Thrifty Thursdays: Chipotle BBQ Veggie Pizza

Indeed, there's nothing like fresh, made-from-scratch pizza dough, but this Thrifty Thursday I cheated by buying ours pre-made (but still fresh!) at Whole Foods... so if you're crunched for time or energy, I highly recommend skipping the kneading-yeasting-rising part of your pizza process. (no judgement here).

So put the beer in the fridge, preheat that oven, pick out a movie you've been meaning to watch for a while, and bring the mouth-watering, belly-filling goodness of gourmet pizza to the comfort of your own couch!

Chipotle~BBQ Veggie Pizza
$8 for 14'' round / 8 slices 

Pizza dough (pre-made is on the refrigerated deli aisle at W.F. for $2.99)
- feelin' kneady? here's a simple dough recipe or gluten-free -
1c red bell pepper, diced
1c green bell pepper, diced
1c red onion, diced
1c cremini/white mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed 
1/4c cilantro, chopped
2 stalks green onion, sliced
1c mozzarella, shredded
1c asiago (or pepper jack) shredded
1c BBQ sauce
2 tbsp butter, melted
1tbsp 'chipotle' seasoning (chili, cumin, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper)

1. Preheat oven to 375'. Let dough come to room temperature, turn out onto floured working surface/pizza stone. Using your hands or a rolling pin, form dough into approx. 14'' round (or oval if you're baking on a cookie sheet), forming crust to desired thickness.
** if using a cookie sheet, 'grease' with olive oil prior to placing dough on it.
2. Add chipotle seasoning to melted butter, spread over dough using a 'brush' or underside of a spoon- taking care to cover edges completely.
3. Generously spread BBQ sauce in a similar fashion, leaving about 1'' of crust bare.
4. Top evenly with bell peppers, red onion, mushrooms, garlic. Add mozzarella and asiago/pepperjack cheese.
5. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crust is golden brown, cheese is melty, and bottom is crispy. 
6. Top with cilantro and green onion. Enjoy with a medium ale or Mexican cerveza! 

you'll never settle, or pay, for delivery again! 


Kiss Me, I'm Kiwi!

Not only has this little collection of cute & colorful finds arrived just in time for St. Patrick's Day but it has also been inspired by our upcoming adventure to the land down under! That's right mates, today's a 'lucky' day for all things... 


Oops... sorry cute lil guy, I didn't mean the bird kind...

...but the juicy, yummy, fruity kind (and all it's other delightful manifestations)! There seems to be no lovelier shade of this lively hue- after all green is the color of new life. From the Old English word "growan", it's name literally means "to grow", in reference to plants or the ocean. Take a peak at a few of the ways this chloro-filled palette makes a grand entrance in some everyday goodies! 
(Just don't forget to wear a little kiwi-accessory of your own... or those pesky pincher's will find ya!)

Happy St. Patrick's Day, Everyone!!!

(and a lovely lil' birthday to yours truly, indeed!) 

*gluten-free* Apricot & Almond Tart

Here's a tasty recipe for a sweet and crumbly Apricot & Almond Tart that I improvised this morning. I had seen a similar idea in one of my fave cookbooks, but it is currently at a friend's house, so I put my photographic memory, and a healthy dose of creativity, to the test and gave it a whirl! It came out pretty darn delicious and the best part is: It's totally Gluten-Free!! That's right, wheat-o-phobics, this one's just for you!

This was my very first attempt at making a gluten-free treat...but, at this rate, it won't be my last! Perfect for breakfast, brunch, or bringin' to a friend's house! So get on this and enjoy, leavin' no crumb left behind!

*gluten free* Apricot & Almond Tart

1c sliced almonds, finely ground (plus more for topping)
1/2c corn flour
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2c butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp heavy cream
pinch of salt
powdered sugar for topping
1 can (15oz) apricot halves in light syrup/ fruit juice

1. In a large bowl, whisk together almond 'flour', corn flour, eggs, butter, vanilla, honey, sugar, and salt.
2. Mix until smooth, pour into a buttered/oiled round pie pan.
3. Arrange apricots on top, pushing down so just their tops are exposed
4. Mix heavy cream with a 1/2tsp each butter, honey, vanilla, almond 'flour'. Microwave for 10-20 seconds until melted, and pour over entire tart. Top with sliced almonds.
5. Bake at 350' for 50-60minutes until edges are nice and brown and a knife in the middle comes out clean.
6. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm with a fresh cup of coffee and a little whipped cream if your 'tart' desires!

my favorite trick for finely grinding nuts, spices, etc is to use a coffee-grinder! Quick, simple, easy clean up.

happy tart = happy heart!


