Here's a little insight into how my brain works: When I meet someone for the first time and they tell me their name - I'm almost guaranteed to forget it within 30 seconds.🥴 If I happen to overhear that same person casually mentioning to someone else that they love coconut or they don't eat peanut butter or that they have a shellfish allergy - I will remember that information for the rest of my days.🤷🏻♀️ My brain is a scary place sometimes.😂
I have the same type of selective, food-driven, memories from the places that I've travelled to. I have very specific memories of meals that I've particularly enjoyed on vacation.🧆 I can describe the plate that the food was served on, the aromas lofting out of the kitchen and the number of green beans that were on the plate.
I've given up on trying to figure out why all my memories are somehow connected to food. I've learned to just be thankful that I have my food memories to connect to the trips that I'm fortunate enough to take. I'll forever remember eating mussels in Ireland, cheese fondue in Switzerland, spaghetti with clams in Venice and the most amazing squid, in Greece.
I enjoy making birthday cakes. And I really love making birthday cakes for special friends. I have a very special friend who mentioned to me, in passing, that she likes lemon, circa 2010. Since we've been friends for quite a few years now, I had the privilege of baking a cake for her birthday, quite a few times and I'm fairly certain that I've made some sort of lemon dessert for her every single year since we've met. 🍋😂
So here's the take away - if you want me to make a specific cake flavor for you - for the rest of your life - tell me your favorite flavor. If you don't want to eat lemon cake for the rest of your days - think twice before informing me about your love of lemon.🤣
Lemon Layer Cake
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 and 3/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
zest of 2 lemons
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting
1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
16 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
4 and 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Frost each cake layer with a layer of buttercream. Frost outside of cake.
Steak and potatoes, peanut butter and jelly, cookies and milk: all food pairings that make sense. But then there are foods that should never be combined like pickles and ice cream or fish sticks and ketchup. 🤣 (I blame pregnancy hormones for those particular cravings.) Then there are the less common food mash ups that really just never made it to the spotlight. The delicious chocolate chip cookies and dark chocolate brownie fusion known as the brookie, falls into that last category.
Combining two classic desserts can be risky. I mean - we can all agree that on their own, chocolate chip cookies and dark chocolate, fudgey brownies are pretty spectacular.🍪🍫 The question remains though - would they be exponentially better if combined into a single dessert or just a weird sugary, hand held confection?
Spoiler alert: the brownie and cookie mash up is amazing. Somehow the brookie has managed to stay below the radar and remain out of the mainstream dessert spotlight though. And I really can't come up with any logical explanation for this. 🤷🏻♀️ So here I am, doing my part as a food blogger, to introduce the world to the amazing brookie.
I feel confident that once you make a batch of these brookies, and taste them for yourself - you too will be team brookie.
3/4 cup butter
5 oz. dark chocolate bars, chopped
3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
Remove foil and bake another 15-20 minutes. Cool 1 hour in the pan.
Remove the brookie from the pan using sling.
Slice into 16 squares.
When did brunch become the most popular meal to eat out? I feel like every restaurant in our town is offering a delicious Sunday brunch option now. The Mexican restaurants are featuring egg and chorizo tacos and mimosas on the weekends. 🌮🍾 The local pizza place serves up breakfast pizzas and mimosas to weekend guests.🍕🍾 And the more upscale restaurants are offering crab cakes Benedict, Nashville hot chicken and waffles, brioche french toast and mimosas.🧇🍾 Anyone else pick pick out the common theme?🍾 😂
It's clear that Monroe locals love to eat brunch -- and we love mimosas. Nothing wrong with that. 🤣 Brunch used to be reserved for the trendiest of individuals and considered a very "girlie" thing to do. In the last few years, I feel like brunch has lost some of it's stigma though. Now is seems like there are so many people dining out at the brunch hour, that it can be hard to find a table at a restaurant on the weekends.
For this girl who doesn't eat pork or beef - brunch is my kind of meal. Even the local steakhouse and barbeque restaurant offer scrumptious meat-less brunch options on the weekends.🍳🥞 My personal favorites: chicken tingo tacos, caprese avocado toast and of course, mimosas. 😅
If I'm being completely honest, getting myself ready to leave the house for brunch on the weekends isn't always easy. Saturday mornings are usually reserved for yard work but I don't want to miss out on the whole brunch experience, so I've decided to move brunch to Sunday evening in our house. Turns out - brunch food doesn't need to consumed between the hours of 10 and 2 to be amazing. Chocolate chip pancakes, rolled french omelettes or roasted butternut squash and spinach quiche at 6 pm is just as delicious as it is in the morning. ⏰
Roasted Butternut Squash and Spinach Quiche
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups butternut squash, cut into very small cubes
1 cup whole milk
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup cheddar cheese
3/4 cup fresh baby spinach, chopped
1 uncooked pie crust or 6 mini pie crusts
Pour mixture into pie crust. Place on foil lined baking sheet.
