• Mixed Berry Crumb Bars

    Sunday night, and I’m still in recovery mood from this weekend’s food coma. My Uncle Jimmy was on the Cape for his annual dinner where he wows us with his latest culinary skills, and has us all testing the physical … Continue reading

  • Browned Butter Salted Rice Krispie Treats

    I’ve been holding out on you. Taunting you with pictures of this on instagram but not actually getting it up on the blog for almost a month. I’ve probably made it about six or seven times in the past month … Continue reading

  • Brown Butter Cinnamon Rolls

    Sunday morning, brown butter and cinnamon buns. Now that is a combo I could get onboard with every weekend. Not to mention this weekend was filled with sunshine + good friends + good food. Another winning combo to kickoff summer. … Continue reading

  • Cape Cod Cranberry Orange Muffins

    I had every intention of writing this blog post much earlier in the day. But Mother Nature graced us with some sunshine and warm weather today. And then crazy eddie was in full pyro-mode next door tonight, so I got … Continue reading

  • Browned Butter Vanilla Bean Blondies

    That’s it. I’ve had it. I’m moving to Florida. Anyone who says they live in New England because they “love the seasons” is absolutely bananas. You can say you love summer and fall, but no one in their right mind … Continue reading

  • Brown Butter Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

    You know that part in Amazing Graze where it says “I once was lost, but now am am found, was blind, but now I see” – that is how I feel today. About brown butter. I have tasted brown butter … Continue reading

In a Nutshell: Bachelorette, Babies and the Big City

E-x-h-a-u-s-t-e-d that’s what the past three weeks has done to me. (sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, whooaaaaa). And clearly I’ve gone a bit insane. It’s been a jam packed month with work travel and fun things, but I can already start to feel my “summers over” emo-ness kicking in and fear of “winter is coming” anxiety starting. It can’t be as bad as last winter, right? right?!

In the meantime, let’s live in the moment and focus on all the fun things from the past two weeks in this recap!

