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14.9.18



Hello Loves!

So, the leaves are falling (kind of), whilst I sit here sipping my pumpkin spice latte and editing this post. This has to be one of my favorite posts I've worked on so far, with the pictures turning out gorgeous and the recipe, a year in the making, turning out amazing! As the temperature outside starts cooling off, I prepare to get busy with my baking and fall recipes. My favorite recipes are the ones that have alot of spices and richness to them. In the mix of recipes, I always try to include some variations on sugar cookies since they are so prevalent this time of year. That's how I came up with these warm-spiced sugar cookies with a lovely orange glaze to add a bit of zing.

You'll make your loved ones very happy with this recipe. You won't need incense or essential oils because while baking these cookies your house is going to smell absolutely amazing. I ground my own spice mix but you can use pre-ground cloves, cinnamon and star anise so you don't have to do the extra work. It just seems like grinding the spices fresh helps release fresh oils and flavors so that your cookies come out extra flavorful. Not only is this one of my best and most favorite sugar cookie recipes, but it includes a spectacular DOUBLE glaze; one is a fresh and complimentary orange glaze and the other is a milk and nutmeg based glaze to add that earthy richness. And, of course, a great way to make your cookies taste better is to cut them out in cute little fall shapes. As everyone knows, food tastes better when it looks fun!

So grab your favorite fall cookie cutter forms and let's get started!

Ingredient List:

Flour - 4 Cups
Sugar - 1 1/2 Cups
Egg - 1, Medium
Baking Powder - 1 Tbsp.
Salt - 1/4 tsp.
Ground Cloves - 1/2 tsp.
Ground Cinnamon- 1 tsp.
Ground Star Anise- 1/4tsp.
Butter - 1 Cup, room temperature

Orange Glaze recipe:

Orange - 3, juiced and zested
Powered Sugar - 1 Cup
Orange Food Color - just a pinch will do you plenty!

Spiced Glaze Recipe:

Milk - 3 Tbsp.
Powdered Sugar - 1 Cup
Nutmeg - 1/3 tsp., Freshly grated

Don't forget to get some fun fall sprinkles and toppings!

Start off by making your cookies. Set the oven to preheat to 400 degrees. While the oven is warming up, put together the dough. Put your egg and butter into your stand mixer. Turn it on low and let the egg and butter break up and become one liquid. Now add your dry ingredients: Flour, Sugar, Baking Powder, Salt, Cloves, Cinnamon and Star Anise. I recommend mixing all of the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl to get them pre-incorporated together. When you add your dry ingredients, do so slowly and keep the mixer going slowly as well until the dry ingredients have been moistened. This will keep you from having a layer of spiced flour dust all over your kitchen! Slowly increase the speed as the ingredients all meld together. Once everything has mixed evenly, stop the mixer.

Lightly flour a working surface on your counter or table and lay your dough out on it. Lightly flour your rolling pin and roll your dough out thin, about 1/8th inch. Once you'v reached this thickness, take your favorite cookie cutters and go nuts! I found some really cute maple leaves and turkeys at Michaels. If you have little ones helping you out, make sure to keep an eye on them as the cookie cutters can have some sharp edges!

Take out some baking trays and line them with parchment paper. Place your cookies on the trays as you go.




When you cut out your cookies, roll the leftover dough into a ball and roll it out again with a rolling pin. Keep going until you have all of the dough used up. This will help prevent any waste. Just a head's up that this recipe will make about 4-5 dozen cookies, so don't be surprised if you look up and have all of your trays filled all of a sudden. If you only have a couple trays, you can roll out lengths of parchment paper and set your cookies on them. Then, when one group of cookies is done baking, you can exchange baked for unbaked very easily.

When the oven is ready, slide your trays in and set your timer to 9 to 10 minutes. Or whenever the underside starts turning golden brown.


Once the cookies are baked, pull them out of the oven and transfer directly to a cooling rack. Now is the time to get rolling on your glazes.

For the orange glaze, pour the orange juice and zest into a small saucepan and heat in up on medium, stirring occasionally for a few minutes until the juice thickens. Add the sugar and stir it in until it's dissolved. Add some orange food coloring to the glaze to make it brighter orange as needed or you can leave it out if you prefer. Continue to simmer for a few more minutes and stir to make sure that everything is dissolved and the glaze is smooth and sweet (be careful not to burn yourself when tasting!!) Remove from the heat but keep slightly warm.

For the spiced glaze, simply pour the milk into another small saucepan and heat it up on medium as well. Once the milk has started to simmer, add the powdered sugar and stir it in until dissolved. Once the sugar has been dissolved, slowly cook the milk down until it thickens into a glaze. Finish by removing the milk from the heat and grating a whole nutmeg into the glaze, stirring it in.

Your cookies should be cooled off for the most part by now, so you can go ahead and glaze them. The cooler the cookies are, the better, because the glaze will set quickly on a cool cookie. If you put hot glaze on a hot cookie, the glaze will go everywhere and you will have a mess... Unless you want the cookies coated in the glaze, in which case, go nuts!

