Espresso Hot Chocolate

Happy National Hot Cocoa Day! Could this quite possibly be one of the greatest days of the year? Yes, indeed. Especially if you have a mug of this Espresso Hot Chocolate in hand!


A day centered around warm, liquid chocolate in a cute little mug is a good day in my books. This Espresso Hot Chocolate is a fun twist on the classic favorite. Go ahead and put those packets of cocoa mix back in the cupboard, because you won’t be needing them anymore!

Do you want to know what is so great about this hot chocolate recipe? Not only is it hot chocolate, but it has a full serving of espresso in it to get your coffee fix! That’s right, you could drink this for your coffee in the morning and have it be completely justifiable. That is basically winning at life.

Mug / Scarf / String Lights

Cozy up with your jammies and your slippers, fill your mug full with this Espresso Hot Chocolate, dollop some whipped cream on top and sip your way into chocolate bliss. Talk about a drink that would be perfect for Christmas morning!

 

Espresso Hot Chocolate

makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • Whipped cream for topping

Directions:

  1. In a small sauce pan over low heat, bring the milk to a very low simmer. Whisk in the chocolate chips, cocoa powder and espresso powder. Avoid boiling. Whisk until smooth and frothy, about a couple minutes.
  2. Pour into desired mugs and top with a dollop of whipped cream and a pinch of additional espresso powder.

Classic Chicken Pot Pie

It finally snowed today and I squealed like a little girl and ran outside, bare feet and all, as fast as I could. I absolutely love Winter! I know, I know, I’m the crazy lady over here, but it is one of my favorite times of the year! You better believe my cozy level meter went all the way to ten! Time to dig into this Classic Chicken Pot Pie, because you can’t go wrong with classic comfort food.

You can’t ever go wrong with classic comfort food, if you ask me. And to me, classic comfort food should be served family-style and be hassle-free. That’s right! Just dig on into this pie plate of wonder. Am I the only weird person who not only loves Winter, but also serves their chicken pot pie in a bowl? Let’s just be logical and talk about convenience here. Give me a spoon and I’ll chow down.

 

Set aside all the comfort and joy that this dish brings and let’s talk about how simple it is to make! This dish is so versatile in regards to how you can take convenient shortcuts to make getting dinner on the table a little bit easier, or how you can go all-in chef mode and make everything from scratch. That’s right. You choose how simple or how diverse you want it to be. You can make dough from scratch, or use store-bought pie crust (this is what I did!!). You can use a rotisserie chicken, or roast your own. See how you can adapt this recipe? You’ve got this.

Turn on the Christmas movie marathons, light your spruce candle, and get this heart-warming Classic Chicken Pot Pie in the oven!

 

Classic Chicken Pot Pie

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs cooked chicken, shredded or roughly chopped
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots, cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 standard size pie crusts
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add in the onion and saute until translucent and avoiding browning, about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour until a paste forms, then whisk in the heavy cream. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and combined. Reduce the heat to low.
  2. Whisk in the chicken stock, milk, garlic, carrots, thyme, oregano, rosemary and salt and pepper to taste. Bring the mixture to a simmer and whisk occasionally until it thickens slightly, about 5-8 minutes.
  3. Stir in the chicken and peas and let the mixture return to a low simmer and thicken slightly again. Using a standard pie plate, form one of the pie crust rounds to the bottom of the pie plate and up the sides. Pour the chicken pot pie filling on top of the bottom pie crust. Top the filling with the remaining pie crust and crimp the edges of the two pie crusts together to insure that the filling does not cook out the sides. Using a knife, cut 1-inch slits on the top of the crust in the middle of the pie to allow air to escape, but not cutting too far in to spill the filling on top of the crust.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and the water to make an egg wash. lightly brush the top of the pot pie crust with the egg wash to insure a brown crust. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Let the pot pie sit for 10-15 minutes prior to serving to allow it to cool slightly and for the pot pie to set and not run.

 

Rocky Road Cookies

Happy National Cookie Day! As cliche as this sounds, I totally did not even plan this out! I guess just making cookies on a whim and it happens to be National Cookie Day is just a gift. I’ll take it. It is cookie season, after all! My husband is a big time rocky road fanatic (like rocky road everything), so I knew I needed to create a cookie just for him. Rocky Road Cookies are ready to rock and roll!

These cookies all the perfect amounts of fudgy, to nutty, to creamy from the marshmallow topping. Dip one of these delicious Rocky Road Cookies into a tall glass of milk and you won’t be disappointed!

I was so excited when these little beauties came out of the oven, it was hard to let them cool enough to eat! Topping the cookies off with some mini mallows is a fun, little touch to set these cookies apart from any average joe. These cookies would be the perfect, chocolate touch to any Christmas cookie exchange. You can never go wrong with chocolate!

These Rocky Road Cookies are the perfect thing to bake away in your oven while you dance around listening to Christmas music, or while watching Home Alone for the first time (no judgement – I’d seen the second one but not the first!).

 

Rocky Road Cookies

makes 20 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts, such as walnuts or almonds
  • Mini marshmallows for topping, about 5 per cookie

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes on medium speed. Reduce the speed to low and add in one egg at a time, making sure to scrape down the edges of the bowl in between each addition. Add in the vanilla extract.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until completely combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts.
  3. Scoop rounded tablespoons of the cookie dough onto a non-greased cookie sheet. Spacing each one a couple inches apart. Bake the cookies for 5 minutes and then remove from the oven. Quickly top each cookie with about 5 mini marshmallows, and gently press them in to prevent from rolling off the cookie. Return the cookies back to the oven and bake for another 8-10 minutes or until the cookies are cooked through and the marshmallows are melted and slightly golden.
  4. Remove the cookies from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Enjoy!

 

Santa’s Sleigh Cocktail

Wohoo! Happy December, everyone! Is anyone else as excited about the Christmas season as I am? I mean, it’s like full on Buddy the Elf type of situation. I just love it!

It’s just crazy that it is already December to me. Nebraska needs to get with the program, because it is going to be almost 60 degrees today! Call me crazy, but I am so ready for a nice, big snow storm. Yep, I’m crazy, but I love it! You better believe everyone will know my excitement when it finally snows and sticks to the ground.

With Christmas and holiday parties right around the corner, you need a good, easy, and fun cocktail to make everyone feel nice and warm inside! When I took my first sip of this Santa’s Sleigh Cocktail, I texted my husband and was like no way! I actually made a cocktail that I liked and it wasn’t a sangria! I was just pleasantly surprised. This Santa baby is so smooth it’s criminal. Trust me, you won’t even taste the alcohol in it! This could be a good or a bad thing…

What I love so much about drinks like this Santa’s Sleigh, besides how amazing it goes down, is that it is completely hassle free. All you have to do is pour all the ingredients into a pot or slow cooker and bring it up slowly to a nice and warm temperature. Your guests can ladle their own mug of Santa’s Sleigh, top it however they please and be ho, ho, ho happy. You don’t even have to bat an eye or break a sweat. PS: you can also make this in advance and reheat it for the next several days. Bonus points if you have Santa’s Sleigh stocked in your refrigerator.

This smooth, warm, mug of a cocktail will make you feel all the warm and fuzzies inside and get everyone around you in the Christmas spirit.

 

Santa’s Sleigh Cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 gallon chocolate milk
  • 1 cup Kahlua
  • 3/4 cup peppermint Schnapps

Topping Ideas:

  • Marshmallows
  • Melted Chocolate
  • Sprinkles
  • Candy Canes
  • Chocolate Chips

Directions:

  1. Pour all of the ingredients into a large pot over low heat. Slowly bring the cocktail to a warm temperature, avoiding any boiling or simmering. Serve warm with delicious topping ideas.

2017 Swimsuit Recap

I am not a swimsuit-picture-posting person. Heck, taking a selfie is hard enough! So why am I doing a whole post about swimsuits? I used to cringe at the thought of having to wear one. Bikini season was not my thing – give me all the yoga pants and chunky sweaters please! I am not an itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny-yellow-polka-dot-bikini wearing girl, but here I am, going 150% out of my comfort zone to share with you how I became confident and comfortable wearing a swimsuit.


It’s nothing fancy, high-tech or Pinterest-worthy. I just simply ditched the bikini and never looked back. Before we go any farther, I am in now way shaming bikinis or bikini-wearing gals. This is just purely my personal choice and I have no problem with them, but I will share with you how awesome it made me feel to leave them behind! It was like a huge weight was lifted when the thought of not having to put on a bikini came to mind. Summer, swimsuit season and bikinis have become SO high maintenance with our culture. I kept feeling dogged down about not having a “bikini body”, but what in the world is that anyways? Our culture tells us its skinny, tan, smooth, the right things rounded and firm and other places flat and doesn’t jiggle when you laugh. Yeah, that’s pretty high maintenance to me! I’d rather be real, healthy, active and eat cake.

To me, finding the right swimsuits to make me feel comfortable, confident and sexy just had to happen. And guess what? It made my husband more comfortable too! Not showing everything off actually made me feel more attractive. My husband noticed my confidence.  Funny how it works that way, huh? I’m not trying to be the modesty police, but I think it shows character and respect for your spouse. A little bit can go a long ways!

Ok, so enough of the all the words, here’s what I found and what I loved!

PS: This is not a sponsored post for any of these brands and all the words are my honest opinion :).

I know we are heading straight into Winter and the holidays, but travel/vacation season is right around the corner and Summer will be here before we know it!

Kortni Jeane 

I found Kortni Jeane Swimmers on Instagram and immediately fell in love. She has such an awesome motto for creating her swimmers and there are so many options for every body type! You can mix and match and create your own swimsuit to fit your style. They even have maternity, kids, tweens, and mens swimmers! It’s a win for the whole family during any stage of life. They have great full-bum coverage and are swimsuits that you can feel amazing in, even in front of your neighbors or grandma!

 

Shop Ashley LeMieux 

If you know me, you know I absolutely love all the clothing options from Shop Ashley LeMieux and what Ashley stands for. Needless to say, her swimsuits did not disappoint! She provided cute, fun and modest swim options. It is a seasonal item on her site, so when they go live grab yours quick before they’re gone! I got so many compliments on this swimsuit and it is definitely one of my favorites.

 

Aerie

I love everything that the Aerie brand stands for. It promotes women and girls to be real and untouched, and that is just what we need! They have a lot of great one-piece swimsuit options for a great price. You do have to watch the bum or front exposure on these, though, as some of them are deep-plunging or more of a cheeky fit. Plus, there are so many American Eagle/Aerie stores around that you could even try one on before purchasing!

 

We all have beautiful bodies and I hope that you too can be comfortable and confident in a swimsuit! I’m not saying that I always am or that I don’t struggle with self-image, but let’s keep reminding each other that we are fearfully and wonderfully made!

 

Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yesterday was totally one of those days where everything didn’t go according to plan or how I thought things would turn out. I never burn dinner, and I burned dinner. Kraft macaroni and cheese ended up saving us from driving into town for Chick-Fil-A or Chipotle, but sometimes that’s just how life goes and it’s ok! What also made it ok was that I had these Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies to secretly munch on in the dark kitchen before going to bed. Cookies always save the day.

Isn’t it crazy that we are almost to December, which means Christmas is right around the corner?! It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I absolutely love Christmas, gathering with family, eating and baking yummy goodies, Christmas music blaring and snuggling up with the pups by the Christmas tree. Totally typical, but SO good. What comes along with Christmas? CHRISTMAS COOKIES. These Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies are a fun and delicious spin on the classic chocolate chipper! Trust me, they are more simple to make than you think. Pour yourself a tall glass of milk, because you have some cookies to eat.

What is also so great about these cookies is that they can be made year-round. They aren’t stuck in your Christmas cookie arsenal and make a delicious treat or secret nibble before going to bed. Raise of hands who can relate to sneaking a cookie out of the bag on the counter before jumping into bed? You just gotta!

Preheat your oven and get these cookies baking away this Christmas season! Trust me, they will be fast going in any Christmas cookie exchange. Or just eating them by yourself. Either way, these little babies are good.

 

Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

makes 14 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 14 soft caramels, unwrapped

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and the sugars together until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes. Slowly add in the eggs one at a time, making sure to wipe down the edges in between each addition. Add in the vanilla and mix until combined.
  2. With the mixer speed on low, slowly add in the flour mixture to the eggs and butter until a dough forms. Add in the chocolate chips and mix until just combined, being careful to not over-mix the dough. Refrigerate and chill the dough for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  4. To form the cookies, scoop rounded tablespoons of dough onto a non-greased cookie sheet, about 2-3 inches apart (I could fit 6 on my standard size baking sheet). Lightly press a caramel into the center of each cookie dough ball to fit the caramel in and slightly flatten the dough. Top each caramel with another tablespoon scoop of cookie dough, making sure to press down slightly (but not flatten) so that the caramel is completely covered with dough and it won’t bake out the sides. Continue this process until all the cookies are formed.
  5. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the cookies are slightly golden brown and cooked through. Let the cookies sit on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes after taking them out of the oven before transferring them to a plate or rack to cool as you will want the caramels to set slightly before moving.

 

Set Your Thanksgiving Table Without Breaking The Bank

If you’re anything like me, setting the table is the last thing on your mind on Thanksgiving Day. You have a turkey roasting away in the oven and taking up way too much room, potatoes simmering in a big pot of water on the stovetop and the peels coating your kitchen sink from your over-zealous attempt to get the potatoes in the pot as fast as you can, and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade blaring away in the background to take up any brain space that you may have had left. Setting the Thanksgiving Table? Nah, not even close to being on my mind.

Cardigan / Shirt / Jeans

I knew that if I was going to conquer setting the table this year for our Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving, I would need to make it simple and to the point. When you’re basting your perfectly golden brown turkey, you don’t need to be shuffling plates around, ironing a tablecloth and folding napkins.

I like to use simple pieces that are hassle-free, but still have my personality and touch. I love white whites, black blacks, and colorful colors, so that is what I went for.

So, here are a few of my tips to pull of a beautiful, yet inexpensive way to set your Thanksgiving Table. Hence, “How to Set Your Thanksgiving Table without Breaking the Bank.” Because if you are again like me, I would rather spend my money on food. Pass that gravy!

 

How to Set Your Thanksgiving Table without Breaking the Bank

 

Paper Plates and Plastic Silverware: I will stand by this and say it time and time again, paper plates and plastic silverware are KEY. If I’ve been on my feet cooking all day and smiling through all of the wonderful Thanksgiving madness, the last thing I want to do is the dishes, and I don’t want to make my guests do them either. You can find so many cute, sturdy, non-plastic looking items these day that you don’t even have to worry about it looking cheesy!

Dinner Plates / Silverware / Napkins / Dessert Plates

Mason Jars: Did you know that you can buy a flat of 12 mason jars for like $8? That’s right! About the same price you would pay on all those Red Solo Cups that get tossed in the trash. Mason jars are so fun and add a nice touch to the table. Helps keep it classy that you actually have glassware on the table. Bonus: you can re-use them! I loving using mason jars to serve cocktails, smoothies or any beverage in. They even work great as flower vases too. Tie little gift tags around them with your guest’s name so they can re-use their jar while they are there!

Mason jars / Name tags.

Real Plants/Pumpkins: I love the touch that flowers, pumpkins or greenery add to a table. It makes it feel more homey and down-to-earth to me. You can usually buy a bouquet of flowers at your local grocery store for around $10, and guess what? I got these pumpkins for $1 a piece! Look for them at your local grocery store, farmers market, or home and garden store.

