Monday, November 30, 2015

Pumpkin Spice Brownie Brittle

Pumpkink Spice Brownie Brittle is easy to make and SO delish!  Crispy, crunchy, and chocolatey...yum!
Pumpkin Spice Brownie Brittle is the perfect Fall treat when you want something simple to make and easy to eat!  It's crispy and crunchy, and hard to stop at one!  My kids ate this one up...literally!
 I discovered brownie brittle in a small grocery store in Moab, Utah earlier this year when I was there running a half marathon. I was standing in the aisle, staring at the display, trying to decide if I should splurge and buy a bag for my post-race treat. Some people walked by, saw my dilemma and said, "Get it. You won't be sorry." And since it was even on sale, I bought some. Because I always try to follow good advice! And they were right, I wasn't sorry.  I couldn't get thoughts of brownie brittle out of my head, so I posted it on Somewhat Simple last month.

Pumpkink Spice Brownie Brittle is easy to make and SO delish!  Crispy, crunchy, and chocolatey...yum!

Our favorite part of any pan of brownies is always the crunchy edges! Brownie brittle is the answer for a family like ours, because every piece is crunchy and delicious. And my 3 year old couldn't keep his hands off the brittle...he snagged a piece when I wasn't looking!

Pumpkink Spice Brownie Brittle is easy to make and SO delish!  Crispy, crunchy, and chocolatey...yum!

To celebrate the arrival of Fall, I came up with this Pumpkin Spice version, and my kids all gave it two thumbs up! And because pumpkin is a great substitute for oil and eggs in a recipe like this, I omitted those completely. If you want the texture to be a little airier, whip an egg white until it's very frothy and fold it in after the batter has been mixed together. We love the cracker-like texture, so this is how we make it at our house.

Pumpkin Spice Brownie Brittle
  • 1 boxed brownie mix
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup butterscotch chips
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Combine the brownie mix, pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice.
  3. Cover two 12x17 pans with parchment paper (I use my rimmed cookie sheets). Using half the batter for each pan, spread the batter with an offset spatula into a thin layer.
  4. Sprinkle with chocolate and butterscotch chips.
  5. Bake for 20-35 minutes. This is a wide time range because there are so many factors that will affect when your brittle is done (like actual oven temperature, batter thickness, etc). Start checking it at 20 minutes.
  6. Using a pizza cutter, score the brittle as soon as it comes out of the oven (or don't score it and just break it into chunks after it's cooled).
  7. Let cool, then break apart along the scored lines.
  8. Store loosely covered.
  • I sprinkle the chocolate & butterscotch chips on afterward because it's much easier to spread the batter without lumps all over the pan. I learned from experience, so just trust me.
  • I use parchment paper instead of my silicone mats for two reasons: 1) it's easier to grab the edges of the paper to lift the brittle off the pan, 2) I can score the brittle on the parchment paper and not worry about cutting my silicone mat.
  • If you store your brittle in an air-tight container, it will go soft. No one wants soft brittle, because then it wouldn't be brittle!

Pumpkink Spice Brownie Brittle is easy to make and SO delish!  Crispy, crunchy, and chocolatey...yum!

For a few more of my favorite simple treats, check out these great recipes!

Oct Treat Collage

Friday, November 6, 2015

How To Get Your Kids Talking

Great ideas to get your kids talking about their day!  I get one-word answers from my kids until I start using these ideas.
I've talked to so many moms that say, "I just can't get my kids to tell me about their day!"  I've got some great ideas that help me get my kids talking...our favorite dinnertime game, plus some better questions to ask, and even a few of our favorite jokes!  Check out Or So She Says to get the conversation started, but be prepared, once they start talking, they might not stop!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Cheddar Jalapeno French Peasant Bread

Cheddar Jalapeno French Peasant Bread is a delicious twist on one of our favorite homemade carbs is French Peasant Bread. It's no-knead, super simple, and only a handful of ingredients. My kids LOVE this bread. So when I was making a couple of batches last week, I thought I'd change it up a little and throw in some cheese and jalapenos...and we loved it! But really, when you combine bread and cheese, it's pretty hard to go wrong, and this recipe is proof!

