To Make / Vegan Peach Panna Cotta

 
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     Hi there! Peaches are abundant at every market right now, and nothing says middle-of-summer like a ripe peach. To bring in peach season right, I figured a healthy-ish peach panna cotta would be the perfect summery Italian treat! Panna cotta is a cream based, gelatinized dessert that can have any flavor you want (thought typical flavors are vanilla or coffee). To make it a little more acceptable for eating by the bowl-full, I switched out the cream with coconut milk - which also allows me to forgo the gelatin as that always creeps me out when I have to use it for some reason. When refrigerated, coconut milk forms a thick and smooth texture, much like a gelatin! With the addition of a few sprigs of mint from our garden, this dessert is as refreshing as it gets (which is ideal considering the relentless heat)! Get the full recipe below!

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Ingredients:

- one ripe peach

- one large sprig of mint

- one can of full-fat coconut milk

- 1/4 cup of honey

- 1 tsp. of vanilla

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Directions:

1. Slice and dice your peach, and tear up your mint!

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2. Purée the peaches and mint together in a blender, along with a little water. 

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3. Combine peach mixture with can of coconut milk, honey, and vanilla in a stand mixer. Mix until fully combined and then pour into two small ramekins or into one large bowl, then refrigerate for 20 minutes.

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4. Serve with more peaches + mint. Enjoy!

    Thanks for reading, and have a fun Wednesday!

To Share / Our Weekend + Rosato Sangria

 
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     Good morning! I took a bit of June off from doing much of anything, what with vacation and the almost rude heat we had, but I'm back! After my long absence, I thought it'd be fun to share a few snapshots from our weekend along with this week's recipe: rosato sangria. First up, my Italian twist on the spanish batch cocktail! 

    My best friend Cat was in town on Friday from St. Louis, so I made this for our favorite pastime - pizza, netflix, and gabbing. It was delicious and fresh, and what we didn't finish lasted me the rest of the weekend! Ahhh, batch cocktails. Get the how-to below!

Ingredients:

- A bottle of dry-ish rosato wine (the Italian version of rosé)

- half a cup of vodka

- sparkling water

- fresh strawberries, quartered

- ice

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Directions:

1. Add strawberries and ice to a tall pitcher. Then pour in your vodka, rosé, and top with enough sparkling water to fill your pitcher. Stir and pour over ice - enjoy!

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      Our weekend mostly consisted of lounging in the A/C, venturing out of doors solely to play in our kiddie pool in the backyard or to peruse the farmers market. Bailey only found the farmers market acceptable because she got to pick one thing to purchase - and shocker! It was blueberries. 

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     I picked up a delicious scone from a local bakery, those blueberries, some fresh eucalyptus, a lavender kombucha, and wild baby carrots!

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       As of typing this, these carrots are about gone. They go perfectly with some red pepper hummus! 

      All-in-all, it was a very nice weekend despite the heat! Our plans for the Fourth are to set off some fireworks in Columbia, then head to the lake for the weekend. I'm looking forward to whipping up this Grand Aioli and roasting some s'mores! Thanks for reading, and have a fun Tuesday!

To Make / Homemade Ricotta

 
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     Buongiorno friends! With summer weather in full swing, it's time to head to Italy - or to their food, at least! Full disclosure: I have been to Italy, and we did eat a lot of delicious food (mainly gelato) while there - but I want to dive deeper than just the standard Italian food that everyone and their nonna has had. Italy has many different regions (that were all their own sovereign states up until the mid-19th century - yup, Italy wasn't unified until about 150 years ago), and therefore, many different cuisines. I want to explore all of them - starting with a cornerstone of many Italian regions: ricotta! You can buy a tub of ricotta in any grocery store, but it's one of the easiest cheeses to make at home - and now that I've made it, I think it tastes 5,000 times better than store bought. I smeared mine on whole wheat toast, and made a quick strawberry jam from the strawberries in our garden - very simple, very fresh, and one of the most delicious things I've eaten in awhile! Find the recipe below, and happy cheese-making!

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     Ingredients: 

- 3 cups whole milk
- 3/4 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar

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Directions:

1. Combine milk, heavy cream, and salt in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until warm. Turn up your heat slightly, and add vinegar and lemon juice. Continue to stir occasionally until mixture curdles - about 5 minutes. 

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2. Remove from heat and pour over a cheesecloth into your container. Let strain for about 20 minutes. 

