Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Snickerdoodles and the Great Cookie Swap

I absolutely loved participating in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.  While this was the 5th annual cookie swap, it was my first year participating.  I baked, packed, and sent off snickerdoodles to bloggers all over the country.   The cookie swap was a fun opportunity to share cookies with (and better yet to receive cookies from) participants all over the country, while benefitting a great cause.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Banana Blueberry Oat Muffins

With it turning cool, I've been turning to oatmeal and other warm breakfasts.  These Banana Blueberry Oat Muffins are easy to throw together.  They're filling without being too sweet.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Peanut Butter Frosting

Not to brag, but I make a mean chocolate peanut butter cake.  It's chocolate cake with a chocolate buttercream frosting and a fluffy peanut butter frosting in the middle.  The peanut butter frosting is what makes the cake.  It's light and fluffy but substantial enough to hold up the top layer of the cake.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A Jewish Baker's Pastry Secrets

Recipes from a New York Baking Legend for Strudel, Stollen, Danishes, Puff Pastry, and More.
by George Greenstein

This book made me feel like such a legit baker.  Greenstein spends full chapters on streudel and babka and provides a wonderful recipe for puff pastry.  He discusses at length the importance of quality ingredients and shows his care for what he makes in his writing.

He starts off with the ingredients and equipment, going into details about what bakers should look for in different flours and fats.  He is all about quality when it comes to food, and while we can't all afford cocoa powder imported from Holland or Hungarian fruit butter, he provides realistic tips as well.  He also covers the baker's equipment, including anything and everything you could need, from parchment paper to the ideal setting for your refrigerator.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Everyday Detox by Megan Gilmore

It's hard to think of detoxes without thinking of days of juice cleanses and salads. Megan Gilmore's approach, in Everyday Detox is more of a lifestyle change.  It's a long term approach to ridding your body of, as Megan calls the vague additives and chemical preservatives of processed foods.  There are so many of testimonials to the effects of a whole food diet in general as well as associated with this book. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Collaboreads: Eleanor & Park

I'm extremely excited about the opportunity to join in with Mr. Thomas and Me and Rachel A. Dawson for Collaboreads (you can learn more about Collaboreads here).  The criteria for this month's book selection was "a book with someone's name in the title."  I chose Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.  This book has been on my reading list for a while.  I think I read a good review of it somewhere, and liked the cover (always a good reason to read a book), but I don't completely remember.  For whatever reason, I stored it away on my mental reading list and forgot about it until coming across it at the local library.  Eleanor and Park follows the relationship between two misfit high school students in the 1980's.  It was surprisingly delightful and an easy read, a perfect book for the beach. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Icebox Coffee Toffee No Churn Ice Cream

I was pretty excited to hear that Birmingham based, Icebox Coffee and Birmingham Bloggers are holding a recipe contest because  1. I love iced coffee and  2. I've been all about finding recipes to stay cool this summer.  I've tried both flavors of  Icebox coffee concentrate and love them both.  This was really a great excuse to buy more iced coffee.  Thankfully, I managed to save enough to make this delicious treat.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Have you seen?

Have you seen my post this week on Southern Exhilaration?  Caitlin's blog is full of travel and all things southern, so I was super excited to share about one of my favorite places in Montgomery:

and it's beautiful surroundings at the Blount Cultural Park. 

Be sure to check it out!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Collaboreads: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I'm so excited to be joining in on the first #Collaboreads link-up  Created by Amber and Rachel as "the best and simplest book link-up in the land."  It brings together reviews of so many different books by providing a broad guideline and allowing people to pick their own book.  You can find more about Collaboreads here This month's criteria was: on the NYT Best Sellers List when you started reading it.  Over the past month, I've been reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.  The beautifully written book has been on the Paperback Trade Fiction List for 11 weeks now. 
On the NYT Best-sellers List when you start reading it. - See more at:

  1. We will pick a random criteria for your book. It'll look something like: published the year you were born or mentions a city in your state or historical fiction about an era you really don't know. 
  2. You find your book. (It's probably a good -or even great- idea to get a library card!) 
  3. Read. -You'll have a month. 
  4. At the end of the month we'll review(ish) our books. Rachel and I will both have places for you to share your links in our posts. 
  5. Repeat steps 1 - 4. 
- See more at:

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Balboa Park, San Diego

You could probably spend a weeks exploring San Diego's Balboa Park and still not see everything.  The park is home to many museums, gardens, and the San Diego Zoo.  And it is absolutely gorgeous.  We spent one afternoon walking around a few of the beautiful gardens, museums and theaters.

