pumpkin chai loaf

I just typed “pumpkin chai love.”

It’s that time of year, folks. When they put a huge stack of Libby’s cans on display at grocery stores all over America. And you try to grab two of them at opposite corners so as not to throw off the symmetry of the display.

No? I’m the only person who thinks that way? Got it.

Have you ever noticed that pumpkin itself basically tastes like nothing? It’s not a squash (?) that I’m particularly excited about. I’d probably pick a butternut or a spaghetti.

It’s those fall FLAVORS that we’re craving. Pumpkin is just the vehicle. This has all of your usual pumpkin pie spices but then also a couple of extra ones that take it from PIE to CHAI.

See what I did there?

This recipe is blatantly stolen from How Sweet It Is, like pretty much everything else I make. But instead of muffins, I made it a loaf. You see, it’s easier to justify my serving sizes in a loaf. A few (7) thin slivers as I’m standing over the pan? That’s one slice. One single serving.

If you eat multiple muffins, though, that’s not cool.

Also, this bread recipe is miraculous because it has no butter, and only 3 tablespoons of coconut oil. All of the moisture comes from the pumpkin itself. And if you want to make it more of a breakfast bread than a dessert bread, you can leave out the crumble. I did that the second time I made it (which was 3 days after the first time I made it) and it was still swell.

Pumpkin Chai Loaf

barely adapted from How Sweet It Is

1 cup all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp cardamom

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 tbs melted coconut oil

2/3 cup almond milk

for the crumble

1 stick softened, unsalted butter

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup white sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Combine all of the dry ingredients, which includes the brown sugar. I broke out my grandma’s sifter for this job, because there are so many spices that I wanted to make sure everything was evenly distributed. Nothing like getting a bite that has all of the ginger in it. That’ll clear your sinuses.


In a separate bowl, whisk the egg. Add the pumpkin, vanilla, milk, and melted coconut oil and stir to combine.

Fold in the dry ingredients until just combined. Over mixing is the death of quick breads.

Grease a loaf pan- I used coconut oil for this but any nonstick cooking spray or oil will work. Pour half of the batter into the pan, then add a layer of the crumble mixture. Pour the rest of the batter over the top, then add more crumble.


Bake at 325 degrees for an hour. Let it cool, and then serve!


If you bring this to work on a random Tuesday, I can give you a #spillthebeans guarantee that you’ll be employee of the month. I work from home, by myself, so I’m always employee of the month.


That also means I don’t have to share the bread. ALL MINE.


DIY desk

More DIY fun to share!

I think I’ve mentioned that I work from home on the days when I’m not traveling, and when I was looking for a new apartment I was desperate for something that had a home office space. What I REALLY wanted was a two-bedroom, where I could keep all of my work stuff in one room and then shut the door when the work day was done.

Unfortunately when you’re also stipulating that the new apartment has an under-mount sink, in-unit laundry, parking, and natural light, things start to add up. And, as it turns out, I’m not a millionaire.

Luckily in my new place there are two living areas- one that flows from the kitchen, and then another room that most people would probably use as a dining room. I don’t have enough friends to host a dinner party, so I made it my office.

I knew I wanted a massive desk. Not even a desk, a table. But everything I liked was REALLY expensive. Granted, I am one of the cheapest people on the planet, but I couldn’t stomach spending $600 on a flat surface. So I got creative.

I went to Second Chance, which is a massive warehouse in Baltimore that has everything from refurbished furniture to dishes to lighting to wood to props from TV shows. They also happen to have a whole wing with windows and doors. Which is where I found this.


I liked the asymmetry of it, and it’s HUGE. And it was $70. A few of the guys managed to get it in my car, and I drove the 2 miles home basically on top of the steering wheel. I had to get it out of my car in order to drive anywhere else safely, which was a conundrum.

I tend to always believe that I have superhuman strength and that I am a fully independent woman. So I got this thing out of my car and into my building by myself.

Did I mention my building doesn’t have an elevator?

