Not My Grandmother’s Poppy Seed Bread

I have been craving some of my grandmother’s poppy seed bread.

Poppy Seed Bread

She always starts making it around Christmas time. It is one of my favorite things she makes – which is saying a lot because she makes so many sweet delicious treats around Christmas.

Why am I talking about Christmas?

Because there are Christmas decorations in stores and I am already planning my Christmas wrapping ideas (and most of all I kind of miss my grandmother).

So I called her and I asked her for her recipe and got a shock.

It was made with a Duncan Hines cake mix and packaged pudding!

Now I am not one to talk because this poppy seed bread she makes is absolutely amazing, but as I was staring at the boxed cake mix in the grocery store I just couldn’t buy it. I couldn’t buy the pudding mix either.

So how am I going to have my grandmother’s poppy seed bread?!

Well I am not.

But I am going to try my hardest to make something that tastes great. Adding some toasted chopped pecans from my grandmother’s yard and poppy seeds is a great start.

Poppy Seed Batter

Before I get to Christmas and all the baked goods that come with it, we have to finish up September and all that came with it.

I have a few more things for you in relation to suicide awareness. These are for those who have lost someone due to suicide.

There are many resources for parents, friends, and remembering those who died.


If you are having difficulties with suicidal thoughts, need some support, and have not been able to reach out to anyone, Suicide Anonymous may be a good place for you to start getting the much needed help and support that you have been looking for.

After researching some resources for you, I decided to research quick breads.

I think I may have found something that can help me out with making something similar to my grandmother’s poppy seed bread.

The batter is sweet and tangy from the cream cheese.

Cut poppy bread

It bakes up slightly sweet so that you can slather on as much cream cheese spread as you so desire.

Finished Bread with spreadNot going to lie this was only the first spread. There may have been another small  huge amount of spread that went on after this picture.

While I think I made a bread that was as close as I could get to my grandmother’s recipe, I am still looking forward to eating some of hers that was made with cake mix and pudding. *gasp*

Cream Cheese Poppy Seed Bread

2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

4 ounces cream cheese

1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled

3/4 cup milk

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 teaspoons poppy seeds

2/3 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped

To make the bread: Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk the ingredients until thoroughly combined. Beat the cream cheese until softened. Add the butter, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and stir just until combined. Add the poppy seeds and pecans. Fold into batter with spatula.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter and flour loaf pan. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes.

Cream Cheese Spread

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

3 cups powdered sugar, sifted for lumps

To make the spread:  Beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Slowly pour powdered sugar into the bowl. Beat mixture until combined. Refrigerate when not in use.


Homemade Caramel Corn


It is officially the first day of FALL!!

I am so excited for fall – the baking, the new TV seasons and series, the weather, the clothes, the warm soups and stews. I could go on and on. Fall is definitely my favorite season by far.

This caramel corn is my homage to the new fall season. I am not ready to jump into the pumpkin flavors just yet so caramel corn feels just right.

Caramel corn is also quick enough to make that I can enjoy the amazing fall weather that is happening outside.

While I love this new season that is fast enveloping us, there are some who looks on the change of the season with a heavier heart. Those who are affected by seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Between 1.5 and 9 percent of adults in the U.S. can tend towards depression in the certain times of the year. Most of the time it happens in the fall and winter months, but can be experienced in the spring and summer months as well.

This unique form of depression has all the typical symptoms of depression, it is normally just limited to a particular season and happens yearly.

If you notice that you start experiencing life in a negative way when the seasons start to change click here for some symptoms of SAD and to learn more. Talk to your healthcare provider if you notice your experiences matching the symptoms.

It is thought to be brought on by the smaller amount of sunlight that we get starting in September and continuing until April. With that in mind I am going to start wrapping up this post to get outside.


I am about to turn regular popcorn into something sweet and amazingly delicious.

caramel sauce

After you give the popcorn a bath in this sweet concoction and make sure it has full coverage.

caramel corn

You will then slide this amazingness into the oven so that it can bake up and be delicious for you!

Go out and celebrate the new fall season. Then curl up tonight with this popcorn and catch up on all last season’s TV so you can be ready when it starts up.

Homemade Caramel Corn

Yields 15 cups

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup un-popped white popcorn

3/4 cup butter, plus some for buttering pan

1 1/2 cups of dark brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

to make popcorn: Pour oil in large pot with a tight fitting lid and put on medium heat. Place one un-popped kernel into the pot and when it pops add the rest of the kernels. Keep lid on pot while popcorn pops. After popping slows, shake pot until kernels are finished.

to make caramel corn: Butter large sheet pan and pour popcorn onto pan. Preheat oven to 250 F. Place butter, sugar, corn syrup, and salt into a heavy bottomed saucepan on medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until sugar melts. Stop stirring once sugar melts. Continue boiling for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla and baking soda. Whisk for 10 seconds.

Pour caramel over popcorn and lightly mix with a spatula until popcorn is completely covered in caramel. Place pan in oven and cook until popcorn gets crisp. Stir popcorn every 15 minutes to redistribute the caramel. Take a few pieces out to test for doneness – allow to cool for 30 seconds to see if crisp.

Lay popcorn out on wax paper counter to cool. The popcorn will crisp as it cools.





The Mistake of the Vanilla Bean Ginger Pound Cake


We are coming to the end of National Suicide Prevention Week and the beginning of fall baking – get ready for pumpkin, apple, and caramel flavored items to punch you in the face.

This past week had lots of great events put on by the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network. Quilts were made, awareness walks were completed, and those that have lost their lives to suicide were remembered by all in attendance.

There were countless social media posts covering a myriad of topics about suicide. I shared a few on this blog’s Facebook page that I found particularly interesting.

This past week was incredibly inspiring. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Facebook page had a few posts on myths about suicide. While sifting through all the posts on that Facebook seemed a little tedious I did find a list of myths on this page. I suggest if you have any assumptions about suicide pop over to that page and find out if they are a myth or truth.

Now before I get back to the fall baking, I wanted to put it out there that I have something pretty huge in the works so keep coming back to find out the details!!

Since I woke up this morning to perfect fall weather, I was inspired to bake something fall flavored. So I got myself into the car and went on over to the local Williams-Sonoma as they have been harassing me with fall inspired emails I thought it was the best place to start.

This is only the first day of perfect fall weather that I have experienced this year and I wanted to slide into fall instead of diving head first into pumpkin land. So I chose a ginger syrup and frantically tried to think of something to make.

I landed on a pound cake. Vanilla beans and ginger seemed like an appropriate summer to fall flavor combination that I could handle. Vanilla Bean and Ginger Syrup

Well I am a little new to this recipe creating thing and not every recipe can come out marvelous, right? Right.

Good, because this isn’t my best one to date.

My problems probably had to do with over mixing – it turned out a little chewy and thin.


Another problem I think is that I should use a ginger extract instead of syrup to get more of a gingery flavor that I desire – this one had just a whisper of ginger and I wanted something a little more pronounced.

I am posting the recipe below to ask for help from you.

A nice segue back into suicide prevention.

If you are having thoughts that concern you – these can include hopelessness, not wanting to be alive anymore, or absolutely anything that may scare or concern you, then ask for help.

It’s difficult asking for help, especially with something that can make you even more vulnerable. Talk to a trusted friend, call a crisis line, or even make an appointment with a mental health professional. Just talk to someone.

Here’s the recipe. Look it over and if you have any suggestions please let me know! I am going to re-do this and let you know how it comes out at a later date.

Vanilla Bean Ginger Pound Cake

Serves 8

1 cup butter, room temperature

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

4 eggs

Vanilla bean, split and scraped

4 teaspoon ginger syrup ( I used Morris Kitchen brand)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups flour, spooned and leveled

to bake the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a 6 cup loaf pan.

Put butter and sugars into electric stand mixer and mix on medium-high until light and fluffy. Add one egg at a time to the butter mixture and mix until incorporated – at this point the batter looks curdled, do NOT worry once the flour is added it will become smooth and velvety. Add vanilla bean that has been split and scraped. Add ginger syrup and salt. Mix on medium until vanilla is evenly dispersed. Add the flour slowly and mix on low until incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium until the batter is smooth and fluffy; do not over mix.

Pour batter into loaf pan. Bake for one hour, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean – if the cake is browning too quickly put an aluminum foil tent over the top. Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cookies, Perfected

Cookie dough

The last two posts have been about the helping others with what they might be dealing with, whether that be alcohol/drug recovery or suicidal thoughts.

So how do you do that?

These are pretty difficult things to talk about with someone, especially suicide.

Some of you may even be asking how do you make an excuse to go over to someone’s house when you know they aren’t really feeling like having visitors.

My solution: Chocolate Chip Cookies.


You can do this one of a few ways.

First, take all the ingredients over to your friend’s house and prepare them together. The act of doing something small, especially when using your hands, helps conversations flow and get a small task accomplished (which can also help someone who may be depressed). Second, prepare the dough and take that over to their house and bake them there – more of a chance to get a little more time out of the conversation, if it feels forced or scary. Third, completely prepare the cookies (this could be a sly way of stopping by saying you baked too many cookies and wanted to share) and take them over to your friend’s house.

Not too sure what to say when you actually get there? I suggest this app (there is literally an app for everything!).


It has so many options and a really great interface. The app even has a “get help now” button and the link to a help line available 24/7.

If you don’t have a smart phone, asking them out right “if they feel like killing/hurting themselves?” is not something that will make them angry or contemplate suicide if they have not already had those thoughts. They will most likely be relieved that someone asked and the conversation could take off from that.

Now I know every recipe says that it is the perfect chocolate chip cookie, but this recipe has been tinkered with over a couple of years and just got the final touch in the past 6 months or so – by “accident” of course. My boyfriend went out to pick up some chocolate chips so that I could make a few cookies for us. He says he meant to pick up the mini chocolate chips, and I will admit I was very a little upset when he brought the mini ones back. But OMG did it complete my recipe I have been working on for years – and is now completely essential to my recipe and what I think absolutely makes my recipe – so kudos to him for his intentional mistake.

What makes this the perfect addition? There is literally chocolate gooeyness in EVERY SINGLE BITE!


I like my cookies a little under-baked in the middle – a nice crunchy outer edge and almost oozy dough in the middle – absolute chocolate chip cookie perfection!

Baked Cookies

Yep I forgot to take a picture before I couldn’t resist ripping a piece off.

Just to be clear, I do not believe that suicide can be prevented by chocolate chip cookies. My intention is getting you to talk. Talk to someone who you think has been feeling a little down lately and could be at risk for suicidal thoughts, talk to others about suicide prevention, just talk about suicide. This is the only way to reduce the stigma surrounding suicide.

Chocolate Chip Cookie, Perfected

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup butter, softened

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour, divided

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 (12 ounce) package mini semi sweet chocolate chips (I use Nestle Real Semi Sweet Chocolate Mini Morsels)

To make cookies:

Beat butter and sugars at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until blended.

Combine flour, soda, and salt in a small bowl; gradually add to butter mixture, beating well. Mix the two tablespoons of flour into the chocolate chips (I do this by pouring it in the bag and gently shaking it around to disperse – no need to mess up another bowl). Stir in floured mini chocolate chips.

Refrigerate dough for one hour and up to 24 hours.

Scoop dough with an ice cream disher (you can use any size, I prefer a bigger one) onto prepared baking sheets (either use parchment paper or silpat).

Bake at 350 F for 8 to 14 minutes, depending on how done you want them. Enjoy (and get talking)!

National Suicide Prevention Month

In addition to National Alcohol and Drug Recovery Awareness Month, September is also National Suicide Prevention Month for both the LGBT community and the military.



Like I said in the previous post, September has a big responsibility to fulfill.

The first graphic above is from taking a pledge from The Trevor Project, it is a pledge saying I am committing to:

  • Letting my friends know that I’m always available to talk.
  • Being respectful and supportive of everyone regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • Listening with an open mind and without judgment.
  • Taking what people say seriously.
  • Checking in with friends who may need to talk.
  • Helping a friend call the Trevor Lifeline if they are in crisis (1.866.488.7386)
  • Tell a person I trust if someone is considering suicide (which in this case is me as I am ethically/legally responsible for this already).

This pledge and website are LGBT youth specific (which let me be clear I DO NOT consider any of these sexual identities mental health diagnoses), and the fact that this population is at a higher risk for suicide (4 times more likely).

I don’t feel like it is a coincidence that National Recovery Month and Suicide Prevention Month fall in the same month. Unfortunately, the risk of suicide increases if the person has a history of substance abuse.

** As I was preparing for this post, I found out that a friend I knew in high school committed suicide last week. Since I have not spoken with him in a number of years, I can not attest to knowing what he was going through at the time he decided to take his life. He has now left his friends and family with numerous questions (as they are posting on his Facebook page) and guilt. Unfortunately, suicidal ideation does not have obvious symptoms to most people until it is too late

The biggest thing you can do to find out if someone is contemplating suicide is to ask them. This will NOT cause them to think of suicide as a solution if they have not already considered it.

If you think that your friend or family member may be contemplating suicide or have told you that they are, please notify someone that can help them. If possible, I recommend staying with them until a medical professional can help them.

There are many suicide hotlines that you and someone you know can call. In the graphics above are posted phone numbers for those specific groups. Below is the National Suicide prevention lifeline number. NSPILogo_lg

Help can be a phone call away and is always available. Suicide is 100% preventable.

Throughout the month and specifically in the week of September 8 – September 14, I will be posting more resources for suicide prevention.


National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Awarenessess Month


September is National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Awareness Month.

That is quite a lot for a month to live up to. There are over 20.6 million people in the U.S. that are classified with substance dependence/abuse every year.

Unfortunately, not all of these people are in recovery. Those that are in recovery are a lot of the times struggling alone. In a significant amount of cases those who are in recovery have gotten themselves to a place where they do not have a lot of support from people in their life.

This post will serve as a resource for those who may be dealing with recovery and not know where to turn or for someone that would like to give information to someone they know who is in recovery.

To find out more information about Recovery Month and get involved, click here.

SAMHSA is a wonderful resource to find out about how to prevent alcohol and drug abuse and get training on addictions.

If you are having difficulties right now and would like to speak to someone, please call the number below.


Recovery is not an easy process and is a never-ending battle. The good news is that prevention works and treatment is effective.

One of the reasons recovery is so difficult is because people are not able to talk about their struggles. If someone would like to talk about their recovery struggles, it is okay to not know what to say. All you need to do is listen and be sympathetic. Please don’t be judgmental about what they say to you. Listening can be all the help they need right then.

All of the resources listed above are also great for finding a therapist to help you with your recovery journey. If you haven’t found someone you would like to work with, I recommend finding someone that you are comfortable with and who will be an asset in your recovery journey.