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3. Once strained, use as you like! The ricotta will keep for about a week in the fridge. 

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4. Enjoy! (Preferably the Italian way - on bread with fruit and an espresso :))

    Thanks for reading, and have a fun Tuesday!

To Grill / Honey Ginger Kebabs

 
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     Good morning! For my second and last Asian-inspired recipe of Spring (the quickest season here - it's already consistently 85-90+ degrees every day), I decided to work with a new-to-me ingredient - ginger! Obviously, I've had ginger-flavored things before, but I've never used it myself. Seeing as it's a prevalent flavor in many Asian dishes, now seemed as good a time as any to try it out! Using Half Baked Harvest's recipe for a honey-ginger glaze for salmon, I whipped up my own glaze for chicken kebabs instead, as chicken is the favored protein in my house (I like salmon now, but am generally outnumbered by Brett and Bailey on this subject). Post-grilling, I de-skewered the chicken, onions, and peppers, and combined them with quinoa, mango, and more sauce. It was the perfect bright lunch for my Friday! Get the recipe below!

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Ingredients: Honey Ginger Glaze

- 1 tablespoon sesame oil

- 2/3 cup of honey

- 2 tbs. of sambal oelek

- 2 tbs. soy sauce

- 1 in piece of peeled ginger, minced

- juice of one lime

Ingredients: Kebab Bowl

- 2 small chicken tenderloins

- a few slices of red pepper and onion, chopped

- 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa

- 1/4 cup of diced mango

- 1/2 cup of Honey Ginger Glaze

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Directions:

1. Whisk together all ingredients for glaze and set aside.

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2. Skewer your chicken, peppers, and onions while grill heats up. Then baste kebabs with glaze and grill. 

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3. Remove from grill and baste again. 

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4. Prepare your bowl: combine quinoa with grilled meat, peppers, and onions. 

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5. Top with mango and more glaze.

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7. Enjoy!

    Thanks for reading, and have a fun Monday! We'll see you back here next week for our first recipe inspired by (you guessed it) Italy! 

To Blend / A Cucumber Mint Cooler

 
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     Good morning! When planning out this season's recipes, I decided I want to focus on a different region's cuisine for each season. Each different region has a distinct seasonal feel to it's classic dishes, and the one the screamed spring to me was Asia! Asian cuisine is so veggie focused, with bright and fresh flavors that make the most sense for spring dishes - so with that, I'll introduce this cocktail to you. 

      Cucumbers are growing on me, and are ripe for the picking at the moment. We have some  in our garden, but until they too are ready to be harvested, farmer's market ones are the best option! Our mint in the garden, however, is constantly sprouting leaves and happens to pair perfectly with cucumber. Those two ingredients are the bones of this cocktail, and make for the perfect apertif on a warm spring evening. Get the full recipe below!

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Ingredients:

- 1 small cucumber, peeled

- a handful of mint leaves, plus a couple for garnishing 

- 1/2 cup of vodka

- 1/2 cup of lemon juice

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Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender.

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2. Blend until smooth and thin.

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3. Pour and garnish with mint leaves. Enjoy!

      Thanks for reading! I don't want to fully reveal where we're metaphorically visiting for the summer season, but I will say one thing - the goal of the summer will be living la dolce vita. ;) Have a fun week!

To Make / An Ideal Spring Dinner

 
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      Hi there! It's finally warm every day here now, and that means I'm craving all things fresh and simple for meals. On weeknights, it's a marathon to get good food on the table and bottoms in seats at a reasonable hour - so I usually opt for only one component of a dinner that takes more than 15 minutes to prepare, with the rest being assembled in that short time frame! This Monday, that took the form of grilled cheeses, accompanied by sweet potato fries (the time-consuming menu item) and tiger salad. 

     I know you've heard me ramble about grilled cheese and sweet potato fries before, but let me introduce you to tiger salad! Tiger salad is a cooling and refreshing cucumber salad from Northern China, with a bit of spice and sesame flavor to it. It typically uses lettuce in the place of cilantro, but I have A LOT of cilantro on hand right now - so it got tossed in instead! Cilantro brings a lot of flavor to this dish, and I think I'd prefer it here over lettuce anyways. I also made the addition of carrots, for the sake of using them up and adding more veggies! Get the full recipe below, along with my sweet potato fries recipe. 

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Sweet Potato Fries:

- 2 large sweet potatoes

- 2 tbs. olive oil

- 1 tbs. oregano

- 1 tbs. cumin

- a dash of salt + pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 and slice your sweet potatoes into sticks. 

