Monday, January 4, 2016

What inspires you?

It's been a year full of changes, my friends and family have other means of following along with my life. That's a majority I'm sure of who will actually read this, but regardless this has been the last year in a nutshell. 

I fell in love big time. No big surprise there but I mean 
Obviously. 😍

Anyways what else oh yea, followed a life long dream to move to wherever it took to go to an amazing culinary school and well, I'm there.  
Oh yea and I'm doing pretty well. 

Can't say it's been all rainbows and sunshine. The bills still come in a brutally fast fashion it seems and there just never seem to be enough hours in the day to satisfy every need, every desire, fulfill every request. But that's where inspiration strikes. What holds us together? Us twenty-something's who think we have it all figured out, well with a lot of help from our family and friends and a lot, and let me emphasize a lot, of hard work. You must wake up every single day and eat, sleep,breathe your motivation. You must find constant inspiration and add that to a lot of coffee and you must never quit. Never lose your faith. That may be the most important thing that has helped inspire me this year. Every curveball in life has always had a solution. There has been nothing up to this point that I haven't been able to overcome. Charles, well he helped me find my faith, him and a loving sneedville community. All of those people helped me to understand that faith is a very personal thing and it is your responsibility to build and maintain your faith in the way that makes sense to you. Have and know that peace. It's an amazing thing to live by. It has helped us countlessly throughout this past year and I'm sure it will continue to do so. 

Okay at this point you are probably like, whoa heavy for a food blog we haven't seen you write on in a year, where is my step by step recipe ?? 

Well friends I can't say that I have one. I can most certainly entertain your culinary motivations for being on this blog with some delicious food that I've made but as for my own recipes, it must take time to fully get back to it all. All I have to say for now is that I will try and visit more often, to share, to remember and to hopefully and most importantly to inspire! 
Xo my dear friends 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Whole Wheat Blueberry Banana Oatmeal Pancakes

Okay okay okay, so there have been many a revelations since my last post. I am ashamed and thrilled at the same time to share them with you. When you cook as much as I do you tend to have a very firm grasp on grocery stores and their layouts and the way they price things and when they go on sale and which ones offer which produce and goodies, etc. etc. Well there are a few places I won't even let myself go into because I know I will want to spend all of my bill money in one fell swoop (Dean and Deluca, Whole Foods, and what I thought was off limits Trader Joes.)

Don't get me wrong I want to go into all of these stores and I know that they have things to offer that I would adore but I am under the impression that they are all going to be pricy because of the quality or what not.

If you are like me and you have believed Trader Joe's to be a bougie overpriced hipster paradise, let me help shatter that illusion and provide proof at that.

I went in there searching for an ingredient I thought that they would carry for a recipe from some hippie blog I had found that I wanted to try(turns out they didn't have nutritional yeast after all, shucks!)

Anyways I just needed that one ingredient and had planned on doing my real grocery shopping later at the stores near me. TJ's is about fifteen minutes away from me so when I walked in the door and started noticing prices I quickly turned my butt around and grabbed a cart and went to town! I bought whatever I wanted. Things that I have such a hard time finding in my go to grocery stores, arugula for example was not only sold there in a big bag but it was also half the price and double the quality of what is offered elsewhere AND it was organic. I'm not one to really care too much about organic versus not, I know that it is better for you and what not but when you are as much on a budget as me eating produce is eating produce.

I will say that I loved that about the store though it offers nearly all organic produce and farm raised free range protein options. They don't offer a lot of junk food which is great, not really any room for temptation. Basically imagine all the healthy parts of your standard super center and that is TJ's with cute handwritten labels and pricing on everything and a much more condensed version of the store so you can be in and out.

Anyways if you would like some visual proof of how great it is, here is my first every Trader Joe's haul.



Just look at those prices!

Simply amazing. I highly encourage you all to head into your nearest Trader Joe's at your earliest convenience and fall into a deep grocery store love like I myself did.

Now onto the good stuff.

I've been as dedicated as ever to my healthy eating lifestyle and working out on a routine as much as the restaurant life will allow me. I have started prepping meals for work and waking up early to work out, a big thanks goes out to my friend Megan for that one, without her early morning phone calls getting my sorry butt out of bed everyday I doubt I would be as successful as I have been.

