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» Pale Yellow

Cream together butter and sugar until pale yellow.

Chocolate Coconut Fudgsicles

Tracy Byrne

Chocolate Coconut Fudgsicles | Pale Yellow

Not to brag, but I won a little baking contest at work.  I'll post the recipe someday, like all the other recipes, but today I'm showing off the prize from the contest.  How cute are these popsicle molds?!?!  Fish, octopus, scuba diver, oh my!

Chocolate Coconut Fudgsicles | Pale Yellow

For this month's Secret Recipe Club, I had Cheese Curd in Paradise, which may be one of the better blog names out there!  Ashley has a delightful blog filled with fun cocktails, desserts, and meal ideas.

As I pack for my trip to Namibia, I wanted something simple.  And because it's horribly hot, I did not want to turn on the oven.  Enter ice cream.  No churn ice cream.  In popsicle molds.  Just blend, pour, and freeze.

Chocolate Coconut Fudgsicles | Pale Yellow

I've been against no-churn ice cream recipes, but this one may make me a convert.  It is incredibly easy and tasty with none of the work.  As a bonus, the popsicles came out perfect!  Delightful for these hot summer days.  They are creamy, sweet, and full of chocolate flavor with no weird ingredients.  These should definitely go on the must make list!  I'm looking at you Dean!

Chocolate Coconut Fudgsicles | Pale Yellow

Print the Recipe!

Chocolate Coconut Fudsicles

Adapted from Cheese Curds in Paradise

Yield - 6+ popsicles


14-ounce can coconut milk, full fat

1/4 cup cocoa powder, special dark

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla

pinch salt

  1. Add all the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.

  2. Pour into the popsicle mold of your choice.

  3. Any extra can can be poured in a freezer safe container and eaten as ice cream.

  4. Freeze for at least six hours and then unmold and enjoy.

Chocolate Coconut Fudgsicles | Pale Yellow

Buffalo Chicken Nachos

Tracy Byrne

buffalo chicken nachos | pale yellow

Some foods fit into the special category "not for sharing."  Add these to that category.  I've made these nachos in the past and loved them, but never shared the recipe here.  Why?  See the category above.  Also in this category these brownies and this sweet treat.

buffalo chicken nachos | pale yellow

For this month's Secret Recipe Club, I was looking through Oh! You Cook! for simple dinners.  This lovely blog features Kosher recipes that are delightful and delicious.  I first found this tilapia dinner, which will be saved for later because nachos take precedent on Friday nights.  And Saturday night.  Yes, I had these nachos two nights in a row for dinner.

buffalo chicken nachos | pale yellow

Dena from Oh! You Cook! has a great blog and has even published a cookbook, awesome!  The Kosher version omits the chicken and I'm sure the nachos are just as good with cheese and hot sauce.

Secret Recipe Club

So easy to make, the nachos can be made after several frozen cocktails.  Not that I am promoting the use of an oven while intoxicated, but it can be done.  Just be careful not to over do it with the hot sauce.  My one-eye-squint cooking pose added a bit too much hot sauce leaving me with some spicy nachos.  Copious water consumption.  Most people like things spicier than me, so add hot sauce to your own liking.

buffalo chicken nachos | pale yellow

Be still my heart, these are good nachos.  Gooey sharp cheddar is a strong enough flavor to compete with the buffalo chicken and a sprinkling of blue cheese.  Fresh tomatoes and scallions make this healthy, right?  No?  Well, they add a lovely freshness to balance the cheese and chips.

buffalo chicken nachos | pale yellow

To make this recipe simpler, use rotisserie or previously cooked chicken tossed in hot sauce.  If the chicken is cooked and the cheese shredded, the nachos can be thrown together in less time than it takes to preheat the oven.  I see buffalo chicken nachos in your future!

buffalo chicken nachos | pale yellow

Print the Recipe!

Buffalo Chicken Nachos

Adapted from Oh! You Cook!

Yield - 2-4 servings

 

1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken cutlets

1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce + more for drizzle

tortilla rounds

6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

3 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

1 small tomato, finely diced

3 scallions, finely sliced

salsa, sour cream, and/or ranch for serving

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 ˚F and line a cookie sheet with foil.  Coat the cookie sheet in cooking spray.

  2. Preheat a grill pan.  Toss the chicken cutlets in hot sauce.

  3. Grill the chicken until it is cooked through, about 2-3 minutes per side if your chicken is thin.

  4. Shred the cheese while the chicken cooks and arrange the chips on the cookie sheet.

  5. Chop the chicken into a small dice and spread evenly over the chips.  Sprinkle with crumbles of blue cheese and sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the top evenly.

  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the cheese bubbles and browns.  Dice the tomatoes and scallions.

  7. Drizzle some more hot sauce over the top.  Garnish with topped tomatoes and scallions and serve with dipping sauces.

buffalo chicken nachos | pale yellow

Fancy-Pants Grown Up Brownies

Tracy Byrne

Fancy-Pants Grown Up Brownies | Pale Yellow

To make a dessert fancier and sophisticated there are a few tricks you can employ: brown butter, extra sea salt, toasted nuts, and/or unique/raw ingredients.  These brownies have all of the above!

Fancy-Pants Grown Up Brownies | Pale Yellow

These are not the brownies to make for a picnic or random group event, these are brownies meant to be savored by your food loving friends.  And if you're anything like me, all of your friends are food-loving!   Is there really any other kind?

