Do people in college still carry backpacks??

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That’s just one of the many questions flying through my head as I lie down to go to bed lately. I start college (again) on Thursday, and to say I’m nervous would be like asking if the Ronald McDonald wants a BigMac. DUH! I’m freaking out. I feel like a fourteen-year-old trying to choose her first day of school outfit. Do I wear boots with a heel? Do I wear Converse? If I wear Converse, will people think I’m trying too hard to look like I’m not trying too hard?!?!?! Do or don’t people still carry backpacks in college!!! TELL ME!!!! Okay…sorry…. But, please, someone tell me.

Other than having miniature panic attacks every time someone asks when I start school, I’ve spent a lot of time in my kitchen lately. If you’ve read my blog before, you would know about my resolution. I’m surprised and pleased to say I have held true to it so far. Normally, by now I BEEN HAD jumped off that bandwagon! But, I have successfully cooked/baked something new everyday since January 1st. To keep up with my creations, check out my pinterest board called recipe-a-day//2014.

In my last blog post, I mentioned cooking a chicken in my crockpot. Let’s just say it was edible. For some reason, no matter what recipe or method I use, I cannot for the life of me cook a delicious and juicy chicken in the crockpot! They always seem really dry to me. I always think I’m over cooking them, but this last time I intentionally didn’t let the crockpot go as long as the recipe called for, and it STILL ended up dry!!! Someone, please shed some light on this really dim situation. I long to put a chicken in the crockpot before work and come home to a perfectly juicy and delectable chicken just ready and waiting to be eaten. Apparently at this time in my life, that is not in the cards.

Looks can be deceiving. This chicken LOOKS juicy, but alas, it is dry.

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Although the crockpot chicken did not pan out well, there have been quite a few successes in my baking endeavors lately. My friend Rebecca came over to catch up the other day, and while she was here, we made a Tres Leches Cake. Seriously, the best cake that’s ever entered my cake-hole. The cake itself has a little cinnamon in it, which really put it over the top for me, not to mention the three milks you pour over the cake as it’s just come out of the oven and the freshly whipped cream you top the entire cake with once it’s cooled. (I hope you’re drooling right now, because if you aren’t, I need to ask you to leave my blog. Your kind is not welcome here.) Needless to say, everyone that ate the cake loved the cake. If you are needing to take a dessert to Bible study, bunco, or the in-laws’, take this. You will no longer have enemies.

Although I didn’t take pictures of the delicious Tres Leches Cake, here is my favorite picture of Rebecca and me.

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I have to include this one to showcase how beautiful Rebecca is (and so she won’t disown me as her friend).

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I also tried my hand, and succeeded, at making a gluten-free cake. I have a friend who switched to a gluten-free lifestyle, and her birthday was Saturday, so she asked earlier in the week if I’d try to make her a cake. I accepted, but was quite nervous to step into this uncharted territory. I researched a couple different recipes, found one that seemed the most straight-forward, and headed to Publix. Side note, xantham gum is quite expensive, but I learned it’s necessary in gluten-free baking. Invest once, and you’ll have it for a long time. Back to the cake. Per my friend’s request, I made her a vanilla cake with blueberry compote filling and cream cheese frosting. The cake itself stressed me out a little, but I also made the blueberry compote and cream cheese frosting from scratch, and those two weren’t nearly as intensive as the cake. I even impressed myself a little by torting the cake (cutting the cake and filling it). I asked my friend to give me honest feedback about to cake so that if I needed to, I could improve. Well, she texted me and reported that the cake was delicious! I’m so happy I could do that for her, and was grateful for the learning experience! WHEW!

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Tonight, I’m trying my hand at a dairy-free chocolate banana nut bread. Once the verdict has been reached, I’ll share the recipe for that. For now, thanks for reading my ramblings and supporting me in these a’changin’ times. I’m doing my best to inject consistency into different facets of my life, and I appreciate you hopping on board with me. Until next time!!!

P.S. If you have any recipe suggestions of any kind, BRING ‘EM ON! 🙂

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accidental resolution

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Apparently, I subconsciously made a New Year’s resolution and forgot to give myself the memo. I’ve cooked/baked something different everyday since January 1st. Since I’m now aware, I’m going to do my best to keep with that. I will not commit myself to making something EVERYDAY as I have been, but maybe 2-3 times a week. I love to cook and bake as it is, so this just gives me a chance to try a lot of new recipes and hone my techniques. I have been on Pinterest editing my “good eats.” board ever since I made the discovery of my new-found routine, so feel free to check the board out and give me suggestions. As for now, I’ll go ahead and catch you up on what I’ve made so far.

(By the way, now that I’ll be consciously making more new recipes, I promise to take better, more intentional pictures to post with the recipes. YAY!)

January 1: Devil’s Food Cake (from scratch) with Ganache (courtesy of foodnetwork.com) I made this for my dad’s birthday, and it was the richest, but not too sweet, chocolate cake and ganache everrrrr. And, it turned out really moist (say it, mooyyyssstttttt)!

No picture, we were too busy taking turns sticking our faces in it… 😦

January 2: Pan-Fried Ribeye with Bleu Onion Sauce (courtesy of thepioneerwoman.com) I made this to celebrate Grant’s first day of teaching, and he said, “It took my breff away.” Exactly as I had planned. Muahahaha! Ok…sorry.

Grant eating said ribeye:

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January 3: German Chocolate Cupcakes (courtesy of yourcupofcake.com) SERIOUSLY, my whole family’s (my side and Grant’s side) new favorite cupcakes. It seems I’ll be making these for every occasion from now on…and I’m fine with that.

A solitary, independent, stand-on-her-own kinda gal:

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January 4: Cinnamon Coffee Cake (courtesy of lastingredient.com) Every Sunday at work, we have a mini-smorgasbord of food, so I usually try to bake something. I made this the night before, and it seemed to be a hit. Although, the young guys at work always tell me everything I bring is either “da bomb” or “on point”, so I’ll take that as a good sign.

Two layers of nutty, cinnamon, sugary deliciousness hugging light, fluffy cake:

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January 5: Hershey’s Single-Serve Homemade Hot Chocolate (whew!) (courtesy of hersheys.com) Grant and I have been hunkering down for the arctic blast the past couple of days, so it’s only natural for us to want some hot chocolate, man! You could add a dash or two of cinnamon, nutmeg, or cayenne for a little variety. I added cinnamon and it warmed my soul, and I added cayenne and it lit my fire in all the right ways. Grant’s boring so he added nothing.

No picture…I promise I’ll be better!

January 6: Pistachio Saffron Meringue (courtesy of turmericnspice.com) My mom bought me a little vial of saffron for my birthday this year, so I’ve been looking for any opportunity to use it and I thought these interesting little things were just the ticket. They take 2 hours to bake at 225°, so I haven’t tasted them yet. As soon as I do, I’ll edit my post and letcha’ know!

***UPDATE: These little meringue cookies or whatever you want to call them are heaven in my mouth. Grant said it was like eating fancy astronaut ice-cream, and I agree. It’s the texture. They are crunchy yet light, delicately sweet, and the saltiness of the pistachios rounds it out perfectly. I think I’ll make these for a fancy party or something! YAY!

Before heading on the long, warm journey that awaits them in the oven:

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If you’ve made it this far, thanks. Seriously, you make all of my dreams come true. Sorry, that might’ve been too soon, but I’m not ashamed!!

Tomorrow, I’m making a Lemon Rosemary Garlic Whole Chicken in the CrockPot, so check back to see if that sinks or swims!

-CZMB

“This next year will be your year!”

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My best friend Jessy wrote this to me in my 25th birthday card. And I believe her. My 25th birthday was a day that started with meeting my sweet friend Caitlin for coffee, spending the day with my look-alike friend Regina and her two boys, having dinner with my stepmom Julie, with whom I share my birthday, and my dad and younger brother Joe, and ended lying in bed next to the love of my life. The next day, my mom accompanied me to Sunset Grill in Nashville where we were driven around in a top-of-the-line Lincoln MKZ by an ex-racecar driver named Mario, then served a three course meal on the house! UMMM??!!!! Yes, it was amazing.

The following weekend was met by a HUGE surprise: my husband told me we had a 9pm reservation at an undisclosed location (which I already knew because no one, and I mean NO ONE, can surprise me, I tell ya!). I played along and acted excited, which I really was! He knows how much I love food and trying out upscale restaurants. Little did I know, however, that some of my dearest friends were all at the bar anticipating our arrival. We walked into the restaurant, turned to the left to head to the bar, and there they all sat! Okay, so I guess every now and then I can be surprised!

That was probably in the top 3 of best birthday dinners ever. Seriously! Great conversation, good wine, and exceptional farm-to-table cuisine. Definitely the key to my heart.

That wonderful celebration had my 25th year off to a hopeful start! I started a new job at an awesome vintage marketplace, had a great holiday season with my family, and got some cool presents to feed my addiction: cooking. In two weeks, I’ll go back to college in hopes of completing a degree in Marketing. I’d say I’m off to a great start. I’m hoping that praying, cooking, and blogging regularly will help keep me grounded and focused as I embark on this new journey. I appreciate and welcome any advice, encouragement, criticism, or whatever comment you’d like to make. Here’s to being 25 and soaking up every second!

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Coffee with Caitlin, both of us looking our best! 😉

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Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture with Regina, but Boone made sure to take a picture of me on my birthday. And then, of course, sweet Oliver just made googley eyes at me all day, and I let him.

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My stepmom, Julie. We both turned 25 on the same day!! 😉

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Mom and I pretending to be knowledgable in the ways of the high-class life. I’d say we passed.

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My precious Grant and I before walking into Lockeland Table for dinner…little did I know what (or who, I should say) was waiting inside!!!

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Some of my nearest and dearest, from left to right: Heyburn, Jessy, Jonathan, Tyler, Rebecca, and two other weirdos that ended up at our table. What an unforgettable meal and evening.