Thursday, March 31, 2016

Destin, Florida ~ Beautiful Crystal Beach!


A couple weeks ago I ran away for a mini weekend vacation. I think it is the first "vacation" outside of Georgia I've been on in A.G.E.S. I've done a couple mini vacations within the state, but this time we went to Destin, Florida. It was so gorgeous. I totally forgot to take my good camera, but that didn't stop me from snapping a few pictures with my cell phone!


Riding with the windows down - look at those big beautiful clouds and bright blue skies!


The view from the bridge as we crossed over to Destin. (It was really interesting how different it looked the next day driving back across - much darker and small white foamy waves from the bad weather further out).


I couldn't WAIT to get my feet into that gorgeous white sand. I am pretty sure Crystal Beach is the first white sand beach I've been on. I've visited many beaches, and spent quite a bit of time at them when we lived in Senegal, West Africa, but that white sand? It's perfection. I could have just sat in it, staring out at the blue, blue water all day long.

We were supposed to go on a sunset dolphin cruise Saturday evening, but there was some weather coming in on the Gulf of Mexico that had the cruise operators concerned enough to cancel it. I was bummed, but there is always next time (there will be a next time)!



We stayed at The Beachside Inn and I have nothing but good things to say about them. They greeted us with a loaf of yummy banana bread, and the rooms were clean, bright, and stocked with a mini fridge, coffee and coffee pot, big beautiful bathroom, and a super comfortable bed. I have already told Kylie and our good friend Tasha we are all going, soon - and taking the kiddos - and I can't wait to get back!


The Beachside Inn features two on-site restaurants - Camille's Restaurant which is a lovely establishment for lunch / dinner featuring a fresh sushi menu, and the adorable Camille's Cafe which is street side and the perfect spot to stop for an iced coffee or smoothie on your way across the street to the convenient beach access.



Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Bacon Wrapped Brussels Sprouts


These are such an easy and tasty side dish! I was first exposed to these at a get together late last year made by my lovely friend Devon. Super tender and creamy in the middle and perfectly seasoned with a little pepper and the flavor infused by the bacon these are addictive and easy to pop as an appetizer or a side dish.


Brussels sprouts have become a favorite around our house as a side dish - we only recently discovered them and there's just something about the combination of brussels sprouts with bacon - they seem to belong together!


I use large thick cut strips of bacon cut into thirds and just use enough bacon to wrap completely around each brussels sprouts without too much overlap. For us that is a good ratio of bacon to vegetable.


Bacon Wrapped Brussels Sprouts from Fit Foodie Finds

Ingredients
3 - 6 large thick cut strips of bacon, cut into halves or thirds as needed to fit around the brussels
12 medium brussels sprouts
pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with tin foil.
  2. Prep brussels sprouts by washing and patting dry with a paper towel.
  3. Place a brussels sprouts at the top of a piece of bacon. Roll the bacon around the brussels sprout and secure with a toothpick. Arrange all on the baking tray and sprinkle generously with black pepper (to taste).
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until bacon reaches desired crispiness level.




Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Cool Lime Cake


This is a recipe I've had my eye on for awhile and it was a refreshing bright pop of flavor that works very well for a spring cake, or could be a perfect addition on St. Patrick's Day with the lovely green color! We enjoyed this the day before Easter with our lunch and it was very bright and fresh, but rich with the heaviness of the cake and the cream cheese frosting. The cakes themselves are somewhat dense due to the oil and eggs, but incredibly moist as well with the wonderful glaze that soaks in while they're still hot. The glaze gives them a pretty big punch of lime flavor as well.


I meant to get a picture of a slice of cake, but unfortunately my hungry hungry teenager decided to eat the last one before I got it photographed. Sigh. Oh well - trust me when I say the cake had a lovely green color from the lime jello mixed in and was incredibly moist from the glaze.


