recipe

Formula for Planning 6 Meals in 30 Minutes or Less (plus 1 week of recipes)

Ok I need to be honest here...for the first few years of marriage meal planning was a weekly task that really stressed me out. Anybody else out there felt this way? Well I did. I could not decide on what I wanted to cook, or I would plan for 5 or 6 elaborate meals with insanely long ingredient lists...I hardly ever landed at a balance. And talk about busting the budget, yikes, but that is another post for another day. 

Awhile back I worked at a bakery as a head kitchen assistant and during my time there I began to notice something about my boss...she NEVER used recipes. Like ever, and she never had to plan meals. I was so amazed by her ability to throw ingredients together to make something delicious with minimal effort (all while running a successful business and being a mom to 9 year old triplets and a 7 year old, hello super woman), and the longer I worked closely with her the more I learned to be this way in the kitchen. 

Now, I am quite the type A personality, so not meal planning would not work for me like it did for my boss. However, I have taken the principles I learned from working at the bakery and created my own simple meal planning formula that I try to stick to every week. It is broad and really just a road map for me to keep planning simple and stress free. 

Simple Meal Planning Formula! Super handy for making meal planning stress free and QUICK! YES!

MEAL PLANNING RULES OF THUMB 

  • MAKE IT YOUR TIME - Set aside your own uninterrupted time to get this done. I usually make out my weekly meal plan on Sunday afternoons. I will sit at the dining room table with my laptop, meal planning journal, recipe book, and a cup of coffee and go to town.
  • BROWSE RECIPES BEFORE YOU START- I take about 5-10 minutes to look through Pinterest, recipe books, and my own printed recipes before starting to meal plan. I make notes of recipes that interest me as I go. 
  • TAKE INVENTORY - Before I start planning out my meals I do a quick pantry, freezer, and fridge scan to make sure I know what I have to work with. Saves money every time. Check out my previous post on Meal Planning 101 for more tips to make the before, during, and after process less stressful also. 

Now for my super simple formula, I have five categories I try to stick to loosely. These categories help me fly through my planning, and rarely do I spend longer than 30 minutes beginning to end scratching out a meal plan for the whole week. 

Oh Simple Joys - Meal Planning Formula   Makes Meal Planning a breeze. Easy and Fast!! YES!

2 QUICK MEALS

I say that a meal is quick if it takes less than 30 minutes from the time you cut your oven on to the time you are at the table serving your family. OR it is a meal that is frozen ahead of time, or a crock pot meal. So I try to get creative but always plan for two simple, no fuss meals. 

1 NEW OR ETHNIC MEAL

As a self proclaimed foodie I really enjoy trying new dishes. So I limit myself, for my husband's sake (he is not a huge ethnic food fan) and for the sake of our budget to one meal a week. I may try a new ingredient I have never worked with or a new technique with something as basic as chicken. This meal keeps me excited to be in the kitchen every week. 

1 MEAL IN A BOWL

Oh the endless possibilities in this category. Rice bowls are my favorite. I will use barley, quinoa or rice, add in some protein and sauteed veggies and call it a day. Salads are a great option, as is any pasta dish. HELLO CARBS IN A CREAM SAUCE!!! Also during the winter months we have some type of soup almost weekly. 

1 MEAL ON THE GRILL

As Mississippi residents it is never too cold for us to grill outside, but for those of you that may actually have a winter you can grill inside with those nifty little grill pans that can be found anywhere these days. We usually grill out once during the weekend. It feels different than our normal meals during the week so it is an exciting way for us to usher in a relaxing time off from work. 

1 REPURPOSED MEAL

Repurposed meals are my favorite because they push me to get creative. Basically I take any leftovers from the week and make a dish out of it. Sometimes it may be a soup, other times it may be a frittata or quiche, and other it is simply breakfast for dinner night. Creativity is key in this category.

1 DATE NIGHT

Last but not least, my husband and I have an out to eat date night once a week. Because who doesn't love a night off?! 

Oh Simple Joys - Meal Planning Formula   Makes Meal Planning a breeze. Easy and Fast!! YES!

Meal planning can be simple when you follow this easy formula. Think of it as a simple road map to help you detour stress and to save time!! Below I have listed our meal plan for this week (by category) for you all to use as an example. 

Quick Meals -

New / Ethnic Meal - 

Meal in a Bowl - 

  • Chicken Noodle Soup (also a repurposed meal made with broth from bones of the flat roasted chicken, leftover chicken meat, leftover veggies - BIG MONEY SAVER right here!!)

Meal on the Grill - 

Repurposed Meal -

  • Mixed veggie, sweet potato, and kale frittata (not really a recipe on this one, I just follow my gut)

How do you make meal planning less stressful? I would love to hear your tips and tricks! Have questions? Drop me a line!

Meal Planning 101 - How to Plan and Budget (even when that is not your thing)

For the greater part of my life my approach to managing money has been to follow my impulses. Yes I have always been "that girl". I was not raised in a family that used a written budget so I grew up clueless as to how to go about using or creating a budget. I did not write things down, did not plan, and I did not check myself other than looking at my online bank statement from time to time. Then I met my husband...when it comes to managing money Ben and I could not have been more opposite. I was the impulsive free spender, never looking ahead, and he was/is the calculated budgeter that puts thought into every purchase. Opposites attract right?! 

