The Prettiest Bread You’ve Ever Seen

Okay, so I remember mentioning awhile back that I wasn’t much of a baker. I’m eating my words now. Maybe it’s because of the Christmas season, but I have been baking breads like nobodies business. Pumpkin bread, banana bread, and the latest, Christmas Eve Honey Bread.

I was browsing foodgawker, like I normally do on a Saturday morning, and this gorgeous image came up for something called Christmas Eve Honey Bread. I click over to the blog, and immediately knew I had to recreate it.

Here is the link to the original recipe.

The only thing I did differently was brush egg wash over the top to make it nice and shiny, and I did use a real coin.

And changed the art. Of course. Which is probably why I love this bread so much. I really think it is one of my favorite things I’ve made to date, and will become a yearly tradition.

Christmas Eve Honey Bread 2

Enjoy!

Christmas Eve Honey Bread 1

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Pomegranate Brussel Sprouts with Balsamic Reduction

Sorry for the lengthy title, but I wasn’t sure what other scintillating name I could muse. So I’m guessing you probably have a pretty good idea what this post is about.

I’m not really a fruit person, but Husband definitely is, and since I do majority of the grocery shopping, I frequently neglect to grab some. Not on purpose, of course.  I hadn’t had pomegranate in probably a few years and the store happened to have gobs of the fruit.

When I hear the word “pomegranate”, the holiday season commonly comes to mind. I’m not really sure why – maybe I just think of a fruit cake. Are pomegranate seeds even in a fruit cake? Anyways, since I was feeling the holiday spirit, I purchased some with the intent of creating something entirely different than what I did.

My family often adds dried cranberries to salads and pastas, and even though they do have some health benefits, they also are pretty loaded with sugar. Much more so than their fresh counterparts. That’s where pomegranates join the party – an entire large fruit {or 1 cup of seeds} has just over 100 calories. Not only do the jeweled seeds provide about 20 percent of your daily vitamin C requirement, which promote a healthy immune system, but the pomegranates large quantity of phytochemicals may also assist in fighting cancerous cells.

The tender, humble leaves of brussel sprouts are decorated in the fanciest of dressings, and shiny, red gems are sprinkled throughout for a little extra sparkle.

| Brussel Sprouts with Pomegranate and Balsamic Reduction

Balsamic Reduction

1 C balsamic vinegar

In a small sauce pan on medium heat, bring balsamic vinegar to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and let stand until the vinegar reduces to 1/4 to 1/2 cup, stirring occasionally. Pour reduction into a bowl, and set aside to cool.

Pomegranate Brussel Sprouts

1 TBS olive oil

1/8 TSP each of S&P

3 C brussel sprouts, halved

1/2 C red onions, minced

1/2 C pomegranate seeds

Toss the brussel sprouts with olive oil and S&P in a large bowl to coat, and set aside. With nonstick spray, carmelize the onions on medium heat, until translucent, and set aside in small bowl. In the same pan, on the same heat, stir in the sprouts. Cover and stir occasionally. After about 7 minutes {or until slightly golden, but still bright green}, add the onions back into the skillet, cooking for an additional 2-3 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in pomegranate seeds, transferring to a serving bowl. Drizzle the reduction over the top of the entire dish.

Brussel Sprouts with Pom Seeds and Balsamic Reduction 3

Enjoy!

Brussel Sprouts with Pom Seeds and Balsamic Reduction 2

This Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner and this one will be a little different.

Gone are the days of three tiny girls waking each other up, one after the other, followed by their parents and then giggling blissfully down the stairs. Our eyes colliding with the glowing Christmas tree, feeling the relief of the long and patiently awaited reward of being good all year. Decorated with each girls name hung pretty little stockings, and pretty little packages adorned with ribbons and bows tucked underneath that tree.

This is my second Christmas as a wife, and while I love the opportunity to wake up next to my better half on the most jubilant day of the year and the chance to start new traditions, I will always miss the Christmas mornings in my parents home with my sisters.

My older sister, Kassi, her hubby and baby moved to Minnesota in April. This will be the second Christmas our family has spent without her, the first being in 2010 when they moved to Utah. This will be my first Christmas without my little sister, Jo, who will be going out to Minnesota to join them.

I don’t really know what to expect on Tuesday morning. I know it will be a joyful day with Husband and the boys, and seeing their faces as they hurriedly tear open their gifts, but part of me is anticipating a little bit of emptiness. As I write this, tears well up in my eyes thinking of my parents waking up to an empty house, their little girls all grown up. But also, I feel a sense of happiness for them, that they are able to put all their attention on each other, being able to solely focus on the love they have for one another for the first time.

