Articles by "julie | The Hyper House - Part 9"
9 Nov
Posted in: Food
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Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

I love sweet potatoes. The biggest issue I have on Thanksgiving Day is which way to serve them. Since the menu already called for mashed potatoes, I knew I wanted to go a different route for the sweet potatoes. When I saw a recipe for Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes from Lauren’s Latest, I knew this was the dish for me.

twice baked sweet potatoes

This recipe is really good, with a buttery cinnamon filling not to mention a brown sugar and walnut streusel on top. Just one half is a perfect sweet dish for your plate. Head over to Lauren’s post to learn all her little tips on how to make these sweet potatoes out of this world.

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Yield: 5 halves

Serving Size: 1 half


    For the Sweet Potatoes:
  • 3 large sweet potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • For the Streusel:
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar


    For the Sweet Potatoes:
  1. Prick sweet potatoes with a fork or knife and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until soft. You can also microwave the sweet potatoes on high for 13-15 minutes as well.
  2. Once sweet potatoes are cooked, slice in half and scoop out the centers into a bowl leaving a 1/4 inch border of sweet potato with the skin. Mix in brown sugar, butter, salt and cinnamon until smooth. Using a large tipped pastry bag, pipe filling back into sweet potato shells. {Or spoon it back in.}
  3. For the Struesel:
  4. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for streusel and mix together until butter starts to warm and ingredients start sticking together. Top the filled sweet potatoes with the streusel and bake 20-30 minutes. Serve warm.

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8 Nov
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Cornbread Dressing

I’m not really a dressing or stuffing person, much to my mom’s disappointment. I just was never much a fan of the taste or texture. This dressing is different. It starts with cornbread and buttermilk biscuits (Jiffy and from a can are just fine or you can use your favorite recipe) to add a more solid texture. (If you want a really firm dressing, try making croutons out of the crumbs instead of just letting the breads go stale.) I also cut back on the amount of broth compared to most stuffing recipes so it is just moistened. The eggs in it work to bind the whole thing together too.

cornbread dressing

For a look at how this can be prepped in advance, check out my Thanksgiving Day timeline. Since there are only 2 people in my household, I split this dish in half and only cooked the first half for my meal. The other half was packed away in a foil tin uncooked. When I’m ready to eat that part, I’ll thaw it completely and bake at 400 for 25-30 minutes.

The best part of this recipe isn’t the wonderful texture or even how easy it is to freeze. I really just love the taste. Using a sweet cornbread allows for a mix of sweet and savory. It’s the perfect match for the crockpot turkey.

Cornbread Dressing

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour


  • 6 cups cornbread crumbs (about 8 muffins)--try this recipe
  • 3 cups buttermilk biscuit crumbs (about 4 biscuits)
  • 4 oz butter
  • 2 cups onion, chopped
  • 2 cups celery, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup turkey drippings
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 eggs


  1. Prepare the cornbread and biscuits a few days in advance. Let them sit in the open so they go stale. On Thanksgiving Day, crumble the biscuits and cornbread in a large bowl.
  2. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add in the onion and celery. Cook until tender.
  3. Add the vegetables into the crumbs and stir till combines. Stir in the broth and drippings, then add the seasonings and beaten eggs.
  4. Bake in a casserole dish for 25 minutes at 400 degrees.

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7 Nov
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Buttermilk Pumpkin Cake

buttermilk pumpkin bundt cake

Most people seem to think pie is the perfect Thanksgiving dessert but when it comes to pumpkin, I tend to think the flavor is best featured in a cake. Yes, that may be blasphemy to you but if you’re ever going to give it a shot, this is the cake to do it with.

pumpkin bundt cake

This cake starts in a bundt cake pan (mine is cathedral shaped because why not?) and there’s no need for a heavy frosting, just a glaze. The original Gourmet recipe called for solely a buttermilk glaze but I got a little crazy and added in some maple flavor.

buttermilk pumpkin cake

Since this is a bundt cake, it’s easy to see where to cut the cake and it’s a gorgeous piece to serve. I topped my cake with some crushed pecans and my slice got a sprinkle of coconut too. You can easily make this cake up to 3 days before your big Thanksgiving meal so it works great with my Thanksgiving cooking timeline.

