I’m so excited to share this recipe, not only because it’s delicious, but also because this is the type of simple, summery recipe you will find in the dessert section of my upcoming cookbook The Outdoor Table! By the way, have you preordered your copy yet?! We are almost a month out from the release, so I’m going to be sharing recipes for the next month that are similar to what you will find in the book, and I think you’re gonna love it! But before I get to this recipe, I’ve got to share something I was reminded of this past Sunday.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7
I’ve never thought of myself as much of a worrier. As a teenager and college student I was always pretty care free. In fact, I probably didn’t worry enough! However, once I became a mom all of that changed. Is he eating enough? Why was he born so small? Is he too fat? Is he hitting every milestone early enough? Is he talking enough? How does he measure up to other babies? …and the list of worries/concerns/questions plays on repeat.
Am I alone here?? If not, and you struggle with this too, then hopefully what I am going to share will be encouraging to you as well.
This past Sunday, our pastor talked about our thoughts and how our minds works. He talked about solitary confinement and “time out” being punishments, because when we are alone with our thoughts the natural tendency is for the them to head in a negative direction. Something clicked when I heard this. If you are a stay at home mom or work from home like me, you probably spend quite a bit of time alone. At least without any other adults for much of your time. So in this situation, if we don’t actively control our thoughts, then they turn negative and begin controlling us. Aha! moment for me!
We put all of our time and energy into this little person and end up spending much of that time worrying about every little detail of their lives. This was especially true for me for the first 3 or 4 months of Maverick’s life, and I still battle it now to some extent. I hate to admit that, because it’s really kind of sad, but I think this is the case with lots of new moms. The good news about this, which I was reminded of during the sermon, is that we can do something about this negativity. We don’t have to let our thoughts control our lives and our emotions. We can actually take those negative thoughts captive as soon as they wonder into our minds. We can pray for our thought life and ask God to help us test our thoughts to know what is true and good and of Him and what is not. This is so empowering to me.
We can also spend time with people who lift us up and encourage us, for me, that is fellow moms and friends who love Jesus. Community is so important, even if it seems hard in this season, which I wrote about here. God did not intend for us to spend our time in worry. He says it over and over again in the bible. I am praying this over myself this morning, because I totally need this as much as anyone. We can have a mindset that produces joy and peace regardless of our circumstances, and I think that is pretty awesome. I want that for me and for my son, because we only get to do this life once. So, this week I’m practicing casting my cares on Him and taking those negative thoughts captive. We have His power within us to choose our thoughts.
“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Man, I love those verses, I feel like I can just take a deep breath of relief every time I read them. So, while we are thinking all of these positive, life giving thoughts together, let’s bake something yummy! I have had a jar of lemon curd in my pantry for a while now, and I finally decided to make good use out of it last week. If you like tart and tangy desserts, then this is a MUST TRY! These are rich and lemony and just delightful.
Lemon Curd Crumble Bars
makes 12 squares
1 stick of butter, softened
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 cup prepared lemon curd (find this in the jelly/jam section or baking section of most grocery stores)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Using a mixer, beat together the butter and brown sugar until they are creamed together. Add in the salt and flour, then mix until combined. The mixture will be crumbly.
Remove about 3/4 cup of the mixture (unpacked) and add the pecans to this reserved amount for the topping.
Press the remaining mixture into a square (8×8) baking dish and bake for 15 minutes. Allow this to cook on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.
Spread the lemon curd in an even layer onto the crust. Top the curd evenly with the pecan crumble mixture and bake for another 20 minutes. Allow this to cool completely before cutting into squares.
“It’s a shame when we box up hospitality in entertaining. We lose sight of the true spiritual significance behind it, and in doing so we rob ourselves and others of the blessings God intends to come through it.” -Logan Wolfram, From the She Reads Truth Hospitality study
I just love a good chicken leg, it comes with a handle after all! Even back in the day when we would get a bucket of KFC fried chicken after church, I always preferred the legs. So, in honor of my love for legs, I’m sharing my Sticky Sesame Chicken Leg recipe! You may have seen some similar recipes to this on Pinterest, but this is my version of the mouth waveringly delicious, Asian flared main dish.
