Amish Breakfast Cake

Oatmeal Cake with Coconut-Pecan Topping

Oatmeal cake with coconut pecan topping…what more could you want?

Oatmeal Cake with Coconut-Pecan Topping

I have a little bit of news for you guys: Alex and I are buying a house!

That’s right; if all goes according to plan, in the span of a year we will have gotten engaged, gotten married and bought our first house. Phew! I won’t give a ton of details at this point (because, if I’m honest, I don’t want to jinx us before we close) but we will be closer to our families than we are now, which means my Instagram is soon to be taken over entirely by my adorable niece and nephews – because if you think Aunt Stephie can stand to be close to her babies and not see them constantly, you can just think again.

It also means that I will have more space for storing my many (many) dishes, a larger kitchen, and we can get a dog! Only two of those things are related or probably important to you. I’ll let you decide which two those are.

A few weeks ago when Alex and I were in town house hunting, we stopped by the town coffee spot (which we both know well, having both gone to college in this town) to pick up breakfast and, of course, I found myself perusing the pastry case. Would you even know me if I didn’t? A sign labeled “Amish Breakfast Cake” caught my eye. I wasn’t really sure what it was, or if it was actually a breakfast item, but if you label something “breakfast cake” you can be sure that I will take the opportunity to eat it before noon.

As it turned out, it was a delightful oatmeal cake with a moist yet crunchy coconut-pecan topping. I knew I had to make this happen in my kitchen. After a little bit of Googling, I found this recipe for Oatmeal Cake with Coconut Pecan Frosting on For the Love of Cooking. I did a little bit of tweaking, primarily to make it a little less sweet and thus more appropriate to possibly eat for breakfast, or at least elevensies, and ended up with what may just be my new favorite cake.

Now, I have no idea where the coffee shop I referenced earlier came up with the name “Amish Breakfast Cake” – I couldn’t tell you if this is remotely Amish or not – but I rather liked the name. Who doesn’t want permission to eat more cake for breakfast? And so, Amish Breakfast Cake it will be. Eat it for breakfast, or dessert, but for the love of all that is good – eat it!

Oatmeal Cake with Coconut-Pecan Topping

5.0 from 1 reviews
Amish Breakfast Cake
 
Yield: 1 8x8-inch cake
Ingredients
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ¾ cup boiling water
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ⅔ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
For the topping:
  • 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
Instructions
For the cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8x8-inch cake pan. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine the oats and the boiling water. Cover for around 5 minutes while you assemble the other ingredients.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugars, flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. In a large measuring cup, whisk together the applesauce, egg and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients and the oatmeal mixture to the dry ingredients and fold to combine. Pour into the prepared baking pan. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the center of the cake is set.
Prepare the topping:
  1. In a bowl, combine all of the topping ingredients until well mixed. Immediately upon removing the cake from the oven, turn the oven to broil. Gently spread the topping over the hot cake; broil until the topping is golden brown. Do NOT walk away from the oven during this time - this took less than a minute in my broiler, but may fluctuate based on your oven.
  2. Allow cake to cool before cutting and serving.

 

 

What I’m Craving Now

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Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 5.53.56 PMOne of the best parts of being a food blogger is not, as you might think, having lots of your own recipes at your fingertips – it is having lots of your fellow food bloggers’ recipes at your fingertips! I have many talented friends who are constantly cranking out amazing recipes. In fact, on any given weeknight, you are probably more likely to find me making one of my cohorts’ recipes than my own for dinner.

So, to share some of the recipe love, I thought I would share a few of our favorite recipes that have gone into rotation around here.

Perfect Vinegar Slaw from Sarcastic Cooking

Perfect Picnic Vinegar Slaw from Sarcastic Cooking: I don’t think it is any secret that we are big fans of barbecue around here (refer to: The Big Fat Wedding Post) and if there is one thing I have learned from the past two+ years with Alex, it is that it is practically a sin to eat pulled pork without slaw on it. Yes, on the sandwich. Yes, it sounds weird but I promise you, it’s delicious. When Alex and I make pulled pork (or even Pulled Chicken Sandwiches) at home, this is the slaw recipe that we turn to. We often will add a couple tablespoons of mayonnaise to the dressing to add a little bit of creaminess, but love the perfect vinegar bite to this recipe.

