Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Grapevine: Spring Edition

Good things are happening, the weather is getting warmer, grass is growing, flowers are blooming. I love it! It is time to open our windows and let the fresh air in. It’s time to crank up the grill, and take the dogs for a walk. Basically, time to get out of the house! I think this winter got to me way worse than normal. I think I had a pretty significant case of cabin fever!

Sunrise

Branches

Woods

Aren’t these beautiful?

Mr. Maebell has become quite the photographer. He is currently putting my photography skills to shame!

Mr. Maebell and I worked on our yard this weekend. It is in need of some major TLC. Two big dogs and a very wet winter did nothing for our humble little yard. We got the basic maintenance done, but we are planning on reseeding and working on filling a few holes those precious fur babies dug. However, the longer I stood out there this weekend the more I got to thinking about creating some type of outdoor living space. That sounds great, right? Nothing fancy, maybe a stone patio, a real place to put our fire pit. Just a place to enjoy some fresh air. If you follow me on Pinterest you may have noticed I went a little crazy with the patio options.

I could tell that Mr. Maebell noticed the gears were churning in this little brain of mine. He is trying awfully hard to put a pin in it before I decide to build a gazebo, put in a pond and plant seven trees without actually saying “No” to me. We will just see how it goes. ;)

In other news, I have some things for you that I am really loving. Take a look!

Now for a sneak peak of things I have been working on!

Lemon Granola Bars

Fresh lemon zest? Oats? Roasted Almonds and Poppy seeds? Good things are happening here!

Cilantro Lime Shrimp

We had ourselves a little fiesta the other night! Fresh shrimp, lime juice, chopped cilantro, rice and salsa verde made an awesome 20 minute meal! Recipe coming tomorrow!

Three Cheese Pasta

Here I go again with these skillet meals! This is another one dish 20 minute meal I came up with. I have to tell you, we are totally in love with this one!

And just in case you have ever wondered what the creation of this little website looks like. This is it. Just me and my boys doing a little Saturday morning blogging.

The Boys

Momma’s boys, I tell you…Momma’s boys!

If you ever see any spelling or grammatical errors I will blame it on the fact that the little one is likely helping me type.

The Boys

There you have it. Happy Wednesday from my whole crew!

Sunshine Shake

This…this little beauty is an all time favorite.

Sunshine Shake

Growing up, it wasn’t a real breakfast unless a pitcher full of Sunshine Shake was passed around the table. You just had to be sure you poured your glass before my brother got to it, once he got a hold of it you were out of luck.

I have no idea where my Mom found this recipe but she has been making it for as long as I can remember. It tastes just like an orange cream-sickle and only has a handful of ingredients you probably already have on hand. Just grab a can of frozen orange juice concentrate, add some milk, water, ice and a little bit of vanilla give it a whirl in the blender and you have something magical on your hands.

This is the perfect addition to your breakfast table to help round out the meal. Speaking of breakfast, here are some of our favorites to enjoy with Sunshine Shake!

Sausage Balls

Sausage Balls

These Spicy Sausage Balls are great. They have cream cheese blended in so they are super moist. We love them with honey mustard!

Steak and Eggs

Steak and Eggs

Or how can you go wrong with a big plate of steak and eggs! Perfectly toasted bread topped with a heaping pile of pan seared steak covered with a fried egg! Perfection!

Spicy Sausage Breakfast Casserole

Spicy Sausage Breakfast Casserole

This overnight casserole not only tastes amazing because it is loaded with peppers, onions, cheese, tortillas, and green chilies but allows you to do all the prep work the night before! Just pop this baby in the oven for a fuss free morning.

Sunshine Shake

There you have it, the perfect breakfast drink and a couple of my favorites. After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

Ingredients:

  • 1 12 ounce can of frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2-2 1/2 cups ice

Directions:

Combine all ingredients into a blender and blend 30 seconds at a time until it reaches desired consistency. I normally add 1 1/2 cups of ice, blend, then add another cup of ice for a smoothie texture.

 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bread

So my goal here is to create recipes that normal people would actually make.
My secondary goal is to give you completely 100% gluten free recipes that you never even realize are gluten free.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Bread (gluten free)

This Chocolate Chip Cookie Bread is both of those things. A super easy sweet bread that tastes exactly like a chocolate chip cookie, that also happens to be gluten free.

Hallelujah!

When I came up with this recipe a couple years ago it smelled great while it was cooking, looked great when it came out of the oven, but Mr. Maebell and I knew it probably wasn’t going to taste as good as it looked or smelled. Unfortunately, this was still back in the day when gluten free food left a lot to be desired.

We both took a bite and knew something magical had happened. It was bread! That tasted like a cookie! That he could eat! That my friend, was worth celebrating.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bread (gluten free)

Since then this has been the recipe. You know what I mean, the one you break out when you have friends or family over and when they talk about how good it is you just say “Oh this, well it was nothing, really.” But secretly your basking in the glory of being able to feed your gluten free and glutenfull (is that a word?) family the exact same thing and nobody fusses.

The recipe is similar in a lot of ways to the Dark Chocolate Espresso Bread I shared a while back. It is very moist, full of chocolate, but instead of a strong coffee flavor this one has good dose of vanilla. So if you try one of these recipes definitely try the other, they are both great.

If you find your sweet tooth calling give this one a try, it won’t disappoint!

