What are You Doing for Valentine’s Dinner?

It’s a valid question, right?

What are you planning for Valentine’s (or Galentine’s). Food is a somewhat important part of this holiday, and, honestly, who doesn’t want to show their love through food or dessert?

I really want this Valentine’s Day to be simple and comforting.

Last year, my husband made us a killer Valentine’s dinner with roasted carrot risotto, baked Brie with herbs to start, and I think I made chocolate lava cakes to finish. It was relaxing and outstanding. Then, the next day (it was a Monday), we planned a late dinner at one of our Raleigh favorites (Stanbury) for the Valentine’s night…and we accidentally locked ourselves out of the house and had to wait 2 hours (and pay $200) for a locksmith. We still made it to dinner, but we were both stressed from the night’s turn of events.

So, understandably so, we’re just sticking with a simple dinner at home this year. We’re doing ours on the weekend so we can have more time to cook.

My husband is going to make the main dish, and I will do dessert. He’s planning to make this pork ragu with pappardelle and maybe a salad before we splurge on this red wine chocolate cake with raspberry buttercream. Yottam Ottolenghi (one of my favorite cooks) has some good ideas for a V-day dinner in, too.

There’s nothing so comforting as cooking together (potentially in sweatpants or pajamas), eating when you want, and saving a little money instead of going out.

So, that’s our plan for Valentine’s dinner. What’s yours?

A Lovely Buttermilk Scone

chocolate chip buttermilk scones

However you make it, whether by buying it or making it, buttermilk is such a great tool for a baker.

P.S. If you’re wondering how to make buttermilk, here’s a tip. Add a tsp. or two of lemon juice or white vinegar to your milk and let it sit for a few minutes. You’ll notice that it will start gaining lumps and resembling buttermilk.

From pancakes to bundt cake to these fabulous Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Scones, this ingredient is sure to keep your baked goods moist and tasty.

chocolate chip buttermilk scones

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Super Snack Week (Chocolate Desserts)

So, what’s on the menu for your dessert for the Super Bowl festivities this weekend?

Dessert is really crucial.

It can’t weigh you down, but it’s got to be sweet and satisfying. It also should be portable and great for a crowd (nothing too stuffy or experimental here).

Chocolate, you need something chocolate IMHO.

So, here are three dessert recipes that meet those few requirements and would be welcome at any party!

First off, beer + brownies is always a good mix. Grab your favorite stout and throw it in these moist, shareable brownies.

Get the recipe for Stout Brownies!

Next up, we’ve got an indulgent, Southern-inspired bar that is salty and sweet (my favorite)! Oh, and there’s bourbon involved.

derby pie bars

Get the recipe for Kentucky Derby Bars!

Last but not least, if you’re going to be near a fridge and can keep these cooled, try some Healthy Peanut Butter Fudge Cups. They’re super low on ingredients and quite tasty!

Get the recipe for Healthy PB Fudge Cups!

Happy snacking!

Super Snack Week (Spinach Artichoke Dip & Pimento Cheese)

Who’s ready for some more snacking excitement?!

Today, I’ve got a double header of some really amazing dips and spreads. These two recipes would be fabulous at your Super Bowl gathering. (As well as this Blue Cheese Ball from Monday!)

First off, my favorite, make it just about every holiday weekend, Spinach Artichoke Dip. It’s in a skillet, cheesy, very spinachy and totally delicious!

IMG_5698

Get the recipe for Skillet Spinach Artichoke Dip!

Next, pimento cheese is not only a defining dip in the South, but it’s super simple to make. Whip it up, then serve with crackers, pretzels, celery or anything else dippable.

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Get the recipe for Easy Pimento Cheese!

Enjoy and see you on Friday for more super snacks!

Super Snack Week: Blue Cheese Ball

I never need an excuse to eat snacks.

But I do need an excuse or something to eat when watching sports.

I’m all for watching the Super Bowl with friends and family, as long as there’s something to munch on. And I know that at least half of you out there are in the same camp.

So, it’s as good a week as any to step up your snack game.

That’s why I’m sharing easy, tasty snack ideas throughout this week to help you get ready for this weekend!

Today, we’re starting with an old classic that is coming back and I’m oh so glad: the cheese ball!

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Cooking from Cookbooks for a Month

cookbooks

You might remember that I mentioned cooking from “paper” (magazine clippings, cookbooks) more in my 2017 food resolutions. Well, I got off to a great start during the month of January.

For the past month, I have outlawed using online recipes for any new recipes my husband or I have made. I must admit that I cheated once using an online reicpe for a farro salad, but, other than that, we’ve stuck to our paper recipes.

This has given us a great excuse to actually use our growing library of cookbooks.

Are you like me and have shelves of beautiful cookbooks that you often forget to use?

cookbooks

If so, there are many ways that you can utilize these wonderful resource books for cooking and exploring new recipes!

