foodie favorites

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 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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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! 

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 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 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, 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? 

My Foodie Pen Pal / #2

I wrote about My Foodie Penpal last month, and shared with you what an awesome experience it was for me. I had so much fun trying new things and fell in love with a new tea! So I decided to participate again this month, and I was not at all disappointed. My penpal this time Brittnye of The Healthy Living Chick sent me so many awesome goodies. 

BUT, before I get to what all was in my box let me share what I sent to Brittnye. I sent her a small bag of chocolate covered espresso beans from a local coffee shop, and a small bag of Blueberry Cobbler coffee from the same place. (It literally tastes like cobbler, and if you want to try it they sell it online in 2 oz sample bags as well as larger bags!) I also sent her some homemade spice citrus tea (I will be sharing the recipe this week), and several packets of Justin's almond butter, and chocolate hazelnut butter (which she also sent to me!!)

Brittney sent me so many awesome goodies. Here is what all she included in my box:

1. Sparkling Ice Lemonade - it was the bomb and I cannot wait to buy more and try other flavors.

2. Bear Naked Granola - I have added this stuff to yogurt for breakfast almost every morning since I got the stuff. It is so yummy!

3. Young Living Essential Oils Samples - I was literally so pumped about this. I have recently ordered my starter kit with Young Living and haven't received it yet. So I loved trying out the oils for the first time!

4. Justin's Hazelnut Chocolate Butter and Nutella Snack Cup - Need I say more? Neither of these lasted very long to say the least.

5. Luna Bars and Bear Naked Granola Bar - I have not eaten these yet, but I was really excited to see them in my box. I have to be at work really early most days so a granola bar is the perfect on the go breakfast for me!

6. Tazo Passion Tea - I love Tazo tea and this is not a flavor I have tried yet. I have loved sipping on it with a little bit of honey and sometimes even a little milk!

THANK YOU so much Brittnye for all the goodies!! You are the best!

Want to know how to sign up? It is so easy...just click hereBe 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! 

Foodies Favorites / #3 - sugar, spice, and everything nice.

I feel like Autumn just ushers in the season of comfort foods. Now is the time for stews that simmer all day long, cozy warm ciders, and pumpkin everything! I have loved pouring over some new cookbooks and researching how to cook seasonally for my little family. 

This week Lauren of 34 Magnolia Street is joining me to share her favorites as a fellow foodie! I am so thrilled to have this sweet friend jumping in on the action today. Meet Lauren!!

As a newbie in the food-loving world, I'm so excited to be part of Rachel's Foodie Favorites feature! My name is Lauren and I blog over at 34 Magnolia Street, my place to discover more of who I am, what I love and where I want to go - and part of that is discovering my love for food! I need a good stock of recipes, so I'm trusting y'all to show me what's good! :) Growing up, I learned to bake like nobody's business, but I didn't learn much in the realm of cooking. Lately, though, I've found it to be one of my favorite parts of each day. I'm loving what the Lord is teaching me about hospitality and food, and so much of me wants to be a great cook! In the meantime, I'm learning to love where I'm at now and enjoy the journey on my way to greatness in the kitchen ;)

1. Chicken Taco Chili- This is one of my favorite go-to comfort meals as the weather gets chilly! I love a good soup, and you can't go wrong with this one. It's super easy because the crock pot does all the work for you! I like to cook rice when it's time to serve, then we serve it over the rice with a little cheese and sour cream and scoop it up in chips! Heavenly, I tell you.

2. Cookie Dough Buckeyes - These are my favorite treat! I like to make a bunch and keep them in the freezer, so whenever I get a craving for something sweet, I can pop one and be done. They are super easy and oh, so delicious! 

3. Avocado Mango Corn Salsa- I'm also a sucker for great appetizer food - and this salsa is so delicious. To be honest, I may have had it for dinner a time or two, but it's one of my favorite snacks to bring over to a friend's house for game night!

1. Homemade Yogurt- I love eating yogurt with fruit and honey, add a handful of granola and I am on happy camper. So the idea of making yogurt on my own...glorious! Anyone else made yogurt? Suggestions and tips are so welcome and appreciated! 

2. Butternut Squash Barley Risotto- I am thrilled that butternut squash is in season and on sale in the grocery store right now! It is sooo yummy when it is roasted. Also, barley is super healthy so this spin on a classic risotto sounds divine! Cannot wait to try it out. 

3. Apple Cinnamon Tea Latte- Apples are also in season right now! Yippee, I am not lucky enough to have a orchard to go pick my own around here, but they are on sale at the store which makes apple everything a good choice these days. Cannot wait to try this yummy tea latte out one evening. I may even top it with a little cinnamon spice whipped cream! 

Speaking of food...have you entered the cookbook giveaway going on?! I have teamed up with some awesome ladies to bring you my two latest favorite cookbooks! Tomorrow is the last day to enter so hurry huryy! 

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' 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