. Everything.) Fooooood comaaaaa.

On Saturday night we went to a friend’s engagement party then to a Cornell young alumni event at the Bowery Hotel, which meant getting all fancy and catching up with so many people we hadn’t seen since college! On Sunday, we hit up Artichoke for the YUMMIEST pizza – they make a pizza with spinach and artichoke dip baked on top. It is ev-a-ree-thang and more. We took a nice long walk back (and obvi stopped for bagels) to Alix’s apartment before heading to our bus back to Boston. I love wandering around the city and just taking it all in; it’s my favorite way to explore!

More NYC visits, friends! MORE!

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Boston in the Golden Hour

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There’s a magical hour right before sunset where the world looks extra perfect & beautiful and you have to take 100,000 photos of everything because it might never look that beautiful ever again. After last week’s Cambridge eating tour (400 miles + 400,000 calories)*, Mike and I walked across the Salt ‘n Peppa bridge, down Charles street, and into the Boston Common. We stopped for some hot chocolate to warm up, then ventured out to walk on the frozen swan pond (is that what we call it? Swan Boat Pond? Public Garden Lake? Body of water inside the Public Garden where the swans live?? Do you know what I mean???), feeling like a couple of BAMFs. Then we headed back down Commonwealth Ave to catch the T just as the twinkly tree lights were turning on. MAGIC, I tell ya.

*Only exaggerating by a factor of 100.

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{selfie fail}

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