This And That On A Friday

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Happy Friday! We made it to the end of the week. Yay, us! What better way to celebrate than with a few random thoughts from moi?:

  • Right now, Kevin and I are en route to Brooklyn, New York, with the Fulton & Roark team to be a part of the American Field pop-up market this coming weekend. We can’t wait to meet the people behind the other awesome brands that will be showcased there, do some holiday shopping, and hang out in the city. (I’m hoping to check out SoulCycle while I’m there. Has anyone tried it? Yay or nay on giving it a go?)

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  • How adorable are these Short Stack cookbooks? I love how each (short — 50 pages or fewer) book focuses on a single ingredient, containing recipes that can be made using it. Lovely design meets handy cooking resource. I’m on board.

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  • I can’t believe this is a thing. A pretend allergy-free lunch complete with epi pen? Really, American Girl? Things have changed since the good ole Pleasant Company days back in the 90s, to be sure. (I’m still upset they no longer sell the Samantha doll anymore. Guess that makes mine a collector’s item, though!)

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  • Speaking of Thanksgiving, if you haven’t seen this latest tiny hamster video, you’re welcome. (Those HATS!):

 

 

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My 2nd Chiquita Contest Entry: Banana Walnut Bread Pudding With Caramel Sauce

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Remember last week when I entered the Chiquita Cooking Lab contest last weekend with a banana bread pear sandwich recipe? Well, I really enjoyed coming up with that recipe, and so I couldn’t help but check back in on the Chiquita website this week and check in on their next round of ingredients. Up this week? Chiquita bananas (duh!), walnuts, and caramel.

I decided to go with a banana bread pudding, adding walnuts to the dessert to give it some good texture and saltiness. Topped with some homemade caramel sauce, how could you go wrong?

Kevin Keller says this recipe is a winner, and Kevin Keller knows his desserts. (Hear that, Chiquita folks? A WINNER!) Try it for yourself and let me know what you think! (Except you, Bethany. Everyone knows you don’t love bananas. But just trust me that this is really super good to those of us who do.)

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Banana Walnut Bread Pudding With Caramel Sauce

Ingredients (for banana bread pudding)

  • 3 Chiquita bananas, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
  • 3/4 cup walnut pieces
  • 4 cups day-old sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Ingredients (for bread pudding sauce)

  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup half and half
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ingredients (for caramel sauce)

  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions (for bread pudding)

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray a casserole pan with non-stick spray.
  • Add bread to prepared pan.
  • In a medium bowl, lightly beat eggs.
  • Add half and half, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
  • Stir in bananas slices.
  • Pour mixture over bread cubes and stir to coat.
  • Sprinkle walnuts on top of bread.
  • Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

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Directions (for bread pudding sauce)

  • Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add sugar and cornstarch to melted butter, stirring to combine.
  • Stir in half and half and corn syrup.
  • Cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture comes to a full boil.
  • Boil for 1 minute and remove from heat, then stir in vanilla.
  • Spoon sauce over bread pudding and serve warm.

Directions (for caramel sauce)

  • Mix the brown sugar, half and half, butter, and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
  • Cook while whisking gently for 5 to 7 minutes to thicken.
  • Add the vanilla and cook another minute to thicken further.
  • Spoon warm caramel sauce over bread pudding (on top of the bread pudding sauce). You can save the rest of the sauce to use later (it would be great over ice cream!).

 

Rustic Apple Tart: A Kevin And Anna Joint Baking Venture!

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When it was time for our annual Friendsgiving celebration with some of our favorite folks this past weekend, Kevin and I found ourselves in charge of a dessert item. I asked Kevin what we should make, and he suggested “an apple something,” which sounded pretty great to me. Plus, he wanted to help me make it — something I was extra excited about, because although we cook together pretty often I’m usually the solo baker in our house.

So Saturday morning, we found ourselves on the hunt for apple-themed dessert recipes online. We landed on an Ina Garten recipe (and in my experience, the Barefoot Contessa doesn’t lead you astray) which seemed simple and delicious, and after a quick trip to the store for a few ingredients, we set to making this rustic apple tart.

