The Baker Upstairs

11.17.2017

Chewy and Fudgy Brownies

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These chewy and fudgy brownies are so rich and decadent, and take just a few minutes to mix up. They're perfect for satisfying those chocolate cravings any time!

These chewy and fudgy brownies are so rich and decadent, and take just a few minutes to mix up. They're perfect for satisfying those chocolate cravings any time!

Can you believe it's Thanksgiving in less than a week? To be honest, I'm having a hard time getting into the holiday spirit. My husband is scheduled to work Wednesday and Thursday all day, so we won't be celebrating until Friday. I'm also still finding it hard to get into the holiday spirit without my family and friends close by. It's fun to build new traditions here in Portland, of course, but sometimes it just feels like a lot of work! I've planned a pretty simple turkey dinner for our family (including this amazing rosemary sage turkey breast), and we'll try to make it a fun day for the kids. My husband has plans to build our first fire of the season in the fireplace and roast marshmallows, which sounds pretty great to me!

When it comes to homesickness, somehow baking is always the best remedy for me. Cookies, brownies, cupcakes, you name it! I always feel better after I bake something fabulous. I made these brownies last week when I was having a rough day, and they were the perfect cure. They take just a few minutes to mix up, but they taste totally amazing! They're super decadent and delicious, but there also made with ingredients I always have on hand, which means that I can make them any time I need them!

These chewy and fudgy brownies are so rich and decadent, and take just a few minutes to mix up. They're perfect for satisfying those chocolate cravings any time!
Chewy and Fudgy Brownies

12 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup cake flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325. Line an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 square pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla, and mix until smooth. Add the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt, and mix until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Spread the brownie mixture in the prepared pan. Bake 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted 1 1/2 inches from the side of the pan comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Let cool before slicing and serving.
These chewy and fudgy brownies are so rich and decadent, and take just a few minutes to mix up. They're perfect for satisfying those chocolate cravings any time!

11.12.2017

20 Pantry Staples You Can Easily Make at Home

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20 pantry staples you can make at home that are way better than store-bought!

20 pantry staples you can make at home that are way better than store-bought!

When it comes to saving money on groceries, one of the best things you can do is to make things yourself! Not only are homemade pantry staples a great way to save money, but they also taste way better than store-bought. And because you control the ingredients, you can also make them healthier, too! 

About six years ago, my family was in a pretty tight spot financially. I was staying home with a new baby and a four year old, and my husband was working full time for basically peanuts, and trying to get through school. We've both always loved food, and when our food budget shrank to a tiny fraction of what it had been before, and eating out or buying treats was out of the question, I realized that the only way to have good food was to make it myself. I taught myself to make pretty much anything I wanted to eat from scratch, and we ate like kings on a shoestring budget! That super tight period only lasted about a year and a half, thankfully, and eventually I was able to find a nursing job that I loved and our family had a little more breathing room in our budget. These days, my husband has a great job and I'm able to contribute to our family with my blog, but I still make a lot of our food from scratch, because I love it so much. Everything tastes better when it's homemade!

I'm sharing some of my favorite recipes below for pantry staples you can make yourself. Even if you're not concerned about saving money, they are totally worth checking out, because they taste so much better! 


I love this apple pie filling because I can make a big batch when the apples are in season, and then we can have easy and tasty apple pies all year long. It's also great for making apple crisp, or even stirring into oatmeal. Yum!

20 pantry staples you can make at home that are way better than store-bought!


These chocolate chip cookie granola bars are perfect for lunch boxes and after school snacks. My kids love them!

20 pantry staples you can make at home that are way better than store-bought!


Ditch the Jello and Kozy Shack, and make your own chocolate pudding at home! It tastes so much richer and better than store-bought pudding, and it's super easy to make! 

20 pantry staples you can make at home that are way better than store-bought!


You can use this homemade chocolate syrup any way that you would use Hershey's syrup - it's awesome on ice cream, pancakes, and for making chocolate milk!

20 pantry staples you can make at home that are way better than store-bought!


Homemade pizza dough is so quick and easy to make, and tastes amazing! We make pizza at least twice a month using this recipe, and the whole family loves it! 

20 pantry staples you can make at home that are way better than store-bought!


This is the best french bread ever. It's just as soft as store-bought bread, but the flavor is amazing! 

20 pantry staples you can make at home that are way better than store-bought!


Making your own pesto is simple and quick! I like to buy basil plants at Trader Joe's (they're usually under $3) and make pesto several times from the same plant. It's an awesome money saver! 

20 pantry staples you can make at home that are way better than store-bought!


This homemade buttermilk syrup is heavenly! We love it on pancakes, waffles, french toast, and even ice cream. Yum!

