enjoy life, it’s delicious.

It is finally officially fall (even though it’s still been 80 degrees here ugh)! Fall is quite literally my most favorite season of all the seasons! I mean, who doesn’t love the crisp autumn air, snuggling up around a campfire making s’mores, and the crunch of golden yellow and crimson leaves under your cute new boots?? I also love fall because it seems to be a time when Josh likes to cook and bake even more than usual for us. There’s just something about a fresh home-cooked meal that is sooo cozy. Lately, Josh and I have been completely obsessed with our Half Baked Harvest cookbook. This most beloved cookbook delivers across the board- fantastic recipes ranging across all skill levels, fun flavors you would not think of combining on your own but absolutely just work, and the most scrumptious pictures that make you want to eat the page right out of the book! And if you don’t feel like purchasing the cookbook (but, really you should purchase it!), Half Baked Harvest also has a blog full of free recipes that is equally amazing.

Here are some of our favorite recipes from the cookbook:

Earl Grey Blueberry Muffins with Cinnamon Streusel

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Croque Madame Breakfast Pizza

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Nonnie’s Dutch Baby

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This Dutch Baby is by far one of our favorites and so easy to do! We’ve probably made this at least a half dozen times in the past 6 months!

Salted Brioche Cinnamon Rolls

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We ate the whole {16} servings by ourselves…whoopsies!

PB & J Grilled Cheese

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We made this for dinner and again for lunch the next day, it’s really that good!

Pumpkin and Oregano-Butter Gnocchi

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So rich and the ultimate comfort food.

Korean Beef, Sweet Potato, and Quinoa Bibimbap

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One of my favorite mouthfuls of food ever!

BBQ Short Ribs

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The juiciest, sauciest, most fall-off-the-bone ribs ever.

Better than Takeout 20 Minute Peanut Noodles

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The takeout noodles are another one of our faves that we’ve made multiple times…and the best news is, this recipe is available for free on the blog!

My pictures most definitely do not do these recipes justice, but it’s been the best cookbook we’ve ever purchased and the only one we’ve actually made multiple recipes out of multiple times. So, go out and getcha one now!

opportunities

For the past couple of months, I have been slowly getting into a routine and finding a new normal since starting my new job. I’m still trying to adjust to not working with Josh every day. I’m still trying to adjust to working out at a new gym at 7 am instead of 5 pm, for only one hour a few days a week instead of 2-3 hours six days a week. I’m still trying to adjust to working later hours than I have for the past five years (aka less quality time at home). Some days I feel completely content and happy about the changes. Some days I just plain struggle and want to give up. I know that these “issues” don’t really seem that big in the grand scheme of things, but they were all things that had become a comfort to me, things that were just a part of my life in such an easy way. Through it all, I keep reminding myself that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle. All these changes are changing me and making me better. This job is going to be a huge opportunity for me to grow not only career-wise, but also as a person. I was given this opportunity to learn new equipment, techniques, and software. To actually make a difference in someone’s life. To learn patience when waiting in the terrible after-work traffic. To get to work with a group of people that are hard workers and genuinely care about making our world a healthier, better place. In the end, this is going to be a great stepping stone for whatever is next on my journey and a major blessing for my personal growth. Life sure happens, right?

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Enough with all the serious stuff, check out this awesome bibimbap we made this past weekend!

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If you like Korean food at all, I highly recommend purchasing the Half Baked Harvest cookbook and giving her recipes a try asap! Besides marinating the beef for a few hours and chopping all the veggies, all the elements came together rather quickly and easily. And the end result was so worth it. Every bite was different and delicious. I mean who doesn’t love bites made up of marinated steak, sweet potato, kimchi, quinoa, fried egg, avocado, and fresh herbs??

And of course I have to share a picture of our rotten pup…Rocko has started this new thing at Josh’s grandparents where he carries his water bowl into the living room when he thinks he needs more (side note: he was given water probably not more than 15 minutes prior)! It’s a good thing he’s cute!

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things i’m loving right now

This week, I’m keeping it short and sweet. I love reading posts like this, so I decided to do my own. Making lists like this reminds me how truly lucky and blessed I am and that sometimes the littlest things have the most special meaning in life!

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things I’m loving right now:

frozen chocolate mousse with peanut butter glaze, salt, and caramel (from Divvy)

the slow smile my nephew gives me when I tickle his chin

Nonnie’s dutch baby (from the Half Baked Harvest cookbook) covered in Brie cheese, blueberries, homemade honey syrup, and homemade whipped cream

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long walks in the fresh spring air and sunshine

a hot cup of Irish breakfast tea in my favorite mug

puppy cuddles

learning lots of new things at my new job

getting crazy random messages from my friends at all hours

the super welcoming community at my new CF gym

building a blanket fort, watching a movie, and eating ice cream on a Sunday afternoon

 

Of course, I have to throw in some more food pictures from all the great restaurants we ate at this weekend!

