Have you ever had just what you need fall into your lap? Just before Christmas I needed to make a dessert to bring to a dessert potluck at work and, being short on time, I hadn’t figured out what that would be. I had a vague sense of what I wanted–something chocolately, but ideally with some red highlights to add some festivity–but above all else, I wanted something quick and simple. Being a working mom has really put a crimp in my baking style. And just when I was nearly out of time, a Facebook friend posted about a recipe for choco-mallows from the King Arthur Flour website. So there it was. A recipe that delivered the chocolate I was craving and it was already vetted by my friend who’s an avid baker (seriously, she makes a triple batch of cupcakes at the drop of a hat). Oh, and it is beyond simple to make.
It’s a great recipe any time of year, but holidays are always prime time for yummy treats and I know that Valentine’s Day is often a time when people who don’t often cook or bake want to make a special effort to show their love, so this seemed like a good time to share the recipe. Skip the pre-packaged candies and make your own!
If you can put ingredients into a bowl and stir, I promise you can make these. And you don’t even have to turn the oven on, so you don’t even have to worry about burning them! It’s about the easiest dessert there is after opening a box of brownie mix.
When I first started this blog, I was strongly committed to posting at least three times a week, but then I started to post more like twice a week. And then it was more like once a week, but I figured it was ok because the quality of the photos was so much better. It simply took me longer to create posts that I was happier with. Then I started posting only a couple times a month. And then I had a child. She’ll be 21 months in two weeks and this is the second post on the blog since she was born.
So what compelled me, in the middle of this busy season no less, to come back to the blog when I have a full time job and a toddler to try to keep up with? Well, when I saw a recipe for gingerbread with cream cheese frosting and pomegranate seeds, I just felt so compelled to blog about it. It’s just so festive. I wanted to indulge in it, and I wanted you to too. And so here you have it. A beautiful gingerbread cake totally worthy of any holiday celebration.
It’s been pretty quiet here on Pixelated Crumb over the past several months, but I assure you, it has not been quiet in my home. The last recipe I shared with you was written at the end of March. Exactly one week after I shared my favorite pizza recipe with you, my daughter was born. My life turned inside out, the world seemed to spin simultaneously faster and slower, and sleep became elusive. Days and nights ran together. I spent my days pinned to a chair feeding Melanie, the only steps on my Fitbit coming from pacing around the apartment, rocking her, desperately trying to quiet her cries and lull her to sleep. I never expected motherhood to be easy, but nothing prepared me for the reality of being so depended upon. Who knew such a tiny little thing could be so incredibly demanding? Who knew a baby could cry for hours on end? Only every parent before me, I suppose. How did everyone make it look so easy?
I think Emily at Five and Spice described the “utter bliss combined with total desperation” of being a new mom so perfectly. Being a mom is hard. Honestly, much harder than I ever could have imagined. But to look at your child – this tiny little human being that you made – is unparalleled. There are times when I’m utterly exhausted with so much to do, but I still find myself just sitting there looking at Melanie sleep. It’s like a campfire that you just can’t look away from. She makes this sucking noise when she’s sleeping that is music to my ears. I love that sound just as much as her shrieks of laughter. And her smile is like an ocean that swallows me whole. One flash of that gummy smile and I almost forget the hours that I was up with her in the middle of the night the night before. Almost.
In the early weeks after Melanie was born, I often wondered how I had managed to eat all week without either my husband or I cooking (answer: lots of wonderful food from my mother-in-law and frozen Tikka Masala from Trader Joes). Melanie will be eight months in just over a week and we still haven’t resumed our old life of cooking. Our meals are simple and prepared as quickly as possible. We make lots of panini, quesadillas, and homemade pizza. Anything that requires minimal prep and cooking time. My baking has been limited to a few batches of banana muffins and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I miss cooking and especially baking so much, but we never seem to have enough time and our new apartment has maddeningly little counter space (oh yes, did I forget to mention that just a few months after having a baby we moved 400 miles away to Maryland for Joseph’s new job?).
When my sister and brother-in-law first moved to Athens, OH a few years ago for my sister’s new job, they were less than thrilled about the dining options in town. But while the food options were somewhat limited and the number of non-chain restaurants were even more limited, they managed to find some really great gems in town ranging from an awesome hotdog dive to a great Middle Eastern restaurant. My favorite though, is Avalanche Pizza.
Avalanche sells bread at the farmer’s market on Saturdays in the summer that makes me want to cry it’s so good. As great as their bread is, it’s no surprise that their real focus, pizza, is no disappointment. The first time I visited, my brother-in-law pulled out their menu and we all gathered around to pick out a couple of pizzas. They were excited about the pesto chicken pizza, which they had had and really liked, but frankly it sounded a little weird to me because it had cashews. They really wanted to get it though, and I wasn’t going to get in the way of my hosts getting what they wanted, so we ordered the pesto chicken pizza and they let me pick another one. I have no memory of what the other one – the one I picked – was. My skepticism of the pesto chicken pizza vanished the second I took a bite. After that, all other pizzas paled in comparison.