The dessert ended up being a hit at Friendsgiving! It wasn’t too sweet, the apples offered a fresh flavor, and the orange zest gave it just enough brightness. Wahoo! Dessert success for the Kellers!

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Rustic Apple Tart

Ingredients (for the pastry)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 stick very cold, unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons ice water

Ingredients (for the filling)

  • 3 apples (we used 1 1/2 Granny Smith and 1 1/2 Honey Crisp), peeled, cored, and diced into large chunks
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) very cold, unsalted butter, diced

Directions (for crust)

  • Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with an s-blade. Pulse a few times to combine.
  • Add the butter and pulse 12-15 times, or until the butter is the size of peas.
  • With the food processor running, add the ice water through the feed tube of the machine.
  • Keep pulsing to combine, stopping before the dough becomes a solid mass.
  • Remove from food processor onto a floured surface and knead to form into a disk. (Our dough was pretty flaky, so don’t worry if yours is at this point, too!)
  • Place in the fridge for at least one hour.

Directions (for filling)

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Flour a rolling pin and roll the pastry into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface, then transfer dough to the prepared baking sheet.
  • Toss apple chunks with orange zest, and cover the tart dough with the apple chunks, leaving a two-inch border of crust uncovered.

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  • Combine the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and allspice in the bowl of a food processor fitted with an s-blade. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly.
  • Pour mixture a bowl and rub it with your fingers until it starts holding together.
  • Distribute evenly on the apples, then gently fold the border of the dough over the apples, pleating it to make a circle.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.
  • Serve at room temperature (we cut ours into wedges like a pizza).

 

Reese’s Cup Stuffed Peanut Butter Cookies

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I mentioned this cookie recipe in a blog post a couple of weeks ago, but didn’t include the recipe directly on my blog. Since I’ve made this recipe a grand total of FIVE times (yep — the fifth batch is currently in the oven) since discovering it, I’d say it’s a keeper. I wanted to make it more official by adding it to the Curiouser and Curiouser database.

At this point, several people have tried these cookies, and they’ve received rave reviews. They’re honestly the best peanut butter cookies I’ve ever had. Hands down.

Okay, enough talking about these cookies. Let’s look at them, shall we?

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Drooling yet?

The secret to the recipe is the peanut butter cup baked inside each cookie. I’ve used both Reese’s cups and Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups, and both are equally delicious.

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Before you embark on baking these for yourself, I wanted to be sure to mention that you need to plan ahead. After mixing up this cookie dough, you’ll need to refrigerate it for at least an hour before baking the cookies. (It’s kind of like my pretzel butterscotch chocolate chip cookie recipe in that way, and equally worth waiting for.) Also, as far as what type of peanut butter to use, I’ve been going with the Harris Teeter store brand creamy peanut butter, and that’s working quite well.

Reese’s Cup Stuffed Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients 

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • About 18 miniature peanut butter cups, unwrapped (if I’m using the TJ’s dark chocolate cups, I use two of the small bags)
  • Mini chocolate chips (for topping)

Directions

  • Don’t preheat your oven yet! (Remember, you have to wait at least an hour after making the dough before baking.)
  • In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and both sugars on medium speed until combined.
  • Add in the peanut butter, egg, and vanilla, then turn the mixer to high and beat until the dough becomes light in color and nice and smooth.
  • Turn the mixer speed to low and slowly incorporate the dry ingredients.
  • Mix until combined.
  • Cover the dough and chill it for at least an hour. (You can make the dough well in advance, though. It can be refrigerated for up to three days or frozen for up to two months before baking if needed.)
  • Once you’re ready to bake your cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line cookie sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.
  • Roll dough into Tablespoon-sized balls, sticking a peanut butter cup between two balls of dough and sealing it inside the dough. Repeat with the rest of the dough.

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  • Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until they become VERY lightly browned on the sides. (These are cookies you definitely want on the under-baked side so they stay nice and gooey, so watch them carefully.)
  • Immediately after removing the cookies from the oven, top each cookie with a few mini chocolate chips, pressing in very slightly to hold them in place.
  • Remove cookies from baking sheet and cool completely on a wire rack. (The mini chocolate chips will take a while to set.)