You have probably noticed that lately I have had some type of story to go with my recipes. Over the past few days, I’ve been thinking on what to write for this post, and I got nothin! Ever since I have been getting more personal on here, I’ve waited to write a post until I felt like God was really speaking to me and guiding my writing. I kept coming back to this one, and I finally decided I was just going to publish it today without anything extra. And then, this morning, I read my She Reads Truth devotional and boom, God gave me something! I love when He does that, sometimes I go for days where I just can’t hear Him, but He always shows up at just the right time.
If you haven’t checked out the She Reads Truth app, you should, it’s an awesome women’s devotional app with all kinds of different studies to choose from. I am currently doing a study on hospitality, and as I read the one for today, I realized that I use the word “entertaining” quite a bit, when what I really mean is hospitality. As you might have guessed, we haven’t been doing much entertaining since Maverick was born. We haven’t thrown any Pinterest worthy dinner parties, and I haven’t hosted a fancy ladies’ brunch. It just feels like I can’t really entertain right now, because we are in such a busy season of our lives. My husband, Zach, is finishing up building his first house, I’m listing it this month, my cookbook is coming out soon, and of course Maverick complicates things a little too.
In reality, maybe it’s not the time for me to entertain, but there is still time for me to be hospitable. I can still have people over to my house, and I can show hospitality to others even when I’m out and about by just having a welcoming spirit. I don’t have to have a big spread of food or send out formal invitations to create community. It might mean I make this chicken recipe and some good ol baked potatoes, or maybe we just pick up BBQ and hang out with friends after Mav goes to bed. It’s easy to make excuses and find reasons why “we can’t,” but the bottom line is we all need each other. Heck, sometimes I just need to talk to someone other than Maverick and Zach. Haha! And I’m thinking I’m not alone. People want to feel safe and comfortable, and I believe that happens most at the home of someone (like me) where a laundry basket of clothes is waiting to be folded in the corner and a Boppy gets used as a couch throw pillow.
To entertain, I may have to get everything pretty and perfect, but to be hospitable all I have to do is say, come on in!
Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:7
Now that that’s settled, back to my chicken legs, which are super easy and baked in the oven, making them perfect for when you’re being hospitable. No running in and out to check the grill and plenty of time to socialize while they bake! They also get slathered with an ooey,gooey sauce that is sticky and sweet and just plain yummy.
Also, shameless plug, the recipes in my cookbook are also perfect for showing hospitality this summer! Seriously, they are easy and uncomplicated, so no need to stress over food when you want to invite others to hang out and enjoy a meal on your patio. Bonus! Outdoor eating, means not so much cleaning!
Time. I have always been aware that it passes quickly. I remember when we would be going on a family vacation, I would think about how before I knew it, we would be on our way home and the trip would be over. Sort of a sad thought when you are headed out on a fun family trip, but for some reason I always thought it. However, my awareness of how fast time passes has escalated tremendously since having a baby. I admit, when I began taking those monthly pictures of Maverick with the stickers, I was happy and even excited to take them those first few months. I loved to see how much he had grown, especially since he started out so small. Each pound he gained and inch he grew made the month feel like an accomplishment. But now that he is caught up on weight and length, I’m not so excited about taking his 7 month picture next week. Don’t get me wrong, I love this stage, and seeing him explore and constantly learning and trying new things. It is truly amazing to watch, but the reality that we are over halfway to having a one year old is setting in.
Sweet 6 month picture of my boy (Photo by Montgomery Lee Photography)
The good news is, I do feel like I have gotten in my groove (most days) with being a mom while carrying on with my career. He has a couple of babysitters that we trust now, and I can even leave him without worrying too much. I can actually take him places now without being paranoid that everyone is watching, knowing that I’m a new mom, and I don’t really know what I’m doing. Insert story about how when Maverick was about a month old, I spent 30 minutes in the parking lot of Publix wondering how I was going to grocery shop with him and wondering if I should ask a random person to help me strap him in the ergo…
Well, we’ve got that figured out now, and the confidence I have in being a mom now compared to the beginning feels really good. But man, these months, they pass so quickly. He won’t be a baby too much longer and that’s hard to swallow. I always thought babies stayed babies for a long time, but they just don’t. While I was pregnant, another mom of 3 young kiddos told me to enjoy every stage, she said she spent most of her first born’s first year mourning the fact that he was growing up and feeling sad that it was all going by so fast. At the time, I didn’t think much of it, of course they grow, and you finally get to sleep, isn’t that the good news?! Now, I know what she meant. I find myself rocking my baby boy a little more lately, hoping he might doze off while I nurse him at night. Just so I can hold him while he is actually still and cozy in my arms. As much as I love that he can fall asleep on his own in his crib now and he has a routine, there’s a little piece of me that knows I’m going to miss his dependence on me to sleep. I don’t really miss that yet, because I am really enjoying sleeping at night and these longer naps, but I know I will. I still want to keep him on a schedule and do all of the things that allow me to get things done. But I’m just holding and rocking him a little longer than necessary these past few weeks, and I think I’ll keep that up as long as he lets me.
