I am in awe of people with authentic - spontaneous creativity. My left brain dominated personality has a true appreciation for anything creative. Oh, I have moments of creativity but they almost always come from a place of cognitive and deliberate intention. What may seem to some as a creative and spontaneous new recipe is really a result of hours of thinking, planning and significant google research. #creativebutnotspontaneous
I've been told that to make great jambalaya - you have to open your frig - toss everything into a big pot and cook it. 😬 I have yet to make jambalaya. 🤣 I've never been one to just toss random ingredients into a bowl to see what comes out. My cooking (and my baking) is much more deliberate and intentional. Every ingredient and spice that I add to or take away from a dish has a purpose.
I may never be a spontaneous cook but I do have a compelling desire to reduce food waste which forces me to be creative. Todays leftover chicken becomes, tomorrows chicken salad or chicken tacos. Overripe fruit gets turned into chutney or sweet cobblers. Unused vegetables get turned into soups, or tossed into an orzo salad or sometimes - even become their own delicious side dish.
This Zoodle Salad recipe is a great way to use up some extra veggies or to express your creativity. You can make all kinds of substitutions to this salad (and the dressing) and really never go wrong. I'd love to hear from all of you creative zoodlers out there. What delicious recipes are you coming up with for your summer veggies?
1 zucchini, spiral sliced
1/4 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup fresh corn
1 avocado, diced
1/4 cup chick peas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup fresh mozzarella pearls
2 Tablespoons fresh basil
1 Tablespoon red onion, sliced then
1 Tablespoon white whine vinegar
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
Spiral slice zucchini.
Add tomatoes, corn, chick peas, basil, onion and mozzarella to zucchini.
Stir together to combine. Toss in avocado gently.
Toss vinaigrette with zoodles and serve.
Saturday, we went to the interactive Van Gogh exhibit in Atlanta - talk about the ultimate creative thinker. Woah! 🙃 These people that I went with - the best - and all creative in their own unique way. 🌻
If you think being a food blogger makes me some sort of dinner party hostess extraordinaire - you couldn't be more wrong. 😅 I awkwardly stumble and fumble my way through dinner parties just like a lot of you. One of my biggest challenges is coming up with menus that everyone on the guest list will enjoy. The goal is to avoid offending my guests or possibly be even worse - having them leave my house hungry. 🤣
Just like Ella Fitzgerald sings, "You like potato and I like potahto. You like tomato and I like tomahto,". Eating habits are personal and the like-dislike balancing act is even more crucial when it's not just my stomach on the line.
Coconut is a seemingly innocent fruit, but it's as polarizing as north and south. It can cause quite a conundrum. I'm a huge coconut fan and I feel like my life would be less fulfilling without it, but I recognize that the flaky texture is too much for some to bear.
I put my own feelings about coconut aside when I plan menus for guests, and I refrain from making anything with the fibrous one-seeded drupe. It's another story though when I bake for myself or close friends that I've already vetted for food preferences and allergies. Bring on the coconut cake, the macaroons, the coconut rice and the coconut chews!
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
Bake 20 minutes. Cool completely.
At the risk of offending the non-coconut lovers - these chews are the BOMB! 💣 They're easy to make, they're sweet and buttery and loaded with delightfully flaky coconut.
If you live in Georgia - you know just how iconic the Waffle House restaurant is to our great state. For those of you who don't live here - just imagine a brick shoebox shaped building wrapped in a signature yellow banner at nearly every intersection and you've got a pretty accurate picture of the number of Waffle House restaurants in Georgia. 😂 Just in case you were curious - There are 437 Waffle House locations in the Peach State.
Don't be deceived by the name. It really doesn't matter if you're a fan of waffles or if you even like breakfast food - if you live in Georgia - you are expected go to Waffle House. 🤷🏻♀️ It always astounds me that no matter what time of day (or night) I drive past the restaurant, there are always people in the booths, indulging in Southern comfort food. 🥓
I'm somewhat hesitant to admit this, for fear of being asked to leave the state, but up until a couple of weeks ago, it had been at least two years since I had walked through the doors of the iconic Georgia restaurant. It's mostly due to the fact that the Waffle House menu doesn't exactly align with my dietary goals. 😬 But, all that nutrition planning got put on hold once we found out that this super cute high school senior, and all around great kid, was working at our local Waffle House.
Even though the rest of my family adores the waffles at Waffle House - I tend to look for the "healthiest" thing on the menu. This time, in preparation for our Waffle House visit, I looked up the online menu before we left for dinner - something that my family is relentlessly teasing me about still today. 😅 I just thought I would spare everyone the agony of watching me scrutinize the menu to find something that was "relatively healthy" at a restaurant that specializes in "hearty" and no so much "healthy". 😅 🥞
You might be surprised to know that Waffle House lists a whole selection of salads on their online menu. A fact that only people who look up online menus before going to a restaurant - would know. 😂 Apparently, the menus at individual Waffle House restaurants can vary from the online version because when I asked for a salad - I got some very blank stares. It was a cross between, "No one has ever asked for a salad here" and "Why does she think we have salad?" 🥗😅
I must have had a seriously disappointed look on my face because even though there was no vegetable based foods on their menu, our awesome server offered to craft me a "salad" out of hamburger lettuce and sliced tomatoes. No dressing, no other vegetables or toppings - just a bowl of lettuce and tomatoes. 🥬🍅 How could I refuse? I like to say that I ordered a hamburger - minus the meat, the bun and the ketchup and mustard.
Salads are my jam and whether it's a simple bowl of chopped lettuce and tomatoes or a bowl full of delicious greens, fresh vegetables, lean protein, crunchy nuts, salty cheese and ripe fruits with a citrus vinaigrette - I am a fan. This is Grilled Chicken and Nectarine Salad is just about all of my favorite things in a bowl. I hope that you like it as much as I did.
Grilled Chicken and Nectarine Salad
1/4 cup olive oil
2 limes juiced and zested (or lemons)
4 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 nectarines (or peaches)
4 cups mixed greens
3 Tablespoons toasted, chopped walnuts
2 ounces crumbled goat cheese
Slice grilled chicken and add to salad.
Top with toasted walnuts and goat cheese.
While my Waffle House salad was good and I definitely appreciated the efforts of the team members who went above and beyond to meet my salad requests a reality - this Grilled Chicken and Nectarine Salad is in another league. Hope you enjoy!
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. 😂
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