Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July Foodie Penpals Reveal!


Yes, it’s that time of the month again, Foodie Penpals reveal day!! This month I was paired with Jordyn who blogs over at A Jew Broad Cooks. I had been away for a few days visiting family and arrived home to find these yummy goodies waiting for me! Jordyn sent me a very thoughtful package that I wasted no time diving into.

The Goodies:


*Homemade Zucchini Bread! I was so excited to see this because this is the first time I’ve received something homemade from a Foodie Penpal. And Jordyn’s bread did not disappoint! She even made it with a Zucchini from her own garden. Healthy and delish!

*Wasabi Rice Chips. These were amazing! So full of flavor with the perfect spicy kick.

*Zeke’s Coffee, from a local roaster in Baltimore. I haven’t tried this yet but I cannot wait. Smells like heaven!

*And last but not least, a couple seasoning blends; Everyday Cajun and African Curry. Really excited to give these a shot soon!

I want to say thank you to Jordyn for this delish box, I so enjoyed it! And thank you to Lindsay over at The Lean Green Bean for making all this happen! Also, if this appeals to the Foodie in you, think about joining in the fun! More info below! :)


-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
-Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents. Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We've determined things might get too slow and backed up if we're trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa.

If you’re interested in participating for August, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.

You must submit your information by August 4th as pairings will be emailed on August 5th!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fill In The Blank Friday

photo (1)

Linking up today over at The Little Things We Do for Fill in The Blank Friday ! Head on over to Lauren’s lovely blog to join in the fun! :)

1. I am a follower of Christ, first and foremost. I’m also a daughter, sister, and friend. A creative, quirky, slightly awkward, music lover, baker, chocoholic, wanna be writer, night owl, dreamer.

2. I have always loved live music and have been going to shows since I was a kid.

3. I hope to be able to make a living doing something creative that I love, living in a place that I love, surrounded by the people that I love.

4. I can probably make chocolate chip cookies & brownies with my eyes closed… which is actually a really sad fact lol.

5. I dream of someday opening up my own café and music venue. I’ve been dreaming about this since I was 18… a place where people could buy some yummy treats and coffee and also see a great live show. A place that would marry my love for baking and my love of live music. 

6. The way to my heart is … Hmm…coffee, quality time, and engaging conversation with a kind and genuine person. Selfless and thoughtful acts. Good music and lots of laughs.

7. I am passionate about my relationship with the Lord, my family, and all things creative.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

6 Artists You Oughta Know

Digging for music has always been one of my favorite past times. Even as a kid, while my dad would spend hours browsing books in Christian bookstores, I would be scouring the music section for cds (okay, mostly cassette tapes). Always searching for new music that would spark my attention. Well some things never change. Except now, instead of a bookstore, I scour the internet in search of good music. There’s something magical about finding amazing new tunes to add to the soundtrack of your life. Sometimes you really have to dig through the Katy Perry’s of the world to find the good stuff; but other times, without even trying, you stumble upon a gem or two.

These are 6 artists whose music I’ve recently stumbled onto by accident and have fallen in love with. Yes, you could say that this is my version of VH1’s popular “You Oughta Know” series. A list of just a few artists that in my humble opinion, you oughta know.

Marc Scibilia

Folks, this guy is the one to watch! Folk/rock crooner, Marc Scibilia will capture your attention with his soulful songs and Johnny Cash-esque vocals. Not to mention ladies, he’s kinda adorable…oh that smile (Can I say that without sounding too shallow? Oh well I’m going to say it anyway). “Better Man” is the first song I ever heard from Marc and was instantly hooked. He just released an EP entitled “Bright Day Coming”. Give Marc’s music a listen!

