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A creamy pimento cheese ball rolled in smoky roasted almonds! #sponsored #GameChangingSnacks

This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds.

A creamy pimento cheese ball rolled in smoky roasted almonds! #sponsored #GameChangingSnacks

With game day coming up I know lots of people are looking for delicious snacks to share with friends and family. I have to admit that food is the part of the game that I’m most interested in. So when Blue Diamond invited me to share a Game Changing Recipe for this year, I was ALL in. Of course I wanted to do something with a little Southern twist to it, so my mind went straight to pimento cheese (my mind often goes straight to pimento cheese).

A creamy pimento cheese ball rolled in smoky roasted almonds! #sponsored #GameChangingSnacks

Your standard cheese ball is usually rolled in chopped pecans, but I had an idea that it would be way more epic coated in a crunchy layer of smoky, roasted almonds. Holy deliciousness. The smoky almonds have so much flavor that they take the pimento cheese to a whole other level, it almost tastes like the cheese itself is smoked. Oh yeah. As good as it sounds.

Smokehouse Pimento Cheese Ball
 
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 8 oz. package neufchâtel cheese
  • 4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 t. worcestershire sauce
  • 1 t. soy sauce
  • 1 t. lemon juice
  • 3 T. chopped pimento peppers
  • ½ c. Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds
  • 1 box Blue Diamond Artisan Nut Thins (the Multi-Seeds flavor goes perfectly)
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the cheeses, worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, soy sauce, and pimento peppers until everything is well incorporated.
  2. Empty the mixture in one large lump onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Wrap it tightly in the plastic and form the mixture into a ball with your hands.
  3. Put the ball into the fridge for 2 hours (or the freezer for about 20 minutes) to harden a bit.
  4. Either hand chop the almonds or put them into the bowl of a food processor and chop finely. Transfer the chopped nuts to a shallow dish.
  5. Remove the cheese ball from the fridge/freezer and roll it around in the chopped nuts until it's completely coated on all sides.
  6. Return to the refrigerator until ready to eat. Serve with Nut Thins and your favorite vegetables!

A creamy pimento cheese ball rolled in smoky roasted almonds! #sponsored #GameChangingSnacks

You can use any type of cracker or vegetable that you want to serve the cheese ball with, but I would recommend Mutli-Seeds Nut Thins. I discovered Nut Thins a few months back and have been obsessed ever since, they’re quite addictive.

A creamy pimento cheese ball rolled in smoky roasted almonds! #sponsored #GameChangingSnacks

If you add this to your game day menu I can promise that people will come back for seconds! Now I have to figure out a way to stop myself from eating the whole ball…

-Lauren

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I wrote this post for Blue Diamond as a part of their Game Changing Snacks campaign. All opinions are my own. For more Game Changing Snacks, visit Blue Diamond Almonds on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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Homemade Nutella

Rich, velvety chocolate hazelnut spread that you can make at home!

I made this recipe for the first time over Christmas and it was pretty much love at first taste. I think most people love the flavor combination of chocolate and hazelnuts, but if you thought you liked Nutella JUST WAIT until you try this homemade version. Check out the video below where I show you how to make it!
 

And here’s the full recipe:

5.0 from 1 reviews
Homemade Nutella
 
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Author:
Ingredients
  • 1½ c. peeled hazlenuts
  • 1 c. milk chocolate chips, melted and cooled
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • ½ t. salt
  • 1 T. coconut oil
  • ½ c. powdered sugar
  • 2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
Instructions
  1. Toast hazlenuts in a 350 degree oven for a few minutes to toast. Set aside to cool.
  2. Blend the hazelnuts in the bowl of a food processor until the mixture becomes a spreadable consistency (should take around 5 minutes).
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and continue to process until everything is very smooth and creamy, scraping down the bowl a couple times as necessary.
  4. Can be stored on the counter if you plan to use it within a few days, otherwise it can be stored in the refrigerator up to a month.

