Cocktails from the Garden

I keep hearing praises and hallelujahs about how Fall is right around the corner and I’ve even seen pumpkins and Halloween decor at our local stores, but come on, it’s still hot as I don’t know what when you step outside and the AC is cranked up way too high for all that. Don’t get me wrong, I ADORE Fall but can you seriously imagine putting a pumpkin outside your door right now or a Halloween costume on your body? I can’t. That sounds like rotten pumpkins and lots of sweat. So in the meantime, I’ve got a fabulous way to help you enjoy these pool days that aren’t going away anytime soon and to help you beat this not so desirable heat. If you’re one of those lucky ones who actually lives somewhere where Fall weather is truly around the corner, fear not, these drink recipes I’ll be sharing with you know no season … and I’m a little jealous of you.

A group of ladies and I got together a while back and raided our gardens to come up with some creative and refreshing drink recipes and they’ve agreed to let me share them with you! I’ve tried several of these and they’re not only super fun to make but so darn good (and most of them have adult adaptations if you catch my drift). And no worries if you’re not a gardener or if your garden is half dead like mine, you can find all these ingredients at your local grocer. See below for some deliciously fun cocktail recipes, from lemonade to margaritas!

First up –

Raspberry Cucumber Mint Lemonade – props to Julia @juliaterpstra

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Puree in blender:
12 raspberries
1/2 cucumber
2 sprigs mint
4 Tbsp lime juice

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Fill glass with ice
Add 2 tbsp puree and top off with lemonade
Garnish with fresh raspberries, sliced cucumbers and fresh mint

Adaptations – sub blackberry-cucumber LaCroix for lemonade. Add 1.5 oz vodka for some fun!

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Blueberry Coconut Splash – props to Cindy @princetonparklife

IMG_5173
Ingredients:
3 cups blueberries
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup coconut water (or rum)
2 1/2 cups ginger ale
Ice
Garnishment
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Muddle blueberries and strain using a fine mesh strainer
Add lemon juice and coconut water (or rum)
Add ginger ale and stir
Garnish glass, fill with ice, pour in blueberry coconut splash and enjoy!
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Fresh Lavender Lemonade – props to Kate @kateaiellodesign

IMG_E5174
Ingredients:
6 or 8 lemons
2 big handfuls of fresh lavender
2-3 sprigs of fresh stevia (or replace with sugar)
Vodka, if you like 🙂
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Place lavender and stevia into pot of approx 3 qts water and bring just to boil
Turn off and allow to cool
Tea mixture can be jarred and kept in fridge for several days
Place ice in a pretty glass
Almost fill with lavender tea
Squeeze in 1 whole lemon per glass, more to taste
Throw in a splash of vodka, if you like 🙂
Garnish with lavender
Enjoy!
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Blackberry Peach Tea – props to Zamira @zamirat79

IMG_E5175

Ingredients:
3 ripe peaches
2 cups blackberries
2 cups sugar
1 gallon + 2 cups water
10 unsweetened black tea bags
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Put cut fruit in a pot with sugar and 3 cups water
Simmer for 10 minutes, mash and simmer for 10 more minutes
Let cool and add to blender
Mix and put through sieve and you’re left with a fruity syrup
Make tea to your preference
Either add syrup to entire pitcher or add to each individual glass
Pour over ice and garnish with fruit or mint!
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Orange Dreamsicle Smoothie – props to Terrie @decorateandmorewithtip

IMG_E5178

Ingredients:
1 large peeled orange, cut in chunks
1 peeled banana – cut in chunks
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 cup of ice
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Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth!
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Infused Ice Cubes – props to Chantal @peace_garden_life

IMG_E5183

Add your favorite berries & herbs (like mint)
Sliced cucumbers and limes are perfect too
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Combine in ice cube trays, cover with water and freeze
Add to your favorite summer drink and enjoy!
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Spicy Cucumber Mint Margarita – props to me @myhouseof_love