Soba Noodle Steak Salad from Dessert for Two

Soba Noodle Steak Salad from Dessert for Two: This is a new recipe that we tried last week and it is definitely a meal we will be making again. Not only was it quick and easy – I made the dressing and prepped my veggies the night before for quick assembly just before serving – but it was super flavorful. If you aren’t a steak fan, I am sure you could grill or fry up some tofu instead of the meat…but why would you?

Pesto Veggie Dip from Peas and Crayons

Pesto Veggie Dip from Peas and Crayons: If there is anyone who knows how to snack and how to snack right, it is my girl Jenn. I remember when she posted this recipe on her site – I am pretty sure I went out and bought the ingredients to make it the next day, and then proceeded to eat it all by myself in the course of 24 hours. I lived by myself at the time and had zero shame about any of this.

Now I’m craving it again. It’s a downward spiral, friends.

Shredded Chicken Fajita Chili from The Roasted Root

Crockpot Shredded Chicken Fajita Chili from The Roasted Root: I know, I know – it’s a little warm out for chili just yet. But as soon as the weather starts to cool down, this is going to be on the menu. This recipe is all about dat cumin (that’s a song…right?) and I loooove it. I typically swap the dry garbanzo beans for dry white beans (or sometimes pinto beans, depending on what I have on hand) and we eat on this stuff for days. It also freezes really well…just in case you were looking for a crockpot/freezer meal combo. That’s basically one heck of a keyword-loaded sentence if ever I’ve seen one.

Chicken Posole Casserole from BetsyLifeChicken Posole Casserole from BetsyLife: This is one of Alex’s all-time favorite meals. I think it might even rival his love of Homemade Hamburger Helper, and that man can put away a lot of that dish in a short period of time. We have made this recipe so much that I have it memorized and can probably make it in my sleep, although that would be a strange and somewhat worrisome talent.

So there you have it – 5 recipes we love and think you should add to your menu immediately. What are you craving these days? Tell me in the comments and feel free to share links to some of your favorite recipes!

Applesauce Bread

Applesauce Bread

Applesauce Bread is moist and slightly sweet with a walnut and brown sugar topping to put it over the edge. This is the perfect afternoon snack or early morning treat.

This post is sponsored by Diamond of California, but all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting brands that help make this site possible.

Applesauce Bread

Sometimes, during the summer, I start wishing for fall.

Up until recently, I did not have to wish so much here in Chicago – the weather was uncharacteristically cool. In the past couple of weeks, however, the temperatures have been pretty standard for the end of July – meaning not just hot, but also smotheringly humid. Someone get me a snorkel, I feel like I’m drowning.

At any rate, I now find myself wishing for cooler temperatures again. Nothing drastic – just cool enough to casually throw on a cute scarf with my outfit and actually look put together again, or to bake a loaf of bread to enjoy with a mug of tea and a good book on my imaginary front porch. That’s my kind of weather, right there.

And when fall appears, this is the first recipe that is going to be on my bucket list to make. Have you ever wondered what would happen if you made banana bread with applesauce instead of bananas? Delicious things, that’s what.

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This is a recipe that originally came from my aunt and I only made a couple of tweaks to it:

1. I added 1/2 cup of oats to the batter and swapped coconut oil for vegetable oil. Not because I thought I could market this loaf as “healthy” if I did so, but because they both boost the flavor of the bread in their own way, without either one overpowering the flavors of the applesauce or the nuts in the batter.

2. I effectively balanced out any potential health benefits of #1 by increasing the amount of sugar-and-nut topping on the bread. Because crumbly brown sugar and nuts – use walnuts or pecans, whichever you prefer – on top of bread is pretty much a dream come true in my book.

Once the heat breaks, go forth and bake, my darlings. You’ll be glad you did.

Applesauce Bread3

5.0 from 2 reviews
Applesauce Bread
 
Yield: 1 9x5-inch loaf
Ingredients
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil
  • 1¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ cup Diamond of California Chopped Walnuts or Chopped Pecans
For the topping:
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons Diamond of California Chopped Walnuts or Chopped Pecans
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the coconut oil, applesauce, milk, eggs and granulated sugar.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and spices. Add the wet ingredients and the chopped walnuts or pecans and stir to combine. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together the topping ingredients until well combined. Sprinkle evenly over the bread batter.
  5. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes in the pan before removing and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack.
  6. Wrap tightly in foil and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.

 

Blueberry, Banana & Cashew Smoothie Bowl

Blueberry Banana and Cashew Smoothie Bowl

A super thick blueberry-banana smoothie is topped with toasted cashews, granola, and berries for the ultimate smoothie breakfast. 

This post is sponsored by Diamond of California, but all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting brands that help make this site possible!

Blueberry Banana and Cashew Smoothie Bowl

Are you on the smoothie bowl bandwagon yet?

I have to admit that I am late to this party. Not to the smoothie party – I’ve been obsessed with those for ages. We’ve done mango versions, blueberry versions, pomegranate versions, coconut versions…and we know that I have a deep love for granola as well. I still have dreams about my Coconut Ginger Almond Granola. So when I started to see these mystical bowls that combined both of these amazing breakfast items pop up on Pinterest, I was curious. I sent a text over to my girl Julia – who I consider to be my resource for any and all things mildly hippy – to see what all the fuss was about and she told me I needed to try them immediately or I was a fool.

Ok, she didn’t really say that. But she did tell me that I would loooove them.

And you know what? She was so right.

Smoothie Bowl with Berries, Cashews and Granola

Let’s evaluate what we’ve got going on here and why it’s amazing:

Super-thick berry smoothie, because super-thick smoothies are the shiz: Check.

Toasted cashews, which just so happen to be my favorite for eating straight out of hand: Check.

Granola (see previous love letter, above): Check.

Coconut, because everything is better with coconut: Check.

Extra berries, for some extra pretty on top: Check.

Mix this all up, plop your butt down and grab a spoon – you’ve got the best of a smoothie breakfast with the extra goodies on top to help keep you full throughout the morning…or until elevensies, whichever the case may be.

Berry and Cashew Smoothie Bowl

 

Blueberry, Banana & Cashew Smoothie Bowl
 
Ingredients
  • 1 banana
  • 1 heaping cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ¼ cup pomegranate juice
Toppings:
  • Diamond of California Cashew Halves, toasted
  • Granola
  • Unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • Fresh berries
  • Honey
Instructions
  1. Place smoothie ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend until smooth but still thick.
  2. Pour into a bowl and top with toasted cashews, granola, coconut, fresh berries and drizzle with honey.
Notes
To toast the cashews: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cashews in a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cashews are golden and fragrant. Remove to a bowl to cool before using.

 

Butter Pecan Bread

Butter Pecan Bread

Browned butter and pecans come together in the best way for a bread that is perfect for breakfast or snacking.

This post is sponsored by Diamond of California, but all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting brands that help make this site possible.

Butter Pecan Bread

From the beginning of time, I’ve been a weird human being. I was an especially bizarre little kid.

Exhibit A: I have never liked chocolate, and as a little kid I really didn’t care for any type of candy. I suppose my sweet tooth just wasn’t fully formed yet. (Unfortunately, this is no longer an issue for me…)

Exhibit B: I was a ridiculous book worm, to the point where when I would get in trouble (which, honestly, was not very often), my parents would take away my books. Not TV, not dessert, not play time. No, I was not allowed to read before bed at night. My husband and mother-in-law still think this is just about the funniest (and most ridiculous) thing they have ever heard.

Exhibit C: For as long as I can remember, my favorite flavor of ice cream was butter pecan. Not chocolate chip (see Exhibit A), not bubblegum (gross, why does that exist?), not any of those typical “kid” flavors. Butter pecan had my heart then and it has my heart now.

Butter Pecan Bread

I was recently ruminating on this love of butter pecan ice cream and thought, “What if I put those flavors into a loaf of bread?” Because, even though it is summer and I could totally get away with making a batch of ice cream, carbs are never out of season at my house. And so, I browned some butter, toasted up some Diamond Nuts pecan halves, and threw it all into a quick bread batter.

While this bread was baking, my kitchen smelled like what I imagine Heaven must smell like.

Make this quick bread for breakfast, or put it out for snacking this weekend while friends and family are over. It may not be red, white or blue, but it is damn delicious and that’s enough for me.

Butter Pecan Bread

5.0 from 4 reviews
Butter Pecan Bread
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Yield: 1 9x5-inch loaf
Ingredients
  • 6 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1½ cups Diamond of California Shelled Pecans
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted, cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter just starts to take on a light brown color. Add the pecans and stir frequently until the butter takes on a nice caramel color and the nuts are fragrant. Remove butter and nuts to a bowl and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda and granulated sugar.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg and brown sugar until lightened in color and well combined, then whisk in the yogurt and vanilla bean paste. Add the yogurt mixture and the browned butter and pecans to the dry ingredients, and fold together just until the flour is incorporated.
  5. Spoon batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until browned on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan, then remove from the loaf pan and allow to cool completely on a wire cooling rack. Bread will last, well wrapped at room temperature, for 3-4 days.

 

The Big Fat Wedding Post

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Helloooo, friends! This is highly overdue (since we’ve been married for like, 7 weeks now), but while we were on our honeymoon in Spain we got our wedding photos back, which means it is time for a big fat wedding recap post!

I will tell you from the outset that we both think our wedding day was absolutely perfect. That’s not really why I’m sharing these photos and details about the day with you, though – I truly believe that we had some of the best vendors in the business, and they deserve to have their information shared with anyone looking to get married in the Central Illinois area.

And you know that some of you are just here because you’re nosy. Don’t worry, we all do it.

I’ll be sharing links to the websites of all of the vendors at the end of the post for easy reference. So just sit back and scroll on!

All photos taken by Jared & Julie Photography.

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Our ceremony and reception were both held at Proven Ground Farm in North Pekin, IL. The weather the day of the wedding ended up being absolutely perfect – just shy of 80 degrees, sunny, very little wind – but because you never know what the weather could be like in early April in Illinois, we opted for an indoor ceremony inside the barn. After the ceremony was over, all of the guests went over to the renovated grain bin for cocktail hour while the staff flipped the room for the reception. The grounds were positively beautiful and guests who were so inclined were able to walk around throughout the evening.

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My dress was made of light gold satin with an ivory lace overlay, complete with hand beading and a corset back. I might be biased, but I think it was just perfect. I’m actually a little lot miffed that I don’t get to wear it again!

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For my hair, we took advantage of my curls for a low, romantic updo. Instead of a veil, I opted for a pearl headpiece that I purchased off of Etsy. The jewelry I chose to wear were all family pieces – opal and pearl earrings that were my grandmother’s, and a double-strand pearl necklace and a silver filagree and sapphire bracelet that belonged to my great-grandmother. Wearing those pieces, which my mother has worn throughout the years as well, was very special to me.

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My groom looked incredibly handsome with a fresh beard trim and haircut from the best barber in town, wearing a sharp-as-heck gray suit, accented by brown shoes and a champagne-colored tie. I know that everyone always makes a big fuss over what the bride is wearing, but I wanted Alex to stand out as well – and he sure as heck did.

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He would like you to take note of his walnut wingtips. #priorities

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Alex refers to the above as his “touch of gray” photo. I secretly call it his “silver fox” photo. Oops! Guess that’s not so secret anymore.

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For colors, I chose a lovely spring palette of light turquoise and blush pinks accented by darker teal and deep pinks. Our florist put together the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen with plenty of peonies and ranunculus, including a stunning arrangement across the arbor under which we were married.

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One of the most special and personal parts of the day was having my childhood best friend perform the ceremony. There is something very touching about having someone who has known you for literally half your life join you in marriage with the love of your life.

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Other special parts of the ceremony included having family friends sing “The Prayer” and surprising our mothers by presenting them each with a rose – something that my parents did during their wedding and which, predictably, made Momma Swope cry.

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When it came to food, we knew we had a lot to live up to – after all, all of our friends and loved ones know that our lives basically revolve around our next meal. For Alex, the most important aspect of the wedding planning was finding good barbecue for dinner, and did we ever find it. Dinner was pulled pork, brisket, slaw, beans (green and baked) and potato salad. Simple, no-fuss, good food. Instead of a wedding cake, we opted for a variety of cupcakes and Momma Swope made a Pecan Raisin Pie for the two of us to cut. I am still receiving compliments on the food and the cupcakes over a month later and am wishing I had one of the Banana Pudding cupcakes as I sit here writing this.

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One last special part of the day – during our reception, just before our first dance, I surprised Alex by singing Ingrid Michaelson’s “The Way I Am” to him, accompanied by one of our friends on the guitar. Really nosy readers can see that video here, but don’t expect much – I was pretty nervous. Ha!

At the end of the day, we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect wedding. It was beautiful yet rustic and personal in the best way. Just like us, right? 😉

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Vendors: