Pumpkin Muffins

Happy Halloween!!

Our pumpkins are carved and the candy bowl is full; we are ready for trick-or-treaters tonight! We made these pumpkin muffins a few weeks ago and I thought it would be a fun recipe to share today.

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 tbsp virgin coconut oil (or canola)* *I substituted apple sauce
2 large egg whites
2 tsp vanilla extract
baking spray 
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips

   Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a mini muffin tin with paper liners and lightly spray liners with oil for easy removal.
   In a medium bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking soda, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, and salt with a wire whisk. Set aside. In a large bowl mix pumpkin puree, oil, egg whites and vanilla; beat at medium speed until thick. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Add flour mixture to the wet mixture, then blend at low speed until combined; do not over mix. Fold in chocolate chips.
   Pour batter into prepared muffin tin and bake on the center rack for 22 to 24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
   Let them cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 28 mini muffins or 14 regular sized muffins.

Some got eaten before I snapped a photo!

Wedding Throwback: Addressing Things

Here's a throwback wedding post!

After Patrick proposed, I wasn't sure if we would include wedding things in the blog. Turns out I didn't have to worry about that since the blogging ceased temporarily during the engagement. If our readers don't mind a few throwback wedding posts we'd love to indulge you in some things we meant to share with you!

I think we both were really excited about the theme for the wedding (hint: it was inspired by our fine china) but I'll start this throwback wedding theme with addressing things. I will do a post soon on the china and then after that will give you more details about the theme!

One not so small task of any wedding is addressing invitations! We sent out Save The Date's before our formal invitations. We fell on the trendy Save The Date bandwagon because they're too cute not to do! Addressing Save The Dates were much easier than our formal invitations because I let Patrick print the recipients address right on the envelope. Hand addressing all the way for the formal invitations ... and an inside envelope for even more fun!

We did lots of stuffing, licking and sealing, and stamping. Here are some snapshots from our "addressing things" journey!

Since we knew we would be utilizing the post office quite a bit in the coming year (Save The Dates, thank you notes, various other correspondences) we decided to purchase a personalized stamp from the My Clear Stamps Etsy shop. Would recommend their services!

 Lots of stamping! We did the save the date return address stamp in red to coordinate with the "Love" postal stamp. Our photographer Carol Hedspeth of Conway Photo Shop let us have some fun during our engagement shoot with some signs for the card. We sent these out in March.


We ordered our invitations far in advance of when they needed to be sent out. We ordered William Arthur invitations from Papyrus around the time we were sending Save The Dates out. We went ahead with the order so early because we knew what we wanted at that time and there was a coupon! Along with the invitation we had two enclosures: postcard RSVP slip and an Accommodations card.

Have some wine before invitation stuffing.

 Then drop them off at your local post office! I wasn't too concerned about having the post master hand stamp the invitation however I did want the post mark to read "Chapel Hill". Since there was a lot of Durham with the wedding I wanted a little Chapel Hill somewhere and also the connotations of a wedding chapel. Much to my dismay the Chapel Hill post office sourced our invitations to a RTP post office to be post marked and mailed.

Sweet Potato Muffins

You may recall that Patrick and I participate in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm share. We receive a box of farm goodies from a local farm every week. Farms set up their CSAs in different ways. One thing that differs between the programs is whether or not you are able to select what's in your box. Our CSA coordinator will send out an email at the beginning of each week and we reply with our selections. Some CSAs provide a random box of goodies according to what is being produced on the farm at the time. This was one of the main reasons we chose the farm we did so that we could have more control over what was in our box. However we do challenge ourselves to try vegetables that we are not familiar with. Another factor in choosing which CSA farm fits your needs best is the length of their season. Some will run the entire length of the growing season (spring through fall) while others may just do a spring, summer, or fall CSA offering.

If you're interested in a CSA follow this link for more information. Patrick and I have thoroughly enjoyed our weekly box of veggies and knowing that we're supporting our local food economy! We first started our CSA in Spring 2011; how quickly time flies! If you are in the Triangle area we highly recommended Brinkley Farms!

As I mentioned earlier, we receive an email at the beginning of the week with all the current vegetable offerings. Here's an example of one from October:

Individual $12.00 to spend
Couple $16.00 to spend
Family $20.00 to spend
squash $1.50/lb
zucchini $1.50/lb
cucumbers $1.50/lb
red tomatoes $2.50/lb
regular sweet potatoes $1.50/lb
white sweet potatoes $1.50/lb
acorn squash $2.00/each
butternut squash $2.00/each
spaghetti squash $3.00/each
regular eggplant $1.50/lb
regular kale $2.00/bundle
white turnips $2.00/bundle
green bell peppers .75cents/each
red bell peppers $1.00/each
purple hull peas  $5.00/1lb bag shelled
butterbeans $5.00/1lb bag shelled
blue hubbard squash $4.00/each (odd shaped grayish/blue squash good for decor or cooking)
cinderella pumpkin $5.00/each (flat greenish/orange pumpkin good for decor or cooking)
regular orange pumpkins $4.00/each
pie pumpkins $3.00/each (great for making pies, or decoration)
mini orange pumpkins .50cents/each (decoration)
mini white pumpkins .50cents/each  (decoration)
small autumn wing gourds .50cents/each (decoration)

Our coordinator provides descriptions for the more unusual offerings which is helpful (as is google).

We receive a "couple" box and then reply back to the email with a $16 selection of produce. Then Patrick picks up our box at the end of the week with all of our requested vegetables in it!

One vegetable we usually select are sweet potatoes because a) they're delicious, b) they're super healthy, c) they're easy to prep, and d) they don't spoil within the week. Recently I found myself with lots of sweet potatoes and I felt like all we've done lately is roast them as a side for dinner! Then I said to myself: save these sweet potatoes for breakfast! So I browsed a little for some inspiration: should I make sweet potato scones? sweet potato hash? pancakes? waffles?! The options were endless! Finally I limited it down to sweet potato muffins or biscuits and asked my husband what his preference was.

He wanted muffins! Without any further chit chat I will share the sweet potato muffins recipe I used. Patrick said they're a keeper (which is a big deal for muffins)!

Sweet Potato Muffins
Recipe from The Weelicious Blog
Recipe says makes 30 mini muffins; I made 18 regular muffins

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs, whisked
1 cup sweet potato puree, cooked*
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Place the first 7 ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine.
3. In a separate bowl whisk the remaining ingredients.
4. Slowly combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients just until they are combined (be careful not to over mix the batter).

5. Place 1 tbsp of batter in each cup of greased mini muffin tins and bake for 15 minutes.
6. Serve.
* To make sweet potato puree, bake sweet potatoes (or yams) in a 400 degree oven for one hour, allow to cool, slice in half lengthwise and mash flesh with a fork until smooth.
** You can place muffins in labeled freezer bags and freeze for up to 3 months.

Since sweet potatoes are a good source of protein and fiber, we had these for breakfast with a banana and coffee before heading to the Google Glass exhibit in Durham.

With Google Glass you would be able to access the whitskitchen blog while cooking and follow the recipe! How cool would that be?!

Homemade Crusty Bread

If you know my mom then you know she makes some amazing sourdough bread! It's a crowd pleaser if I've seen one. I grew up with her always making this bread and thought I might be able to make it a family recipe... but it's hard! It's a very intensive process. She has a starter that must be kept alive (sounds crazy, right?!) and you have to keep feeding it so it won't die. This is the first sign that this is hard: keeping something alive that doesn't have a heart! Then the rest is a bunch of math. You feed it and then after a certain amount of time you are able to take some of the starter and make dough. You make the dough and let it rise, make rolls and let it rise, then finally you have bread! How she's done this for so long is beyond me! Way to go Mom!

When I say "it's hard" I speak from experience because I thought I could do it at one point and tried. I had a little trouble getting the dough to properly rise and keeping the starter alive so I conceded and declared it a Mom-only recipe.

But I still wanted to make bread! So I found a recipe that didn't require keeping a starter alive and didn't require too much time for rising and such. Isn't this pretty:
Whitney's First Successful Bread Attempt
I think the recipe popped up on Pinterest. And I'm definitely excited about making it again. This unfortunately isn't a good "sandwich" bread so I will be on the hunt for another sandwich bread recipe.

If you're interested in making this yourself I highly recommend hopping over to the Simply So Good Crusty Bread post for step-by-step instructions and pictures. There's also a Q&A forum because the post was so popular!

Here are some of my pictures:

Top left: In the bowl we have mixed 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour, 1 3/4 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast, and 1 1/2 cups water. Then we let it rise overnight (or at least 12 hours).
Top right: In the morning it looked like this
Bottom left: While you preheat the oven to 450F with your enamel cast iron pot in it, you shape the dough into a ball and let it rest for 30 minutes. My dough ball deflated quite a bit (this part needs improvement).
Bottom right: After baking; at least it turned golden! 