IMG_E5181

Ingredients:
1/4 medium cucumber, chopped
3 mint leaves
Juice of 1 1/2 limes
Splash of OJ
1 shot Cointreau
2 shots Tequila Blanco (it’s strong!)
Few jalapeno slices (w/ or w/o seeds)
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Add cucumber, mint, lime juice, OJ & Cointreau to shaker and shake vigorously
Add tequila and shake again
Use strainer and pour contents into margarita glass filled with ice (rim w/ salt first if desired)
Add jalapenos
Enjoy!
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So how’s that for some heat-beating refreshers inspired from the garden? Hope you enjoy and I’d love to hear from you if you end up making any of these! Also be sure to check out all these lovely ladies on Instagram … they’re sweet as can be and super inspirational. Happy days ahead!!!

Christmas Traditions & Comfort Food

It’s become a tradition of mine to take the Monday after Thanksgiving off of work for some much-needed “prepping for Christmas” time. With the Christmas music playing too loudly, I open up my 13 bins of Christmas decor and attempt to get the house decorated just as it was the year prior. I then start on some Christmas cards, cook some comfort food for dinner, and finally we go as a family, with hot chocolate in hand, to pick out our Christmas tree. Afterwards we come home, eat said delicious comfort food for dinner and spend the next however many hours decorating the tree, this time with wine in hand and a fire in the fireplace.

Such a perfect day, right? It really is. This year was no different in that I took the day off work, listened to lots of Christmas music, cooked some comfort food, and we went as a family to pick out our Christmas tree and then got it decorated. I also indulged in both hot chocolate and wine. There may have been a few minor glitches along the way … wrong color “white” lights, missing tree topper, too much sugar for the little one … but these are the glitches that make up life, am I right? The Christmas cards are still sitting in the box they came in and the Christmas decorating is no where near complete, although my dining room floor looks quite festive since that’s where your decorations will end up if you ask your 3 year old for help. Still, it was a perfect day.

The comfort food I cook usually involves a good soup and this one is worth sharing. I’ve made it with both homemade meatballs and premade Aidells meatballs before, but the version below with chicken sausage is my favorite to date.

LEMON ORZO SOUP WITH SAUSAGE

 (makes 3 quarts)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 64 ounces chicken broth
  • 6 tablespoons lemon juice (freshly squeezed is best!)
  • 3/4 cup orzo pasta
  • 8 large Italian sausage links, cut small (Aidells chicken sausage is my go-to!)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped

 

  • In a large pot, saute onion, carrots & garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes or until tender.
  • Stir in chicken broth & lemon juice and bring to a boil, stirring occassionally.
  • Add orzo and reduce heat to medium. Simmer about 9 minutes until pasta is almost tender, stirring occassionally.
  • Stir in sausage and simmer about 7 minutes, stirring occassionally, until sausage is cooked.
  • Stir in parmesan cheese & parsley and add salt/pepper to taste.

It’s even better with a slice of cheese toast. Hopefully I’ll get the Christmas decorations off the floor in the near future so I can share a Holiday Home Tour from our new home with you! Wish me luck and in the meantime, Merry Christmas preppin’ time to you & yours!!!


 

 

The 5th of May

I have such fond memories of Cinco de Mayos from years past. Memories of  when I used to, not too terribly long ago, have major plans for the 5th of May each year. And by major I mean going out with friends for a giant mexican meal made up mainly of jumbo fishbowl  margaritas … you know the ones that four people could comfortably drink out of at once? Yeah, those. And yes, we did, with our very own straws. I have pictures somewhere. Oh to be young again …

More lately my plans for Cinco de Mayo have involved not realizing it’s Cinco de Mayo until the day before, or the day of, and then scrambling to put together some resemblance of a good Mexican meal myself, because who doesn’t love an excuse to eat Mexican food? I know I do. And I’m sharing some of my favorite, tried and true recipes below!


CROCKPOT (YES!) SPICY SHREDDED CHICKEN

(my favorite because, well, crockpot … and because it’s DELICIOUS) (serves 6)

Perfect in tacos, burritos, enchiladas – you name it, I’ve probably done it!

