Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Praline Brittle

Tis' the season for eating way too many sweets -- and here's another goodie to add to your holiday baking list! This recipe has only a few ingredients (that you usually have on hand in your pantry/refrigerator), it takes just a few minutes to prepare, and it is full of southern sweetness that you just can't resist. Perfect for gifting to neighbors, teachers and friends!

12 whole graham crackers (broken in half to make 24 squares)
1 stick butter
¾ cup light brown sugar
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
½ tsp sea salt
¾ cup pecans, broken into smaller pieces

Preheat oven to 350°.

Step One
Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper and lay graham cracker squares on top, keeping them as close together as possible. Side note: I like to purchase the original graham crackers with no added flavor as to not take away from the taste of the praline mixture.

Step Two
Over medium heat, melt butter and sugar until it comes to a boil. Let it cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes (or until it's bubbly and a dark golden brown).

Step Three
Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and salt and pour onto graham crackers. If needed, use a spatula to spread evenly.

Step Four
Bake for 11-13 minutes, depending on how crunchy you would like it (watch it closely to make sure it doesn't burn). Remove from oven, let cool (for at least 20-30 minutes), then break up into squares.

Merry Christmas, y'all! May you stop and savor all the sweetness this season brings. : )


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Chicken Pasta Bake

This pasta bake is one of my all-time favorite dishes! It's also one of my favorite go-tos when I am taking a meal to friends or family (i.e. after a baby arrives, a surgery, etc.). It's so easy to throw together and is just simply delicious. I always get asked for the recipe, so I thought I would share with you all here!

2-3 cups cooked chicken*
½ box rigatoni
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ yellow onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can basil, garlic & oregano diced tomatoes
1 container chive & onion cream cheese
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed (optional)
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
½ tsp each of salt & pepper, plus additional for seasoning chicken
Dash of red pepper flakes

Set oven to 375°.

Step One
Cook pasta according to package directions.

Step Two
While pasta is cooking, heat oil (on medium heat) in a small skillet. Saute onion for 3-4 minutes, add in garlic and cook an additional minute. Set aside.

Step Three
Drain pasta, pour into large mixing bowl. Add in onion, tomatoes (undrained), cream cheese, chicken, ½ cup mozzarella, salt, pepper & red pepper flakes. Mix together.

Step Four
Pour into 9x11 baking pan, spread remaining mozzarella & paremsan on top, cover with foil and cook for 30 minutes. Remove foil and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly. Serve with bread & salad -- enjoy, y'all!

*How I bake my chicken: Set oven to 375 . Place foil on a baking sheet and put chicken on top. Spread a little evoo + salt + pepper + garlic powder (optional) on chicken and roast for 30-40 minutes (depending on size of chicken breasts). For a quicker alternative, use 2-3 cups cut up rotisserie chicken from the store!

Adapted from Southern Living Magazine.



Saturday, October 22, 2016

Savory Meat Sauce

Everyone needs a staple meat sauce in their recipe collection! This is one of my go-tos... serve it up over spaghetti, use for lasagna or even eat by itself (with a side of garlic bread, obvi). It's a crowd-pleaser and the perfect comfort food for the fall weather that has just started here in NC.

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb (lean) ground beef
½ lb mild sausage
1 (medium-sized) yellow onion, diced
½ green bell pepper, diced
1 large carrot, peeled & grated
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp each: dried oregano, basil, parsley, sugar, salt & pepper
½ tsp each: thyme and red pepper flakes
Note: use fresh herbs if you have them on hand - they will enhance the flavor immensely!
½ cup beef broth
1 (14.5 oz) can Italian style diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14.5 oz) can tomato sauce
½ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Step One
In large dutch oven (or sauce pan) heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Add in beef, sausage, onion, 2 of the (minced) garlic cloves and ½ tsp each salt & pepper. (Cooking the meat with salt in pepper will enhance the flavor later on). Cook until meat is no longer pink.

Step Two
Tilt the pan to drain grease to one side and remove it with large ladle or spoon. Add in remaining garlic, salt and pepper and other spices (except sugar) and saute for another two minutes.

