Celebrate!!! 🎉 That's what we do in the Spring. We celebrate EIGHT family birthdays between March and May. Not to mention St. Patrick's Day, Cinco de Mayo, Mother's Day and Easter. Hardly a week goes by, that we aren't exchanging gifts, cutting into a cake and toasting another trip around the sun. 🍾 Not gonna lie - I really love all the Spring parties and festivities. Organizing desserts for all of these parties is my forte but keeping myself organized so that everyone receives their gifts on time - now that's another story. 💁🏻♀️
In my world - it's not a party without a proper dessert to commemorate the event. It doesn't have to be a traditional three layer cake with buttercream roses and candles to be an official birthday cake. We celebrate birthdays with apple pie, a pile of donuts and strawberry shortcake. After all, when you celebrate that many special occasions in 92 days, you've got to mix it up a little.
This year, since we're all spending our Spring in quarantine and not gathering with families, we've had to get more creative about celebrating birthday's from afar. Raising a glass to toast a birthday while practicing social distancing is the new norm. 🍷
Sangria has become my new go-to cocktail for birthday celebrations either alone or with a friends. (Less than 10, of course.) After all, it combines three of my favorite things: red wine, fresh fruit and sugar!!! What's not to love?
2 cups burgundy wine
1 cup brandy
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups club soda
1 lime sliced
1 lemon sliced
Combine wine, brandy, lime juice, lemon juice and sugar.
Add orange, lemon and lime slices.
Add club soda, just before serving.
Serve over glass of ice.
My dad provided the wine for this batch of Sangria. It is the perfect compliment to the brandy and fruit. I've learned to make double batches of this thirst quenching libation because everyone LOVES it. Including me.
Have you tried to pick out a healthy box of cereal lately. There's no telling how much of my life I've wasted standing in cereal aisle, staring blankly at shelves filled with rows and rows of cereal boxes. ⏱ All I want to do is choose a box of cereal for my family that's relatively healthy and not loaded with sugar. I used be a Raisin Bran fan but I recently read that Raisin Bran has the more sugar than MOST other cereals on the shelves. 😳 Wait - it's fruit right?
It seems like every week, I stand in the aisle, staring at the shelves trying to choose a new healthy cereal. It's easy to eliminate the boxes with pictures of cookies or doughnuts on them but there's a lot of unhealthy cereal disguised in healthy looking boxes too. I carefully scrutinize ingredient lists and nutritional information until my brain gets overloaded with facts and grams and calories. At some point, I end up just grabbing a box and hoping for the best.
It shouldn't be this hard to choose a cereal that's low in sugar and high in whole grains. I don't think that I'm an indecisive person. I feel like there are just more and more options on the grocery store shelves every single week. Have you seen the yogurt section lately? There are literally twenty different kinds of nearly identical blueberry yogurt varieties. 🍶
It's easy for me to get overwhelmed when I'm at the grocery store. I want to pick out the most healthy food to serve my family but it's getting harder and harder for me to navigate through all of the products on the shelves. Sooooo, I do my best to shop the fresh foods around the perimeter of the store and avoid the processed foods in the interior aisles. It's never going to be possible for me to eliminate processed food completely from my shopping list completely because I can't live without things like garbanzo beans and tortillas. 🌮 And who would want to?
Thank goodness for recipes with ingredients that I don't need to research ahead of time to make sure they're safe and healthy to feed my family. Cabbage, carrots, mint, lime and onions are all things that I can buy all year at my local Sprouts store. Grilled Coleslaw with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette is the perfect side dish with delightfully fresh and easy to choose ingredients.
Grilled Coleslaw with Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette
1/2 small napa cabbage
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 lime, halved
1 green onion, sliced thin
1 Tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Fatally flaky, The Confessions of Coconut Cake, Delicious, Dying for Chocolate and Wedding Cake Murder - all books that I've recently sunk my teeth into. 🤣 I was never been much of a casual reader until I discovered the magical world of culinary fiction novels. I've had to stop ordering them on audio book though because my family doesn't share my enthusiasm for listening to culinary novels for hours at a time while trapped inside of a snackless car on a family road trip. 🤷🏻♀️
Reading culinary fiction does have one obvious debacle through - increased hunger. One can only read about cake for so long before they absolutely have to consume a piece of cake. 🍰 Some of these novels even include recipes for the scrumptious recipes that they so eloquently describe with abysmal detail. I rarely make the recipes from the books because I can't help but question the credibility of a novelist to create an original recipe that's worthy of giving it a try. What do I know, maybe novelists are really the great supercooks of this world?
It's hard for me NOT to put myself into these stories and imagine myself as the owner of a small bakery or cafe in the cutest little town ever. What would I make? What kinds of foods would my customers return for again and again? How could I make all of my irresistible breakfast treats and still sleep in past 4:00 in the morning?
Owning a bakery or a cafe has never been my dream but that doesn't stop me from thinking about the logistics of owning a food based retail space. I mostly dream about the kinds of foods that I would make that would keep customers coming back. I feel like a Dutch baby would be the perfect thing to have on a cafe brunch menu. It's more unique than a stack of pancakes or a Belgium waffle but not as eccentric as lavender scones or matcha smoothies. If you've never tried a Dutch Baby and it isn't on the brunch menu at your favorite restaurant, you can try this one for yourself. And bonus - this one is gluten free.
Oatmeal Dutch Baby
3 large eggs + 1 large egg white
3/4 cup Rolled Oats
2/3 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
Remove skillet from oven. Pour batter into pan and bake 12-14 minutes.
Remove from skillet, top with berries and dust with powdered sugar.
We like to eat Dutch babies for our Sunday evening brunch meal. If you've got a sweet tooth, you can always sweeten your Dutch baby by drizzling with a little maple syrup. If you happen to be in a season and location where stone fruits are more plentiful than berries, by all means - top that baby with slices of peaches, plums, apricots and nectarines. Enjoy!
What's your dream meal? The meal that you lay awake in bed at night thinking about indulging in. The food that you would eat if there were no consequences like cholesterol, calories and diabetes. Would it be rich and buttery lobster tails, or juicy, slow roasted prime rib or a carbohydrate fest of pasta and bread? Maybe you'd choose a greasy double cheeseburger from In and Out Burger or go straight to Jeni's for a scoop of ridiculously delicious ice cream.
Since I'm asking you to share your dream meal with me, I feel it's only fair that I share MY dream meal with YOU. My dream meal changes and is hardly ever consistent. It changes based on my mood, hormones, season, etc. Lately, I've been dreaming about fresh, bottom dwelling seafood like lobster, shrimp and crab dipped in a bowl of salty, melted butter. And a giant platter of warm, freshly baked bread is absolutely necessary in almost all of my dream meal scenarios. As for dessert, something fruity and some sort of deep, dark, rich and decadent chocolate creation is also key. It sounds excessive but after all - it's a DREAM meal. There are days when my dream meal would consist ONLY of dessert. 🍰
Everyone's dream meal is going to be different. But if you dream about fruity, buttery, streusel topped muffins - you might want to consider adding these Strawberry Banana Oatmeal muffins to your dream meal. These muffins are really exceptional. I dare say -- dream meal worthy.
Strawberry Banana Oatmeal Muffins
OATMEAL STREUSEL TOPPING:
¼ cup old-fashioned oats
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
pinch of ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1cup fresh strawberries chopped & tossed in 1 Tablespoon of flour
Bake 12-15 minutes at 350.
I really do want to know what's on your dream meal menu. Send me your comments. Have you actually eaten your dream meal or is it a compilation of all of the foods that you wish you could eat? Send me your comments and let me know.
Do you experience FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)? I'm such an introvert that I feel like I'm much more likely to experience FOMH (Fear OF Missing Home) than FOMO. 😂OK, so FOMH my not be an actual thing but it describes my attitude towards social situations perfectly. It's a good thing that I'm married to my complete opposite. My social butterfly husband forces me out of my comfort zone and into situations that stretch my personality. If it weren't for him - I would probably be living as a hermit, deep in the woods somewhere. 😂🌲
Our divergent personalities even carry over into our dinner decisions. It probably won't surprise you that my extrovert husband likes the social interaction of going out to eat. And even though I can appreciate being served a meal that has been prepared by someone else, probably even more than most girls, I also really like to eat my own food. I have comfort in being able to control exactly what goes into my meal and I love the fact that I can prepare my food exactly the way that I like it. There's no apprehension about ordering something that I won't like. Maybe I have FOESEF. (Fear Of Eating Someone Else's Food) 💁🏻♀️
I normally don't order things at restaurants that I can make for myself at home. I like to try and recreate the meals that I get served at restaurants in my own kitchen though. The delicious rolls from my favorite steakhouse, the savory soups that I first tasted at Panera, the pizza from Alini's and the tiramisu from the Macaroni Grill. Some of my recipe recreations have worked out better than others. 😉 There was a copycat Bloomin' Onion debacle that we just don't talk about anymore. 🤣
My family thinks I'm crazy but I actually really like to order salads at restaurants. I like to sample the fun salad combinations that restaurants put together. I'm always looking for new ways to spice up my salads at home and taste testing them at restaurants is a great way to give them a trial run. I gave this salad (minus the steak) a test run at a local pub recently. It was really yummy and I decided to make it more Ben-friendly by adding a little grilled steak to the top.
Mediterranean Steak and Pita Salad
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
10 ounces cherry tomatoes, quartered
3 (8 inch) pita bread, cut into triangles
2 teaspoons cumin
1 pound skirt steak, cut into 4 pieces
2 Romaine hearts, cut into 1" pieces
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 avocado, sliced
Add lettuce, mint and pita to bowl with tomato mixture. Toss to coat. Top with sliced steak.
We're officially in the Dog Days of Summer. It's 106 with the heat index in Atlanta this afternoon and I feel like I'm melting faster than an ice cream cone in the sun. I crave cool, crispy salads on days like today. They're a great way to eat healthy and stay cool on these ridiculously hot days.
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