 The Casa del Prado Theater is a historic reconstruction used by the San Diego Junior Theater.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Old Town San Diego, California

Old Town San Diego-the birthplace of California.  Super accessible to public transportation and filled with history and beautiful architecture.  I loved walking around the park and through a few of the museums as well as the shops on the surrounding streets.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Southern Makers, Montgomery, Alabama

One thing Alabama is not short on, is creative souls.  Southern Makers was the first weekend of May and brought in a slew of chefs, artists, brewers, musicians and designers from across the southeast, majority being from Alabama.  Proceeds from the event went to E.A.T. South, a really cool local charity which uses urban farms to promote principles of food justice through education and sustainable farming.

A few favorite artists included:

The Union Station Train Shed 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Weekend Reading

Last weekend, the Southern Makers event was held in the Union Station Train Shed in downtown Montgomery, Alabama.  The event was full of southern artists, musicians, chefs and brewers, majority being from Alabama.  I absolutely loved it!  This was the third year for the event, but my first time attending.  It was great to see such a large turn out for this creative event.  Since then, I have been on a creative kick, working on calligraphy and new recipes.

Friday, May 8, 2015

San Diego Beaches

On a recent trip to San Diego, California, I took the opportunity to explore a few of the local beaches.  Pacific Beach had a great boardwalk filled with shops, bars, restaurants and bike rentals.  There were so many people forming a quite diverse crowd.  We walked south down the beach from there and it seemed to get more family friendly as we got closer to Mission Beach.  Mission Beach, as I understand it, is known for being pretty touristy.  But with Belmont Park, a small amusement park overlooking the beach, of course its going to attract people. After exploring a few shops, we rode the roller coaster, which was a lot of fun!

Each of the beaches we visited were lovely, and came with some of the largest seagulls I have ever seen.  However, my absolute favorite beach, was north of San Diego in the village of La Jolla.  La Jolla is home to adorable shops and restaurants, and best of all a bunch of seals.  We spotted so many birds (gulls, cormorants, and pelicans), beautiful views and seals.  I really could have spent a full day on trail and beaches around La Jolla.  It is definitely a must see for your San Diego travels.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Weekend Reading

I spent the last week in San Diego for a conference.  The week was full of good food and beautiful sites on top of the emerging work in emissions inventories.  I loved exploring the city and seeing the beaches.  The seals above were lounging on a beach in La Jolla and they were awesome.  I'm pretty sure seals are the grumpy old men of the animal kingdom.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Easy Easter Cake Decorating

What dessert screams Easter more than a carrot cake.  I can't think of any, but my love of this cake could make me a little biased. This year mom asked me to bring one to Easter Sunday lunch, and I got a little excited.  I decided to make a few cupcakes as well for the kids.  I followed the carrot cake recipe from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook, one of my favorite cookbooks, and multiplied it by 1.25, to give myself a little extra for the cupcakes.

The frosting is a cream cheese frosting (except for the green carrot tops, which are royal icing).  Both frosting recipes are listed below.  I separated about 1 cup of the cream cheese frosting out and used  about 1/8 teaspoon Wilton gel icing coloring in orange.

For the cupcakes, I allowed them to fully cool, then cut a small cone out of the center of the cupcakes using a paring knife, about 1 inch in diameter.  I filled the cone shaped hole with the orange icing using a large round tip and moving straight up, until the carrot stood about 1/2-3/4 inch over the cupcake. I used the cream cheese icing to cover the rest of the cupcake.  I then used the green royal icing to make the tops. Perfecting the texture of royal icing can be a little difficult.  It shouldn't be anywhere as thick as the cream cheese icing, but you do want it to be able to hold a little bit of a shape for drawing the carrot tops.  I drew the tops on a spare piece of parchment paper and really just scribbled a few lines.  Obviously, I'm no artist, when it comes to icing, and I'm really impatient, so I made extra.  The tops needed to dry about 3-4 hours depending on thickness.  It would do well to leave them overnight if you can. Once they were dry, I very carefully pulled off the parchment and stuck the royal icing tops into the top of the carrot.

Since I was coloring the icing, I thought why not decorate the cake as well.  The carrots were made with a large round tip like this one. The tops were made with the same royal icing.

Royal Icing Recipe


1 large egg white
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar, sifted


  1. Beat egg whites, vanilla, and confectioners sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. 
  2. Add additional confectioners sugar or water to reach desired consistency. 

