NEW Luv Cooks video + Edelweiss Fudge Pie

 

Edelweiss Fudge Pie

My friends!

Fall is (somewhat) in the air!

Ok, so for some of you this may be a slight stretch- including those of us that ahem, may live below the Mason Dixon line. The highs are still in the 90’s, but hope springs eternal with 60 degree lows once the sun sets. We’ll take what we can get.

There is something about cooler temperatures that makes me crave warm chocolate. This is not a new phenomenon-note ALL of my previous chocolate dessert posts-but a less-humid climate opens up all kinds of possibilities for the Southern sweet tooth. Turn on the oven and blast fudge-y batter at high heat? Why yes, I DO have the mental capacity to consider that idea. Gently simmer coconut milk on the stove and whisk in dark cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla, and a pinch of salt? Yes, I’ll take that warm beverage, thank you very much.

So, today’s post is a fantastic combination of oh-so-easy Southern dessert, fudge brownie-esque goodness, and the perfect vehicle for fresh whipped cream. It takes only a few ingredients and you are on your way to fudge pie glory.

Also, side note- which you will see in the video- the possible reason why this fudge pie is called Edelweiss Fudge Pie is because in the 70’s Methodists took to singing the The Benediction (one of my favorite songs) to the tune of Edelweiss (from the Sound of Music, one of my favorite movies as child).

For your viewing pleasure:

My theory is that so many Methodists were having pot luck dinners on Sundays that the fudge pie served after the Benediction (at the end of service) became known as Edelweiss Fudge Pie. Just my theory, but I think it’s a good one. :)

Alright y’all. Time to get out there, enjoy the fresh air, and bake up a pie to share with the people you love. Who knows, maybe it will inspire a round of “The Hills are alive…” karaoke.

Edelweiss Fudge Pie from The Nashville Cookbook

With only six ingredients, this is one of the easiest Southern desserts to whip up. It’s, excuse the pun, “easy as pie!”

What you will need

  • 1/2 cup (or 1 stick) butter
  • 2 ounces sweet german chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3 farm fresh local eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon quality vanilla extract
  • freshly whipped cream, for topping, if desired

What you will do

1. Preheat oven to 325 and grease a 9-inch pie pan.

2. Melt butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat. Allow to cool.

3. Beat eggs in a stand mixer on medium speed until foamy (this should take a few minutes). Beat sugar in gradually, on low speed, until well combined.

4. Add flour slowly to mixer, stirring continually on low speed, and using a rubber spatula to wipe down sides occasionally to make sure it is evenly distributed in the batter.  Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and stir until combined.

5. Add cooled chocolate mixture slowly to batter, stirring continually, until evenly distributed.

6. Pour into lightly greased pie pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes (checking at about the 28 minute mark for doneness; toothpick inserted in should come out clean).

7. Let pie cool for about an hour and top with whipped cream. Enjoy!

 

 

Slim Jim Chili + Summertime Joy

Slim Jim Chili

Today’s post is short and sweet. Think lean ground beef, lots of veggies, and flashbacks to my seventh-grade self in hot rollers.

The video below is maybe the most fun I’ve ever had making chili. For me, chili brings back great memories- warm fall nights, the smell of cumin wafting from a slow cooker, football tailgating, salty Frito’s- but the most hilarious of all involves the hunting camp, staking out turkeys, and ensuing get-togethers with freshly caught wild game at the center of the chili pot.

And now, living in Nashville, I had the joy of NOT trampling through the woods, avoiding ticks and carefully tiptoeing around leaves in my 1990 Timberlands. Instead, I took a leisurely trip to the farmer’s market in my flip-flops to purchase Walnut Hills dry-aged lean ground beef and Smiley Farms produce.

So, check out this version of “dieter’s chili” from The Nashville Cookbook.  For me, chili=happy place, and I am wishing you a bowl full of beefy joy today.

I also dare you to find the Randy “Macho Man” savage cutaway in the mix.

Luv y’all! Happy summertime!

 

 

Nashville: Butchertown Hall Spring Dinner

Butchertown-Dinner-06-07-2016-5499

I love local food. I always have; it’s how I grew up in the South.

I remember the hot Alabama sun streaming down my back as I ran through my Aunt Nelle and Uncle Honey’s Jackson, Alabama back yard, sweat dripping down my little knees as I scavenged for blueberries (which my favorite babysitter at the time, Karen, would carefully save for me and send me home with freezer bags full).

I kindly repayed the favor by being the *star* flower girl in her wedding (and by that I mean I braved layers of white polyester and got to sport a flower crown in her sister Kim’s wedding).

My husband Jake and I recently had the chance to attend a Spring dinner at one of our favorite Germantown spots, Butchertown Hall. His great friend Dan King reigns supreme over the beer selection at the restaurant and regularly blows us away with his beer knowledge (and ability with a wok).