“I don’t have a real job, I write songs for a living. My grandmother still thinks I am going to be a doctor. My mother calls and wishes I’d move back home to NY. My dad leaves 5 minute long voicemails about how proud he is of me and usually asks (for the 1,000th time) how to get on YouTube to see my latest work. Yes, it’s complicated and there’s a lot to share. But I write songs, so I will usually keep our interactions to around 3 minutes and thirty seconds or less.” – from Marc’s bio



The Lumineers

Denver, CO based folk/rock trio, The Lumineers are described as “an amalgam of heart-swelling stomp-and-clap acoustic rock, classic pop, and front-porch folk”, which could not be a more accurate description, in my opinion. Their music feels joyful, light, and free. So much so that you would never know that this is a band born out of tragedy. In 2002 lead singer, Wesley Schultz’s childhood friend Josh, who was also the brother of drummer, Jeremiah, died of a drug overdose. Wesley and Jeremiah found solace and healing through music and started writing songs together. They later on found classically trained cellist, Neyla Pekarek, and thus The Lumineers began.

The joy in their music is contagious. It’s exactly what music should be, a joyous celebration. Their self titled debut album released in April, be sure to pick it up!



Butterfly Boucher

I’ve known of Australian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Butterfly Boucher (Yes, Butterfly is her real name.) for a long time but had never heard any of her songs. I knew that she wrote for and with a lot of my favorite artists but have just recently become a fan of her music. Her indie/pop sound has a definite rock/dance edge to it. Butterfly’s first album released in 2004 on A&M Records and garnered attention from an elite list of artists such as David Bowie, Madonna, Ben Folds and Sarah McLachlan. Now independent, she just released her third album in April.  Hope you guys give this acoustic version of her song “The Weather” a listen. This is the one that made me a fan!



The Features

Loving this four piece Nashville based band’s infectious grooves. If you haven’t heard of The Features yet that will probably change soon as they have already been touring with such acts as Manchester Orchestra and Kings of Leon; and have also been featured on the Twilight soundtrack. I first stumbled onto their music in December when I was helping my cousin search for music to play during her wedding reception. I heard their song “The Idea of Growing Old” and thought it was a perfect fit! But the song above, “I Will Wander”, is what has really made me a fan.

The band has just released their new album “Wilderness” on Kings of Leon’s record label, Serpents and Snakes. These guys have an indie/rock vibe with a psychedelia edge, which makes for a very interesting sound. To quote their singer/guitarist Matt Pelham, “I feel like we walk this fine line, we're not weird enough for a certain crowd and we're a little bit too out there for the other crowd. We fall in the middle somewhere between mainstream and hipster, which puts us in this weird place, but we're all pretty happy to be here."



The Vespers

Oh man, these guys are something special. This Nashville based family band make southern folk/pop music that you can feel in your bones. The Vespers are made up of 4 pals; 2 sisters and 2 brothers. It was a chance meeting at a campfire jam session that brought together sisters, Callie and Phoebe Cryar, and brothers, Bruno and Taylor Jones.  Callie and Phoebe were born into a musical family; their dad is actually Morgan Cryar who was a Christian artist back in the 80’s and 90’s. For those of you who, like me, were born and raised on Christian music you may remember him.

Their faith plays a huge role in their music and brings a richness and depth to their lyrics. Fans on YouTube have described this bands performances as a “hippie revival” and I couldn’t agree more. They are passionate, soulful, and talented musicians that will have you practically head banging to the sound of the mandolin. Their new record “The Fourth Wall” is out now; I suggest you run out and pick it up a.s.a.p.!



Harrison Hudson

“Give up the money. Don’t chase the honeys. Flies will always circle the pot. Bloom where you’re planted. Don’t take for granted. And cherish the one you got.”  This is the chorus to the cute and quirky “Cherish The One You Got” by Harrison Hudson. I stumbled onto this song just the other night and it instantly put a smile on my face. These lyrics are a good motto to live by, no?