  • Pick a month and only cook from paper like we did
  • Pick a week or month and only cook from 1 certain cookbook
  • Make your weekly meal plan from only magazine clippings (I love Real Simple & Bon Appetit for these)

This month of cookbook cooking gave us such a good chance to use what we already had, instead of relying on the instant gratification of online recipes. Obviously, I still love the convenience of online recipes, and I’ve got several that I’ve been waiting until February to try, but it’s nice to switch things up and have a fun challenge.

cookbooks

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New Year, New Curry

butternut squash curry

I hope I don’t sound like a broken record, but the weather so often determines what I’m craving.

And when it’s gloomy, cold (or weirdly warm, for that matter), all I want to do is sit around and eat something that warms me from the inside and makes me feel full without a doubt. This can often lead to overeating salt, cheese and cream, which there are definitely times for.

But, today, I have a new curry recipe that will allow you to dig into comfort food that makes you feel good and have plenty of energy for Netflix watching, cuddling with your pet or chasing kids around the house. And it features our Ingredient of the Month!

butternut squash curry

This Butternut Squash Curry is a mix of crunchy celery, creamy butternut squash and sweet potato, and a spiced coconut milk sauce that brings it all together. Serve it on top of some fresh basmati or jasmine rice, and you’re in business. If you have some naan or chapati nearby, or a cilantro yogurt sauce, then bonus points for you!

Wait to get takeout until next week, and fire up the stove for a quick curry that is made for January days.

butternut-squash-curry recipe card

*Click or tap recipe card to enlarge and save.

For more easy and tasty curries, try my:

How to Save Money: Grocery Shopping

How to Save Money is a  monthly think fruitful series with helpful hints and tips for taking control of your finances. Get your free monthly budget template and 4 tips for smarter grocery shopping!

Today, I’m really excited to be back with our monthly How to Save Money post.

Your first step to saving money is to read my first post about budgeting. Budgeting is at the basis of tracking and saving money…and it’s important to grocery shopping, too!

To grocery shop well, you’ve got to first just go grocery shopping. Make eating and cooking at home a priority.

The sole act of cooking at home means you’ll be saving money and calories vs. eating out.

I also find that eating in allows me to sharpen my cooking skills and spend more quality time with my husband. That’s a win-win.

So, back to grocery shopping, here are a few tips to make your trip worthwhile to your pantry and bank account:

1. Prep for your trip

Do a few little things before stepping into those food-filled aisles. Make a meal plan for every meal you’ll eat at home. I don’t worry too much about breakfast and lunch (since I just do cereal or yogurt and leftovers), but I just write down 4-5 recipes I plan to make during the week.

Pro tip: If you’ve done your budget, you’ll know what you have budgeted for groceries per week or month. Get that amount out in cash, or keep in mind what you have to spend and stick to it as best as you can.

2. Make a list

Look through your selected recipes and write down the ingredients on a list.

It really is that simple!

I like to use a grocery list app (mine is just called “Grocery List”) to keep track of our food needs throughout the week. Whether it’s paper or digital, going into the grocery store with a list based on your meal plan will keep you on track and on budget. And remember to only buy what is on your list for that week.

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N.C. One Bite at a Time (Part 16)

N.C. One Bite at a Time is a series in which I share about all of the new places that I’ve explored or eaten at in Raleigh, Durham or the surrounding areas.

Guys…This post is waaaay past due.

I’m not even sure how it’s been six months since an update on my whereabouts in the Triangle.

Seasons have passed, temperature have cooled, and there are so many new spots in the area that are on my list for 2017!

Let’s get to eating and exploring!

Person Street Pharmacy

person street pharmacy raleigh

I have had this downtown Raleigh spot on my to-eat list for a long time, so it was a treat to finally visit. This is the perfect place for a tasty lunch, a classic ice cream sundae or a creative fizzy drink. I was very impressed by my pimento cheese sandwich and sweet potato salad, paired with a homemade ginger beer!

pimento cheese at person street pharmacy

Honeysuckle Tea House

honeysuckle tea house chapel hill

While we were back visiting Haw River Brewery in Saxapahaw, we hopped on over to Honeysuckle Tea House in Chapel Hill, a 15-minute drive from the brewery. What a delightful spot to drink tea, study or just relax! It’s surrounded by trees, and it’s one of the few places where I’ve drank the tea right next to tea plants. How cool is that?!

honeysuckle tea house chapel hill

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Chili in a Skillet

skillet veggie chili

Now that we’re back into winter (with even some snow on the ground), I find myself turning to my cast iron skillet for cooking and flavor.

This heavy kitchen tool can be relied on to cook everything from crisp bacon to steak to pot pie. And it’s nice that it goes from the stovetop to the oven so easily.

In this Skillet Veggie Chili recipe, you make use of your cast iron pal, along with plenty of canned pantry items. Once you’ve got this seasoned, hearty vegetarian chili going, all you need is a bed of Fritos, some sour cream and those pickled red onions that you whipped up so easily.

skillet veggie chili

This filling meal only takes 30-45 minutes to make, and it will be easy on your budget, too!

If you’ve got another snow storm coming your way, I suggest putting this Skillet Veggie Chili on your meal plan and grocery shopping list.

skillet-veggie-chili recipe card

*Click or tap on recipe card to enlarge and save.

For other comforting cast iron skillet recipes, try: