Never Look Back

never look back

“I never look back, darling…it distracts from the now.”
The Incredibles

 Come back every Tuesday for “The Bees Knees”, where I post the best quotes from my favorite movies, TV shows, songs, and books.

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Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Bread

Here’s your homework for the day.  Go into your recipe collections and find all the pumpkin spice cake recipes that you have.  Gather them together and throw them the F away…because this Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Bread is a legit game changer.

swirl-bread

Soft and delicious, this pumpkin bread is great for breakfast or dessert.  You can add a sweet cream cheese glaze on top for added richness, or just serve it as is because it’s just that good.

Pumpkin Chocolate Swirl Bread

Ingredients:

  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 1¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 cup canned pureed pumpkin
  • ½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips, melted
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa or hot cocoa mix (either one will work! It’s mostly for color)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat a 9 in. loaf pan with non-stick spray.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Mix together and set aside.

In another large bowl, combine butter and sugar.  Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.  If your butter is room temp, you can also beat with a whisk by hand, which is what I prefer…but to each his own!  Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla, beating well until combined.

Alternate adding flour mixture and milk, starting and ending with flour, and mixing until everything is just combined.  Fold in the pumpkin.

Divide batter in half.  Add melted chocolate and cocoa powder to one portion.  Mix to combine.

Alternate adding pumpkin and chocolate batter to prepared pan.  Using a knife, swirl batters together.

Bake 55 to 60 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.  Let cool completely, then remove from pan.

Your kitchen will smell amazing and your stomach will thank me.  And you’re welcome.

If you want to make a cream cheese glaze, you can combine 2 tablespoons softened cream cheese with ½ cup confectioners’ sugar and ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract.  Add 1 teaspoon milk, and continue adding milk little by little until you achieve the right consistency.

Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 

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Hostage Book Review

In the summer of 1997, Christophe Andre, a humanitarian worker with Doctors Without Borders, was kidnapped in Nazran by men seeking a ransom.  He was blindfolded, driven to some unknown location, and locked up in a small room with nothing but a mattress.

In Guy DeLisle’s biography of Andre’s kidnapping, aptly titled Hostage, Andre’s story comes to life in simple illustrations and, with the highest form of complement intended, is pure torture to read.

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With little to no dialogue and illustrations that show Andre’s first-person nightmare, Hostage is based on DeLisle’s recordings of Andre’s accounts of the abduction and his attempts at escape.  What it lacks in action it makes up for in hundreds of pages of inaction…adding to the pure boredom, terror, and monotony that comes with being locked up in a room for months on end.

A limited color palate also helps add a dream-like feel to this story and in a sense becomes a character itself, helping us feel limited, enclosed, and claustrophobic.

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Over the course of four months, we sit patiently with Andre, eating…sitting…eating…sitting, just waiting for a rescue that may or may not ever come.  The only thing driving the story forward are the thoughts in his head…and as Andre’s story continues and races to a heart-quickening finale, Hostage becomes quite a page-turner and has an ending that will not leave you disappointed.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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21 John Denver Lyrics that are Everything Right Now

On October 12, 1997, country music star John Denver died in a plane crash.  The voice behind such popular songs as “Take Me Home, Country Road”, “Rocky Mountain High”, and “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” was one of the most popular acoustic artists of the 1970’s and was America’s best-selling performer of the time.

Throughout his short life, he recorded and released approximately 300 songs, about 200 of which he wrote and composed himself.  His songs often had to do with country life out west and the beauty of nature.

The poetic lyrics of his songs paint a beautiful picture of life in “God’s Country”, and while it may seem hard to find good things on TV or in the news, you can have fun sinking into these 21 beautiful, inspiring, and thoughtful lyrics from some of John Denver’s best songs.

21 John Denver Lyrics that are Everything Right Now

rocky mountain high

Life ain’t nothin’ but a funny, funny riddle.
Thank God I’m a Country Boy

sunshine

Welcome to my happiness
You know it makes me smile.
And it pleases me to have you here
For just a little while.
– Farewell Andromeda

rainbow

Let me drown in your laughter.
– Annie’s Song

country-roads-quote

There’s nothin’ behind me and nothin’ that ties me to
Something that might have been true yesterday.
Tomorrow is open, right now it seems to be more than enough
To just be here today.
– Sweet Surrender

stillness

To sail on a dream on a crystal clear ocean
To ride on the crest of wild raging storm
To work in the service of life and living
In search of the answers to the questions unknown.
– Calypso

beach

Sometimes I feel like a sad song.
– Like a Sad Song

rockies

Perhaps love is like a window
Perhaps an open door
It invites you to come closer
It wants to show you more
And even if you lose yourself
And don’t know what to do
The memory of love will see you through.
– Perhaps Love

feather

Lying by your side, the greatest peace I’ve ever known.
– My Sweet Lady

eagle

It’s the little things that make a house a home
Like a fire softly burning and supper on the stove
The light in your eyes that makes me warm.
– Back Home Again

mountain tops

Though I seem a half a million miles from you,
You are in my heart and living there.
– Shanghai Breezes

diamonds

Sometimes you just need a little fun in your life! Check back every week for a new “Just Bee-cause” post, where I discuss everything from celebrity news to favorite videos and websites!