Once we got married and were living on a newlywed income I was in for a rude awakening. I had no clue how to use a budget, and even less of an idea of how to meal plan (or even cook really). But I began researching, trying things I had never tried before, and honestly, between you and I, I FAILED/busted the budget/went over/whatever you want to call it A LOT. So today I am sharing some tips that I have learned from my mistakes and how you can become a planner (even if you are like me and tend to spend impulsively!)


CREATE A BUDGET (and stick with it)


Our family spends about $75-85 a week, and we try to stay within the budget of $300 a month. Some weeks may be $85, while others may be $65. I am sure some of you are thinking this is crazy, we have to be starving ourselves or eating ramen noodles all the time right? Well we aren't, in fact as crazy as it sounds I have never had ramen noodles, though my husband claims they are actually quite tasty. We eat 3 meals a day, and I plan out 5-6 meals a week that I cook at home. We plan for one night out to eat as a date night, and one meal a week with our church family (this is potluck style so what I bring varies from salads to main dishes and desserts). 

How do we do this? Well here are a few things to keep in mind when making your budget...

  • Leftovers are your friend! Save money by eating leftovers for lunch the next day, freeze leftover soups, stews, or chili to have as a quick meal later on. 
  • Don't be brand specific! We shop sales, and are not ashamed of buying the grocery store brand. I have learned that most everything tastes just as good as that "name brand" food item I love. So save a few bucks by being brand neutral. 
  • Do it yourself. Rather than buying spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, stocks, pizza dough...and the list goes on. Try making more pantry staples yourself! 

EVALUATE YOUR STOCK


Before you even sit down to start planning out your meals take 5-10 minutes to browse through your pantry and fridge. Check to see what you have and take note of those things. I almost always have a variety of grains, beans, frozen veggies, and sauces. I write these things down and try to incorporate them in my planning. Also I look to see what items may be expiring soon. If I have milk about to go bad I make up a batch of homemade pudding or yogurt. Eggs? I will usually plan for a breakfast for dinner night or make a veggie frittata. The key to keeping a lower budget is to use what you have and avoid wasting anything! 


CHECK FOR SALES & COUPONS


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Another key part to successfully staying on budget when it comes to meal planning is shopping the sales and buying seasonal ingredients. Grocery stores always have sales, so plan your meals around the sale items rather than creating a menu and making your list fit the menu. Make the sales work for you! 

Also, seasonal ingredients are the fruits and veggies that are growing at any given season. As we go into fall you will begin to notice the prices will drop on things like winter squash, kale, Brussel sprouts, beets, cabbage, and more. Plan meals around these things, you will be saving money and eating what the earth is naturally growing during any time of the year. 


PLAN YOUR MEALS 


Now is the time that I sit down to write out my meals for the week. Like I mentioned earlier I plan to cook 5-6 meals a week. I try to never plan out my meals on the same day I go grocery shopping, it becomes exaughsting and leaves me feeling overwhelmed and frantic. I try to take some time over the weekend to browse for recipes, and get my head together before ever venturing into a store. 

My rule of thumb is that I plan for meals that have leftovers we can eat them the next day for lunches, I try to have one meatless meal, and one "leftovers" dinner per week.

I use a variety of resources for my meal inspiration every week. Below are some of my most used food blogs, and then of course I have an arsenal of recipes that I rotate through regularly. (side note, if you do not have a binder of recipes you LOVE I would highly recommend creating one. Pinterest is great but I love my recipe binder that is full of tested and hubby approved recipes)


NEVER SHOP UNPREPARED


After all the planning you have put into your meals you do not want to get to the grocery store and find yourself unprepared. You will be able to unravel all the planning in just a few minutes (or at least that is how I am).

I always have my list written out (I use my lovely Seasonal Meal Planning Journal from my friend Natasha Red) and I always have a pen and calculator ready to go. 

I make sure that I am not hungry before I walk into the store (this is the meal planner's mortal sin! eat before you go!!) and I plan to go at a time that is not overcrowded with people (usually early in the morning or late at night). 

I only buy the items on my list, and I try very hard to calculate everything I place in my buggy as I go so that I am not shocked by my total at checkout. (which even now still manages to happen to me from time to time). 


REMEMBER THIS IS A GUIDELINE, NOT A LAW


Meal planning and budgeting require lots of time and energy. Some weeks I slip up and am not able to prepare the way I usually do...those weeks are usually the times that I bust the budget. AND THAT IS OKAY! Life is short, and I am all too quick to beat myself up over spending $10 more than I meant to. Budgeting is a guideline to make your life less stressful and more free...but do not let it become something that causes you stress and becomes a shackle rather than a freedom! 

Busting the budget is not worth your tears!! (this is coming from the queen of crying over groceries) 


OUR MEAL PLAN THIS WEEK


I plan my meals around 7 day periods so this week the first of the month happens on a Thursday so this is day one of this 7 day plan. 

Do you meal plan? What tips do you have for making the process easier? 

