dinner, lunch, party food, Salad bowls, snacks, Uncategorized

Salt & Vinegar Potatoes

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GraphicSpoonCMYK-01I’ve always wanted to love the taste of salt and vinegar potato chips. I try and try to eat them, but there’s just way too much acidity for me to eat more than one. I decided if I tried to combine those flavors myself I’d be able to control the balance, and it was a success! I parboiled some halved fingerling potatoes in a mixture of water, vinegar and salt, and then I pan fried them in an iron skillet, finished with more salt. It’s the perfect side dish for grilled meat or sandwiches, or in my case today, the star of a hearty “nicoise-esque” salad. There’s still the tang of vinegar but it compliments the creaminess of the potatoes rather than overpowers them.

The recipe couldn’t be simpler. Serve these potatoes and everyone will be asking what your secret is! Click the link under the photos to Steal My Recipe.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW AND PRINT THIS RECIPE.

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dinner, party food, Uncategorized

Vegan Sweet Potato Tacos

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GraphicSpoonCMYK-01I have several vegetarian friends, and when they come over for dinner along with meat eating friends, I like to make something thoughtful for everyone. Pizza and tacos are my favorite go-to’s for that situation. There are so many ways you can get creative with tacos, and not only are these vegetarian, they’re also vegan! You can dress them up with sour cream or cheese too, but I personally like them vegan. Last weekend I made a taco bar with ingredients for these tacos, as well as some slow roasted pork shoulder and cilantro rice. It was a hit! I know the meal is a success when the meat eaters go for the vegetarian option when getting seconds.

I don’t remember when I decided to add sweet potato to a pot of chili, but when I did, I was instantly hooked to the flavors of sweet potato paired with tex-mex flavors. For these tacos I dusted some thick potato wedges with some chili powder and other spices and roasted them until browned. They go so well with the textures of the black bean and mango salsa. The giant dollop of guacamole just takes it over the top. No one will miss any meat here!

Click the link under the photos to Steal My Recipe.

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CLICK HERE TO VIEW AND PRINT THE RECIPE

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Cranberry Mimosa

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GraphicSpoonCMYK-01One of my favorite parts of being an adult is being able to choose my own family traditions! It’s a right of passage when you can say “We are having Christmas at our house, just us, this year.” As much as I adore both our families (I’m so lucky that I actually really do!), there’s something so liberating and wonderful about spending time with your own little family and spending it precisely how you want. How do I really want to spend Christmas morning? Well, it includes several things, but breakfast must include cinnamon rolls and mimosas. This year we’re celebrating with my husband’s family in DFW, but I’m bringing my cranberry mimosas with me! I don’t think I’ll be met with much opposition. The secrets are using fresh orange juice and my cranberry simple syrup.

If you ask me, a mimosa is really just champagne (or sparkling wine) with just a touch of orange and maybe something else. In this case, that something else is cranberry! Simmering fresh cranberries with apple cider, water and sugar and then straining the juice is a special touch to any mimosa. Try it this Christmas! Click under the photos to Steal My Recipe.

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Pancakes

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GraphicSpoonCMYK-01In my house, during the school year, we have Pancake Sundays. It’s a celebrated ritual and my kids make sure we don’t miss a week! During the gloriousness of summer break though, we get to be wild and make pancakes whenever we want! Today was one of those days. Summer break is such a fun hustle and bustle for us. We try to cram in as many  adventures we can before school starts back. I panic when I count how many weekends are left! We’ve been going and doing for the last week, so this morning I decided to slow down and make some pancakes with a maple berry syrup. I had to forcibly remove the spoon from my daughter’s hand as I discovered her trying to polish off the bowl of berry syrup after breakfast, smiling at me sheepishly with her purple stained mouth. Lesson learned this morning: it’s hard to be mad at a little girl covered in purple syrup.

This is one of those recipes that I feel is almost a part of who I am; they’re an integral part of my kids’ childhood and I like to imagine they’ll make them for their own kids someday, while thinking about me. They’re indulgent and thick, and they melt in your mouth. I overheard someone not long ago mention how they didn’t know why pancakes are called pan”cakes” because they’re not really like cakes at all. I felt sad for that person, because he’d obviously not had pancakes like my pancakes. I’m pretty sure if you stacked them high enough and used buttercream they’d pass for a pretty amazing tiny wedding cake (idea stashed away for future reference)! I’ve made them so many times I can whip them up and have them on the table in under 7 minutes. If you’re used to using a box mix, please give these a chance instead! I’m pretty sure you’ll be convinced to start your own Pancake Sunday tradition (or Pancake Tuesday).

