Rachel Awtrey


Lifestyle | Travel | Faith | Marriage

Posts tagged Food
S'mores Brownie Bars

If you bopped on here from Dwell605’s cookie blog post, I am so thrilled that you are here and hope you leave with one more cookie recipe for your cheery season!

It’s that time of year: Christmas cookies, cookie swaps and all things sweet! I don’t know about you but I find myself scrambling, resulting to old family recipes I just haven’t mastered and Pinterest for all of my cookie ideas. No fear, friends! A few other bloggers and I have gathered together and rallied a few recipes for you - don’t fret! Between all of us, there’s got to be one that makes you excited for your next office party, cookie swap or family gathering!

My cookie contributions is pretty easy, super sweet and great for those that love chocolate!

Imagine you’re at a campfire, roasting s’mores and instead of chocolate, you put in a brownie in the middle. Yep. We’re going there! It’s fail-proof and great for kids, too!

What you’ll need…

  1. Your favorite box brownie mix (plus the ingredients that includes)

  2. A box of graham crackers

  3. A Milk Chocolate Hershey’s Bar

  4. Mini Marshmallows

How you’ll make them…

  1. Preheat oven to temperature according to your boxed brownie directions

  2. Spray and line a 9x13” baking dish with graham cracker pieces

  3. Mix together ingredients for your favorite brownie mix

  4. Gently pour over the brownie mix over the graham cracker lined baking dish. (Be careful! The graham crackers will want to move!)

  5. Bake slightly less than the brownie directions call for and take out of oven just before being finished

  6. Layer marshmallows on top of almost-baked brownies

  7. Break apart Hershey’s bar and stick corners in various places in the brownies.

  8. Finish baking according to box directions

  9. Let cool, cut into brownie pieces and serve warm! (might I suggest vanilla ice cream on the side?)

Bon apetit!

Now, if you’d like, you can head over to my friend Mi Casa Di Bella’s cookie, it’s quite scrumptious!

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Friendsgiving Hosting
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The other evening we hosted a Friendsgiving party and it was THE MOST fun! It was way easier than we ever anticipated so we wanted to share our tidbits and secrets with you this season! There are lots that go into this but it makes it all worth it once you have your friends and loved ones around a table breaking bread and laughter bouncing off of your walls!

The Invitations

Yes, you could text your guests to let them know that you are hosting a fun party but how fun are invitations? I have always loved receiving a thoughtful invitation with information about the event and what I can expect in a fun way. This year, instead of doing printed and mailed invitations or e-vites, I designed my own invitation and sent it with the text. It says “you are thought of!” To use my design as a template for yours!


The Table

Yes, you could go get lots of fun decor for your table and make it super fancy but I like to shop from my home! I go and grab pumpkins, fall decor, greenery, flower vases, platters, candlesticks and votives to decorate our space.

This year, we decided to go with a long family-style table and it was the most fun! We had around 20 guests so it was a way that everyone felt included, you could see everyone and it was easy, with the way our house is set up, to get in and out for seconds (or thirds). We combined 3 card tables, borrowed some chairs, covered with some inexpensive table cloths and a layer of craft paper (in case there were any spills, makes for easy clean up with larger groups)

If you’re having a smaller get-together, you could go with real plates, heck, you could even pull out your china if you’d like! Or, you could run to your favorite store (cough, Target, cough) and grab a few of your favorite festive plate and serving ware. We found dinner plates, dessert plates, and gold utensils.

The Food

By no means do you feel like you have to prepare all of the food! On my invitation, I asked people to bring a side and drink of choice! That way, we had plenty of wine and food to go around! Need side ideas?

Entree ideas: Turkey, ham, pot roast, tenderloin

Side ideas: Sweet potato casserole, veggies, bread/rolls, a salad, stuffing, gravy, cranberry dressing, mashed potatoes, corn bread

Dessert ideas: Pumpkin pie, pecan pie, spice cake, cookies of your choice

This Friendsgiving, I paired up with Ashley Mac’s in Birmingham, Alabama and they gave us the ham, sweet potato casserole, rolls, cornbread dressing, and pecan pie. They are AMAZING! If you’re on-the-go or would want to easily impress people this Thanksgiving, make sure to put in an order from their Holiday menu! Use the code RACHEL10 for 10% off! All you have to do is pick it up, put it in your fridge and heat up with the direction on the top! So easy!

