everyday inspiration

Posts tagged “recipe

The Perfect Cookies + The Famous Banana Bread [recipes]

One of my favorite things about Fall is settling into the therapeutic routine of baking. I’ve always loved the art of perfecting the chocolate chip cookie or the challenge of trying an ambitious, new recipe. Though, while I bake year-round, it never feels quite right until the brisk air seeps breezily through the open windows or the pumpkin vanilla candle burns to wick’s end.

That’s when baking feels like home.

With a quieter pace the last few weeks, I found two new recipes to try – one for a very special occasion and one to add a little bit of special to a typical week.

B R O W N E D   B U T T E R  +  T O F F E E   C O O K I E S

Very special occasion: Fred’s 75th birthday. I think the entire family would tell you these were a hit. And we continued to eat on them all week. Also, special shoutout to Candace for finding and sharing the recipe. To me, these will always be “Candace cookies.”


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
⅓ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 chocolate toffee bars, chopped into ¼-inch pieces
1½ cups dark chocolate melting wafers
Sea salt


  1. Cook butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until it foams, then browns, 5–8 minutes. Scrape into a large bowl and let cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk flour, baking soda, and kosher salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Add brown sugar and granulated sugar to browned butter. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until mixture lightens and begins to thicken, about 30 seconds. Reduce mixer speed to low; add dry ingredients and beat just to combine. Mix in toffee pieces and chocolate wafers with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Let dough sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes to allow the flour to hydrate. Dough will look very loose at first, but will thicken as it sits.
  4. Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 375°. Form ping-pong sized balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing about 3″ apart. Do not flatten; cookies will spread as they bake. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  5. Bake cookies until edges are golden brown and firm but centers are still soft, 9–11 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough and a fresh parchment-lined baking sheet to make 10 more cookies.
  6. Sprinkle more sea salt on top right out of the oven!


C H R I S S Y  T E I G E N  ( + T W I T T E R ‘ S )  B A N A N A   B R E A D

If you don’t know the story behind this banana bread, google it. It’s hilarious. Or buy her cookbook – I promise you it’s worth every penny. I’ve made 4 recipes so far and all have been phenomenal, this one no exception. A little chocolate chip banana bread for no reason, but to break the monotony of the week.


2 cups mashed very ripe bananas*
4 eggs
2⁄3 cup canola oil, plus a little more to grease the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus a little more for dusting the pan
2 cups sugar
1 (3.5-ounce) box vanilla instant pudding mix
1 teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 (3.5-ounce) bar dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
Salted butter, for serving

*Get six brown bananas. Not four. Not five. Six. You will think you only need five because it looks like enough, but it will not be enough. You will get five, you will mash them, you will be about half an inch short and that makes a difference and you cannot get around it. Trust me.


  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the mashed bananas, eggs, and oil. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, pudding mix, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and combine well BUT GENTLY. I swear this came out differently when I used an aggressive electric mixer. Fold in the coconut and chocolate chunks.
  3. Grease and flour a Bundt pan (that means wipe a little grease all over the inside of the pan, dust it with flour, and tip it upside down to shake out any extra flour). Pour the batter into the pan. (This can also make two 8 × 4-inch loaves, but it’s so much more moist in one Bundt pan!)
  4. Bake until the cake springs back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. (Test it with a toothpick at around 50 minutes.) Let it cool slightly in the pan, then use a butter knife to gently release the cake from the sides of the pan and around the inner circle, then flip it onto a plate.
  5. Let it cool and cut it into slices. Rewarm them and serve them with salty butter!!

    What’s your favorite Fall baking recipe?
    xo xo

You might also enjoy: Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake Bars, Bourbon Apple Cake

Sheet Pan Shrimp + Veggies with Rice {recipe}

Y’all know I love a good, easy recipe that’s at least semi-healthy. This one checks all the boxes. I saved it from Southern Living last year, and finally tested it out a few weeks ago. It was so delicious I made it again the next week.

Let me also add, I ate the leftovers for lunch the next day with some creamy jalapeño dip we had left over from Chuy’s …. Oh my gosh, LIFE CHANGING! I mean that dip is life changing in and of itself, but drizzled on top of this recipe. Wow. Obviously not as healthy as the original, but c’est la vie.

Safe to say, this one is going in the rotation. Hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think!

S H E E T   P A N   S H R I M P  +  V E G G I E S


6 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. minced garlic
3/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
3 ½ tsp. fresh thyme leaves, divided
1 lb. raw medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pt. grape tomatoes
2 medium zucchinis, cut diagonally into ½-inch slices
2 medium yellow squash, cut diagonally into ½-inch slices
1 lemon, cut into quarters
2 pouches microwaveable basmati rice
S&P to taste


  1. Preheat broiler to high.
  2. Stir together olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper and 3 tsp. of thyme in a small bowl.
  3. Place shrimp, tomatoes and zucchini/squash mixture in three separate bowls. Toss each with one-third of oil mixture.
  4. Heat a rimmed baking sheet in the oven 2 minutes. Add zucchini, squash and lemons (flesh side up) to hot baking sheet, and bake until squash begins to soften, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add tomatoes and bake until tomatoes begin to burst, about 5 minutes.
  6. Stir in shrimp; bake until shrimp are cooked through and zucchini/squash is tender and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Squeeze juice from roasted lemons over veggies. Stir to combine.
  8. Cook rice according to package directions. Divide rice, shrimp and veggies evenly. Top with remaining thyme.