CLICK HERE TO STEAL MY RECIPE!

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Frozen Chocolate Banana Truffles

_MG_0093-1GraphicSpoonCMYK-01It’s feeling a lot like summer outside today! It was a gray and rainy May, but so far June’s looking good! I love frozen treats, and I love them even more when they’re homemade. I admit I’m a sucker for a good Snickers Ice Cream bar, but when you make them at home you control how much junk you put in them, and you can at least skim off a FEW calories by using frozen fat free greek yogurt instead of ice cream and ensure there will be no high fructose corn syrup in your kids’ (and your) frozen splurge.

Caramelizing bananas in a cast iron pan is one of my favorite ways to really elevate the fruit in breakfasts and desserts. Oatmeal tastes like dessert when topped with a few of these dreamy slices!  For these frozen truffles I thought I’d use caramelized bananas in place of raw, to give it a more creamy and nutty flavor. Click the link below the photos to view and print the full recipe.

This couldn’t be simpler! First, Slice a banana into 9 slices. Sprinkle lightly on both sides with cinnamon. Coat a cast iron pan with coconut oil or butter and heat over medium heat. Place the banana slices in the hot pan, then drizzle the slices with 1 tablespoon of real maple syrup. Flip slices over once until caramelized on either side.
_MG_0028-1 Place each in a greased mini muffin tin and let cool a few minutes._MG_0044-1Open a carton of vanilla greek yogurt (this one was 5.3 ounces), and squeeze one packet of Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Spread in and stir it around (the packet is a little over an ounce- if you have Nutella you can use 2 Tablespoons of that instead).
_MG_0052-1Carefully spoon the yogurt mixture over the banana slices and, using the other end of the spoon, spread down around the banana to surround them as much as possible.
_MG_0060-1 Place in freezer about 4 hours or until firm. Use a thin knife to coax them out (I gave them a few minutes out of the freezer before prying them out, and had no trouble)._MG_0063-1 At this point, I melted a 12 ounce bag of Ghirardelli dark chocolate “melting mounds” over a double boiler. Working quickly, I dunked the frozen cups in the chocolate, then put them on wax paper and straight back into the freezer for just a few minutes (you won’t use all the chocolate). With some of them I covered them completely, and with others I dunked the bottoms and drizzled the tops. I like them both ways! Either way, they’re addictive, and while certainly not “healthy,” they’re at least better than a Snickers Ice Cream bar, especially when you’re headed to the pool after treating yourself to one of these! I hope you try them soon!_MG_0074-1 _MG_0116-1CLICK HERE TO STEAL MY RECIPE!

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Sweet Blueberry Honeysuckle Jam

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GraphicSpoonCMYK-01Spring in Arkansas is intoxicating! The smell of life blooming all around you, while colors flash brightly everywhere you turn… it’s a sight to see. If you grew up in the south, you know what honeysuckle is, and if you were a kid before iPads and gaming and helicopter parenting brought everyone inside, you know what to DO with honeysuckle. You gently pinched the bottom of the blossom, being careful not to break the stigma, and you slowly pulled the stigma out from the bottom until you saw that sweet little bubble of nectar collect, and then you got your sweet reward. I don’t recall when summers went from lasting forever to only 6 weeks, but a few of my strongest childhood memories with my four siblings include lazily picking and sucking on honeysuckle blooms for what seemed like hours, then stealing armfuls of our neighbors’ blackberries off of their bushes, jumping in their pool to wash them off and eating them until our fingers were stained purple.  With the sun in our face, chlorine in our eyes, and blackberries in our bellies, we hadn’t a care in the world. Those were the good ol’ days! These days I have the perspective that all Parents have: time speeds to warp speed, and will never slow down again. I do have hope though- I get to relive those endless summers in a way by introducing my kids to those same simple pleasures that I had, and it fills me with respect for the South and the gift of experiencing four clear seasons.

I think honeysuckle is one of my very favorites smells. I always imagined how wonderful it would be to bottle all of that sweet nectar. Last year, just after the blooms were gone, I came across Honey & Jam’s blog post about honeysuckle syrup, and I couldn’t get that off of my mind! The first wafts of the blossoms’ scent reached my nose this year, and I knew what had to be done. This syrup will be an absolute staple of spring for my family from here on out. I modified it slightly by adding a touch of honey to accentuate that floral sweetness, and it does wonders for it.

