Farmers’ Market Finds

During the summer, my mom has a booth for her bakery, Simply Sweets, at the Hitching Lot Farmers’ Market in Columbus, Mississippi. She sells cinnamon rolls, cheddar and chive biscuits, breads, cakes, fried pies, brownies, and lots of other baked goods there every Saturday.

Last Saturday, Jack and I went to the market with her and had a great time walking around and checking out all the vendors.

A lot of the produce is still not ready, but there were still some really neat vendors and products available. Here are some of my favorite items from the weekend:

This waffle from J. Broussard’s restaurant’s booth was so good. The chef made the waffles to order and topped them with this strawberry sauce made with fresh strawberries from a vendor at the market. It was what Saturday breakfast dreams are made of.

I also got this natural laundry detergent from Gnome Clean, which is local to Columbus. I got the lemongrass scent for Jeff’s and my clothes and the lavender scent for Jack’s clothes and our linens. I tried the lemongrass scent last night and it smells really good. It seemed to clean our clothes really well, and it just takes 1/2 tablespoon of the powder per load!

I got these fresh strawberries and muscadine jelly from Mayhew Tomato Farm.

This is strawberry, cucumber, and mint water and a carrot ginger shot (which was super spicy!) from Destined Strength.

I got this vanilla syrup for Jeff’s coffee from Three Sisters Pie Company.

I also got some green chile sauce and some black bean hummus for Jeff. I ended up with a pretty big haul, which is why Jeff is glad that I don’t go to the farmers’ market every week.

Jack also enjoyed some spoiling from Mamaw Gibson while we were there, too.

Do you have a local farmers’ market? What’s your favorite thing to buy there?

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Blueberry Muffin Oatmeal

I love starting the day with a bowl of oatmeal. It’s hearty and filling, and with the right toppings and mix-ins, it can be a really tasty treat. I used to always eat my oatmeal with lots of brown sugar and bananas, but I’m trying to cut down on added sugar in my diet, so lately I’ve been trying to create oatmeal recipes with little to no added sugar. This recipe tastes like a blueberry muffin and is sweetened with fruit and a little drizzle of honey. It will be one of my favorites this summer, for sure.

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  • Bring 1 cup of water to boil and add in the oatmeal.
  • Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 7-8 minutes.
  • When oatmeal is almost done, add 1/2 mashed banana and the blueberries to the oatmeal mixture.
  • Stir well to incorporate fruit and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, until oatmeal has reached your desired consistency.
  • Top with 1/2 sliced banana, a few more blueberries, chopped walnuts, and a drizzle of honey.

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Mason Jar Chocolate Cake Sundaes

Is there any combo that’s better than chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream? These little mason jar sundaes combine those two things into an easy, ready to eat, single serving dessert that you can always have in the freezer.

On a non-food related note, Jeff got me a camera for Mother’s Day and let me open it early, so I’ve been playing with it for a few days. These pictures are my first attempt at actual food photography with a real camera instead of my iPhone, and I’m pretty happy with how they turned out! I can’t wait to have more time to play and learn more about my new camera and food photography.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of German chocolate cake mix
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 eggs
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • 8 half pint mason jars and lids

Instructions:

  • Prepare the chocolate cake according to the directions on the box and scoop into cupcake tins. Bake for about 15 minutes and then allow to cool.
  • One chocolate cupcakes are cooled, place one cupcake in the bottom of each mason jar.
  • Spoon in one scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of each cupcake, then top with chocolate chips and chocolate syrup.
  • Repeat layering process one more time to fill each jar.
  • Screw on the lids and store in the freezer.

That’s it! This is such an easy dessert to make, but they are so good! I especially love the mini chocolate chips because they give the sundaes a nice little crunch when you grab them straight out of the freezer.

These are perfect for parties because they are already divided into single servings, or they’re great to just have in the freezer as a treat. Since they’re stored in mason jars, they’re also resealable for when you just want to enjoy a bite or two and save the rest for later.

You can also customize these with whatever cake and ice cream flavors and toppings you like.

Enjoy!

Summer Bucket List

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Jack and I are loving the weather and that the days are longer now. We met Jeff downtown for sushi last night and I snapped this picture of Jack in the park while we were waiting for Jeff to get off work.

There are only three more weeks left in this school year, and then I will have two glorious months to stay home with Jack and spend all my time with him. We’ve got a few trips with family planned for this summer already, and I want to make sure that we do lots of fun things while I’m off work, so I’m working on a bucket list of things we can do that are cheap (or free!) and local. If you have any suggestions for fun things to do with a one-year-old in Tuscaloosa or Birmingham, let me know!

Our Summer Bucket List

  • Trip to Arkansas with Mamaw and Pop Pop
  • Trip to Georgia with Grandma Ellen, Aunt Beth, Uncle Stephen, and Zachary
  • Visit the Birmingham Zoo
  • Visit the Tuscaloosa Barnyard Petting Zoo
  • Paint something together at All Fired Up
  • Hike at Lake Lurleen
  • Go swimming
  • Explore the River Walk
  • Host Jack’s First Birthday Party!
  • Visit the Library
  • Build a fort
  • Camp in a tent at Lake Lurleen
  • Have a picnic at the park
  • Spend the day with Mamaw at the Farmers’ Market

Shrimp and Grits

April was the busiest month ever and it seemed like most nights we either grabbed some fast food or ate sandwiches for dinner. On Monday night, I was craving something really good, and when I ran by the grocery store, they had frozen, pre-cooked shrimp on a BOGO sale. I grabbed a couple bags and decided to make shrimp and grits. Because I used the pre-cooked shrimp, this meal came together in less than 10 minutes and it was probably the best meal we’ve had all month.

