Congratulations 2021 graduates! For me, graduation season started the first weekend in May when my youngest graduated from Georgia College and will continue all the way into into June when my nephew graduates from high school.🎓 It does my heart good to see all of these hard working graduates get the ceremonies and celebrations they deserve after so many graduation events were cancelled and postponed in 2020. Celebrate your accomplishments graduates - you did it. 🎉
There are a lot of different ways to commemorate academic achievement. In our family - we celebrate with food. This shouldn't come as a surprise - after all, we celebrate ALL holidays and major life events with food in this house. (I think it's an Italian tradition. 🤷🏻♀️😅) When my kids brought home exceptional report cards from elementary school, we rewarded them with a trip to the ice cream store. 🍦When they had a win on the baseball or soccer field, we went out for ice cream with the team. And when we added a new puppy to our family, we took her to the ice cream store for a canine treat as soon as she was able. 🐶Anyone seeing a trend here? 😂🍨
I feel like I possess a limited number of useful skills but I am a master at coming up with excuses to consume more sugar. 😅I feel like every life event is made more meaningful when celebrated with sugar. I'm the girl who's been known to just show up with a surprise cake to a birthday party if I feel like there's a need for a commemorative dessert. 🎂 After all, is it really a birthday party without cake? 🎂
So if you're a sugar addict like me or you just like to memorialize special days with cake and ice cream - I've got just the recipe for you. These mini bundt cakes are the perfect little treat if the occasion calls for dessert for a small family gathering. They're also perfect to serve at events where slicing and serving a big, layer cake isn't convenient. 🍰 Think of these mini bundt cakes as a fancier, more elegant and more modern version of a cupcake.
Mini Vanilla Bundt Cakes
12 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 Tablespoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons milk, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2-4 Tablespoons milk
Drizzle glaze over cakes.
For a girl who craves chocolate on a daily basis - this vanilla cake with vanilla glaze is not something that I would normally be drawn towards, but with that being said - I could not stop eating these bundt cakes. They're sooo good. The vanilla cake is super soft, moist and flavorful the glaze adds just enough sweetness to make them irresistible. They're delicious - trust me!
Happy Memorial Day!!
How do you celebrate/commemorate this special holiday? I make red, heart shaped pancakes on Valentine's Day, green milkshakes on St. Patrick's Day and mashed potato frosted meatloaf cupcakes on April Fool's Day so it should come as no surprise that I'd make something red, white and blue for Memorial Day. 🇺🇸
I'm not so good at putting up holiday decorations around the house but I always make sure that we have a themed, color coordinated meal to celebrate special days. 😊 I mean is it really Easter without Jello eggs and sugar cookies decorated like vegetables? 🥕😅
Traditionally, people fire up their grill for Memorial Day and cook up burgers and meats. 🍔 So if you're looking for a healthy side dish or a vegetarian alternative, consider this delicious Summer Grain Bowl this weekend. It's full of fresh summer vegetables, crispy spinach, crunchy seeds, savory goat cheese and a bright citrus herb vinaigrette. 🍋
I just love fresh summer produce. After a trip to the strawberry farm this morning, I made a quick stop by the farmer's market on my way home. I just can't resist a home grown watermelon, some freshly picked corn or a basket up perfectly ripe tomatoes. Now that my frig is stocked with fresh summer produce, I'm ready to make my red, white and blue summer grain bowl for my Memorial Day. 🌽🍅🥗
Summer Grain Bowl
1 cup pearled barley or farro
2 cups spinach
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup fresh corn
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
2 Tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds
Lemon Basil Vinaigrette
2 cups fresh basil
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic
1 whole lemon, juiced and zested
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup olive oil
Top with crumbled goat cheese and pumpkin seeds.
Drizzle with lemon basil vinaigrette.
I'm rarely on time with my holiday blog posts. #obviously Most of the time, I post my recipe 3-4 days AFTER a holiday. 😬 And yes, I'm aware that Memorial Day isn't until Monday - but better to be early than late I guess. 🤷🏻♀️ My excuse is that if I post early, you have time to go out and shop for ingredients and still make this delicious recipe for Memorial Day on Monday. It was my plan all along. 😂
A village. Apparently, that's what it takes to make my kitchen redesign come to life. 😅Lucky for me, I've got the best "village" around. This includes my family, who not only supports, but encourages my crazy out-of-the-box ideas. It also includes a designer, a contractor and a cabinet installation specialist who have the monumental task of figuring out how to make all of those crazy ideas become a reality. 😬
All of the crucial people involved in our kitchen remodel came together today to finalize the plans for our updated space. We measured, remeasured, crunched numbers and resized cabinets until I was sufficiently satisfied that we had squeezed out every possible inch of useable space - quite literally. After a couple of hours of trying to fit together this complex kitchen puzzle, my brain was spinning. 🤪
I can honestly say that my remodel team has gone above and beyond when it comes to the amount of time and thought that they've dedicated to my kitchen remodel and I'm super thankful to all of them. I can hardly wait for this project to get underway. I'm already gearing up for the day that I can be baking cookies in two ovens at once. Just think of all the free time that I'm going to have when I can get my baking done in half the time. 😂😂😂
Can you tell that I'm excited about having a second oven? Something less obvious, but equally important as adding another oven, is going to happen behind the cabinets and in the ceiling where I'm never even going to see it. Vents!! My ovens will be vented outside so that I can comfortably cook in the summer months without heating up the house. ♨️When did I become this person who gets excited about ovens that vent the hot air outside? 😅
During the summer months, when the temperatures soar into the 90's, I try and limit my baking or get it done early in the day to try and avoid heating up the house too much. Today, neither of those things happened. 🤷🏻♀️ Because of our 3 hour kitchen pow-wow, I ended up baking this batch of Chocolate Chip Mini Scones at 4:00 in the afternoon. 😬 #totallyworthit These little bites of glazed, chocolate chip studded biscuits are just about the best afternoon snack ever.