Rich, velvety chocolate hazelnut spread that you can make at home!

If you really want a treat, spread a little of this on some toast along with your favorite nut butter…just heavenly. I cannot promise that you won’t eat the whole jar with a spoon before you have a chance to try that though. ;)

-Lauren

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I hope you all enjoyed your weekend! I had a nice relaxing one and it was great to have Jason home for the holiday yesterday. As many of you know, I posted a couple weeks ago that I’m going to be running a half marathon at the end of April! Since I’m not a super experienced runner, I knew I should get started training as soon as possible. Per the recommendation of a couple friends I decided to go with Hal Higdon’s training plan. His website has free plans for different race distances and different fitness levels, so I’m following the Novice 1 Program for the half marathon. It’s a 12-week plan, which means that I had to get started this past week! First thing I did was to make my own training calendar to actually fill in what I would be doing on what days and just to make it a little more colorful and interesting.

January Half Marathon Training

The first week was a little challenging because frankly I’m not in a regular exercise routine and I can’t even remember the last time I worked out more than once or twice a week (it was probably this past summer during the Tone It Up bikini series). So it was a little hard to get my butt up and get moving! I’ll be honest and say that I actually missed my Wednesday interval run because I was lazy. It’s an optional rest day on Hal’s plan so I think it’ll be hard to motivate myself to do it knowing that. BUT on the flip side of that, I ran out of time to run on Friday but instead of skipping it I went to the gym and hit the treadmill at midnight. A little crazy? Yes. But I’m determined not to let laziness/time management ruin me! No excuses.

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In terms of the actual workouts, I’m starting with a pretty low fitness base. Not so low that it’s dangerous for me to be attempting a race this length, but low enough that it’s going to kick my butt realllllyyy hard. It’s painfully obvious to me how weak my cardiovascular system is, and I’m really looking forward to getting stronger and being able to run without feeling completely exhausted and winded all the time.

running ecard

I also need to work on my breathing techniques! I feel like I’m breathing properly (at an efficient pace and from the belly), but apparently I’m not because I get SLAMMED with side stitches on every single run. Anyone who follows me on Twitter has probably noticed that I’m desperately seeking a solution.

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The way the training is mapped out you have one “long run” on the weekends and then shorter ones during the week. My first long run was on Sunday, and I was supposed to go 4 miles. I was actually blessed with a beautiful sunny day on Sunday so I ran down to the nature preserve near my house and had what was probably my best run yet! The scenery was so beautiful and serene and I was just feeling really good (next time I’ll remember to take photos!). A lot of it is unpaved routes through the woods so I got some trail running in, which I LOVE. I felt so good that I miscalculated my route and ended up doing 5 miles instead of 4! I was SHOCKED when I got home and realized, and I’m pretty pumped that I was able to go that far and not feel dead afterward. It gave me a glimmer of hope for the 13 miles ahead! Like I mentioned in my last post, I’m choosing to believe that I can do this.

This was a little long winded (I could talk forever about this!) but I hope that some of you enjoy these kinds of posts! This is a big part of my healthy lifestyle goals right now so I would like to keep writing here about my progress and my thoughts along the way.

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2-Minute Chili Oil

A super quick and easy recipe for homemade hot chili oil!

I’ve got a special guest post for you today! From none other than my honey bunches. He’s a spicy food FIEND and is here to share some of his spicy wisdom. I’ll let him take it away!

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Almost two years ago, I brought you a recipe for hot chili oil. That stove-top recipe, which I still use, takes about 15 minutes and makes a pretty large quantity of oil.  But sometimes you’re in a pinch and just need some chili oil right away.  As in, you’re preheating the pan for your stir fry and realize you don’t have any chili oil to sauté your vegetables in!  (Surely this happens to everybody???)  Well, ladies and gents, I have a fix for that: Two-Minute Chili Oil!  Yes, this is not exactly rocket science, but it makes a fantastic chili oil to use in a pinch.  I have used this recipe countless times to make a small quantity of super spicy chili oil almost immediately.

