Well, it happened again. I got caught up in all of the gorgeous Georgia Spring weather - I planted flowers, I planted my garden and drug out all my summer plants that were spending the winter indoors. 🌺 I should have known that it was too good to be true. Tonights forecast is calling for below freezing temperatures! 🥶
So what I do when the weatherman calls for frost in April? I bring in the plants that I can and the rest of them get covered with bags and sheets to protect them from frost. I got some strange looks from the neighbors while I was draping white sheets over the bushes tonight. Maybe they thought I got my holidays mixed up and was putting out super tacky Halloween decorations in April. 👻 😅
The cold weather definitely caught me off guard this week. As for the pollen - I've come to expect that with a Georgia Spring. I decided to officially concede the war on pollen. I bought plant pale yellow flowers to coordinate with the golden dust that's blanketing my porch. 💛 I'm hosing off my patio every morning and making pollen soup on the sidewalks. My black car is yellow and I'm sneezing like never before but I'm throwing up the white flag and giving up the fight to keep the pollen at bay.
Since I'm seeing yellow everywhere these days - I figured, why not make some sunny yellow cupcakes? I feel like everyone should have a basic homemade vanilla cupcake recipe in their recipe book. One that's simple and uses ingredients that you already have on hand and tastes way better than box mix cupcakes. A vanilla cupcake recipe that you can add things to like sprinkles or mini chocolate chips. A recipe that your family will ask you to make over and over again. A vanilla cupcake recipe EXACTLY like this one!
Very Vanilla Cupcakes
1 3/4 cups cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup 2% milk
Even though these sweet little cakes are perfectly decorated for Spring, the decorating possibilities are endless. Green for St. Patrick's Day, red for Valentine's Day and pink and purple for Unicorn Day. Give me a party theme - and I'll come up with the perfect cupcake decorations. It's one of my many strange talents. 😅 Anyway - enjoy the recipe - it's a good one.
A family that does lipid panels together - is bonded forever. 🤷🏻♀️(What?) I'm pretty sure that's not a thing but we actually did take family cholesterol tests over the weekend. Isn't that what every family does for fun on a Sunday afternoon? 😅❤️ I don't want to throw anyone under the bus so without using any names, I will tell you that while three of us fell well within the "normal" ranges, one of us had what I would describe as exceptional cholesterol levels and one of us had borderline high numbers. 😬
So fam --- be prepared to see even more plants on our kitchen table. 🥦 I believe that with some simple changes to our diet, we can get ALL of our cholesterol levels into the normal range. More vegetables, less dairy and less fats. 🥬 We can do this. Anyone opposed to eating "tofurkey" for Easter dinner? 😂
The plan is to feed my family even more fish and lean protein and less red meat. 🍗 Considering that we're entering into a season of weekly holidays, birthdays and family celebrations - this is going to be a challenge. 🍰 I don't want to feed everyone fried chicken, but I also don't wan't to eat a plate full of celery while feeling deprived of tasty food. #lowcholesteroldiet
Hello, Baked Red Snapper! 🐟 Delicious - but still healthy. This particular batch of red snapper was caught off the Florida coast and gifted to us by this fine fisherman. We don't live near the ocean and we don't get fresh snapper very often so this was a real treat. 🎣
This was by far the best red snapper that I've ever tasted. (And not JUST because it was caught by my son.) 😅And even though I brushed a seasoned butter sauce over the fish, it was still considerably lower in saturated fats than a ribeye. 🥩 If you want to make it even lower in fat, eliminate the butter altogether and just add the seasoned bread crumbs to the fish. Either way, this fish is super flaky, tender and delicious.
Baked Red Snapper
2 (6- to 8-ounce) red snapper fillets
4 tablespoons butter
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried chives
3 to 4 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Bake in a 400 oven for about 12 minutes.
