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27 Jan 14:07

Simple & Comforting Shepherd's Pie (Vegan Friendly)

by A Beautiful Mess

Vegetarian shepherd's pie (via
Welcome to another edition of Emma-makes-two-meals-at-once-and-freezes-one. Also tagged as "freezer meals" on the blog. This is like passive income—work hard now and you can reap the benefits later.

I was listening to a Smart Passive Income podcast earlier today, so that may or may not be why my references are weird. :)

The weather seems to have finally gotten winter cold here in southern Missouri where I live. This puts me in the mood for pasta, casseroles and all manner of warm, creamy carbs. 

Vegetarian shepherd's pie (via But this doesn't mean we can't make a super comforting meal that is also packed with plants and nutrition. :) This meal has both going on, and it's delicious! Not to mention the half and half potato situation makes it pretty cute too. 

Best shepherd's pie recipeSimple & Comforting Shepherd's Pie, makes 4 servings, which we'll be dividing in two (freezing one for later).
Adapted from Rachel Ray's 30 Minute Shepherd's Pie

2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 cups once peeled and cubed)
3-4 small to medium russet potatoes (about 1 1/2 cups once peeled and cubed)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped onion
6 cloves of garlic
8 oz. tempeh
1 1/2 cups frozen veggie mix (mine had carrots, peas, green beans and corn)
2 tablespoons vegan butter (or regular if you don't care about being vegan)
2 tablespoons whole wheat flour (or gluten free if you need)
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice (I used blood oranges.)
3 tablespoons almond milk
salt + pepper throughout
a few tablespoons chopped parsley for the tops

First, peel and cube the potatoes. Boil in lightly salted water in a medium size pot for 12-15 minutes until very tender. 

Veggie shepherd's pie fillingIn the meantime, cook the onion and 4 cloves of minced garlic in the olive oil for a few minutes over medium heat. Cube the tempeh (it's OK if it crumbles some) and add that to the pan along with the frozen vegetables. Continue to cook over medium heat, seasoning with a little salt and pepper, until the vegetables have warmed through. 

In a small saucepan or pot, heat the vegan butter over low/medium heat. Whisk in the flour so a paste forms. Whisk in half of the vegetable stock until a thick gravy begins to form (2-4 minutes depending on your heat). Turn off the heat and whisk in the remaining stock. We're making a thin gravy, so adjust your heat or cook time as needed. Season with a little salt and pepper. (Taste first. Most stocks tend to be well salted, but see what you think it needs.)

Vegetarian shepherd's pie recipe (via the potatoes are done, drain and transfer each to a separate mixing bowl. Add the orange juice to the sweet potatoes and mash until smooth. Add the almond milk to the russet potatoes and mash until smooth. Taste each and add salt and pepper as needed. 

Now you're ready to assemble everything! Combine the tempeh mix with the gravy. Transfer this to two ramekins or small baking dishes and one freezer-friendly, small baking pan. You could also make one big shepherd's pie from this recipe, in which case you could add everything to a pie pan. Top with the mashed potatoes. 

Vegetarian shepherd's pie (via If you are baking the two ramekins that day, simply bake at 400°F for 12-15 minutes. This won't take long because most of your ingredients are probably still warm from cooking. Top with fresh parsley and enjoy! 

For the freezer version, on the day you plan to enjoy this, transfer from the freezer to the refrigerator 8-10 hours before you plan to bake. Then bake at 400°F for 25-30 minutes. Top with fresh parsley before serving. Happy make-ahead dinners! xo. Emma

P.S. If you don't care about keeping it vegan, feel free to top with cheese before baking or add a dollop of sour cream before serving ... in case that hadn't occurred to you already. :)

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

21 Jan 17:30


by victoria

magazine doodles / sfgirlbybay

Ana Strumpf.

i don’t know where i’ve been, but i’ve never seen these doodled magazine covers before — have you? i love the idea though and it reminds me a lot of when i used to doodle the hell outta my school notebooks and pee-chee folders. i was super into it and felt like if my notebook cover wasn’t cool, well then i just wasn’t cool! these magazine covers turned art are by São Paulo-based artist Ana Strumpf and london based artist hattie stewart — customizing magazine covers such as nylon, Interview, Dazed & Confused, time, and Vogue, among others. doodling the faces of cover models and celebrities to reinvent their faces, each cover is unique and as creative as the next, allowing us to see past normal standards of beauty and advertisement and view them as a whole new work of art. so very cool — makes me want to get out the sharpies and colored markers and go to town!

custom magazine doodles / sfgirlbybay

hattie stewart.

magazine doodles by ana strumpf / sfgirlbybay

Ana Strumpf.

magazine doodle by hattie stewart / sfgirlbybay

hattie stewart.

magazine doodle by artist Ana Strumpf / sfgirlbybay

Ana Strumpf.

magazine art by hattie stewart / sfgirlbybay

hattie stewart.

magazine cover art by Ana Strumpf / sfgirlbybay

Ana Strumpf.

20 Jan 20:05

Creamy Tahini Chopped Salad

by A Beautiful Mess

Creamy Tahini Chopped Salad (via  Lately I've been trying to challenge myself to work on more salad dressings that can be made with ingredients that I generally already have on hand. I will often change up what vegetables I include in salads, mostly based on whatever I have in my refrigerator. But I love adding to my ever-growing list of easy-to-make salad dressings. This one features tahini and is sort of, kind of, a lighter version of this spicy peanut sauce

Creamy Tahini Chopped Salad (via dressing is creamy and quite balanced with a little spice and a little sweetness. If you want more spice, add a little more red curry paste or throw in some red pepper flakes. If you want to keep this vegan, make sure to use a vegan-friendly red curry paste, as it often contains shrimp otherwise. 

Asian chopped saladCreamy Tahini Chopped Salad, makes two big salads or could be divided into four if served with an entrée.