With the syrup, you can sweeten lemonade, iced teas, use it in cocktails, drizzle it straight over pancakes… or use it to sweeten jams, like I did today. This may be my favorite use of the syrup so far, and believe me, I’ve been playing around with it quite a bit.

Blueberry picking has been on our warm weather itinerary since Violet was a baby. I enjoy picking berries more than most things in the world. It’s cliche, but they really are nature’s candy! You have no idea what they’re supposed to taste like until you sneak one off the bush/vine/tree and try it that way. There’s just no better taste in the world! The fresh blueberry tartness in this jam with the floral sweetness of the honeysuckle makes your eyes involuntarily close while eating. It’s that good. This “jam” isn’t necessarily the kind of jam you’d use for your daily PB&J (though you can if you want- I’m not the boss). This is a special dessert jam that is positively perfect to use as a filling for sweet rolls or crepes, or as a topping for scones, biscuits, bread pudding or Belgian waffles. I’ve even thought about making a sweet grilled cheese sandwich with brie and this jam. Really, you can’t go wrong. It’s amazing.

The link to view and print the recipe for the honeysuckle syrup and the blueberry honeysuckle jam is under the photos. The recipe for the sweet rolls in the photos is from The Pioneer Woman (I halved her recipe, omitted her filling and used the blueberry jam and a lemon glaze instead of the cinnamon roll appropriate glaze she used).

Hurry up and forage those sweet blooms before they’re gone!

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PB & Oat Finn-Cakes (Dog-friendly Cupcakes)

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GraphicSpoonCMYK-01A year ago today, as I was driving home from dropping my daughter off at school, I noticed a tiny little puffball weaving in and out of morning rush hour traffic on a busy road. I felt so bad for the little guy so as soon as he trotted off onto a side road I pulled in and thought to myself “I’m going to make someone’s day by rescuing this little sweetie and getting him back to his family! He’ll be home before lunchtime!” Little did I know I was scooping up the next member of our family. Throughout the next several weeks of posting signs, calling vets, posting on every animal-related Facebook page I could think of, placing an ad in the paper, and only one visit from a lady realizing that this wasn’t the dog that was stolen from her weeks before, we were falling in love with the 4 pound cotton ball. Without having to say a word, my husband finally agreed to what the kids’ and my eyes were begging for. “So what are you going to name him?” was all it took to bring tears to my eyes and grateful shrieks from the kids. Violet was working her way through a few different name options… “Sparkle Apple Rainbow!” “Elsa!” “Wait, I’ve got it. Elsa Dolphin!” When she said that I was picturing my husband introducing our male Pomeranian as Elsa Dolphin, and I couldn’t help but giggle. “What about a compromise, since you know, he’s a boy and all… how about instead of Dolphin, we call him “‘Finn?'” And with that, Finn was officially adopted as our third baby, who’ll never be too big for me to hold and snuggle (but barks at a pitch that shakes every window in the house). I got my husband a sweet chocolate lab puppy for his birthday when we were dating, and we had her for almost 10 years. She was our first kid (I would get so mad when people would tell me I’d love my kids more than her). She passed away the night after coming home from the hospital with Archer. We never felt ready again to get another dog after her, so it was a happy accident that he found us instead! It was surprisingly emotional to hear the pitter patter of paws in the house again. It felt good.

When I took him to check for a chip the day I found him, the vet guessed his age to be between 12 and 18 months, and the groomer assumed the same, so we’ve decided to celebrate his adoption day and his birthday today. So Happy Birthday Finn! You’re two(ish)!

When researching recipes for pup-friendly cupcakes to celebrate, I couldn’t find one that made less than 2 dozen cupcakes. I don’t need to serve them to several humans- I just needed one- so I developed this recipe to make just 3 cupcakes (since I hate trying to use “half of an egg” in a recipe). If you don’t need all 3 you can freeze the other two to get out as you need them. In my case, the kids demanded the remaining two, and with a drizzle of honey they were plenty sweet enough for them to gobble up for breakfast. They’re not soft and sweet and decadent like you’d want to serve at a human’s birthday party, but the ingredients are simple, safe, and dogs will love them!

Happy 1 year at home Finn! We love you! (But seriously, tone down the barking).

Click the link under the photos to view and print the recipe!

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