Hey y’all! Jennie and Corelyn are off adventuring on the east coast for Jennie’s wedding. While they’re gone, please enjoy some guest posts from our favorite bloggers.

This is a post from our friend Amanda who blogs over at LoveCreative Blog. She is, as the name suggests, creative, super fun, and is always game for a new feat. So it’s no surprise that she is writing to us about a new challenge that we here at GMS are excited about, too. We hope you enjoy, and follow Amanda on her blogging endeavors.

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Sunday Dinner Cooking Challenge | LoveCreative Blog for Garlic, my Soul

A typical summertime sunday dinner at my parent’s house. Lots of good food, laughter, and conversation.

Hello GMS readers! This is Amanda from LoveCreative Blog. I’m so happy to be here guest posting for you while Jennie is out getting hitched. She did the same for me when I got married last year, and it’s a pleasure to return the favor.

Like I said, my husband and I recently celebrated our one year anniversary. We just went out to dinner and browsed a local book shop—a favorite pastime of mine. He headed to business & finance, and I lingered in literature making an intimidatingly long book list. Before we left, we migrated to the cookbook section. This is where our passions find common ground browsing these big beautiful books. Inspiration struck while looking in the South East Asia section and I came up with a cooking challenge for our 2nd year of marriage.

Now first a side note: we didn’t have a challenge for the first year—besides learning how to merge our finances and legally change my name. That was hard enough. But the idea of the yearly challenge would be kind of like a new year’s resolution for our marriage. Something to work on as a couple that would be fun and grow us.

The wheels were turning as I thought about this aloud with Matt: what if we took the next 12 months and committed to cooking more? And cooking with flavors and ingredients from other cultures and parts of the world? It could be once a week, and we could trade off. Or maybe we could open our home and have a monthly dinner party!

The spark of inspiration had lit a fire and for the rest of the night we got excited talking about what we wanted to try to make and who we could collaborate with. The obvious choice was my parents who live only 15 minutes away and are great cooks. We usually eat Sunday dinner with them so at the following Sunday we invited them to join our challenge. They fanned the flame and we set up the guidelines. Here’s what we decided to do:

Every month we’re going to pick a theme. It could be around an ingredient, or a region of the world, or a type of cuisine. We’re going to try new recipes and ingredients and push ourselves to create a full meal (main course, sides, dessert and/or an appetizer). Everyone has to participate, but whoever is hosting should be responsible for the main dish.

Sunday Dinner Cooking Challenge | LoveCreative Blog for Garlic, my Soul

Look at all that food! Wine and burgers al fresco is definitely our style. Not to mention the sarong turned table cloth.

We’re going to get started this month with seafood and my mom already found her recipe: mussels with olives, tomatoes and mushrooms. For this theme side dishes and desserts obviously don’t have to include seafood, but should round out the meal. My husband Matt decided he wants to make Ahi Poke and I suggested a crab boil. It’s making me excited (and hungry) just thinking about it!

So what do you think of my cooking challenge? Does it inspire you to come up with something for your own family or circle of friends? Or maybe you have something similar going on? I’d love to hear about it! I’m also looking for recipes and theme suggestions!

Why wait until new years to make resolutions? I love taking birthdays, holidays, or even just Monday mornings to come up with a fun project or a personal goal. As always when trying new things, there are bound to be flops, but I betcha we’ll have more success stories than not. And really the most significant gain will be the culinary knowledge, learned techniques, new flavor combinations and cultural nuances that will stay with us for years to come. Not to mention some quality family time.

P.S. I’ve started a little online journal to record this adventure. Follow along here! If we get enough good recipes I’m thinking of putting together a little cookbook and giving it to the rest of our family as holiday presents. But first thing’s first—let’s just try and get through Seafood September.

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Hey y’all! Jennie and Corelyn are off adventuring on the east coast for Jennie’s wedding. While they’re gone, please enjoy some guest posts from our favorite bloggers.

This post is from our good pal Kate, who Jennie emailed to set up a blind blogger date with months ago and who was the brainchild behind our Summer Solstice party! Kate has chickens, a beautiful house, adorable dogs, and her personality is shiny, lovely, happy, just splendid. She also taught Jennie how to do her flowers for her wedding, something that Jennie will forever be thankful for! Check her out at Farmhouse38, and enjoy her post below.

