Songs Of Summer

With August coming to a close – even though we have almost an entire full official month of summer left – and the summer season saying it’s annual goodbyes, I have put together a mix for myself and a list to share with you of the songs I have been listening to on repeat these past few months.  They have come with me to the beach, calmed me in traffic, encouraged tiny fingers to snap along with me, picked up my mood on a drizzling Tuesday and made me downright giddy when their familiar melody came abruptly through the radio.

songs of summer beach pic

1.      Bastille – ‘Bad Blood’

2.     Hozier – ‘Take Me To Church’

3.     Vance Joy – ‘Riptide’

4.     Bon Iver – ‘Skinny Love’

5.     Bastille – ‘Flaws’

6.     Lana Del Ray – ‘Young and Beautiful’

7.     Bon Iver – ‘Blood Bank’

8.     Walk The Moon – ‘Anna Sun’

9.     Wild Club – ‘Thunder Clatter’

 

Here’s to the end of a great summer season!

Summer Recipe Roundup

summer recipe roundup{Top Row, Left to Right: Zucchini Summer Soup; Mixed Tomato and Zucchini Crudo with Buffalo Mozzarella on Freshly Grilled Bread; Key West Spicy Quesadillas}

{Bottom Row, Left to Right: Roasted Cherry Tomato Capellini; Grilled Vegetable Pizza; Blueberry Crumb Cake}

I have been sorting through all kinds of recipes popping up on Pinterest this week, full of my seasonal favorites, including zucchini, ripe tomatoes and fresh blueberries.  Which makes me eager to get back into my own kitchen after a summer consisting mostly of restaurant-hopping, dinners outside with more focus on enjoying the warm, glowy nights, and evening walks to get gelato that garner more attention than the last true meal of the day.

So, until the fall really sets in and we get back into a more structured routine and back to cooking on a regular basis again, here are a few links to some great end-of-summer recipes I have rounded up to give me the jump-start that I need:

zucchini summer soup / mixed tomato and zucchini crudo with buffalo mozzarella on freshly grilled bread / key west spicy quesadillas / roasted cherry tomato capellini / grilled vegetable pizza / blueberry crumb cake 

Recipe and Photo Credit (in same order as above): Primavera Kitchen, The Design Files Daily, The Iron You, Yummy Mummy Kitchen, Jelly Toast, Sweetcakes Bakeshop

Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Brownie Sundae For One

To be clear, it was a double chocolate brownie with melted caramel and chocolate chip cookie, topped with Tahitian vanilla bean gelato.

And to be fair, it was all store bought.

double chocolate brownie sundae for one

The other day, I made a dessert from scratch that I had accidentally left in the oven 5 minutes too long.  I was ultimately disappointed because it was almost perfect, but after glancing at all of the dirty dishes left in its wake and the messy kitchen that matched, I decided not to let the urge to make another batch take over.

With my husband out with friends for the night and my mind still thinking of a decadent dessert days later, I set out to make a super easy version of a brownie sundae that would hit the spot.  But this time, only one bowl and one pan were used.  Mission complete before I put Emma to bed.  Dishes were done by the time they cooled.  Cutting corners never felt, or tasted, so good.

Ingredients:

  • Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix
  • Kraft Caramels
  • Nestle Toll House Cookie Dough
  • Talenti Tahitian Vanilla Bean Gelato

double chocolate brownie next day{A little better picture captured in the daylight, the morning after baking.  And I was told I would have to share the rest,  so I wrapped this one up for my husband.}

Instructions:

1.     Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees (even though the box says pre-heat to 325 degrees).  Follow brownie mix instructions and pour batter into a 9×9 pan, lightly greased.

2.     Cut caramel pieces in half and place as many as you want into the batter, pressing the pieces down lightly into the mix.

3.     Break up the cookie dough and spread out to cover the top of the brownie batter, again, pressing the dough down lightly into the mix.

4.     Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes.

5.     Let cool for 20-30 minutes.  Top with gelato of choice.  And serve with milk :)

{Additional Tips}

  • You may need to bake an additional 5 minutes, depending on your oven temperature and how gooey you like your brownies.
  • Let the cookie dough sit out for a little bit, so that it’s soft and can easily be broken apart to place on top of the brownie batter.
  • Serve immediately after the brownies have finished cooling, so that the caramel is still warm and melted.
  • Top with a scoop of ice cream or gelato of your choice.  Talenti Tahitian vanilla bean went perfectly with this.
  • You will need lots of milk.  I was actually satisfied after one small square, that’s how rich it is.  {And that says a lot coming from someone who is slightly dessert-obsessed.}

Enjoy!

