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! 

Tour Through Blogland - A look into our Kitchen

It is day number 6 of the 31 one days of writing...a few things that I am seeing that this challenge requires...lots of planning, lots of dedication to time, and lots of pictures! :) Today I was tagged by Lauren Hooker of Elle & Company Design to share a little peek into my life and what I call "work".

Well, for me my "job" has taken many different looks since I married Ben. I have worked for our church some, been a nanny for a summer, sold design prints, and offered blog design services. I have crocheted my heart out to make a little money for Christmas, and made what feels like a gazillion loaves of sourdough bread for people in our community. I now work as an assistant manager at a bakery in town called The Biscuit Shop, and will soon be baking biscuits...what?!? I also have recently become a distributor for Young Living Essential Oils, AND am planning to launch an Etsy shop in the next month (as soon as my logo is finished). 

So...yeah, it is easy to see I wear a lot of hats. However my passion is in the kitchen. I have only just discovered this passion, and have spent many hours pouring myself into this new hobby of mine. So today I wanted to show you my little humble hallway of a kitchen and let you in to what I am up to right now! 

The picture above is what you see when you open our front door. We live in an old Victorian home that has been broken into several apartments. It is full of character, creaks, and occasional loud noises from neighbors! 

So onto Lauren's questions...

What am I working on? 

Well right now, I am baking 18-20 loaves of bread a week from my little kitchen and selling them to friends and local people around town. I am also tweaking my designs for several products that will be in my Etsy shop soon. I cannot wait to share more, but until then stay tuned to my Instagram account for sneak peeks and updates! 

How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

Honestly I do not know many people that work at a biscuit bakery, make bread every day, and have a huge passion for design and handmade things...maybe I know a few folks that are into one or two of these things but not all three. So I feel like my "job" or the ways that I contribute financially to my family are unique and allow me to pursue my creative passions on a daily basis! I love that more than anything. 

(this wreath is made from piano sheet music that belonged to my mom and grandmother)

Why do I write/create what I do?

I blog because I love it, and it is such a wonderful outlet for me to pursue more creativity. I bake and spend time in the kitchen because it brings me more joy than I can really express. I wrote yesterday about why I bake bread, and that post really does capture my feelings about the kitchen as a whole...creating beautiful, homemade food for friends and family that I love is good for my bones, and soul...and it rewarding to share something that I pour so much of myself into with people so special to me! 

(these frames above my oven all belonged to my grandmother, and have even inspired some products you will all see in my Etsy shop soon!)

How does my writing/creating process work? 

I think I will take this question in the direction of creating process...I am inspired most by daily moments. Little moments in the morning sipping coffee, or when I am cooking a meal for dinner. Inspiration comes to me most in real life not on Pinterest (I love Pinterest though, don't get me wrong). I love taking a recipe and tweaking it to become my own, and more than anything I love working with whole ingredients...especially things that I have never worked with before like saffron, fennel, and acorn squash! 

Who am I nominating? 

Jenni Frank of Frankly My Dear
Leia Bryn of Leia Bryn Blog
Kaitlyn of Sew My Soul 

Tune in tomorrow for my lessons learned about true hospitality vs. Southern Living Hospitality! 

Why I Bake Bread

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

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

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

One. My grandmother and mother did it.

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

Two. It is a labor of love.

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

Three. It is therapeutic.

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

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

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

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

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

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Homemade Apple Cider with Mulling Spices

October is my favorite month. I have bust out all my cinnamon candles, and am baking weekly with apples and pumpkins! I love this time of year!! As I mentioned earlier this week I was lucky enough to score a whole bunch of free apples from work this week, AWESOME right?! Well they were all about to go bad so I had to find ways to use them all, and fast. I have made apple pie bars, apple biscuits, and then my favorite, apple cider.

There are those recipes that you just want to share with friends, and this is one of them. I instantly was wishing I had invited someone over for the afternoon to curl up on the couch with me and drink a teacup full of this goodness. And it was storming outside, which made the whole process of making the cider that much more cozy. 

This time of year all the grocery stores start marketing large jugs of apple cider. This stuff is yummy, but let me tell you, as is often the case, the homemade version is sooo much more yummy! (and your house will smell like the perfect combo of autumn and an apple orchard while you make this!)

Homemade Apple Cider with mulling spices...hello perfect fall drink!!!
Homemade Apple Cider with mulling spices...hello perfect fall drink!!!

This recipe is simple, and really fool proof. You just throw everything in a pot, and walk away while something magical happens. And you guys, this stuff is seriously amazing. I have had two cups (no lie) while I have been editing pictures and writing this post. It is just sooo good. 

Homemade Apple cider with mulling spices! Hello Fall, welcome back!!!!
Homemade Apple cider with mulling spices! Hello Fall, welcome back!!!!
Homemade Apple cider with mulling spices! Hello Fall, welcome back!!!!
Homemade Apple cider with mulling spices! Hello Fall, welcome back!!!!
Homemade Apple cider with mulling spices! Hello Fall, welcome back!!!!
Homemade Apple cider with mulling spices! Hello Fall, welcome back!!!!
Homemade Apple cider with mulling spices! Hello Fall, welcome back!!!!
Homemade Apple cider with mulling spices! Hello Fall, welcome back!!!!

What you need: 

10-12 apples (I used a combo of granny smith, red delicious, and gala) chopped roughly in quarters

1 large orange, chopped roughly in eighths

4-6 cinnamon sticks

1 tablespoon whole allspice

1 table spoon whole cloves (or about a tablespoon ground)

1 whole nutmeg (or a tsp ground)

1/2 cup brown sugar

large stock pot


Place apples, orange, and all spices in the pot. Add sugar. Cover with water. I left about an inch and a half at the top of the pot. 

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, covered, for one hour. Then uncover and allow to simmer and reduce for 2 more hours. 

Using a fine mesh strainer, strain mixture into a large pitcher or container. Serve immediately, or allow to cool to room temp and refrigerate for up to 2-3 weeks. 

Homemade Apple cider with mulling spices! Hello Fall, welcome back!!!!
Homemade Apple cider with mulling spices! Hello Fall, welcome back!!!!
Homemade Apple cider with mulling spices! Hello Fall, welcome back!!!!
Homemade Apple cider with mulling spices! Hello Fall, welcome back!!!!

It is that simple. And so worth the time and effort. This recipe makes about 3 quarts of cider! So you really get a lot of reward for the time invested. And I promise your friends will be so thankful for such a warming and comforting drink when they come into your home! 

Homemade Apple cider with mulling spices! Hello Fall, welcome back!!!!
Homemade Apple cider with mulling spices! Hello Fall, welcome back!!!!

Tune in tomorrow for my story behind why I began baking bread and what it means to me! 

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Friday Letters / 10.2.14

Dear Benjamin Caleb, Thanks for declaring last night a date night. Tacos, monopoly, apple cider, and thunderstorms make for cozy evenings. Oh...and just FYI, I plan to forever lay claim on Boardwalk...and Park Avenue...so tuck that away, they are mine!

Dear 31 Days of Writing, You are still so intimidating to me...I am still so fearful that I cannot follow through with you. I spent all afternoon yesterday planning and brainstorming my editorial schedule just for you. I will say, the kitchen is my favorite spot and something I am so passionate about. So topics seem to be flowing very freely. I am eager to share so many lessons I am learning from my time in the kitchen as well as lots of perfect Autumn recipes! 

Dear Self, Breathe. You have been spinning in circles lately...mainly because you are trusting so deeply in your own will power and ability to tackles tasks. REST in the spirit. Seek refuge in the one who has accomplished everything for you. REST in the fact that He is not mad or disappointed with you when clothes lay unfolded and emails go another day unanswered...he is forever satisfied with you as his child because you are redeemed by the cross and the work that He did for you there...just REST! 

Dear Kitchen, You used to be a hallway in a past life, or before your were restructured to be an apartment. You are narrow, and lacking in space...but I love you. I love your gas stove, and chandelier lighting. I love how I have grown so much as a home cook will spending time within your walls...here is to 31 days dedicated to you, and all that I have learned from you old friend! 

I am planning on focusing my attention on three areas during this writing challenge. 

Tips/Tricks- These will range from cookbook recommendations, to grocery shopping tips, and even to my most used kitchen tools!

Recipes- These will all be fall friendly recipes that are homemade and have some kind of sentimental value tied to them for me. From apple cider to biscotti you will have some great recipes to try out this month! 

Lessons- These are short stories or posts dedicated to learning moments I have had in the kitchen. I will be sharing about the battle to instagram all the pretty things, and none of the mistakes. I will also be sharing about things like true hospitality, contentment, gratitude, and thanksgiving. 

So stay tuned for this exciting month, and help push me. I need you guys to hold me accountable with this. I know I will be tempted to slack off so please help me stick with this! You are all so awesome!