You don't need a mixer...just a bowl and spoon to mix everything together! No kneading, no stress. You can even make the dough ahead of time and put it in the fridge until you're ready for it. It couldn't be easier! You don't even have to make it perfectly round...its rustic look is part of the charm of this wonderful little bread.
Cheddar & Jalapeno French Peasant Bread
  • 2 1/4 tsp dry yeast (or 1 package)
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup pickled jalapeno slices, cut in half
  • 2 Tbsp jalapeno juice (from the jar)
  • 2-3 Tbsp melted butter
  • cornmeal (for sprinkling on the pan)
  1. Add the yeast, water and sugar to a mixing bowl, stir until dissolved.
  2. Add the salt, flour, cheese, jalapeno slices and juice.
  3. Stir until thoroughly combined, but do not knead.
  4. Cover and let rise until doubled, about an hour.
  5. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (or a silicone baking mat) and sprinkle with cornmeal.
  6. Divide dough in half and form into two rounds. Place on prepared pan and let rise until doubled, 45 minutes-1 hour.
  7. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  8. Brush the tops of the rounds with half of the melted butter.
  9. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, then REDUCE the temperature to 375 and bake an additional 15 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven and brush with remaining butter.
  11. Serve warm.
  • I have tried baking it at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, instead of changing the temperature part way through. It didn't get as nicely browned, so even though it will work to use a constant temperature, I still recommend the method described above. It only takes a few second to reduce the temperature and the results are better.
  • This bread has a mild jalapeno flavor and isn't very spicy. If you like more spice/flavor, add more jalapenos or juice (but if you add extra juice, I would recommend reducing the water by the same amount.
  • I like to cut the jalapeno slices in half because I prefer smaller bites of jalapenos. If you like whole slices, then leave them whole! The bread will not be affected either way.

Looking for something delicious to serve with your new favorite bread? Try some of our favorites!

french peasant bread

Monday, October 19, 2015

How to Roast a Whole Butternut Squash in the Oven

You can cook butternut squash whole in the oven!  So easy, I can't believe I went so long without knowing this!

Butternut Squash roasted the easy way...whole in the oven!  Winter squashes can be tricky to cut because of their firmness, so cutting them can actually be dangerous.  It's easy to slip and slice yourself when you're exerting all that pressure.  This simple method really couldn't be any easier and there's no chance you'll lose a finger before dinner!  Just wash, pierce, and toss it in the oven!  Done.
You can cook butternut squash whole in the oven!  So easy, I can't believe I went so long without knowing this!

If you love your crockpot, it's just as simple to cook butternut squash all day.  The prep is the same...SO easy!  CLICK HERE for the simple instructions.

You can cook butternut squash whole in the oven!  So easy, I can't believe I went so long without knowing this!
My friend (and talented chef) Melanie taught me to pierce the bottom of the squash instead of poking holes all around the skin to vent it for escaping steam.  The knife slides right in!

You can cook butternut squash whole in the oven!  So easy, I can't believe I went so long without knowing this!

Oven-Roasted {Whole} Butternut Squash

  • 1 whole butternut squash
  1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wash the squash and pierce the bottom with a pairing knife.  This lets steam escape while cooking (they can burst, which is bad news!), but piercing it on the bottom keeps the skin in tact.
  3. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 60-90 minutes, depending on the size.
  5. Slice in half from top to bottom.  Remove seeds.  Save for roasting or discard.
  6. Peel the skin off or scoop the flesh out of the skin and use as desired.
  • My squash was about 4 lbs and I roasted it for 90 minutes.
  • I picked about 25 butternut squashes out of my garden this year (I can only assume they were overcompensating for the peppers, which weren't great this time).  Most of them were in the 4-5 lb range, but they went all the way from 2.5 to 6 pounds!
  • I prefer to oven-roast my squash if I will be cubing them to use as a side dish.  It's easy to control how soft it cooks.
  • I prefer to slow-cook my squash if I will be mashing or pureeing it for a recipe/baby food.  It will get nice and soft in the crock pot without checking it 14 times for doneness.
You can cook butternut squash whole in the oven!  So easy, I can't believe I went so long without knowing this!