For the dressing:
1/4 cup tahini
1 teaspoon red curry paste
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 cloves of garlic, minced
salt + pepper to taste

For the salad:
one head of romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 head of purple cabbage, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
two green onions, chopped (ends discarded)
1 cup cooked edamame (I used frozen that I thawed completely)
1/3 cup cashews, chopped

Prepare your salad ingredients, which mostly involves chopping everything. Feel free to channel your inner Swedish Chef for this. And again, feel free to change up your ingredients based on what you have. I have the addition of edamame for some extra protein, and I personally LOVE chopped nuts on almost anything, but especially salad. 

Creamy tahini dressingFor the dressing, once you have the garlic minced, simply whisk everything together until well combined. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.

Creamy Tahini Chopped Salad (via Now you're ready to toss your salad in the dressing and get down to business. Enjoy! xo. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

11 Nov 21:17

Buffalo Cauliflower Gratin

by Cara

Buffalo Cauliflower | Big Girls Small Kitchen

I have so many ideas for this dish. I wonder if the combination will strike the same creative chord for you. First, here are its elements: 1) Cauliflower, steamed until sweet and tender. 2) Béchamel sauce, flavored with spicy buffalo sauce. 3) Cheddar cheese, melted.

Buffalo Cauliflower | Big Girls Small KitchenIMG_0076

The form I made, in the recipe you’ll read below, is a small casserole of vegetable made indulgent with creamy, spicy sauce, a browned, bubbling top layer of melted cheese. I intended for this to be a side, the way Southern-style mac ‘n cheese is a side, with some pulled pork or ribs. That picture jibed well with a certain not-too-traditional Thanksgiving spread, one that embraced both vegetables and rich food. In the end, I mostly ate portions as a vegetarian lunch, sometimes followed by a vinegar-y green salad. This was an excellent use case.

But then while I was testing and eating, I had this other idea. Series of ideas, really. What if you cut the cauliflower into teeny tiny florets and served the gratin with thin, salty tortilla chips? Call it Buffalo Cauliflower Dip. I think it’d be a hit. Or maybe you could kind of assemble cauliflower, sauce, and cheese on toast and make a little Buffalo Welsh Rarebit. I ate and I riffed. It was endless!
Buffalo Cauliflower | Big Girls Small KitchenBuffalo Cauliflower | Big Girls Small Kitchen

If you’ve thought as much about cauliflower gratin as I apparently have, I want to make sure you know that there’s a trick here: you top the cauliflower with sauce and cheese, then broil quickly, just to melt the cheese. If you cook too long, as with a potato gratin, the sauce will separate and become grainy–even if you dry your florets really well. Don’t be tempted to do this. I promise, if you broil for just a quick period, the cheese bubbles and browns, while the cauliflower stays fairly firm. If you’d like your cauliflower less firm, the simple answer is to boil it longer first. Make sense?
Buffalo Cauliflower | Big Girls Small KitchenBuffalo Cauliflower | Big Girls Small KitchenBuffalo Cauliflower | Big Girls Small KitchenThis post is sponsored by Tabasco as part of TABASCO® Tastemakers program. Check out my previous three Tabasco-focused BGSK recipes: Chipotle PecansCrispiest Fish with Tabasco Butter, and Spicy Appetizer Meatballs. All opinions, as always, are my own. Thanks for following along with this series and for supporting the sponsors who keep BGSK delicious!

Buffalo Cauliflower | Big Girls Small Kitchen

Buffalo Cauliflower Gratin
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
A mouthwatering combination of spicy buffalo sauce, tender cauliflower, and browned cheddar cheese. You can always increase the amount of cheese if you so desire.
  • ½ large head or 1 small-to-medium heat of cauliflower (about 2 pounds), trimmed of its core, broken into large florets
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons TABASCO® Buffalo-Style Hot Sauce
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
  1. Bring a bit pot of water to boil. Add about a tablespoon of salt and the cauliflower. Boil for about 7 minutes, until the vegetables are done to your liking. Drain well, shaking off all the extra moisture. Set aside to keep draining, tossing occasionally to dry.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter, then, when melted, sprinkle in the flour. Cook for about 1 minute, until the flour looks every so slightly golden. Then add the milk and stir very well (maybe use a whisk) to be sure there are no lumps. Bring to a simmer, then cook for about 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Add ¼ teaspoon of salt and the TABASCO® Buffalo-Style Hot Sauce. Taste, adding more sauce or salt if you like.
  3. Arrange the drained cauliflower in an oven-proof serving dish. The size isn't that important, though the bigger the dish, the more the top will brown. Spoon the sauce over the top, then sprinkle with the cheese. Broil for about 8 minutes, turning once and checking often, until the cheese is bubbly and brown.
  4. Serve immediately, topped with extra Buffalo-style sauce if you like.



30 Oct 19:14

Homemade Take 5 Bars

by Siri

Are you ready for the best weekend ever?  A glutenous, guilt-free, indulgent weekend full of candy and costumes and sports??  At least that's the type of weekend I'm about to have.  I have my red cape and red lipstick all ready to go because I'm sorry, but I couldn't find a single non-slutty Little Red Riding Hood dress, so that's what I'm going with.  My Grandmother/Wolf, Hawkeye, Ariel and Elmo are very excited to trick-or-treat.  And last night I made these Homemade Take Five bars following this recipe, hence the beginning of the best weekend ever... because when you put peanut butter on pretzels and then caramel on top of that and then dip the whole thing in chocolate YOU WIN!

For more Homemade Halloween treats - like Butterfingers, Snickers, Almond Joys, Peanut Butter Cups and Peppermint Patties - click here.  For Baby Ruth Bars, click here.  Happy Halloween!
07 Dec 12:41

Salted Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

by Siri

Oh hi!  Remember me?  My name is Siri and I'm the gal who (occasionally) chronicles my journey with food on this here blog.  I've been absent, but I can explain (or I can spew excuse after excuse at you... like we were in LA for 12 days, or I lost my camera battery charger, or I'm trying to prepare for the 8 houseguests staying with us for 2 weeks, or I'm feeling overwhelmed with gift shopping, or I've been abducted by aliens... I sorta wish).  What it really boils down to is that when we travel, I lose my desire to cook and I come home feeling like I'm in a rut.  But this weekend, I spent an hour online looking at my favorite blogs and they lit a fire under my tushy!  (I'm a mom, I say things like that and potty.)  This week and next week be prepared for seasonal treats and dishes as well as gift ideas!  Yay!  And by the way, even when I'm absent on here, I'm pretty active on my blog instagram and my new mommy instagram accounts.  

