Lavish Hospitality 15

We are halfway there.  Thanks so much for reading.  Can’t wait to finish out the month with yall.

Since becoming a mom, I think I’ve cooked less and less. I prefer simple meals or take out or Publix rotisserie chickens.  I’m tried throughout the day.  When my husband is home I want to do other things other than just stand in the kitchen and crank out a week’s worth of food.

I know cooking is healthier and easier on the budget for the family – but goodness, tough to get in the kitchen and do.  Especially when half of my people around the table may not even eat it.

But, part of my responsibility (in our family) is to cook and make sure we have food to eat.  My mister will cook but he is usually at work until dinner time, but he always gets up with the boys and gets them breakfast.  I’m extremely blessed – also, with a nearby Publix or Trader Joes.

So, how do I welcome my misters with food?  I thought I would be a wife and a mom who always had a homecooked meal on the table.  Usually I was that kind of wife, but I’m not that type of mom.  I mean, we eat every night.  But only a few days a week is it a fresh homecooked meal.

Here are my tips:

Little Caesars Pizza.

Publix: bagged salad mixes, chicken tenders or rotisserie from the deli.

Dollar menu items.

Bagged veggies with sweet potatoes

Instant Pot

Crock Pot

A local food delivery or pick up service (we found a local place that has freezer meals on hand you can pick up.  And a friend of mine does this as well).

Cereal.

Eggs, fruit, grits

Trader Joes freezer section.

Hope these items help you offer hospitality to your family by getting food on the table.  What are your quick go-to food helps?

Quote from Karen Ehman A Life That Says Welcome

 

Lavish 12

posted in: 31days, food, lavish hospitality | 1

On a post about food, and it is my son’s birthday, and I’m not cooking anything.  Nope.  We are going out for donuts, then going to a fun lunch, picking up his Publix birthday cake, then going to a friends for small group.  I’m getting off easy.

But, sitting around a table is more than just food.  Yes, I love to cook.  One of the ways I learned to cook was from my mom being disabled and unable to much of my growing up.  So, she would tell me what to do and I would cook it. Or I learned it from watching my Granny and Papa or learning how to scale fish and cook a mean french fry at the Suwannee River with weeks away with my Papa.

But, I learned to love to cook for others when I got to know a family in college.  I got to be a part of their celebratory meals and their every day meals.  Knowing recipes that family members loved.  Knowing what would please the ones they loved.  Sitting down at a table in their home and talking for house over good food and good wine.  Or just good old sweet tea.

The meal is more than just food.  It is life for the soul of many.

Quote from The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer.

Danielle Walker’s Celebrations

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Food and celebrations always  go together in my book.  From the start of life to the end of life and everywhere in between.  And even with so many of the food restrictions that some people have because of their health or other priorities, Danielle Walker has made cooking for celebrations easier than ever.

While stocking a grain free kitchen takes money, if you are cooking for others with special needs, the effort will always be appreciated.

Danielle is an expert in the blog world of specialty diet cooking.  I just recently listened to a Happy Hour podcast with her that was helpful to understand how she started cooking this way.

I look forward to diving into this cookbook – the pictures make my mouth water!  I’m so thankful for storytelling and beautiful photos in cookbooks. Danielle gets it!

So, go ahead and pre-order this cookbook and get on it – especially if you have these special needs

Finding Lovely

posted in: Books, food | 0

Finding Lovely

Happy Friday everyone.

I love just giving you a quick glance into our little world – and what things actually make me giddy.  I love holding my littles hands (when I’m doing it for fun, not for discipline because they ran away), I love friends who are great accountability partners and share their lives with me, I love celebrating friends who excel in their hobbies, I love sticking my feet in the sand at a beach.

Here are some lovelies around the internet that might make you Friday just a bit brighter, too.

If you love Alaska, love adventure, love a story of a father and daughter taking risks, learning about each other, and all the emotions that go with it – you will love James Campbell’s new book Braving It.  Parenting isn’t easy.  And the Alaska wilderness with a teenager isn’t easy.  But, this story holds truths about love and the nature of relationships that most will find compelling.

Trying to fit in more salads on our table – so this post was not only pretty but also inspiring.

I love Pinch of Yum food and also this post: about soaking up summer in all of its glory.  Summer looks different than I thought it would with kids and a working husband.  My mister always reminds me to change my expectations.

This has summer written all over it: and I want to eat it right now!  Maybe I’ll make some rosemary olive bread this wknd

Thanks to Blogging for Books for Braving It – all opinions are my own

 

 

 

Food Blogging 101

posted in: food | 0

Food Blogging 101

I’ve been blogging for 12 years now.  I have grown so much in every way over the past twelve years, and so has my blog.  It has had many different names, and many different functions.  One of the first blogs I had was “Kims State of Food” which you can still go find on Blogspot.  The reason I created that blog was because my college girls that I was hanging out with in the RDU area wanted the recipes I was cooking for them.  This was an easy way to do it so I wasn’t writing the recipe down 20 different times.

