Is it brown butter or is it browned butter? My research has brought back answers for both. Whichever way you want to say it – I do believe it may be God’s greatest gift to man, much as I love my children. And around this time of year I can’t get enough of it. The brown butter, not my kids. But I’ll allow that they’re pretty great too. I have plans to put brown butter into a pumpkin sheet cake in October, in a pasta sauce with sage to nestle homemade ravioli into later this month, and perhaps most famously into my chocolate chip cookies on another occasion. Whether you’re using it in sweets or dinner, it adds a delicious nuttiness that is so distinct and dare I say, life changing? Now, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, you might want to read this article on achieving brown butter rather than burnt butter. You probably think the cake should be the main topic of conversation here and I love it too! It’s a winner! The people will love the cake! But the frosting, oh yes, the frosting, is the part of this recipe that takes it to the next level.
Applesauce Cake with Brown Butter Frosting
For the cake:
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1¼ cups packed light brown sugar
¾ cup canola oil
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or a combination of cinnnamon, ginger and nutmeg)
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
For the frosting:
1 ½ cup (3 sticks) unsalted butter, divided. Two sticks should be softened to room temperature. The third stick, you’ll brown.
4 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp whole milk
½ t vanilla
¼ tsp salt
Prepare the Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9 x 9 inch pan with baking spray and dust with flour – alternatively you could make this in a 9 x 13 pan for a thinner cake or even in muffin form, but be sure to adjust your baking time. In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, oil, pumpkin pie spice, lemon zest, vanilla extract, eggs, and applesauce in a large bowl until combined. Whisk in flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until just combined. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40-50 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack,
and cool completely in pan, about 1 hour.
Prepare the Frosting:
Melt 1/2 cup (one stick) butter in a medium saucepan over medium until it begins to bubble, forms little brown bits, and smells nutty. Transfer to a freezer safe container and put in freezer for 10-15 minutes or until room temperature. In a mixer, combine brown butter, 1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter, powdered sugar, milk, salt and vanilla. Mix on medium for about three minutes or until fluffy. Spread frosting generously over cooked cake with an offset spatula, cut and enjoy (preferably with a book and iced coffee on the side).
You will most likely have extra frosting, but the frosting is truly the best part of this cake. Just put it in a jar, and store in the fridge for another cake next week! This cake, after all, will not last long on your counter if your house is anything like mine.
Monday – Flank Steak, roast brussels & crispy potatoes. My husband makes the best flank steak marinade. I dream about it! Doing Labor Day right and wrapping up summer with all the good stuff.
Tuesday – Chicken Enchiladas. We don’t really follow a recipe for this one. Put the chicken in the crock pot in the morning with taco seasoning, and use canned enchilada sauce for ease. All you have to do is shred the chicken and heat up some black beans on the side. To assemble – shred the chicken, spread a bit of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish, into each tortilla shell put chicken and some shredded cheese (we like either Monterey Jack which melts really well, or taco cheese here), roll up and place seam side down into the dish, top with more enchilada sauce and shredded cheese. Bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes. Serve with sour cream, sliced avocado, tajin seasoning, cilantro, and a side of black beans.
Wednesday – Harvest Skillet. But with chicken sausage instead of bacon! But also looking at this recipe that I think I’ve used before, my recipe is actually not all that similar to this one. 😂 I usually do Brussels sprouts, bite size potatoes sliced in half, sweet potatoes diced, chicken sausage all cooked up in the cast iron skillet. Top with fresh parm and serve with a side of sourdough.
Thursday – Leftovers always!
Friday – Pizza night! Plus family movie after.
Saturday – Pulled Pork Tot-Cho’s for husband and I, pulled pork sandwiches for the boys.
Sunday – Whole roast onions, pork chops and mashed potatoes. Excited about this one. I’ve been thinking about those onions since I found them on Pinterest.
Bake – Salted Maple Pie. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
Treat – Apple Chips. The boys will love these! They’ll be the perfect after school snack.
Cocktail – September Heatwave. Feels appropriate.
Make anything good lately? Please share with everyone in the comments!