2. Toss raw sweet potatoes in olive oil and your herbs, then arrange on an oiled baking sheet.

3. Roast for 45 minutes, flipping the fries after 15 minutes.

4. Serve warm and enjoy!

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Tiger Salad:

 - 2 mini cucumbers

- half a carrot

- a handful of cilantro

- 1 tbs. of apple cider vinegar

- 1 tbs. of sesame oil

- 1 tbs. of sambal oelek

- green onions

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Directions:

1. Slice your cucumbers, carrots, and green onions. Mince your cilantro.

2. In your salad bowl, mix your vinegar, oil, and sambal oelek with your veggies.

3. Serve immediately and enjoy!

     Thanks for reading, and have a fun Wednesday!

To Recap / #The100DayProject's First 20 Days!

 
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Chicken Cordon Bleu

     Good morning! Just wanted to pop in and share what I've made so far in #the100DayProject challenge. Below, a list and some photos for your viewing pleasure!

#100foodfinds Day's 1-20:

1. Cashew Milk

2. Sweet Potato Chips

3. Pickled Onions

4. Baked Potato Broccoli Cheddar Soup

5. Baked Blueberry Donuts

6. Poached Eggs

7. BBQ Roasted Chickpeas

8. "Lara" bars

9. Chicken Cordon Bleu

10. Bechamel

11. Oven-fried Chicken

12. Date Shake

13. Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cookies

14. Puffed Quinoa

15. Bolognese

16. Mango con Chili y Limon

17. Jalapeno Simple Syrup + a Salty Dog cocktail

18. Pie Crust

19. Whole Stem Garlic

20. Deep-fried Oreos

  Strawberry Pie with Homemade Pie Crust

Strawberry Pie with Homemade Pie Crust

  Baked Potato Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Baked Potato Broccoli Cheddar Soup

  Sweet Potato Chips

Sweet Potato Chips

  White Pizza with Homemade Bechamel Sauce and Homemade Neapolitan Style Crust

White Pizza with Homemade Bechamel Sauce and Homemade Neapolitan Style Crust

  Poached Eggs on Sourdough with Pickled Red Onions and Parmesan

Poached Eggs on Sourdough with Pickled Red Onions and Parmesan

  A Spicy Salty Dog Cocktail using homemade Jalapeno Simple Syrup

A Spicy Salty Dog Cocktail using homemade Jalapeno Simple Syrup

  Homemade Coconut "Lara" Bars

Homemade Coconut "Lara" Bars

  Deep. Fried. Oreos. Life = made.

Deep. Fried. Oreos. Life = made.

To Bake / Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

 
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     Hi there! If you're a 90's kid like moi, the movie Parent Trap (the Lindsay Lohan remake, not the original 1961 film - which was good but the styles are definitely different!) was probably a favorite of yours at the time! At least, I know my sisters and I loved it/still love it! Anywho, there are many things about the movie that were inspiring, but one of my favorite things I got from it was a new food combo: Oreo's dipped in peanut butter. At first it sounded strange, but if Lindsay Lohan said it was good, then we were all at least trying it (oh to be young and impressionable LOL)! I may be an adult now, but my chocolate-loving heart still thinks of this combo anytime I buy a jar of peanut butter. This time around, I decided to act on the whim, and whip something new up in compliance with #the100DayProject! I've never made peanut butter cookies, so I decided to take the classic recipe and amplify it with chocolate for the ultimate Parent Trap dream cookie! They delivered, and I'm so excited to share the recipe here! Get the how-to below!

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Ingredients:

- 1 + 1/2 cups AP flour

- 1/2 cup cocoa powder

- 1/2 tsp. baking soda

- pinch of sea salt

- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened

- 1/2 cup brown sugar

- 1/2 cup sugar

- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter (I used all natural, so it's way more drizzly than regular, but either one works!)

- 1 egg

- 1 tsp. vanilla

- 2 tbs. milk (if your dough is still too dry, up it to 1/4 cup)

- 1 cup of chocolate chips

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Directions:

1. Mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt - set aside. In a stand mixer, cream butter and scrape down the sides. Then, beat in both sugars and peanut butter. Lastly, add egg and vanilla. 

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2. Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and beat until combined. Add in milk and chocolate chips. Chill in fridge for 30 minutes, then preheat oven to 350. Using an ice cream scoop, make dough balls and place on oiled baking sheet. 