Dan King, head beer buyer for Butchertown Hall and several other restaurants
Dan King, beer program curator for Butchertown Hall and several other restaurants

Jake took photos; I had the luxury of simply eating and enjoying the company of those around us. I’m constantly amazed at the kindness and warm hospitality of food lovers in Nashville. One precious dinner guest even invited us over to tour her garden and learn what made their kale grow so brilliantly. Love. That.

Each of the dinner courses was paired with a complimentary beer. Here’s where the magic happened: To be frank, I’m not much of a drinker. It takes me about an hour to down a glass of wine, and I don’t have enough experience to qualify what’s great and what’s not. I am moved more by the way the alcohol pairs with food, the way it affects flavor and heightens or softens the aftertaste of grilled meat or  cheese.

But beer. Y’all, beer. Beer does wonders for food. Mainly because my limited beer knowledge stems from red Solo cup parties and outdoor barbecues, I didn’t know  the depth to which it affected the sweetness of peaches a plancha and goat’s milk yogurt. But my favorite beer on the menu- Hecht Schlenkerla Oak Smoked Doppelbock- tasted like smoky bacon.

I may need to repeat myself. IT TASTED LIKE SMOKY BACON.

Oak Smoked Doppelbock is what happens when earthy barbecue, sweetness, bold richness, bitter notes and aged oak wood smoke form a happy dance train around your brain.

And that’s really what I remember most about the night. Smoked pork beer, food-loving comrades; genteel Southern conversation; gardening tips; and clinking glasses with people who like beer as much, as I am now discovering, as I do.

Spring Series, Dinner Three: Butchertown Hall

Course 1: Rye bread, beef fat butter, grilled radish, turnips, greens Beer: Bayerischer Bahnhof Gewürz Gose
Course 1: Rye bread, beef fat butter, grilled radish, turnips, greens
                               Beer: Bayerischer Bahnhof Gewürz Gose

Chef and beer experts explain our lovely menu

Butchertown-Dinner-06-07-2016-5472

Course 2: Mango and fennel salad, fried chicken kinds, aleppo Beer: Schneider Aventinus Cuvee Barrique
Course 2: Mango and fennel salad, fried chicken kinds, aleppo
                                       Beer: Schneider Aventinus Cuvee Barrique

Butchertown-Dinner-06-07-2016-5455

Butchertown-Dinner-06-07-2016-5503

 

Course 3: Pork jowl, white beans, dandelion greens, charred onion vinaigrette, cashews Beer: Aecht Schlenker Oak Smoked Doppelbock
Course 3: Pork jowl, white beans, dandelion greens, charred onion vinaigrette, cashews
                                 Beer: Aecht Schlenker Oak Smoked Doppelbock

Butchertown-Dinner-06-07-2016-5515

 

Course 4: Peaches a la plancha, sopapillas, goat milk yogurt, fennel spice Beer: Sesma Prunus Persica
Course 4: Peaches a la plancha, sopapillas, goat milk yogurt, fennel spice
                                                  Beer: Sesma Prunus Persica

Sweet Potato Puffs & Luv Cooks FIRST full-length video!

 

 

GUYS. This could be the most exciting Wednesday I’ve ever had.

Today, this morning, I am so excited to put our first Luv Cooks full-length video into the internet stratosphere!

Shout outs for this project are absolutely due to my incredible husband. He not only wrote the musical score for this whole series, he edited these videos late into the night, and arranged the clips just perfectly (he shows me love and grace in countless ways). Also shout out to friends of ours for lending invaluable opinions to the reviewing process! We couldn’t be prouder. I hope this first video will be a launching point for many, many more to come!

So, take this Wednesday, and be reminded of the fact that dreams DO come true. That things happen in our lives that are beyond our imagination or understanding. And for that, we take marshmallows, roll them sweet potatoes, pecans, and cornflakes, and bake their happy selves until they are lightly toasted. Let’s raise a gooey treat to the fact that life is good- and dreams are worth pursuing.

Luv y’all!

Sweet Potato Puffs
Sweet Potato Puffs

Sweet Potato Puffs by Faye House from The Nashville Cookbook

These easy sweet potato treats will be the hit of your next get-together! They take only a few minutes to throw together after you boil the sweet potatoes, and you get to use an immersion blender.