Bru Burger

Triple Dip

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Provençal burger & Stilton Bleu cheese burger

Another Broken Egg Cafe

Blackberry Crisp and Brie Waffle Combo & Fried Chicken Benedict

Divvy 

Veggie bisque &  seafood chowder

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Beer cheese, tuxedo tenderloin, seared sesame tuna, corn crème brulée, jalapeno cheddar hushpuppies & whipped feta, porterhouse teasers, sizzlin’ shrimp, blistered brussels sprouts, bruléed brie

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chocolate brownie with white chocolate and strawberries, powder sugared biscuit beignets and caramel & frozen chocolate mousse with peanut butter glaze, salt, and caramel, Tahitian vanilla bean crème brulée with strawberries

 

the best things in life are sweet

After a (mentally) rough start to our lifting last Saturday morning and a long laundry list of chores to accomplish, Josh and I decided to cut out early and grab some sweet treats from Donut Central on our way home. I have been following Donut Central on Facebook, constantly seeing their specials and awesomely decorated creations. And so many friends have recommended them to us, we finally just had to give them a try. We’ve been burned in the past with high expectations of specialty donut shops only to be let down when they tasted like cheap, stale gas station donuts, so we came in with our guard up. For no reason. Donut Central was so delightful! They have a wide array of choices ranging from classic cake and yeast donuts to cream or custard filled long johns to specialty donuts. And they’re very reasonably priced, so you won’t break the bank enjoying all these goodies. It was hard to pick just two each, but we limited ourselves. I ordered a blueberry cake donut with lemon glaze and a lemon cream filled doughnut, while Josh went with a coconut cream filled donut and a specialty caramel apple cake donut.

The blueberry cake donut was so moist, the lemon glaze just enough pop to the sweet.

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I was pleasantly surprised with how much cream was actually in the lemon cream doughnut- it was stuffed full!

The coconut cream filled donut was also yummy, full of cream with a sweet crunch from the toasted coconut on top.

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The caramel apple cake donut is quite possibly the best donut available here. I mean, we’ve only tried the 4 mentioned, but hot dang this caramel apple donut was ah-mazing. You know how some cake donuts can be dry and therefore require lots of glaze. Not the case for this donut. The glaze and caramel icing only added to the ooey gooey deliciousness. And the chopped peanuts and apple slice on top added the perfect texture and crunch to this donut.

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I can’t wait to head back soon and try some more new flavors. Don’t wait as long as we did to try Donut Central out!

We headed home to knock out our list of chores, so that we could forget all responsibilities and dance the night away at our dear friends’ Hambling Halloween party. Of course, I had to make time to snuggle on the couch with our sweet Rocko in between meal prep and doing laundry. You try to ignore that sweet face, it won’t happen.  

With a little bit of free time before the party, Josh made up these scrumptious triple layer peanut butter + chocolate chip cookie + cookie dough stuffed cups from the Half Baked Harvest blog (PS do yourselves a favor and check out this blog. She has some amazing dishes and recipes that are well worth trying). These cups were a lot of work, but they were oh so yummy!

Hambling Halloween was even more spectacular than the year before! There was a dragon bouncy house and a trampoline outside. The barn was decorated with skeletons, lights, cobwebs, tombstones, and there were music videos displayed on screens above the dance floor. There was tons of food, savory and sweet, and lots to drink. I ate to my stomach’s content, sang and laughed so hard I started to lose my voice, and danced my booty off! My favorite part was the homemade confetti gun that shot confetti onto everyone dancing on the dance floor throughout the night. It was such a great, great night with some of my favorite friends! PS how cute were we as the Powerpuff Girls and Professor Utonium?  

Sunday was a day for recovering from all the fun we had at the Halloween party. We drank hot tea while relaxing on the couch and watching tv. Josh made a delicious spinach, onion, and green pepper quiche with zucchini crust (thank you, Ambitious Kitchen, for the inspiration) along with some amazing chocolate chip pumpkin scones with a cinnamon maple glaze adapted from the Half Baked Harvest blog. The original scone recipe called for white chocolate chips and an espresso glaze, but I accidentally used all the white chocolate chips in my funfetti cake batter blondies with rainbow chip icing for the Halloween party. So we substituted semi-sweet chocolate chips. And we added cinnamon to the glaze instead of the espresso as I’m not a huge fan of coffee. I would like it to be known that I made the glaze all by myself. And drizzled all the scones. Just check out those mad skills. The semi-sweet chocolate chips ended up being so delicious and the perfect counter to the really sweet glaze.

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I really am so spoiled to have a husband that loves baking and cooking. Not only did he make me scones and quiche for brunch, but for dinner he also spent a significant amount of time making shakshuka and homemade naan. The naan didn’t turn out like naan should, but rather turned into what tasted like a yummy pizza dough. I’m not sure what happened, but it worked really with the shakshuka. Guys, the shakshuka was so very good. It was full of tomatoes, green peppers, and onions and topped with feta cheese (so salty and just yum) and a gooey runny egg. Seriously, is there much better than breaking an egg yolk and having it ooze out all over your dish? I really don’t think there is.

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If Josh keeps up all this amazing cooking and baking, he’s soon going to have to start rolling me around everywhere! 😛