  • 2 pounds chicken breast
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded & chopped *
  • 4 oz green chiles, diced *
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder *
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper *
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Baste chicken breasts with oil and place in crockpot.
  • Add all remaining ingredients and cook on low for 6 hours OR high for 2-3 hours.
  • Move chicken to a cutting board and let rest about 10 minutes.
  • Shred chicken and return to crockpot.
  • Cook on low for another 20-30 minutes then drain any excess liquid.

* These amounts can be adjusted or the ingredients can be left out all together for a much milder (a.k.a. not nearly as spicy) flavor


ROASTED SHRIMP ENCHILADAS WITH JALAPEĂ‘O CREAM SAUCE

(my husband’s all-time favorite)

http://damndelicious.net/2012/06/15/roasted-shrimp-enchiladas-with-jalape-o-cream-sauce


MEXICAN STREET CORN WITH A KICK

(soooo not healthy, but soooo worth it)

  • 16 oz corn (frozen, canned or fresh)
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro
  • 1/2 cup Cotija cheese
  • Heat butter in large skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add corn, onion, salt, pepper, chili powder, paprika, cumin & cayenne pepper and cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Fold in mayonnaise, lime juice and cilantro and mix well.
  • Garnish with cheese & enjoy.

SPICY BLACK BEAN HUMMUS

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Throw everything into a food processor and combine until smooth!


WORLD’S BEST (SPICY) GUACAMOLE

  • 4 avocados
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Mash avocados in a medium bowl, leaving some small chunks.
  • Add lime juice and stir to combine.
  • Add rest of ingredients and mix well.

And there you have ’em, some of my all-time favorite Mexican recipes. Pick up some yellow rice, tortilla chips & salsa, and maybe even some cinnamon churros and you’ll be ready for a Cinco de Mayo celebration of your own. Don’t forget the fishbowls. And the tequila 🙂

Easter Eats

Can you believe Easter is a little less than 2 weeks away?!?!? I am SO behind this year. My house isn’t decorated, I haven’t done all of the Easter Bunny’s “shopping” for him, and we don’t even know what time we’re hosting our get-together or what we’re serving, OR who all is even coming. Pretty bad, huh?

Honestly I don’t even plan to decorate this year – I know, it’s so sad. What’s a holiday in our house without decorations? I don’t even know. But it just doesn’t make much sense since we’re in the process of “uncluttering” so we can snap pics and list our house on the market soon. I do have this little scene on our front porch though and I’m afraid these little guys are going to have to be enough for Easter 2017.

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I also have a super easy recipe for you! Although our Easter menu hasn’t been decided upon yet, these mini frittatas just might make an appearance. I’ve made these time and time again and they have yet to disappoint. And did I mention they’re super easy?

MINI BREAKFAST FRITTATAS (makes 12)

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 INGREDIENTS

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded or crumbled cheese*
  • 1 cup cooked spinach (I love using fresh spinach & sauteing in a bit of olive oil)
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped**
  • 4 slices cooked turkey bacon, chopped***

 DIRECTIONS 

  • Preheat oven to 350 F
  • Spray or grease 12-cup muffin pan
  • In a large bowl, whisk eggs until smooth
  • Add milk, salt & cheese and stir together
  • Add cooked spinach, sun-dried tomatoes & cooked bacon and stir together (it’s super helpful to have a cute little assistant do all the mixing)
  • Spoon egg mixture equally into 12 greased muffin cups

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  • Bake for 20-25 minutes
  • Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes before removing from pan

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*I have used several different kinds of cheese when making these. My favorite is probably classic cheddar, but a good crumbled goat cheese or feta never hurt anyone 🙂

**The sun-dried tomatoes are totally optional – in fact, so is the spinach and the bacon! You really can use any add-ins you want, which makes these so fun to make. You could even set up a frittata station at an event you’re hosting and let guests make their own! Other add-ins could include peppers, onions, mushrooms … you get the point 🙂

***I’m a fan of Applegate Farms turkey bacon and these slices are HUGE. If you’re using another brand of turkey bacon (or regular bacon for that matter), you may want to up the slices to 6 or so as these tend to be smaller.