So how does this tie into a flatbread recipe?! Well, since time goes by so fast, and I don’t want to miss anything if I can help it, I’m really not cooking things that take up too much of my time these days. I do still love to cook and create in the kitchen though, so right now I’m all about making pretty food that can be ready in about 15-20 minutes for dinner. I have a delicious flatbread recipe in my new cookbook, and I have created a few more flatbread recipes since then that I absolutely love. All you have to do is buy some Naan, you can get it at any grocery store, usually near the other breads or in the ethnic section. Once you buy the Naan, have fun with whatever ingredients you like or have on hand. Since I’m a sweet and savory kind of girl, I’m using a little fruit on this one. I like to serve this with a simple salad for a light, fast, and beautiful spring dinner!
Pineapple and Pancetta Flatbread
makes about 12 pieces
1/3 cup diced pancetta (my substitute 4 slices cooked and chopped bacon)
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 (3-ounce) pieces Naan- whole wheat if available
3 ounces Fontina cheese
1/2 cup pineapple, chopped
Fresh parsley, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium skillet, cook the pancetta until it is crisp. If you prefer cooked onion, you may cook the onion for several minutes in the pancetta drippings.
Bursh the pieces of naan with the olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Thinly slice the fontina and place it evenly on the naan. Top with the cooked pancetta, onion, and pineapple.
Bake the flatbreads for 10 minutes, and then sprinkle them with the parsley. Use a pizza cutter to slice each one into about 6 pieces.
Okay, I admit it. Even though I am a food writer/blogger and have a cookbook coming out soon, I don’t make all of Maverick’s baby food. I really feel like I should because buying the organic jars/pouches is pretty expensive, especially since I have a big eater on my hands. The bottom line is being home 3 days a week with him and trying to work in between naps, on top of making sure the house doesn’t look like a bomb went off is about all I can handle most days. However, I had some time this week, and I decided to dedicate a couple of hours to making some baby food for him, using some fun and unique flavors. So, if you’re a stay at home mom and don’t make your baby’s food, don’t feel bad, my job revolves around cooking and creating recipes, and I don’t even do it all of the time! I’m working on not feeling guilty about this…
Anyway, if you can carve out a couple of hours one day, I do think it is worth the time if you are trying to feed your baby organic, pure food. It’s much more affordable to make your own, plus it’s kind of fun and rewarding to create something for your baby and watch them explore new flavors. Which brings me to the three new recipes I made for my little man this week. I decided to add in a few spices and even herbs to these purees, but they are totally optional. Since I cook so many different things, I am eager to expose him to new flavors now, so (hopefully) he’ll be open to trying more foods as he grows. For now, Maverick is just really into all baby food, and so far we have not found anything he doesn’t like or has had a bad reaction to. Which is really not surprising at all, since his dad is the least picky eater on the planet. Yay for me!
Here is a little video of Maverick trying the “Bunny Bait,” a little unsure at first, but he ended up loving it!
Even though it may take a little extra time, baby food really is easy to make, and you certainly don’t have to be a great cook to pull this off.
Here are the items you will need to make your own baby food…
Steamer Basket – I actually just bought one at Kroger when I was grocery shopping for about 8 bucks.
Food Processor – Grab one at your next Target outing, a must in the kitchen in my opinion!