Cream Cheese Frosting


1 stick of butter
2 packages of cream cheese
1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
6-7 cups powdered sugar


  1. Beat butter, cream cheese and vanilla together in a stand mixer (a much less time consuming task if the cream cheese and butter are closer to room temperature)
  2. Slowly add the confectioners sugar until a desired consistency is reached.

Hope you have a wonderful Easter! 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Weekend Reading

This weekend was a relaxing end to a lovely week. I spent time with friends and family, cooked great food, thanks to Blue Apron, and took an online calligraphy class with Scarlet & Gold.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Weekend Reading

I've always thought it was crazy how some people could spend the entire work week waiting on the weekend.  I used to think this was due to a distaste for one's job (which it very well may be for some), but now I wonder if it isn't really due to exhaustion. I don't even have kids and there are times when I feel like I'm constantly running around from the time I get home to the time I get in bed (to the parents who manage to work full time, you have my respect). I'm trying to run several times a week, and prefer to cook for myself, but the real culprit has been that darn to-do list. I can get so focused on the things I want to get done, that I let my "projects" get the best of me. There have been several articles recently on the glorification of busy, which I know I am guilty; I'm working on resetting my goals and approaching them with a better outlook. 

I love what I do, I really enjoy the work and don't wish it away by any means, but I have started to look forward to the weekends. Weekend mornings to be specific, where I can spend quiet time catching up on reading all of the articles I've saved throughout the week with a cup of coffee and my dog curled up beside me. An introvert's happy place! This series is meant to replace "High Five for Friday" because getting something out on Friday, just doesn't happen most weeks. I hope you will enjoy these laid back posts that focus primarily on articles I've read (or just enjoy).

Links I've Loved

Image via Huffington Post

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Mashed Root Vegetables

 A little over a year ago, Seth and I ate at a little restaurant in Tallahassee that a coworker of his recommended. It was called Mikosukee Root Cellar and I had the meatloaf with mashed root vegetables.  It was hands down the best meatloaf I think I have ever had and the mashed "root vegetables," were so stinking good.  I'm not particularly sure what root vegetables were used in the dish, I don't think they're even served currently, but I've tried recreating that interesting side a few times now.  This dish is not the same thing; it's even better.  I just had to share. The parsnips give the dish a sweet cinnamony flavor, similar to, but with a better texture than sweet potatoes, and of course, mashed potatoes are always good! The two blend together so well that you really don't need the sour cream or mass amount of butter many recipes call for.  Hope you enjoy!

Mashed Root Vegetables
8 servings

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

4 large Parsnips (1lb)
5 red potatoes (1.5 lb)
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon thyme
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Add peeled parsnips and potatoes to a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil. 
  2. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook fro 25-30 minutes
  3. Drain water and add butter, lemon zest, and herbs.
  4. Use an immersion blender or hand mixer to blend together the vegetables. 
  5. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Vegetable Pot Pie for 2

Temperatures outside have gone from the upper 60's to the mid 30's in the past 12 hours.  Yesterday I was out running in shorts and a tank and today, I'm cuddled up with a blanket.  The weather has been crazy to say the least.  While I generally love winter and enjoy the cooler weather, I'm over it, as is, I believe, the rest of the country.  However, as I have no control over the weather, all that's left to do is to eat good food and try to stay warm.  I feel like I've been living off of carbs and warm soups since the start of winter, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. This simple pot pie recipe has become a super easy go to. So, grab your vegetables and get ready! 

Vegetable Pot Pie for 2
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup onion finely chopped
1 clove minced garlic
3/4 cup celery, chopped
3/4 cup carrots, chopped
3/4 cup portobella mushrooms, chopped
3/4 cup potato, chopped
1/4 cup flour
1 cup broth
1/4 cup milk
1 cup peas
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg yolk 
Or just use a pre-made 

  1. Saute onion and garlic in oil  for 3-5 minutes on medium-high heat.  
  2. Add celery, carrots and mushrooms and reduce heat to medium. Cook another 6-8 minutes. 
  3. Add potatoes and stir in flour; cook for 2 minutes while stirring.  
  4. Add broth and milk and stirs until the mixture just comes to a boil and thickens. 
  5. Reduce heat to low and fold in peas, herbs and salt and pepper
  6. Roll the dough out thinly and line the small casserole dish; use a fork to poke holes along the bottom. Fill with vegetables and broth and cover with the remaining rolled out dough. 
  7. Whisk the egg yolk with 2 teaspoons water and a dash of salt.  Brush the mixture over the dough and between the layers of dough. Cut a few holes across the top to vent.
  8. Bake 30-35 minutes
  9. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

