foodie

Healthy (and spicy) Black Bean Burgers

It has been quite some time since I have brought you a recipe, and when I made these yesterday I knew they simply had to be shared! I mean come on, Tex Mex inspired bean burgers that are not only yummy and healthy but easy on the wallet? What more could you ask for from a meal. These are a must make, like this week you must make them! You will love these unique burgers. 

Healthy tex mex inspired black bean burgers! Simple, delicious and HEALTHY! Huge money saver as well! I have to try these!!

Yesterday, I shared a little bit about the new health journey Ben and I are starting (as of yesterday). We really believe it is a command from Scripture to take care of our bodies and to train them with discipline. So we have started a new venture in eating whole foods, fewer carbs, less sugar, and less processed foods. We are starting with baby steps but excited to see how these changes effect our lifestyle long term. (and just being real with you, yesterday was the pits! Hoping day two is better both physically and emotionally)

Ben and I both have a thing for burgers, so I decided to try my hand at a healthier "burger" that would fall within the parameters of our new diet. Bean burgers! Now before you turn up your nose and say ew...just give them a chance! They are actually not that bad, I promise. These spicy black bean burgers are healthy and delicious AND (bonus!) they are also money savers. Just think, no meat, only beans and other fresh produce inside, so they literally cost pennies for each patty. 

HEALTHY BLACK BEAN BURGERS

INGREDIENTS - 

  • 2 cans black beans, chick peas, or white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (I used a red onion)
  • 1 can green chilies
  • a handful of cilantro
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil

DIRECTIONS - 

In a food processor add beans, onion, chilies, cilantro, oats, bread crumbs, and spices, pulse to combine. If the mixture is watery or too sticky add more oats one tablespoon at a time until a moldable consistency. 

Let mixture sit in the fridge for 5 minutes. Then take and mold into 6 large patties or 10-12 smaller patties. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment, and place in freezer for 5-10 minutes. 

When they firm up in the freezer, add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil to a skillet and heat over medium heat. Place patties in the pan, working in batches so you do not overcrowd the pan. Allow to cook on each side for 3-5 minutes until crispy and golden. Carefully flip with a spatula (you may need to help with your hands also as they are not as firm and sturdy as patties made with meat). 

Allow to cool and serve with your favorite condiments and sides! Enjoy! 

Have you ever had a bean burger? What did you think? 

Don't forget to stop by tomorrow for the next post in the Cooking Fundamentals series! Tomorrow is all about building flavor! 

 

My Attempt at French Baking + Cookbook Review

So it is well known around here that kitchen is my spot. I do not even have to tell any of you that. It makes me happy, relieves my stress, and is a way I can create things for others and shower them with love through food. It is my favorite place in the house.

In the past year or so I have really worked hard to become better in the kitchen. I have worked on simple technique. Such as how to hold a knife, cut veggies, roast meats, sear chicken, saute onions, and stir fry noodles. I have learned how to make the perfect cheese grits and a mean pot roast. I have tried, tried, and tried again to learn new things and how to do things the right way! 

I even created a board on Pinterest full of my bucketlist recipes. I filled/am filling it with recipes that kinda intimidate me. Recipes like homemade puff pastry dough, clotted cream, Italian buttercream, real Indian curry...and so on. Well, one of the items on my foodie bucketlist is French Macarons.

Seriously only the hardest recipe in the world. I think if you breathe wrong you may mess them up...not really. BUT these jokers are not easy. You have to be so precise which is not my cup of tea. However, I am determined to make these little cookies just so I can have the satisfaction of success due to perseverance! I don't want to quit! 

You may have picked up on this, but my first attempt at these confections was not a home run. They were edible, but turned brown, cracked, and never developed feet...so yeah, not a success quite yet. 

Here they are. So it could be worse I know...but you guys just wait! I am going to make these guys right...and it literally may only happen once! But I will! I am not a quitter. 

In other news, I have found myself quite in love with French cuisine as of late. The French have such pure food. They use whole and seasonal ingredients to make honest dishes...and I am all about that. So when I happened upon this

A Kitchen in France 

cookbook on

Blogging for Books

I knew I had to get my hands on it. 

To begin with, the cookbook is just beautiful. The pictures are breathtaking and really pay tribute to what I mentioned above. They are honest, raw, and simple. Most of the recipes in the book seem to be ones that would make it to my bucket list. Primarily because they are all scary and use ingredients I do not have easy access to but would DIE to cook with on a regular basis. I am hoping to first try my hand at these fabulous looking chocolate meringues. I have a huge thing for meringue (maybe why I love macarons) and these just look divine. 

I cannot wait to try more of the recipes inside this cookbook and really stretch myself as a home cook. This is one of those cookbooks that everyone wants to have (because it is so darn pretty) and is the perfect cookbook to whip out on a lazy Saturday and make a mess in your kitchen while creating something you have never tried before. I am just so excited to work my way through these recipes! 