Red snapper, steamed broccoli, couscous and ciabatta bread - who says eating healthy can't be delicious? Who else has prepared a low fat meal that their family has loved? If you've got a great recipe - send it my way. TIA
Can we really be just 8 days away from Easter? Yikes! I guess it's time to hop to it and get myself in gear. 😅🐰 It will probably come as no surprise to you that we do Easter BIG in this house. 🐣Even though my kids are adults, we still have annual family egg dyeing parties. The older my kids get, the more fun it is to get creative with our egg dyeing techniques. We've used everything from shaving cream to bubble wrap to chalk to decorate our hard boiled eggs. Some of my favorite eggs were the ones we dyed with kool-aid. They tasted a little fruity but they smelled AMAZING! 😂
On Sunday morning the Easter bunny hides all the eggs for the kids to find, and every year egg hunting competition seems to get a little more intense. (It usually ends with wrestling in the front yard.) 😅 Once all the eggs have been accounted for, we get dressed in our Sunday best, go to church and then hurry home and for a great big Easter feast. 🥕
I feel like we have a traditional Easter celebration every year - minus the front yard wrestling. Easter might just be my favorite holiday. I love the weather, I love the new blooms that pop up in my yard at Easter, I love the Easter brunch/lunch and I especially love gathering up goodies to fill up baskets for everyone. This year, I've got several Easter baskets to assemble so I decided to tuck in a few homemade treats alongside the chocolate bunnies and jelly beans.
My family loves biscotti so decided to up my game and make some biscotti that was "Easter basket worthy". I don't normally decorate the tops of my biscotti but this occasion just seemed to call for something a little "dressier" so here's my 2021 Easter biscotti recipe - Chocolate Peanut Butter Marbled Biscotti with a White Chocolate Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Top. 😋
Chocolate Peanut Butter Marbled Biscotti
PEANUT BUTTER DOUGH:
3 Tablespoons butter room temperature
3 Tablespoons peanut butter
⅔ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup peanut butter chips
6 tablespoons butter
⅔ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
½ cup mini chocolate chips
CHOCOLATE-PEANUT BUTTER TOPPING
2 cups dark melting chocolate
1 cup white melting chocolate
¼ cup peanut butter
Bake 25 minutes at 350. Let cool 30 minutes to overnight.
Pipe stripes of alternating flavors down each biscotti. Drag a toothpick through stripes at 1/2" intervals to create a Napoleon design.
Now I need to take an unofficial survey. Do you still make Easter baskets for your adult children? What do you put in them? What kinds of homemade treats do you tuck inside their baskets to be unveiled on Easter morning? Send me your ideas and suggestions. TIA
It's only been a few weeks since we started talking seriously about remodeling our kitchen and can I just say - my brain is already in decision overload. Turns out, the process of remodeling a kitchen forces one to reevaluate every single pot, pan, utensil and ingredient that occupies space in the room. I mean, do I really need to store enough Tupperware containers to pack a weeks worth of food for a small village?
When it comes to cabinet space - it's all about priorities, right? What are the most important things to keep in the kitchen and what can I live without? I don't think I can part with my 76 pastry tips but I can probably live without a back up kitchen aid mixer. 😬 So, like any good type A personality would do, I took inventory of every single item in my kitchen cabinets and then I took my mile long list and started to edit. The most important items got space in my new kitchen cabinet design while other things were eliminated from the room altogether. #solongnutribullet
I started to play around with new places for things in the kitchen as I thought through the plan for the new space and one of the first things to get re-homed, were the napkins. They weren't eradicated from the room, just moved from a drawer - to a cabinet. I should note that their new location is a mere 24 inches below their previous locale. I will admit that I was reveling in an organizational high over my newly emptied drawer for a full 2 hours - and then bottom fell out. To put it mildly - my family was "shook" over the loss of the "napkin drawer." 🤣 It's fair to say that the new napkin placement has been the cause of serious anxiety, stress and disagreement in our house.