Meal Inspiration - What We Are Eating

Lately I have been so inspired by seasonal eating. For whatever reason it makes me feel in touch with the Lord's creation, and it is a healthy and cost efficient way to feed my family and friends. I have done some research and made a list of great summer food items that I want to include in my cooking as much as possible and I want to share that with you in hopes of inspiring you to do the same!

I don't know about you, but I love seeing other people's menus, meal plans, and grocery lists! They provide such kitchen inspiration for me, and often help me plan my own weekly menu! So I have decided to share some of our meals from this week with you all in hopes of inspiring you to cook seasonally and with ease. 

We usually plan to cook 5 meals a week, and I make large enough portions that we can eat leftovers for lunch the next day. We always plan for one date night out to eat and each Sunday our church shares a meal together, so 5 seasonal meals is simple, and relatively easy to fit into our little grocery budget! This week I focused on quick and easy recipes that I know well, and that are not loaded in creamy sauces or filled with carbs! So this week we have lots of veggies and lots of protein! 

photo credit // half baked harvest

photo credit // half baked harvest

Basil Chicken Curry with Coconut Ginger-Lime Rice and fresh Naan ( I used fresh peaches instead of the mango this recipe calls for, and added freshly grated garlic to the naan, oh and I used sweet curry powder instead of spicy!) 

Sweet Potato, Bell Pepper, and Sausage Hash

Bacon, Sausage, Spinach, and Veggie Frittata + Fruit (similar to my recipe with some variation here)

Bang Bang Chicken Kabobs with Corn and Zucchini

And for those who may be interested here is my list of seasonal summer foods I will be using all the time in the months ahead...

  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, Raspberries
  • Cherries
  • Plums
  • Apricots
  • Peaches
  • Figs
  • Mint, Basil, Cilantro, and Parsley (on everything)
  • Corn
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Zucchini / Summer Squash
  • Eggplant
  • Green Beans
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Leeks

YAY for seasonal eating! I hope this list inspires you to cook seasonally and enjoy what the earth has to offer this summer! Happy cooking! :)

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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The Bread & Wine Project / Homemade Marshmallows

Yesterday I shared about how ready I am for Christmas...I am super ready! So this month's Bread & Wine Project recipe really reflects that! :) Welcome back to the Bread & Wine Link Up for those of you who have joined us before, and for those of you that are jumping in for the first time...so happy to have you! This link up is all about sharing recipes and a heart for others in the form of hospitality! 

This month's co host is Natasha of Natasha Red blog

Natasha has such a huge heart for Jesus and the Gospel which is made so evident from her blog. She is a fellow foodie, and is gifted in the kitchen for sure. Just follow along with her Instagram for a few days and you will see how talented this lady is! :) Meet Natasha friends!

This month's prompt was short and sweet -

How do you approach hospitality and the holidays? 

For me this really goes back to my post yesterday quite honestly. I love opening up my home and feeding friends and family because this is one way I can tangibly be the Gospel to those around me. I get to play a role in showing those around our table a picture of the Lord's provision and love for us as his children. So the holidays are prime time for doing this! And I LOVE that! 

What about you? How do you view these two things and how to you make them co exist? 

Speaking of holidays...who doesn't love a super yummy mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows to get you in the holiday spirit? There is something so nostalgic about this classic winter drink for me. It takes me instantly back to being a little girl and ripping open those powdery packets of instant hot chocolate with the rock hard (Lucky Charm like) "marshmallows". I loved that stuff when I was younger. 

Now that I am older...and more mature in the ways of good food and drink, I have said good bye to the powdery instant stuff and opened my arms to the world of homemade hot chocolate and marshmallows. Not the rock hard kind, but the pillowy, soft, melt in your mouth goodness kind. 

These mallows are divine. They are literally perfect, and you will not believe how simple they are to make friends! So so simple. Which was a surprise to me, seeing as I thought marshmallows had to require some type of magic to conjure up in the kitchen. 

INGREDIENTS - 

  • 3 (1 oz) packets of unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • vanilla extract (a teaspoon or so)
  • vanilla bean seeds (scrapings of one vanilla bean, optional)
  • powdered sugar
  • corn starch

DIRECTIONS -  

Combine gelatin and 1/2 cup cold water in the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attached. Let sit for 10-15 minutes to soften. 

Add 1/2 cup cold water to a medium saucepan along with sugar, and corn syrup. Heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Raise heat to high and cook until you reach 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and slowly pour syrup into the gelatin while the mixer is on low speed. 

Increase speed of mixer to high and allow it to whip for 15 minutes. Meanwhile scrape the beans from the inside of one vanilla bean and add the seeds to the mixture. Add 1 tsp vanilla extract and salt. 

Once thoroughly whipped. Pour into a WELL OILED pan, and smooth top with a wet spatula. Coat top with oil and allow to sit for 6-8 hours at room temperature until firm.

Once set, remove from pan, cut into cubes or use cookies cutters to cut into shapes. Toss in powder sugar and corn starch (1/4 cup each) and store in air tight container for up to 2 weeks. 

ENJOY!