So with your days starting at 7 (okay sometimes 8) and not ending till usually 11-1 am breakfast has to be solid especially when at that early wake up you are running at least 3 miles and ending with weights. That'll surely leave a girl hungry. So today I offer you something I have been dreaming of. I couldn't get the thought of banana blueberry pancakes out of my head. I HAD to make them.

So off to Trader Joe's I went and with a few essential ingredients gathered later I went to work.

Here's what you will need.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Banana Oatmeal Pancakes 

Serves : 2
Cook/Prep Time: 5 minutes

3 egg whites
1/4 c. milk
1 banana, mashed ( I might bump this up to 1 and a half to 2 next time to make it taste extra bananay, yes I just made that a word)
3/4 c. blueberries
1/3 c. whole wheat flour
1/3 c. steel cut oats
1-2 dashes of vanilla extract

All you have to do is mix all of your ingredients together, the blueberries last because you just want to fold them in. 

Like so...

Then you want to take about 1/4 c. of the mixture at a time into your greased skillet and cook until done, be careful to cook on low and be patient that way you don't burn your pancakes and you can cook the batter all the way through.

Then voila you have these ready to eat babies!

I topped mine off with some extra fresh blueberries and they were FANTASTIC!

This is a super healthy recipe, VERY easy to whip up and high in protein and fiber thanks to the egg whites, oats, and whole wheat flour. 

The oats are totally optional but they are hardly noticeable and pack in an extra punch of fiber so why not right!


Some other fun happenings in my life include the AMC Best Picture Showcase that I am currently in the middle of with my best friend. She turned me onto this a few years ago and ever since I have been hooked!

So what is it you ask? Well every year before the Oscars AMC does a Best Picture Showcase in which they show the Best Picture nominees either in a 24 hour showcase ( For the true crazies) or split between the two Saturdays prior to the Sunday Oscars. Its a great way to see all of the movies that are up for a lot of nominations and be able to justify your opinions on who should win what. Or if you don't really care its just a great way to see a bunch of good movies for cheap. Its like 60 bucks for all 9. Not a bad deal at all but you have to have the lazy stamina for it. The ability to sit in a theater for four and then five straight movies in one day.

Its not for everyone but Britt and I we are pros in this field and we can marathon watch with the best of them!

Its fun, they do trivia in between the movies for prizes and its overall just a blast to be surrounded by movie lovers like yourself.

Also I went to trivia with some other great friends this past week. I love playing games and I love being around people that want to play games, while trivia mostly taught me that I don't actually know as many useless facts as I thought I did, it was a fun free way to get out of the house for the night. (Also thanks to the happy hour appetizers I tried one of the best apps I've ever had that I deduced the recipe for in my head and will be recreating likely for the Oscar party this Sunday and then I will be sharing it with you!)

This is Angela she is one of the world's true beauties and we got this picture together after trivia.

Behind us is an ice skating rink that I will be revisiting soon for another fun outing!

Well that is what is new with me. As always happy eating and I hope you are inspired to go out and do some fun things with your friends, because it is just plain good for the soul!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Cheddar Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese with Spicy Sausage and Oreo Peanut Butter Brownies

Okay so again it has been forever since I have posted. But it has also been a while since I have felt I have created something worthy of sharing. Given the feedback from my last couple of food posts to my various social media (Instagram and Facebook) faith was restored that you all really wanted some of those recipes. So for myself and for you I redid one of them in order to preserve all its smoky cheesy greatness.

This recipe unlike the (Buffalo and Blue Cheese Tuna Cabbage Wraps - which is also to come one of these days) is not diet friendly. It falls into that category I have talked about before of the just gotta have it comfort food.

I created this with someone special in mind using a lot of the flavors we had in the house at the time. No intense planning went into it like some of my recipes simply convenience. It is a definite upgrade to a childhood classic of kraft mac and hot dogs. (Which I would like to mention is still enjoyed in this household by my lovely roomie :-P) Anyways after the feedback of people wanting the recipe I had a chance to decide what really worked with it and what could have used some tweaking, it is still just as easy but oh ya know just a bit cheesier, and creamier and more to die for. ( Didn't figure anyone would mind those changes. :)

So without further ado here we go.