xo xo

You might also enjoy: Minestrone Soup (GF, Crockpot), Pork Chops with Black Bean Succotash

Pork Chops with Black Bean Succotash {recipe}

What a relaxing, rainy Sunday it’s been. You know the ones – where you wake up unhindered by an alarm and only the smell of freshly ground coffee can entice you out of bed, where you can leisurely cross things off your to-do list while sneaking in an episode or two of your current binge ((Ozark)), where you can drink a glass of wine at 4pm on the porch listening to the tender rainfall and contemplate the week ahead.

I love these days, and especially when these days are 65 degrees in August.in the South. literally unheard of.

These types of days call for a delicious home-cooked meal and a good bottle of red. Like the recipe below, which I found in a magazine and made early this week.

“Oh my gosh. This is amazing.”

Yessss! And it was easy, and it’s healthy. Winner winner, pork dinner.

P O R K   C H O P S   W/ B L A C K   B E A N   S U C C O T A S H

1 tsp. chile powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
4 pork chops (we used butterfly, but the recipe called for bone-in)
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 small red onion, sliced
2 c. fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
Lime wedges
S&P to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine chile powder, cumin and salt; rub all over pork.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook, turning once, until deeply browned, about 4-5 minutes per side.
3. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and roast until 140 degrees, approx 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, wipe out skillet and return to medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Add bell pepper and onion; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes.
5. Add corn and beans. Cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
6. Stir in chopped cilantro, lime juice and S&P. (I also added a little more chile powder to the succotash!)
7. Serve with pork and lime wedges and top with more cilantro!


xo xo

PS – I just got a cast-iron skillet and am LOVING it. Send me any of your favorite cast-iron recipes!

You might also enjoy: Slow Cooker Cuban Sandwiches and Butter Chicken + Sloppy Joe Stuffed Peppers



Gravy-Stuffed Biscuits {recipe}

I can’t say I’ve ever made biscuits and gravy. I love them and they make me think of my Dad and my Husband, but I’ve never made them.

A few weeks ago, Husband tagged me in a Tasty video on Facebook – Gravy-Stuffed Biscuits. They looked DIVINE and we vowed to make them together one weekend.

Well, we stuck to our vow and we are very impressed with ourselves because they were absolutely amazing. They’re so easy, and put a unique twist on the classic breakfast recipe. Next time we have to take a dish to a brunch or have people stay the night with us, these will be first on our list to make.

I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

G R A V Y  –  S T U F F E D   B I S C U I T S 


  • 14 oz. ground italian sausage
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 8 biscuits – we used fluffy, buttery biscuits!
  • S+P and other seasoning options: italian seasoning, basil, thyme, sage


1. Cook the sausage over medium-high heat.

2. Reduce heat to medium-low. Sprinkle the flour over the sausage and stir until the flour has absorbed all of the sausage fat and is lightly coating the sausage pieces.

3. Add the milk in several increments while whisking.

4. Season with S+P and anything else you may have – we used some italian seasoning.

5. Cook the gravy for 5-10 minutes, frequently stirring until the gravy thickens. Let cool.

6. Fill a well-greased ice-cube tray with the gravy OR if you’re like us and don’t have an ice-cube tray, you can use liners in a cupcake pan.

7. Freeze for 30-40 minutes.

8. Pre-heat the oven to 350.

9. Flatten out the biscuits, and place a cube of gravy into each of the biscuits.

10. Fold the sides of the biscuit dough around the gravy cube pinching the dough together at the top. Roll the biscuit balls to smooth them out.

11. Place the biscuits on a parchment lined ½ cookie sheet making sure the dough seams are on the bottom.

12. Bake for 20-30 minutes.

If you have leftover gravy, re-heat it and add on top! It would also be good to make gravy without sausage just for dipping.

xo xo

You might also enjoy: Slow Cooker Cuban SandwichesTwo New Easy Weeknight Meals: Butter Chicken + Sloppy Joe Stuffed Peppers

Slow-Cooker Cuban Sandwiches {recipe}

I thought I didn’t like Cuban sandwiches. I had no reason not to, and had never tried them, but I just didn’t like them.

Then we watched the movie Chef. If you like food trucks and indie movies, add this to your list immediately because the movie was incredible, and guess what – it made me really want to eat a Cuban sandwich.

We’ve found a place locally that serves amazing Cubans – Pinnacle Bar and Grill in Rogers. But then I saw this recipe for Slow-Cooker Cuban Sandwiches in a magazine and had to try it.

It wasn’t quite the same, but it was so easy and made a ton of food. This would be great to make for a football watch party or a family gathering. You make the pork in the crockpot (which is so tender and delicious!!) then anyone can add whatever toppings they want. Of course I would recommend you stick with the traditional Cuban of ham, swiss, pickles and dijon mustard.

Weekend plans complete: Make slow-cooker cuban sandwiches and watch Chef. 