So let's talk about these bars.  I'm not really a pie person, but ever since I ate Pecan Pie this Thanksgiving from this glorious bakery in California I've been craving it.  So when I saw this recipe I put it on my to-do list right away.  Holy crap, these are insane.  SUPER rich but beyond delicious.  If you like buttery shortbread and rich, salted chocolate and caramely pecan pie... you will love this.  I topped mine with Vanilla Salt which I'll write about later on today.

They also refrigerate and/or freeze very well, and a little goes a long way, so these would be perfect edible holiday gifts this season.  The best kind of gift if you ask me.    

11 Dec 18:40

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts Grilled Cheese

by Siri

Guess what?!  I cloned myself!  (See previous post if you're confused.)  Yeah, I cloned myself, and my second self just made me lunch!  The best lunch EVER!  Well, okay, that didn't really happen, but I was able to time naps perfectly today, which left me with a few hours to make a REAL lunch and hopefully shower (I have a holiday party tonight so if I don't fit the shower in now it will have to be later with ALL of my kids hanging in the bathroom around an iPad).

Anyway, about the sandwich.  You know those bags of pre-shredded Brussels Sprouts?  I think they're genius, and almost always have one in my fridge (especially this time of year).  So for the sandwich... heat a tablespoon of butter or olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat and sauté two tablespoons of chopped onion and three tablespoons of shredded sprouts.  Season with salt and pepper, and cook until they're all brown and caramelized.  Remove, and place a piece of your favorite bread in the skillet (I of course put more butter on the bread).  Add a piece of white cheddar, then the sprouts and onions, then another piece of cheddar and top with bread (more butter).  Grill like you would a grilled cheese!  Voila!  It's really, really good.     

20 Nov 14:24

Brussels Sprout + Purple Potato Hash (aka the best brunch ever!)

by A Beautiful Mess

Brussels sprout and purple potato hashYou guys! Today is a monumental occasion. Because after, oh I don't know, five or maybe six years of asking Jeremy to help me write a recipe post, HE FINALLY CAVED!

We cook together a lot. If there's one thing that months without running water or a stove will teach you, it's that eating out is kind of overrated and cooking at home is a miracle! We've been experimenting with lots of vegetable-based meals lately, and since this one turned out so delish, he agreed to help me make it into a recipe for you! 

Brussels sprout and purple potato hash Brussels sprouts. Historically, they've gotten a bad rap. But in recent years, they're the cool girls at all the hipster restaurants. I'm so happy for them, their time has come! 

Brussels sprout and purple potato hash  Purple potatoes. The prettiest potatoes by a lot. I don't know how or why I never bought them until this past week! 

Anyway! Enough chit chat. I never know the right amount of dad jokes to put into a blog post. Sometimes it's way too much, sometimes it's not enough. Sometimes you're like, "Share WAY more," and sometimes you're like, "Please shut up." Here's the recipe... 

Brussels sprout and purple potato hash    Brussels Sprout + Purple Potato Hash
*serves 1 VERY hungry person or 2 people who are also eating avocado toast. 

3 cups Brussels sprouts 
3 cloves garlic
1/4 onion
1 purple potato
coconut oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
fresh rosemary 
avocado slices 

First, thinly slice the purple potato. Pan fry it with coconut oil (or your oil of choice, butter works too). We like to do this step separately because we like our potatoes very crispy. Plus, they take longer to cook. So let them cook while you're prepping the rest. Then set them aside when they're done. 

Next, fill your food processor with Brussels, garlic and onion and chop your veggies. Process it till it looks about like this- 

Brussels sprout and purple potato hash   Now it's ready to cook! Throw it in a pan on the stovetop with a little coconut oil and the salt and pepper. As you're cooking it, give it a taste and see if you want any garlic powder or more pepper or salt. I feel like we over-garlic all of our food, so I made the recipe "safe". 

When the slaw is almost done cooking, throw the potatoes back in so they can heat up. 

Almost done! Just fry a couple eggs and garnish them with a little paprika, some fresh cut rosemary and some avocado slices. 

Brussels sprout and purple potato hash      Now, dig in! You've earned it. 

xoxo. Elsie + Jeremy  

Credits// Author and Photography: Jeremy and Elsie Larson. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess Actions

12 Nov 14:15

Creamy Kale, Brussels and Cranberry Salad

by A Beautiful Mess

Creamy kale and cranberry salad  Creamy kale and cranberry salad copyTo keep our Friendsgiving plates colorful, we needed something green to add to the table. This salad features a few favorites including: crunchy kale, Brussels sprouts, and sliced almonds, a bright burst of flavor from fresh cranberries, and a whole lot of comfort from a creamy dressing and shaved Parmesan cheese. Oh yes, this is a kale salad that deserves to still be on the holiday comfort foods table. Yum!

Creamy kale and cranberry saladCreamy Kale, Brussels and Cranberry Salad. Serves 6-8 (possibly a few more) as a side dish.

8-10 oz. kale, large veins removed and chopped
4-6 oz. Brussels sprouts, shaved and any too crunchy pieces discarded
2 oz. fresh cranberries, chopped
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

For the dressing:
1 1/2 cups mayo
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
juice from 1/2 lemon
big pinch of sugar
salt and pepper to taste

You can prep most of the vegetables the day before if you like, but for me this was the one dish that I prepared from start to finish the day of our meal. It doesn't take long to come together. Plus sometimes I like having a good chopping, shaving, etc. job right in the middle of frantically trying to figure out if a turkey is cooked through of if we have enough wine. There's just something therapeutic about chopping. 

Creamy kale and cranberry salad You can also stir together the dressing the day before if you like. Once I have everything together and tasting salty enough, I thin the dressing with a tablespoon or two of water. But this is optional depending on how thick you prefer your dressing.

