IMG_5516Excited…about spring. Here in South Carolina, its right around the corner!

Planning…my vegetable garden. Right now it is a large parcel of red Carolina clay with tree stumps and bushes in it and its on a major slope and filled with rocks, but I’m planning! 🙂  We are talking about a MAJOR amount of grunt work to make it a useable space, but exercise is good for the body and digging in the dirt and growing things is good for the soul. So, using my children as free manual labor, we continue to toil in the soil.    11065892_10205116055613047_5432463381935871126_n

Annoyed…at the amount of rain we have gotten lately. Last summer was a drought and ever since September, the sky has been making up for it and trying to drown us. Between the floods last fall and the continuous rain so far this winter, we are more than ready to dry out.

Loving…this new app I found called Library Thing. It is incredibly easy to use and I am having a blast cataloging all my books. You can scan the ISBN number and UPC code or type in the book individually and the app accesses etc to find the exact same book. Usually you can even pick paperback or hardcover too so that your library record is as accurate as it can be. Due to the fact that you can buy nearly ANYTHING on the internet, I was even able to catalog the ridiculously old and obscure books I find and collect. It tries to give you an accurate publication date as well and several of my books have been revealed as first editions. I also discovered that I have a fair amount of books that are over 100 years old. Neat-o, huh? This makes it SO much easier to check my inventory and avoid duplicate copies of books while raiding thrift stores and garage sales. I am ridiculously excited to see what my final book count is. Tally TBD. 265770_138123899599132_4075222_o

Astounded…that this sweet girl turns 10 pretty soon. My oldest child will be in the double digits. Does the shock of how fast time goes by get slower as you get older? Cause I am flabbergasted by it.

Sweating…through the Couch To 5K program, with PiYo mixed in between. Getting in shape is awesome, but it sucks at the same time. Right now I am trying to get a routine nailed down to make the whole process a bit easier.

Craving…bread. And muffins. And scones. I have no idea why, but baked goods are on the brain. Don’t be surprised if that is what floods the blog this month. We can never have too many muffin recipes, right? Right??


Reading…a lot, actually! I just finished A Girl Named Zippy and have moved on to The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. The first was an incredibly humorous ( like, laugh out loud) memoir that covers small town life in Indiana in the 60’s. Author had a great voice and it was a charming read. Only halfway through the second book as of now, but I am LOVING it! No wonder it comes so highly recommended. What are YOU reading right now?
12243572_902050606539787_3442853005286411545_nSpending…not money (see Anticipating segment below) but time. On my front porch. Because the forests of the south are gorgeous. And because there are no bugs.

Anticipating…a BIG vacation this summer. We just booked a week at a house on the beach on Oak Island, NC and it cannot get here fast enough. This is the first time our family has ever done something like this and to say that we are excited is a HUGE understatement! Bring on the sun, sand, and surf! With the possibility of pre-shopping for vaca clothes. 🙂

Obsessed…with these particular shows on Netflix: Covert Affairs, The Walking Dead (I know I am late to the party with this one), Heartland (A great show to watch as a family!), When Calls The Heart, and Greys Anatomy. No I didn’t start watching Greys until these last few weeks, and yes, I realize how lame I am for waiting. I am 10 years behind, but I have jumped on the McDreamy bandwagon.

Testing…a LOT of recipes that don’t seem very photogenic. I have been working on a new breakfast bake recipe but can’t seem to get it quite right. Either taste is off and the pics are great, or the taste is great, but it looks entirely unappetizing during its beauty shots. *sigh* Moving on to baking more muffins.

Pondering…how I am going to convince my husband to let me get chickens. He is very handy and can build me a coop and a chicken run no problem, but living where we do, in the forest in the middle of nowhere, may just be asking for trouble. Lots of predators and while I am all for teaching my children about the circle of life, watching a fox, bobcat, or hawk attack and march off with Big Bertha The Laying Hen might be a bit dramatic. I really really want my own chickens though, so I’m thinking I’ll risk it. Hehe.

What have YOU been up to?

Cinnamon Oats W/Vanilla & Cream

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BringYourBestBowl #Target #CollectiveBias
These Cinnamon Oats are cooked in milk and cream then finished off with vanilla and pure maple syrup. Breakfast will never be the same! {Brittany's Panty}For me, there are few things that are connected to memories as much as food is. They go hand in hand.

Several years ago, my family and I were visiting relatives in Minnesota and we took a mini road trip up to Duluth. A city that sits at the point of Lake Superior, Duluth has an incredible location with a history all its own. Even though it was summer, it IS northern Minnesota and the weather was chilly. So while perusing the breakfast menu of a little local cafe, my eyes settled on the perfect warm-me-to-my-bones type of breakfast.


And not just any oatmeal, but oats that had been cooked in cream. CREAM! I ordered them on the spot. Duh.

I don’t usually purchase things at a restaurant that I can make easily myself at home, but the thought of cream cooked oats was intriguing, mouthwatering, and undeniably comforting to me at the time. I am happy to say that I did not regret my choice at all. Not one little bit.These Cinnamon Oats are cooked in milk and cream then finished off with vanilla and pure maple syrup. Breakfast will never be the same! {Brittany's Panty}It was the most perfect bowl of lightly sweetened creamy goodness I had ever had. Dried fruit and extra cream had been stirred in and I could NOT get enough of it. Needless to say, it made a lasting impression on me as I have been thinking about that particular breakfast since then. Seriously. Dreaming about it keeps me up at night.

Here we are in present day South Carolina and once again, the weather is a bit chilly. Not the deep freeze and sub-zero temps the midwest is dealing with, but enough to freeze our pipes and make us bundle up. Just the type of weather that requires a bowl of something warm and comforting. So I set out to make my own version of that spectacular dish I remember from up north.These Cinnamon Oats are cooked in milk and cream then finished off with vanilla and pure maple syrup. Breakfast will never be the same! {Brittany's Panty}I picked up my Quaker® Oats at Target, which is incredibly convenient since I am always there anyway. They are easy to find in the isles market with ‘oatmeal’, but you will also see that there are end caps with whatever kind of Quaker® Oats you happen to be looking for. So many options!
These Cinnamon Oats are cooked in milk and cream then finished off with vanilla and pure maple syrup. Breakfast will never be the same! {Brittany's Panty}These Cinnamon Oats are cooked in milk and cream then finished off with vanilla and pure maple syrup. Breakfast will never be the same! {Brittany's Panty}You may notice some missing boxes in the above picture. That is because we stocked up. We go through a LOT of oatmeal in our house and it is NEVER fun to run out in the morning before the kids head to school. The natives get cranky…

Our current obsession? Today’s recipe; one so good it will make you want to dance with joy and your socks roll up and down. Old Fashioned Quaker® Oats cooked in milk, studded with raisins, and finished with cream, vanilla, cinnamon, and pure maple syrup. Just a handful of ingredients, but they are definitely the right ones, and all are available at Target. One stop shopping!These Cinnamon Oats are cooked in milk and cream then finished off with vanilla and pure maple syrup. Breakfast will never be the same! {Brittany's Panty} These Cinnamon Oats are cooked in milk and cream then finished off with vanilla and pure maple syrup. Breakfast will never be the same! {Brittany's Panty}Are you always creating scrumptious bowls of oatmeal too? Quaker® is currently on the hunt for a delicious recipe that has between 2-5 ingredients. There are cash prizes and the opportunity to inspire Quaker® on a new flavor of oatmeal! You can find details on specially marked canisters and boxes of Quaker® Oats or you can click here to read about and enter the national sweepstakes. Stop by Target and pick up all the ingredients you need to Bring Your Best Bowl with Quaker® Oats!
These Cinnamon Oats are cooked in milk and cream then finished off with vanilla and pure maple syrup. Breakfast will never be the same! {Brittany's Panty} Cinnamon Oats With Vanilla & Cream
Leftovers reheat wonderfully the next day, thinned out with just a bit more milk

