{Waffle Wednesday} Banana-Nutella Swirl Waffles

It’s no secret that Europe is my favorite place to be, and my trip to Paris in 2012 was filled with gorgeous views, priceless art, huge cathedrals, and of course delicious food. My mom and I went together for a little mother-daughter getaway. It was the last stop on a nearly two-week journey spanning 3 countries, and we were a little exhausted. We spotted a crepe stand just outside of Notre Dame, and decided to share one while we waited in the line on the side of the building. Long story short, somewhere between the exhaustion and us enjoying our banana-Nutella crepe, we ended up in the line to climb to the top, rather than just walk inside.

Banana-Nutella crepes are pretty much synonymous with Paris, right? Like everyone else on the planet, I had to sit back and watch one of the world’s greatest cities be terrorized a couple weeks ago. This week’s waffles are my ode to this wonderful place. Like I said in last week’s apple pie post, food holds a lot of comfort during crappy times. #PrayforParis.


Banana-Nutella Waffles
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup corn starch
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
3 ripe bananas, divided
3/4 cup Nutella, divided

A note about batter consistency: waffles are really forgiving. If your batter is a little to thick or a little too thin, chances are good it will still turn out just fine. If you ever feel like the consistency really is off though, gradually add in a little more flour if it’s too thin, or a little water or milk to thin it out if too thick. 

-Combine dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and whisk thoroughly to distribute ingredients.
-Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add milk, oil, eggs, vanilla, and 2 mashed bananas; stir to combine.
-Scoop out about 1/2 cup of batter and put it in a separate small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of Nutella; stir to combine.
-Pour banana batter into waffle iron, and then spoon some of the Nutella batter on top.
-Press till golden brown, and serve topped with extra Nutella and sliced bananas.

French Toothpick Flag art can be downloaded here: FrenchToothpickFlags


Santa at The Summit

Santa photos are definitely meant to be treasured. When Evie had her first Santa photo a couple years ago, all I really wanted was for our town to have a “pretty Santa.” I’m not trying to be a snob, I promise. But after wrestling your kid into a fancy outfit and shoes, fixing their hair, and standing in line with them for who-knows-how-long, why settle for a mediocre photo?

Enter: Santa at The Summit.


We were pretty excited to be asked to be part of this launch. I’ve been shopping at The Summit since it opened when I was in the 8th grade, and we all know that their reputation for being Birmingham’s premier shopping center really can’t be touched.

It’s located down near Saks Fifth Avenue, and has its own dedicated store front. Here’s all of the problems the Summit’s North Pole solves:

  1. Waiting in line. You can make a free 15 minute appointment by clicking right here. SCORE.
  2. Having a bored kid. Oh my goodness, there is whole kid-friendly wonderland for keeping them entertained while they’re waiting their turn. Teddy bears, a mini kitchen, and kid-sized tables and chairs abound, all of which can be purchased at Pottery Barn Kids, should your kid latch onto something they suddenly can’t live without ;)
  3. Weary parents. Sur La Table has a fancy Jura espresso machine set up in the middle of the North Pole, so you can re-energize while your kid plays. There is also hot cocoa for the kids!6U1A4575.jpg6U1A4447.jpg
  4. Ugly setting. Maybe it’s because of my career as a prop stylist, but I really value the scene around Santa as much as I value Santa himself. The Summit North Pole is expertly designed in neutral whites and metallics and therefor offers a no-clash-guarentee with your kiddo’s outfit. And yes, a full range of photo packages and photo gifts are available! And all of this gorgeous decor, mamas? West Elm!
  5. Bonus features: one-stop Summit gift card purchases are right there, and the cool people at Swoozie’s donated wrapping paper to offer complimentary gift-wrapping with a suggested donation.

All photos are by the awesome Jennifer Hagler Photography, aren’t they wonderful?  Thank you so much Jennifer!! And thanks also to Jeannie Leighton for making this fun morning happen, you are something else, girl.

Merry Christmas!


{Waffle Wednesday} Chocolate Waffles with Chai Whipped Cream

Obviously, I have this soft spot for South Asia. Our second child is of course coming from Ind!a, and I’m so happy to have new friends in Nepal after a work trip there a couple months ago. So this week’s Waffle Wednesday is just a little nod to the people in my life who are making wonderful things happen in Nepal (where the chai you get from a box or Starbucks here should hide in shame from the chai you can get there). Please know my prayers are with you all every single day as I pray for our little son or daughter who is just one country below you. And to anyone unfamiliar with the incredible efforts with Mountain Child, please check out their website. They focus on holistically addressing issues related to Health, Education, Trafficking, Child Labor, and Environment, and in doing so empower the people of Nepal. You can donate to their efforts and know that your money is going to a trusted organization, or you can GO TO NEPAL and trek the Himalayas with a purpose!

Also a “dhanyabad” to Courtney and Jeremy for the crash course on making chai that directly inspired this recipe! Love you guys and so thankful for your hearts for the people of South Asia. (Also thank you Heather for brainstorming composition with me, you are so fab.)


ChocChaiWaffles1Chocolate Waffles with Chai Whipped Cream
Yield: 4 Waffles
Prepared waffle batter for 4 waffles (you can use either my from-scratch recipe, or store-bought mix)
1/2 cup cocoa powder

For the chai whipped cream
1 pint heavy whipping cream, divided
1 tbs whole cloves
1 tbs cardamom seeds
1 piece of whole ginger
3-4 cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup sugar

-In a small saucepan, pour in 1/2-3/4 cup of the heavy cream. Over low heat, infuse the cream with cloves, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, and sugar (1st photo, below.)
-Stir frequently to prevent scorching.
-Allow flavors to steep for approximately 30 minutes. (Second photo, below.)
-Strain cream through a fine sieve and refrigerate until totally cooled.
-Once cooled, combine the flavored cream and the rest of the pint into the chilled bowl of a stand mixer. Whip on high until it becomes fresh whipped cream!

ChocChaiWaffles4For the waffles, add the cocoa powder into the waffle batter and stir to combine. Add a little extra water if necessary to bring it back to the right consistency. Press in heated waffle iron.

Feather-Crusted Apple-Pecan-Rosemary Pie

Admittedly, it seems trivial to post anything. My friends’ whose children are still in an orphanage in India are at sanitation risks bc of the flooding in Chennai. The planet is on the brink of war. My new friends in Nepal are facing shortages of fuel, medicines, and other basic resources. My heart breaks not only for Paris but also for the people who are scoffing at those who pray for them. The world is so broken and hurting. I have control over NOTHING. But I guess I’ve always loved baking because of what a comfort it is to both create and eat. Comfort food is a real thing! This weekend my family celebrated our Thanksgiving, and it was so much fun. This is what I made for them. I really loved being in the kitchen and making this, and even more I loved laughing with my siblings while we sat in the kitchen and ate it. It was a good time in the midst of a bunch of bad things. They really loved this pie, I hope you do too! ApplePecanRosemaryPie3
Double-crust Pâte Brisée (I use Martha’s every time, but you can use prepared store-bought too!)
1 stick of butter
4 tbs AP flour
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/2 cup (or more!) pecans
Couple sprigs of fresh rosemary, removed from the stalk and roughly chopped
1 egg, beaten
1-2 tbs raw sugar
-In a large sauce pan or stock pot, melt the stick of butter on medium heat. Once melted, sprinkle in flour and stir until thick.
-Pour in water.
-Stir in sugars and spices and whisk until thoroughly incorporated.
-Add apples, pecans, and most of the rosemary into the sauce pan and coat thoroughly with the glaze.
-Let the apples hang out in the sauce pan on medium-low while you prepare the pie dough, stirring occasionally.
-Turn oven on to 425F.
-Roll out half of the pâte brisée on a floured surface; transfer to pie dish by loosely rolling the dough onto your rolling pin and rolling to over the pie dish. Press into dish and make holes with the tines of a fork.
-Create feathered crust by cutting feathers out free-hand with a pairing knife. Use a dull table knife to make the patterns on the top of each feather. Create a feathered look around the edges by cutting small notches out with the pairing knife. (See detailed photo below.)
-Add filling.
-Lay feathers on top of filling. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar and the remaining rosemary.
-Bake at 425F for 10 minutes, then turn oven down to 350F and bake for another 45-50 minutes.

ApplePecanRosemaryPie2 copy


Sugar Cookie Class at Whole Foods Birmingham!

Last month Evie and I made some Halloween sugar cookies together, and I really think it was one of my most favorite things I have ever done with her. I know I’m a professional baker, but being able to throw perfection out the window and just focus on making memories with my daughter was so great. So I’m really excited to announce that we’ll be leading a Mommy + Me Christmas sugar cookie class at Whole Foods Birmingham on December 5th! (We have already been practicing together, she made a lot of the ones in the photo below!)


In this class, you and your kiddo will learn how to make these delicious thick, soft sugar cookies that are perfect for decorating. I’ll also run you through an easy buttercream recipe, and then of course we’ll go all out with sprinkles! I love decorating cookies like this because they’re perfect for both mommies and little hands alike. You might not be learning how to make picture-perfect royal icing cookies in this class, but you’ll definitely be learning how to use this simple recipe to make precious memories with your little ones.

The cost of the class is just a $5 per person donation that will go to Lifeline Children’s Services’ UnAdopted program. UnAdopted works in 7 countries on 3 continents with older orphans who are at risk for aging out of the system. They teach life skills to help these vulnerable children learn how to survive as adults outside the gates of the orphanage where they have been raised.

To sign up for this fun event, just click here to reserve your spot via Eventbrite! You’ll also get a fun little take-away gift and a copy of the cookie recipe.

See you December 5th at 10am! (BYOApron ;))

Trick or Treat Pumpkin Upgrade

This year’s Nichols Family Costume: sullen grunge family who is still mourning Kurt.


But as always, our sassy daughter outshines us…whether or not she’s dressed as a tiny toddler Gwen Stefani. (She said she wanted to be a princess!)gwenstefanitoddlerI really felt like I couldn’t send her out trick-or-treating with just any old orange $1 pumpkin. What a disservice that would be to the glamorous rock princess she is paying homage to?! So, pumpkin upgrade. Here’s a few little tips on how I did it:

You’ll need: Trick or Treat Pumpkin, spray primer, spray paint, some fun Halloween baubles (I found all of mine at Michael’s), and some twine to tie it all together. I also found this cool “E” charm at Michael’s that I added for a personal touch!
GoldPumpkin1Turn the pumpkin upside down to prime the bottom first. Let it dry completely. I also primed and painted the “eek!” black from its original orange. (Orange is my least favorite color, which gets tricky around my favorite holiday!)

Then prime the rest of the outside and the inside thoroughly, but with a thin coat so it doesn’t drip and run. GoldPumpkin3While the primer is drying, get the baubles ready by simply tying them together with your twine.PumpkinCraft10

Paint the pumpkin metallic in the same way you primed it, starting with the bottom.
Pumpkin6After it’s dry, tie on your baubles and you’re ready to go! This Halloween will be the first that Evie will really go out trick or treating, I can’t wait to see her all Gwen’d up and running around the neighborhood with her gold pumpkin bouncing behind her. Seriously, BEST HOLIDAY.

{Waffle Wednesday} Cranberry-Walnut Waffles

IT’S HALLOWEEN WEEK! You know how people are all about a delicious Christmas morning breakfast? Why is the same importance not placed on Halloween morning breakfast? Let’s try to make that a thing, starting with these waffles. The last thing the interwebs needs is another pumpkin spice waffle, so here’s one with a seasonal spin on it, then topped with cinnamon and powdered sugar. Substitute in pecans or hazelnuts or whatever you have around!


Cranberry-Walnut Waffles
Yield: 4 Waffles
Prepared Waffle Batter for 4 Waffles (either from a baking mix, or my homemade recipe)
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
Heaping tablespoon of brown sugar
Dashes of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger to taste (a little extra cinnamon though)
Handful of walnuts
Handful of dried sweetened cranberries

-Stir canned pumpkin into prepared waffle batter
-Add brown sugar and spices and stir till combined
-Add desired amount of walnuts and cranberries and stir till incorporated
-Press in waffle maker till golden brown; serve sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon (and butter and syrup, obvi.)

CranberrWalnutWaffles2 CranberryWalnutWaffle3