Monday's Music to My Ears: You & Me

Wanna pack your bags, Something small 
Take what you need and we disappear 
Without a trace we'll be gone, gone 
The moon and the stars can follow the car 
and then when we get to the ocean 
We gonna take a boat to the end of the world 
All the way to the end of the world. 
~Dave Matthews, "You and Me"

Dan and I are preparing for our 10-day journey to the end of the world- or at least, what seems like it- to the beautiful land of New Zealand!! We are going to be in Auckland for the wedding of two of our sweet friends, Teresa and Michael, and then we'll trek along the East Coast of the North Island for a week in a snazzy camper van. Words cannot contain our excitement that has been building for the past few months as we have poured over the travel books we picked up at the library and page after page of websites, creating what we believe is the 'perfect itinerary'. We (...well, just me) have come up with a list of places to go, where to stay, what to eat, things to do, and how to get around. We've skyped with T & M and grilled other friends that have traveled throughout NZ  for their ideas and recommendations. It's going to be incredible!

But in all of the fuss and rush to get things in order, I feel a bit guilty for losing track of the most important detail of all: the fact that I get to share this amazing experience with my best friend and soul mate! The past year of our marriage has been the most challenging, revealing, humbling, passionate, and transforming time of our lives. After everything we have been through so far, I truly believe that -by God's grace- we can endure anything as long as we have each other.

One thing that this year has taught me is whether we are flying together to the other side of the world or driving aimlessly in our own neck of the woods, every day is a chance for us to make memories and cherish our time together. This trip is just another opportunity for us to simply enjoy each other's company and savor every second of our all of our adventures, big and small. 
 "You and me, together, we can do anything baby!"


Chewy White Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

Last weekend some incredible friends of mine, and their amazing children, hosted a bake sale at their store in Boulder where I used to work. They were hoping to raise money to feed the 25 lions that were rescued from a Bolivian circus and brought to an animal sanctuary in Colorado. Baked goods and animal welfare are two things that are dear to my heart, so naturally, I jumped at the chance to help out!

 I turned to a tried-and-true favorite treat of mine: Chewy White Chocolate Coconut Macaroons. Quick, easy, inexpensive, delicious, and portable- these cuties are sure to please! Enjoy!

(p.s. They raised $700 at the bake sale!!! And even at a buck-a-piece these lil' Mac's went flying off the table!! but it is Boulder, after all.)

1 can condensed milk
1 package (5.5 cups) sweetened shredded coconut
1 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1c white chocolate chips
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/2c maraschino cherries, chopped (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 and line cookie sheet(s) with parchment paper
2. In a large bowl, mix coconut, flour, and salt. 
3. While mixing evenly (with a mixer or wooden spoon) slowly add condensed milk and vanilla. (if opting for cherries, add during this step)
4. Mix well, using your hands, until completely blended. 
5. Use an ice-cream scoop or a tablespoon to form mix into balls and place on parchment paper.
6. Bake for approx. 15 mins, until crispy-golden on all sides
7. For the topping: mix white chocolate chips and vegetable oil in a microwaveable dish. Heat for 30 sec., stir well, repeat until smooth and completely melted. Using a fork, drizzle across each macaroon.*
* Allow to completely dry/harden before removing from parchment paper. 

mmm, mmm, mmmmmmmm!!


Stop and see the roses

Simply sweet, soft, shy shades of pretty, pale pink caught my eye this week. 
While walking around the neighborhood, I've noticed the first few signs of new life as we are nearing the official start of Spring. Tiny pink buds are forming on barren branches and little curly sprouts are pushing their way out of the earth. I have even seen the first clusters of honey bees anxiously buzzing around, waiting to get back to work for their queen. Spring is a time of new beginnings and fresh starts, and a sweet reminder that life endures. Just when we feel like we can't stand another day of Winter and we are desperate for a sign of hope, Spring gently reveals herself in subtle ways that we can easily overlook if we're not careful. This collection is inspired by the sweetest palette of dusty, rosey, whisper pinks that have worked their way into pieces of everyday life.
This afternoon I encourage you to simply stop, smell the roses, and see if you can spy hints of Spring where you least expect them to be!



Thrifty Thursdays: Fire Roasted Tortilla Soup & Crispy Sweet Cornbread

Thrifty Thursday's: budget friendly tips for making, baking, creating, and decorating to your coastal/country heart's content!

After that gorgeous weather I couldn't get enough of last week, we had a string of gloomy, chilly days (I guess it is still winter afterall!) which put me in the mood for a toasty night "in" and meal that would warm your heart and soul. So this Thrifty Thursday I thought I would share a delicious recipe for a favorite cold-weather, comfort-feast! One bite and you'll think you're at a little cantina on the Mexican Riviera... a Rodrigo y Gabriela Pandora playlist doesn't hurt either! Ole!!