 

This Fragile Little Thing

stunning

I read in the paper today about two separate, horrible accidents yesterday claiming the lives of a total of four people on an interstate that me and Emma took to the beach just hours before one of the crashes occurred.  A road that me and Emma travel frequently, like so many others that drive that same way to get to work, to meet a friend for lunch, to head out for a long-awaited vacation, to check out the nearest shopping mall or to visit with a loved one.  A lump formed in my throat as I read the details spelled out in fine, black ink; a formal, typed letter to us all.  A reminder that this fragile little thing called life is such a tremendous gift, one that can be enduring, one that can be fleeting all the same.  None of us knowing which we will belong to.  So, give your kids an extra squeeze, not just as you tuck them into bed tonight, but at any random moment this afternoon, making it unexpected and meaningful.  Call someone you have been thinking of, but errands and appointments and procrastination have continued to get in the way.  Spend your time being happy; wake up wanting to be happy, and it will come much easier and more often.

When I couldn’t get yesterday’s events out of my head hours after hearing about it, even while driving to a close-by pool, on a quiet road, on a radiant, clear day, with my daughter sleeping in the backseat, I paused at the red light and snapped a photo of Emma looking so beautiful, so peaceful.  She was stunning.  And I became overwhelmed, again, at this incredible, but fragile little thing called life.  I have looked at this photo several times since taking it and it’s served as an important, brief reminder each and every time.

 

 

In The Kitchen: Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

I have always had a thing for chocolate chip cookies; always sneaking the refrigerated dough before baking, always finding an excuse to whip up a batch: rainy days, Friday nights at home, the entire Christmas season.  {See the deep dish chocolate chip cookie with caramel and sea salt that I made here a few months back.}  And although I don’t need a single bit of help creating a new reason to rely on this old favorite or come up with a different variation of the classic, chocolate chip cookies are probably the only dessert my husband really favors.  So, when I recently stumbled upon some mouth-watering dessert recipes over at the blog, I Heart Naptime, I typed in ‘chocolate chip cookie bars’ in the search tab to see where it would get me.  And it brought me here.  These congo bars aka chocolate chip cookie bars were front and center on the page and the ingredient list was short, the instructions so simple, it was a sure-bet I would be giving them a try myself.

cookie bar

{Ingredients and baking directions taken from the author of the blog, I Heart Naptime (though I changed the wording of the baking directions a bit, the instructions are the same}

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2/3 salted butter (softened)
  • 3 eggs (whisked)
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

ingredients

{Make sure to steal some fallen chips as you go}

stirring the dough

{Gently fold in the chips, so that they are evenly distributed throughout the dough}

choc chip cookie bar

Instructions:

1.     Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.  Cream butter and sugar in large bowl.  Add in eggs and vanilla and stir until combined.

2.     Mix the baking powder and salt with 1 cup of flour in a separate bowl and then pour into the butter mixture.  Stir in the rest of the flour.

3.     Fold in the chocolate chips.  {See additional notes below}

4.     Grease a 12×14 pan (13×9 will work, too) and lightly dust with flour.  {I used a 13×9 pan because it’s the size we had}

5.     Press dough into pan with flour on your hands.  Bake for 25-35 minutes or until lightly browned.  {See additional notes below}

6.     Allow time to cool.  Slice bars to your liking.

mint chip topped cookie bar

Additional Information:

{In the original baking directions, the author made a note to bake anywhere from 25-35 minutes, so I played it safe and went with 30 minutes…smack dab in the middle.  I wish I had taken them out at 25 minutes as I usually prefer a more undercooked version.}

{The recipe called for 1 1/2 – 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips and staying on the cautious side, I decided to make this first batch with only 1 1/2 cups of chips.  Next time, I will definitely throw in the full 2 cups!}

{These were great the next day – to be more specific, this morning – warmed up until gooey.}

{Since this is a pretty filling cookie bar, I would serve warm with a glass of tall, cold milk or with a heap of your favorite ice cream on top.}

Enjoy!