When You Need to Eat Junk [Oreo and Peanut Butter Brownie Cups]

Life is a double-standard, no?  I would never (honest!) judge you, dear readers, for finding a “quick, easy, funfetti” recipe on Pinterest and making it for dessert tonight, but would never do it.

peanut butter brownie oreo cups.

Until I find one that totally grabs me, that I have to make right now.  This dessert has no nutritional value, but man, is it good.  It’s made of high-fructose-ly, processed ingredients, at which so many of us would turn up our noses, but it’s irresistible.  Deal with it.

To make 18 Oreo and peanut butter brownie cups, you will need:

  • brownie mix, and all the accoutrements called for on the box
  • peanut butter*
  • about a pack and a half of Oreos (I bake exclusively with Double Stufs)

Line 18 muffin tins with paper liners.  In each, place a stack of an Oreo, a layer of peanut butter, another Oreo, and another layer of peanut butter.

Prepare brownie mix according to package directions.  Pour batter over the “cupcakes” until tins are about 2/3 full. Bake 18-20 minutes, until brownies are cooked through.

*When I pin anything made with peanut butter, AGOMYR inevitably asks, “Have you tried it with Nutella?”  And so, dear readers, I did try these with Nutella.  And here is what I will say.  They are good.  But Nutella is chocolatey, and so are Oreos.  I like the contrast between the Oreos and peanut butter much, much better.

Meant to Be [baked corn risotto]

yellow food.

Going into last week, the only meal planning I did was to buy out half the freezer section at Trader Joe’s.  Do you ever have weeks like that?  We were down one weeknight because of Labor Day, my husband was at meetings two of the other nights of the week, I had happy hour plans on Friday, and a couple of other afternoon commitments that meant my number one priority would not be getting dinner on the table.  So imagine my surprise when the idea of Shutterbean’s risotto popped into my head one night.  My mother in law had gifted me some arborio rice, I had two ears of corn I had never dealt with dying in the fridge, and lo and behold, I had all the other necessary ingredients.  I love when this happens.  When you remember a recipe you saw, and you just happen to have everything you need for it.  That’s when you know a dinner is meant to be.  Also when it calls for a cup of Parmesan cheese.

baked corn risotto.

To make corn risotto for 6, you will need:

  • 1 T olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T fresh chopped basil leaves, plus more for serving
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 T fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 T unsalted butter, plus more for coating dish
  • 2 C Arborio rice
  • 2 C fresh corn (about 2 cobs)
  • 32 ounces low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 9×13-inch baking pan and set aside.

In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Just as the onions are done cooking, stir in garlic and cook for another minute. Add fresh and dried basil, red pepper flakes, thyme and season with salt & pepper.  Toss to heat through and set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss together uncooked rice, corn, cheese, and the onion mixture.  Place in the prepared baking pan.  Pour vegetable stock and water over the rice mixture.  Stir gently to ensure even cooking.

Place in the oven and allow to cook, uncovered,  for 37-40 minutes, stirring after 20 minutes. At the halfway mark, stir in butter.  Rice is done when liquid is absorbed and mixture is cooked through and creamy.  If rice mixture is still crunchy, add more hot water or hot chicken stock about 1/3 cup at a time.

When cooked through, remove risotto  from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before tasting.  Add salt to taste.  Serve topped with fresh basil leaves, black pepper, and additional Parmesan cheese.  Rice will last, in an airtight container in the fridge, for up to 5 days.

On Feeling Settled

Dear Readers, we have been setting up camp in our house, in one form or another, since June 1.  And I haven’t really had anyone over yet.  Some friends have popped by in that, if you’re in the neighborhood, kind of way, but I have yet to pull out all the stops and really truly host people.

first meal.

When we moved into our last house, we had a housewarming party a mere three weeks after we got there.  Three weeks!  I’m coming up on 4 months with nothing to show for it. I felt so guilty about this, not because anyone was banging down my door, saying, “Invite me now,” but because what 30-something year old lady doesn’t throw heaps of guilt on herself for things that would seem trivial to people with rational minds?