We considered it successful! We look forward to experimenting with the recipe more. I'd like to try with half whole wheat flour. The post also mentions mixing in other ingredients (like rosemary, lemon zest, and gruyere cheese) for a fun twist. Hopefully at some point my bread won't be so deflated too.

Picnic at Vineyards at Southpoint

In my initial comeback blog post I promised to share some fun things us newlyweds are doing!

A few weekends ago we had the pleasure of touring million dollar houses in the Parade of Homes. We're getting some ideas for what features we'd be interested in. We were a little underwhelmed with the million dollar houses on the tour. They were just really big houses without many extravagant details! We did, however, fall in love with their outdoor entertaining spaces. One had a vanishing pool and screened in porch with fireplace!

Nice outdoor entertaining space is on our "wish list" complete with a little patch of yard for some vegetables!

One of our local wineries was en route to the million dollar houses. We brought a picnic and purchased a glass of wine for some afternoon relaxing. We highly recommend visiting the Vineyards at Southpoint!

This is what I get when I say "smile"
For our picnic I packed an apple, peanut butter crackers, pecans, and cheese. I brought along a small cutting board which doubles as a serving platter and knife. This way our apple could be freshly sliced! Patrick enjoyed a glass of the Cabernet Franc and I had the Viognier.

Pumpkin Spice Latte-ish Coffee

All things pumpkin spice are back! So it's no surprise that I should have a pumpkin spice featured post here.

Pumpkin spice latte-ish coffee
Last Thursday Stephanie came over for our Grey's girls night. We've been watching Grey's Anatomy together this season and I've been looking forward to our weekly date nights.

I decided to whip us up a special coffee drink. In case you didn't notice fall decided to make an appearance last week and our above normal highs sunk to above normal lows and they were chilly! I decided pumpkin spice latte-ish coffee would be a perfect addition to our night! Latte-ish means I don't have an espresso machine but wanted warm milk in my drink!

After this decision I consulted the google and used these posts (from the New Nostalgia blog and Real Housemoms blog) as jumping off points before I entered the kitchen. First thing you have to do is decide if you want to use pumpkin. Technically "pumpkin spice" doesn't require pumpkin flavoring but rather the spices traditionally used in pumpkin pie making: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and others. I had some pumpkin on hand so I decided to use it!

Here's what I did for two servings:
While brewing 1 cup of regular coffee, warm 1 cup of milk (I used half almond milk and half skim milk) over low-med heat. To the milk, add 1 tablespoon pumpkin puree and a good dash of pumpkin pie spice and stir together. After the milk is heated through add to the coffee. Sprinkle with cinnamon and serve.
For extra fun, I used a hand blender with the whisk attachment to froth the milk before adding it to the coffee... this was after all girls night.

Serve with chocolate cookies and a girlfriend! I asked Patrick if he wanted me to make him one and he declined. He's too much of a black coffee purist.


First Meal!

Patrick and I planned our honeymoon to begin on a Monday so we wouldn't have to rush any of our wedding weekend festivities. This would also give us time to get back home Sunday and just enjoy some quiet time in our home as newlyweds.

That Sunday our house looked like a mess! We were in the midst of unpacking wedding weekend bags and repacking for the honeymoon. We also had wedding presents that needed to be unwrapped and recorded.

With all that in mind we decided to order some take-out Chinese and wanted to share with you our first meal together at home as newlyweds!

We split chicken fried rice, edamame, and egg rolls.
Showing off our wedding rings so we can see we're married now!

We enjoyed a wonderful week in Charlottesville. The highlights of our trip included touring Monticello, the Luray Caverns, and several wineries.

At Veritas Winery

The newlyweds are blogging!

It's time to get back to blogging!

It's been two months and a day since...

... we got married!

Thanks to all of our family and friends for your love and support during our engagement and through the wedding! And especially your patience in the return of the blog. It really seems like some of you missed our kitchen ramblings! We have also missed recording tasty recipes so we could remember we liked them to cook again.

Until the blog is fully functioning again, you may see some posts about the following:
  - our registry! what we registered for and why. hint: we upgraded our cookware! as well as our dishes.
  - some backdated draft posts from earlier in the year
  - what we're doing for fun as newlyweds

We've missed you and look forward to getting back to blogging action!
More coming next week!