Recipe: Peanut Butter Frosted Brownies

The season of jellybeans and Cadbury creme eggs is here! And though I can get down with some Starburst jellybeans, I'm really here for the Reese's peanut butter eggs. I know Reese's makes pumpkins and Christmas trees these days, but the egg shape is definitely my favorite. Why? I have no idea. It's literally just an oval of peanut butter draped in chocolate, but they're hands down my favorite ones.

So in the spirit of Reese's peanut butter eggs and indulging in all the chocolate and candy that's hanging around this time of year, I'm bringing you Peanut Butter Frosted Brownies. We aren't messing around with the frosting either. I want my brownies to be piled high with frosting so these are quite a rich treat. You could easily cut these all in half and feed 18 people and everyone would definitely be a happy camper. Or eat the whole pan yourself. I won't blame you!

Peanut Butter Frosted Brownies

Yields 9 large brownies

For brownies:
1 stick butter
4 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup flour
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

For peanut butter frosting:
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 cup peanut butter
2 cup powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 8x8 inch baking pan with butter and line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper. Grease the top of the parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and cocoa until combined.

In a small heatproof bowl, heat butter and chopped baking chocolate in the microwave until melted. Add into a large mixing bowl, whisking in sugar, then eggs one at a time. Once combined, switch to a rubber spatula and add in flour mixture until batter is comes together but be care not to over mix. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared baking pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean or with only few crumbs. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes, and then turn out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.

While brownies are cooling, mix butter and peanut butter in the bowl of an electric mixer until combined and fluffy. Add in powdered sugar. Add in vanilla extract and 3 tablespoons of milk. If frosting is still too thick, slowly add in an additional 1-2 tablespoons of milk. Frost cooled brownies and serve.

Recipe: Frosted Animal Cracker Ice Cream

As excited as I am for warmer weather and sunnier days, I know that means that summer must be close behind. And I don't know if you've ever tried to make ice cream or ice cream treats in an un-air conditioned house and then attempted to style them in the middle of your living room for a photo session, but I can tell you that at the end, everything is sticky. And as much as I love styling food, ice cream on a hot day can be quite the challenging diva.

The other day I was lamenting about these same ice cream troubles when G, the practical human that he is, told me I should be making ice cream now while it's chilly out and save those post until summer. And though I think that's a wonderful idea, I just can't stand to sit on a post for that long! I want to share these recipes with you when there's still a little bit still left in the freezer, a donut or two still left on the counter. 

So I'm sharing ice cream with you today in hopes that it will hype you up for the summer ahead. Plus, it's just plain delicious (because how could frosted cookies thrown into homemade ice cream not be??)

Frosted Animal Cracker Ice Cream

Yields 6-8 servings

1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
pink food coloring (optional)
2 cups frosted animal crackers, chopped into small pieces with a few larger pieces

In a large bowl, whisk eggs until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Whisk is sugar until combined. Add in milk and vanilla extract and whisk until combined. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir in heavy cream. Pour mixture into ice cream machine and follow manufacturer's instructions.

I have the ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchenaid, which doesn't like chunky add-ins, so I added my chopped animal crackers 2 minutes before it was finished in the ice cream maker.

If you want a pink swirl in your ice cream, once ice cream is finished, spoon out about a cup of ice cream, add a small amount of red/pink food coloring, and combine until ice cream is pink. Pour ice cream into a loaf pan, randomly adding spoonfuls of pink throughout. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the pan, pressing it lightly into the pan so it touches the top of the ice cream. Place in the freezer to set for 2 hours (or overnight). Once frozen, scoop into a bowl or ice cream cone and top with additional frosted animal crackers. 

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Winter Bucket List in Review

You might remember that a few months back I wrote about things I wanted to knock off my Winter Bucket List. I thought today I would review how I did with that list and talk about winter as a whole. 

I don't know how I feel about this winter. At this point, I'm over the weather, over the dirty snow that's still lingering on the grass, and over not knowing what coat to wear. Winter felt LONG. And though during the holidays and my birthday is doesn't quite bother me too much, now that it's March I'm just ready for sun and warmth and open windows. But I guess that's how most people feel, right? 

As I've written about before, the beginning of this year also came with conversations about what I want to do with this blog, with my professional life, and with my side projects. I'm feeling very up and down about all of that. And I think like most people in a similar situation, it's a sliding scale. Sometimes I'm content and fine, sometimes I feel creatively stifled/unmotivated and pretty miserable, and sometimes I'm somewhere in between. But I've seen a little bit of progress and that's helpful, so I'm remaining hopeful.

But let's talk about this list... I didn't check too many things off this time around. That has a lot to do with many things, but mostly that winter makes me never want to leave the house. It's just too cold and miserable! Let's start with the things I did do:

Throw a Birthday Celebration for Myself: This was a no brainer for me because I LOVE my birthday. The weekend before my birthday I had a few people over for pizza and then hit up a divey karaoke bar with a handful of friends. PERFECT. On my actual birthday, I bought myself brunch and G and I went to dinner. Just the most perfect birthday. 

Go to Center City's Christmas Village: This honestly feels so long ago! Before Christmas, my mom and I went shopping in the Christmas Village they setup in Center City Philadelphia. It was lovely and I believe G and I took her out to dinner afterwards. Just a nice day.

Collaborate with Kate on a Photoshoot: If you've been following along recently then you know this was a complete success. Kate and I organized, styled, and photographed a brunch photoshoot for Galentine's Day. It was a very special day and photos can be found here, here, and here.

Organize that Extra Bedroom: This finally happened! I now have a space to work on my computer, a closet to store all our boardgames and my craft supplies, and we have a bed ready for guests. It's a really small bedroom to jam all that stuff into, but it works for now. And bonus, it actually gets pretty good light during the day.