Make sure to have platters and serving ware ready to go for your dishes, a lot of people will bring them without! That’s alright! It gives an occasion for those platters to come out of the pantry!

I set up a buffet for ours using the long table for the sides. If someone wanted seconds, they could ask to pass the dish just like the good ole days!

Pro tip: We heated up the dessert as people finished dinner!

The Drinks

Of course, after asking people to bring their drink of choice, you’ll end up with a lot of yummy drink options. We provided a sangria for our guests and it was a HIT! Here’s the recipe!

The Music

I created a jazz playlist that played the whole night. It’s upbeat enough to be tons of fun but smooth enough to not cause chaos! Feel free to use this at your upcoming Friendsgiving/Thanksgiving as well!

Last Minute Details

Light your candles, turn off your heat (!! it will get toasty with all of those people), turn on your music and pull those dishes out of the oven, you’re ready for a party!

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Spaghetti Squash Boat
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The spaghetti squash boat - a family fave around the Awtrey household.

It’s the simple, super cheap and “healthy” version of your typical spaghetti dish. It’s also a great meal if you live by yourself, or one other person because it makes two simple portions so easily!

I like this low-carb meal and often result to it when we have busy days because it takes little tending to *cue the kitchen dance parties*!

Here’s all you’ll need:

Ground Turkey (or beef, your preference)
Your favorite jar of marinara
One spaghetti squash

Here’s how:

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 for a quick cook

  2. Cut your spaghetti squash in half long ways so that the spaghetti squash takes an ovular shape*

  3. Pour olive oil and add salt to the inside of the spaghetti squash

  4. Lay the spaghetti squash flat side down on a sheet and place in preheated oven. Cook for 30-40 minutes until the edges are brown**

  5. While the spaghetti squash is cooking, brown your ground meat in sauce pan on medium-high heat

  6. Once meat is cooked thoroughly, add your jar of marinara and reduce heat to a simmer

  7. When spaghetti squash is finished cooking, remove the sheet from the oven, flip the spaghetti squash over and remove the seeds from the pit of the squash with a spoon or tongs.

  8. Once pitted, you’ll see that the spaghetti squash takes a “bowl” shape and there is now room to add your desired amount of marinara and meat.

  9. Garnish with parmesan cheese, oregano or any of your favorite toppings

  10. Serve and enjoy!

Here are my tips + tricks

*Heat the entire spaghetti squash in the microwave for about 30-45 seconds to soften the shell + inside for an easier time cutting

**I remove the seeds after it has cooked in the oven because, rather than it being like scraping the inside of the pumpkin, the seeds are now softer and come out more easily.

I also decided to serve my spaghetti squash as a “boat” or “bowl” because the dish stays warmer longer. I’ve found that when I scrap out the squash, it cools quickly leaving my guests (and husband) with a cold meal.


Charleston, SC in 48 Hours

Before heading out to California for the summer, Thomas and I wanted to take advantage of all of the southern cultures we could get. Where better to soak in the low country tastes, smells, and accents than Charleston, South Carolina.

Growing up in Columbia, SC, Charleston was only a quick drive away so we frequently visited to get our "beach fix." Whether it was shopping on King Street, enjoying the super fresh seafood or lounging on the beach, I always looked forward to it and didn't mind the drive. Now, being married and loving adventure, we were up to the travel from Alabama to enjoy a sweet 48 hours in a place we love.

Where to eat

Breakfast/Brunch | Poogans Porch
If you want a true taste of the South, run (don't walk) to Poogan's Porch! They have shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles, pimento cheese balls (highly suggest) and all the southern dishes you need to taste before leaving! If seating is open outside and weather permits, choose to be seated on the porch. You'll get an incredible view of the charming side streets of Charleston.

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Lunch | Hominy Grill
Just like mama's cooking (but better). Before the meal, when serving drinks, they'll bring you all-you-can-eat boiled peanuts. Get the biscuits with the housemade jam as a snack! They have fresh specials every day and a dessert menu you can't resist. It's about a 4-minute walk to the battery so you can walk off your lunch and enjoy the scenic southern mansions.

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Happy Hour | Restoration Hotel rooftop bar, "The Watch"

A great location to sit back, soak up the sun and enjoy a few drinks and snacks! We chose to sip on the Romero's Bad Habit and The Ghost of Strawberry Church - both very yummy.
For snacks, we nibbled on the Takeout Wings, House Truffle Frites (fries) and on the Ham and Cheddar Hushpuppies.

Dinner | Hanks Seafood

By far our favorite dining experience! Everyone was so kind and so eager to serve us! We were greeted first thing when walking in the door and were advised to sit at the bar or the community table for faster service. The community table is a larger table seating several parties but is a great idea if there's a long wait.

Don't limit the bartenders to the cocktail menu because they are so so talented and can whip up anything you're in the mood for. While we were there, we enjoyed the tuna tartare (ah-mazing), the ceviche (so good if you wanted to branch out and try a unique seafood dish), and crab cakes (their crab cakes are the best I've ever tried). We finished off the night with a slice of key lime pie. Side note: I don't normally care for key lime pie, but this pie was delicious and I'd order it again!

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Dessert | Carmella's
If you need a quick pick-me-up snack or you're in the mood for something sweet late at night, Carmella's is your place! Located near the Market, you can find a quick cup of coffee, a fun dessert cocktail or choose a dessert from their sweet display of personal cakes (to share, of course).

What to do

Candlefish Candle Making Class
If you're wanting to do something different and maybe take a break from the heat of walking the streets, this is a great option! Whether it's with a special someone as a date or a group of gals, it's a blast! This was so so fun, super educational but also walked away with 4 candles! Basically, a candle pourer from Candlefish walks you through the process and chemistry of candle-making, you get to sniff tons of scents and create your own candles with the favorite you found. You pour your own oil, wax label your own glass and fix your wick. From start to finish, it's hands on!

Go to the Beach
If you're wanting to go to the beach but don't want it to be super crowded, I suggest heading to Isle of Palms Park. Once you pay the tenant for parking, you can unload your beach gear and head over the dunes to the beach. There are public restrooms, changing rooms and showers to clean off before heading to supper.

Walk up and down King Street
Shopping, shopping, galore. From smaller, local boutiques to larger, more well-known shops, you can find anything you're looking for! Parking is tough, s try and find parallel parking on a side street.

Walk the battery
If you're wanting to see some traditional and beautiful Charleston homes, head to the Battery and wander around the cobblestone streets. You'll be in awe of all of the vintage door knockers, colorful houses and porches, greenery and ivy, and fire lanterns.

Spa Treatment at the Amethyst Spa
If you wanted a "treat yourself" afternoon, this is a fabulous option. They have a lengthy menu of services that they provide from pedicures and manicures to massages. The service is incredible and you won't find a better spa in Charleston.

Manicure at Mylkbar
This is a fun place to take a group of girlfriends or a bachelorette party. Mylkbar uses only non-toxic products (love that) but more than that, their interior beats any other nail salon in Charleston. With cute and flirty decor, you'll experience the most pampering pedicure with rose and the most hilarious staff. They'll keep you laughing the whole time.

Where to stay

My family has a condo in Charleston so we're able to use their space when we come to stay but plenty of spaces around us are also up for rent! Try an Airbnb or Vacation Rentals before booking a hotel. For several reasons: 1. The cost will be cheaper 2. You'll be closer to water 3. More space.

We can't express what Charleston means to us and we can't wait to visit again! What are your favorite places in Charleston? Where do you look forward to visiting? Please share! I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Thank you to Candlefish, The Restoration Hotel and Hanks Seafood for their experiences and sponsorship of this post. All opinions are my own.