S L O W – C O O K E R   C U B A N   S A N D W I C H E S 


  • 2lb boneless pork shoulder roast
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 6-in. sub rolls (we used King’s Hawaiian subs, but would also be great on a real sub)
  • 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
  • 3 oz. thinly sliced deli ham
  • 3 oz. thinly sliced Swiss cheese
  • Dill pickle chips


  1. Rub the pork with the garlic and salt and place in slow-cooker. Add the chicken stock. Cover and cook on low until the pork is very tender, 7 to 8 hours.
  2. Pull pork into 1- to 2-inch pieces; toss with the lime juice. Return to slow cooker to keep warm.
  3. Preheat broiler with the oven rack 6 inches from heat. Split the rolls. Spread the mustard on the bottom halves and top evenly with the pork, ham, and swiss cheese.
  4. Broil until the cheese is melted, 1 to 2 minutes. Top with the pickles and sandwich with the tops of the rolls.

See more of my favorite recipes here.

xo xo

Pumpkin Fettuccine {recipe}

Y’all know I love pumpkin. Over the years I’ve shared recipes for Pumpkin Butter Cake, Pumpkin Bread, Pumpkin Cheesecake, and my favorite – Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Brownies.

Well, here’s a new one for ya – Pumpkin Fettuccine. To be honest, I can’t even remember where I found the recipe, but it looked easy, delicious and a unique way to use pumpkin!

I was skeptical to tell Husband what I was making. I thought he would turn up his nose and look at me like I was crazy. But he surprised me and was open to it.

Guys, let me be the first to tell you … it.was.amazing. Seriously. Amazing. It was so so easy and had just a subtle pumpkin flavor.

Even if you aren’t a pumpkin lover like me, but are a fettuccine alfredo lover, then take a risk and add some pumpkin. It is fall, y’all.

P U M P K I N   F E T T U C C I N E 

img_0197{you cook. I’ll drink. or in this case, I’ll do both.}

img_0227{best served with sister schubert’s rolls!}

1 box of fettuccine
2 tablespoons butter
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin)
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Cook the fettuccine according to package directions.
2. Heat the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic; saute until soft and fragrant. Add the pumpkin and heavy whipping cream. Simmer until slightly thickened. Add the cheese and stir to combine.
3. Toss the pasta in the sauce. Top with additional parmesan and season to taste with S&P.

xo xo

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake Bars {recipe}

Let me just start off by saying – these peanut butter cup cheesecake bars will rock your world. Seriously. I made them for a family gathering 3 weeks ago and everyone is still talking about them. Then I made them again last week for another event.

Peanut Butter cups + peanut butter and chocolate chips + cream cheese. I mean, come onnnn!

They are super rich, which is something I don’t say often, so beware, but they are seriously amazing. They’re also super easy to whip up quickly, and are very hard to mess up.

Try ’em out, let me know what you think, and bring me one of your leftovers.

P E A N U T  B U T T E R  C U P  C H E E S E C A K E  B A R S 




{How ooey, gooey delicious does that look?!}

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
5 tbsp butter, melted
5 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
8 standard size Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, each chopped into four pieces
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar to prepare the cake mixture. Add in melted butter and stir to combine. Add in one of the eggs and stir to combine well. Press mixture into an 8×8 sized baking pan and set aside.

3. Place the chopped peanut butter cups into the pan on top of the cake mixture. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 1/2 cups peanut butter chips.

4. In a separate bowl mix together softened cream cheese, egg, vanilla and powdered sugar. Stir until well combined then pour mixture over the top of your cake mixture and chocolates. Spread gently with a spatula to cover. Sprinkle top of cream cheese layer with remaining chocolate and peanut butter chips.

5. Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. The middle of mine always looks like it’s not totally done cooking, but the edges are golden, so I take it out of the oven and let it continue cooking on the stove for a bit, and it’s perfect. Enjoy!

xo xo

See more of my recipes here.

Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup {recipe}

I’m currently dealing with a split personality.

I’m obsessing over Fall – the gorgeous weather, the vibrant leaves (see below, oooh ahhhh), the pumpkin spice lattes everything, the boots, the scarves, I could go on and on.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 5.13.03 PM

But I’m also SO ready for the holiday season – the merry music, the red Starbucks cups, the festive parties. (I might have already decorated our house this weekend, and I have no shame about it.)

However, I’m still holding on to a piece of the current season, and with the dip in temperatures this weekend, I turned to a new recipe that is so perfectly Fall. Enter Italian Sausage Tortellini Soup.

I’ve never been a big soup fan because they just aren’t hearty enough, but this one is quite the opposite and has just as much flavor.

Seriously though, I didn’t even get a good picture, but I just had to share because it is so damn good and so damn easy. Enjoy!


I T A L I A N   S A U S A G E   T O R T E L L I N I   S O U P 



  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 lb Italian Sausage – we used sweet sausage and it was perfect
  • 1/2 cup diced onion (about 1/2 medium sized onion)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic
  • 1-28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1-32. oz. box of vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil (I used basil powder since I couldn’t find fresh in my store)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 package tortellini
  • 1 cup packed fresh spinach
  • Topping: Shredded parmesan – the real, good stuff!