Fancy-Pants Grown Up Brownies | Pale Yellow

The brownie base is my favorite: moist, plenty of chocolate, tender, and made in one pot.  Cacao nibs were purchased months ago without a purpose, but their bitter flavor needed a sweet counterpart.  Salty pistachios round out the sweet-salty-bitter flavor profile.  The best part is the toasted, crunchy bits on top of the soft brownies.  Good eating my friends!

Fancy-Pants Grown Up Brownies | Pale Yellow

Print the Recipe!

Brownies with Cacao Nibs and Pistachios

Or... Fancy-pants grown up brownies

Adapted from My favorite brownie recipe

Yield - 9-16 servings


3 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon espresso powder

10 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2/3 cup flour

1/4 cup finely chopped pistachios

2 tablespoons cacao nibs

finishing salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 ˚F.  Grease an 8x8” pan and lay parchment paper along the bottom and hanging over two sides.  Grease the parchment paper.

  2. Brown the butter in a medium saucepan until golden brown and nutty.  Turn off the heat and stir in the sugar, water, and espresso powder.  Add the chocolate chips and allow them to melt completely.

  3. Let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes and then stir in the eggs one at a time.  Stir in the vanilla, salt, and baking soda.  Add the flour and mix until just combined.

  4. Pour into the prepared pan.  Sprinkle the pistachios and cacao nibs on top and gently press into the top.  Sprinkle with finishing salt.

  5. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs.  Please don’t over bake!

  6. Let cool completely before cutting, brownies cut best when cool.

Fancy-Pants Grown Up Brownies | Pale Yellow

I Do What I Want v.2

Tracy Byrne

I Do What I Want v.2 | Pale Yellow

How has life been lately?  Mine has been a balance of extremes: busy and overwhelming alternating with periods of being a recluse and binge watching TV.  The weather is starting to get warm and the sunshine is good for my soul.  Let's talk of pleasant things!  Hair cuts, lipstick, and new scarves are lovely.

I Do What I Want v.2 | Pale Yellow

My beauty routine has switched from chemicals to homemade remedies; there are a lot of essential oils going on.  Also plenty of baking soda and vinegar and coconut oil, it feels good.  I only wash my hair every 8-10 days.  Goal achieved.

I Do What I Want v.2 | Pale Yellow

Pinot Grigrio is my summer jam and I've been enjoying glass after glass.  Someday I'll write an ode to my love, it is keeping my evenings at a manageable level.

I Do What I Want v.2 | Pale Yellow

Beach walks have resumed!  Saturday mornings have been spent with Dean and Logan which makes for great companionship and exercise.  In other exercise news, spinning has taken an intensive turn and has somehow reached advanced levels.  I am not an advanced exercise girl, but I'm doing this.  Somehow.  And, the work ladies and I have started running after work!  We are working on a Couch to 5K, it feels good and I am getting strong!

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I bought a cake mix and baked the cake.  I made my own frosting because I'm not a savage and decorated with sprinkles in a stencil.  Thirty is the perfect age for a sprinkle cake.

I do what I want | Pale Yellow

In a tragic note, my shelf toppled over and several of my favorite pieces of display ware crashed and broke.  Goodbye vintage pyrex, cake stand, and favorite tray :-(  I am still in shock that it happened, and used my energy to clean up the mess.

I do what I want | Pale Yellow

I replaced all of my plastic hangers with thing, non-slip, velvet hangers.  Seventy hangers later I still need a few more.  Time to down size.  It all makes me feel very grown up! #ThisIs30

I Do What I Want v.2 | Pale Yellow

And then there is maple ice cream.  I'm smitten.

Chocolate Chia Pudding

Tracy Byrne

Chocolate Chia Pudding | Pale Yellow

The other day a student ate hot dogs at lunch, two mini, lunchable style hotdogs.  Since then I have heard several people mention hotdogs and I am completely in the mood for one.  Summer grilling season cannot come soon enough and in a few months I can cook a hotdog with a perfect stick over the fire.  It's time for summer.

The hot dog is not the only craving I have experienced lately, pudding has been high on the list.  When it came time for this month's Secret Recipe Club, I went on the hunt for a pudding recipe.  My feature is Culinary Adventures with Camilla and if you have not experienced her blog, you need to check it out!  Not only is Camilla Group B's fantastic hostess, she has a site full of recipes featuring unique and strange (to me) ingredients; it's an informative and interesting blog.

The first pudding recipe I found was cooked and featured chocolate, booze, and cacao nibs.  You know I love booze and chocolate, and cacao nibs have been sitting on my shelf for months waiting for a special recipe.  However, time won, and I went for a recipe that required zero cooking.

Enter my first chia pudding.  For about a year now I've been eating overnight oatmeal here, here, here, and here, but had yet to foray into straight up chia pudding.  The pudding is rich and creamy, but with texture from the chia seeds.  Cashew milk is lovingly creamy and adds body and a light flavor to the pudding.  It is remarkable that the pudding is dairy and gluten free plus vegan.  Take that dietary restrictions!  To make it nut free, sub in coconut milk.

Chia puddings will be making appearances more frequently in my life.  It's so easy, a few ingredients, shake, and refrigerate.  It is a relatively healthy treat ready for new and exciting flavor combinations.

Print the Recipe!

Chocolate Chia Pudding

Adapted from Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Yield - 4 servings


6 tablespoons chia seeds

2 cups cashew milk

2 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa

2 tablespoons maple syrup

pinch of salt

splash of vanilla

cashews for garnish

  1. Mix the chia seeds, cashew milk, cocoa, maple syrup, salt, and vanilla in a bowl until well combined.  Cover and refrigerate overnight, at least 12 hours.