That sort of thing is what Christmas is really all about. Finding the happiest things, regardless of the circumstance, rejoicing on the day that our Savior was born.

Last night, Silent Night came on and all I could picture was Jesus, our King, as an infant. How precious He must have been, how much His mother must have loved him, and how much He humbled himself so that someday we could join Him. Just a baby.

So while there may be a little tinge of sadness in my heart, Christmas is still Christmas, no matter what. If I am rich or poor, happy or sad, alone or surrounded, we celebrate that Jesus was still born on that day, and nothing will ever change that.

I wanted to say a few things that I love about the only ones who know and truly understand how magical those Christmas mornings were growing up.

My Mom. My mom is responsible for providing us the entire experience, the memories, the real feeling that Christmas was magical. The day after thanksgiving, our house always turned into a true winter wonderland, hours of detailed work showed up throughout our home, and none of it went unnoticed. Christmas music was the only thing we listened to for those 4 or so weeks. Baking cookies, watching Santa make his trek round the world here {we have continued this tradition with our boys, and highly recommend it} and Christmas stories galore. Putting that manger scene together is one of my fondest memories. If it wasn’t for this woman, my love for this day would be far less. She has often told me that her daughters are the reason she still felt that Christmas was magical. And she loves us so much – this time of year truly magnified just how much.

My Dad. My Dad is the quiet type, but with few words, somehow you just knew his love for all of us. His sacrifice of working so hard for us, making our Christmases possible and allowing our mom to stay home and raise us the way they thought best. I remember how as a little girl, my dad could make me laugh more than anyone in this whole wide world. His sense of humor is very dry, and even as young as I was, I still understood it. He made us all giggle, that little girl, deep belly, infectious giggle – only he could make us laugh like that.

Kassi. Kassi {who has the cutest little blog here} is 6 years older than me, so growing up, there was a large gap – but if it weren’t for that age gap, I don’t think I would have looked up to her so much. No matter what she did {like chopping off her hair and wearing knee socks with Doc Martens}, I thought everything she did was cool. When I was 5 or 6, she cut off her hair above her shoulders {we all had hair to our waists, mind you}, and I wanted my hair just like hers. My mom did the best to cut as little off as possible, while still convincing me it looked just like Kassi’s. Now, seeing her accomplishments, I have even more of a reason to look up to her; she’s kind, thoughtful, generous, successful and still cool as ever.

Jo. Jo and I are only 16 months apart. We fought like cats and dogs, then turned around and stood up for each other to bullies far older than us. Then, in high school, we shared the same friends, and went almost everywhere together. Jo is a special breed of person. She cares so much for people, and you can see it when she tells you a story that breaks her heart, and she can’t help but cry for them. She went to Youth With a Mission in Australia and New Zealand a few years back, and came back with new glasses to view the world with. Then, she went to Haiti to work in an orphanage. These experiences have made her grow so much, and her wisdom is far beyond her young years.

I love my family, and I will miss having them all together dearly this Christmas. While these memories will never be replaced, I now have a new family to make new memories with and I’m thrilled to see what the future holds for each one us, separately and together.

Born is the King of Israel

This ChristmasThis Christmas 2This Christmas 3This Christmas 1

Pea Soup with Garlic & Avocado

A long time ago, before marriage, a home and a pup, I made balsamic glazed chicken topped with pea puree {I won’t even show you the picture, it’s so atrocious} and have dreamed about that pea puree ever since.

This summer I went through a pea-crazed faze, eating a giant bowl as lunch, adding it to butternut squash soup {yep, I even eat soup in the summer}, and trying to sneak it into just about everything I ate {I bet you’re thinking it’s a good thing I don’t eat sweets}.

Pea  Soup 14

We all could have guessed peas are good for you – they are green, after all – but do we really know how they’re good for us? For starters, they have huge anti-inflammatory properties, provide twice as much protein as most other vegetables, plus they are rich in iron which helps stave off that 2 PM lull. Here’s a little info nugget that may help you in a future tournament of trivial pursuit: because peas come from a flowering plant, they are considered fruits. What’s this world coming to? First tomatoes, now peas?

