Dress Up Your Table With These Spring Inspired Plates

Hey There,

Spring is finally here!!! For a while, I didn’t think it was going to come. I mean we had snow flurries here in Richmond during the second week in April and I know that some parts of the country were experiencing snow storms up until the last week in April. I feel that each year spring comes later and later and that the spring season gets shorter and shorter. It seems that it goes from snowing one day to blazing hot the next. I guess that’s global warming for you! We definitely need to start being a lot kinder to our plant. But anyway, I digress. So since spring finally decided to show up, I thought that it would be fitting to highlight some of my favorite spring dishes.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Pier One and Anthropologie and picked up a few new dishes to add to my collection. I try to do this every couple of seasons just as a way to spruce up my tablescapes at my family dinners.  Since the real-life kitchen on Wellington is small and devoid of any real storage space, I have to be very selective with what I buy. I try to pick plates that can be used for multiple seasons. I try to pick pieces that are inexpensive, and I like to pick pieces that compliment my existing dinnerware (which is white and gold) so I usually just buy salad plates. When I host dinner, at least 12 people come every time. Now I love my family and I love entertaining but I certainly don’t want to spend a ton of money buying 12-18 new plates all of the time. So while I was out, I picked up the plates below. They all remind me to spring and I can’t wait to play around with them. As you can see from the pictures below, I was in a “blue” mood. I think the blue dishes will pair nicely with my white/gold dishes and make for an interesting table. Now, there were only a few quantities of each of the blue dishes, so I am hoping to pick up a few more plates and create a mismatched tablescape. I’ve never created a mismatched table, but I have been studying them on Pinterest. I am hoping that I can pull it off! I don’t want it to end up looking haphazard and messy so if you have any suggestions on how to create the perfect mismatched tablescape then, by all means, please share your wisdom with me.

Be sure to check out my new additions below and tell me what you think. Also, tell me from where you like to purchase your spring inspired tableware. Oh, and check out my Pinterest board, “Dressing the Table” to see some of the other spring-inspired dishes that I love. If I had room to store them all and an unlimited amount of money, I would honestly buy every single dish pinned on that board and then I would host dinner parties and family dinners every week.

See you in my next post!

~Samantha J.


Baptist Pound Cake

Hey There!,

Mother’s Day is right around the corner and it looks like I’ll be hosting Mother’s Day lunch/dinner again. I’m the only woman in my family with no kids, so I guess the task falls on me, that is until I have kids of my own. I’m still working on this year’s menu, but I do know that it will include this 5 flavor pound cake we like to call, “Baptist Pound Cake”. Now I made a version of this cake last year for Mother’s Day lunch but I have since then improved the recipe…at least I think it has improved. I simply added cream cheese to the recipe and I think it makes all the difference. The cake was moist before, but since adding the cream cheese it has become ever more moist and dense. It’s just so perfect.

Now, if you all grew up in “black church” or maybe you just attended a southern church, you’re all too familiar with pound cake. It seems that whenever there was an afternoon program (or afternoon pro-grim, as the old people say) it could be guaranteed that the following six things would be on the repast menu, 1) pound cake 2) after dinner mints 3) cookies 4) punch (preferably red or green and the kind that comes frozen that you just pour ginger ale over) 5) salted peanuts and 6) sheet cake. Some older church lady usually made the pound cake and it was always dense moist and perfect. This cake is just like that. The flavor is great, the texture is great and eating it just takes you back to fun times and times of fellowship (at least it does for me).

I think another about this cake that makes it so great is that you can dress it up or down and top it with almost anything you can think of. Sometimes it’s good all on its own, but other times a little icing, some fruit, nuts, ice cream or whipped cream and help take it to the next level. This cake is just so versatile and it’s just perfect for every occasion.

So if you love pound cake like I do and if it conjures up childhood memories like it does for me, be sure to check out the recipe for “Baptist Pound Cakes”. Be sure to tell me how you like to top it or if you like to eat it plain.