Ice Cube Trays (about 4) – This is an easy way to store the food in the freezer.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or expert in what to feed your baby, so be sure to consult your pediatrician before trying any of these recipes and feeding them to your child.
makes about 24 cubes
Ingredients ( organic ingredients are best)
2 1/2-3 cups zucchini, peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
2 cups baby carrots
1 teaspoon garlic
water as needed
Fill a large pot with about 1 inch of water bring it to a boil. Place the steamer basket into the pot and fill it with the zucchini and garlic. Place the lid on the pot and steam for 10-15 minutes until the zucchini is very tender.
Repeat this process with the carrots, but steam them for 15-20 minutes, until tender.
Add the veggies to the food processor and puree them. Add a couple tablespoons of are at a time until the puree has reached the consistency you prefer for your baby.
Note: The zucchini already has quite a bit of water in it, so you may not need much water for this recipe.
Minty Peas, Please!
makes 24 about cubes
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
10 ounce bag frozen peas
1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
1/2-3/4 cup water
Fill a large pot with about 1 inch of water bring it to a boil. Place the steamer basket into the pot and fill it with the peas. Place the lid on the pot and steam for 7-8 minutes until the peas are very tender.
Add the steamed peas, brown rice, mint, and 1/2 cup of water to the processor.
Puree this as much as possible, adding more water as needed. This will probably have a little more texture to it than the other recipes, so again be sure to consult your pediatrician and use your own discretion.
Spiced Apples and Sweet Taters
makes about 24 cubes
2 medium sweet potatoes
2 medium apples, peeled and chopped
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4-1/2 cup water
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash and dry the sweet potatoes and place them on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil for easy clean up. Bake the potatoes for 45 min to an hour until very tender when pricked with a fork. Once the potatoes have baked, allow them to cook completely and then peel them.
Fill a large pot with about 1 inch of water bring it to a boil. Place the steamer basket into the pot and fill it with the apples. Place the lid on the pot and steam for 12-15 minutes until the apples are very tender.
Place the cooked potatoes, apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, and water into the processor and puree.
I am still in awe that my cookbook, which has been almost two years in the making, is actually coming out later this Spring! I haven’t revealed a whole lot about the book yet, but now that we are so close to the release date, which is June 2nd, I can share more! One thing you should know, is that I created and tested over 200 recipes EXCLUSIVELY for this cookbook, meaning you won’t find them on this blog
As you have probably guessed by the title, all of these recipes were created for outdoor entertaining. Whether you are having a cookout, barbecue, picnic, or tailgate, you will find plenty of fresh and delicious recipes to choose from in this book. Not only is it full of gorgeous pictures and outdoor dining ideas, it also features 30 outdoor venues, many of them in the South, that I thought were the perfect places to take some of these dishes to. The venues range from outdoor concerts and amphitheaters to botanical gardens and tailgates. This book was truly a labor of love and I hope you all enjoy it as much I enjoyed writing it!
Now for the really exciting news….
You can Pre-Order your copy now for a discount!
So go ahead and reserve your copy now by clicking on the retailer links below…
Now, if you tuned into Talk of the Town in Nashville today, you may have seen me make my “Sunshine Citrus Chicken.” This is a sneak peek recipe from the cookbook, that I am sharing to give you a “taste” of the deliciousness that is in this book! Enjoy
Sunshine Citrus Chicken
makes 6 servings
2 pounds boneless chicken thighs
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 cup canola oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Place the chicken thighs in a large ziptop bag. Stir together the orange peel and juice, lemon peel and juice, lime peel and juice, oil, garlic, green onions, honey, salt, and pepper. Pour the mixture over the chicken thighs. Seal the bag, and place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Heat the grill to medium high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade, and discard marinade. Place the chicken thighs on the grill, and cook them for 7 to 8 minutes per side. Serve the chicken warm off the grill.
I am thrilled to announce that my first cookbook, "The Outdoor Table," published by Thomas Nelson Published is available to purchase wherever books are sold! This beautiful book includes 175 EXCLUSIVE recipes, not found on this site, perfect for all of your outdoor entertaining! Find out more and order your copy here...
Hey Y'all! Well I'm a southern gal, raised in Tennessee, where I still live with my husband and baby boy! Creating fresh and simple recipes with a southern flare, while sharing bits of my life with y'all on camera is what this site is all about. Also, my very first cookbook with Thomas Nelson Publishers will be out Spring of 2015, and I just can't wait to share it with you all! Read more about April...