These frittatas would make a great addition to your Easter brunch menu and I can ensure you they will be a hit. Enjoy and have a great week!

 

Pass the Nutella

I’m well aware that I already claimed last year to have found the perfect cookie but here I go again about to make the exact same claim. In my defense, those perfect cookies I shared with you last February https://myhouseoflove.com/2016/02/29/the-perfect-cookie/ fall under the healthy (but not really) section while these perfect cookies I’m about to share with you fall under the not, nowhere near, not even remotely close, to being healthy section. And that might be pretty much the only difference … oh, plus these have Nutella. And I think we all know you can NOT go wrong there.

The very first time I baked these I swore to high heavens I would never make them again because they’re not exactly what you’d call “easy” and they’re definitely what you’d call a bit messy. Never before did I realize making chocolate chip cookies could be such an all-out affair. It took only one quick bite, however, to make me forget all about the time-consuming mess I had just taken part in and I proceeded to bake them again and again and forty times after that. They’ve become my holiday go-to, with me baking approximately 200 each & every Christmas so that I can win the hearts of family, friends and coworkers. I think it works.

Who knows? With Valentines Day coming up maybe you yourself can win over some hearts, or maybe just your own. I won’t judge.

NUTELLA-STUFFED TRIPLE-CHOCOLATE COOKIES (makes 2 dozen)

(recipe adapted from Ambitious Kitchen)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted & cooled
  • 1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1/8 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • Nutella, chilled

DIRECTIONS

  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda & salt and set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the butter and both sugars using an electric mixer.
  • Mix in the eggs and vanilla until thoroughly combined.
  • Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined.
  • Fold in all of those delicious chocolate chips.
  • Chill dough in fridge for at least 2 hours.
  • After dough has chilled, preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Measure out a heaping tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball, then flatten gently.
  • Measure out some Nutella (I usually go for a heaping teaspoon) and place in the middle of the flattened dough.
  • Fold dough up around the Nutella and gently roll back into a ball.
  • Place dough on baking sheet about 2 inches apart and flatten gently.
  • Bake about 10 minutes or until edges turn golden.
  • Let cookies cool a few minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Sprinkle cookies with a little sea salt if you wish (I definitely recommend this step).
  • Try to eat just one. I double-dog dare you.

 

‘Til Next Time!

Time For Turkey

Happy Thanksgiving Week Monday! How is it time for turkey already??? My husband and I hosted his family yesterday for our annual “early Thanksgiving/November birthdays” meal – nothing like killing three birds with one stone. We travel each year for Thanksgiving to see my extended family, so we started this tradition of having his family over the weekend before so as not to miss out on celebrating and giving thanks with them. I’m not sure which year we’re on because me and history do not go together, but I’d say it’s a tradition we’ll hold on to for many more to come.

My husband and I have a tendency to always cook way too much food but this year takes the cake. We have leftovers for days and maybe even weeks. Oh who am I kidding? We both like to eat so it might be gone tomorrow. Regardless, better to have too much than not enough in my opinion (and it never goes to waste). We tried out several new recipes this year and I have to say I was pretty happy with the way things turned out. So … if you’re like me and wait until the last minute to do certain things (like planning your Thanksgiving day menu) – or maybe you just need some last minute ideas – this post is definitely for you. Or if you’re like me and just enjoy cooking, baking, and better yet eating, this post is even more so definitely for you 🙂

2016 Thanksgiving Day Menu

Appetizers
Spicy Black Bean Hummus with Pretzel Crisps
Shrimp Cocktail
Chicken Wings

Main Course
Turkey Tenderloin
Kale Salad
Rolls
Orange Cinnamon Cranberry Sauce

Slow Cooker Stuffing
Green Bean Casserole
Pineapple Casserole
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
Roasted Acorn Squash

Desserts
Pumpkin Pie
Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Cookies
Cast Iron Triple Berry Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream

Anything making your mouth water? Maybe pictures will help. I’m sharing some of the recipes below as well!

Spicy Black Bean Hummus
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Throw everything into a food processor and combine until smooth!