I do recommend mixing the dressing over the salad and topping with the Parmesan cheese just an hour or so before serving. This keeps the kale and Brussels crunchy (in a good way!). You don't want to mix this together the day before. Also the cranberries will begin to transfuse their red color throughout the dressing, so you could end up with a pale pink salad if you mix too soon. Although, this year that would have matched our table nicely even if it would have looked a bit unappetizing. 

Creamy kale and cranberry salad  copyToss a few more cranberries on top if you want it to look extra festive. Enjoy! xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman. Photography: Collin Dupree and Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

16 Nov 14:21

3 Stove Simmers to Make Your Home Smell Like the Holidays!

by A Beautiful Mess

Three incredible stove simmers! Click through for the ingredients list. You guys know I have a deep and abiding love for all things cozy. I have shared my go-to stove simmer recipe in the past but wanted to branch out and try some new recipes this year.

If you've never used a stove simmer, here are the basics! You fill pot with water and some ingredients that will create a lovely smell, then you leave it simmering on low heat and your home will fill with the scent. It's natural and smells stronger than any candle I've ever used. You can use it for a couple days (refilling the water as it get low) and it will keep working, although it gets REAL ugly by the end. If you've never tried it, I insist you must!

Recipe 1- Bay leaves, lemon slices, lime slices, 2 cinnamon sticks and some cloves in half a lemon. 

This simmer is light and fresh. I made is specifically for those of you who don't love the heavy spice scent (which I do love!). After an hour of burning, it wasn't quite strong enough for me. So I added a few sprigs of eucalyptus and an extra cinnamon stick and you could smell the light fragrance throughout all our living areas. So fresh and clean! 

Three incredible stove simmers! Click through for the ingredients list.Recipe 2- One orange halved with cloves, 3 cinnamon sticks, fresh cranberries and lemon peels.

This one smells like apple cider (but better) and every person who walks into your home will ask you what you're baking! 

Three incredible stove simmers! Click through for the ingredients list.  Recipe 3- Pine cones, apples and cinnamon. 

This one is perfect for fall! It smells like you're baking an apple pie in EVERY room of your home. So good! 

Let me know which ones you guys love! I wish I had a scratch & sniff feature here on the blog so you could test them out. :) xx- Elsie 

Note: Be sure to use only natural ingredients without dyes or artificial scents.

Credits// Author and Photography: Elsie Larson. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess Actions

09 Nov 12:30


by bri


we have a loooong list of trends we’ve been seeing that we think are going to really start happening in the world. today we are going to focus on a beauty trend we see with eye makeup. i know i came away from putting this post together feeling totally inspired to go buy fun eyeliners and shadows. i need to step up my makeup game! -bri


what we really love about these looks is the unexpected quality of all of them and how the main focus is on the eyes…not a ton of makeup on the whole face. this is the perfect look for us (most of us around the office aren’t girly girls and don’t spend tons of time on our makeup everyday) but these variations are attainable, quick, and interesting.

the metallic is great because you can be a little more heavy handed with it, since it basically comes off as a neutral. i have to try one of these for a holiday party!


i love the idea of matching an all over color with my outfit like this. never in a million years would i have thought blue eyeshadow would be back in a big way.


aren’t those references above just amazing?! so unique and eye catching. definitely trying some of those.


what do you think? these eyes will definitely make a statement. are you ready for it?

column by: bri and natalie

27 Oct 13:07

Cheese Plate 101

by jordan

For years I was really intimidated by cheese (it’s moldy, and stinky and can be kind of weird looking!) But after spending some time experimenting with different cheeses I finally feel comfortable picking out cheese I know I’ll love. This past summer I became obsessed making cheese plates and made it part of my 52 Dinner Parties project.  But put aside all your fears, because today we’re partnering with Triscuit to do a post on a few tips I’ve learned on how to put together a cheese plate.

Cheese Plate 101 | Oh Happy Day!

Cheese Plate 101 | Oh Happy Day!

Cheese Plate 101 | Oh Happy Day!

Tips on Picking Out Cheeses

• Pick one Cheese You Like. I tried Comte at a friend’s house in Paris and loved it. It’s a nice basic, nutty, creamy cheese. I used that as a jumping point to trying other cheeses.  “I really love Comte, can you recommend other cheeses that are similar?” I was able to discover several other cheeses I love this way.

• Find Someone Who Knows. Sometimes I get to a cheese section at a store and no one is around but once in a while you find someone that is super knowledgeable about cheese. (It happens to me every few months.)  When this happens I corner that person and ask them a million questions about the cheeses I’m buying, I ask for suggestions, and even ask about any new cheeses.

•Ignore Cheese Plate “Rules”. I think part of the reason I felt intimidated by cheese is some of them look kind of scary, the mold freaked me out a little. In addition I had tried several pungent cheeses and after giving them several fair chances I admitted to myself that I just didn’t like them. Every cheese plate guide I read demanded that I have a stinky cheese and a variety of goat, cow and sheep cheeses. That’s great if you love them but once I had experimented a lot I felt comfortable putting together interesting cheeses that I loved (and avoiding the ones I didn’t.) But don’t feel obligated to add a goat cheese if you don’t like the flavor. Sometimes it’s also nice to have a pre-made snack for guests to grab. Triscuit has a bunch of recipes on their Made for More Pinterest board. We included one along with our cheese board below. It only has 3 ingredients: pomegranate seeds, olive and ricotta so they were super easy to make.

Cheese Plate 101 | Oh Happy Day!

Cheese Plate 101 | Oh Happy Day!

Tips on Making a Cheese Plate

• Everything Keeps! Guests are always impressed when I can throw together a cheese plate for last minute party but it is actually a really easy and low-maintenance party food. All you need is simple ingredients to make a beautiful cheese board. Most of the foods you can buy in advance. We keep Triscuit crackers, nuts and dried fruits on hand because they keep so well. Even most cheeses keep really well for a few weeks.

•Cheese Eaters at a Party are Pretty Lazy. The harder a cheese is to cut the less people eat it. I’ll do things like cut the sides off a wedge so it’s easier for people to cut. I’ll even cut a few pieces to start just to get people going. Certain semi hard cheeses I’ll pre-cut into cubes  or slices for easy access.

• Pick One Cheese. This is a tip I learned from David Lebovitz. Instead of having several cheeses just get a giant wedge of one really great cheese. That way you don’t end up with several half-eaten pieces at the end of a party. I love this and do this all the time.  Choosing the right cracker is important. I always like to try to have a variety of crackers to try with the cheeses! Triscuit crackers are a favorite because the texture pairs so well with creamy cheeses.

•Choose a Greenery! Something about green leaves makes everything look more appetizing. I always pick some Rosemary or Thyme or even lay out a pile of Arugula leaves as a garnish.

Cheese Plate 101 | Oh Happy Day!

Cheese Plate 101 | Oh Happy Day!

Cheese Plate 101 | Oh Happy Day!

Cheese Plate 101 | Oh Happy Day!

This post is sponsored by Triscuit: Made for More. 

Photos by Paul Ferney for Oh Happy Day

08 Oct 13:03

Marble Pumpkin Brownies

by A Beautiful Mess

 Marbled Pumpkin Brownies (via are a weakness of mine for sure. And a good marbled brownie recipe, especially one that involves pumpkin, is a good thing to have in your recipe rolodex.

I don't actually have a recipe rolodex, but man, now that I'm thinking in that direction, it sounds totally charming but probably a bit impractical. Of course just scrolling through saved recipes on your phone or iPad makes a lot more sense...but flipping through an alphabetical rolodex looking for your favorite brownie recipe just sounds adorable to me. I digress.

Marbled Pumpkin Brownies (via  Not all brownies are created equal, of course. Some of are more cake-y while others can have a consistency almost resembling fudge. These are somewhere in the middle. I don't like to feel as if I'm eating raw batter, but I do like my brownies slightly undercooked in the center. Oxymoronic? Maybe. But I really like brownies that are just as good the day after you bake them, and to me walking the line between not baked enough and over-baked is how you get that. You could even under bake these by a couple more minutes than I suggest and once cooled, cut and freeze them. Options. I'm all about it.

Pumpkin brownies Marbled Pumpkin Brownies, makes 9 servings. (one 8x8 inch square baking pan)

For the brownie batter:
1/2 cup butter
4.5 oz dark chocolate
1 cup sugar
2 eggs + 1 egg white
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour (all purpose)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the pumpkin top:
3 tablespoons pumpkin puree
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 tsp or a big pinch of cinnamon

Melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave in 30 second increments until just melted. 

Pumpkin browniesIn another bowl, stir together the sugar, eggs and vanilla extract (only the amounts listed under brownie batter above). Once the chocolate/butter has cooled some, stir the chocolate mixture in with the egg/sugar mixture. You don't want the chocolate mixture to be too hot here because eggs have a tendency to very quickly respond to heat. So if the chocolate mixture is piping hot, it could cook your eggs and create a funky texture in your brownie batter, which you don't want. Then stir in the flour, baking powder and salt. 

In a small bowl, stir together the pumpkin batter ingredients listed above.

Pour 3/4 of the brownie batter into a square baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper. Spoon the pumpkin batter over the top of this. Then add the remaining brownie batter and swirl with a butter knife.

Bake at 350°F for 28-30 minutes. A toothpick inserted anywhere other than the center should come out clean, while the batter may still be just a little undercooked in the center. Again, this is just my preference.

Marbled Pumpkin Brownies (via Allow to cool before removing from the pan and slicing into squares. This is another one of those recipes that only uses a small amount of pumpkin puree (much like these cookies), so feel free to save the rest and use it that week in oatmeal or other baked goods. Enjoy! xo. Emma

Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

06 Oct 11:00


by bri

at least once a week i go over to my dear friend victoria’s house (sfgirlbybay) for some friend hangout time where we usually have wine, netflix and luckily for me she makes dinner! we often have tacos of some kind, but these carnitas tacos are my favorite. SO GOOD. i thought i’d share the recipe for her salsa and the carnitas….

recipe from this amazing Mexico cookbook
• 1 cup vegetable oil
• 31/4 lb pork loin, cut into bite-size pieces
• 1/2 onion
• 1 cup milk
• 1 small bunch aromatic herbs
• thinly pared zest of 1 orange
• sea salt and pepper
• flour tortillas
• salsa (recipe below!)

• heat the oil in a saucepan. add the mean and onion and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, until evenly browned.


• remove the onion. pour in the milk and 1/2 cup water, add the herbs and orange zest and season with salt and pepper. reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours or until the liquid has evaporated.


• remove the meat from the pan and serve immediately with warm flour tortillas and salsa…

Victoria’s Salsa

• 3 Large Tomatoes
• 1 Large Lime
• 2 Tablespoons chopped Red Onion
• 1 Teaspoon of chopped Jalapeño
• Handful of fresh Cilantro
• Coarse See Salt & Pepper to taste

• put all ingredients in a food processor and blend to consistency you like best. i go pretty smooth!


photos by: ivan solis
thanks for sharing, victoria!

25 Sep 15:40

Jake Gyllenhaal vs. Benedict Cumberbatch: Electricity Has Never Looked


Utility lawyers' dream movie. Zing!

The actors are in talks for the historical drama The Current War.
09 Sep 10:09

…Its Like Disneyland for Adults

by Mandi

So this post might seem like its totally out of left field but I just have to share. There is this fine line that we get to walk as a bloggers. I get to do really cool stuff with really awesome brands but I don’t usually talk about it here. Because honestly, how do you talk about these amazing experiences without coming across as braggy or like you are just talking about something because you feel obligated? Its dang near impossible. But today I just feel like I am going to burst if I don’t finally talk. 

Confession. This is so weird.  Every time I go into a public restroom and I see the Kohler mark on the toilet or sink it makes me grin like a fool.  Seriously, do public restrooms do that to you? If they don’t, well then chances are you haven’t been to Kohler Wisconsin.