What recipes are on your bucket list?

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Cranberry Orange Rosemary Scones

Food is my love language I have officially decided! Over the Holiday season I found myself aimlessly wandering through several stores like Home Goods, TJMaxx, and Target, always to end up in the same place...the food section.

I am absolutely in awe of the endless combinations of flavors and ingredients that are created from things given to us by the Lord here on earth. Spice blends, varieties of honey, oils, and more, I just found myself so captivated. I LOVE cooking, I enjoy so much getting lost in the kitchen and creating something new with unique flavors. 

So of course I had to share this scone recipe with you. I took a basic recipe for scones and adapted it to fit my flavor profile...it is amazing. Full of seasonal ingredients that are plentiful and cheap right now, these scones are sure to bring a smile to your face! 

Cranberry Orange Rosemary Scones. The perfect balance between buttery goodness and citrusy bite. They are flaky and tender, and packed with flavor and texture. And they are just so pretty!!!

INGREDIENTS 

1 cup (two sticks) cold butter, cubed

3 cups all purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

5 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup cold heavy cream

1 egg

1/2 cup chopped, fresh cranberries

1 tablespoon chopped, fresh rosemary

zest of one orange

raw sugar for topping

powder sugar for glaze

orange juice

DIRECTIONS

Combine flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Cut in butter until the mixture resembles course meal. Add cranberries. orange zest and rosemary, stir to combine. 

Whisk egg and heavy cream together, slowly add to flour mixture. The mixture will be crumbly. Pour the whole bowl, crumbs and all out onto a well floured surface. Working quickly form into a disk and roll out until it is about 3/4 of an inch. 

Cut an X in the dough. Then make another cut down the middle and to the side to make 8 scones. Place scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silpat mat. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. Until slightly golden, do not allow edges to begin to brown. 

For Glaze

Combine orange juice, and powder sugar until a very thick but pourable consistency. Pour over the top of cooled scones. Sprinkle scones with raw sugar. 

ENJOY!

These are simple but unique. Elegant to serve for an afternoon tea party but simple enough to enjoy with a cup of coffee curled up in your pjs in the morning! 

The best part is that this scones recipe can be adapted to so many flavor combinations. I would love to try cherry almond, lavender, chai tea or earl grey, or maybe even something savory like cheddar dill! 

What combinations would you like to try? 

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Homemade Vanilla Extract

As I have posted pictures of my little bottles of vanilla goodness this week I have gotten so many responses of people being simply amazed. I mean it truly is amazing that you can make your own extracts, but...when you all see how easy this is I promise you will be less impressed.

As I have fallen in love with food and spending time in the kitchen there is one thing I have learned time and time again...just try. So much of what we label as impressive is really easy if you just get in the kitchen, roll your sleeves up, and try. Yes you will fail, I have had my flops of recipes, but trying is half the fun. When you finally get a recipe to where you want it, that point where it went from terrible, to eh...okay...to oh my goodness I want to sing and dance this is so good - the trying is worth it! 

So the next time you see a recipe on my instagram and think...geez that looks amazing, I could never make food like that Rachel girl...GO TRY IT! I dare you. Think of it as an adventure and just see where it takes you! Okay, I will stop preaching. 

Vanilla, extract to be specific. It is in everything we bake, and this time of year we can do A LOT of baking. I had a church friend that said she gave bottles of vanilla extract as gifts one year and knew I wanted to try it out. So I did.

This is not a quick recipe, and requires a lot of patience and planning ahead. (6 weeks -2 months ahead). Making the extract is easy but it must have time to sit and become extract so if you want to give this as gifts you need to wait a minimum of 4 weeks before using and really ideally 2 months! 

INGREDIENTS - 

Vanilla Beans (I used Madagascar and bourbon vanilla beans that I purchased

here

on Amazon)

one large bottle of Vodka (any name brand will work, but you dont want to buy the cheapest thing you can find!)

Boston Bottles (I bought a pack of 12 4 oz bottles

here

)

Labels 

DIRECTIONS -

Take vanilla beans and slice in half and down the middle. Place 2 vanilla beans (or 4 halves) in your bottle. Top with vodka. Seal and let sit in a dark and cool place for 6 weeks to 2 months. 

Enjoy while baking. Or squeeze the vanilla bean pods to use seeds in homemade ice cream, sauces, glazes and other things for a distinctly gourmet vanilla flavor (and all those pretty black specks!)

**

Also you can use whiskey or rum if you have that instead of vodka. The flavor profile is different and I really feel a rum pairs great with the bourbon vanilla beans...but to each his own! 

See!!! I told you it was so simple. So please, for my sake, tell me you will go try it! Be impressed with yourself then spread on the news that homemade extract is easy, more flavorful and cost efficient! YAY! 