Egg Roll in a Bowl | One Skillet Dinner

This one may be our favorite to make for a few reasons:

1. So super cheap
2. It's fail-proof - it's really hard to mess this one up
3. You can make the whole dish in one skillet so it's a super easy cleanup
4. It's gluten free + dairy free SO if you're on a diet or need these restrictions (or even if not) it's a yummy yummy option!
5. It takes 15 minutes until dinner is on the table

I buy most of my ingredients from Trader Joes just because they're already prepared for me (the carrots are chopped, the cabbage is shredded, the ginger is grated) and I'm all about cutting corners.


What you'll need:

Large Skillet
Knives to cut your vegetables (or this veggie chopper that I swear by + I use this scooper for getting the veggies off of the cutting board and into the skillet)

Ground Beef (or substitute ground turkey, ground chuck)
Garlic (I use these garlic cubes from Trader Joes *see notes at the bottom)
Ginger (1 tsp of powdered ginger or 4 tbsp of fresh ginger)
2 cups of shredded carrots
2 large onions diced
One bag of shredded cabbage (or 1 1/4 cup)

For the sauce:
1 tbsp Brown Sugar
2 tbsp Soy Sauce (I use 1 tbsp soy sauce + 1 tbsp coconut amino just to cut out the amount of soy I'm using)
1 tbsp Sriracha Sauce

Optional topping:
Shelled Edamame Beans

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1. Start browning your ground beef over medium-high heat in the skillet we'll use for the entire recipe
2. Add the ginger and blend into the ground beef
3. Once browned turn down the heat to medium and add garlic, onions, carrots and let the veggies saute for about 8 minutes.
4. While the meat + veggies are sizzling, whisk together the sauce ingredients and set aside.
5. Slowly add cabbage (it will start out most likely overflowing from the skillet but allow it to wilt by mixing the veggies, meat and cabbage together). Continue adding cabbage slowly until it all has been added.
6. While cabbage is being added, heat up the edamame beans if you are choosing to add these to your bowl at the end.
7.  Pour the sauce over the entire mixture and mix together until blended well.
8. Serve + enjoy!

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We eat these out of regular bowls and top off the meal with the edamame beans and a few more drops of sriracha and coconut amino!

If you're a newlywed or claim to "not know how to cook" or just don't have much time on your hands, this is FOR YOU. 



*The garlic cubes are great because they're already packaged into cubes that equal one clove and they're easy to pop out of the package so you don't have to mess around with the smelly garlic

6 Sweet Treats in Birmingham You Have to Have!

It's no secret that Birmingham is a foodie's dream location. I say that you could eat every meal at a different location for an entire year and still not discover all of the yummy restaurants and foods around this beautiful place I call "home." As good as breakfasts, lunches and dinners are I'm all about sweet treats and desserts. I have a sweet tooth like it's no one's business! These are 6 of my all-time FAVORITE places in Birmingham that you cannot miss if you live here or skip out on if you're visiting! 

1. Urban Cookhouse

Not only does Urban Cookhouse have the best salad combinations with fast-food type turn around time, you have to finish you meal with their half baked cookie! It's cooked in an individual skillet just enough to not be runny but the cookie is still warm and soft but the edges are cooked and crunchy. 🍦🍪
They top if off with a scoop of ice-cream (melts quickly) and chocolate syrup! 😋 Ask for several spoons and split it with your table.
Sometimes Thomas and I go just for the cookie. In a rush or you want to treat yourself at home with some Netflix? They have a drive through at the Homewood location! 🙌🏼 


2. Farm Bowl + Juice Company

If you're on a gluten free, dairy free or any special type of diet, this is a must. Farm Bowl is right next door to Urban Cookhouse and cannot be missed! They serve açaí bowls, oatmeal bowls, juices and smoothies. Wow, wow, wow.
Honestly, I've never had an açaí bowl just as good. Their açaí base consistency is similar to sherbet so it's more like a frozen sweet (but healthy) treat. Top it with granola, your favorite fruit, cocoa nibs, almond or peanut butter, hazelnut chocolate spread, any seeds or nuts and you're good to go! 🍌🍓🥥🥝

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Pick up a juice or kombucha while you're at it!
Don't forget to walk outside, swing on their swings and take a picture in front of their mural. Stay a while!