Chicken Wings
Done on the Big Green Egg by my talented husband (marinated in Lupo’s Chicken Barbeque Marinade)

 

Turkey Tenderloin
Also done on the Big Green Egg by my talented husband (injected with Lupo’s Lemon-Garlic Marinade). Lupo’s is pretty phenomenal.

Kale Salad (serves 6-8) – adapted from foodbabe.com
2 large bunches dinosaur kale, stems removed
1 cup pomegranate craisins
juice of 3 lemons
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 teaspoons honey
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 cup walnuts, toasted
salt and pepper, to taste
12 tablespoons grated parmesan

Throw kale into food processor and process into tiny chopped pieces. Stir lemon juice, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper together in large bowl. Add in chopped kale, craisins, pine nuts, walnuts and parmesan and stir together into dressing.

Orange Cinnamon Cranberry Sauce – courtesy of the Pioneer Woman
http://thepioneerwoman.com/food-and-friends/thanksgiving-dinner-how-to-make-cranberry-sauce/

Slow Cooker Stuffing – courtesy of Cooking Classy
http://www.cookingclassy.com/slow-cooker-stuffing/

Green Bean Casserole (serves 8)
2 cans green beans
1 can cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cups french fried onions
1/2 shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix green beans, cream of mushroom soup, milk and black pepper together in casserole dish. Cover with french fried onions. Bake for 25 minutes. Add cheddar cheese, cover dish with foil and bake for 10 more minutes.

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
Slice potatoes in half and place in baking dish. Top with butter and/or olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and dill and bake at 400 F for 1 hour.

Roasted Acorn Squash
Slice squash in half and place on baking sheet. Top with butter, cinnamon and brown sugar and bake at 420 F for 75 minutes.

 

Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Cookies – I accidentally screwed up my typical go-to cookies by using unrefined coconut oil instead of refined coconut oil, but they were still very well-received. So for a more coconut-y flavor in these cookies, stick to the unrefined!
https://myhouseoflove.com/2016/02/29/the-perfect-cookie/

Cast Iron Triple Berry Cobbler
https://myhouseoflove.com/2015/11/16/cast-iron-cobbler/

The foods from the menu that I don’t have recipes for (shrimp cocktail, rolls, pineapple casserole and pumpkin pie) were all brought by my in-laws and I failed to get pictures because well, you know how hosting goes – forgot until it was too late. But they were of course equally as delicious and definite must-haves to make this early Thanksgiving celebration simply perfect.

Many blessings to all for a safe and happy Thanksgiving. I hope everyone enjoys their week, finds many reasons to give thanks, and eats lots of good eats. ‘Til next time!

Figgy Love

This time last year I had our entire house and yard decorated for Fall. Never mind that it was way too hot for pumpkins and the like – we had all the Fall goodness and it looked great until our pumpkins rotted out from the 90 degree weather that still graced the Atlanta area at the time. I’ve decided this year to save a few bucks and not buy pumpkins until there’s a nip in the air, or at least until it’s in the 80’s. I’m not exactly sure why, but it seems that as soon as school starts – which is in August here – the pumpkins come out … of everywhere. I used to love it, but now I feel like I need a minute before transforming our house into a Fall wonderland. I need a cool breeze or something to get me going. Why is everyone always jumping onto the next season so quickly anyways? Seize the hot and humid summer days, people.

The truth is I’m more focused on figs than pumpkins at the moment. Our fig tree is bigger than ever this year but the harvests have been getting smaller and smaller, which can only mean the end of summer is near. Hallelujah. I’ve shared a recipe for a fig crostini appetizer before (https://myhouseoflove.com/2015/10/04/for-the-love-of-figs/), which up until this year was pretty much all I ever used our figs for. But alas, I’ve found some amazing new ways to incorporate these little beauties and I plan on using each last one up before moving on to the fruit of the next season – yep, pumpkins.

For all you fig lovers out there – hope you enjoy!