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3. Bake for 11 minutes, and let cool for five if you must! ;)

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4. Serve after a meal of chili (I hope you get the Parent Trap reference :)) and enjoy! 

     Thanks for reading, and have a fun Wednesday!

To Make / Blueberry Donuts

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     Happy Saturday! I’m five days into #the100dayproject, and so far, it’s been awesome! I thought it would be hard to make myself cook something every evening, but it’s really been easy - I haven’t hit a wall (yet). This morning, I decided to take advantage of having the day off and make some brunch! I baked some blueberry donuts and they turned out SO GOOD. Sweet and moist but not too cake-y! Get the recipe below! 

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Ingredients: donuts

 - 1/2 cup of flour (I did 1/4 whole wheat, 1/4 ap!)

- 1/4 cup of sugar  

- 1/2 tbs. of melted butter

- 1/2 tsp. of baking powder

- 1/4 tsp. of baking soda

- 1/4 tsp. of vanilla

- a pinch of salt  

- 1 tsp. of cinnamon

 - 1/2 cup of milk

- 1/2 cup of blueberries

- a squeeze of lemon juice

Ingredients: vanilla glaze

- 1 tbs. milk

- 1/4 cup of powdered sugar

- 1 tsp. of vanilla

Directions: 

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, butter, and lemon juice. Stir wet ingredients into dry, mix until combined.

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2. Pour batter into greased donut pan and drop in blueberries.

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3. Preheat oven to 350. 

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4. Meanwhile, make glaze. Stir together powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla. Bake donuts for 16 minutes, then let cool for 5 minutes. Pop out of pan and dip tops into the glaze. Serve with coffee and enjoy! 

       Thanks for reading, and have a good weekend!

To Try Something New / #The100DayProject!

 
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      Good morning! I'm excited to announce that I will be participating in #The100DayProject this year! Starting on April 3rd, I will be cooking one new-to-me meal/food once a day, for 100 days! You can read more on how the project works here, but the gist of it is that you choose one creative thing to do, every day, for 100 days - and document it all. The point of it is to improve upon that "thing" and to work past the inevitable burn out that will happen when you do anything for 100 days! I was surprised about how much doing the Whole 30 for 30 days changed my outlook on food and health, so I've always been intrigued by this 100 days idea. I considered doing it last year but just had no idea what direction I would take it - but this year, I've had a much more clear path as to what I would do!

     You all know I've been focusing on cooking, and so when I heard it was starting up again soon I thought "I have to do this"! I love a challenge, and cooking one meal a day seemed broad and doable enough, since I cook most days anyways. The challenge aspect is working with a new dish or food that I've never worked with - this seems like the ideal way to hone my skills! Another "challenge" is documenting it. I love using Instagram, but I don't update it ever day because I just don't have time nor do I usually care enough to. However, the days are getting longer (more light to shoot with), and Stories exist now - so I'm thinking it will be easier than if it were a year ago and in the dead of winter? Anywho, I'm beyond excited to start next Tuesday, and I can't wait to get cooking!! I've set out a list of rules for myself and how you can follow along so check those out below!

My Rules for #The100DayProject:

1. In accordance with the official project rules, I'm creating a hashtag for my Stories (which will be Highlighted in my profile - if they don't let you Highlight a full 100 stories into one Highlight - I will break them down into separate Highlights!). My hashtag will be #100foodfinds!

2. In lieu of posting the mandatory photo a day in my grid, I will be posting it in my aforementioned Stories, along with bts clips of the making of each recipe! I will post one of the recipes a week to my grid and to this space, which will most likely be my favorite of the week.  

3. Each thing I cook must be made with either:

A) a food item I've never worked with before (i.e. miso, lamb, tofu, etc.) OR

B) a new dish I've never made before (i.e. coq a vin, falafel, a souffle, etc.)

4. It can be for breakfast, lunch, dinner, a snack, or dessert - depending on my schedule.

     That's it! See! So broad and flexible. I think this will be a lot of fun. I know I'll get tired of documenting/the stress of a new ingredient or dish, but that's usually more exhilarating than anything else - even if it fails! I'll leave a link to my Instagram here (and the feed is also shown at the bottom of my homepage!) for those of you who don't have Instagram. Thanks for following along and I hope you follow along with the project! Have a fun Thursday!