Told you! Easy as pie, and so so worth the time you have to wait for the finished product! I cannot wait to try some awesome flavor combos next time with these little pillowy confections! 

The Kitchn Cookbook - Blogging for Books

Happy Monday friends! I am sitting here all cozy in our home office because it is finally freezing outside. I am all bundled up and writing this while sipping coffee that is topped of with white chocolate peppermint creamer (I am so ready for Christmas!)...the best way to start a day! Anyways, this weekend was a great one, my brother and sister came in town to visit us, and while I ended up getting sick Friday night, it was still so wonderful to spend time with my siblings! I was able to play hostess and loved every minute. We had more visitors over the weekend than just my family due to MSU's homecoming game! We had Ben's dad and brother stop by, two groomsmen, and my family coming in and out.

So naturally I whipped up a few things to make everyone feel at home. I made homemade hot chocolate and homemade marshmallows to sip on, and roasted potatoes and grilled chicken for lunches! I love feeding the ones that I love with food from our kitchen. To me it means so much more than just sharing...it truly is a way I can present the Gospel to those that come in our home. Our Holy Father has provided richly for us as his Children, and when people step into our home and I hope they feel richly provided for in many ways! 

The kitchen has become my favorite place to be since becoming a wife. I LOVE it, and I am always looking for ways to learn more about cooking. So when I heard about

blogging for books

and realized I could write reviews on cookbooks I was dying to have, I was in. (Thanks

Martha Kate

for the suggestion!) 

My first cookbook to receive for review was The Kitchn Cookbook. And man oh man, can I just say I am in love! This is so much more than your average recipe book. The kitchen is a huge resource for those new to cooking. It is like google for cooks! The Kitchn covers everything from stocking a pantry and cleaning your kitchen to the basics of cooking and great recipes! It is a gold mine, and a must have for every kitchen! 

My favorite part is the recipe section, because most of the recipes are simple, but elegant and really sophisticated while not being obscure in their ingredient list! I love that! I have already used the recipe for homemade fresh pizza sauce and tweaked it a little more to our liking! I cannot wait to cook more recipes from this book. 

The pictures in the book also appeal to be in a big way! The kitchens pictured inside the pages are beautiful and so full of character. This is one of those cookbooks that could almost double as a coffee table book or the one cookbook you would want to keep out on display in your kitchen all the time. It is just beautiful. The quality of the pages and pictures are wonderful. I could look through this book over and over again! (I kinda have a thing for pretty cookbooks, see picture below)

The Kitchn Cookbook has taken a spot next to my favorites and I plan on using it all the time. I could not recommend this cookbook more highly to every single one of you! New cooks to seasoned pros this is a great cookbook for everyone! 

Kale, Bacon, Caramelized Onion Pizza with Ricotta and Parmesan Chives Sauce

Man, what a long title for a recipe. It is a little bit of a mouthful, so don't try to say it 5 times fast...or maybe try it?! Might be entertaining. HA! Anyways, we are all about homemade pizza around our house. It is comforting, easy, and feels special when every bit of it is scratchmade.

I usually make several pizza doughs and freeze them for convenience sake. Such was the case with this pizza. And this is honestly not really a recipe as it is just topping suggestions. You just need a crust and the long list of ingredients listed in the title and your are in business for one gourmet (but insanely easy) pizza. 

INGREDIENTS:

1 bunch of kale, stems removed and roughly chopped

4 slices of thick cut bacon, cubed

1-2 onions sliced in long strings

2 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons of flour

1 cup milk

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons chives, chopped

ricotta

goat cheese, or feta, crumbled

mozzarella cheese

1 pizza dough

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

For Toppings:

Add onions to a hot pan, with a little oil, and a pinch of salt. Keep over medium heat and stir occasionally for 30-40 minutes until dark brown and caramelized. Remove from skillet. Add bacon into skillet, turning heat up to medium high. 

Fry bacon until crispy. Remove from pan. Add in a little olive oil, and toss kale in the oil. Saute kale until bright green and slightly wilted. Remove from pan. 

For Sauce:

Melt butter in skillet. Add flour and whisk constantly until combined and cooked down (about 1 minute). Add in milk, whisking constantly. Add cheese, and chives, and salt and pepper to taste, Remove from heat.

To Assemble:

Spoon sauce over the pizza dough. Top with caramelized onions, kale, and Mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle bacon and goat cheese over the top. Spoon dollops of ricotta generously over top. Place in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes until cheese is melted and golden! 

What are your favorite pizza combos? I am always looking for new ideas! 

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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 / 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! 

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



Bread and Wine Project - Farmer's Market Blackberry Crisp

Welcome friends to the first ever Bread & Wine Project link up! I am so excited to begin building my arsenal of recipes that I love to make! I am also even more excited to see how the Lord uses this link up to push us to love our families and communities more intentionally. If you want to hear my full heart behind this link up, click the button on my side bar and check out the video! 

But the bottom line is this - this is more than a recipe link up. This is a place to be encouraged, to be challenged to think, and to push yourself to love your family and friends through really great food and Gospel centered hospitality! 


