Top 5 Thursday: A Fall Recipe Round-Up

While we're on the subject of baking this week... how about a quick round-up of five recipes I've earmarked for Fall? 

These Maple Brown Butter Breakfast Muffins. The name alone makes my mouth water! 

Because I need one more thing covered in this seasoning, I'll build a dinner around these Everything Parker House Rolls

Pumpkin Bourbon Pecan Pull-Apart Bread. Pretty sure Josh wasn't interested in yet another pumpkin-flavored recipe until he heard the word bourbon.

For my birthday nearly ten years ago, my Grandma made Guinness Dark Chocolate Pudding cups--with from-scratch whipped cream. To honor her memory--and because holy moly they sound tasty, I'm eyeing these Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

And, though I realize it says 'no-bake' directly in the title, so it doesn't technically fit in this round-up, but we're planning a quick overnight trip to camp under the stars in one of the darkest national parks in the U.S. (part of Josh's 40 by 40 list which I'll share more about soon) and plan to pack all the ingredients for this No-Bake Apple Bourbon Cobbler to go with our evening coffee... so I'm leaving it on my "can't wait to try this" list. 

Stop What You're Doing And Bake These Cookies: Fall Edition

I know, I know, this title is a tad bit bossy, but I promise, these cookies are worth pausing your life, missing deadlines, and even forfeiting the opportunity to wear those new pants for Thanksgiving. 

I'm aware that this all sounds over-the-top, but if you made the Brown Butter Dark Chocolate Pretzel Cookies, you know I'm only really over-the-top when called for... and this recipe--these cookies!--call for it.

Mini Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies
Adapted from Streaming Gourmet

1/2 cup unsalted butter (softened)
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
pinch freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. 

Add pumpkin and beat well. 

Then add egg and vanilla and beat well.

Mix together dry ingredients in a separate bowl. 

Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture, about 1/3 at a time, and mix well after each addition. Fold in the chocolate chips with a spoon or spatula.

Spoon batter onto cookie sheets that have been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. (Do not use a scoop for this, it will change the texture of the cookies.)

Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown.


You should know they are at peak-tastiness straight out of the fridge and paired with a morning cup of coffee. Yes, cookies for breakfast... these are basically muffin texture anyway, so you might as well let them contribute to your muffin top.

Top 5 Thursday: My Favorite Children's Books

I love love to read. And, as much as I like to curl up on the couch with a good book for myself, I love to read to kids. My best friend Emily and her three boys love to read, too. We'd even surprise each other with new books to read together. (As the boys grew, this shifted into more of a book club which I'll tell you about another time.)

The very best children's books, in my opinion, are those that make kids shout, "Read it again!" at the end. And so, here are the best kid's books we've read together in the last few years:

1. The Book With No Pictures

2. Dragons Love Tacos 

3. Mother Bruce

4. Where The Wild Things Are

5. Are You My Mother?

Special shoutout to two that made me cry each time I read it, so the boys didn't want to read it twice in one sitting: I Am Martin Luther King, Jr. and I Am Abraham Lincoln.

I'm currently working to freshen up this list, but the boy I'm currently nannying is a bit one-track (no pun intended) when it comes to his books... it's trains or nothing. I've yet to find a train-themed book I enjoy reading as much as he does. (If you know of one, let me know! You'll make us both so happy!)

Meet Charlie Ray

Last week, we picked up our new puppy.

Let me back up...

Two weeks ago, I got an email from Josh with the subject line, "It's a Sign..." all that was inside was a link.

It led to a pet adoption website that Josh had heard about on the radio. As I scrolled through the photos, I thought, "why not?"

We'd been talking about getting a dog for a while but were either outpriced or too late for some of the new litters in our area.

I scrolled a little further and came across a puppy named Squirrely Dan. His sweet eyes and brindle fur drew me in, so I replied, "Call and ask about Dan!"

A few minutes later, I got a text saying, "I submitted an application. We'll see!"

The next day, as we pulled into a little town called Greune to have lunch with some friends, the approval email came through. We were told we'd been matched with Squirrely Dan and, once we signed the contract and paid our deposit, we could arrange a pick-up date.

We paused, in the middle of an antique store, to sign the contract. And just like that, we had a dog!

Our friends bought us this lovely 'Ceramic Dan' to commemorate the occasion:

On the drive home, we talked through some options for names. While we each had a name the other strongly disliked, we instantly agreed on Charlie. (I also tried to float the idea of referring to each other as 'man' and 'woman' instead of 'dad' and 'mom' so we don't become the people who wear "Dog Mom" shirts or refer to him as our firstborn, but Josh wasn't having it.)

We stopped by his foster family's home on Saturday to get a feel for his temperament and see how he felt about us, but as we loaded back in the car, we were already scrolling PetSmart and Petco to make sure everything was in place when we brought him home in a few days.

Late Monday afternoon we unpacked his crate, laid out his bowls, and drove out to pick him up. 

He settled right into his bed and, though he frequently got up to see where we were going, or to chase his tennis ball, he'd always plop right back in his bed.

Needless to say, we're both more than a little smitten...

When we picked him up, he already had an appointment to be neutered. We thought it might cause a little regression, since he's clearly in some pain, add to that the fact that he seems to be having trouble getting used to sleeping alone after sharing a crate with his brother for the first few weeks of his life, we were up before the sun the next morning. 

Fortunately, he loves to watch tv (he seems particularly fond of Dr. Carter's voice on ER) so we watched an episode of Nadiya's Time to Eat while sort of trying to fall back to sleep. 

Not only is he keeping us from sleeping, he's keeping us from being productive too! This little dude wiggled his way into my lap this morning as I attempted to work. I had to prop my laptop on some pillows beside me and work in an odd position while he napped soundly.

It's a good thing he's so cute. ;) 

We're one week into owning him and couldn't be happier. We're super excited at the thought of bringing Charlie on future camping trips and kayaking adventures, so this definitely won't be the last you see of him!

Top 5 Thursday: New (To Me) Instagram Accounts

Keeping it simple here today. If you're looking for some fun, beautiful, artistic Instagram accounts to follow, here are a few of my current favorites:

Wantshowasyoung (this look or her red lips here)

Idealbookshelf (feel a bit frustrated that I didn't think of this)

Sheisthisdesigns (they're all so rad, but I'd love to hang this one in our house)

JeffManning_ (while we're on the subject of hanging art in our home... gosh, I love this piece)

Ettavee (kinda wish we had gotten married in front of a giant one of these)

Nikkolas_smith (I love the heart conveyed in his whimsy... especially this one)

Any accounts you think I'd enjoy? Leave them in the comments below!

Searching For The Magic Words: Round 3


Well, it's about that time again, don't you think? 

Time for a few more tried and true meals with recipes that include the magic words ("my kids loved it") that practically ensure my husband will love it, too.

Here are our newest favorites:

The easiest and most delicious tacos... we typically opt for ground turkey over ground beef and it's still amazing.

As setting-you-up-for-disappointment as the name comes across, Holy Yum Chicken is consistently the most mouthwatering chicken I've ever made. And while this meal doesn't include the magic words per se, I figured anything that mixes honey, mustard, and maple syrup is going to be worth a try. 

I typically make the Holy Yum Chicken with a side of Parmesan Garlic Ranch Butter Smashed Potatoes. And, obviously, this name encapsulates every bit of punch you in the mouth flavor you'll get with each bite. (To be fair, everything we've made from Julie's blog so far has been incredible. So if you find yourself wandering about, pick a recipe or two to try!)

Baked Cajun Honey Dijon Chicken Tenders. (Shown above.) These are amazing. I even bought the recommended honey mustard dressing and it was well worth the extra trip to the store. I wish I'd taken a photo of ours, but they looked so good coming out of the over steaming hot, I dished them up and dug in too quickly to capture the moment. Do not expect any leftovers. 

We're on a Ground Turkey Nacho kick around here. It's become our go-to, ready in 15 minutes, comfort-y food that includes some vegetables. Sure, it also includes a lot of cheese, but I'm still gonna give us credit for the veggies. 

My mouth is watering...

Top 5 Thursday: British TV Shows

In honor of the premiere of a new season of The Great British Baking Show, I thought I'd share my Top 5 Favorite British TV Shows:

1. Great British Baking Show. With all my heart forever and ever. I have yet to find an American competition with this much heart. The pacing is almost soothing. And they're so nice to each other. I love it.

2. The Bletchley Circle. Female WW2 code-breakers reunite to find a serial killer? Yep, I'm in.

3. The Paradise. The story follows a female employee at the first department store. It's adorable. 

4. The Repair Shop. Speaking of adorable... Families bring in heirlooms or sentimental objects to be repaired by specialists. I triple-dog-dare you to watch a Dad bring in his recently deceased daughter's item to be repaired as a gift for his granddaughter and not cry. On a separate note, there's something really fulfilling about just how clean Steve can get the insides of an old clock

5. Luther. Idris Elba solving murder cases. Need I say more? While it's not a wholesome, family-friendly show, it's a great 'up-next' for Dexter fans. (He's also the inspiration for my mental picture of Cormoran Strike.)

As I scroll through these, I've noticed a handful are available on Amazon Prime. I suppose this means I can hold off on trying to convince Josh to add BritBox to our (already exhaustive) list of streaming platform subscriptions.

Anything I've missed? Are there any British shows you know and love and would highly recommend?