  • Funky Bachelorette: We celebrated my former work-wife and very good friend Allie’s bachelorette down the Cape two weekends ago. Eight very fun ladies came together to give Allie a very funky fun weekend. First up, the most perfectly amazing Friday night classy dinner at the Wequassett Inn. We enjoyed amazing cocktails, delicious food, a sparkly dessert, and then cocktails and more dessert at a private firepit down by the water. TSC_Nutshell_Bach_Babies_NYC-2Saturday morning it was time to get funky on the Funk Bus! The Funk Bus is the greatest invention ever because it’s a hot pink leopard print bus that you can rent (for a reasonable price) to take you to and from the beach so that no one has to drive or worry about parking. TSC_Nutshell_Bach_Babies_NYC-3We had the Funk Bus drive us up to The Beachcomber where we enjoyed the perfect day at Cahoon Hollow, and then spent the afternoon at The Beachcomber Bar for some delicious drinks (mudslides and Goombay Smashes, of course) and Lobstah Rolls! TSC_Nutshell_Bach_Babies_NYC-4One of the bridesmaids, Ashley, is an amazing chef in NYC so she wowed us with her culinary skillz Saturday night for some of the most amazing tacos ever. Because when you’re 30, that is how you bachelorette. Forget strippers and shots, give me Pitch Perfect and tacos and Sunday brunch. #accacuseme
  • Oh, baby baby! So there’s finally a new man in my life, who I am head over heels in love with. Call it love at first sight. And he’s my new baby nephew Carter who was born August 9th. I have been getting tons of adorable pictures on our family group text, but I knew that this auntie needed to go to NYC and squeeze that little bundle of love as soon as possible. So I took two days off of work, hopped a train to NYC and headed straight for that little peanut. The first look!
    TSC_Nutshell_Bach_Babies_NYC-5LOOK at that pouty lip. A baby burrito. Nom nom nom.
    TSC_Nutshell_Bach_Babies_NYC-6Carter modeling one of his Baby Shark onesies, so that I can sing Baby Shark to him on repeat nonstop all day.
    TSC_Nutshell_Bach_Babies_NYC-8Hey lady, you’re scaring me!  TSC_Nutshell_Bach_Babies_NYC-7Too many baby pictures? Not possible! But I’ll stop here for this week with this shot of a very happy family of three. I do like the judging look Carter is giving my brother. I think I perfected that look at about the same age. TSC_Nutshell_Bach_Babies_NYC-9
  • It’s up to you, New York, New Yooorrkkkkkk: So the baby visit worked out nicely because I had to be in NYC for work the rest of the week. I don’t get to NYC as much as I’d like to, so I tried to take advantage of seeing as many of my favorite people as possible. First off, I met up with my friend and old coworker Robin Tuesday night for some delicious vino and apps at Zagara in mid-town. Robin is one of my only friends that also can’t stop watching Pretty Little Liars, so we really needed to meet in person to discuss who A is.
  • Next up, Wednesday night at The Nomad Bar. I met Chef Ashley and Ivonne at the bachelorette party the weekend before and met up with some friends at the hotel they work at in NYC to see what it was all about. And it was nothing but amazing. First, I met my friend from college Kasia (part of the infamous Hearts to Copy trio) for a drink after work. The cocktails at The Nomad were amazing! Hand crafted and shaken right in front of you, full of flavors, just really indescribable. Then my friend and old coworker Marco met me for drinks and some delicious food cooked up by Chef Ashley. Even better than her epic taco night, which I didn’t think was possible. And of course, the night ended with underbaked hot cookies and fresh ice cold milk, because that’s exactly what you want at the end of the night. Ivonne gives it two thumbs up!TSC_Nutshell_Bach_Babies_NYC-10Marco learned the challenges of trying to dip a warm cookie into an ice cold glass of milk. #flawlessvictory TSC_Nutshell_Bach_Babies_NYC-11I ended up staying in NYC on Thursday night for a work dinner, which in true consulting fashion involved lots of fancy wine and went very late at night. Which made it a bit of a struggle to get on the 6am train back to Boston – but, I had a wedding to get to! So I made it back to Boston by 10am, and hopped in my car to drive to the Cape for my friend Stacie’s wedding. Such a beautiful bride and amazing wedding. Mazel Kieffah! TSC_Nutshell_Bach_Babies_NYC-13
  • Goodbye Party Marg: So post wedding I headed back to Boston on Saturday for my friend Caitlan’s going away bash, which of course was at the only place that could give someone a proper Boston send-off – Lucky’s Lounge. Where over the past few years we have shared some of my best dance moves and life decisions. Like when we decided after dancing to Britney that we needed to immediately book a trip to Vegas to see Britney over Valentines Day … which we did the next morning. Which is when we met the legend that is Party Marg. So we got in one last Lucky’s night and then on Sunday our other tennis friends Liza and Heather came over for a little goodbye dinner for Caitlan. She’s leaving us for Memphis so I did a little BBQ theme, flavored with my tears of losing my doubles partner and friend (too dramatic? nahh). TSC_Nutshell_Bach_Babies_NYC-15And that’s it, in a nutshell. My goal this week has been to readjust to being in one place for more than a day, catch up on sleep and workouts, and continue my Netflix binge of Parenthood. Happy hump day!

Spiralized Peach Pie Bars

These Spiralized Peach Bars are a great way to incorporate fresh summer fruit and are jam packed with peach goodness! Using OXO’s handheld spiralizer you’re able to get lots of great peach flavor in every bite!

When I was at the Indulge Conference a few months back OXO was one of the main sponsors of the event and I got to learn a lot more about their different product lines after already being a big fan of their tools for many years. It was at this conference when I was introduced to the Greensaver product line, which I’ve been now gifting to friends and family because I’m such a big fan! So when OXO reached out asking if I was interested in participating in a campaign for the OXO Hand-Held Spiralizer I think I hit a new world record for fastest email response time ever.

If you haven’t spiralized, you haven’t lived. I jumped on the spiralizing bandwagon after discovering the blog Inspiralized a year or so ago, and I think I have even convinced my body that I prefer zucchini noodles over regular pasta now. Spiralizing is a great way to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet in a fast, easy and fun way. For someone like me who is constantly on the road, the spiralizer helps me whip up fast, healthy and delicious meals quickly. Zucchini is my go-to spiralized item, but I’ve also had some great experiments with white potatoes, sweet potatoes, cabbage and a few other veggies. I was relying on my big spiralizer for the past year which gets the job done but is definitely bulky, a bit of a challenge to clean and takes up some valuable cabinet space in my condo. So I told that big spiralizer that I “needed some space” and made way for the new love of my kitchen life: my OXO Hand-Held Spiralizer.