  2. Garnish with whole cashews and enjoy for dessert.

  3. Or... enjoy for breakfast by building a parfait with sliced bananas and more cashews for crunch.  That’s healthy, right?!?!

Limoncello Cake

Tracy Byrne

Limoncello Cake | Pale Yellow

Did I tell you about the limoncello I made for Christmas gifts?  No?  Of course not.  I haven't been telling you very much about the things I've been baking, or more accurately not baking.  I only ended up giving a few bottles away, so I have still have several lying around.

Limoncello Cake | Pale Yellow

Making limoncello was super easy; just combine lemon peel with everclear or another high-proof liquor like vodka and let it sit for a month in mason jars. Then make a simple syrup, combine, and freeze.  Angela gave me the Italian thumbs up!  Limoncello can knock you on your butt, only a few sips were needed.

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In my era of not baking I looked for the simplest, but most interesting recipe for this months SRCSarah's Brit America Kitchen features simple and beautiful recipes from Sarah, a Brit living in the US.  She had a lot of great recipes like Greek yogurt chicken or bacon wrapped tator tots I wanted to try but once I saw the recipe featuring limoncello I knew that is what I would be making.

The cake is simple, moist, and boozy - my three favorite things!  Well moisture isn't always my favorite thing, but it is when it is in a cake.  There is plenty of limoncello flavor, it's a good thing.

Limoncello Cake | Pale Yellow

Print the Recipe!

Limoncello Cake

Adapted from Sarah’s Kitchen

Yield - 12 servings

 

1/2 cup sugar

juice + zest of one lemon

1/2 cup sour cream

1 egg

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup limoncello

1 cup flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

 

3/4 cup powdered sugar

2-4 tablespoons limoncello

lemon slices and sprinkles for garnish

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 ˚F.  Grease an 8x8 pan and line with parchment paper.  Grease the parchment paper as well.

  2. Add the sugar and lemon zest to a medium bowl and massage together.  Whisk in the lemon juice, sour cream, egg, oil, vanilla, and limoncello.  Add the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt and stir until just combined.

  3. Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

  4. Let cool completely before glazing.

  5. Whisk together the powdered sugar and limoncello until you have reached the desired consistency.  Add more or less limoncello to achieve a thicker or runnier glaze.

  6. Pour the glaze over the cake and decorate with lemon slices and sprinkles.

Limoncello Cake | Pale Yellow

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Avgolemono - Chicken Lemon Orzo Soup

Tracy Byrne

avgolemono - lemon chicken orzo soup | pale yellow

Whenever I go to a Greek restaurant or coney island diner I almost always order the avgolemono.  Usually I butcher the pronunciation, but I can make it happen.  Typically the soup has rice instead of orzo, but I much prefer the pasta version.  The creamy texture, fresh lemon flavors, and chunks of chicken and vegetables are delightful.

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I ate this soup all last week for lunch.  It reheats well and was filling and delicious.  When it snows six inches during the first week of March, you need a warm soup to keep your spirits up!  I've never made a soup that uses eggs for richness, but it adds a nice touch without adding any dairy or unnecessary fat.  The eggs also give the soup a yellow-y hue which is nice because it shows off the lemon-ness.

avgolemono - lemon chicken orzo soup | pale yellow

This month for Secret Recipe Club I was assigned Wildflour's Cottage Kitchen, a lovely blog!  Kelly take gorgeous photos of meals, cocktails, and treats she makes for her and her husband.  It was hard to make a final decision because the blog was so much fun to explore! You should definitely check out Kelly's blog!

avgolemono - lemon chicken orzo soup | pale yellow

Print the Recipe!

Avgolemono (Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup)

Adapted from Wildflour’s Cottage Kitchen

Yield - 92 ounces (6-8 servings)

 

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast

3 quarts water

1 bay leaf

3/4 cup chopped onion (2/3 of a large onion)

3/4 cup chopped celery (4-5 stalks)

3/4 cup chopped carrots

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

salt + pepper

2 tablespoons Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

1 1/4 cup orzo pasta

2 large eggs

zest from one lemon

juice of one lemon

  1. Add the chicken, water, and bay leaf to a sauce pot to cook.  Simmer and cook for about 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.  Remove the chicken and set aside to cool and chop.

  2. Boil the liquid until it reduces to 2 quarts.

  3. While the chicken boils, chop the onions, celery, and carrots.  Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot.  Add the veggies and cook until soft, about 20 minutes  Stir frequently and season with salt and pepper.

  4. Add 6 cups of the chicken cooking liquid (there should be about 2 cups remaining) to the softened vegetables and stir in the chicken base, thyme, chopped chicken and orzo.  Let the mixture simmer on low for 10-15 minutes or until the pasta is al dente.

  5. Whisk together the eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small bowl.  Add 1 cup of hot chicken water gradually to temper the eggs.  Slowly pour the egg mixture into the soup pot stirring constantly.  Cook, without boiling, for another 5-10 minutes until the soup thickens.