A super quick and easy recipe for homemade hot chili oil!

2-Minute Chili Oil
 
Author:
Serves: ¼ c. chili oil
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup oil (vegetable, canola, or peanut)
  • 1 tablespoon dried thai chili pods, crushed or broken (approximately 8 pods)
Instructions
  1. Pour oil into a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup tempered to withstand extremely high heat (i.e. Pyrex).
  2. Break, crush, or chop dried chili pods into small pieces, exposing inner membrane and seeds.
  3. Add broken chili pods to the oil and stir briefly so that the pods are not all floating on top of the oil but spread throughout.
  4. Microwave oil and chili pod mixture on power level 7 (or 70%) for 90 seconds.***
  5. CAREFULLY remove HOT oil from microwave using a potholder and put in a safe place (i.e. away from children and pets). CAUTION: Bowl or measuring cup will be HOT!
  6. Allow mixture to cool, leaving the chili pods in the oil and stirring occasionally.
  7. Enjoy!
Notes
Of course, you can alter the ratio of oil to chilis to suit your spice level. I like mine very potent and spicy. For a milder oil, use half a tablespoon of crushed pods. For an even spicier oil, use an extra half a tablespoon of chilis.

Tips and Warnings:

*** Some people advise against microwaving oil, as it can reach extremely high temperatures (over 300 degrees) in a very short amount of time.  Please be safe when attempting this recipe!  I always keep an eye on the oil when it’s in the microwave, and I never microwave more than 1/4 cup at a time.  As noted above, please only use a microwave safe bowl or measuring cup tempered to withstand extremely high heat (i.e. Pyrex).  Do not use anything that might melt or shatter! ***

 

I typically use a 1-cup Pyrex measuring cup, which gives you plenty of room to spare for stirring and also gives you a nice handle to grip onto with a potholder (note: even the handle will get extremely hot in the microwave).  You don’t want to use something too shallow, as the oil will be scalding hot and you don’t want to burn your fingers when removing it from the microwave.

You can break the chili pods in a variety of ways: break them up with your hands (caution: use gloves if you choose this method), chop them in a mini chopper/food processor of some sort, slice them with a paring knife, or even crush them with a mortar and pestle if they are brittle enough.  The goal is simply to break them up enough that the inner membrane containing the seeds is exposed to the oil during the heating and infusion process.  This will allow the oil to take on the full flavor and spice of the chilis.

A super quick and easy recipe for homemade hot chili oil!
You can use the oil as a topping or to sautee ingredients for other recipes.  You can also strain out the chili pods and seeds if you wish.  I leave mine in because I like to eat the pods.  Store in a cool dry place for up to a week, or in the refrigerator for up to a month.

A super quick and easy recipe for homemade hot chili oil!
I hope you find this recipe as useful and delicious as I have!  Thanks for reading.

-Jason

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Zucchini and carrot noodles in a sweet teriyaki sauce!

It’s Thursday which means time for my next cooking video! I got a spiralizer for Christmas and I’m IN LOVE with the zucchini noodles it makes so I thought it would be fun to do a recipe with them.


 

Teriyaki Zucchini Noodles (VIDEO!)
 
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Author:
Serves: 1-2
Ingredients
  • 3 large zucchinis
  • 1 small carrot (or half of a large carrot)
  • ¼ c. low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1½ T. mirin
  • ¼ t. garlic powder
  • 1 T. cornstarch + 1 T. water
  • 2 t. sesame seeds
Instructions
  1. Spiralize the zucchini and carrots to make thin noodles. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the soy sauce, honey, mirin, and garlic powder over medium heat until it simmers.
  3. Add in the cornstarch and water mixture, stir and simmer until the cornstarch dissolves and the sauce thickens.
  4. Remove from the heat and toss in the vegetable noodles until they are completely coated. If you prefer the noodles to be more cooked, sauté them in the sauce over low heat until the noodles soften.
  5. Sprinkle sesame seeds over noodles and enjoy!

If you haven’t tried zucchini noodles yet, you’re missing out! They are SO good with a simple tomato sauce too and I imagine would be awesome with pesto. So many possibilities!

Zucchini and carrot noodles in a sweet teriyaki sauce!

I hope you guys are enjoying the videos, there’s another one coming next week!

-Lauren

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A rainbow of fruits drizzled with a sweet and creamy limoncello dressing!

How is everyone doing with their healthy eating resolutions? I’m feeling good and still doing pretty well keeping things on track, but I’m trying to stay creative with my meals so that I don’t lose motivation. As you might know, I LOVE a good fruit salad as a healthy meal/side dish option. And this, my friends, is a REALLY good fruit salad.

A rainbow of fruits drizzled with a sweet and creamy limoncello dressing!

Of course you can use whatever fruit you like, it’s the dressing that’s really the crucial part here. If you aren’t familiar with limoncello, it’s an Italian lemon liqueur that has a million different uses but is incredible paired with fruit. I like to use it twice in this recipe, once to soak the fruit and again in the Greek yogurt based dressing. I used 0% fat Chobani to keep things light and healthy!

A rainbow of fruits drizzled with a sweet and creamy limoncello dressing!

Rainbow Fruit Salad with Creamy Limoncello Dressing
 
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Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 6 oz. raspberries
  • 6 oz. blackberries
  • 6 oz. drained mandarin orange slices
  • 2-3 kiwis, peeled and diced
  • 3 T. limoncello
  • ½ c. plain greek yogurt
  • 1 T. meyer lemon juice
  • 1 T. sweetener of choice (I've tried honey and powdered sugar, both work well)
Instructions
  1. Very gently toss all the fruit together with 1 T. of the limoncello. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 2 T. of limoncello, greek yogurt, lemon juice, and sweetener. Stir until the dressing is completely smooth.
  3. Remove the fruit mixture to a large serving bowl and drizzle with the dressing.
  4. You can garnish with mint leaves or some lemon zest. Serve and enjoy!

 

A rainbow of fruits drizzled with a sweet and creamy limoncello dressing!

If you can find Meyer lemons, they really are worth the purchase. Their juice is much sweeter and less bitter than a regular lemon, and they have beautiful golden rinds that make a wonderful garnish for the salad. This would make such a gorgeous healthy dessert, don’t you think? You could even serve it with a little chilled limoncello as a cordial on the side! I’ll be right over!

A rainbow of fruits drizzled with a sweet and creamy limoncello dressing!

Hope you enjoyed this, I’m having a lot of fun coming up with healthy recipes to start out this new year! See you tomorrow with a cooking video!

-Lauren

 

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superfood smoothie_

It’s my first recipe of the new year! Seems only fitting that I start out the new year with trying something fresh. My very FIRST cooking video!
 

 
Well, you can’t really call making a smoothie ‘cooking’, but you know what I mean. :) I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time and I really hope you guys like it! I’m a super awkward person (ask any of my girlfriends) so this isn’t the easiest thing for me, but I’ve had this feeling for a long time like video would be a way for me to take this site to the next level. I tried vlogging our daily lives and doing favorites videos and stuff but that wasn’t really feeling it 100%. I have a much better feeling about doing these kinds of videos! I’m planning to do one every week on Thursdays, and then sprinkle my usual posts in during other times of the week. Okay enough blabbering, here’s this super awesome nutrition packed smoothie that you should definitely try:

Superfood Pre-Workout Smoothie
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 c. frozen strawberries
  • ½ c. frozen blueberries
  • ¼ c. frozen guanabana
  • 1 packet frozen acai berry
  • 1 T. chia seeds
  • 1 ripe banana (I don't use a frozen one since the rest of the fruit is frozen)
  • 1 c. almond milk (or as much as you need to get to desired consistency)
Instructions
  1. Blend all the ingredients together and enjoy 1-2 hours before your workout!

I’ll need lots of these in the near future!

-Lauren

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The Running Bug?

This new year I’m resolving to share more parts of my life on this blog. I love recipe posts and photography, but this space started out as more of a journal for me and I’d like to think it still can be. Hopefully you don’t mind! I wanted to talk a little about one thing in my life that’s a bit of a change. I’ve been running!

runningshoeangle

I tried to get into running a few years back. I did the Couch to 5K program with my brother and ran a 5K in the summer of 2012. I thought the program was really great and I was happy with my 30ish minute time for being a brand new runner. Since it was a tiny race I even won 1st place in my age division!

After that I tried to keep things going by running on my own, but quickly realized that without a race to motivate me it just wasn’t going to happen. I didn’t find my everyday runs to be enjoyable at all, and the only thing I really looked forward to was crossing a finish line. So I signed up to do an 8K in the spring of 2013 in Washington D.C. (we were living in Virginia at the time about to graduate law school).

I ran that race with my friend Katherine (well not technically with her, she was like 8 waves ahead of me because I’m so slow, but we ran the same race) and had an awesome time. It was SUCH a scenic and surreal place to run a race and I was proud of myself for running 5 miles for the first time.

And then it was pretty much over. I kind of felt like I hit my maximum with the 8K and wasn’t confident that my body was really made to run. Fast forward to over a year later (several months ago), when I had just gotten sworn in and was in the thick of job searching (which I still am by the way). My exercise life was in a coma and with the career struggles I was facing I started feeling like I wanted to make a change and take better care of myself. I remember watching Youtube one night (which is how I spend most nights, let’s be honest) and seeing a guy documenting his experience running the New York City Marathon. He made the point that all those thousands of people didn’t have some kind of magical powers or superhuman strength that made their goal possible. They were all just people. Who decided they wanted to run a marathon. And the main thing stopping the ordinary person from accomplishing something like that is self-doubt. For some reason that really struck a chord with me and I thought to myself…YEAH. Why couldn’t I do it?! Why couldn’t I be one of those people, too? What’s really stopping me?

So that was when I decided to set my goal. I want to run a marathon!

But, bummer, that’s easier said than done. And since I let myself slide so much since I started running back in 2012, I’ve lost ANY progress that I had gained. So I started back at square one, working my way up to a half mile, then 1 mile, then 2, then now at 3 as my new regular run. I instagrammed this from the gym after a run last week (follow me on Instagram @adashofsoul):

photo-11

I don’t think I ever mentioned it here, but I (very slowly) ran a really fun 5K with a bunch of Tone It Up ladies last month to help get myself back on track. It was a Blacklight 5K, which is essentially a color run that happens at night. The powder they throw on you glows in the dark and makes the whole experience so weird but so fun. I had Jason take a picture under our backlight as soon as I got home. Don’t I look freaky??

blacklightrun-1

So what now?

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Well I have something to tell you. I’m running a half marathon in April!!! I feel slightly insane saying that because running 3 miles is still a challenge for me and I’m signing up to run 13.1 in just a few months. But ya know what…why not? Today I’m choosing to believe in myself. This is one thing in my life right now that I feel like I have control over accomplishing, and I’m going to do everything in my power to accomplish it. And I’m hoping that running the half will help me to accomplish the full marathon goal later in the year. I plan to take you on the journey with me and I hope you’ll follow along. Training starts next week!!!

-Lauren

 

 

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Holiday Whirlwind!

Wow, I can’t believe it’s officially 2015! I never even got to tell you how our holidays have been so I figured it was time for a quick catchup!