Harrison Hudson is named after its lead singer and formed in Atlanta, GA in 2005. Their music is described as Rock/thrash pop and is heavily influenced by 50’s and 60’s rock n’ roll.  Now based in Nashville, they have released three records with the most recent being “American Thunder”. Be sure to give them a listen and take heed to this songs advice. ;)



Monday, July 23, 2012

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Chip Pretzel Cookies

One of my favorite things in the world has got to be sharing things I’m crazy about with other people… whether that be a band who’s music has captured my heart and ears, a fun craft, or a delish and beloved recipe. No, I’m not one of those people who wants a new band I discovered to remain a secret or have any secret recipes… I wanna give it all away. Good things should always be shared. Plus it gives me a chance to rave and gush… which I’m sorta good at. Thus the reason I’m kinda excited to share these babies with you guys today!

I’ve always had a love affair with chocolate chip cookies. Yes, there is a time and place for cheesecake, crème brule, and tiramisu; but sometimes there is just nothing like the sweet simplicity of a warm and gooey chocolate chip cookie, agreed? It took me a long time to find the right chocolate chip cookie recipe, after years of flat, cakey cookies that would pretty much fall apart, I finally found one that in my opinion, is perfect! But I have since found a variation that has upped this cookie recipe to another level.

This recipe has become my favorite way to make chocolate chip cookies! And these lovelies… well, they have received rave reviews from every single person I’ve made them for. This includes people from my church, my family, and Foodie Penpal recipients. So because they’ve gotten such awesome responses, I thought I should go ahead and share the goodness with y’all! I hope you guys and gals give this one a shot as it is heaven in cookie form! :)

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Chip Pretzel Cookies -


I adapted this yummy recipe from one that I found on Pinterest; I liked the general idea but did not like the way the cookie itself tasted. So I went back to my old faithful cookie recipe and gave it another go. These babies are jam packed with chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and broken up pretzel pieces, with a light sprinkling of sea salt on top. They are the perfect combination of salty and sweet. The chocolate and peanut butter chips taste so good with the pretzels (which also give the cookies an extra crunchy texture) and sea salt. And let me just say that sea salt is such an awesome ingredient to have on hand. I bought a big bottle of it months ago and never thought I would use it so much. Plus you only use a little bit at a time so it really lasts you. 


I used Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet Chocolate Chips, which are the very best chocolate chips I’ve ever tasted (sorry Toll House). And while, yes, the recipe does just call for 1 cup of chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of peanut butter chips… I’ll just be honest with you and tell you that I use a whole bag of both. Yes, it’s true, I get a little chip happy. But the more the merrier, in my opinion.

Oh and a little cookie baking tip from me to you, they always seem to turn out better when the dough is chilled in the fridge for at least an hour. Just try to refrain from dipping into the cookie dough … otherwise you may end up with nothing to bake. Yeah, so not speaking from experience here.  ;) Happy cookie baking!

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup Butter Flavored Crisco
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 Peanut Butter Chips
1/2 cup broken up pretzel pieces
Sea salt

Pre-heat oven to 350° F.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl and set aside. Stir together Butter Flavored Crisco, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in large mixing bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and pretzel pieces. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012




Reading: Lots of awesome blogs! But need to start working on the stack of books I have accumulating… so bad about that. But I did just buy a new cook book called “The Chocolate Bar” that I’ve been working my way through… does that count? lol

Watching: Um … The Wonder Years lol. It comes on late at night on a channel called The HUB. It’s an oldie but a goodie. I still kinda adore this show!

Thinking about: How I need to go to sleep already but have an inability to tame my wild night owl ways… so I’d rather stay up and finish watching The Wonder Years and writing this blog. ;)

Anticipating: Staying at my aunts house for a couple day starting tomorrow…or technically today. It’ll be fun to spend some time with family I don’t get to see very often.

Also, very much anticipating getting my Milo Greene cd in the mail! Which released yesterday. I pre-ordered it but sadly it hasn’t come in yet. I’m sort of dying to hear it! Hoping the US postal service doesn’t let me down!

Listening to: Want to be listening to Milo Greene but I digress…  listening to my summer mix a lot lately. Which I plan to share on here soon. It consists of some Grouplove, Best Coast, St. Vincent, Tennis, Sucre, among others.

Eating: really badly lately. Needs to get back on diet asap. Baked some Chocolate & Peanut Butter Chip Pretzel Cookies to take to my aunts house and had one (cough two) of those.

Working on: Was working on some art journaling earlier. It’s become one of my favorite hobbies. I love making iced coffee, putting on some good music, and spending a couple hours art journaling. It’s so fun and relaxing!

Wishing: I owned a cute pink airstream trailer to sell my baked goods, coffee, and bubble tea out of. That way there would be an outlet for this little baking hobby/obsession that I have other than mine and my family’s mouths lol.

Also wishing I could catch a Milo Greene show on their upcoming tour but alas no Tx dates. :( Hoping at least my sista will go in Atlanta. Okay, have I mentioned them enough? lol Sorry…I’m done. ;)

Hope y’all are having an awesome week! :)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Nutella Swirl Peanut Butter Banana Bread

I recently have become obsessed with this recipe for the most delish spin of the ever classic banana bread that I have ever tasted. It involves a very generous swirl of the chocolaty goodness that almost everyone is obsessed with, Nutella! For some reason it always seems like just the mention of Nutella in a room full of women will elicit raves … which makes me think this is mostly a woman’s obsession. But we’re not discriminating here guys, as everyone should share in this amazing treat. ;)
My sister and I used to eat this stuff by the spoon full… we wouldn’t even bother putting it on toast or crackers. No, that would’ve just slowed us down and chocolate cravings cannot wait. After a while of eating it right out of the jar, I started to get very sick of this stuff, but I’m here to tell you that my love for it has been recently renewed.
My love for Nutella was rekindled last month when I received a jar of it in my Foodie Penpals package (see Foodie Penpals recap below).

This time around instead of just eating it straight out of the jar, I decided to get creative with the Nutella and bake with it. Why I never baked with it before I don’t know. I stumbled onto this recipe after searching Pinterest for ideas and knew I had to make this. I seriously never want to make banana bread the old fashioned way again. After tasting this, normal banana bread just seems like a bore. This is banana bread for the new generation. I suggest you get with the program and give it a shot! ;)

Nutella Swirl Peanut Butter Banana Bread -


(Recipe found @ http://sallysbakingaddiction.com)

I learned a very important lesson about banana bread in the process of making this recipe. The secret to perfectly moist banana bread is very very ripe, almost rotten bananas… maybe it’s common knowledge but it was new to me! So don’t throw those rotten bananas away, folks, put them to good use.


This banana bread is so moist and chock full of peanut butter, chocolate chips, and mini Reese’s Cups. And on the very top is a lovely swirl of Nutella. It’s a beautiful thing. The Nutella makes it so decadent and rich, and it tastes great with the banana and peanut butter flavors. I mean, does it get any better than bananas, peanut butter, and chocolate?


3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour (I just used all purpose flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup Reese’s mini cups (NOT the bite-sized Reese’s, the smaller MINI ones. Or use 3/4 cup chopped regular sized Reese’s Cups)
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 heaping tablespoons Nutella

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray loaf pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together bananas, peanut butter, oil, egg and sugars.
Pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Batter will be very thick. DO NOT OVERMIX.

Fold in Reese’s Mini cups and chocolate chips. Spread batter into prepared pan. Drop 3 tablespoons of Nutella on top of bread in a row. Swirl with a knife. Bake for about 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Baking times may vary.

Let cool in loaf pan for 10 minutes, then loosen the edges of the pan with a knife and remove from loaf pan, transferring bread to a cooling rack.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pear, Gorgonzola & Gruyere Pizza with Crumbled Bacon & Nuts

So let’s talk pizza, shall we? This is a pizza recipe that has become an obsession in my house. But it’s not just any pizza… it’s low fat pizza. Now I know that the term “low fat” probably doesn’t make it sound quite as appetizing but trust me on this one. I tend to be very picky about my pizza, especially homemade, but this is seriously the best homemade pizza I’ve ever had. This has become a go to recipe as I’ve been trying to learn how to cook healthier, low fat meals. Topped with sweet pears (yes, fruit… on a pizza… I was just as confused), two cheeses, bacon, and nuts …. at only 198 calories per slice, how can you pass it up?