Step Three
Pour in broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce & sugar. Stir and bring to a boil for a couple minutes.

Step Four
Turn heat to medium-low then stir in cheese. Allow sauce to simmer at least 30 minutes (and up to a hour) to bring out the flavor. Add additional seasonings if you prefer.

Enjoy, y'all!


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

White Bean Taco Chili

We are a chili-loving family (evidence can be found here  and here). This taco version was another winner and will definitely be going into the menu rotation this fall and winter! It's hearty, pretty healthy (can't not include a little cheese and a few chips), can be made vegetarian (if you substitute veggie broth for the chicken broth), has minimal ingredients AND your crock pot does (almost) all of the work for you. What's not to love??!

1 can cannellini beans
1 can pinto beans
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes (you can use regular - these just add a little more flavor)
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp each: cumin powder, salt, pepper
A few dashes of cayenne pepper and/or red pepper flakes (if your family likes extra heat)
2-2 ½ cups chicken broth (can substitute vegetable broth if desired)

Step One
Drain and rinse beans in a large colander. Also drain any excess water off of thawed corn. Pour into slow cooker.

Step Two
Add remaining ingredients into slow cooker, stirring to combine. Cook on low 8 hours (preferable) or 4 if you need it faster.

Serve with shredded cheddar cheese, tortilla chips & any other toppings you enjoy (avocado, tomatoes, green onion, etc.). A perfectly easy family dish for the fall. Enjoy, y'all!


Monday, August 29, 2016

Football Food Favorites

Y'all. A new season is approaching... although fall may not be in the air just yet, college FOOTBALL starts this weekend. We live for this time of year! Mr. SFB and I met while attending the University of Arkansas and we love our Razorbacks through and through. I also love any excuse to host people and to love on them by serving yummy food and drinks.

I've rounded up my favorite football party snacks below so with a couple easy clicks you can get to brainstorming about what you want to make this weekend!

For crunchy & tangy: Fried Pickles (< fan favorite)
For dip lovers: Southwest Cheesecake, 7-Layer or Corn & Black Bean Dip (< lighter option)
For classic football food: Chili (beef) or Chili (chicken) (< don't forget the tortilla chips)
For BBQ fans: Pulled Pork (< best served with the spicy slaw)

Whatever you decided to make or whichever team you root for, may you enjoy this glorious weekend! Cheers!


Friday, August 19, 2016

BLT Pasta Salad

Are you a sucker for anything with bacon and/or pasta included in the ingredient list? Me too, me too. This BLT Pasta Salad brings together all the flavors of your favorite summer sandwich, wrapped up in a hearty pasta dish that is sure not to disappoint. The unlikely addition of BBQ sauce adds the perfect zing to the yummy sauce, too. Trust me--this will definitely be a side dish hit at your next cookout! : )

This recipe serves 4-6 people so double or triple up if you are feeding a bigger crowd!

What You Will Need
8oz farfalle (bowtie) pasta
2 green onions, sliced
2 cups fresh summer tomatoes, chopped
4-5 slices bacon, cooked and broken into pieces
¼ head (or about 2 cups worth) of iceberg lettuce, washed & chopped
¼ cup mayonnaise (Duke's preferred)
2 tbsp BBQ sauce
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
½ tsp salt & black pepper
1/8 tsp ground red pepper (optional)

Step One
Cook pasta according to package directions. While it is boiling, clean and chop your veggies and set aside.

Step Two
Whisk together mayo, BBQ sauce, vinegar and spices and set aside.

Step Three
Mix all ingredients (except lettuce & bacon) together in a large mixing bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Tip: make sure your pasta is cooled off before mixing with other ingredients - sometimes I throw a few ice cubes in the colander to quicken the process.

Fold in the lettuce and bacon a few minutes before serving so they don't get too soggy. Enjoy, y'all!


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Banana-Zucchini Bread

I love baking fresh, sweet breads (as evidenced here, here and here)... and I am SO excited to share that I think we have finally found our favorite go-to, make once a week, butter-free, less than a cup of sugar, toddler-approved recipe. I don't know why it took me so long to start including zucchini as a main ingredient in breads, but I will never, ever look back! Let me know if y'all love this bread as much as we do. : )

1 medium zucchini
2 large (ripe) bananas
1 large egg
¼ cup coconut oil (liquid state; canola or vegetable oil can be substituted)
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt (optional)

Set oven to 350°  and grease a loaf pan.

Step One
Wash zucchini and coarsely grate on a box shredder (this part sounds tedious, but it will seriously take 2 minutes or less). Squeeze out liquid with a paper towel. Then mash bananas in a small Ziploc bag (this will make for an easy transfer later on). Set both aside.

Step Two
In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together next 5 ingredients (eggs-vanilla), then add in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and fold to combine ( >> no need to dirty up extra bowls or your mixer).

Step Three
Fold in zucchini and bananas; make sure batter is mixed pretty evenly (i.e. no big clumps of flour or sugar). Pour into prepared loaf pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake for about 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. NOTE: at around the 30 minute mark you can place a piece of foil on top of the bread to keep it from browning too much.

Allow bread to cool in pan for 10-15 minutes before turning onto a wire rack, leaving there for at least 30 minutes before slicing (if you'd like it to stay in one piece ; ) ).

Enjoy, y'all!


Friday, July 1, 2016

Fresh Corn Pico de Gallo

This is the perfect poolside pico! Fresh summer corn mixed with tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice ... what's not to love?! Whip up this simple snack using the recipe below, and get out and enjoy some sunshine this weekend!

2 ears sweet corn, shucked
1 yellow onion
6-7 roma tomatoes
1-2 jalapenos (depening on your spice preference)
1 cup fresh cilantro
1 lime
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Chop the onion and tomatoes so they are about the same size (try and have equal part onion to tomato)
  2. Cut the kernels off the cobb, making sure to get the corners (this is the best part!)
  3. Slice your jalapeno(s) down the middle and remove the seeds (I'd suggest wearing gloves or making sure you wash your hands immediately after), then dice up a little smaller than the onion and tomatoes
  4. Rinse and roughly chop the cilantro
  5. Throw all ingredients in a bowl, cut lime in half and squeeze juice on top. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and stir to mix it all up.
Serve with tortilla chips. Sitting by a pool is strongly encouraged. : )

Enjoy, y'all!


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Sweet Corn Pudding

I love summer produce. Seriously. Fresh corn, tomatoes, okra (counting down the days until August for this one)... these are a few of my favorite things.

I am always thinking of different ways I can use up fresh summer corn. This sweet corn pudding is a go-to. You can always substitute in (thawed) frozen corn if you'd like--or don't have fresh corn on hand--but I'd highly suggest trying it with the real deal for that extra sweet summer flavor!

6 cups fresh corn kernels (about 6-8 ears corn, depending on size)
½ cup melted butter, cooled
5 large eggs
2 cups half & half or heavy cream (or 1 of each)
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt

Set oven to 350°

Step One
Melt butter. While butter is cooling, remove corn kernels (cutting as close to the cob as possible to get all the good stuff).

Step Two
Whisk eggs, then mix in butter and half & half (or cream).

Step Three
Stir together remaining dry ingredients, then add to egg mixture. Slowly stir in corn. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 glass dish and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until set/slightly golden brown.

Enjoy, y'all, and happy summer!


Recipe adapted from Southern Living magazine.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Ultimate Seven Layer Dip

I love a good layered dip. You know the one I'm talking about... with the refried beans, cheese, guacamole... and ALL the chips. It makes you think of childhood. It is delicious.

This is my updated version of the classic dip, but with a few fresh ingredients and a little added flair. The extra few minutes it takes will be well worth it I promise! Make this dip for your next party on the patio and it will be a hit (serving with a margarita is suggested)!

Ingredients for the beans*
1 can pinto (or black) beans, drained & rinsed
½ yellow onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp olive oil
 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin
½ tsp salt & pepper
dash of ground red pepper

Ingredients for the pico de gallo

(the other½ yellow onion, diced
3-4 roma tomatoes, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded & diced

2 tbsp fresh cilantro, diced

salt & pepper to taste
Juice of 1 lime

Ingredients for remaining layers1 avocado
¼  cup sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt)
½ cup shredded mild cheddar cheese½ cup shredded pepper jack or monterey jack cheese
1 cup olives, sliced

Step One
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a sauce pan. Sauté onions for 3-4 minutes or until translucent. Add in garlic and cook an additional minute. 

Step Two
Pour (drained & rinsed) beans into saucepan and cook, stirring around, for about one minute.
Take a fork and smash the beans in the pan. Pour in chicken broth, bring to a boil, then turn to a simmer and cook until liquid is absorbed (about 10-15 minutes), stirring every few minutes. Add more broth if needed. Mash out any large lumps. They won't be completely smooth, but should have the consistency of refried beans. Set beans aside to cool off.

Step Three
Mix remaining onion + tomatoes + jalapeno + cilantro (and salt & pepper to taste ~ maybe ½ tsp each) in a small bowl. Squeeze lime over the top and stir. Set aside.

Step Four

Using a fork, smash the avocado. Stir in 2 tbsp of the pico de gallo (voila! you've got guacamole). Set aside.

Step Five (you're getting close!)
Using a round dish, spread beans on the bottom. Add the first layer of cheese (whichever one you prefer). Then spread the sour cream/Greek yogurt, followed by the guacamole. Add the next layer of cheese, topped by the slice olives, completed by the final layer of pico de gallo. 

And there you have it. Seven glorious layers of dip perfection. Chill for at least one hour or until ready to serve

Enjoy, y'all!


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Favorite Black Beans

My 3-year-old son LOVES beans, so--per his request--I cook them at least once a week. Burrito bowls are one of my go-tos because they are easy, healthy (depending on your topping choices), filling and versatile. I just use whatever produce (tomatoes, avocados, corn, cilantro, etc.) or protein (chicken, steak, pinto or black beans) I already have on hand, which makes it a stress-free, no-extra-trip-to-the-grocery-store-needed kind of dinner. :) Side note: I ALWAYS have onions and garlic in my house--must-haves for most of my cooking!

When I cook beans, I do like to take an extra step to add a little more flavor to them. See other evidence here (this one involves bacon + pinto beans--yes please!).

Here are the details for our favorite black beans:

1 (15oz) can black beans, rinsed & drained
½ small yellow onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp olive oil
½ tsp each salt & ground cumin½ cup broth (vegetable or chicken, whichever you prefer)

This feeds 3 of us, so feel free to double the recipe if you have 4 or more people dining.

Step One
Heat oil in skillet on medium-high heat. Sauté onion for 2 minutes, then add in garlic and cook for an additional minute. 

Step Two
Add black beans and spices to pan and cook (still on medium high heat) for about 3 minutes.

Step Three
Pour in broth and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and let beans cook for 5-8 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add cheese if you like (remove from heat put the lid on so it will melt but not overcook the beans).

Enjoy, y'all!


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Glazed Poppyseed Bread

This is one of my ALL time favorite sweet bread recipes. I love to make it when company is coming over, or to give as a little thank you to a friend or my little man's teachers. You can get some adorable (and functional) mini loaf pans from Micahel's that are perfect for this type of gift giving!

May your weekends be sweet, y'all! : ) Enjoy!

Ingredients for the bread
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
3 eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tbsp butter, at room temperature
½ cup canola oil
½ cups milk
½ tsp vanilla
½ tsp orange juice
1 tbsp poppy seeds

Ingredients for the glaze
¼ cup powdered sugar
3 tsp orange juice

Preheat oven to 350°

Step One
Mix first three (dry) ingredients in a large bowl, set aside.

Step Two
In a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), beat together eggs, sugar and butter. Then blend in oil, milk, vanilla, and orange juice.

Step Three
Slowly add dry ingredients into wet ingredients until blended, then add in poppy seeds and mix for 30 more seconds. Pour bread mixture into two (greased) loaf pans and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Step Four
While bread is cooling (for approx 5 minutes), in a small bowl stir together orange juice and powdered sugar for the glaze. Poke each loaf of bread with a toothpick and pour glaze over the top. Let sit at least 10 minutes before serving.