Three weeks left until Christmas has us scrambling for recipes, party dresses, gifts, and ways to make this month feel extra special.  It's the most wonderful time of the year and we're soaking it all up in every possible way.  Check the blog every Tuesday until Christmas to find some of the ways that the AGAIN Girls are getting inspired by other influencers and bloggers!

When brainstorming some of our favorite food and lifestyle bloggers, Local Milk was the first one that came to Eleanor's mind.  "She has the prettiest photos and this delicious biscuit recipe."  The Tennessean mastermind behind it all, Beth Kirby, is a talented photographer and recipe maker.  This biscuit recipe is perfect to have around for the Holidays, whether it be Christmas Eve dinner or even a side for brunch on Christmas morning.  You can find even more goodness on her Instagram, @Local_Milk.

Flaky & Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits From Scratch
INGREDIENTS
  • 2 cups (250 grams) unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup (56 grams / 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into dice
  • scant cup (230 grams) real buttermilk like cruze farm's
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. heat oven to 425°f.
  2. whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. using your fingers cut the butter into the flour mixture until it's just crumbled and no pieces larger than a pea remain.
  4. pour in the buttermilk. stir just until all the dry bits are incorporated, no longer. it should be sticky and shaggy. not dry. not wet. sometimes humidity can affect this. you'll get used to your dough and know when to add a splash extra or flour your surface a little more heavily. biscuits are an art, not a science. okay, they're largely a science. but science is art. i digress.
  5. lightly flour a work surface and turn your dough out onto it. lightly flour the top of your dough and use your hands to pat it out into a rectangle a little over an inch thick.
  6. fold that rectangle toward you, rotate the dough counter clockwise, roll it out gently using a wooden rolling pin. use a "bouncing" motion from the center of the dough, careful to not crush the outer edges and destroy your layers. it's important to roll very gently.
  7. repeat the folding and rolling two more times. sometimes i add an extra fold if i'm feeling extra foldy.
  8. roll the dough out to about an inch thick and using a floured biscuit cutter, cut your biscuits (be sure to not twist your cutter, it will seal the edges and they won't rise as well, gently gathering and re-rolling the scraps until the dough is used up, placing the cut biscuits touching one another on a lightly greased baking sheet (they will help each other rise, that's why you want them touching. but i'm not gonna lie, i don't bother to grease mine. i also don't brush them with anything. i like them simple, simple.
  9. bake for 10-15 minutes depending on the size of your biscuits, the weather, and your oven. they should be golden brown and fluffily cooked through. enjoy warm with all manner or honey, sausage, jams, ham, and, of course, good butter.
    We're obsessed with the way Beth set this table.  It has a DIY, rustic feel to it, yet it is still clean and modern.  See how she put everything together here.

    2) Sprouted Kitchen by Sara Forte
    One of Amber's favorite food bloggers is Sprouted Kitchen.  Sara Forte's streamlined site is bright and easy to follow along.  This colorful red and green coconut quinoa salad is easy to make and a perfect side salad for all of the heavy food that we consume on Christmas (mashed potatoes, anyone?).

    COCONUT QUINOA + SPINACH SALAD
    I know some are still wary of using raw spinach, and I think arugula would be great as well, maybe just use a bit less as it's a bit stronger in flavor.
    INGREDIENTS
    • 1 Cup Quinoa
    • 1 Cup Light Coconut Milk
    • 1/3 Cup Vegetable Broth or Water
    • 2 Large Shallots
    • 2 Tbsp. Coconut Oil*
    • 1 Cup Fresh Pomegranate Seeds
    • 4 Cups-ish Organic Baby Spinach
    • 1/2 Cup Toasted Pistachio Nuts
    • 2 Tbsp. Orange Juice**
    • 2 tsp. Fresh Thyme or 1 tsp. Dried Thyme
    • 3 Tbsp. Olive Oil (I used a lemon infused olive oil - SO good)
    • Salt/Pepper
    INSTRUCTIONS
    1. In a small pot, combine the quinoa, coconut milk, water and a pinch of salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the liquid is absorbed, this will take about 10-12 minutes. Empty quinoa into a bowl and allow to cool.
    2. Slice the shallots width wise into thin coins. Heat up the oil in a 8-10'' saute pan (you don't have many to crisp up). * If you don't have coconut oil on hand, canola oil will work as an alternative, it's just not that great for you. Once it's just shimmering, add in the slice shallots. Stand by them, as they'll burn quickly. They will dance around a bit, and once you see the edges turn golden flip them over or move them around. Set up a double layer of paper towels, remove the shallots just as they turn brown and drain on the paper towels.
    3. In a small bowl, mix the orange juice, thyme, olive oil and generous pinches of salt and pepper. **Any citrus would work - lemon, lime...whatever is on hand.
    4. You want to make sure the quinoa is room temperature before you toss, or it will wilt the spinach, and we don't want that. Maybe you do, but I don't. In a salad bowl, toss the spinach, half of the cooked quinoa, half of the pom seeds and half of the pistachios with desired amount of dressing. Your choice as to what ratio you want, you can save the rest of the quinoa for later, or toss it in, again, the ratios are up to you. Garnish the top with the rest of the pom seeds, pistachios and all of your crispy shallots. Little grind of fresh pepper and enjoy.