What you will need

1 box of whatever kind of pasta you want to use. 
I used whole grain rotini because it was the best pasta I had in the house for mac and cheese. You can feel free to use your preference or whatever short noodles or shells you have on hand. This pasta was also preferred because the ridges will capture all that cheesy goodness. (Just something to keep in mind when deciding on your noodle.)
1 8oz package of pepperjack cheese ( I could only find a block at my store but if you can find shredded that will save you some time, either way it needs to be shredded)
12oz of sharp cheddar cheese (8oz for the cheese sauce, 4oz for topping)
1/2 stick of butter
1 shallot, diced ( or whatever onion you have on hand, white or yellow preferably. If you use white or yellow use only a quarter of the onion.)
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 c. chicken stock/ broth ( this gives the dish a lot of great flavor I wouldn't change this)
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
pepper to taste (optional)
4 links of sausage of your choice ( I prefer beef sausage and to stick with the theme I used a spicy one from Hillshire farms, but whatever you like will do just fine!)
(Not pictured) Flour for thickening ( I used 2 Tablespoons, you may need more or less depending on how thick you want your cheese sauce)

The first thing you want to do is get your pasta boiling. This is a fast dish and that is the part that will take the longest.

Then shred your pepperjack cheese if not already shredded. 

Next you want to heat the pot you are going to make the cheese sauce in. Put it over a med-high heat and add in your half stick of butter while you dice your onion.

Add your onion to your melted butter along with your garlic salt and powder,  and cook until tender and starts to brown and bubble.

Next add in your chicken stock. Bring to a boil and then add in your cheeses. Pepper jack and cheddar. Whisk until nice and smooth. This is where you need to use your judgement about how thick you want your cheese sauce to be. I added two tablespoons of flour and it was perfect for my preference. 

Whisk away till you have a smooth yellowish orange color.

Remove from heat and whisk in your heavy cream.

Next chop up your sausage links. ( Make sure you are using precooked links if you are following this recipe or cook them before chopping them if they need cooking.)

Add your sausage to your cheese sauce.

By now your pasta should be cooked ( don't overcook your noodles, you want them to be al dente (slightly firm) to be able to hold up the cheese sauce.) 

Drain your noodles and then transfer into a bowl big enough to mix the noodles and the sauce. 

Stir all together and then transfer into an oven safe baking dish. 

(Note you could eat it from this stage if you want, I took a few bites myself and it was perfectly yummy, but being me I can't resist the option of adding a nice cheesy crusty layer to the top and allowing the flavors to deepen together in the baking process. So if you wish to bake continue to read if not Bon Appetite)

Once you have it in a baking dish cover with the other 4 ounces ( or however much it takes to cover your pasta) of cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 until the cheese is melted. About ten minutes or so.

This is pre baking. I was saving this to be baked later but I topped with the cheese and covered it with an airtight lid and it was ready to go when I was ready to cook it. 
Got to love make ahead dinners!


Oh and as a bonus I will share with you this little baby of a recipe I put together the other day on my brownie making quest. It was something I saw a picture of that I needed to try out. Its a 25 minute dessert that you can't beat!

Oreo Peanut Butter Brownies
Okay so what you will need 
1 box of brownie mix (and whatever it calls for usually water eggs and oil)
1 package of oreos ( I didn't count when making this recipe so just have a package)
Peanut butter (have a jar handy I don't know the exact amount here either)
Cupcake liners ( yes these are essential if you don't want a huge mess or ruined brownies)


Okay you ready?

Preheat your oven to 350.
This is all you do, mix your brownie batter together.
Take two oreos and layer with peanut butter. Oreo, peanut butter, oreo, peanut butter. Got it?
Okay like this

Place each of those babies into your cupcake line pan and then cover with brownie batter. Don't overfill because the brownies will puff up some just make sure your top layer of peanut butter is completely covered.

Next bake for twenty minutes and VIOLA!