I am sharing a classic recipe today. Blackberry Crisp. Simple, and delicious, the perfect combo for an easy and go to dessert. The best part is that this can be made with any number of fruits...peaches, blueberries, strawberry/rhubarb, apples, pears...and the list goes on. This is a recipe that I can make in a pretty pie pan like this one pictures above, or I can make it for a crowd in a casserole pan, or I can dress it up my making it in individual ramekins. SO versatile.


Going to the Farmer's Market on Saturdays is one of my favorite weekend activities. So I look forward to getting yummy goodies every week. Some of my favorites lately have been fresh cheddar cheese, and chocolate milk from the creamery that comes, as well as fresh blackberries (that are the size of my thumb) and leeks!

So when we saw a massive container of blackberries for only $5 a few weeks back I knew I had to buy them, and I knew I had to make blackberry crisp. I think that blackberries are so yummy, they always take me back to my childhood upon the first bite. Back to the days of family walks, and picking blackberries in plastic buckets along the way. I remember always coming home and my mom would wash the berries and sprinkle them (generously) with sugar, and let us chow down. That was the epitome of summer to me growing up...blackberries after family walks. Ah.

Like I said, this is a simple recipe. You do not have to have any skills to make this, and it is such a comforting dessert that your guests will love it!


INGREDIENTS-

2 heaping cups of blackberries
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup white sugar

Topping-

1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup cold butter cubed

DIRECTIONS-

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss blackberries with cornstarch and sugar. Place in ramekins or a pie pan.

For topping, combine brown sugar, oats, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Then using a pastry cutter or two forks (or clean hands) cut the butter into the oat mixture until the topping resembles small peas. Sprinkle over the top of the berries until they are fully covered.

Bake in preheated oven until the top is golden brown and the blackberries are bubbling, about 30-40 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.




There ya have it. I also included in my post a few weeks back a couple questions and quotes about the table and food...Check them out here.

I think that is important in life to pay attention to the things that move us emotionally. These things matter, whether that is music, or creation, or design, or food...all of these things get to our gut, and should be listened to. So for me, food moves me...why? What is going on here? Well I think that the bottom line is food allows space for things totally unrelated to itself. 

What I mean is...around a meal you share yourself, the joys of your day, the struggles, the touch conversations and the happy ones. You learn people's stories, and build friendships. Community is built around food...you meet friends, old and new, for coffee, lunch, dessert....you meet for food. And yet, you meet for so much more. So how do these quotes strike me? Well they tell me that food is important because of all that it stands for, and all that comes with it! 

What do you think? Why is food important to you? 

A big thanks to my sweet cohost Rachel, of Rachel Rewritten! Make sure to follow her blog, she is a joy to know and you will be glad to know her as well! 

Rachel Rewritten was created as a space for me to find my voice and rewrite my story. I'm a newlywed who loves the Lord and loves trying to make our house a home. I believe that life is beautiful and deserves to be celebrated, from the big moments to all the little moments in between; and I hope that everyone leaves here with a little more joy than they came with!

Also, as a special happy to everyone who made it to the end of this incredibly long post here is a giveaway to kick off the link up! I am paring up with these sweet blog friends to bring you a copy of the Bread & Wine book, and a $50 Williams-Sonoma giftcard! Enter below! Winner will be announced Friday!


LINK UP RULES-
1. Follow your host and co host.
2. Share some love, comment on at least 2 other blogs!
3. ENJOY!




Cinnamon Vanilla French Press Coffee + Etsy Gift Card Giveaway!

Coffee is my all time favorite drink. Nothing new for you guys right? I love the stuff. Coffee makes me feel cozy, it reminds me fresh starts in the mornings, heart to hearts with friends, late night study session in college, and now late night moral support session for Ben while he works late on journal articles...I love coffee, and all that goes a long with it. 

As a wedding gift we were given this French Press, and I quickly fell in love with this way of making coffee. Maybe because it is not the quickest way to make it...or maybe because it doesn't use something that plugs into the wall (well my stove...but you know) and it makes me feel old fashion...or maybe because it makes the coffee so strong and creamy almost like hot chocolate. Whatever it is I ADORE French Press coffee. 

So today I wanted to share a few French Press tips, and a simple recipe for cinnamon vanilla coffee, using regular coffee and natural flavors that I promise you have in your pantry! 

Delicious Vanilla Cinnamon French Press Coffee! Make it at home with ingredients you are sure to have on hand!

There a few steps that you need to take in order to get a great cup of French Press coffee every time. 

1. Use whole beans, and grind them yourself. - This will guarantee that your beans are not stale, and will not taste bitter or have a bad aftertaste. ALSO, most pre-ground coffee is ground very fine, which is perfect for your coffee maker, but not for a French Press. You need to grind your bean to a course grind. This will help your coffee get a great flavor, without having a mug half full of coffee sludge! 

2. Use scalding water. - There is a difference between scalding and boiling. You want your water to be at the point right before boiling (scalding). You will be able to see little bubbles begin to form but it will not be boiling. It will look like this...

3. Add a tiny pinch of salt. - I know this sounds so weird, but for the same reason you add salt to sweet baked goods, it helps the overall taste of the coffee. It reduced the bitter aftertaste and just rounds out the overall texture! You will not be able to taste the salt! Promise!

Now for the Vanilla Cinnamon recipe... this is so easy, and really kicks up the normal coffee to make for a drink that is a treat, but not overly sweet like most flavored coffee. 

WHAT YOU NEED:
French Press (mine is a 6 cup)
4 tablespoons course ground coffee (I use about 4 rounded tablespoons, but I like strong coffee, adjust to your preference)
6 cups scalding water
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Extra- whipped cream for topping
extra cinnamon for dusting
cream + sugar

DIRECTIONS:

Heat your water in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add coffee grounds, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt to French Press. 

Once water reaches scalding, add to French Press, and stir to combine. Place the top on the press, and let steep for 4-5 minutes. Gently press the plunger down at a steady speed. 

Pour into mugs, add cream and sugar. Enjoy! To make it special add whipped cream and a dust of cinnamon! 

Delicious Vanilla Cinnamon French Press Coffee! Make it at home with ingredients you are sure to have on hand!

Delicious Vanilla Cinnamon French Press Coffee! Make it at home with ingredients you are sure to have on hand!

Delicious Vanilla Cinnamon French Press Coffee! Make it at home with ingredients you are sure to have on hand!

Delicious Vanilla Cinnamon French Press Coffee! Make it at home with ingredients you are sure to have on hand!
For a variation of this play around with different extracts in your pantry. I think a tablespoon of cocoa powder + almond extract would be really yummy also! 

Are you a French Press person? How do you drink your coffee? 

Oh and before you go, I am super super pumped to be pairing up with Jenna of Dearest Love to bring you an awesome giveaway! Jenna is kicking off her blog sponsorships next month and is giving away ad space, and an Etsy giftcard! Whooohoo! So you know you should enter! 



This giveaway is only open to bloggers. All entries will be checked, so follow the rules, friends. :) 

A Harvest of Blessing

Check out my sweet sponsor this month, Madison of The Wetherills Say I Do!

Chewy Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies

Many of you probably love sweets, but can I just say, not very many people love sweets like my husband and I do. We will go to great lengths to satisfy our craving for something sugar coated. From time to time I will notice that my bags of chocolate chips in the pantry are slowly being depleted...when we were first married this was a mystery to me. However, now I know better. The mystery of the depleted mini chocolate chips? Ben! We just love all things sugary, honeyed, candied, and dipped in chocolate. If its a cookie, scone, cake, ice cream, pie, or brownie we will devour it more quickly than we ought....get the point? :)

So, as we prepared to go to the beach last weekend I whipped up some of these delicious cookies. Let me just tell you, you are gonna want to try these. They were incredible. The perfect combo of chewy and sweet. The recipe makes a ton of little cookies or a decent number of larger cookies, so you can have one or two at a time. Butterscotch is one of my favorite flavors. I always loved going to the doctor's office when I was little and searching through the candy bowl on the way out for a butterscotch dum dum sucker. And, my dad always had a bowl of cinnamon and butterscotch candies in his office...so the flavor brings back fond memories. 

Alright enough of me rambling...here is how you make these babies! 

Chewy Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3 cups rolled oats
1 2/3 cup butterscotch chips

Directions: 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

In a stand mixer beat butter and both sugars until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix untl combined. Add vanilla, beat well. 

In a separate bowl stir together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, stir until blended. Stir in oats and butterscotch chips. Drop by teaspoonfuls (for small cookies) or tablespoonfuls (for larger cookies) onto a greased cookie sheet. 

Bake for 10-11 minutes in the oven, until the edges turn golden brown.

Chewy Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies

This recipe takes a classic oatmeal cookie and steps it up a notch. I am planning to make some again soon to take to neighbors. Who doesn't love a plate of warm cookies? I hope you all enjoy these cookies as much we did!

Chewy Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies
(kinda looks like the leaning tower of Pisa hehe) 

What are your favorite go to cookies to bake?

A Harvest of Blessing

Meet my sweet sponsor this month, Madison of The Wetherills Say I Do

Cilantro Pesto Grilled Shrimp

Spring is in the air my friends. The days of sunshine, long walks, iced coffee and grilling out have arrived and I could not be happier. We bought a grill shortly after we got married last summer and have used it so much. We love to grill out and eat on our front porch. a few weeks back we tried grilling shrimp that had marinated all day in a homemade cilantro and spinach pesto. We also grilled asparagus and I made creamy garlic Parmesan shells to go with everything. We piled our plates high with the pasta and each had a couple skewers of the succulent shrimp. We laid down a blanket on the porch and lit our homemade "tiki lamp" (a mason jar filled with tiki torch fluid and a giant wick that we made awhile back) and we had a little porch picnic dinner. I love that making food is something I can share with others...food means something. 

I love this quote, "God never meant man to be purely a spiritual creature. That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put new life into us. We may think this rather crude and unspiritual. God does not: He invented eating. He likes matter. He invented it." C.S. Lewis, "Mere Christianity"

This is beautiful to me. The Lord is pleased when we use his creation to feed others and to be fed ourselves. So lately I have found fresh inspiration in food. Fresh food, not cans, and bottles, and packages...but fresh ingredients. So in steps this recipe, Cilantro Pesto Grilled Shrimp.