What You Will Need

  • 4 large sweet potatoes (I like Plano Farms in Nashville; about 2.6 lbs)
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream (I like JD Country Milk– their chocolate milk is LEGIT)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 5 cups cornflakes
  • Jumbo marshmallows (the big daddy kind- absolute biggest you can buy)

What You Will Do

  1. Boil the sweet potatoes until they are tender. Preheat oven to 375 and spray a 9X13 baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Drain potatoes, then pour into a large bowl. Add the butter, sugar, heavy cream. Whip with an immersion blender until smooth. Wear large apron to guard against sweet potato splatters. Consider wearing a hair net because if, like me, you have long hair, it might end up on your ends.
  3. Stir in pecans to the potatoes.
  4. Pour cornflakes into a large bowl, then crush with your hands (#fun).
  5. Dip jumbo marshmallows into the potato mixture, covering evenly. Now, roll the marshmallows in the cornflakes, then place into 9X13 baking pan.
  6. Once the pan is full, bake for 15 minutes, or until the tops are toasty brown and the marshmallows have melted a bit. Enjoy immediately! (This is a now tater, not a later-tater!)

 

Strawberry Honey Lemonade + Sunshine

Strawberry Lemonade

I want it to be sunny. I want the snow to melt, the windshield of my Prius to unfreeze, and the clouds to part to reveal a glorious, warm stream of sunlight onto the city of Nashville.

However, the reality of our current situation is that it’s hovering around 30 degrees outside, two of my plans with my girlfriends have been cancelled due to inclement weather (and my lack of a 4-wheel drive vehicle), and I am suffering from small-space-affected-disorder. Well, that last phrase might have been a bit extreme. With all due respect to those suffering from a dread of small spaces, our current situation looks like this: me attempting to meet my New Year’s resolution of circuit workouts (aka doing jumping lunges and wobbly tricep dips) while my husband plays guitar and the heater is on.

Hot yoga has nothing on Kayla Itsines workouts in the loft.

So when my amazing creative friend Victoria of Prophet Hall invited me to be a part of her pop-up shop last Saturday I was GAME. Fresh air, new friends, and fabulous clothing were all I needed to hear in order to jump out the door and into the 35 degree sunshine.

Strawberry Lemonade

This week’s recipe is one I made for the event, and comes from our amazing, The Nashville Cookbook. All you need is fresh lemons, local honey, a batch of strawberries and a little sugar, and you are well on your way to mid-winter refreshment. And a pseudo-springtime moment.

Ok y’all- so join me this week in pretending that it’s spring and bring a little Southern sunshine to your neighbor with a tall glass of lemonade. No need for ice, just leave it outside for a few minutes. :)

Strawberry Lemonade

Strawberry Lemonade (adapted from “Lemonade” by Virginia Swoopes in The Nashville Cookbook)

This lemonade is so easy, only takes a few ingredients, and tastes better as it sits. Slice up some extra strawberries and lemon for a pretty garnish. 

What You Will Need:

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 6 strawberries, sliced, plus more for garnish
  • Juice of 4 lemons (about 1/2 cup fresh juice)
  • 6 tablespoons local honey
  • 6 cups water (spring water is great here)
  • 6 thin slices lemon

What You Will Do:

  1. In a small bowl, stir together sugar and strawberries. Mash together with a fork until a chunky paste forms, and let sit for about 15 minutes.
  2. Whisk together honey and lemon juice until combined. Add strawberry mixture, then transfer to a pitcher. Stir together with water and lemon slices.
  3. Add additional sliced strawberries and lemon slices as you feel! Pour into individual glasses and share the luv.

 

 

The Honeysuckle Is Sweet

Brown butter Grouper
The Honeysuckle’s Gulf Grouper with Brown Butter Caper Emulsion

The Honeysuckle is sweet.

Here at Luv Cooks, you know that we are all about loving people well with food. And I hope that as we continue on our blog journey we will learn how to do that better, with more intention, and with better results. I also want to introduce you to places in Nashville- and across the world- that do this well. That treat you like family and are totally Luv Cooks style. The Honeysuckle is one of those places.

Honeysuckle Seating

Oyster shucking

Southern Charcuterie menu

I had the privilege of joining several other amazing food bloggers here in Nashville Monday night for one of the best welcome dinners to the city I’ve had. As part of a complimentary press dinner (y’all, I felt so special) our group of bloggers was treated to a several course dinner introducing us to all the restaurant had to offer.

And now, allow me interrupt this review to say something. Y’all- they served us Southern vegetables. That were delicious, and charred, and popped alongside flavorful sauces. The brussels and carrots and okra and cauliflower were the highlight of my meal. I love, love when you are dining out and alongside more traditional fare they offer local, fresh options. Winning!

Southern Vegetables
Gorgeous roasted cauliflower

As we ate, I learned that The Honeysuckle only uses direct source, “day-boat fish.” They dry age their steaks and cook their heirloom vegetables sous-vide style to keep things the most nutritious. Plus, their Executive Chef Josh Weekly is present at the restaurant (unlike some other places). Because they care about their customers and their experience, they make sure he is there. I think that shows some major Luv.

And the night really felt so warm; we were seated beside a crackling fireplace, snow fell softly outside, and tucked away in a corner we were served an array of Southern, heart-felt food. Oysters that were bright, almost floral; followed up by a beautiful charcuterie platter that was prepared in house (the tasso ham and fig preserves were my favorite). Then, then, the goat cheese shuffle was presented, drizzled with chive oil and served with wild mushrooms and charred tomato jam. The texture on these grits was superb, and the goat cheese kept the dish light, but satisfying.

Grits souffle
                                                              Goat Cheese Grit Souffle

Soon after arrived their gorgeous charred vegetables- roasted heirloom carrot, charred okra, caramelized brussels-arrived. Oh, and the roasted cauliflower with chive oil and spicy red pepper aioli. The color on that dish was fantastic (see above).

The entrees were not to be missed; my seared salmon with sour mash succotash and bacon-sorghum glaze was flakey and slightly crispy on the outside from the caramelized sorghum. The succotash was spot-on and hit that warm/Southern comfort craving. The pan-fired gulf grouper, with braised leeks, wild mushrooms and spinach, and brown butter caper emulsion, was delicious as well.  Really, you had me at brown butter.

Salmon with Succotash
  Seared Salmon with Bacon-Sourghum Glaze

Plus, they do this really cool technique at The Honeysuckle where they can serve your choice of ahi tuna, filet mignon, or sliced scallops on a Himalayan salt stone heated to 700 degrees. This technique was lovely  and now I want to own one and serve meats cooked on it to you at my house. #dreams

In addition the the seafood, they also offer chicken-fried chicken, shrimp and grits, and a wild mushroom meatloaf that I hear is not to be missed.

The meal was beautiful; our waiter was lovely, and he explained everything in detail to us. I felt at home, which I believe is the feeling the restaurant hoped to evoke from the beginning.

Desserts from High Up

Spiced Bundt Cake
 Spiced Apple Bundt Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce

And to bring a “sweet finish” to our meal, we were brought an array of desserts. The spiced apple bundt cake (above) was drizzled with a salted caramel sauce, but my favorite item, oh y’all, was the honey orange biscuit (you can see it on the platter below). The chocolate ganache was good, especially swirled in the lava salt sprinkled near it. But y’all. I had to ask our waiter Michael to send me home with an extra box of them. And because it was The Honeysuckle, and they are incredibly generous, they did.

Dessert platter with the biscuits
 Please order these sweet biscuits (above). They are so good.

So, the next time you are in Franklin (outside of Nashville), and you are looking for a wonderfully warm, fresh, generous, delicious dining experience- check out The Honeysuckle. I think your night will be sweeter because of it.

The Honeysuckle

Restaurant info:

The Honeysuckle

1770 Galleria Blvd

Suite A

Franklin, TN 37067

website: The Honeysuckle

Tel: 615-771-2111  |  Email: original@thehoneysuckle.com

Wacky Cake with Cocoa Fudge Frosting

Wacky Cake with Cocoa Fudge Frosting

 

In my book, chocolate is one of the best ways to luv somebody.

I mean, as my friend Angela Roberts of Spinach Tiger blog recently said, “Chocolate is my favorite food group.” Agreed, whole heartedly, my friend.

And readers, have I told you lately? I LOVE YOU! So, here is my virtual love gift: chocolate cake.

This week’s recipe from The Nashville Cookbook is one of my favorite chocolate cakes I’ve made. If the title of the recipe wasn’t enough- I mean, who can resist “Wacky Cake?”- it involves ONE BOWL. One mixing bowl! Can you imagine? The chocolate cakes I’ve tried in the past involved layered steps of beating in liquids, egg shells, mayonnaise, chocolate batter all over my hands, flour in the crevices of my counter tops, and needless to mention, icing in my hair.

All this recipe requires is a quick sift of the dry ingredients; adding them to the wet ones in a mixer bowl; and a good beating for two minutes. Bake in oven. Viola! This recipe is simple, straightforward, reliable, and good.

Wacky Cake with Cocoa Fudge Frosting

***We interrupt this post for a historical fact. Gettin’ you educated!****

The reason why this cake is called “Wacky Cake” is because the traditional version allows you to sift, mix, and bake ingredients in the same pan. I like the mixer method this one uses because I am always concerned with cakes sticking to my pan, thus my love of greasing with shortening. This cake is also called “Three Hole” cake because you can potentially put the dry ingredients in your pan, make three holes, then fill those holes with your liquid mixture. Kids would LOVE this recipe too because it’s so easy and they get to dig in cake mix and make holes. You’re welcome.