That’s when my guardian angels (neighbors) appeared and offered to help me carry it upstairs. They definitely thought I was a psychopath for A) thinking I could carry it up 3 flights of stairs alone and B) purchasing a large door.

But we got it inside. Then I bought some wrought iron hairpin legs on Amazon, and installed them myself with my new power drill. Best purchase of 2016.



And there you have it! Home office, complete.


This might not be ideal if you’re looking for a desk to actually write on, but I do 99% of my work on my laptop and I wanted something that could accommodate a monitor, printer, etc. Mission accomplished. And the whole project came in at about $150.

And as you can see I’m blogging at 11:30AM on a Monday instead of working, so this whole home office thing is going swimmingly.


brussels sprouts salad w/ pancetta & blue cheese

As it turns out, I’m recipe testing for Thanksgiving early this year.

Not always on purpose, but productivity is productivity.

Fall is in full swing and I am loving it. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised that my apartment has maintained a normal temperature when the weather outside drops to the mid-40s. That’s more than I can say for my apartment in Rochester. I’m still decorating and I have some awesome new DIY stuff that I’ll share soon!

Something about this salad is rich enough that it screams autumn/winter to me, but it’s light enough to eat for lunch on a Sunday. Which I did. While I had sauce and meatballs on the stove.

Here are some other fall recipes I can’t wait to make again this season-

Farro & Vegetable Stew

Spaghetti w/ Butternut and Sage

Eggplant Rollatini

Spicy Pork Ragu

Beer Braised Short Ribs

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Apple Cake

I highly recommend inviting some friends over and making all of these things. Or you can all come to my apartment and I’ll cook it all. A warning, though. I only have seats for 3 people. Are you cool with sitting on the floor?

Brussels Sprouts Salad w/ Pancetta and Blue Cheese

1 lb brussels sprouts, ends removed and roughly chopped

2 cups kale, chopped

1/2 cup chopped pancetta (if you can’t find pancetta, sub bacon)

zest of 1 lemon

2-3 tsp lemon juice

3/4 cup craisins

4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

salt and pepper, to taste

Chop up the brussels and the kale. The GS just bought me a ridiculous kitchen tool that is meant to be a pizza cutter, but I also played with it here. Large blade with a wooden handle.


Heat a medium sauce pan, and add pancetta. Allow it to cook for a few minutes- it will start to release some of its fat. Add the sprouts and the kale (optional, you can do this with all sprouts for sure). Lower the heat and cover, stirring occasionally. Let them cook for 6-8 minutes. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice and cook for another minute or so.


Remove from heat, and add the craisins and the blue cheese. Stir to combine, then season to taste with salt and pepper.


This is stupid simple but has so much flavor. It really doesn’t need any additional dressing.

Less than 15 minutes! You gotta do it.

spiced mug cake

Did anyone just read “mug cake” and gasp in horror?

If you’ve been a long time Spill the Beans reader, you know that in the very beginning I had a love-affair-bordering-on-addiction with mug cakes. Specifically, one recipe for a chocolate mug cake that I used to eat every night.

Until on one horrible evening I discovered that I was consuming about 900-something calories and 48 grams of fat in one little mug. I don’t know what I expected when I was pouring vegetable oil into it, but after that I quit cold turkey.

My thought process behind reverting back to a mug cake for this particular recipe was that I really just wanted a small serving. As much as I love spice cake, I don’t want to eat the leftovers of it 3 days later.

I’ll eat a chocolate chip cookie that has been sitting behind the refrigerator for 6 months, but spice cake that’s been sitting out? No thanks.

After I went out and bought all my spices I really wanted to use them for something. So this has teeny tiny amounts of cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice. If you don’t have all of those things you can mix and match, or just use cinnamon.

The recipe clocks in at about 450 calories which might still seem like a lot, but when you eat cookie dough by the fistful this is basically diet food.

Spiced Mug Cake

adapted from Five Heart Home

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp cinnamon

pinch each of cardamom, nutmeg, and allspice

pinch of salt

2 tablespoons melted butter

1/4 cup milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Melt the butter. I melted it right in the mug that I was going to use to “bake” the cake. Combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, spices, and salt in a small bowl. Pour the melted butter, almond milk, and vanilla extract in and stir to combine.


