Before I even tell you about this easy and crazy delicious breakfast, I have to apologize. The inspiration for this dish came from our trip to Montreal this fall, and I STILL haven’t done a recap! But I’m working on it, I promise. I have pictures from the trip in 3 different places and I keep forgetting where everything is. So….coming soon.

But until then, you’ll just have to settle for one of my favorite things that I got from our trip.

The first meal Nick and I had in Montreal was at a little restaurant called Olive et Gourmando, and I fell head-over-heels in love. Like….I wanted to set a cot in the corner and just live there.

raspberry ricotta with honey, salt, and toast

The place was packed – definitely a good sign. We grabbed 2 seats at a bar, right in front of a 6-foot tall window opened to the streets, letting the breeze in through the potted rosemary and peppers in the window sill. As we sat and started to unwind from a long morning of traveling, we ordered sandwiches to share – the Cubain (oh.my.goodness. best sandwich ever) and a Smoked Trout Salad sandwich, plus a local beer for him and glass of wine for me.

Halfway thru lunch, a lady sat down beside us, taking the last seat. We ended up talking for the rest of our lunch and she gave us some fantastic restaurant suggestions. But her strongest suggestion was simply to come back to Olive et Gourmando for breakfast the next morning, because “breakfast here,” she said, “is even better than lunch.”

So we did. And it was.

stonyfield gift basket giveaway

It is freezing here. And I know some of you are having even colder weather right now.

To help us get through winter together, I’ve got some great giveaways lined up for the next couple of weeks! This is partly because I’m not a fan of winter and partly because I will hit 5 years of blogging in February and I want to celebrate by giving away some of my favorite things!

stonyfield yogurt

First up – Stonyfield Yogurt! Stonyfield has always been my favorite, and even though I can’t always get the new flavors in my little town, we always have it in the fridge. Always.

It goes into smoothies, overnights oats, and is tossed with fruit and nuts for snacks.

orange yogurt pound cake

I stir it into pound cake batter and mix it with cream cheese to fill chocolate cups. Stonyfield yogurt (especially their plain greek) is definitely a staple in our house, and I want to share the goodness with you!

greek yogurt cheesecake cups

To help spread the goodness, the folks at Stonyfield have put together this awesome giftbasket worth $100 for one of you – talk about a pick-me-up in the middle of winter!

stonyfield prize pack

This gift basket includes:

  • Stonyfield tote bag
  • This Lunch Rocks recycled lunchbox
  • Food Inc. DVD
  • On the Go Alternative Paper Towel
  • Preserve Measuring Cups
  • Life is Better with Stonyfield mug
  • Stirring It Up – Gary Hirshberg book
  • Preserve Sandwich container
  • Stonyfield chapstick
  • $50 in Stonyfield coupons

Good luck to everyone! Contest open to continental US residents. And keep your eyes open for some more giveaways coming soon!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’m also working with Stonyfield this year and can’t wait to share some new recipes with you guys.

Out of everything we grew in the garden this year, I think I’m most proud of the butternut squash. It was the first time we’d ever tried growing our own and somehow, they turned out 100 times better than anything I could buy in the store.

Even compared to the best I’ve had in the past, these were sweeter and an almost annoyingly-neon orange inside. There’s still 1-2 on the porch, waiting to be used, plus a few in the freezer that I roasted and put away for quick weeknight meals, like this one.

Baked Butternut Squash with Bacon, Onion, Maple, and Rosemary

A few weeks ago, Crown Maple offered up a challenge to take a sweet recipe and give it a savory twist using their maple syrup. First of all – sweet and savory in one dish? Sign me up. And having an excuse to do all this with some amazing maple syrup? It was a no brainer.

Most butternut squash casserole-type dishes I’ve had err on the sweet side with nuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, etc. And with the sweetness from the maple syrup, I knew I needed everything else smoky, savory, and salty to really make this dish shine.

Baked Butternut Squash with Bacon, Onion, Maple, and Rosemary

So I put some of my favorite things together for the topping on this: smoked paprika. bacon. onions. fresh rosemary.

And, of course, some Crown Maple Grade A Dark Amber maple syrup to bring in some richness.

crown maple

Thanks to the butternut squash I had squirreled away in the freezer this summer, this dish came together in about 30 minutes! Perfect for an easy weeknight meal (especially if you have frozen squash) and for holiday dinners.

We had this with some green beans and bone-in pork chops the other night….and it may be one of my favorite fall meals that I’ve made so far. But you can never go wrong with bacon + maple syrup.

Baked Butternut Squash with Bacon, Onion, Maple, and Rosemary

This recipe is entered in the Crown Maple #TaptoTable contest – I can’t wait to see the other dishes! Make sure to check out Crown Maple on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, too. I love their syrup (and the cute packaging!).

Baked Butternut Squash with Bacon, Onion, Maple, and Rosemary

This has almost all of my favorite things: creamy butternut squash, salty bacon, sweet maple syrup and onions, and fresh rosemary. I microwaved my butternut squash to cut down on the prep time, making this dish easy to whip up on busy weeknight.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • 8 slices thick-cut bacon
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp Crown Maple Dark Amber syrup
  • 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped

Directions:

  1. Slice the butternut squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and either bake the squash (at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes) or microwave the squash (in dish with 1” of water) until it is cooked through and tender.
  2. Mix the cooked squash with the salt, smoked paprika, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Spoon the mixture into a greased baking dish and smooth out into an even layer.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Cook the bacon until crisp, the remove from the pan. Add the onion and scallions to the pan with the bacon fat and cook over medium until tender. Crumble the bacon and add back to the  onion mixture. Stir in the maple syrup and rosemary.
  5. Spoon the bacon mixture over the top of the squash. Bake the dish at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until warmed through.

coconut oreo truffles

Happy day after Christmas!

I’m a big fan of this time of year, mostly because I can stay in my pajamas for the majority of the day and it’s perfectly acceptable.

coconut oreo truffles

Also because eating things like fudge and chocolate bark and oreo truffles for breakfast is a-okay.

Like the past few years, Nick and I have made mostly homemade gifts for our family. Toffee is a definite. Cocoa-crusted mixed nuts are always a hit. There was some cookies’n’mint bark that happened this year (coming soon – it’s addicting!). But one of my favorites are these oreo truffles.

I know. They’re everywhere. I tried so hard to resist making them. But they’re seriously easy, and so much fun to amp up with new flavors and toppings. Last year I did some double mint oreo truffles (yum).

But this year? I went a little tropical.

coconut oreo truffles

Thanks to a fantastic little baking set I got through Mixed and McCormick, I have a brand new stash of extracts. And as soon as I saw the coconut, I knew it had to make it into some kind of holiday treat.

Chocolate + crushed cookies + cream cheese + COCONUT?! Yes. How could it not be good?

coconut oreo truffles

The great thing about extracts is that you don’t need much. Just a few little drops took these classic oreo truffles to the next level. And then, just for fun, I added a sprinkling of toasted coconut on top. Any time you can add toasted coconut, just do it. It’s a beautiful thing.

If you’re still looking for some fun holiday season treats to whip up, I think these need to be added to your list.

Coconut Oreo Truffles

A little twist on the classic, these rich little bites will be a hit! I think they roll even easier if you make the dough mixture the day before you want to roll/dip them in chocolate.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package oreo cookies
  • 1 8-oz. package low fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp coconut extract
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (white, semi-sweet, or a mix if you want both)
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • toasted coconut for topping (optional)

Directions:

  1. Place all the oreos in the bowl of a food processor and turn it on. Let the machine run until the cookies are ground and there are no large chunks of cookie left.
  2. Add the cream cheese and coconut extract to the oreos and turn it on again, letting it process until the cookie crumbs and the cream cheese are mixed together and have formed a ball of dough.
  3. Put the oreo mixture in a bowl and let it chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  4. Scoop about 1 Tbsp of the cookie mixture from the bowl, roll it into a ball, and repeat until all the truffle fillings are ready to dip.
  5. Pour your chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and heat for 2 minutes, stopping to stir every 30 seconds, until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Stir in the coconut oil.
  6. Drop a truffle into the melted chocolate, roll it around with a spoon or fork to cover it completely, and then lift it out of the bowl on a fork or slotted spoon to let the extra chocolate drip off.
  7. Place the chocolate-dipped candy on parchment paper and repeat with the rest of the truffles. While the chocolate is still melted, sprinkle a bit of the toasted coconut on the top of each truffle.
  8. Serve once the chocolate has set.