  1. Heat a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Heat vegetable oil and add diced onion. Saute until onions are soft.
  2. Crumble Italian Sausage and garlic with the onion. Cook until sausage is no longer pink.
  3. Stir in crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth, basil, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cover. Let soup simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Add tortellini and spinach and simmer for about ten minutes, until pasta is tender.
  5. Serve with shredded Parmesan.

xo xo

You might also enjoy: One-Pan Balsamic Chicken Recipe, One Pot Chicken Lo Mein

Whole30: Week 2 Recap + One-Pan Balsamic Chicken Recipe

Confession: I ate Cool Ranch Doritos last night. And they were soooo good. And they were soooo not Whole30 compliant.

Okay, I feel so much better with that off my chest now! I’m halfway through the program and that was the first non-compliant thing I’ve had (excluding alcohol, which I’m giving myself a cheat day for 1 day/week) and I felt so guilty!

Honestly, the second week was harder than the first. I started craving things more, like sweets and a really good cappuccino. Oh what I wouldn’t do for a macaroon (or 5) and a skinny cap! And cooking every single night is really hard and time-consuming and draining, and sometimes all I want is just to order a pizza.

However, I can feel a huge difference in my body. I’m on track with my weight goal, I have more energy and just overall feel better.

We are also getting into a good rhythm with the food. My latest favorite thing to eat for breakfast is canadian bacon with some fig on top – yum! Lunches have still been salads. And for dinner we’ve been trying some new recipes for dinner (thank you, Pinterest). I’ve been specifically looking for things other than chicken to eat, which can get so boring so fast. Unfortunately we don’t eat seafood, so I think it makes it a little harder for us, but last week we cooked some delicious steaks and made bun-less bacon burgers and tonight I have some pork chops in the crockpot that already smell amaaazing! (I’ll share that recipe in next week’s recap)

This week I want to share this amazing one-pan chicken dish. It was seriously so easy and so good that I’ll probably make it once a week from now on. It says it yields 3-4 servings, so I was hoping we would have some leftover for lunches, but nope. We ate it all up!


O N E – P A N  B A L S A M I C  C H I C K E N



  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp Italian salad dressing (I recommend using Kraft light Italian it’s the perfect consistency for this and it’s what I used)
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp honey (okay, so this is not Whole30 compliant, but I think it will be okay!)
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste – be careful, this can make your dish really spicy really fast)
  • 1 1/4 lbs chicken breast tenderloins
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 lb fresh asparagus, trimmed of tough ends, chopped into 2-inch pieces (look for thinner stalks. Green beans are another good option)
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved


  • In a mixing bowl whisk together salad dressing, balsamic vinegar, honey and red pepper flakes, set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste, then place chicken evenly in skillet. Cook about 6 – 7 minutes, rotating once halfway through cooking, until chicken has cooked through (meanwhile, chop asparagus and tomatoes). Add half the dressing mixture to skillet and rotate chicken to evenly coat. Transfer chicken to a large plate or a serving platter while leaving sauce in skillet. Add asparagus to skillet, season with salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer veggies to plate or platter with chicken.
  • Add remaining dressing mixture to skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes to chicken and asparagus and drizzle dressing mixture in pan over top (or return chicken and veggies to pan and toss to coat).

xo xo
You might also enjoy: Whole30: Week 1 Recap, One-Pot Chicken Lo Mein Recipe 

One-Pot Chicken Lo Mein {recipe}

I’ve stated before how much I love Buzzfeed. And when I saw an article “21 Fresh Ideas for Chicken Dinners” and all one-pot meals by the way (winning!), I decided it was going to be the week of chicken.

I bought two bags of frozen chicken breasts and ingredients for 3 chicken meals for the upcoming week. The first was for Honey Mustard Rosemary Chicken. I thought it was good not great, husband thought it was delicious. When he’s happy, I’m happy, and it was very easy, so I consider that a win.

The following night we made chicken lo mein, and THAT I loved. I have a few learnings for next time (add cilantro and limes – duh!) because I will definitely be making it again. After chopping the veggies and cutting up the chicken, it was so easy! You literally just throw it all into a big pot and let it simmer together.

O N E – P O T  C H I C K E N  L O  M E I N 


Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 3.21.16 PM

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 3.21.33 PM


½ lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into small chunks
1 – 13.25 to 16 oz. box of linguini or fettuccini pasta, broken in half
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut in thin 3 inch long strips
1 medium red bell pepper, cut in thin 3 inch long strips
1 bunch green onions, white part sliced and green part cut in 3 inch long strips
¼ cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

For garnish: lime wedges, cilantro + more soy sauce


  1. Add the chicken, then the pasta, then the remaining ingredients to a large stockpot and cover. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Stir and reduce the heat to medium-low.
  2. Cook covered for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook until most of the liquid is gone and the chicken is cooked through.
  3. Remove the lid and let the dish rest for 5 minutes before serving.


