I think we can all agree that three day weekends are amazing. In my world, the goal is to fit as much as I possibly can into my bonus 24 hours of weekend.😅 But Memorial Day hits a little different from other holiday weekends. This weekend, I'm taking time to reflect on the courageous men and women who have sacrificed everything so that I can have the freedom to pursue happiness and live in a safe, secure place. I specialize in recipes - not politics - but today I want to express my gratitude for the individuals who lost their lives bravely defending my freedom. 🇺🇸
Like I said, normally my objective is to pack as much fun into my extra weekend day, that I possibly can. Squeezing 36 hours of activity into a 24 hour period is my super power. 😂 You can find me hiking in the mountains, riding my bike on a new trail or taking a day trip to visit a winery.🍷 Filling my bonus day with adventure is my default and that's exactly what I had on the agenda for this weekend. BUT sometimes my best laid plans don't work out. 🤷🏻♀️ And contrary to what my overachieving brain tries to tell me, having an extra day with nothing on my calendar, isn't a bad thing. 😂
Resting, relaxing, chilling - those things don't come naturally to me but, the older I get, the more I realize just how necessary they really are. Slowing down is not only important, but essential. Learning to make the time to reenergize and reflect is a game changer for my mental health.
Sometimes, slowing down the meal process is important too. There are days when my schedule dictates a quick and easy pasta dish or even a sandwich eaten in the car as my evening sustenance.🥪 But when I take the time to slow roast my meal - I approach the meal with a whole new sense of appreciation. Maybe it's the sweet aroma of ribs infused with smoke swirling around the air all afternoon that creates a sense of anticipation but I find myself more grateful of any meal that cooks all afternoon. 😅
Dry Rubbed Ribs
2 Tablespoons paprika
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 racks St. Louis style ribs
1/2 cup apple juice
3 Tablespoons cider vinegar
Pour 1 1/2 cups water into bottom of pan. Bake 1-2 hours at 300.
Let ribs rest 15 minutes before slicing.
I sincerely hope that you have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. If you happen to find yourself without a plan for Memorial Day - I recommend you head to the grocery store, pick up some ribs and try my recipe for delicious dry rubbed ribs. You will not be disappointed. 😉
It's National Wine Day!!
It's also national brown bag-it day and towel day but those don't spark the same kind of excitement in me as the words national wine day. 🍷 National Wine Day is the kind of national holiday that I can get behind. 😅 How is it that I've lived in oblivion about wine day for more than 51 years?
I enjoy wine but I'm in no way a connoisseur of fine wine. I've been a wine drinker long enough to know what I like and what I don't like though. I'm partial to dry reds - cabernets mostly - but there are times when I crave something a little sweeter.
I hope I'm not the only person who's wine preference seems to be directly related to the outside temperatures. The closer we get to summer and the hotter it gets in Hot-Lanta - the sweeter the wine I crave. 🌞 Buttery, fruity whites and sweet sangrias, mostly. And when the temperatures drop again in the Fall, I'll be spending more time cuddled up next to the fireplace, craving very dry Merlot and Pinot Noirs. 🪵
We may still be in the month of May, but summer hits early in Georgia. Well, summer-like temperatures anyway.☀️ And as predicted, I'm already starting to crave sweet, fruity wines. I've been looking for sweet red sangria for cool relief from the hot afternoon sun, more than ever lately.
A fusion of red wine, fresh summer fruits and sweet liquor is the recipe for a perfect summertime cocktail. (Someone please tell me if sangria is considered wine or a cocktail?😅) This mixed berry sangria tastes like all the best parts of summer in one glass. Just remember to start it early because it's best to put let the berries soak in the wine overnight so that all of flavor of the fruits get infused into the juice.
Mixed Berry Sangria
1 cup raspberries
1 cup blueberries
1 cup strawberries
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 bottle (750 ml) red wine
2 ounces Grand Marnier
Pour strained mixture into pitcher with berries and stir to combine.
Cheers to national wine day!
I love weekends. Time for playing and resting, socializing with friends and reconnecting with loved ones. 🧘🏻♀️ Weekends are for lounging by the pool, kayaking around the lake and hiking in the woods ... unless you're a caterer during graduation week. (If you know, you know) 😅😅 Here's a little glimpse into my weekend...
For those of you who might be curious, here's a little insight into the world of food service... my family eats a lot of "test" meals. Some good and some definitely not so good. 🤣 Sometimes, I make test meals because I'm preparing food in advance for a catering event. Sometimes it's because I haven't made a dish in a while and I need to refresh my skills for hollandaise sauce. 😉 This week for dinner we had shrimp and grits -twice, eggs Benedict and homemade apple cider doughnuts. 😬 It's not a bad way to eat - kind of a two birds with one stone scenario.