11151300_Handheld Spirlizer

My initial instinct in creating a new recipe was to head straight for the zucchini, but I’m a dessert girl and so I wanted to stay true to my blog and use the hand-held spiralizer to bake up a delicious sweet summer recipe. And I had a big bowl of fresh peaches staring me straight in the face, so I decided to repurpose my Apple Pie Bar recipe from last fall with peaches. (Though I did make this recipe again using half zucchini and half peaches and it was delicious!) One of the challenges I faced last year with the apples in the Apple Pie Bar recipe was getting them sliced small enough that they baked evenly and the bars could be easily eaten hand-held without a fork and knife. You might be thinking … Can you even spiralize a peach? If there’s one thing I learned from Forrest Gump, it’s that you the spiralizer possibilities are endless.Spiralized Peach Pie Bars

Ingredients:

Shortbread Crust

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

Peach Filling

  • 4 small peaches
  • 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Streusel

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed Spiralized Peach Pie Bars

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray.

Step 2: To make the crust, mix together the melted butter, granulated sugar, vanilla extract and salt together in a bowl. Add the flour and stir until everything is combined. Press the mixture evenly into the baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes at 300 degrees while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.Spiralized Peach Pie Bars

Step 3: To make the peach filling, spiralize each of the peaches using the hand-held spiralizer just until you hit the red part indicating you’re getting close to the pit. The easiest way to get the most out of the peach is to spiralize each of the four sides. Using the OXO Hand-Held Spiralizer was much easier on peaches because I could maintain a good grip on the peach the whole time and I felt like I was able to really get the most out of each peach. Spiralized Peach Pie BarsIs a peach noodle called a Poodle?

Spiralized Peach Pie Bars

Step 4: Using a kitchen scissors (or a knife) cut the peach noodles into small pieces (roughly a half inch to an inch long). This will just help to make sure there’s no Lady and the Tramp style long peach noodles in the bars. Combine the peach pieces, flour, granulated sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl until all of the peaches are evenly coated. Set aside. Spiralized Peach Pie Bars

Spiralized Peach Pie Bars

Step 5: To make the streusel topping, whisk the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and flour together in a medium bowl. Cut in the chilled butter with either a pastry blender or two knives until it is coarsely blended.

Step 6: Remove the crust from the oven, and increase the oven temperature up to 350 degrees. Spread the peach mixture in an even layer on top of the warm crust, making sure to press them down to fit tightly. Sprinkle the peach layer with the streusel and bake at 350 degrees for about 30-35 minutes or until the topping is golden brown. Spiralized Peach Pie Bars

Spiralized Peach Pie BarsStep 7: Remove from the oven and let the bars cool to room temperature and then put them in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours in order to cut the bars. Spiralized Peach Pie Bars

Spiralized Peach Pie Bars

Spiralized Peach Pie Bars

These bars taste just like a delicious peach pie, but are easier to transport and hand-held! Plus with the spiralized peaches you get so much peach in every bite. Spiralized Peach Pie Bars

Spiralized Peach Pie Bars

Simple and delicious!I will definitely be bringing these for my next girl’s night or even brunch. I think you can easily get away with these as a delicious brunch treat.  And anything that makes my life easier and less cluttered is definitely a good thing, and I’ve gotta say I am a big believer in this OXO Hand-Held Spiralizer. It’s so easy to use, clean, and I even threw it in my bag last weekend to bake up a few treats for my friend’s bachelorette weekend. Can’t wait to see all the other delicious treats I can bake using my OXO Hand-Held Spiralizer!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by OXO, but all opinions are my own.

 

In a Nutshell: Uncle Jimmy’s Dinner, Gold Status and Baby C

Happy Friday! We made it. Phew! This was a long week, and I am happy to rub it in a bit that I’m taking a few vacation days to enjoy an extra long weekend so bring on the sunshine and 10am happy hour, I’m ready. I’m still trying to get a good cadence for these nutshell posts, but this summer has been jam packed busy so forcing myself to sit down and write the posts has become a bit challenging, but I owe it to you my faithful readers (mom, and my friends’ moms) to keep you updated! The past two weeks has been a combination of more work travel, obscene amounts of delicious food and a big arrival!

  • Uncle Jimmy’s Annual Dinner: Every year my Uncle Jimmy comes to the Cape to cook up a culinary masterpiece, while we eagerly taste test all of his new delicious creations while enjoying bottles of wine lakeside at sunset. Not a bad life at all. It’s a marathon not a sprint, so you’ve gotta get your stretch pants on and pace yourself on the vino if you’re going to last the entire 6 plus hour event. It’s always one of my favorite weekends of the year that I look forward to all summer. And I get to pick one friend as my guest of honor each year, so this year I went with one of my most mature friends who I knew could last through dessert like a champ – Allie.  Also, because we needed to start prepping ourselves and training for this upcoming bachelorette weekend. TSC_Aug_14_In_a_Nutshell-3This year’s appetizer was fresh figs stuffed with goat cheese and mint, wrapped in prosciutto and popped on the grill for a bit. This is a shot of Uncle Jimmy in action!