To Brew / Rose Almond Milk

 
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       Hi there! With spring beginning yesterday (can I get an amen?!), I thought it apt to share a new take on my basic ol' almond milk. I use almond milk every day in smoothies and in my coffee - but it can get a little dull every now and then to be so monotonous. That being said, I set out to create a fresh flavor with almond milk by making the additions of a little rose water, vanilla, and honey! It's simple, obviously floral, and slightly sweet - just what I needed to switch things up. Get the full recipe below!

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Ingredients:

- 1 cup of almond milk

- 1 tsp. of rose water

- 1 tsp. of vanilla

- 1 tsp. of honey

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Directions:

1. Heat your almond milk either on the stove until steaming or in the microwave for a minute and a half. 

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2. Whisk in your rose water, vanilla, and honey. 

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3. Serve warm on it's own (it was delicious!) or use in your coffee/smoothies!

     Thanks for reading, and have a fun Wednesday!

To Make / Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

 
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     Good morning! This is one of those recipes that came out of wondering what the heck I'm going to do with a mostly full jar of (insert ingredient here)?! You know - those ingredients that you buy for a specific recipe that only uses a spoonful of said ingredient. It's usually something obscure that is really only used in that one recipe. Now, I really hate wasting food, so last week when I bought ricotta for a pasta dish (surprisingly, not lasagna) and still had the majority of the tub left after making the pasta, I had a pretty good brainstorming session. I racked my brain for a minute on what one does with a full tub of ricotta, and then it hit me - a memory of lemon ricotta pancakes that Brett and I had at our B+B in Denver two years ago! SOLD. I immediately searched for a simple lemon ricotta pancake recipe and scored with this one. Luckily, I already had literally all of the ingredients on hand, and guys - these are the best pancakes I've ever made! They're fluffy (thanks, random ricotta), tart, and sweet all at once. You can definitely say this is a "when life gives you ricotta (and also, ironically, lemons)..." situation. Get the full recipe below!

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Ingredients: Blueberry Compote

  • 1 cup of fresh blueberries
  • 1 tbs. of honey

Ingredients: Pancakes

  • 1 1/4 cups AP flour
  • 3 tbs.'s sugar
  • 2 tsp.'s baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1 tbs. melted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp.'s lemon zest
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Directions: 

1. Preheat your griddle to 350, and grease. In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. In another bowl, whisk together ricotta, butter, eggs, egg whites, lemon juice, and zest. 

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2. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients bowl and mix until just combined. Scoop out your batter onto the griddle to form pancakes. Cook for two minutes until bubbles form on top, then flip and let cook until browned.

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3. While pancakes are cooking, make your blueberry sauce by combining blueberries and honey in a small skillet. Mash together with a fork and let cook for about 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened.

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4. Once pancakes are done, serve warm and top with your blueberry compote. Enjoy!

     Thanks for reading, and have a fun Wednesday!

To Explore / Downtown St. Louis

 
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     Hi there! I'm fresh off a girl's weekend in St. Louis to celebrate my best friend Cat's birthday, and I have to share about our trip! One of the perks of living in Columbia is that we're about half way between STL and Kansas City. It makes getaways for the weekend really doable, and for an explorer like me, there are endless opportunities to take your time and get a feel for a place! Both KC and St. Louis are historical cities, with STL being the well-known "Gateway to the West" (the Arch, while not really worth actually going to the top of in my opinion, is pretty amazing to spot intermittently while driving around - it really is majestic!), and KC having some of the best BBQ around, for the last 100 years at least (which I found out when I moved here is because they had some of the biggest stockyards in the country - I had always wondered why KC BBQ was popular considering they aren't in the South, where BBQ reigns).

      The cities' histories shows potently through their architecture, where driving around you can see the eras each city has gone through reflected in their buildings. This is one of the things I loved about this particular trip! Before, I had the notion that KC was the "cooler" of the two cities. However, after driving through different neighborhoods to get from one destination brunch spot in the Central West End to the cutest little cafe in the Shaw area - I decided St. Louis' cool-factor was worth it's salt. Our first stop? The aforementioned brunch spot: Cafe Osage! Pictured above, the cafe is located in Bowood Farms greenhouse and shop building. Ya, it was basically a dream come true for a person who loves food and shopping equally. 

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      This is the dining room, and every little detail was as cute as can be! As far as the food goes, that was pretty perfect too. I had their omelette, which was loaded with herbs and was oozing (for lack of a better word) with whipped goat cheese. Accompanying my delicious meal was their Rose Colored Glasses cocktail - a gin and grapefruit concoction that hit the spot!  

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      After we finished eating, we perused their adorable shop and greenhouse. While I would've bought pretty much anything in there, I opted for a little crown for Bailey (her birthday is in 2 days!) and a beautiful set of well-made Japanese notebooks for me (which I actually needed - I try and stay practical in overwhelming shopping situations!). 

     This was their children's section - when shopping for Bailey, I've had to keep in mind the longevity of her enjoyment out of items. She loves books of course, but she already has so many I didn't feel like she'd think it was a very special gift (and this also goes for stuffed animals). Craft supplies I can get from anywhere, so again not super special. I landed on a little felt crown that you can clip to the top of her head! She loves playing princess with dress-up crowns, but they always fall off her head - so this seemed like a good upgrade!

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     After our brunch and shopping expedition, we drove through the St. Louis University neighborhoods to the Shaw area to visit the Fiddlehead Fern Cafe! I had read about it in Feast Magazine, and after seeing they serve a lavender rose latte, I knew I had to stop in. They're the first cafe in the city to use a Modbar (aka a modular system bar, where all of the machines are stored underneath the bar, similar to a tap for beer).

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        The latte was everything I expected, except better because it wasn't overwhelmingly floral like some drinks can be when using flowers or herbs as a flavoring. Everything about this neighborhood was fun - from the intentional murals and unintentional graffiti to pretty much every building being built with brick. After the cafe, we ventured to the Galleria for their Urban Outfitters. Normally, I would say to steer clear of a mall, but the UO there is so well stocked and actually has their home goods line - so I highly recommend it! That evening we went to Edgewild for dinner, and it's a must-stop dinner spot, so add it to your list as well! 

     Thanks for reading, and I'll be back next week with more recipes! Have a fun Wednesday!

To Mix / A Spring Bloody Mary

 
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      Good morning! Tomorrow is finally March, and my mind completely disregards the technical start date of the spring equinox, so from tomorrow until summer - I'll be in spring mode! I've been craving a bloody mary to go along with weekend brunch for a little bit, so this past weekend, I made it happen! It was the perfect opportunity to shoot the pretty red drink as it was incredibly sunny (a la spring!) and the perfect weather for brunch on our porch. I could get used to this! Now, my spring twist on this is simple: black pepper and lemon. I like to stick with a spicy tomato and carrot juice base and only add a little flavoring to complement it! Get the recipe below!

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Ingredients:

- 1 glass of spicy tomato/carrot juice (if you don't like the spice, feel free to get whichever tomato juice you like!)

- 1 shot of vodka

- half a lemon

- black pepper

- ice

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Directions:

1. Pour your tomato juice into your glass, over ice, then add in the vodka.

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2. Sprinkle black pepper on top, then squeeze your lemon into the drink.

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3. Stir and enjoy!

     Thanks for reading, and be on the lookout for my second brunch recipe for the week on Friday! Have a fun Wednesday!

To Announce / We're Getting Married!

 
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      Good morning! I'm taking a break from recipes this week for a very good reason - Brett and I are engaged! He proposed over the weekend at a place very special to our relationship, and with the most "me" ring ever. It's perfect and we are beyond excited! Bailey's only interest was my ring (her first words after seeing it were "I'll give it right back" LOL), but I have a feeling on the big day she'll be just as excited as the rest of us! Thank you so much for following along on the blog - I can't believe I get to share this milestone on my little space on the internet! As far as recipes go, there's no need to worry! I have TWO lined up for next week, and they both center around one thing: brunch. Have a fun week, friends!

To Bake / Salted Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Cookies

 
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      Happy Valentines Day! I've been trying to decide what to make for this love-filled holiday (and for me, it's a celebration of all love, and that includes self-love - so even if you're spending it alone, there's still cause to celebrate!), and landed on these salted caramel stuffed chocolate cookies from the Half Baked Harvest cookbook! They're rich and gooey, almost like a brownie! I'd also like to note that they were gone by the end of the night after I made them, so it's safe to say Brett was a fan. Get the recipe below!

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Ingredients:

- 1/2 cup of flour + 2 tbs.

- 2 tbs. of cocoa powder

- 1/4 tsp. of salt

- 1/4 tsp. of baking soda

- 3 large eggs

- 2 tsp. of vanilla

- 1/2 cup of sugar

- 6 tbs. of butter

- 4 oz. of dark chocolate

- 2 cups of chocolate chips

- Ghirardelli Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Squares

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Directions:

1. Melt your butter, dark chocolate, and chocolate chips in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir consistently until fully melted. 

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2. In a mixing bowl, beat together your eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Then mix in your melted chocolate + butter mixture. Add your flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder, and mix until combined. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour minimum, or overnight.

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3. After the dough is chilled, preheat your oven to 350 and scoop out small golf ball sized portions onto a greased cooking sheet. Flatten each ball with a spoon and place a piece of the chocolate caramel squares on each cookie. 

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Had to do a close up on those chocolates!

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4. Scoop out slightly smaller balls of dough and place one on each cookie on top of the caramel. Flatten with your spoon and smooth the edges together. Sprinkle tops with sea salt a la Bailey. 

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5. Bake for 10 minutes, and serve warm with a glass of milk. Enjoy!

To Blend / Blood Orange Smoothies

 
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     Good morning! I've recently realized a food philosophy I've been subconsciously following for awhile, and that is focusing on one fruit and one veggie that I really love each season. For fall it's sweet potatoes and figs, for summer it was strawberries and spinach (which is pretty seasonless, but it pairs best with summer produce in my opinion), and spring makes me crave asparagus and honeydew melon! I started realizing this pattern of focusing on basically two produce items when I was deciding what I wanted for smoothies (typically my daily lunch). I landed on kale and citrus, and have been sticking to that for the past couple of months! Kale is so nutrient dense, citrus is highly beneficial this season (looking at you flu), and both keep me feeling great and energized!

     Now, today's smoothie recipe doesn't have kale, because I'm a visual person and really wanted to see how these gorgeous blood oranges blended up. :)  Feel free to add a handful of kale though, as it couldn't hurt! Get the full recipe below!

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Ingredients:

- 1 blood orange peeled and segmented (feel free to use any citrus you like!)

- 1 tsp. of turmeric or a golden turmeric blend (I've been using this one from Moondeli and love it)

- 1 cup of almond milk

- 1 sliced + frozen banana

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Directions:

1. Gather your ingredients and add them to a blender, almond milk first.

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2. Blend on high until smooth and frothy.

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3. Serve in your tallest glass and enjoy (preferably with a little stinker who enjoys vying for the first sip)!

To Make / Grilled Cheese

 
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     Good morning! Last week, I was craving an adultified grilled cheese. Enter: pears + brie! After deciding I needed a grilled cheese in my life, I was searching for seasonal fruits that aren't citrus (I'm currently chipping away at a giant bag of blood oranges - smoothie recipe coming next week!), and realized pears are in season. Score! They're the apple of winter, and go so well with cheese and a little honey. A sweet and creamy perfection! Get the recipe below!

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Ingredients:

- a few slices of brie

- a few slices of fresh pear

- 2 slices of bread of choice (I used sourdough!)

- a drizzle of honey

- mayo

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Directions:

1. Heat a greased skillet on medium, then spread mayo on your bread on the sides that will be grilled. Place your first piece of bread in the skillet, mayo side down, and top with your cheese and pears. Drizzle with honey, and place second piece of bread on top. 

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2. Cover with your skillet lid (this will contain the steam and help the cheese melt faster) and let grill until the cheese is melted. Then flip and let grill for 1-2 minutes, until bread is golden brown. 

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3. Slice and serve with your favorite chips/pretzels!

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Enjoy! 

Thanks for reading, and have a fun Wednesday! I'll be back next week with that yummy citrus smoothie!

To Recap / January

 
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     Good Morning! I'm taking a break from recipes this week to share my recap of January, as it's coming to a close shortly. It's been a surprisingly fun but hectic month, with all of the changes that come with a new year. Personally, it's been great (other than all of the things that are due at the start of a new year) - but for friends, it's already been a challenging year. So helping them navigate new beginnings is one of the things we've been dealing with. Luckily, everyone is still in positive spirits, and the weather is turning mild after a short 3 weeks of winter (so far), which always improves moods!

      We got over an inch of snow for the first time in the past 3 years, so that was really exciting for Bailey and Brett (I prefer to enjoy the beauty of snow from our screened in porch). That was two weeks ago - last weekend, temps were in the 60's, and will be again today and tomorrow, so snow that sticks isn't really a viable option at the moment. I can't really complain though, because last weekend, spending the whole time pretty much outside was ideal, and I can't wait to do it again this weekend!

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      This month, I also shared a bit about the Half Baked Harvest cookbook, and how awesome it is. I've been cooking up a storm with this guy, and I can't wait to share even more adaptations of the recipes throughout the year!

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       I'm not 100% sure why, but this color palette at my BFF Cat's house was really screaming winter at me. My best guess is because the blue reminds me a lot of the movie Frozen, which Bailey has been falling in love with (which means I get to belt out 'Let it Go' with her 24/7)!

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     I also shared my winter glow tonic recipe! This warming turmeric latte was so comforting on the 0 degree days we were having. 

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     Bailey and I did a really fun craft last weekend, inspired by the paper cutouts of Matisse! This is the first collaging activity we've done, and Bailey is a big fan of (safe) scissors. One caveat though: she's left handed for the most part, but I haven't acquired left-handed scissors yet (didn't know they were even a thing?!), and if we plan on doing this again (which I do!), then mama needs to get those darn scissors stat! Parenthood has a constant learning curve, and this is a good example of that.

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      On a more Nutella note, I made this challah to assist in the comfort process that winter calls for! Still over here dipping mine in more Nutella, because can't stop won't stop. 

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      We found a cleared soccer field/open field in a forest on the West side of Columbia, and I fell in love with it. It was empty and secluded, the perfect place for Bailey and Luna to run around unleashed (literally for Luna and figuratively for Bailey :)), and for me to wander around and take pretty winter photos. 

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      Finally, my little bubble-catcher. We're resurrecting our outdoor play things, and bubbles were first on the agenda! Bailey is always on the move, so capturing even a remotely non-blurry image of her when playing is a feat. Also: cheetah-print sweatpants. Just another item of clothing that only a toddler can pull-off!

     Thanks for recapping the month with me! I'll be back next week with a seasonal take on grilled cheese (which no, I'll never stop experimenting with). Have a great weekend!

To Bake / Nutella Challah

 
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      Hi there! It's the middle of January, and Columbia is blanketed in snow - which means most of us want to be literally blanketed 24/7. We are thawing as I speak though, so the outdoors are slowly becoming more appealing! Until then, I'm noshing (to use the appropriate Yiddish term, considering this recipe) on this Nutella challah to stay cozy on the inside. I've never made challah before, and I've only eaten it once when a Jewish friend made it (along with matzo ball soup - YUM) to celebrate passover for our dorm building in college. I've never forgotten how delicious his traditional take on the bread was, and have been waiting for the perfect recipe to try my hand at it! 

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       I found said recipe in the Half Baked Harvest cookbook, and knew I wanted to make it this winter asap! While it is filled with Nutella, the actual bread of it is healthy-ish. It does have sugar, but it's only 3 tablespoons! It also has whole wheat flour, and olive oil instead of butter. In my opinion, these whole ingredients negate the bad ones! :) Get the recipe below, and have fun making this - I know I did!

Ingredients: 

- 1 cup of warm water

- 1 packet (2 + 1/4 tsp.) of instant yeast

- 3 tbs. of brown sugar

- 1/4 cup of olive oil

- 2 eggs

- 1 + 1/2 tsp. of salt

- 2 cups of whole wheat flour

- 2 cups of AP flour

- Nutella

- 1 egg, beaten

Directions:

1. In a stand mixer, using the dough hook, combine the yeast, warm water, brown sugar, olive oil, eggs, and salt. With the mixer still running, add the flours and mix until the dough comes together - about 5 minutes. Knead the dough on medium speed for another 2 minutes. Knead by hand until smooth and return to mixing bowl. Cover and let sit for 1 hour in a warm place (I usually put mine on top of my fridge!).

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2. Knead dough again, and let sit for another 30 minutes. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface, and divide it into 3 equal balls. Roll each ball into a 12 inch rope, and roll out the ropes flat.

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3. Spread Nutella onto each piece, and tightly roll each into a rope again. Pinch the edges to seal.

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4. Grease a rimmed baking sheet, and lay out each rope side by side, seam side down. Pinch together the tops of the ropes, and braid them together. Do this by placing the far right rope over the center rope, and then the far left over the now center (originally far right) rope. Continue this until you reach the end of the ropes, and pinch the ends together.

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5. Brush some beaten egg over the loaf, and let sit for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350, and brush the loaf again. 

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6. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm (and with even more Nutella if you're chocolate-crazed like me), and enjoy!