#ThankfulThursday Home-cooked Takeout

Filed under: Uncategorized — Meredith @ 8:00 am October 23, 2014

This evening I whisked up a delicious Chinese American-style takeout sauce for a stir-fry dinner. Very rarely can I get my two younger children to finish the first plate — let alone ask for seconds. They gobbled it up. The results were so delicious, it really did taste like I had visited our favorite Chinese takeout to pick up dinner instead of chopping, stirring, and making myself. I’m very thankful that we had all the ingredients to create such a delicious meal. I’m grateful that it pleased my family’s taste-buds. And I’m especially thankful all those ingredients together cost a fraction of the price of a takeout meal.

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#WordlessWednesday

Filed under: Uncategorized — Meredith @ 8:00 am October 22, 2014

From our old apartment in Florida

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#FoodieFriday Tried and True Pins

Filed under: Uncategorized — Meredith @ 12:30 pm October 17, 2014

These luscious treats have all been tried in my kitchen — and all have come out so delectably delicious.

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Up first we have Annie’s Eats caramel apple cinnamon rolls. These babies are so decadent and so perfect for crisp autumn weather. Why have plain old cinnamon rolls when you can fill them with sweet apples and smother them in caramel cream cheese icing? So good with a cup of coffee or tea.

Next we have a rich black bean chocolate cake. Now I can already see some of you squinting and raising eyebrows — let me put those qualms to rest right now. I found this cake recipe when I was first started to remove gluten from my diet, merely experimenting to see how my body would react and to find good gluten free treats. Once you’ve pulverized the beans in a food processor, you really don’t notice them. In fact, it’s very similar to a flourless chocolate cake because you need more eggs to get the cake to rise. I found the cake to be a bit sticky, so my second go-round I made cupcakes with paper linings. Topped with your favorite frosting? You’ll never notice you’re actually eating something (kind of) good for you!

I’m sure by now we’ve all seen those “Slutty Brownies.” I don’t know if these quite count, but they’re such a guilty pleasure. Chocolate chip cookie dough, Reese’s peanut butter cups, and brownie batter. Whip up a batch of these — but don’t blame me for the additional weight or increased blood sugar levels. ;)

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Chocolate Covered Katie made these basic cookie dough balls using dates and cashews as a base for all sorts of delicious varieties. I’ve tried these with dates, cashews, peanut butter, craisins, and almonds. They were so good, I had a hard time leaving them alone! You can form them into dough balls, cookie rounds, or snack bars.

I was craving a good lemon loaf one day, so I came across this Starbucks iced lemon loaf copycat recipe. It’s so dense and lemony with a tender crumb. I’ve substituted the cake mix with a gluten free version, and I’ve never looked back.

Want to know a secret? I can’t bake from scratch brownies to save my life. Enter the Kahlua brownies — I love a good boozy dessert! So I got to thinking: What if I use Kahlua in my favorite gluten free boxed mix brownies? The results have been addictive. No one can eat just one of my brownies. And no one, not even me, can taste the alcohol.

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Over the summer we picked bowls and bowls of fresh, wild blackberries growing like weeds all over the neighborhood. A friend of mine showed me this recipe for blackberry skillet cake. I quickly gathered the supplies to make this cake, and oh my goodness did we ever enjoy turning some of our blackberry haul into a tasty dessert! I’ve also adapted this recipe for peaches with the same rave reviews.

I remember when Carvel reigned supreme for birthdays. A classic ice cream cake made any celebration a hit. I recounted the flavor of the cookie dough ice cream and chocolate ice cream cake to my son before his birthday, and he decided he had to have one for his 12th birthday this year. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything other than the plain vanilla and chocolate cakes — so I took matters into my own capable hands. I found these instructions to make an ice cream cake, and my son got the cake of his dreams.

And finally, here’s this beautiful, creamy, scrumptious tiramisu cheesecake. I can’t remember the story behind this culinary adventure in my kitchen, but I can tell you that The Tough Cookie created an exquisite dessert. I substituted a tub of mascarpone for a bar of cream cheese, though, but still! It’s no wonder this recipe is in the finals as a layer of my 31st birthday cake.

Happy Baking!

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#ThankfulThursday Cooler Days Ahead

Filed under: Uncategorized — Meredith @ 8:00 am October 16, 2014

I’m so thankful that the weather is finally shifting into cooler temperatures and crisp breezes. It was a hot, dry summer here, with cringe-worthy electric bills. Finally I can feel good about turning the oven on. Finally I can embrace roasts, soups, stews, and pots full of spicy chili. I can bring out the sweaters and scarves. I can snuggle up in a blanket at night without sweating profusely overnight, likely kicking the blanket off several times over the course of eight hours (or less). The leaves are finally starting to turn lovely shades of red, orange, and yellow, peppering the mountains and woods with traditional fall beauty.

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#WordlessWednesday Farewell Summer

Filed under: Uncategorized — Meredith @ 8:00 am October 15, 2014

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#FoodieFriday

Filed under: Uncategorized — Meredith @ 8:00 am October 10, 2014

I’d like to start a new Foodie Friday format for weeks when getting into the kitchen to create and photograph just won’t happen. I’ve been pinning delicious food ideas for a couple of years now, and I’ve accumulated 350 pins solely dedicated to my love of food. This week I was inspired by the cooler temperatures that finally made their way to Northwest Georgia — I’m all about apples and pumpkins during the autumn months, and I’ve always got room for dessert!

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First up, we have the Brown Eyed Baker’s apple cheesecake crumb bars. Oh. My. Yum! Don’t these look just amazing?

Next we’ve got this apple pie cake. While I’m typically pretty clever in the kitchen, pie crusts are my enemy. I opt for cookie crumbs, butter, and sugar whenever possible — or I put my husband to work since he’s got the whole rolling pie dough thing down. When I saw this recipe, I was delighted. I prefer the texture of cakes, so this went straight to my food Pinterest board.

And what about these pumpkin doughnut muffins? Cooking Classy shared this recipe,inspiring me to bake a batch of little pumpkin muffins coated in cinnamon sugar. They were gone in a flash!

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I’ve become dependent on coffee over the past two years, and I love flavoring it. This time of year, everyone’s all about the pumpkin spice latte. It’s hard to find someone who makes a good one in my rural community, especially now that we’ve lost our wonderful little chocolate cafe. This sounds like a great idea for the chillier days ahead.

Cooking Classy snatched my heart when I saw these caramel apple mini-cheesecakes with streusel topping. Everything about these delicious looking desserts screams “eat me!” Of course, my thighs are beginning to scream at me because I’m attempting to shrink them once again, but viewing contains zero calories, right?

Finally, I’m a sucker for secret ingredients that change things up. Adding pudding mix to cookie dough batter? Sounds like fun. Adding pumpkin spice pudding mix to cookie dough? Sounds like a festive little treat! I can’t wait to try this out.

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#ThankfulThursday Prompt Series

Filed under: Uncategorized — Meredith @ 8:00 am October 9, 2014

It’s been so long since I felt inspiration thug my sleeve and entice me to the publish button. I owe quite a bit of thanks to Kat and her August Moon series this year. Her words prompted me to search deep within my soul to find the writer who had been shoved down a dark hole, waiting to be pulled back out into the light. Because she essentially shined the beacon for me, I gathered an intimate group of followers for my new September Equinox series. I’m so thankful for each person who decided to explore balance and transition with me. I shared my responses with my readers in the hopes that I’d both find my way back to the keyboard and inspire others to find inner peace. I’m relieved to be back, and I’m looking forward to returning to my craft.

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#WordlessWednesday Storms

Filed under: Uncategorized — Meredith @ 8:00 am October 8, 2014

Should have seen the blood moon, but this jerk showed up instead.

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#SeptemberEquinox14 Day 8

Filed under: Uncategorized — Meredith @ 8:00 am September 30, 2014

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September Equinox 2014

Day 8: Balancing Goals

I have a huge confession to make — I’m terrible at balancing things in my life. It was because of this issue that I decided to create the September Equinox prompt series. I’m so terrible at balancing my life that I barely met my deadlines to get these prompts written, emails drafted and scheduled, and blog posts with responses ready for publication. If you’ve found that these prompts spoke to your soul, I want to invite you to set some goals with me. I have a tutoring student who recently completed a SMART goal paper, which reminded me of that system. I’m assigning you some homework to create specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound goals to keep your life in balance. You may choose to share your goal(s) as a response to a prompt, or you may wish to tuck them safely away for your own personal reference.

My laundry list of goals are far too personal and lengthy to post here, but I promise you that I’m going to be setting goals to return to my gratitude and happiness practices. I will be restarting my Cultivate project with a new sense of purpose and direction well before I host my next prompt series in January. I will be reviewing September Equinox to evaluate the direction of March Equinox. And I will definitely be spending more time playing instead of just working, working, working, and crashing. I’m glad I’ve had an intimate group following along with the series, and I hope that you’ve gained as much insight about balance and transition as I have.

Keep your eyes out for Kat’s Reverb series coming in December and my Cultivate Series in January!

Don’t forget to share your responses by commenting on the blog or using the hashtag #SeptemberEquinox14.

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#SeptemberEquinox14 Day 7

Filed under: Uncategorized — Meredith @ 8:00 am September 29, 2014

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September Equinox 2014

Day 7: Clearing Space to Grow

If you want to grow a garden, you have to clear some space for the plants to grow. Without ample space, their roots won’t spread, and their growth will be stunted. Clearing space — whether literally, figuratively, or both — makes for ample growth in people, too. Are you clearing your slate enough to grow? If not, what do you need to do in order to grow into the person you’d like to become?

My life is so cluttered on so many different levels. I feel so overwhelmed by my lack of space that I’ve reverted inward, losing a lot of ground I gained to build an audience and grow a business. I lost ground to cultivate a thriving life worth loving. I feel incredibly pressured to just “get it together,” but I just don’t have the motivation to move forward. It’s time for a good clearing.

I need to set some goals for myself to get back on my path. I have to release a lot of the clutter — whether it’s part of my physical or mental being or part of my environment. I have to reassess exactly what it is I’d like to accomplish, where I’d like to go, and what “the perfect day” will look like once I get there. I have to spend a lot of time resting and recovering. By the time spring gets here, I want to feel rejuvenated and ready to thrive. I want a clearer vision for my life.

Don’t forget to share your responses by commenting on the blog or using the hashtag #SeptemberEquinox14.

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