Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Back for the Season with Hot Mulled Wine


I've been absent from the blog. I missed the biggest foodie holiday. I'm sorry. Election season hit and I didn't really feel like cooking. It's been hard to focus on lighthearted things when you're preoccupied with the outcome of a polarizing election and feeling helpless and upset. It feels fake to get excited about recipes when so many are hurting.

When not trying to be a millennial social justice warrior princess, I've been diving into improv with my new troupe, a group of girls who I just adore. I suppose jumping on stage and being forced to be lighthearted and funny and find humor and healing with no prep is easier than sitting down and creating a recipe and writing a post. Excited to see where our group goes in the coming year.

My darling fiance, who typically helps me with my food photography, has also been recovering from surgery. So without the help here, it was just easier to take a mini-hiatus.

Anyways, that's where I've been.

About this recipe, my grand return back to blogging--it's funny, because I've challenged myself to avoid alcohol until Christmas--is a delicious hot mulled wine. Mulled wine reminds me of nearly 10 years ago, when I was wandering the gorgeous streets of Prague during a study abroad trip. It's hot, boozy, and perfect for the season.

Texas is still lovely and warm, but if I close my eyes and sip slow I can almost hear the snow patting softly on the windowsill.

Serve a big pot for your holiday party. It's like winter sangria. And sangria is legit.

Hot Mulled Wine

  • 2 bottles of mild red wine - I use a red blend
  • 1 apple, cored and sliced into rounds
  • The peel from 1 orange
  • 1 tsp dried whole cloves
  • 1/2 tsp allspice berries
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1/3 cup sugar

-Over medium heat, combine all ingredients.

-Let wine simmer for 10 minutes, until fragrant. Let simmer longer for a more intense flavor.

-Use a ladle to pick out the spices. Serve in heat-proof cups. Optional: serve with a sprig of rosemary.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Pumpkin Beers

Hey all! I made a few Youtube videos of my friends and I trying to find the perfect pumpkin beer!

Check it out and have a happy and safe Halloween :D I know I will... can anyone guess what my costume is?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

EASY Pumpkin Crescent Roll Breakfast Danish


Crescent rolls are one of the most versatile processed foods around. Yes, processed. Mass produced. Probably super bad for you. But also super buttery and delicious and can be morphed into anything from a simple piece of twisty bread to a homemade hot pocket.

In this EASY pumpkin crescent roll breakfast Danish, the crescent roll provides the pastry base, holding the creamy, pumpkin-spiced filling. Drizzled with icing, it's irresistible.

As we know, I'm battling dumb body issues and constantly trying to force myself to eat better. But in moderation, this sometimes-treat can be worth it. A slice for a special occasion. In this case, it was my birthday. So I can make the exception.

Plus, my coworkers helped me eat it, so over-indulgence was impossible ;)

Brimming with deeeelicious pumpkin flavor, my EASY pumpkin crescent roll breakfast Danish makes a lovely addition to your fall brunch table.

EASY Pumpkin Crescent Roll Breakfast Danish
  • 2 tubes of crescent roll dough
  • 1 8oz package of cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin butter (approx.)
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar + 1 tsp (or more) water

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

-In a stand mixer, mix together the sugar, vanilla, cream cheese, and egg until smooth.

-Spray a pie or tarte pan with cooking spray and press the dough triangles from 1 crescent roll tube into the bottom of the pan. Pour in the cream cheese mixture.

-Top the cream cheese mixture with teaspoon-sized dollops of the pumpkin butter, dropping teaspoons across the surface.

-Gently press the remaining crescent roll dough pieces on top of the cream cheese and pumpkin butter in your desired pattern--I am lazy, so I left them as triangles.

-Bake for 20 minutes, or until the crescent roll dough has become golden brown in color.

-Let cool completely. Mix the powdered sugar and water together gently, until thick but able to be drizzled easily. Drizzle over cooled pastry. Cut into slices and serve.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Halloweeny Goodies


Once upon a time, I had a blog called Quarter Life (Crisis) Cuisine.

It's still there, but I don't update it as much, since I'm building up this one now. Plus, I just turned 29. My quarter life is done.

The downside? All my best recipes are still there!

So please check out last year's Halloween recipes, on the offchance I run out of time to make any this year ;)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Pumpkin Spice Three Layer Bars


It's October! And while I'm lamenting the loss of summer--though thankfully, here in Austin it'll be comfortable temperatures until at least December--I'm happy for the change of wardrobe and slightly cooler days. And all the pumpkin stuff everywhere!

Yea, I'm a Pumpkin Spice Latte bitch. You wanna fight about it?

I do miss New England fall. Texas fall is still fun though. Now I can FINALLY wear a Halloween costume without freezing my ass off. Perks!

These are a variation of my "I Love You Brownies" (recipe forthcoming) that I make when I am celebrating something special for people I love. Those brownies are chocolate and peanutbutter. These are white chocolate and pumpkin.

I kind of wish they came out more pumpkin-y looking (no artificial colors!), but the taste is out of this world.

Pumpkin Spice Three Layer Bars
For the Blondie
  • 1 stick + 2 tablespoons butter, room temp
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9x13 baking dish.

-Brown the butter--cook over medium heat until frothy, stir, and take off the heat once brown bits are beginning to form. Let cool slightly.

-Add brown sugar, eggs and maple syrup.

-In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Slowly add the dry to the wet, mixing well until there are no clumps.

-Pour into prepared baking dish and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

For the Filling
  • 1/2 stick butter, room temp
  • 1/4 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin spice
  • 2+ cups powdered sugar

-In a stand mixer, mix together the butter and pumpkin. Add the spices and slowly add the powdered sugar until a stiff buttercream forms.

For the Fudge Topping
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1 stick butter

-In a double boiler or microwaved in batches, melt the chocolate chips. Add the butter and stir until smooth.

To assemble the bars: Spread the pumpkin buttercream over the blondies and let air-dry until just firm. Pour the white chocolate over the top and let chill until firm. Cut into bars and serve.

Monday, September 19, 2016

An Exercise Post.


Trigger Warning: weight talk.
TL, DR; I am struggling with weight and felt like talking about it.

Today I realized that, despite calling myself a "writer," I rarely express myself much further than "this recipe is good and here is why!" on this blog.

Perhaps it's because the feedback from the casual blog follower tends to be "I just scroll down to the recipes." Has that subliminally affected my content? Who knows. But I do know that this is my blog, and I need to let myself shine in it a bit more. So, that said, here's a topic I'd like to talk about.


Still with me? Good. Because I'm not going to tell you pain is gain and nothing tastes as good as skinny feels and all that bogus. Because it IS bogus. I'm of the opinion that tough love and shaming yourself into the process is just never going to work. One of the reasons I had a major issue with the Whole 30 official plan. It didn't for me--I'd end up frustrated and crying and giving up so I would stop that racing feeling in my chest that made me feel not good enough to continue.

Literally the last picture where I feel confident about my body. It's from 2012.
For about 24 years of my life I was effortlessly skinny. I never once had to think about what I ate or how much, and aside from struggling through gym class every other day in high school, I never really did any exercise. Then comes 25 and the Ass Fairy paid me a visit and never left. I went from a size 4 to a size 8 seemingly overnight, and it's been a steady crawl to a size 10-12 ever since.

And despite having a fiance who thinks I'm the sexiest being on the entire planet (and who, yes, tells me this every day), my self confidence has plummeted below the ground and caused me all sorts of anguish. I look in the mirror and think, "this is not my body, where did my flat belly go?" all while the outside world would probably still consider me thin by most standards. And with the knowledge that weight doesn't matter, there are worse things than being "fat" but the idea of the bitchy girls from high school or my ex's ex who hated me would look at my pictures on FB and think "wow, she really let herself go" would keep me up at night.

The body I used to have.

And, sadly, the little voice in the back of my head reminding me that if my dad had gotten control of his weight just a little sooner, maybe he'd be alive today...

My food blogging didn't help, but my typical diet wasn't enough in and of itself to be responsible for the extra poundage. I knew I was just fighting my aging ass as well.

So I got gym memberships. And I hated every minute. My long hair gave me a headache when it was in a ponytail for too long. I had to go home to shower before going out. I couldn't wake up early enough and was too tired after work. I hated the way the sweat felt. I hated the little hives I'd get when I worked too hard. I went for a solid month and saw no results. Then I tried classes like Zumba or Jazzercise and failed hard at both--I could feel all eyes judging my out of step moves, even when I knew no one actually cared--I even tried running through Austin's gorgeous landscape... and was embarrassed I couldn't keep up. I attempted Whole 30 and Paleo and calorie counting and each one ended way too quickly. How can I get through this without wine? And sugar? But how do I do this and still feel satisfied? I did more crying about my weight than action.

2013, when I began to feel less confident

If only I had a workout buddy, I'd think, someone to hold me accountable... then I'd reach out to people who weren't interested, or would flake (or I would flake) and then get sadder and lonely feeling, adding to the heap of negative feelings about the situation. So I'm a blob with no friends? Great.

Step one was realizing I was suffering from depression, and the resulting body dismorphia was a product. The meds I was put on ("please, not the ones that make you gain weight!" I begged my doctor) helped even me out. I still hated the idea of sweating, and avoided the gym, but the crippling anxiety about the whole situation was quelled.

Then my wedding date was set and the idea of having pictures that hang in my house forever showing me marrying the love of my life was the motivation to try one more time. And I know, it's silly and superficial and it's not about pictures at all--but sometimes I'm silly and superficial. I freely admit that. And whatever works, right?

Now it's been nearly three months of three workouts per week. With Austin's Class Pass I've found a system that works for me. I found Barre, while still dance-inspired, is slower and more my pace, but results in a deep burn the next day that I know means it's working. Piloxing Barre is even better, because it has bursts of cardio. Class Pass is five times the price of a discount gym membership ($50 for beginner, $90 for unlimited) and at the limit of my budget, but the ability to check out a variety of gyms in my area keeps it interesting for me. Plus, once I reserve a spot, I'm tied to it, lest I lose my money or one of my allotted monthly classes.

Thanks to my medicine, the anxiety and sadness surrounding exercise are gone. It's still not my favorite activity, but I don't spend all day dreading it. The endorphins have yet to kick in, but the energized feeling I get after the class is over gets me motivated to do the little things I need to do--like clean my house, make a healthy dinner, catch up on work.

I got a Fitbit HR, to get the most accurate calorie counts for my activity levels. Before, keeping myself to 1200 calories just because that is the "magic" weight loss number was impossible. Now, I know that if I burn 2000 in a day, I can have as many as 1500 and still be on track.

No weight loss yet, but my tummy looks flatter and my arms have lost a bit of jiggle already. And the scale tends to trend on the lower side of my usual range.

I guess the point of all this is... This is what I'm doing, and so far, it works for me. Weight loss and, more importantly, getting healthy, are so hard. If it's important to you, you can find a way to do it. Don't beat yourself up if the first or even the tenth try doesn't get you where you want to be.