I bet you never thought I would get to this second part of my “Day in the Life” series. I shared a morning in the life way back in January and promised I would get a typical day down for you, and it’s taken me…a while. ha! Well it’s here! I get so very many questions about what it’s like to be a school librarian, so I’m going giving you a typical day. To give you a little background though, I work in a large, urban, dual-language, title I elementary school with about 750 students. 99% of our students are on free and reduced lunch and about 98% speak Spanish in the home. Days can feel a little grueling sometimes and there are definitely some tough issues that you have to deal with, but I love it. It’s definitely not for everyone though! As the school librarian, I am on the Fine Arts wheel which means I have classes all day. Many school libraries are just “open” so students are sent down to check books out, or classes can make appointments for classes with the school librarian. That’s not the case in my school. I have all classes K-5 on a six day rotation. Let’s walk through a day, shall we?
7:20am – I arrive to school. Sign in in the office, and get to the library. I put my things down, unlock doors, check the copiers, log on to the desk computer and get it ready for my 5th grade safety patrols to check books in. If I have time, I’ll check my e-mail and start getting things ready for my first class.
7:30 – My 5th graders arrive. I have 8 students who come to the library first thing. They check in books, tidy up the space, deliver books to teachers and they also are my TV Crew. We put on the morning announcements every day.
7:45 – Head back to the TV Studio. Each student has a different job so they go to their places, we run through the script and practice one or two times. It’s such a fun group of kids. I pick them in 4th grade after they’re chosen as safety patrols and I really try to think through how they’re going to work together. So fun. We’re going on a field trip in November to our local news affiliate and they’re so excited about it.
7:55 – The morning announcements go live to classrooms.
8:00 – Round of applause to our Crew. I remind them what their jobs will be the next day and then I send them to class. Now, I get ready in earnest for my day of classes. My first class is at 8:30, so I log into both of my smart boards, make sure my lesson plans are ready, get my class folders out, get any materials we’ll need put out on tables, pull books out for the Kindergarten and First grades to choose from to check out (they won’t start checking books out from the shelves for a few weeks yet. I just have them choose from a table while they’re learning library skills.).
8:30 – My first class! 2nd grade. If I had to teach a grade level, I would choose 2nd. They’re still sweet, but are starting to be so much more with it, and they’ll sit for a longer picture book. They understand school rules, but still want to give you a hug. Love them. I’ll start doing some longer projects/activities at the tables later in the school year, but for now, they’re mostly just on the carpet for story time. I do like to do a lot of crafts, but we’re still easing into the school year with rules and expectations. My classes are for a full half hour, so one class leaves and then the next class comes.
9:00 – 1st grade. I love first grade because I had nearly all of them in Kindergarten. They know what to do when they come in. They are excited and they love it. And I know their names, and who their brothers and sisters are so I can tell them to get it together. haha. K-2 classes sit on the carpet and my formula for K-2 is generally – sing a welcome song, then we have story time (I read a book), we do an interactive activity (last week we sang a welcome song with each student’s name to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, this week we’re playing a little Jumping Jack game), then we do a library lesson, we do book check out and then stickers and then it’s time for them to go.
9:30 – Kinder. Little wiggly worms. They’re still learning how to behave. Most of our students didn’t go to Pre-K so there is a loooooot of learning to go through in Kindergarten. The first week is the hardest, and then most of them get it together. Again, MOST of them.
10:00 – 1st grade again!
10:30 – 1st Grade lunch duty. The bane of my fine arts existence is doing lunch duty. I don’t want to digress, but I could go on at length. Let’s move along. I don’t want to bring this lovely day down.
11:00 – 3rd Grade. I could really use a break at this point, but there isn’t oneeeeee. My 3rd-5th classes sit at tables, and I have another large smart board on that side of the library. The formula for them is generally – sit down, chit chat, library lesson, book check out and then centers. I won’t get into centers, that could probably be a whole post, but I don’t want to bore you with the details.
11:30 – 4th Grade. Same as third, but bigger. The 4th grades are probably our toughest this year.
12:00pm – 3rd Grade again.
12:30 – Lunch finally. This is very late for me to each lunch. I think we ate at 10:30 last year, which was very early haha. They change the schedule every year! I always, always, always take a break for lunch. I have a small couch in my office so I sit there and eat at my lunch while reading my book. It’s time that is sacred to me.
1:00 – 5th Grade. Last class of the day. The big kids. I’ve had them all since Kindergarten and I know most of their quirks by this time. We have a really great bunch this year.
1:30 – Now I have a little break where I kind of “reset” the library for the next day. Tidy up my materials, make sure that the last class left everything fairly picked up. I’ll walk through the library and pick up anything out in the stacks, etc. I will also check my e-mail real quick to make sure we don’t have any end of day updates.
