November 27, 2012

'Tis the Season...

For Mason Jars: Holiday Style

Berry & pine branches picked from my parents' land in Iowa  #ArpCompound

My first Christmas decoration is up ~ Cheers!

November 26, 2012

The New Star of the Holidays: Sweet Potato Soufflé

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!  I certainly did, back home in Iowa with my siblings, parents & extended family - we're one loud & crazy bunch and I wouldn't have it any other way.  With over 20 people under my parents' roof on Thanksgiving day, there were many stories told, so much amazing food shared & many laughs had by all.  With each new holiday comes the chance to make new memories; many of mine include waking up early to have coffee with my mom, discussing our game plan for the day.  What time is everyone coming over?  What time should we start to put the casseroles together?  When should she make her famous crust-less pumpkin pies?  And...when shall we pour our first mimosa? :)

Usually at Thanksgiving I make a pumpkin swirl cheesecake with a gingerbread crust (email me if you'd like the recipe!) but this year, I took the savory (and still fairly healthy) route.  Most of the main dishes were already covered by my mom, grandma or aunts & uncles, except for one: the sweet potatoes.  I knew I wanted to put a spin on things to try and get those non-sweet potato lovers to actually try and really enjoy sweet potatoes, so I came up with a delectable little recipe for a sweet potato soufflé.  After the entire casserole dish was practically wiped clean by the end of our dinner, it has officially been requested that I make the soufflé for all Thanksgiving dinners going forward - a sure sign of success!

Check out the recipe & photos below - though I made this for Thanksgiving, it would be good anytime of the year for any holiday!

Gorgeous spuds

November 20, 2012

Lighten Up: Pre-Turkey Day Saucy Shrimp Stir Fry

With Thanksgiving just around the corner you are probably seeing a ton of Thanksgiving-related recipes in & around the blogosphere - but not here...well at least...not today :)  On this fine Tuesday I thought I'd give you a quick, healthy & delicious little dish you can make yourself for lunch or dinner in the time we have left leading up to turkey day - or perhaps one of the days after t-day when you need a change from the leftover turkey, green bean casserole, potatoes & stuffing.

This recipe is something I came up with one evening when I was craving Thai food and/or stir fry, but not wanting to spend $20 on myself to order it & have it delivered!  Also, this is a much healthier version of a peanut-flavored stir fry since it uses ingredients such as whole wheat noodles, low sodium soy sauce & all natural peanut butter.  The addition of the bell peppers give more than a healthy dose of vitamin C (one serving gets you to 750 percent of the daily recommendation for the vitamin) and the shrimp are a fantastic, lower calorie source of protein.

I made up this recipe using what I had on hand in my cupboards but - for your convenience - I have listed optional ingredients below next to the ones I used, in case you don't quite have in your cupboards what I did at the time.  The flavors will be almost identical & this dish is sure to please no matter what you substitute!

See below for photos & recipe, and keep checking back for some fantastic Thanksgiving recipes I will post after turkey day - as I will be doing it all real time on Thursday & taking photos along the way!

Enjoy :)

Saucy little dish

November 13, 2012

November 12, 2012

Healthy Baked Acorn Squash with Quinoa + Dried Cherries

Thanksgiving is fast approaching (only 1 week from this Thursday!) which means the Fall season will be coming to a close soon. It also means that I am getting my fill on cooking with gourds - remember the butternut squash soup or the pumpkin cream cheese bread from weeks past?  Well I have another seasonal recipe for you, this time using acorn squash.  Although technically a winter squash, I tend to associate it with classic Fall flavors - which you'll find in this recipe in the subtle hints of brown sugar & maple syrup.

Final product | Get in my belly

November 9, 2012

Chowder, Po' Boys & Mason Jars: Fish Bar Delivers the Goods

It's been over a year and a half of yearning, but the stars finally aligned for Fish Bar & I to meet face to face, and it was a match made in heaven.  One surefire way to win this girl's heart?  Serve your beer (or any beverage for that matter) in a mason jar & consider me the happiest camper around.  It also doesn't hurt your chances to offer me the best clam chowder in town (a bold statement, I know).  Me & Fish Bar?  We got along just swimmingly...

Mason jars & menus

Immediately upon walking into Fish Bar you're hit with good vibes.  A cozy & intimate spot with a vintage sea town feel, everyone in the place seemed more than happy to be there - and we couldn't wait to sit down and join them to taste the incredible smelling food permeating the air.  The only thing in our way?  A 45 min wait - that was for 2 people on a weekend night around 8:45 - they don't take reservations but it's definitely worth the wait.

November 6, 2012



Because you can.
Because complaining doesn't get you anywhere or change anything.
Because you are a free citizen of the United States.
Because your health, rights & income will all be affected by it.
Because your opinion means nothing when merely expressed via social media.
Because it is not only your democratic right, but a privilege.
Because every vote counts, which means you can make a difference.

I voted today. I hope you did too.

November 5, 2012

Lightened Up Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread

Those who know me well know that I do not have much of a sweet tooth (I'm definitely a savory kinda gal), and although I do bake frequently I usually end up giving most of it away to friends, family or coworkers.  However, if you put cream cheese in any type of sweet treat - cheesecake, cream cheese frosting, cheesecake bars, etc. - I am automatically on board.  I just can't help myself!

In an attempt to satisfy recent cravings, I went on the hunt for a recipe that combined cream cheese & fall flavors in a way that wasn't too sweet or decadent.  The perfect combo?  Pumpkin cream cheese bread!  I adapted a recipe that I found via Pinterest so it is lighter & healthier, but still delicious!

Check out the recipe & photos below and have a happy Monday, YO!!

Post-bake  | Cracks permitted