Simple Statement Piece and Table Runner: I will occasionally put a tablecloth down, but when I know it is a holiday centered around food, eating and cranberry sauce, I’m going to keep that tablecloth folded and tucked away. A table runner is a perfect substitute in my book. They can add the perfect amount of texture or pattern that you desire. I snagged this one for $19.99 and I can use it all year round due to its simple pattern and colors. Choose something you absolutely love and gotta-have and make that your center piece. I instantly fell in love with this vase and it was in my cart before I could think twice. It isn’t anything frilly or over-the-top, but with a simple bouquet of flowers, it makes the table come to life.

Green Pitcher / Table runner sold out online: Similar placemats

Candles: Candles are usually fairly priced and add a wonderful charm factor to your table. I found these cute pumpkin jar candles in the clearance section and they were a match made in heaven. Plus, the scent is called “Friendsgiving” and it couldn’t be more perfect (and it smells AMAZING).

Friendsgiving Candle

My last little tidbit of advance for setting your Thanksgiving table without breaking the bank: go shopping AFTER Halloween! Seriously, stores are rolling in all the Christmas goodies by then and want to move the Fall/Thanksgiving items along. Items are typically discounted and you score big time!

Table / Wooden Chairs / Padded Chairs

 

Apple Berry Crisp

I still can’t believe that Thanksgiving is already less than two weeks away! All the Christmas decor is out in stores already and I am making myself hold off until Thanksgiving comes through. It’s hard to resist! Just like this Apple Berry Crisp is hard to resist! I may have already eaten most of it myself…

If you are looking for the perfect dessert this holiday season that is hassle-free and delicious, look no further! This Apple Berry Crisp could even take the place of a pie this year on your table. Let’s face it, making a pie can be somewhat of a daunting task (although well worth it), but this Apple Berry Crisp can come to your rescue any day. Toss the ingredients together, tuck it away in a warm oven, forget about it for an hour or so and then you are all set to scoop some vanilla ice cream on top and pass the plates around.

A bonus to go along side this delicious and simple dessert is that your house will smell amazing. Queue all of the Fall and holiday candle smells and you didn’t even have to light a single one of them. This can also be made in advance and reheated prior to serving. Piece of cake. I think it makes an excellent leftover breakfast option as well.

The topping is always one of the best parts. It gets all sorts of the good kind of crunchy and almost forms a cookie-like crust. Break that puppy open to reveal ooey-gooey goodness inside.

 

Apple Berry Crisp

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 6 oz fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the topping:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 8 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the filling and toss to coat and combine. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients for the topping. Using either a pastry cutter, fork, or your hands, combine the butter into the dry ingredients until a course, pebble-like consistency forms. It should be able to mold together if squeezed in your hand.
  3. Using a 9-inch pie plate, pour the filling ingredients into the bottom and spread to an even layer. Pour the topping on top of the filling and spread in an even layer as well. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the topping is slightly browned and the filling is gooey and cooked through.

 

Wilted Kale Salad

We’re back from vacation and ready to rock and roll through this work week! Even with his broken leg, the hubs is ready to take it on. Since John broke his right leg on our first day in Hawaii, I have become the designated driver until he gets his cast off (4-6 weeks to go!). Yep, that’s right. My schedule is going to adjust to match his and where he needs to go, he may not be able to do as much housework as normal and the holiday extravaganzas are about to start. But you know what, that’s ok! Yes it’s a total bummer that he broke his leg on vacation, but we laughed about it and are looking at this as a time to slow down even more, spend time serving each other in different ways than normal and to soak in the time we get to spend together.

Since he broke his leg on our Hawaiian vacation, we weren’t able to do as many of the activities that we hoped to do. Which was ok, because we spent that time eating delicious food! Instead of burning the calories, we were intaking them :). Vacation is such a wonderful time to adventure, try new foods and totally indulge yourself. We bank on it every time. That means it’s time to get back on track and fuel our bodies with healthy, powerful and vitamin-rich goodies to keep us going strong. This Wilted Kale Salad does just the trick.

I absolutely love this Wilted Kale Salad and it is one of my go-to ways to serve up kale. Its healthy and delicious, so what more could you ask for? I can even get John to gobble down some kale with this scrumptious recipe! Another amazing thing about it, it is simple ingredients cooked in a quick and simple way to get a flavorful dish.

This wonderful Wilted Kale Salad can be eaten as is on it’s own with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, served as a side dish to any weeknight dinner or holiday meal, topped with protein such as chicken, shrimp, steak or tofu to be a complete meal, or eaten as a quick and healthy lunch to keep you going. Whip it up and be ready to eat in under 20 minutes!

 

Wilted Kale Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 small/medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 10 oz chopped kale
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Shaved Parmesan for garnish

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add in the red onions and saute until translucent and slightly caramelized about 5-8 minutes, avoiding any burning. Add in the honey and white balsamic vinegar and saute and stir to combine.
  2. Add the chopped kale to the skillet, pour the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over the top and stir to combine the kale with the red onions, honey and white balsamic vinegar. Saute for several minutes or until the kale is just slightly wilted and starting to cook. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Serve warm immediately with Parmesan shavings on top.

 

Pumpkin Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

The fact that its November already is just mind blowing to me! Maybe its the fact that we are in Hawaii with a high of 90 degrees and missed the first snow back home that we were actually bummed about…we’re crazy, right?

We’re the crazy Nebraskans missing Fall back home and have already eaten all the pumpkin bread that our local Starbucks in Hawaii had to offer. We’re loving Hawaii, don’t get me wrong, but we will be ready to put on our stretchy pants and dig into the holiday season. These Pumpkin Pecan Rolls will take you there real quick! The perfect amount of pumpkin swirled with sweet cinnamon and crunchy pecans. It’s a match made for each other.

These Pumpkin Pecan Rolls are perfect for any holiday brunch, weekend breakfast or weekday treat to get your day started. Wouldn’t they just be perfect for Thanksgiving morning as you’re basting your turkey to golden perfection? I think so! You know what I’ll be snacking on. That and coffee. You need to have your coffee.

Cinnamon rolls can be daunting to make, but do not fret over these Pumpkin Pecan Rolls! Just give yourself an adequate amount of time and you are all set to go. Bake these up this Fall and Winter and your house will smell magical and your tummy will be pleased.

 

Pumpkin Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

makes about 8 rolls

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, lightly whisk together the yeast, 1 tablespoon of sugar and warm water to activate the yeast. Set aside. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, warm the milk and 1 stick of butter until the butter is completely melted, careful to not boil. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, 1/2 cup sugar and salt until combined. Slowly whisk in the cooled butter and milk mixture until combined with the eggs. Add in the yeast mixture until just combined and then fold in the flour until a sticky dough forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm area (stovetop or window in the sun) to let the dough rise for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours.
  3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Generously flour your working surface and rolling pin. Roll the dough out into a 1/4 inch rectangle, flouring the surface, dough and rolling pin as needed. The dough may be slightly sticky. Melt the remaining 1 stick of butter and lightly spread a thin layer on top of the dough, using only about 1/4 of the melted butter. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup sugar on top of the butter and follow it with the cinnamon on top of it. Gently spread the pumpkin puree over the top of the cinnamon and sugar.
  4. Pour the remaining melted butter into the bottom of a 13×9 baking pan. Mix it with the brown sugar and chopped pecans and spread it in an even layer on the bottom of the pan.
  5. Starting at one end of the dough rectangle, roll the dough up into a log, making sure that the filling does not come out. Use flour as needed. Cut the log into 8 equal rolls and place them on top of the butter pecan mixture in the baking pan. Since the rolls will be flipped at the end, put the top side of the rolls down first.
  6. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and let rise for 20-30 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and bake the rolls for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown on top and cooked through in the centers.
  7. Immediately flip the rolls onto a baking sheet after removing from the oven, being careful of the pecan mixture as it will be hot. Remove the baking pan after the rolls are flipped and let cool slightly prior to serving. The rolls can be made in advance and reheated to serve.

Seared Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce

We ate so much wonderful salmon down in Hawaii that we just can’t get over it. It was so fresh, buttery and scrumptious that we were eating any chance we got! To say the least, this Seared Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce is here to the rescue to curb our cravings!

The sauce truly is the boss in this dish. I could just eat it by the spoonful! John and I ate this one night for dinner, and then turned around and made it with my parents the next night. We have now been comparing every fish dish to this and simply saying: “It needs the sauce.” My family has always been big fish eaters since my Grandpa and Dad have been big into fishing up in Lake Michigan every year. Whether it be salmon, cod or rainbow trout, this sauce will rock every single one of them!

Want to know what else is so fantastic about this dish? It can be ready in 30 minutes! It is perfect for a quick and healthy weeknight dinner, or you can even serve it up to feed a fancy dinner crowd. Either way, every last bite will be eaten and you have a crowd-pleasing meal that didn’t bust the bank or the clock.

Serve this Seared Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce with a side of my Wilted Kale Salad for a super immune boosting meal and an easy way to have a vitamin-packed dinner in under 30 minutes! If you serve this with potatoes, rice, couscous, bread, green beans, broccoli, or really anything else, just do yourself a favor and pour the sauce over your whole plate. You’re welcome.

 

Seared Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce

serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 – 5 oz salmon filets with skin
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons fresh dill, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Season both sides of the salmon filets with salt and pepper. Sear the salmon skin side down first for about 5-7 minutes, or until a golden brown crust starts to form.
  2. Carefully flip the salmon filets away from you to avoid any oil splatter. Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until the inside reaches desired doneness.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour until a pasty roux is created. Whisk in the heavy cream and bring the mixture to a low simmer. Whisk in the dill, lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Continue to cook on a very low simmer (avoiding any boiling) until the mixture thickens, about a couple minutes.
  4. Serve the salmon filets immediately with the creamy dill sauce and fresh dill as a garnish.

Nut Butter Breakfast Smoothies

One of my main staples when I run to the grocery store is to stock up on granola bars as John and I are huge fans of a “grab-and-go” breakfast. A brand that is always tossed into my grocery cart is Kashi and their scrumptious granola bar options. We have always had our favorite kinds that we would each grab in the morning with the exception of John reaching for one of mine when he ate through all of his too fast. So, to say that I was excited when Kashi sent me all their new Chewy Nut Butter Bars for free to try out and experiment with is a huge understatement. I immediately snatched one out of each box to sample and ended up eating the whole darn bar each time. They are just THAT good.

If you are anything like me, breakfast is not on the forefront of your mind (with the exception of coffee) and a granola bar or handheld snack is what you fall back on when you are scampering to get out of the door. I get it. It can be a lot of work to whip up a delicious, healthy and satisfying breakfast without making a huge mess in your kitchen. Let these Nut Butter Breakfast Smoothies come to your rescue.

You know what is so great about these Nut Butter Breakfast Smoothies? Besides featuring a different kind of Chewy Nut Butter Bar in each smoothie, they are quick, simple and made with ingredients that you would have on hand in your pantry and refrigerator. Its the popular, trending and healthy thing to load your smoothies up with nuts, granolas, seeds, protein, fiber and all sorts of other goodies that it can make your head spin. Let’s be honest here: it can be pricey, time consuming, space consuming and somewhat of a headache to stay stocked up on all of these items to toss into a smoothie. Your solution: Kashi Chewy Nut Butter Bars! That’s right, these bars are already stocked with all these wholesome goodies and they are waiting for you in your cupboard to fuel your next smoothie. Hassle-free and you don’t have to worry about a short expiration date!

Blend these smoothies up to jumpstart your day and have a breakfast or snack that is packed full of good-for-you nutrients. A smoothie a day keeps the doctor away, right? I think it’s close enough.

 

Pumpkin Almond Snickerdoodle Smoothie

makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth and desired consistency is reached.
  2. Top your smoothie with melted almond butter, crushed almonds or cinnamon and enjoy.

Tropical Cashew Coconut Smoothie

makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth or desired consistency is acquired. More or less soy milk may be added to achieve this.
  2. Top your smoothie with coconut flakes, melted cashew butter, toasted cashews, or fresh mango and enjoy.

Blueberry Almond Trail Mix Smoothie

makes 1 serving

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth or desired consistency is achieved.
  2. Top your smoothie with melted almond butter, fresh blueberries, chopped dark chocolate, or assorted nuts and enjoy.

 

 

 

 

4 Comfy Fall Dress Ideas

Once Fall rolls around, you better believe that I will just be sporting my yoga pants, sweats and the most fabulous one-size-fits-all pants whenever I can. I’m all about comfort, warmth and ease when it comes to my wardrobe and I can’t wait for the seasons to change when I get to put away my shorts and don’t have to worry about my legs getting stuck on the seat from the Summer heat. Anyone else with me? I wear dresses all Summer long, but stock them away once the weather starts to change. By golly, I’m going to try to change that! I challenged myself to put together a handful of comfortable dress options that I can wear throughout the Fall without getting too chilly or sacrificing comfort. Here you go – it’s all I’ve got.

Long Sleeve T-Shirt Dress

Everything about t-shirt dresses are just wonderful. I mean, it’s a t-shirt…that is a dress. Perfection. Toss in some long sleeves and you’ve got me sold. A chunky scarf and some booties help this dress scream “Fall” and all you need is a pumpkin spice latte in hand to be on point.

Sweater Dress

A sweater in a dress form is right up there with the t-shirt dress. They are so warm and cozy that you are just walking around with your arms through a blanket. So, basically a Snuggie that is socially acceptable and considered cute. Toss on some tall boots or over-the-knee boots to help keep your legs warm and you are all set. If the temps drop even more, you can throw on a pair of leggings underneath this dress and be on your way.

Chunky Cardigan + Dress

This combo is probably one of the most easy ways to take your summer or short sleeve dresses into the cooler seasons. Toss on any comfy and cuddly cardigan, a pair of booties and snuggle on up into comfort.

Long Sleeve Maxi Dress

Talk about an all-in-one package. You have a dress that can be casual or dressed up for all the holiday parties you are invited to. Long sleeves, a long dress to cover your unshaved legs and all in one piece. This dress is unfortunately sold out, but where I purchased it has plenty of maxi dress options! Hop on over to Ashley LeMieux to see what you can find.

 

Chocolate Espresso Cream Cheese Bundt Cake

I can’t tell you how excited I am about this Chocolate Espresso Cream Cheese Bundt Cake! I bought my first bundt cake pan this year (crazy, right?!) and I couldn’t wait to bake one up!

The flavor profile of this Chocolate Espresso Cream Cheese Bundt Cake is inspired by my Mom’s decadent Layered Mocha Cheesecake that she typically only makes around the holiday and Christmas season. The Oreo cookie crust, layers of chocolate cheesecake and coffee cheesecake are topped off with a chocolate ganache it is just love at first bite. Whip all those ingredients up with a scrumptious chocolate cake and that is what this bundt cake is all about! Don’t be frightened by having an espresso cream cheese filling in this bundt cake as it is easy to accomplish if you just keep the filling from touching any sides of the bundt pan. Trust me, it happened a couple times to me and the filling just oozes out! Once you get a spoonful/forkful of this Chocolate Espresso Cream Cheese Bundt Cake there will be no turning back!

Is there anything better than chocolate, espresso cream cheese, Oreo cookies and a dark chocolate ganache? I can’t think of much! One thing that is so awesome about bundt cakes is how user-friendly they are. I accidentally let my bundt cake sit too long in the pan after taking it out of the oven (it was about 30 minutes) and a thin layer of the top of the cake stuck to the pan when I turned it out. But by golly, you can just cover that top with ganache and Oreos and no one will ever know. Truth is, this recipe took me 5 different times of making it to perfect it. FIVE. If you have ever seen the movie Julie & Julia, the scene where Julie is laying on the floor sobbing with a raw chicken and stuffing all around her because she couldn’t even truss a chicken is a pretty accurate scene of what it felt like when the cake kept turning out too dry, too dense, or too thin. Now there was no sobbing, physical crying or laying on the floor involved, but you know what I mean! (Insert laughing/crying face emoji) Sometimes life just happens and your cake doesn’t turn out.