Also, you can make cute little labels like I did to make your bottles all professional and gift worthy! I just made these in Photoshop really quickly but you could find a printable online or make your own! 

So what do you think? Are you gonna try to make it? :)

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Foodie Favorites / Pasta, Chocolate, and Soup!

It is time for some foodie favorites! I just LOVE this series, and I have loved getting so much positive feedback from you all about it as well...seems to be a crowd favorite around these parts! Today's foodie that will be joining me is none other than my precious Influence Network Community Group Leader, Leia of Leia Bryn. Leia has a passion for storytelling, and let me tell ya, she is good at it. Her blog is one of my favorites to read daily because of the simple, captivating storytelling. 

Here are Leia's Picks for this week...

I'm Leia, and I write over at Leia Bryn. I'm a storyteller at heart and my blog reflects my passion for documenting our families everyday moments, scattered with my passions for design, fashion, urban living, food, and most predominantly my faith. While I don't always blog about the recipes my family is currently adoring, we are food people through and through. Recently we've been working to eliminate processed ingredients and excess sugars from our cooking. The challenge has been one of my favorite seasons of cooking, especially when I see my husband passionate alongside me. Before I scare you away with recipes that have 2,000 ingredients, we've found some delicious, simple, whole food meals and those are the recipes I'm excited to share with you today!

Rice (or creative Burrito) Bowls - It doesn't get any simpler than rice bowls for dinner. We always have brown rice, vegetables, eggs, meat, and various spices and oils to whip together a delicious meal in no time!

Whole Wheat Noodles with Peanut Sauce and Vegetables - Another fantastic weeknight meal with simple ingredients already in your home. We discovered this recipe this summer and it became a staple in our rotating meal plan.

Dinner: A LoveStory Homemade Pizza (Crust & Sauce) - Friday night pizza has become a sweet ritual to finish our week together. I usually make a double batch of pizza crust (makes 4 rolls of dough) and a double batch of pizza sauce (makes 4 servings) at the beginning of the month and freeze. Every Friday night dinner is as simple as thawing, allowing the dough to rise, and getting creative with the toppings...we LOVE ricotta cheese on our pizza!

French Onion Soup - Hello comfort food perfection. There is simply nothing better than caramlized onions...for real. They are like melt in your mouth goodness, and they take awhile to make so it forces you to slow down and you know how I feel about that...LOVE! 

Homemade Pasta, No Machine apparently - I will admit, I am quite skeptical of not needed a machine to make pasta...but I am willing to try anything and this just looks AMAZING. I am a carb lover to the extreme so pasta and breads are my weakness...oh and chocolate, but you could figure that out from the picture above huh?! 

Spicy Hot Chocolate Mocha - MEXICAN HOT CHOCOLATE. Ask anyone, I have been on a Mexican chocoalte kick lately. From Mexican chcolate creamer, to pies and pots de cream...this flavor combo makes me all weak in the knees. It is so so good. So naturally as the weather is getting cooler and cooler I am dying to test this yummy drink out! 

Don't you just love food? The Lord could have given us one type of food with no taste to sustain us, but instead he gave us so many delicious foods that have endless combinations...that is worth being in awe of. Just stop and think about that. The Lord is good y'all!

Meet my sweet sponsor this month, Meg of Rivers and Roads! I got to meet Meg at the Renew Retreat and she is just as sweet as she seems on her blog! So worth following along with, and reading! 

What is your favorite part of Fall?
I love the cooler temperatures and the leaves changing colors!

What is your favorite cookbook?
I actually don't have a favorite! I just received The Blender Girl from Blogging for Books, and I'm so excited to try out some recipes.

Foodie Favorites // Sugar Pie, HONEY bunch

It is time again for Foodie Favorites! I so look forward to putting this post together every week. It is so much fun finding new recipes and seeing what my friends pick that join me every week! This Sunday Ben took me to the State Fair and we got a big jar of Mississippi made honey (in addition to lots of other yummy food treats!). So all of my recipes are honey inspired! 

First things first, meet Jenna of Dearest Love! Jenna loves cooking, baking, and spending time in her kitchen! All of her picks this week are her very own recipes that you can find on her blog! What a rockstar!! 


I'm Jenna, and I write over at Dearest Love. I blog about travel, style, everyday inspiration, and recipes. My interest in cooking and baking started when my uncle gave me an entire grown-up cooking set when I was eleven. I played around with ingredients, and loved creating really good food out of the random items from my family's pantry. Ever since that age, I've loved creating, testing, and changing recipes, but only recently has it become a true passion of mine. It's so rewarding to make a delicious dish and share it with others!  


Croissant French Toast- This french toast is one of my recent favorites! I made this for breakfast, after having a similar dish in France. 

Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce- This peach crisp with maple cream sauce is one of my favorite dessert recipes. The crunch from the topping, and the sweetness of the peaches gets me every time. 

Summer Stir Fry- This summer stir fry is incredibly easy, and the ingredients can be easily substituted for what's in season. It's one of my favorite quick weeknight meals because it's fresh, simple, and healthy. 



Mini Honey Cornbread - Miniature anything gets me. Ask my husband, I just love tiny things so these little baby cornbread loaves look just darling. I know with the sweetness of the honey they would be perfect alongside a fall soup or chili! 

Salty Honey Pie - Salty AND sweet in one pie?! YES sign me up for this. I love the idea of making vanilla sea salt for this pie and loading up a buttery crust with honey custard. YUM!! must try this one. 

Roasted Pumpkin with Feta and Honey - pumpkins and Octobers are made for each other, don't ya know?! Love pumpkin everything right now. I especially love going a savory direction with pumpkin by roasting it with salty feta cheese and yummy honey. Perfect side dish! 

This is day 9 of 31 days of Writing about my kitchen and lessons from the kitchen. Tune in tomorrow for a little coffee date, Saturday for some thoughts on my kitchen and instagram, and Sunday for a caramel sauce recipe! 

Bread & Wine // Vol. 5

It is time again for The Bread & Wine Project! YAY! such a perfect link up for this month of 31 days of writing dedicated to my kitchen! This is a recipe link up that aims at fostering discussion about true hospitality and community around the table! So grab a recipe and link up and meet some new friends! 

This week my co host is one familiar face around here, Madison of  Wetherills Say I Do! Madison if for real such a great friend of mine in blogland (and we get to meet in real life next weekend!!!), and a total foodie like me. We are both contributor food authors over at My Cooking Spot, and love writing recipes and being creative in our kitchens! So meet Madison!

Today's prompt was: How do you balance convenience and trying to slow down in your kitchen?

I am so curious to hear from you all on this question. I struggle so much to strike a happy balance here. I find that I go in swings, one week I am all about slowing down, and using ingredients that force me to slow down (risotto, homemade biscuits, soups) but then the next week I am so burnt out that I am trying to finish cooking before I start (tacos, pizza, quesadillas). HELP! What do you do to slow down consistently? I want to find a happy medium, I think that fast meals are necessary sometimes, but I want to try to go against the grain more times than not! 

One way I have found that helps me slow down is to try recipes that force slowing down...homemade yeast breads, yogurt, risotto...things that take hours to rise, set, or come together. So today I am sharing this delicious Greek yogurt recipe with you all! Get ready to be blown away...one because this is so simple, and two because it tastes divine. You will never go back to store bought yogurt if you try this (you really should just try!).


simple and DELICIOUS homemade Greek Yogurt! Who knew yogurt at home could be so easy!

simple and DELICIOUS homemade Greek Yogurt! Who knew yogurt at home could be so easy!


Ingredients:

1/2 cup regular yogurt (make sure it contains active cultures)
Half gallon PASTEURIZED whole milk (most milk is ultra pasteurized so make sure this is just pasteurized)
Crock-pot

Directions:

Set your crock-pot to high. Pour the half gallon of milk into a large saucepan. Heat over medium heat until milk is bubbly and frothy. Stirring frequently so the milk does not burn. 

While milk is heating, fill your sink with water and ice to create an ice bath. Take milk from heat and set in water bath. Leave for 10 minutes. Once milk has cooled add 1/2 cup of yogurt to crock-pot, and whisk with one cup of cooled milk until smooth. 

Pour in the rest of the milk, and whisk until smooth. Place the lid on the pot. Place the crock-pot bowl in the oven (with light on to create a warm environment). Leave for 10 hours. Place pot in the fridge for 5-6 hours to set. 

To make the yogurt Greek (if you want regular yogurt stop here). 
Line a strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth, papertowels, or coffee filters. Place over a large bowl. Pour yogurt into a strainer and allow to drain off liquid for 7-8 hours or until about 2 cups of liquid have drained.

makes 1 quart of yogurt. Keeps for 1-2 weeks in the fridge! 


simple and DELICIOUS homemade Greek Yogurt! Who knew yogurt at home could be so easy!

simple and DELICIOUS homemade Greek Yogurt! Who knew yogurt at home could be so easy!

This delicious, silky yogurt is wonderful with honey, granola, use it in cooking or to make a yummy herbed yogurt sauce to serve alongside roasted potatoes! YUM!! It also would be great with some vanilla extract stirred in (or even a vanilla bean scrapped in!) I will be sharing how to make your own vanilla extract next week so stay tuned for that!

I cannot wait to see all of your recipes and hear from each of you! Thanks for linking up with us!

LINK UP RULES:
1. Follow your host and co host.
2. Link up your recipe, not your blog.
3. Comment on at least two other posts! 
4. Link back to this page! 

Oh Simple Thoughts

Thank you to each one of you that linked up today! You are all so wonderful and this community means the world to me! Happy hump day friends! 



Why I Bake Bread

It is day 5 of my 31 days of writing challenge and I am loving it! I am excited about today's topic -- BREAD!!

