Monday, September 24, 2012

Homemade Donuts

I am part of a rare breed known as "morning people". My dad is the only other person in my family (and on earth, I think) that likes the morning. So when I was growing up, the two of us would wake up before everyone else on Saturdays or family vacations and sneak out of the house for donuts and chocolate milk together. Donuts hold a special place in my heart and remind me of who I inherited my sweet tooth from.

These days, I still wake up early on the weekends and enjoy eating something sweet with my coffee (that's a cutesy way of admitting I primarily eat sugar for breakfast). I've been looking around for the perfect donut recipe; specifically one that wouldn't involve me splashing hot oil all over myself. I came across this recipe on Sunday morning and was enjoying hot and fresh donut holes 30 minutes later. It's simple, quick and incredibly delicious. They would be the perfect thing to serve with coffee to a house full of guests over Thanksgiving weekend. Or in my case, the perfect fall treat to keep you quiet while you're tip-toeing around the house waiting for your husband to wake up. The best part is the buttery, sugary finish on the donut holes. (This recipe isn't deserving of adjectives like "skinny" or "light" in the title. I don't really play that game when it comes to treats.) I couldn't stop popping these in my mouth! They are best when served fresh out of the oven, which won't be a problem. Trust me.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used gluten-free flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground all spice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/3 cup canola oil  (or oil of your choice, coconut oil would be good!)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup pureed pumpkin 
1/2 cup milk

4 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup cinnamon & sugar

To make:
 -Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 24-cup mini muffin tin with baking spray and set aside. (The first time I made these, I used regular muffin tins and filled them half full because that's all we had and because I was secretly hoping if I made them bigger than standard donut holes, I would eat less. I didn't, but either way they turned out great. The mini ones are of course cuter...)
-In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice and cloves. In a separate, larger bowl, whisk together oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin and milk. Add dry ingredients to the bowl of wet ingredients and stir until just combined.
-Spoon batter evenly into muffin cups. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
-While the donuts are baking and filling your home with a heavenly aroma, prepare the butter and cinnamon & sugar into two separate bowls. Remove the muffins from the oven and allow them to cool for a couple minutes. While they're still warm, dip them into the melted butter and then roll them in the bowl with the cinnamon & sugar mixture until coated.

Serve them warm with a big mason jar full of chocolate milk or a cup of chai! 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Paper Whites

While I was browsing the collection of succulents at my local nursery, the patient woman who sells me a new basil plant every other week pointed me toward the Paper White bulbs they just got in. Paper Whites are perfect to plant between September-November, grow indoors and are a lovely and incredibly fragrant flower once they bloom, which should be around Christmas. I bought a few bulbs for under a dollar each to plant and give out once the flowers blossom.

I thought I'd share the few simple steps it takes to plant them:

Start with a Paper White bulb, some potting gravel and a shallow dish without a drain hole. I used decorative red rock from the garden store, a planting tin I picked up at Ikea and some gravel I hand-picked from our driveway. A tin can or old mason jar would also be fun to plant in!

Fill your container halfway up with gravel and nestle the bulb pointy-end down into the rocks. Fill with enough water for it to barely reach the top of the rocks, maybe a little less. (You just want the bottom of the bulb to be able to reach the water and start to root.)

Fill the rest of your container with gravel. I topped mine off with some bigger rocks because I thought it looked a bit nicer. Place the dish in a dark place for about a week or so, watering every so often to keep the bulb from drying out. When sprouts begin to grow, place the dish into bright light and watch beautiful, white flowers begin to bloom!

I can't wait to see some blooms on my dresser!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Maldives

I've been trying to put it out of my mind that this time last year we were here:

As a distraction, I've been busying myself with planting winter vegetables and making fall treats like pecan biscotti and caramel creamer.

It's not working.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Pumpkin & Brown Butter Granola

Most days, I'm tip-toeing out the door before 5:15am for work. I still get up pretty early on my days off to make the most of my mornings to myself. So on my most recent day off, when it was uncharacteristically foggy and chilly outside, I decided to take advantage of it and experiment a little in the kitchen with one of my favorite ingredients: pumpkin. Although it's not officially fall yet, I couldn't help myself! It's by far my favorite season. 