20 pantry staples you can make at home that are way better than store-bought!


Homemade corn tortillas are easier than you think! It helps to have a tortilla press, but you can definitely make them with a rolling pin, too. 

20 pantry staples you can make at home that are way better than store-bought!


Not only is this homemade cranberry sauce way more delicious than canned sauce, you can also make it in advance and freeze it until you're ready to serve. It's so good that I eat it with a spoon! 

20 pantry staples you can make at home that are way better than store-bought!


These flour tortillas are a staple in our family and I make them all. the. time. They're perfect for tacos or enchiladas, and I love serving them alongside chicken tortilla soup!

20 pantry staples you can make at home that are way better than store-bought!


Cooking with dried beans is a great way to save money, and it's way easier than you think! I like to cook a big batch, save them in the freezer in two-cup portions, and then pull them out whenever I need a can of beans for a recipe.

20 pantry staples you can make at home that are way better than store-bought!


Homemade croutons are so delicious and so easy to make! They're great for serving with soups and salads, and have the perfect amount of crunch.

20 pantry staples you can make at home that are way better than store-bought!


These homemade instant oatmeal packets are easy to customize with whatever fruits and nuts you like, and they're way better for you than store-bought packets. My kids like them better than store-bought! 

20 pantry staples you can make at home that are way better than store-bought!


We go through a crazy amount of applesauce at our house because my kids love it so much, and it's so easy to make at home! 

20 pantry staples you can make at home that are way better than store-bought!


Fresh homemade jam is my favorite! I love to use the low-sugar recipe so I can get more of that fruit flavor coming through. We canned a bunch of jam during the summer when berries were at their peak, and I'm loving that we can enjoy those sweet berries all year round! 

20 pantry staples you can make at home that are way better than store-bought!


This marinara sauce has the best flavor and is super easy to make. I love to use it for chicken parmigiana or spaghetti. It also freezes well, so I can make a big batch and save some of it for another day. 

20 pantry staples you can make at home that are way better than store-bought!


This is seriously the best pie crust recipe in the world. It's incredibly easy to make and always comes out perfect! It also tastes way better than store-bought pie crust. 

20 pantry staples you can make at home that are way better than store-bought!


Who knew that homemade salad dressing was so easy to make? This strawberry poppyseed vinaigrette is super delicious and perfect for dressing those summer salads! 

20 pantry staples you can make at home that are way better than store-bought!


This sandwich bread is probably my favorite bread that I make! I make a batch at least once a month, and freeze the extra loaves for later. We've actually replaced 90% of the store-bought bread that we buy with this bread, and it's always a win. My kids like it better than store-bought bread, and it makes the most amazing grilled cheese sandwiches!

20 pantry staples you can make at home that are way better than store-bought!

Making your own pantry staples is a fun and delicious way to save money. Homemade is always better! 

11.07.2017

Sesame Peanut Noodles

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These flavorful and savory sesame peanut noodles are a simple and delicious dinner that's ready in about thirty minutes!

These flavorful and savory sesame peanut noodles are a simple and delicious dinner that's ready in about thirty minutes!

If you're looking for a meal that crosses off everything on your list, look no further? These sesame peanut noodles have got it going on. Easy: check! Quick: check! Frugal: check! Kid-friendly: check! Delicious: double check! We've been working hard on saving money as a family lately, and that means cleaning out the freezer and cupboards and using up all the food we already have. These delicious noodles came about when I found myself in a pinch at dinnertime, and was brainstorming any and all ideas for a quick meal. I managed to find some leftover boneless pork chops in the freezer, and found all the ingredients for the sauce in the cupboards and the fridge. I sliced and sautéed the pork, cooked the noodles, blended the sauce, and had everything on the table in less than thirty minutes. My kids both cleaned their plates, and my husband and I both agreed that it was just as delicious as takeout from our favorite noodle place. Dinner win!

These flavorful and savory sesame peanut noodles are a simple and delicious dinner that's ready in about thirty minutes!
Sesame Peanut Noodles

8 ounces linguini or spaghetti noodles
1 pound pork or chicken, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons oil
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sriracha or other hot sauce (more or less to taste)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet, add the pork or chicken, and cook, stirring frequently, until coked through. In a blender or food processor, add 1/4 cup sesame seeds, peanut butter, minced garlic, ginger powder, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sriracha, brown sugar, and water, and blend until smooth. Toss together the cooked and drained pasta, the sauce, and the cooked meat. Stir in the chopped peanuts and cilantro and serve hot, sprinkled with the remaining 1 tablespoon sesame seeds.
These flavorful and savory sesame peanut noodles are a simple and delicious dinner that's ready in about thirty minutes!

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