Monday, October 12, 2015

How to Cook a Whole Butternut Squash in the Crockpot

Have you ever wished you could cook a Butternut Squash without cutting it up first and risk slicing off your fingers?  Because if you've ever tried to cut an uncooked Butternut, you know that it can be tricky...and dangerous.  When my mother-in-law told me about cooking them whole in the crockpot, I was excited, because I LOVE tricks to make life in the kitchen easier.  This is as easy as it gets.

 This is my favorite tip for piercing a steam vent without cutting into the skin.  The knife slides right in!

How to Cook a Whole Butternut Squash

  • 1 whole Butternut Squash, 2-4 lbs
  1. Wash your squash.  If there's dirt on the skin, it will get inside when you cut it.
  2. Pierce the bottom with a pairing knife, for steam to escape.
  3. Place in slow cooker and cover.
  4. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or HI for 4-5 hours. 
  • I've heard a lot of people say that they don't pierce their squash when they cook it whole, and they've never had one burst.  This is risky, it can explode if there isn't a way for steam to escape...and you'll get hot squash all over you and your kitchen.  You'll get burned, and it's really messy to clean up.  It's SO easy to just pierce the bottom, so don't risk it.  (Huge thanks to my friend Melanie for this awesome tip!)
  • If your squash is too long for your crockpot because of the stem, simply cut it off or break it off to fit.  My squash was long, so I had to remove the stem.  Easy!
  • Anything bigger than 4 lbs will probably be too big to fit in your crockpot. 
If you prefer to cut your squash prior to cooking, Whole Foods Market has some great tips!

·         Choosing the right knife is key to getting the job done—it should be long, heavy and extremely sharp—a flimsy or dull knife can be dangerous when cutting squash because it can slip and cause cuts
·         Stabilize the squash so it doesn’t roll out from under you and use the “claw” technique with your fingers to hold the veggie, should your knife slip (so no fingers are exposed to the blade)
·         Cut off both ends of the squash from where the “neck” ends and the body begins
·         Take the “body” of the squash in half from top to bottom and scoop out the seeds—you can dry or bake these for a delicious fall snack with a little sea salt later!
·         Begin to cut rings in the squash in the size you want the cubes to be—similar to cutting a cantaloupe
·         Cube out the remaining pieces around the same size (typically 1” or so)

Some people microwave their squash for 2 minutes prior to cutting to make it a little easier.

Whole Foods carries a wide variety of winter squash.  Be sure to try squashes like Delicata, Spaghetti, Acorn, Kabocha, Hubbard, or Buttercup...a great addition to your Fall dishes!  And you can search their website for more great instructions and recipes!   

I am a Whole Food blogging ambassador.  This post was written in exchange for a gift card to purchase food.  Any opinions are my own.

Method seen on CookEatPaleo.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes

If you love Pumpkin & Chocolate Chips, then this simple recipe is for you!  Just add a few ingredients to your favorite mix and you'll have pancakes that taste more like dessert than breakfast!  They are so simple, and taste just like Fall.  Because everyone knows that Fall tastes like pumpkins and spice!  Then wrap up in a sweater, grab a good book, and enjoy the cooler weather.  Happy Fall, y'all!  Recipe can be found here on Or So She Says.  Head on over, you won't want to miss this one!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Spider Hair Spooktorial

Spider Hair Main
Out of my four kids, I have only one girl, so this little lady is the sole focus of my daily need to brush and braid!  My poor little sister was my first guinea pig...I taught myself how to french braid on her tender scalp (which wasn't tender by the time she started doing her own hair!).  I loved doing her hair...and I even liked cutting my brothers' hair (that was when bowl cuts were a thing), so it was pretty exciting when this little lady finally had enough hair to start playing with!  I never went to school for hair, but I still cut all my kids' hair, and come up with something fun for Little Miss every(ish) day.

