Thursday, July 2, 2015

What's Baking Round-Up: Baking with Fresh Fruit!

Can you believe tomorrow is already going to be the 4th of July?? I'm actually super excited about it this year, because we are actually going to a BBQ at bestie's house. Usually we don't do much during the day. And as I mentioned earlier in the week, going to a BBQ usually means bringing a dish. And if you are a dessert person, that usually means something light and refreshing and/or fruity, right?? Well, if you are still trying to figure out what you want to make, this round-up of goodies made with fresh fruit is exactly where you need to look!! A whole slew of delicious options!!

Eva from Eva Bakes made these delicious Strawberry Hand, yes please!!

Liz from Books and Cooks made Blueberry Crumb Bars that are just calling my name...

Blueberry Shortbread Bars

Kate from Kate's Recipe Box made a Baked Blueberry French Toast that would be the perfect way to start off your 4th of July - or any - morning!!


Ashley from Cheese Curd in Paradise shared this divine Blueberry, Basil,and Goat Cheese Galette with her girlfriends, and I wish I'd been in on that Girl's Night!

Heather from Hezzi D's books and Cooks made these refreshing Lemon Rhubarb cookies using one of my most favorite ingredients - lemon, of course! I've never dealt with rhubarb, but maybe it's time I tried it!

Delicious sweet and tart Lemon Rhubarb Cookies

Ali from Sparks from the Kitchen shared with us another lemony delicious dessert with her Blueberry Lemon  Curd Cake. I'm gonna need you to send me some of that, girl!


Nichole from Cookaholic Wife used orange zest and juice to make these refreshing Orange Cream Cupcakes - I love using citrus zest!

Yudith from Blissfully Delicious made these amazing Glazed Lemon Blueberry Donut Muffins, which reminds me that I need to make them again as well!! They are truly amazing, friends. 

blueberry muffins dough

Jenni from Dough See Dough made a Gluten Free and Vegan dessert, Rhubarb Ginger Crisp. I really need to try rhubarb!!

Rhubarb Ginger Crisp {GF & Vegan} |

Nicole from Cookies on Friday made these Berry Bakewell Squares and you can use whatever berries you have on hand...score!!

Joanna from Kosher Kitchen made these delightful Angel Food Cupcakes with berries IN them! Great idea!!

Carrie, from Carrie's Sweet Life, made these Strawberry White Chocolate Muffins. Yum!


And finally, I made this Lemon Icebox Pie that has become a favorite in our family!

Lemon Icebox Pie

Be sure to check out the recipes from each of these ladies and include your favorite in the weekend's festivities!!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Sweet Musings: Wedding Re-cap!

I can't believe that we've been married for almost a month already! It seems like just last weekend was the wedding. Of course, being gone on our honeymoon for 10 days means we've really only been back to reality for a couple of I guess that has some impact on how long it feels like it's been. Well, that and the blissful happiness that I still feel. I know, mush mush mush. But honestly...I'm so very blessed. And as promised, a little re-cap of the wedding day! Fair warning, this will be a long post!

I always heard that no matter how prepared you are, something will go wrong on the wedding day. Maybe something small, but something nonetheless. And this is true, my friends. On Friday, the day before the wedding, the troops rallied to help us get the wedding venue set up. I purchased all of the table linens instead of renting them, which meant they had to be ironed. I ordered them many months in advance and so they sat folded in their boxes for all that time. I had NO idea what a task it would turn out to be to get them all ironed/steamed. Thank GOD for my mom, his sisters, and my bestie that took on that task. I nearly lost my cool just watching. So, that was not the something that would go wrong, though it was a hassle. We got the venue all set up, drinks iced down in a big cooler and off for some dinner and a good night's rest.

Fast forward to wedding day morning. J and I head to the venue at 9:30am to unlock it for our DJ and the chair delivery. He goes to the cooler to get a water and notices that water is leaking from the plug, so he drags it out onto the balcony. I, being the  helpful wifey-to-be, am holding the door open for him and then I step over so I can push it farther open. Right into the puddle of water. In flip flops. Before I know it, I hit the ground. Hard. Butt, elbows, head...concrete. OUCH. J has no clue, it happened so fast, and he turns around to find me picking myself up off the ground. Of course he rushes to help me, to see if I'm ok, and what the hell happened?? I'm more concerned about whether or not I busted my elbows or have blood or scratches that will show during the wedding. Fortunately only a very small little red mark on one elbow.

