One thing that I’ve been trying to be better at in this house is actually having place mats and napkins and things for the dining room table. At our old house, we never sat at our dining table – not even when we had family over – because we didn’t have enough room to have the chairs all the way around it…and because it also served as our catch-all in the house.
But when we moved into this house and finally had our own, separate, dining room, I knew I wanted to have options for when we had people over. Now I just have to remember to actually look at linens and napkins when I’m shopping – it’s not something I ever thought to look at before, but I love it.
A few weeks ago, I got a box full of napkins and place mats from Pine Cone Hill to try out and use, and I’m completely obsessed with them. You’ve already seen a few of the patterns they sent, like in these posts:
Mint Chocolate Frozen Yogurt
Mint Chocolate Breakfast Cake
Coconut Raisin Breakfast Cookies
I’m so in love with some of these patterns. I want them in everything: curtains, pillows, whatever I can get.
Do you see what my favorite thing is?! Chambray napkins. It’s like they can read my mind.
And, lucky for you, Pine Cone Hill wants to share the linen love!
I’ve got one $100 gift card to Pine Cone Hill to giveaway so you can buy your own fabulous napkins or bedding or whatever you’ve been looking for lately.
Tell me your favorite pattern from the Pine Cone Hill website – they’ve got so many cute ones! I can’t wait to read all your favorites.
For additional entries:
Tweet about the giveaway, tagging me (@branappetit) and @PineConeHill
Follow @PineConeHill on twitter and let me know you did
Like Pine Cone Hill on Facebook and tell them I sent you over
Good luck! I’ll be picking the winner at the end of the week.
Contest open to US residents only. Linens sent to me by Pine Cone Hill to use and the gift card is being provided by them for the winner.
There really are no words. I mean….
Is there anything better than homemade angel food cake? I had no idea how incredible angel food cake was until this weekend.
News flash: Homemade angel food cake tastes nothing like that dry, spongy mess you buy at the store every year before the strawberries are even ripe. I just thought I wasn’t a fan of it at all.
But homemade angel food cake? It’s, well, heavenly. The name fits, so it sticks.
It’s light as a feather, full of vanilla flavor, tender, and just begging to be topped with this cocoa whipped cream. Or, in a few weeks, juicy strawberries. Which I am ready for – a girl gets sick of apples and oranges pretty fast around here when it’s the only fruit that’s good for 4+ months.
I know buying store-bought cakes is a breeze. I do. They’re so tempting in their little packages, ready to be devoured, calling to you from the bakery and the produce isles.
We’re swamped, too – there’s always work to do, gardens to till, puppies to play with, dinner to cook, laundry to fold, dishwashers to unload, lunches to pack…I get it. But if you make one thing at home this year instead of buying it somewhere else? Make it this. It’s easy, not too complicated and there’s no frosting or decorating at all!
That’s my kind of cake.
Vanilla Bean Angel Food Cake with Cocoa Whipped Cream
Makes: 12-16 servings
- 1 cup cake flour (spooned and leveled)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 12 large egg whites at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 1/4 cups Dixie Crystals granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
- 1 and 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2 Tbsp sweetened cocoa powder
- chocolate shavings, for topping (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- With a mixer, beat egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Add in the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form in the egg whites. Continue to beat, gradually adding the sugar; beat the mixture until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Add in the vanilla bean paste; beat to combine.
- Gently transfer egg-white mixture to a large, wide bowl. In batches, sift the flour and salt over the egg whites. While turning the bowl, use a rubber spatula to fold in the mixture by cutting down the center and coming up the sides.
- Gently spoon the batter into an ungreased angel food cake pan with a removable bottom; smooth the top into an even layer. Run a knife or small spatula through batter to release air bubbles.
- Bake until cake is golden and springs back when lightly pressed, 35 to 40 minutes. Invert the pan and let it cool in the pan for about 1 hour. Run a knife around the inside of the pan and around the tube to release cake and unmold. Use knife to release cake from bottom of pan, and remove.
- Pour the heavy cream into a medium bowl and add in 2 Tbsp of sweetened cocoa powder (or 2 Tbsp unsweetened and 1 tsp sugar, if you don’t have it). Beat the mixture until the cream has thickened into stiff peaks, about 3-5 minutes.
- Once the cake has cooled, cut into slices and top each piece with a dollop of the cocoa cream and top with chocolate shavings before serving.
I have an ongoing partnership with Dixie Crystals. Recipes and opinions are my own.
I think you guys know that we love cookies around here.
It’s an almost weekly requirement to have some sort of treat in the house, and usually, that means cookies because they’re easy, they never go to waste, and they’re Nick’s favorite dessert – period.
When we went to visit my parents a few months ago, I talked the fam into going to my favorite sub shop for dinner one night, Mister Jims. This place is the best for a lot of reasons.
