Fast App Friday

I am not going to make Fast App Friday a weekly thing because I have commitment issues, but I DO want to share a fast app or snack when I find one (or in this case make one up in my mind palace).

I enjoy a cheese board, but I also do not love making a lot of cheese decisions. Like, give me a plate for one with exactly as much charcuterie as I need or I am overwhelmed. And by the end, I am also overeating.

I really enjoy the “jarcruterie” trend where mini jars were used in an effort to serve people in covid times. I made something similar over the holidays:

I also made a mini-board during the holidays which covered my need for adorable meats and cheeses in a larger snack (aka mini meal type of way):

I think that these types of apps are super fun and a great way to play with textures. One texture I am digging right now is granola because Hunt & Gather Foods sent me several to try and I just keep topping all the dang foods with it! πŸ™‚ I was working on some chutney recipes for Me and Jon to taste test (that intel arrives Monday). I had some blueberry goat cheese for that blog post and thought “this flavor combo would be awesome with Busy Bee granola.”

So, I took 5 crackers out of the freezer (I am frugal like an adorable grandma who lived through the depression- you can store these in the freezer). Then I smeared some spicy pepper jelly on them and topped that with some blueberry-vanilla goat cheese. Then I topped these aborbs treats with granola and drizzled some local honey on top. Behold!

The textures, salty sweet elements, crunch from the cracker, softness of the cheese…. good lord. These were amazing. And I am OBSESSED with how beautiful the busy bee granola is with the flowers in the mix. Look at the pops of blue! πŸ™‚

Jon and I both really enjoyed these, even though they weren’t an official part of the chutney taste test. Jon wants to try this combo on a toasted crostini next because I’ve created a monster. Ha!

No oven needed. No heat at all (other than that amazing pepper jelly). Deliciousness with minimum assembly required. Fast App Friday, y’all.

(drops mic)


Granola ain’t just for parfaits, y’all.

Okay, before I start I must admit that granola is EXCELLENT for it’s general uses like parfaits. Here are some shots of me using Hunt & Gather Granola on parfaits, yogurt bowls, smoothie bowls, or as cereal:

First off- all of these treats were freaking delightful. When I was recently talking with the mastermind behind H&G we discussed different ways to use granola (other than the perfectly delightful pictures seen above). Here are three uses for granola that aren’t a parfait, smoothie bowl, yogurt bowl, or cereal:

Fruit and Kale Salad

I don’t know about y’all, but I am OBSESSED with the Panera Strawberry Poppyseed salad. It is my jam. I wanted to make something similar to that with ingredients I had on hand. The final product was AMAAAAZING! Here are the ingredients:

  • 2 cups of kale, chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced mango
  • 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sliced cucumbers
  • 1/2 cup Hunt & Gather’s Banana Bread Granola
  • 1/4 cup dried pineapple slices
  • Dressing: 1/3 cup maple syrup, splash of apple cider vinegar, splash of lemon juice, tbsp of olive oil

To assemble salad, make dressing in a jar so you can shake it to emulsify. Add all remaining ingredients to the bowl (other than H&G granola and pineapple slices). Let the salad sit for about 5 minutes, then top with the H&G amazingness and serve. πŸ™‚

Banana Pancakes

This recipe came about because we had some WICKED ripe bananas and I had no interest in turning on the oven to make banana bread (Texas summer, y’all). So I mashed a very ripe banana, then added a bit of kodiak cake mix, water, and cinnamon. I kept playing with the ratios until it was a pancake consistency. This made two servings of two pancakes. Then I pan-fried another ripe banana with a drizzle of honey and sprinkle of cinnamon. The pancakes were topped with the fried banana slices and Hunt & Gather’s Banana Bread Granola.

Recipe Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe bananas (one for mashing one for slicing and frying)
  • 1/3 cup Kodiak cake mix (add more if consistency is too watery)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (half for pancake batter and half for frying banana slices)
  • 1 tbsp Honey
  • 1/3 cup Hunt & Gather’s Banana Bread Granola

To assemble: I put two pancakes on each plate. Then I topped them with the fried banana slices and granola. You can add cool whip or whipped cream on top of you wish. The ripe bananas were so sweet that we didn’t need to add syrup to these.

SO good!!!

Peach Cobbler

I wanted to use the busy bee granola on my peach cobbler. Initially I thought about using the granola as part of the crumble I baked in the oven, but I was worried that the BEAUTIFUL flower petals would lose their vibrant color when heated up. Instead, I spooned the warm peach cobbler into bowls, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and put the busy bee granola on top. Delightful!

Thanks for reading. If you haven’t tried Hunt and Gather’s granola yet, here’s where to find it. My favorites right now are the rainbow granola and the red velvet. But even while typing that I’m not sure I can leave out busy bee or Mexican hot chocolate or banana bread… maybe collect them all like Pokemon cards?


Done with Booze.

Hello, dear readers!

Today is a special day because it is my two-year soberversary. I had no clue my last drink WAS my last drink. But my last drink was poured from a freshly opened bottle of Courvoisier, which I took from my dad’s woodshop after he passed. It sat on all of my bar carts and I never drank it. I decided it was fitting to drink that on my last night in Austin, where I had just earned my PhD. Then I left the bottle in ATX and headed to Pennsylvania for the summer.

Then something happened in PA. I don’t know what “clicked,” but I told Jon “I am not going to drink for the rest of 2019.” There was no terrible drinking story that happened before this decision (they exist, for sure, just not immediately before/close to the time of the decision). I just wanted to see what it would be like to remove it as an option. Previously, I drank socially and also at home when stressed. Inevitably EVERY time I drank I decided to eat alllllllllllll the foods as well. It was not helping my goals for fitness or body composition. So, I thought half a year of not drinking would be an interesting experiment.

Well, friends… that experiment has resulted in two years of sobriety. I feel weird about the word “sober.” I don’t go to AA or get triggered when I see people drink. But drinking didn’t serve me well. It made me have crap sleep, eat weird foods, have gastro issues, and WAS A DEPRESSANT. Not good for people literally diagnosed with depression (aka me). So I’m done. Done with booze.

The best way to sum this decision up is Chris Cooper’s Done with Fish moment in Adaptation. Watch this short clip if you haven’t seen it. He’s so good in everything but this role is special. And this sentiment is perfect:

Meryl Streep’s character was interviewing Chris Cooper’s character about how he was able to walk away from something he used to be passionate about. He explains how he used to be obsessed with salt water fish and had SIXTY tanks in his house!

Then one morning, I woke up and said, “Fuck fish.” I renounceΒ fish, I will never set foot in that ocean again. That’s how much “fuck fish.” That was 17 years ago and I have never stuck so much as a toe in that ocean. And I love the ocean.

I love a manhattan, but fuck alcohol. πŸ™‚


While “that’s how much fuck alcohol,” I do love a cocktail glass. So I wanted to share a few recipes using some ingredients from Hunt and Gather Dry Foods. I posted a full YouTube video here. In said video I may or may not hug some cocktail glasses.

If you aren’t a YouTuber, I have included pictures of the cocktails below, along with ingredients.

Main Ingredient/Star of the Show: I received the coolest jar of amazingness from Chantal (aka Hunt and Gather’s Goddess of Dry Foods). I saw her making these on Instagram and was OBSESSED because they are so beautiful:

Pictured above, this Hibiscus Rose Cocktail Kit smells AMAZING! The jar is filled with Hibiscus, Rose Buds, Lemon, Orange, vanilla Bean and a sugar cube dyed with beet root powder. I was so pumped to use it (but also sad because it is beautiful- I now understand when people say my cookies are “too pretty to eat.” Okay, thanks- but eat the cookie plz).

I digress… First, I followed her sage advice and steeped the contents of this jar with some OJ (my pals who imbibe would add booze here to infuse it). Then I strained out the beautiful dried flowers and citrus. What remained was a beautiful burgundy liquid.

I decided I wanted to make mocktails three ways with this:

730 Sparkler

  • 1 part Hibiscus Rose Infused OJ
  • 1 part Topo Chico or Clean Sparkling Yerba Mate
  • Garnish with Strawberry

This is poured over ice, so it will stay nice and chilly on a summer day! This is called the 730 sparkler because that’s how many days I haven’t had a drink. I had to use a calculator because I don’t keep track. πŸ™‚

Coupe de Ber

  • 2 part Hibiscus Rose Infused OJ
  • 1 part tea
  • splash of bitters
  • garnish with blueberry skewer

This one is served in a coupe glass, which is generally used for cocktails made with an ice shaker. Since these ingredients were already cold, I did not use a shaker. However, the skewer of blueberries is frozen and can be used as a “stir” in the drink to keep it cool without watering it down.

Cerci Arnold Palmer

  • 1/4 cup mocktail mix
  • 1/2 cup sun tea
  • 1/4 cup strawberry lemonade

This goblet, paired with the deep red color from the mocktail mix, has Cercei Lannister written all over it. Though she’d be pissed when she took a sip and realized it wasn’t wine. She’d be all “who gave me this?!” And I would hide and let this badass handle it:

I also made a delicious arnold palmer with the Watermelon, Blueberry, and Basil Sun Tea Kit. I did not place the tea in the sun (May is quite rainy in Texas), so it steeped overnight in the fridge instead. This was so delightful. I used a stevia-based strawberry lemonade to mix with it. Here’s a quick video of the process of the drink below. You can see it is lighter because the cocktail mix was still steeping when I made this tester for the video. πŸ™‚

Odd Timing…

So some might not think that moving to a new state to start a new job is a good time to stop drinking. Or a pandemic, perhaps. Or a snowstorm where one flushes their poop with melted snow in the middle of said pandemic? All valid points.

I had no idea that the Courvoisier I took from my dad’s woodshop would be my final drink. OR that it would be the weekend I earned my PhD- LITERALLY poured into a glass that said “Dr. Amber” on it. But that’s when it happened. And I am so happy it did.

I want to end this by quoting Snoop Dogg as he accepted his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame:

Last but not least, I wanna thank me.

I wanna thank me for believing in me.

I wanna thank me for doing all this hard work.

I wanna thank me for having no days off.

I wanna thank me for, for never quitting.