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Up close and personal with the goat cheese stuffed figs. So good!
TSC_Aug_14_In_a_Nutshell-2Another appetizer was this grilling cheese from Narragansett Creamery, which literally was this delicious cheese that Uncle Jimmy sliced up and grilled up in a nonstick pan. I cannot even describe to you the deliciousness of this invention. Go find it, make it, and thank me later. TSC_Aug_14_In_a_Nutshell-4Dinner was Chicken Scarpariello with roasted baby potatoes, which had a nice light sauce and a lot of kick from the cherry peppers. TSC_Aug_14_In_a_Nutshell-5And for dessert, boozy grilled peaches with fresh ricotta. Forgetaboutit!TSC_Aug_14_In_a_Nutshell-6

  • STATUS IN CHI-TOWN: Woo, that food coma lasted for a few days! But so worth it. The following week I flew back out to Chicago for some work meetings. I’ve spent lots of time in my career in the O’hare airport, questioning what I’m doing with my life, but most recently I’ve gotten to take two work trips to downtown Chicago and actually have a little spare time to enjoy the city at night. And I’ve been totally lucky with amazing weather which has made exploring the city really fun. This over-the-wing-shot might seem just like all my other ones to the naked eye, but through the eye of a consultant you can see this segment finally earned me status on American Airlines/US Airways, which in the world of consulting is the real measure of success. Hello priority boarding, free standby and upgrades! It’s the little things that make all the difference when you’re racking up double digit segments on the regular.
    TSC_Aug_14_In_a_Nutshell-7One of my Philly coworkers was in Chicago with me last week for training, so we made a girl’s night of it after the first day and went in search of some delicious deep-dish pizza. We ended up at Giordano’s and shared this delicious deep dish pizza, which was ah-mazing.TSC_Aug_14_In_a_Nutshell-8After all that pizza we decided we needed to walk it off a bit, and ended up over the river right around sunset and snagged this cool view of the city. TSC_Aug_14_In_a_Nutshell-9The next morning I still felt like I had 10lbs of cheese in my stomach, so I opted out of the hotel gym and decided to take the scenic route for a sunrise run by the lake. Not a bad way to start the day at all. I could totally move to Chicago! (Probably not the same experience in -200 degrees in January, but the summertime I’m all about it). TSC_Aug_14_In_a_Nutshell-10
  • SUPER CORPORATE BONDING: Friday we had a day of forced corporate bonding, because who doesn’t love that? It actually ended up not being as bad as my snarky self thought it would be. Mostly because I signed up early for the good activity – Cooking Class at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. It was actually pretty cool because we split into three groups and all cooked different type of food — grilled meats, asian-inspired vegetarian dishes, and mexican food — and then had a giant buffet at the end. I was surprised that you stick 40 consultants in a room who spend most of their life eating on the road and that we were able to cook food that didn’t kill anyone on the spot. TSC_Aug_14_In_a_Nutshell-11
  • GIRL SCOUT MARTINIS: And because I hadn’t consumed enough food that day, I met my friend Caitlin out Friday night for an indulgent evening in the North End. I haven’t been to the North End all year, and the weather was perfect, so we walked up Salem Street and landed at Bacco. After sharing some delish eggplant parm, we got these Girl Scout Cookie (Samoa flavored) dessert martinis and mini cannolis. Yes, a Samoa flavored martini exists and it’s better than the real cookie if you thought that was ever even possible. TSC_Aug_14_In_a_Nutshell-12
  • SWEET TREATS: My friend Amanda was hosting a dinner for family at her new apartment on Saturday, so I offered to provide the dessert as my housewarming gift. Mostly because I had a great idea for a new easily transportable dessert I wanted to test out. So I made these trifle fruit mason jars which were a big hit! I took some pics, so pending how they came out I’ll write up the recipe soon. TSC_Aug_14_In_a_Nutshell-13
  • BABY CARTER! And last but not least … the best part of the past few weeks … the arrival of Baby Carter! A big big big congratulations to my brother and sister-in-law on the arrival of the first baby of the family, and a giant cutie patootie. This is my very happy brother getting Carter ready for Boston College Class of 2037! TSC_Aug_14_In_a_Nutshell-15I am heading to NYC early this week to eat those baby toes and cuddle Carter with all of my Auntie powers. The only thing I really need is for Amex to put a block on my credit card against any Baby Gap or Pottery Barn Kids purchases. Tiny baby things are irresistible to me! But just look at that face! Of course he needs custom monogrammed bathrobes, shark towels and every color of Baby Gap hoodie that has teddy bears on it. Are there AA (Aunties Anonymous) support groups for things like this?TSC_Aug_14_In_a_Nutshell-17So that’s it, in a nutshell! We are kicking off Allie’s bachelorette weekend, so I’m sure there will be lots of debauchery (PG-13 of course) on Instagram this weekend. And then I’m NYC bound next week! Happy Weekend!