Oh, and the recipe has ties to the Depression era because of it’s lack of butter and eggs (due to rationing). Our ancestors were so smart. :)

****Historical Fact Time Ended. You know, just loving you with some conversation starters this week.***

Also, in the spirit of all things fun and Luv Cooks, this cake is presented to you in honor of Valentine’s Day (it’s topped with cute pink chocolate balls for goodness sake). I know it will make anyone in your life who loves chocolate, eats cake, and loves you happy. And for those of you who are vanilla or strawberry people on Valentine’s Day, I apologize. This blog will probably not ever go in that direction. But we luv you anyway!!

Ok y’all- so saddle up those kids, your significant other, your dog- whoever you love on Valentine’s Day, have a BLAST, and make a wacky cake. Silly string not included.

Wacky Cake with Cocoa Fudge Frosting

Wacky Cake with Cocoa Fudge Frosting

This cake could not be easier. All you need is a mixing bowl, a few minutes of prep work, and you will be baking a light, chocolatey cake in no time.

What You Will Need:

For the cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the Frosting:

  • 1/2 pound powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons water (plus more if needed)
  • 1/4 cup (plus 1 tablespoon if needed) corn syrup

 

What You Will Do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch square baking pan.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt together in a mixer bowl. Add your wet ingredients (oil, water, vinegar, and vanilla) and mix on medium speed for two minutes.
  3. Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. The cake should also spring back when you touch it.
  4. Allow to cool in the pan before you ice this beauty!

Now, make the icing:

  1. Combine the sugar, cocoa, butter and vanilla in a mixing bowl until no lumps remain and things are looking smooth.
  2. Pour the water and corn syrup in a small saucepan, and heat the mixture to simmering but don’t boil it (you want gentle bubbles to start forming, then take it immediately off the heat). Pour your warmed syrup mixture into the mixing bowl.
  3. Beat the icing at a low speed until smooth and glossy. My icing wasn’t smooth and glossy at this point, it got a bit too thick. So I added one more tablespoon warm water and 1 more tablespoon corn syrup. If your icing is still thick, continue adding warm water and corn syrup until it loosens.
  4. Now, frost the cake! You want to do this while the icing is warm, or it becomes hard to smooth.

Enjoy! Love y’all! Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

 

Gourmet Beef Stew + Welcome to Nashville

Gourmet Beef Stew

 

January is just the best.

There are a host of reasons I feel this way. It’s a fresh start to the year, my schedule seems to become slow enough to give time for some goal setting- but most of all, it’s this:

Jake strums on his guitar next to me. My desk is leans against a large window; I turn my head to the right and look out at the city where I’ve always dreamed of living. Cars rush past outside and their rhythm beats sweetly alongside the guitar riffs. This is the start of Nashville for me.

And the beginning of 2016 has been a sweet one. The start of life in a new space; living in a tiny one (#loftlivin’); and new friendships forming that I feel will be lifelong. Up until this moment, I have yet to experience feeling so at peace, so in that “right where I am supposed to be” position. Life is good.

And it’s funny how I feel already that I owe something to Nashville. The smiling faces, the creativity, and the overwhelming support to people pursuing their dreams; there’s something here that I want to jump into, be a part of, bless people with. And, fortunately for me, my sister gave me just the way to do it.

Cue video intro here!

 

The Nashville Cookbook 1976

 

The Nashville Cookbook: Recipes of the Cumberland Region is where this year begins. This book is a treasure trove of history, Southern tradition, recipes yet to be explored, all from a city I long to know more about. Written by the Nashville Area Home Economics Association in 1976, one of my favorite quotes in the book’s forward is “Food is essential for the nourishment of the body, and books are essential for the nourishment of the mind and the imagination. A good cookbook can meet both these essentials, and that is what the Nashville home economists have provided here.” It is a collection of the history of places- there are beautiful prints and historical pieces on the Maxwell House Hotel, the Parthenon, Fort Nashborough and places in the Cumberland Region. It is my introduction to Nashville as a city, as a food culture, from the point of it’s history and its fascinating, “zany”, carefully crafted recipes. As the opening pages state, “We wish the book to be a joy to read, to use, to savor, and to treasure!”

So this is where Luv Cooks lands. I will cook from these recipes, aiming to make them as authentically as I can. I will include local product, produce, meat, cheese- when I can and where I can- and hope that through this process I have the pleasure of meeting the people who are bringing these fantastic foods to our table.

I will also most likely offer my variations on the tried-and-true. This week’s recipe- such a warm, comforting start to a below freezing week in Nashville- already involves some tweaks, based off of cooking methods I have learned in styling. But I hope that each of these changes will bring something new, and helpful, to your table.

So, saddle up this year for a fantastic, fun, wild ride through a cookbook, written in 1976, full of Southern flair, ingredients, spice, and the joy of life that is wonderfully unique to Tennessee. Let’s eat!

Gourmet Beef Stew from The Nashville Cookbook

 

This week’s purveyors: 

Meat: Delicious, lean stew meat by KLD Farm (Their beef is 100% chemical free; grass fed and grain finished; contains no antibiotics or growth hormones; and is dry-aged for 14-18 days . In other words, deliciousness.)

Produce: Potatoes by Smiley Farm (Link Smiley Farm at Local Table; they sell daily at the Nashville Farmer’s Market!)

Weekly tip: Quality Stew Meat + Relax with Some Soup

Gourmet Beef Stew

Gourmet Stew from The Nashville Cookbook

This beef stew is perfect for a cold winter night, and so simple to make. The hardest part is probably waiting for the meat to tenderize, which for me took a about 2 1/2 hours. The recipe in total takes about 3 1/2 hours, but I made mine on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and it was perfect.

What You Will Need:

  • 2 lbs lean boneless stewing meat, cubed, and patted dry
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 3 tablespoons organic butter
  • 4 1/2 cups water, divided
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Dash of hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 cup red-skinned potatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup carrots, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
  • 1 cup onions, diced
  • 10 ounces fresh green beans (the original recipe calls for 10 oz frozen, but I like fresh)
  • 4 medium size tomatoes, diced (1 lb.) (recipe calls for 1 16 oz can as an option, but I went with fresh)

What You Will Do:

1.  Heat a large dutch oven with 3 tablespoons butter on medium to medium-high heat (higher heat works better for browning).

2. Toss meat pieces with 1 tablespoon flour, and top with a few grinds per side of salt and pepper, to evenly coat all four sides of the beef.

3. Once the butter is bubbling, toss in the stew meat and brown on all sides.

4. Once the meat is sufficiently browned and crisp, add 3 1/2 cups water and 2 bay leaves.

5.  Simmer on low to medium-low heat for 2-3 hours, or until your meat is tender. (I went for about 2 hours and 15 minutes before I started adding the veggies and spices).

6. Add 1 more cup hot water and the rest of your ingredients (hot sauce, salt, cloves, allspice, basil, potatoes, carrots, onions, green beans, and tomatoes).

7. Bring the stew to a new boil (I turned my heat up to medium-high) then reduce to a simmer on low to medium-low.

7. Continue to simmer the soup until all the vegetables are tender, about another 50-60 minutes.

8. Now, put on your stretchy pants, warm socks, and cozy up with a bowl of stew to an episode of Nashville. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Pumpkin Seed Chocolate Bark

Chocolate Pumpkinseed Bark-3398

Y’all, it’s Thanksgiving week, and I don’t know about you, but I have work/life/blog details piling up in my mind like stacks of leftover turkey sandwiches.

How are you guys feeling? How is life this week for you? I hope it’s been smooth as pumpkin butterscotch trifle.

I think that this year, we should make recipe planning a bit easier for everyone. This week’s Thanksgiving-themed dessert is easy-peasey- and takes a total of max 10 minutes cook time. Also, due to my lack of energy brain cells, I could not figure out what to title this post.  Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Bark? PSPS Bark? Yes, the bark is topped with pumpkin seeds, but the pumpkin seeds are pumpkin-spice flavored, which makes them even more delicious. There are also golden raisins involved, and Lord help trying to get all of that to fit in a name. But here we are, and trust me, this chocolate bark is going to be Thanksgiving hit.

This year, in my Southern family, I am in charge of desserts. And as much as I love to bake, I was eager to find a solution for the people, like me, who see a whole roasted turkey, sweet potato casserole with sugary pecans, buttered rolls and potato gratin and think- YES I WILL EAT ALL OF THOSE. And come back for seconds.

Have any of y’all taken this “Which TV Family Should You Eat Thanksgiving With?” quiz? You need to, find it here!: #gilmoregirls

So, by the time I get to dessert I am stuffed. To the brim. And despite my sister and I’s argument that yes, there is indeed such a thing as a completely separate dessert stomach, sometimes you need a breather. Or, maybe you want to space out your eating- and need something sweet to keep your energy up while you are baking your booty off for your loved ones.

I picked this recipe up from Food Networks’ awesome ratio for DIY chocolate bark. All you need is a pound of chocolate, a cup or so of toppings, and you are ready to sprinkle! Get creative, do what you feel, and I am pretty sure you will end up with a version of your own chocolate bark that will knock your guests’ socks off.

And, you only need about 45 minutes of chill time for the chocolate to set and be ready to eat (I highly recommend taking that opportunity to have someone else do your baking dishes).

Chocolate Pumpkinseed Bark-3391

Pumpkin Spice Pumpkin Seed Chocolate Bark

(Recipe adapted from this awesome post on mix-and-match chocolate bark from Food Network)

  • 16 ounces chocolate (I used a mix of milk, white, and dark; feel free to one type of chocolate, or mix types and flavors as you see fit!)
  • 1/2 cup Trader Joe’s pumpkin spice pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • Coarsely grated sea salt

1. Chop chocolate into 1/2 inch pieces and set one cup of chopped chocolate aside.

2. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil, shiny side facing up.

2. Put chopped chocolate (aside from one cup) into a large glass bowl. Microwave chocolate for 30 seconds, then stir with fork or rubber spatula. Microwave for another 3o seconds and stir again with fork or rubber spatula (it will be chunky and that is totally ok).

3. Now that the chocolate is slightly melted, microwave for one more minute. Remove from heat and stir quickly, attempting to dissolve any remaining chocolate pieces. Now, pour about 1/3 cup of chopped chocolate and stir to combine. Repeat with the rest of the chocolate, and stir quickly until the chocolate is completely melted and the surface is smooth and glossy.

4. Pour chocolate into foil-lined baking pan, spreading with rubber spatula until about 1/4 inch thick.

5. Sprinkle evenly with golden raisins, then seeds, then coarsely grated sea salt.

6. Put baking pan into fridge to cool for about 45 minutes. Or, if your room is cool, and you aren’t in a hurry to get your chocolate on, you can let it cool at room temperature. Break the chocolate into large pieces (it is the season of sharing after all) and enjoy!

Pink Swirl Cake and Turning 30

Pink Sprinkle Birthday Cake Slice

There are few things that bring me greater happiness than icing, cake, and sprinkles (in that order).

And even better than the cake, are the friendships that surround them. In my mind, cake=girlfriends. And, y’all, the hilarity that goes along with those moments! Cue the flashbacks….***

I think of the huge slices of cookie cake my best friend Anna Kat and I sought out in 2002 at the Bama Mall, buzzing around department stores high on sugar and Dr. Pepper. I think about Peggy’s DIVINE chocolate peanut butter cake in Montgomery, about the moment I officially knew I was in love with my mother-in-law, when she ordered me AN ENTIRE, ganache-laden one for my birthday.  It’s the way my grandmother’s kitchen smelled like warm butter and cocoa as she cooked hot chocolate frosting on the stove, slowly poured over velvety, freshly baked chocolate cake. (And YES I consider grandmothers as girlfriends!)

Mattye Sprinkles the Cake

Cake is my happy place, and it was the perfect ending to a sweet, four post series with my great friend Mattye of The Loving Kind. For those of you who have kept up with our posts, you know that she and I have been guest posting on each others’ blogs for the past year, sharing our must-have tools for the kitchen (me) and tips for connecting over the dinner table (Mattye). Mattye is my relational inspiration- she is such a great connector of people, but remembers logistics (like meeting times, birthdays, Setting goals!). Her friendship has been one of the sweetest I’ve had in Alabama- not only for the love she shows, but for the sweet treats we have experienced together (#krispykreme). She is, in so many ways, the friend I hope to be. And she is also the wonderful woman who realized what our final “kitchen tool” to highlight would be in this post: a celebratory heart.

Pink Sprinkle Birthday Cake Light that candle!

And speaking of celebration, this year is also the one where Mattye and I both turn 30. I know. I thought the day would never come, but hoped it always would. Mattye has already passed that threshold (with flying colors might I add- and one of the most FABULOUS birthday parties I’ve ever attended). I am about a month away. So, we thought it would be kind of awesome to post a Top 10 list about the JOYS of turning 30- of all we are looking forward to, want to happen, and think is pretty darn awesome.

Pink Sprinkle Birthday Cake Candle Three!

Pink Sprinkle Birthday Cake Three Candles!
Three candles=thirty years

Everybody, everybody get your JOY on with our Top 10 Reasons Why Turning 30 Is Awesome:

Mattye and Callie Chow Down on Cake

See if you can guess which ones are Mattye’s and which ones are mine!

1.  CONFIDENCE- Your thirties bring a new confidence in who you are, what you want, and the comfort to go out and get it.

2. FUN- I don’t know about y’all, but I am so ready to enter into one of the most fun seasons of my life. I am finally at the point where the things that used to stress me in my 20’s (ahem, frizz, breakouts, exams, breakups, setting dish towels on fire while cooking blue box macaroni and cheese) have finally loosened their grip and I am ready to go full-throttle into a life of joy, laughter, and FUN. Taylor Swift albums? Latest YouTube video about an owl and a cat who are BFF? Late night crafting with girlfriends? Listened. Watched. Sewed.  You know why? B/c life is amazing and oh so fun.

3. GIVING BACK- At thirty you feel more grounded in your life experiences and like you have more to give back to others.

Does more cake count as a "30" reason?
Does more cake count as a “30” reason?

4. SELF ACCEPTANCE- This point is similar to the FUN one, except a bit deeper. Alright foodies, go with me on this: I think as we grow up, we realize, and own the fact, that how we are made is uniquely wonderful. For years, I’ve struggled with feeling like too much and not enough at the same time. Finally, I am making peace with that feeling. I am who I am, and pray that I grow daily into the woman I am supposed to be. Can I get an amen everybody?!

5. SOPHISTICATION- Thirty is a sophisticated age. Just try saying, “Hello, I’m thirty.” and you’ll understand what we mean.

6. PURPOSE- I am SUCH a believer that everyone has a greater purpose in this life. Whether it’s baking for your neighbors down the street, saving lives, encouraging your friends- everything we do for other people matters. And I’m realizing that my purpose in life is much too important to let fear of failure and fear of other people’s opinions run the show. It’s time to rise on up, put your big girl pants on, and live out the way you were made to bless this earth.

 

Yes, that is the face I make when I eat cake.
Yes, that is the face I make when I eat cake.

7. CONTENTMENT- You no longer feel like you “should be out doing something fun” instead of what you really want to be doing, which is spending a Friday night in with pizza, ice cream and Netflix.

8. ADVENTURE- Travel has been on my bucket list for years, and it’s about time I start the journey. To be honest, life as a freelancer and blogger is not the most lucrative of careers, BUT this wanderlust has made me rethink how I spend my income. I think that’s part of turning 30 too; clarifying financial needs/wants. Because as much as I want that pumpkin spice latte every morning, is it really worth my eventual trip to Paris? Umm, no. Cafe and croissants here we come, amis!

9. BUILDING- After stepping out of the whirlwind that can often be your twenties, your thirties are a time where you get to really build upon the things that are important to you, whether that is your career, a family, creative outlets, a home, or a new adventure!

10. FRIENDSHIPS- And speaking of amis (French word for friends, I learned that this morning), it took me 29 years to realize just how important friends are. I want my 30th year to be one of renewed commitment to the ones I love; the ones who have stood by me, and the ones I couldn’t imagine my life without. They have become my family, and I want to not only treat them just as fabulously as they have treated me, but figure out small ways to show them I’m grateful for their kindness, prayers, love and bouts of unrestricted belly laughter.

Now, to the recipe!

Pink Sprinkle Birthday Cake BEAUTY

Pink Swirl Cake

This cake is easy to assemble, can totally be prepared ahead of time, and gives you that awesome wow factor of the pops of pink in the batter. Plus, the King Arthur flour really makes the cake moist and fluffy. Bon appetite!

For the cake (Recipe taken and adapted a bit from King Arthur Flour):

What You Will Need:

  • 2 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour Blend
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 large eggs whites plus 1 whole large egg
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • neon pink gel food coloring

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare two 8″ x 2″ or 9″ x 2″ round pans; by greasing and flouring; or lining with parchment, then greasing the parchment. Note: Make sure your 8″ round pans are at least 2″ deep.

2) Mix all of the dry ingredients on slow speed to blend. Add the soft butter and mix until evenly crumbly, like fine damp sand. It may form a paste, depending on the temperature of the butter, how much it’s mixed, and granulation of the sugar used.

3) Add the egg whites one at a time, then the whole egg, beating well after each addition to begin building the structure of the cake. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition. Make sure and scrape here!

4) In a small bowl, whisk the almond milk with the vanilla and almond extracts. Add this mixture, 1/3 at a time, to the batter. Beat 1 to 2 minutes after each addition, until fluffy. Be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Keep on scraping!

5) Pour the first half of the vanilla batter evenly into each cake pan. With the remaining batter, add a few drops of food coloring, and beat in the mixer until you reach your desired level of pinkness. 

6) Now, using a spoon, drop dollops of the pink batter on top of the vanilla batter, in a circular pattern, using the same amount of large dollops (about two tablespoons) in each pan. Then, using a toothpick or wooden skewer, swirl the pink batter into the vanilla batter until it is well distributed (it took me about thirty seconds of swirling). So pretty!

7.) Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes for 8″ or 9″ rounds. A toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center will come out clean when done. Remove from the oven, remove from the pan, (careful, the pans are hot!), cool on a rack, and frost. 

Frosted Cake!

For the frosting, I adapted this recipe a bit from All Recipes:

What You Will Need:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk
  • a few drops neon pink food coloring (depending on your level of pinkness here too)

What you Will Do:

  1. Cream room temperature butter with the the paddle attachment of a stand mixer until smooth and fluffy. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until fully incorporated. 
  2. Pour in almond milk and beat for an additional 3-4 minutes. Add food coloring, and beat for thirty seconds until smooth or until desired color is reached.

And finally, for those of you who made it to the bottom of this post, I reward you with this:

Mattye, as always, looks amazing. I look insane. #30's
Mattye, as always, looks amazing. I look insane. #30’s

Love you all, and happy birthday!!