In lieu of my recent Roasted Pepper & Avocado Soup gooey greenness {which is what initially brought the puree back into the rotation of my mind}, I thought I’d go ahead and turn that deliciously goopy pea puree into a pea puree soup.

| Pea Puree Soup

3 C Frozen Peas

5 + 1/2  C Water

3 C Plain Flax Milk {you can use any milk}

1/2 Avocado, cut into cubes

2 Cloves Garlic

1 TSP Cayenne Pepper

1/3 TSP Paprika

1/2 TSP each of S&P

In a large pot, boil the frozen peas in 5 C water for 5-10 minutes, or until cooked but still a very bright green. In a blender, puree the peas until smooth. Add in the milk, 1/2 C water, avocado, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne pepper. Once again, blend until smooth. Return to pot and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Pea  Soup 4

Enjoy!

Worthy Wednesdays Part 8: Don’t Apologize

Well, do, but when the time is right.

Do you find yourself always apologizing for the things you do? I don’t mean things you should actually apologize for, I’m talking about things that don’t require an apology; the things you’re comprised of. I feel like if I’m around people {especially ones I don’t know}, I’m constantly apologizing – for being too loud, not being funny enough, not saying the right things, not acting “cool” – all because I want those people to like me.

That’s pretty silly if you ask me.

God gave us all these traits for a reason. Sometimes I’m loud, but if you don’t like it, why should I try to pretend I’m not to force you to like me? Sometimes I’m a complete spaz, but Husband thinks I’m silly, and it makes for a very fun life. I wouldn’t change that or mask it to earn a fake friendship.

“Be weird. Be random. Be who you are. Because you never know who will love the person you hide.” – Unknown.

Can you imagine Dr. Seuss saying, “I’m sorry I’m so weird and that you don’t understand me.”?

Don't Apologize

For The Love of Eggs

This gallery contains 4 photos.

On a lazy Saturday morning {only lazy because I didn’t do anything – not so lazy because my body woke me up at 5}, I looked outside and it was a bleak, cloudy morning, which I don’t mind in the … Continue reading

Roasted Pepper & Avo Soup

Husband and I are part of this super-awesome, wildly fun marriage group with a bunch of people from our church. We get together, meet other awesome married couples and have a pot luck.  Usually everyone brings a side and the amazing hosts/leaders serve the main course.

We happened to have a meeting last Monday with the theme of Christmas – we had fun competing in Christmas trivia & song games, prizes and great conversation. I felt brave that day, so I decided to tackle a food I had never made. Whenever I make something like this {green and gooey, i.e. Pee Puree} I get nervous that it’s going to be too freaky for people and no one will eat it. But I felt confident about this one.

Turns out, people loved it! Chartreuse in color with underlying heat notes, this is a refreshing take on soup.

 

| Roasted Pepper & Avocado Soup

2 Green Bell Peppers

4 Anaheim Peppers

4 Cloves of Garlic

1 Red Onion, roughly chopped

3 TBS Olive Oil

2 TBS Chili Powder

2 TSP Cumin

1 TSP Cayenne Pepper

4 Avocados

28 oz canned Coconut Milk

1-2 C Water

1/2 – 1 TSP Salt

1/2 TSP Black Pepper

In a pan, cook the onions in a drizzle of olive oil on medium heat for about 8 minutes, or until unions begin to appear translucent. Remove the onions from the pan and into your crock pot, set on low. Turn your broiler on high.

Halve the Anaheim and bell peppers, removing the seeds and stem. In a large baking dish covered with foil, lay the peppers { inside facing down}, brushing or spraying with a little bit of oil. Place the peppers in the hot oven, keeping a close eye. The anaheim peppers will cook faster – everyone’s oven cooks differently, so just to be safe, check the peppers every 2-3 minutes. When they start to get covered with dark brown spots, they are done. Remove the peppers from the oven, place them in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.

Toss the garlic and the rest of the olive oil {2 TBS} in the slow cooker. Also add in 2 TBS Chili Powder, 2 TSP Cumin and a TSP Cayenne Pepper.

After the peppers have been covered for about 15 minutes, lay them out to let them cool. When they are cool enough to handle, start peeling the skins off. Put the peppers in the slow cooker. Leave it for 6 hours, occasionally stirring.

After, scoop at a time, puree the mixture. When the entire combination is smooth, add in halve of an avocado at a time, blending well after each one. Pour the liquid back into the crock pot and add the water {to whatever consistency you like – if one cup looks too thick, add more}, coconut milk, salt {to taste} and pepper, mixing well with a spoon. Cover again, and let sit for another hour, stirring occasionally.

Serve with Anaheim Relish {which is really just my pico de gallo recipe, but swapping out the jalapeno for an Anaheim pepper}.