No time to dwell on that though, I have to get him back to the hotel and then head to my hair and makeup appointment. As I'm dropping him off and I'm about to tell him that I'll see him at the wedding, I remember that I forgot to hide the card I got for him to find after I was gone. So I tell him I forgot something and I go up to the room with him. I slip the card into the pocket of his slacks, show him where all my stuff is that my mom is going to put in the room I'll be getting ready in, and I head off. As I'm driving I realize that I left my tiara. I had my hand on the box for it as I was showing him what my mom would need to move over for me. Cue the bridal breakdown in my car. I'm talking bawling, y'all. I text J to tell him I forgot it, and then in a series of texts and calls from him and my mom, they decided that they will bring it to me. 45 minutes away. I'm bawling and protesting, to no avail. Oh, did I mentioned that J and my stepdad were already on flower pick-up duty?? So, I feel horrible that now they have to bring me my tiara as well. And they're worried about me hitting my head during the fall on top of all this. Bestie calls during this time too, and manages to calm me down. Thank goodness I hadn't had my makeup done yet!!

Thankfully, these were the only "mishaps" of the day, that I'm aware of, anyway! Well, a couple of the groomsmen were late getting there, but they were in time for the ceremony so that's all that counts.

Hair and makeup go well, and the girls head back to the hotel to get ready. My dad texts during this time that he will not be able to make it to the wedding. I had planned to walk myself down the aisle, so no major monkey wrenches, but sad to not have my dad there, of course. Photographer comes, gets all the pre-pics done, Bestie is running around with rings, helping with boutonnieres, etc. Basically it's sort of chaotic, but I think that's to be expected. The nerves start to set in and I decided that walking by myself down the aisle is probably not my best bet, so I have my mom send my Stepdad up to my room, and I ask him if he will walk me. It seemed appropriate considering the circumstances and who he has been to me since I was 8 years old. It was fitting for the day and he was so proud to do it.

We drive up to the venue, me in the backseat of one of the bridesmaid's SUVs, and there is J at the FRONT DOOR! So, I'm ducking down trying not to be seen and they drive me over to a back door entrance, where I needed to go in anyway. Nerves really have a hold of me now, especially with all the hiding and having seen my very handsome hubby-to-be. I just want to get down that dang aisle already!!!

We did some of the photos before the wedding, with my bridesmaids and such, and then it's time for the ceremony to start.

Once again I have to hide in a back room as J is coming to the door to walk out. I am shaking. And I keep trying to peek. Just to get another glimpse of him. But I'm not allowed, because then he might see me. And that we couldn't have. The music starts, the parents and my  Grannie are seated, our Pastor and J walk out, and now the wedding processional starts. Christina Perri's, A Thousand Years is playing, my stepdad is by my side and my heart is racing. I can't hear the words...did our part already play? Should we be walking now?? Stepdad says we should just go, so we step into the doorway. Everyone turns around. I hate being in the spotlight, but my eyes find J's and that's all I see. I keep them locked on him as we make our way down the aisle. There's a swimming pool next door and the kids are all pressed against the fence to get a glimpse of the bride. It was very cute.

Now here's something you may or may not know about me...I'm a HUGE crybaby. Like, everything makes me cry. Commercials make me cry. I have tissues in my hand, wrapped around my bouquet, because I'm sure that I'm going to cry every drop of my makeup off. But there are no tears. I'm smiling so big and so hard that it almost hurts, but that's all I can do because my heart is so full of happiness and I can't believe that in just a few minutes I get to be his wife!! My stepdad hands me over, I hand off my bouquet, and J takes both of my hands. He looks so happy. Maybe a little nervous too, but happy. My heart is soaring. The sun is beating's 5 o'clock in June, of course...and then there is nice cloud cover and a bit of wind to give relief from the heat.

Our Pastor did a great job, even with a few microphone issues. Time for the vows. It was all such a
blur, repeat after him, etc. I have no idea what we said. That's bad, right? Ha! But 25 minutes later, we said "I do" and I became a Mrs. And then he got to kiss his bride. And did he ever!!

We made our way back down the aisle as Mr. and Mrs., hugs and smiles from family and friends. And then pictures of course.

All J wanted was a beer, bless his heart, but alas he had to wait until we finished with the pictures. And then we were done. Back inside for our first dance - Ed Sheeran's, Thinking Out Loud.
Who knew it was such a long song?? Haha.

Then J finally got his beer. And it was time to eat! Barbecue, of course! And my girls had a drink waiting for me at our table, too.