I have shared here several times now that I have started baking bread. It started simply as a task to show myself I could do it, and has blossomed into something some much more. You see, bread is such a comforting food. I think it's comfort comes in so many varieties and shapes. For example, there is nothing more comforting than a thick piece of hot bread that has been slathered with butter, or a slice of pumpkin bread in early fall. Or how about a biscuit made from scratch by your grandmother, or bread speckled with Parmesan cheese and rosemary dipped in rich olive oil...bread is comforting.

So here are several reasons why I bake bread...

One. My grandmother and mother did it.

This is one of the main reasons I began baking bread, I had my grandmother's weathered recipe, and wanted to see if I could do what she and my own mom did weekly for years. I can remember my mom making cinnamon rolls on the weekend with the dough, they were such a special treat. My mom and grandmother were "the bread ladies"...they brought loaves to everything and to everyone. I want to be like this. 

Two. It is a labor of love.

This could not be a more true statement. My bread takes 3 days to complete, so I am pouring a little love in every time I interact with it. From feeding my starters (all three of them) 2-3 times a week, to making 3 batches of dough two times a week, I love pouring myself into these loaves of bread. It brings such joy to my heart to have friends, and strangers try my bread, and come back for more. There is nothing more rewarding I believe. 

Three. It is therapeutic.

Call me crazy but there is nothing more relaxing than to dig my hands deep into flour, sugar, and oil and squish and knead to form dough. I love it, and I love the messes. I truly find joy and rest in being able to be wild in the kitchen while I make bread. I can get flour all over me, and the floor, and the stove...it is okay. I can spill something, or get my hands sticky with dough...and it is okay. It just helps me to reset, and is good for my soul. 

Four. It is a lost practice, and requires slowing down.

Slow is not cool these days. We want fast, instant, and on demand. However, you simply cannot have that with this bread. I have to plan ahead, and cannot simply whip it together if I need it for a meal. It takes time, and energy, and more time. It has been a good discipline for me to learn to practice slow. By embedding slow rituals such as bread making, and making other things from scratch I am forcing myself to slow down. And friends, it is beautiful how deeply you can breathe when you have a beautiful golden loaf of bread in front of you that you made over the course of several days. 

I love carbs, but more than that I love all that goes along with making bread. It is a practice that I did not want to see forgotten now that my grandmother is gone to be with the Lord, and society says you should make bread from a box mix. I want to embrace the slow, embrace the monotony, and embrace the simplicity of bread making! 

Be sure to check back in Monday for a tour through what I call "work" and my kitchen! Happy Sunday friends! 

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Foodie Favorites // Sister, Sister Edition

Foodie Favorites is quickly becoming one of my favorite blog series to date here at Oh Simple Thoughts. I just love putting it together every week as it is never a burden...it is just a whole lot of fun. This series has helped me think outside of the box when it comes to meals I prepare every week, as well as allowed me spotlight some of my favorite blogging gals! However, today my little sister is jumping in on the action! YAY!

I do not often share my family members with you all here on this blog. Simply because I feel that they deserve their own privacy, and they have their own stories to be told in their own ways...but I love my fam jam. My little sister Taylor and I have been close since the days we shared a bunk bed in a little room with four different brightly colored walls. We became even closer when we began riding to school together just us two when I turned 16. Our sisterhood became an even deeper friendship when we cheered on the Varsity Cheer Squad together, and as we supported and loved one another after my dad's death in 2007. Taylor Faith is one of my best friends...and one thing we both LOVE is food. 

I think this comes from my other family members. Never, ever, ever will you step a foot into my home in Georgia at a time that my mom doesn't have a quick dip ready for serving alongside crackers or chips. We love to grill out, and we do it big in my family. My sister always loved to be in the kitchen a lot more than me so up until recently she was always the one with more "kitchen experience". Nonetheless she is a fellow foodie, and a college gal trying to make budget friendly meals for herself and all her sorority sisters! So meet my sweet sissy Taylor! 








Hey everyone! My name is Taylor Reynolds, and I am Rachel's little sister. I am so excited that she asked me to share with you today! In the Reynolds household food have always been very important. Rachel and I both grew up being taught that the way to almost everyone's heart is through a good meal! Between our mom and grandmother we both came to love being in the kitchen and preparing food for the people we love! So I hope you love my recipes I picked out as much as I do!!


1. Pull Apart Pizza Bread- I really like this recipe because it is easy and would be something that at all my friends as college students would LOVE! And I am always trying to find fun new recipes like this for game days and movie nights that everyone will love!! 

2. Taco Stuffed Zucchini Boats- I really really like this recipe because I am a huge fan of zucchini and tacos...so why not put them both together?! Right? :) I have had lots of my friends do similar recipes to this one and I have loved them all. I have always wanted to put my own twist on it! 