  6. Portion into jars and allow to cool before refrigerating.  Add a little water when reheating.

avgolemono - lemon chicken orzo soup | pale yellow
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Apple Spice Whiskey

Tracy Byrne

apple spice whiskey | pale yellow

I have a new favorite thing - apple chips.  It started when I first saw this recipe on Shutterbean and now I'm obsessed.  I purchased apple chips on my old favorite thing, Farmigo, for the recipe but they were expensive.  Delicious, but expensive.  So, like all expensive things, I decided to make my own.

apple spice whiskey | pale yellow

There have been a lot of apple chips coming out of the oven.  Slice apples on a mandolin, 3 for crispy, 4 for chewy, and bake on a lightly oiled pan for about 90-120 minutes at 250 F.  Flip over half way through cooking and check every 20 minutes or so to ensure they are drying and not browning.  Let cool completely and then store in an airtight container.

apple spice whiskey

They are an incredibly satisfying treat; sweet, crunchy, and an easy snack.  Not to mention how fabulous they are when infused with whiskey.  Or how lovely whiskey is when infused with apples.  And spice.  Always spice.

apple spice whiskey | pale yellow

Now you have a delightful, flavorful liquor at the ready for cocktails.  I like mine mixed with cranberry juice.  But I'm sure it would be great with apple cider, made into a hot toddy, or with ginger ale.  It's cocktail time!

apple spice whiskey | pale yellow

Print the Recipe!

Apple Spice Whiskey

Adapted from Shutterbean

Yield - 12 ounces

 

14 ounces rye whiskey

1 cup dried apples

1 cinnamon stick broken into two pieces

2 pimentos, whole

4 cloves, whole

2 star anise, whole

  1. Add all the ingredients to a 16-ounce mason jar.  Store in a cool dark place for 3-7 days, shaking once a day.

  2. When finished, strain the liquid into a clean jar.

  3. I enjoyed my cocktail 2 parts apple spice whiskey to 1 part cranberry juice over ice.  I bet it would also be great with plain seltzer or ginger beer!

  4. Don’t throw away those apples!

apple spice whiskey | pale yellow

PS - The spice bottles are from my grandparent's house.  I cleaned them and painted on chalkboard paint and then wrote the spices on them.  I love how it looks!

Lactation Cookies

Tracy Byrne

lacation cookies | pale yellow

Hello friends.

If ever there was a recipe that was less Pale Yellow, it's this one.  Babies aren't really my thing, either is lactation.  Don't get me wrong, I love a good baby, I just do not have one or plan on having one in the immediate future.  Luckily my friends are having lots of adorable babies for me to hold and then give back when they get fussy.  Perfect.

lacation cookies | pale yellow

I suppose I should not say Pale Yellow is anti-baby, these gender reveal cupcakes once graced the pages.  Previously the blog was filled with booze cupcakes for birthdays, but now people are mature and need cookies to help the milk pump out.

lactation cookies | pale yellow

According to my source, the new mom who requested the cookies, they seemed to work.  Regardless of whether or not you are trying to feed a baby, the cookies taste pretty yummy.  They are crispy and chewy.  The yeast and flax seed add a nice nutty quality.  Chocolate chips are a must.  Because the recipe makes so many cookies and with all the oatmeal, these are almost a health cookie!  Whether making a batch for yourself or a new mom, these are a hit!

lactation cookies | pale yellow

Print the Recipe!

Lactation Cookies

Adapted from Mom 365

Yield - 5-6 dozen

 

4 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons flaxseed meal

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 cup packed light brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups oats (I used a mix of steel cut and old fashioned)

12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

4 tablespoons brewer’s yeast

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 ˚F and line all your cookie sheets with parchment paper.

  2. Mix the flax seed and water together in a small bowl and let it set for 5 minutes; it will become gelatinous.

  3. Beat together the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment until light and creamy; about 3-4 minutes.

  4. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well.  Add the flaxseed mixture and vanilla.  Mix until creamy and scrape the bowl as needed.

  5. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt; mix until just just combined.  Add the oats, chocolate chips, and brewer’s yeast and mix on low until combined.

  6. Use a 2-tablespoon scoop to portion the batter onto the parchment paper.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until just set.

  7. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.a  Store in an airtight container or in a freezer bag.  The cookies freeze well which is good because one batch makes a lot!

lactation cookies

Chai Tea Lattes

Tracy Byrne

chai tea lattes | pale yellow

I had a cold last week and I try to treat cold as naturally as possible, that means lots of rest, fluids, vitamins, and clementines.  When looking for a recipe for this month's SRC, I found a recipe with ginger which is know to be healing.  So is garlic, but I'm not crunchy enough to put that in my tea.

Chai lattes can be great and they can be boring or just plain bad.  Coffee shops can be hit or miss, but now I can make them at home.  A strong tea with spicy flavor smoothed out with creamy, frothy almond milk.  Almond milk is my go to non-dairy milk and I love how frothy it can get from a little whisking; it feels decadent without being so.

chai tea lattes | pale yellow

This Mama Cooks has lovely recipes focused on, you guessed it, family, cooking, and most importantly, healthful recipes.  Before settling on the chai, I was strongly considering the vegetable quinoa made with frozen veggies for maximum ease.  But then I got sick and wanted fresh ginger!

chai tea lattes | pale yellow

Making chai is much easier than I anticipated and completely tasty.  I have chai tea bags but they just not as good, this is definitely the recipe for homemade chai.  And it must have worked because I feel better now!

chai tea lattes | pale yellow

Print the Recipe!

Chai Tea Lattes

Adapted from This Mama Cooks

Yield - 2-3 drinks


4 cups water

8 whole cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 whole allspice berries

1 inch piece of fresh ginger

4 black tea bags

1 teaspoon honey

2 cups almond milk

  1. Add the water, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and ginger in a medium saucepan.  Allow the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes.

  2. Add the tea bags to the water and allow to steep for another 10 minutes.

  3. Whisk in the honey and then strain the mixture.

  4. Add the almond milk to a small saucepan and whisk until frothy and warm.

  5. Add the tea to a cup and top with warm almond milk and the almond milk foam.

  6. Sprinkle with cinnamon and stir.

chai tea lattes | pale yellow

I do what I want 2015 - v.1

Tracy Byrne

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I broke my blog.  I tried to switch from a Wordpress hosted site to a Squarespace hosted site and I don't think it worked out correctly. It was actually done because I'm writing this from Squarespace, but it just doesn't seem right.  The breaking of my blog followed by the driving back to New York left me overwhelmed and unable to cope.