1. They have that tiny ice, kinda like Sonics but even better than Sonics. It’s almost crushed…but not. I don’t know what it is about their ice, but I’ve always loved it. I used to eat a lot of ice in high school – does that mean I have some deficiency? I have no idea. I thought I was just an ice connoisseur (and I am).
2. Their Pizza Steak Sub. Goodness gracious. It’s the sub that dreams are made of. If you ever go to Mister Jims, you will never be able to go to a Subway or Jimmy Johns or Quiznos again. First of all, the bread at Mister Jims isn’t flimsy – it’s good bread and they toast it perfectly, every time. Then, the Pizza Steak sub is thinly sliced steak, pepperoni, cheese, and their pizza sauce all bubbly and heated up on the toasted sub roll and wrapped up like the present it is.
3. Mostly the Pizza Steak Sub. Just get it.
Like any other place that has a cookie display case at the counter, Nick couldn’t resist getting a cookie at Mister Jims. They didn’t have any classic chocolate chip cookies so he got one that had all kinds of stuff in it: macadamia nuts, coconut, white chocolate, semi-sweet…and it was loaded.
So, of course, he challenged me to make them once we got home.
And I think I nailed it.
I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve ever baked with macadamia nuts. But, since these cookies have been added into the regular rotation, I know it won’t be the last time.
Everything in this cookie is buttery or chocolately – the cookies are big, like just over 1/4 cup of dough each – so they’re thick and stay soft, with just a little crisp around the edges. Just how we like ‘em.
Maybe you can’t make it to a Mister Jims for a Pizza Steak Sub, a giant soda, and a cookie…but you can make these at home. And I would say: the sooner, the better.
Monster Macadamia Coconut Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes: about 2.5 dozen cookies
- 2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup Dixie Crystals brown sugar
- 3/4 cup Dixie Crystals granulated sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 and 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup white chocolate chips
- 1 cup chopped macadamia nuts
- 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Dump the softened butter into a large bowl (stand mixer or other big bowl) and pour in the brown sugar and sugar. Beat together for 3-5 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Beat in the vanilla, then add the eggs, one at a time, to the butter and sugar mixture.
- Pour the flours, baking soda, and salt into the bowl and mix into the butter.
- Once the dough has come together, add all the chocolate chips, the nuts and coconut and beat the mixture for another minute until the chips are mixed into the dough.
- Take a heaping 1/4 cup of dough, form into a round, and place on a baking sheet.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 13-17 minutes until the top and edges are golden.
- Let the cookie rest for 1-2 minutes, then move them to a cooling rack.
Disclaimer: I have an ongoing partnership with Dixie Crystals. Recipes and opinions are my own.
My name is Brandi, and I’m addicted to breakfast foods.
Or…just put an egg on top of anything and it will probably be one of my new favorite things.
To go along with the easiest non-recipe ever for this olive oil spread, here’s one of my newest favorite breakfasts (and lunches!).
Even when I have great leftovers in the fridge, I will almost always reach for eggs for lunch on the days that I’m home. They’re quick and easy and it makes me feel like I get a second chance at breakfast, which is always the best meal anyway. Two breakfasts is never a bad thing.
I’ve done this with hummus on the toast with the olive oil spread (good idea), with tons of hot sauce on top (really good idea) and with bacon under that avocado (the BEST idea). But as long as you have toast, olive oil spread, avocado, and some runny eggs, you’re set.
Egg, Avocado, and Olive Oil Toast
- 2 slices of bread (or 1 bun or english muffin), toasted
- 2 tsp olive oil spread
- 1/2 avocado, sliced or smashed with a pinch of salt
- 2 eggs, cooked how you like ‘em (fried, over easy, scrambled, etc)
- salt + pepper
- Spread a tsp of the olive oil spread on each piece of toasted bread.
- Top the bread with your sliced or smashed avocado and your eggs. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
I am officially moved! Our new office is….strange. It’s very corporate feeling, so I think I need some funky lamps, a plant (that I will not doubt kill in a matter of months since I have no natural sunlight) and a fan to feel like the air is circulating. I’ll miss my window from the old place and the ratty old blue chair I used to have and a phone that I knew how to work. I’m scared to even pick up this new one – I’m just hoping no one calls me this entire week so I don’t have to figure out how to use it.
Since this past week has been crazy – in every sense – and this weekend was jam packed with spring weather and fun, I thought I’d share some things that I’m loving right now.
1. Tina Fey’s Bossypants
I know – I’m years late on this one, but I finally read this a few weeks ago and then I read it out loud to Nick on a trip we took a few weeks ago. I wouldn’t suggest reading this one on a plane like I did because you will be laughing out loud every few pages. It makes for an entertaining flight, sure, but it may not make your seat-mate happy.