I’ve learned so much over the years with food blogging and some about food photography (still SO MUCH TO LEARN about both), but thought I would share a few tips and send you a few of my favorite sites.

  1.  Cook what you love.  If you are cooking what you love, that will come across in your recipe writing.  You need to be excited about what you are wanting others to make in their kitchen, or no one will want to make it.
  2. If you can, cook and photograph your food in natural light.  Now that I have kids it isn’t always that easy, and sometimes that places we live don’t have good natural light options.  But, do what you can, and make do.  Or just take your food and food props outside!  Have your children help you!  It may get them to eat more healthy food that way!
  3. Keep learning.  Read cookbooks, take TONS of photos, cook lots of food, and keep studying, study other blogs, find a blog you love (or many) and see what they are doing.  Fuel your creativity!

Below are some of the best sites I’ve found for food photography:

Dine and Dish

A Beautiful Plate

Holly & Flora

Pinch of Yum

 

And here are some links for good information on food blogging:

From Sally

From Kate

By DD

From Serious Eats

 

Kid-Friendly Ham & Cheese Rolls

Ham and Cheese Roll-Ups

I wouldn’t say my kids are picky, but they just aren’t the most well-rounded eaters.  They could eat fruit and most veggies all the time – but to get them to eat meat is another matter all together.  They eat breads and most pastas, and definitely baked goods, but anything outside of chicken nuggets (and those even occasionally) or maybe a cheeseburger (if they eat half of one) is harder to get them to eat.

What’s a Mom to do?

Look to other moms and try things that might or might not work, and hope they work.  My friend Jeni that I interviewed a few weeks ago has a great blog full of tasty and healthy recipes and she cooks for her 4 kids a lot.  So, this week when I have sworn off fast food I needed some quick go-to meals for them.

She recommended some crescent ham and cheese rolls that she makes for her daughter.  My kids will eat anything they can dip: broccoli in ranch dressing, fruit in just about anything including CFA sauce, and these they ate right up when I gave them some honey mustard to dip these rolls into.  Never underestimate the power of dipping sauce.

Kid-Friendly Ham & Cheese Rolls
Author: 
Recipe type: Lunch
Cuisine: Kid Lunch
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Easy quick ham and cheese roll ups
Ingredients
  • 1 roll refrigerated crescent rolls
  • about 4 slices honey ham
  • ¼ cup shredded cheese
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven according to rolls pkg directions.
  2. Pull apart ham slices and put a little ham and cheese in each crescent roll.
  3. Roll up and place on ungreased baking pan.
  4. Top with a little salt and pepper for extra savory seasonings.
  5. Bake according to directions.
  6. Let cool. The inside filling will be too hot for most kids right out of the oven.
  7. Serve with their favorite fruits and vegetables and of course dipping sauce.
 

Strawberries and Cream Biscuits

Strawberries and Cream Biscuits

I grew up in the South.  Some folks don’t consider Florida to be the South, but when you live in the middle of the state all your life surrounded by orange groves and muscadine vines, take vacations to state parks and the Suwanee River, and live on Publix fried chicken and church potlucks, you are definitely from the South.

For me, summer in the south meant swimming in our pool (my Mom opened the pool season April 1), playing baseball in our yard with my cousins, listening for our “school bell” to ring to tell us it was time to come home, and heading to the Circle K for ice cream (31 flavors never got old) and watching Mets baseball via WWOR.

For me now, summer is summer.  Its hotter. And I love to pick fruit.  Strawberries, blueberries, peaches, you name it.  If it is available to me, I want to pick it.  And I love to bake with it.  From peach cobblers to strawberry pizza, and these strawberries and cream biscuits.

Strawberries and Cream Biscuits
Author: 
Recipe type: bread
Cuisine: southern
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
A mildly sweet strawberry biscuit waiting for some honey and peanut butter.
Ingredients
  • 1¾ - 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ⅕ tsp kosher salt
  • 6 T cold, unsalted butter
  • 6-7 strawberries (tops removed), mashed
  • 2 T turbinado sugar
  • ¾ cup full fat buttermilk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400. A cast iron pan grill pan will be a great cooking sheet!
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a food processor.
  3. Slice butter and put in food processor.
  4. Pulse until small pebbles form in dry ingredients.
  5. Mash strawberries and pour in the sugar. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add in buttermilk.
  7. Pour slowly into the food processor and let it mix well with the dry ingredients.
  8. Turn out onto a floured cutting board and kneed for 1-2 minutes, adding flour if necessary.
  9. Form into a ¾ inch high circle and cut into biscuits.
  10. Put in cast iron pan and bake for about 20 minutes.
  11. Take out and let cool on cooling rack.
  12. Serve with butter, honey, strawberry jam, or peanut butter - or some of all.
 