Roasted Pepper and Avocado Soup 3

Enjoy!

Friday Fajitas

Well, technically they’re Thursday Fajitas, but that doesn’t sound so cute, does it?

Mexican food is kind of sort of a main food group in my home because – well, because it’s just so darn good! I think that Mexican food has a negative connotation amongst healthy eaters, and I can’t really blame them. Most Mexican dishes have loads of cheese, fried peppers and over-sized meals. But if you make the right choices {like skipping the sour cream}, Mexican food has ingredients {spices, vegetables, proteins} that can make a powerful impact to your health. My all time favorite Mexican dish is steak fajitas and it sounded so good for dinner last night. We didn’t have any steak, so I was forced to opt for chicken.

 

| Chicken Fajitas

2 Chicken Breasts

1 Large Red Onion, halved & sliced

3 Bell Peppers of any color, stem & seeds removed, sliced

1 TSP Olive Oil

Marinade:

1 TBS Olive Oil

2 Garlic Cloves

1 small or 1/2 large Jalapeno, stem and seeds removed

1/2 C Cilantro

2 TBS Lime Juice

1 TBS Chili Powder

2 TSP Cumin

3/4 TSP Cayenne Pepper

1/2 TSP Salt

In a food processor {I used my super-awesome Ninja}, blend all of the marinade ingredients until liquified. Place the chicken breasts in a baking dish and pour the marinade over, making sure every part of the chicken is soaked. Let it sit for at least an hour.

After the chicken has marinaded, bake the chicken in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. While the chicken is baking, cook the peppers on the stove on medium-high heat in a TSP of olive oil for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. After the 7 minutes, add the sliced onions cooking for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until the peppers and onions are cooked through. Remove from the pan.

When the chicken is done, set your oven on high using the same pan from the veggies, and sear each side of the chicken for 1-2 minutes, or until the chicken is nicely browned.

We serve ours with black beans, pico de gallo and occasionally Spanish rice.

Fajitas

Enjoy!

Banana Bread

I really don’t like bananas, and anyone who knows me will tell you that my biggest pet peeve is the sound of people eating – more specifically, children {more specifically, toddlers} eating bananas. The only thing I will ingest with banana listed as an ingredient is banana bread. Not only will I tolerate it, but I actually like it. I’m a walking contradiction.

Anyways, this banana bread is so yum and it’s super healthy for you. Ever since the movie “Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves” where the little brother has a potassium deficiency, we all know the loads of potassium that bananas have. But bananas also have about 10 percent of your daily requirements for vitamin C and – get this – can also help people with depression because of their levels of tryptophan.

Aside from being delicious and healthy, the bread is also very easy to make.

 

Banana Bread

3 Bananas, mashed {leave some chunks for extra goodness}

1/3 C Vanilla Yogurt {I used light yogurt}

2 Eggs

1 1/2 TSP Vanilla Extract

1/3 C White Sugar

1/2 Brown Sugar

3/4 C Flaxseed

2 C Whole Wheat Flour

3/4 TSP Baking Powder

1/2 TSP Salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix the flour, baking soda and salt in one bowl, and cream the sugar and butter in another. Add the eggs in with the butter and sugar mixture, one at a time. When this is well beaten, add the rest of the ingredients. Then to the wet ingredients, cup by cup, add in the dry ingredients, mixing after each added cup. In a well greased 9X5 loaf pan, spoon the batter in, evening out the top. Bake the bread for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick easily slides out. Cool and serve.

Banana bread 2

Enjoy!

Worthy Wednesdays Part 7: Compare

Don’t do it. Simple.

A wise man once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

I’m just going to be real here, okay? I love my husband and even though we definitely haven’t had the easiest of situations in our short time together, I wouldn’t change any part of our marriage or life together.

That being said, it is one of the most {if not the most} difficult challenges that God has asked to walk through – to marry a man who has been married.

As a woman, it is my human nature to constantly compare… compare the things I do, the way I act, how I look – to a woman that he once loved and has even had children with. The good, the bad – it all filters through my mind like sand through an hour glass. How is she better? How am I better? How can I try to be better than her?

But if I put all of that wasted energy into GOD and seeing what HE has for my life, and the people I love, how much better would my quality of life be? How amazing it would be to not torment myself with such vapid and, quite honestly, laughable thoughts!

So, I won’t do it any more. Any time these thoughts arise, I will write down how I can better my life, my marriage, God’s kingdom and the WORLD.

There will be no more room for anything else in my head.

Compare