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So I watched a TV, hours and hours of TV.  Prison Break!!!  Why did I not know of that show previously? It consumed two weeks of my life and I'm in love with Wentworth Miller.  Here is the most accurate summary ever via pinterest.  Now I'm watching Grey's Anatomy; the acting and drama are just as bad as I remember, but I can't stop.  Can't. Stop.

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Grad school started yesterday, so my TV watching should be ending now that I have a calendar full of commitments.  In news that can only be classified as awesome - I'm going to Namibia for two weeks in July for grad school!  Obviously I'm over the moon at this next large and exciting travel adventure/opportunity.  I'll be studying great cat conservation, true story.

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In an effort to improve my overall health and ready myself for hiking after cheetahs, I joined the local Y.  It's been a blast realizing how out of shape I am and taking 5:45 AM spin classes twice a week.  Favorite quote so far, "You're here working and everyone else is sleeping."  It's the right sort of motivation.

As for New Year's Resolutions, I'm not really down with that, but I love the idea of a word or phrase for the year.  The past few years has been "Today I choose joy," because I needed the reminder that happiness is a constant choice and the phrase has served me well.  It was time for a change.  "I do what I want" is a perfect phrase because with that as your reason, people don't argue.

"I'm buying you lunch for your birthday."

"Thank you, but you don't have to do that."

"It's ok, I do what I want."

Discussion over my friends.  The phrase is enabling me to say yes to everything I want to do for no other reason than that's what I want to do and say no for the same reason.  It took me thirty years to figure out that it's ok to do what I want and I'm embracing that theme 120% in 2015.  So who's going to join me in doing what they want?

Easy Vegetable and Bean Soup

Tracy Byrne

Easy Vegetable and Bean Soup 1

Let's start our New Year right; veggies and bean.  Easy and delicious.   Healthful.  A recipe so good and tasty I made it several times throughout the fall.  Since a batch makes so many servings, it makes a for a simple week of lunches.  

Easy Vegetable and Bean Soup | Pale Yellow

I love the different textures from the veggies and beans; the lentils make the soup seem almost creamy. Can we talk about how weird 2015 seems?  I type it lot for work, but it seems like this mysterious time of the future.  It's hard coming to terms with this new year, I'm losing track of years and how much time has passed?  Is this what it feels like to get older?  My mom has been talking about her and my dad's trip to NC for their "30th" wedding anniversary this spring.  Here's the issue, I'm already 30 and they'll be celebrating 35 years.  Oh the confusion and fun!  Maybe eating loads and load so bean and veggie soup will improve memory!

Easy Vegetable and Bean Soup | Pale Yellow

One Year Ago - Apple Cider Doughnuts

Print the Recipe!

Easy Vegetable and Bean Soup

Pale Yellow Original

Yield - 4-5 lunch servings

2/3 cup dried lentils, I used red & green

2/3 cup dried beans, I used black & pinto

1 dried bay leaf

1 tablespoon olive oil

5 ounces chopped white onion, I used frozen

5 ounces chopped red & green pepper, I used frozen

1/2 cup chopped carrot

1/2 cup chopped celery

1 quart (4 cups) low-sodium vegetable stock

2 generous pinches of salt

plenty of freshly cracked pepper

  1. The night before add the lentils and beans to a 1-quart mason jar with the bay leaf.  Add water to fill and let the beans soak overnight.
  2. Add the olive oil to a medium soup pot with a lid to let heat.  Saute the onions and peppers until soft.  Stir in the carrots and celery.
  3. Drain and rinse the legumes and add to the pot with the bay leaf.  Stir in the vegetable stock and season generously.  Lentils need a lot of salt.
  4. Cover and cook for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, letting the soup simmer on low.  Check the doneness of the beans, they should squish in your fingers when cooked through.
  5. Let cool and portion for this week’s lunches!

*Alternatively, add the drained beans, veggies, stock, and seasoning to a crock pot and cook on high for 5 hours.  Check the beans for doneness.  Even easier!

easy vegetable and bean soup | pale yellow

Best of 2014

Tracy Byrne

After all the hits of 2013, 2014 was a little slow on Pale Yellow.  However, after checking my stats from WordPress, I'm actually up 9,000 views from last year.  So after all, not a bad year.  There was a lot of quinoa salads and overnight oats; not as many cupcakes.  It's hard to believe I've been blogging for three years and this past one was the most stressful.  Going back to school has cut into my free time drastically.  Imagine that, lol!  I hope 2015 allows me to focus on quality or quantity because I still enjoy this hobby very much! Here are the top 10 posts from 2014(all made it 2013, whoops!):

vanilla pudding shots // pale yellow
Eggnog Cheesecake Bars | Pale Yellow

Chocolate Covered Cherry Mini Cupcakes

Tracy Byrne

Chocolate Covered Cherry Mini Cupcakes | Pale Yellow This summer I spent almost three solid weeks with my family and despite the sad circumstances, it was lovely to spend so much time with my mom, aunts, cousins, and the rest of the crew.  Maybe that is why I needed to go back to Michigan for Thanksgiving, I was craving all the family time.  My first week in Michigan for Christmas has been filled with a ton of family togetherness and I've adored every minute of it! Chocolate Covered Cherry Mini Cupcakes | Pale YellowLast Saturday started with my mom and I sharing a bit of wine, Sunday was the birthday party for my cousin's and grandpa, Monday was cookie baking & a MSU basketball game, Wednesday/Thursday consisted of Christmas shenanigans, and Friday was a family fun day at the Henry Ford Museum and Slows BBQ.  And the rest of the weekend was filled with friend time.  Needless to say, it has been busy and a blast!