You guys. I have the funniest (maybe also grossest?) story to share, but it’s going to have to wait. I promise it’s coming – I’m totally embarrassed and don’t want anyone to know, but… it’s wayyyy too funny to keep to myself.

But first! I have 2 great giveaways from one of my favorite companies.

Nudo Adopt-a-Tea Giveaway

Have you heard of Nudo? If you have, I’m sure its because of their incredible olive oil and the adopt-an-olive-tree program. Check it out if you haven’t!

I first had the chance to try Nudo olive oil when I got some in the swag bag from the RockHer party in Atlanta a few years ago and I. fell. in. love.

Their packaging is fabulous. They let you adopt your OWN OLIVE TREE, and you get to reap the benefits of it all year long. Plus, if you find yourself in Italy, you can go hug it, take a picture with it, and spend some time thanking it for all the oil.

Nudo Adopt-a-tea Giveaway

Now Nudo is offering a similar adoption program, but with Darjeeling tea.

When you adopt a Darjeeling tea garden for a year (and you even get to choose the garden and grower!), you will get some of the best quality “first flush” loose leaf tea four times a year from your garden. Where else can you get this?

And to make it even better, the Adopt A Tea Garden program is all about sustainability. Nudo has teamed up with local producers to restore deserted tea gardens for the program. Using biodynamic and organic farming practices, local farmers can now reopen those tea gardens, creating more jobs for the local tea pickers and growers and creating the opportunity for the younger generations to learn the skills that their families have practiced for centuries.

I’ve really enjoyed all of the teas so far, and I’m thinking of getting myself a tea garden for Christmas this year! But today, I’m really excited that one of you will have the chance to adopt his or her very own tea garden and win a year’s worth of tea! With this and their olive oil program, it really is a gift that keeps on giving – all year long!

Nudo Adopt a Tea Giveaway

You can decide to adopt a tea garden for yourself or as a gift, and then it lets you read all about the different gardens and growers and choose which one you’d like to “adopt”. From tasting notes to learning about the people that work there and harvest your tea, this step really gives light to the great work happening and lets you pick one that you connect with.

Nudo Adop-a-tea Giveaway

Then you get even more info about the “flushes” of tea. Have you ever heard of this before? I really hadn’t before I read up on their website and tried the teas for myself. Basically, the “flushes” are the tea growing seasons with Darjeeling tea. Each flush has slightly different characteristics (which you can see in the graphic above). So even though you’ve only picked one tea garden, each season or “flush” you receive will be slightly different.

Nudo tea giveaway

But that’s not all!

So one winner will get the Tea Garden adoption, but I also have a great gift box from Nudo up for grabs, too.

Seriously….their olive oil is insanely good. The mandarin orange? I drizzle that on salads by itself. Nothing else needed. And the cocoa olive oil? It’s on its way into some dessert coming soon.

Nudo olive oil boxset giveaway

This gift box has a little of everything – one bottle of their extra virgin olive oil, a jar of olive tapenade, a bar of myrtle + red grape soap (which smells incredible), AND a tin for you to grow your own olive tree!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can read all about the Adopt A Tea Garden program on Nudo’s website. And you can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Good luck!!

flourless chocolate cake

When it comes to trying different desserts, I feel like I’m years behind my age.

At 30, I should have already had homemade rice pudding or creme brulee, but I haven’t. I’ve never made real homemade ice cream or a souffle or baked alaska.

flourless chocolate cake

I seem to get stuck on desserts, and most of them involve chocolate.

What can I say? I come from a long line of sugar-lovers, especially in chocolate form. But I love other desserts. Really love them! Lemon cake and ice creams and fruit tarts – there is room for everything on my dessert table. It’s equal opportunity in this house when it comes to sweets, but somehow, chocolate always seems to edge everything else out.

flourless chocolate cake

And now, after years of hearing about flourless chocolate cakes and then finally trying one in a restaurant a few years ago, I decided to try to make one at home.