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3. Steel City Pops

You may have heard of Steel City Pops before but believe it or not, they originated in Birmingham! If it's a hot day and you need to cool off with a popsicle, this is for you. They have tons and tons of flavors: creamy and fruity. Arnold Palmer, passion fruit (my favorite), red velvet cake, coffee, you name it, they have it. Want a little more of a treat? Add a dunk flavor and a chocolate drizzle. 😍
You must take a picture with the Vulcan mural in each store! Ask the friends behind the counter what their favorite flavor is - they'll never steer you wrong. 

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4. Cookie Fix

The cutest little  shop wedged in the streets of Homewood Village, Cookie Fix, has plenty of cookie flavors to take or eat there but also break-apart cookie dough to take home and enjoy on your own time. 🍪🥛


My favorite is the Healthy Peanut Butter, The Presidential and the Second Date.
Don't feel like splurging that much? That's okay! They have a Superfoods Healthy Peanut Butter: "Sister to the Healthy Peanut Butter Cookie, the Superfoods Healthy Peanut butter contains chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, and dark chocolate. It contains coconut oil instead of butter."
Check the chalkboard outside for their flavors of the day, it's always changing! Catch them on a good day and you'll find brownies and cookie sandwiches!


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5. Hero Doughnuts

Definitely Instagrammable! Take a picture in front of their white painted shop, inside with the neon light, wherever! Hero Doughnuts was recently renovated from an old car shoppe into a doughnut shoppe and I am not complaining! On a good day, if the weather permits, they'll open up the garage door and let the fresh air + breeze in - love that!
Pro tip: if you go in the afternoon it's "happy hour" and doughnuts are half-off BUT be careful and don't go too late because they close when they sell out of donuts for the day. 🍩 If you do happen to catch them on your trip, make sure to get the "sidekicks" (aka doughnut holes) they're the best little bite sized things I've ever tasted. Dunk them in some coffee and you've got yourself a treat! If you're a little more hungry for something than just a small snack, ask for their burger - so good!

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6. Big Spoon Creamery

Big Spoon started out as a food truck here in Birmingham but I love their store front! No need to chase down a truck any longer! They have all of the ice-cream flavors you could ever think of plus more unique ones. My favorite? You have to try the Cinnamon Toast Crunch! They actually make it with the cereal so it is an actual replicated taste! Their chocolate cone is too good to be true, try that! 🍦

What are your Birmingham favorites? I'd love to know!! I've got to branch out and try new things!

Margarita March with Bartaco
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I think I ate my weight in tacos today so today was successful in my books 🌮 🙃 I’m so so excited about @bartacolife’s Margarita March and excited to say their Chai-Chicha-Rita cocktail (try saying that 5 times fast!) was a hit! 🍹

I also had the chance to take over @bartacolife’s Instagram Stories today (bloopers in my stories 😂) to share my favorites on the menu! Check it out! Cheers!

My favorites on the menu:
- Tuna Poke
- Pork Belly Taco
- Chicken Taco
- Mexican Corn
REAL Fresh Pineapple
- Get the guac!!

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Lunch at Real and Rosemary

I think you could eat a good meal 3 times a day for an entire year and still not visit every restaurant in Birmingham.
One of my favorites, @realandrosemary is my go to when craving a hearty (but healthy) meal 🙌🏻 🥦🥔🌽 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
QUESTION: Where’s you favorite restaurant (fast food counts hehe)? I’d love to look at their menu and try something new!

To read more about Real and Rosemary head over to this blog post to see their interior and beautiful porch!

Easy 2 Ingredient Cocktail

I've always thought that cocktails were intimidating so I've never attempted to make anything other than a margarita, pour myself a glass of wine or open a bottle of beer (for Thomas. I don't like beer). But, this little concoction has changed the game for hosting: so simple, so easy, you don't even need a shaker, 2 ingredients.

Here's what you'll need:

  • 2-3 scoops raspberry sorbet

  • 1 cup pink champagne 

  • fresh raspberries for garnish if you're feelin' fancy


  1. Place scoops of sorbet in glass.
  2. Pour champagne slowly over the sorbet. It will froth quickly so be careful!
  3. Allow to melt - it' best if it's melted! 
  4. Enjoy!
Colorful Breakfast for Slow + Rushed Mornings

Early mornings are my thing. I love a good morning where you have time to wake up, eat what you want, prep yourself for the day before the chaos starts. This breakfast is for those type of mornings (plus, it's very colorful and great for energy + power).