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Last October (yep, this post is almost a year in the making) I had the opportunity to attend a brand event with Kohler.  You know THE Kohler.  Like creator of the bathtub as we know it, Kohler.  Going into it I thought that it would be like any other trip, I had no idea that it would change me the way that it did.  Still, almost a year later, I think about all the time. (I actually searched the MLS listings when I got back because I want to have a little house there for during the summer.  Court thinks I am delusional because “How can he run the restaurant from Wisconsin?” Sigh.)



The Village of Kohler (that’s actually what it’s called, how cute is that??!) is absolute perfection. You know the feeling that you get when you go to Disneyland? Everything is thought out and completely beautiful and feels like it was plucked from a storybook?  Kohler is like Disneyland but real.  The village was master planned by Fredrick Olmstead (who also designed Central Park).  Every house, every tree, every trash can fits together perfectly.  The factories sit right in the center of the town in beautiful ivy covered brick buildings.  It’s hard to put into words, it just feels so welcoming.  I cant even imagine the dreaming and foresight that had to take place for a town to feel like this still, 100+ years after its creation.


The highlight of the trip (well, one of them) was the factory tour.  The tours are given by retired employees, most of whom have spent their entire lives working in the factories. Their love for this place runs so deep its contagious!

The pottery factory is full of unfinished toilets and sinks and everything inside is white and has a fine layer of dust on it.  Um. and how about those windows?!  Natural light for days.



The Foundry (where they do all of the iron work and casting) is dark and loud and full of huge machinery.  The stark contrast between the 2 buildings is incredible, as weird as this sounds, its super picturesque. Its just exactly what you picture it being.


The thing that surprised me (though it didn’t really looking back) was the attention to detail.  Even a pock mark on a sink made it unworthy for a customer. The standard for quality is unimaginably high. (Which I guess is how you stay a leader for 100 years.)

The Design Center is the heart of the city.  Its a mix of a showroom and a museum (both history and art) I loved seeing the trends from the past century.  There was so much, and surprisingly so little that changed. 


Yep, that is a giant wall of toilets and bathtubs.



We stayed at The American Club (it was originally a place for immigrant workers to stay and save money so that they could bring their families to the US).  Its full of long dark paneled hallways, stained glass, tapestries, and natural gardens.  If it wasn’t for the state of the art bathrooms (because of course) you would think that you’d been transported in time.



I guess the reason that this trip in particular impacted me so much is because the feeling of community and the standard for excellence permeates every facet of this little town and this company.  I am dying to go back and take Court with me.  Its so easy to dream of what could be in a place that IS a dream realized.

Its incredible to me that Kohler can be on the forefront of innovation while still holding so tightly to their heritage.  Maybe its just me, but its easy to get so caught up in where you are going that you forget to stop and realize the beauty of where you’ve been.

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They are just so unapologetically themselves.

Its inspiring. Inspiring enough that I have a fangirl moment every time I spot a Kohler product (even if its in a public restroom!) Because I know that even if to most its just a toilet, that its not just a toilet.  It was made in this tiny town practically by hand and has 100+ years of creation and innovation behind it.

Ok I’ll get off my soap (errr. toilet?) box now . I feel like I  just need to move so that I can start fresh and Kohler-ify everything in my house.  Sounds like a pretty great plan! I’m dying to know, have you ever visited Kohler? Did you love it as much as I did? Should we all go on a trip?


14 Sep 12:45

10 {classic} tabletop pieces...

by Joy

10 Classic Tabletop Pieces / Oh Joy

I have a serious love of tableware. My husband complains that we have way too many dishes, glasses, and bowls in different sizes, shapes, and colors. That's partially because I have collected a lot of little sets over time...and partially because a couple years ago, our cabinet that holds our dishware came crashing down leaving us with random odds and ends from my years of collecting. It's been a goal of mine to (someday) restock our cabinets with my dream tabletop collection.

While I love the hodge-podge mix-and-match thing for some areas of my home, for tableware lately I just want to have a classic and chic set that goes with everything. It's like painting your walls white, having wood floors, and putting in some accents of marble or brass. Once you have that, you can add color and pattern as you wish for each occasion. As I dream about having a fresh set of these basics, I thought I'd share with you 10 of my favorite classic pieces to help create a dream tabletop set...

1. Duralex Gigogne tumbler, 2. Duralex Picrdie tumbler, 3. Anthropologie copper flatware, 4. Anthropologie gilded stemless wine glasses, 5. Doma serving set, 6. napkins by Native Organic, 7. wire bowl by Menu, 8. Dansk dinnerware, 9. Morandi pitcher, 10. bread serving tray from Leif.

P.S. See more of my favorite on my Tabletop Pinterest board.

23 Sep 13:15

Enamel Pin Shopping Guide

by A Beautiful Mess

Enamel pin shopping guideLinks: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. <--- Ugh! So many fun choices! 

Hey, friends! I recently became a little obsessed with collecting enamel pins. You can see a few that I posted on my Instagram here. So I had a LOT of fun creating this little shopping guide for you. If you're looking to up your #pingame, your moment has arrived. Let's go shopping! :)

You didn't think I was going to write this whole blog post without buying at least a few, did you? Haha! Hope your week is lovely! xx- Elsie 

08 Sep 09:00

B Spot

by Erin in Indy
The fam and I hit B Spot the other day. I was kind of psyched about the idea of a hopefully good fancy burger place pretty near us. And I had generally heard good things (with a couple of notable exceptions), so it was time for me to decide for myself. If you aren’t aware, this is a project of celebrity Chef Michael Symon. Apparently the crowds were pretty fierce when it first opened, but we walked right in early on a Friday evening.

Their thing is all their main dishes start with a “B.” They have burgers, brats and bologna sandwiches (ok, and also big salads). I ordered a burger—the “Thin Lizzy” ($8.99). The thin lizzy is a beef burger with griddled onions, mayo, dill pickles and cheddar cheese. The quality of the meat is very good and they cook it properly to order (there’s even a chart on the menu to show you what’s what.) My problem with the burger is how soggy the bottom bun got within a couple of minutes. The burgers are thick and need a good bun to hold up to it. I’m not sure if it’s because my burger was medium rare and juicier than a more well-done burger might be, but it kind of bummed me out. I think I would ask for some lettuce on the bottom next time or something to try and prevent it.