Coffee with: Jeni of Barefoot in the Kitchen

Jeni of Barefoot in the Kitchen

The Atlanta Zoo is a crazy place.  And we were in the petting zoo one afternoon and tons of kids were around and the smell of animals was around too.  All of a sudden, I hear my name.  But, I didn’t recognize anyone.  So, I figured my name is pretty popular so maybe it was for someone else.  But, then she was looking at me, knew my son’s name, and said “don’t worry you don’t know me.”

And that, dear readers, is how I was introduced to Jeni of Barefoot in the Kitchen.  We have one friend in common – and that one friend is a pretty strong tie.  Since that day in the zoo, we have had a play date, and cooked together, and I got to be in her home and her kitchen, learning from her on many fronts.  You will definitely want to check out her recipes and kitchen advice, as she has had some recipes published – she’s my someone famous that I know!

Yall, meet Jeni.

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Jeni is a SAHM of kiddos ranging from high school to preschool.  She married a twin, lives near Athens, GA, in a small southern town, and declares it was love at first sight with her now husband.  She has a bright sunny home and kids all around, and she makes healthy meals for her family.  It can be done, yall!  This was great encouragement to my heart as it is one of my struggles (getting things cooked and having two preschoolers).

Growing up, Jeni’s mom helped her learn all things in the kitchen.  Her mom made things from scratch and encouraged Jeni to do the same.  She wanted to experiment with foods and spices!  When she was first pregnant, she wanted to make sure her baby got all the nutrients she needed so she wanted to make every calorie count.  She then ended up making her own baby food along the way, making sure her babies got healthy food in their growing tummies.  She has wanted and made a healthy family atmosphere, both in food and spiritual content.  She has set her mind to something, worked hard at it, persevered, and the Lord has blessed her endeavors.

Some of Jeni’s inspiration comes from familiar names: Pioneer Woman, Sara Moulton (I love her too), Rachael Ray, Southern Living (of course, who doesn’t).  She also does something that I like to do, she asks her family what food they want.  Of course there is pizza, spaghetti, and tacos.  But, instead of getting all of these take out, she takes the time to make these at home, making them healthier for her family.

I asked Jeni what her favorite kitchen tools are (and I agree with these, and I’ve already bought some of the towels she recommended and I love them):

Five Kitchen Tools:
1. Every cook needs a good all-purpose knife! Wustof and Henckels are both solid choices for price and quality.

2. Stand Mixer – I’m not sure how I truly lived before my sweetie pie surprised me with a Kitchen Aid for Christmas one year. Cookie dough, whipped cream, pizza dough, bread/rolls … life changing, I tell you.

3. Blender/Food Processor – With picky children, this is an invaluable tool to use for hiding fruits and veggies. Homemade marinara, soups, smoothies … I use mine all the time.

4. Silicone Spatulas – The best all-purpose tool aside from your hands. They’re heat-proof and super durable for use on the stovetop or for just mixing together ingredients.

5. Flour Sack Towels – I bought a huge package of them and use them for everything! Drying dishes or produce or hands, mopping up spills, covering yeast dough, whatever. Wash and bleach ’em and they’re ready to go again!
These are some of her favorite recipes:
Jeni’s Summer Cake (this would be fabulous at any summer bbq with friends)
Italian Heritage Casserole – One of my mom’s favorite go-to special occasion meals. (Note, I made this recently and it is super yummy and easily whole30 compliant and perfect for meat and potato eaters)
Scalloped Potatoes w/ Ham & Leeks – It would be more efficient to paste this directly to your hips. But totally worth it.
Lasagna Rolls – I made this dish for Leah when Georgie Girl was born.  My mom made a podcast recording of me making it for a project when earning her Master’s Degree.
Here are the two she has had published by Taste of Home:
Thai Chicken Pasta (This won 3rd place in a healthy cooking contest.)
And like any good host, she had yummy stuff waiting for us, and we definitely like this Blueberry-Orange Quick Bread.

Sandwiches & Hummus: the Perfect Pair

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This post was sponsored by The Women Bloggers, LLC and #SoapBoxInfluence. Special thanks to the Kendal King Group, creators of Bush’s #HummusMadeEasy Campaign. All opinions are my own.
I love sandwiches.  I mean, what’s not to love?

I grew up on white, butter, potato, or onion roll bread.  Now I’m on to wheat, harvest grain, sourdough, or focaccia – or a baguette, garlic bread, cornbread.  Is there really a bad bread – and we haven’t even touched the sweet breads yet!