I came up with this fun Halloween Hairstyle last year for Somewhat Simple.  It's a little fancier than just a regular bun with googly eyes and legs (which, don't get me wrong, it's still fun!).  This one got tons of comments and compliments from everyone who saw her the day we did it.  There are lots of different ways to get a spider web look, but this is what we went with, and we loved it!   

For this bun I needed a bun form, but instead of buying one, I quickly made one out of a running sleeve (an old sock with the toe cut off works well too). Just roll it down all the way until it looks like a small donut. Other supplies you'll need are 18 small elastics (I used yellow to blend in more with her hair), black hairspray (found in the Halloween section of the grocery store), 4 black strips of pipe cleaner, and a comb with a pointed tip (to make your parts look crisp). For my bun I also used bobby pins to hold it in place.
Spider Hair Collage
Spider Hair Collage 7
Start by parting the hair in a big circle, staying about 1.5-2 inches away from the hair line. Put the circle of hair in a small bun or clip, just to keep it out of the way. Then take sections of hair (I did 8) and make a little "flip under" going all the way around the head.
Spider Hair Collage 2 
Part a second circle into the hair, just like the first one, and put the middle up to keep it out of the way. Following the same part lines, section the hair off and flip it under again, as you did in the first row. Once the second row is complete, take all remaining loose hair and pull it into a ponytail in the middle of the circle. Your web is done!
Spider Hair Collage 3 
At this point you can do any kind of bun that you like, using a bun form or not. My daughter still has fine hair that makes a small bun, so I like to beef it up a little with the bun form. Make a bun to match whatever style you're going for. A braided bun would add some fun texture for a creepy spider body! For the bun I made, put the pony tail through the bun form, but pull out a small section underneath. Take two small sections from the rest of the hair, and begin braiding. Once the first stitch is complete, I pin it into place so it doesn't slide around as I'm braiding. Pin it again if necessary. (I saw the idea for this bun on Cute Girls Hairstyles, plus a different hairstyle on Instagram, but that source wasn't cited. Feel free to follow me!)
Spider Hair Collage 4Continue pulling sections of hair into the braid, and continue all the way around until all the hair is braided. Continue the braid as far as you can and tie off with a small elastic. Wrap the tail around the bun, tucking it under as far as you can, and pin everything in place with 4 or 5 bobby pins. At this point you can gently pull on small sections of the bun to even out the look, or leave it a little rough looking like I did.
Spider Hair Collage 5 
Take the pipe cleaner and weave it into the bun. Because of the type of bun I did, it was easier for me to weave it in the way the pictures show. If it's easier for you put the pipe cleaner all the way through the base of the bun, going across the head, that's fine too. Do whatever works best. Bend the pipe cleaner to create leg sections and feet. Using the black hairspray, color the bun black to match the legs! Be sure to protect the rest of the hair with a rag or a wet wipe so only the spider body is black.
Spider Hair Collage 6 
And there you have a fun spider sitting in a web of hair!

For a few more Halloween/Fall ideas, check out these recipes!
Halloween Collage

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Coconut Lime Chicken and AirFryer 200SS Review

This coconut lime chicken is one of those recipes that looks a little funky when you read through the ingredients, but transports you to a mystical, magical place with the first bite.  This is one of our top 5 favorite chicken recipes because the flavors are just so amazing, but it's also a nice change of pace from the typical weeknight meals we eat (because we often keep our day to day meals on the less adventurous side...our kids are still learning to appreciate bold flavors, but they will eat this chicken without too much grumbling!)