Yea you can thank me later. ;-)

Monday, December 16, 2013

Holiday Party Tips

So this post is admittedly going to be different than some of my last ones. I was asked to do a collaboration with an old friend and her fabulous fashion blog. Which you can check out here .
Together we have decided to help you tackle those holiday stresses by offering some advice on what to eat ( from yours truly) and what to wear (from Viktoria.)

Anyways I hope you find this helpful and as always enjoyable.

So into the holidays you may encounter various situations, whether you are going to a cocktail party at work, you are having a holiday party with your friends or you getting together with your family we have you covered on all aspects!

Being the foodie that I am I don't believe in going to any social gathering empty handed so in the event you are just headed to work and you want to to bring something yummy and fast along with you I bring you a recipe that has been passed down to me through friends and then in my family for years. We don't have a single gathering in which these little gems aren't included during the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Eve. They are present at every single one.

Bacon and Swiss Stuffed Mushrooms

Prep/Cook Time: 30 minutes and 40 minutes
Serves: 12-15 people

2 packages of whole mushrooms ( I like either white or baby bella mushrooms)
1to 1 &1/2 sticks of butter
1/2 a white onion, chopped
1 package of Oscar Meyer Turkey Bacon (regular bacon can be used I just prefer this)
1 pint of heavy whipping cream
1 package of sliced swiss cheese (any kind will do)
Garlic salt and pepper to taste

Your first step should be to cook the bacon till crispy. You can do this on the stove and drain the fat or you can bake it in the oven according to package directions. I prefer the oven method because then I can work on cleaning the mushrooms and chopping the onions during.

Once the bacon is cooked until crispy then chop it up. 

While the bacon is cooking clean the mushrooms and save the stems to chop up into the stuffing mixture.

Chop your onion.

Add a quarter of a stick of butter into a sauté pan on medium to high heat with the onions.

Cook until the onions are tender and add in the chopped stems.

Season with garlic salt and pepper and then slowly mix in the heavy cream.

Then add in your chopped bacon.

Let it cook down until it looks combined and thickens. About 5 minutes.

While your mixture is cooking down. Melt half a stick to one stick of butter in the microwave and pour into the bottom of the pans you are using to cook the mushrooms with. Any deep dish or casserole dish will work. Then place the mushroom caps on top of the butter mixture.

Fill each cap with the stuffing mixture. I like to spoon the stuffing into each mixture nicely but my mother has always poured it on top. She thinks it looks and tastes just as good. I am a tad more of a perfectionist in this field though. :-P
To each his own. Both taste great!

Then top with the swiss cheese.

I like to double up on the cheese.

Also being the perfectionist that I am I cut the cheese into squares before placing but as long as all the mushrooms are covered in cheese tearing or laying out all over works just as well too. You don't have to be meticulous with this recipe I just am when I am hosting.

Bake the mushrooms at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes until the cheese is fully melted and serve right away.

Friends and coworkers alike will be begging you for this recipe and you won't have any leftovers I promise. So do like I do and make sure you eat a couple before you bring them wherever you are going to ensure not only quality ( like I pretend to do, ) but also to be able to enjoy some yourself.

Now if you are going to a family get together and you are not the one hosting it is always appropriate to bring a dessert or side dish depending on the host's request. Make sure to talk to them about what is needed as to not step on any toes. If you find yourself in the need of a side dish try out this one for a quick and easy, beautifully colored and out of the ordinary dish for your table!

Cranberry, Apple, Squash Bake

Cook Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6-8 people

1 medium sized butternut squash, chopped
2 granny smith apples, chopped
1 bag of fresh cranberries
1/2 stick of butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 T. cinnamon
1/2 T. nutmeg
1/2 T. ground cloves

All you need to be able to know how to do in the kitchen for this one is chop, layer, and how to work an oven.

So chop your apples. and add to your baking dish.

Then your squash.

Then add in your bag of cranberries.

Gosh doesn't that look so gorgeous already? 
Then simply cut up your butter and spread evenly throughout the dish just placing on top and sprinkle in your spices and brown sugar.

Bake it in the oven for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees until slightly fork tender you want your fruit and squash to still have a bite of firmness to them.

Now if you are a little more ambitious then I will direct you to this recipe that I found on one of my favorite food bloggers websites. 

