Bruschetta Recipe

My sister and I have started a new Thursday night tradition. We have each other and our hubs over at each other’s homes, alternating weeks. It’s become a coveted time of laughter and good food! The perfect way to break up the week.

When they came over to our place, I made bruschetta as an appetizer and they enjoyed it so immensely! What I love about bruschetta is it’s delightfully light, looks impressive, but is deceptively easy to make! So I thought I’d share my recipe with you all–because that’s what friends are for!

Speaking of bruschetta, I must confess a pet peeve of mine—when people call it “broo-shetta.” Being the little Italian girl that I am, hearing bruschetta mispronounced is like nails on a chalkboard for me. Haha. “Broo-sketta” sounds far more beautiful, don’t you agree?

Bruschetta

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 2 tomatoes, petite diced and seeded
  • 1/2 onion, petite diced
  • A few leaves of basil, chopped
  • A sprinkle of salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • A dash of garlic powder
  • 1 to 2 TB of olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Baguette

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, basil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and olive oil.
  2. Refrigerator mixture until ready to serve.
  3. Slice baguette into 1/2 inch pieces.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil and garlic powder and toast in even for 5 minutes at 350 degrees. (Or until desired crispiness.)
  5. In a small pan, simmer balsamic vinegar until it bubbles and reduces in volume. It will continue to thicken as it cools and will form a glaze. Set aside.
  6. Spoon tomato mixture on each slice of bread and drizzle the balsamic glaze on top.
  7. Enjoy!

-From the kitchen of Julia Brown

http://www.theyouthful.me

I love how light and refreshing this appetizer is! The perfect cheese board pairing! May this recipe delight your tummy and wow your guests.

Ciao!

5 Ingredient Granola Recipe

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There is something so gratifying about making homemade granola.  It makes you feel like some sort of amazing cook, but in all honesty, this is so simple to make.  Not to mention, the aroma that will fill your kitchen! Think:: toasted oats coated in cinnamon and honey. So. Good.

I recently started enjoying greek yogurt as a daily snack.  (My personal favorite is Fage.) I can’t get enough of its creamy, thick texture. Topped with fresh strawberries, granola, chocolate chunks, and honey–it’s the perfect healthy breakfast. Or dessert.

Yet, store-bought granola can be so pricey. And some contain questionable ingredients.  So began my quest to make simple, clean granola.  After a few tries, I finally settled on the perfect recipe.  And I’m sharing it with all of you!

The best part is–this granola only requires 5 ingredients.  Chances are, they are in your pantry right now! I love saving money wherever I can, and this recipe is the perfect solution to my granola addiction.

Here are ways to enjoy your homemade granola:

  • Topped on plain greek yogurt with fruit and honey
  • As a quick snack to munch on (Billy loves to grab the jar of granola from our pantry after work.)
  • On top of vanilla ice-cream
  • With a splash of milk (kind of like cereal)

5 Ingredient Granola Recipe

  • Servings: 1 1/2 Cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of old fashioned oats

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, honey, cinnamon, and salt.
  2. Add the oats to the mixture and thoroughly combine.
  3. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Spread oats in an even layer across the cookie sheet. Pack down slightly if you want more granola clusters.
  5. Bake at 300 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Stir at 15 minutes to prevent the granola from burning.
  6. During the last half of the cook time, check often. Granola can burn easily.  If you’re not sure if it’s done but it looks done, it probably is! Granola will continue to cook a little when you take it out of the oven and will continue to harden and crisp up.
  7. Enjoy! You can add dried fruit once it is out of the oven.

Note:

If you want more granola clusters, don’t stir immediately after taking out of the oven.  This will allow the clusters to form and bind.

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I hope you enjoy this highly requested recipe! It is a new weekly obsession of mine. If you make it, comment below! I’d love to hear all about it.

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Starting Your Day

They say that the first 10 minutes of your day sets the tone for the rest of your day.

I really started exploring this concept, trying it out for myself. For me, this way of beginning your day has little to do with checklists and tasks, and more to do with positivity and setting the scene.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of ways to start your day, with the hope of a fruitful, joyful, productive day.

1. In the Word

This is of utmost importance. I’ve always remembered my pastor saying, “We need God and we need Him early.” If you are struggling to find joy each day, but aren’t starting it with Jesus, you are setting yourself up for a dreary day. Spending time with the Lord in the morning is like coffee for the soul. The perfect way to awake and refresh. Nourish and uplift. It doesn’t have to take long. Just dedicate a few quiet moments to set your heart on things above.

2. Make Your Bed

A simple task yet so powerful. This minuscule decision sets your scene. Tidying your space helps give you that extra little boost in the morning. You’re awake. You’re up. Your bed is made. It’s go time.

