chai blondies with pumpkin cream cheese frosting.

would you like a bite of fall?

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these blondies are exploding with fall flavor. they taste and smell like the months of october, november, and december combined.

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make your own chai blend! this has been so cozy to have extra around for sprinkling on various thangs. it smells amazing, and it’s pretty to boot.

adding the chai spice to hot water with some raw sugar is a super easy instant chai tea and is super spicy and flavorful. it would also be amahzing in hot apple cider, on ice creams, on oatmeal, yogurt, etc etc etc!

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the blondies are made with olive oil, which is pritty kewl. you can make them with butter if you prefer. the texture will be delightful either way.

i know there are two very serious camps of pro-nut and anti-nut in dessert people - but i just think these are sooo great with chopped walnuts within. they’d also be delicious with hazelnuts or macadamia nuts. if you’re an anti-nut, leave em out. wahhhhh. :(

boy. i had no idea how tricky this frosting would be when i decided to make it pumpkin cream cheese. sounds simple, yeah? whell, it took me 3 tries to get it right.

i’m super glad i didn’t throw in the towel, because the final product turned out mega deliciouuuus.

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i was getting way confident in how much pumpkin purée i could throw into the frosting……turns out, that just ain’t allowed. unless you fancy grainy glop on your brownies and/or cakes.

never fear, failed frosting #1 actually ended up becoming a pumpkin sweet bread recipe the next day with a bit of tweaking, haha. i do not like to waste.

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you can only add barely TWO TABLESPOONS of pumpkin to the frosting. or else, grainsville. my first attempt - i put in 1 CUP of pumpkin. lololol. what a mess. also, sifting the powdered sugar is very important.

then use pumpkin pie spice and the chai spice blend to bring out that pumpkin flavor without adding any extra liquid to the frosting.

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the bars are perfectly chewy and spiced like chai - with some bits of walnut, which i love. and the frosting has a combination of sweet and sour(ish) flavors with the pumpkin, powdered suga and cream cheese.

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these are an all around fall’s delight.

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Chai Blondies with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 9 Bars (8 x 4 pan for 1” thick blondies)

Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

Blondies - (slightly adapted from Molly Yeh!)

  • 1 cup all purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar

  • 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt

  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

  • 1 1/2 tsp. chai spice blend (make the spice blend separately, then add 1 1/2 total tsp. of the combined spices)

Chai Spice Blend - (easily multiplied or halved - store in airtight container)

  • 2 tsp. ground ginger

  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom

  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves

  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice

  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting -

  • 6 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (half stick), room temperature

  • 2 1/2 TB. pumpkin purée

  • 1/2 tsp. chai spice blend

  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted!

  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

  • pinch of fine sea salt

Instructions -

Make the blondies:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8 x 4 inch (for 1” thick bars) or 4 x 4 inch pan (for 2” thick bars) with cooking spray and line with parchment paper. If doubling the recipe, use an 8 x 8 inch square pan and also about double the bake time.

In a large bowl, combine the dry base ingredients for the blondies. In a medium bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Make the chai spice blend in a completely separate bowl or container to store for later. Chop the walnuts.

Add 1 1/2 tsp. of the chai spice blend to the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients bowl and stir to combine. Fold in the chopped walnuts.

Spread batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 18 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center of the blondies comes clean. Allow them to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then carefully lift the parchment to set blondies on a cooling rack to cool completely.

Make the frosting:

In a stand mixer or using an electric hand mixer, cream together the butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add the pumpkin purée and mix again (DO NOT add more pumpkin than the recipe calls for - frosting will turn very grainy as a result). Add the chai blend and pumpkin pie spice to bring out the pumpkin flavor.

SIFT the powdered sugar before slowly adding to the mixing bowl. Sifting is key to keeping the frosting smooth. Continue to mix/whisk on medium speed until all the powdered sugar is added and frosting is fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Add vanilla extract and a pinch of salt and mix for a couple more minutes.

Lift the cooled blondies onto a large cutting board. Use spatula, butter knife, or offset spatula to spread the frosting onto the blondies. Carefully cut into squares with a large knife. Serve same-day!

Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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breakfast BLT plate.

mmmmm. breakfast.

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this was totally a clean-out-the-fridge style brekky that we made one weekend, but it was so scrumptious and satisfying that i made it again.

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and it’s really just a BLT on a plate!

or a BLAT, but i don’t like saying that.

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also, health, because sautéing like 4 giant leaves of kale in a pan quickly becomes a tiny pile of kale. but all that green superfood goodness is all still present!

if you’re a sunny side up hater, then leave more room between the kale and center of pan to flip the eggs over, or just scramble them.