Cranberry Lime Tart with White Chocolate

Since I can't write the recipe any better myself I am simply copying and pasting her instructions and I will show you my pictures of the process and what I changed. I would also like to note that while this turned out gorgeous I might even change some of the changes that I made in order to make this even better and easier to serve!


Premade Sugar cookie roll the big one. (Yes I cheated on making a crust, so shoot me)
Lime Curd:
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup butter
2 1/2 teaspoons lime zest
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
2/3 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 (12-ounce) bag fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
lime zest

Cranberry Topping:
1/4 cup water
White Chocolate Layer:
5 ounces white chocolate chopped
white chocolate shavings
Start with the lime curd. In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the lime juice and cornstarch until it dissolves. Whisk in the sugar and the egg yolks. Add the butter and whisk constantly. The curd will thicken once it comes to a boil, about 5 minutes. Put through a strainer and stir in lime zest. Cover the surface of the curd with plastic wrap, so that it touches the curd. Chill this overnight, or for two days.

In a saucepan, whisk together the water, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. Add the sugar and honey. Whisk until the mixture comes to a boil. 

Add the cranberries and cook until it comes back to a boil and the berries begin to pop, about 5 minutes. You want them to keep some of their shape.

Cool completely and refrigerate until you are going to put the tart together.Melt the white chocolate in the microwave for about 30-45 seconds until melted and smooth. (If you over melt it don't stress! Add a drop or two of vegetable oil and it will mix right up!) Whisk in the sour cream and vanilla.

 Refrigerate until you are ready to assemble.
Bake the Sugar cookie that has been spread into a well greased pan until cooked through and slightly brown. Let cool. (FOR THE FUTURE: I will use mini pie pans or simple roll into a large cookie format and top with remaining ingredients because while this was beautiful it was hard to get out of the pan.)

To assemble the tart, spread the white chocolate layer into the bottom of the crust. Freeze for 15 minutes.Cover the white chocolate layer with the lime curd.Cover the lime curd with the cranberries. Garnish with white chocolate shavings and lime zest. Chill overnight. The whole thing can be made two days ahead of time.

I love baking with cranberries around this time of the year they are beautiful and unexpected and refreshing tastes!

Now if you are going to a holiday party an ugly sweater christmas party for example, as I have said previously I never aim to go empty handed so for this I suggest grabbing a bottle of wine, some ribbon and either some homemade goodies or store bought ones and I say you throw it all together for a nice hostess gift. For this basket I used one of my favorite delectabel Oreo ball recipes along with some other holiday goodies I was baking at the time and threw them all together for this beauty.

Gingerbread Men
(I used the recipe in the latest food network magazine. I don't have a go to one yet, but this one turned out pretty well. I can post it later if anyone would like. ) 

(Click on the link above to access the recipe)

These balls go through a lot of sprinkles, so make sure when you dip them in chocolate let as much of it drip off that is extra then roll in sprinkles to help preserve your stocks of sprinkles. Also this is really fun to use all the sparkly colors you can find, these ones looked seasonal to me but you can interchange the colors for whatever seems festive for you!

(Click on the link above to access the recipe I used, not my own this time but yummy & easy!)

(You can buy a pre made tube and roll them out or you can pick your favorite recipe, but I happened to try this one out. Click on the link above for the one I used.) 

Another fun thing to do would be to pop in some icing so that your recipients can have some fun decorating your cookies that you baked for them later. 

I just went to the local Michael's and picked up this basket, these little plastic bags and some ribbons to tie around them to make them festive. All for about 5 bucks! Local craft stores often have great finds and prices. I usually pick up a pack of holiday cards every year and this year was no different. I like to add a hand written note as another personal touch to the basket, you can see that peaking out the back. I also added a little tissue paper in the bottom so that the bags of goodies weren't just sitting in the basket with nothing to rest on getting squished by their own weight. 

No matter what you do, do it with love and it will be well received. 

Remember to be always be thankful for what you are blessed with. For me the holidays are about cherishing time with family and friends, eating good food, and looking good doing it. Don't forget to check out Viktoria's blog and she will give you all the fabulous fashion advice to help you make it through those days.