pear cardamom vanilla butter

There are still quite a few things that I’m leery of making up completely on my own in the kitchen. The biggest thing is canned goods, hands down.

Even after canning now for 5 or 6 years, I know my experience is still incredibly limited compared to people who have been doing it their entire life. Plus, I’d really like to not a) get sick or b) possibly die from a bad batch of something because I didn’t do the right proportions or cook it long enough.

pear cardamom vanilla butter

Once you’ve made a bunch of batches of jam or jelly, it’s easy enough to swap in different mixes of fruit as long as you keep the basic measurements the same so you get the right consistency. Same thing with tomato sauces or straight up canned sliced fruits or something like green beans.

But anytime I’m canning something for the first time, I always go for a tried and true recipe. Maybe I’ll add in extra flavor with a different spice or mix of herbs, but I don’t change anything else. I love seeing all these jars in my basement, and I want them to stay good until we’re ready to use them!

pear cardamom vanilla butter

This year was the first time I’ve ever made a fruit butter. I’ve made lots of jams and jellies over the years, but fruit butter is a new one.

hummus grilled cheese

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sabra Dipping Co, LLC.. All opinions are 100% mine.

I’m usually all for keeping the classics classic. Peanut butter and jelly. Chocolate chip cookies.

Some things are just better left alone; to keep them the way they’ve always been. But sometimes, it’s worth it to try something new.

hummus grilled cheese

Maybe by browning the butter in your cookie recipe or adding a new mix in. Or switching up the jam in your sandwich, or grilling it when you normally have it cold.

And with grilled cheeses, I didn’t think I’d ever fall too far from the classic butter-on-bread, only-cheese-in-the-middle sandwich.

But I’ve gone off book before, and this version is definitely worth trying.

easy crusty pan bread

After years of trial and error (mostly error), I feel like I’m finally getting into a groove with bread-making.

easy crusty pan bread

The other day, the hubs and I were talking about how bad my first loaves of bread were. I’m honestly kind of surprised that I’ve kept at it – we threw out a lot of bread. Most of my first loaves turned out to be heavy bricks – good flavor, but the worst texture. Or I used the wrong kind of flour or combo, and it ruined what was probably an okay recipe.

But now, I’ve found a great sandwich bread recipe (still one of my favorites!) and am working on some other basics to have on hand.

easy crusty pan bread

The thought of trying to make baguettes at home still freaks me out (how in the world do you shape them correctly?! This makes me anxious). So before I go off into the unknown of shaped breads, I’ve finally found our favorite crusty, rustic bread recipe.

And the best part is that it’s super easy!

Sabra Hummus House in Washington, D.C.

Last week, I had the chance to visit the new Sabra Hummus House in Georgetown – and it is gorgeous!

Sabra Hummus House

This is Sabra’s first ever pop-up restaurant venture, and based on my experience, they should be doing this more often.

The space itself is beautiful – they did an incredible job on the design and concept, plus the food. The food!

Can you imagine a meal based around all new ways of having hummus? If you’re anywhere near D.C., you need to make a stop in here for lunch or dinner.

Sabra Hummus House

One of my favorite things about the spaces is that it’s very homey and cozy. They also utilized quite a few designers and artists from the D.C. area, keeping things as local as possible.

This table, especially, was one I would have loved to pack up in my car and take home. It’s right in the front of the space, offering a very family-meal feel to the space.

Sabra Hummus House

And then the mural.

This is in the upstairs space, and it is absolutely incredible in person. It was painted by a local artist….and I was trying to figure out a way that I could just take this entire wall home and somehow add it to our house.

Sabra Hummus House

But the real highlight of the night was being able to spend some time with friends and new acquaintances from Sabra and some other bloggers from the area.

One of my favorite things about Sabra is that everyone I’ve met from the company seriously loves their jobs and loves working for the company. They’re so excited about it – and it’s so refreshing! Sabra people have always made me feel so welcome; it was a great experience to spend some time in their pop-up with them, and to see the excitement and pride they have for the space.

Sabra Hummus House food

And the food – the whole reason for the restaurant! Sabra is making an effort to get as much locally as possible, including most of the veggies on the table and that entire plate of pickles, which were one of my favorite things of the night. I mean, I like pickles, but I would never pick them to be a favorite dish over other things. These pickles were simply amazing. I’m definitely have to get some for myself.

Casual Entertaining. Sounds perfect, right?

I’m a huge fan of anything that says CASUAL. Casual makes me think: easy, simple, stress-free, basically anything I could do in sweatpants. And when you put it together with entertaining? Well, that’s right up my alley. So, when I was challenged by Dreamfields to create a recipe using their Linguine (my FAVORITE pasta) with a Casual Entertaining theme, my mind started working overtime.

linguine with meatballs and mushrooms

At our house, any entertaining tends to center around family visiting or football watching. Sometimes both, at the same time. And honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Is there a way to make a filling, healthy pasta that could work for a family dinner or football watching? I think so!

linguine with meatballs and mushrooms

The answer? Add meatballs.

Meatballs are a football-snacking staple, along with chicken wings, chips and dip, and nachos. They’re easy to throw on a platter by themselves, but it’s just as easy to toss them with some meaty mushrooms, a creamy onion sauce, and piles of hot linguine.

If there’s one thing I love, it’s coffee. I know, I know – I talk about this all the time. Heck, I’m working on a book of recipes all using coffee!

So if anyone gives me a chance to try something coffee related, I say yes.

Let’s….just call it research, okay? From now on, it’s all research.

nescafe

My favorite way of enjoying coffee is piping hot, with just a touch of cream or milk. Or iced, if it’s really steamy in the summer. But most days, I’m a hot coffee girl. Always and only in the morning, unless it’s decaf later in the day. If I have any caffeine after noon, I get shaky and that is not fun.

A week ago, I got an email asking if I wanted to try this new Nescafe with Coffee-Mate and share a giveaway with you guys, and I couldn’t turn down the chance to try something coffee-related. Plus, I love sharing giveaways with you! It’s always fun to get mail – especially food-related mail.