Not only do I have this great recipe to share with you, but I also want to show you the fun new way I cooked it!  (This post contains affiliate links, see the end of the post for more information)  I received this Avalon Bay AirFryer to review, and we've been cooking different foods in it (and actually, we're excited to try lots of different things!).  I have my 11 year old cook chicken nuggets and they come out crispy and browned, and they aren't tough.  (I have a thing about tough chicken.  I. just. can't.)  We even cooked hot dogs for the kids in it one night, before the hubs and I left for date night.  Normally we cook them on the griddle (because boiled meats are a no-go in our house), and we actually liked the texture better from the AirFryer, and they were done a lot faster, with no turning.  Can I even tell you how happy that makes me?!


If you're wondering what an Air Fryer is, it's a lot like a deep fryer, but you're using circulated air instead of oil to cook your food.  It's like a mini counter-top convection oven.  This means you can use the air fryer for anything you can cook in the oven (note: it won't work for some things, like freshly battered foods).  You can cook anything from jalapeno poppers to chicken nuggets to french fries.  If you have more than one layer of food, just pull the basket out half way through the cook time, give it a few good shakes, then finish off the time.

So, did I like the AirFryer for real food (and not just kid food)?  Yes!  The chicken came out tender and juicy, and I didn't have to worry about turning it or burning it, since the AirFryer shuts off when the time is up.  I love things that make my life easier.  It has a super easy to use digital display, it actually cleans up really fast (very important!), and it fits under the cabinet on my counter.

Coconut Lime Chicken


  • 3 Tbsp avocado oil
  • zest of 1 lime
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tsp curry powder (yellow)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dried cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp liquid aminos (or soy sauce)
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup (or sugar)
  • 1/4 tsp chile paste (optional)
  • dash cayenne
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream (or milk) 
  • 4 chicken breasts  
  • lime wedges for serving
Coconut Rice:
  • 2 cups rice
  • 1 can coconut cream (or milk)
  •  2 1/4 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Add all marinade ingredients in a ziploc bag or medium mixing bowl.  
  2. Add chicken, making sure to coat with marinade.
  3. Marinate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
  4. When ready to cook chicken, start the rice.  Add all rice ingredients to a large saucepan (or stockpot).  Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat, for 15 minutes. 
  5. Pour marinade into a saucepan and add chicken breasts to the air fryer.  I cooked mine in a single layer.  Cook at 370 degrees for 10-15 minutes (the time will depend on the size and thickness of your chicken.  Mine took 12 minutes).
  6. While chicken is cooking, bring the marinade to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
  • I bought chile paste for a another recipe and hadn't used it again (forgotten ingredients make me sad).  I put a little in the marinade and loved it.  Doesn't really add heat, just subtly enhances the flavor.  I found it in the Asian section at Smith's (Kroger).
  • I buy my coconut cream at Trader Joe's.  They usually have it, but it can be hard to find at other stores.  I've been told that Asian markets carry it as well.  Milk works just as well in this recipe.  I used coconut cream because I was out of coconut milk, and kind of loved the extra creaminess. 
  • I used to make half the amount of rice, which was just about right to use up the coconut milk after making the marinade.  We always ran out of rice so fast that I started doubling the amount.  I never have trouble using extra coconut milk or cream...I usually just throw it in a smoothie!
  • If my chicken breasts are thick, I like to slice them in half like a hamburger bun (awesome tip from Mel's Kitchen Cafe).  They cook faster and more evenly.  
  • The chicken can also be cooked on the grill, in a cast iron skillet, or broiled.  
If you think the AirFryer is for you too, you might want to check out these cool accessories! 

      Chicken adapted from Fine Cooking and rice lightly adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.

      This post contains affiliate links, which means I am paid a small commission for referring you to an online retailer.  There is absolutely no cost at all to you, and it helps me keep this blog going!  Thanks!!