Pear, Gorgonzola & Gruyere Pizza with Crumbled Bacon & Nuts -

(Recipe found @ http://nutritionfor.us)

This pizza is so quick and easy to put together and is so full of flavor. It starts off with a really good store bought whole wheat crust (I used Boboli). Then the fun part as we proceed to stack it with some delish toppings. We first top it with the caramelized onions and then the pears; which are really the stars of the show.

I’ve never had fruit on a pizza before and really in so many ways, it just sounds kinda wrong, doesn’t it? Or maybe that’s just me and my unfortunate aversion to fruit (am trying to change that). But consider me converted. The pears give this pizza a sweet taste, and with the cheese, oh don’t even get me started! Pears and cheese are made for each other! Especially paired with the flavors of the gorgonzola and gruyere; gloriously melted over the pears. The crumbled bacon gives it an added salty taste to complement the sweet, and the nuts give it a great texture.

As if that weren’t enough yummy toppings, I also added some turkey pepperonis that I had on hand. Finish this beauty off with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and if you’re anything like me, a little bit of red pepper flakes. As in my humble opinion, no pizza is truly complete without a generous sprinkle of red pepper. :)

The only problem with this pizza is that even though it’s low on calories, you still have to eat it in moderation. And while it is pretty filling (two pieces were more than enough), moderation still proves to be just a little on the challenging side. Proceed with caution. :)

1 8 inch whole wheat pizza crust
1 1/2 sliced Bosc pear
1 large medium onion, chopped
2 pieces of maple bacon, crisped and crumbled (we used turkey bacon)
3/4 cup of crumbled gorgonzola cheese (You can also use fontina, mozzarella or provolone)
1/2 cup of sliced gruyere cheese
1/4 cup of chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, whatever you’d like)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Dashes of salt and pepper
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly grease a pizza sheet with cooking spray.

In a small saucepan, heat 1 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onions and cook until soft, brown and caramelized. In the same saucepan, cook bacon until crispy, set aside.

Spread onions over the crust, being sure to cover the entire crust. Spread 1/2 gorgonzola cheese mixture over the onions. Carefully slicing the pears, slice into thin pieces. Place the pears over the pie in a circular fashion. Place sliced gruyere slices over the pears. Cover with rest of the gorgonzola, crumbled bacon bits, nuts and salt and pepper.

Toss a little bit more olive oil over the pie and bake for 8-12 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and crust is browned. Serve and enjoy! Yields: 8 slices

Nutritional information per slice:
198 calories, 8 grams of fat, 31 grams of carbohydrates and 10 grams of protein.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Music Break: “1957” by Milo Greene

So I kinda have an addiction to this band... just thought you should first of all be aware of that. I've blogged about them before and since their debut album is just about to release, I'm sure this won't be the last. :)

If you haven't heard of Milo Greene by now allow me to remedy that. They are a 5 piece band from CA who make dreamy indie/folk music that you will want to sing along to and make the soundtrack to your life. This is the music video for their single "1957" that just premiered a few days ago. I've been listening to and loving this song for months now so it's so cool to see it come to life in this very lovely and intriguing video.

Be sure to pick up Milo Greene's debut album which comes out on July 17th; which you can stream for free all week here. Also, they are heading out on tour later this month so check 'em out on the road if you get the chance. I've heard they put on an awesome show. I'm actually in the process of convincing my sister, who I've turned on to the band, to go see them when they make their stop in Atlanta.... that way she can take lots of photos and videos and I can live vicariously through her. And of course because I don't want her to miss a great show! ;)