But yesterday, I achieved clarity.  And thus, I have learned another secret of life.  You can’t compare things, even if those things seem like the same things.  Deep, no?  I moved into a house 5 years ago.  I moved into a house 4 months ago.  As they were not the same house, nor is my life going on under the same circumstances, I cannot expect the same things to happen in the second house that happened in the first.  The first house was move-in ready.  We unpacked our boxes and did not need to do so much as paint.  So of course we had people over right away.  We had nothing else to do!  This house still has a to-do list about a mile long.  There’s a living room rug we’re waiting on the next credit card cycle to buy.  There are three rooms to paint.  There are light fixtures that haven’t even been decided yet.  So it doesn’t feel ready.


None of those things will be in place in a couple of Fridays, when I open up my doors to some of my favorite people, but I feel ready for them anyway.  For one, the things we already have in the house are almost all in place.  Think pictures on the wall, books on shelves, and sheets on the beds.  And for another, I feel settled.  We moved in in June, moved our stuff in in July, promptly ran off to the beach, then came back as I was gearing up for work to start again.  But now I’m getting into the swing of things.  I had the day off today, and crossed some menial tasks off the list, and I realized I feel settled in our home now.  The house feels like ours, now that I’ve had space and time to myself in it.

closet explosion.

This is a long, rambling way to a) cheer myself on, and b) let you, dear readers, know that you have permission to take the time you need to do whatever you need, whenever you need it.  With love from a thirty-something year old lady.

Ten Facts on the Tenth


  1.  OMG Chipotle is my fave, forever and always.
  2. I went to The (Not So) New Girl’s baby shower and there was a donut tree.  A donut tree!  Recreating this for CV(D) so soon.  I feel like I’ve told you this already, dear readers.
  3. My adult coloring book arrived, as did my colored pencils, and I am in love.  It paired so well with tennis watching all Labor Day weekend long.
  4. Speaking of Labor Day weekend, holy online sales, Batman.  I bought tons of new dresses in….grey and navy.  Shocker.
  5. I also went to Soul Cycle this weekend and didn’t hate it.  It took me about two hours of recovery time at home before I decided I might be brave enough to go back next week.  Might be.  And then I looked online and saw that classes are $30 each.  Eek.
  6. How amazing is this Instagram wall?  I’m putting one up in our house, stat.
  7. This week I am insanely busy, but I am committed to finishing Better Than Before.  I hope I can read more as my weeknight schedule clears up next week.
  8. I bought out the Trader Joe’s freezer section to deal with my insanely busy week, and my bill was still less than on a normal weekend trip to Giant.  Trader Joe’s is everything.
  9. There is this new movie theater not too far from us that will serve you dinner and bring you a pillow and a blanket and I can’t decide if I’m into this idea or not.  But people keep talking about it.
  10. We planted grass seed in our front and back yards and I have never understood the term “watching the grass grow” more.  Almost there.

Oatmeal, a Love Story [chocolate cheesecake oatmeal]

I have written so extensively on oatmeal that you, dear readers, have every right to want to strangle me.

cheesecake oatmeal.

I’m not done.

If you have to eat oatmeal, you might as well drown it in mascarpone and melted chocolate, no?  This recipe is absolutely, completely, and totally amazing.  I served it at a recent staff breakfast, and had one little bitty serving leftover for breakfast the next day.

To make an 8 x 8 casserole’s worth, you will need:

  • 2 C oats
  • 1/4 C packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 C coconut milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • 3 oz dark chocolate, chopped (but if you bought a 4 oz. bar and threw it all in, I’m not one to judge)
  • *

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and spray a square baking pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, stir together oats, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  In a smaller bowl, or measuring cup, whisk together coconut milk, egg, and vanilla.  Add wet ingredients to dry and mix till combined.  Spoon in mascarpone, mixing, but leaving the cheese in small chunks, so it gets all oozy when it bakes.  Fold in chocolate pieces.  Pour mixture into pan, and bake 23-25 minutes, until just set.  Don’t overbake this one.  Serve immediately, drizzled with extra coconut milk, if that’s how you live your life.

*I didn’t do this, but I wouldn’t be opposed to throwing some sliced bananas in here next time.  Maybe coconut too?  Am I going too crazy?

When You Need a Better Carb [merguez and sweet potato hash]

Remember when low carb and no carb diets started to become a thing, and everyone went ballistic for sweet potatoes?  I was never one of those people.  I think it’s because I was never one of those low or no carb people.  Why would I eat a sweet potato fry if I could have a regular french fry?  Who does that?

sweet potato hash.

Over time, though, I’ve come to recognize the sweet potato as an ingredient in its own right.

Sweet potato fries will never replace french fries in my life.  They just won’t.

But that doesn’t mean that sweet potatoes can’t be used as a star, not a substitute.

I adapted this recipe from Food52, which is a most-beautiful food site.  It was created by Merrill Stubbs, one of the founders.  I’d trust anything she comes up with.

To make hash for 4, you will need:

  • olive oil
  • 1 lb. lamb merguez, casings removed (Yes, you could, of course, use another sausage here.  I’d go the chorizo route.  Something chicken-appley would be to sweet with the already sweet potato, and regular Italian sausage doesn’t have the right blend of herbs.)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (hello, arm workout)
  • 1 tsp. thyme leaves
  • 2 ears corn, cooked, and kernels removed

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in large cast iron skillet.  Add sausage, breaking up with spoon, and cook till browned through.  Remove to a plate lined with paper towels.  Add sweet potato and onion to the pan, with a pinch of salt.  Fry the onions and potatoes, stirring occasionally, but not too often.  You want a nice brown color here.  Cook till the potatoes are soft, about 10 minutes.  Add thyme leaves, corn kernels, and return the sausage to the pan, stirring till mixture is heated through.

The Trick is To Not Sit Down [chicken piccata]

chicken piccata.

What I find when I get home from work is that:

  1.  I always need a moment of quiet in order to reset from work back to regular life
  2.  I have to be careful not to sit down if I ever plan to get back up

There is a difference between hitting the reset button, and being down for the count.  Sitting at a kitchen bar stool to check Instagram is one thing.  Plopping on the couch with DVR-ed (we finally have DVR!) episodes of The Barefoot Contessa is something entirely different.  Once those come on, I’m done for the day.

But if I can come home, get a load of laundry in the wash, go through the mail and pay whatever bills have arrived, clean my lunch dishes and my coffee cup, and start making dinner?  Well, then it’s going to be a great night.

If not, we’re ordering Chinese.

Another secret, though not sitting down is my best tip, is to cook food fast.  This chicken piccata has a fancy name for something that is really just sauteed chicken.  Especially if you leave the capers out because you don’t really love capers.  It’s probably not even chicken piccata anymore.  It takes about 20 minutes to get from fridge to table.  That’s also just enough time to cook rice and steam some broccoli and call it a rounded out meal.

To make chicken for 4, you will need:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets, or 2 chicken breasts, cut in half and pounded thin
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • flour (a cup?)
  • 3 T butter
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/3 C lemon juice
  • 1/2 C chicken broth

Combine the flour with salt and pepper in a shallow bowl.  Dredge the chicken in flour on each side, and tap off excess.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat and melt 2 T butter and olive oil.  When the pan is hot, add the chicken and brown about 3 minutes on each side.  Remove chicken to plate.  Add lemon juice and chicken broth, scraping brown bits off the bottom of the pan as you go.  Bring the sauce to a boil, and return the chicken to the pan.  Cook about 5 more minutes total.  Remove from heat and swirl in the last T butter.



lilly cup.

Making: weekly meal plans again. I’ve always meant to post about how I go through that process.  Maybe someday I will.
Cooking: like there is no tomorrow.  Baking, too.
Drinking: that premade Starbucks stuff you can buy in the dairy aisle now.  It is not the same.  But it is less expensive.
Reading: nothing!  I need things to calm down a bit so I can get my brain power back.
Wanting: to make an Anthro run this weekend.
Looking: at getting some dates on the calendar to have people over to see our house!
Playing: with my Week in the Life album.
Deciding: what needs to come first in terms of “finishing” this house.
Wishing: I could get to bed as early as I mean to every night.
Enjoying: 30 Rock.  Again.
Waiting: for the next credit card cycle so I can order a living room rug.
Liking: Instagrams left and right, because Joy the Baker told me to.
Wondering: just how much work this home-ownership thing really is!?!?!
Loving: how much I’ve gotten to bake lately.
Pondering: the future of scrapbooking in my life.  I think I’d be content to do Week in the Life and December Daily every year.  But that doesn’t account for the new Project Life core kit I just bought.  #oops (ps, Becky Higgins’ entire shop is on sale this week)
Considering: purchasing some adult coloring books.  Thinking this one and this one, and a fresh set of colored pencils.
Watching: my husband celebrate my return to work with mirth, and song, and dance.
Hoping: that the people I invite over soon won’t mind the lack of rugs, or furniture.  I miss having people over, and I’m not waiting anymore.
Marveling: at the miracle that is exercising between work and going home.  The perfect reset button.
Needing: to order boots before it gets wet and cold and everyone else orders them and they sell out.
Smelling: the fertilizer on my lawn every night as we water it.  Mmmmmmmm.
Wearing: clothes that have traditionally been put away after Labor Day, after Labor Day.  This is the year.  I’m doing it.
Following: the US Open.  I love tennis season, and it always feels so short, since I only really watch the Grand Slams.
Noticing: that I can push through and get dinner on the table if I just don’t even sit down when I get home from work.
Knowing: I’m so much better at life if I have 30 quiet minutes when I get home from work.  No talking, no texts.
Thinking: I’m in one of those seasons where I keep buying “just one more jar” of Nutella.  Need to end that cycle.  It’s endless, though.
Feeling: pretty content with my work/life balance in these beginning days.
Admiring: kind people.
Sorting: through my clothes again and again and again.  Always so much to give away.
Buying: furniture by the boatload.  No, I’m totally kidding.  But I’m picking it out.
Getting: back into the swing of things this week.
Bookmarking: this oatmeal, which I devoured at The (Not S0) New Girl’s baby shower.
Disliking: the excuses I’m making for driving to work, instead of walking.  Oops.
Praying: the grass we just had planted in our yard starts to sprout everywhere, and not just in patches like it is right now.
Opening: a bunch of Etsy orders.  Lots of cards for lots of occasions, and a couple of things to hang on the walls.
Giggling: over this man, who is so much like my husband, it’s frightening.  The girl’s reactions are everything.  She is so done by the end.
Snacking: on anything salty.
Coveting: not much of anything right now.  I didn’t want to push myself too hard to think of something to covet.
Wishing: I could get myself into bed earlier.  I made it happen the other night and woke up without an alarm in the morning.  Dream world.
Helping: people stay on top of things in a couple areas of life right now.
Hearing: the neighbors playing outside every night.  So happy about that.

Cheese or Pepp? [pepperoni pizza pull apart muffins]

This is a question I have to ask at work twice a week.  I’ve never been a waitress, but I do take orders on Tuesdays and Fridays.  Without fail, cheese is the more popular option.  But I can always appreciate a good pepperoni, and that was never truer than on Sunday afternoon.


I was going to make a pasta skillet that capitalized on the best that summer has to offer, but 5:30 hit and we were both looking for a snack.  We had tortilla chips, we had chips and crackers, but I remembered something I had pinned.  Pepperoni pizza pull apart muffins.  They ended up taking the place of dinner altogether because they’re everything you could ever want in a meal.

pepproni muffin.

Jessica makes her dough from scratch, but I cheated and used store-bought pizza dough.  That got this from my head to my table in no time at all.

To make 15 rolls, you will need:

  • pizza dough
  • 3 T melted butter
  • 1/2 C marinara sauce, plus more for dipping
  • 12 oz. some combination of melty, yummy cheeses, like fontina, provolone, and mozzarella
  • 1/2 C ish pepperoni slices
  • 1/4 C grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Press the dough out into a rectangular shape.  I used a baking sheet and stretched it that size.  Brush dough with a thin layer of melted butter.  Spread marinara on top.  Top with cheese.  Arrange pepperoni.  Cut the pizza into squares at this point using a pizza cutter or a very sharp knife.  I used the pepperoni as my grid.

Spray a muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray (you could also grease each muffin tin, but that’s a lot of work.  And you’ve already got butter in this game.  Stack 2 or 3 slices of dough together, and put them in the pan.  (Jessica used 5 or 6, but maybe her squares were smaller than mine?  I was stuffed at 2 with some of the bigger pieces.)  You want to keep in mind that you’re working with dough that will rise, and melted butter here.  Things can get messy, fast.  Which is also why I recommend putting your muffin tins on a baking sheet, that will catch any potential greasy drips.

Bake 25 minutes.  Wait about 2-3 minutes (the smell will be killing you, but we do what we must), and use a fork or knife to lift the muffins out of the tins.  Serve with extra sauce for dipping.