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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

{Holiday Tradition -The Lucky Foods }

Traditions, what would the holiday season be without them?  A tradition is a tradition no matter how big or small. Christmas Eve without my mom's Chicken Wild Rice soup after the evening church service just wouldn't be the same.   And even though my sister and I are fully grown we still insist on my dad reading The Night Before Christmas before bed on Christmas eve.  Yes, some traditions we will never out grow.  

  Traditions make the holiday season extra special. 

And just because Christmas is over doesn't mean that the Holiday traditions stop!  Ever since I can remember my mom and dad have prepared the same New Years day feast.  So what do we feast on New Years Day?  Well my parents make pork, black eyed peas, and purple cabbage!    Why these foods?  Well, because these 3 simple foods were believed to bring you good fortune in the upcoming New Year!  I guess you could call them "Lucky" foods!  Cabbage represents financial prosperity, pork  represent progress and the moving forward into the new year, and black eyed peas represent luck and prosperity (source, source). 

I can remember being small and rolling my eyes at the thought of eating purple cabbage on New Years day!  The sight of the vegetable made me wrinkle my nose.  I may have also thought my parents were crazy for this "Lucky" food tradition that we would partake in every New Years Day!  But a tradition is a tradition and as I got older I began to love our New Years Day feast (minus the pork now).  And if you ask me, New Years Day wouldn't be the same without these three "Lucky" foods!  

Caraway Seed Purple Cabbage with Apples and Onions
Recipe from my Mom 
Serves 6 

1 Large Head Purple Cabbage - Finely Shredded
1 Spanish Onion - Thinly Sliced 
2 Apples Peeled and Thinly Sliced (Granny Smith are delicious) 
1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar 
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter 
1/2 Cup Chicken Broth 
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar 
1/2 Tsp. Salt
2 Tsp. Caraway Seed
1/2 Tsp. Fresh Ground Black Pepper 

1- In a large bowl combine shredded cabbage, salt, and red wine vinegar.  Mix and let stand for 5 minutes. 
2- In a large skillet melt butter.  Add cabbage and turn 2-3 times.  
3- Stir in Onions, Apple, Caraway Seed, Chicken Broth, Brown Sugar and Pepper. 
4- Reduce heat to low and cover skillet.  Cook cabbage on low for an hour until cabbage is tender.  Best served warm! 

Best of luck in the upcoming New Year!  Enjoy

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry and Bright

The Holiday season is by far one of my most favorite times of the year! What I love most is the emphasis on good quality family time, the joy of making new memories, spending time with loved ones, the hustle and bustle of the kitchen but most of all I love the spirit of the Holidays!  I feel so blessed this year to be surrounded by so many amazing people and for the many blessings I have been given in my life! 

(love this crazy bunch of people)

So, as the business begins I simply want to say...
Merry Christmas to you all and Happy Holidays!  May your Holiday season be filled with joy, loved ones and new memories! 

Monday, December 23, 2013

{Banana Oatmeal with Lemon Blackberry Compote}

I seem to have an "on again, off again" relationship with oatmeal.  And my oatmeal relationship is "on again" in full force!

However, this time around my oatmeal isn't overloaded with peanut butter and bananas.  No,  I am taking a much simpler approach to how I top my morning oatmeal now.  A simple drizzle of honey with cinnamon and bananas, fresh berries with cinnamon and brown sugar or my new favorite a delicious fruit compote like the one I am about to share with you.   

Banana Oatmeal with Lemon Blackberry Compote for One
** This recipe could easily be doubled! 

1/2 Cup Rolled Oates ** Not quick cooking oats.  I liked Trader Joe's Brand
1/2 Cup Milk of Choice (I used unsweetened Almond Milk) 
1/2 Banana Sliced Thin
1/3 Cup Blackberries 
1/2-1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar - Depending on how sweet you want your compote
1 Tbs Lemon Juice
4 Tbs Water 

1- Cook oats in milk on the stove top per package instructions.  Add in your thinly sliced banana towards the end when there is just a little milk left. 
2- While oats are cooking (they take about 20 minutes) add your blackberries, lemon juice, water and brown sugar to a small saucepan.  As the blackberries begin to cook lightly mash them to release more of their juice.  Bring your blackberry mixture to boil stirring constantly.  Once your blackberry mixture is boiling reduce to a simmer and continue cooking/stirring until you have reduced the liquid by half. 
3- Place oats in a bowl and top with your fresh blackberry compote. 
4- Serve with additional milk and sprinkle of cinnamon if desired.  

Check out these other delicious oatmeal recipes! 

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!  

Thursday, December 19, 2013

{Banana Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars}

That name is a mouthful but I promise that these bars are the bees knees!  These bars show off my love for the classic food combination, Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Bananas!  Can you ever go wrong with that combination?  I don't think you can!  I remember eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches as a little kid, and still one of my go to snacks is peanut butter covered banana with mini chocolate chips!  Perfection, oh its the little things in life that make me happy!

Do you want to know another great thing about these bars?  You only need 6 simple ingredients, many of which I bet you already have on hand!  They take little to no time to bake, and they leave your home smelling of fresh baked goodness!

Have I sold you yet on making these bars?   You better walk no run to your kitchen to make these bars pronto!  Do it now, please!

Banana Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars
16 Bars or more depending on how you cut them! 