From there it was a whirlwind, trying to talk to everyone, the father-daughter and mother-son dances, toasts, cake-cutting, more pictures. Oh, and when Bestie did her toast - I cried. A lot. Whew! I had no idea how daunting it would be to be the bride and groom. And then I couldn't find the groom half the night!! All-in-all it was an amazing day and night and we were surrounded by so many people that love us and wanted to be there to share in our special day.

Despite the little "mishaps" there was nothing that was going to take away the joy or ruin our day. It was absolutely perfect and beautiful and amazing. Because I got to marry my best friend. At almost 35 years old, I finally got my fairy tale, and on that day I truly felt like a princess. And every morning when I wake up, I still look over and think how lucky I am to have him as my prince.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Broccoli & Apple Salad

So I have a confession to make. I've been holding something back from you guys. Something I should have shared with you months ago. Something that could change your life.

This salad.

Broccoli & Apple Salad

Yes, I know that sounds a bit dramatic, but seriously you guys. Seriously. This broccoli and apple salad is probably one of the best things I've eaten in a loooong time. And J loves it. Like, really loves it. Possibly more than me. 

Now, I love salads of all sorts, but veggie salads (as in, no leafy greens) have never really been my thing. Probably because I never really tried them. What a fool I was. I think J and I had a version of broccoli salad at some event that neither of us can recall, and while that particular version was fairly sweet, J really liked it and wanted me to recreate it somehow. So, I started looking online at broccoli salad recipes. A lot of them looked good, but when I found this particular one, I knew it would be "the one." It does have a little sweetness to it, but that can be adjusted, or even left out. We don't use refined sugar if we can  help it, so I usually sub honey or agave or something of the sort in place of sugar. 

Broccoli & Apple Salad 2

This salad takes no more than 15 minutes to throw together and it is seriously amazing. Like, I'm taking it to every summer party that requires a shareable dish this summer, amazing. And once you try it, you will want to do the same, no doubt. And since 4th of July is this weekend...what better time to try it?!?! You can come back here and thank me in the comments after you do :)

Broccoli & Apple Salad
As seen on The Recipe Critic

  • 4 cups fresh broccoli florets, (about 2 medium heads)
  • ½ cup shredded carrots
  • 2 large apples, finely chopped (I think a red apple variety is better in this salad than a Granny Smith)
  • ½ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup lite mayonnaise (I used Light Miracle Whip)
  • ½ cup low fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp sugar (or honey)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

  1. In a large bowl combine broccoli, carrots, apples, pecans, dried cranberries, and sunflower seeds.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper.
  3. Spoon the dressing into the bowl with the broccoli and apple mixture and stir or toss to coast. Refrigerate until ready to serve, and enjoy!!

Monday, June 29, 2015

What's Baking: Lemon Icebox Pie

Happy Monday, friends! I still can't believe that June is pretty much over already. I mean, it seemed like it took forever to get to June, and in a blink it's over. Sheesh. However, the beginning of July means 4th of July, and that means getting together with friends for barbecues and such! And what's better for a back yard barbecue than a nice, refreshing, lemon-y dessert? Not much my friends, noooot much.

Also, I am the host for the June What's Baking challenge, and the selected theme just so happened to be, Bake with Fresh Fruit. And hello - lemons! Pie! It's no secret to anyone who even slightly knows me, that I love, love, love all things lemon. All things. So, naturally a creamy, lemon pie is going to be right up my alley and I'll use any excuse to make it. Summer. Barbecue. What's Baking Challenge. All rolled into one big, fat reason to make a delicious pie. Yep, yep.

Lemon Icebox Pie

And it's super simple on top of being insanely delicious. Yes, it's best to make it the day before you need it, because it does need to be refrigerated for a few hours to set well. But, it takes you all of 15 minutes to get it into the oven. So, you could potentially make it after you've made dinner on Friday night. Bake it for 25 minutes, let it sit on the counter for an hour, then stick it in the fridge before you go to bed. Done and done. And whomever is going to be at the event you bring it to will probably fight over it. Maybe you should make more than one...just to be safe. 

Lemon Pie

One of my besties is having a 4th of July BBQ on Saturday and I'm planning to take a Broccoli-Apple Salad, and now this pie as well. I mean, they need dessert right?? I can't leave her without dessert!!! What kind of friend would I be?? You want to be a good friend this 4th of July too, I know you do. So bring this dessert to whatever festivities you are attending and you'll be the shining star of the day!!

And be sure to check back in a couple of days for the What's Baking round-up, to see what all the other ladies made this month!