Cool Lime Cake adapted from Trisha Yearwood

Ingredients
Butter, for greasing pans
Flour, for dusting pans
1 3-oz pkg lime flavored gelatin
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3/4 cup orange juice
1 TBS lemon juice (could use lime for more of a tart / lime flavor if desired)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 large eggs, slightly beaten

Glaze:
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

Icing:
1/2 cup (1 stick butter), room temperature
1 8-oz pkg cream cheese, room temperature
1-lb confectioners' sugar
2 drops green food coloring (if desired)
1 TBS lime juice (more / less to taste depending on how tart you want your frosting)

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 9" round cake pans by greasing well with butter and dusting with flour, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (lime flavored gelatin, sugar, flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda) and whisk to combine. Make a well in the center and add in the remaining wet ingredients (vegetable oil, orange juice, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and the slightly beaten eggs). Whisk mixture together just until smooth, don't over mix.
  3. Divide the batter between the two prepared pans and bake in the preheated oven for 35 -40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. Set cakes, in pans, on a cooling rack and prepare the glaze by whisking the 1/2 cup powdered sugar together with the 1/2 cup lime juice, Gently poke holes in the cakes (leave them in their pans) with a fork. Divide and pour the glaze over the tops and allow cakes to soak in glaze and cool completely.


Monday, March 28, 2016

#MuffinMonday ~ Cranberry Orange Muffins



Welcome to Muffin Monday! #MuffinMonday is a group of muffin loving bakers who get together once a month to bake muffins. We post on the last Monday of each month. You can see all our of lovely muffins by following our Pinterest board.

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about Muffin Monday, can be found on our home page.


So when something is well loved upon the initial taste test in my kitchen there is a saying that is pretty much inevitably uttered by either me or my sister. "Oh that's horrible. No one should eat that." Yep. We said that about these incredibly tender, flavorful muffins. I loved the pop of flavor and color from the fresh cranberries, and the wonderful flavor imparted by the orange juice and zest blends wonderfully with the berries. The glaze adds fantastic moisture and a touch of sweetness. These would be absolutely perfect for any breakfast, brunch, or afternoon snack with a cup of tea.


See all the fantastic muffins shared today!

Cranberry Orange Muffins adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 2 oranges
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBS orange juice
2 TBS milk
1 1/2 cups  fresh cranberries

Orange Glaze
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 TBS orange juice

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray or line with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. In a the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter with the granulated and brown sugar on high until creamed, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, sour cream, vanilla extract, milk, and orange juice. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute, then turn up to high speed until the mixture is combined, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Lastly beat in the orange zest.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and slowly mix with a whisk. Fold in the cranberries with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
  4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan, filling each muffin cup all the way to the top. Bake for 5 minutes at 425 degrees, then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 18-20 more minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Total time: 23-25 minutes.
  5. Allow the muffins to cool for a few moments while you make the glaze by whisking the confectioners sugar and 3 TBS orange juice together. Drizzle evenly over warm muffins while still in the muffin tin (I pulled the muffins gently from the sides to allow glaze to soak down the sides as well as over the tops). Allow to briefly cool before removing from the muffin tin and serving.


#SecretRecipeClub ~ 3 Ingredient Deviled Eggs


Welcome to the March 2016 Group D reveal day for Secret Recipe Club! I hope you will take a moment to visit the Secret Recipe Club if you've never heard of it before - it is a wonderful group of food bloggers who are given a secret assignment of another member's blog each month and our goal is to pick ANYTHING from their blog to make and post about on our designated reveal day.


This month I was lucky enough to visit Nora at Natural Noshing again. I first discovered Nora's blog back in 2013 with only my second Secret Recipe Club post when I shared a breakfast banana split! I was pregnant and wanted something quick and easy then, this time I was able to take my time and really dig into Nora's recipes a little more.


Where to start: Sun-Dried Tomato, Mushroom and Goat Cheese OmeletteChicken with Balsamic Bruschetta VegetablesUnstuffed Cabbage SkilletTurkey Meatballs with Spinach SauceTurkey TacosBest Grilled SalmonGrilled Fish TacosSalmon with Grilled Peach SalsaWhite Bean Tuna Salad MeltOpen Faced Egg SandwichIce Cream Cake Ball BombsPumpkin Pudding Pie in a JarPeanut Butter Ice CreamSpringy Egg SaladJava Chip SmoothieStrawberry Mango Smoothie, or a Banana Buddy Shake... ummm... I was a little spoilt for choice.


I had my eyes firmly on the grilled fish tacos but with Easter just happening yesterday I wanted to find something that could be served with our dinner so opted to browse through the sides and appetizers. When we came across these unique deviled eggs I knew my search was over. The original recipe calls for 2 TBS of hummus per egg yolk but we liked the consistency and flavor better with a 1 TBS to yolk ratio - you can start with 1 TBS per yolk and increase if desired. They were quick, easy, and really tasty! I love how you can change up the flavor profile very easily by using different flavors of hummus.


3-Ingredient Deviled Eggs from Natural Noshing

Ingredients
6 eggs, hardboiled, and cooled
6 TBS hummus (I used Sabra Roasted Garlic Flavor)
Paprika, for sprinkling (I used sweet smoked paprika)

Directions
  1. Gently peel the hardboiled eggs and discard shells. Cut eggs in half lengthwise. Pop the yolks out into a small bowl and mash until smooth. Add in the hummus and blend together.
  2. Arrange the cut egg white halves on a platter and divide the yolk / hummus mixture between the holes. Sprinkle lightly with paprika (if desired) before serving.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Chili Mac 'n' Cheese Bake from Hormel


For the month of March I was allowed the opportunity to work with Hormel's canned chili. There are so many ways to use chili, and these quick and easy mac 'n cheese bake is a great weeknight meal. Full of flavor, hearty and filling - and on the table in about 45 minutes! We really enjoyed this dish. Our biggest critique was that it was a little on the spicy side, so I am suggesting starting with 1/2 a TBS of chili powder and increasing to taste (the original recipe calls for 1 full TBS).


Our other suggestion to make this a more complete hearty meal would be to add at least a half pound of ground beef and cook that along with the bell peppers. My sister, Kylie, liked the crunch of the bell peppers but I prefer them to be a little more on the sauteed, cooked side of "done".


Chili Mac 'N Cheese Bake from Hormel on AllRecipes

Ingredients
8 ounces uncooked macaroni
1 (15 ounce) can HORMEL(R) Chili With Beans
1 cup mild chunky salsa
1/2 TBS chili powder (more to taste)
1/2 lb ground beef (suggested)
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Directions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain well. Pour into large bowl.
  2. While macaroni is cooking, brown ground beef in a large non stick skillet along with diced bell pepper. Drain grease.
  3. Add Hormel chili, salsa, beef mixture, chili powder, and cooked macaroni in a 9x13 baking dish. Stir in 1 1/2 cups cheese until evenly combined. Top with remaining 1/2 cups cheese.
  4. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until hot and cheese is melted and lightly browned.
DISCLAIMER:
I am an Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador (a voluntary position) and I’m not compensated for my work with Allrecipes.com.

Products received from sponsors are only used for experienced-based reviews on Making Miracles. The reviews, content and opinions expressed in this blog are purely the sole opinions of Rebekah.



Thursday, March 24, 2016

#SixteenCheesecakes ~ Banana Cream Cheesecake




Last year Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla rallied some blogging friends to help her celebrate her 15th wedding anniversary. She was only looking for fifteen cheesecake recipes. But we posted waaaaaay more than #FifteenCheesecakes. Last year I made a Classic Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce!

It was such a hit and we all had so much fun that she decided to see if she could get enthusiasm for another round of cheesecakes. Yep. This is an encore performance by some of her favorite foodie bloggers.