High Five for Friday

  1. I love Erika's goal of making mornings magnificent this year. I've definitely been working towards becoming a morning person (especially since figuring out a few months ago that I had become neither a morning nor a night person). I've been working on moving my phone further away, waking up to NPR (which is one of my favorite things) getting out of bed before hitting snooze, and enjoying time with B and my coffee before getting ready for work.  Geneva has some great tips; but it's a work in progress for me. 
  2. Speaking of my morning coffee.  I've been researching new methods for coffee brewing. I've always been torn on the keurig.  I received one as a gift a few years ago.  I love the idea of quickly brewing just enough for myself, but the wastefulness of the k-cups and the fact that you are flowing extremely hot liquid through pretty thin plastic have always given me doubt.  I had tried several BPA free, reusable K-cups but I never found one that I loved, most left the coffee just a tad gritty.  Then I read this article a few months ago and it sealed the deal, I've decided to find another option, preferably one that doesn't involve a reservoir or flowing nearly boiling liquid .  I've been looking for a coffee maker ever since (obviously not too quickly). This seems interesting and I've read a little on the Chemex. Have you used either of these? Have a better idea?
  3. I have been eating all the carbs I can find in effort to stay warm in my ridiculously cold, old house.  Recipes for vegetable pot pie and mashed root vegetables coming soon!
  4. Also, my daily struggle  I can completely relate to trying to do just one more thing before leaving.
  5. And on a completely ridiculous note, I've started watching the bachelor (I'm pretty sure I've previously mentioned that I'm never the first on a trend).  But why is this show so addicting?  I was originally drawn in by Kardashley and the crazy Auburn grad, but I haven't missed an episode since either's departure. Whatever this crazy show is, it's definitely entertaining. And even more so are the various live tweets and this recap  

Monday, February 9, 2015

French Women Don't Get Fat

I started to purchase How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are a couple of weeks ago, but felt too guilty to add another book to my collection of books I'm totally going to get around to reading. I started reading French Women Don't Get Fat, by Mireille Guiliano, over a year ago - right around the time I started my job and realized working full time is exhausting compared to the part time retail job I had previously held. Once I moved into my new apartment, the book took up roots on my book shelf where it was forgotten. I just recently picked it back up and have really enjoyed this light read. 

I don't read self-help books, and kind of thought this was something different when I ordered it off of Amazon. However, I have so enjoyed Guiliano's advice and discussion on French culture. The book includes recipes and encourages moderation of the less healthy and avoiding "diet" foods but also discusses the French culture that revolves around food. Between rushing out the door in the morning, eating lunch at my desk and finally crashing in front of the TV or computer to eat dinner, it's hard for me to imagine taking a time out to eat each meal and really savor my food. Guiliano also advises cooking for yourself, eating natural food, and being active, which I think we can all agree are positive and achievable goals. 

Come to find out, Guiliano has since published several books on French culture, including French Women Don't Get Facelifts, which sounds awesome.  I will definitely be adding it to my reading list. 

Have you read French Women Don't Get Fat or How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Roasted Winter Vegetables

....And one more time. I haven't had the best luck on the computer front lately.  Between my computer's meltdown with the installation of Lightroom, and Blogger deleting multiple posts, I was pretty much ready to throw this thing out.  I think my computer may have just needed a break - don't we all from time to time.  Now on to more important things, like food...

Don't be dismayed by the brussels sprouts in this roasted vegetable medley.  While I'll admit I've only ever tried brussels sprouts roasted, I find them absolutely delicious. If you just aren't sure about them, this is the way to try them (or really almost any vegetable). A cousin to the common cabbage, brussels sprouts are excellent sources of vitamin C and vitamin K. Combining them with potatoes, carrots and onions, as well as a few herbs, creates a well balanced and flavorful meal. 

I had initially intended on this recipe being a little more dependent on winter vegetables, but local availability of parsnips, and a sub-par job of grocery shopping put a halt to that idea.  I grabbed a few new potatoes I had on hand and threw in a few aromatics, and viola, an easy and delicious dinner (or side dish, if you prefer).

Roasted Vegetables
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook time 30-40 minutes

2 cups chopped red potatoes
2 cups chopped brussels sprouts
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
2 cloves minced garlic
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon thyme, fresh or dried
1/2 teaspoon chives, fresh or dried
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. Combine chopped vegetables in a large bowl, add olive oil, herbs and seasonings and toss
  3. Spread evenly in a large (9 x 13) casserole dish
  4. Bake 30-40 minutes, until potatoes are tender and brussels sprouts start to develop a golden color