Then, you add peanut butter and honey, banana and mayo, tomato and mayo and bacon, pimiento cheese, 5 cheese grilled cheese, peanut butter and jelly.  Or turkey and provolone, ham and swiss, blt, avocado and bacon to just about anything.

Then you have mayonnaise, mustard, relish, pickles, chips (especially bbq or doritos), salt and pepper…all the condiments.  And enter hummus.  Oh, yes, hummus.

I may have grown up on a simple grilled cheese or peanut butter and jelly – not organic or natural – just plain old peanut butter and jelly.  But, as I’ve matured, my taste in sandwiches have matured as well.  Don’t get me wrong, when I want a taste of my childhood, I still grab a tomato and mayo or peanut butter and honey with banana sandwich and it takes me right back to the orange groves and muscadines and strawberry fields of central Florida.

But, I do like to kick my sandwiches up a little, and as a mom, I need them still to be quick.  And healthy.  Bush’s Hummus Made Easy helps me be quick, easy, and a killer sandwich maker.

You may know Bush’s for their baked beans, and believe me, they are stellar for bbqs.  But, now, Bush’s makes a hummus that is super quick, cheap, and healthy – and adds a pack of flavor to any sandwich.

I used all three of their flavor profiles to add great touches to my sandwiches.

Perfectly gooey grilled cheese
Perfectly gooey grilled cheese

 

I used the southwest black bean hummus to add protein and spice to a Mexican grilled cheese.  Just spread some of the hummus on the inside piece of bread (I used a good sourdough), then top with any mexican cheeses that you want – grill your grilled cheese as normal.

Simple and cool pita perfect for summer months
Simple and cool pita perfect for summer months

 

I used the roasted red pepper to make a vegetarian Greek pita.  Just spread on the hummus on the inside of a warmed pita: and stack it full of cucumbers, red onions, tomatoes, and feta – all marinated in a greek dressing of your choice.  Super good, and light – perfect for the summer months.

Bacon and hummus make a great pair
Bacon and hummus make a great pair

And I used the classic hummus for a tasty turkey and bacon sandwich.  I used a regular whole wheat, added hummus, cheese, turkey and of course bacon.

This hummus, found at Wal-Mart next to the Bush’s Beans, is made with simple ingredients and absolutely no artificial preservatives. And while I love to make my own hummus, this is a simple, quick, and healthy alternative when I need a quick sandwich spread, appetizer, or snack

 

Lil Beanies to the Rescue

posted in: food | 1

This post is written on behalf of Nestle’s Gerber Lil’ Beanies, led by Kendal King Group through The Women Bloggers. All opinions are our own.

Mom life is much quicker than I ever thought it would be.  As a mom of two young boys, both under 4, my life is always at warp speed.  While one is at school in the morning, the younger and I tackle the errand list and climb everything imaginable at the park.

Swinging Boy

So, naturally, I always have snacks in the car.  Yes, I still hit the drive thru several times a week (mostly for dinner because I need something quick), but I have started keeping snacks in the car.  And for my energetic boys, I want something healthy!

IMG_20160310_123812

When I was growing up those snacks were all sorts of chips and snack cakes.  I don’t want my boys to have a steady diet of those.  I love to bake so that already doesn’t help their waistlines and sugar intake, so if I’m going to have a ready-made, portable, clean, crunchy snack: its going to be a healthy one.

Gerber rules the toddler and baby aisle.  They’ve been around for generations.  And now they have come out with a totally healthy toddler and preschooler snack.  My two boys devoured 4 cans in 2 days (and maybe I helped a little – but can you blame me?)  I put them in my preschooler’s lunch box, we had them while watching Netflix, we even had them as a side for lunch and dinner.

Empty Bowls with Li'l Beanies

Here’s why I like them and why they will be on the grocery list all the time when I’m shopping at Walmart (they should be in your local Walmart now):

  1.  My kids eat them.  They kept saying “more in my mouth”!  I loved it.
  2. They are healthy.  Made out of navy beans, they have protein their little tummies need to stay full!  There are no preservatives – and you find preservatives in everything these days.
  3. They aren’t messy.  I’ve already taught my sons how to lick their fingers from the cheese puffs – but these are mess free.  Since they have no artificial colors or flavors, you don’t have orange fingers (and clothes, couches, and car seats) for days!
  4. They are in our tight food budget.  Healthy foods are generally more expensive then convenience food.  Gerber Lil Beanies is both inexpensive and convenient!
  5. I love them (personally) because I love sea salt and crunchy snacks.  But, there is also a white cheddar and broccoli – and what mom doesn’t want their kids eating more broccoli!

What are some go-to healthy snacks for your toddlers and preschoolers.  I hope you stock up on Lil Beanies the next time you are at Wal-Mart.  My boys give two empty snack bowl thumbs up!

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