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FIG, PEAR & GOAT CHEESE SALAD W/ MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE (serves 8)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 16 fresh figs, halved
  • 2 pears, cut into small pieces or thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup craisins
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons shallot, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 8 cups mixed salad greens

 DIRECTIONS 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Spread walnut pieces on a baking sheet and bake for about 6 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes (burnt walnuts, or any nuts for that matter, are not tasty – so make sure you watch them!)
  • Transfer walnuts to a bowl to cool
  • Place pears in a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
  • In another bowl, whisk together remaining white wine vinegar, mustard, shallot & sugar
  • Season to taste with salt & pepper
  • Drizzle in olive oil while whisking constantly until smoothly blended
  • Place salad greens, figs, pears, goat cheese, craisins & walnuts in a large bowl
  • Toss with dressing just before serving

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HONEY CINNAMON FIG COMPOTE (perfect for a topping over yogurt or better yet … french toast)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup fresh figs, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

 DIRECTIONS 

  • Place sliced figs, honey & cinnamon in small pot and bring to boil
  • Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes
  • During simmer, mash figs with spoon until they’re broken down
  • Refrigerate until ready to use

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DRIED FIGS (last but certainly not least – this is a great way to preserve your figs because we all know they’ve got a pretty short shelf life once picked)

INGREDIENTS

  • Figs (easy enough, right?)

DIRECTIONS

  • Make sure figs are thoroughly dry after washing them
  • Preheat oven to 140°F
  • Slice figs in 1/2 lengthwise
  • Place figs, cut side up, on a rack with grids or holes – a baking pan will result in uneven drying (I learned this the hard way)
  • Bake for 8 hours with oven door slightly open to allow moisture to escape
  • Make sure to turn the figs regularly while drying – every couple of hours should be sufficient

These make a great quick and healthy snack – especially for kids as you can tell by that little stinker who kept sneaking them off the pan. This was my first attempt at drying when I used the baking pan – they were still edible, just not the perfect dried texture. Whatever, right?

Happy End of Summer to all of you! Hope you enjoy those last few figs 🙂

Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll be featuring some of the talented makers and creators I’ve “met” through Instagram. Might want to get your wallets ready – there’s a sale coming up soon!

Oreo Cheesecake Trifle

I tempted you all with a picture of this spectacular beast a couple of days ago so I thought it only fair to share the recipe with you sooner rather than later. This is by far one of my most favorite dessert recipes out of the “easy, no baking required, not good for you at all” category. This trifle has saved me in a pinch quite a few times and I swear it just gets better and better each time. So if you have an unopened pack of Oreos just lying around, or if you need to feed a large crowd something sweet but don’t want to turn on the oven, or better yet if you simply feel like stuffing your face with chocolate and cream cheese in the privacy of your own home, this Oreo Cheesecake Trifle just might be for you.

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OREO CHEESECAKE TRIFLE (serves 16)

 INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 chocolate bundt cake, cut into bite-sized pieces*
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 packs instant chocolate pudding
  • 1 package Oreo cookies, crushed (save a few whole ones to garnish the top)
  • 16 oz Cool Whip

 DIRECTIONS 

  • Using an electric mixer, blend together cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar
  • In a separate bowl, prepare pudding by mixing milk and pudding packs together
  • Add pudding to cream cheese mixture and mix together
  • Fold in almost the entire tub of Cool Whip (leave just a little to spread on the very top of the trifle)
  • Line the bottom of your trifle dish with 1/2 of your bite-size cake pieces
  • Layer with 1/2 of the cream cheese/pudding mixture and then 1/2 of the crushed Oreos
  • Repeat these layers one more time, ending with the crushed Oreos (save a few crumbs for garnish if you want)
  • Spread the remaining Cool Whip on top of the crushed Oreos
  • Sprinkle with Oreo crumbs if you have any left over. I just plain forgot to hold onto some this time which is why mine looks a little bare!
  • Garnish with whole Oreos and relish in the beauty of your masterpiece
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve

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*I use a bundt cake only because my local grocery store has a delicious one! Any type of chocolate cake would work; however you only need about 1/2 of a bundt-type cake so if you use a regular sheet cake you’ll probably have a lot of cake left over (not that that’s a bad thing!) Brownies would also work in place of the cake. If home-made, make sure whatever you use is cooled!