2. These 20 Infomercial gifs That Prove Life is Hard have been cracking me up all week – have you seen them yet? “Why doesn’t somebody invent something to put stuff on?!?” – um…a table? These are even funnier because I get sucked into infomercials pretty easily. Thankfully, I’ve never bought anything. I just like the bad acting, I guess. It’s good for a laugh, at least.
3. Sometimes The Universe Takes a Giant Dump on You . My only question is….who is watching through my windows to know that I watch Friends reruns all the time? I blame Chandler. Could I be any lazier?
4. I made homemade angel food cake for the first time – ever – this weekend. This is huge for me because I grew up on the store-bought dry, spongy cake. I will never go back! Homemade angel food cake really is sent down from angels, I think; full of vanilla bean paste and light and fluffy egg whites and everything good in the world. The first night, we had slabs topped with Scharffen Berger cocoa-whipped cream and chocolate shavings. The second night, we used the rest of the cocoa-whipped cream and made a strawberry/raspberry sauce with some of our frozen berries from last summer. You should do that. Soon.
5. This Bavarian Potato Coffee Cake.
I’ve made this cake twice in the past few weeks and have already been told I need to make it again. It’s like a cross between a sweet breakfast danish and the best coffee cake you’ve ever had. And that crispy topping? It’s whipped cream that you spread onto the cake and then bake! Crazy, right?
6. I’ve got 2 giveaways going on that will close this week – make sure to enter the Excedrin Nutrition Month Giveaway and the Whole Grains Packet giveaway if you haven’t already!
7. Nick and I had the chance to go to the Celebrity Chef Tour again on Easter weekend and it. was. incredible. I’m still dreaming about Mike Isabella’s risotto. I’ve got to get through all the pictures, but I’ll be posting about that soon! If it comes to a town near you, definitely go! The past 4 years have all been amazing – some of the best meals of our life, for sure.
8. I also made the BEST BISCUITS OF MY LIFE on Saturday morning this weekend to go along with Nick’s dad’s sausage gravy. Those are coming soon….if I decide I can share the recipe. Seriously – they were ridiculous. Would it be a bad thing to just eat biscuits from now on and nothing else?
I always forget how much work moving is until I’m smack in the middle of it.
Our offices are moving this week and that means everything is in crates or boxes. There’s dust…everywhere. It’s hard to work when almost everything you need is packed up and you can’t remember where you put your pens or calendar or keys.
But the best part about moving? Wearing jeans to work.
We have casual Fridays here, but anytime I get to wear jeans to work on a Wednesday and Thursday, too? It makes my week. I would live in my jeans if I had the choice. So even with all the moving stress and hectic days, I’m pretty happy. At least I’m comfortable in jeans, a t shirt, and comfy shoes.
But there is one other bad side effect of moving: forgetfulness. I blame this on the fact that you usually have 1 million things you need to be doing – all at the same time – which means that something (or a lot of things) get forgotten. I’ve been needing to go by the bank all week…hasn’t happened. All my personal things from the office need to come home with me so I can bring them back to the office next week, and of course, I’m waiting until the last day to do this.
And even worse, I’ve been forgetting to have breakfast this week. Not a good thing when we’re working and moving boxes and sorting stuff all day, on top of our normal jobs.
Sadly, I’m not having this breakfast cake this morning, but I really wish I was.
I threw this breakfast cake together a few weeks ago when I had my mint chocolate froyo churning in the KitchenAid. Apparently, I found a bag of Andes mint chips in the pantry and just decided to throw it in everything I could that afternoon.
But I need to share this now before it gets too warm. Mint is a cold weather flavor for me, I think. Or this kind of mint, anyway. Fresh mint in mojitos is totally a summer thing, but desserts or cookies or anything with more of that creme de menthe flavor belongs in the fall and winter. So before spring hits hard, you should make this breakfast cake.
I know it looks pretty chocolately – and it is! – but it’s definitely not overly sweet and is perfect for breakfast or a quick afternoon snack or easy weeknight dessert.
Mint Chocolate Breakfast Cake
Makes: 1 cake
- 1/4 cup oat bran
- 1/4 cup oat flour
- 1 Tbsp ground flax seed
- 2 tsp cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- pinch salt
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- 2 Tbsp applesauce
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1-2 tsp Andes mint chips
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees (if baking). You can also make this in the microwave.
- In a small bowl, mix the oat bran, oat flour, flax seed, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt together.
- Stir in the almond milk, applesauce, and vanilla until all the dry ingredients are mixed together. Gently fold in the mint chips.
- Spray a coffee mug or ramekin with oil and pour the mixture into the greased container.
- Bake at 325 for 23-28 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cake. (If microwaving, heat on high for 1 minute and 30 seconds and check the cake. If you use a taller, more narrow mug or ramekin, you may need to microwave for another 30 seconds to 1 minute to get the center cooked.)
- Once it’s done, let the cake cool for a minute before eating.