3. Stretch

Perhaps a full blown workout just isn’t in the cards. That’s okay! Simply moving and stretching can alleviate tension and help put an extra pep in your step.

4. Get something done.

Even just one tiny task. Just do one productive thing in the morning, and you will be surprised how much you will accomplish throughout the day. Put away the dishes from last night. Flip the couch cushions. Fold that load of laundry. Small tasks have big effects.

Discipline will be needed in order to have a fruitful morning. Sometimes we need to help motivate ourselves. For example, I made a rule for myself a few months ago: The tv can’t be turned on until I’ve spent my quiet time with the Lord. That simple rule has been monumental in my morning routine. And in my walk with the Lord.

How are you setting yourself up for success each morning?

Happy Youthful Year

I felt a new year’s post was in order. There is something absolutely wonderful about the start of a new year. Fresh and hopeful. Clean and crisp.

This year my goal is to truly encompass the “Youthful Philosophy”, as I like to call it. This philosophy is not a free pass to conduct myself with immaturity. Rather, it is maturely choosing to embrace the best traits of my childhood.

And what does that look like?

1. Childlike Faith

My faith was unwavering as a child. Steady and natural. As this year is sure to present some changes, my goal is to strive towards absolute surrender to the Lord. He has always come through, so why should I doubt Him?

2. Quick Forgiveness

I struggle with this. I’m so sensitive and when someone hurts my feelings or seems to care so little, it becomes so easy for me to dwell, and harp, and re-hash. However, as a child, this wasn’t such a struggle. I am praying that the Lord will help me with this. That I will simply pray for those who act unkindly.

3. Contagious Joy

I have always possessed what I like to call my “Julia Joy.” Yet, life can quickly zap that right out of me if I let it. My goal is to be irresistibly joyful. So much so that it bubbles over and creates ripples.

4. Life Lived Unplugged

Technology wasn’t as commonplace in my childhood. While technology can be truly amazing and useful, it’s important to be able to entertain oneself without it. I want to read more books and create more things and just be in the moment. Not living with a screen plastered to my face.

5. Constantly Imagining

This was a true talent of mine as a child. And still is. But it’s easy to forget to keep that imagination alive. I hope to add a little more imagination in my writing this year. You never know what that could lead to.

6. Reckless Love for the Lord

The love of Jesus in a child is so moving and raw. A true example. The greatest goal I can make this year is to love my God more. To spend more time with Him. I will say, the last few months of 2017, I read my Bible more consistently than I had ever in my entire life. And it rocked my world. In the best way possible. Therefore, I want to keep increasing this time spent with Him.

7. Wonder

Children love to wonder, don’t they? “What’s that?” “How does this work?” “Why does it rain?” Their questions go on endlessly. They stop and look at things. May my sense of wonder and awe increase this year. May I stop and gaze at the moon. May I breathe in the fresh air. May I look on God’s creation with admiration and true worship.

Happy Youthful Year, everyone! Excited to see where God takes this little blog of mine this year.

Dinner in 30: Easy Paella Recipe

I think the underlying hesitancy to cook is: busyness. An hour of prep. A half hour to cook. And an hour of countless dirty pots and pans. I recognize this need and the demand for easy, healthy, flavorful meals that nourish and satisfy you and your family. That’s why my new goal is to create a series of recipes that will be classified as: Dinner in 30. Healthy, unique, meal ideas that take around 30 minutes from start to finish.

This easy paella recipe is the definition of simplicity. Minimal ingredients, and only requires one pot and one pan. The use of chicken sausage keeps things simple, since chicken sausage is bought already fully cooked. All you must do is chop it and brown it. 🙌🏼

Here is this lovely recipe, that has become a weeknight staple in The Brown Abode.

Easy Paella Recipe

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 10 oz bag of yellow rice (with saffron)
  • 3 chicken sausages, cut into small pieces
  • 1 small sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

Directions:

  1. Cook the rice according to the instructions on the bag.
  2. While the rice is cooking, brown the chicken sausage in a large skillet.
  3. Sauté the onion and pepper.
  4. Then add the peas and black beans.
  5. When rice is cooked, add to the large skillet and toss.
  6. Serve with warm, crusty bread.

Note:

I like to use Vigo yellow rice. It has the seasonings already in it.  Saffron is a very important component of traditional paella, but it can be very expensive if you buy it on its own. It is definitely worth buying rice that already has saffron in it.

Pumpkin Face Mask


Disclaimer: I am not a dermatologist or a skincare expert. I’m just a girl who loves pumpkins in the fall! Whenever making a diy mask or using a new skincare product, always apply a small amount to your arm before using to test how your skin will react.

There’s two things I’m currently all about right now: pumpkins and selfcare. There’s just something about fall: the way it looks, feels, tastes. I yearn for it more each passing year. And with that longing, my love for pumpkins grows. They really are a delight, aren’t they?

While amidst my favorite season, I’m also in a season of change in my life personally. This presents challenges at times, but I’m learning to take time to breathe in the fresh air, and lean in to my Savior.

So since pumpkins and selfcare are two things I am loving right now, I thought I’d combine the two! A pumpkin face mask! 🎃


As if I even needed another reason to love pumpkins, they happen to be really beneficial to your skin! Pumpkin smoothes and brightens your skin, contains acne fighting zinc, has lots of fatty acids and vitamin e, and contains antioxidants for radiant skin!

This simple mask only contains 3 ingredients, and is so fun and festive to use! Hmmm fall themed spa-night, anyone? 🍁😏

Pumpkin Face Mask

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 2 TB of canned organic pumpkin
  • 1/2 tsp of raw honey
  • 1/2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Combine the ingredients and stir in a small bowl.
  2. Apply to a clean face and leave on for 15 minutes.
  3. Rinse skin with cool water and blot dry.
  4. Enjoy hydrated, plump skin!

Note:

This recipe yields enough for two to three uses. Store covered in the fridge and use within a couple of days.

Light a candle, grab your favorite book or magazine (The Magnolia Journal), and enjoy the pumpkin-y goodness!


A Trip to Trader Joe’s 

Aaaaahhh Trader Joe’s.

You know…going to Trader Joe’s feels less like an errand, and more of an event. In fact, you could make a whole girl’s night or date night out of it. Start in the flower section (they have the best, fresh florals) and work your way up each aisle, picking up whatever strikes your fancy. Take home your unique goodies, have a “tasting”, and watch some Netflix. Bam. Consider your Saturday night planned. 👌🏼

I typically do most of my grocery shopping at Publix, and then get fun speciality items at Trader Joe’s. But this past week, I decided to do something I’ve never done before. I bought a week’s worth of food soley at Trader Joe’s. Not only was it a delicious success, but we came in well under budget. Win!

Even though Trader Joe’s is a relatively small market, it is fully stocked with unique foods. You wouldn’t know it by looking at it. But once you start perusing the aisles, you’ll find yourself reaching for item after item. Curiosity and adventure fill the shelves. I’m really quite obsessed.

Sooooo how about I cease the rambling and oodling, and simply share my favorite Trader Joe’s goodies that you need on your grocery list.

1. Mini Blueberry Tea Scones

Deliciously moist, I tend to crave these! With coffee or tea, you’ll feel like you’re at a coffee shop right in your own abode.


2. Organic Roasted Vegetable Pizza

This pizza is hands down the best frozen pizza ever! It legit tastes like it’s from a restaurant. They don’t skimp on the veggies and the crust is just the right thickness. Why am I not surprised that this pizza is imported from Italy? 🇮🇹

3. Organic Popping Corn

I love making homemade popcorn on the stove. These kernels make for crispy snacking and numerous batches of the favorite movie night treat. I make mine with olive oil, and no butter. A sprinkling of salt and parmesan cheese is all you need. #healthysnack

4. Frozen Chocolate Covered Banana Slices

Ohmygoodness. These are a delight! They’re great when you need a bite of chocolate! They’re rather refreshing too! Find these in the frozen dessert aisle.

5. Cinnamon Raisin Ezekiel Bread

This is Billy and I’s latest obsession. I know, we are a little late to the game. But, seriously. Bread that tastes good, and isn’t loaded with sugar. Protein? It’s got 3 grams per slice. Fiber? 2 grams per slice. It’s based off of the Bible verse Ezekiel 4:9. You can find this at Trader Joe’s in the bread section, or at other natural food stores.


6. Eucalyptus 

No trip to Trader Joe’s is complete without some fresh eucalyptus. I simply can’t help myself. Fragrant and beautiful. Arrange some in a large jar, or hang a bundle from your shower head for some aroma therapy during your shower.

That’s all for now, folks! I could go on endlessly, but I thought I’d keep this list concise.

Remember, fall is just around the corner! Trader Joe’s will soon have pumpkin everythang! They’re pumpkin spice flavored coffee is a personal fav. The wait will be hard, but it will be worth it. 🍁

Roasted Parmesan Potato Recipe


Hectic schedules call for cooking shortcuts.

I totally get that. It is so easy to pop a bag of frozen waffle fries in the oven. In fact, that was one of my favorite sides to use when cooking cube steak or something like that. Because–easy.

But you know what? Roasting potatoes is also really easy. And it’s real food. No crazy ingredients. Not fried. And tons of flavor. There’s nothing wrong with cooking some frozen fries every now and then. But my new go-to is this recipe I created. I make these all the time now!

I could literally eat these potatoes like candy. Dipped in ketchup, they taste like fancy French fries that you can actually feel good about eating!

