The Comeback Recipe

One of my most requested recipes is honestly not mine.  Shameful I know but you cannot mess with perfection and Kelsey has perfected this one.  Creamy cheeses perfectly paired and melted slowly together making the best mac and cheese you have ever had.  Bold statement right?  It’s a bold recipe.

Kelsey Nixon’s Skillet Bacon Mac and Cheese

Ingredients:

1 pound of pasta, your choice

1 tsp.  dry mustard

1/4 tsp.  ground cayenne pepper

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar

1 cup grated gruyere cheese

1 cup, plus 1/2 cup grated parmesan

1 cup milk

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese) bread crumbs

2 tbsp.  flat leaf parsley

6 slices bacon, cooked reserved 1/4 cup rendered bacon fat

Béchamel sauce ingredients:

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup flour

3 cups hot milk

1/4 tsp.  nutmeg

salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Boil water for pasta, once boiling please cook until almost al dente and drain.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Make béchamel sauce, melt butter in 12 inch oven proof skillet.  Whisk in flour and stir constantly until it starts to bubble, around 2 minute (don’t let it brown).  Gradually add the hot milk and stir constantly until thickened.  Add nutmeg, salt, pepper, reduce heat and cook for a couple more minutes.  Remove from heat.

On a low heat add the dry mustard and cayenne pepper to the béchamel sauce.  Either take the skillet off the heat or on the lowest setting you have and add cheese, stir quickly until smooth (this is key to avoiding that gritty cheese texture).  Add the milk and cream to the sauce to thin it out a bit.

In another skillet brown bacon until crispy, reserve 1/4 cup bacon fat.  Add cooked pasta to béchamel sauce. In a separate bowl mix bread crumbs, chopped parsley, and bacon fat, sprinkle this mixture over the pasta mixture.  Sprinkle another 1/2 cup parmesan on top of the pasta as well.  Bake until top is browned between 20-25 minutes depending on your ovens heat.  Enjoy!

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The perfect easy side dish

I’m pleased to share with you one of my families favorite go-to weeknight side dish recipes, sweet potato fries!  The good news is these are quick and they go with almost any main dish you can think of.

Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients:

5 medium size white sweet potatoes

1/4- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

teaspoon cinnamon

salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:  First preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a standard size cookie sheet with parchment and set aside.  Peel and cut each potato long ways in the shape of fries (or use your über fancy fries cutter).  Toss the fries in the oil and sprinkle them with the cayenne, cinnamon, salt, and pepper.

I love to serve mine with archer farms mango jalapeno ketchup from Target (it is amazing).  Dinner is served!

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From our home to yours, happy eats!

 

Practicing Pecan Pie

Now say the title of this post three times fast….  Anytime I think of pecan pie I think of When Harry Met Sally and Billy Crystal getting Megan Ryan to say “Peeecan pie” in the most ridiculous voice..  Seriously, can’t you see him saying it to her?

When Harry met Sally

It’s that time again, time that we start practicing our new Thanksgiving recipes.  This year I have found a fabulously unique pecan pie recipe that will have all of your guest’s mouths watering before they even get through the door at Thanksgiving (this will also win over any new significant other’s fam, guaranteed).  I cannot take the credit for this one unfortunately, it is from one of my all time favorite cookbooks, The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book.  If you don’t have it, do not hesitate, click here now and buy this amazing pie book.  The book is written by two sisters who somewhat serendipitously fell into their careers as pie shop owners.  All owners of this cook book or patrons of their bakery, thank them for their decision.

I have adapted their Black Walnut recipe to be a Pecan Pie recipe due to what I had on hand.  I’m sure it would be equally as wonderful with whatever walnut or pecan you’d like to sub in.

Pecan Pie

Ingredients:

One single-crust partially prebaked

1 cup pecans

1 cup granulated sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons water

3/4 cup apple cider

2 teaspoon cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

2 teaspoons stone-ground cornmeal

3 large eggs

Position one of the oven racks to the center of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spread the pecans out on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes (depending on your oven’s heat).  Put aside in small bowl to cool.

Combine the sugar, butter, and water in a saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until deep golden brown or until candy thermometer reads 230 degrees Fahrenheit.  Turn the heat off and slowly pour in the apple cider (the caramel will bubble).  Add the vinegar and whisk until smooth.  Pour the cider mixture into a mixing bowl and leave until cool to the touch.  Whisk in the salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cornmeal.  Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl.  Slowly pour in 1/3 cup cider mixture into the eggs to temper.  Add cider-egg mixture to the bowl.  Stir the toasted walnuts in.

Place the partially prebaked crust on a rimmed cookie sheet and pour in the filling.  Bake on the middle rack for 30-35 minutes, rotate the pie about half way through to ensure even baking.  The pie is done when the edges are set and the center is still slightly wobbly (remember the filling will continue to cook after it is out of the oven).  Allow to cool for 1-2 hours, serve at any temperature you would like.  The pie will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

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From our home to yours, enjoy!