See you in my next post.

~Samantha J

Baptist Pound Cake

1 brick cream cheese at room temp
6 eggs
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 sticks of butter (salted) at room temp
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 teaspoon rum extract
1/2 tea lemon extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment cream the cream cheese and butter until it is light and whipped. About 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the salt and sugar and continue to beat for another 3-5 minutes until well incorporated.

In a separate bowl crack 6 eggs. Add them one by one to the mixer while on low speed making each sure each egg is well incorporated.

Add the flavorings.

Add the flour to the mixture in three parts.

Generously butter and flour two loaf pans. Divide mixture into the two pans.

Bake for 30 45 minutes or until done.

Top with your favorite topping and enjoy.



Salsa Verde

Hey There,

So a couple of weeks ago I celebrated a birthday. I won’t say how old I turned but I will say that I entered into a new decade. As  I do on most birthdays and during the week’s leading up to my birthday, I like to reflect on my life, make resolutions and set goals for the upcoming year. This year one resolution I set was to be more adventurous and to try new things. I want to push myself to step out of my comfort zone and embrace new adventures.  One area of my life that I am hoping to be more adventurous in, is in my culinary life. When I cook, I usually cook the same things and most of the time in the same ways. This year I am hoping to add new recipes to my culinary rotation and to experiment with new ingredients, so I have resolved to buy a new or different fruit or vegetable each time that I go to the store. So, last week when I was at the store, I decided to pick up some tomatillos.  I’ve always seen them in the store but I had never tried them or considered buying them. Since this was a new ingredient to me, I decided to keep it super simple and make salsa verde. Now, I know this recipe is not super exciting or in the least bit original but it is a great “intro” or “beginner” dish. Not only is it simple but because the recipe doesn’t call for much manipulation of the tomatillos you are able to get a good sense of what they actually taste like.

If tomatillos are a new ingredient to you or if you just want to make a super easy dish, then check out the recipe below. Also, I want to urge all of you to add something new to your life and to push yourself and to try something new. Maybe, like me, you can buy a new fruit or vegetable each time you go to the store or maybe just consider cooking a familiar recipe in a different way.

See you all in my next post!

~Samantha J.

Salsa Verde

10-12 tomatillos
1 shallot
6 clove of garlic
4 jalapenos
1/8 cup of water (up to)
vegetable oil

Remove husks from the tomatillos and wash.

Quarter the shallot

Coat all ingredients (tomatillos, shallot, garlic cloves, jalapeno) with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Roast ingredients for 15-25 minutes at 450 degrees or until ingredients become soft. Tomatillos should look slightly charred and start to become soft. Do not let the tomatillos burst. You want them to be juicy with you blend them with the other ingredients.

Once ingredients are soft, transfer them to a food processor and process until blended and somewhat smooth. Add water if the salsa is too thick.

Add more salt and pepper to taste.


If you want a less spicy salsa, remove the seeds from the jalapeno before you roast the pepper.

If you want a more spicy salsa, consider adding more jalapenos or add a little crushed red pepper flakes to the finished product.



Nutty Bread Pudding

Hey There,

So, all April long I’m featuring some of my favorite comfort foods. I know that you usually don’t think of comfort foods in April but since the weather has been so cold and dreary here in Virginia all month long, I figured why not! So, today’s post is all about bread pudding. Now, I will admit that bread pudding is not my absolute favorite but there is just something about the smell and the taste that is comforting to me. It reminds me of my childhood babysitter. Whenever I smell it or taste it, I can just see me, my brother and her sitting in her kitchen eating breakfast. Maybe that is where I first had it; I don’t know. But anyway, I had some leftover EuroClassic cream cheese brioche bread just sitting in my refrigerator so I decided to make some. I whipped up some eggs, vanilla, sugar and voila, I had a bread pudding. To make it extra comforting, I mixed together some sliced almonds, chopped walnuts, butter and sugar and topped off the pudding with that.  Oh and, I added a little (okay, a lot) of whipped cream on top right before I ate a slice.

