Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Finding Recipes + Creating Your Own Recipes

Where do you find your favorite recipes? I get mine from a variety of places: blogs, magazines, and some from Pinterest.

Cinnamon-Sugar Apple Skillet Cake from Joy the Baker

My absolute favorite food blogs are Annie's EatsJoy the Baker, and The Pioneer Woman. I've made enough of these ladies' recipes to know they will turn out, and I just really like their food. There are plenty of other delicious food blogs out there as well, but these are my go-to.

Herbed Stuffed Zucchini from Food Network

I also get a fair share of the recipes I try from magazines. My favorites are Bon Appétit and Food Network. I also have found a number of good recipes in Southern Living and Taste of Home. My interest in a month's recipes can be hit-or-miss depending on the particular issue, but the recipes in these magazines have turned out well and line up with my tastes.

I also occasionally find recipes on Pinterest that I like. There are SO many recipes on Pinterest sometimes it's overwhelming to weed through and find the good ones, so I've created a board of all of the recipes I tried and liked to help keep track of the winners. I've discovered some good food blogs through the recipes I've tried and liked, as well.

One place I do NOT get recipes is my own brain... I am not creative enough to come up with my own recipes! I've found I don't have the patience or time to try developing my own recipes, and also there are just so many talented people out there coming up with delicious recipes - why should I try? However, if you are one of those talented people who creates delicious recipes, you might want to think about entering it into 47th Bake-Off Contest with Pillsbury. There are two categories you can enter: Amazing Doable Dinners & Weekend Breakfast Wows. If you have a great recipe, submit it! You could win $1 million :)

Where do you like to find good recipes? Do you enjoy creating your own recipes?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Around Here, Lately

It's been a good while since I've said hello here in this space. This is what's been going on around here, lately:

\\ The last weekend in March my sisters, mom, and I had a girls' weekend! It had been 8 years since our last one in New York City (pre-kids for my sisters, pre-Caleb for me), so we were long overdue. We were supposed to meet up in Asheville, but my mom had to have surgery so we changed our plans and met up at her house instead. We spent the weekend eating and talking. We shopped a tiny bit, but we literally sat and talked for three days, taking breaks only to go out to eat. It. was. wonderful. Those ladies encourage me, challenge me, and make me laugh more than most! I'm already hoping we can plan another one sometime soon.

\\ I had a couple of busy/stressful weeks of work in there. I love my job, really love it, but I had some tough days that left me drained and grumpy. On a more positive note, I finished up a bunch of big projects I had been working on for a few months! SUCH a good feeling to cross those off my to-do list. I'm really thankful for my job and how busy it keeps me, how it stretches me and how it pushes me to learn new things. I really like going to work each day, and I know that is a huge blessing.

\\ I'm so thankful it's April! March is my least favorite month of the year (the weather is bleh, you're longing for spring so bad it hurts, and March is just a boring name for a month), so I was mighty glad to flip over to April! We've gotten our fair share of April showers, but the other days have been sunny, blue skies, and even hot! No more jackets, lots of iced coffee, and eating dinners outside! I've gotten sunburned several times already, but I'm not complaining, not one bit! Sun-kissed cheeks and vitamin D for days please!

\\ I've been working out to Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30 in the evenings after work. It totally kicks my butt, but I can feel the results and I'm pleased. Saying that I'm working out to Jillian Michaels DVDs sounds kind of intense, but don't worry... I usually grab a piece of Easter candy from the candy jar right before I start the DVD. A girl can only change so much, right?!

\\ We've still been working on decorating our house... the never-ending project. Caleb has done a ton of painting for me, we picked out furniture, Caleb's building furniture, and I'm trying to decorate and organize. Hopefully we will have some rooms completely done in the next little bit!