Cilantro Pesto:
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
1 cup of packed fresh spinach
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
zest of one lemon
juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup of olive oil

In a food processor add cilantro, spinach, grated cheese, garlic, pine nuts, lemon zest and lemon juice. Pulse to combine. Add salt and pepper. Pulse once or twice. Slowly pour olive oil into the mixture while pulsing continually. Pulse until combined. Store in an airtight container. 

This pesto could be used on anything; pasta, sandwiches, pizza...it does not have an overly strong cilantro taste believe it or not. The lemon juice and zest as well as the spinach really mellow out the overall flavor. 

For Grilled Shrimp:
Take thawed shrimp, that has shells and veins removed, toss in 3/4 of the pesto mixture. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least one hour. The longer the better. Soak skewers in water if they are made of wood. Add shrimp to skewers. Cook on a medium high grill for 10 minutes turning every 3-4 minutes. Baste the shrimp with remaining pesto, or pour remaining on top of the shrimp once served. 

This is a super versatile recipe that could be used with almost any type of meat. The pesto could also be made with many different herbs, like parsley, or the traditional basil pesto. 

Have you ever made your own pesto? It is the best!

I am headed to Memphis for the weekend to celebrate a special bride to be that was a dear friend in college. I am super pumped about this whole weekend. We are going on a riverboat dinner cruise tonight which should be a blast! Then tomorrow I am meeting up with the precious Lauren of Sincerely, Lo for some coffee! Eek cannot wait! What plans do you have for this weekend? 


BLOGLOVIN' // INSTAGRAM // TWITTER // PINTEREST // FACEBOOK 


Check out my sweet sponsor this month, Jenni of Frankly My Dear!



Bakery Style Chocolate Chip Muffins


Carbs, oh how I love you! Especially in the morning, so carbs plus chocolate is always a great to start off the day in my book. I made these for breakfast last week, and I am still thinking about them. So perfectly light and airy while being enough to carry you over to lunch. This is what breakfast should be made of!

WHAT YOU NEED: (Makes 12 regular size muffins)
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh orange zest (optional)
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
1 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray muffin tin with non stick spray. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, soda and salt. And zest and stir.

In a large mixing bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix well.

With mixer on low speed add dry ingredients 1/2 cup at a time, alternating with yogurt. Add chocolate and stir it in with a wooden spoon.

Scoop the batter out to lined muffin tin, filling all the way to the top. You can place few chocolate chips on top of each muffin. Bake for 5 minutes in 400 degree oven, Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees and bake 15 more minutes, or until browned on top and toothpick inserted in the center of each muffin comes out clean. Cool in pan for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
You can wrap baked muffins tightly and freeze for up to 1 month. Simply defrost on the counter and pop in the microwave for 7 to 10 seconds to warm up and make chocolate melt.

original recipe found at: Crunchy, Creamy, Sweet



Go make these right now. They are perfect for brunch, a shower, or just because you need a chocolate fix.

What are your favorite kinds of muffins?

Has it been raining in your neck of the woods as much as it has here the past 24 hours? I has not stopped storming...guess the old saying rings true this year, April showers brings May flowers! Well in honor of this little old saying I am joining in with Rebekah of Living Lavender to give you an opportunity to win a monogrammed jacket AND Hunter rainboots!! YAY!
SHOWERS1

Spring is officially here so my fabulous co-hosts and I decided to host a giveaway to help keep you dry during spring showers! We have 3 great prizes for 3 lucky winners so be sure to enter below & show your hosts some love!
The Prizes
1 pair of Hunter Rain Boots
1 Monogrammed Rain Jacket
$30 Paypal Cash


Meet Your Hosts:
cohosts.png



Show these lovely ladies some love, and good luck with the giveaway!

A Harvest of Blessing | Jack of All Trades Link Up

Much Love,

Rachel
BLOGLOVIN' // INSTAGRAM // TWITTER // PINTEREST // FACEBOOK 

# 7. Blueberry Scones

I love pastries. From croissants to danishes, muffins to donuts, biscuits to cinnamon rolls...I love sweet morning breads. So naturally when I saw this recipe for blueberry scones I knew I had to try it out. 

# 7. Try and blog 20 new recipes. (101 in 1001)

Here is the first recipe of the twenty, and wow. These scones will make you sing for joy. They are not overly sweet but are flaky and buttery. When you bite into them you get a hint of lemon and the yummy goodness of the fresh blueberries...it is a slice of heaven. Serve with butter or jam, and you are ready for a real live tea party. 

BLUEBERRY SCONES


(Original Recipe here)

Ingredients: 



2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 stick cold unsalted butter, grated
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
1 heaping cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
extra heavy cream for brushing the tops
brown sugar for sprinkling the tops



Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Using an electric mixer combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and lemon zest. Add grated butter and combine until slightly crumbly. Mix heavy cream and egg together until well combined, slowly pour into flour mixture while beating on low speed. Add blueberries into dough mixture and slowly fold into the dough. Roll into a disk about 3/4 an inch thick. 