This Banana Cream Cheesecake is really fun and delicious - and I am going to be making it again, very soon, and with a few changes to see how it comes out. When I made this, I used a large package of banana cream pudding, prepped, and used half of that because I didn't have a small box, but I think maybe my "half" was more than a 3.4 ounce package would have been. We liked having more filling so I will probably do it that way again next time. Also, we thought it could have used a second package of cream cheese, but since I didn't make it that way this time I am leaving the instructions as I made it. We also are going to try to booze it up a little next time - and maybe soak the banana slices in some Banana Liquer, and throw in a TBS or so to the whipped cream and / or filling mixture. I'm pretty excited to give it a try again with this changes! I have a couple other desserts I'm working on for Easter weekend, so once the sugar settles from those kitchen adventures I'll have to give this one another go.

I used a pie plate for this cheesecake - so I guess that makes it a "pake". Whatever you want to call it - it was creamy, fluffy, and delicious!

Happy anniversary Cam!! Thanks for letting us join you to celebrate today. :)

Banana Cream Cheesecake adapted from Six Sisters Stuff

Ingredients

Pie Crust
1 ¾ cups of graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup of sugar
½ cup of butter, melted

Filling
1 pkg (8-oz) cream cheese, softened to room temp
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped to almost stiff peaks with 1 TBS powdered sugar  
3 - 4 bananas, sliced
1 ¾ cups cold milk
1 package (3.4 ounces) instant banana cream pudding mix

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a 9" round baking pan combine the graham cracker crumbs with 1/4 cup sugar and stir in butter. Press the crumb mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 5-7 minutes and set aside to cool while you prep the filling.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix until combined. Let stand for 2 minutes in the refrigerator.
  4. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in the prepared pudding until mixture is smooth. Fold in half of the prepared whipped cream. Mixture should be fluffy.
  5. Arrange half of the banana slices along the bottom of the crust and pour on half of the cream cheese mixture. Layer the remaining banana slices and top with the last of the cream cheese mixture. Gently spread the remaining whipped cream on top. 
  6. Refrigerate for 2 hours, or until set.
  7. When you're ready to serve, you can top with a few extra fresh slices of banana if desired.









Friday, March 18, 2016

#FishFridayFoodies ~ Shrimp with Lemon en Papillote


Welcome to my third posting for #FishFridayFoodies! This week we are sharing a seafood recipe "en papillote". En papillote (French for "in parchment"), or al cartoccio in Italian, is a method of cooking in which the food is put into a folded pouch or parcel and then baked. The parcel is typically made from folded parchment paper, but other material, such as a paper bag or aluminium foil, may be used (source: Wikipedia).  This month our lovely hostess is Karen of Karen's Kitchen Stories.


Incorporating lean healthy seafood more regularly into my diet has been a goal of mine for awhile now, so when the lovely Wendy from A Day In The Life On The Farm suggested this group recently I was quick to raise my hand and jump on in! Inspiration and encouragement to try new delicious seafood recipes out? Yes please! Would you like to join Fish Friday Foodies?  We post and share new seafood/fish recipes on the third Friday of the month.  To join our group please email Wendy at wendyklik1517@gmail.com. 



This is a fantastic and easy recipe that you can make any night of the week. The shrimp cook up perfectly tender, and have a lovely mild seasoning that really features the delicious sweet smoked paprika which is one of my favorite seasonings.


You can serve these beauties up on a bed of jasmine rice with some roasted asparagus and call it a day, like we did last night. This was such a quick, easy, and delicious dinner. I love that we can enjoy something so fresh and tasty on a work night!


Shrimp with Lemon en Papillote adapted from Williams-Sonoma


Ingredients 
2 tsp minced garlic
Kosher salt, to taste (about 1/2 tsp)
1 1/2 TBS olive oil
1 tsp. sweet smoked paprika
Freshly ground pepper, to taste (about 1/4 tsp)
1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined (thawed)
1 lemon


Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the garlic salt, olive oil, smoked paprika, pepper, and juice from 1/2 of the lemon. Mix well, then add in the shrimp and toss to coat.
  3. Lay a large piece of parchment paper on a baking tray and pour the coated shrimp (along with any excess sauce) into the center of the paper. Slice remaining half lemon thinly and place slices on top of the shrimp.
  4. Gently fold the edges of the parchment paper up and around to create a packet, tucking the edge under if possible to keep the paper packet close.
  5. Place baking tray in the preheated oven and bake for 15 - 20 minutes, or until shrimp are cooked through.
  6. Serve immediately. 



Thursday, March 17, 2016

#BundtBakers ~ Pina Colada Rum Bundt Cake


BundtBakers


#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving Bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all of our lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest Board. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme or ingredient. Our wonderful hostess this month is Christine from The Mom Chef: Taking On Magazines http://www.takingonmagazines.com/ and she chose to invite us to join her on a Tropical Vacation today!

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about BundtBakers can be found on our homepage.


This cake... it's pretty fantastic. My son is in love with it. My sister would be if it weren't for the coconut. Weirdo. I was super happy with the texture of this cake. The rum syrup soaking into the warm cake gives such a wonderful moistness to the cake.


The pineapple and brown sugar already give you a fantastic crown along the top of the cake, and then you add another toasted coconut glaze... it's over the top. There are a lot of steps and ingredients in this cake, but it comes together pretty quickly and easily and you have time to work on the syrup and glaze while the cake is baking so I didn't find any part of it felt all too time consuming. I think the timing of our Tropical Vacation cakes couldn't be better - the weather is really warming up here in Georgia and I know I could sure use a little get away with an ocean breeze and white sand beaches. This fantastic Pina Colada Rum Bundt Cake will give your mouth a mini vacation if you can't run away to the beach this weekend.


See all the amazing Tropical Bundts below:

Pina Colada Rum Bundt Cake adapted from The Crumby Cupcake

Ingredients

Cake
2 tablespoons butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar
8 ounces crushed pineapple, drained
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut extract
¾ cup canned coconut milk

Rum Syrup
¾ cup canned coconut milk
6 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup rum

Coconut Rum Glaze
4 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons heavy cream
6 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon rum
½ cup sweetened coconut flakes, toasted

Directions

Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare your bundt pan by liberally applying the 2 TBS of butter. Sprinkle pan with the 1/2 cup of brown sugar, and sprinkle the pineapple over it evenly. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with a wire whip attachment, cream together butter and sugars, slowly increasing the speed to medium-high and beating for 5 minutes. The mixture should be very light and fluffy.
  4. With the mixer on low speed add in the eggs and yolks, one at a time, combining completely between each addition and scraping down the sides as needed. Add in the coconut and vanilla extracts. Next, gently mix in about ⅓ of the flour mixture, followed by half of the coconut milk. Repeat a second time. Add the remaining flour and stir until just combined.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared bundt pan (it will be very thick). Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (my bake time was probably closer to 55 minutes).
Rum Syrup
  1. In a small saucepan, warm the remainder of the coconut milk over medium heat and add in the sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Depending on if you want to burn off the alcohol or not:
    1. If you want to burn off the alcohol, add in the rum and bring mixture to a simmer. Simmer 60 seconds before removing from heat.
    2. If you do not want to burn off the alcohol: Be careful not to bring mixture to a boil. Remove from heat and whisk in rum.
  2. When cake comes out of the oven: Using a wooden skewer, poke numerous holes in the warm cake to allow the rum syrup to soak in.
  3. Make sure your cake is over a plate or has foil or parchment paper under it, some of the sauce will likely spill through the middle hole as you're pouring. Pour very slowly and carefully evenly over the surface of the cake, allowing the syrup to soak in before continuing to pour.
  4. Let cake cool in the bundt pan before inverting onto a plate.
Coconut Rum Glaze
  1. Combine the butter, cream, salt and sugar together in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring the mixture to dissolve the sugar (about 2 minutes).
  2. Remove from heat and whisk in the rum and the toasted coconut.
  3. Spoon the glaze over the top of the cake.