I've got to say that the napkin debacle has me a little concerned about what kind of chaos a total kitchen remodel going to cause. 🤷🏻♀️ Even more of a concern for me though, is the thought of having my kitchen rendered usable for a significant period of time. Flexible isn't a word that I (or anyone in my family) would use to describe me. 😬😅 So, I decided in order to prove to myself that I can operate in a kitchen under construction, I would start to prepare as many meals as I could, out on the grill.
I would say that my plan is going well so far but I'm also trying to picture myself cooking in the sweltering temperatures and humidity in the middle of summer. 😧 Thank goodness we have great takeout food available in our little town. A few weeks ago, I adapted this recipe for Chicken Cutlets with Avocado Poblano Sauce to make it grill friendly. I think it worked out really great as a grilled chicken dish AND I can make this again - even without a fully functioning stove in my kitchen.
Chicken Cutlets with Avocado Poblano Sauce
3 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 chicken cutlets
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup slivered almonds
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
2/3 cup water
Serve with remaining 1/2 avocado.
I'm enlisting all of your help now. Who's been through a kitchen remodel? What tips do you have for me? What worked? What didn't? Send me your pictures and your advice. I'd love to see it.
Hold onto your hats friends. You're in for a wild ride. We finally pulled the trigger and officially started the process of remodeling our kitchen! 👏🏻 Let's just say that I'm feeling ALL of the emotions. I'm excited about the possibilities, anxious about all of the decisions that need to be made, ecstatic to have a more efficient space, concerned about the cost, blessed and grateful for the opportunity but apprehensive about tearing apart my work space. 😅
So many emotions - so many decisions. Appliances, vents, cabinets, island designs, countertops, floors, hardware, lighting, oh my. There are lots of great choices for kitchens - which is great - but on some level, that just made our decision process harder. There are literally millions of different types of hardware available to put on kitchen cabinets. 😳
Overall, I enjoyed the process of thinking through all the details of our new kitchen but full disclosure - it was a little overwhelming at times too. Let's just say that after a week of designing our new kitchen space, I can't even imagine how stressful it must be to design a whole house. So many decisions that have to be made in a short period of time. 😬
Tackling a kitchen remodel is new for us and as newbies to the process - let's just say, we have a LOT to learn. Making my new pantry space efficient and functional but still beautiful is going to be a challenge but baking ... now that's where I'm most comfortable. Give me some fresh ingredients and I can whip something up in no time.
I'm very accustomed to looking at new recipes and even I, get intimidated by a recipe with an ingredient list that seems like it's a mile long. With that being said - don't freak out when you see the extensive list of ingredients for this recipe. (18 to be exact.😅) Trust me when I say that I'm usually the first person to shy away from any muffin recipe with a lengthy list of ingredients. I mean, why in the world do we need 18 different ingredients for a batch of muffins? What kind of crazy recipe uses that many ingredients anyway?
The simple answer is - a morning glory muffin. Morning glory muffins are absolutely loaded with whole grains, spices, fruits and vegetables. And despite the intimidatingly long list of ingredients, they come together relatively quickly. I whipped up a batch in just one bowl in less than 15 minutes - honest. These muffins are the tastiest way to get your daily dose of fiber - guaranteed.
And if you still feel like the ingredient is too long - simplify it. Add just one type of flour, instead of all 3 or stick to one fruit instead of two. Substitute 1 1/4 teaspoons of apple pie spice for the individual spices. There are all kinds of modifications and changes that you can make to this recipe. Be creative and have fun with it.
Whole Wheat Morning Glory Muffins
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup oat bran
1/2 cup AP flour flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp coarse salt
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup whole milk
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp. orange zest
1 shredded carrot
1/2 cup grated apple
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 chopped walnuts
Spoon into muffin tins and bake 17-29 minutes at 375.
Buckle up buttercups - cause we'll be starting our kitchen reno project soon. You better believe that I'll be sharing every step of our kitchen remodel on the blog. Did you expect anything less? I'm a little nervous about having my kitchen rendered unusable for a while but I guess while I can't cook - I'll photograph. 📸
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