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you have to be sure to get a piece of each component into each bite! all the savory flavors really jive.

whomever first placed a slice of bacon next to a slice of tomato and a piece of lettuce was a got dang genius. amiriiiiite?

BLT. meant 2 be.

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Breakfast BLT Plate

Time: 20 minutes

Serves 1, easily multiplied

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 large purple kale leaves, washed, dried and removed from stems

  • 2 large eggs

  • 2-4 slices of bacon (save a little bacon grease in pan to sauté the kale in)

  • 1/2 a large avocado, sliced

  • handful of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

  • goat cheese

  • salt, pepper, red chili flakes

  • bread or toast, optional

Instructions:

In a large pan or skillet, cook the bacon as desired. Save just a bit of the bacon grease in the pan, discard the remainder in an old can or jar to harden. Place the bacon on a paper towel to remove excess grease.

Heat the pan with the bacon grease to medium, tear the kale and toss it into the pan and sprinkle with a pinch of salt, pepper, and chili flakes. Toss with a spatula to tenderize, about 2 minutes.

Once the kale is tender, scoot it out to the edges of the pan, leaving a hole in the center to crack the eggs in. Crack 2 eggs into the center and sprinkle with black pepper if desired. Cover the pan and allow the eggs to cook about 2-3 minutes, or just until you see a film starting to form on the yolks. Remove from heat immediately. If you don’t like runny yolks, cook until the yolks are hardened, about 2 more minutes.

Carefully transfer the kale and eggs to a large plate. Add the bacon, sliced avocado, halved cherry tomatoes, and goat cheese crumbles. Add an extra sprinkle of red chili flakes if desired.

Serve with bread or toast if you like!

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backpacking the enchantments.

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heyyyyyyyy.

this trip happened back in june when summer was just upon us!

i had several perdy photos from my phone so i still wanted to share them here :)

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pete won the enchantments lottery for this particular area - eightmile lake and lake caroline (if you’re not from washington, the enchantments are a big region of mountains and the most gorgeous alpine lakes that are only accessible via a lottery system that people enter in every year to be able to go hiking & camping there). we brought tom dad with us for the four-day journey. he did so great (better than me, lol). 65 and strong as an ox.

we weren’t placed in the “core enchantments” that are the most primo spot to win, but an area just outside of the core that was still beautiful as ever.

once we got up here, we totally understood the need for the lottery system. if these areas were just regular ol’ hikes accessible to all the humans at all times, they would not be nearly as pristine and amazing as they are!

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we hiked in to eightmile lake for the first night of camping. it rained just a little bit, but it was fine. the next morning when we woke up we saw the lake in all it’s daytime glory. sooo pretty.

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we hung here for a bit, enjoyed the sunshine, made brekky, & the boys tried to catch some fish.

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then we packed everything back into our backpacks and carried on to lake caroline. this was a challenging, long hike, but totally doable if you’re a regular hiker. i’m just a weenie when there’s lots of hot sun - i get hot & bothered pretty quickly. the cooler weather is just much easier for me to hike in.

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this reminded me of the italian alps or something! i’d wished we’d come upon a cozy mountain shack with cheese and salami to munch on, haha. so gorgeous here!

the wildfires that happen in eastern washington are no joke. you can see all the fire damage here from the previous years’ fires.

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 pano by peter.

pano by peter.

 pano by peter!

pano by peter!

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almost there almost there almost there.

just give me sleeping bag, get me horizontal, some astronaut food in my bellay, that tiny box of wine i carted up this mountain, please!

my friend billy!!!!! he was cool. i was not skerred of him at all. he was a big ass mountain goat, though.

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we camped at lake caroline for two nights and had a great time doing shorter hikes during the day, attempting to catch fish, reading, and chillin. pete and tom hiked way way way up one day and got some incredible photos. i opted to snooze in the tent in the sunshine and read and hang out with my bff billy.

 where pete & tom went!!!

where pete & tom went!!!

 pete’s photo of a big fat marmot!

pete’s photo of a big fat marmot!

 wilderness people.

wilderness people.

 another pete pano!

another pete pano!

^ check out the wildlife. all the snow white vibes.

big goat, two deer, marmots and chipmunks abound.

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as with every hike down, we talked about cheeseburgers and beer the entire way after 4 days of astronaut food and trail mix. we left the wilderness just as a torrential downpour hit the trailhead and an army of mosquitos appeared out of nowhere. perfect timing, i say.

simply stunning up here!!! if you get the opportunity to explore the enchantments, do it!

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