But boy, oh boy was this recipe worth it! All the ingredients combine to create the perfect slice of bundt cake and it’s like my little baby bundt cake recipe that I will treasure forever and ever. The whole family got invested in this venture as five different cakes were made in one week and everyone was trying it, critiquing it, complimenting it and finally savoring and craving every bite. The constant grocery trips to restock on ingredients may have gotten a little old (I am now well-stocked on enough cream cheese to carry me to Thanksgiving), but when this puppy comes out of the oven all you have is “ooo’s” and “ahhhh’s”.

This Chocolate Espresso Cream Cheese Bundt Cake is perfect for any occasion. Weeknight/weekend baking, birthdays, holidays, parties or just to have a bundt cake to snack on at midnight when you just can’t resist taking a bite. I may or may not be guilty of this. Just take a look at this bundt cake, how could you not resist?!

Disclaimer: please don’t be alarmed by it taking me 5 times to perfect it. The recipe testing process was SO worth it to have a scrumptious bundt cake turn out. You can totally do this!

 

Chocolate Espresso Cream Cheese Bundt Cake 

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons espresso powder
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs

For the filling:

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 teaspoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons espresso powder
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 Oreo cookies

For the topping:

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped Oreo cookies

Directions:

For the cake:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons espresso powder and hot water until combined. Set aside to cool. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about a couple minutes. Turn the speed to low and add in one egg at a time, making sure that the egg is completely combined before adding another one. Add in the heavy cream and vanilla and mix until just combined.
  3. With the speed still on low, add in the flour mixture and the cocoa mixture alternatively into the butter mixture until all of the ingredients are combined. Do this in about three different batches of alternating dry and wet ingredients into the butter mixture. Scrap down the edges and bottom of the bowl to make sure all of the ingredients are combined.

For the filling:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the espresso powder and water to activate the espresso powder. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy, about a couple minutes. Add in the flour and mix until combined. Add in the egg, vanilla and espresso mixture and beat until all of the ingredients are combined and smooth.

Assemble & Bake:

  1. In a sprayed bundt pan, start by pouring half of the cake batter evenly into the bottom of the pan. Using a 1 tablespoon scoop or a spoon, scoop the cream cheese filling into the center of the bundt cake, making sure that you don’t let the filling touch either sides of the bundt cake pan. Smooth the cream cheese filling into an even layer.
  2. Gently lay the 8 Oreo cookings on top of the cream cheese filling in the center of the cake. Pour the remaining cake batter over the top of the Oreos and cream cheese filling in an even layer, making sure that no cookies or filling is showing.
  3. Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean. If the top looks slightly underdone, that is ok. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes in the pan before turning it. Turn it out onto desired surface to cool completely.

For the topping:

  1. 15 minutes prior to serving, bring the heavy cream to a very low simmer over low heat. Whisk in the dark chocolate chips until a smooth ganache forms. Remove from the heat immediately and pour the ganache over the top of the bundt cake, letting it cascade down the sides. Top with the chopped Oreo cookies and let the ganache set and cool slightly before serving.

 

 

 

Loaded Breakfast Sweet Potatoes

Come one, come all, because Loaded Breakfast Sweet Potatoes are here to call you out of bed! Let’s just take a minute to soak this in. Loaded Breakfast Sweet Potatoes. It’s really happening! Your new favorite breakfast is a spin off of a classic loaded baked potato, but packed with all things delicious and healthy to help fuel your day!

These Loaded Breakfast Sweet Potatoes are so fun because they can be so versatile! Feel free to load them up with any of your favorite toppings. Canadian bacon, ham, hollandaise sauce, poached eggs, veggies, sour cream or anything else that your heart so desires. I went ahead with the classic sunny-side-up egg because it is just hard to beat! The drippy and drool-worthy yolk tie it all together like a perfect little breakfast package. If you choose to go with a scrambled egg or no egg at all, I would recommend having some sort of sauce or sour cream to hit the ball out of the park. I also cooked bacon today for this recipe and I think my husband about had a heart attack. He is a bacon-lover and I don’t like the way it stinks up the house even if you have your overhead vent on high. Needless to say, I took a shower afterwards.

This recipe can be made for weekday breakfasts to start your day, or for brunch to feed a crowd. Have fun with the toppings and set up a breakfast sweet potato bar where everyone can stuff, top and drizzle their sweet potato however they please. The sweet potatoes can be baked in advance and re-heated prior to serving, so this would be a perfect meal-prep breakfast or way to be ready to have the family over for brunch!

Be careful when you’re pitting the avocado, though, because I was careless and the knife ran straight down the side of my finger. A lot of Despicable Me bandaids were needed but it is on the mend.

We are re-heating these tonight to have breakfast for dinner (brinner) and we couldn’t be happier.

 

Loaded Breakfast Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, rinsed and patted dry
  • 12 oz bag frozen corn
  • 4 strips of bacon, fried/cooked to your liking and roughly chopped (more can be made if you would prefer more than 1 strip of bacon per potato)
  • 4 eggs cooked sunny-side up (or however you desire)
  • 1 avocado, pitted and sliced
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Using a sharp knife, cut open a large slit on each sweet potato running the long ways from one end to the other of the sweet potato. Place the sweet potatoes in a 9×13 pan and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are cooked all the way through and soft. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
  2. When there is 15 minutes left of the sweet potatoes cooking, spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray and evenly layer the frozen corn on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the corn with salt and pepper and bake until slightly roasted and cooked through, about 15 minutes.
  3. Using two forks, gently pull away the sweet potato skins where you made the slits to begin with. You want to widen the opening so that you can have room to top and load your sweet potato. Use the forks to fluff the inside of the sweet potato. Continue this process on each sweet potato.
  4. Start topping your sweet potato and load it up with the roasted corn, chopped bacon, sliced avocado and sunny-side up egg. Season to taste with salt and pepper and enjoy!

 

 

Harvest Berry Sangria

Have you noticed that 99.9 % of my drinks and cocktails are sangrias? Oh well! A girl needs to do what a girl needs to do! Sangria is always my first go-to when I even consider whipping up a cocktail at home. I love the simplicity and ease of how you can just dump everything in a pitcher, stir it up and you are all set to go. This Harvest Berry Sangria highlights all the wonderful flavors going on around us right now. Fresh picked apples, crisp and bright pears, juicy blackberries and a hint of basil make this sangria a Fall delight.

When I was growing up, I would always choose to draw a pear when our art teacher told us to draw a piece of fruit. I don’t know why I couldn’t choose something normal like an apple, but I guess I just needed to be that much extra. Have you ever drawn a pear? SO much better than drawing an apple. Don’t worry, I’ve always been a little weird. Point of the story being: pears are much more enjoyable to draw than apples. Sometimes life just goes that way.

This Harvest Berry Sangria is perfect for this time of year! Whip up a batch, let it cool in the refrigerator, pour some glasses of sangria and then you have a happy crowd around you. If you are not a fan of the taste of basil, it can easily be subbed out for an herb of your choice (maybe rosemary or thyme), or left out completely. Be careful when you are muddling the blackberries, though, because they can be quite juicy and stain your clothes or towels if your not careful! I may or may not be speaking from experience.

Another great quality about this sangria recipe is that it can be made up to a day or two in advance to serving. When all the ingredients get to sit together, it just makes it even better!

 

Harvest Berry Sangria

 

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz blackberries
  • 1 large Gala apple, thinly sliced
  • 1 green Bartlet pear, thinly sliced (try to not use a ripened one as it will disintegrate)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh basil
  • 1 bottle Moscato wine
  • 2 cups lemon-lime soda
  • 3/4 cup pear vodka

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, muddle half of the blackberries with the chopped basil. A back of a spoon can be used to do this. Muddle until there are no large chunks of blackberries. Strain the mixture to get rid of any blackberry seeds and set aside.
  2. In the bottom of a large pitcher, combine the apple, pear, fresh blackberries and the muddled blackberries. Pour in the Moscato, lemon-lime soda and pear vodka. Stir gently to combine.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to a day in advance prior to serving. If you are going to wait awhile to serve the sangria, add the lemon-lime soda just prior to serving to maintain the fizz aspect of the sangria.

Hashbrown Crusted Quiche

If you are looking for a perfect, delicious breakfast or brunch recipe to have on hand, then you are in the right spot! Sometimes you just need to have a good quiche baking away in the oven to serve up for breakfast instead of having to crack open and cook a dozen eggs to order. A quiche is such a simple way to please everyone and feed a crowd! Or just yourself, because leftovers are definitely welcomed here!

This quiche bakes up nice and fluffy in the oven and doesn’t mind being reheated. I love the addition of fresh broccoli as it lightens the dish and brings a good brightness. You want to know what is so great about quiches? They are SO versatile! Add in some ham, bacon, peppers or anything else that your heart desires and you still have a great meal! It even has a hashbrown crust so you really can’t go wrong. Who doesn’t love hashbrowns? If you don’t, then we need to have a talk.

This quiche recipe can carry you through any time of year, occasion, holiday or surprise brunch that you have to host. Whip it up, put it in the oven and let it do it’s thing. Little work for delicious results!

PS: double this recipe to fit into a 9×13 pan and feed even more people!

 

Hashbrown Crusted Quiche

 

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz frozen hashbrowns (you can buy 16 oz bags and use half)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, in small pieces, about 1 head of broccoli
  • 1/3 cup shredded asiago cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray and evenly line the hashbrowns on the bottom of the plate and up the sides to create a crust. Bake the hashbrowns for 20-25 minutes or until slightly golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and sprinkle lightly with salt.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, cottage cheese, monterey jack cheese and heavy cream. Stir in the broccoli florets and season with salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the hashbrowns and sprinkle the top with the asiago cheese.
  3. Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the quiche is fluffy and cooked.

 

Butternut Squash Noodle Stir Fry

With my mom having grown a plethora of butternut squash in her garden this year (over 100 of them!), we just needed to get some spiralized! The butternut squash curls into the most perfect noodles and coils to take the place of any regular pasta. They are just too fun! Toss them together with some fresh veggies, plump shrimp and a homemade sesame sauce and you have a winner of a stir fry dish.

The vibrant colors and fresh flavors of this dish can’t be beat. You won’t even miss having real noodles! The butternut squash noodles have a hearty texture that will leave you full and satisfied, yet feeling like you just ate a spinach and kale salad. But you didn’t just eat  a spinach and kale salad, you had butternut squash, crispy snap peas, vibrant bell peppers and protein-packed shrimp tossed together with a noteworthy sauce.

Not only is this dish healthy and colorful, but it is so tasty that you can have your family and friends gobbling it up in front of you! And to make it even better, this stir fry can be ready to go in 30 minutes. Talk about a great weeknight meal to toss together! But wait, there’s more. Because the butternut squash is so hearty, this meal stands up so well to being kept in the refrigerator for a couple days and reheated. Saute up a batch of this butternut squash noodle stir fry and have the perfect meal prep for the rest of the week!

This stir fry dish is perfect for a quick weeknight meal, a healthy lunch idea, or a meal prep option to get you through the week. Spiralizing is a fun task to do, so have your kiddos, family or friends help you out to make it go even quicker! If you don’t have access to a spiralizer or good butternut squash, you can find pre-spiralized butternut squash noodles in most grocery stores these days.

 

Butternut Squash Noodle Stir Fry 

Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 1 large butternut squash peeled and with the bulb/bowl end of the squash set aside for another use (you will only be able to spiralize the “neck” of the squash)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 8 oz snap peas
  • 16 oz raw shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Directions:

  1. Spiralize the butternut squash using the smaller noodle setting on the spiralizer. You can use the large noodle setting, but will need to adjust the cooking time of the noodles as they will take longer to cook.
  2. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add in the shrimp and cook until they are just cooked through and turn pink, about a couple minutes on each side. Season the shrimp lightly with salt and pepper and remove from the pan for later use.
  3. Add the butternut squash noodles to the pan and saute them for 3-5 minutes, or until they just start to cook through. Add in the snap peas and red bell peppers and saute for several minutes more, or until the peppers start to become softer.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the hoisin, soy sauce, garlic, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes and honey until combined. Pour the sauce over the butternut squash noodles and veggies in the saute pan and toss to coat. Add the shrimp back into the pan and toss again to combine. Cover the stir fry with a lid to steam the noodles for a few minutes. Remove the lid and serve the stir fry when the butternut squash noodles have reached desired texture. If you prefer them to be less crunchy and more soft, reduce the heat to medium-low and continue the saute process until they reach a firmness you desire.

Baked Churro Donuts with Dark Chocolate Ganache

Oh my goodness gracious. I don’t think I am ever going to get over these Baked Churro Donuts! And a Dark Chocolate Ganache?! It’s a match made in churro heaven! A fluffy, cinnamon donut dusted in sweet, cinnamon sugar and drizzled with a dark chocolate ganache. Take a bite, close your eyes and savor the moments of eating this treat!

Just thinking about these make me giddy. Unfortunately, we ate the last ones last night and are already going through withdrawals from them! I have never been a huge donut person primarily due to the fact that if I was going to eat something that rich and indulgent,  I’d rather have a piece of cake. But, these baked donuts are game changer! Since they’re baked rather than fried, you don’t feel as guilty about eating one or two. You don’t have to worry, though, because these are certainly not lacking in any richness or flavor just because they are baked instead of fried!

When I was up in Ann Arbor, Michigan for a food photography workshop earlier this year hosted by Sarah from Broma Bakery, she took us all out to a local restaurant up there called Aventura and they served us some epically good, classic churros with a chocolate dipping sauce and a caramel dipping sauce. I raved all about them to my husband and he was all sorts of jelly about it. Driving in the car the other day it hit me like a sack of potatoes, I needed a churro with a dreamy chocolate sauce. I knew right then and there that I was going to make a churro donut and it is all of my churro dreams come true!

Not only are these Baked Churro Donuts scrumptious and delicious, but they come together in a breeze! You don’t have to worry about heating up any oil, frying dough, or making your house smell greasy. You can bake these up for a sweet treat breakfast, a mid-day nibble, or a decadent dessert. Either way, your house will smell sweet and warm from the cinnamon and sugar.

The dark chocolate ganache can be drizzled on top of and coat each donut, or it can be served as a dipping sauce. Either way, it is a must-have! Dark chocolate and cinnamon dance perfectly together.

 

Baked Churro Donuts with Dark Chocolate Ganache 

Makes 8 donuts

Ingredients:

For the donuts:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the cinnamon sugar coating:

  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2/3 cups sugar

For the dark chocolate ganache:

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients for the donuts until combined. This mixture will include the flour, cinnamon, sugar, salt and baking powder. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients for the donuts until combined. This mixture will include the eggs, heavy cream, butter and vanilla.
  2. Slowly combine the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients for the donuts and mix until combined. Using a piping bag or a plastic food storage bag with a corner cut off, pipe the donut batter into a sprayed donut pan, filling each donut 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a donut comes out clean and the tops start to turn a golden brown. Flip the donuts out on a cooling rack to cool slightly.
  3. While the donuts are baking, prepare the cinnamon sugar coating by putting the melted butter on one small plate and the cinnamon and sugar on another small plate. Stir together the cinnamon and sugar to evenly combine. Once the donuts are cool enough to touch, work with one donut at a time to coat. Lightly coat the donut in the melted butter (wherever there is butter the cinnamon sugar will stick!) and then toss in the cinnamon sugar and place back on a cooling rack or plate. Continue until all donuts are coated.
  4. For the dark chocolate ganache, bring the heavy cream to a very low simmer over low heat in a small saucepan. Whisk in the dark chocolate chips and continue to whisk until smooth and glossy, about a few minutes. Serve the churro donuts with the dark chocolate ganache drizzled over the top or served as a dipping sauce.