Buttermilk Pumpkin Cake

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 16 slices

Serving Size: 1 slice

I found this recipe via Gourmet Magazine's 2005 Thanksgiving edition. I've made a few changes (specifically doubling spices and adding a maple glaze) but the cake itself is a warm spicy flavor perfect for Thanksgiving dinner.


    For the cake:
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (less than a 15-ounce can; not pie filling)
  • 3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • For the Glaze:
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar


    For the Cake:
  1. Grease a bundt cake pan generously and set aside.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and salt in a bowl. Stir together pumpkin, buttermilk, and vanilla in another bowl.
  3. Beat butter and sugar in a mixer on medium until pale and fluffy. Add in eggs and beat 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and add flour and pumpkin mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until batter is just smooth.
  4. Spoon batter into pan and bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a rack 15 minutes, then invert rack over cake and reinvert cake onto rack. Cool 10 minutes more.
  5. For the glaze:
  6. While cake is cooling, whisk together buttermilk, maple extract and powdered sugar until smooth. Drizzle icing over warm cake, then cool cake completely. Icing will harden slightly.

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6 Nov
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Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

roasted garlic mashed potatoes

Mashed potatoes are a dish that most people tend to find a little boring. I promise you won’t feel that way about these potatoes. The secret to this recipe is the roasted garlic heads inside of it. They add so much depth to the flavor of the potatoes and warm up this traditional dish. I first learned about roasting garlic from The Pioneer Woman and she has a great tutorial if you are unfamiliar with the process.

Roasting Garlic

In my Thanksgiving Planning post, I mention how you can easily roast the garlic a few days ahead of time to cut down on the cook time of this dish. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re going to be using your oven on Thanksgiving day for some sweeter dishes.

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes


    For the Garlic:
  • 2 heads garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt
  • Crushed black pepper
  • For the Potatoes:
  • 2 lbs yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 6 Tablespoons butter, cut into 1 Tablespoon pieces
  • kosher salt
  • ground black pepper


    For the Garlic:
  1. Cut off the top of the garlic just enough to expose the cloves inside.
  2. Drizzle 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a cake pan over the area you plan to lay your garlic. Set the garlic on the oil clove side up and drizzle with remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
  3. Sprinkle with kosher salt and crushed pepper. Cover pan with foil and bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes. Remove foil and let cool completely.
  4. When cooled, squeeze the base of your garlic head to push the cloves out the open top. You may need to use a fork to help guide the pieces out. Do your best to keep the cloves whole.
  5. For the Potatoes:
  6. Take your peeled and quartered potatoes and cover them with water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes until fork tender.
  7. Drain the water from the potatoes and return to pot. Add the chicken broth, cream, and butter to the pot. Begin mashing until smooth.
  8. Season with pepper and salt until desired taste. Add in your roasted garlic and stir to combine before serving immediately.

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5 Nov
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Golden Crockpot Turkey Breast

crockpot turkey breast

I’ve never cooked a turkey before. It’s one of those dishes I like only around the holidays and then I’m done with it. I also hate carving birds and pulling out their insides. Thankfully, I’ve found an easy way to avoid being grossed out by the big bird- buying a turkey breast. My local grocer had some frozen bone-in whole turkey breast cuts on sale a few weeks ago. No giblets or organs inside this bird.

stuffed turkey

I didn’t want my oven to be roasting all day so I decided to try putting my bird inside the crockpot. After thawing my bird in the fridge for a few days, I coated the breast in olive oil and sprinkled it with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Then I stuffed the inside of it with a stick of butter, an onion and an apple. Not all of it fit in the bird so I just layered it around the turkey. A word of caution- I had a 5.5 pound turkey and it just barely fit in my crockpot so do some planning if you don’t have an extra large slow cooker. After placing the bird breast side up, I poured in 2 cups of pinot grigio around the turkey and cooked it on low for 6 hours. Make sure the breast reaches 170 degrees before removing it from your crockpot for safety reasons.