Chocolate Chip Mini Scones
2 3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder
8 tablespoons butter, cold, cut in pats
1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup to 2/3 cup half & half
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
7 tablespoons water, enough to make a thin glaze
1 teaspoon vanilla
Bake scones 19-20 minutes at 425.
Dip each scone upside down in glaze and set on a rack over a baking sheet to set.
I made these mini scones for a graduation "Tea". And ... then I ate a bunch so now I have to make another batch for the party tomorrow. 😬😅 That should tell you how deliciously irresistible they are. It was definitely worth the effort of having to make a second batch just to have a few of these to myself.
27 years and 9 months - That's how long I have been married to the same wonderful man. And one might assume that after that many years of wedded bliss, I pretty much knew everything that there was to know about my husband. Turns out - I was wrong. 😂 It has recently become apparent to me that you don't truly know someone until you tackle a remodeling project together. That's when a person's true soul comes out. 😜
Let me give you an example. While trying to settle on a tile backsplash for our new kitchen, this man that I thought I knew - in complete seriousness - suggests that we pair our cream colored, Italian mosaic tile with black grout. Black! ◾️And not because he thinks it'll get dirty. But because he thought it should match the knobs that we chose for our kitchen cabinets. 😳🙅🏻♀️ Fortunately for me, the designer stepped in and gently dismissed his suggestion before I had the chance to verbalized the thoughts that were running through my head. 😂 The look on my face must have said it all though, because he quickly dropped his campaign for black grout. 🤦🏻♀️
Obviously, that wasn't the only occasion during this kitchen remodeling process when we've looked at each other and thought "Who are you?" 😅 There have been plenty of other discussions about appliances, lighting and even cabinet hardware when I've wondered how I could have possibly cohabited with this person for 28 years and known so little about him. How has the topic of oven door preferences never come up in our marriage? 😂
One thing that I DO know about my husband is that his food preferences are fluid. I'll never stop making him asparagus and peas because one day - he might just enjoy them. 🤷🏻♀️ He continues to surprise me with the vegetables that he enjoys. These roasted artichokes were a perfect example. I made them for my dad who was visiting a few weeks ago and I never imagined that anyone else would take more than just a bite of one. But turns out - my "full of surprises" husband is a roasted artichoke fan. 😅
3 globe artichokes
4 tbsp. olive oil
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c. grated Parmesan
Drizzle with 1 T. olive oil and season with 1/4 t. salt. Flip artichokes and repeat with other lemon half, 1 T olive oil and 1/4 t. salt. Arrange artichokes cut sides down on foil lined baking sheet.
Cover with foil and roast until golden brown and tender, 35 to 40 minutes at 425.
I've made artichokes before and the recipes that I used were VERY labor intensive. This was by far the easiest way that I've ever made artichokes and like I said earlier - they were a hit with my husband - and my dad. Hope you enjoy.
Today - I'm feeling BLESSED. I consider myself one lucky girl to have this group of friends who were willing to drive more than 2 hours just to have dinner with me on my birthday. ❤️
Spending a weekend with friends in the cutest, most quaint little North Georgia town nestled in the Blue Ridge mountains was exactly what this tired girl needed to restore her soul. We visited a winery that sits in a tiny Italian style village that you would swear was transported here right from the heart of Tuscany. 🇮🇹 Complete with ivy covered villas, rolling hills planted in grapevines and lots of great food and wine, it was the perfect place to kick off this new decade of life. 🍷
If you know me, you know that I'm somewhat of a fitness fanatic, so it was probably no surprise to anyone when I announced that I wanted to incorporate some exercise into my birthday celebration. And what better way to burn some birthday calories than hiking through the winery grounds? 🥾I mean, how often do you get served samples of local wine at the end of a hike?
Spending the day in this Italian style village was awesome and it has inspired me to try making fresh, new Mediterranean style food this week. Tonight - I tried my hand at a Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with Grilled Vegetables. I've got to say - even though I was missing the Tuscan atmosphere - it was still a delicious Mediterranean style dinner.
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1 small eggplant (about ¾ pound), diced
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 small yellow squash, sliced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
½ cup halved grape tomatoes (quarter any larger tomatoes)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons walnuts nuts, toasted
For garnish: crumbled goat cheese
Add tomatoes to quinoa. Garnish with goat cheese and walnuts.
Hey feta fans - If you want to make this quinoa bowl even more Mediterranean - substitute feta for the goat cheese. Also, I had plans to grill an eggplant to add to this salad as well but there were none to be found at the grocery store. So if you've got one handy - by all means - toss it in. 🍆
Also, out of curiosity - after looking at these pictures, does it look like I'm shrinking to anyone else? 😅
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