I think that's about it for what's been happening lately. Now I plan to get back to regular posting this week. I hope your week is off to a great start!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Saturday Mornings

I've been a little MIA lately, and I apologize! I'm hoping to get back into regular posting next week with a hello + catch up post to start, but first: Saturday mornings. Aren't they the best?! Work has been a little more stressful the last couple of weeks, so I've been savoring my weekends and soaking them up. Today I poured myself a bowl of cereal and couldn't help but smile at the vintage cover of the cereal box. Honey Nut Cheerios (and Cocoa Puffs!) were my go-to cereals as a kid. My favorite part was drinking the milk when the cereal was gone. Something about the way the cereal left that honey taste in the milk made it so. good. For a limited time you can find the below Retro cereal boxes at Target to give you your own moment of breakfast nostalgia :)

Disclosure: The information and free cereal have been provided to me by General Mills through Platefull Co-Op.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Rimmel London Moisture Renew Lipstick

Do you wear lipstick? I have always been more of a lip balm + lip gloss girl, so receiving this Rimmel London Moisture Renew lipstick to try out was a bit of a stretch for me. I don't like wearing lipstick because I hate that caked-on, sticky feeling, and I always feel like a bit of a clown with lipstick on. I tried this lipstick and it solved one of my two problems: there was no caked-on, sticky feeling whatsoever! This lipstick is incredibly moisturizing. Apparently they updated their formula to make this new version even more moisturizing than before, and I really loved that aspect of it. I still felt like a clown (see below), but that was more of a function of 1) not being used to wearing lipstick and 2) the color did not suit my skin coloring. This shade is not going to be making a regular appearance on my face, but I am interested in checking out the other 17 shades they have available to find something a little more tame :) 

Disclosure: I received the Rimmel London Moisture Renew lipstick in "As You Want Victoria" complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. All opinions are 100% my own.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Greek Yogurt Coffee Cake

I've never been a huge fan of Greek yogurt, but the new Yoplait Greek blended yogurts are something I can get behind! I used their Greek vanilla blended yogurt in this coffee cake, and it was so delicious! The coffee cake was super moist, and I loved the extra vanilla-y flavor. The other blended flavors would be delicious in smoothies, especially the pineapple or coconut! Happy Monday :)

Greek Yogurt Coffee Cake
1 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened 
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

for the topping:
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
pinch of salt

In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar. Add in the egg and vanilla extract, beating until combined. Add in the flour mixture. Add the greek yogurt and mix until just combined.

To make the topping, stir together all the ingredients until well combined.

In a lightly buttered loaf pan, pour in the batter. Spoon the topping mixture over the top of the batter. Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. You'll notice that a lot of the topping will end up at the bottom of the coffee cake. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

source: recipe from a beautiful mess, originally from here

Disclosure: The information and prize pack have been provided to me by General Mills through Platefull Co-Op.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Rosemary Peach Lemonade

I'm so happy that spring is finally here! Yesterday was the perfect first day of spring, too. There was no need for a jacket, I drove home from work with the windows down, Caleb and I went for a nice long walk before dinner, we ate dinner outside, and I sipped on this delicious lemonade. I ordered this lemonade at Tupelo Honey Cafe about six weeks ago, and I'd be lying if I said I haven't been thinking about it since then. I found the recipe and made a pitcher earlier this week. It is so delicious and full of the promise of sweet summertime. Happy spring and happy weekend!

Rosemary Peach Lemonade
1 1/2 cups peach nectar
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups rosemary simple syrup (recipe below)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a 2-quart pitcher, combine the peach nectar, water, rosemary simple syrup, and lemon juice. Stir well. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled before serving.

Rosemary Simple Syrup
1 1/3 cups water
1 cup
4 (5-inch) fresh rosemary stalks

Combine the water, sugar and rosemary in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Pour the syrup through a wire mesh sieve into a container to remove the rosemary stalks and store in an airtight containter in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

source: recipe from tupelo honey cafe

Monday, March 17, 2014

Creamy Caramel Fruit Dip

Some of my favorite snacks are those that include dipping: veggies + dip, chips + salsa, cookie dough dip + graham crackers, etc. I also love a fruit dip. For summertime I love making this piña colada dip, but my other favorite is this creamy caramel fruit dip. I would say this as more of a dessert, but it's delicious and quite addicting. Happy Monday! :)

Creamy Caramel Fruit Dip
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
1 (4 oz) package vanilla instant pudding mix
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp lemon juice

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and brown sugar with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the sour cream, milk, pudding mix, vanilla, and lemon juice, beating well after each addition. Chill, covered, until ready to serve. Serve with assorted fresh fruits. Makes approximately 4 cups.

source: recipe from family friend Giesel N.