What's plated?


"Leftover Scramble"
2 Eggs
Baked Chicken
Goat Cheese
Sriracha Sauce

Orange Juice



Costco Recommendations + Vlog

Over on Instagram, I asked you what your favorite products were at Costco and what I should be looking out for during my very first trip to Costco. I was a little hesitant because I wasn't quite sure what to expect but with your help, I found everything I needed, wanted, and more!


After wandering around the store with my mom, I came out with some goodies. I wasn't shopping for groceries necessarily, I was visiting family and didn't want to bring home all the perishables back home to Birmingham. So, I walked out with some necessities I couldn't find elsewhere, great deals I couldn't buy back home and a few snacks for the road trip back.


I also received a few messages for me to share what I walked away with and although it wasn't much, I thought it was a good idea!  It was easier for me to make a video showing you all that we got rather than Instagram stories of everything soooo ENJOY!


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Gourmet At-Home Coffee Recipes

Pumpkin Spice Lattes, Chai Tea Lattes, Carmel Macchiato. You know the drill. You get in your car when you have that caffeinated sweet tooth, drive to the closest Starbucks or gourmet coffee shop. Order your craving, swipe your card and sip. What if I told you that you didn't have to leave your house to suit your cravings? Maybe you could make them at home? Thoughts?

I've created some of my favorite drinks at home, half the cost and in bulk so Thomas and I could both have one! Plus, these recipes have cut out the sugar load that others may have! YAS!

Chai Tea Latte

1 cup Milk (almond, soy, regular, you choose)
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 bag of Chai Tea (I use Tazo tea)

Add milk, vanilla, and cinnamon in a microwave-safe mug. Heat for 2 minutes in the microwave and place the Chai tea bag in the mug. Let it steep for 3 minutes. Top with a pinch of cinnamon for extra flavor!


Pumpkin Spice Latte

2 cups Milk (almond, soy, regular, you choose)
2 1/2 tbs Pumpkin Puree
1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice (or cinnamon + nutmeg)
3 tbs Maple Syrup (pure maple syrup is preferred, none of that fake stuff)
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
3/4 cup Strongly Brewed Coffee (or espresso if you're fancy)

Add the milk and pumpkin puree to a small pot. Heat milk and pumpkin puree over medium heat in a small pot. Make sure to stir with a whisk to avoid burning. Warm for 1-2 minutes. Then, add the pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon + nutmeg), maple syrup and vanilla extract. Whisk the mixture until it becomes frothy and all the ingredients are combined.

Pour ingredients into a mug with the coffee. Garnish and top with whipped cream, cinnamon or a cinnamon stick for an extra fun flare if you're hosting!


Carmel Macchiato

2 tbsp caramel
1 cup milk (almond, soy, regular, you choose)
3 cups of coffee

Mix the milk and caramel in a microwave-safe mug. Heat for 2 minutes in the microwave and add brewed coffee to the mixture. Garnish with frothed milk and caramel drizzle on top.

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Peanut Butter + Honey Pancakes

Living out in the woods in Northern California is super dreamy but it does make grocery shopping challenging since our nearest grocery store is 45 minutes away. So, when we get the opportunity to stock up, we usually drive 2 hours to the closest Trader Joe's in Redding, California. So worth it.

We have to make this food last for a looooong time since we never really know when our schedule will allow for us to go back. One morning, we woke up and decided to make pancakes with Trader Joe's boxed pancake mix (we also love the Williams Sanoma pancake mix). We love using a griddle that we were gifted as a wedding gift - it even has a warming tray so you can keep your flap jacks underneath while the others are being made.

We then realized we forgot something very important: syrup.

I improved and made a peanut butter + honey syrup. Yall. It was so much better than regular syrup. It's our new "go-to" and not to mention: it's waaay healthier than even your "healthy" 100% maple syrup you may use. And of course more nutritious than the fake stuff.

Here's what we did:

1/3 cup of natural peanut butter (creamy or crunchy will do)

1/2 cup of local honey (we got ours from Five Mary's, a farm about 10 minutes away from us)

Heat up peanut butter and honey in a microwavable-safe serving cup for 20 seconds or until well blended and creamy (like regular syrup).

Don't overheat though or it'll turn peanut butter into a bubbly mixture.

Pour on top of pancakes (or waffles) and sprinkle Trader Joe's chocolate chunks on top for even more of a sweet treat. 

Let me know if you tried it and what you thought! Or, if you experimented yourself, did it work?!

Blackberry Picking + a Carolina Cobbler

There's a sweet sweet "pick your own berries" patch near us in Northern California. We decided to go and see what they had in season and ended up having a blast. Remi joined us on our little excursion because he loves being included and blackberries are actually a good source of anti-oxidants for dogs, too!

This sweet little farm has rows upon rows of berries to pick: raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and blackberries. The strawberries weren't in season and the blueberries were difficult to find and get to so we filled our bucket we brought from home with all shapes and sizes of blackberries (Thomas's favorite). Between getting poked by the thorny bushes, jumping up and down when we'd find a super ripe "ready-to-eat" blackberries to pop into our mouths and Remi's excitement when he found some shade, it was one of our favorite adventures so far this summer.

We left with just under a pound of fresh, juicy, blackberries but no plan how to use them (besides just snacking on them later). So, on the way home we picked up yellow cake mix and butter - yep! That's it. And we made the best cobbler we've both ever tasted.


This is all it took:

3 cups of blackberries

1 box of Yellow cake mix

1/2 cup of butter (softened or melted)

Vanilla ice cream (optional but so scrumptious)

Pour butter into cake mix and stir until it's texture resembles corn starch. It's okay if it's lumpy.

Spread blackberries at the bottom of a baking dish

Add crumbles of yellow cake mixture on top.

Garnish the top with a few more blackberries for looks.

Bake at 425 for 20 minutes or until cake mixture is golden brown and blackberries are bubbly.

Let cool + enjoy!

This is my favorite baking playlist too if you really want to get in the zone and enjoy the snazziness of being in the kitchen.

Favorite Trader Joes Finds

I think I'm emotionally attached to Trader Joes. I love wandering the aisles looking for what I need, seeing things I didn't think I needed but I definitely do (maybe). It's a fun place to see new foods, try different ingredients or recipes and pick up a beautiful bouquet of eucalyptus at the same time. 

I'm not sure if you know this but Trader Joes actually let's you try things out of the box. If it's not open and you're not sure if you would like it, they'll open a box for you to try! If you like it, you can take it home, if not - no problem!  If you get home and try something and you don't like it, bring it back (what's left or an empty bag) and they will reimburse you. Yes. No hassle, it's just fun! it's a great place to go and expand your pallet with all of the foods they offer from countries across the globe. Their frozen meals are already prepped and just need heating, their produce is always fresh and their wine is gooooooood and cheap.

But, out of everything that Trader Joe's offers, I've picked out a few of my favorites that I think are a "must try" for everyone.

1. Cookie Butter

Use it as icing, dip pretzels or chips in it for that salty, sweet flavor, add it to recipes, whatever! It's the sweetest treat right out of the jar. It looks like peanut butter - but better!

2. Pineapple Salsa

It's time to spice up your regular salsa and add some fruit. The pineapple salsa is tangy, sweet and salty and goes great with any tortilla chip, on top of fresh cooked salmon or add it on top of your burger. I mean, c'mon. 

3. Coconut Creamer

I add this to my coffee and it is the best substitute for milk in the morning. The coconut adds a natural sweet flavor while also being extra creamy at the same time. Get a hand-held frother and you have yourself some gourmet coffee in your very own kitchen!

4. Coconut Cooking Spray

A great alternative to your regular Pam cooking spray or non-stick butter spray. It's healthier, and a great way to keep things from sticking. I use this when I'm baking or sautéing vegetables and such. I spray a little in the pan (instead of olive oil) and toss the vegetables and it adds a non-stick layer to whatever I'm prepping. 

5. Eucalyptus

The smell, the look, the fact that when it dries out and dies it's just as beautiful - it's all a "win" in my book. This is a great option for us plant killers and they sell it at Trader Joe's. I use this in my pictures a lot or toss a bunch in a vase and set it in the middle of the table as a centerpiece. I get questions all the time of where I've gotten my eucalyptus and, y'all, I got it at the dang grocery store. It's that easy! 

6. Blueberry Vanilla Chèvre Cheese

I'm not a cheese girl (unless it's mac and cheese or grilled cheese) but this is the greatest to pair with any red wine and your favorite crackers, It's a brick of the best chèvre cheese covered with vanilla dipped blueberries. Whip it out when you're hosting, put it on a cheese board with a knife, crackers and some prosciutto and you're good to go! 

7. Lime Tortilla Chips

I mean, yum. Not only are they salted but they have a lime flavor that kicks up any chip and salsa experience. Throw these out for a party and you've simply made everything twice as delicious. They're crispy and taste similar to the one's at your favorite Mexican restaurant. 

8. Frozen Orange Chicken

This is the greatest solution to the "crap! What do we have for dinner" or "It's eight o'clock and we still haven't eaten but I don't want to wait an hour before we eat" frustration. It's a frozen meal you just open and pour in a pan, heat on medium heat for 15 minutes, cook some rice at the same time and you have an at-home Chinese meal that will rock your world. 

9. Frozen Garlic Cubes

Instead of getting the jarred minced garlic or crushing/mincing it yourself, save the trouble and go get some frozen garlic cubes. It comes in a pack designed to where they just pop out with a little push. No sticky or smelly fingers. They melt quickly in any pan or recipe. It's measured out perfectly so each cube is one clove - genius. 

10. Tingle Shampoo/Body Wash

I recently went to get my hair done and my stylist was peeved that I was using a drug store shampoo because it actually "strips your hair of nutrients and oils it needs." She recommended a shampoo called Tea Tree Tingle and all I could think was "how am I going to afford this?" Then she told me I could find it at Trader Joe's for less than five dollars - what....? True story. They also have Conditioner and Body wash to keep the healthy and natural theme going. It has a hint of tea tree and mint smells so it's a spa experience in the shower, really. It does give a little tingle. When I first started using it, my hair wasn't lathering really well with it but I came to find out that it's because my hair was so unhealthy. I've been using it for a month and it lather's just fine now and I've found that my hair is shinier, smoother and less greasy. Hallelujah!

I mean, Trader Joe's is a one stop shop for any kitchen and pantry needs but you'll run into some really great finds there as well! What are your favorite Trader Joe's finds? I wanna find some more great things in there! Share, share, share!

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BHM: Real + Rosemary

You know the places where you go to rest? To defeat the hustle and bustle throughout the day? The replenish and rejuvenate? Real and Rosemary has become one of those sacred safe places for me and I just had to share. 

Real and Rosemary is a quaint eatery tucked away in Homewood, Alabama. It offers a "real" and fresh menu with organic and yummy touches. There's rustic table with minimalist decor finished with a clean, pastel pallet. There's a bar for a night scene to end any great date with conversation that's not competing with the angry-loud music. It's a soft place with the kindest people in denim aprons serving you with an edgy twist. 

The interior is stellar but outside (if the weather permits) is my go-to. Tables on a patio with strung bistro lighting all around. A painted concrete wall adds the perfect amount of color and entertainment for your meal. 

The food...gosh the food. The kind where you leave feeling replenished than full, satisfied rather than sluggish. My go to is either a cup of the White Chicken Chili (without jalapeños) or the Roasted Turkey sandwich (pictured here). The sides are all wonderful: brusselsprouts, roasted carrots, sweet potato soufflé (pictured here), corn palenta cake. It's all so scrumptious. 

And do not leave without trying their freshly made, daily, orange blossom lemonade. It's a tangy thirst quencher with just enough pulp to know it's fresh with a tang of lemon and the sweetness of fresh orange juice and a hint of mint. 

Acquaint yourself with this sweet, quaint, loving place that I am proud to call a favorite.