With graduation week behind me, I'm moving on from brunch to desserts as we finish out this final week of May. Last week we snacked on biscotti, scones, muffins and donuts for dinner. This week we'll be eating cookie scraps and taste testing new cupcake flavors.🍪🧁 #bakerslife 😅 I'm really going to need someone to order a veggie tray soon so I can get my sugar intake under control. 😂
I love making brunch but, after a 4 am wake up call on Saturday and a 5 am wake up call on Sunday - I'm starting to question why I sign up for these events. 😅😴 As a rule, brunch food is last minute food. It's not like a lasagna or pasta dish that can be made ahead of time and popped in the oven to warm just before serving.🍝 Eggs are always best served hot and fruit is best cut and displayed as close to serving time as possible. 🍳🍌
The exception to the last minute brunch rush rule are a handful pastries and breakfast sweets. Biscotti, doughnut dough and scones are things that I can make a day in advance or even store in the freezer until brunch day. It is such a giant help to have just a few of these delicious sweets ready to go while I'm busy frying pancakes and bacon and poaching eggs to get ready for a brunch event.
Scones are one of those things that freeze really well. I pack them in Ziploc bags and I can defrost them on the morning of the event. I feel like they might even get a little flakier after a short cold stint. Cinnamon Chip Scones are a new favorite in our house. I'm pretty sure I ate one for breakfast at least three times last week. 😅 And they may (or may not ) have still been slightly frozen. 🤦🏻♀️
Cinnamon Chip Scones
2 and 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
6 Tablespoons butter frozen
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 cup cinnamon chips
Bake 22 minutes at 400.
My Cinnamon Chip Scone recipe makes exactly 12 so if you're like me and you want to sneak a couple before they hit the freezer - I recommend a double batch. 😅 Also - Hersey's makes the best cinnamon chips. They don't sell them at a lot of grocery stores but ironically - I can almost always find them at my local Wal Mart. 😉
I'm a snack-a-holic.🤣 What can I say? I work in my kitchen where food is always at my fingertips - literally. 😅 May has been extra busy and I've gotten in a bad habit of snacking my way through lunch and sometimes even dinner instead of stopping to prepare a proper meal. A spoonful of stuffed mushroom filling, a handful of leftover pizza toppings or a messed up sugar cookie or two have replaced more meals than I'd like to admit this week. 😬 I like to think of it as market research. 🤣
There are a lot of things wrong with my meal replacement snack strategy - not the least of which is that when 3:00 hour hits - I'm absolutely starving. This is the time of day that I have an overwhelming need to find extra calories to get me through the afternoon grocery store run or my cookie decorating marathon.
An afternoon snack isn't necessarily a bad thing but its safe to say, that I don't always make the most sensible, reliable snack choice when I'm under a time crunch. If I have healthy snacks on hand, I will grab those. But more times than not, my kitchen counter is filled with cake scraps, biscotti ends and brownie butts while the carrots and hummus is sooo far away in the refrigerator. 😂 #lazysnacker
Keeping a batch of Whole Wheat Banana Nut Muffins on my counter - within arms reach - was a game changer for this snack-a-holic. These muffins had just enough sweetness to satisfy my unrelenting sweet tooth and enough protein and whole grains to keep me feeling full - even through the dreaded 3:00 snacking hour. 😂 I think that you're going to enjoy these scrumptious muffins that just beg to be enjoyed slowly with a cup of tea while sitting outside on the porch. 😉
Whole Wheat Banana Nut Muffins
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned whole rolled oats
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 mashed bananas
2 large eggs
1/3 cup melted coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts
3 Tablespoons oats and raw sugar for sprinkling
Pizza and beer.🍕 Cookies and milk.🍪 Banana muffins and tea. All the best food pairings. With temperatures expected to soar into the 90's in Georgia this weekend, I think I'll opt for iced tea to compliment my muffin. 🧋
Anyone else feel blindsided by May-cember? I always expect December to be hectic and busy but, the chaos of May seems to catch me off guard every year. I love all of the festivities of May. Sure, it takes the scheduling mastermind of an air traffic controller to navigate through all of the graduation parties, weddings, showers, bridal luncheons, baby showers and birthday invitations this month but, it's totally worth it. 🥳 😂
As if that wasn't already enough to fill up our May calendar, we celebrate four family birthdays this month - including my own. 😬 Throw in Mother's Day and my catering schedule and we're knee deep in May-cember. 😅 The first indication that I let myself get too busy this Spring was the day I looked through my calendar to find the first available day to meet friends for dinner and it was the end of JUNE! 🤣
Even thought it catches me off guard every year, I secretly love all the hustle and bustle of the Spring season. Celebrating graduates, brides, parents, mothers and birthdays renews my soul. Heck, I've made a career out of celebrating these special moments in life. 😂🍰 There's just something wonderful about being a part of these special events.
I consider myself a pro at coming up with the perfect dessert for every occasion but I struggle when it comes to putting together a savory party menu. I tend to rely on my stand-bys when I cater brunches or lunches but I've been feeling like I want to incorporate some new items to my lunch menus. That's exactly how this Broccoli Salad with Avocado Salad came to be. It's a unique twist on a traditional broccoli salad and I think you're going to like it.
Broccoli Salad with Avocado Dressing
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 pounds broccoli, florets cut into 1"pieces and stalks peeled and sliced thin
1 ripe avocado
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 shallot, sliced thin
1/2 teaspoon tarragon
Toss in cranberries, almonds, shallot and tarragon. Season with salt and pepper.
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