      Think Holidays, think cherries, pecans, chocolate.  These cookies are tried and true delicious to bring to your next Holiday party, or just to have laying around your house as a late night treat!

      CHOCOLATE CHIP OATMEAL COOKIES WITH CHERRIES + PECANS
      If you like a salty bite to your sweets, I would suggest giving them a sprinkle of sea salt just before you put them in the oven. Pairs perfectly with cold milk or some vanilla bean ice cream.
      INGREDIENTS
      • 1 Cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
      • 1/4 Cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
      • 3/4 tsp Baking Powder
      • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
      • 1/2 tsp Salt
      • 1 1/4 Cups Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
      • 1 Cup Pecans, toasted and chopped
      • 1 Cup Dried Cherries, chopped coarse
      • 8 ounces Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped into small pieces OR chocolate chips
      • 3/4 cup Unsalted Butter, softened but still cool
      • 1 1/2 Cups Muscavado/Packed Dark Brown Sugar
      • 1 Extra Large Egg
      • 1 tsp Real Vanilla Extract
      INSTRUCTIONS
      Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C)
      1. Use parchment paper or a silpat* to line several standard baking sheets and set aside. In a bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
      2. In another bowl combine the oats, pecans, dried cherries and chocolate. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a whisk and a strong arm, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Slowly add the egg and vanilla, and beat until incorporated.
      3. Gently sift, or with the mixer down to low, add the flour mixture to the bowl. Stir until just combined. Finally incorporate the oats, nuts, fruit and chocolate. Do not overmix.
      4. Roll these portions lightly between your hands in about 1/4 cup portions, then place on each baking sheet, spaced evenly. You can make them small, but adjust your baking time a few minutes less. Wet your hands and lightly press the dough to a 1-inch thickness. Bake the cookies, two trays at a time, in a preheated oven for 12 minutes. Rotate the trays top to bottom and back to front and bake for another 5 minutes or until the cookies are uniformly golden, but still wet in the middle. They should appear slightly undercooked.
      5. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
        3) 
        Mama Watters - Amanda Watters

        I've been following @mamawatters Instagram for at least three years now.  I was immediately drawn in by her beautiful, simple mid century home in Missouri, adorable kids (I've seen her go through two pregnancies now), family traditions, and recipes.  I secretly want her life....well maybe in ten years.  For now, I'll just read her recipes and like all of her cutesy photos.  These brussel sprouts would make an incredible pairing with a meat dish on Christmas!  Amanda writes that they are not a side dish, but I would serve just a few.

        Creamed Pork Belly Brussel Sprouts
        INGREDIENTS
        • 4-5 heaping cups of brussel sprouts cut in half
        • 1 cup of veggie stock
        • 1/2 cup of heavy cream or 1/2 & 1/2 
        • 6-8 large pieces of good, thick, peppery bacon or some pork belly (if you can manage)
        • 1/2 cup of feta cheese cubed 
        • salt and pepper for seasoning 
        1. to prepare, render the fat off of your bacon or pork belly in a dutch oven by cooking it on med-high heat, stirring it every so often.  this takes about 10 minutes or so, depending on the size of your slices and the quality of your pot.  you want the white part (the fat) to melt off into your pot, leaving behind delicious meat.  after the pork is crispy, take it out and lay it on a paper towel to drain.  
        2. keep the remaining fat in the in pot to crisp up your brussel sprouts.  turn the burner up and sauté your sprouts until they some are brown and crispy.  we prefer them to have be a tad burnt, but cook as you like.  
        3. once you have your sprouts at the desired brownness, pour in your stock and turn the burner down.  use a wooden spoon to scrape off the good bits stuck to the bottom of your dutch oven.  those pieces are heaven and you want them to help flavor your dish.  
        4. allow your greens to tenderize and soak up the stock in your covered, simmering pan for 10-15 minutes.  after they are fork tender pour in your cream and top with chopped pork belly.  stir again with your wooden spoon and soak in the smell.  once transferred to a bowl, top with cubed feta cheese.  that's it! 
        • *do not forget to season each step with a little love from your salt dish and pepper grinder. 

          This DIY gift would be great for all of the cooking lovers in your life.  It's essentially a wood conditioner, and will keep all of the wood goods in the kitchen looking pristine.  It will also save you a lot of precious dollars and get you in the Holiday spirit on a cold Winter night.  Put on some Christmas tunes, sit by the fire, light a spiced candle, and DIY away.

          Wood Butter
          INGREDIENTS
          • 1 16 oz. jar of extra virgin coconut oil (i used trader joe's)
          • 1/2 cup of chopped yellow bee's wax
          • jars
          • labels 
          • a marker
          To prepare, in a large pot filled with a few inches of water, place a very large mason jar or heavy glass pyrex measuring bowl.  First, put in the coconut oil, following with the bee's wax on top.  Set the heat to simmer, stirring every so often, letting the wax melt into the oil.  This might take a bit so fold some sundry or bounce a baby on your knee while you wait.  The heat will eventually cause the mixture to emulsify, becoming smooth and velvety.  Once melted, pour the butter into small mason jars and set aside to cool. 

          To use, slather it on a wooden spoon rather generously let it soak in overnight, then buff with a dry cloth in the morning.