Chocolate Covered Cherry Mini Cupcakes | Pale YellowDespite the busy, there has been plenty of time for baking; there is always time for baking!  My cousin requested something with chocolate and fruit and this is what I came up with at the last minute.  I'm not personally a fan of cherry, but the rest of the family really enjoyed these little cupcakes.  The chocolate cupcake base is a perfection of soft, moist, rich crumbs that is super moist and flavorful; a truly light chocolate cupcake.  The frosting is not too sweet, but is creamy and full of cherry flavor.  The chocolate-covered maraschino cherry is a bit messy (and would be much cuter with a stem), but a delightful garnish!  It's cupcake time for all your cherry-loving cupcake friends!Chocolate Covered Cherry Mini Cupcakes | Pale YellowPrint the Recipe!

Chocolate Covered Cherry Mini Cupcakes

Inspired by Confections of a Foodie Bride

Adapted from Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Swirl Frosting and Tie Dye Cupcakes

Yield - 30 mini cupcakes

 

Chocolate Cupcakes

3/4 cup flour

1/3 cup cocoa

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 + 1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/8 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup hot coffee

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 ˚F.
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, soda, powder, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Mix together on low with the paddle attachment.
  3. Beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and buttermilk in a small bowl and add to the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined and then scrape down the sides.
  4. Turn on the mixer and add the hot coffee slowly until well combined.
  5. Fill cupcakes liners with 1 1/2 tablespoons of batter and bake for 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean.
  6. Turn out of the cupcake tin and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Covered Cherries

1 jar maraschino cherries (about 30)

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate

  1. Drain the cherries and save the juice.
  2. Melt the chocolate in double boiler.
  3. Dip each cherry halfway in the chocolate and place on wax paper to cool.  Refrigerate to harden completely.

Whipped Cherry Frosting

1 1/2 cups whole milk

7 1/2 tablespoons flour

juice from 1 jar of maraschino cherries

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the milk and flour.  Keep whisking until the mixture becomes smooth and thick resembling pancake batter.  Pour in the cherry juice little, by little while mixing to keep the mixture thick.
  2. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.
  3. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy - the mixture will stay grainy, it’ll be ok.
  4. Add in the cooled flour/milk mixture and beat until the entire frosting is light and fluffy and no longer gritty.  If the frosting is runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes and then rewhip.
  5. Add to a piping bag with a large round tip and pipe a dollop.
  6. Place a chocolate covered cherry on top.Chocolate Covered Cherry Mini Cupcakes | Pale Yellow

Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms

Tracy Byrne

Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms | Pale YellowCan we do one more holiday cookie?  Let's do another holiday cookie!  I'm sure there are plenty of you out there with more holiday parties to attend this weekend and I want to make sure you have fresh cookies for your tray.  If you can snag a bag of these kisses, they may be 50% off, double bonus - easy Christmas Cookies with on-sale ingredients! Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms | Pale YellowThese cookies were made for the annual cookie exchange and caroling event with my church group.  The weird thing about this event is that in the past I would be embarrassed about singing out in the open and openly celebrating the season, yet something has changed.  Without irony and without embarrassment I can celebrate and rejoice in my faith!  And it was fun and filled me with the holiday spirit (and Spirit).  A great night!

Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms | Pale YellowAn easy cookie with a brownie-ish base and a  kiss on top, nothing can go wrong.  The cookies are a little bit crispy and a little bit chewy.  A minty chocolate kiss on top is the perfect compliment.  Either whip up a batch  this weekend or save them for next year, no matter what, this a wonderful cookie! Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms | Pale Yellow

Two Years Ago - Sugar Cookie Trees and Wreaths

Print the Recipe!

Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms

Adapted from Buckeye Cookies

Yield - 36 cookies

 

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

2 eggs

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

36 Hershey Mint Chocolate Truffle Kisses, unwrapped

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 ˚F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a double boiler, melt the the chocolate and butter until smooth.  Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and sugar in a medium bowl.
  3. Slowly add the melted chocolate to the eggs, stirring the whole time until well incorporated.
  4. Sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Stir until completely mixed in.
  5. Use a 1-tablespoon scoop to portion the dough on the parchment-lined cookie sheet.  The cookies do not spread much, so the dough can be fairly close together.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until just set.  Let sit on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
  7. Place a kiss in the center of each cookie.  Allow to cool completely, the kisses will melt and re-harden.Chocolate Peppermint Blossoms | Pale Yellow

Gingerbread Squares

Tracy Byrne

Gingerbread Squares | Pale YellowMerry Christmas!  I'm about to jump in my Christmas Eve dress and try out some red lipstick for the first time and head over to my cousin's for dinner.  The cookie trays are finished and the presents are wrapped.  The champagne is being chilled for tomorrow's mimosas and I'm ready to rock this holiday.  It's hard to believe Christmas is already upon us. Gingerbread Squares | Pale YellowLet's do gingerbread without the men or the houses.  Let's get back to gingerbread in its simplest form - a flavorful, gingery bread.  That is what we have here.  Tons of flavor in little bites.  There is molasses, ginger, cinnamon, and a little clove for kick.  The squares are soft and chewy, everything you want from a gingerbread.  These are a delightful addition to the holiday tray, a perfect compliment to all the other cookies.  Let the holidays begin!Gingerbread Squares | Pale Yellow

Print the Recipe!

Gingerbread Squares

Adapted from Buns in my Oven

Yield - 48 squares

 

2/3 cup butter, room temperature + extra for greasing

1 3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup molasses

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cloves

2 cups flour

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 ˚F and grease a 9x13” pan with butter.  Cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit the bottom with overhang on two sides, grease that as well.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and molasses until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs one at a time.
  3. Add the vanilla, salt, soda, powder, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves until well incorporated, about 2 minutes.  Scrape down the bowl.
  4. Add the flour and mix on low until just combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  6. Let cool completely before cutting.Gingerbread Squares | Pale Yellow

Salted Caramel Fudge

Tracy Byrne

Salted Caramel Fudge | Pale YellowIt's been a busy weekend.  Friday I ran around and did important things like oil changes and gift giving and packing.  Saturday was spent driving back to Michigan and listening to Serial.  I listened to the whole series in a day and I believe that is the best way to do it; it made the drive much, much easier.  I'm satisfied that Sarah gave her opinion and I agree with her, but look forward to what the future can hold.  Saturday night was filled with family silliness and Sunday was my cousins' and grandpa's birthday party.  Needless to say, it has been a non-stop start to Christmas break! Salted Caramel Fudge | Pale YellowWhenever I arrive in Michigan, one of the first things I do is load up on wine.  Every trip has lots of get-togethers and parties and wine is essential.  So I went Trader Joes and was a little bit judged.  "Are you hosting this holiday or is it just for you?"  Totally just for me!  I laugh it off as a "home for the holidays" type of situations, but really Trader Joes?  You know we go there for your cheap and delicious wine!

Salted Caramel Fudge | Pale YellowI don't think I bought enough wine PS, it's going to be a long two weeks!  At least there is plenty of fudge to eat.  I wanted to make homemade fudge from scratch without any sweetened condensed milk.  I cheated a bit and used caramel squares, but I think that is okay since my candy thermometer was already engaged elsewhere!  The fudge is rich, creamy and sweet.  The caramel topping is perfectly salty and lovingly sticky.  Despite the number of steps involved, you get a lot of fudge for your efforts.  Holidays = fudge, make it happen!Salted Caramel Fudge | Pale Yellow

Print the Recipe!

Salted Caramel Fudge

Adapted from Joy the Baker

Inspired by Amy’s Cooking Adventure

Yield - 96 pieces

 

1/2 cup  (1 stick) unsalted butter

2 cups packed dark brown sugar

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips

1/2 cups mini marshmallows

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

10 ounce bag caramels, unwrapped

2 tablespoons heavy cream

fancy sea salt for sprinkling

  1. Spray a 9x13” pan with baking spray and then line with parchment paper leaving 2 wings.  Spray the parchment paper as well.
  2. In a medium saucepan melt together the butter, brown sugar, sugar, corn syrup, heavy cream, and salt over medium heat.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat so the mixture simmers for about three minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Stir in the chocolate chips until melted.
  3. Use a candy thermometer to monitor the heat of the mixture.  Cook until it reaches 234 ˚F.  Remove from the heat and let rest for about 10 minutes.
  4. While the fudge is cooling, melt the caramels with the heavy cream.  Stir and heat until the caramels are melted and smooth.
  5. Back to the chocolate fudge; stir in the marshmallows and vanilla.   Stir for at least five minutes until the mixture is lighter and fluffy.
  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly.  Pour the caramel over the top and swirl with a knife.
  7. Sprinkle generously with fancy sea salt.
  8. Let cool for about 20 minutes before refrigerating to cool completely.  Cut into squares and enjoy!Salted Caramel Fudge | Pale Yellow

Candy Cane Brownie Bites

Tracy Byrne

candy cane brownie bites | pale yellowI almost didn't share this recipe, it seemed too easy.  But then I remembered that people like easy, simple recipes that can be whipped up in a few minutes.  The first time I made these brownies, it was after work to bring to a church group meeting I had to leave for in about an hour and a half.  In less than 90 minutes I had homemade, from scratch brownies cut and ready to go! candy cane brownie bites | pale yellowThis brownie recipe is my absolute favorite and is so versatile.  It's dressed up for Christmas with a little peppermint extract and crushed candy canes on top.  Cut into small pieces it makes a for a delightful hostess gift of shared treat.  The holidays feature so many desserts, it's best to provide everyone with small bites!

candy cane brownie bites | pale yellowI brought these to Andrea's lovely holiday party and a guest asked me if they were soft.  Two questions - where does one find non-soft brownies? Who would bring hard brownies to a party?  Clearly my sarcasm could not be contained!  These brownies are deliciously soft, moist, fudgy, peppermint-y, and easy.  Whip up a batch now, anyone can do it!

candy cane brownie bites | pale yellowTwo Years Ago - Eggnog Cookies

Print the Recipe!

Candy Cane Brownie Bites

Adapted from MMMMM Brownies

Yield - 8” x 8” pan, 36 bites

 

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon instant coffee

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

2/3 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 mini candy canes crushed

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 ˚F.  Grease an 8” x 8” square pan and line with parchment paper leaving an overhang.  Grease that too.
  2. In a medium saucepan melt the butter, sugar, water, and instant coffee.  When melted add in the chocolate chips and stir until combined and melted.  Add in the eggs one at a time and then the peppermint extract, stir to combine.  Add in the flour, soda, and salt mixing until just combined.
  3. Pour the brownie batter in the prepared pan and sprinkle with the crushed candy canes, press them in slightly.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is shiny and crusty and a toothpick comes out almost clean.  DO NOT OVER BAKE!
  5. Let cool slightly and then slice and serve.  For bites, I remove the whole brownie from the pan and cut into 9 large pieces.  Then, I cut each ninth into 4, placing in a mini cupcake wrapper for maximum cuteness.candy cane brownie bites | pale yellow

Eggnog Cheesecake Bars

Tracy Byrne

Eggnog Cheesecake Bars | Pale YellowI love eggnog, absolutely and completely!  Almost every Christmas season I try to make the most eggnog-y of eggnog treats and always end up disappointed.  It's not that the recipes aren't tasty, because they are, they are just not eggnog-y enough.  I'm not ashamed to admit I can drink eggnog straight up!  Obviously I try to limit the indulgence, but that doesn't stop the cravings. Eggnog Cheesecake Bars | Pale YellowThis is a delightfully eggnog-y recipe!  I'm sure the original recipe had enough eggnog flavor for the average person, but I wanted to ensure there was plenty of eggnog flavor for me.  I used all the tricks I could think of like adding rum extract (obviously rum is essential in eggnog!) and extra fresh nutmeg; the results are super!Eggnog Cheesecake Bars | Pale Yellow

The base is crumbly and moist while the middle is lovingly smooth and creamy.  A crumb topping on top is perfect for providing a little crunch and texture.  Throughout the filling and crust there is significant proportion of fresh nutmeg and eggnog flavor.  These eggnog cheesecake bars are my favorite thing on the cookie tray this year!Eggnog Cheesecake Bars | Pale Yellow

One Year Ago - Easy Turtles

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Eggnog Cheesecake Bars

Adapted from Annie’s Eats

Yield - 25 pieces

 

Crust

2 cups flour

2/3 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2-3/4 of a fresh nutmeg, grated

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold

6 tablespoons eggnog

Filling

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon rum extract

1/4 of a fresh nutmeg, grated

1/2 cup eggnog

  1. Crust - Preheat the oven to 350 ˚F and grease an 8x8” pan with shortening.  Line the pan with parchment paper and grease the paper as well.
  2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg in a medium bowl.  Cut the butter into small pieces and incorporate into the flour mixture with a pastry blender.  Blend until you have pea-sized pieces.
  3. Stir in the eggnog with a fork until the dough is shaggy.  Squeeze a bit with your hands to incorporate the loose flour.
  4. Press 2/3 of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan as evenly as possible.  Set aside.
  5. Filling - In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth.  Add the remaining ingredients, one at a time, beating to incorporate each.  Scrape the bowl as needed.
  6. Pour the filling over the crust.  Use the remaining dough to make crumbles on top of the filling.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the filling no longer jiggles and the topping just begins to brown.
  8. Let cool completely on a wire rack.  Refrigerate to firm up before cutting and servingEggnog Cheesecake Bars | Pale Yellow

Tangerine Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

Tracy Byrne

tangerine cranberry shortbread cookies | pale yellowShortbread cookies are apparently my jam for late 2015, they are so easy and fun to roll out.  There is no need to worry about spreading either because of the lack of baking powder and soda.  The dough rolls out smoothly and the delicate flavor of the plain shortbread lends itself to anything your heart images. tangerine cranberry shortbread cookies | pale yellowIn addition to my love of shortbread, I've been loving on cranberries!  In fact, I'm sipping on a delightful cranberry mimosa right now!  Totally in the Christmas spirit!  Cranberries and oranges (or in this case, tangerines) are a perfect match of sweet and sour; both are plentiful and in season.  It's nice to have a fruity component to the Christmas cookie tray.

tangerine cranberry shortbread cookies | pale yellowWhen I was thinking of cookies for my holiday tray, I wanted representation from all the flavors of the season.  Peppermint, ginger, cranberry, vanilla, nutty, and eggnog all needed to be included, and they are!  There is also a variety of textures like crunchy, creamy, and tender.  Tangerine cranberry shortbread cookies take care of the cranberry and crunchy categories and are perfect for your non-chocolate loving friends.  A delightful addition to my Christmas plate!

tangerine cranberry shortbread cookies | pale yellowTwo Years Ago - Pumpkin Truffles

Print the Recipe!

Tangerine Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

Adapted from Oh Sweet Day

Yield - 60 2” cookies

 

Cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

zest of 2 tangerines (or 1 orange)

2 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

heaping 1/4 cup dried cranberries

Glaze

1/4 cup fresh tangerine juice (2 1/2 tangerines)

1 1/3 cups powdered sugar

  1. Cookies - In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment beat the butter until creamy.  Add in the powdered sugar and mix on low until just combined.  Beat in the vanilla and zest.  Scrape down the bowl.
  2. Sift the flour and salt into the butter and mix until just barely incorporated.  Finely chop the cranberries and add those to mixer.  Gently fold in.
  3. Knead the dough slightly so it comes together and then wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 ˚F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  5. I wanted thinner cookies, so I rolled the dough on a well floured surface to 1/8” thickness and used a 2” round cutter to make disks.  These baked for 8 minutes.  If you want thicker cookies, they will bake a bit longer.
  6. Cookies should barely brown.  Let cool completely on a wire rack.
  7. Glaze - Whisk together the tangerine juice and powdered sugar until smooth.  Feel free to add more/less powdered sugar for a thicker or thinner glaze.
  8. Drizzle the glaze over each cookie and allow to dry fully before packaging.tangerine cranberry shortbread cookies | pale yellow