1:50 – Dismissal begins. I’m always on bus duty, so I check off all of the students and walk them out to their bus.
2:20 – Dismissal wraps up and I head back to the library to do anything that still needs done. I usually do any shelving at this time, laminating, fulfil teacher requests, place book orders, repair books, work on lesson plans for the next week of classes, etc. Meetings always happen right after school too so we may have a meeting or a training every now and then. Teachers are usually milling about at this point so they come to me if they need any books. I also run the safety patrol club with my friend, so we meet now to talk about anything that needs to be done. Andddd I’m starting my fifth grade book club in a few weeks, so I’ve been working on that too. Just enough time to get it all done! Eek! Ok, now you might be wondering how I get everything done in that time. I usually make a list at either the beginning or end of the day with my *MUST DO’s*. I love my new planner from Golden Coil that I got this year. I chose a weekly layout that has three squares for each day, so I make my list there. I do actually have enough time to do everything, and if one thing doesn’t get done – it’s shelving. I can always put that off until the next day. Teacher needs come first, then my own class/library needs, and then shelving. 🙂
3:00 – Teachers are dismissed for the day. I’ve committed to consistent blogging, so what I’ve decided to do is switch off my school brain (as long as there isn’t anything urgent) at 3pm and stay after school to write. I’ve been finding that it takes me about half an hour to 45 minutes to write, edit and post a full blog post, so I’ve been getting done by 3:45 or so. I go get the boys from their school then! I actually like it better than going right at 3 because I don’t interrupt their recess time. They’re all sweaty, bothered, and miss their snack if I get them right after school. Around 4 works a little better for me and for them!
And that’s it! We usually get home around 4:15 or so, and then it’s playtime, dinner prep, dinner eating, waiting for husband to come home, baths and bed. 🙂
It’s a full, busy day that’s full of life! Any follow up questions? Drop them in the comments if you do!!
I know, I know. It’s only mid-August, but once school starts, it’s basically soup season, right? I think part of these feelings must stem from how absolutely frigid they keep my school library. I need a warm little meal packed from home on my lunch break while wrapped in a cozy sweater more than ever. Maybe if I were still out in the wild world, and not tucked away in my windowless, season-less arctic tundra of a library, I’d be munching on tomato sandwiches, lettuce wraps, and peaches with burrata cheese and sprigs of basil as most are wont to do in mid-August. I used to be a Children’s Librarian at an amazing public library down here and one of my co-workers would pack herself soup for lunch no matter the season and I kind of love that. Feels very librarian-y. I’m not so extreme as to cut all other meals out of my life once school starts, but I do like making soup on the weekends. It’s one of those foods that tastes even better the next day, and you know I’ve been thinking about getting my sourdough starter revived too. There’s nothing that goes together so well as soup and a crusty boule of sourdough. I thought I would share some of my favorite soups and a few that I’m thinking of trying this season just in case you are in the mood for soup too.
Lemon-y Lentil Soup. One of my all time favorites. Make SURE you get red lentils, They break down in such a way that makes this soup so thick and delightful. Brown and green lentils keep their form too much for this one.
Classic Chili. We make our first batch of chili a big event. It’s an opening day of football tradition. Don’t skip the fixings. My husband makes the BEST chili and I’ll have to get him to type it up one of these days, but this one looks pretty similar. We always top with cheddar cheese, red onion diced tiny, corn chips, and sometimes sour cream if it’s a spicy batch.
Pasta e Fagioli. Ok you guys, I have a recipe that I’ve always used for this (my husband I took a cooking class in our early days of marriage and the chef taught us how to make this soup!), but early in my instagram days an Italian girl messaged me that what I was making was so far from a true Pasta e Fagioli that it couldn’t even be called that. And then she sent me a link to this very complicated looking recipe, and so I’ve never talked about this soup again on my account. Ha! Maybe I’ll get the courage to share my recipe again, but for now – try the one I’m linking now. It looks simple and yummy.
Country Potato Soup. (Pictured above) Obviously this is the magnolia recipe from Joanna Gaines and it’s soooo good. I dream about it every year when the 70’s hit.
Street Corn Chowder. I just made this over the weekend, and it’s as good as I remember. You can use frozen corn instead of corn on the cob and this makes it a year round option.
Soups I want to make this Fall:
- Pumpkin Soup – Last year I made soup in a pumpkin and you better believe I’m doing it again.
