Today marks one year since we packed up all of our belongings, stacked them in our front yard, and put them in a gigantic crate.  Actually, we only watched as military-paid movers did the hard work (and thank god for that–I hate moving).

Still, today is a bit of an emotional day for me. Joseph for some reason is absolutely unaffected, but I’m having a hard time grappling the fact that we left our first home together a year ago.

It’s best to hide my feelings by surrounding myself with butter.

The Pioneer Woman posted this a few days ago, and I knew I had no chance–I had to make it over the weekend. Sunday Morning was French Toast with Berry Butter Morning. It was a good morning.

Not only is the butter delicious, but I love the french toast! It’s made with egg yolks, which delivers a beautiful yellow color and leaves behind the intense egg flavor you sometimes find in french toast. I plan to make french toast this way–with berry butter or not–from now on!

Beautiful butter! I have a lot left over, so I think I’ll let it sit in the freezer and repeat French Toast with Berry Butter Morning a few times.

French Toast with Berry Butter from The Pioneer Woman (with step-by-step photos)

1 pound Unsalted Butter, Softened
½ cup Raspberries
½cup Blackberries
1 loaf Crusty Bread: Baguette, French Loaf, Etc.
4 whole Egg Yolks
2 cups Half-and-half
1 Tablespoon Sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla
Zest Of One Lemon
Maple Syrup For Serving
Sifted Powder Sugar, For Serving (optional)

Make the berry butters: in separate batches, whip 2 sticks of butter at a time on high using the whisk attachment. Switch to paddle attachment. Add either raspberries or blackberries. Turn mixer on low for only about five seconds, just long enough for the berries to begin to mix in/break up, but not so long that it turns into a mess. Clean mixer bowl and attachments and repeat with other kind of berry. (A stand mixer is not absolutely necessary here–you can even do it by hand. Just whip soft butter and add berries until they break up a bit)

With each batch, turn mixture out onto a long sheet of plastic wrap set over a long sheet of foil. Use the wrap/foil to roll the butter into a cylinder: first seal the plastic wrap around the cylinder, then secure the foil around it. Twist the ends, gradually applying more pressure as you twist in order to make the cylinder taut.

Once it’s a nice, neat cylinder of foil, place into the freezer for 30 minutes in order to quickly solidify it, then transfer it to the fridge until you’re ready to use it. Butter should be nice and firm.

NOTE: You can add a little sifted powdered sugar to the butter to make more of a sweet spread for bread and muffins! For French toast, though, the maple syrup makes things sweet enough.

To make the french toast, cut bread into slices 1/2 inch thick. In a dish, mix together egg yolks, half-and-half, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla. Whisk to combine. Dip bread slices in mixture, coating both sides, then remove from dish and set aside. Repeat until all bread is coated.

Heat iron skillet or griddle over medium heat. Sizzle butter in the pan when hot. Cook French toast on both sides until golden brown, being careful not to burn.

Remove berry butters from fridge. Unwrap one end and cut slices. Lay one slice each onto each serving of French toast. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired, then drizzle with maple syrup.

I’ve been curious about the new Philadelphia “Cooking Creme” for a while. Joseph thought they seemed disgusting, so I decided to sneak it into one of our meals. And I’m happy with the result! The base of this pizza is Italian Cheese & Herb spread mixed with ricotta. I’ve never had a white pizza before, but it was a nice alternative to tomato sauce.  It’s definitely better than Alfredo sauce, which I really hate the taste of.

I like making pizza because it’s hands-on and easy! I just whip up my favorite pizza dough, set out a few different toppings, and Joseph and I can each make our own.

Before entering the oven–Joseph’s is the symmetrical one on the left.

I put them in the oven about 8 minutes–until the cheese melted and the vegetables softened and warmed a bit.  (My mini-pizza was a little bit too tall as I went overboard on the veggies)

Pizza with Philadelphia Cooking Cremefrom Buns in my Oven

2 pizza crusts (store bought or homemade)
1 container Philadelphia brand Italian Cheese and Herb Cooking Creme
4 ounces ricotta cheese
1 – 1/2 cups cooked and chopped chicken
6 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced, or more to taste
Additional toppings of your choice (I like mushrooms, zucchini, bell peppers, fresh sliced tomatoes, and green onions)
parsley, for garnish

Preheat the oven as directed for your pizza crust.

In a small bowl, mix together the cooking creme and Ricotta cheese. Spread on the two pizza crusts. Top with the chicken, tomato slices, and green onions. Place the sliced mozzarella on top of the pizzas. Sprinkle with parsley to make everything pretty.

Bake as directed on your pizza crust. Let the pizza rest five minutes before cutting.