Plan a Weekend Away: Although when I wrote this I meant more of a girls weekend away, G and I went on our trip to Miami and are planning a weekend in NYC later this spring. So I'm counting that a win.

Now some things I didn't end up doing from the list:

Have a good, relaxing snow day at home. I was actually away both times we got enough snow in Philly to close things down, so this never happened. I'm not too upset about that.

Buy proper, very warm winter coat. I don't know why I can never make myself do this. It's just such a lame way to spend a couple hundred dollars.

Take boxes of stuff to the thrift store. This didn't happened either. Once my mom told me she was having a spring yard sale, I decided to keep it until then. But I did purge my clothes and currently have two trash bags filled with clothes and bags to donate!

And finally, the only one I'm actually sad about: Go ice skating. This just never happened and I don't know why. We were all setup to do it one night and our friends bailed and then it never came up again. Oh well. Something to look forward to for next year. 

And that's it! I hope you liked reading though this winter bucket list and I'm excited to start talking about what I want to do this spring! <3

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Recipe: Brown Sugar Cinnamon Poptarts

Do you have things from your childhood lunches that you think about every once in a while? Things that maybe don't exist any longer or maybe just don't exist in your house? For me, it's definitely poptarts, dunkaroos, and those mini packs of fruit snacks (particularly the dinosaur ones). These were things that I didn't have all the time and felt like a treat to get in my lunch. And honestly, would still feel like a treat if someone packed my adult lunch for me!

But the Brown Sugar Cinnamon poptarts were definitely my favorite growing up, and I still pick them up from time to time when I'm traveling and can't get my hands on anything good for breakfast. And while in LA a few weeks ago, I actually had two different homemade poptarts, which is where the inspiration for these came from! 

These little guys are semi-homemade in that I didn't feel like making pie crust from scratch for these. We're unrolling some refrigerated crust to make these easy. If you want completely homemade poptarts, feel free to use your own pie crust recipe. I'm sure they're be fabulous.

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Poptarts

Yields 8 poptarts

For Poptarts:
2 pre-made refrigerated pie crusts
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon flour
1 egg

For Cinnamon Frosting:
1 cup powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

In a small bowl mix together brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour until combined. Set filling aside.

Unroll circle of pie crust onto a flat surface. Using a rolling pin, thin out the crust until the circle is an inch or two wider. This is not necessary, but the thinner crust makes for a better crust to filling ratio. Using a ruler and a pizza cutter, remove the top, bottom, and sides of the circle so you have a square. Slice that square in half lengthwise and then into thirds vertically, so you are left with 6 small rectangles. 

In a small bowl, whisk the egg to use as an egg wash. On a baking sheet, place one crust rectangle and spoon a heaping tablespoon of filling into the center. Make sure to leave a border around the edges of the crust filling free. Press the filling down lightly but you still want a dome of filling. Using a brush or the back of a spoon, liberally brush egg wash along the border. Add another crust on top and press them together with the twines of a fork. Using a toothpick, poke several holes in the top crust for air to escape. Repeat with other poptarts.

Bake 13-15 minutes until the edges are golden brown. Cool completely on a cooling rack.

In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons of heavy cream, and cinnamon until the frosting is thick but pourable. If too thick, add heavy cream in small increments. Spoon frosting onto poptarts. Optional: top with sprinkles.  

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5 Things I'm Loving Right Now

Alright friends! I'm fresh back from a whirlwind week of traveling and eating myself into the next pants size last week and ready to share some favorite things with you!

Last week I was in Downtown Los Angeles for a work conference and honestly spent the entire week either learning about social media in higher ed, eating, walking to eat, shopping, or lounging in my hotel bed. Although I don't mind traveling alone, I'm not interested in wandering museums or doing touristy things by myself. Those are experiences I enjoy talking and sharing with another person. So I did the second best thing: went where I wanted to, ate a ton of great food and desserts, shopped in stores we don't have in Philadelphia, and slept in the middle of my king-sized bed. I was home for about 16 hours before we left for a last-minute trip to Buffalo, NY, for G to visit with family and friends. I had some SERIOUS jetlag well into this week but everything is starting to fall back into place.

I'm excited to be home and back focused on things I want to accomplish in the coming months. In the meantime, here are five things I'm loving right now:

1. This post about Nurturing your Creativity by The Crafted Life really hit home for me. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen baking for the blog, and not very much time baking for fun or for the people I love. 

2. I was recommended the book The Devil in the White City while at a conference in LA and decided to pick it up while I was there for the flight home. It's fantastic and I read it for the entire 5+ hour flight home. Definitely a must read for anyone interested in true crime. AND I'm hoping this helps with my recent inability to focus on a book for more than 5 minutes. 

3. I wore this Vintage Color Block Necklace that I got for Christmas while I was in LA last week and had never received so many compliments in one day. It's one of my favorite new jewelry pieces (along with these tassel earrings from Little Arrow Studio in cobalt and pink).

4. I purchased two new pairs of clogs a few weeks ago from Lotta From Stockholm and I'm once again wowed by the quality of these. They're super simple shoes and a bear to break in, but once you do they're absolutely perfect. And they have a great sales and seconds section of their website which I purchase from all the time and have never been let down by.

5. Every time I travel and use hotel bath products, I realize how much I love my shampoo. Is that weird?? I have incredibly straight hair (and a lot of it), which I don't like to wash every day. My hair also needs some extra umph from products to not just lay flat to my head. Because of those things, it can be a little greasier than I'd like at my roots while the ends are still a little too dry. But the Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Shampoo is amazing. It's pricey, but a bottle for me lasts a long time. It just makes my hair feel perfectly clean, but not too soft and slippery that it won't hold a style, and that feeling just lasts. It's my fav!

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