my home sweet home

Hi Friends! Happy Fourth of July Weekend!

How was your Independence Day? Did you eat enough watermelon? Hot dogs?  Burgers?  Ice cream?  Popsicles? Corn on the cob?  Ever since my parents started an annual 4th of July bike parade on our street growing up, I've loved the holiday.  (Props to Mom and Dad for getting the party started on our block!)  It was a reason to decorate my bike in red, white and blue crepe paper....and eat about 10 freezer pops before noon, preferably of the pink lemonade flavor.

To celebrate the day, our neighborhood gathers at the local elementary school with their wagons, bikes, roller blades (remember those?!), and strollers all decked out in their finest patriotic decor.  Then we march/roll/ride down to our house to tunes including the Star Spangled Banner and Stars and Stripes Forever.  Up until a few years ago, my grandpa would lead the group with a big ol' American  flag as our grand marshall, and knowing him, I'm pretty sure he probably marches around with an American flag on the 4th in heaven.

Once the parade route ends at our house, the bikes and wagons are parked and the eating begins.  Along with the barbecued hot dogs, strawberry swirled ice cream cones are scooped and cups of lemonade are everywhere.  Our neighbors bring tons of other red, white and blue treats and we all just soak up the summery atmosphere.  Once everyone has found their way to the food tables, we gather around the flag and pledge allegiance loud and proud, and my mom brings out a patriotic birthday cake so we can sing happy birthday to America.  It's a beautiful thing.

This year I wasn't in town for the big neighborhood shebang, but don't worry, we still let our 'Murican Pride shine.  It's pretty much in the blood.  I had keep the "let's sing happy birthday to America" tradition alive by making a flag-inspired fruit pizza!  (See below.)  It was the perfect sweet complement to our meal of grilled burgers and corn on the cob.  In the evening, we headed to the park where we sat on blankets in the grass with the whole town.  Cornhole tournaments, elephant ear stands and snow cone vendors lined the sidewalks as we waited for an beautiful fireworks show.  It was the best.   Seeing all the people outside enjoying something so simple and special makes me happy, and very thankful to be an American.

I hope your Fourth was full of fun, and that the weekend continues to be one of joy and gratitude for our country.

xo, Caitlin


handmade pita bread (and store-bought hummus)

Dear Friends,

It's -1 degree outside right now and there aren't many things that keep me warm despite the fact I'm constantly bundled in layers upon layers of clothing and huddled as close to my space heater as possible!  BUT...I've found something that helps and is delicious.  Baking bread.  The kneading, the baking, the eating it once it's out of the oven...everything contributes to my overall warmth and the warmth of our apartment, so I'm into it!   Plus, something about making bread from scratch is really rewarding and has got me hooked.  It started with handmade cinnamon rolls, then came the french bread...and here I am again with pictures from my most recent adventures with kneading and rising and punching and rising again!  It's hard to pinpoint what keeps me wanting to make more, but I think it's a combination of the smell, the feeling of kneading it, watching it double in size and knowing that I am MAKING something special from flour and water.   Plus there's the whole thing where people have been making and breaking bread for thousands of years that also makes me feel really cool and connected with the world.  It's an investment of time (do it on the weekend!), but the fruit of the labor is worth it.

We had an abundance of hummus last week, so naturally pita bread needed to happen.  I found this recipe, rolled up my sleeves and got to work! This version really did call for a lot of rising time, but the final pictures looked so soft and fluffy that I couldn't resist.  If you are going to do it, make sure you plan for the process to take a couple of hours.

In the end we had soft delicious pitas that we have tried as the base for a turkey and cheese sandwich and with white bean hummus (pictured above), both with successful outcomes.  My bread didn't come out having air bubbles for pockets, but that didn't bother me at all.

If you have a favorite type of bread to make, please share it below!  I'd love to see what your specialties are!

Stay warm! Caitlin

apple cinnamon granola

Hi Friends!

Not sure if you've ever made your own granola, but if you haven't, you should probably add it to your New Year Resolutions!  Last night was my first experience making granola...and I'm into it.  It's super easy and makes a big batch that will hopefully last us awhile.  But knowing how much I love cereal and crunchy textures in general, stretching the supply may be hard to do.

I found the recipe here after Maria posted this picture of Crunchy Quinoa Granola on Instagram and got me hooked on wanting to making some myself!  Her blog has tons of recipes and a bunch of granola variations, but the apple cinnamon one was especially calling my name.

Warning: your home will smell pretty amazing while making this little mix!  Vanilla + cinnamon + honey + applesauce = apple pie scented kitchen!   (I don't think I've had applesauce since 3rd grade, so it was fun to see that on the ingredient list.)

While they weren't in the recipe, I threw in some nutmeg, flaxseed and raisins for kicks, so if you've got some on hand, I approve those additions as well!

Have any favorite granola recipes?  Feel free to share them below!

Happy crunchin',


pear crisp

Dear Bakers (and non-bakers because you can do this too!),

To celebrate the new year and start 2013 with a new adventure, I tried a fun little recipe last night!  We had two pears that needed to be used and since it's been super chilly outside, a warm dessert was in order!  One of my cousins had told me how she started making mini apple pies in a mug, and I figured if her cute recipe worked with apples, surely it would work with pears.  And boy, did it ever.

I found this recipe from Pinterest and was off to the races.  Odds are good if you have the pears, you can make this little treat with ingredients already in your pantry!  (Love that!)  My favorite part was crumb topping, but the sweet and cinnamon-y pears were pretty delicious, too.

One of my favorite aspects of this recipe is that the pear crisps cook in one minute.  One. Minute. In the microwave!  It was a really simple way to make a single-serving dessert in under 10 minutes and was 100% husband approved.

Now go find your cutest, microwave-safe mug and get to baking! Love, Caitlin