Brown Sugar Sweet Potato Wedges

Nothing beats being able to toss everything for dinner in the oven, let it roast away and not have to worry about the fuss or hassle to get it on the table. These Brown Sugar Sweet Potato Wedges fit that bill and are packed full of flavor! They make your house smell amazingly sweet and delicious as they roast away in the oven and the brown sugar starts to caramelize all around them. What’s not to love? And you get the health benefits from the sweet potato! It really is a win-win situation.

No frills or anything fancy here, but honest, delicious and healthy food to set on your table. These Brown Sugar Sweet Potato Wedges are the perfect companion to any of your weeknight dinner entrees, holiday meals, or family get-togethers. I paired them with my Lemon Herb Butter Roasted Chicken and it was a match made in heaven.

You know what is also great about these flavorful wedges? You can reuse them! I used the leftovers from the Lemon Herb Butter Roasted Chicken and these Brown Sugar Sweet Potato Wedges and turned them into a delicious chicken pot pie! The sweet potatoes took the place of the carrots in a typical chicken pot pie and it was like a bite of Fall in every spoonful taken.

You won’t be disappointed by the simplicity and deliciousness that these sweet potato wedges deliver!

 

Brown Sugar Sweet Potato Wedges

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch thick wedges with skins on
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the sweet potato wedges, olive oil, brown sugar, seasoned salt, thyme and cinnamon until all of the sweet potato wedges are coated evenly.
  3. Evenly lay the sweet potato wedges flat on a non-stick baking sheet, you may need to use 2 baking sheets depending on the size. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the sweet potato wedges are cooked through and caramelized on the outside. Flip the wedges over halfway through the cooking process to insure caramelization on both sides of the wedges.

 

 

Lemon Herb Butter Roasted Chicken

Am I the only crazy one who gets all sorts of excited and giddy when the gloomy, rainy, cloudy, cooler weather starts to roll in? I love the sunshine and bright fall colors as well, but the dreary weather just gets to me and has me all worked up. They are the perfect days to throw on some sweats, preheat your oven, get a good movie playing in the background and whip up some amazing food and treats that are going to have your house smelling like a Fall candle. PS: doing it with loved ones, family and friends doesn’t hurt either. And when it gets cold enough you can watch the snow fall!! Ok, I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

One of my go-to meals to get roasting away in the oven is a whole chicken. It’s hard to beat the warmth and comfort that roasting a chicken brings to your home. It’s a meal that brings everyone together and makes you feel good from the inside out. Fresh herbs, vibrant lemon and the rich butter elevates this roasted chicken to a top choice for a chicken dinner. If you are fearful about roasting a whole chicken, don’t be! As long as it’s not partially frozen and you have a food thermometer, it’s easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy to just let this chicken roast away in the oven and to check the temperature of the meat towards the end of the cooking process. As long as you are getting it to 165 degrees in the thickest part of the chicken, you are good to go! Look at that, you can be a chicken roasting pro!

Putting this chicken on the table will turn heads and queue the “ooh’s” and “ahhh’s” from around the table. Another great thing about roasting a whole chicken is how versatile it is to use up! I made this during the day to photograph it (food blogger probs), and it would’ve been dry if I kept it in the oven until later that evening when our guests came over for dinner. So, chicken pot pie was the answer! All I had to do was take the meat off the bones, use the juices in the bottom of the dutch oven from the chicken to make the sauce, toss in some veggies, let it simmer away, and then bake it up with some store-bought pie crust and we had a delicious dinner to eat! Soups, stews, pot pies, or just shredded chicken to have on hand are a few ideas that you can use this roasted chicken for.

This roasted chicken dinner can be served up with any veggies or sides that you so desire, but you just gotta try it with my Brown Sugar Sweet Potato Wedges! They are the perfect companion to serve along side this Lemon Herb Butter Roasted Chicken. And a good old-fashioned baguette never hurt anyone either. Set this meal on the table, bring together family and friends, let the conversation start to flow and enjoy a comforting meal that is good for you too.

 

Lemon Herb Butter Roasted Chicken 

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken, about 2-3 pounds depending on size desired
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons seasoned salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 medium onion, roughly cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 large lemon (or 2 smaller ones), cut into 8 pieces
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place the chicken breast side up in the bottom of a dutch oven large enough to hold the chicken. (If you don’t have a dutch oven, you can use any sort of large baking dish that has an oven-safe lid or roasting pan.) Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the butter, seasoned salt, thyme and pepper until combined. Generously rub all of the herb butter all over the chicken until evenly covered. Place the chopped onion, lemon, and fresh rosemary sprigs all around the chicken in the dutch oven.
  4. Roast the chicken for 45 minutes with the lid on, and then remove the lid and continue to roast the chicken for another hour – hour and ten minutes for a total cook time of 1 hour 45-55 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken reaches 165 degrees. Roasting the chicken without the lid on will also allow the skin to brown.

 

S’mores Hot Chocolate

S’mores Hot Chocolate. Are you ready for this?! Because I have been anxiously waiting for the temps to drop to whip out these bad boys! This is like the ultimate hot chocolate recipe that you just gotta have! This is where you would insert all the heart-eyed emojis that you can, because there is just so much love for this drink! When you lay eyes on them, you will have the same heart-eyes as those little, yellow emojis. All the love.

Hot chocolate just screams Fall and Winter to me as you are typically sipping on creamy, hot chocolate goodness when you come in from adventuring out in the colder weather, braving the cooler temperatures with hot chocolate in your mitten-covered hands, or needing a warm treat while the leaves or snow are falling outside. Can you feel it? Do you have the mittens or the freezing cold fingers? Mine are always freezing cold no matter what I do, so you better believe I am all over that hot chocolate!

This drink is perfect for all cold weather occasions, but is so fun to whip up to shock a crowd or your family! It is a show-stopper and you don’t even have to break a sweat making it. Picture the look on your guest’s faces if you serve this up at a fall festive party, holiday bash or casual get-together. Please refer back to the heart-eyed emojis. Oooo, how fun would it be to have some sort of little flame that your guests could roast their own marshmallows?! SO fun. If you trust them, let them use your gas stove top if you have one, or you may have to revert to a very strong-flamed candle or blow torch. You’ll have to make that judgement call.

All of the wonderful, sticky, chocolate, and roasted goodness of a s’mores is wrapped up in this warm mug of hot chocolate. The chocolate dipped, graham cracker coated rim is just a must. It pulls together all of the s’mores flavors and delivers a bang in appearance. White carpet warning: you don’t have to make them as messy as pictured to save your house from gooey, chocolate stains. Each sip or gulp out of these mugs of S’mores Hot Chocolate will warm the back of your throat and your tummy as you close your eyes and give a chocolate-coated grin. You may want to have some paper towels or napkins ready to go.

This recipe is very versatile as it can be made in advance and reheated prior to serving. You could even warm it up in a slow cooker and have guests ladle-up their own mug! It’s just the same, perfect hot chocolate flavor the next day that you can’t resist. You could also make this an adult beverage by adding in Amaretto or Kahlua liquor instead of the extracts listed below. I would say to just add a shot of desired liquor into each mug served. This can be adjusted to your liking for a stronger or weaker beverage.

Break out this show-stopper hot chocolate without breaking a sweat and watch the heart-eyes start to pop up all around you.

 

S’mores Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 gallon 2% milk
  • 8 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate bar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 oz crushed graham crackers (one pack of graham crackers)
  • Marshmallows for topping (regular, little or big)

Directions:

  1. In a deep pot, slowly heat the milk over medium-low heat until steaming. Be careful to not let the milk boil as it will cause the drink to not be smooth. Whisk in 6 oz of the semi-sweet baking chocolate bar and whisk until it has melted into the milk and is a smooth mixture, about a few minutes. Whisk in the cocoa powder, almond extract and vanilla extract until smooth and blended. Reduce the heat to low and keep the hot chocolate warm until ready to serve. If you are making this ahead of time, this is where you would let the mixture cool and store in the refrigerator. When you are ready to serve, slowly bring the hot chocolate back up to temperature to keep it smooth and frothy.
  2. To make the chocolate dipped, graham cracker rims, melt the remaining 2 oz of semi-sweet baking chocolate on a plate in the microwave for about 45 seconds, or until melted. Pour the crushed graham crackers out on a separate plate. Working with one mug at a time, dip the rim in the melted chocolate and then into the crushed graham crackers to coat. Let the rims set for a couple minutes prior to filling the mug with the hot chocolate. Serve with roasted marshmallows on top.

Creamy Pumpkin Rigatoni

The temperatures have officially dropped, it’s been all sorts of rainy and dreary, and I’ve been loving every minute of it! Am I the only crazy one out there? Full-on cozy mode has officially started. If you don’t have pumpkin in the fall, then I don’t really know what you’re going to do with yourself. I love all the pumpkin baked goodies (you know I am going to be making them!), but I also love to use pumpkin in a savory setting because it is just so delicious! Creamy Pumpkin Rigatoni is the way to go if you are in need of a comfort food dish to warm up your heart and your tummy this fall and winter season.

Your house is going to smell crazy good as this dish is baking away in your oven! Pumpkin puree whisked into a creamy herb cheese sauce is what all of your Fall dreams are made of. The pumpkin blends right into the cheese sauce to bring an earthy and delicious touch to this baked pasta. The blend of Mozzarella and Asiago just make this dish sing. Can we take a minute to talk about Asiago cheese? Because, next to Parmesan, it is one of my absolute favorite cheeses! I always have to have my refrigerator stocked with good Parm and Asiago.

This is the perfect fall dish to put on the table and have everyone dig in. Feed a crowd or a family with this Creamy Pumpkin Rigatoni and you will have happy smiles and full tummies.

PS: did I mention how much I LOVE Fall?!

 

Creamy Pumpkin Rigatoni

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper (or to desired taste)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded asiago cheese
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 16 oz rigatoni pasta

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, whisk in the flour to create a roux. Whisk in the whole milk and the half and half until the roux and the liquids are combined. Reduce the heat to low and slowly bring the mixture to a low simmer. Make sure to not boil the mixture as it will cause the sauce to not be smooth.
  3. Whisk the thyme, oregano, white pepper, salt, pumpkin pie spice, mozzarella and 1/2 cup of the asiago cheese into the milk mixture. Whisk until the sauce is creamy and smooth and starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Whisk the pumpkin puree into the cream sauce.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the rigatoni according to package instructions until al dente. Strain the pasta and stir into the creamy pumpkin sauce once the sauce has reached desired thickness.
  5. Pour the creamy pumpkin rigatoni into a 13×9 baking dish and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of asiago cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the mixture bubbles slightly on the edges. Turn on the broiler and broil the top of the pasta for a couple minutes, or until the cheese on the top is melted and browned slightly. Enjoy!

Apple Pie Cobbler with a Caramel Drizzle

Fall is here! Fall is here! Can you tell that I’m excited? It’s hard to believe that it is officially Fall when it is still 95 degrees here in Nebraska. The weather needs to get with the program! Oh well, it’s looking like it will cool off next week and I can go full-speed ahead into cozy mode. One way to do so is to whip up a batch of this Apple Pie Cobbler! Stone fruits and berries don’t need to be the only stars in a cobbler. Take one bite of this Apple Pie Cobbler and it’s like the sweet apple pie of your dreams without all the work! Don’t forget about the quick caramel sauce topping, because what isn’t better with caramel drizzled on top of it?

We went to the annual Applejack Festival held in Nebraska City last week and hand-picked these beautiful Jonathan apples, so they were fresh and juicy! Since I had fresh Jonathan apples on hand, I went ahead and used those, but you can use your apple of choice in this dish (I would stay away from really sweet ones such as Red Delicious). This dessert screams fall and comfort, and you don’t even have to slave over it! It is the perfect fall dessert to feed a crowd, bring to a holiday party, or to bake a batch and have leftovers to heat up throughout the week. Be careful, though, because this cobbler is so good that my yellow lab decided to eat almost the whole thing while I was running errands! It was covered on the counter and she just sat on up there and had herself a nice, big snack.

The biscuit topping gives this cobbler a “pillow-effect” that is just so compatible with the sweet, juicy, cinnamon apples underneath. Call me crazy, but I love apple skins and peach skins, so I always leave them on my fruit, but you can definitely peel your fruit before baking if you prefer! Leaving the skins on does give the apples a little bit more of a bite in texture, so if you want to avoid this then I would recommend peeling them prior. Bake this Apple Pie Cobbler up this fall, drizzle on some quick caramel sauce and dollop with a scoop of vanilla ice cream to get the full apple pie effect!

 

Apple Pie Cobbler with a Caramel Drizzle

 

Ingredients:

For the cobbler:

  • 5 apples of choice (peeled or skins on), cored and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
  •  1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar, plus 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 16 oz can of biscuits, approximately 8 biscuits, each cut into fourths

For the caramel drizzle:

  • 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 teaspoons milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the apples, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon until the apples are coated. Pour the mixture into the bottom of a 13×9 baking dish.
  2. Arrange the biscuit pieces evenly across the top of the apple mixture. Sprinkle the top of the biscuits with the additional 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Bake for 25 minutes, and then reduce the heat to 325 and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden brown and the apples are bubbling underneath and soft.
  3. While the cobbler is baking, start the caramel sauce about 10 minutes prior to serving the cobbler. In a small saucepan, bring the sweetened condensed milk, 1 teaspoon of brown sugar and the vanilla extract to a low simmer over medium heat. Stir the mixture constantly to prevent it from sticking to the bottom. Continue to let it bubble and stir it until the mixture darkens slightly to a caramel color, about 10 minutes. Keep warm until serving (otherwise it will thicken) and stir in the milk completely prior to drizzling the caramel sauce onto the cobbler.

Turkey Chili with Butternut Squash and Black Beans

This Turkey Chili with Butternut Squash and Black Beans has been a tried, true and tested recipe in our household. A batch will be made and eaten on for a couple days and it never disappoints! It is definitely a family-favorite recipe! I made this just a couple weeks back and my husband was SO excited about it. He even went as far as saying that it is one of his top favorite things that I make! You know it’s gotta be good when that is said :).

Keep on reading below for the original recipe posted last year with some updated pictures. We just harvested 64 butternut squashes from my mom’s garden, so I thought it would be VERY fitting to update this recipe and pictures! If you have any ways to use up butternut squash, shoot them my way because we are up to our eyeballs in them.

Eating healthy and what’s good for your body doesn’t mean you should have to give up comfort. Drum roll please… Turkey Chili with Black Beans and Butternut Squash! Put all your fears of only crunching on celery and slurping down kale smoothies aside and put your pjs on because we are about to get comfy. Not only is this chili loaded with flavor, warmth and is good for your soul, but it carries a lot of healthy protein from the turkey and black beans and friendly fiber and potassium from the butternut squash. Healthy, delicious chili and snuggles, what more could you possibly need?


This recipe originally came to be on whim. I was out at my parents house on the farm, the menfolk were working outside and my mom had made a quick trip into town. So, with dinner time nearing and having been decorating their Christmas tree all day and being in the mood to get in the kitchen, I got to cooking. There was nothing laid out or defrosted, so I started scrummaging through the freezer and cupboards to see what I could put together. And voila! The turkey chili of our dreams was born.