**The first time I made this I had a very large trifle dish and this fit perfectly. I’ve since had to replace my beloved trifle dish and without realizing it I bought a smaller one. I had some of the cream cheese/pudding mixture leftover this time because I couldn’t fit it all in the dish. These measurements should fit just right in a 16-serving dish, but you may need to adjust just a bit if you have a 12-serving dish (or you may choose to simply have some of that deliciousness left over) 🙂

Enjoy and have a great week!

Meatloaf – It’s What’s for Dinner

It’s sad, I know. I take a long hiatus from blogging and then make my comeback with a meatloaf recipe. I’d be disappointed too if I were one of you readers … until I tasted said meatloaf. Then I’d be A-OK because this isn’t your average meatloaf. Think creamy goat cheese, heavy garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and turkey. Pretty fancy, huh? Not to mention it’s way tastier than your typical ground-chuck-and-loads-of-ketchup recipe (although I personally have nothing against that classic).

My husband & I received a Giada de Laurentiis cookbook for a wedding gift and it was one of those wedding gifts you didn’t register for but you were darn happy to get … because let’s face it, that lady can cook. After making her meatloaf recipe several times and each time changing a little something up (not because it needed it – only because I like to make things harder on myself), I finally came up with what I think is the absolute perfect twist to plain old-fashioned meatloaf.

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FANCY MEATLOAF (serves 4, or 2 depending on how hungry you are)

 INGREDIENTS

  • olive oil cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup 4C gluten-free plain bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • red pepper flakes, just a pinch
  • 1 pound ground turkey

 DIRECTIONS 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Spray 9×5 loaf pan with cooking spray.
  • Stir together bread crumbs, parsley, onion, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, eggs, olive oil, goat cheese, salt, black pepper & red pepper.
  • Add turkey and gently stir to combine.
  • Pack meat mixture into loaf pan (it will only fill pan about 1/2 way, as seen below).

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  • Bake for about 40-45 minutes (internal temp should register 165 F).
  • Let meatloaf rest for about 5 minutes before slicing and diving in!

I’d love to hear your thoughts if you end up making this … I need to know I’m not alone in my meatloaf obsession (weird, I know). Have a great week ahead!

The Perfect Cookie

 

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Just in case it wasn’t clear from all the recipes I’ve shared on my blog, I love baking. Lately I’ve been a little obsessed with scouring Pinterest, Google, cook books, magazines, and other blogs for “healthy” baking ideas – I figured if I can’t control my sweet tooth I might as well try to make my sweet tooth cravings as “healthy” as possible. Please notice my use of quotations here with the word healthy – I’m not claiming you should over-indulge in any of these “healthy” recipes that I share, but if you’re interested in paleo or gluten-free sweets, I gotcha covered because that’s what I’m concerned with at this point in my life. Moderation is still key though (sorry to disappoint).

Normally I tweak recipes a few times until my taste buds tell me they’re perfect. However, this recipe I’m about to share with you required no tweaking on my end. They were just down-right delicious. I made these cookies for the first time over Valentines Day weekend and shared them with my family. All I can say is that they disappeared very quickly (and no, they did not get thrown in the trash). I may have made these again last night for our Sunday night dessert ritual. I also may have had one for breakfast this morning. Maybe. They’re just that good.

Since I followed this recipe exactly I want to give credit where credit is due, so follow link below for instructions on how to make what I like to call The Perfect Cookie (to be more descriptive it’s a chocolate chip almond butter cookie) 🙂

http://www.texanerin.com/perfect-paleo-chocolate-chip-cookies/

A FEW NOTES ~

  • I used coconut oil versus butter
  • I used coconut sugar versus brown sugar
  • The first time I made these I followed the recipe exactly and used semi-sweet chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand). They’re very small and worked great in the dough. When I made these again last night, I decided to switch it up a bit and use dark chocolate morsels (these were a lot larger than the Enjoy Life chips and weren’t as easy to work with) … but they still tasted amazing.

Happy Baking!