A few weeks ago, this blog hit 5 years of being in existence. I’ve been trying to write this post for the last couple of months now, and I’m still not sure how to say everything I want to say.
I started this space on a cold January night, with no idea of what would happen here. Maybe I would post for 2 weeks, get bored, and stop. Maybe I could keep it up for a year or two. But never – ever – did I think that I would still be here writing 5 years later and loving it just as much as I did when I first started.
Things have definitely changed in the last few years. We moved into our first house. Got our first dog. Traveled. Graduated. Changed jobs. Dealt with quite a few family emergencies, losses, and new additions.
I started all of this without much knowledge or experience in the kitchen. Honestly, at that point, we were just happy if the meal I made for dinner was edible. I was terrified of going “off recipe”, thinking that any change I made would completely ruin the dish. And let’s not even talk about the lemon pasta dish that we threw out after just one bite. That was definitely the worst….but I still blame the recipe.
Never in my previous 25 years of living did I ever think I would be making croissants or bread or coming up with recipes on my own. And back then, I would have laughed if you told me that I would get paid to come up with recipes. Seriously? Did they know me? Did they realize I could barely boil water just a few years ago?
Having this space has caused me to grow in so many ways over the past 5 years. The most growth has definitely been in the kitchen – coming up with recipes, having the courage to try new things (and fail), and learning what I’m great at (cookies) and where I still need practice (seriously – mashed potatoes. what is so hard about this?!).
But most importantly, it has stretched me into a person I never imagined I would be. I’ve traveled all over the states because of this blog. I’ve met so many people that I would have never met otherwise. Some of my best friends in real life are friends that I met because of this blog. I was on tv – which is still insane to me, and I’m very thankful that I didn’t throw up even though I felt on the verge the entire time in front of those cameras.
So, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart for reading and for commenting and for telling me what recipes you’ve tried and loved or sharing your favorite food memories here with me. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see what’s to come in the next five years.
I’ve still got a few fun giveaways for all of you in the coming weeks, too! I think you’ll love these things just as much as I do.
In the mean time, here are a few of my favorite recipes from these first 5 years:
Monster Macadamia Coconut Chip Cookies
Chocolate Covered Apple Cider Toffee
Grilled Cheese with Apple and Rosemary Walnut Butter
Spiced Beef and Leek Fried Rice
Greek Yogurt Cheesecake Cups
Dips aren’t just for the Superbowl, which is why I’m posting this today.
I’m a big fan of dips whether there’s football to watch or not. I mean, yes, it’s always better with football (especially college football), but whether or not you have a big game coming up or you just want a good snack that’s easy to put together, dips are always a good choice.
I love baked dips, but cold dips are even easier to put together. And they take less time.
And they don’t get to that weird not-hot-anymore-but-not-exactly-cold temperature that just makes it….gross. No need to worry about reheating this and setting it back out.
This is a combo of two my favorite things: cool, creamy greek yogurt and the flavors in chimichurri sauce. Lots of fresh herbs, spicy garlic, hot red pepper, and a pinch of sugar to tie it all together.
And you can’t overlook the chips. Even with the best dip, if you have flimsy chips that break as soon as you try to scoop some up, it’s not going to be good. You’ll have chip shards scattered in the dip and that always ends with people trying to scoop their broken chip pieces out with more chips or eventually just digging it out with a spoon. Never good.
So get good chips. Thick, crunchy chips with good flavor and texture by themselves.
For this dip (and a new hummus coming soon), I’m using my new favorites: Late July chips. They’re so crunchy and not flimsy at all! They stand up to this dip, hummus, and would probably make awesome nachos, too.
Always on the hunt for new dips to make? Me too. Here’s some favorites I’ve found lately – all yogurt based, and a lot with avocado!
Creamy Avocado Onion Dip
Cheesy Garlic Yogurt Dip
Creamy Avocado Dip
Spicy Southwestern Yogurt Dip Trio
Chimichurri Spiced Yogurt Dip
Who says creamy dips have to be full of fat? This mix is full of flavor thanks to the fresh herbs and chopped garlic.
- 2 cups plain greek yogurt
- ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- ¼ cup scallions, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Spoon the yogurt into a medium bowl and add all the rest of the ingredients. Mix the herbs and spices into the yogurt until everything is combined.
- Eat immediately or place in the fridge until you're ready to serve.
Sweets are a major part of our food pyramid.
Whether its cookies or cinnamon rolls or cakes, we go through sugar pretty quickly. Over the past year, I’ve had the chance to work with Dixie Crystals, making and updating some of their older recipes. It’s been fun to see what was popular and “the new thing” from 50 or 60 years ago – plus, it had me making some things I might never have made myself!
I think I’ve done about 20 recipes in total, and these were some of my favorites:
Each Peach Praline Cobbler
Cherry Cheesecake Sour Cream Waffles
Whole Wheat Mac and Cheese
Bavarian Potato Coffee Cake
Cream of Artichoke Soup
And now for the giveaway! Dixie Crystals is offering up a big prize pack for 2 lucky people! Each winner will get a case of Dixie Crystals sugar, a Bake It Forward tin, and a super cute apron.
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Giveaway is open to US residents.
It’s no secret that I love whole grains.
For a few years, Nick called all my dinners “berry food”….mostly because I had a 2 year long straight-up love affair with wheatberries. Once I found them, I just couldn’t stop!
I almost always use whole wheat flour when baking, and I love trying new whole grain salads, side dishes, and breakfasts.
Oats are main staple in my pantry – from everything to morning oatmeal, smoothies, quick risotto, and cookies. Bulgur is so easy to swap in for dishes that call for rice. Cornmeal makes a fantastic breading for chicken and perfect buttermilk cornbread. Millet is a great swap to use for spanish rice recipes – the flavor goes perfectly together!
From sweet to savory, breakfast to dinner, we’ve tried it all:
Steel Cut Oat and Tomato Stuffed Zucchini
Wheatberry Cranberry Salad
Strawberry Wheatberry Salad
Quinoa Raisin Maple Salad
Cherry Almond Chia Granola
No Bake Cocoa Cookies
Butternut Oat Risotto
When I first started cooking whole grains a few years ago, the brand I first found was Bob’s Red Mill. They have just about everything you could imagine, the quality is incredible, and I’m a sucker for cute packaging. If you haven’t fallen in love with whole grains like us, I’ve got something that might just push you over the edge.
And lucky for you, they’ve put together the ultimate whole grain prize pack for you!
The prize pack will include:
- Organic Tricolor Quinoa
- Whole Grain Millet
- Whole Grain Spelt
- Steel Cut Oats
- Scottish Oatmeal
- 10 Grain Cereal
- Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
- Hard White Whole Wheat Flour
- $100 Bob’s Red Mill gift card
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This giveaway will be open until next Tuesday – good luck!
Bob’s Red Mill is providing the prize package for this giveaway. I was not compensated for this post – all opinions are my own.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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I’m also working with Stonyfield this year and can’t wait to share some new recipes with you guys.