Fire~Roasted Tortilla Soup:
$10 for 6 servings (perfect for leftovers!)

1  32oz carton vegetable broth
1/2  red bell pepper, chopped
1/2  small white onion, chopped
2 stalks green onion, chopped
2  cloves garlic, minced
2  4oz. cans Hatch "fire-roasted" green chilies
1/2  11oz can whole kernel corn
1  28oz can crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 avocado, diced
shredded cheddar cheese, crushed tortilla chips, chopped cilantro for topping (optional)
salt, pepper to taste

1. Heat the oil in a large pot, add cumin/chili/cayenne seasoning, mix in bell pepper, onions, garlic stirring evenly for about 5 minutes
2. Add tomatoes, chilies, vegetable broth, salt & pepper
3. Simmer on low heat for 30-40 minutes, add corn when there's about 10 minutes left
4. Top with cheese, chips, and diced avocado and serve.

Crispy Cornbread:
$4 for 6-9 squares

1 c whole-grain cornmeal flour (or super fine cornmeal... it should look like flour, not grits).
1.5 c flour
1 c milk
2 eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 c sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp honey
1/2 c butter

1. Using a mixer/ in a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, honey
2. In two separate smaller bowls, combine eggs and milk  and combine cornmeal, flour, salt, and baking powder.
3. With the mixer on, slowly add the mixtures from the small bowls to the large one, alternating between wet/dry mix
4. Pour into a 9x9 square pan, bake at 400 for 25-30 mins until crispy golden on top, and a knife in the middle comes out clean.


Monday's Music to My Ears: Foggy Mountain Top

This Monday's Music to My Ears is inspired by my day dreamin' journey for the perfect little farmhouse, far and away on a rolling green hill somewhere, with a wrap-around porch that we'll sit on and look out at the mountains or pastures all around us. While we were rambling around in the countryside Saturday afternoon, we noticed that the snowy peaks of the mountains were covered by low-drifting clouds- a peculiar thing for Colorado's usual sunshine-and-clear-blue-skies weather- which made them seem so whimsical and dreamy. It reminded me of one of my favorite old bluegrass songs- Foggy Mountain Top. I don't think there's another genre of music out there that captures the true essence of America's roots like good ol' Bluegrass. It's pure and simple and just plain fun! If you are a fellow lover of "A Mighty Wind", one of my all-time favorite movies, you'll love this great rendition of "Foggy Mountain Top". Yeehaw!


If I had a farmhouse...

Yesterday afternoon Dan and I spent a few hours driving through the uncharted territory at the northernmost edge of Boulder County... aka the settlements known as Longmont, Berthoud, and Hygiene, Colorado. Aside from having three of the most unattractive names in the entire Rocky Mountain region... (Colorado seems to have a knack for that... )... we were really surprised to find both quaint, historic neighborhoods with wide, tree-lined streets and Victorian bungalows and sprawling countryside estates, complete with picket fences and charming barns. Needless to say... we were awestruck! Our heartstrings were singing symphonies! At every turn we would each point out opposite windows and shout over one another: "look at that one!", "look at that barn!", "Look! Horses!!".

We had no map, no agenda, no destination- we would just wind our way up and down the streets or set off in a general direction, turning down dirt roads as we came upon them. Our mini adventure did nothing to stop our imaginations from running wild and everything to affirm the desire in our hearts to one day have a cottage on a little bit of land- nothing big and fancy, just enough space for us to have a vegetable garden, a porch that we can watch thunderstorms from, a little barn for our menagerie of animals and a garage where Dan can do boy things like build furniture and change the oil in our cars.

 I get lost daydreaming about our future homes- one day I could have my heart set on living by the beach in a 800sq ft bungalow on a hill, near a bustling part of town with the best bakery and sushi restaurant within walking distance. The next day, I can picture us in an old ranch home on a couple acres of land in the middle of nowhere with unobstructed views of the mountains. I dream of living all over the world and trying new things- seeing what makes tiny towns and busy cities so unique. Dan always teases me when I present him with a new idea of 'something I'd love in our house someday' by asking, "Is this for the house we live in now, or our beach house, or our ranch house, or is this for the grass hut in Mexico where we'll drink smoothies and eat fish tacos all day?". Well, Dan, and everyone else reading... to answer the question: these are just a few of my favorite ideas for that little farmhouse that we just may, one day, call our own. Enjoy!

(I've been collecting these photos for literally the past few years so I don't have the exact websites for them, but if you happen to see something of yours- let me know...and I'll let you know how much I love it!)