Transfer back into the mug, and top with cinnamon sugar (optional).


Microwave for about 1 minute. Depending on your microwave it may be 15-30 seconds longer.


It’s light and fluffy and not too sweet at all. Basically breakfast.

A calorie free, breakfast snack.

Zero weight watchers points!

Okay I’m done.

DIY magnetic spice rack

This might be my most favorite DIY project EVER. It combines my loves of cooking, crafting, and being cheap.

On my birthday the GS and I went on a random exploration of Baltimore and happened to stumble across this general store. They have bulk spices in the back (and bulk grains, dried fruit, oats, etc.) and I immediately knew I needed to go back after I moved.

fullsizerenderStoring spices is the worst. You can never find anything and you end up with 4 containers of dried mustard as a result.

I kind of hate to throw my mother under the bus here, but she put all of her spices in a cardboard box when we moved and that’s where they still reside in the pantry.

My family moved when I was 14.

Also, spices are friggin’ expensive. An average sized container of cinnamon at Harris Teeter is $3.29. And that’s actually a spice that you’ll use over and over. If you want to buy something more exotic for just one recipe, like cardamom, you’re looking at TWELVE DOLLARS AND NINETY-NINE CENTS. That makes me nauseous.

Buying them in bulk is way cheaper and this is the most adorable way to store them.

I ordered these little hexagon shaped jars on Amazon. It was $13.99 for 12 jars. More than reasonable. The magnets I bought were $8.00 for 25 magnets, and they’re pretty strong.

I went today and bought my spices. Here’s where it gets exciting.

I bought cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cayenne pepper, chili powder, smoked paprika, dried mustard, oregano, Italian seasoning, star anise, cloves, allspice, and 3 vanilla bean pods.


My grand total was $16.29.

I don’t even think I could get the vanilla beans for that at a regular grocery store.

I attached my magnets to the jars with my hot glue gun (I did two magnets per jar, just to be on the safe side). And filled them up with the spices.

My original plan was to get these cute stickers from Michael’s that look like brown paper to label them. But then I thought, why not cut up the brown paper bag from the general store and save myself $2.24? Because YES I would of course use their current 25% off coupon for a purchase under $3.00.


I think my mother is beaming right now just as much as the day I got my doctorate.

And then you just stick them to the fridge! Easily accessible and decorative.


I know what you’re thinking. No additional decorating needed when you have multiple photos of your kid brother in magnetic frames!

In total, the project cost me under $40, and I can continue to reuse the jars and even swap out the labels if I so choose. I also had some spices leftover that didn’t quite fit in the jars, so there’s room to replenish my stock.


This might be the project that makes me a Pinterest queen. A girl can dream.

i tried blue apron!

I’m sure you’ve seen hundreds of blog posts written by people paid by Blue Apron to try the service and review it.

I am not one of those people.

In fact, last week I submitted my blog to have some advertisements on it so that I can earn some cash money for all this writing, and they basically were like “We’ll consider you once more than 4 people start reading it. Bye.”

I did however have a pretty sweet promo code for Blue Apron that resulted in 3 meals for 2 people delivered at a cost to me of only $9.80. I can handle that.

In case you’re wondering what Blue Apron is, it’s a food delivery service that sends you pre-measured ingredients with simple instructions so that you can cook at home without a trip to the grocery store. You have some level of flexibility in choosing the meals, and everything ships for free in a refrigerated box. The assumption is that you have olive oil, salt, and pepper. Everything else is provided.

Here’s what I got in my box:

Blackened Chicken with Zucchini Rice, Corn & Cherry Tomatoes


Korean Pork Tacos with Spicy Red Cabbage Slaw


Crispy Salmon with Orzo, Green Bean & Cucumber Salad


Everything is clearly labeled and nicely packaged. They give you one page handouts with the list of ingredients and the recipe instructions for each meal.