Cut the disk into fourths and then into eighths. Carefully transfer each scone to a baking sheet. 



Brush scones with cold heavy cream, and sprinkle generously with brown or raw sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes until tops are golden and the scones are firm to the touch. 



Serve with a cup of tea, butter, and jam. 

Go outside, sit down with some friends and enjoy the fruit of your labor. These scones are to die for, and are great reheated for several days after you make them! Yummy!

I am thinking about trying cinnamon sugar next time.

Happy Monday!

xoxo,

Rachel

Quick and Easy Coffee Frappe

Coffee is my best friend. I have a cup, maybe two in the mornings, as soon as I wake up. It is something that brings me a lot of joy in the mornings. Sounds lame? Well true coffee lovers will fully understand my sentiments. No I am just kidding, it is totally okay if you don't like coffee...we can still be friends. I promise. 

But really...coffee is one of my favorite drinks. I always drink it in the morning but I find that around 2 or 3 in the afternoon I am in need of a drink to sip on to give me a second wind but often I want something other than a steamy cup of joe...so what is a coffee lover to do? 

Well, I am here to help you out. Try this quick and easy recipe! It is a great way to use up leftover coffee from the pot you make in the mornings. You will need an ice tray for this just by the way.

COFFEE FRAPPE




Ingredients:

Frozen coffee cubes
Milk (almond, regular, coconut...whatever suits your fancy)
Cream (Heavy cream, half and half, flavored creamer, again, do what makes you happy)
Dash of sugar, honey or other sweetener
Chocolate Syrup or Caramel Syrup (or any coffee flavoring syrup)

Just freeze your leftover coffee in an ice tray. I use about 6-8 cubes in my drink.


Add about 1 cup of milk, a dash of creamer, sweetener and syrup. Blend your little heart out. 




Then pour into your favorite drinking glass, sprinkle some cocoa powder on top, pop in a straw and enjoy!


I just love my Anthro inspired "zinc" letters. Don't you? I may see a tutorial coming in the future here for these little guys...stay tuned! 

XOXO,

Rachel






Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

Happy Monday friends! The sun is shining, and I have hit the ground running this morning. For some odd reason I woke up at 5:15 and have not stopped yet! I love the start of a new week, it gives me a fresh wave of motivation in taking care of our home, as well as focus in my work tasks. 

We had a very relaxing yet productive weekend. We worked on some DIY furniture projects (stay tuned here for some updates in the weeks ahead), had a picnic with some church families, and enjoyed a fun downtown breakfast date...overall it was an awesome weekend. One thing that I usually do as a treat for Ben for the weekends is to make something sweet. Let me tell you, my husband has quite the sweet-tooth. I love sweets also, but not quite like Ben. I always pick on him about it because I often do not make desserts through out the week but Ben always finds a way to satisfy his sweet-tooth. During the week that usually means he raids the bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips I have in the pantry for baking. Those bags go way faster than I ever intend for them to. 

One of Ben's favorite sweets is the classic chocolate chip cookie, but I honestly think he loves the cookie dough just as much if not more than the baked cookies. So this recipe for cookie dough balls was a must try for my cookie dough loving man. And it was quite the hit so I wanted to share the love for all you sweet fanatics out there!


Ingredients: 
2/3 cups (1 + 1/3 stick) of softened butter 
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar (packed)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup applesauce
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 blocks of chocolate almond bark


Meet my shiny red Kitchenaid mixer. She is a beauty, and I love her. Best wedding gift EVER. (disclaimer: a mixer is not required for this recipe by any means. A bowl and spoon will work just fine)


Doesn't this look yummy? haha. No? just wait. First add the granulated sugar, packed brown sugar, softened butter, and applesauce to mixer. 


Mix until creamy and fluffy like a cloud.


Add in flour, baking soda, salt, and vanilla. Mix until combined.


Add chocolate chips, stir to combine.


Oh hello lover, look at all that goodness. I may have had a bite, or two, or 5 at this point. (but no raw eggs so its okay!)


If you have a snazzy cookie scoop use that (or if you are like me use a spoon) and make little balls. I would make them a little smaller than these, they are really rich. 


Yummy...so yummy.


Melt chocolate bark, and dip dough balls in chocolate (after they have set up a little in the freezer). Notice how imperfect my little balls are, that's okay. Rustic right? They will taste just as yummy as perfectly symmetrical spheres, I promise. 


Chocolate is so messy...but I just can't hold that against it, I love it to much...so I overlook the mess.


Then there you have it. Yummy cookie dough balls. Take some to your honey, he will thank you! Then send some with him to work so you wont gain 5 pounds from eating them every time you pass through the kitchen. :)

Here is a fun little recipe card that I made that you can save and print to have on hand when you make these little babies!


So, what is your weakness when it comes to dessert? I would love to hear from you!

Tomorrow is our 9 month anniversary of marriage! So crazy, I will be sharing our love story here tomorrow, so make sure and come check it out. 

P.S. For any Instagram lovers out there, come join this fun little link up over at Liz Marie's Blog and meet some fun and inspiring new people to follow!



XOXO,

Rachel