2 Cups Rolled Oats
2 Ripe Bananas mashed with a fork
1 Egg
1 Cup Peanut Butter (I used Natural Jiff)
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 Cup Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar

 1- Combine peanut butter and brown sugar in a large bowl and use a hand mixer to beat ingredients together.
2- Add in your mashed banana and egg and beat once more with hand mixer until well combined.
3- In a seperate bowl stir together your oats and baking soda.
4- Slowly add oat mixture to banana mixture and stir with wooden spoon till well combined.
5- Mix in your chocolate chips.
6- Pour batter into a greased 8x8 pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 min or until bars are golden brown and middle is not jiggly!


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Drum Roll Please...

And the winner of the first ever Brunch and Cupcakes giveaway is...

#2 Brianna Hope! 
Congrats on winning your copy of he Unforgettable Photograph, 228 Ideas, Tips and Secrets for Taking the Best Pictures of Your Life


Monday, December 16, 2013

Happy Birthday To...

Happy Birthday to the most amazing Dad a girl could ask for! 

To the dad that has encouraged me to be the best version of myself, who taught me all about cooking  (and yes grill in the rain) and who continues to encourage me to go after my dreams. Thank you for being my role model, my biggest supporter, and my shoulder to cry on. 

Thank you for teaching us that anything is possible with a little hard work and determination and for modeling that throughout our lives. I have put you through a lot over the year, but I wouldn't be the person I am today without you!

 I love you daddy, Happy Birthday!

{Comfort Food - Veggie Packed Penne with Spicy Chicken Sausage}

Piping hot chocolate piled sky high with whipped cream, heaping bowls of veggie packed chili and steamy plates of good old spaghetti.  These are a few of the foods I crave on a cold December day!   I reach for dishes like these that are comforting, yet healthy during these long cold winter months! 

Doesn't that look delicious?  Want to learn how to make it? 

Veggie Packed Penne with Spicy Chicken Sausage:

1 Box Whole Wheat Penne Pasta 
One 24 Oz. Jar Low Sodium Marinara Sauce ( I like Prego Heart Smart)
1 Green Pepper Chopped 
1/2 Onion Chopped 
1 Tomato Roughly Chopped
Pepper  and dried basil to taste
Parmesan Cheese for Serving
1 tsp Olive Oil or Butter 
3 Links Italian Style Chicken Sausage Chopped (I like Trader Joe's Brand) 

1- Prepare pasta based on package directions.  
2- Chop your pepper, onion, tomato and chicken sausage.  Heat oil or butter in a skillet.  Once skillet is hot add your peppers and onion.  Saute until tender. 
3- Add your chopped tomato and sauté for 2 minutes. 
4- Add in chicken sausage (Trader Joe's brand comes precooked) and saute with veggies for 5 minuets until sausage is browned. 
5- Add your jar of tomato sauce and simmer for 10 minutes. 
6- Drain pasta and serve with sauce and Parmesan cheese if you desire! 


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

{Book Giveaway} The Unforgettable Photograph

Since starting my blog I have become fascinated with photography.  And as my little blog has progressed I find myself trying to take better and better pictures.  Taking good pictures can sometimes be tricky especially when the only camera you are using is your iPhone!  

Yes, eventually I will be investing in one of those beautiful DSLR cameras, but until then I make do with what I have.  But lets get back on topic!  I find that taking good pictures take a lot of practice, editing and patiences and sometimes learning a few new techniques!  That is why I was thrilled when Cooking Light Editor Scott Mowbray put together a book giveaway for the Cooking Light Bloggers, to promote the book The Unforgettable Photograph, 228 Ideas, Tips and Secrets for Taking the Best Pictures of Your Life, that he published!

Scott referenced the book as "An almost completely non-technical book that shows easy ways to take better pictures of anything." - Scott Mowbray 

"The book walks the reader through ideas, techniques and projects, all laid out in an instructive, beautiful way that will make better pictures inevitable for every reader." Workman Press Release 

The techniques in the book will work with a simple point and shoot camera, fancy high end camera or even your smartphone!  

So who is ready to win a copy of The Unforgettable Photograph?  Ready to learn how you can enter to win your very own copy?   Heres how to enter the giveaway.  You have 3 ways to enter!  

1- Leave a comment below telling me about the best picture you have ever taken. 
2- Bonus Entry - Follow Brunch and Cupcakes through Google and leave a comment below that you follow the blog
3- Bonus Entry - Follow Brunch and Cupcakes on Facebook and leave a comment below that you are a Facebook follower! 

The giveaway will end Next Monday 12/16.  I will announce the winner on Tuesday 12/17! 

Best of Luck! 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

{Holiday Baking}

The holiday season is full of many wonderful things.  Quality time with family and friends,  hot chocolate, cookie baking, warm cozy blankets, and fireplaces to snuggle up by!  Those are just a few things I love about the holidays!  

And while I am not a baker at heart ( I don't have the patience for it) I find my desire to bake intensifies around this time of year!  It is as if my impatience with baking dwindles and I am able to sit back and enjoy the long drawn out process that baking can turn into.    

Maybe I enjoy baking so much this time of year because baking turns into a social affair during the holiday season.  I genuinely enjoy spending an afternoon with friends/family piled into a kitchen with sweet aromas filling the air.  Socializing with friends and loved ones while baking takes the chore feeling out of it!  

So today I figured I would share with you a few of my most favorite holiday treats!  You know, those treats that you just can't live without during the holiday season! A few oldies, some goodies and a few new found favorites! 


Must have Sweets! 
Peanut Butter Blossoms - Best when eaten warm straight from the oven! 
Peanut Butter Reeses Treats - Reese cup in the center of a peanut butter cookie! 
Red Velvet Mini Cupcakes - Cooking Light 

Happy Baking!