- Taco Soup
- Chicken Noodle
- Beef Stew
- Tortellini Soup
- Tortilla Soup
- Lasagna Soup
- Butternut Squash Soup
- Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese (obviously)
Tell me your favorite soup for soup season in the comments! I’m going to make it a season of soup!! And if you too are making it a soup season – this is our favorite dutch oven. I use it for sourdough and every soup we make! In other cozy news. I want this, this and this.
I love a big old layer cake for a birthday or big party, but for a special little weekend treat or a mid-week pick me up, make it tiny. I don’t need a big cake lingering around my kitchen tempting me (and my children) for too long. Just big enough for a Sunday dessert and a snack during the week (and ok, maybe enough so that I can have breakfast cake one day, because leftover cake does make the best breakfast, as I’m sure you well know.)
I adapted this recipe from the Very Vanilla Cake from Simple Cake by Odette Williams. It almost feels more like a muffin than cake. Muffin Cake! I love it. It was yummy, and I recommend you make it. I used a six inch by 3 inch cake pan, but I think you could use an 8 inch cake pan if you only have that. It will just be thinner, and you’ll want to adjust your baking time!
Blackberry Cake with Blackberry Glaze
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup whole milk
2 eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup blackberries, chopped if very large
3 T mild-flavored oil, such as canola
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare pan by greasing a 6 by 3-inch cake pan with butter, line the bottom with parchment paper, and grease the paper.
Add the lemon juice to the milk to sour it. Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes or until curdled.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs together. Set aside.
Place a large sifter or a sieve in a large mixing bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and sift.
Using an electric mixer with beaters or a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 30 seconds on medium speed and then gradually add the sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue beating on medium speed for another 4 minutes or until light in color and fluffy.
With the mixer still on medium speed, gradually add the eggs. If the batter curdles, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the flour to bind it back together.
On low speed, add the flour mixture and then the oil and milk; mix until just combined. Don’t overbeat. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add blackberries and fold in with a rubber spatula.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 50 to 55 minutes. When a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, and the cake bounces back when lightly pressed, remove the cake from the oven and let it stand to cool. Run a butter knife around the cake to gently release. Invert the cake, peel off the bottom piece of parchment, and cool on a wire rack.
When completely cool, pour glaze onto center of cake and let it run down the sides. Decorate if you choose to with extra blackberries, cut, and watch disappear!
For the Glaze:
1 cup (115g) confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon butter
2-4 tablespoons very hot blackberry juice
Sift the sugar into a small bowl and make a well in the middle. Add the butter to the well. On the stove combine about 1/2 cup water with 1 cup blackberries. Bring to boil and mash the blackberries. Strain into a measuring cup, discard pulp or you could mix that in with the cake. Start with 2 tablespoons and pour into your small bowl into the well of butter. Mix and add a bit more until you get the right drippy consistency. It should be thin enough to drip off your spoon slowly, but not so thin that it will just run off of your cake.
A few months ago, I put a little question box on Instagram and asked for cookbook suggestions from you guys. I’d like to build up my little cookbook collection, but I’d rather not have cookbooks sitting on my shelf that I don’t use. I knew you guys would have the best suggestions, and wow. You all came through. I had hundreds of responses of books you all say you use over and over again. I had to get all of this crowdsourced cookbook knowledge down here. I’ve separated by Baking, Weeknight cooking, Weekend/Date Night Cooking, Cooking Basics, and special dietary cookbooks. Each cookbook is listed by title, author, and then if you click on it, it will take you to amazon to look at the description. They are affiliate links so if you choose to purchase, I will get a little kickback (like 10 cents. just trying to put dinner on the table here. lolol.) This list makes my librarian heart sing! I’m going to start requesting one from the library every week and I’ll browse through, pick a couple recipes to try and see if it’s worth purchasing to have and to hold forever and ever. I thought you guys might like to see the list if you too are looking to beef up your collections! As always, I’ll share reviews on Instagram, and I’ll share any I decide to buy too. Side note: can’t believe the number of vegetarian cookbooks suggested!
Sister pie, Lisa Ludwinski
The Book on Pie, Erin Jeanne McDowell (This is my suggestion! I very much love this cookbook!)
Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook, Kathleen King
Bake the Seasons, Marcella DiLonardo
Flour Water Salt Yeast, Ken Forkish
Flour and Grace, Valerie Kuhns
Tartine Bread, Chad Robertson (I have and love this book. It’s my sourdough bible!)