If you want that golden color a roasted turkey has, you can plop your bird into a roasting pan and broil it for about 6 minutes. Let it rest and then carve it. The key to this recipe is to drizzle some of the stock that forms all over your carved pieces for maximum flavor.

Golden Crockpot Turkey Breast

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 6 hours

Total Time: 6 hours, 45 minutes


  • 5.5 lb turkey breast
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 apple
  • 2 cups pinot grigio


  1. Rinse out the cavity of the turkey breast dry it with paper towels. Coat the turkey breast in olive oil and sprinkle on salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  2. Cut the onion and apple into eighths and the stick of butter into quarters. Stuff the pieces into the turkey's cavity, saving any additional pieces. Turn the bird breast up and layer the extra pieces around the turkey.
  3. Pour 2 cups of wine around the turkey and cook on low for 6 hours or until the thickest part of the turkey reaches 170 degrees.
  4. Optional: Broil the turkey in a roasting pan for 8 minutes until it reaches a golden brown color.
  5. Let the turkey rest 10-20 minutes and carve, pouring drippings over the bird.

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4 Nov
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Thanksgiving Week

Welcome to Thanksgiving Week on The Hyper House! Each week I normally try to mix up the kinds of posts I share but this week I wanted to focus on Thanksgiving dinner so I’ll be featuring some especially food-heavy posts.

Source: Rifle Paper Company

I don’t normally host Thanksgiving at my house but the downside of that is I don’t end up with any leftovers to eat in the days following. This year I decided I wanted to make my own version of a Thanksgiving meal but I’ve been working overtime so much I didn’t have hours upon hours to plan a meal, let alone cook one. I’ve created a very simple menu for the day.

(Menu clipart from Call Me Victorian)

I’ve tried to come up with a Thanksgiving meal plan that leaves plenty of time for you to enjoy your holiday too. Most of these steps can be done while you cook dinner each night so when Thanksgiving comes you only have a few quick tasks to do.

Here’s a quick guide to planning out your Thanksgiving week.

  • Saturday/Sunday: Shop for all the food items you need.
  • Monday: Bake biscuits and cornbread. Let sit in the open so they go stale.
  • Tuesday: Thaw your turkey breast inside your fridge. Roast garlic for mashed potatoes, scoop out filling and chill.
  • Wednesday: Prepare cake and bake at 350. After your cake has baked for 20 minutes, add in your sweet potatoes to the oven for the last 30 minutes. Remove the cake and sweet potatoes and let each cool. Make glaze for cake and scoop out filling for sweet potatoes. Pack away the filling in one container and the skins in another. Store cake in a covered container after glazing.

On Thursday you will have so much less work to do so you can actually enjoy the day with your family. Based on a 6 PM dinner time, here’s how I would plan out your day.

10 AM: Prepare turkey for the crockpot. Cook for 7-9 hours on low. Prepare cornbread dressing and chill. Mix together your sweet potato filling, stuff potatoes and chill.
5 PM: Bake cornbread dressing for 20-30 min at 400. About 10 minutes into baking, add your sweet potatoes and bake them 15-20 min at 400. During this time, boil your mashed potatoes and then prepare them to serve.

This meal requires only 2 hours in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day, once at 10 and once at 5. By breaking the meal down into bite-sized pieces during the week you can relax more on the big day. You can also delegate tasks easier so it won’t just be you in the kitchen (though I’m a huge fan of delegating dish duty).

I’ll be updating all week with some food ideas. What are your favorite Thanksgiving dishes?

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30 Oct
Posted in: Household
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November Task List

November already! This last month flew by. October was hot and cold, windy and sunny, and busy busy busy! This month I’ll be shopping for Christmas gifts (I hate the post-Thanksgiving crowds), stocking up my freezer, and transitioning to a new position at work. I’m not sure I’ll have time for too many projects but I will try my hardest to do what I can.


Source: Pickle Lady Farm

Last month I managed to tackle my closet, finish sorting through my clothing, do some restocking, and I’m working on eating the last of my frozen summer goods. The month ahead theoretically will also have a day trip and my first 5K race. I can’t wait to share some details! Here are this month’s Get Organized Now checklist items designed to keep me on track.

  • November 1: Have a fall cleanup day. Rake and sweep up all that debris. This is especially helpful considering the superstorm that some people are getting. You might want to bump this item down the list till all the wind in your area has passed.
  • November 4: Falling back means changing clocks and batteries. I also suggest using that extra hour for more sleep but if you insist on waking early, make yourself a warm breakfast.
  • November 6: Go vote! Do it! I highly suggest between 10 AM and noon or from 2-4 PM if you can. You’ll make my life easier if you do since I’ll be fixing voting equipment that day.
  • November 8: Time to plan your Thanksgiving meal. Call any hosts for meals you’ll be attending to confirm what to bring and how many to serve. Write down your ingredients, how long your dish will take to prepare and shop your sale ads. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite dishes that week in case you need any ideas.
  • November 18: Clean out any purses or bags. Include envelopes for receipts and coupons. Cut any coupons you need to get ready for Thanksgiving meal shopping or some fun on Black Friday.
  • November 22: Write down 10 things you are thankful for. You don’t need to share it but use the day to reflect.
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29 Oct
Posted in: Household, Life
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Thinking of Fall

It’s been a busy fall at my house. I’ve been finishing the final weeks on my work’s big project and soon I’ll be moving on to a new office and new responsibilities. My husband and I took a big trip to Europe. I finally finished the Couch to 5K program and I have 2 races lined up.

That hasn’t stopped me from having some fun either. I went with some friends and family to my old high school’s Homecoming football game. My littlest brother still goes to school there and it was a big anniversary for me as well. I was most excited to see the marching band. I’m a former member and my little brother (that’s him on the 45 yard line playing the sax) has won several championships at competitions this year. I’m a proud big sister. As a bonus, the football team pulled out a win as well.

house fall decor


I’ve been dressing the house up for fall too. Some pumpkins and some coleus plants add a nice seasonal look with purples and oranges. I have a yellow wreath I use each year. This year I paired it with an owl hanging I found at Michaels. I love the bottlecap eyes…and the fact that it was on clearance.


Here’s a glance at the garden as of 2 weeks ago. Since then we had a tornado warning that knocked down leaves and now a frost warning that froze everything up. The garden barely survived the horrible summer. Remember how gorgeous it looked back in May? I had a hydrangea die, one just barely survived. All the dwarf rhododendron died before the end of June. We planned to replace them with more boxwoods but after a boxelder bug invasion I’m not so sure now. The regular rhododendron made it till July but then they died too. The azalea survived. My husband had bought some geraniums and added them to our house plant collection and they thrived as did our coleus plants. We’ll definitely be trying to makeover this garden again next year. We’d love to add great quality, handmade festoon by And if you’re thinking of planting some apple trees in the garden then you must have a look at these espalier fruit trees as they are exceptional, we ordered some recently and were stunned at how good they are. I’d like to imagine this year was just a freaky year of drought but I need a low-maintenance plan that can survive drought, massive rains, hail, winds, and me.

october table

For my October table, I wanted to use complementary colors. I know a blue and orange table isn’t traditional for October but I loved how rustic it felt. I was able to shop my house for this project, using my blue willow china and blue cobalt glasses. The matching cobalt wine bottles are from some riesling I drank and the pumpkin votive holders are from Pier1. They match last month’s design. The flowers in the basket were actually a gift holder my husband gave me years back that comes in handy every year.

The only new item I bought for the table were the mini pumpkins. I wanted to buy some napkins but I had the hardest time finding some matching blue napkins. Has anyone seen some deep blue napkins that might match my blue willow or blue cobalt? I’d love to find some before the next time I use them all on the table again.

How was your month of October?

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22 Oct
Posted in: Food
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M&M Cookies

I’ll admit that sometimes in life, I can go a little overboard. I mentioned before that I had some eggs to use up before I left town for my vacation and the apple bread just didn’t cut it. I decided this would be the perfect time for me to get ready for Christmas. That’s right, back on September 12 I decided to bake 11 dozen cookies for Christmas. I made 6 dozen chocolate chip ones (recipe coming soon!) and 5 dozen of today’s recipe, M&M cookies.


That’s a bit of an exaggeration. I did in fact bake 11 dozen cookies and packed them away in 3 separate containers. One container was eaten in the week before my trip. It held 2 dozen cookies. The other 9 dozen were split between 2 more containers and one is still safely tucked away for Christmas. The other has been eaten in the month since I returned. This is how I roll. I bake a bunch of cookies, eat most of them and save a couple dozen for Christmas. Over the next few months I’ll stock it with some peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, gingerbread and sugar cookies (undecorated), and some double chocolate chip ones. The ones I don’t eat by Christmas become a January snack, though to be honest I’m usually cookied-out by then.

M&M cookies

I store my cookies for up to 3 months in an airtight stackable container already cooked. I just pull them out about 90 minutes before I eat them and they’re perfect.

M&M Cookies

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 9 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 5 dozen

Serving Size: 1 cookie


  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups shortening
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoons vanilla
  • 6 Tablespoons water
  • 5 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 Tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 Tablespoon baking soda
  • 10 oz mini M&Ms


  1. Cream together the sugars and the shortening. Blend in the eggs, vanilla, and water.
  2. In a separate bowl mix together the dry ingredients and gradually add them to your wet ingredients.
  3. Gently stir in your mini M&Ms (regular will work as well) and bake at 375 degrees for 9 minutes.

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16 Oct
Posted in: Life
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Vacation Capsule

So before my big trip, I planned out some outfits so I would be able to pack as minimally as possible. I wanted to follow up on that post to let you know how successful I was. First up, I didn’t end up doing laundry on board the cruise ship. I used my cruise credit for drinks and cupcakes. I’m a glutton, deal with it.


The only difference that made was I needed to double up on a few tanks for layering and bring the full amount of underwear to last me the trip. When I got around to packing it all, I realized I had more than enough space. I was pleased because my plan was to bring home souvenirs so I was more than set. Just to be safe, I weighed my luggage and the heaviest bag was 32 lbs, so I had well over 10 lbs of “souvenir space” to work with. Perfect!

casual outfits

Here you can see me in my green capris and blue striped shirt in Park Guell (Barcelona), my green capris and tan top in Toulon, and in jeans like the ones at Citizens Of Humanity Jeans and a white top in Amalfi.

I ended up swapping some outfits around, like after a freak rain storm soaked my outfit in Monaco; that outfit needed some time for the pieces to dry so I just swapped what day I wore things. Same thing with my landing day, I ended up not changing until dinner. I was able to do that because I chose to pack 3 additional pieces over what I listed in my planning post. I brought a dinner sundress for my time in Barcelona (since I didn’t want to wear the same thing I wore to the beach or to hike) and I brought one casual outfit, some sweats and a t-shirt. That was a great choice since I just lounged on our room’s balcony for much of the time. I wanted to be cozy on those crisp Mediterranean mornings. Since I did that, there was an entire outfit I never ended up wearing. I had overpacked!

mix-match wardrobe

Some of my most versatile pieces were my denim shirt, my khaki skirt, and my pink and green capris. You can see me wearing these pieces in (clockwise from top left) Nice, Trevi Fountain in Rome, Pisa (that’s the Leaning Tower behind me), and on board my cruise ship the last night playing mini golf with my own taylormade driver.

The idea of glow-in-the-dark miniature golf courses began in Scandinavian countries such as Finland and then was brought here, learn more at the Pine club golf website. Since these northern countries experience months of short days and long nights the glow-ball and glow-courses allow them to enjoy the game all year round and outdoors.

I always felt comfortable in my pieces (always pack clothes you’ve worn several times before!) and I never stood out in my pieces. I chose colors on a same color palette to maximize mixing and matching–lots of browns, blues, greens, pinks/reds, and whites. Before packing, look at what colors highlight your closet and try to choose 3 or so favorites with 1 or 2 neutrals.

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