Sunday, December 23, 2012

Brownie Walnut Pie

Sometimes you just need a quick-and-tasty dessert. This recipe is perfect for that, and it's kind of fun too (because who woulda thunk to make brownies in pie form?). Once you see how easy this is, you may want to add it to your Christmas baking list! 

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Recipe adapted from here.

1/2 cup butter
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 refrigerated pie crust
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts
chocolate sauce and extra walnuts (or whatever you want to use as a topping)

1. In a small saucepan, melt butter and chocolate over very low heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and cool for 20 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350. Roll out pie crust and place it in a 9-inch pie plate. Crimp edges.
3. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add in sugar, flour, and vanilla, and mix until combined. 
4. Stir in the cooled chocolate mixture and nuts.
5. Pour filling into the pie crust. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
6. Top with a chocolate sauce drizzle and sprinkle with walnuts (or do whatever sort of topping you want... strawberries? Plain with vanilla ice cream?). 

(butter and chopped chocolate)

(pie crust!)

(starting the filling...)

(adding nuts...)

(ready for the oven!)

(all done!)

(mmm... brownies in a pie!)

(chocolate drizzle + walnuts)



Saturday, December 22, 2012

Chicken Sausage and Broccoli Pockets

First of all, a friend of mine sneakily took my computer and published an interesting post on the blog yesterday while he was at our house. So if you happened to see "my" list of 12 things I loved about 2012... just know that it wasn't actually me. Haha. I deleted it pretty quickly, but I'm sure a person or two saw it in the meantime and was very confused. 

Now that we're clear on that, let's talk about this yummy recipe! It's like the delicious version of Hot Pockets. I know it seems like Hot Pockets and the word "delicious" don't mix, but these really are yummy and they're perfect for making a bunch and then eating them one at a time for quick lunches!

Recipe adapted from here.

12 oz fully-cooked chicken sausage links, sliced thinly
1 lb broccoli (about one bunch), cut into small florets
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
8 oz grated provolone cheese
1 1/2 pounds pizza dough

1. Preheat oven to 425. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the sausage, broccoli, bell pepper, garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes in the oven (until the broccoli is tender), stirring half-way through. Let cool.
2. Transfer cooled sausage mixture to a medium bowl. Add the cheese and toss to combine.
3. Divide the dough into 8 pieces. On a floured surface, roll and stretch each piece into a 7-inch circle.
4. Spoon the broccoli mixture onto one side of each dough circle (about 1/2 cup each), leaving a half-inch border around the edge of the circle. 
5. Brush water on the border of each dough circle and fold them in half to form semi-circles. Press the edges firmly to seal. 
6. Place the pockets on a baking sheet and cut slits in the top of each one. Bake at 425 for 18-24 minutes, or until golden brown. ((To freeze and serve later, freeze the unbaked pockets on the baking sheet until firm, then transfer to a freezer bag. To bake, place a frozen pocket on a baking sheet and bake at 425 for 20-30 minutes.))

(ready to be roasted!)

(after roasting)

(cooled sausage mixture)

(adding in cheese)

(finished filling mixture)

(dough circles -- if it's imperfect like this, it's totally okay!)

(ready to be folded and sealed!)

(pockets ready for the oven)

(all done!)



Saturday, December 15, 2012

Language Pet Peeves

Maybe it's because I was an English major, but I'm just fascinated by how the same exact words can mean one thing to the person who says them, but mean something else entirely to the person who hears them. I have a friend who told me that she interprets "you're so lucky that ____" as a phrase full of jealousy and spite, which shocked me because I always interpreted that phrase as something full of excitement, in a "what a blessing it is that ____" or an "I'm so happy for you that ___" sort of way. I don't think I ever used the phrase "you're so lucky that ___" very much, but now I try to avoid it at all costs (because who knows how many people interpret it like my friend?)!