3. White Chocolate Pumpkin Snickerdoodles-  I want to try these because of course it's fall and I love cookies and baking! This makes me so excited for colder weather and the leaves changing color!!

1. Chipolte Chicken and Corn Chowder- Hello, perfect fall soup! I love a little spice, and corn chowder is so perfect for a cozy night in. This is a must make on my meal planning schedule! I cannot wait to try it and report back! 

2. Amaretto Cream Cheese Coffee Cake- I love, love, love coffee cake and this one sounds simply divine. It also sounds a little naughty with the amaretto and cream cheese...rich, creamy goodness I say! Must make as soon as possible. 

3. Baked Goat Cheese- Like I said above, I grew up in a chip and dip family. I just thought it was totally normal to expect a homemade dip and chips every time I go over to someone's house. So this dip sounds wonderful and just fancy enough to be served at a nice dinner party. 

Thanks for tuning in for our little sister edition of foodie favorites! Stop in next week and join myself and Jenna of Dearest Love!! What are your favorite recipes? 

Foodie Favorites / All the Fall things

It is time for our second round of foodie favorites! Yay! I feel like most everyone really enjoyed last weeks, and I even had some new recipes to try which I loved. I am excited to continue sharing my favorite foodies and recipes with you every Thursday! 

For this week my fellow foodie is Natasha of Gather Around Our Table. She loves food for all the same reasons as I do so I knew I had to ask her to join in! Meet Natasha!
















When Rachel contacted me about being a part of her Foodie Favorites series I was so excited! I love food and more importantly, I love that food has the ability to bring people together. It's the tool to bring everyone back to the table, to sit face to face (no screens allowed) and communicate. In our home, so much of the messiness of life gets worked out at the table. Hard conversations, pushing through the nights we're so tired we don't even want to talk, and laughter, tons of laughter. I started my blog to inspire women to get in their kitchens and bless themselves as well as the ones they love. I believe cooking can be fun and want others to experience the joy of it too!


1. Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Soup - This would make an incredible new mom meal. I can personally attest to what a blessing it was to receive meals night after night when my baby was brand new. This recipe makes a ton, and is great even without chicken by adding a few more peppers, onions, and other veggies. This is a big winner in our home, we love having lots of leftovers! 

2. Chicken Bolognese - Another awesome big-pot-of-dinner dish that I love is Against All Grain's Chicken Bolognese. Being a lover of all things Italian, my eyes bolted to the word "bolognese" when I was perusing her site a while back. Bolognese is a typical dish from Bologna (the food capital of Italy, in the north of the country) made with a hearty beef meat sauce over noodles. AAG is about the Paleo lifestyle, so she gives a dairy free option and a new twist to this dish. This a great entertaining meal as it's hearty but simple to put together. We serve ours over brown rice.

3. Sweet Chili Lime Chicken with Quinoa and Collards - There's no way around it, this dish is incredible. I've never made it with tofu, as the recipe calls for, but sub chicken cut up into small pieces. It is perfection: sweet, sour, healthy, decedent. Yep, it's that good. It takes a few extra steps than the previous two recipes, so I'd rate this as an intermediate challenge to cook. While there seems to be a lot going on, each of the components are simple to do. Another great week night dinner or entertaining meal!


1. Apple Pie Bars - Oh. My. Goodness. These are delicious and I am so ready for fall. I made them this week for our small group, and they were a hit. The perfect combo of a shortbread crust, layers of cinnamon apples, and a sturesal topping PLUS a homemade salted caramel sauce that you can drizzle on top. I have used the caramel for my iced coffee, pumpkin bread...eaten spoonfuls (don't judge, you would too if you tried this stuff). It is so yummy!!

2. Jerk Chicken - I crave this stuff. Ben and I spent our honeymoon in Jamaica and there is nothing like their jerk chicken. It is a super spicy and flavorful marinade that is out of this world. While it comes from one tropical place it is a really warm spice mixture that reminds me of the coziness of fall, so therefore I am craving it now along with apples, pumpkins, and cinnamon everything! 

3. Biscotti (pumpkin spice to be exact) - I have started a "foodie bucketlist" on pinterest of challenging recipes (and some not so challenging) that I want to try in the future. I have grown tired of just pinning and wishing for the day that I can make eclairs, macaroons, and yogurt. There is no time but the present so I am making biscotti this month! YAY!

So what recipes and foods are you craving this week? Share links to your favorites below! 

Curry Crushin' - Foodie Favorites

I love food, I love food.....I really love food. If you have been a reader for any amount of time you probably already know this, but I really do love food. The kitchen is the room in our house that I go to create and clear my head. I love pushing myself with "challenging" recipes and out of the box ingredients. So I guess I can say that I am a self proclaimed foodie. So in honor of this ever growing passion of mine, I wanted to start a little series that would highlight some of my favorite recipes every week. These are not recipes I create, but recipes that I will be making during the week, have fallen in love with, or am dying to try. 


