To Recap / #The100DayProject's First 20 Days!

 
Chicken Cordon Bleu

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 Share / The Half Baked Harvest Cookbook

 
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     Good morning! Just wanted to share the gorgeous cookbook my parents got me for Christmas (thanks mom + dad!!). It's by my favorite food blogger, Half Baked Harvest, and I've already had some good use out of it! So far, I've made the spicy cauliflower soup and the salted brioche cinnamon rolls  - and both were easy and so delicious. 

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     I had never made cinnamon rolls from scratch, but they did not disappoint! The hardest part was rolling them tightly enough, but I think with a little more practice it'll be a piece of cake. Now, the next ones on my agenda from the book are the pumpkin gnocchi, a whole wheat nutella challah, and her 30-minute chicken parmesan (a family favorite of ours)!  

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     Part of why the book is so inspiring is the photography. Tieghan's photo's are always gorgeous, but having them in print makes them even better! As a visual person, photos and styling are really what draw me in to a cookbook. I love flipping through this one just to look at the photos! They're that good!

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     Another thing I love about cookbooks is the variety of recipes they can offer that aren't available on Pinterest (which is where I usually pull from). I also like that the recipes are right there in the book, so I don't have to try and remember which Board I Pinned a recipe to (sometimes it really takes longer than it should). Most of all though, what I specifically love about this cookbook is that it's filled with recipes that are fresh and unique, but also are tolerable by Brett, who has a very refined list of food he's a fan of. Nothing wrong with that, he likes what he likes, but I'm the opposite, and will now try and usually love most foods! This created a dinner issue for awhile, but ever since I discovered Half Baked Harvest, I've been able to make dishes that are creative and challenging, but are still approachable to those that find comfort in familiarity. Most of HBH's recipes are cool twists on classic or "basic" meals, which is exactly what I've needed! They aren't too crazy, but they aren't so (for lack of a better phrase) "by the book" that they are boring. Buy cookbooks people! Sometimes the old-fashioned thing can work better for you than the latest technology, so embrace it. 

     Thanks for reading, and have a fun weekend! I'll be back next week with one of the recipes from this book that I mentioned I'm making above (can you guess which one?)!

For Pinning / September

 

     Good morning! September is an odd month, going from summer to autumn and having the weirdest weather. However, the transition is always exciting and inspiring! The light is gorgeous, due to the changing seasons, and the leaves are just starting to make their switch. Pinterest was full of evidence of this special time, so choosing my favorite Pins was a little challenging. Sweaters are usually the first sartorial item I get excited for once the weather cools down, and the one above, paired with classic denim, is exactly the kind I go for. Give me all of the cozy vibes!

    Then, of course, an amazing blackberry grilled cheese is an ideal early-fall meal. Those gorgeous little berries are ready to pick this time of year, and I can't imagine a better way to eat them than sandwiched between gooey cheese and doughy bread.

      Another great thing about cold weather? Layering! Scarves, coats, sweatshirts, flannels, all to be piled on at the first sign of a chill. Don't be shocked if you see me smiling into the sunshine because I can finally wear more than one layer without being drenched in sweat.

    Books are read more often once everyone wants to stay inside. Just add coffee or hot cocoa and some good fall reading light, and you're in business.

     Fall also means indoor crafts, like weaving a new wall hanging while cozied up in your butterscotch leather chair. All this Pin needs is a roaring fire place to become idyllic.   

     Last, but not least, fall means getting to turn your oven on again! You can bet I'll be attempting these amazing moon phase molasses cookies the second temps drop from the 90 degree weather we've been having. 

     All of these Pins, and their links, can be found here! Check out my Pinterest boards for even more Fall inspo, and get Pinning yourself. Thanks for reading, have a great weekend! 

Weekly Moodboard, #26

     Good morning! I have a lot of things planned for the weekend, both projects and hang outs with my friends. I'm making cubano sandwiches for a couple of friends on Friday, and I'm getting coffee with another on Saturday. I plan to rock my rust dress and white sneakers, like the girl below, on at least one of those occasions. The projects I'm doing are almost all related to overhauling our office, such as bookends and refreshing a woven basket I have with some paint! The last DIY I'm doing is a little Mother's Day present I'm making for myself, a coconut rose scrub. It's my third Mother's Day on Sunday, and I can't wait to have a little picnic with Brett and our little one. Have a great weekend, and happy Mother's Day to all the mommies out there!

Book of the Month

 

     Hey guys! The book of the month for February is a cookbook! I thought I'd mix it up a bit (ha, puns). Really though, since last month's book was a lengthy novel, I figured we'd take it easy with a cookbook. Instead of a discussion post at the end of the month, I will post a recipe from the book! I already have one in mind, and I have cooked from this book before. It's awesome and I highly recommend it! It inspires me to make more at home, like tomato sauce, instead of just buying from a grocery store. I don't have a ton of time on my hands, but I do have time to make things that will last for awhile. It's fun to make something you've always eaten, but only bought from a store. Let's get to cooking!

To Make Cranberry Sauce

 

       Hey guys! Today I have a delicious treat for you all, homemade cranberry sauce. While I haven't tried the canned kind, I will say that homemade is better. Based on that one word, homemade. Why would you ever take a gel-like substance over the real deal? Why, I ask?! Why?! Being sugar-free (I use honey instead of sugar), homemade cranberry sauce overall is a much healthier option. It's very easy to make and goes great on turkey sandwiches the next day. It's almost better on a sandwich, in my opinion. Just add a little brie and you've got yourself a gourmet leftover lunch. But I digress, this year, please try this homemade option instead of going out and buying a can of goop. Thank you and goodnight! Recipe below:

Ingredients:

-1/2 Cup of water

- 4 Cups of fresh or frozen cranberries

- 1 10oz. Can of Mandarin Oranges (no sugar added)

- 1/4 cup of honey

- 1 tsp of nutmeg

Instructions:

1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until cranberries start to pop. Then mash the cranberries and oranges together and continue to let thicken (about 15 minutes total). Keep chilled until ready to serve. Enjoy!