I've been thinking lately about a few phrases that I hear a lot, and I think people say them without realizing the negative meaning behind their words. Or maybe I'm the only one who attaches a negative meaning to them? Who knows. Anyway, here are three phrases that bother me a bit: 
  1. When women say things like "My husband is letting me buy a ____!" or "{Husband} says I can {insert something involving money}!" Seriously? Do you ask his permission for everything? He just controls all the money and you beg him for permission to spend it?!? I would never say that "Jeff let me buy a ___." We make our money-related decisions together, and honestly - I'm a little more conservative with our money than he is generally. Surely I'm not the only woman like that! I just hate it that by using this sort of phrase, women are perpetuating the stereotype that we just want to look pretty and spend our husbands' money. We make money too (either directly via jobs, or indirectly via the support and practical help we give to our husbands who can then make money via their jobs), and monetary spending should be a joint decision! We should be saying things like "{Husband} and I decided to buy a ____! I'm so excited!" We're not a bunch of irresponsible girls who would go crazy spending money if we didn't have husbands to reign us in! After all, we were financially responsible before we were married, right?
  2. The phrase "just a stay-at-home mom." It drives me crazy when women get asked what they do, and they respond "I'm just a stay-at-home mom," or when people talk about a mother and say "oh, she's just a stay-at-home mom." Seriously? Just a stay-at-home mom? Being a stay-at-home mom is a hard, unrelenting, serious job! If stay-at-home moms weren't staying home, they'd be paying someone else to do the job they do! Plus, raising children right is so, so very important (arguably the MOST important task adults contribute to society), so why would we say that someone is "just" a stay-at-home mom? You would never say "oh, I'm just a lawyer" or "she's just an accountant," or even "she's just a nanny," so why on earth would you belittle the important job of taking care of one's own children? I'm clearly not a stay-at-home mom, but I was raised by a wonderful one, and she was proud of the decision she and my dad made that she would stay home with my sisters and I. Stay-at-home moms don't stay home because they can't do anything else. They stay home because they made a decision about what's best for their family, and that's just as valid as choosing to do any other job! 
  3. The phrase "start a family." People are always asking me when Jeff and I will "start a family," and I just find it so odd! Aren't we already a "family?" Didn't that happen the day we got married? I already consider us to be a little family of two. We send Christmas cards as a family, we make decisions by discerning what's best for our family, and I try to make my house a nice place for my little family to live. Sure, one day (God willing) we'll have our first child, but that will just make us a bigger family. What about couples that can't have children? Are they not families? I looked up the definition of "family" out of curiosity... according to Oxford, a family is "a group consisting of two parents and their children living together as a unit." Isn't that the craziest definition ever? That definition would leave out families with a deceased or otherwise-gone parent. It would leave out families with a parent deployed with the military. It would leave out families whose children are in college, or adults living on their own. I just think that's entirely too limiting. Webster's has a different definition: "a group of individuals living under one roof, and usually under one head." I think that one is silly too. I mean, I lived under one roof with my roommates in college, but I don't think anyone would say we were a "family!" Anyway, I just think we already are a family, despite the lack of babies around the house. 
Of course, I generally just brush it off when I hear things like this. People can't help using phrases that are ingrained in our societal way of speaking. When someone asks me when we'll "start a family," I just interpret it as what they really mean to say (when we'll have children). After all, I can 100% guarantee that none of those people would ever tell me that Jeff isn't my "family." I'm sure there are certain marriages where the phrase "my husband let me ____" is factually accurate. But most of the wives I know (some of them women who say things like that!) are responsible monetarily, and I doubt any of them have husband's who actually control 100% of their finances without involving them. And "just a stay at home mom" -- I think that one just slips out and people don't even think about what they're saying. They don't mean to belittle stay-at-home moms... they just mean to clarify that she doesn't work outside the home. None of these are things people say intentionally (at least, not for the most part), but shouldn't we make a conscious effort to limit our use of phrases like these? 

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Wishlist

I find the concept of Christmas Lists to be a bit odd. It feels weird to write out a Christmas List (because it's so gift-grabby and it seems greedy and all, you know?), but as a gift-giver, it's really helpful to know what someone actually wants. 

I hear people say often that it would be better if we just all donated money to non-profit organizations instead of spending it on Christmas gifts that we don't really "need," but I think there's something special about showing your friends and family that you love them with a gift. After all, the wise men brought Jesus gold and frankincense and myrrh, and we all know he didn't really need those (in fact, He probably needed a nice crib and some blankets and a lot of other stuff a lot more!). So I think it's nice to give something special to the people you care about. 

My other problem with Christmas lists is that they take the surprise out of opening gifts. That's why I always try to put as much stuff as I can think of on mine! That way, I never know what I'm about to open. :) 

I thought I'd share my Christmas wishlist this year on the blog. Maybe it will give y'all some ideas for your own Christmas lists, or for the amateur baker/chef/photographer in your life! Here it is:

{The Kitchen Stuff}

Wilton Bake Even Strips
Supposedly these make your cakes bake nice and even (not with a mound in the center)!

Apple & Potato Corer/Peeler/Slicer
How great would this be for apple pies and apple pork chops and apple strudels and stuff? Or just eating sliced apples! 

Dutch Oven Pot
I can't even count how many times I've set aside a recipe because I don't own a Dutch oven. I don't want a fancy Le Creuset or anything, but I want to have a Dutch oven! 

Adjustable Pie Crust Protectors
I love my pie crust shield, but it's sometimes too big or too small for certain pie pans. These would be so much better! 

{The Photography Stuff}

Extra Battery for my Camera
No explanation needed. I just need a backup battery! 

UV Protection Filter
This protects the lens... if you drop it, the filter cracks (and the lens stays safe!). 

18% Gray Cleaning Cloth
It cleans lenses and it helps you get the perfect white balance! 

Wireless Shutter Release Remote
Imagine how much easier this would make taking big group photos! Or just taking shots where you don't want to jiggle the camera by pushing the button! At less than $10, I think this is a great purchase! 

Any tripod will do... just something that will hold the camera still! 

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens
I want this "nifty fifty" lens so badly. I borrowed one from a friend for a while, and I'm addicted. It takes such lovely photos with perfectly blurry backgrounds! And it's one of the most inexpensive lenses out there! 

{The Other Stuff}

Penguin Hardcover Classics Books
I've been collecting these for years, but I love them even more now that I have a pretty bookcase in my craft room to display them on! 

Young House Love's Book
It's a book full of ways to DIY update your home, and it's written by a couple of my favorite bloggers! 

CB2 Wall Vases
Aren't these just the cutest? I'd love a few for the craft room.

Two Hoya Sconces from Z Gallerie
I want these for our entryway... I saw them on a recent browsing trip and just went "oh! that's it!" They're on sale right now too!

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That's it! What do y'all have on your wishlists?