Lemon Icebox Pie

  • 1 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 14 graham crackers) 
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 1/4 cups fresh lemon juice (6-8 lemons)
  • 2 14 oz cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 8 oz Cool Whip or Homemade Whipped Cream for topping, optional

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray and set on top of a baking sheet for easier handling. 
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter , stir until graham cracker crumbs are moistened. (If you melt the butter in the bowl you want to use, it's less dishes and a little easier to combine them all!)
  3. Pour the graham cracker mixture into the prepared pie plate and press evenly onto the sides and bottom to make the crust.
  4. In another medium sized bowl (or wash and reuse the graham cracker bowl), whisk together the lemon juice and sweetened condensed milk.
  5. And in a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the lemon zest and egg yolks on high until pale.
  6. Pour the lemon zest and egg mixture in the sweetened condensed milk mixture and beat until smooth, then pour into the pie crust. 
  7. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the edges are set and the center jiggles slightly when the pie is moved. 
  8. Cool for an hour on a cooling rack, then refrigerate or freeze for at least 6 hours, depending on preference. Serve with whipped cream or cool whip, if desired. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Salmon Cakes with Lemon-Dill Aioli

Hey. You guys. Guess what?

I have a sort of fabulous recipe to share with you today. Yes, it's another salmon recipe, but this one is different! It's a salmon cake. Not like sugary, bakery cake. Because that would just be gross and wrong to put salmon in, but little salmon patties - yeah, that's a better word - mixed with other yummy stuff, like sun-dried tomatoes, and topped with a lemon-dill aioli.

Salmon Cake with Lemon Dill Aioli

Now, I had to make some adaptations to the recipe I used for this, because mashed potatoes do not a healthy salmon cake, make. Ya feel me? I love me some mashed potatoes, but they are a rare treat and not meant for these little babies. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking the use of mashed potatoes, as they are definitely a good binder for a recipe such as this, it just wasn't the appropriate method for us. Nope, nope, nope. Plus, J might divorce me if I tried to sneak that into dinner. Ok, not really, but he wouldn't be a fan of it.  He was a fan of the adapted version though, for sure.  

Salmon Cakes

We ate a good bit of seafood on our honeymoon, but I don't see things like this on menus to often. Crab cakes, yes, but I'm not really a fan of those. Salmon cakes...notsomuch on menus, but they should be. But I guess that's why I cook at home 99% of the time, right? Because I can make the menu whatever I want it to be!! These are definitely restaurant-worthy, so you could make them for your family or a little dinner party and treat your guests to a fancy salmon dinner, without the fancy price tag!! Or you could make them and treat yourself and not share. That's always an option, too. 

But whatever you decide to do...share or keep them to it soon! You won't be disappointed!

Salmon Cakes with Lemon-Dill Aioli
Adapted from Cooks with Cocktails

  • 2 salmon fillets (4-6 oz each)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg*
  • ¾ cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup dill, chopped
For the Lemon-Dill Aioli
  • ¾ cup mayo or miracle whip
  • ¼ cup dill chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

*If you feel like the mixture is too "loose" feel free to add a second egg to better bind and hold the mixture together.

  1. Combine the ingredients for the aioli in a small bowl, mix well, and refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Season salmon with salt and pepper and place in the skillet, skin-side down if the skin is still on. Cook for 2-3 minutes and then flip. If you are using skin-on salmon, use tongs to gently remove the seared skin from the salmon fillets. Cook the flipped side for 2-3 minutes and then flip again. At this time, use a spatula to start breaking the salmon into pieces. Once broken into smaller pieces, allow to cook through until opaque, set aside and allow to cool. 
  3. Meanwhile, combine the egg, sun-dried tomatoes, green onions, lemon juice, garlic and dill in a medium bowl. When the salmon has cooled some, add it to the bowl, along with the Panko. Use hands to mix well and then form into 4 (or 6 if you want them smaller) equal sized patties. 
  4. Using the same skillet as you cooked the salmon in, add more olive oil if necessary and heat over medium heat this time. 
  5. Gently add the patties to the skillet and cook for 3-5 minutes, until nicely browned and slightly firm on the underside, then very gently flip with a spatula to cook the other side until browned and the patties are firm enough to not fall apart if you try to move them. 
  6. Serve with a generous helping of the lemon dill aioli and your favorite veggie side. we had broccoli-apple salad with ours!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Pecan-Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon Mustard Sauce

In case you hadn't heard...this lady right here is now a married woman!! And, as promised you're getting a sneak-peek at some of our wedding pics. Just look at this guy!! How lucky am I??

We couldn't have asked for better weather for the outdoor ceremony. Especially after all the rain and flooding for weeks prior. It was absolutely perfect. I couldn't have dreamed of a better day. 

The landscape around our venue made the perfect backdrop for our photos. Especially for nature lovers like us.

And of course we had our bestest friends by our sides...couldn't have done it without them!!

Oh, and of COURSE there was cake!!! This is one of my favorite pictures, actually taken by one of our friends. And that cake - lemon with lemon buttercream frosting - was amazing. Ah-may-zing.

I'll give a more comprehensive wedding-day and honeymoon post soon, but just wanted to throw a few sneak-peeks out there for you all. Now we can move on to why you're really!!

I really love pork tenderloin. I don't make it a ton, but somewhat regularly I try to throw it on the menu somehow. And I'm always looking for new ways (re: sauces) to make it. I'm not a bourbon drinker myself, nor is J, so we don't typically have it in the house, but in preparation for the wedding we had an obscene amount of liquor in our house. 2 bottles of bourbon were part of this stash, so I had to try this recipe out while I had it on-hand, amiright??

Pecan-crusted Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon Mustard Sauce 2.

And thank goodness I did. Because it was freaking awesome. The taste of the bourbon was not overwhelming and blended really well with the mustard and honey so it was a little tangy, a little sweet, and a little....bourbon-y. The pecan-crust gave the pork a great little crispy coating and also went well with the sauce. 

Pecan-crusted Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon Mustard Sauce

All-in-all a great dish that I plan to make again very soon!! Since there is leftover bourbon...I have to, right??

Pecan-Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon Mustard Sauce

  • 1 lb pork tenderloin, trimmed
  • 2-3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup pecan pieces, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For the sauce
  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • ¼ cup bourbon
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • salt, to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil, and set aside. 
  2. Rub the mustard evenly over the pork. Combine pecans, thyme, cayenne, salt and black pepper to taste and spread on a separate baking sheet or large plate/platter. Roll the tenderloin in the nut mixture, coating well on all sides.
  3. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches at least 145 degrees.
  4. Remove to a cutting board and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing into 1/2" medallions.
  5. Meanwhile, combine the chicken broth, bourbon and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Whisk in honey, Worcestershire, soy sauce and mustard and stir until smooth. Whisk in butter. Add salt to taste. Serve with pork.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Sammich Saturday: Apple Curry Tuna Salad Croissants

Do you know what today is?

Do you know what today is???

Today is ONE WEEK from our wedding day!! Squee!!! Is it weird that I practice writing my new last name already? You know, like we did back in school when we had a crush on a boy? Wait...was that just me? Forget I said anything.

So, how 'bout this tuna sammich??

Apple Curry Tuna Salad Sammich

I know many people have an aversion or dislike for canned tuna. I'm not one of them. In fact, tuna fish has been one of my favorite things to eat since I was a kid. Mix it up with some miracle whip, pickle relish or chopped dill pickles, a squirt of yellow mustard, salt and pepper and eat it up. With crackers or on toasted bread. Or, when I was at my Grannie and Grandpa's house, I'd just eat it with a spoon out of a metal bowl. Yuuup. I'm all classy and sophisticated like that. 

I will have to say though, that this version is definitely more grown up. I mean...curry?? Yep. Granny Smith apples and yellow curry powder for. the. win. 

Apple Curry Tuna Salad

J and I both really enjoyed this tuna salad on croissants. It has a lot of good flavor, and definitely won't leave you feeling like you just ate canned tuna fish. And it's so quick and simple to make, you can have lunch on the table in less than 10 minutes!! Today is as good a day as any, don't ya think??

Apple Curry Tuna Salad Croissants
As seen on Paleo Magazine

  • 2 (12 oz) cans of tuna, in water (not oil)
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1/2 cup curly parsley, chopped finely
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Miracle Whip or Mayo
  • 1-2 Tbsp curry powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Leaf lettuce
  • 6 mini croissants

  1. Open the cans of tuna and drain the water from them. Place into a large bowl and add the diced apples, parsley, 1/4 cup Miracle Whip or Mayo, curry powder, salt and pepper. Mix well and add more miracle whip or mayo to your liking. 
  2. Cut croissants in half length-wise (toast them if you like,) place a lettuce leaf on the bottom half, top with a generous portion of the tuna salad, and then the top half of the croissant. Dig in!

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