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cup AP flour*
  • 1 cup Old Fashioned oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill GF)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package vanilla instant pudding mix (5.25 ounce)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips, divided.
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Mix flour, oats, baking powder, salt, vanilla pudding mix, and sugar, combine well. Add wet ingredients and half of the chocolate chips to dry ingredients, mix well.
  3. Pour into greased loaf pan, top with remaining 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.
  4. Bake for 1 hour.
As always, I made this dish using gluten free ingredients. I use Glutino Gluten Free Pantry All Purpose flour or Gluten Free Bisquick in place of flour and Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oats. 

Smoked Pork Tenderloin with Savory Rub

It is here!

Grillin’ time!
Mother Nature has been toying with us a lot this year. It feels like winter lasted about a trillion years. I was seriously concerned we would never see the sun or dry ground again. But slowly the days are getting longer and warmer. Dinner is migrating out of the kitchen and onto porches, decks, and backyards! Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, grab your grill or your smoker, crank it up and make this Smoked Pork Tenderloin!

Smoked Pork Loin

This super simple dinner starts with mixing up a couple spices to make a nice savory rub. We have tried a lot of spice mixtures for grilling but we love this one because it has a great balance of heat and sweetness without being overpowering. It really just compliments the flavor of the smoked meat.

Smoked Pork Tenderloin

Once you mix the spices, you sprinkle it on, and then rub it in. You want to get a real good even coat all the way around. The spices are going to form this delicious crust that you are going to fight your family for.

Smoked Pork Tenderloin

So once your spices are packed on, it is time to throw it on the grill. Now, we have a smoker, so we cook it at a high temperature for about twenty minutes, then lower the temperature for a couple hours. This gives that great char on the outside but ensures the meat stays tender and moist.

Pair this pork loin with these Smokey Sweet Potato Wedges or maybe some Mexican Cornbread and some grilled vegetables and you have a dinner that is hard to beat!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 1/2 pound pork tenderloin

Directions:

  1. Combine spices in a small bowl, rub mixture evenly on pork loin making sure it is coated well.
  2. Heat your grill to 450 degrees, place pork loin in the center of the grill. Cook for 20 minutes, then lower temperature to 225 and cook for 2 hours.
  3. Let meat sit for 10 minutes before slicing.

 

The Grapevine: Why Perfect is Overrated

So I have been doing a bit of thinking lately.

Be Real

There has been this little thing irking me, and I just need to get it off my chest. We live in this fast paced, crazy, technology filled world where you have access to pretty much anything just by hopping online and searching for it. I think that is great and all… it is that same technology that allows me to have this little corner here on the web where I get to talk to you and share ideas. I am so very thankful for that.

But it has also created this “Pinterest Generation,” if you will. You know what I mean. An entire group of people who are constantly flooded with these images of perfectness. A perfectly plated dinner, perfect makeup, perfect clothes, a perfect home, perfect garden…the list goes on and on. The photos of food and place settings could even make Martha Stewart look pitiful!

Don’t get me wrong, I am guilty, too. I pin the pictures. I admire them. I even get the idea stuck in my head that if my house doesn’t look EXACTLY like my Dream Home pinterest board I am a complete and utter failure. I make food to share with you. Then I wait until the lighting is just so.  I take about 50 shots using different garnishes, place mats, and napkins just so it looks perfect.

Can we just stop and take a moment here.

You are not a failure if the food you cook isn’t pretty.
You are not a failure if you can’t apply your eye shadow correctly, and you don’t know how to french braid your hair.
You are not a failure if you can’t build your own furniture out of pallets.

That world, that oh-i-was-born-an-expert-at-this-i-have-never-failed-at-anything-ever attitude that is creeping up on us. Let’s stop. Let’s just be real. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses.

Embrace both. Embrace them whole heartily.

Both of those… your good days, your bad, your wins, your losses, your successes, and your failures. They built you.

They made you.

And you, yes you, sitting right there reading this are totally unique. Nobody else in this world has what you have to offer.

Embrace it my friend!

So, in honor of taking the good and the bad, in honor of being real. I am sharing some of my failures with you. Some of these were good ideas with poor execution, some were just terrible ideas all together. But they are mine, and I am owning them.

Here we go!

roast chicken

So, this one time I was going to show you how to roast a chicken. Except I roasted it wrong side up which made for some fairly unflattering photos.

roast chicken

Speaking of photos, aren’t these terrible? Yes, that is black poster board I was using as a background. What was I thinking? Fail!

For the record, the chicken actually tasted great!

lemon cake

Lemon cake…oh lemon cake. I love it, yet I butchered this one. Sometimes you just need to leave things alone. I had a great cake but I tried to be fancy and add a healthy(?) strudel topping and sliced almonds. Okay, so in order to create a nice crumb like topping you need butter…and sugar. Without it you are just kind of sprinkling flour on top, which is basically what I did.

And these pictures….oh dear. Yellow lemon cake doesn’t belong on a greenish cake stand. Again, Fail!

lemon cake

This was going to be so great! A Pancetta and Pepper strata, I saved the last couple slices of my precious gluten free bread for this dish, but only had like 4 eggs. Instead of going to the store and buying more or just changing my plan I said, “oh I will just wing it!” The result? Very dry, eggy croutons with even drier peppers and pancetta stuck to them. We ate cereal that day. Fail!

strata

strata

You know that lovely Sausage and Spinach Quiche I shared with you? Well this was my first attempt at photos. Sheesh! Fail!

sausage and spinach quiche

This is just the tip of the iceberg my friends. For every tasty, nicely photographed recipe I share with you, there are two or three that failed. Behind this blog there is a messy kitchen, an expensive grocery bill, a full refrigerator, a faithful taste tester, a lot of determination, and a stockpile of Chocolate Chex for our inevitable failures. But that is okay, because it’s this beautiful mess that keeps life so interesting.

Perfection is so very boring. What would I have to write about?