Strawberry, Basil + Goat Cheese Panini

Strawberry, Basil + Goat Cheese Panini

The alarm clock on my phone rings, and I hit snooze for the first of several times. I’ve never been very disciplined about getting out of bed right away. Despite the previous night's vow to wake up before my kids, I reluctantly crawl from beneath the covers only when I start to hear, “Mama! Mama!” from the next room.

Today, fortunately, the calls for mama are interrupted by laughter. My two-year-old twins jabber to each other about something hilarious, but in a language unknown to me. I leave them to giggle and chat for a few more minutes, giving me a chance to put on clean clothes and spray my hair with dry shampoo (an innovation I should have embraced long ago). Then we hit the ground running—or waddling in my case, being eight months pregnant.

I change one diaper, then the other. We head downstairs, a migration which lately includes nearly all their stuffed animals—Bear, Sloth, Gorilla, and the rest of Noah’s ark. I fill my favorite white and gray mug with coffee and make my kids a plate of scrambled eggs and toast. They (usually) inhale it contentedly, although some days they suddenly deem such a breakfast inedible. I snag bites of their leftovers in between sips of coffee before wiping the worst of the mess off the floor (a feat that’s getting more difficult as my pregnancy progresses), and we’re off to do whatever the day has in store for us.

Sometimes the days feel chaotic. There are more spills, more cries, more clawing at my legs, more inexplicable fussiness. Other times, I aimlessly wander through our daily rituals, not stopping to give them much thought. I like routine. I crave structure and schedules and plans. But those ordinary moments can easily blend together like one homogeneous block of time, and the routine starts to feel too...routine.

Keep reading and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs!

Strawberry, Basil + Goat Cheese Panini
Strawberry, Basil + Goat Cheese Panini
Strawberry, Basil + Goat Cheese Panini-2.jpg
Strawberry, Basil + Goat Cheese Panini
Strawberry, Basil + Goat Cheese Panini
Strawberry, Basil + Goat Cheese Panini
Strawberry, Basil + Goat Cheese Panini

Full post and recipe instructions can be found at Coffee + Crumbs!


Bacon + Dark Chocolate Cookies

Bacon + Dark Chocolate Cookies

Sometimes I dream up recipes in my head, and then when I actually make them, they're terrible - or just underwhelming. This was not one of those recipes. I have been daydreaming about bacon chocolate chip cookies for about a month now, and I finally made them. I threw a splash of bourbon into the recipe and used big 'ol chunks of dark chocolate.

They turned out to be everything I had hoped for – sweet and salty, soft with a slight crunch, buttery, and rich. Just make sure to store them out of sight as soon as possible. Otherwise you may be tempted to eat them all way to quickly. (Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything...)

Bacon + Dark Chocolate Cookies
Bacon + Dark Chocolate Cookies
Bacon + Dark Chocolate Cookies
Bacon + Dark Chocolate Cookies
Bacon + Dark Chocolate Cookies
Bacon + Dark Chocolate Cookies

Bacon + Dark Chocolate Cookies
Yields about 5 dozen cookies

12 ounces thick cut bacon, diced
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
3 Tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 ½ - 4 cups all-purpose flour
8 ounces dark chocolate, roughly chopped (or use chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cook the diced bacon in a skillet until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Reserve the bacon fat left in the pan.

Measure out 1/3 cup of bacon fat and add to a large, microwave safe bowl. (For me, this was nearly all the bacon fat in the pan. If you don’t get enough fat, use butter to make up the remaining amount needed). Add in the butter, and heat gently in the microwave until the bacon fat and butter are completely melted. Cool slightly (so the eggs don’t get cooked when you add them).

Stir in the sugars, eggs, and bourbon. Mix until the ingredients are fully incorporated. Then add in the baking soda, salt, and 3 cups of flour, stirring after each cup of flour added.

Gradually add an additional ½ to 1 cup of flour until the dough reaches the desired consistency. I end up using at least 3 ¾ cups of flour total. More flour will yield a softer, rounder cookie.

Stir in the chopped dark chocolate and the bacon pieces, and mix until everything is evenly distributed.

Shape the dough into balls, 1 ½ inches in size, and place about 2 inches apart onto an parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until light brown and crisp on top. Cool slightly and then remove cookies from baking sheet. Pour yourself a big glass of milk, and enjoy!


This post was originally featured at Lark + Linen.


Skillet-Baked Eggs with Sweet Potatoes + Bacon

Skillet-Baked Eggs with Sweet Potatoes + Bacon

I grew up eating around the table almost every night. At about 6:30 p.m., we’d hear the familiar dinnertime call and yes, sometimes even the ringing of an actual dinner bell. Teenage footsteps bounded down the stairs, faucets ran in the bathroom as we washed our hands, and dishes clattered as we set the table. With six kids and two adults, eating together was no small feat.

The oval table in the eat-in kitchen was fully extended, and if my oldest siblings were home from college or guests came over, we squeezed in a few extra chairs from the dining room. I still remember where everyone sat. My parents at each end of the table, my brothers on either side of my mom, me just to the left of my dad. Dinner guests complicated things, though, because that usually meant someone had to change seats—an inconvenience we did not suffer well.

We sat around that oval kitchen table sometimes for hours. Dinners seemed to last forever, but not because we were slow eaters. When there were eight people around the table, if you didn’t eat fast you didn’t eat (a lesson my husband learned the hard way after a few meals with my family). We practically inhaled plates of rice topped with pineapple chicken, or epic portions of pasta with Mom’s homemade sauce.

Keep reading and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs!

Skillet-Baked Eggs with Sweet Potatoes + Bacon
Skillet-Baked Eggs with Sweet Potatoes + Bacon
Skillet-Baked Eggs with Sweet Potatoes + Bacon

Full post and recipe instructions can be found at Coffee + Crumbs!


Tropical Chia Pudding

Tropical Chia Pudding

I've been (mildly) attempting to curb my pregnancy cravings for chocolate bars and Chick-Fil-A. The other day, I cooked a Whole30 approved dinner (a staple recipe in my house - Cinnamon Beef Stew from Well Fed). But lest you think I succeeded, please know I followed up that healthy dinner with chocolate chip banana bread from the Joy The Baker Cookbook. This banana bread is by no means a healthy, whole-grain bread. It's pretty much cake. Cake that you can eat for breakfast. And dessert. And late at night before bed. Clean eating plus buttery, sugary, chocolatey dessert? I call it practicing balance. 

Tropical Chia Pudding is an attempt to swing the pendulum back to clean eating. When you soak chia seeds in liquid, they create a custard-like consistency, and if you're avoiding dairy, blending chia seeds with non-dairy milk makes a great alternative to yogurt. I like to make a batch big enough to have a few days' worth of pudding. Anything to make mornings more convenient (and nutritious), right? 

For this recipe, I HIGHLY recommend using Ataulfo mangoes. They are creamier and sweeter, giving them the perfect texture and flavor for chia pudding - no added honey or maple syrup needed (read: Whole30 compliant!). Ataulfo mangoes are pretty readily available (I bought some at Costco the last time), and when I'm at the store and have the option, 10 times out of 10 I'll choose the Ataulfo variety over the conventional Tommy Atkins mango.

Who knew I could be this opinionated about mangoes? But trust me. If you haven't switched to buying Ataulfos, you'll thank me. (Also, I don't really know how to properly pronounce "ataulfo," so I try to reserve mango discussions for the written word only.)

Have you made chia pudding before? Let me know your favorite flavor combinations in the comments below!

Tropical Chia Pudding
Tropical Chia Pudding
Tropical Chia Pudding
Tropical Chia Pudding
Tropical Chia Pudding
Tropical Chia Pudding

Tropical Chia Pudding
Yields about 36 ounces

3 Ataulfo mangoes (about 16 ounce of mango flesh)
1 medium banana, peeled
1 (13.5 ounce) can full fat coconut milk
1/4 cup chia seeds

Peel the mango, and cut the flesh from around the seed. (Yes, this may be the most annoying food to prep, but have no fear. Alton Brown is here.)

Add the mango pieces to a blender along with the banana, coconut milk, and chia seeds. Blend until smooth. The consistency at this point should be similar to a very thick smoothie, or a very runny pudding. It'll firm up a bit more as the chia seeds soak.

Pour the mixture into airtight containers, and refrigerate overnight (or at least three hours). Top with unsweetened coconut flakes, nuts, or additional fruit. Enjoy!

Note: Leftover pudding can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days.