Note: The recipe above makes two large pizzas, so cut it in half for one large pizza or 4-6 miniatures.

I woke up a few weeks ago absolutely craving chocolate. My first thought was, “I need chocolate muffins with chocolate chips.” After some 8AM internet-scouring, I went the zucchini route rather than put myself into a chocolate coma. Boy am I glad I did! If you haven’t tried zucchini bread yet, you must! I did not expect such deliciousness and am really kicking myself for putting it off for so long.

Although I’m a big fan of zucchini, I swear these muffins taste nothing like vegetables! The bread is rich, and the cinnamon adds an intense flavor. And the little bit of chocolate is wonderful! I know they sound disgusting, but trust me here.

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins from

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup milk
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup shredded zucchini
¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips
¼ cup chopped walnuts

In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Combine the egg, oil, milk, lemon juice and vanilla; mix well. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in zucchini, chocolate chips and walnuts. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until muffins test done.

I’m always on the hunt for quick and tasty recipes, especially when cooking lunch at home for myself, and frequently turn to tilapia. I buy a big bag of filets and keep them around to either grill or bake. I love seafood, it’s good for me, it’s easy and fast to cook, and tilapia works with a number of flavors.

These week I’ve been on an avocado salsa kick. I threw it together on a whim and think it will be repeated often! It works great as a midnight snack for insomniacs like myself. My ingredient measurements aren’t specific, and they’re definitely not static. I’m not really one for measuring unless I’m baking–I just taste everything as I go along!

Grilled Tilapia with Avocado Salsa
Serves two

2-3 tilapia filets
Tony Chachere’s Seasoning

Lightly season filets with Tony Chachere’s or preferred seasoning. Cook in cast-iron skillet over heat, or in a George Foreman grill until they easily flake with a fork.

1 avocado
½-1 roma tomato
¼-½ white or red onion, chopped
¼-½ corn (I heated up frozen corn)
1-2 Tbs olive oil
2-3 Tbs parsley, chopped
Salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon, to taste

Chop avocado, tomato, and red onion. Stir all ingredients together. Chill in refrigerator if desired. Enjoy!

I don’t watch many cooking shows unless they star a chef I really like (my favorite are Nadia G, as mentioned here, Guy Fieri, and Anne Burrell), but Joseph and I tuned into Giada at Home a couple weeks ago. As soon as I saw these on the show’s itinerary, I knew they would be in my kitchen soon.  The tops aren’t technically supposed to collapse, but I was secretly hoping they would.  They’re much prettier this way, I think!

Look at that flaky top! It is a really great contrast to the thick and rich body of the cupcake. These remind me of molten lava cakes but less gooey (and less messy) with a wonderful crust. I am a huge fan of chocolate and cinnamon together, and the flavor is similar to my favorite Nutella cookies.

The recipe made me 24 pretty and delicate cupcakes!  I feel like cookie and cupcake recipes always make me fewer than the written amount, so that was a nice surprise. I filled the liners all the way up to the top and still had a bit of batter left over.

Mini Chocolate Meringue Cupcakes from Giada at Home via the Food Network

2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
¼ cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (I cut back to ¼ heaping tsp)
â…› teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
¼ cup cake flour (I used AP flour without problems)
3 large egg whites, at room temperature

Chocolate drizzle topping:
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
½ tablespoon vegetable oil

For the cupcakes: arrange an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 24-count mini-muffin pan with 1.25-inch diameter paper liners and set aside. Grease both the pan and cupcake liners with cookie spray!

Melt ½ cup chocolate chips and set aside. In a medium bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat the egg yolks, vegetable oil, 1/3 cup of the sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt, at high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Mix in the melted chocolate chips and stir until smooth (mixture will be thick).

In a separate bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat the egg whites at high speed until they hold soft peaks, about 3 minutes. With the machine running, gradually add the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks, about 2 minutes. Stir 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture. Using a spatula, fold the remaining egg white mixture. In batches, sift the flour over the batter and fold it in using a spatula. Fill each paper liner to the top with batter and bake for 12 minutes until puffed. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.

For the topping: In a small bowl, combine the melted chocolate chips and oil. Stir until smooth.

Using a fork, drizzle the chocolate mixture over the cupcakes. Allow the topping to harden for at least 1 1/2 hours at room temperature before serving. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Pretty easy! Since I don’t have two electric mixers, I used my Kitchen Aid stand mixer for both steps, making sure to thoroughly clean and dry the bowl and whip between. Any leftover residue from the egg yoke mixture can ruin your egg white meringue, so take precaution.

Enjoy!  I took these to a party over the weekend, and they were a big success