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Adorable Little Crocheted Pumpkins

It’s FINALLY fall in Chicago!

For a few days there, Chicago was experiencing weird 80 degree fall days and I was having NONE OF IT.  BRING ON THE SWEATER WEATHER!

To help cozy up my house for cool weather, I decided to make a couple of these adorable little crocheted pumpkins.  Aren’t they the cutest?!

crocheted pumpkins

This pattern is very forgiving and you can make a whole series of pumpkins smaller and bigger than this by stopping or continuing your increase rows.

You can find this pattern at 5littlemonsters.com.  I made two of the “large” pumpkins, but there’s also a pattern for a pumpkin about half the size of these.

You can also add a little face for a fun jack-o-lantern or just leave them as is to decorate your home for Halloween and Thanksgiving!  I think I might even make some pumpkins in a series of fall colors to help cozy up the living room!

Celebrate creativity every Wednesday with a “Creativi-bee” post, where I share easy craft tutorials, project ideas, and craft collections.

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Must. Have. Cake.

lovely_multilayered_cake_vector_181052

“A party without cake is just a meeting.”
–Julia Child

Come back every Tuesday for “The Bees Knees”, where I post the best quotes from my favorite movies, TV shows, songs, and books.

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20 Next Level Baking HACKS!

Up your cake decorating game with this collection of 20 Next Level Baking HACKS!  Whether you want your boxed cake to taste like it was professionally made or you need a replacement for sugar or butter, this assortment of tips, printables, charts and more will help your cakes, cookies, brownies, and cupcakes look (and taste) better!

baking-hacks

20 Next Level Baking HACKS!

Want to make a boxed cake taste better?  Add one more egg than listed on the box, replace oil with melted butter and double the amount, replace water with an equal amount of milk, then mix and bake according to package instructions.  If that’s too much work, just combine all the listed ingredients and add a teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Image result for boxed cake mix ingredients

Keep this list of baking swaps handy for last-minute changes.

Simple Baking Swaps

Use toothpicks to attach bread to a sliced cake to keep every piece nice and fresh.

Keep cut cake fresh with sliced bread. Learn more + cake recipe at TidyMom.net

You can also use a slice of bread to keep your freshly baked cookies nice and soft.

1. Dip cookie cutters in flour first before cutting dough to help cookies retain their shape.

When using a hand mixer, use a paper plate to prevent batter from splattering your kitchen.

Brilliant Baking Hack | Avoid Batter Splatter: Poke the ends of your mixer's beaters through the middle of a paper plate before attaching them to the mixer to act as a shield.

Are you terrified to write on a cake?  I AM!  To limit the stress, use a toothpick to outline your lettering or design before piping.

Edible Obsession: The Easiest Cake Lettering Tutorial Ever | LaurenConrad.com

Keep chocolate chips suspended in your cookies by rolling them in flour first.  You can also keep berries suspended in cakes or blueberries suspended in muffins by rolling them in flour as well.

how to stop chocolate chips from sinking 2

Use unflavored dental floss to evenly slice a cake in half.  I LOVE this hack and use it all the time!  Just place toothpicks evenly around the cake to help guide and line up the floss.

How to Cut a Cake Layer in Half with dental floss: Goodbye, Fear of layer cakes! This was so flipping easy, even I could do it!

Flip a muffin tin over to make edible chocolate chip cookie bowls.

OH, MY!!!!!  -

Create the ultimate non-stick release by combining flour, shortening, and vegetable oil.  Find the exact recipe at ifyougiveablondeakitchen.com.

Never worry about broken cakes again. This magic cake pan release leaves no crumb behind and you can store it at room temperature for up to three months. | www.ifyougiveablondeakitchen.com

Use a piece of masking tape to help level off cocoa powder.

Here’s a helpful chart with conversions on how to change metric to standard.

Get room temp butter lickety split by pouring boiling hot water into a glass.  Dump out the water and flip it over your stick of butter.  Let it sit for a few minutes and your butter will be softened in no time.

butter

Here’s a helpful chart for replacing sugar with honey in your baked recipes.

Use this helpful guide to create a perfect circle of parchment paper for your round cakes.

parchment paper

One cup sifted all-purpose flour does NOT mean the same as on cup all-purpose flour, sifted.  One cup sifted all-purpose flour means you sift the flour BEFORE you measure it.  One cup all-purpose flour, sifted means you sift the flour AFTER you measure it.

Speaking of flour, the perfect cake and cookie comes from measuring your flour correctly.  Avoid scooping flour out of the bag with your measuring cup.  This often results in getting more flour than you need.  Instead spoon the flour into the measuring up, then level off with a knife.

Image result for spooning flour

Spray your measuring cups with non-stick spray before measuring out sticky substances, like honey, syrup, and molasses.

Image result for spray measuring cups

Here are some great cookie substitutions.  Replace 1 egg with 1 banana or 1 cup butter with 1 cup apple sauce.  You can also replace 1 cup butter with 1 avocado for chocolate cookies, or 1 cup butter with 1 cup Greek yogurt.

Image result for substitute egg with banana

Here’s a list of temperature conversions if you need to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit or visa versa.

Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 

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