      Monday, September 28, 2015

      3 Cheese Avocado Tomato Melts

      These 3 Cheese Avocado Tomato Melts are extra delicious because tomatoes are so amazing right now.  Heirloom tomatoes are especially wonderful, whether you grow them or buy them!  Grab a few next time you're at Whole Foods, and if you follow some of the guidelines below (also thanks to Whole Foods), you'll be enjoying a perfect late-summer treat!

      • Only buy enough for a few days -- heirlooms ripen faster than modern commercial varieties
      • Pick heirlooms that are somewhat firm to the touch.  This is more important with the larger varieties but if you buy a soft heirloom of any size, chances are it's overripe.
      • Avoid tomatoes with open splits and cracks.  A tomato with a large surface area where the stem was attached will likely have a hard area inside that is unusable.
      • Don't refrigerate!  One of the best characteristics of heirlooms is their texture and like all tomatoes, prolonged exposure to temperatures below 41 degrees will soften tomatoes and make them mushy.
      • Keep recipes simple to allow the flavors to shine!

      3 Cheese Avocado Tomato Melts
      • 1 baguette, homemade or store-bought
      • 2 wedges creamy Swiss cheese (I used Laughing Cow brand)
      • 1 large avocado
      • juice of 1/2 lime
      • sea salt to taste
      • feta cheese
      • balsamic reduction
      • 1-2 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
      • 8 slices mozzarella cheese
      1. Cut 8 slices of bread and spread with the creamy Swiss cheese.  
      2. Mash the avocados with the lime juice and sea salt, and spread over the creamy Swiss, dividing evenly among the 8 bread slices.
      3. Sprinkle with feta cheese, then drizzle with the balsamic reduction.  
      4. Place one tomato slice on top of each cheesy bread slice.
      5. Top each tomato with a slice of mozzarella cheese.
      6. Place under a hot broiler until cheese is melted.  It won't take long, so watch carefully.
      7. Enjoy a creamy, delicious slice of heaven!  
      • To make a balsamic reduction, simply add balsamic vinegar to a pan and simmer, stirring frequently, until it is reduced by about half.  Mine usually takes around 10 minutes. 
      • I had some fresh basil when I made this batch of melts, so I threw some on.  It's delicious either way!
      *I am a Whole Foods Blogging Ambassador.  I received a gift card to purchase food for this recipe.  
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      Monday, September 14, 2015

      Devil's Food Cake Mix Cookies

      Devil's Food Cake Mix cookies are the perfect dessert if you need something quick and rich and delicious.  This recipe originally appeared on Somewhat Simple.  It's one of my favorites to whip up when I'm short on time but need something great.  When cake mixes go on sale, grab a few extras so you can have something easy and amazing in less than 20 minutes!

      These Devil's Food Cake Mix Cookies only take a few minutes to stir together, and only a few minutes to disappear! My kids were begging for dessert first when we made these for our latest family dinner. They really did get gobbled up by kids and adults alike, so I promised to make more. And because of how quick and easy they are to make, it's a promise I can actually keep! (If only all their requests were this easy.)

      There are three simple options for how your cookies will can scoop it and leave as is (far right pictures), roll the cookie dough in your hands to smooth it out (center picture), or you can roll it and stick a few chocolate chips on top (far left picture). They will all be equally delicious, but the rolled cookies will have a smoother, prettier look to them. Unless you're going for something more rustic, in which case, save a minute by not rolling them!

      Devil's Food Cake Mix Cookies
      • 1 (15.25 oz) Devil's Food cake mix
      • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
      • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
      • 1/2 cup rolled oats
      • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
      1. Preheat oven to 350.
      2. Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. (I just used a wooden mixer necessary!)
      3. Using a cookie scoop, drop onto a parchment or silicone-lined cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart.
      4. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until set.
      5. Cool 1 minute, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.
      • The last couple of times I made these cookies I made 30...15 per pan. They were a great size...not too big, not too small. They baked for 8 minutes and were just a little gooey in the center, which (in our family) is perfect!  (Since ovens can vary, you may need to adjust time or temperature to get the same results)
      • If you use a small (#60) scoop, you should yield about 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

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