Here’s how to make it:

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag frozen, pre-cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined (I got the kind with the tails on, which Jeff didn’t like, so next time I’ll get the kind with the tails removed)
  • 1 tablespoon of your favorite Cajun seasoning
  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup quick cook grits
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 stick butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (plus an extra splash for the grits)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Dried or fresh chives, for garnish

Instructions:

  • Rinse the frozen, pre-cooked shrimp under cool water in a colander to remove the ice glaze and start to thaw the shrimp. Once the shrimp are thawed and rinsed, put them in a large mixing bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of your favorite Cajun seasoning. Set aside.
  • Pour the water and milk into a medium saucepan and heat over high heat. Add 1/4 stick of butter and salt and pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon of each).
  • When the water and milk are almost boiling, add 1/2 cup of grits and whisk together well (I prefer using a flat whisk like this one). Reduce heat and simmer with the lid on for 5 – 7 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the grits from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  • While the grits are cooking, melt 1/2 stick of butter in a medium skillet over high heat. When the butter is melted, add the shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes, until the shrimp is heated through.
  • Add 1/4 cup of heavy cream to the butter and shrimp and stir well. Reduce heat and simmer until the grits are done.
  • When the grits are cooked to the consistency you like, add 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese and a dash of heavy cream to the grits and stir well.
  • Scoop the grits into a bowl and top with the shrimp. Pour the sauce over the shrimp and grits and garnish with dried or fresh chives.

I served this with store-bought Texas toast, and it was really good. I just let the toast brown in the oven while I was cooking on the stovetop and everything was done and ready to plate in less than 10 minutes.

Month in Review

Y’all, where did April go? This month has flown by. It’s the end of the school year, so things are crazy at work right now and we’ve been equally busy at home, so there hasn’t been much time for me to try new recipes lately, but I wanted to show you what we have been up to!

This month started with Easter. Jeff had to work, so Jack and I went to my parents’ house to spend the day with them. We went to church with my grandparents at Springfield (the church where I grew up) and got to see lots of old family friends that we don’t see often. Jack really enjoyed all the attention he got and he loved playing with the tissue paper in the present Mamaw and Papaw got for him.

Jack learned to pull up a few days after Easter and has been constantly pulling up on everything and experimenting with letting go of his support every now and then. He especially loves to pull up in his crib and pack-n-play. He’s very proud of himself when he does it and always laughs and grins so big.

Despite the fact that Jack had a bad ear infection this month, we were able to do some fun stuff with him on the weekends. We spent one Saturday in Calera at the Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum’s Day out with Thomas. We met Jeff’s mom, sister and brother-in-law, and nephew there and spent the morning and early afternoon doing all kinds of fun activities. Jack loved the train ride and watching all the big kids do the activities. He’ll be old enough to really enjoy it big time next year.

Last week, Jack had his 9 month check up. I took the day off to take him, and once we got finished at the doctor’s office, we met Jeff for lunch and then went home and played. It made me even more ready for school to hurry up and get out so that I can spend more time with Jack. I can’t wait for this summer when we’ll be able to do all sorts of fun stuff while I’m off work.

This weekend, we spent Saturday with my mom and made sugar cookies for Jack’s teachers. They turned out really cute! I think they’re going to enjoy them. Mama and Daddy put up a swing for Jack on their front porch, so I got to see him swing, which he loves. On Sunday, we spent the entire afternoon in town after church and Jack loved getting to be outside. He kicked back in his stroller and had the best time while Jeff and I had a late lunch outside at Billy’s Sports Grill in downtown Northport.

April was fun! Now we’re ready for May, the end of school, and some fun summertime adventures!

Chicken Pot Pie Noodle Bake

This recipe actually resulted from an accident. I planned on making a chicken pot pie for dinner and had already started making the filling when I realized that I didn’t have any pie crusts in the fridge. I added some egg noodles to my chicken mixture, planning to make chicken soup, but then my husband called and said he wanted something really hearty for dinner because he was starving. Soup does not fit into his definition of hearty, so I thickened it up, poured it into a casserole dish, topped it with crackers, stuck it in the oven and hoped for the best. It turned out really good and I’ve made it a few more times since then for an easy weeknight dinner.

Here’s the recipe:

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, corn)
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 bag egg noodles
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 2 sleeves butter crackers
  • 1/2 stick butter or margarine

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Place chicken breasts in water in a large pot with spices and bring to a boil. Turn down to medium heat, cover, and cook until chicken is done.
  • Remove chicken breasts and bay leaves from broth. Shred chicken breasts and return to the broth.
  • Add the bag of frozen vegetables and bring to a boil.
  • When the mixture is boiling, add half a bag of egg noodles.
  • Boil for 7-10 minutes (until the egg noodles are done).
  • Reduce heat to low.
  • Mix 1/2 cup of milk with 1 cup of self-rising flour in a large measuring cup. Whisk well so there are no lumps.
  • Pour milk and flour mixture into the chicken and noodle mixture and stir well.
  • Cook on low heat for about 3 to 4 minutes, until mixture starts to thicken.
  • Grease a 9×13 casserole dish with butter or margarine. Spoon in chicken and noodle mixture and spread evenly in the pan.
  • Melt 1/2 stick of butter in the microwave in a mixing bowl. Crush 2 sleeves of crackers into the melted butter and stir well.
  • Pour crackers over the noodle mixture and then sprinkle about a tablespoon of parsley on top.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until cracker crust is golden brown.