Tonight we’re making our last chicken meal of the week – Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta. I’m drooling now just thinking about it! Hopefully we’ve saved the best for last, and I’ll share the recipe with you soon!

xo xo

[Get more of my recipes here]

Bourbon Apple Cake {recipe}

Fact about me: I’m obsessed with magazines. I used to subscribe to 10+, but I’ve been simplifying lately and have gotten down to a way more convenient 8.

One magazine I will never stop subscribing to is Real Simple. Funny thing is, if you’d asked me in college if I read Real Simple, I would have looked at you like you were crazy because it’s an “adult magazine.” Who wants to learn more about organizing, cleaning, 5 chicken recipes for the week or issues like what to wear to a winter day wedding? That’s so boring and old. Hand me a People, please.

Well, guess what, priorities change and now it’s my absolute favorite magazine. It’s one of the few magazines I read cover to cover (another is GQ – a terrific magazine) and savor every little article, thought or recipe.

Last summer, I tried a recipe from the cover of the July issue – Linguine with Summer Vegetables + Goat Cheese and it turned out amaaazing. It’s one of my post re-pinned posts from my blog. Today, I tried the Bourbon Apple Cake from the September issue and oh.my.gosh.

All I can say is, thank you adulthood for turning me on to this magazine.

B O U R B O N  A P P L E  C A K E

Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 6.08.29 PM

Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 6.08.47 PM


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1/3 cup instant grits
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 apples, chopped (the original recipe called for 4 apples, but I used 3 and it was perfect)
1. Heat oven to 350° F.
2. Butter an 8-inch springform pan. (Funny thing – I had no clue what a springform pan was when I read this. I googled it and thought, oh how handy. I then went to my cabinet to find a pan for this recipe and guess what I found down there. A springform pan.)
3. Whisk together the flour, grits, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl; set aside.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs until foamy. Add the sugar, bourbon, and vanilla and whisk to combine. Whisk in the flour mixture and butter in alternate additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Fold in the apples. (The batter will be very apple-heavy.) Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.
5. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake is golden brown, 60 to 70 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes.
6. Run an offset spatula or butter knife around the edge of the pan to loosen, then remove the sides of the pan.
7. Serve warm or at room temperature. (Preferably with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream!)
xo xo

Mamma Migas! {recipe}

Some days, I just want to cook. Usually those days are on the weekend and not during the busy work week. After a relaxing weekend {hanging with friends, watching The Good Wife, getting a mani/pedi} I was ready to spend some time in the kitchen. We typically rise early on Sundays to make the coffee for first service at our church, so by the time we get home we’re starving. After perusing The Pioneer Woman breakfast recipes, I landed on migas.

I am not an egg eater, but will eat it if it’s mixed in with a bunch of good stuff, like fresh peppers, tomatoes, onion and cilantro, so I thought this would be a safe bet.

After making the recipe, husband and I decided to add two things for next time – ground turkey and black beans. Then it will be perfectly delicioso!

Screen Shot 2014-08-17 at 12.39.58 PM

Migas via The Pioneer Woman
Servings: 2-3
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes, Cook Time: 15-20 minutes


  • 3 whole Corn Tortillas
  • 1 whole Jalapeno, Finely Diced
  • 3 whole Plum Tomatoes, Roughly Chopped
  • 1/2 Green Pepper, Roughly Chopped
  • 1/2 Red Bell Pepper, Roughly Chopped
  • 1/2 Medium Onion, Chopped
  • 6 Large Eggs
  • 1 cup Cheese, Grated (we used Colby Jack, but she called for Cotilla, which would be delicious)
  • 1/3 cup Cilantro, Chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1/8 cup Half-and-half

Preparation Instructions

In a bowl, whisk together eggs and half & half. Salt and pepper eggs, then set aside.

In a small skillet over medium heat, heat oil and fry each corn tortilla just until crisp. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Chop tortillas and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the olive oil with the butter. Add onions and bell peppers and cook until starting to turn brown/black, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add in diced jalapenos and stir to combine. Add tomatoes to the skillet and stir around, then add tortilla pieces, stirring gently to combine.

Reduce heat to low.

When the heat has decreased, pour egg mixture into skillet. Stir gently to cook with the peppers, folding mixture very gently as it cooks. Add in grated cheese and chopped cilantro, and stir to combine.

Happy brunching! xo xo

You might also enjoy: One-Pan Enchilada Pasta, Tomato, Avocado + Feta Salsa

4th of July Celebrations & Tomato, Avocado + Feta Salsa {Recipe}

It always seems when a holiday rolls around I suddenly get the urge to cook or bake, especially if I’m going to a party to celebrate. I guess that’s the entertainer in me. I can’t just take something boring to a party, especially if there’s a fun theme like red, white and blue!

Yesterday we celebrated the patriotic holiday at a friend’s house where we grilled out, drank beer and watched the kids play, then walked over to the park for fireworks. You can’t get more American than that can you?

Screen Shot 2014-07-05 at 10.29.20 AM{the amazingness in the backyard for the kids – I’m just waiting for an adult night with this thing!}

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{we’re so cute in our red, white and blue}

Screen Shot 2014-07-05 at 10.22.18 AM

I made these adorable, simple cookies for the event. Ingredients: sugar cookies, icing, strawberries and blueberries. Directions: Make sugar cookies (or buy them like I did … Walmart has some great ones in the bakery), ice them (I prefer whipped vanilla), decorate with strawberries and blueberries! Everyone loved them!