Here’s what I liked about it:

  • The quality of the ingredients was high- I waited 3 days before making the first meal and everything was still fresh. The wild caught salmon was REALLY good.
  • Some of the ingredients (like Gochujang) are things that I probably wouldn’t want to buy a whole container of, but it was good to try it in a context like this.
  • For people who really need a sense of portion control, this is a good method. I thought the portion sizes were very appropriate.
  • You can skip weeks any time. If you don’t like the meal selections offered or you’re going to be out of town or something, you just skip that week.

Here’s what I didn’t like about it:

  • While the instructions are clear and easy to follow, they’re not always the most efficient. BUT to be fair, I’m always doing 17 things at once and I understand that the average person doesn’t operate that way in the kitchen. Especially someone using this to learn to cook.
  • Some of the meal options are a little ridiculous. Do I need you to send me ingredients and instructions for grilled cheese? No. Also they say you have 6 options to choose from, but you can only do certain combinations. So you don’t really get to pick any 3.
  • In my opinion, it’s still a little pricey. It’s normally $60 to get 3 meals for 2. So that’s $10 a meal, which is way more than you would actually spend if you got ya ass to the grocery store. Obviously you’re paying for the convenience of home delivery and everything being measured out for you, but I’m way too cheap.

It was really exciting to get the box and in the end I’m glad I tried it, but I definitely won’t be getting one every week. I think if you’re a tentative cook, if you need meal inspiration, or you just have more money than time, I highly recommend.

I promise I’ll go back to old fashioned cooking soon. I’m still getting acquainted with my new kitchen but I LOVE it. I also have some fun DIY projects to share! Stay tuned.

Maybe with my new genres of posts I’ll get up to a readership of 5! Fingers crossed.

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easy DIY wall art

It’s moving day!!

Naturally I’ve been awake since 6:30 and have already had my coffee, and I’m just waiting for the GS to wake up and help me.

To be fair, we can’t pick up the U-Haul until 9, so my impatience is completely unwarranted.

To keep myself busy for the next hour I figured I would fill you in on my latest DIY project, a little wall art for my new apartment. I recently read an article titled “No One Wants Your Donated Clothes” which basically said that there are enough textiles to wrap around the earth a few times and that they aren’t being recycled the way they should.

There was no solution or suggestion for what to do with said clothing, but rather it was a commentary about how people probably shouldn’t be donated their pit-stained t-shirts from 2005 JV Soccer to the Rescue Mission. Point taken.

Obviously I’ve made my fair share of quilts to preserve some clothing memories, but in an effort to get rid of a bunch of my old stuff before the move, this seemed like a worthy project.

I saw this photo on Pinterest and figured it would be pretty easy to re-create. So I cut up a bunch of old clothes, as well as some fabric scraps I had from other projects.

I bought a 24″ x 36″ canvas at Michael’s (70% off, I might add), some paint, and some Mod Podge. I bought the stuff specifically for fabric, but it wouldn’t shock me if all Mod Podge is the same and they sell it in different varieties just for the hell of it.


I painted the canvas black, and while it was drying I laid out my “petals” to get a general idea of the design.


Then you just stick them on with the ‘podge.


I ended up going over the whole thing with another coat of Mod-Podge once it was dry, because otherwise you end up with that shiny outline around the petals and not in your free space. If you use a glossy paint you might not have this issue.


And there it is! I’m really happy with how it turned out. It’s obviously a lot crazier than the Pinterest one, but you could use neutral clothing or just buy fabrics that are all in the same general color scheme. At Jo-Ann they sell little packages of fabric remnants that all kind of match.

But I guess that defeats the purpose of saving the world by re-purposing/recycling clothing.

If you want to be a REAL humanitarian, you could absolutely do this on any old piece of fabric or wood or any other flat surface. You don’t even need the canvas! Hell, you could attach the fabric straight to the wall. If you do it that way, Marilyn recommends you use liquid starch rather than Mod Podge. Listen to the expert.

I’ll get on that once I’m a homeowner.