I love how not only is this a healthy alternative, but it is definitely a crowd pleaser. I mean, we’ve already made it twice this week with no regrets! As any soup does, this chili gets better and better with time. The leftovers heat up perfectly (may just need to add a bit of water to thin it out) and it is a great go-to to have for dinner. We’ve been snarfing this down with tortilla chips, sour cream, cheese and green onions as our toppings, but any chili toppings you desire would go great with this bowl of goodness. Avocado anyone? I’ve been making this recipe on the stovetop, but I don’t see why you couldn’t throw it all into a crockpot as well. Snuggle up with a blanket and enjoy this delicious bowl of chili!

 

Turkey Chili with Black Beans and Butternut Squash 

Ingredients: 

  • 16 ounces ground turkey
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 4 cups butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 29 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 15 oz cans black beans, drained
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper

Directions: 

  1. In the bottom of a large stock pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add in the onions and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add in the ground turkey and cook until browned, seasoning with salt and pepper.
  2. Add both cans of the tomatoes and the butternut squash into the pot. Stir and let simmer on high for 5-8 minutes. Add in the garlic, chili powder, dried basil, cinnamon and black beans. Stir until combined.
  3. Cover the pot and let simmer on low-medium heat for at least 20 minutes, or until the squash is tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with your choice of toppings.

 

KJ’s 1K Giveaway!

Welcome to the first giveaway here at KJ& Company! I can’t even begin to explain how excited I am to be here and it’s all because of YOU! I am so crazy blessed to have every single one of you follow along, make recipes, comment, like, share and encourage me along the way. KJ & Company wouldn’t be what it is without everyone who has supported me! An endless amount of thanks and gratitude.

Now, let’s get to the fun part! I’ve partnered up with Luke from Lumberjack Luke to have a little giveaway for all of your love given to KJ & Company! That’s right, this GORGEOUS Hickory Cake Stand and Serving Set is up for grabs! The cake stand is about 12 inches in diameter of pure hickory wood and all sorts of beautiful. Luke created it just as he would with his wooden cutting boards, so you can use it with ease knowing that it is going to last! And for the Hickory Serving Set, they are the perfect matching companion to slice up and serve a piece of scrumptious cake (or any dessert!) on. The pure, natural hickory wood has a perfectly rustic look that is hard to beat. It is the perfect addition to any table setting, party or home!

The giveaway is primarily being hosted on Instagram (@kjandcompany), but I couldn’t resist posting about it here on kjandcompany.co! So, head on over to Instagram and find the giveaway post to see how you can enter! But, I still wanted to do something a little extra here on kjandcompany.co, so here is how to get 5 BONUS ENTRIES!

  1. Sign up to get recipes and posts from KJ & Company straight to your inbox by entering your email address into the email bar located on the right side of the screen.
  2. Comment below on this post that you signed up and it’s as easy as that!

That’s all you have to do to get 5 BONUS ENTRIES for a chance to win this beautiful hickory cake stand and serving set! (insert all of the heart-eyed emojis).

The giveaway is starting 9/16/17 and will run till 9/19/17. Winner will be announced and contacted via Instagram, so make sure you are following along!

It was just so fun to make this cake and get ready for this giveaway.

PS: if you are looking for an AMAZING funfetti cake recipe, Molly Yeh’s Funfetti Cake recipe turned out deliciously perfect! From the sprinkles to the decadent white frosting on top, this recipe is one you just gotta have! She is the funfetti cake queen as she has tried every possibility to make sure she had the most perfect funfetti cake! It even kept her awake at night so you know it’s going to be good.

So, let’s get this funfetti cake, hickory cake stand party started!

Thank you again for ALL of your love and support! 🙂

 

 

 

 

Caramel Apple Sangria

This Caramel Apple Sangria is one of the most highly requested cocktails to date for any fall gathering that we go to. It’s just so fun, festive and full of fall flavor that you just can’t resist! Even ask my Grandma, she drank two full glasses of it last year at Thanksgiving! Not only is this sangria all sorts of delicious, but it’s vibrant colors and festive smell will have you ready to snuggle up in a blanket next to a fire while you watch the leaves drop outside.

I originally posted this recipe last year on KJ & Company and it just has been so good that new pictures were necessary. I’ve already whipped up a batch this year and oh boy, it went down smooth! This sangria is perfect for football parties, fall dinners, campfires, Halloween parties and even Thanksgiving. It’s basically the cocktail to carry you through the fall season and holidays!

It’s all the wonderful flavors of a caramel apple in a glass without the caramel sticking to your teeth! You all know what I mean when you bite into a caramel apple – you have to be ready to get the caramel unstuck. The smooth sweetness from the caramel, the fruity kick from the apples and the warm coating at the back of your throat from the cinnamon makes this sangria the perfect concoction.

This is the perfect, easy, fun and festive cocktail to have up your sleeve this fall and holiday season to please a crowd. Twist up your fall menu or bring some fun in a glass to Thanksgiving. Either way, you won’t be disappointed!

 

Caramel Apple Sangria

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 2 cups caramel vodka
  • 1 bottle Riesling wine (750ml)
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 Gala apples, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients into a deep pitcher and stir to combine.
  2. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes prior to serving and up to 24 hours in advance. Enjoy!

 

Roasted Sheet Pan Veggies with Italian Sausage and Creamy Polenta

Ok, so this sheet pan dinner may have a long name, but I promise that it takes half the effort of writing it out! It’s such a wonderful thing when you can just put dinner in oven and forget about it for an hour. That’s right – these veggies and Italian sausage medallions get roasted for a full hour until they are caramelized and all sorts of delicious. Just think of everything else that you can do during that time!

If you want to serve it up on the creamy polenta (which you just need to do!), then you will need to just use about 20 minutes of that hour to whip it up. The recipe calls for regular corn grits/polenta instead of the instant polenta. Don’t be alarmed by this process, though, because you will be a polenta queen after you make this batch of creamy goodness. Follow the simple steps to perfection and you are there. Voila!

This is the perfect meal for a hassle-free weeknight dinner, having friends or family over (serve it up family-style and dig in!), or when you are just in the need for a good meal. It’s also a fun way to sneak in a lot of veggies into one delicious meal! Everything is better when topped with cheese, so a good sprinkle of Parmesan cheese never hurt anyone. This sheet pan dinner is also very flexible as it can adjust to whatever you have on hand. You could swap the sweet potatoes out for regular potatoes, the broccoli for cauliflower, onions for bell peppers, and the list could go on!

Serve up this sheet pan dinner and you will draw a crowd with no leftovers to spare. Although, leftovers would be quite delicious the next day warmed up or even for breakfast with an over-easy egg on top…a girl can dream!

 

Roasted Sheet Pan Veggies with Italian Sausage and Creamy Polenta

Serves 4 adult portions

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups broccoli florets (approx. 2 heads of broccoli)
  • 3 cups sweet potatoes (approx. 1 med/large sweet potato), peeled and cut into 1/2 cubes
  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
  • 19 oz mild Italian sausage links (about 5 links) cut into 3/4 inch rounds
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups polenta/corn grits
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Parmesan cheese for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a medium sized bowl, toss together the broccoli, sweet potato and red onion with the olive oil and seasoned salt.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil and arrange the veggies in an even layer on the baking sheet. Nestle the Italian sausage rounds on top of the veggies in an even layer. Roast the veggies and Italian sausage for 55-60 minutes, or until caramelized, browned and cooked through.
  3. While the sheet pan is in the oven, bring the water to a boil in a deep pot over high heat. Slowly stir the polenta into the boiling water to make sure that it does not clump together. Reduce the heat to low and cover with a lid. Let the polenta cook on low with a lid for about 10 minutes, stirring a few times in between to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  4. After about 10 minutes, reduce the heat even lower (if you can) to a simmer. Stir in the milk and sour cream until combined. Leave the lid on and let the creamy polenta cook on a low simmer for at least another 10 minutes or until ready to be served. If you have a few extra minutes before serving, the polenta can be left on the stovetop with the lid on and the heat off and will hold up nicely.
  5. Serve the roasted veggies and Italian sausage over the creamy polenta with Parmesan cheese as a garnish. Enjoy!

 

Beef and Cream Cheese Enchiladas

Enchiladas will always hold a special place in my heart as they were one of my Grandpa’s specialties. He would pull you into the enchilada assembly line of dipping tortillas, adding the fillings, rolling them up tight and tucking them into the ban to be baked into wonderful goodness. Everyone would gather around with a plate in hand once those puppies came out of the oven to eat up as many as they could. It’s such a wonderful memory of a simple comfort food made with love and bringing family together that I will never forget. I can’t wait to show our own kids that someday!

Another thing about enchiladas that was my Grandpa’s specialty was lettuce. Lettuce was rolled up in every single enchilada with beef and cheese. It was so darn simple, but SO so good! A beef enchilada just isn’t the same without lettuce in them! You just have to try it for yourself to believe in this savory goodness.

And oh buddy, cream cheese is always the way to go! When you have all of the goods rolled up together in one perfect pan full, you just can’t stop eating them! The perfect comfort food and the way to the heart of everyone who digs in. It’s just like a pan-full of love. Food is memories and comfort and this is the perfect dish to serve for a weeknight meal, football party, Sunday dinner or any occasion that you just need some good ol’ comfort for.

Roll these up and bake them to perfection to serve up to your family and friends and fill their hearts and their tummies.

PS: I used my Homemade Enchilada Sauce to make these and it was SO good! If you don’t have the time to make the sauce homemade, then use your favorite canned version will work perfectly!

 

Beef and Cream Cheese Enchiladas

Makes 8 enchiladas

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 6 cups enchilada sauce
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 2 cups baby romaine lettuce
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese, plus 1 cup to top the enchiladas with
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a medium saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add in the garlic and the beef and cook until the meat is browned and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.
  2. Prepare an assembly line to make your enchiladas. Spread 1 cup of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 13×9 pan. Spread another 1 cup of enchilada sauce on the bottom of a round plate, pan or platter (whatever works!) that is large enough to dip the tortillas into the sauce.
  3. Working with one tortilla at a time, dip both sides into the prepped enchilada sauce on the plate to coat both sides of the tortilla with enchilada sauce. Splitting the filling ingredients (ground beef, cream cheese, lettuce and cheddar cheese) evenly between the 8 tortillas, fill the dipped tortilla with the filling ingredients, roll it up tightly and place into the prepared 13×9 pan. Continue until all of the tortillas have been dipped, filled, rolled and tucked in the baking dish.
  4. Pour the remaining 4 cups of enchilada sauce over the top of the prepared enchiladas, making sure that all of the tortillas are covered. Using the separate cup of shredded cheese, sprinkle an even layer of cheese over the top of the enchiladas.
  5. Bake the enchiladas for 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese topping is melted and the sauce is bubbling. Enjoy!

Caprese Zoodles

Ok, I finally jumped on the zoodle wagon and I am so glad I did! They are SO fun to make! I could just watch them spiral all day. Just don’t ask me to say “Spiralizer” because it’s a real hard word for me to say, but pretty darn funny to listen to. You should’ve been there when my husband was talking me through how to say “cinnamon” correctly. The struggle is real!

Needless to say, I had a blast making these zucchini noodles. There are so many possibilities of what you can create with them! Leave them raw, boil them, saute them or bake them up and you will be happy, happy, happy! I love the combination of leaving half of them raw and quickly blanching the other half and tossing them together. You get the perfect amount of crunch to the perfect amount of cooked.

Mozzarella pearls, baby heirloom tomatoes, and a dash of balsamic vinegar make these zoodles sing. The caprese salad is such a classic and vibrant combination, and tossing the ingredients together with the zoodles creates a delicious and healthy dish that can be served as a cold “salad” or warm with some grilled chicken laid over the top of it. Serve this up as a delicious side dish, salad, lunch or mid-day snack and you won’t be disappointed!

I haven’t experimented much with zoodles, but these did start to get a little soggy after a day in the refrigerator, so I would recommend eating these up the day of. Unless you are a zoodle master and have figured out how to correctly keep them, then do that!

These Caprese Zoodles are a bright and healthy dish that will make you feel good from the inside out.

 

Caprese Zoodles

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium-sized zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 10 oz baby heirloom tomatoes, halved
  • 8 oz mozzarella pearls
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons good balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lightly chopped basil leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Using a spiral attachment or device, spiral the two zucchini to make zoodles according to the device instructions.
  2. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Quickly boil half of the zucchini noodles for about a minute and then remove from the water and let cool. Lightly toss the raw zoodles and the cooked zoodles together in a large bowl with the lemon juice to keep the noodles from browning.
  3. In a separate small bowl, toss together the tomatoes with the olive oil and salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes, mozzarella and basil to the zucchini noodles and lightly toss until all of the ingredients are combined. Lightly drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the top and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Peach Pillows with Strawberry Coconut Glaze

Peach pillows? Oh yes please! I’m never much of a breakfast eater (a granola bar and my coffee and I’m good to go!), but I’ll splurge every once and awhile and it’s just gotta be fun! And let me tell you what, peach pillows are FUN. They are simple to throw together and a creative little pocket of joy that you can customize however you want. Don’t be intimidated by the strawberry coconut glaze, though, because you can whip it together while the peach pillows are baking away in the oven and be ready to eat as soon as they are golden brown and delicious.

Easy Peach Breakfast Pillows with Strawberry Coconut Glaze

Not only are these little pillows delicious, but they are simple to put together and deliver the wide-eyed, big grin reaction from others when you serve them up. I used peaches, strawberries and sprinkles to decorate mine with, but you could certainly have a plethora of toppings ready to go! Coconut flakes, blueberries, white chocolate chips, raspberries and honey just to name a few. Have everything set up and people can have fun decorating their peach pillows after you bring them out of the oven. Talk about a fun breakfast for the kids before they head off to school or for yourself to bring out your inner kid before you have to put your grown-up pants on for the day!

I seriously have the best friends, too, who understand my food blogging and cooking obsession. How awesome is it that they have their nails painted before they come over just in case they need to lend a hand to a food picture?! The best. Friends are amazing and happy and fun just like these peach pillows and rainbow sprinkles.

Serve these peach pillows up for a fun breakfast and they will certainly be asked for again!

 

Peach Pillows with Strawberry Coconut Glaze

Makes 4 – 3×5 pillows with leftover dough for smaller ones if desired. 

Ingredients:

  • 4 sheets puff pastry dough, defrosted to package instructions
  • 4 peaches, seeded and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons strawberry jam
  • 2 tablespoons coconut milk

Topping Ideas:

  • Sprinkles
  • Sliced peaches
  • Sliced strawberries
  • Coconut flakes

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine the peaches, granulated sugar, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon and mix until the peaches are coated and combined. In a separate small bow, whisk together the egg and water to create an egg wash.
  2. Working with one puff pastry sheet at a time, lay it flat on a counter top and cut two 3×5 rectangles (or desired size) out of the sheet. Continue onto the other sheets until you have 8 rectangles. There will be a little extra dough that smaller pillows could be made out of if desired.
  3. Working with two rectangles at a time to have a top and a bottom layer, lay 1/4 of the peach mixture on the bottom puff pastry sheet but leaving at least 1/4 inch on all sides open. Lightly brush some egg wash on all four sides of the bottom puff pastry sheet that you left open. Slightly stretch out the top puff pastry layer in your hands and then lay it over the top of the peaches to match the bottom layer. Press it down on all four sides with your fingers to seal all the edges. Then use a fork to “crimp” all of the edges and leave a decorative touch. Carefully move the peach pillow to a sprayed baking sheet and lightly brush the top with more egg wash. Continue this processes until all the pillows are made.
  4. Bake the peach pillows for 25 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. While the pillows are baking, whisk the confectioner’s sugar, strawberry jam and coconut milk together in a small bowl until smooth, about a couple minutes.
  5. Remove the peach pillows from the oven and let cool for about 3-5 minutes. Decorate the tops with the strawberry coconut glaze and any other toppings that you desire. Enjoy!

