Pumpkin Spice Granola Recipe

Making granola is so cozy. I like to have a vinyl playing while I make it.  It’s fun to skip about the kitchen to some music, ya know?

Granola is so simple and quick to make, yet it makes my kitchen smell like I’ve been slaving away all day. It’s the perfect snack. I don’t know why, it just makes me happy!

My five ingredient granola is a reader favorite. You can check out the recipe here.

NATURALLY, I had to develop a fall granola recipe to up the coziness factor. This idea was born many months ago in the heat of summer, when I was daydreaming of fall. Oh fall, you are a darling and I’m so glad you’re almost here.

This pumpkin spice granola is basically everything you adore about granola and fall, all baked into crispy morsels of golden perfection.

With maple syrup, pumpkin seeds, festive spices, and juicy dried cranberries, this granola makes a thoughtful gift or a happy snack.

Pumpkin Spice Granola Recipe

  • Servings: 1 1/2 Cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • 1 and a 1/4 tsp of pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 cups of old fashioned oats
  • 4 TBS of pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds)
  • 5 TBS of dried cranberries

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, maple syrup, and pumpkin pie spice
  2. Add the oats to the mixture and thoroughly combine.
  3. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Spread oats in an even layer across the cookie sheet. Pack down slightly if you want more granola clusters.
  5. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes. Stir at 15 minutes to prevent the granola from burning. At the 15 minute mark, add the pepitas.
  6. During the last half of the cook time, check often. Granola can burn easily.  If you’re not sure if it’s done but it looks done, it probably is! Granola will continue to cook a little when you take it out of the oven and will continue to harden and crisp up.
  7. Add dried cranberries once it is out of the oven.

Note:

If you want more granola clusters, don’t stir immediately after taking out of the oven.  This will allow the clusters to form and bind.

Ordinarily, I add a pinch of salt to granola.  However, the pepitas are salted, so I do not add any additional salt to this recipe.

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I wish you could smell how deliciously fragrant this granola is! With a splash of almond milk, you’ve got yourself a healthy breakfast. All you need is a hot cuppa pumpkin coffee.

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Bruschetta Recipe

My sister and I have started a new Thursday night tradition. We have each other and our hubs over at each other’s homes, alternating weeks. It’s become a coveted time of laughter and good food! The perfect way to break up the week.

When they came over to our place, I made bruschetta as an appetizer and they enjoyed it so immensely! What I love about bruschetta is it’s delightfully light, looks impressive, but is deceptively easy to make! So I thought I’d share my recipe with you all–because that’s what friends are for!

Speaking of bruschetta, I must confess a pet peeve of mine—when people call it “broo-shetta.” Being the little Italian girl that I am, hearing bruschetta mispronounced is like nails on a chalkboard for me. Haha. “Broo-sketta” sounds far more beautiful, don’t you agree?

Bruschetta

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 2 tomatoes, petite diced and seeded
  • 1/2 onion, petite diced
  • A few leaves of basil, chopped
  • A sprinkle of salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • A dash of garlic powder
  • 1 to 2 TB of olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Baguette

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, basil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and olive oil.
  2. Refrigerator mixture until ready to serve.
  3. Slice baguette into 1/2 inch pieces.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and garlic powder and toast in even for 5 minutes at 350 degrees. (Or until desired crispiness.)
  5. In a small pan, simmer balsamic vinegar until it bubbles and reduces in volume. It will continue to thicken as it cools and will form a glaze. Set aside.
  6. Spoon tomato mixture on each slice of bread and drizzle the balsamic glaze on top.
  7. Enjoy!

-From the kitchen of Julia Brown

http://www.theyouthful.me

I love how light and refreshing this appetizer is! The perfect cheese board pairing! May this recipe delight your tummy and wow your guests.

Ciao!

A Weekend in Charleston

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A couple of weeks ago, Billy and I hopped in our little Prius and traveled to the charming city of Charleston, South Carolina.  Each year, we dedicate a weekend away to celebrate our anniversary. It’s a sweet tradition we’ve come to look forward to so much.

I had been wanting to go to Charleston for…I don’t know…a really long time! So my little photography-lovin’ heart couldn’t wait to capture all the historic adorableness of Charleston.

