Almond Butter Cookies

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I think it’s important to celebrate the small things in life. Even on the worst of days, when I’m stressed, frustrated, or just sad about something, I find it extremely refreshing to focus on at least one small thing that is beautiful. Maybe it’s the good customer service from the lady at the bank. Maybe it’s the cheerful kids selling lemonade one street over on your way home from work. Maybe it’s the familiar aroma of a favorite meal. No matter what is going on life, noticing the small things, the details, helps me stop and appreciate the bigger picture in a new light. The small things remind me that there is always beauty and joy even in the worst times.

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One small detail I love about old fashioned peanut butter cookies are the criss cross lines on top. Chances are if a peanut butter cookie has those little lines on it, I’m much more likely to eat it. Why don’t we make those imprints on other cookies? I think it shows the detail, the labor that went into the baking process. Each one was hand marked with love before serving.

It’s the small things, folks.

Almond Butter Cookies
Prep Time: 10 min. Cook Time: 8 min.

Ingredients:

1 cup creamy almond butter (we buy Trader Joe’s brand)
1 large egg
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients together. Spoon 2″ rounds onto a silicone baking sheet. Dough will be sticky, and that’s normal. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Once right out of the oven, take a fork and press cookies gently twice (once horizontally, once vertically) to form a grid impression on top.

Cool cookies on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 1 dozen cookies

Red Beans and Rice

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About this time last year, I was visiting my dear friend in New Orleans. I had never been to the city, and was ready to drive 10 hours straight south to visit, explore, and eat. The flavors of New Orleans reflect the rich, unique culture of the city. I spent hours wandering the French Quarter, exploring funky boutiques along Magazine street, and marveling at the architecture around every corner. New Orleans is a place set apart from the world I live in. Maybe I had one too many beignets, but when I think about that trip to New Orleans, it’s almost like remembering a really good dream. A whimsical, carefree, musical dream fragrant with the aromas of the neighborhood crawfish boil. I long to visit that dreamy city again.

Red beans and rice is a classic New Orleans dish. I didn’t realize the complex flavors that go into red beans and rice. Layers of smokey bacon fat, spicy peppers, built on a foundation of the holy trinity (green bell pepper, onion, celery) and simmered for hours to thicken and develop even more complicated flavors. This is not a traditional recipe, but it tastes like it is one and it’s super easy to make. It will take some time to cook, so I suggest making it on a lazy Sunday afternoon and eating it throughout the week. To make it gluten free, simply serve over cauliflower rice.

Red Beans and Rice
Inspired By: Emeril Lagasse Red Beans and Rice
Prep Time: 30 min. Cook Time: 1 hour, 20 min.

Ingredients:

3 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 lb. smoked andouille sausage, sliced
4 celery stalks, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeños, deseeded and diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 quart chicken stock
3 tablespoons bacon fat
1 teaspoon paprika
1 pinch cayenne pepper (I like 1/2 teaspoon in mine)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Preparation:

In a large dutch oven over medium heat, melt the bacon fat and add onion, jalapeño, green pepper, and celery. Cook for about 7 minutes or until tender. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper, garlic, and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Add cayenne pepper, paprika, and sausage. Cook sausage until browned, about 10 minutes.

Add the beans and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 1 hour. Smash 1/3 of the beans with the back of a wooden spoon and continue to cook for 20 minutes.

Serve over rice

Pull-Apart Pizza Bread

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While antiquing with my close girlfriend the other morning, we paused for a minute while admiring some old furniture, looked at each other, and she said, “Gosh, when did it become cool to spend the day antiquing?”  That night, I fell asleep around 9:00pm. Yes, it was Saturday night (the night when people do things). To top it off, I went to a potluck the other day. Antiquing? Falling asleep by 9? Potlucks? I am starting to realize how different my late twenties look than my early ones.

Let’s talk about potlucks. I realized the only food I really associate with potlucks are casseroles. Luckily, I remembered a recipe that my friend Rachel (HI RACHEL) made not too long ago when she had people over at her house, and thought it would be perfect to feed a crowd. I tried to recreate the flavors of that dish while also putting my own spin on it.

This pull-apart bread really is great for a party. It doesn’t last long though thanks to the cheesy, buttery, salty goodness. I love serving it with tomato sauce that people can dunk their pieces in.

Here is all you need to make this delicious savory bread.

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Cut the biscuits into fourths, flatten them with the palm of your hand, and place one cube of cheese and one pepperoni inside.

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Then, roll each biscuit up into a ball (yikes, pardon that manicure).

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Generously brush melted butter atop all the balls and sprinkle with Italian seasoning.

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Place them all lovingly in a bundt pan.

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Pop the bundt pan in the oven and bake until brown and cooked through.

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No matter how old you are, I’m sure you will appreciate this easy, fun, and tasty recipe.

Pull-Apart Pizza Bread
Adapted From: Jason and Shawnda
Prep Time: 50 min. Cook Time: 40-45 min.

Ingredients:

2 cans Pillsbury Grands Homestyle Biscuits
1 jar tomato sauce
1 pack of pepperoni (you’ll need about 50)
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, cubed into 1/2″ pieces
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400°. Butter every nook and cranny of a bundt pan and set aside. Remove biscuits from each can and separate biscuits. Cut each biscuit into fourths. Using the palm of your hand, flatten the biscuit and place one pepperoni and one piece of cheese atop.

Seal the biscuit dough around the cheese and pepperoni and form into a ball.

Brush half of the butter on the biscuits and sprinkle seasoning generously atop the buttery dough. Place all dough in the buttered bundt pan and pour the other half of the melted butter on top.

Let the pizza balls rest for about 20 minutes before placing in oven. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the tops are brown and dough in the center of the bundt is cooked through. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, and run a knife along the edge of the pan to loosen the bread.

Carefully flip the bundt over and serve warm with tomato sauce.

Serves 12-15