For everyone else, have a slightly warm glaze (enough to pour from a spoon but cool enough to stay mostly on the cookie) and a room temperature cookie. Put your cookies on a cool tray and drizzle the glaze over top of the cookies. Put some festive fall sprinkles, or any other toppings you want, on the cookies and let the glaze finish cooling before serving.

And that's it! Baking cookies is one of those time-honored traditions that arrives with the nip in the air and is shared around the kitchen with many generations of family taking part. Once you've finished with the cookies, throw together a cold, nutmeg-spiced milk and enjoy! If you liked this recipe, please leave a comment and, in the spirit of sharing the season and the harvest, share this post. Have a great day loves!






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12.9.18


Hello Loves!

How is everyone? So I bring you last of my summer recipes. One of the big deals of the fall is the advent of football season. We aren't really a football watching household but I love myself some good traditional wings. One of the big deals that my husband and I always get when we go to a sports bar are the parmesan garlic wings. We try many flavors usually, neither of us are huge buffalo wing fans, but we always come back to that lovely richness of parmesan garlic.

It's in that spirit that I threw this recipe together. Instead of going through the trouble of prepping a deep fryer with all of that oil, I decided to go with a less greasy option. Beautifully baked and dressed with a fresh grated parmesan, minced garlic and herbaceous parsley sauce, these wings are wonderful with little need of a dipping sauce. My husband loves Italian flavors and he enjoyed eating these so much that he cleaned out the rest for lunch. I'd say that this recipe is definitely hubby approved.

Another thing about these wings is that we went ahead and sprung for a delivery order from a local farm. Specifically, Tyner Pond Farm in Greenfield, Indiana. Their website has tons of different types of meat to choose from, such as chicken, beef, pork and lamb. For around $50, we ordered a pound of the wings, 4 lamb burgers, 6 chorizo sausages, 5 chicken legs, 2 pounds of chicken livers and 1 pound of chicken hearts and had it delivered for free in a lovely cold bag. What we have found is that the meats that we received were of superior quality when compared to your typical grocery store. There was enough of an impression that we can honestly suggest choosing Tyner Pond Farm for your meats.

Enough about that, let's get started!

Ingredients:

Chicken Wings - 2 pounds, bone-in
Butter - 1/2 stick or 4 Tbsp.
Parmesan Cheese - 1/2 Cup, grated
Parsely - 2 Tbsp., finely chopped
Garlic - 6 cloves, minced
Black Pepper - 1/4 tsp. fresh cracked
Salt to taste

The first thing to do is to get your oven preheated. Set it to 350 and while it is warming up, get your wings prepared.

Our wings came whole so I had to cut them into their individual pieces: the drumette, the wing and the tip. An easy way to do this is to take your thumb and find the spot where the joints meet. Then, using a sharp knife and moving your thumb out of the way, cut between the bones. Avoid cutting the actual bones as this will dull your knife and you'll be stopped to sharpen the blade before finishing. Also, I know some people like the crunchiness of the wing tips but we tend to just toss them. They are mostly bone and very little meat.

Dry the wings with a paper towel and toss them in a bowl. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on them and toss them to get them coated evenly.

About now your oven should be preheated, so you're going to get out your favorite baking tray and line it with parchment paper. Place the wings on the tray, making sure to leave a little bit of room between each wing. Slide the wings into the oven and let them bake for about 40 minutes. During this time, you can work on the garlic butter sauce to go over the wings.

In a sauce pan, start to melt your butter. While the butter is melting, go ahead and mince your garlic and finely chop the parsley. When the butter is almost all melted down, add the garlic and stir frequently. Make sure you keep an eye on your garlic so that it doesn't burn. Burnt garlic is bitter and disgusting and will not be a good accompaniment to the wings.

Once the garlic has just started to brown slightly, take it off of the heat and stir in the parsley, letting the parsley wilt in the hot butter.

At this time, your wings should be about done. Use a meat thermometer to make sure that the wings are at about 165 degrees internal temperature. Your wings should be lightly brown and crispy. If you drag a fork lightly over the skin, it should have that crispy crunchy sound that tells you its done.

Transfer the wings into a bowl and pour the garlic butter mixture over them, tossing them to get the butter all over them. When the butter has an even coat, grate some fresh parmesan cheese over the wings then toss again to get a good coating of the cheese.

And that about does it! Serve the wings warm, with additional parmesan cheese as a garnish. If you want to kick it up a few levels, add some red chili flakes to the butter when cooking. Otherwise, make as many as you can, set them in your favorite serving dish and let the football fans have their way with them. If they are like my husband, coming home from lunch, all you should have leftover are small piles of very clean bones and big smiles.

If you enjoyed this recipe as much as I hope you did, please leave a comment and share with your friends. And as always my loves, have a wonderful day!




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31.8.18




Hey loves!

So Fall is around the corner and I wanted to start a little early with a favorite of my warm fall recipes I have planned for y'all. I absolutely love Fall, even though it is a precursor to the cold. Some of my favorite things are all of the harvests that happen when August comes to a close. Some of the most iconic harvests are Apples in September and Pumpkins and Squash from October through the winter. I'm in no way dissing the apples, but I just felt like dipping into my own mental recipe pad and pulling out my own version of a delightful Butternut Squash soup!