What’s for breakfast?

I have a confession to make, I get into different workout trends about every other month! Not that I’m super proud of it but I can tell you from experience, for the most part there is no one workout that will instantly melt the fat away (apparently it takes time). Although the latest, P90X, which is definitely passed its trendy time, actually seems to be making a difference. It could be because the friend that passed these DVDs over insisted on me taking the nutrition guide to follow along.

Now I would assume you all know me well enough to know I couldn’t bring myself to stick to the P90X recipes. I mean i will work for food, but good food. Ironically the book has inspired some better choices to fuel my body for the gruesome workouts. I have stayed within the amount of each food group I’m supposed to eat, but…. I foodied it up a bit (yes, I know I made that word up).

That being said, I have been missing baked goods terribly, prime example this week I paid 5 dollars just to get a brownie I could eat (gluten free and sweetened with agave), needless to say it was devoured in under 30 seconds.

My name is Ashley and I have a problem, I am addicted to sweets. They say that’s the first step, right? No….. I think the first step must be to make changes, I shall never give up sweets. For example, there is a recipe with banana and protein powder in a smoothie in the mornings that isn’t bad. So what I did was adapt a smoothie recipe to a Paleo friendly breakfast bread packed full of protein and fiber, but seriously good! You know I don’t joke about food, seriously it’s good!

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp coconut oil melted (plus additional to grease the pan)
4 eggs
3 Tbsps honey
1 Tbsp apple butter
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
2 Tbsps flaxseed meal
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup coconut milk
3 large ripe bananas
1/2 cup extra dark chocolate chips chopped

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees

Prepare loaf pan (9 by 4) by greasing with coconut oil

In a mixing bowl, mix wet ingredients (coconut oil, eggs, honey, apple butter) until smooth

In a separate bowl mix all dry ingredients (coconut flour, almond flour, protein powder, flaxseed meal, baking soda, sea salt), then add it to the dry mixture

In one last bowl mash up the bananas and coconut milk, then add the mash in with the batter. Once mixed smooth add the chocolate chips.

Now pop it in the oven and wait 50 minutes or until the bread springs back up when touched.

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Hint! I have shopped for all kinds of baking ingredients and a lot of them have cost… Well… More than I’d ever like to admit. I have recently discovered the bins at Sprouts… Bins… Like by the candy bins. The prices are about half of the repackaged ones across the store. I knew I loved Sprouts grocery stores but this just pushed them to the top of my list!

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And…. Before you know it your house smells wonderful and the bread is ready! I recommend letting it cool but I mean seriously….. If your baking this you obviously practicing enough will power with your healthy lifestyle.. Plus when you smell this bread fresh out of the oven, waiting on it to cool could bring a entirely new meaning to practicing will power.

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Last lather a slice in butter (cultured because that makes it healthy…right?) and enjoy!

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The best chocolate chip cookies….ever

I love chocolate chip cookies. When my husband and I were dating we’d try a different version of the classic cookie every weekend. One of my favorite memories is us slow dancing in the kitchen waiting on the cookies to finish baking with the smell of butter and sugar filling the room…. It was heaven…. at least thats how I think heaven will be.. Yes definitely.

This is one of our favorite recipes of all we have tried.. The recipe below was derived from the Jacques Torres’ secret chocolate cup cookie recipe but we’ve made it into our own!

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ingredients:
1 pound butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3 cups dark brown sugar
4 eggs
3 cups pastry flour
3 cups bread flour
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp baking powder
2 Tbsp baking soda
2 Tbsp vanilla
12 oz bittersweet chocolate chopped
12 oz milk chocolate

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Make sure it’s real vanilla extract…. It makes a huge difference

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Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Use a electric mixer to mix the butter and sugars. Add the eggs one at a time. In a separate bowl whisk the dry ingredients together. Slowly add the dry ingredients one cup at a time to the dry ingredients, until well blended. Last add the vanilla and chocolate into the mix. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop the cookie dough out and place on the cookie sheet two inches apart. Bake the cookies until lightly browned, roughly 20 minutes. Cool and enjoy!

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Don’t forget to share! Perfect for all ages, who doesn’t want a homage chocolate chip cookie… I mean seriously?

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Happy Mother’s Day to all the fabulous mothers out there! Enjoy from our home to yours!

In honor of Derby Day

In honor of Derby Day I’m sentimentally going to share my most Southern dish…..the biscuit.

This recipe is about more than just an average biscuit….there’s the honey. The summer my honey was saving for a ring he worked the bee hives in the mornings. An old family friend from church had taught him the process and would pay him (more than ever necessary) to help with the process when he was home in the summers. Now every time we go down to visit we always have a jar of honey waiting. The one we have now is one of my favorites, it has more of a floral flavor.

Last but not least I also used some rosemary from my garden. Our garden is looking fabulous, here is just a short preview….

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The rosemary I’m using today

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Everyone in the South has their own biscuit recipe and technique that has been passed down. Every good Southern restaurant does as well, Loveless Cafe in Nashville, Hominy Grill in Charleston, BRC in Houston (not the most traditional example, wonderful none the less)…..I suppose I’m a connoisseur of sorts. This is my recipe, let me know what you think!

Rosemary Honey Butter Bisuits

Ingredients:

1 Cup Pastry Flour
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
5 Tbsps Sugar
1 Tbsp Salt
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1 3/4 Cup Buttermilk
16 Tbsps Frozen Butter
2 Tbsps Honey
1 Tbsp Finely Copped Fresh Rosemary

Preheat the oven at 400 degrees. Mix the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder up in a bowl. Then grate 10 Tbsps of the frozen butter into the bowl (this helps prevent overworking the dough) and add the buttermilk. Gently mix the buttermilk in with your hands, be extra careful not to over work the dough so they’ll be fluffy. Put the dough on a powdered surface, make a 6 by 8 inch rectangle, and cut into six squares.

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Place on a parchment lined sheet pan a couple inches apart.

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Bake for 20 minutes, in the meantime melt the rest of the butter on the stove top, add the honey and rosemary. After 20 minutes in the oven take the biscuits out and baste them with the butter mixture.

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Then put them back in the oven for another 10 minutes until gold brown.

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The butter and honey mixture almost caramelizes the top of the biscuits…. And it’s heaven!

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These are the perfect size for breakfast sandwiches! You can only imagine how happy my husband was when he came home on his lunch break to one of these buttery biscuits with bacon, an egg, and cheese on it!

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I apologize for the bite, it smelled so good I almost forgot to take the final picture for y’all! By the way……it tasted heavenly! They don’t make recipes any more “Southern” than this. Happy Derby Day from our home to yours!

A Little California Inspiration

I’m alive!!! I know it’s been a few weeks but I promise this beautiful recipe was worth the wait…. Plus I have updated everyone’s favorite wall in my house… The Chalkboard Wall is ready for Spring!

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Love it, don’t you? This was designed because of what all has happened over the past month. I have been truly humbled by God. I was wasn’t feeling as excited about my retail job as I once had coming out of this Christmas. Working six days a week with long hours through the Holidays had me longing for a more 9-5 type job. I have thought a lot about what I really enjoy doing…. Unfortunately most of my domestic interests don’t seem to be career interests. I prayed… and I prayed… really not sure what I was praying for. I knew I needed a change. The day before my birthday, a coworker/friend of mine told me of a position another coworker had applied for. Turns out, this was the position I have wanted since I first went to work for Macy’s. This is the type of job, I was once told, somebody would have to die for it to come available. It is also the one position in the company in which I could use my domestic/ creative skills all the time. It would be a way for me to get paid to do what I love, plan events full time. But there were a million reasons for me not to have the opportunity to interview for it, much less get the position.

Despite all odds I was able to apply for the position that wasn’t even posted yet with the help of my boss, and conveniently the supervisor of that position was in town from California the day I emailed it in to do an interview. I’m happy to tell you all, God has blessed me with this new position. There is no way around it, He is the reason I have this new job that fits everything I was looking for (some of which I didn’t even know to look for). It’s always humbling to realize God has something wonderful planned for you, that you wouldn’t have dreamed up on your own. This brings me to the California inspiration, due to the new job, I’ll be doing a little traveling. My first week was in California. Being the foodie I am, any time not working was spent looking for the next meal. Although there were many fabulous foodie experiences (follow my Instagram), it was a salad from Hugo’s that has inspired me to replicate it for you(with my own spin of course). I don’t know if I’ve ever really eaten beets much less cooked them before this, but trust me their is nothing to fear.

Beet and Goat Cheese Quinoa Salad
Salad for two

Ingredients:
Two Large Raw Beets
1/2 Cup Goat Cheese
1/2 Cup Carrots Chopped
1/4 Cup Scallions Chopped
1/3 Cup Walnuts Chopped
3 Cups Chopped Spring Salad Leafs
1/3 Cup Dried Cherries
1 Cup Cooked Quinoa
4 Tbsps Oil and Vinegar Dressing
Coconut oil for roasting

First Preheat the oven at 400 degrees. Then we must peel, cut the roots off, and chop these beautiful veggies (chop into eights)

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Put them on a sheet pan then cover them with coconut oil, salt, and pepper (a couple tablespoons should do).

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Stunning, right? Roast these for about 40 minutes in the preheated oven. The coconut oil gives them a slightly sweet taste. Let them cool and chop the beets into smaller pieces. Our sweet friends that watched Sophia while we were both on trips gave us these beauties.

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These were cleaned and chopped for our salad. I have a technique for making salads…. I don’t always make salads but when I do… I put all of the ingredients in a large plastic bowl and shake it. I like to make sure you get a little bit of everything in each bite.

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Mix these ingredients up and you get this gorgeous dish, it taste as good as it looks. It may look girlie but the hubby loved it (he added a little pretzel bread on the side)!

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From our home to yours, enjoy!