Midwest Made, Shauna Sever
100 cookies, Sarah Kieffer
Flour, Joanne Chang
Bread Toast Crumbs, Alexandra Stafford
Dessert Person, Claire Saffitz
Sweet, Yotam Ottolenghi
Sally’s Baking Addiction, Sally McKenney
Betty Crocker Cookbook
Fat Salt Acid Heat, Samin Nosrat
How to Cook Without A Book, Pam Anderson
Americas Test Kitchen Cookbook
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child
The Art of Simple Food, Alice Waters
Small Victories, Valerie Turshen
The Joy of Cooking, Irma Rombauer
Minimalist Kitchen, Melissa Coleman
Simple, Everyday Dinners
Skinnytaste One and Done, Gina Homolka
Half Baked Harvest Super Simple, Tieghan Gerard
Half Baked Harvest Every Day, Tieghan Gerard
Jamie Deen’s Good Food, Jamie Deen
Feeding a Family, Sarah Waldman
All About Dinner, Molly Stevens
The Modern Proper, Holly Erickson
Dinner, Melissa Clark
Vietnamese Food Any Day, Andrea Nguyen
Local Dirt and Dishing up the Dirt by Andrea Bemis
Taste of Home Cast Iron Cookbook
Let Me Feed You, Rosie Daykin
Magnolia Table, Joanna Gaines
100 Days of Real Food, Lisa Leake
Everyday Dinners, Jessica Merchant
Huckle & Goose, Anca Toderic
It’s All Easy, Gwyneth Paltrow
Everyday Dinners, Jessica Merchant
Hope’s Table, Hope Helmuth
Pioneer Woman Cooks, Ree Drumond
Ottolenghi’s Simple, Yotam Ottolenghi
Dinner: A Love Story, Jenny Rosenstrach
Grains for Every Season, Joshua McFadden
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, Deb Perlman
Scrumptious, Christy Denney
Comfortable Kitchen, Alex Snodgrass
A Year of Simple Family Food, Julia Busuttil Nishimura
The Complete Slow Cooker, America’s Test Kitchen
Once Upon a Chef, Jennifer Segal
Milk Street Tuesday Night, Christopher Kimball
Prairie Homestead Cookbook, Jill Winger
Date Night/Weekend Cooking
Cravings, Chrissy Teigan
Jerusalem, Yotam Ottolenghi
The Little House Cookbook, Barbara M. Walker
Cook Beautiful, Athena Calderone
Tangy Tart Hot and Sweet, Padma Lakshmi
Nothing Fancy, Alison Roman
Ina Garten cookbooks
How Easy Is That Is
Eating Out Loud, Eden Grinshpan
Giada’s Italy, Giada Di Laurentiis
A Love of Eating: Recipes from Tart London
Cook this Book, Molly Baz
Williams Sonoma Brunch and Breakfast, Norman Kolpas
Simply Julia, Julia Turshen
Williams Sonoma Comfort Food
The Lost Kitchen, Erin French
The picnic, Marnie Hanel ( I NEED this book)
Cooking With Nonna, Rossella Rago
Molly on the Range, Molly Yeh
Sprouted Kitchen, Sara Forte
Let’s Stay In, Ashley Rodriguez
Dishing Up Maine, Brooke Dojny
My New Roots, Sarah Britton (vegetarian)
Cook Once, Eat All Week, Cassy Joy Garcia (gluten free)
The Nourished Kitchen, Jennifer McGruther (traditional foods lifestyle)
Ruffage, Abra Berens (vegetarian)
Love and Lemons, Jeanine Donofrio (vegetarian)
The Forest Feast, Erin Gleeson (vegetarian)
My Darling Lemon Thyme, Emma Galloway (vegetarian, gluten free)
Little Green Kitchen, David Frenkiel (vegetarian)
Run Fast, Eat Slow, Shalane Flanagan (for athletes)
Love Real Food, by Kathryne Taylor (vegetarian)
Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon (traditional foods)
Lexi’s Clean Kitchen, Alexis Kornblum (paleo)
Mostly Plants, Tracy Pollan (vegetarian)
Simple Green Suppers, Susie Middleton (vegetarian)
Whole by Natural Harry (vegetarian)
Oh She Glows, Angela Liddon (vegan)
Elsa’s Wholesome Life, Ellie B (vegetarian)
No Crumbs Left, Teri Turner (whole30)
The ones I’ve requested from the library – Half Baked Harvest Super Simple, The Modern Proper, Sister Pie, Hope’s Table