 

Triple Peanut Butter Cookies

I know, I know. I post these pictures to Instagram of mouth-watering peanut butter cookies and keep you waiting for almost two weeks for the recipe. But it keeps you coming back for more right? I have a few recipes in the backlog, but with lots of work travel lately my plan to write these posts on the plane rides has been thwarted by some wicked turbulence, but what better way to start your Monday morning than with these chock-full-of-peanut-butter cookies!

I was down the Cape a few weekends ago brainstorming some new recipe ideas. While also eating peanut butter from the jar when inspiration struck. And it’s been a while since I’ve made any peanut butter recipes, but I really wanted to take it to the next level. Single peanut butter cookies are for rookies. Double peanut butter cookies, amateur hour. But TRIPLE peanut butter cookies, that’s the big leagues. I decided to make this peanut butter based cookie, throw in a bunch of Reese’s peanut butter chips and then chop up lots of mini peanut butter cups, pop it in the oven and hope for the best. Not like there was any way I could have gone wrong with that much peanut butter in one cookie.

Luckily I had some good taste testers next door at my neighbor’s house – her kids and grandkids were visiting – so I brought these cookies over after dinner for some real-time feedback – and I got major thumbs up and stamps of approval on these. Super easy to make and chock full of peanut butter goodness.

Yield 24 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 24 mini peanut butter cups, quartered
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter chips

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugars. Add in the egg, peanut butter and vanilla extract and beat on a high speed until fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl before adding in the dry ingredients. Triple Peanut Butter Cookies

Step 2: Sift together the baking soda and flour and slowly add into the wet mixture on a low speed until the dry ingredients are incorporated.

Step 3: Roughly chop (or quarter) the mini Reese’s peanut butter cups and add the chopped PB cups along with the peanut butter chips to the batter and mix on a low speed just until evenly distributed. Triple Peanut Butter Cookies

Triple Peanut Butter Cookies

Triple Peanut Butter Cookies

Triple Peanut Butter CookiesStep 4: One a sil-pat or parchment-lined baking sheet, use a cookie scoop to place even-size balls of dough at least an inch apart. I chopped up the remaining PB cups (out of fear of eating them all) and topped the cookies with them. Triple Peanut Butter Cookies

Step 5: Bake at 350 degrees for 9 minutes. Let the cookies sit on the baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling completely. Triple Peanut Butter Cookies

Triple Peanut Butter Cookies

These cookies are AMAZING. The peanut butter base is nice and soft and chewy, and between the PB chips and cups every bite is bursting with amazing peanut butter flavor. My neighbors said these did not last long at all! Triple Peanut Butter Cookies

Triple Peanut Butter CookiesThese are delicious cooled, but I also love to pop one in the microwave for about 10 seconds to get the peanut butter chips all melty before biting into them. One bite will have you singing Peanut butter cookie time! Peanut butter cookie time! Peanut butter cookie time!

In a Nutshell: Vacay on the Cod, Noms and Babies

In a nutshell, I’m back on the road coming to you with this post from lovely scenic Iselin, New Jersey. I know, I know, the consultant life is just as glamorous as George Clooney made it seem in Up in the Air. On the upside, I’ve gotten to enjoy a lot of the summer home in Boston and the Cape, so I really can’t complain about having to shower, put clothes on and get on an airplane to Jersey (I can’t complain, but I will). Plus, I get to enjoy unlimited Diet Coke from the Club Lounge at the hotel because my high-roller status. Oh yeah. So this is a perfect time to look back through some of the photos and recap what I’ve been doing for the past few weeks since my last Nutshell post and try to pretend I’m anywhere but Jersey.

  • HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA (AND MOM): I left  off my last post right when I was kicking off a 10-day vacation down the Cape starting with the July 4th holiday. It’s my favorite time to take off because the weather is great, it’s my mom’s birthday, and so many people and clients from work take it off that you can actually disconnect for a bit. Which I totally did for the first time ever and it was greatttt. Even Harry got into the Fourth of July spirit!