 

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

I’m all for the ease of access of twisting open a can of enchilada sauce to get dinner done in a flash, but boy-oh-boy, I just may never go back to canned sauce after making homemade!

This homemade sauce is homemade down to the nitty gritty. That’s right, roll up your sleeves because we are going to be conquering blanching, peeling and seeding tomatoes! I promise you guys, it is not as bad as it sounds! As long as you set aside the appropriate amount of time, have your stations set up for the blanching, peeling and seeding process, you will be a-ok. I will forewarn you, though, if it has already been a long or stressful day or if you are in a time crunch, this process will take you to church and test your patience. So make sure everything is good to go and you will be so proud of the outcome!

I tell ya, it is such a rewarding feeling to make your own sauce and then turn around and roll up a batch of enchiladas in it to serve up for dinner that night. Its prime tomato season and this sauce just couldn’t get any better. Whether it’s fresh tomatoes from your garden, or from the grocery store, this sauce will win your heart over. Take your time and take it all in. It would even be a fun little task to have your little ones help with! Or your friends and family! I love getting to help my mom process her garden goodies and that is the inspiration for this homemade enchilada sauce.

So roll up your sleeves and get ready for a big ol’ pot of deliciousness!

 

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Makes 6 cups. 

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 pounds roma tomatoes
  • 2 small jalapenos (or 1 medium size), roughly chopped, seeds and inside ribs removed
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes in juice

Directions:

  1. Set aside at least 30 minutes to complete the blanching, peeling and seeding process. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Make and ice bath in a large bowl with ice and water. Have two separate medium bowls ready to use for the skin and seeds discards and the tomato pieces to keep.
  2. Using a small knife, slice an “X” on the bottom of each tomato, just enough to puncture the skin. Working in small batches, boil the tomatoes for 1.5-2 minutes. Immediately transfer the tomatoes from the boiling water to the ice bath with a slotted spoon. Let them cool slightly and then use your fingers or a paring knife to peel the tomato skin from the “X” towards the other end of the tomato. Keep doing so until all of the skin is removed. Slice the tomatoes in half and use a spoon to scrape the seeds out into the same bowl that you discarded the skins into. Set the good tomato aside into another bowl for later use. Continue this process until all the tomatoes are done.
  3. In a large, deep pot, bring the tomato pieces, onion, and jalapenos to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the mixture is cooked down and soft. Add in the water, canned tomatoes, cumin, salt, chili powder, garlic and sugar and stir until combined. Using either a food processor or an immersion blender, blend the tomato mixture until smooth. Let the sauce simmer for another 20-30 minutes on low heat.
  4. Use the sauce right away, or let it cool prior to pouring it into containers to be refrigerated or frozen. If you are wanting to can this sauce, please research the correct process of doing so and make sure to have the correct acid levels in the sauce to insure a safe canning process. Enjoy!

Strawberry Peach Sangria

You guys, fall is just around the corner! YES. It’s by far one of my favorite seasons of the year because of the beautiful weather, trees turning color, comfort food, family, the anticipation of the upcoming holidays and that it’s socially acceptable to wear yoga pants and sweats anytime. But as you know me, right now is also one of my favorite times of the year because of PEACHES. Just when I was down and low because the peach guy said that he was out of peaches and selling pears instead (what?!!), my Mom came through with a pre-ordered lug of peaches that she had already purchased! A whole new lug of peaches to fuel my love/addiction! :).

If you have never gotten a case of fresh, Colorado peaches straight from the source (not the grocery store, they just aren’t the same!) then you need to get your hands on some! They are so fresh, sweet and juicy – they just don’t compare! This sangria certainly benefits from their sweet, juicy goodness. The addition of fresh strawberries just makes this a glass full of goodness.

With Fall just around the corner and football season starting up, it’s the season for family and friends to gather around. The weather is still nice enough for grilling out and a pitcher of this sangria is the perfect addition to bring some life to the party. Casually sip on a glass of this sangria while you make your way through the Crock-Pot line and pile on the little smokies. We all know that we just gotta have the lil’ smokies.

Slice up the fruit, pour in the goods and just let this sangria do its thing – thats all you have to do! Its simplicity wins.

 

Strawberry Peach Sangria

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 peaches, cored and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
  • 2 cups quartered strawberries
  • 1 bottle of Chardonnay wine
  • 1/2 cup coconut rum
  • Pick your fizz! Either: 2 cups of tonic water, 2 cups of champagne, or a can of lemon-lime soda (only choose one)

Directions:

  1. Place the sliced peaches and strawberries in the bottom of a pitcher.
  2. Pour the wine, rum and your choice of fizz over the fruit and lightly stir to combine all the ingredients together.
  3. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes prior to serving. Enjoy!

 

Whole Wheat Zucchini Banana Nut Muffins

Apparently its #NationalDogDay and it’s only fitting that I’m sharing a zucchini recipe on such a glorious day. Wanna know why? Because our yellow lab, Darbi, absolutely LOVES zucchini! Between zucchini and bananas, she is happy, happy, happy. There was one year where she just went crazy for them. She would literally run down to the garden and pick them herself and we wouldn’t dare leave our freshly picked harvest within her reach. We had to cut her off, though, because she was pretty addicted. It was too funny watching her lay out in the yard chowing down on a big ol’ zucchini from the garden. Now, she will gladly munch on the butts of the zucchini that I cut off and toss to her along with some freshly peeled banana. Anyone else out there have crazy, vegetable-loving dogs?! Charlee (jack russell) won’t even touch them – she prefers Greenies.

Besides our dog loving zucchini, we are huge fans as well. I resist buying any from the grocery store, because I know my Mom’s crop will be so much better! But, let’s be honest, they grow like wildflowers and you’re up to your eyeballs in zucchini before you know it! Do not fear, because these delicious and healthy muffins are here to help you out. They are the perfect balance between banana and zucchini to make a delicious medley. I love making a batch of these for the week because then you have a grab-and-go breakfast that will keep you full and satisfied!

The hint of cinnamon plus the crunch from the walnuts accent the naturally sweet flavor of these muffins. Whip these up and get them in your oven because you don’t want to miss out! They are perfect for breakfast, school lunches, a mid-day snack or pre-workout fuel.

 

Whole Wheat Zucchini Banana Nut Muffins

Makes 12-15 muffins depending on size

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla exract
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium/low speed until light and fluffy, about a minute. Add in one egg at a time and beat until combined.
  2. Add the ripe bananas to the creamed butter mixture and mix on low speed until the bananas are broken down and combined with the mixture, about 30 seconds – a minute. Add in the whole wheat flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla extract and lightly mix until smooth and combined.
  3. Using a rubber spatula fold in the shredded zucchini and the chopped walnuts into the banana bread batter. Mix until full combined.
  4. Using rounded tablespoonfuls, scoop the batter into lined muffin tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  5. Enjoy! Let the muffins cool completely prior to packaging/storing them.

Mom’s Peach Tart

This peach tart is in the top 2 reasons as to why I LOVE peach season so much! I just can’t get over it and crave it 365 days a year. This recipe is near and dear to my heart as my Mom has passed it down to me and I couldn’t be more thankful. We both make it numerous times during prime peach season and will send each other pictures of our tart creations. Its just this simple: you need this recipe in your life! Its the type of thing where you have no shame when you realize that the “taste bite” you just took ended up being a quarter of the tart pan. Below is my original post from last year, but with update pictures! Yay! It was so fun having my Mom hang out with me while I shot these pictures and to have a pro taste-tester in the house.

Read the original post below, look at the yummy, new pictures and make this tart for yourself! 🙂

“This peach tart is the peach tart of all peach tarts. The big shabang, the frosting on the cake, the cherry on top, the alpha dog, the king of the hill. Seriously, this tart sends my tastebuds into overdrive! Mom sure does know best on this one. She has been perfecting her recipe over the past couple years and she handed the recipe over to me! Peach season has always been one of my mom and I’s favorite time of the year, and this tart sure won’t disappoint! There is just something about it though – I can follow her recipe to the “T” and it still just isn’t the same as when she makes it. She’s got the touch! (And the most perfect white ceramic tart pan which I am insisting she wills to me).

Let’s start with the crust. The thought of making a tart crust can be daunting and full of work, but not this time around! This is one of the easiest crusts to whip up and use right away, and there is no butter involved! Don’t skip out on the almond extract – it is what dreams are made of when it is combined into this crust recipe. It bakes out perfectly and almost has a sugar cookie feel to it. For the filling, let the peaches shine. They are the star of the show just on their own! Make sure to use perfectly, ripe and juicy peaches, otherwise the tart can lack moisture of the peaches aren’t juicy enough. If this happens to you while you are baking your tart, pull it out and sprinkle it with a little bit of water to add in some moisture before putting it back into the oven. Disclaimer: if you are ever-so-needing to make this tart outside of peach season, frozen peaches will work just fine as well! You can choose to leave the skins on or off, but I just can’t eat a peach without the skins on! There’s just something about that slight fuzz. Plus, the skins help create a beautiful color scheme. The crumbly, buttery sugar topping is the perfect pairing to help the peaches shine even brighter.

After you have resisted eating this scrumptious tart as it bakes, don’t cover it! The longer it gets to sit out the better. The sugary topping and natural sugars from the peaches caramelize together to form a perfect caramel consistency. The crust tends to soften too much as well if you cover it too soon. This can be refrigerated and eaten the next day shamelessly as lunch (I may or may not have done this).

 

Mom’s Peach Tart 

Ingredients: 

For the crust

  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup oil (vegetable oil will do)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

For the filling

  • 5-6 peaches, sliced
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons flour

Directions: 

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the crust and mix them together until a loose dough forms. Press the dough into the bottom and sides of an 11-inch tart pan and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the crust is slightly brown.
  3. Arrange the sliced peaches on top of the crust in a pinwheel-fashion from the outside to the center, saving the smaller pieces for when you get to the middle of the pan.
  4. In the same bowl as the crust, combine all the ingredients for the topping and sprinkle evenly on top of the peaches.
  5. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the peaches and sugar topping have caramelized together.

Honey Ice Cream

Ok, you guys, we’re putting our big girl pants on today and making REAL homemade ice cream. Thats right, we’re bringing out the big guns. Step aside, no-churn, we are conquering new fears today. Do you have a fear of making real, homemade ice cream? Thats ok! I did too! But you know what, its a pretty awesome feeling once you scoop that spoonful straight from the ice cream churn and its CREAMY DELICIOUSNESS. 

I know this isn’t your average make-at-home recipe that you will whip out every week, but its fun to do for a special occasion and you may just become a pro at it. As long as you have the correct tools (a good thermometer, a couple whisks and a strainer go a LONG ways in this recipe!) and a little bit of patience you can do this. Guess what? I made this the first time and it was a breeze and everything worked like a charm. Made it a second time to have a batch for pictures and… I had to re-do it 3 times!! Thats right, THREE. I figured out my failing point: I was over-heating the milk which caused the eggs to curdle, even though they were tempered, which in the end caused the custard mixture to separate into this watery, curdled mess. Third times the charm and I got it! Its ok to make mistakes – that is how you learn!

I adapted the recipe and technique from The Kitchn’s article and it was life-saving. I am not the type to figure out a custard base by myself! They have wonderful step-by-step techniques, recipes and FAQ’s that you can turn to if in need of help.

I absolutely love the addition of honey to your regular ice cream. Ever-so-slightly sweet and scrumptious in every bite you take. It goes perfectly with cobblers, tarts and pies!

PS: my mom is the best for coming over to help me drizzle honey 🙂

 

Honey Ice Cream

Recipe and technique adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons good honey
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Directions:

  1. Freeze your ice cream churner bowl according to package instructions. Recommended to freeze up to 24 hours in advance. Along with that, put a freezer-safe mixing bowl into the freezer 1 hour prior to making the ice cream.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and the sugar until they become smooth and a light yellow color. Set aside.
  3. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the milk, vanilla and honey over low heat until it comes to a low simmer. Using a 1/2 cup of the heated milk, slowly pour the heated milk into the egg and sugar mixture while whisking. This will temper the eggs and prevent them from curdling. You can then slowly pour the egg mixture into the rest of the heated milk in the sauce pan while whisking. Slowly whisk the egg and milk mixture while you bring it to a very low simmer. You want the mixture to thicken slightly, but not overcook. Heat until the mixture reads 170 degrees without the thermometer touching the bottom of the pan.
  4. Instantly remove the mixture from the heat and strain into the chilled mixing bowl that you had in the freezer. This will insure that the mixture is smooth and bring down the temperature to prevent it from cooking any further. Whisk in the heavy cream and set the bowl in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes while you get the ice cream churner bowl out of the freezer and ready for use.
  5. Pour the ice cream mixture into the frozen ice cream churner bowl, and churn on low according to device instructions. It should take about 20-25 minutes if the ice cream mixture was prepared correctly. (If the mixture does not cool enough prior, it will take longer to churn.)
  6. Serve immediately if a “soft-serve” consistency is desire, or freeze 5-6 hours (covered) to have regular ice cream consistency. Enjoy up to 2 weeks in the freezer.

Shop Ashley LeMieux

I’m not a fashion fanatic by any means, but I am definitely all for clothes that are comfortable, affordable and make me feel confident and beautiful in my own skin. Shop Ashley LeMieux (SAL) fits the bill perfectly! I found SAL last year via Instagram and my closet is slowly being overcome by SAL pieces and I have no problem with it at all. I love how every item I purchase from Shop Ashley LeMieux is comfortable yet flattering, modest yet promotes confidence, makes you feel like a million bucks yet doesn’t hurt your pocketbook. And the hubs loves them too! So its a win win situation for me :).

Shop Ashley LeMieux

Black Floral Jumpsuit (size small)

Seriously, you guys, I just can’t say enough about how much I love all of my SAL pieces! It has truly taken the hassle and worry about what I am going to wear in the morning as you can just throw them on and go about your day. From midi dresses, maxi dresses, shirts, pants, jumpsuits, jackets to even swimwear, there are so many choices to choose from!

Shop this Dinah Midi Dress in Navy (wearing a medium)

The size and fit of everything is pretty true to size and I am either a small or medium depending on the fit of the item. If it is going to be a more snug/tight dress or shirt, I may size up to a medium to stay comfy. And they have pants that fit both my waist and my booty!! I will always say yes to that! Everything has washed well and I couldn’t be happier.

Perfect Day Dress in Brick (size small)

Not only are the clothes great, but Ashley LeMieux is the greatest. I love her motto for the clothes and lifestyle which is, “For Women Who Do”. And its SO true! The clothes she supplies and the community she has built with SAL promotes “women who do”. If thats either in the workplace, at home or out and about, it doesn’t matter as everyone is in this together.

Alice Plaid Midi Dress (size small)

Speaking of community, she started a private Facebook group that you can request to join (or send me a message and I’ll add you because you need in on this! :)) where Ashley and others can share their pictures in their SAL, talk about upcoming new releases (she even gives you a head start to shop before she releases to the public!), ask questions about fit and sizing and just share your SAL love. There is also a separate Facebook group you can request to join where you are able to buy, sell and trade your Shop Ashley LeMieux items with other SAL girls. I’ve done it a couple times and its easy breezy! You just communicate everything through PayPal and its an easy way to snag something that may have sold out or pass something on if it doesn’t fit the way you were hoping (there is also a return process). If it can’t get any better, theres also an affiliate program that you can join to make some money for your SAL referrals! How much better can it get?!

Mauve Linen Pants (size small) Floral T-Shirt (size small)

AND THERE’S A TUESDAY DEAL OF THE WEEK. That means every Tuesday she launches a product that is typically under $20 and goes FAST, so you gotta snag it if you want it! When New Arrivals launch, they typically go quick so get it that puppy in your cart. If an item sells out, you can request to join a waitlist and if they get more in stock they will notify you! You guys, pictured below is the first Shop Ashley LeMieux dress that I ever bought (it got me hooked!) and she just got a surprise restock in!! GO GET IT. I have the blush one and I may just have to snag the mint one :).

Audrina Dress in Blush (size small)

So, if you couldn’t tell, I sorta love all of my Shop Ashley LeMieux items and you will most likely see me wearing them if I’m not in my sweats. You can find items perfect for all of life’s occasions. I’ve worn them out on a date with the hubs, holidays, church, funerals, weddings, work and even to the county fair. Go check it out and I hope you love it as much as I do! 🙂

Shop Ashley LeMieux

 

Fresh Peach Smoothies

Peaches, peaches and more peaches please! I just can’t get enough of them! Shhh, no one tell my husband, but I think I’m going to get another lug of them tomorrow – I just can’t contain myself! That’s ok though, he loves me and my peach addiction so all is good. My cousin in Alaska said she wasn’t sure if she would be able to find any good fresh peaches up there, and after receiving that dreadful news I seriously considered what it would take and how much it would cost to get a lug of fresh peaches sent up to her. Poor soul, no one should ever live without fresh peaches at least once a year in their life! I may still be considering how we could make this happen…

This smoothie is a great mid-day refresher and pick-me-up. The fresh peaches shine through and give it a great sweet and tangy taste.  Its light and velvety all at the same time! If you really can’t get ahold of any good fresh peaches, or if you just gotta have this smoothie outside of peach season, frozen peaches will do. I would just lower the amount of frozen mango that you use so that it doesn’t become too thick. Weird fact about me: I absolutely LOVE peach skins. Peaches just aren’t the same with out them! I don’t know about you, but I just gotta have them! This recipe calls for the peach skins to be left on, but if you are someone who can’t stand them, then feel free to peel your peach prior.

The recipe listed below is for one smoothie serving, so if you are making it for a crowd just double it per person you are serving. Or just make them all individually because who doesn’t love getting to blend things up in a blender and pour into mason jar with a colorful straw? Ok, I may just be talking about myself.  Anyways, this smoothie is like sweet, sweet summertime and you just gotta have it. Oh, and it’s dairy-free!

 

Fresh Peach Smoothie

1 serving size listed

Ingredients:

  • 1 fresh medium-large sized peach, seeded and cut into slices with the skin left on
  • 1/2 cup frozen mango
  • 3/4 cup ice
  • 3/4 cup pineapple juice

Directions:

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. If necessary, add in more pineapple juice to keep the smoothie the correct consistency.
  2. Enjoy!

 

Palomas

I am, by no means, a cocktail/alcohol expert. When I have a bottle of wine in my house it is either going into a pitcher of sangria or being used to cook with (or lets be real: its from when we had guests over and they accidentally left it).  A lot of my family and friends think its funny when I post cocktails or alcoholic beverages since I don’t drink that much myself, but at least you know that if I post one it’s gotta be good because the alcohol needs to be invisible for me to like it! Hands down my favorite drink: Amaretto Sour. I will never attempt to make it at home because I don’t want to risk ruining it for me, but will occasionally enjoy one when we go out to dinner.

Since I’m not much of an alcoholic beverage drinker myself, you better believe I am not going to spend much time making one at home if I’m going to. With that being said, its paloma time! I was so excited when I first saw these because I was like, “Hey! I could make that!” And so I did. And they are pretty dang tasty if I don’t say so myself. With all of the guidelines that I mentioned earlier about me liking an alcoholic beverage (sweet, quick, and no trace of alcohol), this little paloma fit the bill. Depending on the tequila you use, you may be able to taste it more depending on it’s strength, but my hubs made sure to have the smooth stuff on hand for me to use. I sound like such a pansy… oh well its who I am! 🙂

Hang onto summer with this sweet, refreshing citrus drink. You can even enjoy it all year round! Make one quick for yourself to sip on after a long week at work, or whip up a batch for a crowd of family or friends. These palomas are fun and easy and won’t disappoint!

 

Palomas

Measurements per 1 glass serving

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 cup lemon-lime soda
  • 1 shot of tequila
  • Ice
  • Lime wedges
  • Grapefruit wedges

Directions:

  1. Fill the cocktail glass 3/4 of the way full with crushed ice.
  2. Pour the grapefruit juice, lemon-lime soda and tequila over the ice. Give the drink a quick stir to combine the ingredients.
  3. Serve the paloma with a lime and grapefruit wedge to squeeze over the top.

Shrimp and Cauliflower Grits

Just a little disclaimer before we get too far into this: this is probably one of the most un-traditional shrimp and grits recipes and there are most likely people down south rolling in their graves about it, but it is THAT GOOD. Ok, disclaimer over. Talk about a dish packing a punch with flavor and homey goodness! Take a weeknight meal to the next level with this recipe and don’t even work up a sweat, because you can get this done in 30 minutes! Oh yeah, thats right! Serve this up with a smile on your face, because you better believe people are going to want seconds. And if they don’t, too bad for them because that means more for you, or if you want to bring some to me I will gladly take it.

The cauliflower takes place of the grits in this recipe, and they are so good that you won’t even notice! The cauliflower takes on a potato-like consistency, so you won’t miss not having a starchy companion to go along with your shrimp. Simple ingredients tossed together to make a delicious meal. Looking for the perfect dish to mix up your weeknight originals? Look no further! Surprise your family and friends with a little punch of heat from the cajun shrimp and coolness from the creamy cauliflower. It goes quick, so you may want to make double!

If you have access to good, fresh shrimp, go for it! Otherwise, since I live in Nebraska, I typically buy frozen, de-veined, raw shrimp from the freezer aisle and it works perfectly.

And as if this healthy, quick and delicious meal couldn’t get any better, it reheats like a charm. Thats right: double up, meal prep or just eat lots of it because you can microwave it and still have a southern party in your mouth.

 

Shrimp and Cauliflower Grits

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz raw, peeled and de-veined shrimp
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup light beer (I used Modelo)
  • 1 teaspoon cajun seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Green onions for garnish, thinly sliced
  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. In a large, deep pot, bring enough water to a boil to submerge the cauliflower florets in. Boil on high for about 5 minutes and then reduce the heat to medium. Cook for a couple minutes more, or until the cauliflower florets are soft enough to puncture with a fork or knife. Drain and place the cauliflower in a blender or food processor.
  2. While the cauliflower is cooking, heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add in the shrimp and cook for a couple minutes or until they start to turn pink. Season with the cajun seasoning, salt and pepper. Deglaze the shrimp by pouring in the beer and making sure to scrape anything off of the bottom of the pan. Simmer on medium heat for a couple minutes and then reduce the heat to low. Add in the butter and let simmer very lightly until the butter is melted.
  3. Blend the cauliflower with the milk, parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Blend on high for a couple minutes to ensure a smooth, creamy texture.
  4. Serve immediately with the shrimp and sauce ladled over the cauliflower and topped with the sliced green onions.

Peach and Blueberry Crumble

My love for peaches runs deep…and pretty crazy. If you know me or have been following along, you know my love for peach season! IT’S LIKE CHRISTMAS IN AUGUST! Seriously, far better than Christmas in July. Here in NE, I make myself wait until the Colorado peaches get delivered and you better believe I buy more than one lug. Anything from fresh peaches, cobblers, smoothies, grilled peaches, crisps to crumbles, I gotta have it! 

Peaches and blueberries are a classic combo to me and I love how the blueberries accent the peaches perfectly. Think of a 3-1 ratio of peaches to blueberries – the peaches are the star of the show and the blueberries are the back-up dancers. Let’s talk about the topping (because we all know its the best part). It’s the perfect mix between a cobbler and crisp, so you get a crumble! Sugar cookie – like and all sorts of buttery deliciousness. This is the perfect dessert to gather around with family or friends and just dig in. We for sure did it today when we pulled this puppy out of the oven! And let’s be honest, we’re going to be re-heating this for breakfast as well. Its healthy enough it has fruit, right?

Top it off with ice cream, whipped cream or yogurt if you’re pulling this pan out for breakfast in the morning.

An hour may seem like a long time for this pot of gold and blue deliciousness to bake away in the oven, but trust me, its worth every single minute! If you don’t have fresh peaches and blueberries, feel free to use frozen! That way you can make this dessert all year long.

 

Peach and Blueberry Crumble

 

Ingredients:

For the filling

  • 6 peaches, cored and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

For the crumble

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold butter, cubed into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Combine all the ingredients for the filling together in a 9×13 pan, making sure that the peaches and blueberries are evenly coated with the dry ingredients.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients for the crumble topping. Working with your hands or a pastry cutter, cut/crumble the butter into the dry ingredients until the butter is evenly combined and the mixture is crumbly.
  3. Top the peaches and blueberries with the crumble topping mixture and spread out evenly. Bake for 1 hour, or until the topping is lightly browned and the peaches and blueberries are cooked down and edges are slightly caramelized. Let sit for 20-30 minutes prior to serving to let the juices set. This can be made a day in advance and re-heated as well. Enjoy!

 

My Fitness Journey Part 1

Let’s be honest, I never used to enjoy fitness. Growing up, I was a farm kid and would ride my horse all day if I could and would definitely clean a stall before I ever cleaned my room. The only sports I was ever involved in were horse riding, cheerleading (yes, it is a sport – especially when you are hiking girls up over your head!) and cross country. I about died with the last one listed there (raise of hands if you were ever the one bringing up the rear of the running pack!). Really exerting myself physically wasn’t something that I wanted to do, but more so felt like I had to if I wanted to “stay thin”.

The summer between junior high and my freshman year of high school, I struggled with an eating disorder. My food intake was small portions, very (if any) low-fat, and few calories. I wasn’t eating what was good and right for my body, but rather what I thought was healthy at that time (guess what, it wasn’t). I remember weighing myself and the little flutters of joy when I saw that I weighed less than I did the last time. 98 pounds was the lowest I ever saw on the scale – and for a little background info: I started at 140. It was not healthy. My love for cooking dimmed and I was consumed with my body image. I am so very blessed to have loving and supportive parents and family that made me realize how I wasn’t taking care of my body, but rather hindering it from growing into who I truly was meant to be. I remember the first time I ate something that I had forever deemed “unhealthy” and it was my Mom’s infamous chocolate mocha cheesecake. A bite of cheesecake has never been more freeing. I have always grown up in a family that created healthy meals for dinner that were packed with good-for-you proteins, fats, starches and veggies, so it was pretty easy for me to get back on track with eating foods to build my body with their support.

All of that was never something that I really wanted to talk about. I just sorta moved on with life and my love of cooking came back with it. It’s not a journey to share to get sympathy, but rather one to share to encourage strength as we are growing up in a world that is pounding into our heads that our body isn’t good enough. I have learned to listen to my body and to know what feels good for it to do, and not to do. It’s definitely not easy, but I think it’s something that we all need to do. Listen to what is good for YOUR body, not what the media is telling you what would be good. Because you know what? I tried it, and it wasn’t good.

Fitness came to be a love of mine around my senior year in high school. When I started working out the way that I wanted to instead of the way I thought I had to, I was hooked. To me, fitness makes me feel SO good. Even now, my husband (and I) can tell when I have and have not worked out in awhile as my confidence and well-being spike when I have.

I’m no fitness coach or guru by any means, but I do have a desire to continue to work my body to stay healthy. This can look like many things to me and here are a few of my favorites: walking (even if thats all you get out and do, just do it!), stair climbing, weights, hiking, running, push-ups/planks/squats etc, healthy and meaningful eating and napping or going to bed early.

Let’s break it down:

  • Walking – I absolutely love it! If its on a treadmill for an hour, or walking with the hubs on the farm at the end of the night, it just makes me feel good!
  • Stair Climbing – I’m addicted, I admit. I love the way it challenges me and makes my booty feel when I’m done (real talk!). I typically cool down after this by walking. This is also an easy respiratory workout for me to do (more explained under “Running”)
  • Weights – Definitely an area of growth for me as I feel out of place doing so, but helps me work on toning my muscles and makes me feel all “beasty” after doing so! (oh yeah, I got this!)
  • Running – Ever since I was born I have always struggled with asthma. Its never been bad enough to the point to have an asthma attack, but has always been there looming over my lungs. On my bad days I can have as low as 66% lung usage, and in the upper 80’s-lower 90’s on my good days. Needless to say, running hasn’t always been my friend. BUT I am adapting and training my mind and body to work through it. Very rarely will you catch me running on a treadmill. I’ll wait until it’s nice enough outside 🙂
  • Push-ups/planks/squats etc – these are some of my love-hate favorite things to do! I love having different workouts that I can do in my own home if I am not able to run outside or make it to the gym. 30 minutes is all you need to get nice and sweaty!
  • Healthy and Meaningful Eating – as you know, I LOVE to cook. I will always try to have a healthy meal prepared, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to live a little and have my cake too. My day can consist of a granola bar, coffee, spinach smoothie, leftovers from the night before for lunch and Chick-Fil-A for dinner (ok, we are trying to space it out to only let ourselves go there every two-three weeks 🙂 )or it can look completely different and I have had to learn that it is OK for it to do so. I want to put food into my body that is going to nourish it and make me feel good after eating it.
  • Napping/Going to bed early – I am not a frequent napper (they typically make me feel lazy), but I have had to learn that along with listening to my body with fitness and food, it is also with rest. Let your body get the rest it deserves!

So, here’s me. Feeling all exposed and vulnerable as this is not something I’m used to doing. But, here is also me: full of energy and excitement to be sharing part of my fitness journey with you!

It’s SO so easy to get sucked into the world and what it tells you on how your body should look. I know I fall into that trap every day. Looking into the mirror, I am my worst self-critic, pointing out things that I want to change. I am still learning, but God has been laying it on my heart to shift my eyes. See myself fearfully and wonderfully made. Be the woman He created me to be. Be the woman and wife that my husband sees. I’m not saying its easy to adjust our thinking, but at the end of the day our bodies are a temple to take care of and to glorify Him with.

 

#foodtographyworkshop

You guys, I can’t tell you enough how much fun I had at the #foodtographyworkshop! Ann Arbor was the perfect little town to host this food blogger get-together and Sarah Fennel (Broma Bakery) is packed full of knowledge and insight. She was certainly the “hostess with the mostest” as she and her assistants provided a wonderful weekend for us, and I’ll tell you what, we never went hungry!

Sarah is the face behind Broma Bakery and if you have ever gotten to lay eyes on her food photography then you will understand why I was so excited to make this trip! Not only is her photography (and knowledge about photography) inspiring, but also her keen eye for food styling and baking AMAZING cakes. She was fun and light-hearted and made everyone feel at home. In fact, I think everyone felt at home amongst one another because you were never alone being the “weird person” standing on their chair at a restaurant to get the perfect picture of the plates below you. Pictures were snapped, boomerangs were done until perfected, and food was typically eaten cold by the time you were done photographing it but it didn’t matter because you had a happy tummy and wonderful company around you.

I’m not going to spill all the beans of everything we learned, but I am so excited to put everything into action! And OH MY GOODNESS she taught me how to properly use my Canon 6D! Me and Betty (the 6D) weren’t getting along too well so I kept defaulting back to my Nikon that I was more comfortable with. I still love my Nikon, but Betty and I are pretty tight now… you could say that its gotten pretty serious between us.

Here are a few of my favorite snaps from the weekend that I hope you all enjoy! If you ever get the opportunity to gather with fellow food bloggers and photographers jump right on it – you won’t be disappointed!

PS – see if you can tell the difference in the photos from when I switched from the Nikon 5300 to the Canon 6D 🙂

 

 

Grilled Pita Pizza Pockets

Oooo you guys let me just tell you how excited I am about these pita pizza pockets! Say that five times fast: Grilled Pita Pizza Pockets! Its a tongue twister, but a tummy pleaser! Summer and grilling season are in full swing and no one wants to have to turn on their oven. Still want your favorite slice of pizza? Pack the goodies into one of these pita pizza pockets, toss it on the grill and you are set to go! Talk about a fun and effortless dinner for a weeknight meal, summer bash, family bbq or your next campfire. Thats right, these little babies can be quickly tossed over your next campfire. Not only are they delicious but they are healthy (depending on your fillings 😉 and portable. The hubs was mowing the lawn when his pita pizza pocket came off the grill and he grabbed it and went on his way to finish up the lawn. Talk about a major win.

Pack up the ingredients for your next camping trip or have them on hand for when you need a delicious dinner in snap. Let everyone help and build their own pocket! I love the taste and health benefits of using whole wheat pita bread and you should be able to find it in the bread aisle of your grocery store. You can make these meat-packed, meatless, vegetarian, vegan or whichever way your heart desires. Have some leftovers to get rid of? PERFECT. Create a leftover grilled pocket!

This is going to be a little different as I am not going to post specific recipes for each kind. Use these as guidelines to create the pita pizza pocket that will make your heart happy!  HAVE FUN. Cook without boundaries.

 

Here’s how to make them:

  1. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Working with one pita round at a time, lay it out on a 10×10 inch piece of foil (or enough foil to wrap it up once filled). If you are putting these over a campfire, I would recommend using heavy duty foil. Using the side of your hand, gently but firmly crease the middle of the pita to create a natural fold so that it won’t break in half when you fold your pita pocket.
  3. Place your fillings on one half of the pita round. Fold the top half over the filling ingredients, making sure to keep the ingredients tucked inside so they do not spill out. Tightly fold and wrap in the foil to create a pocket.
  4. Grill the pita pocket about 4-5 minutes on each side depending on strength of your grill.
  5. Enjoy!

 

Here’s a few of our favorite combos:

 

The KJ Special

  • Whole wheat pita
  • Pizza sauce
  • Mozzarella
  • Pepperoni
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Diced green bell pepper

 

The Midwest Classic

  • Whole wheat pita
  • Pizza sauce
  • Mozzarella
  • Pepperoni
  • Cream cheese (YASSS)

 

The Veg

  • Whole wheat pita
  • Pizza sauce
  • Mozzarella
  • Feta
  • Small broccoli florets
  • Sliced cherry tomatoes
  • Sliced mushrooms

 

 

Grilled Peaches with Mulled Blueberries

John and I are binge watching Friends on Netflix because we have never seen it before (yes, yes everyone gasp) and we are averaging 5 episodes a night with no shame. I would totally be Monica (germ freak and cook, duh) and John is a mix between Ross and Chandler so it averages out in the end. A little game of hide-and-seek on a Friday night in between episodes keeps things spiced up. Don’t worry, its the old-fashioned, innocent, genuine type of hide-and-seek, but when I told my Grandma about it and everyone was having a good laugh that we were actually playing hide-and-seek in the first place and they were informed that clothes were still on she says: “Well, wheres the fun in that?!” Oh Grandma… haha!

Just so everyone knows, I was the official winner of our hide-and-seek game.

Anyone who knows me knows that I freak out when fresh peach season rolls around. We get them by the lugs when the Colorado peach season is at its peak (we’re almost there!!) and my heart couldn’t be happier. So, here I am writing about a grilled peach recipe that I whipped up and daydreaming about what I can do with the other fresh peaches I have sitting on my counter in front of me. I’m a peach freak and proud. I love summer, grilling and being outside and couldn’t wait to get some peaches on our new grill! This recipe is such a fun and simple dessert that can be whipped up in a flash and feed a crowd (or just yourself).  If you don’t get the perfect grill marks on the peaches, don’t worry about it! They still develop a warm, juicy flavor that pairs perfectly with a dollop of ice cream and the mulled blueberries. Let the blueberries simmer away on the stovetop while you grill up the peaches and you have a worry-free dessert ready in no time!

Now, what are we going to do with ourselves when we finish Friends and peaches go out of season?

 

 

Grilled Peaches with Mulled Blueberries

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 peaches, halved and pitted
  • Canola oil
  • 6 oz blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon peach Schnapps
  • 2 tablespoons white wine (try to go for the sweeter kinds, any will do)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Vanilla ice cream

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat your grill to medium heat.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the blueberries, Schnapps, wine, sugar and cinnamon. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and let boil for a few minutes. Reduce the heat to low to let the mixture simmer. The longer it simmers the more syrup-like it will get.
  3. Brush the peach halves generously with the canola oil to prevent them from sticking to the grill grates. Grill the peach halves for about 5-10 minutes depending on the strength of your grill and flame. You want them to be warmed through and to try to get the grill marks on them. They will also start to caramelize.
  4. Serve the peach halves with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a spoonful of the mulled blueberries.

Sugar Cookie Dough Truffles

In elementary school, I was always the kid who had a pocket full of quarters that I stole out of my dad’s coin jar. You wanna know why? Because the kid with the quarters was always the one who could buy the little cups of cookie dough at the end of the food line! They were $0.25 a scoop and you better believe that I always had at least $0.75 in my pocket. You could choose between sugar cookie with sprinkles, chocolate chip or peanut butter. My scoops of choice were always sugar cookie and chocolate chip cookie dough. The lunch ladies loved me.

Needless to say, I needed these little cookie dough balls back in my life! They are like scrumptious, cakey gumdrops of happiness. You know whats even more great? They are pretty darn easy to make! I mean, just think of all the cookie dough truffles you could be eating right now! Low maintenance and ingredients that you most likely have on hand. No excuses to not make them! Even if you’re on a diet, you gotta have at least one! I had to try to not eat all the dough while I was making them!

My mom said they tasted like Christmas cookies so they are officially “mom-approved!” My husband thought I was a little crazy, but he obviously didn’t grow up with a few quarters in his pocket to buy himself some dough.

This is such a kid-friendly little treat that you can have your littles help you roll them up and decorate them however they please. You’ll only just have to find something to do while you wait for the dough to set in the fridge for 20 or so minutes. Its basically like a lifetime, but they are worth they wait. We’re calling them truffles to make them ultra fancy and special.

 

Sugar Cookie Dough Truffles

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter (8 tablespoons), softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • Sprinkles (I used sanding sugar sprinkles)

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Spread the flour out evenly on a baking sheet and toast the flour for a couple minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the almond extract, vanilla extract and salt and blend until smooth. Mix in the flour and the mixture will become crumbly. Beat in the milk and beat until the dough is smooth, about a couple minutes.
  3. Refrigerate the dough for 25 minutes. Using rounded teaspoonfuls, roll the dough into balls and roll in sprinkles as desired. Refrigerate the dough prior to serving and let sit at room temperature at least 5-10 minutes before eating if the dough has been in the refrigerator for more than an hour.

Candied Waffles with Blueberry Apple Compote

I don’t know what it was, but I never grew up eating frozen waffles! We either made them homemade or went over to Grandma’s house to get Mickey Waffles with chocolate chips. I personally more of a pancake gal myself (I’m weird and I love raw pancake batter, like really love it), but I’ll make room for a waffle! Needless to say, when we were grocery shopping together for the first time for the new house a few weeks back and our cart was quickly filling up with multiple flavors of ice cream and frozen waffles I just smiled and shook my head. My husband is a five year old.

You do have to give him kuddos, though, because he did end up grabbing organic 7-Grain Kashi waffles and I have to say that I was pretty impressed. For a frozen waffle, these things are good! Yesterday was just one of those days where there was quite a bit going on and I just needed to cook something. I saw apples sitting on our counter and knew I had a pack of blueberries in the fridge begging to be used. And then it hit me – we have all of these waffles sitting in our freezer that we haven’t even touched! It’s waffle time. The toaster is still packed away in a box, so making them in the oven was my only option and oh boy, it is a good option. I loaded these puppies with brown sugar and caramelized them in the oven until the topping was warm and crunchy. Simmering the apples and blueberries together with sugar and cinnamon creates the perfect medley to top off these waffles. Apples are so good during the summertime, don’t let their only shining moments be in the fall!

The colors are pretty great if I don’t say so myself. And talk about a quick and easy breakfast or brunch to get on the table in a snap! You don’t have to worry about whisking up waffle batter or dragging the waffle maker out of the cupboards. All you gotta do is toss some fruit and goodies together on the stovetop, let them do their own thing for a bit, and top off some candied frozen waffles with a deliciously beautiful blueberry apple compote. Add a dollop of Greek yogurt and a swirl of honey and you are the master of breakfast and brunch. It’s not just a frozen waffle!

PS: this recipe serves 2, but you could easily double it or triple it to feed family and friends!

 

 

Candied Waffles with Blueberry Apple Compote 

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 4 frozen waffles of choice
  • 6 oz blueberries
  • 1 apple, cored and diced into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 5 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the water, apple, blueberries, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 2 tablespoons regular sugar, cinnamon and salt to a boil. Let boil for 5-8 minutes and then reduce to a low-boil or rough simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the fruit is soft and has created a syrup-like consistency. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly before serving.
  3. While the fruit is simmering, line your waffles out on a baking sheet. Top each waffle with a tablespoon of brown sugar (if you are not a huge brown sugar fan then reduce this amount). Bake the waffles for 5 minutes at 425. Turn the oven off and turn your broiler on high and broil the tops of the waffles until the sugar starts to caramelize and get crunchy. The timing on this will be different depending on your stove, so keep an eye on them to not let them burn. Remove from the oven when the tops are slightly browned, about 2-5 minutes.
  4. Top the waffles with the blueberry apple compote, Greek yogurt, honey, nuts or whatever else your heart desires.

 

No-Churn S’mores Ice Cream

Summer is almost here! Its been so darn hot out that it may as well be! You know what that means? Time for campfires, grilling and of course the classic s’mores! You just can’t go through the summer without having one. If you’re either a burnt marshmallow or a golden mallow lover, this simple dessert is not only delicious, but full of memories, friendship and family. I mean, how often do you eat a s’mores on your own? Not very often! You are typically surrounded by those you love, new and old friends, the great outdoors and a gooey, sticky s’mores in your hand while someone is spraying bug spray because the mosquitos are starting to come out.

A memory that I have growing up and have always loved is of my parents letting us make s’mores over the gas range stove. When you’re a little kid and just gotta get your grubby, little hands on a s’mores but aren’t anywhere near a campfire, this is the way to do it! A big mallow grin will fill your face as you skewer some marshmallows, roast them golden brown over a flame in the house, and squish them in between graham crackers and extra chocolate to make the perfect hand-held dessert. John and I have had an electric stove top since we’ve been married, so when we were stove shopping you know right what I went to. You could say that my excitement level was pretty high the other night when these childhood memories flooded into my mind and I remembered all the possibilities of what we can do! I just knew that I had to make this ice cream.

I love the simplicity of no-churn ice cream and the satisfaction that it gives serving it up. People will say, “You made ice cream??” YEP! No-churn or not, its special to say that you made it. And guess what, this s’mores ice cream made non-s’mores-loving people love it! (I know, I know, its hard to believe that there are non-s’mores loving people out there). It’s so s’mores filled and scrumptious that you won’t be able to pass it up! There wasn’t even enough left for me to have a bowl after everyone had gone through it, but that just shows the love!

Let this decadent, sweet treat satisfy your sweet tooth and bring out your inner kid!

PS – this is VERY kid friendly 🙂 Let them have fun making it with you!

 

No-Churn S’mores Ice Cream

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 – 16 oz bag marshmallows
  • 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 milk chocolate bars (approx 6 oz total)
  • 1 cup crushed graham crackers

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream until light and fluffy and stiff peaks form, about 5-8 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil and very lightly spray with cooking spray. Spread the marshmallows out evenly on the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes or until the centers start to get gooey. Turn your oven to broil and broil the marshmallows until the tops are golden brown (or slightly charred if preferred) and the centers are cooked through, about another few minutes. This time frame will depend on the strength of your oven and broiler. Just make sure that you keep your eyes on it during this process. Remove from the oven and let them cool slightly.
  3. In a separate separate small bowl, mix together the sweetened condensed milk with the gooey marshmallows until combined. Fold the marshmallow mixture gently into the whipped cream until combined. Add in the graham crackers and fold until combined. Making sure to not over-mix.
  4. In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the chocolate until melted. Try for 30 seconds, then stir, then another 30 seconds until melted. Let the chocolate cool for about 3-5 minutes, and then gently swirl and fold the chocolate into the ice cream mixture. You don’t want to combine it completely as you will wants some “globs” and swirls of chocolate to freeze into the ice cream mixture instead of turning the base of the ice cream chocolate.
  5. Freeze the ice cream in a freezer safe bowl, container or pan that is covered for at least 6 hours and up to a couple days in advance. Serve with roasted marshmallows on top.

Summer Sangria

Woohoo! The first blog post in the new house! 🙂 Whew! This has been a whirlwind start to June, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Boxes still have yet to be completely unpacked and the basement is currently the only furnished area in the house besides our mattress on the floor of our bedroom. But do not fear, we will be getting some new furniture coming our way! It’s been kinda fun – like a big ol’ sleepover/camping in our new home. We celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary on June 6 (yippee!) by eating a frozen pizza on the couch and falling asleep to a movie. Nothing glamorous, but so what we needed together.  Between packing, cleaning, moving, cleaning, unpacking and more cleaning, I was wanting a little drink to tickle my tastebuds. So I said forget unpacking – I’m making sangria! How could you not want a glass (or two) of the delicious drink with this gorgeous, hot, summer weather?! I invited my mom over (she was very willing because no one should ever day drink alone) and we did dishes and kitchen work while sipping this sangria all before 4 in the afternoon. It was great – I laughed the rest of the night!

Its fresh, juicy fruit marinated in fruity wine and alcohol, so it can be deliciously dangerous! The hubs even said it was the best sangria I’ve made to date. WIN. This cocktail is perfect for summertime sipping on the patio, large get togethers, or to have for a little date night (or obviously day drinking with your mom ha).  You can make it a day ahead and she just gets better with age. Yes, this sangria is a she. The fruit will break down and get mushy after a few days, so I wouldn’t recommend not making it too far in advance. Let this stress-free summertime cocktail be the star. She really wants to be. I had all these cute mason jars that I had just unpacked so it was perfect timing to whip this up! Regular wine glasses and pitchers will do just fine as well, but I am in love with my giant mason jar pitcher! You can typically find this size wherever you get your canning goods. Its perfect for serving up this summer sangria!

After you finish your glass you get to eat all the yummy, alcohol-soaked fruit so its like a drink and dessert at the same time. And it screams summer. You need it.

 

Summer Sangria

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle Pink Moscato wine
  • 4 Tablespoons peach Schnapps
  • 3 white peaches, cored and sliced
  • 6 oz fresh blueberries
  • 8 oz fresh strawberries, quartered (about 6-8 strawberries depending on size)
  • 1 12 oz can lemon-lime soda, such as Sprite

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients except the lemon-lime soda into a large pitcher and stir gently to incorporate all the flavors. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to a day in advance.
  2. When you are ready to serve, add in the lemon-lime soda and stir gently to co