This recipe is really basic and can be easily altered to your preference. The brown butter adds a great flavor dynamic with the pumpkin will fill your house with an intoxicating, nutty aroma. (I suggest baking this when you have a few hours to linger around your house, sip coffee and listen to Bon Iver.)

5 cups regular or GF oats
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup brown butter*

Stir the spices into the oats in a large bowl and set aside.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk the pumpkin puree, vanilla, brown sugar and browned butter together.
Using a spatula, mix the wet ingredients into the bowl with the oats until even coated.
Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper and evenly spread the mixture.

Bake at 325 for 20 minutes, stir, and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until toasted.
Turn off your oven and leave the granola in there until completely cooled (it will help it keep it's crunch).

I like my granola fairly simple, but you can add dried fruit or sliced nuts once it's cooled. This is great served over yogurt, milk, apple sauce or cinnamon ice cream! Or you can pour some into a jar and pass it out to your friends who are mourning summer.


*Browning butter is incredibly easy and incredibly delicious. Slice up desired amount of butter and place in a skillet on low/medium heat. Whisk the butter as it melts down until it is foaming. Continue to let it heat up until it turns golden brown. It will be giving off a nutty aroma. Remove from heat, whisk lightly and use immediately. Careful! It goes from brown to burnt fairly quickly. 

If you're looking for a low-fat version without butter, look here, where I loosely adapted the recipe.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Photo Transfer

Since it was our first anniversary, I wanted to make Matt a gift that reflected something from our wedding. As most brides say, it was a really special day and I wanted to give him something that would help us remember that. During our first dance, my incredibly talented friend Rachael sang our favorite Beatles song while her husband played the fiddle.

Using a jet ink photo copy of this photo, I followed the easy steps listed from one of my favorite DIY blogs with only a few alterations. Instead of a canvas, I used an oversized wood chip I picked up at my local craft store. After transferring the image, I used letter stamps and waterproof ink to spell out a few lyrics. Also, I didn't paint a clear coat on at the end because I liked the unpolished look better.

This was a pretty simple craft that was a lot of fun to do. It is a bit time consuming and needs to dry overnight, so give yourself plenty of time! I loved it and can't wait to use other pictures to make a few more.

The only thing I would change if I did this project again would be to tear the edges of the picture before transferring it to the wood to achieve a more organic look. 


Friday, September 7, 2012



One of the best weekends all year. We felt so relaxed! Full of exploring, swinging, resting, laughing, snacking, celebrating, and looking out for bears. Our cabin was the perfect combination of rustic and modern, tucked away in the woods, completely isolated. If we weren't joking around on the tire swing infront of the cabin, we were driving into Yosemite to explore for the day. The animals in the park were so unfazed by people, it made me feel like a Disney princess to be able to get so close to them. We spent one afternoon in town, browsing old shops and buying souvenirs, and went out for an anniversary dinner that night. I found a beautiful mint & cream dress from 1940 in a thrift store! Gotta love a dress with a story, right?

Yosemite was an incredibly beautiful place to spend a long weekend away, I hope we can go back in the winter and see some snow! (Forget snow, even a waterfall or two would be nice. This Oregonian is not use to droughts!)

Monday, September 3, 2012

1 year

Here are a few highlights from the best day of my life (also referred to as The Biggest Blur of My Life):  

Saki zipping me into the beautiful dress she designed and made herself. That woman is one talented seamstress! Which leads me into another wedding highlight: the ruffles streaming down the back! 

Meeting Matt at the altar. Our photographer and friend, Toby did a great job catching so many emotions in just one picture!

And of course, the ultimate highlight was becoming Matt's wife! (And getting a last name people can easily pronounce...)

Matt and I have the honor of sharing our wedding anniversary with my parents, who are celebrating 35 years today! Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad. We love you guys.

I can hardly believe it's already been a year, but at the same time, I can hardly believe it's only been a year. I love you Matt!