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  • My best friend Katie from home always comes up for a few days around the fourth which is great because she’s like part of the family and requires very little to  keep her happy. The lake, a bike and some ice cream is really all she needs. We enjoyed lots of great sunsets on the lake and plenty of ice cream. Nutshell_Cape_Cod-1We like to think of ourselves as ice cream connoisseurs down the Cape. Sundae School in Harwichport is a favorite, but I must say the classic Oreo from Emack and Bolio’s in Orleans is just a symbol of my childhood memories down there. I mean look at that bad boy. FULL Oreos in just one scoop.Nutshell_Cape_Cod-9
  • WHERE THE FIGAWI?! – Katie, my friend Jess and I day-tripped to Nantucket one of the days we were off which was great. We had perfect weather, took the ferry over from Harwichport and strolled around the stores all morning before enjoying a delicious lunch at Nix’s Brew Pub (Lobster BLT, so good!) and then spending our afternoon soaking in sunshine and good beer at Cisco Brewery. Also, how about a giant YAYYYYYYYYYY for Jess who just got engaged this weekend the day before her birthday!

Nutshell_Cape_Cod-4Postcard perfect day on ACK. ‘MURICANutshell_Cape_Cod-3

  • SUP!: No longer just a cool way of saying wassssupppppp, SUP is the new hip workout of the summer: stand-up paddleboarding. Katie and I borrowed two from my neighbor to convince Skip that we realllly liked it and needed to get some of our own. It’s a little unsteady at first, like standing on a BOSU ball, but now I am all like What’s around the Riverbend Pochahontas?! Just cruising the lake at sunset like a pro. So good that Skip approved the purchase of two of our own, which has been tons of fun the past few weeks. Next stop, SUP yoga! Maybe…Nutshell_Cape_Cod-6Mom has been capturing some pretty sweet shots. New Facebook cover photo anyone?? I feel like I need to post this on Pinterest with some inspirational quote like “Every Sunset Brings the Promise of a New Dawn” hashtag blessed.  
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  • CAPE EATS: If there’s one thing I mastered on vacation, it was eating so much delicious food. We’ve done tons of cooking this summer at the house, which has been amazing. So the few times we do go out to eat, it’s a real treat. I had a date night with my parents (because I’m just that cool) over vacation at the Outer Bar and Grille at the Wequassett Inn. First, the views were amazing. And Skip and I unintentionally coordinated our colors because like Father like Daughter, right?Nutshell_Cape_Cod-15And these fish tacos were a real vacation highlight. So so so fresh and delicious.Nutshell_Cape_Cod-5
  • GET JUICED (OR NOT): So when I came back from vacation, to make the transition to the real world as painful as possible, I decided to do the one-day Juice cleanse from the Juice Box in Southie. I figured my body could benefit from a sugar detox and it would break from vacation snacking habits. I made it through just two of the juices and ended up with a migraine at 3pm that was counterproductive to getting work done. The third orange one had spices in it that I couldn’t drink and these had some pulp in them that I just can’t handle. So good to know, not for me but props to anyone who can survive off this for more than a day.

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  • READ A BOOK, READ A BOOK:  That’s what my brother used to say when he was little. But I did read a book right near the end of vacation that I crushed in 3 days. I’m not usually a book recommender, but I do highly recommend Luckiest Girl Alive. It has a bit of Gone Girl in it which definitely had me turning pages quickly to try to figure out what was happening. And I happily enjoyed a few more airplane-free Mondays reading on my back porch in the nice summer weather. Okay now someone give me a new book recommendation please! Nutshell_Cape_Cod-8
  • FRIENDS!: I’ve been lucky this summer that schedules have worked out and I’ve had a bunch of friends able to visit down the Cape. My friend Molly came down last weekend and we just had a super relaxing few days with boat rides, paddle boarding, taco night, and yoga. Nutshell_Cape_Cod-10
  • BAKING: I did LOTS of baking over the past few weeks, taking advantage of the great lighting in my parent’s kitchen, some free time and the fact I had lots of ready and willing taste testers down the Cape. In case you missed the recipes (shame on you) I made: Orange Lemon Poppyseed MuffinsBlueberry Banana Streusel Muffins and Salted Caramel Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies. All big hits around Harwich. I did some experimenting this past weekend with LOTS of peanut butter in one cookie which was very successful, so be on the lookout for that recipe soon. Nutshell_Cape_Cod-13
  • EYY BAY BAY: Babies! So as you know (if you know me) this new project has had me working from home a lot the past few months. Which is a great change from the Philly commute. BUT, since I can never actually be content, it has let me slip into some habits which involve not being in my regular routine of getting up early and showering and being presentable to society. So I started scheduling some lunch-dates to force myself to get in an early workout and then showering and putting pants on. Last week I had a great lunch with my old supervisor Kate and then had a super fun lunch date with my coworker and friend Jess who brought along baby Nolan, which was my first time meeting the peanut. Nolan suggested the Butternut Squash pizza at Lincoln Tavern, which was a great recommendation and my favorite thing on the menu. Look at that baby face. I tried to steal him, but Jess seemed pretty attached. Can’t blame her.Nutshell_Cape_Cod-11

And in OTHER exciting baby news (no no … mine is still just a food baby) my brother and sister-in-law are expecting Baby Shaw any day now! So I’ll officially earn my Auntie title within the next few weeks and cannot wait to meet the little guy. And spoil him absolutely rotten.

So that’s it, in a nutshell! The vacation withdrawal continues, but I’m heading to the Cape this weekend for my Uncle Jimmy’s annual dinner where I eat about a month’s worth of delicious food in one night and he teaches me a new skill. That I usually forget because of the many bottles of wine involved when Uncle Jimmy cooks! Forgeatboutit!

Salted Caramel Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Some days I have a zillion recipe ideas in my head. Other days, nothing inspires me. When that happens, I find that perusing the sites of some of my favorite bloggers usually helps to spark some different flavor combination ideas or when I see a recipe that looks interesting I’ll try it as is. And that’s how I came upon these Salted Carmel Pecan Chocolate Chip cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction. And since I had all of the ingredients in my magic baking drawer of goodness, I took that as a sign that I needed to make these cookies.

I had been using nuts in a muffin recipe a week earlier and knew that I wanted a nutty crunch to my next cookie recipe. I also love anything salted caramel, but I’ve always been challenged baking with caramel in a cookie since it mostly bakes out and burns. But I was intrigued to see how Sally’s Baking Addiction topped the cookies with small caramel bits to keep it from melting all over.

Another thing that’s great about this cookie base is the use of corn starch. Two teaspoons of cornstarch helps to keep these chocolate chip cookies ultra soft and chewy. This is such a great chocolate chip cookie base you could definitely experiment with other add-ins. But for today, I stuck with caramel chews, chopped pecans, chocolate chips, and of course, sea salt.

Yield: 24 cookies

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 16 wrapped caramels, quartered
  • sea salt, for topping

Step 1: Cream together butter and sugars in your mixer until light and fluffy. Slowly add in egg and vanilla and mix well.

Step 2: Combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt and slowly mix into the wet ingredients. Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans. Chill the dough for a half an hour before baking. Salted Caramel Pecan Chip Cookies from The Salted Cookie

Salted Caramel Pecan Chip Cookies from The Salted Cookie

Step 3: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On sil-pat or parchment-lined baking sheets, use a medium cookie scoop to place even-sized balls of dough at least two inches apart. Lightly press a few pieces of caramel on top of the cookies and sprinkle with sea salt. I love this Jacobsen Sea Salt that I picked up when I was in Portland earlier this summer. 
Salted Caramel Pecan Chip Cookies from The Salted Cookie

Salted Caramel Pecan Chip Cookies from The Salted Cookie

Salted Caramel Pecan Chip Cookies from The Salted Cookie

Step 4: Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove and let the cookies cool on the tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.Salted Caramel Pecan Chip Cookies from The Salted Cookie

Salted Caramel Pecan Chip Cookies from The Salted CookieBest enjoyed straight out of the oven, in my opinion, otherwise I recommend microwaving these for just a few seconds before indulging so that the caramel is nice and ooey gooey melty. These cookies are a great flavor combination of sweet and salty, with both a soft and crunchy feel when you bite into them. The nuttiness of the pecans is a great compliment to the salted caramel and sweet chocolate.Salted Caramel Pecan Chip Cookies from The Salted Cookie

Salted Caramel Pecan Chip Cookies from The Salted CookieIt was SO hot in Boston this past week that I didn’t want to put these in the mail since I figured they would melt into a caramel puddle before safely arriving at any of my friends’ houses. So instead I brought back Cookie Monday to my old coworkers since I was working in downtown Boston, and my old (but favorite) intern Abby met me on the street corner for the cookie drop. Feels like I’m running a bit of a cookie ring in the city sometimes with friends being my cookie runners, meeting me on street corners or swinging by my house to “pick up the goods” before work. Salted Caramel Pecan Chip Cookies from The Salted Cookie
Maybe Southie is finally rubbing off on me and I’ll be the next Whitey Becca, the most infamous cookie gangster this side of Dorchestah. I’m sure I could learn a thing or two from Crazy Eddie next door, though he might be more of a Walter White type of baker if you catch my drift.

I promise I’ll catch up with all my cookie blogs this week. I owe you a Nutshell post of what I’ve been up to, along with some of the other recipes I’ve been taunting you with on Instagram!

Blueberry Banana Streusel Muffins

I’m back on my muffin kick. Something about the fresh summer fruits bursting with flavor just inspires me to test out new combinations for muffins. Not to mention down the Cape I have PLENTY of willing taste testers, which is a critical success factor for all muffin experimentation. Now these blueberry muffins were inspired by my Auntie Barbara who has a morning routine down the Cape which involves Dr. Bill biking to Ferretti’s Market in Brewster for a fresh blueberry muffin for her breakfast. Sometimes when I am on the bike trail in the morning for an early run I see Dr. Bill biking, and I chase him as fast as I can to try to steal that muffin, but always to no avail. So I told my Auntie Barbara I would make her a blueberry muffin that would be fresher and better than Ferretti’s. Because we all know I love a good little competition.

The key to a great muffin is fluffiness and flavor, at least in my opinion. I don’t like muffins that are too dense and I like fresh fruit in mine like cranberries or blueberries that literally pop with flavor when you bite into them. The first step to this muffin was buying the Texas sized muffin tins. You just can’t compete with bakery style muffins unless you make them jumbo-sized like the bakeries do. It’s basically the equivalent of two regular-sized muffins. I used to be a fan of mini muffins, until I realized I could put away about 12 of those without even looking leading to an unwanted muffin top of my own. Another thing that bakery muffins usually have is a crunchy top layer, and soft inside. I learned a trick from Sally’s Baking Addiction where she bakes her muffins for 5 minutes at 425 degrees F, and then turns it down to 375 degrees for the remaining baking time. I now bake all my muffins using this method and it makes a big difference.

For this muffin, I decided to mix two of my favorite breakfast flavors: banana and blueberry. I had two overripe bananas just ready to be mashed and blueberries were BOGO at the store last week so we had two cartons ready to go.

Yield: 6-7 jumbo muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup mashed banana (2 small, very ripe bananas)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Streusel Topping:

  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line the 6 jumbo muffin tins (or 12 regular sized muffin tins) with paper liners and spray the insides with nonstick spray.

Step 2: In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients with a whisk: flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

Step 3: In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, 3/4 cup light brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Whisk in the buttermilk, oil, mashed bananas and vanilla extract. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together gently with a spatula or wooden spoon until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Fold in the blueberries just until evenly distributed. Blueberry Banana Streusel Muffins - A perfect breakfast treat using your fresh blueberries!

Blueberry Banana Streusel Muffins - A perfect breakfast treat using your fresh blueberries!

Step 4: To make the streusel topping, combine the melted butter, light brown sugar, cinnamon and flour.

Step 5: Fill the muffin tins evenly with the batter. Sprinkle on some of the streusel topping to each muffin. Bake at 425 degrees F for 5 minutes, then lower the temperature to 375 degrees and continue to bake for 20-24 minutes, until the tops of the muffins are golden brown. Blueberry Banana Streusel Muffins - A perfect breakfast treat using your fresh blueberries!

Blueberry Banana Streusel Muffins - A perfect breakfast treat using your fresh blueberries!

Let the muffins sit in the muffin tin for a few minutes to cool before transferring them to a wire rack to finish cooling. Or better yet, serve these fresh for breakfast the same day. Blueberry Banana Streusel Muffins - A perfect breakfast treat using your fresh blueberries!

Blueberry Banana Streusel Muffins - A perfect breakfast treat using your fresh blueberries!

I love to enjoy a second-day muffin cut in half, toasted in the toaster with a pat of butter on top that gets all ooey gooey melty goodness filling in the nooks and crannies. Thank god for stretchy pants. Blueberry Banana Streusel Muffins - A perfect breakfast treat using your fresh blueberries!

Blueberry Banana Streusel Muffins - A perfect breakfast treat using your fresh blueberries!

So I know you’re all waiting with baited breath … but yes Auntie Barbara gave these muffins two very big thumbs up. Said they tasted just like a bakery muffin (maybe even better!)  And Dr. Bill was happy he got a morning off from biking to the bakery. And we all lived happily ever after, the end.

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