Dark & White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chewy, soft, and full of white and dark chocolate chips, these cookies are one of my favorite desserts!

For those of you who don’t know me, once I become interested in something I feel the need to research and read about it as much as I possibly can.  Over the last few days, I’ve found myself becoming slightly obsessed with learning more about Florida’s springs and the wildlife found in those areas, particularly alligators and manatees.  In the past, I’ve always been terrified of alligators and was afraid to go near any body of fresh water here in Florida.  However, I’m finding that the springs are the one exception I’ll make.  They’re so beautiful that they seem worth a little risk, as long as I’m cautious and aware of my surroundings.  Don’t get me wrong.  If I see an alligator, I’m getting out of the spring, but my initial fear is overcome by the crystal clear water, beautiful underwater crevices and caves, and schools of colorful fish.

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Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

These whole wheat biscuits are light and flaky, and made with lots of buttermilk.

It’s been almost a week since I last posted here on the blog!  I’ve been exploring some favorite places (and unfamiliar spots) in Florida with my sister and a friend from Arkansas.  They left this morning to make the long drive home and it feels way too quiet around here.  Generally, I’m an introverted person and don’t mind being alone, but I had a lot of fun this week and will miss them.  I’ve had a tough time finding friends who are interested in exploring and doing outdoorsy things here in Florida, and it was very cool to have some people to run around with for a few days.

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Pesto Cheddar Black Bean Quesadillas

Made with basil pesto, cheddar cheese, and black beans, these quick and easy quesadillas are perfect for lunch or a light dinner.

Happy Friday, everyone!  My guests and I will soon head to the beach for the day.  So, after I finish this post, I am off to pack lunches and water bottles and am looking forward to a day of sun, sand, and waves.

I thought about saying “sun, sand, and surf”, but I just couldn’t handle that level of cliché this early in the morning (or any time really; oh, the pain). 😉

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Butternut Squash Chocolate Chip Muffins

Moist and flavorful, these Butternut Squash Chocolate Chip Muffins are made with whole wheat flour, sweetened with whole cane sugar, and contain lots of butternut squash and dark chocolate chips.

Late last night, my sister and one of my good college friends rolled into town to spend a week with me.  They live several states away and I don’t get to see them often, so my blog may be a little quieter than usual over this next week!

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Mock “Healthier” Chicken Fried Steak

Mock “Healthier” Chicken Fried Steak – ground turkey, oats, and seasonings are formed into patties, dipped in oats, and “fried” in a little olive oil.

I’ve debated posting these Mock “Healthy” Chicken Fried Steaks on my blog.  Not because they don’t taste good, but because they look so strange.  I’ve made this recipe a couple of times for dinner recently, and did two photo shoots in an attempt to get an appetizing picture.  As you can see, the results were somewhat debatable and I was concerned that the photos would end up on a “most disgusting food pictures ever” blog somewhere on the internet.  Then I decided that these pictures are about as appetizing as mock chicken fried steak can look, and it’s ok.  🙂

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Bread Machine Sourdough Sandwich Bread

A light, crusty sourdough bread that is ideal for sandwiches, this easy loaf is made in the bread machine.

About a month ago, I mentioned that I would be sharing my favorite sandwich bread recipe soon.  My reason for waiting this long to post it is that I wasn’t completely satisfied with how the recipe had turned out, and wanted to test it a few more times.  To me, my cooking/baking blog equals more than just trying a new recipe, taking a bite and saying, “Oh, that’s good,” and then posting it here.

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Turkey Spinach Oat Meatballs

These tasty meatballs are made with ground turkey, spinach, and rolled oats, and are topped with a simple mushroom sauce.

During the course of any given week, I usually come up with multiple recipe ideas I want to try.  Yet, when Monday rolls around and I sit down to write my grocery list and meal plan, all of those brainstorming results fly right out of my head.  I’ve started keeping a notebook that migrates between the kitchen and office, where I can jot down any recipes that come to mind.  Most of the best ideas reveal themselves at night.  I’ll be settled down and just about to fall asleep when my brain will say, “I know!!  I’ll make muffins using okra and pomegranate!”  Just kidding.  I’ll never make okra pomegranate muffins (I wouldn’t do that to myself or my husband).  Out of curiosity, I had to go google that thought real quick just to see if anyone had made such muffins and reported on the taste.  I needed to know.

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Photo(s) of the Week

Photos of the week – scenes from our hike to Charlie’s Bunion during a vacation in the Smoky Mountains two years ago.

Last Sunday I skipped my “Photo of the Week” post due to the holiday weekend.  This week I’m back to the usual!

“Once upon a time”, in a faraway place known as the Smoky Mountains, Katherine and Casey decided to go for a hike.  Katherine loves hiking.  Casey does not, but being a great husband, he decided to go anyway.

With great optimism, we started up the rocky trail towards a mysterious place known as Charlie’s Bunion.

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Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Made with whole wheat flour and sweetened with whole cane sugar, these chewy oatmeal cookies contain dried cranberries and white chocolate chips and are moistened with buttermilk.

Yesterday’s baking adventures consisted of testing these Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies and trying a new blueberry muffin recipe.  The cookies turned out great.  The muffins were another story.  They tasted good, but I might have made the mistake of forgetting to rinse the frozen blueberries before putting them into the batter.  Whoops.  The poor things looked like a pan full of bruises and black eyes, so I decided that those muffins won’t be showing their sad little faces here on the blog.  I’ll give them another try sometime soon, and we’ll just stick to the cookie recipe today.

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Lemon Raspberry Yogurt Muffins

These Lemon Raspberry Yogurt Muffins are made with whole wheat and almond flours, sweetened with whole cane sugar and honey, and contain Greek yogurt for extra moistness.  The raspberries and lemon zest make for a delicious flavor combination.

As I was sorting through muffin pictures on my computer yesterday evening, my husband looked over my shoulder and started laughing at one particular photo.

Me:  “What?”  Casey:  “It looks like carnage after a muffin battle!”  Me:  “A muffin battle?  Really?”  (These are the kinds of conversations that happen around our house.)  I had no idea what he meant by that.  An intense food fight?  Muffins battling each other in a fictional universe?  The remnants of an extremely competitive muffin-eating contest?  I asked him to clarify, and he said, “Muffins fighting each other!”  Ok, I guess we’re going with the muffins battling each other in a fictional universe idea.  (Star Trek episode anyone?)

Anyway, since I have a family-friendly website, I decided it was best not to post the “muffin carnage” photo here.

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