To Make Mac-n-Cheese

    Today, we have what I consider to be a life saver. As in, this mac-n-cheese recipe makes enough to feed my family and I a couple of times. The leftovers are insane! It's fairly easy to make, there's just a little whisking involved to make that delicious cream sauce. For my birthday this year, one of the gifts Brett bought me was this cookbook, The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila. He had very astutely noticed that in the past year or so, I had started honing in my basic cooking skills. After I had Bailey, I wanted to make sure I could provide healthy and easy meals for her just like my mom did. This book has been awesome! Alana's recipes are easy to follow and remind me of the wholesome meals I had growing up. It gives me the know-how to do exactly what I want to do for Bailey, and so far she's loved everything I've put in front of her.
    These images are only a small portion of how much this recipe yields. On top of the two ramekins, I baked the bulk of the noodle/cream mixture in a baking pan. It's so nice to come home for lunch from work and have some mac-n-cheese to heat up and enjoy, especially now that it's quite cold outside. All I'm saying is, it's nice to have an alternative to a cold-cut sandwich when it's 40 degrees. Put it to the test yourself and let me know how this recipe turned out for you!

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Recipe (adapted from this recipe): yields 6-8 servings
1 pound macaroni
4 cups milk
1/2 stick butter
6 T all purpose flour
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dry mustard
salt and freshly ground pepper
10 ounces cheddar cheese
4 ounces Gruyere cheese
2 cups breadcrumbs

Instructions:
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil then add the macaroni. When the pasta is barely cooked, drain and rinse in cold water. Set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 350.
3. Bring the milk just to a boil in a heavy saucepan and set aside. Meanwhile, melt the butter in another heavy saucepan. Add the flour, and whisk over low heat for 3 minutes. Add the hot milk to the flour mixture, and whisk well.
4. Add the paprika and dry mustard, and whisk over medium heat for up to 10 minutes, or until sauce has thickened. If for some reason the sauce does not thicken, it's OK, it will in the oven!
5. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Butter a 13×9 inch baking dish and ramekins, if using. Pour the pasta into it. Pour the cream sauce over the pasta and toss to coat completely. Sprinkle 3/4 of the cheese on top. Then all of the breadcrumbs, then bake for about 30 minutes. Then sprinkle on the last 1/4 of cheese and put it under the broiler for a few more minutes, until it turns golden. Enjoy!

To Make Blackberry Jam

    To start off, let's just say I was not the biggest fan of jam growing up. I know, I'm not sure what was wrong with me. Every now and then I would be O.K. with a little bit on a biscuit, but it took me 20 years to enjoy a PB and J. Again, still not sure what was wrong with me! 
    Then, it all changed once I became pregnant and started eating basically everything. I tried foods I had sworn I would never enjoy, such as avocado, and it was life changing. One of my favorite new spreads became strawberry jam, as it sweetened up this mama's morning sickness breakfast of dry wheat toast. Once more, life changing!
    Today, I present blackberry jam, a more seasonal jam from late summer that I am becoming nostalgic for, now that fall is officially here. I adapted the recipe from a favorite peach jam recipe. It's easier and quicker than most and bonus: jam lasts forever in the fridge! However, if you're like me, you eat jam and biscuits every weekend and run out in a couple of weeks. You could say I'm officially a convert. 

Recipe: Yields 4oz. (I like the small amount to keep a variety in the fridge!)
Ingredients:
 - 1/4 lb. of blackberries
 - 1 tbs. of honey
 - 1 tbs. of lemon juice

Instructions:
1 - Wash blackberries thoroughly, then mash with a potato masher, fork, or mortar and pestle. (I use this one from World Market, it’s amazing!)
2 - Transfer to a small mixing bowl and combine with the honey and lemon juice. 
3 - Pour into a medium size pot and boil over medium high heat for 10-15 minutes.
4 - Ladle the jam into your jar and refrigerate overnight for (in my opinion) the best texture.

To Create a Blog

         

Visiting one of my favorite places as a child in Arkansas.

Visiting one of my favorite places as a child in Arkansas.

         Welcome to What a Fun Day! I'm Samantha and I am the creator/owner/manager of What a Fun Day. This blog is focused on living a happy, full and special lifestyle. On the blog I'll cover many topics but mostly focus on DIY projects, simple style, delicious recipes, and the general musings of my everyday life with my love, Brett, and our daughter Bailey. 
    Our beautiful girl is closing in on 2 years old, so our life with her is never boring. While I dedicate a lot of my time to her, there's always time for making things, cooking scrumptious food, and thinking about how our life is working, what improvements need to be made, and how to do it simply. With a toddler, everything has to be simplified but fun. That's the goal anyway! My hope for this blog is that while I strive for making my happy life even more fun, my readers take something from our life's simple pleasures and infuse some of it into their own. I've included a few photos of our life lately, which can all be found on my Instagram @whatafundayblog , to give you a peek into our everyday. I look forward to sharing bits of our time together along with posts to elevate your lifestyle, and to overall just make life more fun, day to day.
                                Thanks for reading!
                                    Samantha

An appropriately moody photo after a tantrum.

An appropriately moody photo after a tantrum.

Designing our costumes for Halloween.

Designing our costumes for Halloween.

Enjoying the fallen leaves.

Enjoying the fallen leaves.