How do you all feel about bread pudding? Is it one of your favorite comfort foods or could you do without it?

See you in my next post!

~Samantha J.

Bread Pudding

1.5 loaf of cream cheese brioche bread (slightly stale)
4 eggs
1 tablespoon of vanilla
1/2 tablespoon of almond extract
6 tablespoons butter
2 cups half/half
3/4 cup  sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup brown sugar (packed)

Cube bread

Combine eggs, vanilla, almond extract and half and half into a large mixing bowl. Wisk until combined.

Add in bread and allow it to soak up the mixture for 5-10 mins.

Use 2 tablespoons of the butter to grease all sides of a baking dish.

Add bread and mixture to the baking dish and make for 30-45 mins.

While the pudding is baking, combine the nuts, brown sugar and 4 tablespoons of butter (melted) into a bowl. Mix until combined and the nuts are coated.

Sprinkle the nuts and sugar on top of the pudding and bake for another 5-10 mins.

Remove pudding and allow it to cool.

Top with more nuts and whipped cream right before eating.




Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup with Kale

Hey There Guys,
How’s life? How have things been going with you all? How was your January? I can’t believe that it’s already February. I feel like the next time we blink and look up it’ll June.

One of my new year’s resolutions was to eat more meals at home so all January long I’ve been whipping up quick and (sort of) healthy meals. One dish that I keep coming back to is roasted chicken. Believe it or not, I used to never cook or eat chicken at home. For some reason, whenever I would cook chicken I would end up not eating it and just throwing it away. I just found the dish extremely boring no matter how much I tried to fix it up. While I still can’t see myself buying and cooking chicken breast, drumsticks, or thighs I have started roasting whole chickens. I think being able to roast a moist and flavorful chicken is a basic cooking skill everyone should master. There are just so many ways that you can season it and use it. It’s such a versatile dish. From one chicken you can at least make 3-4 different dishes and it can literally last you days.

I’m sure many of you already follow, No Crumbs Left, but one day as I was going through her website, I found her recipe for Heroin Chicken. I looked so flavorful and perfectly seasoned so I decided to give it a try. I must admit I was skeptical at first because a lot of times I find that blog recipes often turn out bland because they don’t call for enough seasoning but this recipe was different. The chicken was so flavorful. (You all should really try it) One thing that I really liked about this recipe was that it called for the chicken to be butterflied and marinated for two days. Before to making this recipe, I had never butterflied a chicken so that was a technique that took some practice (happy to report, I have now mastered it!) but I found that it made the chicken must easier to season and carve. In addition, marinating it for two days led to a chicken that was perfectly seasoned inside and out. It was just perfect! This recipe was just great! I know that from now on, I will ALWAYS butterfly my chicken and marinade it for 2+ days before I cook it.

Like I said, roasted chickens are great because there are so many things you can do with them. After we picked most of the meat off the bones, I decided to use the carcass to make Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup. The perfect chicken made the perfect soup. It was savory and lemony and perfectly seasoned. Soup is always a great dish to make out of scraps. It’s forgiving and you can practically add anything you want to it. Below is the recipe for the soup that I made!

I hope you all consider making this soup or consider trying Terry’s Heroin Chicken. If you all do decide to make either dish let me know how it turns out.
As always, be sure to leave a comment and I’ll see you all in my next post!

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup with Kale

1 Lemon pepper chicken (leftovers)                                                  1c orzo
2 bunches of kale (cut into bite-sized pieces)                                  3 bay leaves
4c chicken stock                                                                                      Juice of ½ lemon
Salt/Pepper to taste                                                                                 1 bunch of thyme (tied)
½ teaspoon of lemon pepper chicken                                                 2c water
2 cloves of garlic


Combine all ingredients except for the orzo and kale into a large pot

Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes

Bring to a boil and add in orzo. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the orzo is done

Halfway through cooking the orzo add in the kale

Continue to cook until the orzo is done and the kale is soft (or to your liking.)

Remove the thyme and the bay leaves.



Januray Wish List

Hey There,

Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE to buy things. It’s something about getting something new that created a huge rush for me. I think that feeling may be characterized as a shopping addiction, but oh, well! LOL. This year, I am working to be more disciplined with my purchases and how I spend my money. I’ve come to realize that you can’t have everything you want and that there has to be some balance. Even if you can afford something and there is nothing stopping you from getting it, it is sometimes good to pass it on just to practice discipline and self-control.

Although I am working on curving the amount I buy, there is nothing wrong with still dreaming and adding things to my wishlist even though I know that I am not going to get them for a while. So with that being said, below is my “Wish List” for January. These are just a few of the items that I’ve had my eye on.

Vitamix Blender – Now that I am cooking more and experimenting with different dishes, I’d like to upgrade my blender. Right now, I am using an older version of the Ninja blender and to be honest its still works pretty well. It gets the job done and does a pretty good job of blending everything smoothly. However, if you’ve ever used a Vitamix you know that NOTHING compares to a Vitamix. My mom has one, and from time to time I use hers and my goodness it is nice! This magical machine blends things down until they are as smooth as butter! SO NICE! Now, I know that these blenders are well worth the price but it just seems ungodly to spend $300 to $500 on a blender. After all, three hundred dollars can cover a couple of bills or be used to support a very worthy cause!  Maybe one day I’ll bite the bullet and get one. Perhaps for my birthday in April, but for right now, this will remain on my wishlist for a while.

Staub Cast Iron Tomato Cocotte – I think these cast iron dishes are just the cutest and most festive things in the world. As you all will come to learn, I swear by cast iron! I just love how heavy and sturdy it is and I truly feel that it makes your food taste 1000% better than it would be if it were cooked in a conventional dish. Cast iron wears well and if it has an enamel coating its a dream to clean. I first found these Staub dutch ovens a few years ago. I actually found a pumpkin shaped one in Marshall’s maybe three years ago but I decided to pass on it because of the price. This year, I decided to buy one but I couldn’t find one at Marshall’s. The William Sanoma here in Richmond had the pumpkin shaped dish during the fall season, but every time I went to buy it, I talked myself out of getting it. I think it was the price that kept tripping me up. Just like the Vitamix, I know this dutch oven is well worth the price, but it is just something about spending $150 for a dish that seems a little extravagant. This dish, like the pumpkin shaped one, is priced around $150 so this too will probably stay on my wishlist for a while but I honestly think this would make the perfect spring and summer dish. Actually, this would work all year long. The tomato shape would be appropriate for spring and summer and the red color would carry you through the fall and winter. This actually may be a better buy than the pumpkin dish! However, at $150, I’ll have to think about this for a while longer before I decided to add this to my cart.

KitchenAid Pasta Roller and Cutter – This is another item that I have been wanting for a while. Actually, I’ve wanted this ever since I got my KitchenAid stand mixer about 6 years ago. As you’re probably guessing, the price is what stopped me from getting this.  I’ve always wanted to learn how to make pasta and these attachments will really come in hand when I get ready to learn. I’m thinking to make it a little easier on my pockets, I’ll maybe buy one attachment at a time. I just saw that Amazon is selling one of the attachments for about half the price of the set so that may be an option.

Staub Mini Round Cocotte – These are just so cute and little and they would be perfect for family dinners. They could be used to hold sauces or mini casseroles.

So guys, that’s whats on my wish list this month! Be on the lookout for February’s list next month, but in the meantime, please share with me some of the things on your wish list. Oh, and be sure to check out my Pinterest board, Oh I Just Gotta Have It! to find out what other items I’ve been eyeing.

Until next time,


January 2018 Wish List


Staub Tomato Dish

KitchenAid Pasta Roller and Cutter Trio

Staub Mini Round Cocotte