*naturally real food

On the goal of living a more natural life, I have been trying to eat out less. The first year Daniel and I were married we ate out all of the time. In September of 2013 we did the 10 Day Real Food Pledge through 100 Days of Real Food by Lisa Leake. Daniel and I did our best and finished without any complications, but staying with it was going to be far too challenging. A few pictures of our meals those 10 days…

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Since moving back to Indiana we have 95% of our meals each week homemade. I make dinner almost every night and we actually sit at our dinning table without the tv on! I’ve been loving making fish dishes. My favorite meal lately has been Cooking Classy’s Baked Lemon Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce. But we also have meat/fish as the main entree with a vegetable and starch side. Of course we have our days were we don’t feel like cooking so we get pizza, Taco Bell, or Steak ‘n Shake, mostely because it is cheap.

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I’ve started hating eating at large franchises like Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Outback Steakhouse, etc. Actually I can’t remember the last time I ate at those places. I prefer small local restaurants. In California I had a lot more options. There was Euro Cafe, they had the best tuna sandwiches. When Daniel and I craved Mexican food we would go to the Chili Pepper in Orange. They also finished your meal with an apple dessert (pictured below is the fruit place the give you to start the meal on the weekends)!

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Being on the west side of Indianapolis we are a little more limited. In Danville, the best place for breakfast is the Bread Basket! You must try their Cinnamon Roll French Toast if you are in the mood for something sweet. Their omelets are excellent as well! For Italian we have Frank’s Place, also in Danville, seems to make everything from fresh! Below is my family eating there on my mom’s birthday!

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If you live on the south side of Indianapolis, or don’t mind a little drive, you have to eat at Gray’s Brothers Cafeteria! Come hungry! They make everything fresh daily, even their pies! Beware the line goes out the door! I always get their roast beef with a side of green beans and mac n cheese.

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There are a lot of local Indianapolis restaurants I want to try, but I also feel like I can make some of the dishes just as well, for half the cost!

In the absence of the truth, all of us stand helpless to defend ourselves, our families and our health, which is the greatest gift we have. Robyn O’Brien’s courageous pursuit is an example of how we can all do our parts to protect the health of our families.” ~Erin Brockovich

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*baking girl

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(pictured above is from Halloween 2013 when I brought homemade goodies to work)

I grew up with two parents who more than most, cooked a homemade meal for dinner. We rarely ate out. Some dinners were as simple as spaghetti, while at holidays my mom pulled at all the stops. Freshly made meat, with too many sides, and of course homemade desserts. I had two parents that were great cooks, so why did I need to learn?

During my time at Ivy Tech in Indianapolis, I was required to take an introduction to cooking class. The classes were 4 hours once a week. The first day of class, the teacher talked about all the supplies we needed. The text book was very thick, we were required to wear a full professional chef uniform, and have a $500 knife kit! I was extremely overwhelmed, I dropped the class as soon as I got home! I waited to take it my last semester in Muncie and I’m so thankful that I did! My teacher was very understanding that we were required to take the class. I got to try cheeses, cook scallops, watch a lobster die, and try food I normally wouldn’t. It was a great experience!

The first few months of living in California, prior to having a job, I started baking cupcakes for Daniel to take to his internship. It gave me a creative outlet and it tasted good! Everytime someone came to visit me I made a dessert to welcome them! More baking started when I went to work at Marriott’s Newport Coast Villas. My co-workers loved my goodies! In December 2013 I sold a two pound cheese ball for $15 to a co-worker so he could take to a family holiday party!

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I really enjoy baking more then cooking. I love sugar! I’m surprised I’m not 200 pounds with all the desserts I make! In California, I started experimenting with box cupcake mixes and adding alcohol! I make a really tasty Fireball Whisky Cupcake and Amaretto Sour Cupcake. I just found out that my Box Baking Blog, where I posted the recipes, has been visited over 10,000 times, thanks to Pinterest!

I thought I would try to earn some extra cash this holiday season by selling some homemade goodies. I even have a website (www.ambersholidaybakesale.wordpress.com) and paid $10 for business cards, which my dad was nice enough to pass out. I didn’t get as many orders as I hoped, but I did have fun!

(pictured below is homemade peppermint Oreo white chocolate cookies)

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“Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless and above all have fun!” ~Julia Child