I also made the Tomato, Avocado + Feta salsa recipe below that was phenomenal. I will absolutely make this again and again this summer. It was so light and refreshing and full of fresh ingredients. Husband and I walked back from the fireworks ready for a late-night snack, headed straight for the salsa and …. it was all gone. Guess I’ll just have to make some more soon! Enjoy!

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T O M A T O ,  A V O C A D O + F E T A  S A L S A 


3 plump tomatoes
4 avocados
4 oz. garlic + herb crumbled feta
handful of jalapenos
1/2 lemon juice


1. Dice the tomatoes, avocados, cilantro and jalapenos (if you want a little kick.)
2. Mix all together, including the feta.
3. Top with lemon juice to keep the avocado from turning brown and for a little extra flavor.
4. Serve with (my preference) Tostitos scoops.

xo xo

Homemade Hot Chocolate {Snow Day Recipe}

Ever since Thursday I’ve been craving hot chocolate. Unfortunately it was one of the things that escaped my mind as I was hurriedly pushing through Walmart Wednesday night fighting for bread and water. Since I am not a homemade-type person, it didn’t even occur to me I could make it on my own. To me hot chocolate means a paper pouch in a blue box or a decadent dessert drink at a restaurant. (I know, I know, I’m a child of consumerism.)

Well today, the stars aligned. I found cocoa powder in the pantry and looked up a recipe for homemade hot chocolate. Do you guys know how easy it is to make?! I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, but not a three ingredient recipe. I also just bought candy canes today and boy, do I love anything peppermint chocolate. So, still stuck at home and dreaming of a creamy hot beverage? Go all out homemade with this easy recipe!

H O M E M A D E   H O T   C H O C O L A T E


1 c milk
1 tbs cocoa powder
1 tbs white sugar
2 tbs cream or milk
Optional: marshmallows, whipped cream and/or candy canes

Place the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until hot.
Meanwhile, mix cocoa, sugar and cream until it’s a paste like consistency in your mug.
Pour hot milk into the mug and stir until combined and smooth.
Garnish with your favorite toppings!

Enjoy! xo

You might also enjoy: Pumpkin Cheesecake, {Almost} Better Than Sex Cake

Snowpocalypse Meal Plan

If you live in NWA, you know there’s an impending snowpocalypse on it’s way. We’re supposed to get 5-7 inches of snow and several inches of ice within the next 48 hours.

It just started sleeting at our house, making it the perfect time to start the crockpot of chili for tonight. What’s better than chili on a snow day?!

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, boy do I wish I was back in school when snow days come around. It’s not quite the same when we’re working and have laptops and portable phones to keep us busy during a snow day.

{You can read more of my thoughts and memories about snow days here: Grownup Snow Days and What I’ve Learned in College, Snow Days Edition}

Let’s talk food. When it comes to snow days, you want to have enough food and drink in case you get snowed in. It needs to be delicious comfort food, and it does not necessarily need to be healthy. Below is our meal plan for the next few days.


Italian Meatball Sliders (kings rolls + frozen meatballs + provolone + marinara = amazing)
Leftover Green Bean Casserole (officially the end of our leftovers, don’t judge me)


Chili! You can get Mille’s Chili recipe here.
Salad (simple – lettuce, baby tomatoes and balsamic)


(we love the tyson pre-cooked and cut chicken and steak for tacos,
add sliced peppers to the pan and it’s just like a restaurant)


Pepperoni Rolls (recipe below, one of our favorite meals ever, so delicious!)
Salad or veggies, for good measure

Fingers crossed we can leave our house Saturday, otherwise it will be peanut butter sandwiches.
Others fingers crossed the power doesn’t go out, otherwise it will also be peanut butter sandwiches.

Stay safe and warm out there, and full! xo xo

* * * * *

Pepperoni Rolls {recipe}


2 cans biscuits (we prefer the small biscuits, but any would do)
block of colby jack cheese
italian seasoning
grated parmesan
Optional: jalapenos

a080d3aeb217e3a1f5a7ae1e87081020-1{photo cred: The Gunny Sack}

Set oven to 350 degrees.
Flatten the biscuits on a baking pan.
Inside each biscuit wrap 2 pepperonis, piece of cheese and jalapenos if you wish.
Fold up.
Sprinkle italian seasoning and parmesan cheese on top.
Bake as directed on the can of biscuits.
Serve with marinara dipping sauce.

True Grit{s}

It’s a rare lazy Saturday in our household. One to cherish before Thanksgiving. The house is clean, reminding me of the relaxation that comes along with tidiness. The coffee is brewing, eliciting smells of vanilla nut and awareness of autumn comfort. The morning rain stirs suddenly and briskly, adding depth to the muted gray skies.

Faintly, I hear the sounds of husband and his ritualistic Saturday morning video games in the other room, but I sit peacefully alone thankful for the open day ahead.

Rustling through the kitchen to find something to subside the hunger pains, I find a leftover batch of 5-minute grits from the parents’ visit a few weekends ago. As we always say, if you don’t like grits, then you just haven’t had them cooked right.