My daughter had a build your own turkey burger (the base is $7.99 plus toppings) with provolone and cilantro. Actually, I was a little surprised at how good this was—I imagine a turkey burger as totally dried out, but this was not at all. It was very tender. Surprisingly so. She was quite pleased with her choice.

Hubby had the “New School” bologna sandwich ($7.49), which I liked more than he did. It is interesting—they take a really thick slice of bologna and score it with a knife, which keeps it from getting tough and hard to bite into (if you can imagine a piece of inch thick bologna that’s been fried on its own, it might be too much). It also was nicely tender and I liked all the toppings pretty much. It had Russian dressing, pickled red onions, sweet hot pickles and a sunny side up egg. There was something that had a slightly odd taste to it that hubby didn’t love. I am not sure if it was from the pickled onions or the sweet hot pickles, but it put him off a little. I thought it was tasty though, and loved the way the egg added to the dish. But then again, don’t I always?

We had Lola fries ($3.99) and onion rings ($6.99). The sandwiches don’t come with sides, so you need to order them if you want them. And I think you do. I really liked the fries—they fry them in lard, so that should really be all you need to know about that to know they’re going to taste good, but I also liked the sprinkle of rosemary. I asked for a side of blue cheese dressing to dip them in, and all was right with the world. Hubby loved the onion rings the best, and they were good as well—the batter was super hot and crisp. They are just really thick, which are not my favorite kind—because sometimes when you take a bite of them, the onion slithers out of the breading. They’re knife and fork onion rings for me. But they did taste good.

Um, have I mentioned the s’mores milkshake ($6.99)? It was the seasonal shake special when we were there and both my kids had it. And it was delicious. Really delicious. They served it with toasty marshmallow stuff on top, which they then slowly stir in as the pour the shake into a class. So you get little sips throughout with that toasty marshmallow flavor. They are also huge—you can easily get two full glasses out of one shake, so I would recommend sharing. We ended up bringing two full shakes home, stuck them in the fridge, where they turned into delicious ice cream later.

They also have a pickle bar. That’s right you heard me right. A whole bar full of pickled items that you have full access to. So that can’t be a bad thing right? Service was friendly, although pretty slow at times, particularly when you wanted a drink refill. They do have food runners, so even though it was hard to get the server’s attention, the food came out in a pretty timely fashion (getting it ordered on the other hand was another story). 

It’s a place with some really great burger meat. I really enjoyed the sides as well. They just need to work on service and figure out how to keep the buns from getting so soggy. It’s a good place to take kids though, and they do have a nice patio (need to work on some sun blockage there though based on where it is located during sunset). I know some of you guys have been-- what do you think?

B Spot
2727 East 86th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46240
20 Aug 09:00

Road Trip-- Krueger's Tavern, Cincinnati, OH

by Erin in Indy
Recently we went to Cincinnati with some friends to see a Reds game. Ok, the men wanted to see the game—I was looking forward to trying a new restaurant beforehand, and am easily convinced to do whatever if I know this is in the cards (incidentally though, if I am going to watch a sport live, it’s going to be baseball).

One of the friends is picky picky about food (I’m talking about you Pat) so we agreed to find a fried chicken place. I asked around and was told to try The Eagle. And I know one of these is planning to open up in Indy in the future, so I thought it sounded like a good idea. Sadly, we were told when we got there that there was at least an hour and a half wait for a table, so we had to go elsewhere (even though they called like 40 minutes later to say we could have a table, but by then we had already gone somewhere else. Too bad, because if they had told us 40 minutes to start, we might have waited.) Anyway, after walking by packed restaurant after packed restaurant on Vine Street, we scored one of the last available tables at Krueger’s Tavern, which as it turns out, is owned by the same group that owns the Eagle and Bakersfield. The men chose this place and it is a very manly menu consisting of mainly burgers and sausage platters. I was a teeny bit grumbly at this point (the women were pushing for Taste of Belgium), but settled down when I saw the hot Gruyere dip ($6) on the menu. We ordered that as well as the hot beer cheese ($6).

Both of the dips were good—my favorite was the Gruyere dip though. It had the cheese as well as bits of bacon, caramelized onions and scallions and was served with really nicely crunchy slices of baguette that were brushed with olive oil. The bread was done perfectly. And the salty nutty cheese was complemented perfectly with the bacon and green onions. It was intensely rich, but delicious. The beer cheese was also good, but they just served this with hunks of rye and white bread that were soft, which wasn’t as exciting (although made sense with the runnier beer cheese). The consistency was much thinner on this one. It tasted good, but just didn’t have the same depth.

I split the Krueger’s burger ($9) with one of my friends, as well as a side of the frites ($4). They grind their own beef in-house and I have to say, even though the two patties were cooked pretty well through (they didn’t ask), the beef was very good quality and very moist. The patties were topped with American cheese, shredded lettuce, onion, special sauce and pickles. The whole lot was served on a Challah bun. It was a tasty burger—apparently was named one of the top 5 burgers in Cincinnati (#4 to be precise I think) and I could see that. If it  were in Indy, I could see it being the 4th or 5th best burger. It was good. A little pinkness and it could have been outstanding.  The frites were also very good. I liked the malt vinegar aioli that came with it. It was almost like combining my two favorite sauces at Brugge into one, which I think is sort of genius (I always get the aioli and the sherry vinegar with salt at Brugge). Creamy, yet super tangy too. The fries were pretty crisp and dusted generously with salt and pepper.

Hubby had the Cuban sandwich, which I got a couple of bites of—it was very good as well. He loved it. I thought the stuff inside it—the braised pork shoulder, ham, Gruyere, Dijon, black bean puree and homemade pickles were all very well done and in just the right proportions (you gotta be able to taste the pickles!), but I thought the bread was a little too dense for me—it overpowered the stuff inside a bit. Usually it seems like Cubans are a bit more flat. This one was pretty fat. Hubby raved about it though.