What makes these so special is the PARMESAN sprinkled on top. Oh man. I can’t get enough. You know me. Always gotta put an Italian spin on things. 😉 The combination of the cheese with the spices creates an explosion of flavor. It’s like a big Italian-family get together for your taste buds. Hehe. Not to mention, the aroma that will escape your oven as these roast! You’ll have your whole family asking, “What’s for dinner?!”

Check out the recipe below and let me know what you think! This side compliments so many entrees. I’d love to see what you pair it with.

Happy cooking!

Roasted Parmesan Potatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 4 red potatoes, chopped (I leave the skin on.)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oregano or Italian spice blend
  • Garlic powder
  • 2 TBS Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

On a sheet pan, place the chopped red potatoes. Drizzle them with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, oregano, and a little bit of garlic powder. Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese on top. Using your hands, toss the potatoes to coat evenly. Cook for 25 to 35 minutes until brown and your desired crispiness.

Fitness Challenge: Week 1


I love being active and eating heathy. It’s very gratifying to me. Thankfully, I have a job where I walk a lot and climb stairs almost constantly. I never take the elevator, because the stairs are the perfect daily fitness opportunity! Squeeze in fitness when ya can!

However, I never take the time to actually work out. It’s really tough. I’m exhausted when I get home from work. Then, I have to cook dinner and make lunches for the next day. Shower, chores, etc. It’s tough. For all of us.

Back in July, I was in a bad car accident. I have daily back and neck pain that just doesn’t seem to be getting any better. In fact, lately it’s felt worse. (However, I am SO incredibly grateful that my injuries are not terrible. God was truly protecting my hubby and I. I’ll tell that story another time 😉)

Furthermore, my back pain has inspired me to try to naturally help myself. I want to see if working out will help alleviate some of the discomfort and strengthen my back. Plus, working out is just a really important factor in a healthy lifestyle. So I can’t go wrong!

So let’s get started!

Fitness Challenge

To help keep myself motivated, I decided to create a weekly fitness challenge; for myself and whoever wants to join!

Week 1

I find that if you set goals that are too large, they are hard to achieve. Therefore, I’m all about setting a series of small goals to help achieve one big goal.

The Big Goal: Work out consistently a few times a week.

This week’s small goal: work out once.

That’s right. Once. I know, that’s pretty hilarious. But I have to be realistic. After working all day in the blazing sun, I’m not ready to commit to working out all the time. So let’s just start with one workout at a time. 💪

Each week, I’ll update you with how I did. Don’t worry, I’ll be totally honest and real. If I didn’t work out, you’ll be the first to know. I will also let you know what the challenge is for the next week. Each week might be slightly different, with increased amounts of workouts. Let’s get strong!

I’m ready to be the #fitwife !

All You Need is Love…And Green Tea

I’ve often described green tea as a “hug in a cup.” There’s something so comforting, so calming about it. Perhaps it’s the warmth, or its light flavor. I can’t get enough of it. ☕️

My love for green tea started when I was a little girl. Daily visits to my Nonna’s house included her homemade cookies and a cup of green tea. The ritual continued at home with my mom. I quickly grew accustomed to drinking typically two cups a day. Little did I know, I was forming a very healthful and beneficial habit.

Nutritionists recommend two to three cups of green tea a day because it has so many health benefits! 🌿

~To Name A Few~

  1. It is a great source of antioxidants. This can help reduce your risk of certain types of cancer! (Such as colon cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer)
  2. It’s really good for your oral health. In fact, it prevents tooth decay and reduces bad breath!
  3. It is known to help reduce anxiety. I can attest to that. I start my day with a cup every morning. It really helps calm me as I start my hectic work day.
  4. Green tea can help speed your metabolism up. Therefore, green tea can aide with weight loss. Two to three cups a day can burn approximately 100 calories.
  5. It reduces bad cholesterol.
  6. Green tea improves skin health.

The list honestly goes on. Green tea is absolutely amazing. I used to drink coffee almost every day. Now, I only drink coffee for pleasure, like on the weekends or when meeting a friend. Instead, I start my day with a cup of green tea with honey. Then, in the evening, I end my day with a cup. (And some Netflix. They go well together. 😉)

I personally do not care for the green tea that you’ll find at the grocery store. I look for specialty green teas at places like Homegoods and Marshalls. They have a lot of flavored organic green teas like raspberry green tea, mango green tea, blueberry green tea, and more. They’re hard to come by, so when you find some, stock up! They are so delightfully delicious!

This past year, I’ve fallen in love with loose leaf tea. There are so many flavor options. The flavor is so fresh. Some have dried flowers and fruit for added flavor. So much yum. You can also combine leaves to create a new flavor.

Perhaps you are now inspired to make green tea part of your daily routine! Enjoy all of its lovely benefits. I’m finishing my nightly cup right now, before I drift off to sleep. 🌙