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Farmhouse38 for GMS | Caramel Bourbon Cake

In addition to the Cranberry-Lemon Squares, I went a little crazy and also made this cake for ‘First Thanksgiving’ last year. There is just really not much better than a cake with booze in it, is there? No. No there just isn’t.

The Caramel Bourbon Sauce is really quite insanely good. This stuff would be so good in so many different applications, it makes my head hurt. But that may also just be my bourbon hangover.

Farmhouse38 for GMS | Caramel Bourbon Cake

Sauce ingredients:

–1 cup sugar
–1/4 cup water
–1/2 cup heavy cream
–1-1/2 tablespoons bourbon (come on, you know you want to) (PS: we like Woodford Reserve, although the Texan about had a heart attack when I was ‘squandering’ it for cooking purposes. It was worth it, I tell you. No regrets.)
–1/4 teaspoon of sea salt

To make:

–Simmer the sugar and the water over medium heat, constantly swirling the pan for anywhere between 10-15 minutes, until your sugar mixture has reached a nice amber color. Be real careful not to let it burn. It’s easy to do. Trust me.
–Remove from the heat and turn off the burner.
–Slowly add your cream, constantly stirring.
–Add bourbon and salt.
–Set the pan back on the turned-off burner and stir ingredients together for another minute or so.
–Transfer to a jar and let cool. Keep it in your fridge until you’re ready for it.

Cake/frosting ingredients:

(instructions are for a two-layer cake. I set out to make a four layer, so I doubled everything below…and then one of my layers bit the dust. So three it is. Three it is.)

For a two-layer cake:

–1-1/2 cups white sugar
–12 tablespoons softened butter
–3 eggs
–3 teaspoons vanilla extract
–2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
–2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
–1 teaspoon salt
–1-1/4 cups whole milk
–1 cup of Caramel Bourbon Sauce, cooled
–2 sticks softened unsalted butter
–4 cups powdered sugar
–2 tablespoons whole milk if your frosting is too dry

To make the cake:

–Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two (or four, whatevs) 8×8 round baking pans. Set aside.
–In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar. Beat the eggs in, one at a time, and then keep beating on high speed for approximately 3 minutes, or until the mixture is fluffy and pale in color. Add the vanilla and stir.
–Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt together.
–Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Try not to take out your pent-up aggressions on the batter by over-beating it. It did nothing to you.
–Pour the batter into the prepared pans evenly, smoothing the tops with the back of a spoon.
–Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.

To make the frosting:

–Cream the butter until smooth and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time and beat until well-combined. Add 1/3 cup of the Caramel Bourbon Sauce and beat until smooth and fluffy. Add 1-2 tablespoons of whole milk if your frosting seems a bit dry (mine did not).

Farmhouse38 for GMS | Caramel Bourbon Cake

Assembling the cake:

It all comes down to this. Take a deep breath.

Take your Caramel Bourbon Sauce out of the fridge awhile before you start the assembly. Warm the sauce a bit, if you need to, so that it isn’t too thick.

Place the first layer of the cake on a stand, and, using a fork, poke a whole buncha holes all over the top surface of the cake. Pour roughly 1/4 cup of the sauce across the surface of the hole-y cake, just enough to coat it well and soak in a bit. Top with a hefty layer of frosting.

Now place the second layer, and do the same with the poking and the pouring and the frosting-ing. Reserve the last little bit of sauce. When you are ready to serve, drizzle the cake with the remaining sauce, and sprinkle with sea salt. Dig the heck in.

**Cake recipe adapted from thebakerchick.com

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Hey y’all! You may or may not know, but Jennie is getting married this month, so as we ramp up for the wedding we’re winding down the cooking…but that doesn’t mean we’d leave you hanging! We’re starting a new Thursday post dedicated to oldies but goodies while we plan away the wedding – we hope you’ll forgive us! Here is an easy and fast weeknight dinner you can make using Asian noodles and whatever veg you have lying around – we hope you love it as much as we do!

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Let me tell you about my favorite quick and tasty weeknight dinner. Yakisoba noodles. You can find these in the cooler section of almost any supermarket in Los Angeles, but they are hard to find in the Eastern states. I missed these noodles so much while I was gone, that I sometimes wonder if they weren’t partially responsible for my decision to return…

I consider asian noodles to be one of my guilty pleasure foods. Let’s face it, the noodles alone don’t offer much nutrition. But they do make a scrumptious vehicle for my favorite vegetables, which usually means every vegetable I have in the house.

I get Maruchan’s fresh Yakisoba noodles and more or less follow their directions. I pre-cook my veggies for a few minutes – in this case, bell pepper, onion, and kale. Then, I set my veggies aside, cook the noodles for about 30 seconds in whatever oil is left in the pan, add 1/4 cup of water and the seasoning packet from the package, stir about 2 minutes until the noodles completely soften, then add everything back into the pan for final seasonings. The whole process takes less than 10 minutes, and dinner is ready to go.

For protein, I’ve added everything from tofu to steak. But if you’re in a hurry, just add a fried or scrambled egg to the mix. Dinner for two in ten minutes AND I get to indulge my love of asian noodle dishes. Yes, please!

How do you turn your guilty pleasure foods into nutritious meals?

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Paleo Cashew Pudding | Garlic, My Soul
This is a quick, tasty recipe when you’re hungry for dessert, whether you’re paleo, doing a Whole30 or just looking to make a dessert with whole foods. I’ve had this pudding recipe a la mode, and I’ve used it as a filler for crepes. I think it would also taste great in a paleo pie!

(If you’re looking to fill crepes, check out this crepe recipe from Stupideasypaleo.com).

*This recipe requires a food processor.

There’s only 6 ingredients!

Paleo Cashew Pudding | Garlic, My Soul

Ingredients:

1/4 cup roasted unsalted cashews
2-3 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
1 banana
1 apple
3-4 dates

*Serves 2-3 people

Directions:

1. Pour the roasted and unsalted cashews into food processor. Pulse.
2. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil at a time. Blend until creamy. (When it comes to making the cashew butter base, the key is to only add enough olive oil to get the creamy texture. If the olive oil taste overpowers the cashews, you’ve gone too far!)
3. Add salt to taste. Blend.
4. Cut up banana and add to the mixture. Blend.
5. Dice apple and add to mixture. Blend but it’s OK to leave apple chunks in the mix.
6. Cut up dates and use as garnish or mix in!
7. Enjoy!

Paleo Cashew Pudding | Garlic, My Soul

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Hey y’all! Jennie and Corelyn are off adventuring on the east coast for Jennie’s wedding. While they’re gone, please enjoy some guest posts from our favorite bloggers.

This post is from our friend Jessie, of Cake Spy, who we met when we were at the Bake for Good workshop weekend with King Arthur Flour! She is sweet, funny, and makes a mean dessert. We hope you’ll subscribe to her blog and love her posts as much as we do!

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Brown Sugar Ginger Pear Cake | Cake Spy, on Garlic, My Soul

With my first attempt at baking from the new book Seasonal Fruit Desserts by Deborah Madison, I managed to do something rather unlikely: I made a dessert which contained absolutely no fruit, seasonal or otherwise.

What I did, of course, was I flipped right to the back of the book where there is a section entitled “cakes to go with fruit”–and I chose the most rich and delicious-sounding one, the Brown Sugar-Ginger Cream Cake, which was described as having a “poundcake-like personality”. Sold! I baked it up, using part almond flour for fun (it made the texture slightly more coarse, I think, but not in such a bad way), and it came out beautifully.

But how to top it? Flipping to another section of the book, I came across a recipe for Candied Five-Spice Pecans, suggested as a great accompaniment to ripe pears; they sounded good, so I made a batch and put them on top of the cake, completely ignoring that pesky and vaguely healthy-sounding pear part. And oh, are they divine on top of the buttery, rich cake.

Brown Sugar Ginger Pear Cake | Cake Spy, on Garlic, My Soul

But ultimately I realized it wouldn’t necessarily be honoring the book’s, ah, entire mission, to not include fruit, so I sliced up a ripe Washington pear in a skillet with 2 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, stirring frequently over medium heat until the liquid had reduced and the pear had been battered into sweet, buttery submission.

And you know what? The fruit made it even better, and made me feel a whole lot better about eating it for breakfast (It has fruit! And nuts! It’s practically health food!)

Brown Sugar Ginger Pear Cake | Cake Spy, on Garlic, My Soul

Check out the recipe on Cake Spy. Let us know if you decided to make this and what you change if anything to make it even more divine!

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