This place has a ton of beer choices—tons of random beers in cans especially, and I was happy they had a couple of fairly decent wine choices for a place like this. All in all, I was pleased with the overall quality of this place. I’m pretty sure it would likely do well in Indy too. The place was very busy, but I would say the service was pretty good, and the food exceeded my expectations based on looking at the menu (and no research).

Krueger’s Tavern
1211 Vine Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Incidentally, since we didn’t get our fried chicken fix in Cincinnati, we stopped at Wagner’s in Oldenburg on the way home for lunch. I have written about this place before but here’s a lovely picture of our fried chicken lunch.

24 Aug 09:30

Delicia- Brunch

by Erin in Indy
Hubby and I had a chance to go to a weekend brunch on our own the other day and decided to give Delicia a try—we weren’t sure whether the kids would be huge fans, so this was a good opportunity. A lot of you have recommended it to me when I am complaining about the lack of brunch places in Indy as well. 

First of all, on a Sunday, it wasn’t too busy, which was nice because you didn’t really need a reservation (although they do take them, which I appreciate) and they have a full bar so if you’re one who wants a Bloody Mary or some such thing, you can get it here. All of the menu sounds really good, and it was hard to choose—lots of eggs, which you know makes me happy. Less of the sweet-type options, if that is what you tend to go for though.

We decided to start with a little brunch cocktail—I was interested in trying something different, because although I love margaritas, I have actually never loved the margaritas at Delicia. I spied a drink called the Caipirinha ($9)—made with cachaca, which is like a rum that is distilled from cane sugar, muddled limes and sugar. It was very good. It was tart, but the alcohol balanced it nicely. I would easily get one of these in the future here instead of a margarita. Hubby had a lovely mimosa ($7) served in a wide, old-fashioned champagne glass. Both drinks were quite nice.

We negotiated over the menu a bit, and settled on chilaquiles rojos ($9) and the huevos benedictos ($11).  You guys, these were both really delicious. It has been awhile since I’ve been to Delicia for dinner, and honestly I have had ups and downs food-wise, but brunch was great. I was impressed.

The chilaquiles were interesting—there were lots of tortillas that were mixed in, but they weren’t particularly crunchy. This surprised me, but ultimately didn’t bother me. They still had a dense texture that gave the dish a nice variation and that corn flavor. The tortillas were topped with a mild chile sauce, mole sauce, Chihuahua cheese and queso fresco. Oh, and of course two fried eggs that had nice runny yolks. This dish was wonderful—it had such wonderfully savory flavors and the chile sauce rounded it out nicely. You could add chicken or chorizo for an additional cost, and I was going to, but forgot. I was glad I forgot though because I think it was just perfect as is.

The huevos benedictos were also really delicious. It was the Delicia version of eggs benedict, but they made this one with English muffins sliced very thin, which were topped with beautifully poached eggs, a chipotle hollandaise sauce and slices of crisp Serrano ham on top. This was very well done. First of all, I loved the crisp ham—this is something I do with Prosciutto frequently—stick it in the oven and let it get crisp. It intensifies the flavor and gives you a nice crunchy bite. The eggs were cooked just right—nice and runny inside and I liked the little extra smoke and heat that came from the sauce. I appreciated that the muffins weren’t too bready either. If you want to go with something more familiar, which is ratcheted up a notch, this is a good choice. It also came with a side of breakfast potatoes, which I didn’t try because--did you see how many tortillas were on the other plate? Plus, I rarely meet home fries that I really like.

All in all, this is a place that is definitely going into the brunch rotation for sure. They even have a small children’s menu for brunch that I
think might woo my kids.

5215 N. College Ave
Indy  46220

24 Aug 16:20

Zoeller to Teach at Indiana Tech Law School

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller will teach at Indiana Tech Law School in Fort Wayne. Starting this week, he will teach a course on Indiana constitutional law. Zoeller recently participated in a course at the Indiana University McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis.
25 Aug 15:26

Another Grocery Delivery Service Comes to Indy, Carmel


Chris has already ordered our first cart. lol

A California-based grocery delivery company has expanded into central Indiana. Instacart says it is partnering with Whole Foods Market, Costco, Marsh Supermarkets, Georgetown Market and Petco to provide one-hour doorstep deliveries.
25 Aug 17:34

IDEM Has New Leader

Carol Comer has been named commissioner of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. She currently serves as IDEM chief of staff and will succeed Tom Easterly, who announced his retirement last month.
23 Aug 17:51

BlueIndy Sets Launch Date

BlueIndy says the electric car-sharing service will officially begin early next month. The program will include 25 stations throughout Indianapolis.
19 Aug 19:30

Pale Pink Living Rooms: Successful Style Ideas to Make this Wall Color Work

by Adrienne Breaux

Guest bedroom turned master bedroom? Potential nursery?

Pale pink walls is a hot new color trend for living rooms (okay just about any room) but while it's a versatile color, it's also an uncommon one. To see if your living room can handle it or see if it's the kind of color you might like to add to your home, check out these eight bold and blush pink living rooms pulling off the look perfectly.


19 Aug 17:00

Black and White and Gold in the Bathroom

by Nancy Mitchell

Basement bathroom dreamz.

Black and white and gold is a striking color combination, and nowhere is that more true than in the bathroom. Gold fixtures in the bathroom is a look we're seeing more and more of, and paired with a black and white color scheme, they add a pleasing bit of drama to a humble space.


19 Aug 18:45

This Sky Pool Will be Suspended Between 2 London Buildings — Design News

by Tara Bellucci

Part of a new development in south London, a glass-bottomed swimming pool will be suspended between two ten-story apartment blocks. Modeled after an aquarium, the sky pool will connect the two buildings, slated for completion in 2017.


17 Aug 18:00

11 Amazing Vintage IKEA Pieces We Wish They Would Bring Back

by Nancy Mitchell

There is some pretty great stuff at IKEA. But it's hard not to be jealous of IKEA shoppers from the 70s and 80s when you see some of the amazing stuff that used to line the retailer's shelves. Here are eleven favorite vintage pieces that we'd love to see make a comeback.


13 Aug 17:06

What's on Obama's summer reading list

by Eliza Collins
He has six books to occupy his vacation time, according to a report from ABC News.