I will also be inviting a different "foodie" that I admire to join me every week and share her favorite recipes as well. So it will be a great way to find new recipes and a fun way for you to meet some really awesome ladies that love food as much as I do! 


This week Madison of Wetherills Say I Do is joining in on the fun and sharing some of favorite recipes as of late! Madison is one of my blogging besties for sure. This girl gets me and is such an encouragement in my life. She has a passionate drive for blogging, community and food. She is just as big of a foodie if not more so than I am. She loves to create new recipes, and is good at it. She is a contributing author at several food blogs, and is always coming up with yummy things! Check her out and show her some love! Here are Madison's picks...


1. BUTTER CHICKEN - We have always incorporated chicken into a lot of our meals. It's so simple to make but I am always looking for new ways to make chicken so it's not always the same thing. This butter chicken looks incredible and I can't wait to try it! It's different than a traditional breaded chicken that I've made many times because it's coated with crackers instead!

2. CREAMY PEA & FRESH HERB FETTUCCINE - This recipe brings me back to Italy! What's funny is that apparently alfredo is not an authentic Italian sauce, it was made up and then adopted by Italians. But my favorite restaurant in Florence served fettuccine alfredo with peas, just like this! I can still remember exactly how it tasted. I love this recipe so I can try to make it at home!

3. CHICKEN WITH SUN DRIED TOMATO PESTO SAUCE - I love the idea of simplifying meals by making meals in one pot. It's a novel idea for us, because I usually make a big mess and use a lot of dishes while I'm cooking. The rule in our house is that the cook doesn't clean, so over the last two years I've tried to be more mindful of the mess I make, because I know my husband will be the one cleaning up! So being able to make a delicious and hearty meal in one pot is definitely up my alley!

And now here are my picks...I have been on quite the curry kick lately. My friend Natalie invited to join her family for dinner last week and she made us the coconut lime chicken and rice...I fell in love, in fact I even included this meal in my Friday Letters last week it was that good. 

1. BASIL CHICKEN CURRY - This just looks divine. It is said that we first eat with ours eyes, and made this meal looks divine. The colors are so vibrant and enticing...this would be a perfect recipe to try and use up the last bits of fresh basil you may have in your garden before Autumn rolls in for the season. 

2. SLOW COOKER BUTTER CHICKEN - We had this for dinner on Monday night and it was super yummy. The coconut cilantro rice that I am sharing over at MyCookingSpot was the perfect companion for this filling meal. The chicken was fall apart tender and so warm and cozy. Delicious!!

3. GRILLED LIME COCONUT CHICKEN - This was the recipe that Natalie made for us, that I will continue to dream about until I make it again. The chicken is marinated then grilled, served with coconut rice, ahhh so so good! Natalie even went a step further and made extra marinade and reduced it down to create a thick and flavorful sauce to drizzle over the rice and chicken. Add a squeeze of lime juice, and you have the most amazing meal I have ever had outside of a restaurant (I am seriously not even exaggerating y'all...it was that good). 

So there you have it! Some of our foodie favorites for you to try this week! Join me back here next week for some more yummy recipes and favorites from Natasha of Gather Around Our Table

The Most Fun $15 Ever Spent

Okay friends! It is seriously no surprise to anyone you that I consider myself to be somewhat of a "foodie". I LOVE good food, but even more than that I love local, fresh, organic, whole food, and I love using local ingredients in my cooking as much as possible. So when I heard about My Foodie Pen Pal from Beka over at Sunshine to the Square Inch, I signed up immediately.
Basically My Foodie Pen Pal is a monthly food swap. You sign up, are assigned a partner and you each send each other food items from your area. You have a $15 spending limit so you have to get creative with what you send. But it was so much fun. 

For my partner I put together 4 items all local to Starkville, MS. She loves tea, so I sent her a tin of homemade local loose leaf tea that is sold by some women that have an apothecary here (super old school). I also included some local honey, and strawberry jalapeno jam. Oh, and some chocolate covered espresso beans from a local coffee shop. It was so fun searching for these items. I am planning to participate again next month, and the biggest thing I will try to avoid this time will be heavy glass jars...it makes packaging tougher, and costs wayyyy more to ship. 

And now for what my lovely partner sent me! Lauren lives in PA and she sent some of the coolest items from her area. I told her I LOVED local foods, and really was not picky. 

I was so excited to open this box. And what I found inside was just wonderful!! 

ONE. Maple Candy "Sugar Cakes". Oh. My. Goodness. These are shaped like little Maple leaves, and they literally are just maple syrup and sugar...they melt in your mouth and are delicious. Ben and I enjoyed them after dinner several nights. Just one piece does the trick for our sweet tooth. 

TWO. Veggie Chips. These are made by a nearby Amish Community and are awesome. They have all the joy of chips with the crunch and a little salt, but are not terrible for you. I may have eaten half the bag almost immediately. 

THREE. Whole Wheat Blueberry Fig Bars. Also made by the Amish community, and perfect for another guilt free snack with a little sweetness. 

FOUR. Sanders of Berlin Cheddar Sour Cream Chips. These are also made locally and have pictures of local landmarks on the bags! How cool?! This particular flavor of chip is not my favorite, but Ben loves them, so he was happy to take them to work with him! 

FIVE. This was the crown jewel of the entire box. Cinnamon Orange Spice Tea. This is a black tea, also made by the Amish, and it is literally the most unique and best tasting tea I have ever put in my mouth. The best way I can describe it is that it tastes like Autumn and Christmas became best friends and turned themselves into a drink. It is so good, and the best thing is that it is good hot or over ice. I have tried it both ways, and man....so good. Also, I immediately googled where I could find this tea online and have found several options on Etsy...and you better believe I will be purchasing again! 



Thank you so much to my penpal Lauren! I am signing up again this month and literally cannot wait to get my next box of goodies! This month has me hooked! Want to know how to sign up? It is so easy...just click here! Be sure and sign up by the 4th though or else you will have to wait a whole long month before you can participate in the fun! 

I really love this concept, and have thought about some spin off of the idea? Like where you have a food pen pal for several months, same one. Or do it where it is food/handmade goods? Thoughts? Suggestions?  

My Last Bite

Do you ever think about what you would want your last meal to be? Or your last bite? Sometimes I think about what I wold want to include in such an important meal, I am sure it would include a delicious steak, that is so juicy and tender it melts in my mouth...it would also include some type of dark, rich and decadent chocolate...one thing that I know would for sure, without a doubt, have to be there would be bread. and not just any bread but more than likely gooey, buttery cheese bread.

For as long as I can remember for family get togethers, week night meals around the table, and church potlucks my mom or grandmother always would bring the most delicious cheese bread. It was a crowd favorite for sure, and everyone always begged for the recipe.

This was the kind of bread that was so good you would think about it the next day, and raid the kitchen to see if there were leftovers. I mean it is seriously that good. And let's be real, I love cheese, and I love garlic...and hello, I love bread. I could never go gluten free because of my huge love for bread and carbs...I LOVE them y'all. (how many times can I say love in a blog post?)

So I decided to share this recipe with you all today because I am not one to hoard an awesome recipe, and this is just that...AWESOME. And you need to make it like tonight, and take some to a friend. It goes perfectly with everything, but this week we paired it with some yummy creamy tomato basil soup (copycat of Panera) and I am sharing the recipe for that over at My Cooking Spot today so be sure and stop by so you can have a complete meal! 

cheesy garlic bread spread, to die for buttery goodness! So popular around our house!

CHEESY GARLIC BREAD SPREAD

INGREDIENTS:
1 loaf French Bread, sliced in half lengthwise
1/2 cup melted butter
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 cups cheese (Monterrey Jack works best, but you can use almost any kind)
4 green onions, chopped and divided in half
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
*you can also add herbs like Italian seasoning or something similar if you would like

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine butter, mayo, cheese, half of the green onions, garlic powder, and salt. Stir well to combine. Take your loaves of bread and spread the cheese mixture generously over each half. (make sure every inch of the bread is covered). Top with green onions. *Also, from time to time my mom would add black olives on top...I am not a fan of olives so I skip this

Wrap loaves of bread loosely in foil. (I spray my foil with non stick spray). Places loaves on a sheet tray, and place in the over for 15-20 minutes. Remove foil, and then place in broiler until lightly browned and bubbly on top (watch carefully, this happens fast).

Cheesy Garlic Spread...easy, buttery, and delicious. Such a crowd pleaser side!!!



As you can see for the soup I made these into slices, but I usually keep the loaves whole and then slice the halves to serve that way. I promise you will love this, how could you not?!

And don't turn your nose up at the butter, cheese, and mayo...life is short, and this is not one of those recipes you serve every night...it is a fun indulgence every now and then! :) 

So enjoy it and try it alongside my creamy tomato soup for a match made in carb heaven! For real though...they are a perfect pair. 
Copycat Panera Tomato Soup and Cheesy Garlic bread!
Also, I only said love 5-6 times...that is acceptable right?! :) 

Oh, and I am teaming up with the other contributors of My Cooking Spot to bring you this fabulous cooking set! Such a great value for sooo many awesome pieces!!

my cooking spot
Hi everyone! My Cooking Spot and its contributors have put together a giveaway for a chance to win 51pc Chefmate Kitchen Gadget Set !
We all got together and wanted to share our love of cooking by hosting a fabulous giveaway!
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Below are the contributors who helped put this giveaway together. Check out their fab blogs and see all the amazing recipes these ladies have done.
Be sure to enter to win!!
Enter today in the Rafflecopter entry form below.


Contributors - Clockwise