Bake 25-30 minutes at 375. Let cool.
These little quiche-ettes were so good. You could easily make this recipe in a single 9" pie crust but if you want to try my individual sized quiche - look for mini pie shells in the freezer section of your grocery store.
What's a birthday without cake? 🎂 According to Julia Child - it's just a meeting.😅 I'm not sure I agree. When I was a kid and I celebrated a whole lot birthdays with donuts, pie and ice cream sundaes adorned with candles in lieu of a traditional cake.🍩🥧🍨 On the other hand, if cake-less birthday's really don't count - I'd be a whole lot younger right now.🤣
In my world - anything you can stick a candle in - counts as a birthday treat. Last week, we celebrated a birthday with chocolate fondue. What could be better? A pot of warm, melted chocolate and a giant platter of fun stuff for dipping. As for the candle - it got put into a square of vanilla pound cake just to make it an official birthday celebration.😂
The options for things that you can dip in chocolate fondue are endless. I mean - it's hard to even think of a food that wouldn't be great, covered in warm, gooey chocolate. This is what I added to my tray of treats for fondue dipping:
10 ounces chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
⅓ cup whole milk
⅓ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Measure out 10 ounces of chocolate.
Combine chocolate, milk and cream in a bowl.
Place bowl over a pan of simmering water. Heat until melted.
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Adjust consistency by adding more cream.
Happy Birthday Cailyn! Thanks for letting me take creative liberty with your birthday treat. 😂
We're expecting our first taste of early Spring in Georgia this week with nearly 80 degree temperatures and I can hardly wait. Trying my best to contain my excitement though. Every February I get sucked into the lure of warm afternoons and mild evening and I start planting flowers and vegetables - and then we get one more late freeze in early March. I just get so excited about Spring planting though. 😅 I figure the earlier, I plant my garden, the sooner I can start enjoying the fruits of my labor. 🍆🥦🥒
Winter vegetables are fine but last week when I was trying to gather up fresh vegetables for a party platter, I had to go to 5 different grocery stores just to find everything that I was looking for. And my list of produce really wasn't anything crazy. I just wanted a head of broccoli that didn't look like it has been stomped on.🥦 A package of green beans that weren't wilted and wrinkled, a few unbruised peppers and a handful of ripe tomatoes.🫑🍅
I'm fortunate that all of those vegetables are available nearly year round, in my local grocery stores. And maybe I'm being too picky about my winter produce but it can certainly be a challenge to find quality vegetables in one location in February. I can hardly wait for summer when I can go to the farmers market and get fresh, local veggies. For right now though, I'll just plan on making my rounds to Aldi, Wal Mart, Kroger, Publix, Sprouts, Fresh Market and sometimes even Trader Joes in search of decent winter produce.😅
Sometimes it's unavoidable but I generally try and plan my dinner menus around the fruits and vegetables that are currently in season. The veggies that I can potentially pick up in a single grocery trip.😅 For me, that means, all the winter root vegetables - sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, eggplant, mushrooms and zucchini.🍠 🥕🍆
The great part about this roasted vegetable bowl is that you can add whatever vegetables are available to you - right now. If brussels sprouts are your thing - add those. If you like fennel or roasted broccoli - use those. Nearly every vegetable can be roasted to bring out its sweetness and when you add them to a whole grain - it makes a complete meal.
Roasted Vegetable Grain Bowl
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/4" rounds
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4" rounds
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
1 eggplant, peeled and diced
1 zucchini, peeled and cut into 1/4" rounds
8 ounces mushrooms, quartered
1/2 bell pepper, diced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
1 lemon, cut in half
1 cup wild or brown rice, cooked
1 cup quinoa, cooked
1/4 cup walnuts
Roast vegetables 40 minutes at 350.
Squeeze lemon juice from roasted lemons over bowls. Sprinkle nuts on top.
The only dressing for this delicious bowl is a squeeze of roasted lemon. Wild rice and quinoa makes a great base for this bowl but farro, pearled barley or brown rice would make great bases as well. Make it unique and make it your own.
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