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Today I’m off to the Southern Festival of Books for a presentation and signing, and I made these thumbprint cookies to take with me for about the fifth time this month.  So I thought I’d share them with y’all!  Lately, I have been really into all kinds of shortbread cookies.  They are so simple, but they feel special and sophisticated at the same time.

One important tip when making shortbread is don’t skimp on the butter!  The butter is the main ingredient in shortbread, so try using Kerrygold or a brand that is a little higher quality than the store brand.  There aren’t many ingredients in shortbread dough, so you’ve gotta make them count!

Instead of the usual sweet shortbread, this savory cookie is unique and absolutely perfect for this time of year.  A version of this cookie is also in my cookbook, and I just keep going back to it.  I’ve made these for book signings and even for my son’s first birthday.  The dough can be made ahead of time and refrigerated, which is great for party planning.

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Maverick’s party spread featuring the Cheddar Thumbprint Cookies!

 

Also, to make these extra special try a local pepper jelly, from a company such as The Nashville Jam Co or Marcy Jams, which you can find at local stores, farmer’s markets, or Whole Foods.

I hope you enjoy these, and be sure to let me know what you think!

 

Date posted: October 9, 2015 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Appetizer Holidays

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This is the time of year I always find myself creating at least one new “Buffalo” style dish.  A couple from years past would be my fave Buffalo Chicken Tenders and these adorable Buffalo Turkey Sliders.  This year I attempted Buffalo Cauliflower.  I’ve been eating it at restaurants when I see it on the menu for some time now, and I’m addicted!  It’s not too filling, has a little kick to it, and it’s even kind of healthy!  Well, sort of, at least when it’s not fried…

In this version, I decided to roast the cauliflower with a light coating to give it some crunch, so no need to fry it, and then the crispy florets get tossed in some delicious buffalo sauce.  It’s super easy and a fun appetizer especially for this time of year.  I actually made this the other night and ended up eating it for dinner by itself with a little blue cheese dressing and celery.  What can I say, with a 1 year old in the house, I’ll take what I can get for dinner, and this did the trick.  So, whether it’s a game day party or dinner for one, this one’s got ya covered!

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Baked Buffalo Cauliflower

serves 4-5 (appetizer servings)

Ingredients
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup Buffalo Sauce (such as Frank’s Red Hot Suace)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon each garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
  2. Beat the eggs in a large bowl and toss in the cauliflower florets until they are coated in the egg.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. Toss the cauliflower in the crumb mixture, and then place on a large baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until golden and crisp.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the buffalo sauce, lemon juice, garlic powder, onion powder, and butter. Once the cauliflower has finished roasting, gently toss it in the sauce. Serve immediately with celery, blue cheese and/or ranch.

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Date posted: September 22, 2015 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Appetizer Sides

Pineapple Pancetta Flatbread

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.

View More: http://montgomeryleephotography.pass.us/maverick-6-month

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 Pancetta Flatbread

 

Date posted: April 14, 2015 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Appetizer Main Dish Mommyhood Pork

deviled eggs

Y’all,  I seriously love spring.  Having a baby through the winter, has made me appreciate the outdoors more than ever.   Getting this baby boy out in the warmer weather and sunshine just makes my heart so happy.  As soon as I saw the Robin Eggs at the grocery, I bought a bag of course, and I just got all excited about the promise of spring.

So here we are, Easter is almost here, and it looks a lot different for me this year.  Easter, well really all holidays, get kind of complicated with a little one.  It’s tough on baby (and parents) to balance getting ready for church, feedings, naps, long drives, lots of people, and different places all in one day.  However, I really don’t want to stress out over the business of the day and schedules being thrown off.  I have realized in this mothering journey so far, that sometimes I just have to let it go for a day or two.  Or else worrying about Maverick’s day being “off” will rob me of enjoying and celebrating such a sacred day.  So, I’m going to pray about it the next few days, which might seem a little silly, but I’m going to pray that Maverick will get the rest he needs, and that I’ll have a special peace over me this Easter.  I want to do my best to soak it in and truly celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and freedom He gave us through the cross.   So, I’m praying and believing for a wonderful Easter in the midst of all that the day will surely bring.

Sidenote: If you have young families in your extended family, cut them some slack on Easter.  They might be late, their kids might be fussy, but us newbies to parenting are just doing the best we can.  We’ve never had a baby on Easter before, it’s tougher than it looks!

Now, onto some Easter recipes, I am sharing 2 ways to put a spin on an Easter menu staple: the deviled egg.  I’m quite fond of a boiled egg on it’s own (see more egg recipes here) but add some mayo and seasonings to those yolks and you have one delicious little treat!  Last year I made these Hummus Deviled Eggs, so this year I am giving you two new ideas that are an easy and fun way to spice up this classic.  Zach said the pesto ones are the best deviled eggs he has ever had, but my dad preferred the Cream Cheesy ones.  Let me know which ones you like best!

Enjoy and have a Happy Easter!

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Date posted: April 1, 2015 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Appetizer Holidays Sides

fruit skewers

Aren’t these fruit skewers beautiful?!  I can’t actually take the credit for them, I got the idea  from Pinterest, of course!  The fruit dip, however, is my little twist on the traditional marshmallow creme fruit dip that has been around for years.  It’s sweet, slightly tangy, and highly addictive!  I made this for a shower last weekend, and it was a hit.

Speaking of the shower, there is actually a little story behind this fruit dip.  Do you ever have those moments where you really feel like you’ve got it going on?  And about that time, you quickly realize that you don’t and you just need Jesus!  I’ll be honest, lately I have had a little bit of a pride issue going on.  Of course, I didn’t realize it at the time, but a few things have happened within the past week or two that have made it pretty obvious what or more appropriately “who” I’ve been all about – ME.  You see, I went to this shower with my new dress, my fruit skewers, my homemade fruit dip, my homemade punch (from my upcoming cookbook no less), and my baby boy in tow.  I was feeling pretty “put together,” if you know what I mean.  Well, after a few things went wrong that weren’t in my plans for the day, my true colors began to show through.  I let a few silly things stress me out and as the day unfolded, I hurt the feelings of someone close to me, because I was so consumed with me and mine.

You see, ever since becoming a mom, I have felt a pressure like I’ve never known.  All of the sudden, keeping the house clean, keeping my appearance up, staying social, and just living up to the expectations set by myself and society has proven to be very difficult and exhausting.  I have found myself wanting so badly to portray the image of what I think I “should” be.  And the day of the shower I thought I was doing a pretty good job of that, but it had just of become all about me.  As soon as a few little things went wrong, and my image wasn’t so picture perfect, I became stressed and honestly, a little rude.  When I’m all about me, I become less about serving the Lord and serving others.

All of that to say, I’m hoping that this dip will serve as a reminder to me the next time I make it for a party or gathering that I don’t have to be perfect.  I don’t have to appear as if I have it all together, all of the time, because let’s face it, I don’t.  Even if I do appear that way sometimes in the eyes of others, what have I really gained throughout that?  Approval from my peers, lots of time and money spent trying to impress, resulting in more stress when something goes wrong or isn’t perfect?  First of all, I don’t really think it’s possible to  “be all of the things,” and at the end of the day it won’t bring me true joy.  I would love to be the kind of person who looks for ways to serve others, who is attentive to their feelings and needs, and I can’t do that when I’m so focussed on myself that I don’t really see anyone else.

So, I hope you will try this fruit dip, because it really is delish.  But if you make it for a party or gathering, don’t put so much pressure on yourself, because we aren’t perfect, and no one really expects us to be.   We don’t have to do it all, all of the time, isn’t there some real freedom in that?!

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Date posted: March 4, 2015 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Appetizer Dessert Snacks