So, I decided to cook ’em right.

To make grits less, well, gritty and more delicious, you just need five ingredients: salt, garlic, butter, cheese and a southern palate.


I don’t have a recipe to share, because I don’t quite know how much of everything goes in the recipe. This is where the southern palate comes in. But if you don’t have a southern palate and want to give it a try, I’ll give you this tip: Go sparingly on the garlic and heavily on the butter. (Did I grow up watching Paula Deen???)

Something my grandmother does with her grits, that I did not do this morning, was put the cheese on top, put it in a casserole dish and bake it in the oven for about 20 minutes. #DoesntGetBetterThanThat


From my southern family to yours, I hope your Saturday is just as restful and your grits are just as tasteful.
xo xo

Pumpkin Cheesecake {recipe}

Catharsis:  the act or process of releasing a strong emotion or tension, especially by expressing it in an art form

My art form this week has been baking. I enjoy baking when I have the time and a specific reason, and I had THREE specific reasons this week. Yes, my kitchen has been a disaster all week, but I’m very happy with how all of my desserts turned out.


{Red velvet cupcakes for our Walking Dead premiere party}



{Pumpkin + cream cheese cupcakes for our community group fall festival. I won’t tell you what happened to them in the car on the way over there … let’s just say I was glad I took a picture beforehand.}


{Pumpkin Cheesecake for a dinner party … and a leftover piece for breakfast}

This recipe is so quick and easy and tastes delicious. In all honesty, it tastes more like pumpkin pie than cheesecake, but it does add a little creamier texture than traditional pumpkin pie. I’ll definitely be making this again for Thanksgiving.

P U M P K I N  C H E E S E C A K E

Puree 1 c pumpkin, 8 oz. cream cheese, 1/2 c sugar, 3 eggs, 1/4 c each sour cream and maple syrup, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and a pinch of salt into a food processor or blender.
Pour into 9-inch graham cracker crust.
Bake at 350 until set, 45 minutes.
Serve with whipped topping.

Enjoy! xo

You might also enjoy: Pumpkin Lovin’, PB&J Bars, {Almost} Better Than Sex Cake

{Labor Day Weekend} Huevos Rancheros



Corn tortillas
Black beans

Additional toppings, optional:
Shredded cheese
Sour Cream

1. Cook the bacon. Chop into small pieces.
2. While cooking bacon, warm the beans.
2. Brown the tortillas in the skillet, just a few seconds per side.
3. Cook eggs sunny side up.
4. Put beans as first layer on two tortillas, top with egg, then pile up the toppings!

And since it’s a long weekend, naptime after brunch is always a necessity. xo


PB&J Bars {recipe}

I’ve always been a fan of peanut butter. I could eat it straight out of the jar, with apple slices, in a pie, on a gooey-gobbler, but I’m pretty sure this recipe takes the cake.

If you’re a pb fan, make this recipe and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

PB&J Bars 


1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2c raspberry jam
1/2c fresh raspberries, mashed
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4c sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1c crunchy peanut butter

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish. Line with parchment paper.

Combine the jam and raspberries in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder.

Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the peanut butter and beat until combined.

Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing on low until just combined. Press half the dough into the prepared dish. Top with the raspberry mixture. Add the other half of the dough on top.

Bake until the top is golden brown, 35-40 minutes.

Cool in the dish for 30 minutes, then cut into squares.


Tip: Enjoy with vanilla ice cream for dessert or eat for breakfast – it has fruit and pb so it’s totally okay!

You might also enjoy: {Almost} Better Than Sex Cake, Oreo Brownie Delight

Good ol’ spaghetti {recipe}

Last night I had a really weird craving – spaghetti with a really good meat sauce. I’m not a big spaghetti eater. I’d typically rather have a light pasta with veggies and pesto. But for some reason last night was the exception. I also happened to be in a cooking mood, again – rare, so I found a recipe and whipped it up.

photo 23


1lb ground turkey
3 -4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 (15 ounce) cans tomato sauce
3 teaspoons fresh basil
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon fresh coarse ground black pepper
1/4 cup red wine (a good Cabernet!)
1 lb thin spaghetti
parmesan cheese


In large, heavy stockpot, brown ground turkey.
Add garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce and water.
Add basil, brown sugar, salt, crushed red pepper, and black pepper.
Stir well and barely bring to a boil.
Stir in red wine.
Simmer on low, stirring frequently for at least an hour. A longer simmer makes for a better sauce, just be careful not to let it burn!
Cook spaghetti according to package directions.
Spoon sauce over drained spaghetti noodles and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Serve with texas toast and a glass of that Cab!


You might also enjoy: Linguine with Summer Vegetables + Goat Cheese

{Almost} Better Than Sex Cake

When I was younger, a family friend of ours use to make the best cake ever. I would get so excited for birthdays, if only for this cake. My parents told us kids it was called Betty Cake, so I came to assume it was her personal recipe and no one else had ever tasted this deliciousness.

Fast forward a few years later when I’m at a bridal shower and Betty Cake is there. Wow, her cake has gotten pretty famous! I thought. Until people started calling it something else – Better Than Sex Cake. So I Googled it and of course found this popular recipe.