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My Chiquita Contest Entry: Open-Faced Toasted Banana Walnut Bread With Pear And Gruyere Cheese

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At this point, I’m well aware that I’m somewhat hooked on recipe contests. (Remember that time I tried to enter the Truvia Baking Star contest? And then when I entered the Kellogg’s “Eggo Your Way” recipe contest for a first, second, and third time?) Like I said: I’m hooked.

So it’s no surprise that when I bought Chiquita bananas last week and noticed a promo for a Chiquita recipe contest on that little blue oval sticker that always comes on their bananas, I was immediately intrigued. I went to the contest’s site, and it’s a fun concept. Through November 24, Chiquita is running a weekly contest where they reveal three ingredients each week that entrants must use in the recipe they submit. Each week, those three ingredients change, so it keeps you coming back. The grand prize? $4,000! Not too shabby.

This week’s three ingredients included: Chiquita banana (I have a sneaking suspicion that this ingredient makes the list every week), pear, and cinnamon.

Hmmm…

I thought about different options, including pear crumbles subbing mashed banana for the butter or oil in the recipe, but wanted to try something a bit more out of the box. Obviously pears and cheese work great together, and I’ve had some delicious grilled cheese with pear sandwiches before, but what if you replaced the bread with banana bread?

I wasn’t sure quite how these flavors would work together, but I became so intrigued I just had to give it a try.

Guess what? This sandwich is AMAZING. The flavors complement each other perfectly, the texture works (with the soft bread, melty cheese, and slightly crisp pear), and it’s different enough to be really interesting.

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Are you sold? Give it a try!:

Open-Faced Toasted Banana Walnut Bread With Pear And Gruyere Cheese

Ingredients (for banana bread)

  • 3 ripe Chiquita bananas
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup walnut pieces

Ingredients (for sandwich topping)

Note: These ingredients make a single sandwich. If you’re making multiple sandwiches, adjust accordingly:

  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 ripe pear, sliced thinly
  • 1 ounce gruyere cheese, sliced thinly

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Directions 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Place peeled bananas in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment and mix until bananas are mashed. Mix in sugar and let stand for 15 minutes.
  • Add the applesauce and eggs, and beat well.
  • Beat in the baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla.
  • Gradually beat in flour, mixing thoroughly.
  • Stir in walnut pieces.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
  • Let bread cool completely.

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  • Once bread is completely cool, cut into 1.5-inch thick slices.
  • Top bread with slices of cheese.
  • Toss sliced pears in lemon juice, then add pears on top of the cheese.
  • Place sandwich in toaster oven or regular oven and broil until cheese is slightly melted.
  • Enjoy!

Confessions Of A Compulsive Smartphone Checker

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You know those days when you feel like the universe is trying to tell you something?

For me, that was yesterday.

Seemingly everywhere I looked I saw articles about the impacts of technology. About how being overly connected to work emails, texts, etc. after hours can lead to increased sick leave and fatigue. About the disturbing number of times we check our smartphones each day. (I think it’s 10 zamillion. Approximately.) About how checking email obsessively, in an effort to seem responsive and on top of things, often results in a lack of productivity, because we’re unable to fully focus on other things.

I can relate (far too well) to all of the above.

I know I have an obsession with my technology. With staying connected at all times. Plugged in as much as possible. And it’s not like I’m some sunlight-deprived, holed-away-in-the-basement type. It’s just that this phone — this device that, in so many ways, makes life easier and more convenient — also has a tendency to keep me from being fully present at any given time.

I do it subconsciously. On the one hand, I’m fully aware that I check my phone far too frequently. (I know, Kevin. And I’m sorry!) But then I’ll find myself watching TV or out to dinner and reaching for my phone, reflexively looking to see if I have new emails, new Instagram likes, new texts. It’s silly.

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It makes me feel marginally better to know that technology and apps are created with this exact behavior in mind. Behaviorist B.F. Skinner found that to ignite compulsive behavior in rats all he had to do was reward the rats at varying times and in varying ways. The rat knows he’ll get rewarded at some point, but he’s not sure quite when or how much. The same holds true with us and those damn phones. We check and check and check because sometimes — wahoo! — we get an incredible text, or have 87 people like our Instagram post, or get an email with a new job offer. But so many other times? Nada. Or, it’s just that random email letting you know that there’s yet another sale at J. Crew. (I love you, J. Crew. But you send lots of emails.)

The thing is, we live in a technology-filled world. And I like it! I love being able to keep up with friends and family via social media, to glean great advice and recipes from fellow bloggers, to be able to work remotely when needed and not miss a beat. And yet I have this tendency to CHECK YOUR PHONE RIGHT NOW AND THEN RESPOND TO THAT EMAIL RIGHT THIS SECOND EVEN WHEN IT’S NOT REMOTELY AN EMERGENCY! (That was meant to imitate the voice in my subconscious, willing me to reach for my iPhone over and over and over and over and over again each day.)

So it’s all about trying to build a healthy relationship with this technology, knowing that it will continue to be an integrated part of my life. Where’s that line?

The best find during my “the universe is trying to send me a message about my technology usage VIA technology — whoa!” moment was this article by a political blogger who reached a point where he felt so overwhelmed with technology that he unplugged for a year, taking an unpaid sabbatical to try to get re-centered. It’s a long read, but worth it. It was hard at first, but in time he learned the beauty in calm. In being still and quiet and completely alone (as in, by himself WITHOUT the Internet in the palm of his hand). At the end of his year off, the author had to find a way to re-enter his job (which, as a blogger and social media influencer, was immersed in the Internet) but try to keep as many of the healthy, calmer, meditative habits he’d learned during his year off.

I also stumbled upon a few apps geared to help people disconnect. (Kind of funny — technology built to help keep you from technology.) Checky can help you track how often you check your phone, so you can start to be more aware of your behavior and hopefully pare it down from there. And then there’s Freedom, an app you can set to keep the Internet blocked for a given amount of time, allowing you to truly focus on other things (writing, strategy, etc.) distraction free. It’s $10, but seems well worth it to me.

All this to say, I’m hoping that by admitting my compulsive phone behavior I will be encouraged to improve it. (Accountability counts for something, right?)

I’m going to try to take breaks more throughout the workday. To leave my phone in another room when I’m home to avoid checking it all evening. To not worry about responding to every single email the very second they arrive in my inbox. To be more wholly present when I’m with people I care about.

Have any of you readers successfully achieved technology balance in your life? Things that help you live more in the moment and with less mindful online moments? I’d love to hear your approach, if so!

 

This And That From This Past Week

Happy Sunday!

I thought I’d wrap this week up by looking back on a handful of highlights from last week:

  • I got my hair cut! It was the first significant cut I’ve had in years. I’ve worn my hair long for quite some time, and it was just easy. Sure, it took a while to blow dry, but styling was simple (my hair is obedient, for the most part) and it was a low maintenance cut, just requiring a trim twice a year or so. Lately, though, I found myself itching to try something new, and so last Wednesday I took the plunge, cutting off about eight inches. So far, I’m loving my new look (and also loving the reduced amount of time I have to spend blowing it dry)!

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  • I hosted book club. I belong to an amazing book club group made up of wonderful women. We get together every couple of months and talk about the book we’ve just read for a little while, but then spend most of the time discussing life and just catching up. We have a rotating hosting schedule, and this past weekend was my first time having the girls over to my house. We talked about our most recent book (Burial Rites, a historical fiction book about the last person executed in Iceland in the early 1800s, which was really great) and enjoyed some snacks (because food is obviously a critical part of book club — duh). For today’s event, I made Alton Brown’s Roasted Veggie Dip, walnut sweet potato crescent rolls, mini apple cider cupcakes with nutmeg frosting, Reese’s stuffed peanut butter cookies, and homemade Cheez-Its (which are good — very similar to cheese straws in flavor).

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  • I saw Interstellar (and you should, too). A group of friends and I went to see this film in IMAX on Friday night, and it was absolutely wonderful. I’d recommend checking this one out in theaters if you can, to get the fully immersive experience. I was impressed with this movie (much more than I thought I’d be), and continue to be amazed at how I’ve become a legit Matthew McConaughey fan. (For years, he played the same jerky characters and the pages of People magazine were peppered with photos of him hanging out — shirtless, always — with Lance Armstrong. I was not a fan, to put it mildly. But as he’s gotten a bit older, it’s like McConaughey has made an effort to reboot himself as an actor, and I for one like the change.)

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Hope y’all have had a great week, too!

 

Holiday Gift Ideas For The Guy In Your Life

You didn’t think I’d forget about the guys when it comes to gift ideas, did you? No way! Guys can be hard to shop for, making gift guides even MORE helpful (in my experience).

Here’s a round-up of guy-friendly items to consider as you’re putting together holiday lists for the men in your life:

  • Fulton & Roark solid cologne. (Of course I’m including F&R in my gift guide.) But honestly, even if my husband wasn’t one of the founders of this company, I’d be recommending it to you. This travel-friendly, well-designed fragrance comes in four great scents for now (their three standard options — Tybee, Shackleford, and Hatteras — plus a limited reserve option that smells amazing.)

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  • Wurkin Stiffs Power Stays. Kevin swears by these magnetic collar stays for his button-downs, and they make for ideal stocking stuffers.

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  • Komono watch. Are you familiar with these handsome timepieces? I think they’re beautiful, and their price points are, too. They’d be a great thing to add underneath the tree!

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  • Leather Cord Wraps. These would be perfect for a techy guy — especially if he’s on the go often. It’ll help him keep all those pesky cords wrangled in style.

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  • Teakwood and Tobacco soy candle. Kevin and I have one of these at our house, and it’s divine. We both love it — both its look and smell — so it would be a wonderful gift item that everyone will enjoy.

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  • Filson bag. These bags certainly aren’t inexpensive, but they’re pretty amazing. The look is awesome and classic, and they’re known for durability and thoughtful design. I particularly like their original briefcase and their duffle.

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What great gift finds are you eyeing for the guys on your list this year?

 

My 3rd “Eggo Your Way” Contest Entry: Pumpkin Cheesecake With Cinnamon Brown Sugar Waffle Crust

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If you’d told me a few weeks ago that I’d be actively brainstorming interesting ways to incorporate Eggo waffles into recipes, I wouldn’t have believed you. And yet here I am, entering a third recipe into the Kellogg’s “Eggo Your Way” contest. (As it turns out, waffles are quite the versatile ingredient.)

So, quick review. I started with a Veggie Hummus Waffle Pizza recipe, then stuck within the savory vein with a Parmesan Chicken With Eggo Breadcrumbs dish. Both recipes turned out well, and are ones I plan on making again.

For my third entry, I moved into the dessert category, opting to once again pulse the waffles in a food processor to make crumbs (as I’d done with the chicken) and using those to create a crust for a cheesecake. How did it turn out? Well, I made the cheesecake on Sunday and as of last night there’s none left at the Keller house. (We liked it!) Using the Thick & Fluffly Cinnamon Brown Sugar Eggos was a good call, too, as that flavor combination worked perfectly for the crust and complemented the other ingredients nicely. (I wasn’t familiar with that type of Eggo. They’re good!)

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If you’re looking for a solid cheesecake recipe with a bit of a twist, give this one a go. (The Eggo crust would work well with any type of cheesecake, too. It’s a good substitute for the standard graham cracker crust.)

Ingredients (for crust)

  • 3 Eggo Thick & Fluffy Cinnamon Brown Sugar waffles
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons butter, melted

Ingredients (for cake)

  • 3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened (I used two reduced fat and one full-fat cream cheeses)
  • 1 15-ounce can of pumpkin puree
  • 3 eggs plus one egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions 

  • Preheat oven to broil (set on high)
  • Place waffles in food processor and blend until waffles become crumbs.
  • Combine waffle crumbs with brown sugar and melted butter to make crust, then press crust mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.

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  • Place crust in oven and broil for about 10 minutes (until crust becomes slightly crisp). Set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Place cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer and cream until completely smooth. (Be sure to get all those lumps out!)
  • Add pumpkin puree, eggs and egg yolk, yogurt, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, flour, and vanilla to cream cheese and blend until well combined.
  • Pour cream cheese mixture into pan on top of crust, then bake for 1 hour.
  • Let cake cool for 10 minutes, then chill cheesecake in the fridge for at least 4 hours prior to serving. Enjoy!

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Grammatical Mistakes I’ve Been Seeing/Hearing Everywhere Lately

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Confession-slash-warning: If you use incorrect grammar, I will probably judge you. (Yes, it happens to everyone from time to time, but there are definitely some major repeat offenders out there.)

I didn’t ask to be wired this way. Words — and the correct ways to spell and use them — are just something I always notice. I find myself visualizing words, and at times basing preference on how they “look” in my mind. If you ever need something copyedited, I’m your girl. I love that stuff. (So, we’ve established that I’m a bit of a grammar nerd. But I’m not alone! Weird Al’s totally with me.)

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Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I wanted to vent a little. (You guys are cool with a little venting, right? Awesome — thanks!)

I wanted to share a handful of the grammar tragedies I’ve been witnessing recently that have made me quite sad. And annoyed. I invite you to commiserate with me.

  • First up: “every day” versus “everyday.” There are two versions of this word, peeps. One meaning “each day” and the other an adjective referring to “commonplace.” More and more, though, I’m seeing people (and brands — shame on you!) use “everyday” when they mean to use the two-word version of the word. (Here’s a quick example for reference: “everyday low prices” and “low prices every day.”) So, just to be clear, here are examples of correct uses for each:

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  • The next offender: using “I” when “me” is correct instead. This is a mistake that happens ALL THE TIME. So often, that I’m concerned the grammar will start to change to accommodate for the switch. Seriously. I hear it on TV and movies constantly, not to mention in everyday conversation. (Shoutout to the point above — everyday!) It’s getting trickier to hear as more and more people get it wrong, but there’s a super easy way to determine whether “I” or “me” is appropriate in any given scenario: just isolate the “I” or “me” in the sentence and listen to see if it makes sense. For example, “He was hanging out with Mandy and I.” Check it by removing Mandy: “He was hanging out with I.” Doesn’t make sense, right? Try, “He was hanging out with me.” Bingo! So the sentence should read, “He was hanging out with Mandy and me.” As though I needed another reason to love the show Friday Night Lights (my most recent Netflix obsession), Coach Taylor had my heart with this exchange:

Matt: I don’t want this whole thing to be awkward.
Coach Taylor: You don’t want what to be awkward?
Matt: This whole thing between Julie and I.
Coach Taylor: Julie and me.
Matt: Huh?
Coach Taylor: It’s Julie and me. It’s a common mistake, go ahead.

fnl

  • Last up: “less” versus “few.” This one gets messed up allllll the time. Poor “few” gets forgotten far too often. To know when to use which word, ask the following question: “Can I count it/them?” If the answer if yes, you probably should use “few.” If not, go with “less.” For example, when checking out at the grocery store (this only applies to Publix, one of the only grocery stores I’ve seen who gets this right), you should choose the “10 items or fewer” lane if you just have bread and milk to buy. Two things — count ‘em. Conversely, if your desk is covered with stuff, you can say you need “less” clutter in your life. The items aren’t separate enough to count. (It’s not always quite this straightforward — oh, English language — but this is a good place to start. Meanwhile, please join with me in sighing each time you check out at an incorrectly labeled “10 items or less” or “5 items or less” line at a grocery store, just like I did when I saw this sign at Whole Foods Winston-Salem the other day.):

IMG_6115 (1)

Fellow grammar nerds: what common mistakes fill you with rage?

 

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