All of the wonderful flavors of fall went into this recipe, plus a little spicy cayenne kick at the end to sign off on your taste buds. But before that, you get to experience the smooth, creamy, sweet and savory mouthfeel of an iconic fall soup that is tempered with some crispy, brown butter fried, sage leaves and some just as crispy turkey sausage.

Are you salivating yet? My husband was when he got home from work. That's why we don't have any leftovers. So if you want to experience a Fall recipe that is good enough for late Summer, read on!

Soup Ingredients:

Butternut Squash - 1 Whole, cut in half CAREFULLY!
Garlic - 1 Bulb (5 Cloves for this recipe)
Yellow Onion - 1 Whole, Quartered
Chicken Broth or Stock - 3 Cups
Cayenne Powder - 1/2 tsp.
Garlic Powder - 1 tsp.
Salt to taste

Crispy Sage Ingredients:

Fresh Sage Leaves - 12 Whole (Maybe a few more for garnish later)
Salted Butter - 1/2 Stick

Turkey Sausage Ingredients:

Ground Turkey Sausage - 1 pound
All Purpose Seasoning - 1 tsp.
Olive Oil - 1 Tbsp.
Garlic Powder - 1/2 tsp.
Salt to taste


The first thing you do is get the oven preheated to 400 degrees and get all of the veggies prepared. Take your baking tray out and line it with parchment paper. Then cut your squash in half longways, like in the picture above. Scoop out the seeds and put the squash, inside up, on the tray. Then peel and chop the onion in quarters and put it next to the squash on the tray. Finally, cut through a whole bulb of garlic, removing the top third, and put it, cut side up, on the tray.

Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the top of the vegetables and slide the tray into the oven. Let the vegetables roast for about 40 minutes or until you can easily slide a fork into the flesh of the squash. When the vegetables are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool.


The vegetables should look like the picture above.

While the vegetables are cooling, get started on the rest of the pieces of the meal. To get the crispy sage, toss the butter into a frying pan and melt it over medium-high heat, stirring often. While the butter is still melting, cut the sage into individual leaves. Once the butter is melted, stir constantly while the butter slowly turns light brown. At this point, add the sage leaves and stir the sage and butter constantly, letting the leaves get nice and crispy. It shouldn't take long, just about 15-20 seconds, 30 seconds at the most, you want a nice, sagey brown butter. You DON'T want burnt butter and sage. Immediately remove from the heat and set aside.

For the turkey, take out another frying pan and drizzle the olive oil into it as you heat it up to medium high. When the pan is hot, add the turkey sausage. Chop up the meat with a spatula/spoon and stir, getting the meat to brown evenly. Add the seasonings and continue cooking until the turkey starts crisping up and the liquid is almost gone. When the turkey is done, remove from the heat.

By now, the vegetables should be cool. Grab a big pot and drizzle just a bit of olive oil into the bottom as you heat it up on medium. Take a spoon and scoop the meat of the squash out and into the pot. Make sure you get all of the goodness out of the skin. Add the onion, sage and butter, and the 5 cloves of garlic to the pot as well. Make sure you wrap the rest of the roasted garlic in plastic and leave in the fridge for other wonderful uses.

Get everything warm again and stir it together. Then, take a stick blender and run it through the soup, chopping up the onion, sage and garlic and smoothing out the squash. If you don't have a stick blender, you can pour the contents of the pot into a regular blender either way, get everything as smooth as you can.

If you want to take the texture to the next level, or if you just want to avoid the chunks of sage and onion, you can run the soup through a sieve. If you do this, do a little at a time and use a cake spatula to press the thinner parts of the soup through the mesh and into a pot. This will make sure that all of the large chunks of vegetable get held back and all that remains is a lovely, smooth, velvety butternut squash soup. Either way, pour the soup into your favorite bowl and garnish with any remaining crispy sage and a nice pile of turkey sausage. Sprinkle just a tiny bit of cayenne over it all and a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Now, it's time to dig in. Crack open a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, sit on your patio and feel yourself being transported to a cool evening in late October. That's about what we did, but thankfully it was a relatively nice day so it wasn't so hard to imagine a cooler day.


That's about it for this post. I hope you all enjoyed it. If you give it a try, please leave a comment, telling me how much you liked this recipe!
 

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24.8.18





Hey loves!

I know it's been a while, but I hope you'll forgive me as I bring you this beautiful and easy Fall Wreath.

I've been thinking all summer of how I wanted to change my wreath. I got in a rut of indecisiveness and what was supposed to be a summer wreath came to be this month. I knew that I wanted to keep my base and the "E" but I wanted to bring the seasons into it.

One thing I never got into with Fall was the typical brown, yellow and orange colors that are so prevalent. So I found a way to celebrate fall with a different view. I took my spring wreath and removed the flower picks then added new fall flowers and pumpkins. I've noticed this fall that blush and rose tones are trending. Typically, I avoid these colors like the usual fall palette but this Fall season I wanted to embrace it and make it work with my decor.

My husband and I did our usual rounds, visiting our local Michael's, Hobby Lobby and even hitting up a Dollar Tree on our way home. One of our favorite things to do is to hit the road for fun, usually we just head off in some random direction and swing back around after about an hour. Somewhere on our trail, we hit up either the craft stores or the outlet stores to dress up ourselves or to dress up the house. Sometimes my husband makes us pull into Cabelas and he runs around like a kid in a candy store while I hang out and watch the fishies in their big tank in the middle of the store.

As for this trip, we ended up grabbing some cotton picks, a couple pretty flower bunches and some pumpkins. I'll tell you where I found everything below:

Wreath - Hobby Lobby
Flowers - Michaels
Cotton Picks - Hobby Lobby
Pumpkin with Gold Detail - Michaels
Vine Pumpkin - Hobby Lobby
Willow Branches - Michaels
Wooden "E" - Michaels

                                                                          Before

I reused the base and the "E" from my previous wreath design and updated it with some new pieces. I layered in the Willow branches first, using the "E" as my guide (since I glued it into place and can't move it). Then I stuck on the pumpkins. Both pumpkins had picks on the bottom which made them really easy to get latched on in the vines of the wreath. From there I added the Cotton picks and finished it all off with these beautiful pink/rose/blush roses that I found at Michaels. We ended up making a second trip to try and find more of these because I liked the color so much but one bunch wasn't enough to fill the space I wanted to fill.

I know that the pink tones aren't typical of what you normally find this time of year, but I noticed that these colors were actually trending. Because I am who I am, I went with these colors. I do the same thing come Christmas time, I can't stand the simple red and green everything! Anyhow, I think we can agree that the wreath came out lovely!

You can see a couple more photos below. Please excuse my husband's arms as we was playing "wreath hanger" for me as I tried to get a good shot.


And that about does it for this post! If you liked this wreath design, give me a comment and a share if you could please! Also, be on the lookout for my first ETSY listing! I went ahead and designed another wreath (posting imminent) and put it up to see if I could share my love of wreathes with others! So be on the lookout for that. Until next time, have a great day!
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8.6.18




Hey loves!

I've made another keto-friendly recipe and couldn't help but share it with you, my friends.

Anyone who has dabbled in the ketogenic diet or a low carb/high fat lifestyle knows that eggs, those wonderful packets of fat and protein, can become a very tired food item. You can only do scrambled eggs so many times before you get sick of them. Even MY scrambled eggs, with a splash of cream, and plenty of salt and pepper, become a bit of a chore to eat. Also, as anyone who eats a ketogenic diet or a low carb/high fat lifestyle, there are few foods that fit into those lifestyles as completely as eggs.

So what do you do?

You come up with interesting ways of having your eggs and ENJOYING them too!

All my Keto/low carb babes have got to try this. Even if you're not keto or low carb you will love this recipe as well. It's a crustless quiche with ham and swiss cheese! Not only is this quiche crustless, but it has no flour in it so that makes the carbs take a dive in this fight. I actually prefer my quiche without crust so this suited me pretty well. I also don't generally eat a whole lot of cheese, so this is one of the few ways I enjoy lots of cheese in a dish.

So, if you enjoy breakfast for dinner, let's get this show on the road.

Ingredients-

Large Eggs - 5, scrambled
Ham - 1 1/2 Cup, cubed small
Heavy Cream - 1 Cup
Shredded Swiss Cheese - 1 1/2 Cup (I used a swiss and gruyere mix that Meijer had on sale)
White Onion - 3/4 Cup, finely chopped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 1 tsp.
Black Pepper - 1/2 tsp. fresh cracked
Chives - 2 Tbsp, finely chopped
Salt to taste

Start off by prepping the ingredients. Get everything cut up and separated. Then get your oven preheated to 350 degrees. While your oven is preheating, pour the olive oil into a saute pan and heat it up to medium-high heat. Once heated, add the onions and stir occasionally until they become translucent. Then add the ham cubes and continue stirring to get some crispiness on the ham and onions. Remove the ham and onions from the heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and cream thoroughly to make a smooth custard. Then add the ham, onions, cheese, chives and salt and stir to get the ingredients evenly incorporated. Pour the mixture into a lightly greased pie pan. I used a clear Pyrex pan. Crack the black pepper over the quiche before gently sliding it into the heated oven.

Bake your quiche for 45 minutes. All of the moisture on the top of the quiche should be cooked out and you should see a nice brown crust where the quiche meets the pan. Remove the quiche from the oven and set it on a cooling rack. Slice it up and serve warm. Chop some fresh chives and garnish your favorite slice of quiche before eating it up as quickly as possible.

And that does it! I hope you are enjoying this quiche recipe. You can use whatever fillings you want to make it your own. Maybe some spinach and feta or even use some provolone, thinly sliced sirloin, green peppers, onions and mushrooms to make a philly cheese quiche. I can say that I am glad that I found this swiss/gruyere mix in the store. It took the cheese to another level! However, you try this recipe, I hope you enjoy it! Leave a comment and share with your friends. Most of all, have a wonderful day!






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1.6.18



Hi Loves!

It's a rainy day here in central Indiana. A few storms decided to pop up over the last few days and gave us a nice watering for the first time in over a week. I felt like it was the perfect opportunity to get on here and just talk about life, how well my lavender plant is thriving and what are some different things I've done this time around from the way I took care of them in the past.

So far things have been going well. Not great, but well. Struggling with anxiety and bipolar has made my work struggle a bit as well. For a while, I had suspended my trips to my therapist. I thought that I was all better for a while but my illness came back to bite me in the butt and reminded me that bipolar will always be a part of me. I will always have ups and downs. But I've started going back to my therapist and my husband and I are planning to visit a local support group at some point. I think that, if you feel alone in your illness, it is a good idea to seek a support group. It's not a bad thing, quite the opposite. Having a community of people who share a similar struggle to yourself can make all the difference, or at least make you feel less alone. If that is something that you are interested in, go to the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) website and they will help you find a support group.

Otherwise, I am working really hard to bring y'all some good content. I've decided to revisit my YouTube and I'm going to start working on putting up videos for you to watch. Some of you might remember that, way back in the day, I did a lot of beauty and makeup videos. My interest in makeup is as strong as it used to be but the price of makeup being what it is will mean that those sorts of videos probably won't be my mainstay for a while. You might see the occasional fashion video, showing my TJ Maxx and Marshall's hauls, but I'm planning on mostly doing DIY's and recipe related content and see how it goes from there.

Don't get too excited, it might be a while until I get some videos made, but I think that is my next step, content-wise. If you all have any ideas, please, help a sister out!

Our garden is growing beautifully! My husband had some extra space in the raised beds and a few empty flower pots so we went nuts and filled everything with dirt and seeds. So far, we are looking at: lavender, rosemary, basil, chicago figs, sunflowers, Meyer lemons, Sugar Baby watermelons, cucumbers, Scarlet Runner beans, Red/Yellow/Green bell peppers, Jalapeno peppers, Purple Cherokee tomatoes, San Marzano tomatoes, Pinto beans and spring onions. We've also got my spruce tree, marigolds, juniper (which I am fighting to keep alive) and my husband decided to plant a wildflower mix to attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds to help pollinate our plants.

We have a serious chipmunk problem when it comes to our garden, so we planted almost all of the seeds that we had to make sure that something would grow despite the chipmunks digging everything up. As a result, many of our plants were growing and competing for space. It hurt but we thinned out some of the plants, especially the beans and tomatoes, now that they are getting good, thick roots and stems. In the past, we have let everything grow and some of the plants eventually choked themselves out and resulted in a very small harvest. Except for cherry tomatoes. Those buttheads not only grow like weeds, but they grow about 50 plants the next spring wherever a little tomato fell into the dirt. If you are lazy, like we were at first, then you would have hundreds or thousands of volunteer plants popping up in the dirt as soon as it got warm out.

I'm going to use the garden subject as my segue into talking about lavender plants. I have tried growing lavender in a pot on our patio for the last almost 4 years. Every year, I would buy a lavender plant from Lowe's or some other place that sells live plants, stick it in the fresh potting soil in this beautiful blue clay pot and I would almost watch it quickly start to die. This year, I did a little more studying up to make sure my lavender flourished. And so far, the research has paid off. I'm going to share a few tips that I have learned that have kept my lavender looking and smelling amazing!

Tip #1 - Excessive watering will kill most plants, especially lavender.

Lavender originates from the Mediterranean, an area that is fairly arid. As such, lavender thrives with little water, about once or twice a week at most.

Tip #2 - Lavender needs good drainage.

Along with limited watering, lavender doesn't like to sit in moisture. Even in humid places, lavender cave thrive, as long as there is good drainage. If you plant it in a pot, make sure that there is a large enough hole in the bottom to facilitate drainage. I actually like to mix a third of the pot's volume's worth of sand into the potting soil. If you plant in the ground, make sure that it sits on a decent mound and that the soil is loose with plenty of organic matter to encourage drainage. You could add some sand in this case as well, if you choose, or even some gravel at the bottom of the pit you plant in.

Tip #3 - Easy on the fertilizer.

Lavender thrives in poorly fertilized soils. If you think you have extra poor soil, then just go with a good compost or a very small amount of a complete fertilizer. Too much fertilizer could force the plant to grow a bunch of foliage and no flowers. I'm pretty sure the thing we love about lavender, besides its beautiful scent, is the sweet little purple flower buds.

Tip #4 - Place  the lavender where it can get full sun exposure.

Lavender plants need a lot of sunlight. At least 6+ hours a day in full sun is best. If you are growing lavender inside, place it on a south facing window or door or wherever you get the most sun in your home.

Tip #5 - Mulch carefully.

If you use a mulch, use just enough to prevent weeds. Make sure you keep the mulch away from the crown of the plant as well. Too much mulch could hold on to more water than the plant needs.

Bonus Tip - Prune in Spring.

When you see the flowers blooming on the green shoots coming up from the base of the plant, prune back the upper third of the plant. This prevents the plant from becoming too "woody" and will help extend the life of the plant. Not to mention the green-gray shoots and the flowers are what make this semi-shrub so visually appealing.

I thought about harvesting the buds for cooking but I thought better of it since my lavender plant is fairly young. I want to let it grow and get established over the course of the next few years before cutting into it for more than is necessary for pruning.

Extra Bonus Unofficial Tip - If you plan to cook with your lavender, you can do so with any variety, but the Munstead variety is supposed to be the best because it has a sweeter aroma and mildly citrusy flavor. I love adding lavender to lemonade and to my tea when I'm searching for a nice cup of calm.

 On that note, I think I'm going to go ahead and wrap this up. I hope you enjoyed my little informational post on lavender and my life. As I said before, if you have any suggestions for posts and future video ideas, please share. If you liked this post, please leave a comment and share with your friends. Have a wonderful day!
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25.5.18






These don't crumble. They disappear!

Hi Loves!

So I was sitting and brainstorming some ideas for fat bombs recently and I decided that I wanted cookies. Isn't that the way? You sit and plan for a healthy lifestyle, Keto in my case, and immediately your mind goes to the decadent and the sweet. I couldn't get it out of my head so I decided to mold a chocolate chip cookie dough recipe into a more Keto/Low Carb friendly option. That's just the stubborn lady in me that wants her sugar-free cake and to eat it too.

Since the recipe is completely safe without baking, this make for a wonderful snack and it really satisfy the sweet tooth like noone's business. In fact, just this evening my husband made some delicious asian-flavored burgers and we had them Keto style, with butter lettuce buns, some mayo and a little red onion to kick the flavor into high gear. After all of that messy, savory, spicy goodness, it was natural that we would dig some after meal sweets. So we pounded a couple of these, fresh from the oven, and I even slathered on a bit of sugar free chocolate icing.

So, let's get on into it.

Ingredients:

Grass Fed Butter - 1 Stick (4 oz.)
Almond Flour - 1 1/2 Cup
Swerve Confectioners Sweetener - 3/4 Cup
Sugar Free Chocolate Chips - 1 Cup
Vanilla Bean Paste - 1 tsp.
Pinch of Salt

The first step is easy: take the butter out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter to come to room temperature. Once it has done that, drop it and the vanilla paste into your mixer with the whisk attachment. Whisk it up until the butter is all around the bowl. Then you toss in the sweetener continue whisking until the sweetener is evenly distributed through the butter. Lastly add the flour and salt and whisk it in the mixer until it turns crumbly. At this point, you add the chips and CONTINUE to let the mixer distribute everything evenly. When it's done, mix the dough around with a spatula to get any of the last little bits clinging to the bowl. 

Yeah. It should look like that!

From here, it depends on how you want to divy the dough up for consumption. I prefer to use a small cookie scoop and make little bite sized balls then throw them into the freezer. You could also just put the dough into a jar and spoon it out when you want it. 




You could also put a bunch of toppings on the dough. Icing, chocolate syrup, mint ice cream. The sky's the limit. Let's have a little crowd interactivity and if you make this recipe, send me a photo of your topping selection! Bonus points if you keep it low carb! Otherwise, please leave a comment and share if you enjoyed this recipe. Have a great day!


Even the duckies love a good treat now and again! Except instead of tossing them some bread or cookies, try going to the store and springing for a big bag of sunflower seeds. You can get a 20 pound bag of sunflower seeds for around $10 at Lowe's. That will feed your little feathered friends for a few weeks and will be better on their little bellies than a bunch of white bread. We've got a bunch of mating pairs of mallards and canadian geese running around with their little peepers tagging along. The two in the above are slacking but I'm sure we'll see some little fuzz balls running around soon!




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18.5.18

She's. My. Blueberry Cheesecake... pie.

Hi Loves!

Another week and another recipe for you! To celebrate this short Spring and the coming Summer, we've been busy tending to our sprouting garden, enjoying long walks in nature, me learning to fish for the first time since I was a little girl and my husband trying to bag us a Spring turkey. We've made a commitment to being out in nature more so we are planning some hiking trips to get stronger and go farther. I love spending time outdoors and being one with nature, feeling the breeze on my face and the grass under my feet. We are working on having a healthier lifestyle overall.

Today, however, I have for you a rich, velvety and tart blueberry cheesecake. I'm not a cheese-o-holic but my husband and best friend absolutely dig them some cheese. They can almost make a meal of nothing but a tub of marinated mozzarella balls! They have even been known to add grated parmesan to anything resembling pasta or meat sauce.

Unlike most cheesecakes, which are thick and rich and, well, cheesy, I went a slightly different route and whipped up some heavy cream for this particular recipe. The result was all of the deliciousness of cheesecake but not quite as heavy. This makes for a perfect Spring/Summer desert. To further brighten things up, I added a beautiful and tart blueberry compote to the top and grated some fresh lemon zest over that. The lemon adds a perfect amount of zing that really heralds the coming heat of summer. My husband and his family completely demolished a whole cake over Mother's Day weekend. My father in law, who is diabetic, was in absolutely in love with this recipe, which also happens to be sugar free!

So, without any further ado, here is the recipe!

Crust Ingredients:
Almond Flour - 1 1/2 Cup
Salted Butter - 4 Tbsp. (left out until room temperature)
Swerve Confectioner Sweetener - 2 Tbsp.
Salt - 1/4 tsp.

For the crust, set the oven to preheat to 350 degrees and pour the ingredients into a bowl and use a fork (or a pastry cutter) to mix the butter with the dry ingredients. You want a nice, crumbly texture with the butter evenly distributed. When that's done, press the dough into a generously greased round pie tin or cake pan. I prefer a spring-form pan to make it easy to get the cheesecake out later. Set the pan into the preheated oven and let it bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Pull it out and let it cool.



While the crust is busy doing its thing in the oven, it's time to juggle the making of the cheesecake base and the blueberry compote.

Filling Ingredients:
Cream Cheese - 24 oz. (3 bricks)
Swerve Confectioner Sweetener - 1 Cup
Heavy Cream - 1 Cup

Put the cream cheese in your stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Turn in on medium and let it whip up the cream cheese for a couple minutes. Then add the sweetener and continue whipping. Finally, add the heavy cream and continue mixing/whipping until the filling makes soft peaks that fall gently. You do it in this order so that the heavy cream doesn't go directly into a whipped cream. You want the filling to be lighter than typical cream cheese filling but still that thick, rich dairy deliciousness that reminds you of a cheesecake. I certainly wouldn't begrudge you a few tastes throughout this process, you know, for the sake of making sure the consistency is on point.

At this point, you should have enough time to start working on the compote.

Blueberry Compote Ingredients:
Frozen Wild Blueberries - 1 Pound
Lemon - 1 Fruit, juiced and zested
Swerve Granular Sweetener - 1 1/2 Tbsp.

In a large pot, toss the blueberries and put them on medium heat. Add the lemon zest, juice and the sweetener. Stir regularly for 15 to 20 minutes, until the blueberries look like they are covered in thick dark purple syrup. Reduce the heat if necessary because this is a bit of a slow process but its necessary to keep the blueberries from burning.

Once the crust is cooked, the filling is whipped and the compote is cooked, allow the crust and compote to cool completely. When they're cool, layer everything into the springform pan. Pour the filling on top of the crust and smooth it out with a spatula. Then, pour the compote over the top of the filling. It might help to spoon the compote over the filling to make sure that it fills an even amount of space. When this is all done, place the cheesecake in the freezer for about an hour to speed up the solidifying process then put it in the refrigerator and keep it refrigerated until served. Zest a lemon and sprinkle it over the cheesecake when serving to further give it that POP of citrus.



And that's it! Relatively simple. Absolutely delicious.

I'm gonna plug for Swerve sweetener for a second. You will likely have noticed that it's used in every component of this dish. I discovered it recently when looking into sugar alternatives. I was impressed by the fact that it measures like sugar and doesn't leave a weird flavor. It also doesn't cause an upset stomach like you see with many sugar alternatives. It's basically pure erythritol sweetener with oligosaccharides and natural flavors. Oligosaccharides are good for promoting good gut health and erythritol itself is absorbed primarily by the small intestine which makes it easier on the stomach compared to other sugar alcohol derived sweeteners.

It is a little pricey at about $8 for a 12 ounce bag, but it is definitely worth the investment if you have a sweet tooth and are trying to cut sugar out of your diet. I can tell you that it made for a damn good cheesecake. So, if you feel like you need the sugar, go ahead and use the same measurements. If you don't need the sugar, then I promise you won't be disappointed. I hope you enjoyed the recipe and if you liked it, please share and leave a comment! Have a wonderful day!




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4.5.18



Hi Loves!

Do you know what ghee is? It's this wonderful, rich, fatty substance that comes about when you cook butter just right, then remove the milk solids with a sieve. I have been acquainted with ghee for pretty much my whole life, growing up in an Indian household. Everything from small dishes, to entrees, to dessert, my mom and grandma made all sorts of delectables.

Kind of like clarified butter, Ghee goes a step further by being cooked longer. This not only results in the same kind of substance like clarified butter, but it brings out this lovely, nutty flavor. The cooking process also concentrates the flavor of the ghee and makes it more, well, buttery.

Some great things about ghee besides the flavor:

Cooking: Ghee has a higher smoking point than regular butter. Regular butter starts smoking at about 350 degrees. Ghee is closer to 485 degrees. This makes it more ideal for cooking than regular butter. It's very good for baking and sauteing. I make a mean steak with some thyme and ghee!

Heatlh: Ghee has excellent amounts of fat-soluble vitamins and minerals. It also has much reduced or even no amounts of lactose and casein, which many people have severe sensitivity to. Then there is the more concentrated amounts of butyric acid which is good for digestion and at reducing inflammation.

Flavor: Yeah, it's pretty good. Enough to mention twice.

One thing is always common with ghee, and that is that it tends to be a bit pricey. A small jar can easily set you back at least $10. So, you might find that you can save a few bucks doing this yourself. It helps that this is probably the easiest recipe I've got on this blog and you can't mess up this one at all, unless you have a habit of forgetting the pot on the burner. Then you must be careful please! On that note, let's get started!
 
List of Ingredients:

Butter - 16oz of salted butter (Use good quality, grass-fed butter for this. We prefer Kerrygold).

Things you need:

Cheese Cloth
Large Strainer
Slow cooker
A glass container big enough to hold roughly 2 cups of ghee. I prefer a mason jar with a rubber seal and a locking lid.

This is extremely simple: Set a timer for two hours and let the butter melt and slow cook on low until the milk solids separate at the bottom of the slow cooker. When the time is up, turn off the cooker. Cut a good sized piece of cheese cloth, about 4 times the size of the strainer. Then fold that cloth in half twice. That should make it about the right size for the strainer and you will have 4 layers of cloth to strain out the solids. Place the strainer over your container. Now, carefully, and with oven mitts, pick up the slow cooker insert and pour the ghee through the strainer and into the container. Make sure you do it slowly so that you don't waste any of this precious gold!

When you've got it all, use a silicone spatula to press the remaining ghee out of the cloth. Now, just let the ghee cool, with the lid open, to room temperature. Once the ghee has cooled, it is ready to be used.

I'm not going to spoil the fun by giving you a bunch of recipes but I will say that this stuff, brushed on some pretzel buns, tossed in an oven set to broil and pulled out just when the edges start to crisp is wonderful. A perfect accompaniment to a Man Cave turkey burger with some caramelized onions and arugula with a bit of mayo.

So, I'm very hungry now. I'm going to go eat. Meanwhile, I really hope you all enjoyed this post. Please share and leave a comment if you could! Have a great day!








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27.4.18



Hey Loves!

How are you all? I apologize because I've been M.I.A. for a while, but I'm back at it again! Today, I bring you a salad to herald the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring. Here in Indiana, the temps are still on the chilly side, so on a warmer day I took advantage of the weather and made my husband and I some delicious dinner. We had tossed around ideas for a while about springtime ingredients and I decided that nothing is better than a good lamb leg steak. Seared nicely on the cast iron skillet and flavored with fresh thyme and butter, these lamb steaks were a perfect accompaniment to the salad of baby kale and pear. Topped with some goat cheese and whole pecans, this salad is already a winner for the spring. Only an amazing, to-die-for dressing is suitable to complete this green deliciousness. For that, I put together a mustard and lemon base with honey to sweeten the deal.

My husband and I enjoyed our dinner outside on our patio while a warm breeze flowed across the lake and we watched geese and ducks bathing in the lake. Enough of this talking and lets get started!

List of Ingredients:

Lamb Leg Steaks - 2 steaks, bone in
Thyme - Handful of fresh thyme sprigs
Butter - 1 Tablespoon of KerryGold Salted Butter
Black Pepper - 1 Teaspoon Freshly ground
Salt to taste

Get started by selecting the perfect lamb steak. Ideally, you want something with plenty of meat and plenty of intramuscular fat around a nice slice of the leg bone. We always found excellent cuts at Whole Foods but this time we were brainstorming while at another store and just decided to pick up the best cut of lamb leg we could find. We brought home this example in the picture below. It's more of a shoulder steak but still had a good bit of the leg bone inside. I made this work for us but the downside was that it had a few rib bones as well as a good amount of connective tissue to remove. I really like the good solid leg bone in the middle which helps with the flavor. You can see the pink marrow that will start to render and flavor the basting liquid.

Once you've found the perfect steak and brought it home, take it out of the package and give it a nice rub down with salt and pepper. Preheat the skillet to medium-high heat with a bit of oil if needed. We keep our skillet well lubricated at all times so I just tossed it in when the temperature was right.

I'm a leg girl. A lamb leg girl!

 Let the leg sear for a few minutes. Add a bit of butter to help it along to get a crust, but don't add too much, you don't want to smoke yourself out of the house! Once you see the meat start to brown at the edges, and the meat has released from the skillet (you can move it around the skillet with little effort), go ahead and flip that bad boy. Use a meat thermometer to monitor the temperature, when it gets to about 135-145 degrees F, add the thyme and remaining butter, let the butter melt, and start to spoon it over the steak. Keep an eye on the temperature while you do this. Most people STOP at 145 to get medium-rare lamb steaks. I like to take it through to at least medium, definitely not well done, because no one likes chewing on lamb leather.

When it has hit 160 degrees, remove the steak from the skillet and let it rest on a plate. Cover with aluminum foil and let it be fore about 10 minutes while you prepare the salad.

 I make this bad boy look goooooood!
 
Salad:
Baby Kale - 5 oz.
Bosc Pear - 1 sliced to wedges
Raw Pecan - 1/2 cup
Goat Cheese - 1/4 cup, crumbled

Dressing:
Yellow Mustard - 3 Tablespoons
Lemon - 2 Juiced and Zested
Olive Oil - 1/4 cup
Honey - 6 Tablespoons
Garlic - 1 small clove finely chopped or 1/4 of teaspoon of garlic powder
Salt to taste

For starters, get everything prepped. Slice the pear into wedges, crumble the cheese, juice and zest the lemon and chop the garlic. If you like, you can chop up the pecans as well but I like the whole pieces, if for nothing else than for the beautiful presentation. When you're done, go ahead and prep the dressing. In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients until well emulsified. Give it a taste to make sure it's to your liking and making adjustments accordingly.

When all is done, go ahead and set up the salad, toss it however you like and plate it all. Slice the steak into strips and place them on the side. Last thing, just before you eat, drizzle on your fabulous dressing. Finally, enjoy!

I hope you liked this dish as much as we did. It was truly a perfect weekday evening for us, I hope it will be a great meal for you and your family. If you like this recipe, please share it and leave a comment. Have a wonderful day and enjoy the blessings of Spring!







The bigger, meaner, kinds of my little fatties!



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