Since Jason’s parents were able to spend Thanksgiving with us, we decided to stay in town for Christmas this year instead of traveling up north. Which meant I got to spend another Christmas with my favorite little boy! In the morning Jason and I packed him up and headed to my parents house in our pajamas.

holidays2014-1

He got the hang of opening presents much faster this year and was very excited about all the treats and toys he was spoiled with! :D We all got spoiled! I got several new kitchen gadgets that I’m already loving like a spiralizer, hand mixer (my old one broke), and a NutriBullet! After opening presents we proceeded with the family tradition of a big Christmas breakfast eaten on our nice china.

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It was amazing as usual. Mom got some Quorn sausage patties for me and my brother David (he’s vegetarian too) and they were an amazing addition to the breakfast. The spread included waffles, scrambled eggs, bacon for the omnivores, fruit salad, grits, and orange juice.

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Fast forward a few days and my girlfriends Emily and KJ came into town to ring in the new year with us! This has kind of become an annual thing since neither of them live in Atlanta anymore and it’s our chance to all be together in our hometown again. They’re BOTH law students now but we all managed to unwind and leave our stress behind to enjoy ourselves.

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So New Year’s Eve we got all gussied up (Emily and I even convinced KJ to join us in donning fake eyelashes…muahahaha) and had some appetizers and bubbly at home before heading out on the town.

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The restaurant where we went was having an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet and bottomless champagne–definitely our kind of party! We all had a great time! Except for Cynewulf, who was freaking out because his separation anxiety has returned with a vengeance. Poor baby!

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On New Year’s day we all went to my parent’s house for the traditional southern menu of fried chicken (fried “chik’n” for me and David), greens, black eyed peas, rice, cornbread, and even peach cobbler for dessert! I stupidly forgot to bring my camera so you’ll have to use your imagination. It was an AWESOME meal.

The next day we threw a little shindig! I invited over a bunch of other girls from high school to catch up and have some small bites.

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Our complex has a really nice club lounge area so we had the party down there. I made cheese straw bites:

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Zucchini noodles with tomato sauce:

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Sweet Mint Grapefruit Salad:

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And Black and White Macarons for dessert (this time I used Nutella as the base for the filling):

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It was really nice to catch up with these ladies! Everyone is doing such cool things with their lives since we graduated. Our 10 year reunion is coming up next year, which I can hardly believe.

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And those were my holidays! Phew! I hope yours were awesome too!

-Lauren

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The Best of 2014

It’s that time of year again friends! I spent a little while looking back and picking out my best recipes from the past year. I put a lot of care into every recipe I post so it was hard to choose! These 10 are all mega winners in my book, and I’m so happy to share them with you again.

Creamy Cheddar-Herb Grits

Cheesy grits cooked with herbs

Luscious White Sangria

Luscious White Sangria | Turn an ordinary bottle of white wine into a luscious, fruity crowd pleaser with this simple recipe! | adashofsoul.com

Greek Yogurt Macaroni and Cheese

Creamy and delicious macaroni and cheese made with greek yogurt!

Black and White Macarons

Black and White Macarons

Cheddar Garlic Biscuits

The PERFECT brunch biscuit! Pillowy soft and filled with cheddar cheese and garlic flavor.

Teriyaki Tofu Bowl

Crispy seared tofu glazed with a deliciously sweet teriyaki sauce!

 

Tropical Bliss Açai Bowl

Sweet, vibrant, and full of flavor! This makes an AWESOME breakfast!

Fresh Blueberry Tart

A delicious summer tart filled with sweet cream and topped with fresh glazed blueberries!

Grilled Corn and Vidalia Onion Salad

A bright summer salad made with chargrilled corn, cherry tomatoes, and sweet Vidalia onions!

Brown Butter Toffee Bars

Shortbread cookie made with brown butter and topped with melted chocolate and nuts--so dreamy.

It’s been a great year for the blog! I feel like I’m finally hitting my stride with recipe development and that my photography is improving a lot. I can’t wait to see what next year has in store!

I hope you all have wonderful (and safe) New Year’s celebrations! My ladies are in town and we’re gonna hit the town to ring in 2015. :D HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

-Lauren

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