We wanted to make this trip all things southern–sweet and simple.  And it was just that! We also wanted to try to keep this getaway as cost-effective as possible, so throughout this little travel diary, I’ll share my budget friendly tips.


Where We Stayed

A huge part of what made this trip so easy on our wallets, was staying at an Airbnb. This was our first time staying at one, so we were a little skeptical.  But we did our research and chose a place with amazing reviews.

I gotta tell you–I am officially hooked on Airbnb. We LOVED our little Charleston home away from home.  It was so relaxing! Bright, airy, minimal, and clean.  And the best part–only $100 a night.

Staying at an Airbnb allowed us to save so much money on food! This was a HUGE bonus.  We had a full kitchen, which enabled us to eat out way less.  We went to the local Publix and stocked our fridge for the weekend.  And I must say—being able to make my nightly cup of green tea made me feel so at home and peaceful. Yet another, wonderful perk.

Oh and I must mention–this Airbnb had a vintage Nintendo! We played Mario Brothers every night and it was a complete blast.  Pretty sure I’ll always remember that. 🙂

Where We Ate

Our favorite restaurant was Poogan’s Porch.  We went there for brunch, and the food was delicious, and the charm! Ah! Adorable.  It’s basically a restaurant that used to be a house.  “Poogan” was a stray dog that used to hang out on the porch. *heart melt*

For breakfast one morning, we ventured to the renowned Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit. Oh my. It was just the cutest little hole in the wall. And it was packed! Not hard to tell why–their assortment of biscuits were melt-in-your-mouth amazing! Comfort food at its finest.  Reminded me of a little place in New York.

Now let’s talk coffee.  There’s little that Billy and I enjoy more than a really good coffee shop. You know, the ones that have that perfect balance of aesthetic and warmth. Black Tap Coffee has come to have such a special place in my heart.  It was so relaxing, the atmosphere was really awesome, and the COFFEE! No words. I literally had the BEST latte of my life there. Not exaggerating. The Lavender Latte. *sigh* So smooth and flavorful. We hung out their twice. Can’t wait to go back one day.

My best friend recommended Carmella’s, and oh how happy I am she did! We fell in love with this darling gem.  We selected two mini cakes to go, and enjoyed them at our Airbnb. The cakes were so moist and flavorful! A perfect pairing with our tea!

Where We Shopped

I was immensely impressed with the quality of shopping in Charleston.  There was a delightful balance of big chain stores, as well as local boutiques.  Shopping along King St. could easily take a whole day.  Not complaining… 😉

There are two shops that you absolutely must visit if you go to Charleston.  The first is Candlefish.  It really is the most divinely beautiful candle shop.  They even offer candle making work shops.  The service was exceptional, and the candle library kept you lingering and enjoying all the scents.  Quite the experience indeed.

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My second favorite shop was an adorable boutique called TheSkinnyDip. They had everything from sweet little dresses to darling local souvenirs.  I purchased the cutest coffee mug of my favorite site in Charleston: Rainbow Row! Upstairs, they have a fun coffee/lounge with a co-work space.  A rooftop patio made this place such a memorable stop.  Highly recommend!

What We Saw

The lovely thing about historic places, is that you can just wander. For hours. And wandering is free. But oh the memories you will make!

One of my favorite things about Charleston is how vast it is. The streets keep winding, and every little nook and alley was so picturesque.  Everything was blooming. Cobblestone streets lead to homes with darling shutters, window boxes overflowing with flowers, statement wood doors, and vintage gas lights. It is a lovely feeling knowing that everything your eyes happen upon, has a story.

Here are some pictures from our brick-lined explorations . . .

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It was such a joy celebrating 3 years of marriage with my hubby in Charleston.  It is honestly a new favorite city of mine.  I eagerly can’t wait to return!

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5 Ingredient Granola Recipe

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There is something so gratifying about making homemade granola.  It makes you feel like some sort of amazing cook, but in all honesty, this is so simple to make.  Not to mention, the aroma that will fill your kitchen! Think:: toasted oats coated in cinnamon and honey. So. Good.

I recently started enjoying greek yogurt as a daily snack.  (My personal favorite is Fage.) I can’t get enough of its creamy, thick texture. Topped with fresh strawberries, granola, chocolate chunks, and honey–it’s the perfect healthy breakfast. Or dessert.

Yet, store-bought granola can be so pricey. And some contain questionable ingredients.  So began my quest to make simple, clean granola.  After a few tries, I finally settled on the perfect recipe.  And I’m sharing it with all of you!

The best part is–this granola only requires 5 ingredients.  Chances are, they are in your pantry right now! I love saving money wherever I can, and this recipe is the perfect solution to my granola addiction.

Here are ways to enjoy your homemade granola:

  • Topped on plain greek yogurt with fruit and honey
  • As a quick snack to munch on (Billy loves to grab the jar of granola from our pantry after work.)
  • On top of vanilla ice-cream
  • With a splash of milk (kind of like cereal)

5 Ingredient Granola Recipe

  • Servings: 1 1/2 Cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of old fashioned oats

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, honey, cinnamon, and salt.
  2. Add the oats to the mixture and thoroughly combine.
  3. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Spread oats in an even layer across the cookie sheet. Pack down slightly if you want more granola clusters.
  5. Bake at 300 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Stir at 15 minutes to prevent the granola from burning.
  6. During the last half of the cook time, check often. Granola can burn easily.  If you’re not sure if it’s done but it looks done, it probably is! Granola will continue to cook a little when you take it out of the oven and will continue to harden and crisp up.
  7. Enjoy! You can add dried fruit once it is out of the oven.

Note:

If you want more granola clusters, don’t stir immediately after taking out of the oven.  This will allow the clusters to form and bind.

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I hope you enjoy this highly requested recipe! It is a new weekly obsession of mine. If you make it, comment below! I’d love to hear all about it.

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Challah Bread French Toast Recipe

Saturdays. They’re my favorite. Especially the morning time. Sunlight floods our bedroom, and blankets everything in sight.

Then coffee. Coffee and tea begin the start to a lovely morning. Recently, we’ve been enjoying challah bread.  It’s a traditional Jewish bread made from eggs. We particularly like its light and fluffy texture. Perfect toasted with a favorite jam. Then, one day the idea struck me to make French toast with our new favorite bread.

And so began a new Saturday morning tradition.

A favorite record is spinning and the kitchen begins to smell like a small, downtown cafe.

Here’s my recipe for fluffy, flavorful, and delightfully sweet–challah bread French toast.

Challah Bread French Toast

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices of challah bread (raisin challah is also a delicious option)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of milk (we use almond milk)
  • 2 TB sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 TB butter

Directions:

  1. Slice challah bread in 1 inch pieces.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, beat eggs.
  3. Combine milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and cinnamon with the eggs.
  4. Melt butter in large pan.
  5. Quickly place challah in egg mixture, coating each side.
  6. Place coated bread slices in the pan and brown each side.
  7. Serve with maple syrup and fresh fruit.


I hope this sweet little recipe becomes a new part of your morning routine.

Happy breakfast!

Dinner in 30: Easy Paella Recipe

I think the underlying hesitancy to cook is: busyness. An hour of prep. A half hour to cook. And an hour of countless dirty pots and pans. I recognize this need and the demand for easy, healthy, flavorful meals that nourish and satisfy you and your family. That’s why my new goal is to create a series of recipes that will be classified as: Dinner in 30. Healthy, unique, meal ideas that take around 30 minutes from start to finish.

This easy paella recipe is the definition of simplicity. Minimal ingredients, and only requires one pot and one pan. The use of chicken sausage keeps things simple, since chicken sausage is bought already fully cooked. All you must do is chop it and brown it. 🙌🏼

Here is this lovely recipe, that has become a weeknight staple in The Brown Abode.

Easy Paella Recipe

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 10 oz bag of yellow rice (with saffron)
  • 3 chicken sausages, cut into small pieces
  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

Directions:

  1. Cook the rice according to the instructions on the bag.
  2. While the rice is cooking, brown the chicken sausage in a large skillet.
  3. Sauté the onion and pepper.
  4. Then add the peas and black beans.
  5. When rice is cooked, add to the large skillet and toss.
  6. Serve with warm, crusty bread.

Note:

I like to use Vigo yellow rice. It has the seasonings already in it.  Saffron is a very important component of traditional paella, but it can be very expensive if you buy it on its own. It is definitely worth buying rice that already has saffron in it.

September Favorites

Here we are. September has arrived and I’m ready to be swept away by cozy turtlenecks, warm sips of pumpkin lattes, crisp air, crunchy leaves, camping, smoky bonfires, suspenseful movies, evening walks, and delicious aromas coming from my kitchen. 🍁

With a few more weeks left before fall, I thought I’d share some things I’ve been quite taken with lately. Perhaps this will be a fun new feature of the blog!

1. Brown Tote

I typically use two purses: one is a purse I use strictly for work. The other is used for weekend fun. I purchased this tote as a work purse, but I’ve been loving it so much, I’ve been using it constantly! It’s large enough to fit a laptop, a small umbrella, and even that fresh eucalyptus from the market. At a great price, I’m happy with the quality so far. I’ve been seeing this style tote everywhere lately. Figures Target would come out with an affordable option!

2. Oka-B Flip Flops

These flip flops (courtesy of Oka-B) are perfect for “Florida Fall.” The black combined with the leopard detail doesn’t look too summery, but instead rather cozy. I love these paired with some rolled up jeans and a cardigan. Effortless. Keep your eyes peeled for these flip flops in their fall collection!

3. The Magnolia Journal

I read this magazine like a book: from cover to cover. This magazine always leaves me inspired and motivated. Amazing design ideas, beautiful (tear-jerking) stories, and recipes that have you reaching for your grocery list. Each issue is better than the last. I can’t recommend it enough! The Fall issue is on newsstands now!

4. Sips By Tea Subscription

Calling all tea lovers! Sips by is a monthly tea subscription box. If you know me, this is seriously a match made in heaven. With some natural light and a cup of tea, I’m in my happy place. The subscription has you fill out a profile so they can select teas from around the world, specifically catered to your tastes. This is also a great way to get a little adventurous and try new types of tea!

5. Rifle Paper Co. Recipe Box

This darling recipe box could easily become a family keepsake. It’s as pretty as it is practical! There are also a few other patterns to choose from. I find a daily little joy, reaching for a well loved recipe from this box, and adding a new favorite to the collection.

A Trip to Trader Joe’s 

Aaaaahhh Trader Joe’s.

You know…going to Trader Joe’s feels less like an errand, and more of an event. In fact, you could make a whole girl’s night or date night out of it. Start in the flower section (they have the best, fresh florals) and work your way up each aisle, picking up whatever strikes your fancy. Take home your unique goodies, have a “tasting”, and watch some Netflix. Bam. Consider your Saturday night planned. 👌🏼

I typically do most of my grocery shopping at Publix, and then get fun speciality items at Trader Joe’s. But this past week, I decided to do something I’ve never done before. I bought a week’s worth of food soley at Trader Joe’s. Not only was it a delicious success, but we came in well under budget. Win!

Even though Trader Joe’s is a relatively small market, it is fully stocked with unique foods. You wouldn’t know it by looking at it. But once you start perusing the aisles, you’ll find yourself reaching for item after item. Curiosity and adventure fill the shelves. I’m really quite obsessed.

Sooooo how about I cease the rambling and oodling, and simply share my favorite Trader Joe’s goodies that you need on your grocery list.

1. Mini Blueberry Tea Scones

Deliciously moist, I tend to crave these! With coffee or tea, you’ll feel like you’re at a coffee shop right in your own abode.


2. Organic Roasted Vegetable Pizza

This pizza is hands down the best frozen pizza ever! It legit tastes like it’s from a restaurant. They don’t skimp on the veggies and the crust is just the right thickness. Why am I not surprised that this pizza is imported from Italy? 🇮🇹

3. Organic Popping Corn

I love making homemade popcorn on the stove. These kernels make for crispy snacking and numerous batches of the favorite movie night treat. I make mine with olive oil, and no butter. A sprinkling of salt and parmesan cheese is all you need. #healthysnack

4. Frozen Chocolate Covered Banana Slices

Ohmygoodness. These are a delight! They’re great when you need a bite of chocolate! They’re rather refreshing too! Find these in the frozen dessert aisle.

5. Cinnamon Raisin Ezekiel Bread

This is Billy and I’s latest obsession. I know, we are a little late to the game. But, seriously. Bread that tastes good, and isn’t loaded with sugar. Protein? It’s got 3 grams per slice. Fiber? 2 grams per slice. It’s based off of the Bible verse Ezekiel 4:9. You can find this at Trader Joe’s in the bread section, or at other natural food stores.


6. Eucalyptus 

No trip to Trader Joe’s is complete without some fresh eucalyptus. I simply can’t help myself. Fragrant and beautiful. Arrange some in a large jar, or hang a bundle from your shower head for some aroma therapy during your shower.

That’s all for now, folks! I could go on endlessly, but I thought I’d keep this list concise.

Remember, fall is just around the corner! Trader Joe’s will soon have pumpkin everythang! They’re pumpkin spice flavored coffee is a personal fav. The wait will be hard, but it will be worth it. 🍁

Grilled Peaches and Ice Cream Recipe

It’s no secret I love my fruits and veggies. But if I had to choose between the two, I’d hands down pick fruit. I’m obsessed. Even as a little girl, I would turn down a cupcake for a handful of grapes. That is true love, my friend.

I love finding new ways to enjoy my favorite fruits. Since peaches are in season in the summer, I’ve been buying them a lot lately.

The other night, I decided to pull out my little George Foreman grill (#apartmentliving) and grill up some peaches. Then, I topped them with some ice cream. It was delicious. However, the next time I made it, I took it to the next level by marinating the peaches in some dark brown sugar and cinnamon. Um WOW. So good. Billy literally said, “This the best dessert I’ve had in a long time!”

What’s funny is, this recipe is so easy. Like, it’s such a fake out. It’s all like, “I’m so fancy.” Yet, it’s not. Gotta love it.

Because of its delicious simplicity, this is the perfect dessert to make when you have guests over. You won’t be slaving away for hours in the kitchen, and your guests will be impressed.



The warmth of the grilled, marinated peaches with the coldness of the rich ice cream, is an unbeatable combination. I guarantee you I will be making this on many summer nights to come! My new favorite little recipe has me feeling just peachy! (I had to! 😉)  🍑🍨

Grilled Peaches and Ice Cream

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 2 peaches
  • 2 tsp dark brown sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Butter pecan ice cream

Directions:

  1. Cut the peaches in half and remove the pit.
  2. On a plate, sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Massage sugar and cinnamon mixture all over peaches.
  4. Place peaches flesh down and allow to marinate in the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. Grill the peaches. If you do not have a grill, use a grill pan or George Foreman grill.
  6. Once grilled, top with butter pecan or vanilla ice cream. I recommend butter pecan, because peaches and pecans are a delightful combination! Enjoy!

Grilled Zucchini Open Faced Sandwich Recipe

I’ve heard it said before, “Food is memories.”

Isn’t that so true? We remember meals we’ve shared with people. We remember that amazing entree we had on a vacation. We remember when someone cooks for you. I think that’s one of my favorite things about food. One bite can take you back to another time and place.

The recipe I am sharing today has a memory. It’s a small memory. It wasn’t from a holiday or big party. This memory is a simple one. One that always stuck with me.

Growing up, I went to my Nonna and Nonno’s house a lot. I remember going there one afternoon, and they were in the kitchen. Of course. This time, they were grilling zucchini on the stove together.

“Julia, you need to try this,” my Nonno said as he drizzled some olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the grilled zucchini. He toasted some crusty, Italian bread for me and put the zucchini on top. As I bit into, I’ll never forget the burst of flavor in my mouth. But the best part was the memory of my Nonno excitedly preparing this snack for me. It was special. There was love in it. He loved good food and he loved me.

So today, I’m sharing with you this easy grilled zucchini open faced sandwich recipe. Maybe one day you’ll make it for someone, and they’ll never forget it. Isn’t it neat how we never know when we are going to impact someone? 💗

Grilled Zucchini Open Faced Sandwich

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 2 zucchini
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions:

  1. Cut the zucchini in half. Then thinly slice the long way.
  2. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Grill the zucchini either on a grill, or a grill pan.
  4. When cooked through, remove from the grill. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  5. Slice a baguette and toast it till crisp and brown on the edges.
  6. Serve the zucchini on top of the bread to create an open faced sandwich. Enjoy!

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