3 1/2 c milk
2 c Old Fashioned Quaker® Oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c pure maple syrup
1/4 c heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c raisins

In a large saucepan, gently heat the milk over medium heat until just simmering. Add the rolled oats and stir them occasionally until cooked through and thick, about 5 minutes. Don’t let the oatmeal bubbly to profusely, and turn the heat down to low if you need to. When cooked through, remove from the heat and add the cinnamon and raisins. Stir to mix and let the heat soften the raisins a bit. After a minute, stir in the cream and syrup. Spoon into bowls and top with additional raisins and cinnamon if desired. Enjoy!

Dairy-Free-Vegetable-Chowder-Brittany's-PantryWhen I think of chowder, I think of heavy, milk and cream laden soups that are nearly as thick as a stew. And, I must admit, that is what I find appealing about them. If you are eating them whilst wistfully gazing out at the sea, then they are even more appealing.

I have been to Seattle several times and each time I try to eat something different. On one such visit, I had some of the local clam chowder. It was solely for the purpose of eating the local fare in an amazing location.  Of course, if you have ever had really good clam chowder in the Pacific Northwest, you know that the salt in the air, the sounds of sea birds, and the spray of the water against the hull of a ferry boat all contribute to the flavor. It is the experience of it as much as the food. Like eating a beignet while walking the streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans or gazing up at the Sears (Willis) Tower in Chicago while digging into a hot dog loaded with chopped tomatoes, onions, celery seed, and a pickle spear. The flavor and the memory are one and the same.

Well, this is not that kind of chowder.

I know! I know! You want a recipe for the heavy, milk and cream laden soup. But that isn’t what is happening today. Nope. Today is the ‘lets make a thick and creamy healthy chowder’ day. Don’t worry. You will thank me latter when you feel great and look fit.
Dairy-Free-Vegetable-Chowder-Brittany's-PantryThe whole she-bang is simple. Bacon + veggies + broth = wonderful goodness. Its a culinary formula for success.

Sometimes, it is the spectacular flavor that pulls you in and that is the deal with this soup. It may look rather plain and nondescript, but it is a classic example of how a few simple ingredients can make something spectacular. In this case, I wanted all of the goodness of a vegetable chowder but due to the dietary limitations of a house guest, it also had to be dairy free. As it turns out, that isn’t really a problem with chowder. No, it may not be traditional but for me, it hits enough of the major characteristics to qualify.  So chowder it is.
Dairy-Free-Vegetable-Chowder-Brittany's-PantryDairy-Free (Gluten-Free) Veggie Chowder
Recipe adapted from here.

6 slices of bacon, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 large carrots, chopped
3 large stalks of celery, chopped
2 T olive oil, grapeseed, or coconut oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 bay leaves
1 head of cauliflower chopped, core, leaves, and large stems removed
1-48 oz carton of good quality chicken or vegetable stock
1 HEAPING T arrowroot
1 c plain, unsweetened almond milk or 1 c or regular milk

In a large soup pot, saute the bacon until browned and crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a bowl, and drain off excess fat. Do NOT wipe out the pot! Over medium heat, add the olive oil to the pot along with all the vegetables. Season with the salt and pepper. Stir often to let the veggies start to cook. When they start to steam, add the bay leaves and the stock. Bring the soup up to a slow simmer, and let it cook until the vegetables are cooked, but not mushy. Gently break up the chopped vegetables with a potato masher, and if you choose, blitz it a bit with an immersion blender. Mix the arrowroot and the milk together and slowly stir it into the soup. Let it heat up to a bubble again, taste for seasoning, and serve with crumbled bacon on top.