Now, I’m not sure if my parents knew the real name of the cake or not. Maybe they were just trying to delay the inevitable birds and bees discussion in all possible ways, even if that meant changing the name of a cake.

At this point in my life, I really don’t care what the name of the cake is. I would probably just call it OMNOMNOM if I could, but I guess {Almost} Better Than Sex Cake will do.

If you’ve never tasted this cake, don’t wait for a birthday. Make it today, and remember – eat dessert first.

Better Than Sex Cake

photo 5


1 box devil’s food cake mix
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12-ounce) jar caramel ice cream topping
8 ounces Cool Whip
½-1 cup Heath toffee bits


1. Bake the cake according to the directions on the box.

2. Remove the cake from the oven and immediately poke holes all over the top using a fork.

3. In a medium bowl, stir together the sweetened condensed milk and caramel sauce, then slowly drizzle the mixture all over the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely at room temperature.

4. Spread the Cool Whip over the top of the cake, top with the Heath toffee bits and refrigerate again for 1 hour. Serve cold and refrigerate any leftovers.

You might also enjoy: Oreo Brownie Delight, Chewy Chocolate Coconut Bars

Linguine with Summer Vegetables + Goat Cheese {recipe}

I think I’ve said once before how much I enjoy Sunday evening dinner. I rarely cook and when I do it’s certainly not a production. Except Sunday evenings. I try very hard to make a big, wonderful dinner on Sundays so that our bellies and hearts are full for the upcoming week. (Note: glass of wine while cooking is a necessity.)

This week I tried a recipe from Real Simple that looked amazing on the cover of this month’s issue. It tasted just as good as it looked with fresh veggies and my new favorite cheese. (How have I gone this long without goat cheese?!?!)

I didn’t find the time to make homemade ice cream this weekend like I’d hoped so instead we’re settling for fresh peaches over vanilla ice cream for dessert. Yum!

I hope your bellies and hearts are just as full as ours for the week. xo

Linguine with Summer Vegetables and Goat Cheese

photo 3

Total time: 20 minutes

Serves 4

1/4 pound linguine
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups fresh corn (from 2 ears)
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 small zucchini, cut into thin ribbons with a vegetable peeler (didn’t have a vegetable peeler, so just thinly sliced)
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves (unfortunately Walmart was out of oregano when I went, so none for us)
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Cook the pasta according to the package. Reserve 3/4 cup of the cooking water; drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

Meanwhile, heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, 8-10 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the corn, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper and cook, tossing occasionally, until the corn is tender, 2 to 4 minutes.

Add the corn, tomatoes, zucchini and 1/2 cup of the cooking water to the pasta. Cook over medium heat, gently tossing, until the liquid slightly thickened and coats the pasta, 2 to 3 minutes (adding more cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce.)

Serve sprinkled with the oregano, walnuts and goat cheese.

You might also enjoy: Houlihan’s Inspired Bacon Mac and Cheese, French Dip Crescents, Southwestern Stuffed Peppers

Houlihan’s Inspired Bacon Mac and Cheese {recipe}

Last weekend husband and I had a fun day out – shopping at the Promenade, matinee to see Django Unchained, then drinks and appetizers sitting at the bar at Houlihan’s. We love Houlihan’s and love all the appetizers we’ve ever gotten (goat cheese & artichoke poppers, chipotle chicken nachos, thai chicken wings, chicken and avocado eggrolls) but then, we got the mac ‘n cheese. Maybe we were just reaaaally hungry, or maybe it was as good as we thought it was, but we vowed we were going to re-create it.

So here’s our version, and boy did we come pretty damn close. Enjoy.


Houlihan’s Inspired Bacon Mac and Cheese

  • 2 cups cellentani macaroni
  • 4 strips of bacon, cut in pieces
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c. cheddar cheese (fresh grated, pre-shreaded has additives that prevents it from melting properly)
  • 1/2 c. asiago cheese
  • 2 tbs butter
  • a few dashes of smoked paprika
  • S&P to taste

* * *

In a large pot of boiling water, add the noodles and cook until just before done. Don’t over-cook the noodles or this will end up mushy.

Drain the pasta, return the pot to the stove and cook the bacon until crispy, remove from pot and allow to cool.

Drain off bacon grease and return drained noodles to the pot.

In a separate bowl, add the egg and sour cream, beat until well combined.

Add the butter and the egg mixture to the noodles and return to medium heat. Stir until the butter has melted.

About 1/4 a cup at a time, add the cheese. Stir until cheese has melted before adding more.

Add the spices and chopped bacon, stir.

Makes 4 portions.

French Dip Crescents {recipe}

Quick, easy and downright delicious.

Inspired via Pinterest

2 packages of crescent rolls
1/3 lb provolone cheese
1 lb roast beef

Roll crescent rolls with desired amounts of cheese and roast beef.

Cook in 375 degree oven for approx. 12 minutes.

Serve with Au Jus.

* * *

Au Jus recipe via Food.com

3 cups water
4 teaspoons beef bouillon (or 4 cubes)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper

Place the water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low; whisk in beef bouillon.

Whisk in soy sauce, garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste.